Murtha had turned toward us. He was now the Murtha I had heard of before, the kind that can use a handshake or a playful slap on the back, as between man and man, to work wonders in getting action or carrying a point. Far from despising such men as Murtha, I think we all rather admired his good qualities. It was his point of view, his method, his aim that were wrong. As for the man himself he was human—in fact, I often thought far more human than some of the reformers.
“I’ll leave it to Kennedy,” he resumed. “Suppose you were running a race. You knew you were going to win. Would you deliberately stop and stick your foot out, in order to trip up the man who was coming in second?”
“I don’t know that the cases are parallel,” returned Kennedy with an amused smile.
Murtha kept his good nature admirably.
“Then you would stick your foot out—and perhaps lose the race yourself?” persisted Murtha.
“I’ll relieve Kennedy of answering that,” interrupted Carton, “not because I don’t think he can do it better than I can, perhaps, but because this is my fight—my race.”
“Well,” asked Murtha persuasively, “you’ll think it over, first, won’t you?”
Carton was looking at his opponent keenly, as if trying to take his measure. He had some scheme in mind and Kennedy was watching the faces of both men intently.
“This race,” began Carton slowly, in a manner that showed he wanted to change the subject, “is different from any other in the politics of the city as either of us have ever known it, Murtha.”
Murtha made as though he would object to the proposition, but Carton hurried on, giving him no chance to inject anything into the conversation.
“It may be possible—it is possible,” shot out the young District Attorney, “to make use of secret records—conversations—at conferences—dinners—records that have been taken by a new invention that seems to be revolutionizing politics all over the country.”
The look that crossed Murtha’s face was positively apoplectic. The veins in his forehead stood out like whipcords.
He started to speak, but choked off the words before he had uttered them. I could almost read his mind. Carton had said nothing directly about the Black Book, and Murtha had caught himself just in time not to betray anything about it.
“So,” he shouted at last, “you are going to try some of those fine little scientific tricks on us, are you?”
He was pacing up and down the room, storming and threatening by turns.
“I want to tell you, Carton,” pursued Murtha, “that you’re up against a crowd who were playing this game before you were born. You reformers think you are pretty smooth. But we know a thing or two about you and what you are doing. Besides,” he leaned over the desk again, “Carton, there ain’t many men that can afford to throw stones. I admit my life hasn’t been perfect—but, then I ain’t posing