“Sam is a charming chaperon,” said the owner of the car.
With the girl beside him, with Fred crouched, shivering, on the step, he threw in the clutch; the servants from the house waved the emptied buckets in salute, and the great car sprang forward into the awakening day toward the golden dome over the Boston Common. In the rear seat Peabody shivered and yawned, and then sat erect.
“Did you get the water?” he demanded, anxiously.
There was a grim silence.
“Yes,” said the owner of the car patiently. “You needn’t worry any longer. We got the water.”
During the last two weeks of the “whirlwind” campaign, automobiles had carried the rival candidates to every election district in Greater New York.
During these two weeks, at the disposal of Ernest Peabody—on the Reform Ticket, “the people’s choice for Lieutenant-Governor—” Winthrop had placed his Scarlet Car, and, as its chauffeur, himself.
Not that Winthrop greatly cared for Reform, or Ernest Peabody. The “whirlwind” part of the campaign was what attracted him; the crowds, the bands, the fireworks, the rush by night from hall to hall, from Fordham to Tompkinsville. And, while inside the different Lyceums, Peabody lashed the Tammany Tiger, outside in his car, Winthrop was making friends with Tammany policemen, and his natural enemies, the bicycle cops. To Winthrop, the day in which he did not increase his acquaintance with the traffic squad, was a day lost.
But the real reason for his efforts in the cause of Reform, was one he could not declare. And it was a reason that was guessed perhaps by only one person. On some nights Beatrice Forbes and her brother Sam accompanied Peabody. And while Peabody sat in the rear of the car, mumbling the speech he would next deliver, Winthrop was given the chance to talk with her. These chances were growing cruelly few. In one month after election day Miss Forbes and Peabody would be man and wife. Once before the day of their marriage had been fixed, but, when the Reform Party offered Peabody a high place on its ticket, he asked, in order that he might bear his part in the cause of reform, that the wedding be postponed. To the postponement Miss Forbes made no objection. To one less self-centred than Peabody, it might have appeared that she almost too readily consented.
“I knew I could count upon your seeing my duty as I saw it,” said Peabody much pleased, “it always will be a satisfaction to both of us to remember you never stood between me and my work for reform.”
“What do you think my brother-in-law-to-be has done now?” demanded Sam of Winthrop, as the Scarlet Car swept into Jerome Avenue. “He’s postponed his marriage with Trix just because he has a chance to be Lieutenant-Governor. What is a Lieutenant-Governor anyway, do you know? I don’t like to ask Peabody.”