“Mary Ogleby—eloped?” repeated Miss Ashton, aghast.
The very name seemed to call up unpleasant associations and her face plainly showed it. Kennedy had said nothing to her since the day when he had pleaded with her to suspend judgment.
“By the way,” he said in a low voice, leaning over toward her, “have you heard that those pictures of her were faked? It was really Dorgan, and some crook photographer cut out his face and substituted Carton’s. We got the Black Book, this morning, too, and it tells the story of Mrs. Ogleby’s misadventures—as well as a lot of much more important things. We got it from Mr. Murtha and—–”
“Mr. Murtha?” she inquired, in surprise.
“It is a secret, but I think I can violate it to a certain extent for Mr. Carton is a party to it and—”
Kennedy paused. He was speaking with the assurance of one who assumed that John Carton and Margaret Ashton had no secrets. She saw it, and coloured deeply.
Then he lowered his voice further to a whisper and when he finished, her face was even a deeper scarlet. But her eyes had a brightness they had lacked for days. And I could see the emotion she felt as her slight form quivered with excitement.
Kennedy excused himself and we worked our way through the press toward Carton.
“Dorgan has lost his nerve!” ejaculated Craig as we came up with him, watching district after district which showed that the Boss’s usual pluralities were being seriously reduced.
“Lost his nerve?” repeated Carton.
“Yes. I told him I would publish the whole affair of the photographs just as I knew it, not caring whom it hit. I advised him to read his revised statutes again about money in elections and I added the threat, ’There will be no “dough day” or it will be carried to the limit, Dorgan, and I will resurrect Murtha in an hour!’ You should have seen his face! There was no dough day. That’s what I meant when I said it was to be a fair fight. You see the effect on the returns.”
Carton was absolutely speechless. The tears stood in his eyes as he grasped Kennedy’s hand, then swung around to me.
A terrific cheer broke out among the clerks in the outer office. One of them rushed in with a still unblotted report.
Kennedy seized it and read:
“Dorgan concedes the city by a safe plurality to Carton, fifty-two election districts estimated. This clinches the Reform League victory.”
I turned to Carton.
Behind us, through the crowd, had followed a young lady and now Carton had no ears for anything except the pretty apology of Margaret Ashton.
Kennedy pulled me toward the door.
“We might as well concede Miss Ashton to Carton,” he beamed. “Let’s go out and watch the crowd.”