‘What is your name?’ he enquired.
‘Brower,’ said I in a whisper.
A look of relief came into his face and I am sure a look of anxiety came into mine. He had taken the centre of the stage before I could stop him.
‘Lathes and gentlemen,’ said he, ’I am glad to inform you that General Brower has at last arrived.
I remembered then there was a General Brower in the army who was also a power in politics.
In the storm of applause that followed this announcement, I beckoned him to the edge of the platform again. I was nearer a condition of mental panic than I have ever known since that day.
‘I am not General Brower,’ I whispered.
‘What!’ said he in amazement.
‘I am not General Brower,’ I said.
‘Great heavens!’ he whispered, covering his mouth with his band and looking very thoughtful. ’You’ll have to make a speech, anyway — there’s no escape.
I could see no way out of it and, after a moment’s hesitation, ascended the platform took off my overcoat and made a speech.
Fortunately the issue was one with which I had been long familiar. I told them how I had been trapped. The story put the audience in good humour and they helped me along with very generous applause. And so began my career in politics which has brought me more honour than I deserved although I know it has not been wholly without value to my country. It enabled me to repay in part the kindness of my former chief at a time when he was sadly in need of friends. I remember meeting him in Washington a day of that exciting campaign of ’72. I was then in Congress.
‘I thank you for what you have done, Brower,’ said he, ’but I tell you I am licked. I shall not carry a single state. I am going to be slaughtered.
He had read his fate and better than he knew. In politics he was a great prophet.
The north country lay buried in the snow that Christmastime. Here and there the steam plough had thrown its furrows, on either side of the railroad, high above the window line. The fences were muffled in long ridges of snow, their stakes showing like pins in a cushion of white velvet. Some of the small trees on the edge of the big timber stood overdrifted to their boughs. I have never seen such a glory of the morning as when the sun came up, that day we were nearing home, and lit the splendour of the hills, there in the land I love. The frosty nap of the snow glowed far and near with pulsing glints of pale sapphire.