“You are mistaken, sir. The beggar-on-horseback is generally supposed to ride to the devil. Franklin rode to the highest posts of political honour and to the esteem and affection of worthy men in all the civilized world.”
“I understand, I understand, sir,” was the reply. “The infatuation of a nation for some particular genius or leader is very like that of a man for an ugly woman. When they do get their eyes opened, they wonder what bewitched them.”
“Sir, what is unreasonable is irrefutable.” With these words he rose, pushed aside his chair with a little temper, and, turning, met Jefferson face to face. The great man smiled, and put his hand affectionately on Hyde’s shoulder. He had evidently heard the conversation, for when he had made the usual greetings, he added—
“You spoke well, my young friend. Now, I will give you a piece of advice—when any one abuses a great man in your presence, ask them what kind of people, they admire. You will certainly be consoled.” With these words he took Hyde’s chair; and Hyde, casting his eyes a moment on this tall, loose-limbed man, whose cold blue eyes and red hair emphasized the stern anger of his whole appearance, was well disposed to leave the scurrilous Englishman to his power of reproof. Besides, the badge of mourning which Jefferson wore had reminded him of his own neglect. Probably, it was the want of this badge that had made the stranger believe he was speaking to one who would sympathize with his views.
So he went at once to his tailor’s and procured the necessary band of crape for his arm. But these events took time, and though he rode hard afterwards, it was quite half-past nine when he drew rein at the door of Richmond Hill. A slave in a fine livery was lounging there; and he gave him his card. In a few moments the man returned with an invitation to dismount and come into the breakfast-room. Thus far, he had suffered himself to be carried forward by the impulse of his heart; and he still put firmly down any wonder as to what he should say or do.
He was shown into a bright little parlour with open windows. A table, elegantly and plentifully spread, occupied the centre of the room; and sitting at it were the Vice-President and Mrs. Adams; and also their only daughter, the beautiful, but not very intellectual, Mrs. Smith. It was easy to see that the meal was really over, and that the trio had been simply lingering over the table because of some interesting discussion; and it was quite as easy to understand that his entrance had put an end to the conversation. Mrs. Adams met him with genuine, though formal, kindness; Mrs. Smith with courtesy; and the Vice-President rose, bowed handsomely, hoped he was well, and then after a minute’s reflection said—