“Read it, Peggy,” said the senator. He used that name only when moved about something. The despatch was from the senator’s youngest son, Hannibal, and read:
Do not worry; we are singing Bispham up a tree.
“And Aladdin wrote the song!” cried Margaret. “Aladdin wrote it!”
The senator’s face clouded for a moment. He forced the cloud to pass.
“We must thank him,” he said. “We must thank him.”
Senator St. John was reelected by a small majority. Everybody admitted that it was due to Aladdin O’Brien’s song. It was impossible to disguise the engaging childishness of the vote.
As he went to his desk in the back room of the Portland “Spy” offices the morning after the election, Aladdin had an evil headache, and a subconscious hope that nobody would speak to him suddenly. He felt that his arms and legs might drop off if anybody did, and he could have sworn that he saw a gray sparrow with blue eyes run into a dark corner, and turn into a mouse. But he was quite free from penitence, as the occasion of this last offense had been joy and triumph, whereas that of his first had been sorrow. He lighted a bad cigar, put off his editorial till later, and covered a whole sheet of paper with pictures like these:
(Transcriber’s note: These are simple sketches of birds and animals.)
He looked back with a certain smug satisfaction upon a hilarious evening beginning with a dinner at the club, which some of the older adherents of St. John had given him in gratitude for the part he had taken in the campaign. He remembered that he had not given a bad exhibition, and that noble prophecies had been made of his future by gentlemen in their cups, and that he himself, when just far enough gone to be courageous without being silly, had made a snappy little speech of thanks which had been received with great applause, and that later he had sung his campaign song and others, and that finally, in company with an ex-judge, whose hat was also decorated with a wreath of smilax, he had rolled amiably about the town in a hack, going from one place where drinks could be gotten to another, and singing with great fervor and patriotism:
Zhohn Brownzh bozhy liezh a mole-ring in zhe grave.
Aladdin thought over these things with pleasure, for he had fallen under the dangerous flattery of older men, and with less pleasure of the editorial which it was his immediate business to write. His brisk, crisp chief, Mr. Blankinship, came in for a moment, walking testily and looking like the deuce.
“So you’ve showed up, Aladdin, have you?” he said. “That’s young blood. If any question of politics—I mean policy —arises, I leave it absolutely to you. I’m going back to bed. Can’t you stop smoking that rotten cigar?”
Aladdin laughed aloud, and Mr. Blankinship endeavored to smile.