“What do you mean, Aladdin?” She changed color slightly.
“Only that I’ve got to make a living, Margaret, and it’s on a paper, so I ought to be glad.”
“Aren’t you glad, Aladdin?”
She read in his eyes what was coming.
“Not now, Aladdin,” she said.
“Not now—dear Aladdin.”
“Then you know?”
“I’ve always known, Aladdin, and been grateful and that proud.”
“Will there never be any chance for me, Margaret?”
“Aladdin, I think I like you better than anybody else in the world—”
“Darling—” he had never supposed that it could be said so easily; he leaned toward her.
“No,” she said suddenly; “I’ve got to go and see after all those foolish people.”
“Just for the sake of old times, and now, and new times—”
She hesitated, reddened a little, and then, as sweetly and innocently as a child, put up her lips for him to kiss.
Hannibal St. John’s campaign for reelection to the senatorship was, owing to a grievous error in tact, of doubtful issue. A hue and cry arose against him among his constituents, and things in general fell out so unhappily that it looked toward the close of the contest as if he would be obliged to sit idle and dangle his heels, while the two halves of the country, pushing against each other, were rising in the middle like the hinge of a toggle-joint into the most momentous crisis in the nation’s history. It looked as if the strong man, with his almost blasphemous intolerance of disunion, his columnlike power of supporting, and his incomparable intellect, was to stand in the background and watch the nightmare play from afar. He fought for his place in the forefront of the battle with a great fervor of bitterness, and the possibility of defeat weighed upon his glowering soul like a premature day of judgment. He knew himself to be the one man for the opportunity, and could his true feelings have found utterance, they would have said, “Damn us everlastingly in hell, but don’t shelve us now!”
Opposed to St. John was a Mr. Bispham, of about quarter his height intellectually and integrally—a politician, simple, who went to war for loot. But he was blessed with a tremendous voice and an inexhaustible store of elemental, fundamental humor, upon the waves of which the ship bearing his banner floated high. It seemed that because of one glaring exhibition of tactlessness, and a lack of humor, a really important, valuable, and honest man was to lose the chance of serving his country to a designing whipper-snapper, who was without even the saving grace of violent and virulent prejudices. And so the world goes. It seemed at one time that St. John’s chance was a ghost of a chance, and his friends, sons, and relatives, toiling headstrong by night and day,