Winifred settled back with a sharp sigh and gazed at the long gray road ahead of her. She gazed indeed into a rather blank future. Her talents would be, she felt, to some extent wasted. If Max rose to greater heights of fame it would be because of his own unaided efforts. This child would be no help to him.
The speech Max made to his constituents was not cool and clear-cut like the speeches which Anne had heard him make to his colleagues in the House. He spoke now with warmth and persuasiveness. Anne, sitting in the big car on the edge of the crowd, found herself listening intently. She was aware, as he went on, of a new Max. The mass of men who had gathered were largely foreigners who knew little of the real meanings of democracy. Max was telling them what it meant to be a good American. He told it simply, but he was in dead earnest. Anne felt that this earnestness was the secret of his power. He wanted men to be good Americans, he wanted them to know the privileges they might enjoy in a free country, and he was telling them how to keep it free-not by violence and mob rule but by remembering their obligations as citizens. He told them that they must be always on the side of law and order, that they must fight injustice not with the bomb and the red flag but with their votes.
“Vote for the man you trust, and not for the man who inflames your passions. Your vote is a sacred thing; when you sell it you dishonor yourself. Respect yourself, and you’ll respect the country that has made a man of you.”
The response was immediate, the applause tumultuous. After his speech they crowded about him. They knew him for their friend. But they knew him for more than that. He asked nothing of their manhood but the best. He preached honesty and practiced it.
Yet as he climbed into the car Anne had little to say to him. Winifred, leaning forward, was emphatic in her praise:
“You have no right to bury yourself, Max.”
“My dear girl, I’m not dead yet.” He was a bit impatient. He had hoped for a word from Anne. But she sat silent, pulling the puppy’s ears.
“He’s asleep,” she said finally as she caught the inquiry in her lover’s eyes. “He’s tired out, poor darling.”
She seemed indifferent, but she was not. She had been much stirred. She had a strange feeling that something had happened to her while she had listened to Maxwell’s speech. Some string had broken and her romance was out of tune.
She lay awake for a long time that night, thinking it over. She grew hot with the thought of the limitations of her previous conception of her lover. She had considered him a sort of background for the pleasant things he could do for her. She had fitted him to the measure of the boxes of candy that he had brought her, the luncheons in the House restaurant, the bountiful hospitality of the farm. How lightly she had looked down on him as he had stood below her on the stairs with her candle in his hand. How casually she had accepted his kiss. She had a sudden feeling that she must not let him kiss her again!