They were married in Trinity Church in the month of May, and I was one of Ham’s attendants. Ralph was “best man.” For the last time the old Willett mansion in Powell Street wore the gala air of former days; carpets were spread over the sidewalk, and red and white awnings; rooms were filled with flowers and flung open to hundreds of guests. I found the wedding something of an ordeal. I do not like to dwell upon it—especially upon that moment when I came to congratulate Nancy as she stood beside Ham at the end of the long parlour. She seemed to have no regrets. I don’t know what I expected of her—certainly not tears and tragedy. She seemed taller than ever, and very beautiful in her veil and white satin gown and the diamonds Ham had given her; very much mistress of herself, quite a contrast to Ham, who made no secret of his elation. She smiled when I wished her happiness.
“We’ll be home in the autumn, Hugh, and expect to see a great deal of you,” she said.
As I paused in a corner of the room my eye fell upon Nancy’s father. McAlery Willett’s elation seemed even greater than Ham’s. With a gardenia in his frock-coat and a glass of champagne in his hand he went from group to group; and his familiar laughter, which once had seemed so full of merriment and fun, gave me to-day a somewhat scandalized feeling. I heard Ralph’s voice, and turned to discover him standing beside me, his long legs thrust slightly apart, his hands in his pockets, overlooking the scene with typical, semi-contemptuous amusement.
“This lets old McAlery out, anyway,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I demanded.
“One or two little notes of his will be cancelled, sooner or later—that’s all.”
For a moment I was unable to speak.
“And do you think that she—that Nancy found out—?” I stammered.
“Well, I’d be willing to take that end of the bet,” he replied. “Why the deuce should she marry Ham? You ought to know her well enough to understand how she’d feel if she discovered some of McAlery’s financial coups? Of course it’s not a thing I talk about, you understand. Are you going to the Club?”
“No, I’m going home,” I said. I was aware of his somewhat compassionate smile as I left him....
One November day nearly two years after my admission as junior member of the firm of Watling, Fowndes and Ripon seven gentlemen met at luncheon in the Boyne Club; Mr. Barbour, President of the Railroad, Mr. Scherer, of the Boyne Iron Works and other corporations, Mr. Leonard Dickinson, of the Corn National Bank, Mr. Halsey, a prominent banker from the other great city of the state, Mr. Grunewald, Chairman of the Republican State Committee, and Mr. Frederick Grierson, who had become a very important man in our community. At four o’clock they emerged from the club: citizens in Boyne Street who saw them chatting amicably on the steps little suspected that in the last three hours these gentlemen had chosen and practically elected the man who was to succeed Mr. Wade as United States Senator in Washington. Those were the days in which great affairs were simply and efficiently handled. No democratic nonsense about leaving the choice to an electorate that did not know what it wanted.