The young candidate’s speech, accepting the nomination, was reproduced in full in all the newspapers, whose editorial writers frankly admitted that the speech was one of the best heard in Herculaneum in years. Reporters raked up anecdotes and old photographs; they enlarged upon the history of his early struggles and his ultimate success; and long despatches flashed over the wires. The whole continent was more or less interested in the sudden political ambition of one of its favorite dramatic writers.
It was true that Warrington’s vanity was touched. It always touches our vanity to be given something for which we have made no struggle whatever. It was something to be followed by curious newsboys, to be spoken to respectfully by Tom, Dick and Harry, who erstwhile hadn’t known of his existence. Warrington was human, and he laughed at his vanity even as it was being gratified.
On the other side the Democrats perfunctorily nominated Donnelly. It was the best they could do, and Donnelly had nothing to learn. And so the fight was on. Donnelly went everywhere; so did Warrington. If Donnelly spoke in the German district, Warrington spoke to the Italians and in their native tongue. Warrington soon learned how to shake hands in the manner of a candidate,—to take the whole hand and squeeze it soundly. The coal-heaver whose hand the dramatist grasped thereupon returned to his friends with the report that the candidate had a good grip, that there was nothing namby-pamby about him, for all his dude clothes. It is the gift of Heaven to win friends and keep them, and Warrington possessed this gift. His good-humored smile, his ready persiflage, his ease in all environments, and his common sense—these were his bucklers. He spoke in dingy halls, on saloon bars, everywhere and anywhere and at all times. It was a great sight to see him lightly mount a bar and expound his politics, his nostrils assailed by cheap tobacco and kerosene lamps. If Donnelly opened a keg of beer, Warrington opened two; if Donnelly gave a picnic, Warrington gave two. And once he presented free matinee tickets to a thousand women. This was a fine stroke of policy. When a man wins a woman to his cause, he wins a valiant champion. Here, then, were a thousand tongues in his service.
His work put enthusiasm into the rank and file of the party, and soon all half-heartedness disappeared and dissensions vanished. He furnished foot-ball suits for the newsboys, torch-light regimentals for the young men’s Republican clubs; he spent his own money freely but judiciously; and all the while Donnelly was not far behind. For the first time in the history of local politics the two parties went to work with solid ranks. It promised to be a great campaign. Warrington’s influence soon broke the local confines; and the metropolitan newspapers began to prophesy that as Herculaneum went, so would go the state.
Warrington’s theatrical manager came up from New York and said he wanted that play at once. The dramatist declared that there would be no play that season. The manager threatened a lawsuit; Warrington remained unmoved. His first duty was to his party; after the first Tuesday in November he would see. This argument found its way to reportorial ears, with the result that it merely added to the young candidate’s growing popularity.