Truxton continued to treat the situation lightly. “Look here,” he said, “do you think you are going to be the only great man in our generation?”
Randy laughed; but the fire was still in his eyes. “The county will hold the two of us.”
And now the Major spoke. “No man can be great by simply saying it. But I think most of our great men have expected things of themselves. They have dreamed dreams of greatness. I fancy that Lincoln did in his log cabin, and Roosevelt on the plains. And it wasn’t egotism—it was a boy’s wish to give himself to the world. And the wish was the urge. And the trouble with many of our men in these days is that they are content to dream of what they can get instead of what they can do. Paine has the right idea. There must be a day’s work no matter how hard, and it must be done well, but beyond that must be a dream of bigger things for the future——”
Truxton stood up. “I asked for bread and you have given me—caviar. Sufficient unto the day is the greatness thereof. And in the meantime, Randy, I will make the grand gesture—and help you sell cars.” He was grinning as he left them. “Good-bye, Major. Good-bye, T. Jefferson, Jr. Let me know when you want me in your Cabinet.”
It was late that afternoon that Mary, looking for her husband, found him in the Judge’s library.
“What are you doing?” she asked, with lively curiosity.
Truxton was sitting on the floor with a pile of calf-bound books beside him.
“What are you doing, lover?”
“Come here and I’ll tell you.” He made a seat for her of four of the big books. His arm went around her and he laid his head against her shoulder.
“Mary,” he said, “I am carving a pedestal.”
“You are what?”
He explained. He laughed a great deal as he gave her an account of his conversation with the Major and Randy that morning.
“You see before you,” with a final flourish, “a potential great man. A Thomas Jefferson, up-to-date; a John Randolph of the present day; the Lincoln of my own time; the ancestor of Fiddle’s great-grandchildren.”
She rumpled his hair. “I like you as you are.”
He caught her hand and held it. “But you’d like me on—a pedestal?”
“If you’ll let me help you carve it.”
He kissed the hand that he held. “If I am ever anything more than I am,” he said, and now he was not laughing, “it will be because of you—my dearest darling.”
The Merriweather fortunes had not been affected by the fall of the Confederacy. There had been money invested in European ventures, and when peace had come in sixty-five, the old grey stone house had again flung wide its doors to the distinguished guests who had always honored it, and had resumed its ancient custom of an annual harvest ball.