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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Landloper.

“No, Mr. Converse.”

“I might have known that.  You would not have allowed a mother to suffer—­your folly would never have gone so far.  You would have been home long before this.  Ah, well, my boy, some woman will know how to comfort you some day for all you have endured.  Good night!”

The young man knew that Zelie Dionne had been right in what she said; he did not require the added opinion of the state’s most eminent lawyer.

XXXII

THE DEBT

Colonel Symonds Dodd sat at his desk in the First National block and clutched helplessly at the dragging ends of events.  He failed to get firm hold on anything and irefully informed Judge Warren that the whole situation was a “damnation nightmare.”

“Well,” affirmed the judge, who had been pricked in his legal pride by his master’s tongue, “the Consolidated has eaten some pretty hearty meals.  It’s no wonder it is having bad dreams right now.”

“You’re squatting down like an old rooster in a dust-heap,” raged the colonel, too angry to be choice in his language.  “You, a twenty-five-thousand-dollar lawyer, come in here to me and say that you can’t block the confiscatory scheme of a bounder—­a nobody—­a black-leg stranger in this state!”

“I’ll carry on the fight if you order me to do so,” said the corporation lawyer.  “That’s my business.  We can lobby in the next legislature.  We can fight the laws that Archer Converse’s legislature is bound to pass, for they’re after us, Colonel Dodd.  We can carry the thing to the highest tribunal—­and then we can fight the appraisals on every water-plant in the state, but—­”

“Well, but what?”

“One by one they’ll pry loose every finger we have got hooked on to our proposition.  I have submitted that water-district plan to the acid test, Colonel.  It was my duty to do it.  A lawyer must keep cool while his bosses curse and disparage.  I have the opinions of the law departments of three leading colleges on the scheme.  They all say that such a plan, if properly safeguarded by constitutional law, will get by every blockade we can erect.  Now if you want to spend money I’ll help you spend all you care to appropriate,” concluded the judge, grimly.

“We’ll fight,” was the dictum of the master.

“Then I take it that you have definitely decided to give up your political control, Colonel!  A certain amount of popularity is needed to cinch any man in politics.  You’re going to be the most unpopular man in this state if you start in to fight every town and city simply for the purpose of piling up costs and clubbing them away from their own as long as you have the muscle to do it.”

“I don’t care about politics—­politics has gone to the devil in this state already.  They’ll get tired of chasing fox-fires through a swamp following after such lah-de-dahs as Arch Converse, and will come back and be good.  I’ll wait for ’em to come back.  But in the mean time I’m going to have the courts say whether our property can be confiscated.  I’ll take a few pelts while they’re trying it on!”

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