But Mrs. Haldene could wait. She had waited before this. She had made certain prophecies, and it embittered her to learn that so far none of these prophecies had come true. She could wait. Something was destined to happen, sooner or later. She knew human nature too well not to be expectant. To Mrs. Haldene the most gratifying phrase in the language was: “I told you so!” Warrington had disappointed her, too. He behaved himself. He did not run after young Mrs. Bennington; he never called there alone; he was seen more frequently at the old Bennington place. The truth is, Patty was busy reforming the wayward dramatist, and Warrington was busy watching the result. There were those who nodded and looked wise whenever they saw the two together.
Oh, Herculaneum was a city to be desired, socially. Everybody was on his or her best behavior. It was only from among the poor that scandal gleaned her items for the newspapers. The shooting of such a man by such a woman’s husband aroused only the mildest comment. But that class of people, don’t you know, is so primeval. To kill a man from jealousy! It was ridiculous. Why did they not go to court, like civilized human beings?
Of course there is always scandal in politics; everybody understands that this is unavoidable. Another franchise had slipped out of the Common Council into the transit company’s pocket, and even the partizan papers mildly belabored the aldermanic body. The Evening Call, however slashed the ward representatives vigorously. It wound up its editorial with the query: “How much longer will the public stand this sort of thing?” The Call was the only independent sheet in town, and did about as it pleased.
Warrington found himself taking more than normal interest in the situation. Occasionally, on Monday nights, he wandered into the City Hall and listened to the impassioned speeches of the aldermen. Many a tempestuous scene passed under his notice. Ordinances were passed or blocked, pavement deals were rushed through or sidetracked. And once, when the gas company was menaced with dollar-gas, the city pay-roll was held up for two months by the lighting company’s cohorts. Only Heaven knows how much longer it might have been held back, had not an assemblyman come to the mayor’s help by rushing up to the capital and railroading through a law that required only a two-thirds vote.
The Democrats had remained in power for six years, and Herculaneum was essentially a Republican city. On the Democratic side was McQuade, on the Republican side was ex-Senator Henderson. These men were bosses of no ordinary type. The first was from the mass, the second from the class; and both were millionaires. The political arena was a pastime for these two men; it was a huge complex game of chess in which recently the senator had been worsted. The public paid, as it invariably does, to watch this game on the checkerboard of wards. The senator had been unfortunate in his candidates. He had tried young men and old, lawyers and merchants; but he had failed to nominate a man who was popular with class and mass.