Infomotions, Inc.Senator North / Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948



Author: Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948
Title: Senator North
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): betty; senator; harriet; senator north; madison; senator burleigh; senate; miss trumbull; jack emory; sally carter
Contributor(s): Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 1772-1834 [Translator]
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Identifier: etext6091
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Title: Senator North

Author: Gertrude Atherton

Release Date: July, 2004  [EBook #6091]
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, SENATOR NORTH ***




Cedric Vonck, Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online



SENATOR NORTH

BY GERTRUDE ATHERTON




_"When, Mr. President, a man, however eminent in other pursuits and
whatever claims he may have to public confidence, becomes a member of
this body, he has much to learn and much to endure. Little does he
know of what he will have to encounter. He may be well read in public
affairs, but he is unaware of the difficulties which must attend and
embarrass every effort to render what he may know available and
useful. He may be upright in purpose and strong in the belief of his
own integrity, but he cannot even dream of the ordeal to which he
cannot fail to be exposed; of how much courage he must possess to
resist the temptations which must daily beset him; of that sensitive
shrinking from undeserved censure which he must learn to control; of
the ever recurring contest between a natural desire for public
approbation and a sense of public duty; of the load of injustice he
must be content to bear even from those who should be his friends; the
imputations on his motives; the sneers and sarcasms of ignorance and
malice; all the manifold injuries which partisan or private malignity,
disappointed of its object, may shower upon his unprotected head. All
this, if he would retain his integrity, he must learn to ear unmoved
and walk steadily onward in the path of public duty, sustained only by
the reflection that time may do him justice; or if not, that his
individual hopes and aspirations and even his name among men should be
of little account to him when weighed in the balance of a people of
whose destiny he is a constituted guardian and defender."_
        --WILLIAM PITT FESSENDEN

_In memorial address before the Senate, 1866._
_Miss Betty Madison embarks on the Political Sea. Her Discoveries,
Surprises, and Triumphs._





SENATOR NORTH




I



"If we receive this Lady Mary Montgomery, we shall also have to
receive her dreadful husband."

"He is said to be quite charming."

"He is a Representative!"

"Of course they are all wild animals to you, but one or two have been
pointed out to me that looked quite like ordinary gentlemen--really."

"Possibly. But no person in official life has ever entered my house. I
do not feel inclined to break the rule merely because the wife of one
of the most objectionable class is an Englishwoman with a title. I
think it very inconsiderate of Lady Barnstaple to have given her a
letter to us."

"Lee, never having lived in Washington, doubtless fancies, like the
rest of the benighted world, that its officials are its aristocracy.
The Senate of the United States is regarded abroad as a sort of House
of Peers. One has to come and live in Washington to hear of the 'Old
Washingtonians,' the 'cave-dwellers,' as Sally calls us; I expected to
see a coat of blue mould on each of them when I returned."

"Really, Betty, I do not understand you this morning." Mrs. Madison
moved uneasily and took out her handkerchief. When her daughter's rich
Southern voice hardened itself to sarcasm, and her brilliant hazel
eyes expressed the brain in a state of cold analysis, Mrs. Madison
braced herself for a contest in which she inevitably must surrender
with what slow dignity she could command. Betty had called her Molly
since she was fourteen months old, and, sweet and gracious in small
matters, invariably pursued her own way when sufficiently roused by
the strength of a desire. Mrs. Madison, however, kept up the fiction
of an authority which she thought was due to herself and her
ancestors. She continued impatiently,--

"You have been standing before that fireplace for ten minutes with
your shoulders thrown back as if you were going to make a speech. It
is not a nice attitude for a girl at all, and I wish you would sit
down. I hope you don't think that because Sally Carter crosses her
knees and cultivates a brutal frankness of expression you must do the
same now that you have dropped all your friends of your own age and
become intimate with her. I suppose she is old enough to do as she
chooses, and she always was eccentric."

"She is only eight years older than I. You forget that I shall be
twenty-seven in three months."

"Well, that is no reason why you should stand before the fireplace
like a man. Do sit down."

"I'd rather stand here till I've said what is necessary--if you don't
mind. I am sorry to be obliged to say it, and I can assure you that I
have not made up my mind in a moment."

"What is it, for heaven's sake?"

Mrs. Madison drew a short breath and readjusted her cushions. In spite
of her wealth and exalted position she had known much trouble and
grief. Her first six children had died in their early youth. Her
husband, brilliant and charming, had possessed a set of affections too
restless and ardent to confine themselves within the domestic limits.
His wife had buried him with sorrow, but with a deep sigh of relief
that for the future she could mourn him without torment. He had
belonged to a collateral branch of a family of which her father had
been the heir; consequently the old Madison house in Washington was
hers, as well as a large fortune. Harold Madison had been free to
spend his own inheritance as he listed, and he had left but a
fragment. Mrs. Madison's nerves, never strong, had long since given
way to trouble and ill-health, and when her active strong-willed
daughter entered her twentieth year, she gladly permitted her to
become the mistress of the household and to think for both. Betty had
been educated by private tutors, then taken abroad for two years, to
France, Germany, and Italy, in order, as she subsequently observed, to
make the foreign attache. Feel more at ease when he proposed. Her
winters thereafter until the last two had been spent in Washington,
where she had been a belle and ranked as a beauty. In the fashionable
set it was believed that every attache, in the city had proposed to
her, as well as a large proportion of the old beaux and of the youths
who pursue the business of Society. Her summers she spent at her place
in the Adirondacks, at Northern watering-places, or in Europe; and the
last two years had been passed, with brief intervals of Paris and
Vienna, in England, where she had been presented with distinction and
seen much of country life. She had returned with her mother to
Washington but a month ago, and since then had spent most of her
time in her room or on horseback, breaking all her engagements after
the first ten days. Mrs. Madison had awaited the explanation with deep
uneasiness. Did her daughter, despite the health manifest in her
splendid young figure, feel the first chill of some mortal disease?
She had not been her gay self for months, and although her complexion
was of that magnolia tint which never harbours colour, it seemed to
the anxious maternal eye, looking back to six young graves, a shade
whiter than it should. Or had she fallen in love with an Englishman,
and hesitated to speak, knowing her mother's love for Washington and
bare tolerance of the British Isles? She looked askance at Betty, who
stood tapping the front of her habit with her crop and evidently
waiting for her mother to express some interest. Mrs. Madison closed
her eyes. Betty therefore continued,--

"I see you are afraid I am going to marry an Oriental minister or
something. I hear that one is looking for an American with a million.
Well, I am going to do something you will think even worse. I am going
in for politics."

"You are going to do what?" Mrs. Madison's voice was nearly inaudible
between relief and horrified surprise, but her eyes flew open. "Do you
mean that you are going to vote?--or run for Congress?--but women
don't sit in Congress, do they?"

"Of course not. Do you know I think it quite shocking that we have
lived here in the very brain of the United States all our lives and
know less of politics than if we were Indians in Alaska? I was ashamed
of myself, I can assure you, when Lord Barnstaple asked me so many
questions the first time I visited Maundrell Abbey. He took for
granted, as I lived in Washington, I must be thoroughly well up in
politics, and I was obliged to tell him that although I had
occasionally been in the room with one or two Senators and Cabinet
Ministers, who happened to be in Society first and politics afterward,
I didn't know the others by name, had never put my foot in the White
House or the Capitol, and that no one I knew ever thought of talking
politics. He asked me what I had done with myself during all the
winters I had spent in Washington, and I told him that I had had the
usual girls'-good-time,--teas, theatre, Germans, dinners, luncheons,
calls, calls, calls! I was glad to add that I belonged to several
charities and had read a great deal; but that did not seem to interest
him. Well, I met a good many men like Lord Barnstaple, men who were in
public life. Some of them were dull enough, judged by the feminine
standard, but even they occasionally said something to remember, and
others were delightful. This is the whole point--I can't and won't go
back to what I left here two years ago. My day for platitudes and
pouring tea for men, who are contemptible enough to make Society their
profession, is over. I am going to know the real men of my country. It
is incredible that there are not men in that Senate as well worth
talking to as any I met in England. The other day I picked up a bound
copy of the Congressional Record in a book-shop. It was frantically
interesting."

"It must have been! But, my dear--of course I understand, darling,
your desire for a new intellectual occupation; you always were so
clever--but you can't, you really can't know these men. They are--they
are--politicians. We never have known politicians. They are dreadful
people, who have come from low origins and would probably call me
'marm.'"

"You are all wrong, Molly. I bought a copy of the Congressional
Directory a day or two ago, and have read the biography of every
Senator. Nine-tenths of them are educated men; if only a few attended
the big Universities, the rest went to the colleges of their State.
That is enough for an American of brains. And most of them are
lawyers; others served in the war, and several have distinguished
records. They cannot be boors, whether they have blue blood in them or
not. I'm sick of blue blood, anyway. Vienna was the deadliest place I
ever visited. What makes London interesting is its red streak of
plebeianism;--well, I repeat, I think it really dreadful that we
should not know even by name the men who make our laws, who are making
history, who may be called upon at any moment to decide our fate among
nations. I feel a silly little fool."

"I suppose you mean that I am one too. But it always has been my
boast, Betty, that I never have had a politician in my house. Your
father knew some, but he never brought them here; he knew the
fastidious manner in which I had been brought up; and although I am
afraid he kept late hours with a good many of them at Chamberlin's and
other dreadful places, he always spared me. I suppose this is heredity
working out in you."

"Possibly. But you will admit, will you not, that I am old enough to
choose my own life?"

"You always have done every single thing you wanted, so I don't see
why you talk like that. But if you are going to bring a lot of men to
this house who will spit on my carpets and use toothpicks, I beg you
will not ask me to receive with you." "Of course you will receive with
me, Molly dear--when I know anybody worth receiving. Unfortunately I
am not the wife of the President and cannot send out a royal summons.
I am hoping that Lady Mary Montgomery will help me. But my first step
shall be to pay a daily visit to the Senate Gallery."

"What!" Mrs. Madison's weary voice flew to its upper register. "I
_do_ know something about politics--I remember now--the only women who
go to the Capitol are lobbyists--dreadful creatures who--who--do all
sorts of things. You can't go there; you'll be taken for one."

"We none of us are taken very long for what we are not. I shall take
Leontine with me, and those interested enough to notice me will soon
learn what I go for."

Mrs. Madison burst into tears. "You are your father all over again!
I've seen it developing for at least three years. At first you were
just a hard student, and then the loveliest young girl, only caring to
have a good time, and coquetting more bewitchingly than any girl I
ever saw. I don't see why you had to change."

"Time develops all of us, one way or another. I suppose you would like
me to be a charming girl flirting bewitchingly when I am forty-five. I
am finished with the meaningless things of life. I want to live now,
and I intend to."

"It will be wildly exciting--the Senate Gallery every day, and knowing
a lot of lank raw-boned Yankees with political beards."  "I am not
expecting to fall in love with any of them. I merely discovered some
time since that I had a brain, and they happen to be the impulse that
possesses it. You always have prided yourself that I am intellectual,
and so I am in the flabby 'well-read' fashion. I feel as if my brain
had been a mausoleum for skeletons and mummies; it felt alive for the
first time when I began to read the newspapers in England. I want no
more memoirs and letters and biographies, nor even of the history that
is shut up in calf-skin. I want the life of to-day. I want to feel in
the midst of current history. All these men here in Washington must be
alive to their finger-tips. Sally Carter admires Senator North and
Senator Maxwell immensely."

"What does she say about politicians in general?" Mrs. Madison looked
almost distraught. "Of course the Norths and the Maxwells come of good
New England families--I never did look down on the North as much as
some of us did; after all, nearly three hundred years are very
respectable indeed--and if these two men had not been in politics I
should have been delighted to receive them. I met Senator North once--
at Bar Harbor, while you were with the Carters at Homburg--and thought
him charming; and I had some most interesting chats with his wife,
who is much the same sort of invalid that I am. But when I establish a
standard I am consistent enough to want to keep to it. I asked you
what Sally Carter says of the others."

"Oh, she admits that there may be others as _convenable_ as Senator
North and Senator Maxwell, and that there is no doubt about there
being many bright men in the Senate; but she 'does not care to know
any more people.' Being a good cave-dweller, she is true to her
traditions."

"People will say you are _passee,_" exclaimed Mrs. Madison, hopefully.
"They will be sure to."

Her daughter laughed, showing teeth as brilliant as her eyes. Then she
snatched off her riding-hat and shook down her mane of warm brown
hair. Her black brows and lashes, like her eyes and mouth, were vivid,
but her hair and complexion were soft, without lustre, but very warm.
She looked like a flower set on so strongly sapped a stem that her
fullness would outlast many women's decline. She had inherited the
beauty of her father's branch of the family. Mrs. Madison was very
small and thin; but she carried herself erectly and her delicately cut
face was little wrinkled. Her eyes were blue, and her hair, which was
always carefully rolled, was as white as sea foam. Betty would not
permit her to wear black, but dressed her in delicate colours, and she
looked somewhat like an animated miniature. She dabbed impatiently at
her tears.

"Everybody will cut you--if you go into that dreadful political set."

"I am on the verge of cutting everybody myself, so it doesn't matter.
Positively--I shall not accept an invitation of the old sort this
winter. The sooner they drop me the better."

Mrs. Madison wept bitterly. "You will become a notorious woman," she
sobbed. "People will talk terribly about you. They will say--all sorts
of things I have heard come back to me--these politicians make love to
every pretty woman they meet. They are so tired of their old frumps
from Oshkosh and Kalamazoo." "They do not all come from Oshkosh and
Kalamazoo. There are six New England States whose three centuries you
have just admitted lift them into the mists of antiquity. There are
fourteen Southern States, and I need make no defence--"

"Their gentlemen don't go into politics any more."

"You have admitted that Senator North and Senator Maxwell are
gentlemen. There is no reason why there should not be many more."

"Count de Bellairs told me that there was a spittoon at every desk in
the Senate and that he counted eight toothpicks in one hour."

"Well, I'll reform them. That will be my holy mission. As for
spittoons and toothpicks, they are conspicuous in every hotel in the
United States. They should be on our coat-of-arms, and the Great
American Novel will be called 'The Great American Toothpick.'
Statesmen have cut their teeth on it, and it has been their solace in
the great crises of the nation's history. As for spittoons, they
were invented for our own Southern aristocrats who loved tobacco then
as now. They decorate our Capitol as a mere matter of form. I don't
pretend to hope that ninety representative Americans are Beau
Brummels, but there must be a respectable minority of gentlemen--
whether self-made or not I don't care. I am going to make a deliberate
attempt to know that minority, and shall call on Lady Mary Montgomery
this afternoon as the first step. So you are resigned, are you not,
Molly dear?"

"No, I am not! But what can I do? I have spoiled you, and you would be
just the same if I hadn't. You are more like the men of the family
than the women--they always would have their own way. Are they all
married?" she added anxiously.

"Do you mean the ninety Senators and the three hundred and fifty-six
Representatives? I am sure I do not know. Don't let that worry you. It
is my mind that is on the _qui vive_, not my heart."

"You'll hear some old fool make a Websterian speech full of periods
and rhetoric, and you'll straight-way imagine yourself in love with
him. Your head will be your worst enemy when you do fall in love."

"Webster is the greatest master of style this country has produced. I
should hate a man who used either 'periods' or rhetoric. I am the
concentrated essence of modernism and have no use for 'oratory' or
'eloquence.' Some of the little speeches in the Record are
masterpieces of brevity and pure English, particularly Senator
North's."

"You _are_ modern. If we had a Clay, I could understand you--I am
too exhausted to discuss the matter further; you _must_ drop it
for the present. What will Jack Emory say?"

"I have never given him the least right to say anything."

"I almost wish you were safely married to him. He has not made a great
success of his life, but he is your equal and his manners are perfect.
I shall live in constant fear now of your marrying a horror with a
twang and a toothpick."

"I promise you I won't do that--and that I never will marry Jack
Emory."




II



Betty Madison had exercised a great deal of self-control in resisting
the natural impulse to cultivate a fad and grapple with a problem.
Only her keen sense of humour saved her. On the Sunday following her
return, while sauntering home after a long restless tramp about the
city, she passed a church which many coloured people were entering.
Her newly awakened curiosity in all things pertaining to the political
life of her country prompted her to follow them and sit through the
service. The clergyman was light in colour, and prayed and preached in
simpler and better English than she had heard in more pretentious
pulpits, but there was nothing noteworthy, in his remarks beyond a
supplication to the Almighty to deliver the negro from the oppression
of the "Southern tyrant," followed by an admonition to the negro to
improve himself in mind and character if he would hope to compete with
the Whites; bitter words and violence but weakened his cause.

This was sound commonsense, but the reverse of the sensational
entertainment Betty had half expected, and her eyes wandered from the
preacher to his congregation. There were all shades of Afro-American
colour and all degrees of prosperity represented. Coal-black women
were there, attired in deep and expensive mourning. "Yellow girls"
wore smart little tailor costumes. Three young girls, evidently of the
lower middle class of coloured society, for they were cheaply dressed,
had all the little airs and graces and mannerisms of the typical
American girl. In one corner a sleek mulatto with a Semitic profile
sat in the recognized attitude of the banker in church; filling his
corner comfortably and setting a worthy example to the less favoured
of Mammon.

But Betty's attention suddenly was arrested and held by two men who
sat on the opposite side of the aisle, although not together, and
apparently were unrelated. There were no others quite like them in the
church, but the conviction slowly forced itself into her mind,
magnetic for new impressions, that there were many elsewhere. They
were men who were descending the fifties, tall, with straight gray
hair. One was very slender, and all but distinguished of carriage; the
other was heavier, and would have been imposing but for the listless
droop of his shoulders. The features of both were finely cut, and
their complexions far removed from the reproach of "yellow." They
looked like sun-burned gentlemen.

For nearly ten minutes Betty stared, fascinated, while her mind
grappled with the deep significance of all those two sad and patient
men expressed. They inherited the shell and the intellect, the
aspirations and the possibilities of the gay young planters whose
tragic folly had called into being a race of outcasts with all their
own capacity for shame and suffering.

Betty went home and for twenty-four hours fought with the desire to
champion the cause of the negro and make him her life-work. But not
only did she abominate women with missions; she looked at the subject
upon each of its many sides and asked a number of indirect questions
of her cousin, Jack Emory. Sincere reflection brought with it the
conclusion that her energies in behalf of the negro would be
superfluous. The careless planters were dead; she could not harangue
their dust. The Southerners of the present generation despised and
feared the coloured race in its enfranchised state too actively to
have more to do with it than they could help; if it was a legal
offence for Whites and Blacks to marry, there was an equally stringent
social law which protected the coloured girl from the lust of the
white man. Therefore, as she could not undo the harm already done, and
as a crusade in behalf of the next generation would be meaningless,
not to say indelicate, she dismissed the "problem" from her mind. But
the image of those two sad and stately reflections of the old school
sank indelibly into her memory, and rose to their part in one of the
most momentous decisions of her life.




III



The Montgomerys had come to Washington for the first time at the
beginning of the previous winter, while the Madisons were in England.
Lady Mary had left her note of introduction the day before Betty's
declaration of independence.

Betty was anxious to meet the young Englishwoman, not only because she
possessed the charmed key to political society, but her history as
related by certain gossips of authority commanded interest.

Randolph Montgomery, a young Californian millionaire, had followed his
mother's former ward, Lady Maundrell, to England, nursing an old and
hopeless passion. What passed between him and the beautiful young
countess the gossips did not attempt to state, but he left England two
days after the tragedy which shelved Cecil Maundrell into the House of
Lords, and returned to California accompanied by his mother and Lady
Barnstaple's friend, Lady Mary Montgomery. Bets were exchanged freely
as to the result of this bold move on the part of a girl too
fastidious to marry any of the English parvenus that addressed her,
too poor to marry in her own class. The wedding took place a few
months later, immediately after Mrs. Montgomery's death; an event
which left Lady Mary the guest in a foreign country of a young
bachelor.

From all accounts, the marriage, although a wide deflection from the
highest canons of romance, was a successful one, and the Montgomerys
were living in splendid state in Washington. Lady Mary was approved by
even the "Old Washingtonians"--a thoughtful Californian of lineage had
given her a letter to Miss Carter, who in turn had given her a tea--
and as her husband was brilliant, accomplished, and of the best blood
of Louisiana, the little set, tenaciously clinging to its traditional
exclusiveness amidst the whirling ever-changing particles of the
political maelstrom, found no fault in him beyond his calling. And as
he was a man of tact and never mentioned politics in its presence, and
as his wife was not at home to the public on the first Tuesday of the
month, reserving that day for such of her friends as shunned political
petticoats, the young couple were taken straight into the bosom of
that inner set which the ordinary outsider might search for a very
glimpse of in vain.

How Lady Mary stood with the large and heterogeneous political set
Betty had no means of knowing, and she was curious to ascertain; she
could think of no position more trying for an Englishwoman of Mary
Gifford's class.

As she drove toward the house several hours after announcing her plan
of campaign to her mother, she found Massachusetts Avenue blocked with
carriages and recalled suddenly that Tuesday was "Representatives'
day." She gave a little laugh as she imagined Mrs. Madison's plaintive
distaste. And then she felt the tremor and flutter, the pleasurable
desire to run away, which had assailed her on the night of her first
ball. That was eight years ago, and she had not experienced a moment
of nervous trepidation since.

"Am I about to be re-born?" she thought. "Or merely rejuvenated? I
certainly do feel young again."

She looked about critically as she entered the house. Her own home,
which was older than the White House, was large and plain, with lofty
rooms severely trimmed in the colonial style. There were no portieres,
no modern devices of decoration. Everything was solid and comfortable,
worn, and of a long and honourable descent. The dining-room and large
square hall were striking because of the blackness of their oak walls,
the many family portraits, and certain old trophies of the chase, as
vague in their high dark corners as fading daguerreotypes.

So imbued was Betty with the idea that anything more elaborate was the
sign manifest of too recent fortune, that she had indulged in caustic
criticism of the modern palaces of certain New York friends. But
although the immediate impression of the Montgomery house was of soft
luxurious richness, and it was indubitably the home of wealthy people
determined to enjoy life, Miss Madison's dainty nose did not lift
itself.

"At all events, the money is not laid on with a trowel," she thought.
And then she became aware of a curious sensuous longing as she looked
again at the dim rich beauty about her, the smothered windows, the
suggested power of withdrawal from every vulgar or annoying contact
beyond those stately walls.

"I should like--I should like--" thought Betty, striving to put her
vague emotion into words, "to live in this sort of house when I
marry." And then her humour flashed up: it was a sense that sat at the
heels of every serious thought. "What a combination with the twang and
the toothpick! Can they really be my fate? Of course I might reform
both, and cut off his Uncle Sam beard while he slept."

She had taken the wrong direction and entered a room in which there
was not even a stray guest. A loud buzz of voices rose and fell at the
end of a long hall, and she slowly made her way to the drawing-room,
pausing once to watch a footman who was busily sorting visiting-cards
into separate packs at a table. She handed him her card, and he
slipped it into a pack marked "I Street."

The drawing-room was thronged with people, and as many of them
surrounded the hostess, while constant new-comers pressed forward to
shake a patient hand, Betty decided to stand apart for a few moments
and look at the crowd. She was in a new world, and as eager and
curious as if she had been shot from Earth to Mars.

Lady Mary was quite as handsome as her portraits: a cold blue and
white and ashen beauty whose carriage and manifest of race were in
curious contrast, Lee had told Betty, to a nervous manner and the loud
voice of one who conceived that social laws had been invented for the
middle class. But there was little vivacity in her manner to-day, and
her voice was not audible across the large room. She looked tired. It
was half-past five o'clock, and doubtless she had been on her feet
since three. But she was smiling graciously upon her visitors, and
gave each a warmth of welcome which betrayed the wife of the ambitious
politician.

"Her mouth is not so selfish as in her photographs," observed the
astute Betty. "I suppose in the depths of her soul she hates this, but
she does it; and if she loves the man, she must think it well worth
while."

She turned her attention to the visitors. There were many women
superbly dressed, in taste as perfect as her own. She never had seen
any of them before, but they had the air of women of importance. The
majority looked frigid and bored, a few dignified and easy of manner.
The younger women of the same class were more animated, but no less
irreproachable in style.

There were others, middle-aged and young, with all the native style of
the second-class, and still others who were clad in coarse serges,
cashmeres, or cheap silks, shapelessly made with the heavy hand of
many burdens. These did not detain the hostess in conversation, but
gathered in groups, or walked about the room gazing at the many
beautiful pictures and ornaments. There were only three or four really
vulgar-looking women present, and they were clothed in conspicuous
raiment. One, and all but her waist was huge, wore a bodice of
transparent gauze; another, also of middle years, had crowned her hard
over-coloured face with a large gentian-blue hat turned up in front
with a brass buckle. Another was in pink silk and heavily powdered.
But although these women were offensively loud, they did not suggest
any lack of that virtue whose exact proportions so often elude the
most earnest seeker after truth.

Betty turned impulsively to an old woman clad in shabby black who
stood besides her gazing earnestly at the crowd. Her large bony face
was crossed by the lines and wrinkles of long years of care, and her
eyes were dim; but her mouth was smiling.

"Tell me," exclaimed Betty, "please--are all these people in politics?
I--I--am a stranger, and I should like to know who they are."

"Well, I can tell you pretty near everything you want to know, I
guess," replied the old lady. She had the drawl and twang and accent
of rural New England. "I guess you've come here, like myself, jest to
see the folks. A few here, like you and me, ar'n't in official life,
but the most are, I guess. Nearly all the Cabinet ladies are here to-
day and a good many Senators' wives and darters. That there lady in
heliotrope and fur is the wife of the Secretary of War, and the one in
green velvet and chinchilla is Mis' Senator Maxwell. That real stylish
handsome girl just behind is her darter, and I guess she has a good
many beaux. They're real elegant, ar'n't they? I guess we have good
cause to be proud of our ladies."

She paused that Betty might express her approval, and upon being
assured that Paris was responsible for many of the gowns present,
continued in her monotonous but kindly drawl,

"And some of them began life doin' their own work. The President ain't
no aristocrat, and most of his friends ain't neither; but I tell you
when their wives begin to entertain they do it jest as if they was
born to it. I presume if my husband--he was a physician--had gone into
politics and had luck, I'd have been jest like those ladies; but as he
didn't, I'm still doin' most of my own work and look it. But the Lord
knows what he's about, I guess. Senator Maxwell's a swell; they've
always been rich, the Maxwells, and he married a New York girl, so she
didn't have much to learn, I guess. Mis' Senator Shattuc--she's the
one in wine colour--was the darter of a big railroad man out West, so
I guess she had all the schoolin' and Yurrup she wanted. Now that real
pretty little woman jest speakin' to Lady Montgomery is Mis' Senator
Freeman. They do say as how she was the darter of a baker in Chicago
and used to run barefoot around the streets, but she looks as well as
any of 'em now and she dines at every Embassy in Washington. Her
dresses are always described in the _Post_: she wears pink and blue
mostly. You kin tell by her face that she's got a lot of determination
and that she'd git where she had a mind to. I guess she'd dine with
Queen Victoria if she had a mind to."

"I feel exactly as if I were at a pantomime," cried Betty,
delightedly. "Even you--" She caught herself up. "I mean I always
thought the New England playwrights invented all their characters. Who
are these plainly dressed women and--and--half-way ones?" "Oh, they're
Representatives' wives mostly," drawled the old lady, who looked
puzzled. "They take a day off and call on each other. One or two is
Senators' wives. Some of the Senators is rich, but some ar'n't. Mis'
Montgomery's jest as nice to them as to the swells, and she told me to
be sure and go into the next room and have a cup of tea. I don't care
much about tea excep' for lunch, and she don't have a collation--I
presume she can't; too many people'd come, and I guess she has about
enough. Now, those ladies that don't look exactly as if they was
ladies," indicating the large birds of tawdry plumage and striking
complexions, "they don't live here. Washington ladies don't dress like
that. I guess they're the wives of men out West that have made their
pile lately and come here to see the sights. First they look at all
the public buildin's, and I guess they about walk all over the
Capitol, and hear a speech or two in the Ladies' Gallery--from their
Senators, if they can--and after that they go about in Society a bit.
You see, Washington is a mighty nice place fur people who haven't much
show at home--those that live in small towns, fur instance. There is
so many public receptions they can go to--The White House, the
Wednesdays of the Cabinet ladies, the Thursdays of the Senator's
wives, and six or seven Representatives--mebbe more--who have real
elegant houses; and then there is several Legations that give public
receptions. You can always see in the _Post_ who's goin' to receive;
and those women can go home and talk fur the rest of their lives about
the fine time they had in Washington society. Amurricans heighst
themselves whenever they git a chance. I don't care to do that. My
sister--she's a heap younger 'n I am and awful spry--and I come down
from the north of New Hampshire every winter and keep a boardin'-house
in Washington so that we can see the world. We don't go home with ten
dollars over railroad fare in our pockets, but we don't mind, because
the farm keeps us and we've had a real good time. I often sit down up
in New Hampshire and think of the beautiful houses and dresses and
pictures I've seen, and I can always remember that I've shaken hands
with the President and his wife and the ladies of the Cabinet. They're
just as nice as they can be."

Betty, whose sympathies were quick and keen, winked away a tear. "I'm
so glad you enjoy it so much," she exclaimed, "and that there is so
much for you here to enjoy. I never thought of it in that way. I'm
awfully interested in it all, myself, and I feel deeply indebted to
you."

"Well, you needn't mind that. My sister says I always talk when I can
git anybody to listen to me, and I guess I do. Where air you from? New
York, I guess."

"Oh, I am a Washingtonian. My name is Madison."

"So? I don't remember seeing it in the society columns."

"We are never mentioned in society columns," exclaimed Betty, with her
first thrill of pride since entering the new world. "But I seldom have
passed a winter out of Washington, although--I am sorry to say--I
never have met any of these people."

"You don't say. I ain't curious, but you don't look as if you had to
stay to home and do the work. But Amurrican girls are so smart they
can about look anything they have a mind to." "Oh--I am really sorry,
but everybody seems to be going, and I haven't spoken to Lady Mary
yet. I'm _so_ much obliged to you."

"Now, you needn't be, for you're a real nice young lady, and I've
enjoyed talkin' to you. Likely we'll meet again, but I'd be happy to
have you call. Here's my card. Our house is right near here--in the
real fashionable part; and we've several ladies livin' with us that
you might like to meet."

"Oh, thanks! thanks!" Betty put the card carefully into her case,
shook her new friend warmly by the hand, and went forward. Lady Mary's
tired white face had set into an almost mechanical smile, but as her
eyes met Betty's they illumined with sudden interest and her hard-
worked muscles relaxed.

"You are Betty Madison!" she exclaimed. And as the two girls shook
hands they conceived one of those sudden and violent friendships which
are so full of interest while they last.

"How awfully good of you to call so soon!" continued Lady Mary, after
Betty had expatiated upon her long-cherished desire for this meeting.
"I hoped you would, although Miss Carter rather frightened me with her
account of your mother's aversion to political people. But they have
all been so good to me--all your delightful set." She lowered her
voice, which had rung out for a moment in something of its old style,
albeit platitudes had worn upon its edges. "I _couldn't_ stand just
this--although I must add that many of the official women are charming
and have the most stunning manners; but many are the reverse, and
unfortunately I can't pick and choose. It seems that when one gets
into politics in this country that is the end of nine-tenths of one's
personal life; and Washington is certainly the headquarters of
democracy. Here every American really does feel that he is as good as
every other American; I wish to heaven he didn't."

"Washington is a democracy with a kernel of the most exclusive
aristocracy," said Betty, with a laugh. "Some one has said that it is
the drawing-room of the Republic. It is the hotel drawing-room with a
Holy of Holies opening upon the area. I'm sick of the Holy of Holies,
and I Ve never enjoyed a half-hour so much as while I've been looking
on here--waiting for you to be disengaged."

"Oh, this is nothing. You must let me take you to a large evening
reception. That is really interesting, for you see so many famous
people. Can't you dine with me to-morrow? We've a big political dinner
on. About fifteen members of a Senate and a House Committee that are
deliberating a very important bill are coming. Senator North--he is
well worth meeting--is Chairman of the Senate Committee, and my
husband, although a new member, stands very high with the Chairman of
his Committee, most of whom are old members of the House. Senator
Ward also will be here. Do come, if you have nothing more important on
hand. I can easily get another member of the House Committee."

"Come! I'd break twenty engagements to come." Betty's eyes sparkled
and she lifted her head with a motion peculiar to her when reminded
that she was the favoured of the gods. "I suppose there is a good deal
of fag about this sort of life to you, but it has all the charm of the
undiscovered country for me."

"Oh, I am deeply interested," said Lady Mary. The two women were alone
now, and the hostess, released after three hours of stereotyped
amenities, surrendered herself to the charm of natural intercourse
with one of her own sort, and rang for tea. "I always liked politics,
and I feel quite sure that my husband will achieve his high ambitions.
It interests me greatly to help him."

"Of course he'll be President!" cried Betty, enthusiastic in the
warmth of her new friendship and its possibilities. She was surprised
by a tilt of the nose and an emphatic shake of the head.

"No, indeed!" exclaimed Lady Mary, "Presidents are politicians only.
My husband aspires higher than that. To be a Senator of the first rank
requires very different qualities."

"Ah! I shall quote that to Mol--my mother. She is not predisposed in
their favour."

"Of course there are Senators and Senators," said Lady Mary, hastily.
"You can't get ninety men of equal ability together, anywhere. There
are the six who are admittedly the first,--North, Maxwell, Ward,
March, Howard, and Eustis,--and about ten who are close behind them.
Then there is the venerable group to which Senator Maxwell also
belongs; and the younger men of forty-five or so who are not quite
broken in yet, and whose enthusiasm is apt to take the wrong
direction; and the fire-eaters, Populists usually; and the hard-
working second-rate men, many of them millionaires (Western, as a
rule) who are accused of having bought their legislatures to get in,
but who do good work on Committee, whether or not they came under the
delusion that they had bought an honour with nothing beneath it: a man
who presumed on his wealth in the Senate would fare as badly as a boy
at Eton who presumed on his title. Beyond all, are the nonentities
that are in every body. So, you see, it is worth while to aim for
the first place and to keep it."

"There are certainly all sorts to choose from! I'll never mistrust my
instincts again. I am glad I shall meet Senator North to-morrow. I
suppose he is a courtly person of the old school with a Websterian
intellect."

"I don't know anything about Webster; I can't read your history and
live in it, too; but certainly there is nothing of the old school
about Senator North. He is very modern and has a truly Republican--or
shall I say aristocratic?--simplicity--although no one could dress
better--combined with a cold manner to most men and a warm manner to
most women."

"Tell me all about him!" exclaimed Betty, sipping her tea. "I never
was so happy and excited in my life. I feel as if I was Theodosia
Burr, or Nelly Custis, or Dolly Madison come to life. And now I'm
going to know an American statesman before his coat has turned to
calf-skin. Quick! How old is he?"

"Just sixty, and looks much younger, as most of the Senators do. He is
a hard worker--he is Chairman of one Committee and a member of five
others; a brilliant debater, the most accomplished legislator in the
Senate, unyielding in his convictions, and absolutely independent. He
is not popular, as it has never occurred to him to conciliate anybody.
He is very kind and attentive to his invalid wife and proud of his
sons, and he adored a daughter who died four years ago. Rumor has it
that more than one charming woman has consoled him for domestic
afflictions and political trials, but I do not pay much attention to
rumours of that sort. How odd that I, an alien, should be instructing
a Washingtonian in politics and the personalities of her Senators; but
I quite understand. I do hope Mrs. Madison will not object to your
coming to-morrow night."

"I shall come. And go now. I feel a brute to have let you talk so
much, but I never have been so interested!"

The two women kissed and parted; and Lady Mary's dreams that night
were undisturbed by any vision of herself in the ranks of the Fates.




IV



Betty returned home much elated with the success of her visit. She
heard the voice of her cousin Jack Emory in the parlor and went at
once to her room to dress. The voice sounded solemn, and so did her
mother's; they doubtless were sitting in conference upon her. She
selected her evening gown with some care; her cousin was an old story,
but he was a very attractive man, and coquetry would hold its own in
her, become she never so intellectual.

Jack Emory had been her undeclared lover since his middle teens.
Somewhere in the same immature interval, just after her first return
from Europe, she had imagined herself passionately in love with him.
But she had a large fortune left her by her maternal grandfather,
besides a hundred thousand her father had died too soon to spend, and
Jack was the son of a Virginian who had been a Rebel to his death,
haughtily refusing to have his disabilities removed, and threatening
to shoot any negro in his employ who dared to go to the ballot box. He
had left his son but a few thousands out of his large inheritance, and
adjured him on his death bed to hold no office under the Federal
government and to shoot a Yankee rather than shake his hand. Jack
inherited his father's prejudices without his violent temper. He had a
contemptuous dislike for the North, a loathing for politics, and
adistaste for everybody outside his own diminishing class. Love for
Betty Madison had driven him West in the hope of retrieving his
fortunes, but he was essentially a gentleman and a scholar; the
hustling quality was not in him, and he returned South after two years
of unpleasant endeavour and started a small produce farm adjoining an
old house on the outskirts of Washington, left him by his mother. Here
he lived with his books, and made enough money to support himself
decently. He never had asked Betty to marry him, although he knew that
his aunt would champion his cause. During the period of Betty's maiden
passion his pride had caused her as much suffering as her youth and
buoyant nature would permit; but as the years slipped by she felt
inclined to personify that pride and burn a candle beneath it. Even
before her mind had awakened, the energy and strength of her character
had cured her of love for a man as supine as Jack Emory. He was
charming and well read, all that she could desire in a brother, but as
a husband he would be intolerable. As his love cooled she liked him
better still, particularly as his loyalty would not permit him to
acknowledge even to himself that he could change; but its passing left
him with fewer clouds on a rather melancholy spirit, a readier tongue,
and a complete recovery from the habits of sighing and of leaving the
house abruptly.

Betty's maid dressed her in a bright blue taffeta, softened with much
white lace, and she went slowly down to the hall, rustling her skirts
that Emory might hear and come out for a word before dinner if he
liked. It was a relief to be able to coquet with him without fearing
that he would go home and shoot himself; and it helped him to sustain
the pleasant fiction that he still was in love with her.

He came out at once and raised her hand to his lips, murmuring a
compliment as his grandfather might have done. He was only thirty-two,
but his face was sallow and lined from trouble and fever. Otherwise he
was very handsome, with his golden head and intellectual blue eyes,
his haughty profile and tall figure, listlessly carried as it was. In
spite of the fact that he took pride in dressing well, he always
looked a little old-fashioned. When with Betty, invariably as smart as
Paris and New York could make her, he almost appeared as if wearing
his father's old clothes. His Southern accent and intonation were
nearly as broad as a negro's. Betty had almost lost hers; she retained
just enough to enrich and individualize without a touch of
provincialism. She belonged to that small class of Americans whose
ear-mark is the absence of all Americanisms.

Mr. Emory looked perturbed.

"There is something I should like to say," he remarked hesitatingly.
"There is yet a quarter of an hour before dinner. I think this old
hall with its portraits of your grandmothers is a good place to say it
in--"

"Molly has pressed you into service, I see. Let us have it out, by all
means. Please straighten your necktie before you begin. You cannot
possibly be impressive while it looks as if it were standing on one
leg."

"Please be serious, Betty dear. I am indeed most disturbed. It surely
cannot be that you meant what you told your mother this morning,--that
you intended to change the whole current of your life in such an
unprecedented manner."

"Great heavens! One would think I was about to go on the stage or
enter a convent."

"I would rather you did either than soil your mind with the politics
of this country. I say nothing about there being no statesmen;--there
is not an honest man in politics the length and breadth of the Union.
The country is a sink of corruption, as far as politics are concerned.
Every Congressman buys his seat or is put in as the agent of some
disgraceful trust or syndicate or railroad corporation."

Betty drew her eyelids together in a fashion that robbed her eyes of
their coquetry and fire and made them look unpleasantly judicial.

"Exactly how much do you know about American politics?" she asked
coldly. "I have known you all my life and I never heard you mention
them before--"

"I never have considered them a fit subject for you to listen to--"

"I have been in your library a great many times and I do not recall a
copy of the Congressional Record. You have said often that you despise
the newspapers and only read the telegrams; that the only paper you
read through is the London _Times_. So, I repeat, what do you know
about the American politics of to-day?"

"What I have told you."

"Where did you learn it? Do you ever go to the Senate or the House?"

"God forbid! But I am a man, and those things are in the atmosphere; a
man's brain accumulates naturally all widely diffused impressions.
I've been a great deal in the smoking-cars of railroad-trains, and
spent two years in a Western State where a man who had taken a fortune
out of a mine made no bones of buying a seat in the Senate from the
Legislature, nor the Legislature about selling it. It was the most
abominable transaction I ever came close to, and had as much to
do with my leaving the place as anything else."

"And you mean to say that you judge all the old States of the country
by a newly settled community of adventurers out West?"

"New York and Pennsylvania are notorious."

"There are bad boys in every school. What I want to know is--can you
assert on your knowledge that all the Southern and New England States
are corrupt and send only small politicians to Washington? This is a
more serious charge than Molly's assertion that they all use
toothpicks."

"I repeat that I do not believe there is an honest man in that
Capitol."

"Do you know this? Have you investigated the life of every man in the
Senate and the House?" "What a good district attorney you would make!"

"You are talking a lot of copybook platitudes with which you have
allowed your mind to stagnate. But you must convince me, for if what
you say is true I shall have nothing to do with politics. Let us begin
with Senator North. How and when did he buy his seat, and what Trust
does he represent?"

"Oh, I never have heard anything against North. He is too big a gun in
Washington--"

"You will admit then that _he_ is not corrupt--"

"I don't doubt he has his own methods--"


"I don't care three cents about your suppositions. I want facts. How
about Senator Maxwell?"

"He has been in Congress since before I was born. One never hears him
discussed."

"And his Puritanical State has heaped every honour on him that it can
think of. Tell me the biography of Senator Ward--all that is too awful
to be printed in the Congressional Directory--"

"He is from one of those dreadful North-western States and bound to be
corrupt," cried Emory, triumphantly. He wished desperately that he had
waited and got up his case. He spoke from sincere conviction. "There
may be a rag of decency left in the older States, but the West is
positively fetid. I give you my word I am speaking the truth, Betty
dear, and in your own interest. If I have no more details to give you,
it is because I promised my father on his death-bed that I would have
nothing to do with politics, and I have kept my word to the extent of
reading as little about them as possible. But I can assure you that I
know as much about them as anybody not in the accursed business. It is
in the air--" "There are so many things in the air that they get mixed
up. Your whole argument is based on air. Now, _mon ami_, you turn to
to-morrow and study up the record of every man in that Senate, as well
as the legislative methods of his State. When you know all about it, I
shall be delighted to be instructed. But I don't want any more air.
Now come in to dinner, and if you allude to the subject before Molly,
I'll leave the table."

He bowed over her hand again with his old-fashioned courtesy. "When
you issue a command I am bound to obey," he said, "and although you
have set me an unpleasant, an obnoxious task, I certainly shall
accomplish that also to the best of my ability. You belong to this old
house, Betty, to this old set; I love to think of you as the last rose
on the old Southern tree, and you shall not be blighted if I can help
it."

Betty tapped him lightly with her fan.

"I belong to the whole country, my dear boy; I am no old cabbage rose
on a half-dead bush, but the same vegetable under a new name,--the
American Beauty Rose. Do you see the parable? And I've a great many
thorns on my long stem. Remember that also."




V



Betty, in accordance with a time-honoured habit, was the last to
arrive at the dinner-party on the following evening. She had arranged
her heavy large-waved hair low on her neck, and the pale green velvet
of her gown lifted its dull mahogany hue and the deep Southern
whiteness of her skin. She did not take a beautiful picture, for her
features had the national irregularity, but she seldom entered a room
that several men did not turn and stare at her. She carried herself
with the air of one used to commanding the homage of men, her lovely
colouring was always enhanced by dress, and she radiated magnetism. It
was such an alive, warm, buoyant personality that men turned to her as
naturally as children do to the maternal woman; even when they did not
love her they liked to be near her, for she recalled some vague ideal.
She knew her power perfectly, and after one or two memorable lessons
had put from her the temptation to give it active exercise. It should
be the instrument of unqualified happiness when her hour came;
meanwhile she cultivated an impersonal attitude which baffled men
unable to propose and tempered the wind to those that could.

During the few moments in the drawing-room she could gather only a
collective impression of the men who stared at her to-night. There was
a general suggestion of weight, in the sculptor's sense, and repose
combined with alertness, and they stood very squarely on their feet.
Betty had only had time to single out one long beard dependent from a
visage otherwise shorn, and to observe further that some of the women
were charmingly dressed, while others wore light silk afternoon
frocks, when dinner was announced.

Her partner was evidently one of the younger Senators, one of those
juvenile enthusiasts of forty-five who beat their breasts for some
years upon the Senate's impassive front. He was extremely good-
looking, with a fair strong impatient face, trimmed with a moustache
only, and a well-built figure full of nervous energy. He had less
repose than most of the men about him, but he suggested the same
solidity. He might fail or go wrong, but not because there was any
room in his mind for shams. His name was Burleigh, but what his
section was, Betty, as they exchanged amenities and admired the lavish
display of flowers, could not determine; he had no accent whatever,
and although his voice was deep and sonorous, it had not the peculiar
richness of the South. His gray eyes smiled as they met hers, and his
manners were charming; but Betty, accustomed to grasp the salient
points of character in a first interview, fancied that he could be
overbearing and truculent.

"Are they going to talk politics to-night?" she asked, when the
platitudes had run their course.

"I hope not. I've had enough of politics, all day."

"Oh, I hoped you would," said Betty, in a deeply disappointed tone.

He looked amused.

"Why?" he asked.

"Oh, I am so interested. That sounds very vague, but I am. When Lady
Mary told me she was dining members of the two Committees, I thought
it was to talk politics, and--and--settle it amicably or something."
Betty could look infantile when she chose, and was always ready to
cover real ignorance with an exaggerated assumption which inspired
doubt.

"We have the excessive pleasure of discussing the bill in Senator
North's comfortable Committee room for several hours every few days,
and we usually are amiable. We are merely dining out to-night in each
other's good company. Still, I guess your desire will be more or less
gratified. Second nature is strong, and one or two will probably get
down to it about the middle of dinner."

"You are from New England," exclaimed Betty, triumphantly. "I have
been waiting for you to say 'I reckon' or 'I guess.'"

"I was born and educated in Maine, but I went west to practise law as
soon as I knew enough, and I am Senator from one of the Middle Western
States."

"Ah!" Betty gave him a swift side glance. He looked anything but
"corrupt," and that truculent note in his voice did not indicate
subservience to party bosses. She determined to write to Jack Emory in
the morning and command him to look up Senator Burleigh's record at
once.

"I suppose all the Senators here to-night are the--big ones?"

"Oh, no; North and Ward are the only two on this Committee belonging
to the very first rank. The other four here are in that group that is
pressing close upon their heels; and myself, who am a new member: I've
been here four years only. Would you mind telling me who you are? Of
course American women don't take much interest in politics, but--do
you know as little as you pretend?"

"I wish I knew more; but I've been abroad for the last two years, and
my mother prefers rattlesnakes to politics. Which is Senator North?"

"He is at the head of the table with Lady Mary, but that rosebush is
in the way; you cannot see him."

"And which is Senator Ward?" "Over there by Mrs. Shattuc,--the woman
in ivory-white and heliotrope."

Betty flashed him a glance of renewed interest. "You like women," she
exclaimed. "And you must be married, or have sisters."

"I like women and I am not married, nor have I any sisters. I
particularly like woman's dress. If you'll pardon me, that combination
of pale green and white lace and soft stuff is the most stunning thing
I've seen for a long while."

"Law, politics, and woman's dress! How hard you must have worked!"

"Our strong natural inclinations help us so much!" He gave her an
amused glance, and his manner was a trifle patronizing, as of a
prominent man used to the admiration of pretty girls. It was evident
that he knew nothing of her and her long line of conquests.

"Senator Ward looks half asleep," she remarked abruptly.

"He usually does until dinner is two-thirds over. He is Chairman of
one Committee and serving on two others; and all have important bills
before them at present. So he is tired."

"He doesn't look corrupt."

"Corrupt? Who? Ward? Who on earth ever said he was corrupt?"

"Well, I heard his State was."

"'Corruption' is the father of more platitudes than any word in the
American language. There are corrupt men in his State, no doubt, and
one of the Trusts with which we are ridden at present tried to buy its
Legislature and put their man in. But Ward won his fight without the
expenditure of a dollar beyond paying for the band and a few
courtesies of that sort. His State is proud of him both as a statesman
and a scholar, and he is likely to stay in the Senate until he drops
in his tracks."

"Then he comes here with the intention of remaining for life? I think
you should all do that."

"You are quite right. When a man achieves the honour of being elected
honestly to the United States Senate,--it is the highest honour in the
Republic,--he should feel that he is dedicating himself to the service
of the country, and should have so arranged his affairs that he can
stay there for life."

Betty's eyes kindled with approval. "Oh, I am glad," she said, "I am
glad."

"Glad of what, may I ask?"

"Oh--" And then she impulsively told him something of her history, of
her determination to take up politics as her ruling interest, and of
the opposition of her mother and cousin. Senator Burleigh listened
with deep attention, and if he was amused he was too gallant to betray
the fact, now that she had honoured him with her confidence.

"Well," he said, "that is very interesting, very. And you are quite
right. You'll do yourself good and us good. Mind you stand to your
guns. Would you mind telling me your name? Lady Mary never thinks a
mere name worth mentioning."

"Madison--Elizabeth Madison. I had almost forgotten the Elizabeth. I
have always been called Betty."

"Ah!" he said, "ah!" He turned and regarded her with a deeper
interest.

"Have you heard of me?" she asked irresistibly. "Who has not?" he said
gallantly. "And although you are a great deal younger than I,--I am
forty-four,--my father, who was in Congress before me, was a great
friend of your father's. He wears a watch to this day that Mr. Madison
gave him. He always expressed regret that he never met your mother,
but she seemed to have an unconquerable aversion to politics."

"And they met at Chamberlin's!" exclaimed Betty, with a delighted
laugh. "It will be the last straw--my having gone into dinner with the
son of one of papa's hated boon companions. My mother is a lovely
intelligent woman," she added hastily, "but she is intensely Southern
and conservative. Her great pride is that she never changes a standard
once established."

"Oh, that's a very safe quality in a woman. But of course you have a
right to establish your own, and I am glad it points in our direction.
And anything you want to know I'll be glad to tell you. Can't I take
you up to the Senate to-morrow and put you in our private gallery?
There ought to be some good debating, for North is going to attack an
important bill that is on the calendar."

"I will go; but let me meet you there. I must ask you to call in due
form first, as my poor mother must not have too many shocks. Will you
come a week from Sunday?--I am going to New York for a few days."

"I will, indeed. If I were unselfish, I should let you listen for a
few minutes, for they are all talking politics; not bills, however,
but the possibility of war with Spain. I don't think I shall, though.
Tell me what you want to know and I will begin our lessons right
here." "Why should we go to war with Spain?"

"Oh dear! Oh dear! Where have you been? There is a small island off
the coast of Florida called Cuba. It has many natives, and they are
oppressed, tormented, tortured by Spain."

"I visited Cuba once. They are nothing but a lot of negroes and
frightfully dirty. Why should we go to war about them?"

"Only about one-third are negroes and there is a large brilliantly
educated and travelled upper class. And I see you need instruction in
more things than politics,--humanity, for instance. Forget that you
are a Southerner, divorce yourself from traditions, and try to imagine
several hundred thousand people--women and children, principally--
starving, hopeless, homeless, unspeakably wretched. Cannot you feel
for them?"

"Oh, yes! Yes!" Betty's quick sympathy sent the tears to her eyes, and
he looked at her with deepening admiration,--a fact the tears did not
prevent her from grasping. "And are we going to war in order to
release them?"

"Ah! I do not know. There is a war feeling growing in the country;
there is no doubt of that. But how high it will grow no one can tell.
The leading men in Congress are indifferent, and won't even listen to
recognizing the Cubans as belligerents. North will not discuss the
subject, and I doubt not is talking over the latest play with Lady
Mary at the present moment."

"And you? Do you want war?"

"I do!" His manner gave sudden rein to its inherent nervousness, and
his voice rang out for a moment as if he were angrily haranguing the
Senate. "Of course I want it. Every human instinct I have compels me
to want it, and I cannot understand the apathy and conservatism which
prevents our being at war at the present moment. We have posed as the
champions of liberty long enough; it is time we did something."


"Ah, this is the youthful enthusiasm of the Senate," thought Betty.
"And I have been accustomed to think of forty-five as quite elderly. I
feel a mere infant and shall not call myself an old maid till I'm
fifty." She smiled approvingly into the Senator's illuminated face,
and he plunged at once into details, including the entire history of
Spanish colonial misrule. The history was told in head-lines, so to
speak, but it was graphic and convincing. Betty nodded encouragingly
and asked an occasional intelligent question. She knew the history
of Spain as thoroughly as he did, but she would not have told him so
for the world. It is only the woman with a certain masculine fibre in
her brain who ever really understands men, and when these women have
coquetry also, they convince the sex born to admire that they are even
more feminine than their weaker sisters. When Senator Burleigh
finished, Betty thanked him so graciously and earnestly, with such
lively pleasure in her limpid hazel eyes, that he raised his glass
impulsively and touched it to hers.

"You must have a _salon_" he exclaimed. "We need one in Washington,
and it would do us incalculable good. Only you could accomplish it:
you not only have beauty and brains--and tact?--but you are so apart
that you can pick and choose without fear of giving offence. And you
are not _blas?_ of the subject like Congressmen's wives, nor has the
wild rush and wear and tear of official society chopped up your
individuality into a hundred little bits. It would be brutal to
mention politics to a woman in political life, and consequently we
feel as if no one takes any interest in us unless she has an axe to
grind. But you are what we all have been waiting for I feel sure of
that! Let it be understood that no mere politician, no man who bought
his legislature or is under suspicion in regard to any Trust, can
enter your doors. Of course you will have to study the whole question
thoroughly; and mind, I am to be your instructor-in-chief."

Betty laughed and thanked him, wondering how well he understood her.
He looked like a man who would waste no time on the study of woman's
subtleties: he knew what he wanted, and recognized the desired
qualities at once, but by a strong masculine instinct, not by
analysis.

A few moments later the women went into the drawing-room, and the
conversation for the next half-hour was a languid babble of politics,
dress, New York, the lady of the White House, and the play. Betty
thought the women very nice, but less interesting than the men,
possibly because they were women. They certainly looked more
intelligent than the average one sat with during the trying half-
hour after dinner; but their conversation was fragmentary, and they
oddly suggested having left their personality at home and taken their
shell out to dinner. Betty also was interested to observe that their
composite expression was a curious mingling of fatigue, unselfishness,
and peremptoriness. "What does it mean?" she asked of Lady Mary, with
whom she stood apart for a moment.

"Oh, they are worked to death,--paying calls, entertaining, receiving
people on all sorts of business, and helping their husbands in various
ways. They have no time to be selfish,--rich or poor,--and they have
acquired the art of disposing of bores and detrimentals in short
order. Even their own sort they pass on much in the fashion of
royalty. How do you like Senator Burleigh?"

"I never learned so much in two hours in my life. My head feels like a
beehive."

"I never saw him quite so devoted."

"I thought you were occupied with Senator North."

"I was, but my eyes and ears understand each other. He wants to meet
you after dinner. He knows all about you."

"He has been pointed out to me, but in those days when I was only
interested in possible partners for the German. I do not recall him."

"That is he, the second one."

The men were entering the drawing-room. Betty was relieved that the
political beard was not on Senator North. He wore only a very short
moustache on his ugly powerful face.

He stood for a few moments talking to his host, and Betty, to whom the
political beard was immediately presented, gave him an occasional
glance of exploration while her companion was assuring her, with
neither a twang nor an accent, that he had long looked forward to the
pleasure of meeting the famous Miss Betty Madison. Senator Shattuc was
in his late fifties, but it was evident that the cares of Congress had
not smothered his appreciation of a pretty woman. He had a strong face
and an infantile complexion, and his beard sparkled with care. Senator
Ward, who was presented a few moments later, told her that he had
envied Burleigh throughout the long dinner. Betty decided that the
senatorial manner certainly was agreeable.

The two men fell into conversation with one another, and Betty turned
her attention to Senator North. He was standing alone for the moment,
glancing about the room. His attitude was one of absolute repose; he
did not look as if he ever had hurried or wasted his energies or lost
his self-control in his life. His face was impenetrable; his eyes,
black and piercing, were wholly without that limpidity which reveals
depths and changes of expression; his mouth was somewhat contemptuous,
and betrayed neither tenderness nor humour. If possible, he stood
even more squarely on his feet than the other men. He had the powerful
thick-set figure which invariably harbours strong passions.

"I don't know whether I like him or not," thought Betty. "I think I
don't--but perhaps I do. He might be made of New England rock, and he
looks as if the earth could swallow him before he'd yield an inch. But
I can feel his magnetism over here. Why have all these men so much
magnetism? Is that, too, senatorial?"

Senator North caught her eye at the moment, and turned at once to Lady
Mary. A moment later he had been presented to Betty and they stood
alone.

"I once mended your hoop for you, when you were a little girl, just in
front of your house; but I am afraid you have forgotten it." "Oh,--I
think I do remember it. Yes--I do." She evoked the incident out of the
mists of childish memories. "Was it you? I am afraid I was looking
harder at the hoop than at its mender. But--I recall--I thought how
kind you were."

And then he inquired for her mother, and spoke pleasantly of his own
and his wife's acquaintance with Mrs. Madison at Bar Harbor. Betty
wondered afterward why she had thought his face repellent. His eyes
defied investigation, but his mouth relaxed into a smile that was very
kind, and his voice had almost a caress in it. But at the moment she
was too eager to hear him express himself to receive a strong personal
impression, and while she was casting about in her mind for a leader,
she was obliged to give him her hand.

"Good-night," she said with a little pout, "I am so sorry."

"So am I," he said, smiling, and shaking her hand. "Good-night. I
shall look forward to meeting you again soon."

"Miss Madison, may I see you to your carriage?" asked Senator
Burleigh. "I have tried to get near you ever since dinner," he said
discontentedly, as they walked down the hall, "and now you are going.
But you will come to the Senate to-morrow? Come right up to the door
of the Senators' Gallery at precisely three o'clock and I will meet
you there."

A few moments later, Betty paused on her way to her own room and
opened her mother's door softly.

"Molly," she whispered.

"Well?" asked a severe voice.

"I went in to dinner with the son of one of papa's old Chamberlin
companions, and he was simply charming. So were all the others, and I
never met a man who could shake hands as well as Senator North. I had
a heavenly time."

Mrs. Madison groaned and turned her face to the wall.

"And there wasn't a toothpick, and I didn't hear a twang."

"Kindly allow me to go to sleep."




VI



As soon as Betty awoke the next morning, she turned her mind to the
events of the night before. Unlike most occasions eagerly anticipated,
it had contained no disappointment; she had, indeed, been pleasurably
surprised, for despite her strong common-sense the dark picture of
corruption and objectionable toilet accessories had made its
impression upon her. She foresaw much amusement in witnessing the
unwilling surrender of her mother to even Senator Shattuc, him of
the political beard. As for Senator Burleigh, she would yield to his
magnetism and power of compelling interest in himself, while
pronouncing his manners too abrupt and his personality too "Western."
And if he admired intelligently the old lace which she always wore at
her throat and wrists and on her pretty head, she would confess that
there might be exceptions even to political rules.

But somewhat to Betty's surprise it was not of Senator Burleigh that
she thought most, although she had talked with him for two hours and
pronounced him charming. She had talked with Senator North for exactly
six minutes, but she saw his face more distinctly than Burleigh's and
retained his voice in her ear. He had not paid her a compliment, but
his manner had expressed that she interested him and that he thought
her worth meeting. For the first time in her life Betty felt flattered
by the admiration of a man; and she had held her own with more than
one of distinction on the other side. Even royalty had not fluttered
her, but she conceived an eager desire to make this man think well of
her. It irritated her to remember that she could have made no mental
impression on him whatever. She became uncheerful, and reflected that
the subtle flattery in his manner was probably a mere habit; Lady Mary
had intimated that he liked women and had loved several. Well, she
cared nothing about that; he was thirty years older than herself and
married; but she admired him and wished for his good opinion and to
hear him talk. Doubtless they soon would meet again, and if they were
left in conversation for a decent length of time she would ask him to
call. She cast about in her mind for a subterfuge which would justify
a note, but she could think of none, and was too worldly-wise to evoke
a smile from the depths of a man's conceit.

Her mother refused to bid her good-by when, accompanied by her maid,
she started for the Capitol at twenty minutes to three. A few moments
later she found herself admiring for the first time the big stately
building on the hill at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue. She always had
thought Washington a beautiful city, with its wide quiet avenues set
thick with trees, its graceful parks, each with a statue of some man
gratefully remembered by the Republic, but she had given little heed
to its public buildings and their significance. As she approached
the great white Capitol, she experienced a sudden thrill of that
historical sense which, after its awakening, dominates so actively the
large intelligence. The Capitol symbolized the greatness of the young
nation; all the famous American statesmen after the first group had
moved and made their reputations within its walls. All laws affecting
the nation came out of it, and the Judges of the Supreme Court sat
there. And of its kind there was none other in the civilized world,
had been but one other since the world began.

The historic building shed an added lustre upon Senator Burleigh; but
it was of Senator North that she thought most as she half rose in the
Victoria and scanned the long sweep. The cleverest of women cannot
class with anything like precision the man who has stamped himself
into her imagination. Betty knew that there were six men in the Senate
who ranked as equals; their quiet epoch gave them little chance to
discover latent genius other than for constructive legislation;
nevertheless she arbitrarily conceived the Capitol to-day as the great
setting for one man only; and the building and the man became one in
her imagination henceforth. The truth was that Betty, being greatly
endowed for loving and finding that all men fell short of her high
standard, was forced to seek companionship in an ideal. She had had
several loves in history, but had come to the conclusion some years
since that dead men were unsatisfactory. Since then she had fancied
mightily one or two public men on the other side, whom she had never
met; but in time they had bored or disappointed her. But here was a
conspicuous figure in her own country, appealing to her through the
powerful medium of patriotic pride; a man so much alive that he might
at any moment hold the destinies of the United States in his hands,
and who, owing to his years and impenetrable dignity, was not to be
considered from the ordinary view-point of woman. She would coquet
with Senator Burleigh; it was on the cards that she would love him,
for he was brilliant, ambitious, and honourable; but Senator North was
exalted to the vacant pedestal reserved for ideals, and Betty settled
herself comfortably to his worship; not guessing that he would be
under her memory's dust-heap in ten days if Senator Burleigh captured
her heart.

The coachman was directed by a policeman to the covered portico of the
Senate wing. Betty had a bare glimpse of corridors apparently
interminable, before another policeman put her into the elevator and
told her to get off when the boy said "Gallery."

Senator Burleigh was waiting for her, and she thought him even manlier
and more imposing in his gray tweed than in evening dress. He shook
her hand heartily, and assured her in his abrupt dictatorial way that
it gave him the greatest pleasure to meet her again.

"I'm sorry I haven't time to take you all over the building," he
said," but I have two Committee meetings this afternoon. You must come
down some morning."

His manner was very businesslike, and he seemed a trifle absent as he
paused a moment and called her attention to the daub illustrating the
Electoral Commission; but this, Betty assumed, was the senatorial
manner by day. In a moment he led her to one of the doors in the wall
that encloses the Senate Gallery.

"You see this lady," he said peremptorily to the doorkeeper, who rose
hastily from his chair. "She is always to be admitted to this gallery.
Take a good look at her."

"Yes, sir; member of your family, I presume?"

"You can assume that she is my sister. Only see that you admit her."

"The rules are very strict in regard to this gallery," he added, as he
closed the door behind them. "It is only for the families of the
Senators, but you will like it better than the reserved gallery. Send
for me if there should be trouble at any time about admittance."

"I usually get where I wish! I sha'n't trouble you."

"Don't you ever think twice about troubling me," he said. "Let us go
down to the front row."

The galleries surrounding the great Chamber were almost dark under the
flat roof, but the space below was full of light. It looked very
sumptuous with its ninety desks and easy-chairs, and a big fire beyond
an open door; and very legislative with its president elevated above
the Senators and the row of clerks beneath him. There were perhaps
thirty Senators in the room, and they were talking in groups or
couples, reading newspapers, or writing letters. One Senator was
making a speech.

"I don't think they are very polite," said Betty. "Why don't they
listen? He seems to be in earnest and speaks very nicely." "Oh, he is
talking to his constituents, not to the Senate--although he would be
quite pleased if it would listen to him. He does not amount to much.
We listen to each other when it is worth while; but this is a Club,
Miss Madison, the most delightful Club in the United States. Just
beyond are the cloakrooms, where we can lounge before the fire and
smoke, or lie down and go to sleep. The hard work is in the Committee
rooms, and it is hard enough to justify all the pleasure we can get
out of the other side of the life. Now, I'll tell you who these are
and something about them."

He pointed out one after the other in his quick businesslike way,
rattling off biographical details; but Betty, feeling that she was
getting but a mass of impressions with many heads, interrupted him.

"I don't see Senator North," she said. "I thought he was going to
speak."

"He will, later. He is in his Committee room now, but he'll go down as
soon as a page takes him word that the clerk is about to read the bill
whose Committee amendments he is sure to object to. Now I must go. I
shall give myself the pleasure of calling a week from Sunday. You must
come often, and always come here. And let me give you two pieces of
advice: never bow to any Senator from up here, and never go to the
Marble Room and send in a card. Then you can come every day without
attracting attention. Good-bye."

Betty thanked him, and he departed. For the next hour she found the
proceedings very dull. The unregarded Senator finished his speech and
retired behind a newspaper. Other members clapped their hands, and the
pages scampered down the gangways and carried back documents to the
clerk below the Vice-President's chair, while their senders made a few
remarks meaningless to Betty. Two or three delivered brief speeches
which were equally unintelligible to one not acquainted with current
legislation. During one of them a man of imposing appearance entered
and was apparently congratulated by almost every one in the room, the
Senators leaving their seats and coming to the middle aisle, where he
stood, to shake him by the hand. Betty felt sorry for Leontine, who
was on the verge of tears, but determined to remain until Senator
North appeared if she did not leave until it should be time to dress
for dinner.

He entered finally and went straight to his desk. He looked
preoccupied, and began writing at once. In a few moments the clerk
commenced to read from a document, and Senator North laid aside his
pen and listened attentively. So did several other Senators. It was a
very long document, and Betty, who could not understand one word in
ten as delivered by the clerk's rumbling monotonous voice, was
desperately bored, and was glad her Senators had the solace of the
cloak-rooms. Several did in fact retire to them, but when the clerk
sat down and Senator North rose, they returned; and Betty felt a
personal pride in the fact that they were about to listen to the
Senator whom herself had elected to honour.

She had to lean forward and strain her ears to hear him. It was
evident that he did not recognize the existence of the gallery, for he
did not raise his voice from beginning to end; and yet it was of that
strong rich quality that might have carried far. But it neither "rang
out like a clarion," nor "thundered imprecation." Neither did he utter
an impassioned phrase nor waste a word, but he denounced the bill as a
party measure, exposed its weak points, riddled it with sarcasm, and
piled up damaging evidence of partisan zeal. "This is an honourable
body," he concluded, "and few measures go out of it that are open to
serious criticism by the self-constituted guardians of legislative
virtue, but if this bill goes through the Senate we shall invite from
the thinking people of the country the same sort of criticism which we
now receive from the ignorant. If the high standard of this body is to
be maintained, it must be by sound and conservative legislation, not
by grovelling to future legislatures."

Having administered this final slap, he sat down and began writing
again, apparently paying no attention to the Chairman of the bill, who
defended his measure with eloquence and vigour. It was a good speech,
but it contained more words than the one that had provoked it and
fewer points. Senator North replied briefly that the only chance for
the bill was for its father to refrain from calling attention to its
weak points, then went into the Republican cloak-room, presumably to
smoke a cigar. Betty, whose head ached, went home.




VII



That evening, as Betty was rummaging through a cupboard in the library
looking for a seal, she came upon a box of Cuban cigars. They could
have been her father's only and of his special importation: he had
smoked the choicest tobacco that Havana had been able to furnish.

She knew that many men would prize that box of cigars, carefully
packed in lead and ripened by time, and she suddenly determined to
send it to Senator North. She felt that it would be an acute pleasure
to give him something, and as for the cigars they were too good for
any one else. She took the box to her room and wrapped it up carefully
and badly; but when she came to the note which must accompany it, she
paused before the difficulties which mechanically presented
themselves. Senator North might naturally feel surprise to receive a
present from a young woman with whom he had talked exactly six
minutes. If she wrote playfully, offering a small tribute at the
shrine of statesmanship, he might wonder if she worked slippers for
handsome young clergymen and burned candles before the photograph of a
popular tenor. She might send them anonymously, but that would not
give her the least satisfaction. Finally, she reluctantly decided
to wait until she met him again and could lead the conversation up to
cigars. "Perhaps he will see me in the gallery to-morrow," she
thought.

But although he sat in his comfortable revolving-chair for two hours
the next afternoon, he never lifted his eyes to the gallery. She heard
several brief and excellent speeches, but went home dissatisfied. On
the day after her return from New York, whither she went to perform
the duty of bridesmaid; she had a similar experience, twice varied.
Senator Burleigh made a short speech in a voice that was truly
magnificent, and following up Senator North's attack on the bill
unpopular on the Republican side of the Chamber. He was answered by
"Blunderbuss" Pepper, the new Senator who had turned every aristocrat
out of office in his aristocratic Southern State and filled the
vacancies with men of his own humble origin. He was a burly untidy-
looking man, and frequently as uncouth in speech, a demagogue and
excitable. But the Senate, now that three years in that body had toned
him down, conceded his ability and took his abuse with the utmost
good-nature. Betty recalled his biography as sketched by Senator
Burleigh, and noted that almost every Senator wheeled about with an
expression of lively interest, as his reiterated "Mr. President, Mr.
President," secured him the floor. They were not disappointed, nor was
Betty. In a few moments he was roaring like a mad bull and hurling
invective upon the entire Republican Party, which "would deprive the
South of legitimate representation if it could." He was witty and
scored many points, provoking more than one laugh from both sides of
the Chamber; and when he finished with a parting yell of imprecation,
his audience returned to their correspondence and conversation with an
indulgent smile. Betty wondered what he had been like before the
Senate had "toned him down."

That night she addressed the cigars to Jack Emory and sent them off at
once. "I do believe I came very close to making a fool of myself," she
thought. "What on earth made me want to give those cigars to Senator
North?--to give him anything? What a little ninny he would have
thought me!" She puzzled long over this deflection from her usual
imperious course with men, but concluding that women having so many
silly twists in their brains, it was useless to try to understand
them all, dismissed the matter from her mind.




VIII



"How many politicians are coming this afternoon?" asked Mrs. Madison,
at the Sunday midday dinner. Her voice indicated that all protest had
not gone out of her.


"Senator Burleigh and Mr. Montgomery--and Lady Mary. Not a formidable
array."

"They are exactly two too many. I have written and asked Sally Carter
to come over and chaperon you in case I do not feel equal to the
ordeal at the last moment. I am surprised that she takes your course
so quietly, but on the whole am relieved; you need some one
respectable to keep you in countenance."

"This house reeks with respectability; no one would ever notice the
absence of a chaperon. Sally is not only quiescent, but sympathetic.
She knows that I have got to the end of teas and charities, and she
believes in people choosing their own lives. She says she would join a
travelling circus if her proclivities happened to point that way."

Mrs. Madison shuddered. "I do not pretend to understand the present
generation, and the more I hear of it the less I wish to. As for Sally
I love her, but I should detest her if I didn't, for she is the worst
form of snob: she is so rich and so well born that she thinks she can
dress like a servant-girl and affect the manners of a barmaid."
"Molly! So you were haunting 'pubs' when I supposed you were yawning
at home? I hope you did not tell the barmaids your real name."

"Well, I suppose I should not criticise people that I know nothing
about," said Mrs. Madison, colouring and serious. She changed the
subject hastily. "Jack, I hope you will stay this afternoon. It would
be the greatest comfort to have you in the house."

"I will stay, certainly," said Emory. He had taken his Sunday dinner
at the old house in I Street for almost a quarter of a century. To-day
he had been unusually silent, and had contracted his brows nervously
every time Betty looked at him. She understood perfectly, and amused
herself by turning round upon him several times with abrupt
significance. However, she spared him until they had taken Mrs.
Madison to the parlor and gone to the library, where he might smoke
his after-dinner cigar. He sat down in front of a window, and the
sunlight poured over him, glistening his handsome head and
illuminating his skin. Betty supposed that some women might fall quite
desperately in love with him; and in addition to his beauty he was a
noble and high-minded gentleman, whose narrowness was due to the
secluded life he chose to lead.

"Now!" she exclaimed, "come out with it! You've had eleven days, and
one can learn a good deal in that time."

He bit sharply at the end of his cigar, but answered without
hesitation.

"It is almost impossible to learn anything in Washington to the
detriment of the Senate. There seems to be a sort of _esprit de corps_
in the entire city. They look politely horrified if you suggest that a
Senator of the United States, honouring Washington with the society of
his wives and daughters, is anything that he should not be. I was
obliged to go to New York and Boston to get the information I wanted,
and even now it is far from complete. I don't believe it is possible
to arrive at anything like accurate knowledge on the subject."

"Well, what did you get? Washington is a well-ordered community with a
high moral tone--it is said to have fewer scandals than any city in
the country--and there is no sordid commercial atmosphere to lower it.
It is the great city of leisure in everything but legislation and
paying calls; so it seems to me that it would be the last place to
fondle in its bosom ninety distinguished scoundrels. But go on. What
did you learn in Boston and New York?"

"That a little of everything is represented in the Senate,--that is
about what it amounts to. There are unquestionably men there who
bought their seats from legislatures, and there are men who are agents
for trusts, syndicates, and railroad corporations, as well as three
party bosses--"

"Ninety Senators leave a large margin for a number of loose fish. What
I want to know is, how do the big men stand--North, Maxwell, Ward,
March--and fifteen or twenty others, all the men who are the Chairmen
of the big Committees? The New England men seem to have charge of
everything of importance in the House and of a good deal in the
Senate."

"Some of the Southern and North-western and most of the New England
States seem to have honest enough legislatures," said Emory,
unwillingly. "But that leaves plenty of others. Only a few of the
Western States are above suspicion, and as for New York, Pennsylvania,
and Delaware, they would not waste time defending themselves; and as
no Senators are better than the people that elect them--"

"Oh, yes, they are sometimes--look at the Senator from Delaware. I too
have been asking questions for eleven days. It all comes to this:
there are millionaireism and corrupting influences in the Senate, but
that element is in the minority, and the greater number of leading, or
able Senators are above suspicion. And they seem to have things pretty
much all their own way. They could not if the majority in the Senate
were scoundrels. No corrupt body was ever led by its irreproachable
exceptions--"

"In another ten years there will be no exceptions. All that are making
a desperate stand for honesty to-day will be overwhelmed by the
unprincipled element--"

"Or have forced it to reform. The good in human nature predominates;
we are a healthy infant, and do not know the meaning of the word
'decadent;' and we are extraordinarily clever. Senator Burleigh says
that you can always bank on the American people going right in the
end. They may not bother for a long time, but when they do wake up
they make things hum."

"Senator Burleigh evidently has all the easy-going optimism of this
country. But, Betty, I am no more reconciled than I was before to your
having anything to do with these people. Politics have a bad name,
whatever the truth of the matter. I think myself our sensational press
is largely to blame--" "There is nothing so interesting as the pursuit
of truth," said Betty, lightly. "Reconcile yourself to the sight of me
in pursuit of it--"

"Ah, here you are!" exclaimed a staccato voice. Sally Carter entered
the room, kissed Betty, shook hands heartily with Emory, and threw
herself into a chair. Her fortune equalled Betty's, but it was her
pleasure to wear frocks so old and so dowdy that her friends wondered
where they had come from originally. She had been a handsome girl, and
her blue eyes were still full of fire, her fair hair abundant, but her
face was sallow and lined from many attacks of malarial fever. Her
manner was breezy and full of energy, and she was not only popular but
a very important person indeed. She lived alone with her father in the
old house in K Street and entertained rarely, but she had strawberry
leaves on her coronet, and it was currently reported that when she
arrived in England, clad in a rusty black serge and battered turban,--
which she certainly slept in at intervals during the day,--she was met
in state by the entire ducal family--including a prolific connection--
whose ancestor had founded the great house of Carter in the British
colonies of North America. What their private opinion was of this
representative of the American dukedom was never quite clear to the
Washington mind, but to know Sally Carter in her own city meant
complete social recognition, and not to know her an indifferent
success.

"Senator North tells me that he met you the other day and would like
to meet you again," she said to Betty, who lifted her head with
attention. "I dropped in on my way here for a little call on Mrs.
North, poor dear! There's a real invalid for you--something the matter
with her spine--is liable to paralysis any minute. It must be so
cheerful to sit round and anticipate that. Why on earth do women
let their nerves run away with them, in the first place? Nerves in
this country are a mixture of climate, selfishness, and stupidity. I
could be as nervous as a witch, but I won't. I walk miles every day
and don't think about myself. Well! I told Mr. North all about the
bold course of the young lady weary of frivolities, and he seemed much
interested, paid you some compliment or other, I've forgotten what. He
said he would look out for you in the Senate gallery and go up and
speak to you--"

Emory rose with an exclamation of disgust. "I hope you told him to do
nothing of the kind."

"On the contrary, I told him not to forget, for as Betty would sail
her little yacht on the political sea, I wanted her to be recognized
by the men-of-war, not by the trading-ships and pirates."

Emory threw away his cigar. "I think I will go in and see my aunt," he
said. "All this is most distasteful to me."

He left the room, followed by Betty's mocking laugh. But Miss Carter
said with a sigh,--

"He can't expect us all to live up to his ideals. It is better not to
have any, like my practical self. But I'm afraid he sits out there in
his damp old library and dreams of a world in which all the men are
Sir Galahads and all the women Madame Rolands. He is an ideal himself,
if he only knew it; I've always been half in love with him. Well,
Betty, how do you like your new toy? After all, what is even a Senate
but a toy for a pretty woman? That is really your attitude, only you
don't know it. Life is serious only for women with babies and bills.
As for charities, they were specially invented to give old maids like
myself an occupation in life. What--what--should I have done without
charities when Society palled?"

"Why did you never marry, Sally?" asked Betty, abruptly. The question
never had occurred to her before, but as she asked it her eyes
involuntarily moved to the empty chair before the window.

"What on earth should I do with a husband?" asked Miss Carter,
lightly. "I only love men when they are in bronze in the public parks.
Poor dear old General Lathom proposed to me four times, and the only
time I felt like accepting him was when I saw his statue unveiled. I
couldn't put a man on a pedestal to save my life, but when my grateful
country does it I'm all humble adoration. Could you idealize a live
thing in striped trousers and a frock coat?"

"Woolen is hopeless," said Betty, with an attempt at playfulness. "We
must do the best we can with the inner man."

"How on earth do you know what a man is like on the inside? Idealize
is the right word, though. Women make a god out of what they cannot
understand in a man. If he has a bad temper, they think of him as a
'dominant personality.' If he is unfaithful to his wife, he is
romantic in the eyes of a woman who has given no man a chance to be
unfaithful to her. If he comes to your dinner with an attack of
dyspepsia, you compare him sentimentally with the brutes that eat.
_You_ haven't married yet, I notice, and you are on the corner of
twenty-seven."

"American men don't give you a chance to idealize them," said Betty,
plaintively. "They tell you all about themselves at once. And although
Englishmen have more mystery and provoke your curiosity, they don't
understand women and don't want to; the women can do the adapting. I
never could stand that; and as I can't endure foreigners I'm afraid I
shall die an old maid. That's the reason I've gone into politics--"

The butler announced that Senator Burleigh was in the parlor.

"What of his inner man?" asked Sally.

"I never have given it two thoughts. But his outer is all that could
be desired."

"He would look well in bronze. I understand that his State thinks a
lot of him: as you know, I read the _Post_ and _Star_ through every
day to papa. I _have_ to know something of politics."

They found Senator Burleigh talking to Mrs. Madison, apparently
oblivious of her frigid attempt at tolerance and of Emory's sullen
silence. Sally Carter's eyes flashed with amusement, and she shook the
Senator warmly by the hand.

"Such a very great pleasure!" she announced in her staccato tones.
"Now the only time I really allow myself pride is when I meet the
statesmen of my country. I am sure that is the way you feel, dear
Cousin Molly--is it not? We are such oysters, the few of us who always
have lived here, that a whiff from the political world puts new life
into us."

Emory left the room. Burleigh looked surprised but gratified, and
assured her that it was the greatest possible pleasure as well as an
honour to meet Miss Carter. He appeared to have left his businesslike
manner on Capitol Hill, and he was even less abrupt than on the night
of the dinner. Only his exuberant vitality seemed out of place in that
dark old room, and it was an effort for him to keep his sonorous voice
in check.

"Mrs. Madison says she takes no interest in politics," he added, "and
fears to be a wet blanket on the conversation. I have been assuring
her that on one day of the week politics are non-existent so far as I
am concerned."

Mrs. Madison, who had been staring at Sally Carter, replied with an
evident attempt to be agreeable, "Of course I always find it
interesting to hear people talk about what they understand best."
"Politics are what I should like to understand least. Since I have
come to the Senate I have endeavoured to forget all I ever knew about
them. I rely upon my friends to keep me in office while I am making a
desperate attempt to become a fair-minded legislator."

He spoke lightly. Betty could not determine whether he was posing or
telling the simple truth to people who would be glad to take him at
his word. There was a twinkle of amusement in his eye; but he looked
too impatient for even the milder sort of hypocrisy.

Mrs. Madison thawed visibly. "You younger men should try to restore
the old ideals," she said.

"Ah, madam," he replied, "if you only knew what the censors said about
the old ideals when they were alive! If Time will be as kind to us, we
can swallow our own dose with a reasonable amount of philosophy. John
Quincy Adams arraigned the politics of his day in the bitterest
phrases he could create; but to-day we are asked to remember the
glorious past and hide our heads."

The Montgomery's entered the room. Randolph, who was as tall as
Senator Burleigh and very slender, looked so distinguished that Mrs.
Madison immediately decided to remember only that his family was as
old as her own. He had lost none of the repose he had found during his
three years' residence in Europe, but the effort to keep it in the
House had made his handsome face thin and touched his mouth with
cynicism. His hair was still black, and there were no lines about his
cool gray eyes.

"Blessed day of rest!" exclaimed his wife. "I got up just one hour
ago. Do you know, Miss Madison, I paid twenty-six calls on Thursday,
eighteen on Friday and twelve on Saturday? Never marry into political
life."

Senator Burleigh, who had been talking to Miss Carter, turned round
quickly. "Some women are so manifestly made for it," he said, "that it
would be folly for them to attempt to escape their fate."




IX



A month passed. Betty received with Lady Mary on Tuesdays, and under
that popular young matron's wing called on a number of women prominent
in the official life of the dying Administration, whom she received on
Fridays. They were very polite, and returned her calls promptly; but
they did not always remember her name, and her personality and
position impressed but a few of these women, overwhelmed with social
duties, visiting constituents, and people-with-letters. Most of them
paid from fifteen to twenty calls on six days out of seven, and had
filled their engagement books for the season during its first
fortnight. Betty was chagrined at first, then amused. Moreover, her
incomplete success raised the political world somewhat in Mrs.
Madison's estimation; she had expected that her house would be
besieged by these temporary beings, eager for a sniff at Old
Washington air. Betty realized that she must be content to go slowly
this winter, and begin to entertain as soon as the next season opened.
Lady Mary took her to four large receptions, and she was invited to
two or three dinners of a semi-official character; for several women
not only fancied her, but appreciated the fact that the official were
not the highest social honours in the land, and were glad to further
her plans.

Senator Burleigh called several times. One day he arrived with a large
package of books: Bryce's "American Commonwealth," a volume containing
the Constitution and Washington's Farewell Address, and several of the
"American Statesmen" monographs.

"Read all these," he said dictatorially. ("He certainly takes me very
seriously," thought Betty. "Doubtless he'll stand me in a corner with
my face to the wall if I don't get my lessons properly.") "I want you
to acquire the national sense. I don't believe a woman in this country
knows the meaning of the phrase. Study and think over the characters
of the men who created this country: Washington and Hamilton,
particularly. You'll know what I mean when you've read these little
volumes; and then I'll bring you some thirty volumes containing the
letters and despatches and communications to Congress of these two
greatest of all Americans. I don't know which I admire most. Hamilton
was the most creative genius of his century, but the very fact that he
was a genius of the highest order makes him hopeless as a standard.
But all men in public life who desire to attain the highest and most
unassailable position analyze the character of Washington and ponder
over it deeply. There never was a man so free from taint, there never
was such complete mental poise, there never was such cold, rarified,
unerring judgment. The man seems to us--who live in a turbulent day
when the effort to be and to remain high-minded makes the brain ache--
to have been nothing less than inspired. And his political wisdom is
as sound for to-day as for when he uttered it; although, for the life
of me, I cannot help disregarding his admonition to keep hands out of
foreign pie, this time. I want the country to go to the rescue of
Cuba, and I'll turn over every stone I can to that end."

Betty had listened to him with much interest. "Would Washington have
gone?" she asked. "Would he advise it now, supposing he could?"

"No, I don't believe he would. Washington had a brain of ice, and his
ideal of American prosperity was frozen within it. He would fear some
possible harm or loss to this country, and the other could be left to
the care of an all-merciful Providence. I love my country with as
sound a patriotism as a man may, and I revere the memory of
Washington, but I have not a brain of ice, and I think a country, like
a man, should think of others besides itself. And the United States
has got to that point where almost nothing could hurt it. A few
months' patriotic enthusiasm, for that matter, would do it no end of
good. If you care to listen, I'll read the Farewell Address to you."

He read it in his sonorous rolling voice, that must have done as much
to make him a popular idol in his State as his more distinguished
gifts for public life. Betty decided that the more senatorial he was
the better she liked him. She knew that he was a favourite with men,
and had a vague idea that men, when in the exclusive society of their
own sex, always told witty anecdotes, but she could not imagine
herself making small talk with Senator Burleigh. Her day for small
talk, however, she fervently hoped was over.

She had seen Senator North again but once. Lady Mary Montgomery gave a
great evening reception, as magnificent an affair of the sort as Betty
was likely to see in Washington. It was given in honour of a
distinguished Englishman, who, rumour whispered, had come over in the
interests of the General Arbitration Treaty between the United States
and Great Britain, now at the mercy of the Committee on Foreign
Relations. There was another impression, equally alive in Washington
that Lady Mary aspired to be the historic link between the two
countries. Certain it was that the Secretary of State, the British
Ambassador, and the Committee on Foreign Relations dined and called
constantly at her house. The Distinguished Guest had called on her
every day since his arrival.

Betty knew what others divined; for the friends were inseparable, and
Mary Montgomery was very frank with her few intimates. "Of course I
want the treaty to go through," she had said to Betty, only the day
before her reception; "and I am quite wild to know what the Committee
are doing with it. But of course they will say nothing. Senator Ward
kisses my hand and talks Shakespeare and Socrates to me, and when I
use all my eloquence in behalf of a closer relationship between the
two greatest nations on earth--for I want an alliance to follow this
treaty--he says: _'Ma belle dame sans merci,_ the American language
shall yet be spoken in the British Isles; I promise you that.' He is
one of the few Americans I cannot understand. He has eyes so heavy
that he never looks quite awake, and he is as quick as an Italian's
blade in retort. He has a large and scholarly intellect, and it is
almost impossible to make him serious. You never see him in his chair
on the floor of the Senate, although he sometimes drifts across the
room with a cigar in the hollow of his hand, and he is admittedly
one of its leading spirits, and the idol of a Western State--of all
things! Senator North is the reverse of transparent, but sometimes he
goes to the point in a manner which leaves nothing to be desired. He
is not on the Committee of Foreign Relations, so I asked him point
blank the other day if he thought the treaty would go through and if
he did not mean to vote for it. He is usually as polite as all men who
are successful in politics and like women, but he gave a short and
brutal laugh. 'Lady Mary,' he said, 'when some of my colleagues were
cultivating their muscles on the tail of your lion in the winter of
1895, I told them what I thought of them in language which only
senatorial courtesy held within bounds. If the Committee on Foreign
Relations--for whose members I have the highest respect: they are
picked men--should do anything so foolish and so unpatriotic as to
report back that treaty in a form to arouse the enthusiasm of
the British press, I fear I should disregard senatorial courtesy. But
the United States Senate does not happen to be composed of idiots, and
the President may amuse himself writing treaties, but he does not make
them.'

"Then I asked him if he had no sentiment, if he did not think the
spirit of the thing fine: the union of the great English-speaking
races; and he replied that he saw no necessity for anything of the
sort: we did very well on our separate sides of the water; and as for
sentiment, we were like certain people,--much better friends while
coquetting than when married. He added that the divorce would be so
extremely painful. I asked him what was to prevent another lover's
quarrel, if there were no ring and no blessing, and he replied: 'Ah
that is another question. To keep out of useless wars with the old
country and to tie our hands fast to her quarrels are two things, and
the one we will do and the other we won't do.'

"That is all he would say, but fortunately there is a less
conservative element in the Senate than his, although I believe they
all become saturated with that Constitution in time. I can see it
growing in Senator Burleigh."

All elements had come to her reception to-night. Ambassadors and
Envoys Extraordinary were there in the full splendour of their
uniforms. So were Generals and Admirals; and the women of the Eastern
Legations had come in their native costumes. The portly ladies of the
Cabinet were as resplendent as their position demanded, and the
aristocracy of the Senate and the women of fashion were equally fine.
Other women were there, wives of men important but poor, who walked
unabashed in high-neck home-made frocks; and their pretty daughters,
were as simple as themselves. One wore a cheese-cloth frock, and
another a blue merino. The dames of the Plutocracy were there, blazing
with converted capital,--Westerners for the most part, with hogsheads
of money, who had come to the City of Open Doors to spend it. It was
seldom they were in the same room with the Old Washingtonians, and
when they were they sighed; then reminded themselves of recent dinners
to people whose names were half the stock in trade of the daily press.
Sally Carter, who regarded them through her lorgnette with much the
same impersonal interest as she would accord to actors on the boards,
wore a gown of azure satin trimmed with lace whose like was not to be
found in the markets of the world. Her hair was elaborately dressed,
and her thin neck sufficiently covered by a curious old collar of
pearls set with tiny miniatures. Careless as she was by day, it often
suited her to be very smart indeed by night. She looked brilliant; and
Jack Emory, who had been commanded by Betty to accept Lady Mary's
invitation, did not leave her side. And she snubbed her more worldly-
minded followers and devoted herself to his amusement.

All the men wore evening clothes. It seemed to be an unwritten law
that the politician should have his dress-suit did his wife wear serge
for ever. Consequently they presented a more uniformly fine appearance
than their women, and most of them held themselves with a certain look
of power. Their faces were almost invariably keen and strong. Few of
the younger members of the House were here to-night, only those who
had been in it so many years that they were high in political
importance. Among them the big round form and smooth round head of
their present and perhaps most famous Speaker were conspicuous: the
United States was moving swiftly to the parting of the ways, and there
are times when a Speaker is a greater man than a President.

What few authors Washington boasts were there, as well as Judges of
the Supreme Court, scholars, architects, scientists, and journalists.
And they moved amid great splendour. Lady Mary had thrown open her
ball-room, and the walls looked like a lattice-work of American Beauty
roses and thorns. Great bunches of the same expensive ornament swung
from the ceiling, and the piano was covered with a quilt of them
deftly woven together. The pale green drawing-room was as lavishly
decorated with pink and white orchids and lilies of the valley. Lady
Mary felt that she could vie in extravagance with the most ambitious
in her husband's ambitious land.

Betty was entertaining four Senators, the Distinguished Guest, and the
Speaker of the House when she caught a glimpse of Senator North. She
immediately became a trifle absent, and permitted Senator Shattuc, who
liked to tell anecdotes of famous politicians, to take charge of the
conversation. While he was thinking her the one woman in Washington
charming enough to establish a _salon_, she was congratulating
herself that she should meet Senator North again when she looked her
best. She wore a wonderful new gown of mignonette green and ivory
white, and many pearls in her warm hair and on her beautiful neck. She
looked both regal and girlish, an effect she well knew how to produce.
Her head was thrown back and her eyes were sparkling with triumph as
they met Senator North's. He moved toward her at once.

"I should be stupid to inquire after your health," he said as he shook
her hand. "You are positively radiant. I shall ask instead if you
still find time to come up and see us occasionally, and if we improve
on acquaintance?"

"I go very often indeed, but I have seen you only three times."

"I have been North for a week, and in my Committee Room a good deal
since my return."

Betty was determined not to let slip this opportunity. She resented
the platitudes that are kept in stock by even the greatest minds, and
wished that he would hold out a peremptory arm and lead her to some
quiet corner and talk to her for an hour. But he evidently had a just
man's appreciation of the rights of others, for he betrayed no
intention to do anything of the kind. His eyes dwelt on her with frank
admiration, but Washington is the national headquarters of pretty
women, and he doubtless contented himself with a passing glimpse of
many. And this time Betty felt the full force of the man's magnetism.
She would have liked to put up a detaining hand and hold him there for
the rest of the evening. Even were there no chance for conversation,
she would have liked to be close beside him. She forgot, that he was
an ideal on a pedestal and shot him a challenging glance. "I have
hoped that you would come up to the gallery and call on me," she said
pointedly.

He moved a step closer, then drew back. His face did not change.

"I certainly shall when I am so fortunate as to see you up there," he
said. "But the fourth of March is not far off, and the pressure
accumulates. I am obliged to be in my Committee Room, as well as in
other Committee Rooms, for the better part of every day. But if I can
do anything for you, if there is any one you would care to meet, do
not fail to let me know. Send word to my room, and if possible I will
go to you."


Betty looked at him helplessly. She wanted to ask him to call at her
house on Sunday, but felt a sudden diffidence. After all, why should
he care to call on her? He had more important things to think of; and
doubtless he spent his few leisure hours with some woman far more
brilliant than herself. Her head came down a trifle and she turned it
away. He stood there a moment longer, then said,--

"Good-night," and, after a few seconds' hesitation, and with
unmistakable emphasis: "Remember that it would give me the greatest
possible pleasure to do anything for you I could." Immediately after,
he left the room.

When she was alone an hour later, she anathematized herself for a
fool. Diffidence had no permanent part in her mental constitution. She
was sure that if she could talk with him for thirty consecutive
minutes she could interest him and attach him to her train. Her pride,
she felt, was now involved. She should estimate herself a failure
unless she compelled Senator North to forget the more experienced
women of the political world and spend his leisure hours with her.
She had been a brilliant success in other spheres, she would not fail
in this.

But two more weeks passed and she did not see him. He came neither to
the floor of the Senate within her experience of it, nor to the
gallery. Nor did he appear to care for Society. Few of the Senators
did, for that matter. They did not mind dining out, as they had to
dine somewhere, and an agreeable and possibly handsome partner would
give zest to any meal; but they were dragged to receptions and escaped
as soon as they could.




X



Betty rose suddenly from the breakfast-table and went into the
library, carrying a half-read letter. She had felt her face flush and
her hand tremble, and escaped from the servants into a room where she
could think alone for hours, if she wished.

The letter ran as follows:--

THE PARSONAGE, ST. ANDREW, VIRGINIA.
To MISS ELIZABETH MADISON:

DEAR MADAM,--I have a communication of a somewhat trying nature to
make, and believe me; I would not make it were not my end very near.
Your father, dear madam, the late Harold Carter Madison, left an
illegitimate daughter by a woman whom he loved for many years, an
octaroon named Cassandra Lee. Before his death he gave poor Cassie a
certain sum of money, and made her promise to leave Washington and
never return. She came here and devoted the few remaining years
of her life to the care of her child. I and my wife were the only
persons who knew her story, and when she was dying we willingly
promised to take the little one. For the last ten years Harriet has
lived here in the parsonage and has been the only child I have ever
known,--a dearly beloved child. She has been carefully educated and is
a lady in every sense of the word. I had until the last two years a
little school, and she was my chief assistant. But the public school
proved more attractive--and doubtless is more thorough--and this
passed from me. Last year my wife died. Now I am going, and very
rapidly. I have only just learned the nature of my illness, and I may
be dead before you receive this letter. I write to beg you to receive
your sister. There is no argument I can use, dear lady, which your own
conscience will not dictate. You will not be ashamed of her. She shows
not a trace of the taint in her blood. The money your father gave
Cassie has gone long since, but Harriet asks no alms of you, only
that you will help her to go somewhere far from those who know that
she is not as white as she looks, and to give her a chance to earn her
living. She is well fitted to be a governess or companion, and no
doubt you could easily place her. But she is lonely and frightened and
miserable. Be merciful and receive her into your home for a time.

"I dare not write this to your mother. She has no cause to feel warmly
to Harriet. But you are young, and wealthy in your own right. Her
future rests with you. Here in this village she can do absolutely
nothing, and after I am buried she will not have enough to keep her
for a month. Answer to her--she bears my name."

I am, dear lady,
               Your humble and obd't servant,
               ABRAHAM WALKER.

P. S. Harriet is twenty-three. She has letters in her possession which
prove her parentage.

Betty's first impulse was to take the next train for St. Andrew. Her
heart went out to the lonely girl, deprived of her only protector,
wretched under the triple load of poverty, friendlessness, and the
curse of race. She remembered vividly those two men in the church
whose bearing expressed more forcibly than any words the canker that
had blighted their manhood. And this girl bore no visible mark of the
wrong that had been done her, and only needed the opportunity to be
happy and respected. Could duty be more plain? And was she a chosen
instrument to right one at least of the great wrongs perpetrated by
the brilliant, warm-hearted, reckless men of her race?

But in a moment she shuddered and dropped the letter, a wave of horror
and disgust rising within her. This girl was her half-sister, and was,
light or dark, a negress. Betty had seen too much of the world in her
twenty-seven years to weep at the discovery of her father's weakness,
or to shrink from a woman so unhappy as to be born out of wedlock; but
she was Southern to her finger-tips: the blacks were a despised, an
unspeakably inferior race, and they had been slaves for hundreds of
years to the white man. To be sure, she loved the old family servants,
and rarely said a harsh word to them, and it was a matter of
indifference to her that they had been freed, as she had plenty of
money to pay their wages. But that the negro should vote had always
seemed to her incredible and monstrous, and she laughed to herself
when she met on the streets the smartly dressed coloured folk out for
a walk. They seemed farcically unreal, travesties on the people to
whom a discriminating Almighty had given the world. To her the entire
race were first slaves, then servants, entitled to all kindness so
long as they kept their place, but to be stepped on the moment they
presumed. She recoiled in growing disgust from this girl with the
hidden drop of black in her body.

But her reasoning faculty was accustomed to work independently of her
brain's inherited impressions. She stamped her foot and anathematized
herself for a narrow-minded creature whose will was weaker than her
prejudices. The girl was blameless, helpless. She might have a mind as
good as her own, be as well fitted to enjoy the higher pleasures of
life. And she might have a beauty and a temperament which would be her
ruin did her natural protectors tell her that she was a pariah, an
outcast, that they could have none of her. Betty conjured her up, a
charming and pathetic vision; but in vain. The repulsion was physical,
inherited from generations of proud and intolerant women, and she
could not control it.

She longed desperately for a confidant and adviser. Her mother she
could not speak to until she had made up her mind. Emory and Sally
Carter would tell her to give the creature an allowance and think no
more about her; and the matter went deeper than that. The girl had
heart and an educated mind; her demands were subtle and complex.
Senator Burleigh? He would laugh impatiently at her prejudices, and
tell her that she ought to go out and live in the free fresh air
of the West. They probably would quarrel irremediably. Mary Montgomery
would only stare. Betty could hear her exclaim: "But why? What? And
you say she is quite white? I do not think that negroes are as nice as
white people, of course; but I cannot understand your really tragic
aversion."

There was only one person to whom it would be a luxury to talk,
Senator North. She knew that he would not only understand but
sympathize with her, and she was sure he would give her wise counsel.
She regretted bitterly that she had not been able to make a friend of
him, as she had of several of his colleagues. She would have sent for
him without hesitation.

She glanced at the clock; it pointed to ten minutes past ten. He was
doubtless at that moment in his Committee Room looking over his
correspondence. She knew that Senators received letters at the rate of
a hundred a day, and were early risers in consequence. If only she
dared to go to him, if only he were not so desperately busy. But he
had intimated that he had leisure moments, had taken the trouble to
say that it would give him pleasure to serve her. Why should he not?
What if he were a Senator? Was she not a Woman? Why should she of all
women hesitate to demand a half-hour's time of any man? She needed
advice, must have it: a decision should be reached in the next twenty-
four hours. Not for a second did she admit that she was building up an
excuse for the long-desired interview with Senator North. She was a
woman confronted with a solemn problem. Her coupe was at the door; she
had planned a morning's shopping. She ran upstairs and dressed herself
for the street, wondering what order she would give the footman. She
changed her mind hurriedly twenty times, but was careful to select the
most becoming street-frock she possessed, a gentian blue cloth trimmed
with sable. There were three hats to match it, and she tried on each,
to the surprise of her maid, who usually found her easy to please. She
finally decided upon a small toque which was made to set well back
from her face into the heavy waves of her hair. She was too wise to
wear a veil, for her complexion was flawless, her forehead low and
full, and her hair arranged loosely about it; she wore no fringe.

As the footman closed the door of the coupe and she said curtly, "The
Capitol," she knew that her mind had made itself up in the moment that
it had conceived the possibility of a call upon Senator North.

That point settled, she was calm until she reached the familiar
entrance to the Senate wing, and rehearsed the coming interview.

But her cheeks were hot and her knees were trembling as she left the
elevator and hurried down the corridor to the Committee Room which
Burleigh, when showing her over the building one morning, had pointed
out as Senator North's. She never had felt so nervous. She wondered if
women felt this sudden terror of the outraged proprieties when
hastening to a tryst of which the world must know nothing. And she was
overwhelmed with the vivid consciousness that she was actually about
to demand the time and attention of one of the busiest and most
eminent men in the country. If it had not been for a stubborn and
long-tried will, she would have turned and run.

A mulatto was sitting before the door. When she asked, with a
successful attempt at composure, for Senator North, he demanded her
card. She happened to have one in her purse, and he went into the room
and closed the door, leaving her to be stared at by the strolling
sight-seers.

The mulatto reopened the door and invited her to enter a large room
with a long table, a bookcase, and a number of leather chairs. Before
he had led her far, Senator North appeared within the doorway of an
inner room.

"I am glad to see you," he said. "I know that you are in trouble or
you would not have done me this honour. It is an honour, and as I told
you before I shall feel it a privilege to serve you in any way. Sit
here, by the fire."

Betty felt so grateful for his effort to put her at her ease, so
delighted that he was all her imagination had pictured, and had not
snubbed her in what she conceived to be the superior senatorial
manner, that she flung herself into the easy-chair and burst into
tears.

Senator North knew women as well as a man can. He let the storm pass,
poked the already glowing fire, and lowered two of the window-shades.

"I feel so stupid," said Betty, calming herself abruptly. "I have no
right to take up your time, and I shall say what I have to say and
go."

"I have practically nothing to do for the next hour. Please consider
it yours."

Betty stole a glance at him. He was leaning back in his chair
regarding her intently. It was impossible to say whether his eyes had
softened or not, but he looked kind and interested.

"I never have told you that your father was a great friend of mine,"
he said. "You really have a claim on me." In spite of the fact that
the Congressional Directory gave him sixty years, he looked anything
but fatherly. Although there never was the slightest affectation of
youth in his dress or manner, he suggested threescore years as little.
So strong was his individuality that Betty could not imagine him
having been at any time other than he was now. He was Senator North,
that was the rounded fact; years had nothing to do with him.

"Well, I'm glad you knew papa; it will help you to understand. I--But
perhaps you had better read this."

She took the clergyman's letter from her muff, and Senator North put
on a pair of steel-rimmed eyeglasses and read it. When he had finished
he put the eyeglasses in his pocket, folded the letter, and handed it
to her. He had read the contents with equal deliberation. It seemed
impossible that he would act otherwise in any circumstance.

"Well?" he said, looking keenly at her. "What are you going to do
about it?"

"I am ashamed to tell you how I have felt. But we Southerners feel so
strongly on--on--that subject--it is difficult to explain!"

"We Northerners know exactly how you feel," he said dryly. "We should
be singularly obtuse if we did not. However, do not for a moment
imagine that I am unsympathetic. We all have our prejudices, and the
strongest one is a part of us. And for the matter of that, the average
American is no more anxious to marry a woman with negro blood in her
than the Southerner is, and looks down upon the Black from almost as
lofty a height. Only our prejudice is passive, for he is not the
constant source of annoyance and anxiety with us that he is with you."

"Then you understand how repulsive it is to me to have a sister who is
white by accident only, and how torn I am between pity for her and a
physical antipathy that I cannot overcome?"

"I understand perfectly."

"That is why I have come to you--to ask you what I _must_ do. This is
the first time I have been confronted by a real problem; my life has
been so smooth and my trials so petty. It is too great a problem for
me to solve by myself, and I could not think of anybody's advice but
yours that--that I would take," she finished, with her first flash of
humour.

"I fully expect you to take the advice I am going to give you. Your
duty is plain; you must do all you can for this girl. But by no means
receive her into your house until you have made her acquaintance. Take
the ten o'clock B. & O. to-morrow morning and go to St. Andrew; it is
about four hours' journey and on the line of the railroad. Spend
several hours with the girl, and, if she is worth the trouble, bring
her back with you and do all you can for her: it would be cruel and
heartless to refuse her consolation if she is all this old man
describes--and you are not cruel and heartless. And if this drop of
black blood is abhorrent to you, think what it must be to her. It is
enough to torment a high-strung woman into insanity or suicide. On the
other hand, if she is common, or looks as if she had a violent temper,
or is conceited and self-sufficient like so many of that hybrid race,
settle an income on her and send her to Europe: in placing her above
temptation you will have done your duty."

"But that is the whole point--to be sure that _you_ do the right
thing."

"I almost hope she will be impossible, so that I can wipe her off the
slate at once. Otherwise it will be a terrible problem."

"It is no problem at all. There is no problem in plain duty. Problems
exist principally in works of fiction and in the minds of unoccupied
women. If you meet each development of every question in the most
natural and reasonable manner,--presupposing that you possess that
highest attribute of civilization, common-sense,--no question will
ever resolve itself into a problem. And difficulties usually disappear
as the range of vision contracts. If your house takes fire, you save
what you can, not what you have elaborately planned to save in case of
fire. Train your common-sense and let the windy analysis pertaining
to problems alone."

"But how can I ever get over the horror of the thing, Mr. North?"

"You will forget all about it when she has been your daily companion
for a few weeks. If she lacked a nose, you would as soon cease to
remember it. If this girl is worth liking, you will like her, and soon
cease to feel tragic. Leave that to her!"

"I know that you are right, and of course I shall take your advice. I
did not come here to trouble you for nothing. But if I liked her at
first and not afterward--"

"Pack her off to Europe. Europe will console an American woman for
every ill in life. If you take the right attitude in the beginning, it
all rests with her after that. You will have but one duty further. If
she wishes to marry, you must tell the man the truth, if she will not.
Don't hesitate on that point a moment. Her children are liable to be
coal-black. That African blood seems to have a curse on it, and the
curse is usually visited on the unoffending."

"I will, I will," said Betty. She rose, and he rose also and took her
hand in both of his. She felt an almost irresistible desire to put her
head on his shoulder, for she was tired and depressed.

"Your attitude in the matter is the important thing to me," he said.
"That is why I have spoken so emphatically. You are a child yet, in
spite of your twenty-seven years and your admirable intelligence. This
is practically your first trial, the first time you have been called
upon to make a decision which, either way, is bound to have a strong
effect on your character, and to affect still greater decisions you
may be called upon to make in the future. You have only one defect;
you are not quite serious enough--yet."

"I feel very serious just now," said Betty, with a sigh; and in truth
she did, and her new-found sister was not the only thing that
perplexed her.

"One of these days you will be a singularly perfect woman," he added,
and then he dropped her hand and walked to the door. As he was about
to open it, she touched his arm timidly.

"Will you come and see me on Sunday?" she asked. "I shall have been
through a good deal between now and then, and I shall want--I shall
want to talk to you."

"I will come," he said.

"Not before half-past four. My mother will be asleep then, and my
cousin, Jack Emory, have gone home--there will be so many things I
shall want to talk to you about."

"I shall be there at half-past four," he said. "Good-bye. Good-bye."




XI



Betty went home to her room and cried steadily for an hour. She would
not analyze the complex source of her emotions, but addressed a bitter
reproach to her father's shade; and she reassured herself by frankly
admitting that it would give her pleasure to win the approval of
Senator North.

She bathed her eyes and went to her mother's room. The sooner that
ordeal was over, she reflected, the better. Mrs. Madison was reading
an amusing novel and looked up with a smile, then pushed the book
aside.

"Have you been crying, darling?" she asked. "What can be the matter?"

Betty told her story without preamble. Her mother's nerves could stand
a shock, but not three minutes of uncertainty. Mrs. Madison listened
with more equanimity than Betty anticipated.

"I suppose I may consider myself fortunate that I have not had one of
his brats thrust on me before," she remarked philosophically. "What
are we to do about this creature?"

"There is only one human thing to do. It is not her fault, and she is
very wretched at present. And now that I know the truth I suppose I am
as responsible as my father would be if he were alive. I shall go to
see her to-morrow, and if she is presentable and seems good I shall
bring her to Washington. Of course I shall not bring her here without
your permission--it is your house. Let me read you his letter."

"Do you feel very strongly on the subject?" Mrs. Madison asked when
Betty had finished.

"Oh, I do! I do! I will promise not to bring her to Washington at all
if she is impossible, but if she is all I feel sure she must be, let
me bring her here for a few weeks, until we have decided what to do
for her. I know it is a great deal to ask--her presence cannot fail to
be hateful to you--"

"My dear, I have outlived any feeling of that sort, and I have not put
everything on your shoulders all these years to thwart you now, when
you feel so deeply. Moreover, an old memory came to me while you were
reading that letter. When I was a little girl, about eight or ten, I
spent an entire summer with Aunt Mary Eager at her home in Virginia.
She had a house full, and there were five other little girls beside
myself. A brook ran across the foot of the plantation, and we were
very fond of playing there. Directly across was the hut of a freed
slave who had a little girl about our own age. The child was a
beautiful octaroon. I can see her plainly, with her honey-coloured
skin, her immense black eyes, her long straight black hair, and her
stiff little white frock tucked to the waist. Her mother took the
greatest pride in her, and was always changing her clothes.

"Every day she used to come to the edge of her side of the brook and
watch us. We never noticed her, for although we often played with the
little black piccaninnies, the yellow child of a freed slave was
another matter. One day--I think she had watched us for about a week--
she came half-way across the bridge. We stared at each other, but took
no notice of her. The next day she walked straight across and up to
us, and asked us very nicely if she might play with us. We turned upon
her six scarlet scandalized faces, and what we said, in what brutal
child language, I do not care to repeat. The child stared at us for a
moment as if she were looking into the Inferno itself, and I expect
she was, poor little soul! Then she gave a cry, and tore across the
bridge and up the 'pike as hard as she could run. As long as we could
see her she was running, and as I never saw her again--we avoided the
brook after that--it seemed to me for years as if she must be running
still. And for years those flying feet haunted me, and I used to long
as I grew older to do penance in some way. I befriended many a poor
yellow girl, hoping she might be that child. Then life grew too sad
for me to remember the sins of my childhood. But I like the idea of
making penance at this late day and receiving this girl for a few
weeks into my house: it will be a penance, for I do not fancy sitting
at the table with a woman with negro blood in her veins, I can assure
you. But I shall do it. I believe if I did not I should be haunted
again by those little flying feet. There is no chance of this being
her daughter, for she would have been too old to attract your father's
fancy. But that is not the point. I make one condition. No one must
know the truth, not even Sally or Jack. She must pass for a distant
relative, left suddenly destitute." "She would probably be the last to
wish the truth known. But you have taken a weight off my mind, Molly
dear, and I am deeply grateful to you."




XII



The next day Betty left the train a few minutes after two o'clock and
walked up the winding street of a small village to the parsonage. She
passed a number of cottages picturesquely dilapidated, a store in
which a half-dozen men were smoking, and about thirty lounging
negroes. On rising ground was a large house, but the village looked
forlorn, neglected, almost lifeless.

The men in the store came out and stared at her; so did the women from
the cottages. And the negroes stood still. Doubtless they thought her
a wealthy vision; the day was cold, and she wore a brown cloth dress
and a sable jacket and toque.

"What a life for an intelligent woman!" she thought, glancing about
her with deep distaste. "It would be enough to induce melancholia
without the 'taint.'"

She had made a desperate effort in the last twenty-four hours to
overcome her repugnance, but had only succeeded in making sure that
she could conceal it. She had recalled her interview with Senator
North again and again. His indubitable interest gave her courage, and
a desire to use the best that was in her. And she had turned her mind
more often still to those men in the church and the sentiments they
had inspired. The shutters of the parsonage were closed, there was
crape on the door. Betty turned the knob and entered. A number of
people were in a room on the right of the hall. At the head of the
room, barely out-lined in the heavy shadows, was a coffin on its
trestle.

The house smelt musty and damp. Betty pushed back the door and let in
the bright winter sunlight. Some one rose from the group beside the
coffin and came slowly forward. Betty waited, clinching her hands in
her muff, her breath coming shorter. The dark figure in the dark room
looked like the shadow of death itself. But it was not superstition
that made Betty brace herself. In a moment the figure had stepped into
the sunlight beside her.

Betty had imagined the girl handsome; she was not prepared for
splendid beauty. Harriet Walker was far above the ordinary height of
woman, and very slender and graceful. Her hair and eyes were black,
her skin smooth and white, her features aquiline. Hauteur should have
been her natural expression, but her eyes were dreamy and melancholy,
her mouth discontented. Betty, in that first rapid survey, detected
but two flaws in her beauty: her chin was weak and her hands were
coarse.

"You are Miss Madison," she said, with the monotonous inflection of
grief. "Thank you for coming."

"I am your half-sister," said Betty, putting out her hand. And then
the desire to use the best that was in her overcame the repugnance
that made her very knees shake, and she put her arms about the girl
and kissed her.

"You are mighty kind," said the other. "Will you come into my room?"
Betty followed her into a small room, simpler than any in her own
servants' quarter. But it was neat, and there was an attempt at
smartness in the bright calico curtains and bedspread. The furniture
looked home-made, and there was no carpet on the floor.

"Poor girl! poor girl!" exclaimed Betty, impulsively. "Have you ever
been happy--here?"

"Well, I don't reckon I've been very happy, ever; but I've given some
happiness and I've been loved and sheltered. That is something to be
thankful for in this world."

"I am going to take you away," said Betty, abruptly. "Mr. Walker wrote
me that you'd be willing to come."

"Oh, yes, I'll go, I reckon. I told him I would. I want to hold up my
head. Here I never have, for everybody knows. The white men all round
here insulted me until they got tired of trying to make me notice
them. One of the young men up on the plantation fell in love with me,
and they sent him away and he was drowned at sea. He never knew that I
had the black in my blood, and he had asked me to marry him. They did
not tell him the truth, for they feared he would then wish to make me
his mistress."

She spoke without passion, with a deep and settled melancholy, as if
her intelligence had forbidden her to combat the inevitable. Betty
burst into tears.

"Don't cry," said the other. "I never do--any more. I used to. And if
you'll kindly take me away, I know I'll feel as if I were born over.
If there is anything in this world to enjoy, be right sure I shall
enjoy it. I'm young yet, and I reckon nobody was made to be sad for
ever."

"You shall be happy," exclaimed Betty. "I will see to that. I pledge
myself to it. I will make you forget--everything."

Harriet shook her head. "Not everything. Somewhere in my body, hidden
away, but there, is a black vein, the blood of slaves. I might get to
be happy with lots of books and kind people and no one to despise me
for what I can't help, but every night I'd remember _that_, and then I
reckon I'd feel mighty bad."

"You think so now," said Betty, soothingly, and longing for
consolation herself. "But when you are surrounded by friends who love
you for what you are, by all that goes to make life comfortable and--
and--gay; it seems terribly soon to speak of it, but I shall take you
to all the theatres and buy you beautiful clothes, and I shall settle
on you what your father left me: it is only right you should have it
and feel independent. You will travel and see all the beautiful things
in Europe. Oh, I know that in time you will forget. When you are away
from all that reminds, you cannot fail to forget."

Harriet, who had followed Betty's words with an eager lifting of her
heavy eyelids and almost a smile on her mouth, brought her lips
together as Betty ceased speaking, and held out her hand.

"Do you see nothing?" she asked.

Betty took the hand in hers. "What do you mean?" she demanded. "All
that--the roughness--will wear off. It will be gone in a month."

"There is something there that will never wear off. Look right hard at
the finger-nails."

Betty lifted the hand to her face, vaguely recalling observations of
her mother when discussing suspicious looking brunettes seen in the
North. There was a faint bluish stain at the base of the nails; and
she remembered. It was the outward and indelible print of the hidden
vein within. The nails are the last stronghold of negro blood. She
dropped the hand with an uncontrollable shudder and covered her face
with her muff.

"I feel so horribly sorry for you," she said hastily. "It seemed to me
for the moment as if your trouble were my own."

If the girl understood, she made no sign; hers had been a life of
self-control, and she had been despised from her birth.

"Tell me what you wish me to do now," said Betty, lifting her head.
"When can you leave here? Do you wish me to stay with you? Is it
impossible for you to go to-day?"

"I cannot leave him until he is buried. And you couldn't stay here.
This is Tuesday. I'll go Thursday."

Betty thrust a roll of bills into a drawer. "They are yours by right,"
she said hurriedly. "Go first to Richmond and get a handsome black
frock; you will be sure to find what you want ready made, and it will
be better--on account of the servants--for you to look well when you
arrive. Spend it all. There is plenty more. Buy all sorts of nice
things. I will go now. There is a train soon. Telegraph when you start
for Washington and I will meet you. Good by, and please be sure that I
shall make you happy."

Harriet walked out to the gate, and Betty saw that there were fine
lines on her brow and about her mouth. But she was very beautiful,
sombre and blighted as she was. She clung to Betty for a moment at
parting, then went rapidly into the house.

When Betty reached the street, she restrained an impulse to run, but
she walked faster than she had ever walked in her life, persuading
herself that she feared to miss her train. She waited three quarters
of an hour for it, and there were four dreary hours more before she
saw the dome of the Capitol. She arrived at home with a splitting
headache and an animal craving to lock herself in her room and get
into bed. For the time being no mortal interested her, she was
exhausted and emotionless. She described the interview briefly to her
mother, then sought the solitude she craved. And as she was young and
healthy, she soon fell asleep.




XIII



When she awoke next morning she arose and dressed herself at once: in
bed the will loses its control over thought, and she wished to think
as little as possible. But her mind reverted to the day before, in
spite of her will, and she laughed suddenly and went to her desk and
wrote on a slip of paper,--

"Every woman writes with one eye on the page and one eye on some man,
except the Countess Hahn-Hahn, who has only one eye."--HEINE.

"Some day when I know him better I will give him this," she thought,
and put the slip into a drawer by itself.

The load of care had lifted itself and gone. She had done the right
thing, the momentous question was settled for the present, and Betty
Madison had merely to shake her shoulders and enjoy life again. She
threw open the window and let in the sun. There had been a rain-storm
in the night and then a severe frost. The ice glistened on the naked
trees, encasing and jewelling them. A park near by looked as if the
crystal age of the world had come. The bronze equestrian statue
within that little wood of radiant trees alone defied the ice-storm,
as if the dignity of the death it represented rebuked the lavish hand
of Nature.

Betty felt happy and elated, and blew a kiss to the beauty about her.
She always had had a large fund of the purely animal joy in being
alive, but to-day she was fully conscious that the tremulous quality
of her gladness was due to the knowledge that she should see Senator
North within five more days and the light of approval in his eyes.
Exactly what her feeling for him was she made no attempt to define.
She did not care. It was enough that the prospect of seeing him made
her happier than she ever had felt before. That might go on
indefinitely and she would ask for nothing more. Her recent contact
with the serious-practical side of life--as distinct from the serious-
intellectual which she had cultivated more than once--had terrified
her; she wanted the pleasant, thrilling, unformulated part. For the
first time one of her ideals had come forth from the mists of fancy
and filled her vision as a man; and he was become the strongest
influence in her life. As yet he was unaware of this honour, and
she doubtless occupied a very small corner of his thought; but he was
interested at last, and he was coming to see her. And then he would
come again and again, and she would always feel this same glad quiver
in her soul. She felt no regret that she could not marry him; the
question of marriage but brushed her mind and was dismissed in haste.
That was a serious subject, glum indeed, and dark. She was glad that
circumstance limited her imagination to the happy present. She felt
sixteen, and as if the world were but as old. Love and the intellect
have little in common. They can jog along side by side and not
exchange a comment.

"Come down and take a walk," cried a staccato voice. Sally Carter was
standing on the sidewalk, her head thrown back. Betty nodded, put on
her things and ran downstairs. Miss Carter was wrapped in an old cape,
and her turban was on one side, but she looked rosier than usual.

"I've been half-way out to Chevy Chase," she said, "and I was just
thinking of paying poor old General Lathom a visit. He does look so
well in bronze, poor old dear, and all that ice round him will make
him seem like an ogre in fairy-land. He wasn't a bit of an ogre, he
was downright afraid of me."

"I suppose a man really feels as great a fool as he looks when he is
proposing to a woman he is not sure of. I wonder why they ever do.
After I gave up coquetting, came to the conclusion that it wasn't
honest, they proposed just the same."

"Some women unconsciously establish a habit of being proposed to. I've
had very few proposals, and I know several really beautiful women who
have had practically none. As I said, it's a habit, and you can't
account for it."

"I went yesterday to Virginia to call on a relative who has just lost
her last adopted parent," said Betty, abruptly, "and she looked so
forlorn that I asked her to visit us for a while. I hope you'll like
her."

"Ah? She must be some relation of mine, too. You and I are third
cousins."

"Don't ask me to straighten it out. The ramifications of Southern
kinships are beyond me. She is a beauty--very dark and tragic."

"That is kind of you--to run the risk of Senator Burleigh going off at
a tangent," said Miss Carter, sharply. "By the way, you cannot deny
that you have given him encouragement; you have neither eyes nor ears
for any one else when he is round."

"He is usually the most interesting person 'round;' and I have a
concentrative mind. But I never intend to marry, and Senator Burleigh
has never even looked as if he wanted to propose. By the way, Molly
has actually asked him to come to the Adirondacks for a few days.
Can't you and your father come for a month or two? Jack has promised
to stay with us the whole summer, and we'll be quite a family party."

"Yes, I will," said Miss Carter, promptly. "I haven't been in the
Adirondacks for six years and I should love it."

"Harriet Walker--that's our new cousin--will be with us too, most
likely. She looks delicate, and I shall try to persuade her that she
needs the pines."

"Ah! Look out for the Senator--in the dark pine forests on the
mountain."

"I don't know why you should be so concerned for me. I usually have
kept an admirer as long as I wanted him."

"Oh, no offence, dear. The dark and tragic lady merely filled my eye
at the moment. By the way, Mrs. North thinks of going to the Lake
Hotel this summer. Isn't that close by your place?"

"It is just across the lake. There is your old General. He does look
like an ogre, and he's got a patch of green mould on his nose. You
ought to take better care of him."

"He looks so much better than he did in life that I have no fault to
find. The doctor has told Mrs. North that the pine forests may do her
all the good in the world, prolong her life, and Mr. North has written
to see if he can get an entire wing for her. I hope he can go too, but
he always seems to have so much to do at home in summer. I do like
him. He's the only man I know who, I feel positive, never could make a
fool of himself."

"I am half starved. Come home and have your breakfast with me."

"I should like to. Senator North--"

"There is Mr. Burleigh on horseback--with Mr. Montgomery. He _will_
look well in bronze--but they only put Generals on horseback, don't
they? There--he sees me. I am going to ask them to come in to
breakfast."

"I believe you like him better than you think, my dear. Your eyes
shine like two suns, and I never saw you look so happy."


"The morning is so beautiful and I am so glad that I am alive. I know
exactly how much I like Mr. Burleigh."




XIV



"Do all Southerners make such delicious coffee?" asked Senator
Burleigh, as the four sat about the attractive table in the breakfast-
room.

"The Southerners are the only cooks in the United States," announced
Miss Carter. "The real difference between the South and the North is
that one enjoys itself getting dyspepsia and the other does not."

"There are just six kinds of hot bread on this table," said Burleigh,
meditatively.

"And no pie and no doughnuts. Mr. Montgomery, you are really a
Southerner--ar'n't you glad to get back to darky cooks?"

"I was until we began on this tariff bill, and now there is not an
object you can mention, edible or otherwise, that I don't loathe."

"The details of such a bill must be maddening," said Betty,
sympathetically, "but, after all, it is an honour to be on the Ways
and Means Committee. There is compensation in everything."

"I don't know. When a man lobbyist tries to find out your weak spot
and play on it, you can kick him out of the house, but when they set a
woman at you, all you can do is to bow and say: 'My dear madam, it is
with the greatest regret I am obliged to inform you that I have sat up
every night until three o'clock studying this subject, and that I have
made up my mind.' Whereupon she talks straight ahead and hints at
trouble with certain constituents next year who want free coal and an
exorbitant duty on Zante currants, raisins, wine, and wool. The whole
army of lobbyists have camped on my doorstep ever since we began to
draw up this bill. How they find time to camp on any one's else would
make an interesting study in ubiquity."

"I am afraid some of your ideals have been shattered, and I am afraid
you are shattering some of Miss Madison's," said Burleigh, smiling
into Betty's disgusted face.

"I hate the dirty work of politics," said Montgomery, gloomily. "Of
course it doesn't demoralize you so long as you keep your own hands
clean, but it is sickening to suspect that you are sitting cheek by
jowl in the Committee Room with a man whose pocket is stuffed with
some Trust Company's shares."

"I used to hate it, but I don't see any remedy until we have an
educated generation of high-class politicians, and I think that
millennium is not far off. As matters stand, there is bound to be a
certain percentage of scoundrels and of men too weak to resist a bribe
in a great and shifting body like the House. Any scoundrel feels that
he can slink among the rest unseen. The old members who have been
returned term after term since they began to grow stubby beards on
their cast-iron chins are an argument against rotation; they have had
a chance to acquire the confidence of the public, they are experienced
legislators, and they are incorruptible."

Betty drew a long sigh of relief. "You have cleared up the atmosphere
a little," she said. "I thought I was going to learn that the House,
at least, was one hideous mass of corruption, praying for burial."

"That is what they think of us outside," said Montgomery. "We might as
well all be gangrene, for we get the credit of it."

"I don't like your similes," said Miss Carter; "I haven't finished my
breakfast. Mr. Burleigh, you've put on your senatorial manner and I
like you better without it. I thought you were going to say, 'Don't
interrupt, please,' or 'Would you kindly be quiet until I finish?' at
least twice."

"I beg pardon humbly. I am flattered to know that you have thought it
worth while to listen to any remarks I may have been forced to make in
the Senate."

"I have been twice to the gallery with Betty, and both times you were
talking like a steam-engine and warning people off the track."

It was so apt a description of Burleigh's style when on his feet that
even he laughed.

"I don't like to be interrupted or contradicted," he said, "I frankly
admit it."

"Better not marry an American girl."

"Some Englishwomen have wills of their own," remarked Mr. Montgomery.

"Some men are tyrants in public life and slaves at home--to a
beautiful woman," remarked Senator Burleigh.

"Some men are so clever," said Miss Carter. "Give me another waffle,
please."




XV



Betty went to the Senate Gallery that afternoon for the first time in
several days. It was hard work to keep up with the calling frenzy of
Washington and cultivate one's intellect at the same time. There was
no one in the private gallery but an old man with a hayseed beard and
horny hands. He sat on the first chair in the front row, but rose
politely to let Betty pass; and she took off her veil and jacket and
gloves and settled herself for a comfortable afternoon. She felt
almost as much at home in this family section of the Senate Gallery as
in her own room with a copy of the Congressional Record in her hand.
Sometimes save for herself it would be empty, when every other
gallery, but the Diplomats', of that fine amphitheatre would be nearly
full. It was crowded, however, when it was unofficially known that a
favourite Senator would speak, or an important bill on the calendar
provoke a debate. Leontine no longer accompanied her mistress; she had
threatened to leave unless exempted from political duty.

To-day a distinguished Senator on the other side of the Chamber was
attacking with caustic emphasis a Republican measure. He was the only
man in the Senate with a real Uncle Sam beard. Senator Shattuc's waved
like a golden fan from his powerful jaw; but the Democratic appendage
opposite was long and narrow, and whisked over the Senator's shoulder
like the tail of a comet, when he became heated in controversy. It was
flying about at a great rate to-day, and Betty was watching it with
much interest, when a proud voice remarked in her ear,--

"That's my Senator, marm. He's powerful eloquent, ain't he?"

Betty nodded. "He's quite a leader."

"I allow he is. He's been leadin' in our State fur twenty years. I
allus wanted to hear him speak in Congress, and when I called on him
last Monday--when I come to Washington--he told me to come up here to-
day and hear him, and he would set me in the Senators' Gallery. And he
did."

His voice became a distant humming in Betty's ears. Senator North had
entered and taken his seat. He apparently settled himself to listen to
the speech, and he looked as calm and unhurried as usual.

"That's North," whispered the old man. "There wuz a lady in here a
spell since who pinted a lot of 'em out to me. He looks a little too
hard and stern to suit me. I like the kind that slaps you on the back
and says 'Howdy.' Now Senator North, he never would: I know plenty
that knows him. He's aristocratic; and I don't like his politics,
neither. I allus suspicion that politicians ain't all right when
they're aristocratic."

"He does not happen to be a politician."

"Hey?"

"Don't you want to listen to your Senator? He is very eloquent."

"He's been speakin' fur an hour steady," said the visitor to
Washington, philosophically. "I kinder thought I'd like to talk to you
a spell. Hev you seen the new library?" "Oh, yes; I live here."

"Do ye? Well, you're lucky. For this city's so grand it's jest a
pleasure to walk around. And that Library's the most beautiful
buildin' I ever saw in all my seventy-two years. I've been twice a day
to look at it, and it makes me feel proud to be an Amurrican. If
Paradise is any more beautiful than that there buildin', I do want to
go there."

Betty smiled with the swift sympathy she always felt for genuine
simplicity, and the old man's pride in his country's latest
achievement was certainly touching. She refrained from telling him
that she thought the red and yellow ceilings hideous, and delighted
him with the assurance that it was the finest modern building in the
world.

"What's happened to ye?" he asked sharply, a moment later. "You've
straightened up and thrown back your head as if ye owned the hull
Senate."

Senator North had wheeled about slowly and glanced up at the private
gallery. Then he had risen abruptly and gone into the cloak-room.

"Perhaps I do," said Betty.

She spoke thickly. It seemed incredible that he was coming up to the
gallery at last. She had another humble moment and felt it to be a
great honour. But she smiled so brilliantly at the old man that he
grinned with delight.

"I presume you're the darter of one of these here Senators," he said;
"one of the rich ones. You look as if ye hed it all your own way in
life, and seein' as you're young and pretty, meanin' no offence, I'm
glad you hev. Is your pa one of the leadin' six?"

"My father is dead." She heard the door open and turned her head
quickly. It was Senator Shattuc who had entered. He walked rapidly
down the aisle, took a seat in the second row of chairs, and gave her
a hearty grip of the hand.

"How are you?" he asked. "I was glad to see you were up here. You
always look so pleased with the world that it does me good to get a
glimpse of you."

Betty liked Senator Shattuc, and held him in high esteem, but at that
moment she would willingly have set fire to his political beard. She
was used to self-control, however, and she chatted pleasantly with him
for ten minutes, while her heart seemed to descend to a lower rib, and
her brain reiterated that eternal question of woman which must
reverberate in the very ears of Time himself.

He came at last, and Senator Shattuc amiably got up and let him pass
in, then took the chair behind the old man and asked him a few good-
natured questions before turning to Betty again.

"I started to come some time ago," said Senator North, "but I was
detained in one of the corridors. It is hard to escape being
buttonholed. This time it was by a young woman from my State who wants
a position in the Pension Office. If it had been a man I should have
ordered him about his business, but of course one of your charming sex
in distress is another matter. However, I got rid of her, and here I
am."

"I knew you were coming. I should have waited for you." Now that he
was there she subdued her exuberance of spirit; but she permitted her
voice to soften and her eyes to express something more than
hospitality. He was looking directly into them, and his hard powerful
face was bright with pleasure.

"It suddenly occurred to me that you might be up here," he said; "and
I lost no time finding out." He lowered his voice. "Did you go? Has it
turned out all right?"

"Yes, I went! I'll tell you all about it on Sunday. I never had such a
painful experience."

"Well, I'm glad you had it. You would have felt a great deal worse if
you had shirked it. However--Yes?"

Senator Shattuc was asking him if he thought the Democratic Senator
was in his usual form.

"No," he said, "I don't. What is he wasting his wind for, anyway?
We'll pass the bill, and he's all right with his constituents. They
know there's no more rabid watch-dog of the Treasury in America."

"I suspect it does him good to bark at us," said Senator Shattuc.

The old man looked uneasy. "Ain't that a great speech?" he asked.

The two Senators laughed. "Well, it's better than some," said Shattuc.
"And few can make a better when he's got a subject worthy of him," he
added kindly.

"That's perlite, seein' as you're a Republican. I allow as I'll go.
Good-day, marm. I'll never forgit as how you told me you'd bin all
over Yurrup and that there ain't no modern buildin' so fine as our new
Library. Good-day to ye, sirs."

Senator Shattuc shook him warmly by the hand. Senator North nodded,
and Betty gave him a smile which she meant to be cordial but was a
trifle absent. She wished that Senator Shattuc would follow him, but
he sat down again at once. He, too, felt at home in that gallery, and
it had never occurred to him that one Senator might be more welcome
there than another. Senator North's face hardened, and Betty, fearing
that he would go, said hurriedly,--

"Ar'n't you ever going to speak again? I have heard you only once."

"I rarely make set speeches, although I not infrequently engage in
debate--when some measure comes up that needs airing."

"You ought to speak oftener, North," said Senator Shattuc. "You always
wake us up."

"You have no business to go to sleep. If I talked when I had nothing
to say, you'd soon cease to be waked up. Our friend over there has put
three of our esteemed colleagues to sleep. He'll clear the galleries
in a moment and interfere with Norris's record.--I suppose you have
never seen that memorable sight," he said to Betty: "an entire gallery
audience get up and walk out when a certain Senator takes the floor?"

"How very rude!"

"The great American public loves a show, and when the show is not to
its taste it has no hesitation in making its displeasure known."

"Why do you despise the great American public? You never raise your
voice so that any one in the second row up here can hear you."

"I have no love for the gallery. Nor do I talk to constituents. When
it is necessary to talk to my colleagues, I do so, and it matters
little to me whether the reporters and the public hear me or not. When
my constituents are particularly anxious to know what stand I have
taken on a certain question, I have the speech printed and send it to
them; but as a rule they take my course for granted and let me alone."

"But tell me, Mr. North," said Betty, squaring about and putting her
questions so pointedly that he, perforce, must answer them, "would you
really not like to make a speech down there that would thrill the
nation, as the speeches of Clay and Webster used to?  And you could
make a speech like that. _Why_ don't you?"

"My dear Miss Madison, if I attempted to thrill the American people by
lofty emotions and an impassioned appeal to their higher selves, I
should only bring down a storm of ridicule from seven-eighths of the
American press. I could survive that, for I should not read it, but my
effort would be thrown away. The people to whom it was directed would
feel ashamed of what thrill was left in it after it had reached them
through the only possible medium. This is the age--in this country--of
hard practical sense without any frills, or thrills. It is true that
there is a certain amount of sham oratory surviving in the Senate, but
the very fact that it is sham protects it from the press. The real
thing would irritate and alarm the spirits of mediocrity and
sensationalism which dominate the press to-day. A sensational speech,
one in which a man makes a fool of himself, it delights in, and it
encourages him by half a column of head-lines. A speech by a great
man, granted that we had one, carried away by lofty patriotism
and striving to raise his country, if only for a moment, to his own
pure altitude, would make the press feel uneasy and resentful, and it
would neutralize every word he uttered by the surest of all acids,
ridicule. An American statesman of to-day must be content to legislate
quietly, to use his intellect and his patriotism in the Committee
Room, and to keep a sharp eye on the bills brought forward by other
Committees. As for speeches, those look best in the Record which make
no appeal to the gallery. There, you cannot say I have not made you a
speech!" "Well, make me another, and tell me why you even consider the
power of the press. I mean, how you bring yourself even to think
about it. You have defied public opinion more than once. You have
stood up and told your own State that it was wrong and that you would
not legislate as it demanded. I am sure you would defy the whole
country, if you felt like it."

"Ah, that is another matter. The hard-headed American respects honest
convictions, especially when they are maintained in defiance of self-
interest. I never shall lose my State by an unwavering policy, however
much I may irritate it for the moment. I could a heterogeneous Western
State, of course, but not a New England one. We are a conservative,
strong-willed race, and we despise the waverer. We are hard because it
always has been a hard struggle for survival with us. Therefore we
know what we want, and we have no desire to change when we get it.
There goes the bell for Executive Session. You and I must go our
different ways."




XVI



"Do you dislike her?" asked Betty anxiously of her mother on the night
of Harriet's arrival. "I do not, and yet I feel that I never can love
her--could not even if it were not for _that_."

"It is that. You never will love her. I cannot say that she has made
any impression on me whatever, so far. She seems positively congealed.
I suppose she is frightened and worn out, poor thing! She may improve
when she is rested and happier."

And the next day, as Betty drove her about the city and showed her the
classic public buildings, the parks, white and glittering under a
light fall of snow, the wide avenues in which no one seemed to hurry,
and the stately private dwellings, Harriet's eyes were wide open with
pleasure, and she sat up straight and alert.

"And I am really to live in this wonderful city?" she exclaimed. "How
long will it be before I shall have seen all the beautiful things
inside those buildings? Do you mean that I can go through all of them?
Why, I never even dreamed that I'd really see the world one day. All I
prayed for was books, more books. And now I'm living in a house with a
right smart library, and you will let me read them all. I don't know
which makes me feel most happy."

"I will ask my cousin, Mr. Emory, to take you to all the galleries,
and you must go to the White House and shake hands with the
President."

"Oh, I should like to!" she exclaimed. "I should like to! I should
indeed feel proud." She flushed suddenly and turned away her head.
Betty called her attention hastily to a shop window: they had turned
into F Street. She was determined that the obnoxious subject should
never be mentioned between them if she could help it.

"I'll take you to New York and show you the shops there," she
continued. "New York was invented that woman might appreciate her
superiority over man."

"I'd love a yellow satin dress trimmed with red and blue beads," said
Harriet, thoughtfully.

Betty shuddered. For the moment F Street seemed flaunting with old
Aunty Dinah's bandannas. She replied hurriedly,--

"You will have all sorts of new ideas by the time you go out of
mourning. I suppose you will wear black for a year."

"That makes me think. While I'm in black I can't see your fine
friends. I'd like to study. Could I afford a teacher?"

"You can have a dozen. I've told you that I intend to turn over to you
the money father left me. Mr. Emory will attend to it. You will have
about five hundred dollars a month to do what you like with."

The girl gasped, then shook her head. "I can't realize that sum," she
said. "But I know it's riches, and I wish--I wish _he_ were alive."

"If he were you would not have it, for I should not know of you. You
will enjoy having a French teacher and a Professor of Belles Lettres.
Have you any talent for music?"

"I can play the banjo--"

"I mean for the piano."

"I never saw one till yesterday, so I can't say. But I reckon I could
play anything."

Her Southern brogue was hardly more marked than Jack Emory's, but she
mispronounced many of her words and dropped the final letters of
others: she said "hyah" for "here" and "do'" for "door," and once she
had said "done died." Betty determined to give special instructions to
the Professor.

Senator Burleigh and Emory dined at the house that evening, and
although Harriet was shy, and blushed when either of the men spoke to
her the deep and tragic novelty of their respectful admiration finally
set her somewhat at her ease, and she talked under her breath to Emory
of the pleasurable impression Washington had made on her rural mind.
After dinner she went with him to the library, where he showed her his
favourite books, and advised her to read them.

"Will you have a cigarette?" he asked. "Betty accuses me of being old-
fashioned, but I am modern enough to think that a woman and a
cigarette make a charming combination: she looks so companionable."

"I've smoked a pipe," said Harriet, doubtfully; "but I've never tried
a cigarette. I reckon I could, though."

He handed her a cigarette, and she smoked with the natural grace which
pervaded all her movements. She sank back in the deep chair she had
chosen, and puffed out the smoke indolently.

"I am so happy," she said. "I reckoned down there that the world was
beautiful somewhere, but I never expected to see it. And it is, it is.
Poor old uncle used to say that nothing amounted to much when you got
it, but he didn't know, he didn't know. This room is so big, and the
light is so soft, and this chair is so lazy, and the fire is so
warm--" She looked at Emory with the first impulse of coquetry she had
ever experienced; and her eyes were magnificent.

"Are you, too, happy?" she asked softly.

He stood up suddenly and gave a little nervous laugh, darting an
embarrasing glance over his shoulder.

"I feel uncommonly better than usual," he admitted.




XVII



Betty awoke the next morning with the impression that she was
somewhere on the border of a negro camp-meeting. She had passed more
than one when driving in the country, and been impressed with the
religious frenzy for which the human voice seemed the best possible
medium. As she achieved full consciousness, she understood that it was
not a chorus of voices that filled her ear, but one,--rich, sonorous,
impassioned. It was singing one of the popular Methodist hymns with a
fervour which not even its typical African drawl and wail could
temper. It was some moments before Betty realized that the singer was
Harriet Walker, and then she sprang out of bed and flung on her
wrapper.

"Great heaven!" she thought. "How shall we ever be able to keep her
secret? A bandanna gown and a voice like a cornfield darky's! I
suppose all the servants are listening in the hall."

They were,--even the upper servants, who were English,--but they
scuttled away as their mistress appeared. She crossed the hall to
Harriet's room, rapped loudly, and entered. Her new sister, still in
her nightgown, was enjoying the deep motion of a rocking-chair, hymn-
book in hand. She brought her song to a halt as Betty appeared, but it
was some seconds before the inspired expression in her eyes gave place
to human greeting. Her face happened to be in shadow, and for the
moment Betty saw her black. Her finely cut features were indistinct,
and the ignorant fanaticism of a not remote grandmother looked from
her eyes. "Harriet!" exclaimed Betty. "I don't want to be unkind, but
you must not do that again. If you want to keep your secret, never
sing a hymn again as long as you live."

"Ah!" Harriet gave a gasp, then a half-sob. "Ah! But I love to sing
them, honey. I have sung them every Sunday all my life, and _he_ loved
them. He said I could sing with anybody, he wouldn't except angels. I
'most felt he was listening."

"You have a magnificent voice, and you must have it cultivated. But
never sing another hymn."

"When I go to church I know I'll just shout--without knowing what I'm
doing."

"Then don't go to church," said Betty, desperately.

"I must! I must! What'll the Lode say to me? Oh, my po' old uncle!"

She was weeping like a passionate child. Betty sat down beside her and
took her hand.

"Come," she said, "listen to me. The first time I saw you the deepest
impression I received of you was one of fine self-control. Doubtless
you wept and stormed a good deal before you acquired it--at all the
different stages of what was both renunciation and acquisition. The
last few days have unsettled you a little because you have found
yourself in a new world, minus all your old responsibilities and
trials, and the experience has made you feel younger, robbed you of
some of your hold on yourself. But that habit of self-control is
in your brain,--it is the last to leave us,--and all you have to do is
to sit down and think hard and adjust yourself. It is even more
important that you make no mistakes now than it was before. Fate
seldom gives any one two chances to begin life over again. Think hard
and keep a tight rein on yourself."

Betty had more than negro hymns in her mind, but she did not care to
be explicit. The generalities of the subject were disagreeable enough.

Harriet had ceased her sobbing and was listening intently. She dried
her eyes as Betty finished speaking.

"You are right, honey," she said. "And I reckon you haven't spoken any
too soon, for I was likely to get my head turned. I'll go to church
and I _won't_ sing. First I'll tie a string round my neck to remember,
and after that it'll be easy. I'm afraid I'm just naturally lazy, and
if I didn't watch myself I'd soon forget all the hard lessons I've
learned and get to be like some fat ornary old nigger who's got an
easy job."

Betty shuddered. "The white race is not devoid of laziness. If you
want a reason for yours, just remember that the Southern sun has
prevented many a man from becoming great. Keep your mind as far away
from the other thing as possible."

"Oh, I think I'll forget it. I felt that way yesterday. But perhaps
I'd better not," she added anxiously, as her glance fell on the hymn-
book. "No cross, no crown."

"You will find crosses enough as you go through life," said Betty,
dryly. She rose to go, and Harriet rose also and drew herself up to
her full height. For the moment she looked again the tragic figure of
the first day of their acquaintance.

"You must have seen by this time how ignorant I am," she said
mournfully. "Poor old uncle gave me all the schooling he had himself,
but I knew even then it wasn't what they have nowadays. And I've had
so few books to read. Once I found a five-dollar bill, and as he
wouldn't take it--the most I could do--I tramped all the way to the
nearest town and back, twenty miles, and bought a big basket full of
cheap reprints of English standard novels. Those and the few old Latin
books and the Bible and the Pilgrim's Progress are about all I've ever
read. I felt like writing you that when I read his letter, and also
telling you that I was afraid you wouldn't find me a lady in your
sense of the word--"

"You are my sister," interrupted Betty; "of course you are a lady.
Dismiss any other idea from your mind. And in a year you will know so
much that I shall be afraid of you. I have neglected my books for
several years."

"You are mighty good, and I'll humbly take all the advice you'll give
me."

Betty went back to her room and sought the warm nest she had left.
"She makes me feel old," she thought. "Am I to be responsible for the
development of her character? I can't send her off to Europe yet.
There's nothing to do but keep her for at least a year, until she
knows something of the world and feels at home in it. Meanwhile I
suppose I must be her guide and philosopher! I believe that my
acquaintance with Senator North has made me feel like a child. He is
so much wiser in a minute than I could be in a lifetime; and as I have
made him the pivot on which the world revolves, no wonder I feel small
by contrast.

"But after all, I am twenty-seven, and what is more, I have seen a
good deal of men," she added abruptly. And in a moment she admitted
that she had allowed her heart, full of the youth of unrealities and
dreams, to act independently of her more mature intelligence.

"And that is the reason I have been so happy," she mused. "There is a
facer for the intelligence. As long as I have exercised it I have
never felt as if I were walking on air and song."

But still her imagination did not wander beyond today's meeting and
many like it. He was married, and, independent as she was, she had
received that sound training in the conventions from which the mind
never wholly recovers. She registered a vow then and there that she
would become his friend of friends, the woman to whom he came for all
his pleasant hours, in time his confidante. She would devote her
thought to the making of herself into the companion he most needed and
desired; and she would conceal her love lest he conceive it his duty
to avoid her. She wondered if she had betrayed herself, and concluded
that she had not. Even he could not guess how much of her admiration
emanated from frankness and how much from coquetry. She would be
careful in the future.

"That point settled," she thought, curling down deeper into her bed
and preparing for a nap, "I'll anticipate his coming and think about
him with all the youthful exuberance I please."




XVIII



Betty had invited Senator Burleigh to dinner on Saturday, that he
might feel free to call elsewhere on Sunday. At four o'clock, when
Mrs. Madison had retired for her nap, she commanded Jack Emory to take
Harriet for a long walk and a long ride on the cable cars, and to stop
for Sally Carter. No one else was likely to call, and she retired to
her boudoir, a three-cornered room in an angle between the parlor and
library, to await Senator North.

The boudoir was a room that any man might look forward to after a hard
day on Capitol Hill. Its easychairs were very soft and deep, its rugs
were rosy and delicate, and the walls and windows and doors were hung
with one of those old French silk stuffs with a design of royal
conventionality and uniformly old rose in colour. All of Betty's own
books were there, her piano, several handsome pieces of carved oak,
and a unique collection of ivory. Betty had banished the former
girlish simplicity of this room a few days after her introduction to
the Montgomery house. She had imagined herself greeting Senator North
in it many times, and had received no other man within its now sacred
walls.

She wore a white cloth gown today and a blue ribbon in her hair. There
was also a touch of blue at the neck, to make her throat look the
whiter. Otherwise, the long closely fitting gown was without ornament
as far down as the hem, which was lightly embroidered in white. She
looked tall and lithe, but her figure was round, and did not sway like
a reed that a strong wind would beat to the ground, as Harriet's did.
Although that possible descendant of African kings possessed the black
splendour of eyes and hair and a marble regularity of feature, Betty
was the more beautiful woman of the two; for her colour filled and
warmed the eye, she seemed typical of womanhood in its highest
development, and she was a chosen receptacle of enchantment. Moreover,
she was more modern and original, and as healthy as had been the
fashion for the past generation, Harriet looked like an old Roman coin
come to life, with a blight on her soul and little blood in her thin
body. It was not in Betty's nature to fear any woman, much less to
experience petty jealousy, but it was not without satisfaction she
reflected that she and Harriet would hardly attract the same sort of
man. Jack was doing his duty nobly, and he liked vivacious women who
amused him, poor soul! As for Senator Burleigh, he had said politely
that she was handsome but looked delicate, and then unquestionably
dismissed her from his mind. He and Betty had talked politics on the
previous evening until Mrs. Madison had slipped off to bed an hour
earlier than usual.

Betty dismissed them all from her mind and glanced at the clock. It
was half-past four. She thrust the poker between the glowing logs, and
the flames leaped and sent a quivering glow through the charming room.
Betty leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, almost holding her
breath that she might hear the advancing step of the butler the
sooner. In what seemed to her exactly thirty minutes she looked at the
clock again. It was twenty-five minutes to five. She nestled down,
assuring herself that nobody could be expected to come on the moment,
but this time she did not close her eyes; she watched the clock.

And the joy imperceptibly died out of her; the hands travelled
inexorably round to ten minutes to five; she remembered that she had
not seen Senator North since Wednesday, and that in four days a busy
legislator might easily forget the existence of every woman he knew,
except perhaps of the woman he loved. Within her seemed to rise a tide
of bitter memories, the memories of all those women who had sat and
waited through dreary hours for man's uncertain coming. She shivered
and drew close to the fire and covered her face with her hands. Her
heart ached for the helpless misery of her sex.

But she sprang suddenly to her feet. The butler was coming down the
hall. A moment later he had ushered in Senator North, and Betty forgot
the misery of the world, forgot it so completely that there was no
violent reaction; she was merely what she had been at half-past four,
full of pleasurable excitement held down and watched over by the
instinct of caution.

"I must apologize humbly for being late," he said, "but on Sunday I
always sit with my wife until she falls asleep, and to-day she was
nearly an hour later than usual. What a room to come into out of a
biting wind! Thank heaven I was able to get here."

Betty thought of the sister and cousin she had turned out into the
cruel afternoon, and then looked at Senator North deep in the chair
where she had so often imagined him, and forgot their existence. This
was her hour--her first, at least--and visions of pneumonia and
possible consumption should not mar it. She sat opposite him in a
straight dark high-backed chair, and she was quite aware that she made
a delightful picture.

"Well?" he asked. "What of your visit and its consequences?"

Betty told the story; and her description of the dilapidated parsonage
at the head of the miserable village, the group of silent women about
the coffin in the dark room, and her interview with her melancholy
relative was as dramatic as she had felt at the time.

"I thought I was running from a nightmare when I left the house," she
concluded, smiling at him as if to demonstrate that it had left no
shadow in her brain; "but now we both feel better. She wants a gown of
many colours, and this morning she roused the house at five o'clock
singing camp-meeting hymns. But I think she is quick and observant,
and will soon cease to be in any danger of betraying herself. But she
is a great responsibility, and I really felt old this morning."

Senator North laughed. "I hope she won't give you any real trouble. If
she does, I shall feel more than half responsible. But otherwise she
will be an interesting study for you. She is nearly all white; how
much of racial lying, and slothfulness, barbarism, and general
incapacity that black vein of hers contains will give you food for
thought, for she certainly will reveal herself in the course of a
year."

"You must admit that a nature like that is a great responsibility."

"Yes, but she alone can work through all the contradictions to the
light, and she will do it naturally, under pressure of new
experiences, within and without. Don't suggest even the word 'problem'
to her, and don't look upon her as one, yourself. You have put her in
the right conditions. Leave her alone and Time will do the rest. His
work is indubious; never forget that. Are you going to marry
Burleigh?" he added abruptly.

She answered vehemently, "No! No!" "I thought not. I know you very
little, so far, but I was willing to deny the report."

"I often wonder why I don't fall in love with him. He really has every
quality I admire. But much as I like him I should not mind if I knew I
never should see him again. I have thought a good deal about it and I
should like to understand it."

She looked at him coaxingly, and he smiled, for he understood women
very well; but he gave her the explanation she desired.

"The reason is simple enough. The admired qualities, even when they
are the component parts of a personality of one who more or less
resembles a cherished ideal, never yet inspired love. Love is the
result of two responsive sparks coming within each other's range of
action. Their owners may be in certain ways unfitted for one another,
but the responsive sparks, rising Nature only knows out of what
combination of elements, fly straight, and Reason sulks. To put it
in another way: Love is merely the intuitive faculty recognizing in
another being the power to give its own lord happiness. It is a
faculty that is very active in some people," he added with a laugh,
"and when it is overworked it often goes wrong, like any other
machinery. That is the reason why men who have loved many women make a
mistake in marrying; the intuitive faculty is both dulled and
coarsened by that time. They are still susceptible to charm, and that
is about all."

"Have you loved many women?" asked Betty, without preamble.

He stood up and turned his back to the fire. Betty noted again how
squarely he planted himself on his feet. "A few," he said bluntly.
"Not many. I have not overworked my intuitive faculty, if that is what
you mean. I was not thinking of myself when I spoke."

He stared down at her for a few moments, during which it seemed to
Betty that the air vibrated between them. Her breath began to shorten,
and she dropped her eyes, lest their depths reveal the spark which was
active enough in her.

"Will you play for me?" he asked. "I lost a little girl a few years
ago who played well, although she was only sixteen. I have disliked
the piano ever since, but I should like to hear you play."

She played to him for an hour, with tenderness, passion, and
brilliancy. A gift had been cultivated by the best masters and hours
of patient study.

When he thanked her and rose to go and she put her hand in his, her
face expressed all the bright earnestness of genuine friendship; there
was not a sparkle of coquetry in her eyes.

"Will you come in often on your way home when you are tired and would
like to forget bills and things, and let me play to you? I won't talk
--you must get so tired of voices!--and the practice will do me good."

"Of course I will come. The pleasantest thing in life is a charming
woman's face at the close of a busy day. Good-bye."

When he had gone, Betty got into the depths of a chair and covered her
eyes with her hand. For the first time she knew out of her own
experience that love means a greater want than the satisfaction of the
eye and mind. She would have given anything but her inherited ideals
of right and wrong if he had come back and taken her in his arms and
kissed her; and she loved him with adoration that he did not, that in
all probability he never would, that although he had the great
passions which stimulate all great brains, the inflexible honour which
his State had rewarded and never questioned for thirty-five years must
make short work of struggles with the ordinary temptations of man.

As soon as a man awakens a woman's passions she begins to idealize him
and there is no limit to the virtues he will be made to carry. But let
a man be endowed by Nature with every noble and elevated attribute she
has in her power to bestow, if he lacks sensuality a woman will see
him in the clear cold light of reason. Betty Madison, having something
of the intuitive faculty, in addition to that knowledge of man which
any girl of twenty-seven who has had much love offered her must
possess, made fewer mistakes even in the thick of a throbbing brain
than most women make; the great danger she did not foresee until time
had accustomed her somewhat to the wonder of being able to love at
last, and Reason had resumed her place in a singularly clear and
logical mind.




XIX



When Betty awoke next morning, she made up her mind that she would not
suffer so long as she could see him. Beyond the present she absolutely
refused to look. She had found more on the political sea than she had
gone in search of, but if she could have foreseen this tumult that
would have overwhelmed a weaker woman, she would not have clung to the
shore. For although the ultimate of love was forbidden her, she had
come into her kingdom, and was immeasurably happier than the millions
of women whose love had run its course and turned cold, or been cast
back at them. After all, there were so few people who were really
happy, why should she complain because her love could not come to rice
and old shoes, instead of being a beautiful secret thing, the more
perfect, perhaps, because Commonplace, that ogre whose girth increases
from year to year, and who sits remorseless in the dwellings of the
united, could not breathe upon it?

Harriet had returned without a cold, and the next morning Emory came
in and took her to the Congressional Library, where they had luncheon.
He also engaged her masters, and before the week was over she had
settled down to steady work.

"She has a wonderful mind, I am positive of that," he said to Betty.
"She has made so much out of so few advantages. I shall take the
greatest interest in watching a mind like that unfold. What relation
is she to us, anyway? I can't make out, for the life of me. There was
Cousin Amelia--"

"For heaven's sake, don't ask me to write up the genealogical tree.
Didn't I refuse to join the Colonial Dames because it meant raking
over the bones of all my ancestors--whom may the Saints rest! Most
Southern relationships amount to no relationship at all, and Harriet's
is too insignificant to mention."

"Well, I must say it is angelic in you to take her in and shower
blessings on her in this way--" "Her father had a great claim on us,
but that is a family secret, even from you. Mind you take her tomorrow
to see the 'Declaration of Independence' and the portrait of
Hamilton."

The days passed very quickly to the end of the session. It was the
short term; Congress would adjourn on the fourth of March. Although
the great official receptions were over, dinners and luncheons crowded
each other as closely as before, for Washington pays little attention
to Lent beyond releasing its weary hostesses from weekly reception
days, and their callers from an absurd and antiquated custom. Betty
went frequently to the gallery on Capitol Hill, and although she
sometimes was bored by "business," she seldom heard a dull speech,
for the intellectual average of the Senate is very high, and its
aptitude and the variety of its information unexcelled. Harriet
accompanied her two or three times, but her mind turned naturally to
the past and concerned itself little with the present. She found the
history of the Roman Empire vastly more entertaining than debates on
the Arbitration Treaty.

Betty had recently met a Mrs. Fonda, a handsome widow in the vague
thirties, who had that fascination of manner and that brilliant talent
for politics which went to make up Miss Madison's ideal of the women
with whom tired statesmen spent their leisure hours. She was the
daughter of a former distinguished member of the House and the widow
of a naval officer, and her life may be said to have been passed in
Washington with intervals of Europe. Although the Old Washingtonians
knew her not, her position in the kaleidoscope of official society was
always brilliant. She professed to have no party politics, but to be
profoundly interested in all great questions affecting the nation.
During the early winter she had visited Cuba and had announced upon
her return that no other subject would command her attention until the
United States had exterminated Spanish rule in that unhappy island.
She occupied one of the smaller houses in Massachusetts Avenue, and
her dining-room seated only ten people with comfort. Betty had heard
that as many as nine of her country's chosen men had sat about that
board at the same time and decided upon matters of state; and she
envied her deeply. As Mrs. Fonda lived with no less than two
elderly aunts who wore caps, and was a devout member of St. John's
Church, Mrs. Madison, with a sigh, concluded that there was no reason
why Betty should not go to her house.

"I suppose she is no worse than the rest," she added. "I prefer people
with husbands, but the more you see of this new life the sooner you
may get tired of it."

Mrs. Fonda paid Betty marked attention whenever they happened to meet,
and upon the last occasion had offered playfully to tell her "all she
knew" about politics. "They are engrossing," she added with a sigh,
"so engrossing that they have taken the best of my years. A woman
should be married and happy, I think, but I have become quite
depersonalized. And I really think I have done a little good. You will
marry, of course; you are young and so beautiful; but let politics be
your second great interest. You will, indeed, never give them up if
you let them absorb you for one year, and I am more glad than I can
say that you already have gone so far." She then invited Betty to a
dinner she was giving, and even made an appointment for an hour's
"talk" beforehand; but this appointment Betty was unable to keep, as
her mother fell ill for a day or two, and Mrs. Fonda's hour occurred
while Mrs. Madison desired to have her hand held.

Betty went to the dinner, however, and expected brilliant and unusual
things. Mrs. Fonda, who was tall and dark and distinguished looking,
and too wise in her unprotected position to annul the attentions of
Time with those artifices which are rather a pity but quite condonable
in the married woman, was handsomely dressed in black net embroidered
with gold, and received with an aunt on either side of her. Her manner
was very fine, and, without any relaxation of the dignity which was an
integer of her personality, she made each comer feel the guest of the
evening. To Betty she was almost affectionate, and surrounded her
with the aunts, who looked at her with such kindly and cordial, albeit
sadly patient eyes, that Betty almost loved them.

The dining-room accommodated twelve tonight, and two were not the
aunts. Betty wondered if they were picking up crumbs in the pantry.
She suspected that Mrs. Fonda was more worldly than she would admit,
and that ambition and love of admiration had somewhat to do with her
patriotism.

There were four members of the Senate present, two wives of members
who had been unable to come, and three eminent Representatives. It was
seldom that Mrs. Fonda's invitations were declined, for no man went to
her house with the miserable conviction that he was about to eat his
twenty-seventh dinner by the same cook. Mrs. Fonda had picked up a
woman in Belgium who was a genius.

Betty went in with Senator Burleigh, and they examined the menu
together.

"By Jove," he said, "it's even more gorgeous than usual. And did you
ever see so many flowers outside of a conservatory?"

The room was a bower of violets and lilies of the valley. The
mantelpiece was obliterated, the table looked like a garden, and great
bunches of the flowers swung from the ceiling. As what could be seen
of the room was green and gold, the effect was very beautiful. The
lights were pink, and in this room Mrs. Fonda defied Time and looked
so wholly attractive that it was not difficult to fancy her the cause
of another war, albeit not its Helen.

But much to Betty's disappointment the conversation, which was always
general when that radiant hostess presided, soon wandered from the
suffering Cuban and fixed itself interminably about a certain measure
which had been agitating Congress for the last four years. It was a
measure which demanded an immense appropriation, and so far Senator
North had kept it from passing the upper chamber; it was generally
understood that it would fare still worse at the hands of the Speaker,
did it ever reach the House. These two intractable gentlemen had
evidently not been bidden to the feast; but three of the Senators,
Betty suddenly observed, were members of the Select Committee for the
measure under discussion.

Five courses had come and gone, and still the conversation raged along
a tiresome bill that happened to be Betty's pet abomination, the only
subject discussed in the Senate that bored her. Mrs. Fonda, in the
brightest, most impersonal way, defended the unpopular measure,
pointing out the immense advantage the country at large must derive
from the success of the bill, and, while appealing to the statesmen
gathered at her board to set her right when she made mistakes,--she
couldn't be expected to keep up with every bill while her head was
full of Cuba,--assailed the weak points in those statesmen's
arguments.

"I'm bored to death," muttered Betty, finally. "I wish I hadn't come.
You won't talk to me and I can't eat any more."

Burleigh turned to her at once. "I've merely been watching her game,"
he whispered. "Now, I'm nearly sure."

"What?" asked Betty, interested at once.

"She has given a dinner a week this winter, and there is a rumour that
she is spending the money of the syndicate interested in this much
desired appropriation. Heretofore, when I have been here, at least,
although she has always graciously permitted the subject to come up
and has delivered herself of a few trenchant and memorable remarks,
this is the first time she has deliberately made it run through an
entire dinner; every attempt to turn the conversation has been a sham.
She's in the ring for votes, there's no further doubt in my mind on
that subject; and she's getting desperate, as it is so near the end of
the session."

"Then she is a lobbyist," said Betty, in a tone of deep disgust, and
pushing away her plate.

"'Sh! She is too clever to have got herself called that. She has very
successfully made the world believe that the great game alone
interests her; there never has been a more subtle woman in Washington.
During the last two years there has been one of those vague rumours
going about that she has lost heavily through certain investments; but
one hasn't much time for gossip in Washington, and it is only lately
that this other rumour has been in the wind. How long she has been
doing this sort of thing, of course no one knows."

"But do you mean to say these other men don't see through her?"

"More than one does, no doubt. If he is against the bill he will be
amused, as I am, and probably decline her invitations in the future.
If he is for it--and there is a good deal to be said in favour of the
bill, only we cannot afford the appropriation at present--he will make
her think, as a reward for her excellent dinner, that she has secured
his vote. Others may be influenced by having it thrashed out in these
luxurious surroundings, so different from the chill simplicity of
legislative halls. Those that she may be able to get in love with her,
of course will believe nothing that is said of her, and when she
travels from the Committees to the more or less indifferent members of
both chambers, and gets to work on the nonentities whose convictions
can always be readjusted by a clever and pretty woman,--and whose vote
is as good as North's or Ward's,--you see just how much she can
accomplish."

"And if I have my _salon_, shall I come under suspicion of being a
high-class lobbyist?"

"There is not the slightest danger if you are careful to have only
first-rate men, and avoid the temptation to make a pet of any bill.
Besides, as I have told you, your position peculiarly fits you for
having a _salon_. No one could question your motive in the beginning,
and your tact would protect you always. Don't give up the idea, for
its success would mean not only the best political society in the
country, but a famous _salon_ would tend to draw art and literature to
Washington. And you are just the one woman who could make it famous;
and we'd all help you. North would be sure to, his ambition for
Washington is so great. He won't put his foot in this house. I never
heard him discuss her, but I am convinced that he has seen through her
for a long while."

The next day Betty left a card on Mrs. Fonda and struck her from her
list; but she carefully secluded her discovery from Mrs. Madison.




XX



Senator North, until the last six days of the session, came twice a
week to see her. She played for him, and they talked on many subjects,
in which they discovered a common interest, usually avoiding politics,
of which he might reasonably be supposed to have enough on Capitol
Hill. He told her a good deal about himself, of his early
determination to go into public life, the interest that several
distinguished men in his State had taken in him, and of the influence
they had had on his mind.

"They were almost demi-gods to my youthful enthusiasm," he said, "and
doubtless I exaggerated their virtues, estimable as is the record they
have left. But the ideals this conception of them set up in my mind I
have clung to as closely as I could, and whatever the trials of public
life--I will tell you more about them some day--the rewards are great
enough if no one can question your sense of public duty, if no
accusation of private interest or ignoble motive has ever been able to
stand on its feet after the usual nine days' babble."

"Would you sacrifice yourself absolutely to your country?" asked
Betty, who kept him to the subject of himself as long as she could.

He laughed. "That is not a fair question to ask any man, for an
affirmative makes a prig of him and a negative a mere politician. I
will therefore generalize freely and tell you that a man who believes
himself to be a statesman considers the nation first, as a matter of
course. Howard, for instance, nearly killed himself at the end of last
session over a measure which was of great national importance. He
should have been in his bed, and he worked day and night. But although
it was touch and go with him afterward, it was no more than he should
have done, for almost everything depends on the Chairman of a
Committee; and as Howard is a man of enormous personal influence and
knows more about the subject than any man in Congress, he dared not
resign in favour of any one. And yet he is accused of being hand-in-
glove with one of the greatest moneyed interests in the country."

"Is he?" asked Betty, pointedly.

"Those are accusations that it is almost impossible to prove. Howard
is a rich man, and his wealth is derived from the principal industry
of his State, which is unquestionably monopolized by a Trust. It would
be his duty to look after it in Congress in any case, as it is his
State's great source of wealth; so it is hard to tell. It does not
interfere with his being one of the ablest legislators and hardest
workers in the Senate--and over matters from which he can derive no
possible gain. But the suspicion will lower his position in the
history of the Senate."

"Does any one know the truth about the Senate? Even Bryce says it is
impossible to get at it, the country is so prone to exaggeration; but
estimates that one-fifth of the Senate is corrupt."

"No one knows. The whole point is this: the Senate is the worst place
in the world for a weak man, and there are weak men in it. A
Senatorship is the highest honour to-day in the gift of the Republic;
therefore ambitious men strive for it. A man no sooner achieves this
ambition than he finds himself beset by many temptations. He is
tormented by lobbyists who will never let him alone until he has
proved himself to be a man of incorruptible character and iron will;
and that takes time. He also finds that the Senate is a sort of
aristocracy, the more so as many of its members are rich men and live
well. If he never wanted money before, he wants it then, and if he
does not, his wife and daughters do. Then, if he is weak, he finds his
way into the pocket of some Trust Company or Railroad Corporation, and
his desire for re-election--to retain his brilliant position--
multiplies his shackles; for if he proves himself useful, the Trust
will buy his Legislature--if it happens to be venal--and keep him in
his place. But these instances I know must be rare, for I know the
personal character of every man in the Senate. One Senator who is
nearing the end of his first term told me the other day that he should
not return, for his experience in the Senate had given him such a keen
desire to be a rich man that he should go into Wall Street and try to
make a fortune. He is honest, but his patriotism is a poor affair. But
if the Senate makes a weak man weaker, it makes a strong man stronger,
owing to the very temptations he must resist from the day he enters,
the compromises he is forced to make, and the danger to his
convictions from the subtler brains of older men. And the Senate is
full of strong men. But they don't make picturesque 'copy' for the
enterprising press; the weak and the corrupt do, and so much space is
given them, as well as so much attention by the comic weeklies,--which
are regarded as a sort of current history,--that the average man, who
does not do his own thinking, accepts the minority as the type."

He talked to her sometimes about his family life. His wife had been a
beautiful and accomplished girl, the daughter of a Governor of his
State, and he had married her when he was twenty-four. She had been a
great help to him, both at home and in Washington, during those years
when he needed help. She had not broken down until after the birth of
his daughter, but that was twenty years ago, and she had been an
invalid ever since. He spoke of this long period of imperfect
happiness in a matter-of-fact way, and Betty assumed that by this time
he was used to it. He alluded to his wife once as "a very dear old
friend," but Betty guessed that she was nearly obliterated from his
life. Of his sons he expected great things, but the larger measure of
his affections had been given to his daughter, or it seemed so, now
that he had lost her.

During the last week of the Session she saw him from the Senate
Gallery only, but she consoled herself by admiring the cool
deliberation with which he worked his bills through, with Populists
thundering on either side of him.



XXI



On Thursday she not only witnessed the last moments of the last
session of the Fifty-fourth Congress, but the initial ceremonies of
the inauguration of a President of the United States. She had seen the
galleries crowded before, but never as they were to-day. Even the
Diplomatists' Gallery, usually empty, was full of women and attaches,
and the very steps of the other galleries were set thick with people.
Thousands had stood patiently in the corridors since early morning,
and thousands stood there still, or wandered about looking at the
statues and painted walls. The Senators were all in their seats; most
of them would gladly have been in bed, for they had been up all night;
and the Ambassadors and Envoys were brilliant and glittering curves of
colour: the effect greatly enhanced by the Republican simplicity of
the men to whose country they were accredited. The Judges of the
Supreme Court, in their flowing silk gowns, alone reminded the
spectator that the United States had not sprung full-fledged from
nothing, without traditions and without precedent.

What little is left of form in the Republic was observed. Two Senators
and one Representative, the Committee appointed to call on the
retiring President, who had just signed his last bill in his room
close by, entered and announced that Mr. Cleveland had no further
messages for the Senate, and extended his congratulations to both
Houses of Congress upon the termination of their labours. The United
States had been without a ruler for twenty minutes when the assistant
doorkeeper announced the Vice-President, two pages drew back the
doors, and Mr. Hobart entered on the arm of a Senator and took the
seat on the dais beside his predecessor, who still occupied the chair
of the presiding officer of the Senate. Then there was another long
wait, during which the people in the galleries gossiped loudly and the
Senators yawned. Finally the President elect and the ex-President,
after being formally announced, entered arm in arm. Both looked very
Republican indeed, especially poor Mr. Cleveland, who toiled along
with the gout, leaning what he could of his massive figure upon an
umbrella. The women stood up, and with one accord pronounced their
President-elect as good-looking as he undoubtedly was strong and
amiable and firm and calm and pious. Mr. Hobart took the oath of
office, and after the necessary speeches and the proclamation for an
Extra Session, the new Senators were sworn in by the new Vice-
President, and Betty wondered how any man would dare to break so
solemn an oath.

As soon as the move began toward the platform outside, Betty escaped
through the crowd and went home. As she drove down the Avenue, she
heard the stupendous shout of joy, some fifty thousand strong, with
which the American public ever greets its new President and the
consequent show. Be he Republican or Democrat, it is all one for the
day; he is an excuse to gather, to yell, and to gaze.

Betty turned her head and caught a glimpse of a bareheaded man on his
feet, bowing and bowing and bowing, and of a heavy figure with its hat
on seated beside him. She speculated upon the sardonic reflections
active inside of that hat.

She did not expect to see Senator North for at least twenty-four
hours, but his card was brought to her while she was still at
luncheon. She went rapidly to her boudoir, and found him standing with
his overcoat on and his hat in his hand.

Although he had been up all the night before and had not had his full
measure of rest for a week, he looked as calm as usual, and there was
not a hint of fatigue in his face nor of disorder in his dress.

"You deserted us last night," he said, smiling. "I thought perhaps you
would sit up and see us through."

"I was up there at nine this morning and saw the Senate floor littered
with papers. It had a very allnight look. Have you had luncheon? Won't
you come in?"

"I should be glad to, but I haven't time. I find I must go North to-
night, and am on my way home to get a few hours' rest. I wanted to
thank you for many pleasant hours--in this room." His eyes moved about
slowly and softened somewhat. It is not improbable that he would have
liked to throw himself among the cushions of the divan and go to
sleep.

"Well! You might postpone that until we part for life," said Betty,
lightly. "You forget that Congress will convene in Extra Session on
the fifteenth."

"Yes, but there is no necessity for me to be here until some time in
May at earliest. The principal object of the Session is the revision
of the Tariff, and the new bill originates with the Ways and Means
Committee. After it has been thrashed out in the House and returned to
the Committee for amendments, it will be referred to the Finance
Committee of the Senate. All that takes time. I am not a member of the
Finance Committee this term, and I shall not return until the debate
opens in the Senate. As to the Arbitration business, Ward will look
after that. I would not stir if there were a chance of the Treaty
coming back to the Senate in its original form, but there is not. When
Ward telegraphs me I shall come down and cast my vote."

His long speech had given Betty time to recover from his first
announcement, and her eyes were full of the frank earnestness which
had established the desired relation between herself and Senator
North.

"I am glad you are going to have a rest," she said; "that is, if you
are."

"Oh, it is work that sits very lightly on me, and is very congenial: I
am going to do all I can to allay this war fever in my own State. It
is not too late to appeal to their reason; but it might be at any
moment."

"Well, at all events, you go to the bracing climate of the North. But
I am sorry you go so soon. Mother cannot stay in Washington after the
third week in May. I am afraid we shall not meet again until you come
to the Adirondacks."

"Ah, the Adirondacks!" he said. "Yes, I shall see you there. Good-
bye."

He did not smile. There were times when he seemed to turn a key and
lock up his features. This was one of them. Betty felt as if she were
looking at a mask contrived with unusual skill.

He shook her warmly by the hand, however. "I forgot to say that I
shall be in Washington off and on--for a day or so. My wife remains
here. It is still too cold for her in the North. Good-bye again."

He left her, and she did not return to her luncheon.




XXII



Betty, after several long and restless nights, decided that she was
not equal to the ordeal of sitting down patiently in Washington
awaiting the rare and flying visits of Senator North. If she could
place herself quite beyond the possibility of seeing him before the
first of June, she could get through the intervening months with a
respectable amount of endurance, but not otherwise. Hers was not the
nature of the patient watcher, the humble applicant for crumbs. She
might put up with slices where she could not get the whole loaf, but
her head lifted itself at the notion of crumbs. Her heart had not yet
begun to ache. She determined that it should not until it was in far
more desperate straits than now. When Lady Mary Montgomery, who was
tired and wanted a long rest before December, invited her to go to
California, she accepted at once; and, a week after the adjournment of
Congress, went through the formality of obtaining her mother's
consent. "Well," said Mrs. Madison, philosophically, "I have lost you
for three months at a time before, and I suppose I can stand it again.
I think you need a change. You've been nervous lately, and you're
thinner than you were. As long as you don't marry I can resign myself
quite gracefully to these little partings."

"You're a dear, Mollyanthus. I only wish you were going with me, but
I'll keep a journal for you and post it every night. I am glad you do
not dislike Harriet. Of course if you did I should not go, for it is
too soon to turn her adrift."

"She is inoffensive enough, poor soul, and so deep in her books that I
should not know she was in the house if she didn't come to the table."

"Make Jack take her to the theatre once a week. She has promised me
that she will go for a walk every day with Sally."

"Sally says she is convinced Harriet is a Roman empress reborn, and
may astonish Washington at any moment," said Mrs. Madison, anxiously.
"Do you believe in reincarnation?"

"I don't believe or disbelieve anything I don't understand. We none of
us can even guess what is latent in Harriet--for the matter of that I
don't know what is latent in myself. I can only suspect. I don't think
Harriet will ever go very deep into herself; she has not imagination
enough. If circumstances are not too unfavourable, she may slip
through life happy and respected, in spite of her tragic appearance:
she is so slothful by nature, so much more susceptible to good
influences than to bad. All of us possess every good and bad instinct
in the whole book of human nature, but few of us have imagination
enough to find it out. And the less we know of ourselves the better."

"Betty, you certainly do need a change. You looked tragic yourself as
you said that; and if you became tragic it would mean something. I'm
afraid your conscience is tormenting you about Mr. Burleigh, and
perhaps I did not do right in asking him to come to the Adirondacks;
but probably he would have come to the hotel, anyhow; and if I did
have to lose you--"

"You'll never get rid of me." And she went to her room to consult with
Leontine.

The night before she left Harriet came into her room and said
timidly,--

"Betty, I sometimes wonder if you have told Mr. Emory the truth about
myself--"

"Certainly not. Why should I tell Mr. Emory--or anyone else?"

"Well, he is so kind to me and we have become such friends, I thought
perhaps you would think he ought to know."

"That is pure nonsense. Do you suppose I tell my friends everything I
know? No friend is so close as to demand to know more than you choose
to tell him."

"All right, honey; but I am always afraid he will see my finger-nails
when he is helping me with my lessons--"

"He is very near-sighted; and I doubt if anyone would notice those
faint blue marks unless they were looking for them."

"Of course they seem the most conspicuous things I've got, to me."

"Are you happy here, Harriet?" asked Betty, gently. Harriet nodded and
looked at her benefactor with glowing eyes. "Oh, yes," she said. "Yes
--yes. It is like heaven, in spite of the hard work they make me do.
I'm right down afraid of that old Frenchman, and when Professor Morrow
shuts his eyes and groans, 'Door--d-o-o-r, Miss Walker, _not_ d-o-u-g-
h,' I could cry. But I'm happy all the same, and I forgot _that_ for a
whole week."

"Well, forget it altogether. And remember to have a thin travelling
dress and a lot of summer things made. And of all people do not
confide in Jack Emory or Sally Carter--or any other Southerner."





_Part II_




_Senator North, Miss Betty Madison, and several other Characters in
this History go in search of a Mountain Lake and find an Ocean._




I



Betty never denied that she enjoyed her visit to California, despite
the several thousand miles between the Atlantic and the Pacific
coasts, and Senator North's rooted aversion to writing letters. She
received exactly three brief epistles from him in almost as many
months, but in one he said that he missed her even in the North, in
another that Washington was not Washington without her, and in the
third that he looked forward with pleasure to the cool Adirondacks and
herself. And a woman can live on less than that. Betty read and re-
read these simple and possibly perfunctory statements until they were
weighted with love.

And although she visited all the wonders of the most wonderful State
in the Union, and was deeply grateful to them, they never pushed the
man from the forefront of her mind for a moment. The egoism of love
reduces scenery to a setting and the splendours of sunset to a
background. Betty thought of him by day and by night, in company and
in solitude, but even the agony of longing to which her imagination
sometimes rose contained no heartbreak. For the future was all over
there, on the far side of the continent; its grave-clothes were deep
under lavender and rosemary. To think of him was a luxury and a
delight, and would remain so until Imagination had been pushed aside
by the contradictory details of Reality. Sometimes she wept
pleasurably, but she smiled oftener. And still, although she laid no
reins on her imagination, she refused to look beyond the summer among
the Adirondack pines, the frequent and more frequent hours at the
close of busy days. If pressed, she would doubtless have answered that
she must bow to Circumstance, but that in Thought he was wholly hers.




II



Betty reached her part of the Adirondacks late at night. There were
two miles between the station and the house, and Jack Emory and Sally
Carter came to meet her. They told her the recent news of the family
as the horses toiled up the steep road cut through the dark and
fragrant forest.

"Aunt is unusually well and seems to enjoy interminable talks with
Major Carter," said Emory. "Harriet is very much improved; she holds
herself regally and sometimes has a colour. She studied until the last
minute, and even here is always at her books. I don't say she hasn't
intervals of laziness," he added with a laugh, "but she always pulls
up; and it is very creditable of her, for she is full of Southern
indolence. She would like to lie in the sun all day and sleep, I am
sure; although she won't admit it."

"Does she seem any happier? She had suffered too much privation to
have become really happy before I left."

"I am sure she is--" Jack began, but Sally interrupted him.

"I think she is one of those people who hardly know whether they are
happy or not. She seems to me to be in a sort of transition state. One
moment she will be gay with the natural gayety of a girl, and the next
she will look puzzled, and occasionally tragic. I think there must be
a big love affair somewhere in her past."

"I am sure there is nothing of the sort. Have the Norths come?"

"Mrs. North is here, and the Senator brought her, but he had to go
back; for that disgraceful Tariff bill still hangs on. I believe we
are to pay for the very air we breathe: a Trust company has bought it
up. Oh, by the way, you have a new housekeeper;" and both she and
Emory laughed. "Do you mean that old Mrs. Sawyer has left? She was
invaluable."

"Her son wanted her to keep house for him, and she secured the
services of a female from a neighboring village. Miss Trumbull is
forty-odd and unmarried. She has a large bony face, the nondescript
colouring of the average American, and a colossal vanity. We amuse
ourselves watching her smirk as she passes a looking-glass. But she is
an excellent housekeeper, and her vanity would be of no consequence if
she would keep her place. The day we arrived she hinted broadly that
she wanted to sit at table with us, and one night when John was ill
and she had to help wait, she joined in the conversation. She's a
good-natured fool, but an objectionable specimen of that 'I'm-as-good-
as-you-are' American. I've been waiting for you to come and extinguish
her."

"I certainly shall extinguish her."

"She victimizes poor Harriet, whom she seems to think more on her
level," said Miss Carter, not without unction.

Betty could feel her face flush. "The sooner she puts that idea out of
her head the better," she said coldly. "I am surprised that Harriet
permits a liberty of that sort."

"Harriet lacks pride, my dear, in spite of her ambition and what
Nature has done for her outside. She is curiously contradictory. But
that lack is one which persons of Miss Trumbull's sort are quick to
detect and turn to their own account. Your housekeeper's variety of
pride is common and blatant, and demands to be fed, one way or
another."

Mrs. Madison had not retired and was awaiting her daughter in the
living-room. Betty found the household an apparently happy one. The
Major was a courtly gentleman who told stories of the war. Harriet in
her soft black mull with a deep colour in her cheeks looked superb,
and Betty kissed and congratulated her warmly; as Senator North had
predicted, the physical repulsion had worn away long since. The big
room with its matting and cane divans and chairs, heaped with bright
cushions, and the pungent fire in the deep chimney--for the evenings
were still cold--looked cosey and inviting; no wonder everybody was
content. Even Jack looked less careworn than usual; doubtless the
pines, as ever, had routed his malaria. Only Sally's gayety seemed a
little forced, and there was an occasional snap in her eye and
dilation of her nostril.

When Betty had put her mother to bed and talked her to sleep, she went
to her own room and opened the window. She could hear the lake
murmuring at the foot of the terrace, the everlasting sighing of the
pines; but it was very dark: she could hardly see the grim mountains
across the water. Just below them was a triple row of lights. He
should have been behind those lights and he was not. For the moment
she hated politics.

She closed the window and wrote the following letter:--

DEAR MR. NORTH,--I am home, you see. Don't reply and tell me that the
Tariff Bill surrounds you like a fortress wall. I am going for a walk
at five o'clock on Saturday morning, and I expect to meet you
somewhere in the forest above the north end of the lake. You can reach
it by the path on your side. I shall row there. Do not labour over an
excuse, my friend. I know how you hate to write letters, and you know
that I am a tyrant whose orders are always obeyed.

                   BETTY MADISON.

"That should not worry him," she thought, "and it should bring him."




III



As soon as she awoke next morning, she dressed and went downstairs. A
woman stood in the lower hall, and from Sally's description Betty
recognized Miss Trumbull. The woman's large mouth expanded in a smile,
which, though correct enough, betrayed the self-satisfaction which
pervaded her being. She was youngish-looking, and not as ugly as Miss
Carter's bald description had implied.

"Good-mornin'," She drawled. "I had a mind to set up for you last
night, but I was tired. You like to get up early, don't you? It's just
six. Miss Walker and Miss Carter don't git up till eight, Mr. Emory
till nine fifteen, and your ma till eleven. The Major's uncertain. But
I'm real glad you like gittin' up early--"

"Will you kindly send me a boy?" interrupted Betty. "I wish a letter
taken to the post-office."

The woman came forward and extended her hand. "I'll give it to him,"
she said.

"Send the boy to me. I have other orders to give him."

As the woman turned away, Betty thought she detected a shade of
disappointment on her face. "Has she that most detestable vulgarity of
her class, curiosity?" she thought. "She seems to have observed the
family very closely."

The boy came, accompanied by Miss Trumbull, who made a slight but
perceptible effort to see the address of the letter as Betty handed it
to him.

"Take this at once and bring me back a dollar's worth of stamps; and
go also to the village store and bring me some samples of worsted."

She thought of several other things she did not want, reflecting that
she must in the future herself take to the post-office such letters as
she did not wish Miss Trumbull to inspect and possibly read. The boy
went his way, and Betty turned to the housekeeper and regarded her
sharply.

"I'm afraid you will find this a lonely situation," she said. "We are
only here for a few months in the summer."

"Well, of course I like the society of nice people, but I guess I can
stand it. Poor folks can't pick and choose, and I suppose you wouldn't
mind my havin' a friend with me in the winter, would you?"

"Certainly not," said Betty, softening a little. But she did not like
the woman, who was not frankly plebeian, but had buttered herself over
with a coat of third-rate pretentiousness. And her voice and method of
speech were irritating. She had a fat inflection and the longest drawl
Betty had ever heard. Upon every fourth or fifth word she prolonged
the drawl, and accomplished the effect of smoothing down her voice
with her tongue. Capable as she might be, Betty wondered if she could
stand Miss Trumbull through the summer. But the position was a very
difficult one to fill. Even an old couple found it lonely, and a
woman with a daughter never had been permitted to remain for two
consecutive years. If the woman could be kept in the background, it
might be worth while to give her a trial.

Betty went out of doors and down to the lake. It lay in the cup of a
peak, and about it towered higher peaks, black with pine forests, only
a path here and there cutting their primeval gloom. Betty stepped into
a boat and rowed beyond sight of her house and the hotel. Then she lay
down, pushed a cushion under her head, and drifted. It had been a
favourite pastime of hers since childhood, but this morning her mind
for the first time opened to the danger of a wild and brooding
solitude, still palpitating with the passions which had given it
birth, for those whose own were awake.

"Civilization does wonders for us," she said aloud; she could have
raised her voice and been unheard, and she revelled in her solitude.
"It makes us really believe that conventions are the only comfortable
conditions in the world, certainly indispensable. Up here--"

"If he and I were here alone for one week," she continued
uncompromisingly and aloud to the mountains, "the world would cease to
exist as far as we both were concerned. And I wish he were here and
the Adirondacks adrift in space!"

She sat up suddenly after this wish; but although it had flushed her
face, she had said the words deliberately and made no haste to unsay
them. She looked ahead to the north end of the lake and the dark quiet
aisles above. And when she met him there on Saturday morning, she must
hold down her passion as she would hold down a mad dog. She must look
with bright friendly eyes at the man to whose arms her imagination had
given her unnumbered times. It seemed to her that she was an
independent intellect caught and tangled in a fish-net of traditions.
To violate the greatest of social laws was abhorrent to every
inherited instinct. Her intellect argued that man was born for
happiness and was a fool to put it from him. The social laws were
arbitrary and had their roots in expediency alone; man and his needs
were made before the community. But the laws had been made long before
her time, and they were bone of her bone.

She knew that he would not be the one to break down the barrier, that
he would leave her if she manifested uncontrollable weakness,--not
from the highest motives only, but because he had long since ceased to
court ruin by folly; his self-control was many years older than
herself. Doubtless he would never betray himself to her, no matter how
much he might love her, unless she so tempted him that passion leaped
above reason. And she knew that this was possible. There was no
mistaking the temperament of the man. He was virile and sensual, but
he had ordered that his passions should be the subjects of his brain;
and so no doubt they were.

Betty had no intention of forcing any such crisis, often as she might
toy with the idea in her mind. But for the first time she compelled
herself to look beyond the present, beyond the time when she could no
longer sit in her boudoir and play to him, and shake him lightly by
the hand as he left her. Perhaps she could not even get through this
summer without betraying the flood that shook her nerves. If the
barriers went down she must look into what? She gave her insight its
liberty, and turned white. It seemed to her that the lake and the
forest disappeared and a blank wall surrounded her. She lay down in
the boat and pressed the corner of the cushion against her eyes. A
thousand voices in her soul, for generations dumb and forgotten,
seemed to awake and describe the agony of women, an agony which
survived the mortal part that gave it expression, to live again and
again in unwary hearts.

She sat up suddenly and took hold of the oars. "That will do for this
morning," she said. "It is so true that none of us can stand more than
just so much intensity that I suppose if this dear dream of mine went
to pieces I should have intervals when life would seem brilliant by
contrast with my misery. I might even find mental rest in pouring tea
again for attaches. And there is always the pleasure of assuaging
hunger. I am ravenous."




IV



After breakfast--an almost hilarious meal, for Emory and Sally Carter
were in the highest spirits and sparred with much vigour--Betty and
Harriet went for a walk. There was a long level path about the lake
for a mile or more before they turned into the forest, and Betty noted
that Harriet, although her gait still betrayed indolence, held herself
with an air of unmistakable pride. She had improved in other respects;
her arrangement of dress and hair no longer looked rural, she not only
had ceased to bite her nails, but had put them in vivid order, and the
pronunciation of her words was wholly white.

"She will be a social success one of these days," thought Betty, "or
with that voice and beauty she could doubtless win fame and wealth,
and have a brilliant and enjoyable life. The tug will come when she
wants to marry; but perhaps she won't want to for a long while--or
will fall in love with a foreigner who won't mind."

She longed to ask Harriet if she were happy, if she had forgotten; but
she dreaded reviving a distasteful subject. She would be glad never to
hear it alluded to again.

Harriet did not allude to it. She talked of her studies, of the many
pleasures she had found in Washington, of the kindness of Mr. Emory
and Sally Carter, and of her delight to see Betty again. As she
talked, Betty decided that the change in her went below the surface.
She had regained all the self-control that her sudden change of
circumstances had threatened, and something more. It was not hardness,
nor was it exactly coldness. It was rather a studied aloofness. "Has
she decided to shut herself up within herself?" thought Betty. "Does
she think that will make life easier for her?"

Aloud she said,--"Would not you like to go to Europe for a year or
so? I could easily find a chaperon, and you would enjoy it."

"Oh, yes, I shall enjoy it. I feel as if I held the world in the
hollow of my hand, now that I have got used to gratifying every wish;"
and she threw back her head and dilated her nostril.

"What _have_ I launched upon the world?" thought Betty. "She certainly
will even with Fate in some way." But she said, "I am glad you and
Sally get on well. She has her peculiarities."

"I reckon I could get on with any one; but she doesn't like me, all
the same."

"Are you sure? Why shouldn't she?"

"I don't know," replied Miss Walker, dryly. "Women don't always
understand each other."

Sally's name suggested the housekeeper to Betty.

"I don't want you to be offended with me, Harriet," she said
hesitatingly, "if I ask you not to be familiar with Miss Trumbull. You
have not had the experience with that type that I have had. You cannot
give them an inch. If you treat them consistently as upper servants
when they are in your employ, and ignore them if they are not, they
will keep their place and give you no annoyance; but treat them with
something more than common decency and they leap at once for
equality."

"Well--you must remember that I was not always so fine as I am now,
and Miss Trumbull does not seem so much of an inferior to me as she
does to you. To tell you the truth, it does me good to come down off
my high horse occasionally. I reckon I'll get over that; sometimes I
want to so hard I could step on everybody that is common and second-
class. I don't deny I'm as ambitious as I reckon I've got a right to
be, but old habits are strong, and I'm lazy, and it's lonesome up
here. Your mother and Major Carter talk from morning till night about
the South before the War. Mr. Emory and Sally are always together, and
talk so much about things I don't understand that I feel in the way.
Miss Trumbull knows the private affairs of most every one in her
village, and amuses me with her gossip; that is all."

Betty pricked up her ears at one of Harriet's revelation, and let the
painful fact of her hospitality for vulgar gossip pass unnoticed.

"Do you mean," she asked, "do you think that Mr. Emory is beginning to
care for Sally?"

"One can never be sure. I am certain he likes and admires her."

"Oh, yes, he always has done that. But I wish he would fall in love
with her. I am nearly sure that she more than likes him."

"I am quite sure," said Harriet, dryly. "She would marry him about as
quickly as he asked her. I knew that the first time I saw them
together."

"And she certainly would make him happy," said Betty, thinking aloud.
"She is so bright and amusing and cheerful. She is the only person I
know who can always make him laugh, and the more he laughs the better
it is for him, poor old chap! And I think he is too old now for the
nonsense of ruining his happiness because a woman has more money--
Harriet!"

Harriet had one of those mouths that look small in repose, but widen
surprisingly with laughter. Betty, who had only seen her smile
slightly at rare intervals, happened to glance up. Harriet's mouth had
stretched itself into a grin revealing nearly every tooth in her head.
And it was the fatuous grin of the negro, and again Betty saw her
black. She gasped and covered her face with her hands.

"Oh, never do that again," she said sharply. "Never laugh again as
long as you live. Oh, poor girl! Poor girl!"

"I won't ask you what you mean," said Harriet, hurriedly. "I reckon I
can guess. Thank you for one more kindness."

And the horror of that grin remained so long with Betty that it was
some time before she thought to wonder what had caused it.




V



Betty amused herself for the next day or two observing Jack Emory and
Sally Carter. They unquestionably enjoyed each other's society, and
Sally at times looked almost pretty again. But at the end of the
second day Miss Madison shook her head.

"He is not in love," she thought. "It does not affect him in that
way." And she felt more satisfaction in her discovery than she would
have anticipated. A woman would have a man go through life with only a
skull cap where his surrendered scalp had been. To grow another is an
insult to her power and pains her vanity.

It occurred to Betty that she was not the only observant person in the
house. She seemed always stumbling over Miss Trumbull, who did not
appear to listen at doors but was usually as closely within ear-shot
as she could get. It was idle to suppose that the woman had any
malignant motive in that well-conducted household, and she seemed to
be good-natured and even kindly. Interest in other people's affairs
was evidently, save vanity, her strongest passion. It was the natural
result of an empty life and a common mind. But simple or not, it was
objectionable.

Her vanity, her mistress had cause to discover, was more so. On
Wednesday morning Betty returned home from a long tramp, earlier than
was her habit, and went to her room. Miss Trumbull was standing before
the mirror trying on one of her hats.

"That's real becomin' to me," she drawled, as Miss Madison entered the
room. "I always could wear a hat turned up on one side, and most of
your colours would suit me."

Betty controlled her temper, but the effort hurt her. She would have
liked to pour her scorn all over the creature.

"You may have the hat," she said. "Only do me the favour not to enter
my room again unless I send for you. The maid is very neat, and it
needs no inspection."

The woman's face turned a dark red. "I'm sorry you're mad," she said,
"but there's no harm, as I can see, in tryin' on a hat."

"It is a matter of personal taste, not of right or wrong. I
particularly dislike having my things touched."

"Oh, of course I won't, then; but I like nice things, and I haven't
seen too many of them."

Again Betty relented. "I will leave you a good many at the end of the
summer," she said. And the woman thanked her very nicely and went
away.

"I am glad I was not brutal to her," thought Betty. "Democracy is a
great institution in spite of its nuisances. Still, I admire Hamilton
more than Jefferson."

When, that night, Mrs. Madison had a painful seizure, and Miss
Trumbull was sympathetic and efficient, sacrificing every hour of her
night's rest, Betty was doubly thankful that she had not been brutal.
In the morning she gave her a wrap that matched the hat. Miss Trumbull
tried it on at once, and revolved three times before the mirror, then
strutted off with such evident delight in her stylish appearance that
Betty's smile was almost sympathetic. But she dared not be more
gracious, and Miss Trumbull only approached her when it was necessary.

On Thursday afternoon Betty and Sally were rowing on the lake when the
latter said abruptly,--

"Have you noticed anything between Jack and Harriet?"

Betty nearly dropped her oars. "What--Jack and Harriet?"

Sally nodded. Her mouth was set. There was an angry sparkle in her
eyes. "Yes, yes. They pretend to avoid each other, but they are in
love or I never saw two people in love. I suspected it in Washington,
but I have become sure of it up here. What is the matter? I don't
think she is his equal, if she is our thirty-first cousin, for I would
bet my last dollar there was a misalliance somewhere--but you look
almost horror-struck."

"I was, but I can't tell you why. I don't believe it's true, though.
She is not Jack's style. She hasn't a grain of humour in her."

"When a man's imagination is captured by a beauty as perfect as that,
he doesn't discover that it is without humour till he has married it.
Besides, any man can fall in love with any woman; I'm convinced of
that. You might as well try to turn this lake upside down as to mate
types."

"I don't think she would deceive me," exclaimed Betty, hopefully. "I
cannot tell you all, but I am nearly sure she would never do that."

"Any woman who has a secret constantly on her mind is bound to become
secretive, not to say deceitful in other ways. What is her secret?"
she asked abruptly. "Has she negro blood in her veins?"

"Oh, Sally!" This time Betty did drop the oars, and her face was
scarlet as she lunged after them. She was furious at having betrayed
Harriet's secret, but Sally Carter had a fashion of going straight for
the truth and getting it.

"I thought so," said Miss Carter, dryly. "Don't take the trouble to
deny it. And don't think for a moment, Betty dear, that I am going to
embarrass you with further questions. I could never imagine you
actuated by any but the highest motives. I should consider the whole
thing none of my business if it were not for Jack. Faugh! how he would
hate her if he knew!"

"I am afraid he would. I don't believe he is man enough to love her
better for her miserable inheritance."

"He is a Southern gentleman; I should hope he would not. I am by no
means without sympathy for her. I pity her deeply, and have ever since
I discovered that she loved him. For he must be told."

"Shall you tell him?"

Sally did not answer for a moment, and her face flushed deeply. Then
she said unsteadily: "No; for I could not be sure of my motive. Here
is my secret. I have loved Jack Emory ever since I can remember. It is
impossible for me to assure myself that I would consider interference
in their affairs warrantable if I cared nothing for him. I cannot
afford to despise myself for tattling out of petty jealousy. But you
are responsible for her. You should tell him."

"I will speak to her as soon as we go back. If it is true that they
are engaged, and if she refuses to tell him, I shall. But I'd almost
rather come out here and drown myself."

"So should I."

"You're a brick, Sally, and I wish to heaven you were going to marry
Jack to-morrow. That would be a really happy marriage."

"So I have thought for years! When he got over his attack of you, I
began to hope, although I'd got wrinkles crying about him. I never
thought of any other woman in the case." She laughed, with a defiant
attempt to recover her old spirits. "And I cannot have the happiness
of seeing him one day in bronze, and feeling that he is all mine! For
he hasn't even that spark of luck which so often passes for
infinitesimal greatness, poor dear!"

"How did you guess that she had the taint in her?" asked Betty, as
they were about to land. "She has not a suggestion of it in her face."

"I _felt_ it. So vaguely that I scarcely put it in words to myself
until lately. And I never saw such an amount of pink on finger-nails
in my life."




VI



Betty went in search of Harriet, and found her in a summer-house
reading an innocuous French romance which her professor had selected.
There was no place near by where Miss Trumbull might lie concealed,
and Betty went to the point at once.

"Harriet," she said, "I am obliged to say something horribly painful--
if you want to marry any man you must tell him the truth. It would be
a crime not to. The prejudices of--of--Southerners are deep and
bitter; and--and--Oh, it is a terrible thing to have to say--but I
must--if you had children they might be black."

For a moment Betty thought that Harriet was dead, she turned so gray
and her gaze was so fixed. But she spoke in a moment.

"Why do you say this to me--now?"

"Because I fear you and Jack--Oh, I hope it is not true. The person
who thinks you love each other may have been mistaken. But I could not
wait to warn you. I should have told you in the beginning that when
the time came either you must tell the man or I should; but it was a
hateful subject. God knows it is hard to speak now."

Harriet seemed to have recovered herself. The colour returned slowly
to her face, her heavy lids descended. She rose and drew herself up to
her full height with the air of complete melancholy which recalled one
or two other memorable occasions. But there was a subtle change. The
attitude did not seem so natural to her as formerly.

"Your informant was only half right," she said sadly. "I love him, but
he cares nothing for me. He is the best, the kindest of friends. It is
no wonder that I love him. I suppose I was bound to love the first man
who treated me with affectionate respect. I reckon I'd have fallen in
love with Uncle if he'd been younger. Perhaps--in Europe--I may get
over it. But he does not love me."

Betty rose and looked at her steadily. _What_ was in the brain behind
those sad reproachful eyes? She laid her hand on the girl's shoulder.

"Harriet," she said solemnly, "give me your word of honour that you
will not marry him without telling him the truth. It may be that he
does not love you, but he might--and if you were without hope you
would be unhappy. Promise me."

Down in the depths of those melancholy eyes there was a flash, then
Harriet lifted her head and spoke with the solemnity of one taking an
oath.

"I promise," she said. "I will marry no man without telling him the
truth."

This time her tone carried conviction, and Betty, relieved, sought
Sally Carter.

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Miss Carter, when Betty had related the
interview. "He is in love with her, although for some reason or other
he is making an elaborate effort to conceal it."

"She spoke very convincingly," said Betty, who would not admit doubt.

"Anything with a drop of negro blood in it will lie. It can't help it.
I wish the race were exterminated."

"I wish the English had left it in Africa. They certainly saddled us
with an everlasting curse."

She was tempted to wish that Mr. Walker had never discovered her
address; but although she did not love Harriet, she was grateful still
for the opportunity to rescue her from the usual fate of her breed.
But assuredly she did not wish her old friend to be sacrificed.

Again she observed him closely, and came to the conclusion that
Harriet had spoken the truth. He was gayer than of old, but his health
was better and he was in cheerful company, not living his days and
nights in his lonely damp old house on the Potomac River. He appeared
to enjoy talking to Harriet, but there was nothing lover-like in his
attitude, and he was almost her guardian. True, he was occasionally
moody and absent, but a man must retain a few of his old spots; and
if he avoided somewhat the cousin whom he had once loved to
melancholy, it was doubtless because she found him as uninteresting as
she found all men but one, and was not at sufficient pains to conceal
her indifference. And then she admitted with a laugh that in the back
of her mind she had never acknowledged the possibility of his loving
another woman.

She but half admitted that she wished to believe no storm was
gathering under her roof. She had no desire to handle a tragedy.




VII



It was Saturday morning. Betty arose at four, brewed herself a cup of
coffee over a spirit lamp, and ate several biscuit with it. She hoped
Senator North would take the same precaution. Healthy animals when
hungry cannot take much interest in each other.

She dressed herself in airy white with a blue ribbon in her hair.
There was no necessity for a hat at that hour in the morning, but she
took a white organdie one down to the boat and put it under a seat,
lest she be late in returning and the sun freckling.

It was faintly dawn as she pulled out into the middle of the lake and
rowed toward its northern end. Even the trailing thickets on the
water's edge looked black, and the dark forest rising on every side
seemed to whisper of old deeds of war and heroism, the bravery and the
treachery of Indian tribes, the mortal jealousies of French and
English. Every inch of ground about her was historical. These forests
had resounded for years with the ugly sounds of battle, and more
than once with the shrieks of women and children. To-day the
woodpecker tapped, the bluejay cried in those depths unaffrighted; the
singing of a mountain stream, the roar of a distant waterfall alone
lifted a louder voice to the eternal whisper of the pines. The forest
looked calmly down upon this flower of a civilization which no man in
its first experience of man would have ventured to forecast, skimming
the water to keep tryst with one whose ancestors had hewn a rougher
wilderness than this down to a market-place that their inheritor might
win the higher honours of the great Republic to come.

But Betty was not thinking of the honours he had won. She was
wondering if by so much as a glance he would betray that he cared a
little for her. Or did he care? In her thought he had been as full of
love as herself. But reality was waiting for her there in the forest,
--reality after three months of uninterrupted imaginings. Perhaps he
merely found her agreeable and amusing. But the idea did not start a
tear. The uncertainty of his affections and the certainty that she
was about to see him again were alike thrilling and gladdening.
Pleasurable excitement possessed her, and her hands would have
trembled but for their tight grip on the oars.

He stood watching her as she rowed toward him, and she was sure that
she made a charming picture out on that great dark lake below the
pines. The forest rose almost straight behind him, but she knew the
winding paths which made ascent easy, and many a dry leafy platform
where one might sit. A hundred times she had imagined herself in that
forest with him; its dim vast solitude had become almost his permanent
setting in her fancy. But as the boat grazed the shore, she said
hurriedly,--

"Get in and let us float about. I am sure it is cold in there. I am so
glad to see you again." As her hands were occupied, he took the seat
in the stern at once, and she pulled out a few yards, then crossed her
oars.

"You see, I have obeyed orders," he said, smiling. "Fortunately, I am
an early riser, particularly in the country."

"I thought the change would do you good. It must be hot in
Washington."

"It is frightful."

He looked as well as usual, however, and his thin grey clothes became
his spare though thickset figure. He was smiling humorously into
Betty's eyes, but his own were impenetrable. They might harbour the
delight of a lover at a precious opportunity, or the amusement of a
man of the world. But there was no doubt that he was glad to see her
and that he appreciated the picture she made.

"I hope I never may see you in anything but white again," he said.
"You are a gracious vision to conjure up on stifling afternoons in the
Senate."

Betty did not want to talk about herself. "Tell me the news," she
said. "How is that Tariff Bill going?"

"A story has just leaked out that a stormy scene occurred in the Ways
and Means Committee Room between our friend Montgomery and two members
of the Committee whose names I won't mention. He openly accused them
of accepting bribes from certain Trusts. It even is reported that they
came to blows, but that is probably an exaggeration. We have had our
sensation also. One of our fire-eaters accused--- at the top of his
voice--the entire Senate of bribery and corruption. He is new and will
think better of us in time. Meanwhile he would amuse us if such things
did not affect the dignity of the Senate with the outside world.
Unfortunately we are obliged to accept whomsoever the people select to
represent them, and can only possess our souls in patience till time
and the Senate tone the raw ones down."

"Is he representative, that man? And those hysterical members of the
House, whose speeches make me wonder if humour is really a national
quality?"

"They are only too representative, unfortunately, but they are more
hysterical than the average because they have the opportunity their
constituents lack, of shouting in public. The House is America let
loose. When a former private citizen belonging to the party out of
power gets on his feet in it, he develops a species of hysteria for
which there is no parallel in history. He seems to think that the
louder he shouts and the more bad rhetoric he uses, the less will
his party feel the stings of defeat. Some of them tone down and become
conscientious and admirable legislators, but these are the few of
natural largeness of mind. Party spirit, a magnificent thing at its
best, warps and withers the little brain in the party out of power.
But politics are out of place in this wilderness. There should be
redskins and bows and arrows on all sides of us. I used to revel in
Cooper's yarns, but I suppose you never have read them."

Betty shook her head. "When can you come up here to stay?"

"Probably not for a month yet. There will be a good deal more
wrangling before the bill goes through. I don't like it in its present
shape and don't expect to in its ultimate; neither do a good many of
us. But I shall vote for it, because the country needs a high tariff,
and anything will be better than nothing for the present. Later, the
whole matter will be reopened and war waged on the Trusts."

"Sally says they have bought up the atmosphere."

"They may be said to have bought up several climates. I have spent a
great many hours puzzling over that question, for they have put an end
to the old days when young men could go into business with the hope of
a progressive future. Now they are swallowed up at once,
depersonalized, and the whole matter is one of the great questions
affecting the future development of the Republic."

He was not looking at Betty; he was staring out on the lake. His eyes
and mouth were hard again; he looked like a mere intellect, nothing
more.

As Betty watched him, she experienced a sudden desire to put him back
on the pedestal he had occupied in the first days of their
acquaintance, and to worship him as an ideal and forget him as a man.
That had been a period of intellectual days and quiet nights. And as
he looked now, he seemed to ask no more of any woman.

But in a moment he had turned to her again with the smile and the
peculiar concentration of gaze which made women forget he was a
statesman.

"Not another word of politics," he said. "I did not get up at four in
the morning to meet the most charming woman in America and talk
politics. Do you know that it is over three months since I saw you
last?"

"You left Washington, so, naturally, I left it too."

"I wonder, how much you mean? If I were to judge you by myself--Your
few notes were very interesting. Did you enjoy California?"

"California was made to enjoy, but I felt very much alone in it."

"Of course you did. Nature is a wicked old matchmaker. You have felt
quite as lonely up here since your return."

"Yes, I have! But I have had a good deal to occupy my mind. Sally
terrified me by asserting that Harriet and my cousin Jack Emory were
in love with each other."

"Who is Harriet?"

"Oh, you have forgotten! And you made me take her into the bosom of my
family."

"Oh--yes; I had forgotten her name. I hope she is not making trouble
for you."

"She admitted that she loves him, but insists that he does not love
her, and I don't think he does."

"Probably not. I should as soon think of falling in love with a
weeping figure on a tombstone."

"What kind of women do you fall in love with?" asked Betty,
irresistibly. She was sure of herself now. The passions of women are
often calmed by the presence of their lover. Passion is so largely
mental in them that it reaches heights in the imagination that reality
seldom justifies and mere propinquity quells. For this reason they
often are recklessly unfair to men, who are made on simpler lines.

They had floated under the spreading arms of a thicket on the water's
edge, and she was a brilliant white figure in the gloom.

"I have no recipe," he said, smiling. "Certainly not with the women
that weep, poor things!" Betty wondered what his personal attitude was
to the tears of twenty years. She knew from Sally that Mrs. North had
long attacks of depression. But his mind had been occupied; that meant
almost everything. And his heart?

"Do you love anybody now?" she broke out. "Is there a woman in your
life? Some one who makes you happy?"

The smile left his lips. It was too much to say that it had been in
his eyes, but they changed also.

"There is no woman in my life, as you put it. Why do you ask?"

"Because I want to know."

They regarded each other squarely. In a moment he said deliberately:
"The greatest happiness that I have had in the past few months has
been my friendship with you. If I were free, I should make love to
you. If you will have the truth, I can conceive of no happiness so
great as to be your husband. I have caught myself dreaming of it--and
over and over again. But as it is I am not going to make love to you.
When the strain becomes too great, I shall leave you. Until then--Ah,
don't!"

Betty, who had dropped her head when he began to speak, had raised it
slowly, and her face concealed nothing.

"I, too, love you," she said in a moment. "I love you, love you, love
you. If you knew what a relief it is to say it. That is the reason I
would not go up into the forest with you just now. I was afraid. I
have been with you there too often!"

For the first time she saw the muscles of his face relax, and she
covered her face with her hands. "I shouldn't have told you," she
whispered, "I shouldn't have told you. I have made it harder. You will
go away at once."

He did not speak for some minutes. Then he said,--

"Can you do without what we have?"

"Oh, no!" she said passionately. "Oh, no! No!"

"Nor can I--without the hope and the prospect of an occasional hour
with you, of the sympathy and understanding which has grown up between
us. I have conquered myself many times, relinquished many hopes, and I
think and believe that my self-control is as great as a man's can be.
I shall not let myself go with you unless you tempt me beyond
endurance; for as I said before, if I find that I am not strong
enough, I shall leave you. You are a beautiful and seductive woman,
and your power if you chose to exert it would madden any man. Will you
forget it? Will you help me?"

She dropped her hands. "Yes," she said, "I'd rather suffer anything;
I'd rather make myself over than do without you. And I couldn't! I
couldn't! Every least thing that happens, I want to go straight to you
about it. I know that trouble is ahead, although I haven't admitted it
before. I want you in every way! in every way! And I can't even have
you in that. I never will speak like this again, but I'd like you to
know. If you love me, you must know how terrible it is. I am not a
child. I am twenty-seven years old."

"I know," he replied; and for a few moments he said no more, but
looked down into the water. "I am not a believer in people parting
because they can't have everything," he continued finally. "It is only
the very young who do that. They take the thing tragically; passion
and disappointment trample down common-sense. If love is the very best
thing in life, it is not the only thing. Every time I have seen you I
have wanted to take you in my arms, and yet I have enjoyed every
moment spent in your presence. The thought of giving you up is
intolerable. We both are old enough to control ourselves. And I
believe that any habit can be acquired."

"And will you never take me in your arms? Have I got to go through
life without that? I must say everything to-day--I will row out into
the middle of the lake if you like, but I must know that."

"You can stay here. There are certain things that no man can say,
Betty, even to the most loved and trusted of women. The only answer
that I can make to your question is, that if I find I must leave you,
I certainly shall take you in my arms once."

"Are you sorry I told you I loved you? Would it be easier if I had
not?"

"Probably. But I am not sorry! Love can give happiness even when one
is denied the expression of it."

"I never intended to tell you. I was afraid if I did you would leave
me at once."

"So I should if you were not--you. But I should think myself a fool if
I did not make an attempt to achieve the second best. I may fail, but
I shall try. And life is made up of compromises."

"You are more certain of smashing the Trusts," she said with the
humour which never bore repression for long. "In dealing with
methodical scoundrels you know at least where you are. A man and woman
never can be too certain of what five minutes will bring forth. That
ends it. We never will discuss the question again until it comes up
for the last time--if it does. I do not mean that I shall not tell you
again that I love you, for I shall. I have no desire that you shall
forget it. I mean that we will not discuss possibilities again, nor
give expression to the passionate regret we both must feel. Is it a
compact?"

"I will keep my part in it. I promise to be good. I have prided myself
on my intelligence. I am not going to disgrace it by ruining the only
happiness I ever shall have. I love you, and I will prove it by making
your part as easy as I can, and by giving you all the happiness I am
permitted to give you."

He leaned toward her for the first time, but he did not touch her.

"And I promise you this, my darling," he said softly: "if you ever
should be in great trouble and should send for me--as of course you
would do--I will take you in my arms then and forget myself. Now,
change seats with me and I will row you part of the way home; I shall
get out a half-mile from the hotel. There really was no reason why you
should have made me walk nearly the entire length of the lake."

"I had fancied you in this particular part of the forest, and I wanted
to find you here."

"That is so like a woman," he said humorously. "But all of us make an
occasional attempt to realize a dream, I suppose."




VIII



He came over to dinner that night, and Betty, who had walked about in
a vague dreamy state all day, dressed herself again in white. She woke
up suddenly as she came into his presence, and was the life of the
dinner. Harriet seemed absent of mind and nervous, but Emory's spirits
were normal, and he was more attentive to Sally Carter than she to
him. But Betty's interest in her friends' affairs had dropped to a
very low ebb. She was in a new mental world, stranger than that
entered by most women, for her hands were empty, but she was happy.
She had reflected again--in so far as she had been capable of
reflection--that most marriages were prosaic, and that her own high
romance, her inestimable happiness in loving and being loved by a man
in whom her pride was so great, was a lot to be envied of all women.
It was not all the destiny she herself would have chosen, but it
compassed a great deal. She would have made him wholly happy, been his
whole happiness; marriage between them never would have been prosaic,
and she would not have cared if it were; she would have made him
forget the deep trials and sorrows of his past and the worries and
annoyances of the present. But this was not to be, and there was much
she could do for him and would.

They talked politics through dinner, and Mrs. Madison noted with a
sigh that Betty's interest in the undesirable institution was
unabated. She admired Senator North, however, and felt pride in his
appreciation of her brilliant daughter. She expressed her regret
amiably at not being able to meet again Mrs. North, who would see none
but old friends in these days, and Senator North assured her of his
wife's agreeable remembrance of her brief acquaintance with Mrs.
Madison.

"How wonderfully well people behave whose common secret would set
their world by the ears," thought Betty. "Our worst enemies could
detect nothing; and on what there is heaven knows a huge scandal could
be built."

After dinner she played to him for an hour, while the others, with the
exception of Mrs. Madison, who went to sleep, became absorbed in
whist. But she did not see him for a moment alone, and Jack rowed him
across the lake.

She went to her bed, but not to sleep. She hardly cared if she never
slept again. Night in a measure gave him to her, and to sleep was to
forget the wonder that he loved her.

It was shortly after midnight that she heard a faint but unmistakable
creaking on the tin roof of the veranda. She sat up. Some one was
about to pass her window. She sprang out of bed, crossed the room
softly, and lifted the edge of the curtain. A figure was almost
crawling past. It was a woman's figure; the stars gave enough light to
define its outlines at close range. She had a shawl over her head, but
her angular body was unmistakable. She was Miss Trumbull.

Betty dropped the curtain and stared into the darkness. "Whom is she
watching?" she thought. "Whom is she watching?"

She went back to bed and listened intently. In half an hour she heard
the same sound again.

"She is going back to her room," thought Betty. "What has she seen?"

The next morning she sent for Miss Trumbull to come to her room. She
had no intention of asking her to sit down, but the woman did not wait
to be invited. She took a chair and fanned herself with a palm leaf
that she picked from the table.

"Lawsy, but it's hot," she said. "I had a long argument with Miss
Walker yesterday about New York State bein' hotter 'n down South, and
she wouldn't believe it. But I usually know what I'm talkin' about,
and hotter it is. I near lost my temper, for I guess I know when it's
hot--"

"What were you doing on the roof of the veranda last night?" asked
Betty, abruptly.

Miss Trumbull turned the dark ugly red of her embarrassed condition.

"I--" she stammered.

"I saw you. Whom were you watching?"

"I warn't watchin' anybody. I was takin' a walk. I couldn't sleep."

"You know perfectly well that the roof of a veranda is not intended to
be walked on. Your curiosity is insufferable. I suppose it has become
professional. Or are you hoping for blackmail? If so, the hotel is the
place for you."

This time Miss Trumbull turned purple.

"I like money as well as anybody, I guess," she stuttered; 'but I'd
never sell a secret to get it. I ain't low down and despicable if I am
poor." "Then you admit it is mere curiosity? I would rather you
stole."

"Well, I don't steal, thank heaven. And I don't see any harm in tryin'
to know what's goin' on in the world."

"Read the newspapers and let your neighbours alone, at all events the
people in this house. I have twice seen you reading over the addresses
of the letters of the outgoing mail. Don't you ever do it again. You
are a good housekeeper, but if I find you attending to anything but
your own business, once more, you go on the moment. That is all I have
to say."

The woman left the room hurriedly. An hour or two later Betty met
Harriet on the terrace.

"I am sorry to appear to be always admonishing you," she said, "but I
must ask you to have nothing more to do with Miss Trumbull."

"I don't want to have anything more to do with her, honey. She has
taken to arguing with me in that long self-satisfied drawl, and I have
'most got to hate her. I wouldn't mind so much if she was ever right,
but she is a downright fool, and I reckon all fools are pretty much
alike. And I have a horrible idea that she suspects something. I have
seen her staring at my finger-nails two or three times. And I am 'most
sure some one has gone through the little trunk I keep my letters in.
Of course the key is always in my purse, but she may have had one that
fits, and the things are not like I left them, I am 'most sure."

"She probably envies your finger-nails, and the trunk, doubtless, was
upset in travelling. Besides, I don't think she's malignant. Like most
underbred persons, she is curious, and she has cultivated the trait
until it has become a disease."

"But there's no knowing what she might do if she took a dislike to me.
She's not bad-hearted at all, but she could be spiteful, and I can't
and won't stand her any longer. I reckon I'd like to go to Europe,
anyhow. I feel as if every one was guessing my secret. Over there you
say they don't mind those things, and I'd enjoy being in that kind of
a place."

"Go, by all means. I'll write at once and inquire about a chaperon--"

"Oh, I don't want to go just yet. September will do. I reckon these
mountains are about as cool at this time of the year as anywhere, and
they make me feel strong." She added abruptly: "Does Sally suspect?"

Betty nodded. "Yes, she surprised the truth out of me. I am more
sorry--"

Harriet had gripped her arm with both hands. Her face was ghastly.
"She knows? She knows?" she gasped. "Then she will tell him. Oh! Why
was I ever born?"

Betty made her sit down and took her head in her arms. Harriet was
weeping with more passion than she ever had seen her display.

"You believe me always, don't you?" she said. "For Miss Trumbull I
cannot answer, but for Sally I can--positively. She never would do a
mean and ignoble thing."

"She loves him!"

That is the more reason for not telling him. Cannot you understand
high-mindedness?"

"Oh, yes. You are high-minded, and _he_--that is the reason I should
die if he found out; for he hates, he loathes deceit. Oh, I've grown
to hate this country. I love you, but I'd like to forget that it was
ever on the map. I wish I was coal black and had been born in Africa."

"Why don't you go there and live, set up a sort of court?" asked
Betty, seized with an inspiration.

"And live among niggers? I despise and abhor niggers! If one put his
dirty black paw on me, I'd 'most kill him!"

Betty turned away her head to conceal a smile; but Harriet, who was
wholly without humour, continued:

"Betty, honey, I want you to promise me that if I ever do anything to
disappoint you, you'll forgive me. I love you so I couldn't bear to
have you despise me."

"What have you been doing?" asked Betty, anxiously.

"Nothing, honey," replied Harriet, promptly. "I mean if I did."

"Don't do anything that requires forgiveness. It makes life so much
simpler not to. And remember the promise you made me."

"Oh, I don't reckon I'll ever forget that."




IX



Senator North started for Washington that afternoon. Betty did not see
him again. He did not write, but she hardly expected that he would. He
had remarked once that two-thirds of all the trouble in the world came
out of letters, and Betty, with Miss Trumbull in mind, was inclined to
agree with him. He would not return for a fortnight.

On Friday, very late, Senator Burleigh arrived. He was on the Finance
Committee, but had written that he should break his chains for this
brief holiday if he never had another. He had sent her two boxes of
flowers since her return, and had written her a large number of brief,
emphatic, but impersonal letters during her sojourn in California.

He looked big and breezy and triumphant as he entered the living-room,
and he sprinkled magnetism like a huge watering-pot. Betty knew by
this time that all men successful in American politics had this
qualification, and had come in contact with it so often since her
introduction to the Senate that it had ceased to have any effect on
her except when emanating from one man.

"Are you not frightfully tired?" she asked. "What a journey!"

"Anything, even a fourteen hours' train journey, is heaven after
Washington in hot weather. The asphalt pavements are reeking, and your
heels go in when you forget to walk on your toes--and stick. But it is
enchanting up here."

His eyes dwelt with frank delight on her fresh blue organdie. "Oh,
Washington does not exist," he exclaimed. "I thought constantly of you
when we were struggling over that Tariff Bill in Committee, and I
wanted to put all the fabrics you like on the free list, as a special
compliment to you."

"The unwritten history of a Committee Room! Law does not seem like law
at all when one knows the makers of it. But you must be starved. If
you will follow me blindly down the hall, I promise that you will
really be glad you came."

Miss Trumbull had attended personally to the supper, and he did it
justice, although he continued to talk to Betty and to let his eyes
express a more fervent admiration than had been their previous habit.

"There's no hope for me," thought Betty, when Emory had taken him to
his room. "He has made up his mind to propose during this visit. If I
can only stave it off till the last minute!"

As she went up the stair, she met Miss Trumbull, who was coming down.

"Your supper was very good," she said kindly. "Thank you for sitting
up."

That was enough for the housekeeper, who appeared to have conceived a
worship of the hand that had smitten her. It had seemed to Betty in
the last few days that she met her admiring eyes whichever way she
turned. Miss Trumbull put out her hand and fumbled at the lace on Miss
Madison's gown.

"Tell me," she drawled wheedlingly, "that's your beau, ain't it? I
guessed he was when those flowers come, and the minute I set eyes on
him, I said to myself, 'That's the gentleman for Miss Madison. My! but
you'll make a handsome couple."

"Oh!" exclaimed Betty. "Oh!" Then she laughed. The woman was too
ridiculous for further anger. "Good-night," she said, and went on to
her room.




X



Betty had organized a picnic for the following day, inviting several
acquaintances from the hotel; and they all drove to a favourite spot
in the forest. Mrs. Madison's maid had charge of many cushions, and
disposed her tiny mistress--who looked like a wood fairy in lilac
mull--comfortably on a bed of pine needles. Major Carter felt young
once more as he grilled steaks at a camp-fire, and Harriet enchanted
him with her rapt attention while his memory rioted in deeds of war.

Senator Burleigh had never appeared so well, Betty thought. There was
an out-of-door atmosphere about him at any time; no doubt he had been
a mighty wind in the Senate more than once during the stormy passage
of the Tariff Bill; but with all out-doors around him he looked
nothing less than a mountain king. His large well-knit frame, full of
strength and energy, was at its triumphant best in outing tweeds and
Scotch stockings; his fair handsome face was boyish, despite its
almost fierce determination, as he pranced about, intoxicated with the
mountain air.

"If you ever had spent one summer in Washington, you would
understand," he said to Betty. "This is where I'd like to spend the
rest of my life. I'd like to think I'd never see a city or the inside
of a house again."

"Then you'd probably hew down the forest, which would be a loss to the
State: you would have to do something with your superfluous energy.
And what would you do with your brain? Mere reading, when your arm
ached from chopping, never would content you."

"No, that is the worst of civilization. It either produces
discontented savages like myself or goes too far and turns the whole
body into brain. I have managed to get a sort of steam-engine into my
head which gives me little rest and would wear out my body if I didn't
happen to have the constitution of a buffalo. But I doubt if I shall
be what North is, sixteen years hence. That man is the best example of
equilibrium I have ever seen. His mental activity is enormous, but
his control over himself is so absolute that he never wastes an ounce
of force. I've seen him look as fresh at the end of a long day of
debate as he was when he got on his feet. He never lets go of himself
for a moment."

That was the only time Betty heard Senator North's name mentioned
during Burleigh's visit, for the younger man was much more interested
in himself and the object of his holiday.

"I think if it hadn't been for this Extra Session I should have
followed you to California," he said abruptly. "I didn't know how much
I depended for my entire happiness upon my frequent visits to your
house until I came back after the short vacation and found you gone."

"It would have been jolly to have had you in California. But you must
feel that your time has not been thrown away. Are you satisfied with
the Tariff Bill?"

"I liked it fairly well as we re-wrote it, but I don't expect to care
much about it after it comes out of conference. But there are no
politics in the Adirondacks, and when a weary Senator is looking at a
woman in a pale green muslin--"

"You look anything but weary. I expect you will tramp over half the
Adirondacks before you go back. And I am sure you will eat one of
those beefsteaks. Come, they are ready."

But although she managed to seat him between Sally Carter and an
extremely pretty girl, he was at her side again the moment the gay
party began to split into couples.

"Will you come for a walk?" he asked. "I do want to roam about on the
old trails the Indians made, and to get away from these hideous
emblems of modern civilization--sailor hats. Thank heaven you don't
wear a sailor hat."

Betty shot a peremptory glance at Sally Carter, who nodded and started
to follow with a small dark attache who had pursued herself and her
million for five determined years. He was titled if not noble, a
clever operator of a small brain, and a high-priest of teas. He knew
the personnel of Washington Society so thoroughly that he never had
been known to waste a solitary moment on a portion-less girl, and he
had successfully cultivated every art that could commend him to the
imperious favourites of fortune. Betty Madison had disposed of him in
short order, but Miss Carter, although she refused him periodically,
allowed him to hang on, for he amused her and read her favourite
authors. They had not walked far when he seized the picturesque
opportunity to press his suit, and Miss Carter, while scolding him
soundly, forgot the rapid walkers in front.

Betty, as she tramped along beside the large swinging presence the
forest seemed to embrace as its own, wondered why she did not love
him, wondered if she should, had she never met the other man.
Doubtless, for he possessed all the attributes of the conquering hero,
and she would have excavated the ideals of her romantic girlhood,
brushed and re-cut their garments, and then deliberately set fire to
her imagination. If the responsive spark had held sullenly aloof,
awaiting its time, she, knowing nothing of its existence, would soon
have ceased to remember the half-conscious labours of the initial
stage of her affections, and doubtless would have married this fine
specimen of American manhood, and been happy enough. But the
responsive spark had struck, and illumined the deepest recesses of her
heart in time to burn contempt into any effort of her brain, now or
hereafter. The question did assail her--as Burleigh talked of his
summer outings among the stupendous mountains of his chosen State--
could she turn to him in time were she suddenly and permanently
separated from the other? She shook her head in resentment at the
treasonable thought; but her brain had received every advantage of the
higher civilization for twenty-seven years, and worked by itself. She
was young and she had much to give; in consequence, much to receive.
She could find the highest with one man only, for with him alone
would her imagination do its final work. But Nature is inexorable. She
commands union; and as the years went by and one memory grew dimmer--
who knew? But the thought gave her a moment of sadness so profound
that she ceased to hear the voice of the man beside her. She had had
moments of deep insight before, and again she stared down into the
depths where so many women's agonized memories lie buried. She
suddenly felt a warm clasp round her hand, and for a second responded
to it gratefully, for hers had turned cold. Then she realized that she
was in the present, and withdrew her hand hurriedly.

"Forgive me," he said. "I simply couldn't help it. I could in
Washington, and I felt that I must wait. But up here--I want to marry
you. You know that, do you not?"

Betty glanced over her shoulder. There was to be no interruption. She
was mistress of herself at once.

"I cannot marry you," she said. "I almost wish I could, but I cannot."

He swung into the middle of the path and stood still, looking down
upon her squarely. There was nothing of the suppliant in his attitude.
He looked unconquerable.

"I did not expect to win you in a moment," he said. "I should not have
expected it if I had waited another year. I knew from the beginning
that it would be hard work, for if a woman does not love at once it
takes a long time to teach her what love is. I have tried to make you
like me, and I think I have succeeded. That is all I can hope for now.
You have been surfeited and satiated with admiration, and you regard
all men as having been born to burn incense before you. I love you for
that too. I should hate a woman who even had it in her to love a man
out of gratitude. You have your world at your feet, and I want mine
at my feet. You have won yours without effort, for you were born with
the crown and sceptre of fascination, I have to fight for mine. But
the same instinct is in us both, the same possibilities on different
lines. I am not making you the broken passionate appeal of the usual
lover, because so long as I know you do not love me I could not place
myself at the mercy of emotion--I have no thought of making a fool of
myself. But when I do win you--then--ah! that will be another matter."

She shook her head, but smiling, for she never had liked and admired
him more. She knew of what passion he was capable, and how absurd he
would have looked if lashed by it while her cool eyes looked on. His
self-control made him magnificent.

"I never shall marry," she said, and then laughed, in spite of
herself, at the world-old formula. Burleigh laughed also.

"There isn't time enough left before chaos comes again to argue with a
woman a question which means absolutely nothing. I am going to marry
you. I have accomplished everything big I have ever strived for. I
never have wanted to marry any other woman, and I want to marry you
more than I wanted to become a Senator of the United States. Nothing
could discourage me unless I thought you loved another man, but so far
as I can see there is no other suitor in the field. You appear to have
refused every proposing man in Washington. Is there any one on the
other side?" he asked anxiously.

"No one. I have no suitor beside yourself; but--"

"I don't understand that word, any more than I understand the word
'fail,'" he said in his rapid truculent tones. Then he added more
gently: "I am afraid you think I should be a tyrant, but no one would
tyrannize over you, for you are any man's equal, and he never would
forget it. I could not love a fool. I want a mate. And I should love
you so much that I never should cease atoning for my fractious and
other unpleasant qualities--"

"You have none! I cannot do less than tell you I think you are one of
the finest men this country has produced, and that I am as proud of
you as she will be--"

"Let me interrupt you before you say 'but.' That I have won so high an
opinion from you gives me the deepest possible gratification. But I
want much more than that. Let us go on with our walk. I'll say no more
at present."




XI



He did not allude to the subject again by so much as a tender glance,
and Betty, who knew the power of man to exasperate, appreciated his
consideration. She wondered how deep his actual knowledge of women
went, how much of his success with them he owed to the strong manly
instincts springing from a subsoil of sound common-sense which had
carried him safely past so many of the pitfalls of life.

Nor did his high spirits wane. He stayed out of doors, in the forest
or on the lake, until midnight, and was up again at five in the
morning. Betty was fond of fresh air and exercise, but she had so much
of both during the two days of his visit that she went to bed on the
night of his departure with a sense of being drugged with ozone and
battered with energy. The next day she did not rise until ten, and was
still enjoying the dim seclusion of her room when Sally tapped and
entered. Miss Carter looked nervous, and her usually sallow cheeks
were flushed.

"I've come to say something I'm almost ashamed to say, but I can't
help it," she began abruptly. "I'm going away. I can't, I _can't _sit
down at the table any longer with _her,_ and treat her as an equal. I
writhe every time she calls me 'Sally.' I know it's a silly senseless
prejudice--no, it isn't. Black blood is loathsome, horrible!--and the
less there is of it the worse it is. I don't mind the out-and-out
negroes. I love the dear old darkies in the country; and even the
prosperous coloured people are tolerable so long as they don't
presume; but there is something so hideously unnatural, so repulsive,
so accursed, in an apparently white person with that hidden evidence
in him of slavery and lechery. Paugh! it is sickening. They are
walking shameless proclamations of lust and crime. I'm sorry for them.
If by any surgical process the taint could be extracted, I'd turn
philanthropic and devote half my fortune to it; but it can't be, and
I'm either not strong-minded enough, or have inherited too many
generations of fastidiousness and refinement to bring myself to
receive these outcasts as equals. I feel particularly sorry for
Harriet. She shows her cursed inheritance in more ways than one, but
without it, think what she would be,--a high-bred, intellectual,
charming woman. She just escapes being that now, but she does escape
it. The taint is all through her. And she knows it. In spite of all
you've done for her, of all you've made possible for her, she'll be
unhappy as long as she lives." "She certainly will be if everybody
discovers her secret and is as unjust as you are." Betty, like the
rest of the world, had no toleration for the weaknesses herself had
conquered. "We cannot undo great wrongs, but it is our duty to make
life a little less tragic for the victims, if we can."

"I can't. I've tried, I've struggled with myself as I've never
struggled before, ever since I learned the truth. It sickens me. It
makes me feel the weak, contemptible, common clay of which we all are
made, and our only chance of happiness is to forget that. But I've
said all I've got to say about myself. I'm going, and that is the end
of it. I'll wear a mask till the last minute, for I wouldn't hurt the
poor thing's feelings for the world. And I'd die sixteen deaths before
I'd betray her. But, Betty, get rid of her. She wants to go to
Europe. Let her go. Keep her there. For as sure as fate her secret
will leak out in time. She _breathes_ it. If I felt it, others will,
and certainty soon follows suspicion. Jack would have felt it long
since if he were not blinded and intoxicated by her beauty; but you
can't count on men. He'll soon forget her if you send her away in
time, and for your own sake as well as his get rid of her. You don't
want people avoiding your house!"

"She is going. She has no desire to stay, poor thing! Of course, I
know how you feel. I felt that way myself at first, but I conquered
it. Others won't, I suppose, and it is best that she should go where
such prejudices don't exist. I spoke to her again a day or two ago
about it--for your idea that Jack loves her has made me nervous,
although I can see no evidence of it--and I suggested that she should
go at once; but she seems to have made up her mind to September, and
I cannot insist without wounding her feelings. I wish Jack would go
away, but he always is so much better up here than anywhere else that
I can't suggest that, either."

"Well, I'm going now to tell papa he must prepare his mind for Bar
Harbor. Say that you forgive me, Betty, for I love you."

"Oh, yes, I forgive you," said Betty, with a half laugh, "for a wise
man I know once said that our strongest prejudice is a part of us."




XII



After Major Carter and Sally left, Betty had less freedom, for her
mother was lonely; moreover, she dared not leave Emory and Harriet too
much together. The danger still might be averted if she did her duty
and stood guard. She never had seen Jack look so well as he looked
this summer. The very gold of his hair seemed brighter, and his blue
eyes were often radiant. His beauty was conventional, but Betty could
imagine its potent effect on a girl of Harriet Walker's temperament
and limited experience. But he had appeared to prefer Sally's society
to Harriet's, and his spirits dropped after her departure.

It was only when Harriet offered to read to Mrs. Madison and settled
down to three hours' steady work a day, that Betty allowed herself
liberty after the early morning. From five till eight in the evening
and for an hour or two before breakfast she roamed the forest or
pulled indolently about the lake. The hours suited her, for the hotel
people were little given to early rising; and although they boated
industriously by day, they preferred the lower and more fashionable
lake, and dined at half-past six.

Life with her no longer was a smooth sailing on a summer lake. There
was a roar below, as if the lake rested lightly on a subterranean
ocean; and the very pines seemed to have developed a warning note.

Harriet looked like a walking Fate, nothing less. Since Sally's abrupt
departure she had not smiled, and Betty knew that instinct divined and
explained the sudden aversion of a girl who did so much to add to the
cheerfulness of her friends. Emory also looked more like his
melancholy self, and wandered about with a volume of Pindar and an
expression of discontent. Did he love Harriet? and were her spirits
affecting his? Since Harriet's promise Betty felt that she had no
right to speak. He had weathered one love affair, he could weather
another. When Harriet was safe in Europe, she would turn matchmaker
and marry him to Sally Carter. Betty thought lightly of the
disappointments of men, having been the cause of many. So long as Jack
did not dishonour himself and his house by marriage with a proscribed
race, nothing less really mattered. But she played his favourite music
and strove to amuse him.

She rallied him one day about the change in his spirits since the
departure of Sally Carter, and he admitted that he missed her, that he
always felt his best when with her.

"Not that I love her more than I do you," he added, fearing that he
had been impolite. "But she strikes just that chord. She always makes
me laugh. She is a sort of sun and warms one up--"

"The truth of the matter is that she strikes more chords than you will
admit. She's just the one woman you ought to marry. If you'd make up
your mind to love her, you'd soon find it surprisingly easy, and
wonder why it never had occurred to you before." Betty thought she
might as well begin at once.

He shook his head, and his handsome face flushed. It was not a frank
face; he had lived too solitary and introspective a life for
frankness; but he met Betty's eyes unflinchingly.

"She is not in the least the woman for me. She lacks beauty, and I
could not stand a woman who was gay--and--and staccato all the time.
It is delightful to meet, but would be insufferable to live with."

"What is your ideal type?"

He rose and raised her hand to his lips with all his old elaborate
gallantry. "Oh, Betty Madison! Betty Madison!" he exclaimed. "That you
should live to ask me such a question as that?"

"I'd like to box his ears if he did not mean that," thought Betty. "I
particularly should dislike his attempting to blind me in that way."

And herself? She asked this question more than once as she rowed
toward the northern end of the lake in the dawn, or in the heavier
shadows at the close of the day. Could it last? And how long? And did
he believe that it could last? Or was he, with the practical instinct
of a man of the world, merely determined to quaff that fragrant mildly
intoxicating wine of mental love-making, until the gods began to grin?

She had many moods, but when a woman is sure that her love is returned
and is not denied the man's occasional presence, she cannot be unhappy
for long, perhaps never wholly so. For while there is love there is
hope, and while there is hope tears do not scald. Betty dared not let
her thought turn for a moment to Mrs. North. Her will was strong
enough to keep her mind on the high plane necessary to her self-
respect. She would not even ask herself if he knew how low the sands
had dropped in that unhappy life. The horizon of the future was thick
with flying mist. Only his figure stood there, immovable, always.

"And it is remarkable how things do go on and on and on," she thought
once. "They become a habit, then a commonplace. It is because they are
so mixed up with the other details of life. Nothing stands out long by
itself. The equilibrium is soon restored, and unless one deliberately
starts it into prominence again, it stays in its proper place and
swings with the rest."

She knew her greatest danger. She had it in her to be one of the most
intoxicating women alive. Was this man she loved so passionately to go
on to the end of his life only guessing what the Fates forbade him?
The years of the impersonal attitude to men which she had thought it
right to assume had made her anticipate the more keenly the freedom
which one man would bring her. She frankly admitted the strength of
her nature, she almost had admitted it to him; should she always be
able to control the strong womanly vanity which would give him
something more than a passing glimpse of the woman, making him forget
the girl? If she did anything so reprehensible, it would be the last
glimpse he would take of her, she reflected with a sigh, She wondered
that passion and the spiritual part of love should be so hopelessly
entangled. She was ready to live a life of celibacy for his sake; she
delighted in his mind, and knew that had it been commonplace she could
not have loved him did he have every other gift in the workshop of the
gods; she worshipped his strength of character, his independence, his
lofty yet practical devotion to an ideal; she loved him for his
attitude to his wife, the manly and uncomplaining manner with which he
accepted his broken and shadowed home life, when his temperament
demanded the very full of domestic happiness, and the heavy labours of
his days made its lack more bitter; and she sympathized keenly in his
love for and pride in his sons. There was nothing fine about him that
she did not appreciate and love him the more exaltedly for; and yet
she knew that had he been without strong passions she would have loved
him for none of these things. For of such is love between man and
woman when they are of the highest types that Nature has produced.
Betty hated the thought of sin as she hated vulgarity, and did not
contemplate it for a moment, but if she had roused but the calm
affection of this man she would have been as miserable as for the
hour, at least, she was happy.




XIII



Betty was determined that Saturday and Sunday should be her own, free
of care. She sent Emory to New York to talk over an investment with
her man of business, and she provided her mother with eight new
novels. As Harriet loved the novel only less than she loved the
studies which furnished her ambitious mind, Betty knew that she would
read aloud all day without complaint. Miss Trumbull, of whom she had
seen little of late, and who had looked sullen and haughty since
Harriet with untactful abruptness had placed her at arm's length, she
requested to superintend in person the cleaning of the lower rooms.

Her mind being at rest, she arose at four on the morning of Saturday.
She rowed across the lake this time and picked up Senator North about
a half-mile from the hotel. His hands were full of fishing-tackle.

"Will you take me fishing?" he said. "Can you give me the whole
morning? I hear there is better fishing in the lake above, and a
farmhouse where we can get breakfast. Do you know the way?"

She nodded, and he took the oars from her and rowed up the lake.

"My wife always sleeps until noon," he said. "We can have seven hours
if you will give them to me."

"Of course I'll give them to you. I may as well admit that I intended
to have them. I made an elaborate disposition of my household to that
end."

They were smiling at each other, and both looked happy and free of
desire for anything but seven long hours of pleasant companionship.
The morning, bright and full of sound, mated itself with the
superficial moods of man, and was not cast for love-making.

"Well, what have you been doing?" he asked. "I have had you in a
permanent and most refreshing vision, floating up and down this lake,
or flitting through the forest, in that white frock. I know that
Burleigh was here--"

"I did not wear white for him."

"Ah! He has looked very vague, not to say mooning, since his return. I
am thankful he is not seeing you exactly as I do. How is the lady of
the shadows?"

"Sally's Southern gorge rose so high, after she discovered the taint,
that she left precipitately. She couldn't sit at the table with even a
hidden drop of negro blood."

"You Southerners will solve the negro problem by inspiring the entire
race with an irresistible desire to cut its throat. If a tidal wave
would wash Ireland out of existence and the blacks in this country
would dispose of themselves, how happy we all should be! What else
have you been doing?"

"I have read the Congressional Record every day, and the _Federalist_
and State papers of Hamilton; to say nothing of the monographs in the
American Statesmen Series. Mr. Burleigh insisted that I must acquire
the national sense, and I have acquired it to such an extent that half
the time I don't know whether I am living in history or out of it.
Even the Record makes me feel impersonal, and as 'national' as Mr.
Burleigh could wish."

"Burleigh intends that his State shall be proud of you."

Betty flushed. "Don't prophesy, even in fun. I believe I am
superstitious. His idea is that politics are to become a sort of
second nature with me before I start my _salon_--Why do you smile
cynically? Don't you think I can have a _salon?_" "You might build up
one in the course of ten years if you devoted your whole mind to it
and made no mistakes; nothing is impossible. But for a long while you
merely will find yourself entertaining a lot of men who want to talk
on any subject but politics after they have turned their backs on
Capitol Hill. They will be extremely grateful if you will provide
them with some lively music, a reasonable amount of punch, and an
unlimited number of pretty and entertaining women. But don't expect
them to invite you down the winding ways of their brains to the
cupboards where they have hung up their great thoughts for the night.
I do not even see them standing in groups of three, their right hands
thrust under their coat fronts, gravely muttering at each other. I see
them invariably doing their poor best to make some pretty woman forget
they could be bores if they were not vigilant."

"The pretty women I shall ask will not think them bores. The thing to
do at first, of course, is to get them there."

"Oh, there will be no difficulty about that. Why do you want a
_salon_? Are you ambitious?"

Betty nodded. "Yes, I think I am. At first I only wanted a new
experience. Now that I have met so many men with careers, I want one
too. If I succeed, I shall be the most famous woman in America."

"You certainly would be. Very well, I will do all I can to help you.
It is possible, as I said. And you have many qualifications--"

"Ah!" Betty's face lit up. "If there is war with Spain, they will talk
of nothing else--Don't frown so at me. I'm sure I don't want a war if
you don't. Those are my politics. Here is the water lane between the
two lakes. I almost had forgotten it. I hope it isn't overgrown."

She spoke lightly, but more truly than she was wholly willing to
admit. Women see political questions, as they see all life, through
the eyes of some man. If he is not their lover, he is a public
character for whom they have a pleasing sentiment.

Senator North pulled into the long winding lane of water in a cleft of
the mountains. It was dark and chill here they were in the heart of
the forest; they had but to turn their heads to look straight into the
long vistas, heavy with silence and shadows.

He rowed for some moments without speaking. He felt their profound and
picturesque isolation, and had no desire to break the spell of it. She
recalled her wish that the Adirondacks would swing off into space, but
smiled: she was too happy in the mere presence of the man to wish for
anything more. He let his eyes meet hers and linger in their depths,
and when he smiled at the end of that long communion it was with
tenderness. But when he spoke he addressed himself to her mind alone.

"No, you must not wish for war with Spain. If we ever are placed in a
position where patriotism commands war, I shall be the last to oppose
it. If England had not behaved with her calm good sense at the time of
the Venezuela difficulty, but had taken our jingoes seriously and
returned their insults, we should have had no alternative but war,--
the serious and conservative of the country would have had to suffer
from the errors of its fools, as is often the case. But for this war
there would be no possible excuse. Spain at one time owned nearly two-
thirds of the earth's surface. She has lost every inch of it, except
the Peninsula and a few islands, by her cruelty and stupidity. Her
manifest destiny is to lose these islands in the same manner and for
the same reasons. And brutal and stupid as she is, we have no more
right to interfere in her domestic affairs than had Europe to
interfere in ours when we were torn by a struggle that had a far
greater effect on the progress of civilization than the trouble
between dissatisfied colonists and decadent Spaniards in this petty
island. God only knows how many intellects went out on those
battlefields in the four years of the Civil War, which, had they
persisted and developed, would have added to the legislative wisdom of
this country. We knew what we were losing, knew that the longer the
struggle lasted the longer would our growth as a nation be retarded,
and the horrors of our battlefields were quite as ghastly as anything
set forth in the reports from Cuba. And yet every thinking man among
us, young and old, turned cold with apprehension when we were
threatened with a European interference which would have dishonoured
us. That Spain is behaving with wanton brutality would not be to the
point, even if the reports were not exaggerated, which they are,--for
the matter of that, the Cubans are equally brutal when they find the
opportunity. The point is that it is none of our business. The Cubans
have rebelled. They must take the consequences, sustained by the
certainty of success in the end. Moreover, we not only are on friendly
terms with Spain, we not only have no personal grievance as a nation
against her, but we are a great nation, she is a weak one. We have no
moral right, we a lusty young country, to humiliate a proud and
ancient kingdom, expose the weaknesses and diseases of her old age to
the unpitying eyes of the world. It would be a despicable and a
cowardly act, and it horrifies me to think that the United States
could be capable of it. For Spain I care nothing. The sooner she dies
of her own rottenness the better; but let her die a natural death. My
concern is for my own country. I don't want her to violate those
fundamental principles to whose adherence alone she can hope to reach
the highest pitch of development."

Betty smiled. "Mr. Burleigh says that Washington had a brain of ice,
and that his ideal of American prosperity was frozen within it. I
suppose he would say the same of you."

"I have not a brain of ice. I know that the only hope for this
Republic is to anchor itself to conservatism. The splits in the
Democratic party have generated enough policies to run several virile
young nations on the rocks. The Populist is so eager to help the
farmer that he is indifferent to national dishonour. The riff-raff in
the House is discouraging. The House ought to be a training-school
for the Senate. It is a forum for excitable amateurs. The New England
Senators are almost the only ones with a long--or any--record in the
House."

"They are bright, most of those Representatives--even the woolly ones;
as quick as lightning."

"Oh, yes, they are bright," he said contemptuously. "The average
American is bright. If one prefixes no stronger adjective than that to
his name, he accomplishes very little in life. Don't think me a
pessimist," he added, smiling. "All over the country the Schools and
colleges are instilling the principles of conservatism and practical
politics on the old lines, and therein lies hope. I feel sure I shall
live to see the Republic safely past the dangers that threaten it now.
The war with Spain is the worst of these. No war finishes without far-
reaching results, and the conscience of a country, like the conscience
of a man, may be too severely tried. If we whip Spain--the 'if,' of
course, is a euphemism--we not only shall be tempted to do things that
are unconstitutional, but we are more than liable to make a laughing-
stock of the Monroe doctrine. For reasons I am not going into this
beautiful summer morning, with fish waiting to be caught, we are
liable to be landed in foreign waters with all Europe as our enemy and
our second-rate statesmen at home pleading for a new Constitution--
which would mean a new United States and unimaginable and interminable
difficulties. Have I said enough to make you understand why I think
we owe a higher duty to a country that should and could be greater
than it is, than even to two hundred thousand Cubans whom we should
but starve the faster if we hemmed them in? Very well, if you will
kindly bait that hook I will see what I can get. The rest of the world
may sink, for all I care this morning."

They had entered another lake, smaller and even wilder in its
surroundings, for there was no sign of habitation.

"Few people know of this lake, I am told," said Senator North,
contentedly; "and we are unlikely to see a living soul for hours,
except while we are discovering that farmhouse. Are you hungry?"

"Yes, but catch a lot of fish before we go to the farmhouse--I know
where it is--for I detest bread and milk and eggs."

The fish were abundant, and he had filled his basket at the end of an
hour. Then they tied up their boat and went in search of the
farmhouse. It was a poor affair, but a good-natured woman fried their
fish and contributed potatoes they could eat. Betty was rattling on in
her gayest spirits, when her glance happened to light on a photograph
in a straw frame. She half rose to her feet, then sank back in her
chair with a frown of annoyance.

"What is it?" he asked anxiously.

"A photograph of my housekeeper, a woman who is all curiosity where
her brain ought to be."

"Well, it is only her photograph, not herself, and this woman does not
know my name. You are not to bother about anything this morning."

They went back to the lake. He caught another basket of fish, and then
they floated about idly, sometimes silent, sometimes talking in a
desultory way about many things that interested them both. Betty
wondered where he had found time to read and think so much on subjects
that belong to the literary wing of the brain and have nothing to do
with the vast subjects of politics and statesmanship, of which he was
so complete a master. She recalled what her mother had said about
her brain being her worst enemy when she fell in love. It certainly
made her love this man more profoundly and passionately, for her own
was of that high quality which demanded a greater to worship. And if
she loved the man it was because his whole virile magnetic being was
the outward and visible expression of the mind that informed it. It
was almost noon when they parted, pleased with themselves and with
life. They agreed to meet again on the following morning.




XIV



As Betty ascended the terrace, she was amazed to see Jack Emory
sitting on the veranda. He threw aside his cigarette and came to meet
her.

"Anderson had gone to the other end of Long Island--Sag Harbor," he
said; "and as I did not like to follow him into his home on a matter
of business, I came back. New York is one vast oven; I could not make
up my mind to wait there. I'd rather take the trip again."

Betty concealed her vexation, and replied that she was sorry he had
had a disagreeable journey for nothing, while wondering if her
conscience would permit her to absent herself for seven hours on the
morrow.

But Harriet had read one novel through and begun another. It was
evident that she had not left Mrs. Madison's side, and Jack had been
home for two hours. Betty lightly forbade her to tire herself further
that day, and after luncheon they all went for a drive. When Mrs.
Madison retired for her nap at four o'clock, Betty, who longed for the
seclusion of her room and the delight of re-living the morning hours,
established herself in the middle of the veranda, with Harriet beside
her and Jack swinging in a hammock at the corner. "Thank heaven she
wants to go to Europe in September," she thought. "If I had to be
duenna for six months, I should become a cross old-maid. I'll never
forgive Sally for deserting me."

She could have filled the house with company, but that would have
meant late hours and the sacrifice of such solitude as she now could
command. She had always disliked the burden of entertaining in summer,
never more so than during this, when her loneliest hours were, with
the exception of just fifteen others and twenty-one minutes, the
happiest she ever had known.

Jack and Harriet manifested not the slightest desire to be together,
and Betty went to bed at nine o'clock, wondering if she were not
boring herself unnecessarily.

She was deep in her first sleep when her consciousness struggled
toward an unaccustomed sound. She awoke suddenly at the last, and
became aware of a low, continuous, but peremptory knocking. She lit a
candle at once and opened the door. Miss Trumbull stood there, her
large bony face surrounded by curl-papers that stood out like horns,
and an extremely disagreeable expression on her mouth. She wore a grey
flannel wrapper and had a stocking tied round her throat. Betty
reflected that she never had seen a more unattractive figure, but
asked her if she were ill--if her throat were ailing--

Miss Trumbull entered and closed the door behind her.

"I'm a Christian woman," she announced, "and an unmarried one, and I
ain't goin' to stay in a house where there's sech goin's on."  "What
do you mean?" asked Betty coldly, although she felt her lips turn
white.

"I mean what I say. I'm a Christian--"

"I do not care in the least about your religious convictions. I want
to know what you wish to tell me. There is no necessity to lead up to
it."

"Well--I can't say it. So there! I warn't brought up to talk about
sech things. Just you come with me and find out for yourself."

"You have been prying in the servants' wing, I suppose. Do I
understand that that is the sort of thing you expect me to do?"

"It ain't the servants' wing--where I've been listenin' and watchin'
till I've made sure--out of dooty to myself." She lowered her voice
and spoke with a hoarse wheeze. "It's the room at the end of the
second turning."

Betty allowed the woman to help her into a wrapper, for her hands were
trembling. She followed Miss Trumbull down the hall, hardly believing
she was awake, praying that it might be a bad dream. They turned the
second corner, and the housekeeper waved her arm dramatically at
Harriet's door.

"Very well," said Betty. "Go to your room. I prefer to be alone."

Miss Trumbull retired with evident reluctance. Betty heard a door
close ostentatiously, and inferred that her housekeeper was returning
to a point of vantage. But she did not care. She felt steeped in
horror and disgust. She wished that she never had felt a throb of
love. All love seemed vulgar and abominable, a thing to be shunned for
ever by any woman who cared to retain her distinction of mind. She
would not meet Senator North to-morrow. She did not care if she never
saw him again. She would like to go into a convent and not see any man
again.

She never ceased to be grateful that she was spared hours of musing
that might have burnt permanently into her memory. She had not walked
up and down the hall for fifteen minutes before the door at the end of
the side corridor opened and Emory came out.

Betty did not hesitate. She advanced at once toward him. He did not
recoil, he stood rigid for a moment. Then he said distinctly,--

"We have been married three months. Will you come downstairs for a few
moments?"

She followed him down the stair, trembling so violently that she could
not clutch the banisters, and fearing she should fall forward upon
him. But before she had reached the living-room she had made a
desperate effort to control herself. She realized the danger of
betraying Harriet's secret before she had made up her mind what course
was best, but she was not capable of grappling with any question until
the shock was over. Her brain felt stunned.

Emory lit one of the lamps, and Betty turned her back to it. He was
very white, and she conceived a sudden and violent dislike to him. She
never before had appreciated fully the weakness in that beautiful
high-bred intellectual face. It was old-fashioned and dreamy. It had
not a suggestion of modern grip and keenness and determination.

"I have deceived you, Betty," he began mournfully; but she interrupted
him.

"I am neither your mother nor your sister," she said cuttingly. "I am
only your cousin. You were under no obligation to confide in me. I
object to being made use of, that is all."

"I am coming to that," he replied humbly. "Let me tell you the story
as best I can. We did not discover that we loved each other until
after you left. It had taken me some time to realize it--for--for--I
did not think I ever could change. I was almost horrified; but soon I
made up my mind it was for the best. I had been lonely and miserable
long enough, and I had it in my power to take the loneliness and
misery from another. I was almost insanely happy. I wanted to marry at
once, but for a few days Harriet would not consent. She wanted to be
an accomplished woman when she became my wife. Then she suggested that
we should be married secretly, and the next day we went over into
Virginia and were married--in a small village. She begged me not to
tell you till you came back. When you returned, her courage failed
her, for after all you were her benefactor and she had deceived you.
She protested that she could not, that she dared not tell you. It has
been an extremely disagreeable position to me, for I have felt almost
a cad in this house, but I understood her feeling, for you had every
reason to be angry and scornful. So we agreed to go to Europe in
September and write to you from there. She wanted to go at once--soon
after you returned; but I must wait till certain money comes in. I
cannot live on what you so generously gave her. She would not go
without me, and in spite of everything, I am almost ashamed to say, I
have been very happy here--"

"Is that all? I will go to my room now. Goodnight." She hurried
upstairs, wishing she had a sleeping powder. As she closed the door of
her room, the tall sombre figure of Harriet rose from a chair and
confronted her. Betty hastily lit two lamps. She could not endure
Harriet in a half light,--not while she wore black, at all events.

"He has told me," she said briefly, answering the agonized inquiry in
those haggard eyes. "I told him nothing."

Harriet drew a long breath and swayed slightly. "Ah!" she said. Ah!
Thank the Lord for that. I hope you will never have to go through what
I have in this last half-hour." She seemed to recover herself rapidly,
for after she had walked the length of the room twice, she confronted
Betty with a tightening of the muscles of her face that gave it the
expression of resolution which her features always had seemed to
demand.

"This is wholly my affair now," she said. "It is all between him and
me. It would be criminal for you to interfere. When I realised I loved
him, I made up my mind to marry him at once. I knew that you would not
permit it, and although I hated to deceive you, I made up my mind that
I would have my happiness. I intended to tell you when you got back,
but after what you said to me that day I was scared you'd tell him. If
you do--if you do--I swear before the Lord that I'll drown myself in
that lake--"

"I have no intention of telling him. As you say, it is now your own
affair."

"It is; it is. And although I may have to pay the price one day, I'll
hope and hope till the last minute. I shall not let him return to
America, and perhaps he will never guess. Somehow it seems as if
everything must be right different over there, as if all life would
look different."

"You will find your point of view quite the same when you get there,
for you take yourself with you. I'd like to go to bed now, Harriet, if
you don't mind. I'm terribly tired."

"I'll go. There is only one other thing I want to say. I shall have no
children. I vowed long ago that the curse I had been forced to inherit
should not poison another generation. Your cousin's line will die,
undishonoured, with him. The crimes of many men will die in me. No
further harm will be done if Jack never knows. And I hope and believe
he never will. Good-night."




XV



Betty slept fitfully, her dreams haunted by Miss Trumbull's expression
of outraged virtue surrounded by curl-papers. She rose at four, almost
mechanically, rather glad than otherwise that she had some one with
whom to talk over the events of the night. But although she admired
Senator North the more for his distinguished contrast to Jack Emory,
she felt as if all romance and love had gone out of her. Harriet's
case was romantic enough in all conscience, and it was hideous.

She met Miss Trumbull in the lower hall. Outraged virtue had given way
to an expression of self-satisfied importance. "Well, I'm real glad
they're married," she drawled. "It warn't in human nature not to
listen, and I did--I ain't goin' to deny it, but I couldn't have slept
a wink if I hadn't. Ain't you glad I told you?"

"I certainly am not glad that you told me, and I wish I had dismissed
you three weeks ago. When I return I shall give you a month's wages
and you can go to-day."

She hurried down to the lake and unmoored her boat. Her conscience was
abnormally active this morning, and she reflected that she too was
going to a tryst of which the world must know nothing. True, it was
kept on the open lake and was as full of daylight as it was of
impeccability, but it was not for the world to discover, for all that.
She made no attempt to smile as Senator North stepped into the boat,
and he took the oars without a word and pulled rapidly up the lake.
When they were beyond all signs of human habitation, he brought the
boat under the spreading limbs of an oak and crossed his oars.

"Now," he said, "what is it? Something very serious indeed has
happened."

"Jack Emory and Harriet have been married three months." She filled in
the statement listlessly and added no comment.

"And your conscience is oppressed and miserable because you feel as if
you were the author of the catastrophe," he replied. "What have you
made up your mind to do?" It was evident that her attitude alone
interested him, but he understood her mood perfectly. His voice was
friendly and matter-of-fact; there was not a hint of the sympathizing
lover about him.

"It seems to me that as I did not act at the right time I only should
make things worse by interfering now. As she said, it is a matter
between her and him."

"You are quite right. Any other course would be futile and cruel. And
remember that you have acted wisely and well from the beginning. You
have nothing to reproach yourself for. You brought the girl to your
house for a period, because justice and humanity demanded it. The same
principles demanded that you should keep her secret--for the matter of
that your mother made secrecy one of the conditions of her consent. I
had hoped that you would get rid of her before she obeyed the baser
instincts of her nature. For she was bound to deceive some man, and
her victim is your cousin by chance only. Have you noticed in
Washington--or anywhere in the South--that a negro is always seen with
a girl at least one shade whiter than himself? The same instinct to
rise, to get closer to the standard of the white man, whom they
slavishly admire, is in the women as well as in the men. They are the
weaker sex and must submit to Circumstance, but they would sacrifice
the whole race for marriage with a white man. If you had left this
girl to her fate, she would have gone to the devil, for a woman as
white as that would have starved rather than marry a negro. If you had
given her money and told her to go her way, she would have established
herself at once in some first-class hotel where she would be sure to
meet men of the upper class. And she would have married the first that
asked her and told him nothing. I am sorry that your cousin happens to
be the victim, because he is your cousin. But if you will reflect a
moment you will see that he is no better, no more honourable or worthy
than many other men, one of whom was bound to be victimized. I don't
think she would have been attracted to a fool or a cad; I am positive
she would have married a gentleman. These women have a morbid craving
for the caste they are so close upon belonging to."

"I hate men," said Betty, viciously.

"I am sure you do, and I shall not waste time on their defence. I am
concerned only in setting you right with yourself."

"I always feel that what you say is true--must be true. I suppose it
will take possession of my mind and I shall feel better after a
while."

"You will feel better after several hours' sleep. I am going to take
you home now. Go to bed and sleep until noon."

"My conscience hurts me. I have spoiled your visit."

"I can live on the memory of yesterday for some time, and I shall
return in a fortnight."

"Well, I am glad you were here when it happened. I don't know what I
should have done if I couldn't have talked to you about it. I feel a
little better--but cross and disagreeable, all the same."

"You are a woman of contrasts," he said, smiling. "A machine is not my
ideal."

He rowed her back to the point where he had boarded the boat, and
shook her warmly by the hand.

"Good-bye," he said. "Be sensible and take the only practical view of
it. If you care to write to me about anything, I need not say that I
shall answer at once." When she reached home, she took his advice and
went to bed; and whether or not her mind obeyed his in small matters
as in great, she slept soundly for five hours. When she awoke, she
felt young and buoyant and untarnished again. She went at once to her
mother's room and told the story. Mrs. Madison listened with horror
and consternation.

"It cannot be!" she exclaimed. "It cannot be! Jack Emory? It never
could have been permitted. The very Fates would interfere. His father
will rise from his grave. Why, it's monstrous. The woman ought to be
hanged. And I thought her buried in her books! I never heard of such
deceit."

"It was the instinct of self-defence, I suppose."

"He too! It never occurred to me to watch him or to warn him; for that
such a thing could ever threaten a member of my family never entered
my head. What on earth is to be done?"

It took Betty an hour to persuade her mother that Jack must be left to
find out the truth for himself; that they had no right, after placing
Harriet in the way of temptation, to make her more wretched than she
was when they had rescued her. But she succeeded, as she always did;
and Mrs. Madison said finally, with her long sigh of surrender,--

"Well, perhaps he is paying for some of the sins of his fathers. But I
wish he did not happen to be a member of our family. As the thing is
done, I suppose I may as well be philosophical about it. It is so much
easier to be philosophical now that I have let go my hold on most of
the responsibilities of life. As long as nothing happens to you, I can
accept everything else with equanimity. What story of her birth and
family do you suppose she told him? He must have asked her a good many
questions."

"Heaven knows. She is capable of concocting anything; and you must
remember that we had accepted her as a cousin. She could put him off
easily, for he had no suspicion to start with. I must now go and have
a final delightful interview with Miss Trumbull."

She met her in the hall, and experienced a sudden sense of
helplessness in the face of that mighty curiosity. She almost
respected it.

"I just want to say," drawled Miss Trumbull, tossing her head, "that I
know more'n you think I do. There just ain't nothin' I don't know,
I'll tell you, as you've turned me out as if I was a common servant. I
know who you meet up the lake and take breakfast in farmhouses with,
and I know why Miss Harriet was so dreadful scared you'd find out--"

Betty understood then why some people murdered others. Her eyes blazed
so that the woman quailed.

"Oh, I ain't so bad as you think," she stammered. "I'd never think any
harm of you, and I'd never be so despisable as to take away any
woman's character. I'm a Christian and I don't want to hurt any one.
likewise, I'd never tell him _that_. Bad as she's treated me--I who am
as good and better'n she is any day--I wouldn't do any woman sech a
bad turn as that. Only I'm just glad I do know it. When I'm settin' in
my poor little parlor waitin' for another position to turn up--six
months, mebbe--it'll be a big satisfaction to me to think that I could
ruin her if I had a mind to--a big satisfaction."

Betty went to her room, wrote a cheque for three months' wages and
returned with it. "Take this and go," she said. "And be kind enough
not to look upon the amount as a bribe. The position of housekeeper is
not an easy one to find, and I do not wish to think of any one in
distress."




XVI



Miss Trumbull left that afternoon, and although Betty half expected
the woman, who had possessed some of the attributes of the villain in
the play, to reappear at intervals in the interest of her role, the
grave might have closed over her for all the sign she gave. But Miss
Trumbull had done enough, and the Fates do not always linger to
complete their work. The housekeeper, with all her self-satisfaction,
never would have thought of calling herself a Fate; but motives are
not always commensurate with results. She was only a common fool, and
there were thousands like her, but her capacity for harm-doing was as
far-reaching as had she had the brain of a genius and the soul of a
devil.

As Emory positively refused to go to Europe until money of his own
came in, although Betty offered to lend him what he needed, and as he
was really well only when in the Adirondacks, and an abrupt move to
one of the hotels would have animated the gossips, it was decided
finally that he and his wife should remain where they were until it
was time to sail. Harriet offered to take charge of the servants until
another housekeeper could be found; and as she seemed anxious to do
all she could to make amends for deceiving her benefactress, Betty let
her assume what would have been to herself an onerous responsibility.
After a day or two of constraint and awkwardness, the little household
settled down to its altered conditions; and in a week everybody looked
and acted much as usual, so soon does novelty wear off and do mortals
readjust themselves. Jack and Harriet seemed happy; but the former, at
least, was too fastidious to vaunt his affections in even the little
public of his lifelong friends. He spent hours swinging in a hammock,
reading philosophy and smoking; occasionally he read aloud to his aunt
and Harriet, and in the afternoon he usually took his wife for a walk.

Harriet at this period was a curious mixture of humility and pride.
She could not demonstrate sufficiently her gratitude to Betty, but the
very dilation of her nostril indicated gratified ambition. She had
held her head high ever since her marriage; since her acknowledgment
by the world as a wife, her carriage had been regal. Betty gave a
luncheon one day to some acquaintances at the hotel, and when she
introduced Harriet as Mrs. Emory, she saw her quiver like a blooded
horse who has won a doubtful race.

As for Mrs. Madison, she finished by regarding the whole affair in the
light of a novel, and argued with Betty the possible and probable
results. Her interest in the plot became so lively that she took to
discussing it with Harriet; and although the heroine was grateful at
first for her interest, there came a time when she looked apprehensive
and careworn. Finally she begged Mrs. Madison, tearfully, not to
allude to the subject again, and Mrs. Madison, who was the kindest of
women, looked surprised and hurt, but replied that of course she would
avoid the subject if Harriet wished.

"It's just this," said Mrs. Emory, bluntly; "the subject is so much on
your mind that I'm in constant terror you'll begin talking of it
before Jack."

"My dear girl, I never would tell him; for his sake as well as your
own, you can rely on me."

"I know you would never do it intentionally, ma'am, but I'm scared
you'll do it without thinking; you talk of it so much, more than
anything. The other night when you began to talk of the crime of
miscegenation, I thought I should die."

"That was very inconsiderate of me. Poor girl, I'll be more careful."
But in her secluded impersonal life few romantic interests entered,
and although she was too courteous to harp upon a painful subject, it
was evident that she avoided it with an effort, and that it dwelt in
the forefront of her mind. One evening after Betty had been playing
some of the old Southern melodies, she caught Jack's hand in hers, and
assured him brokenly that no people on earth were bound together as
Southerners were, and that he must think of her always as his mother
and come to her in the dark and dreadful hours of his life. He pressed
her hand, and continued smoking his cigarette; he never had doubted
that his aunt loved him as a mother. Harriet rose abruptly and left
the room. She returned before long, however, and after that night she
never left her husband alone with Mrs. Madison for a moment.




XVII



Betty herself was happy again. She hated the dark places of life, and
got away from them and out into the sunshine as quickly as possible.
Although she was too well disciplined to shirk her duty, she did it as
quickly as possible and pushed it to the back of her mind. Jack and
Harriet were married; that was the end of it for the present. Let life
go on as before. She gave several hours of the day to her mother, the
rest to the forest and the lake. When Senator North came up again, she
was her old gay self, the more attractive perhaps for the faint
impression which contact with deep seriousness is bound to leave. If
Jack and Harriet had been safely out of the country, she would have
felt like a Pagan, especially after the Tariff Bill passed and Senator
North came up to stay.

"I shouldn't have a care in the world," she said to him one morning,
"if I did not know, little as I will permit myself to think of it,
that exposure may come any day. There is only a chance that somebody
at St. Andrew will hear of the marriage and denounce her, but it might
happen. If only they were in Europe! She told me the other night that
she knows she can keep him there, her influence is so great. I hope
that is true, but she cannot make him go till he has his own money to
go with."

"What she means is that he won't leave her. He has her here now and is
in no hurry to move. He should be able to rent his farm. It is a very
good one." "He has rented it for a year--from September. He gets
nothing till then. If pride were not a disease with him, he would let
me advance the money, but he is not as sure as he might be of the man
who has rented the farm and he will not take any risks, I am sorry for
Harriet. She has the idea on her mind now that Molly will blurt it
out, and she has the sort of mind that broods and exaggerates. I
sincerely wish they had got off to Europe undiscovered and sent the
news back by the pilot. I had to speak to Molly once or twice myself;
I never knew her so garrulous about anything."

Senator North laughed. "You have a great deal of trouble with your
parent," he said. "I fear you have not been firm enough with her in
the past. Will you come into the next lake? I like the fish better
there. You are not to worry about anything, my dear, while we have the
Adirondacks to imagine ourselves happy in."

"Ar'n't you really happy?" she asked him quickly.

"Not wholly so," he replied. "But that is a question we are not to
discuss."




XVIII



Senator North had been formally invited by Mrs. Madison for dinner
that evening, and Betty, who had parted from him just seven hours
before, restrained an impulse to run down the terrace as his boat made
the landing. Emory and Harriet were on the veranda, however, and she
managed to look stately and more or less indifferent at the head of
the steps. There were pillars and vines on either side of her, and
bunches of purple wistaria hung above her head. It was a picturesque
frame for a picturesque figure in white, and a kindly consideration
for Senator North's highly trained and exacting eye kept her immovable
for nearly five minutes. As he reached the steps, however, self-
consciousness suddenly possessed her and she started precipitately to
meet him. She wore slippers with high Louis Quinze heels. One caught
in a loosened strand of the mat. Her other foot went too far. She made
a desperate effort to reach the next step, and fell down the whole
flight with one unsupported ankle twisted under her.

For a moment the pain was so intense she hardly was aware that Senator
North had his arm about her shoulders while Emory was straightening
her out. Harriet was screaming frantically. She gave a sharp scream
herself as Emory touched her ankle, but repressed a second as she
heard her mother's voice.

Mrs. Madison stood in the doorway with more amazement than alarm on
her face.

"Betty?" she cried. "Nothing can have happened to Betty! Why, she has
not even had a doctor since she was six years old."

"It's nothing but a sprained ankle," said Emory. "For heaven's sake,
keep quiet, Harriet," he added impatiently, "and go and get some hot
water. Let's get her into the house."

Betty by this time was laughing hysterically. Her ankle felt like a
hot pincushion, and the unaccustomed experience of pain, combined with
Harriet's shrieks, delivered with a strong darky accent, and her
mother's attitude of disapproval, assaulted her nerves.

When they had carried her in and put her foot into a bucket of hot
water, she forgot them completely, and while her mother fanned her and
Senator North forced her to swallow brandy, she felt that all the
intensity of life's emotions was circumferenced by a wooden bucket.
But when they had carefully extended her on the sofas and Emory, who
had a farmer's experience with broken bones, announced his intention
of examining her ankle at once, Betty with remarkable presence of
mind asked Senator North to hold her hand. This he did with a firmness
which fortified her during the painful ordeal, and Mrs. Madison was
not terrified by so much as a moan.

"You have pluck!" exclaimed Senator North when Emory, after much
prodding, had announced that it was only a sprain. "You have splendid
courage."

Emory assured her that she was magnificent, and Betty felt so proud of
herself that she had no desire to undo the accident.

In the days that followed, although she suffered considerable pain,
she enjoyed herself thoroughly. It was her first experience of being
"fussed over," as she expressed it. She never had had so much as a
headache, no one within her memory had asked her how she felt, and she
had regarded her mother as the centre of the medical universe. Now a
clever and sympathetic doctor came over every day from the hotel and
felt her pulse, and intimated that she was his most important patient.
Mrs. Madison insisted upon bathing her head, Emory and Harriet treated
her like a sovereign whose every wish must be anticipated, even the
servants managed to pass the door of her sitting-room a dozen times a
day. Senator North came over every morning and sat by her couch of
many rose-coloured pillows; and not only looked tender and anxious,
but suggested that the statesman within him was dead.

"It is hard on you, though," she murmured one day, when they happened
to be alone for a few moments. "Two invalids are more than one man's
portion. And no one ever enjoyed the outdoor life as you do."

"This room is full of sunshine and fresh air, and I came up here to be
with you. I don't know but what I am heartless enough to enjoy seeing
such an imperious and insolently healthy person helpless for a time,
and to be able to wait on her."

"I feel as if the entire order of the universe had been reversed."

"It will do you good. I hope you will have every variety of pleasure
at least once in your life."

"You are laughing at me--but as I am a truthful person I will confide
to you that I almost hate the idea of being well again."

"Of course you do. And as for the real invalids they enjoy themselves
thoroughly. The great compensation law is blessed or cursed, whichever
way you choose to look at it."

"I wonder if you had happened to be unmarried, what price we would
have had to pay."

"God knows. The compensation law is the most immutable of all the
fates."

"I have most of the gifts of life,--good looks, wealth, position,
brains, and the power of making people like me. So I am not permitted
to have the best of all. If I could, I wonder which of the others I'd
lose. Probably we'd have an accident on our wedding journey, which
would reduce my nerves to such a state that I'd be irritable for the
rest of my life and lose my good looks and power to make you happy.
It's a queer world."

He made no reply.

"What are you thinking of?" she asked, meeting his eyes.

"That you are not to become anything so commonplace as a pessimist.
Get everything out of the present that is offered you and give no
thought to the future. What is it?" he added tenderly, as the blood
came into her cheeks and she knit her brows.

"I moved my ankle and it hurt me so!" She moved her hand at the same
time, and he took it, and held it until her brows relaxed, which was
not for some time.

The best of women are frauds. Betty made that ankle the pivot of her
circle for the rest of the summer. When she wanted to see Senator
North look tender and worried, she puckered her brows and sighed. When
she felt the promptings of her newly acquired desire to be "fussed
over," she dropped suddenly upon a couch and demanded a cushion for
her foot, or asked to be assisted to a hammock. She often laughed at
herself; but the new experience was very sweet, and she wondered over
Life's odd and unexpected sources of pleasure.




XIX



Senator Burleigh came up for a few days to the hotel before going
West, and Betty, who had anticipated his visit, invited two of the
prettiest girls she knew to assist her to entertain him. They had been
at one of the hotels on the lower lake, and came to her for a few days
before joining their parents. She showed Burleigh every possible
attention, permitting him to eat nothing but breakfast at his hotel;
but he did not see her alone for a moment. When he left, he felt that
he had had three cheerful days among warm and admiring friends, but
his satisfaction was far from complete.

"Betty," said Senator North, one morning a fortnight later, "how much
do you like Burleigh? If you had not met me, do you think you could
have loved him?"

"I think I could have persuaded myself that I liked him better than I
ever could have liked anybody; but it would not have been love."

"Are you sure?"

"Oh, yes, I am sure! You know that I am sure. It may be possible to
mistake liking for love, but it is not possible to mistake love for
anything else. And you cannot even pretend to believe that I do not
know what love is."

"Oh, yes," he said softly, "I think you know." He resumed in a moment:
"You are so young--I would leave you in a moment if I thought that you
did not really love me, that you were deluding yourself and wasting
your life. But I believe that you do; and you are happier than you
would be with a man who could give you only the half that you demand.
Marriage is not everything. I love you well enough to make any
sacrifice for you but a foolish one. And I know that there is
much less in the average marriage than in the incomplete relation we
have established. And there is another marriage that is incomparably
worse. I shall never let you go--so long as I can hold you--unless I
am satisfied that it is for your good."

"If you leave me for any Quixotic idea, I'll marry the first man that
proposes to me," said Betty, lightly. "I am too happy to even consider
such a possibility. There are no to-morrows when to-day is flawless--
Hark! What is that?"

They were on the upper lake. Over the mountains came the sonorous yet
wailing, swinging yet rapt, intonation of the negro at his hymns.

"There is a darky camp-meeting somewhere," said Senator North,
indifferently. "I hope they don't fish."

The fervent incantation rose higher. It seemed to fill the forest, so
wide was its volume, so splendid its energy. The echoes took it up,
the very mountains responded. Five hundred voices must have joined in
the chorus, and even Senator North threw back his head as the columns
of the forest seemed to be the pipes of some stupendous organ. As for
Betty, when the great sound died away in a wail that was hardly
separable from the sighing of the pines, she trembled from head
to foot and burst into tears.

He took hold of the oars, and rowed out of the lake and down to the
spot where he was in the habit of landing. She had quite recovered
herself by that time, and nodded brightly to him as he handed her the
oars and stepped on shore.

At the breakfast-table she mentioned casually that there was a negro
camp-meeting in the neighborhood, and that she never had heard such
magnificent singing. She saw an eager hungry flash leap into Harriet's
eyes, but they were lowered immediately. Harriet had lost much of her
satisfied mien in the last few weeks, and of late had looked almost
haggard. But she had fallen back into her old habit of reticence, a
condition Betty always was careful not to disturb. That afternoon,
however, she asked Betty if she could speak alone with her, and
they went out to the summer-house.

"I want to go to that camp-meeting," she began abruptly. "Betty, I am
nearly mad." She began to weep violently, and Betty put her arms about
her.

"Is there any new trouble?" she asked. "Tell me and I will do all I
can to help you. Why do you wish to go to this camp-meeting?"

"So that I can shout and scream and pray so loud perhaps the Lord'll
hear me. Betty, I don't have one peaceful minute, dreading your mother
will tell him, and that if she doesn't that dreadful Miss Trumbull
will. She hated me, and she laughed that dry conceited laugh of hers
when she said good-bye to me. What's to prevent her writing to Jack
any minute? I lost her a good place, and we both insulted her common
morbid vanity. What's to prevent her taking her revenge? Ever since
that thought entered my head it has nearly driven me mad."

The same thought had occurred to Betty more than once, but she assured
Harriet as earnestly as she could that there was no possible danger,
that the woman was conscientious in her way, and prided herself on
being better than her neighbors.

"You must put these ideas out of your head," she continued. "Any fixed
idea soon grows to huge proportions, and dwarfs all the other and more
reasonable possibilities. You sail now in a few weeks. Keep up your
courage till then--"

"That's why I want to go to the camp-meeting. I used to go to them
regularly every year with Uncle, and they always did me good. I'm
right down pious by nature, and I loved to shout and go on and feel as
if the Lord was right there: I could 'most see him. Of course I gave
up the idea of going to camp-meetings after you made a high-toned lady
of me, and I've never sung since you objected that morning; but it's
hurt me not to--_it's all there;_ and if it could come out in camp-
meeting along with all the rest that's torturing me, I think I'd feel
better. You've always been fine and happy, you don't know the relief
it is to holler."

Betty drew a long breath. "But, Harriet, I thought you did not like
negroes. I don't think any white people are at this camp."

"I despise them except when they're full of religion, and then we're
all equal. Betty, I must go. Can you think of an excuse to make to
Jack? Couldn't I pretend to stay at the hotel all day?"

"There is no reason to lie about it. Nothing would induce him to go to
a camp-meeting. But he knows that you are a Methodist, and that you
were raised in the thick of that religion. I will row you to the next
lake to-morrow morning before he is up, and tell him that I am to
return for you. I don't approve of it at all. I think it is a horrid
thing for you to do, if you want to know the truth, and there are
certain tastes you ought to get rid of, not indulge. But if you must
go, you must, I suppose."




XX



She sent a note over to Senator North that evening, explaining why she
could not meet him in the morning; but as she rowed Harriet up the
lake, she saw him standing on the accustomed spot. He beckoned
peremptorily, and she pulled over to the shore, wondering if he had
not received her note.

"Will you take me with you?" he asked. "I cannot get a boat, and I
should like to row for you, if you will let me."

He boarded the boat, and Betty meekly surrendered the oars. She sat
opposite him, Harriet in the bow, and he smiled into her puzzled and
disapproving eyes. But he talked of impersonal matters until they had
entered the upper lake, and explained to Harriet the whereabouts of
the farmhouse whence she might be directed to the camp. Harriet had
not parted her lips since she left home. She sprang on shore the
moment Senator North beached the boat, and almost ran up the path.


"Well!" he exclaimed. "Did you suppose that I should allow you to row
through that lane alone? There is no lonelier spot in America; and
with the forest full of negroes--were you mad to think of such a
thing?"

"I never thought about it," said Betty, humbly. "I am not very timid."

"I never doubted that you would be heroic in any conditions, but that
is not the question. You must not take such risks. I shall return with
you tonight--"

"And Harriet!" exclaimed Betty, in sudden alarm. "Perhaps we should
not leave her."

"She will be with the crowd. Besides, it is her husband's place to
look after her. I am concerned about you only. And I certainly shall
not permit you to go to a camp-meeting, nor shall I leave you to take
care of her. So put her out of your mind for the present."


And Betty Madison, who had been pleased to regard the world as her
football, surrendered herself to the new delight of the heavy hand. He
re-entered the long water lane in the cleft of the mountain, and she
did not speak for some moments, but his eyes held hers and he knew of
what she was thinking.

"I wonder if you always will do what I tell you," he said at length.
She recovered herself as soon as he spoke.

"Too much power is not good for any man! Nothing would induce me to
assure you that you held my destiny in your hands, even did you!"

His face did not fall. "You are the most spirited woman in America,
and nothing becomes you so much as obedience."

"Nevertheless--"

"Nevertheless, you always will do exactly what I tell you."

"Even if you told me to marry another man?"

"Ah! I never shall tell you to do that. On your head be that
responsibility." He did not attempt to speak lightly. His face
hardened, and his eyes, which could change in spite of their
impenetrable quality, let go their fires for a moment.

"Of course, if you wanted to go, I should make no protest. But so long
as you love me I shall hold you--should, if we ceased to meet. And
whatever you do, don't marry some man suddenly in self-defence. No man
ever loved a woman more than I love you, but you can trust me."

"Ah!" she said with her first moment of bitterness, "you _are_ strong.
And you believe that if you held out your arms to me now, in the
depths of this forest, I would spring to them. I might not stay. I
believe, I hope I never should see you alone again; but-"

"You are deliberately missing the point," he said gravely. "I am not
willing to pay the price of a moment's incomplete happiness. I have
lived too long for that. And I should not have ventured even so far on
dangerous ground," he added more lightly, "if it were not quite
probable that five hundred people are ranging the forest this minute.
We are later than we were yesterday, and they are not at their hymns.
This evening when we return I shall discuss with you the possible age
of the Adirondacks, or tell you one of Cooper's yarns." She leaned
toward him, her breath coming so short for a moment that she could
not speak. Finally, with what voice she could command she said,--

"Then, as we are safe here and you have broken down the reserve for a
moment, let me ask you this: Do you know how much I love you? Do you
guess? Or do you think it merely a girl's romantic fancy--"

"No!" he exclaimed. "No! No!" This time she did not cower before the
passion in his face. She looked at him steadily, although her eyes
were heavy. "Ah!" she said at last. "I am glad you know. It seemed to
me a wicked waste of myself that you should not. And if you do--the
rest does not matter so much. For the matter of that, life is always
making sport of its ultimates. The most perfect dream is the dream
that never comes true."

He did not answer for a moment, but when he did he had recovered
himself completely.

"That is true enough," he said. "We who have lived and thought know
that. But there never was a man so strong as to choose the dream when
Reality cast off her shackles and beckoned. Imagination we regard as a
compensation, not as the supreme gift. The wise never hate it,
however, as the failures so often do. For what it gives let us be as
thankful as the poet in his garret. If we awake in the morning to find
rain when we vividly had anticipated sunshine, it is only the common
mind who would regret the compensation of the dream."




XXI



Jack had almost finished his breakfast when Betty entered the dining-
room. He looked beyond her with the surprised and sulky frown of the
neglected husband.

"Where on earth is Harriet?" he asked. "Her natural inclination is to
lie in bed all day. What induced her--"

"She wanted to go to the camp-meeting," said Betty, not without
apprehension. "You know she always went with her adopted father, who
was a Methodist clergyman--"

"Great heaven!" Her apprehension was justified. His face was convulsed
with disgust. "My wife at a camp-meeting! And you let her go?"

"Harriet is not sixteen. And when a person has been brought up to a
thing, you cannot expect her to change completely in a few months.
Poor Harriet lived in a forsaken village where she had no sort of
society; I suppose the camp-meeting was her only excitement. And you
know how emotionally religious the--the Methodists are--You glare at
me so I scalded my throat."

"I am sorry, and I am afraid I have been rude. But you must--you must
know how distasteful it is for me to think of my wife at a camp-
meeting. Great heaven!"

"It is even worse than my going over to politics, isn't it? Don't take
it so tragically, my dear. The truth is, I suspect, Harriet worries
about having deceived Molly and me, and the camp-meeting is probably
to the Methodist what the confessional is to the Catholic. Both must
ease one's mind a lot."

"Harriet will have to ease her mind in some other way in the future.
And it will be some time before I can forget this." "Thank heaven I am
not married. Are you going after her? Shall you march her home by the
ear?"

"I certainly shall not go after her--that is, if she is in no danger.
Where is this camp-meeting?"

"Oh, there are five hundred or so of them, and it is near a
farmhouse." It was evident that he had forgotten the colour of the
camp. "Seriously, I would let her alone for to-day. That form of
hysteria has to wear itself out. I did not like the idea of her going,
and told her so, but I saw what it meant to her, and took her. When
you get her over to Europe, settle in some old town with a beautiful
cathedral and a dozen churches, where the choir boys are ducky little
things in scarlet habits and white lace capes, and there are mediaeval
religious processions with gorgeous costumes and solemn chants, and
the bells ring all day long, and there is a service every five minutes
with music, and a blessed relic to kiss in every church. She will be a
Catholic in less than no time, and look back upon the camp-meeting
with a shudder of aristocratic disgust."

"I hope so. If you will excuse me I will go out and smoke a
cigarette."

She said to Senator North as they approached the head of the lake that
evening, "A tempest is brewing in our matrimonial teapot. He looked
ready to divorce her when I told him where she had gone."

"I hope he won't divorce her when she gets home. Keep them apart if
you can. She has developed more than one characteristic of the race to
which she is as surely forged as if her fetters were visible. If she
has all its religious fanaticism in her, she is quite likely to work
up to that point of hysteria where she will proclaim the truth to the
world."

"Ah!" cried Betty, sharply. "Why did I not think of that? What a poor
guardian I am! If I had warned her, she never would have gone--but
probably she won't, as we have thought of it. The expected so seldom
happens."

"Don't count too much on that when great crises threaten," he said
grimly. "The law of cause and effect does not hide in the realm of the
unexpected when intelligent beings go looking for it. To tell you the
truth, I have been apprehensive ever since I saw her face this
morning. All the intelligence had gone out of it. With her race,
religion means the periodical necessity to relapse into barbarism, to
act like shouting savages after the year of civilized restraints. I
will venture to guess that Harriet has forgotten to-day everything
she has learned since she entered your family. Within that sad, calm,
high-bred envelope is--I am afraid--a mind which has the taint of the
blood that feeds it."

"I have thought that for a long while. Poor thing, why was she ever
born?"

"Because sin has a habit of persisting, and is remorseless in its
choice of vehicles. I do not see anything of her."

They waited almost an hour before she came hurrying down the path. She
barely recognized them, but dropped on her seat in the bow and
crouched there, sobbing and groaning.

It was a cheerless journey through the forest and down the lake, and
the element of the grotesque did nothing to relieve it. Betty,
distracted at first, soon realized that upon her lay the
responsibility of averting a tragedy, and she ordered her brain to
action. She leaned forward finally and whispered to Senator North:

"Row me to my boat-house and I will ask Jack to row you home. He is
too courteous to suggest sending a servant if I make a point of his
taking you."

He nodded. She saw the confidence in his eyes, and even in that hour
of supreme anxiety her mind leapt forward to the winning of his
approval as the ultimate of her struggle to save the happiness of two
human beings who were almost at her mercy.

Jack was walking on the terrace. Betty called to him, and he consented
with no marked grace to be boatman. He had taken the oars before he
noticed that his wife, whom he was not yet ready to forgive, was being
hurried off by his cousin.

"Mrs. Emory is very tired and her head aches," said Senator North.
"Miss Madison is anxious to get her into bed. Can't you dine with me
to-night? It would give me great pleasure, and men are superfluous, I
have observed, when women have headaches."

And Jack, who was not sorry to punish his wife, accepted the
invitation and did not return home till midnight.




XXII



Betty took Harriet to her own room and put her to bed. She had dinner
for both sent upstairs, but Harriet would not eat; neither would she
speak. She lay in the bed, half on her face, as limp as the newly
dead. Occasionally she sighed or groaned. Betty tried several times to
rouse her, but she would not respond. Finally she shook her.

"You shall listen," she said sternly. "As you seem to have left your
common-sense up there with those negroes, you are not to leave this
room until you have recovered it--until I give you permission. Do you
understand?" She had calculated upon striking the slavish chord in the
demoralized creature, and her intelligence had acted unerringly.
Harriet bent her head humbly, and muttered that she would do what she
was told.

When Betty heard Jack return, she went out to meet him, locking the
door behind her.

"Harriet is with me for to-night," she said. "She needs constant care,
for she is both excited and worn out; and as you still are angry with
her--"

"Oh, I am sorry if she is really ill, and I will do anything I can--"

"Then leave her with me for to-night. You know nothing about taking
care of women."

Jack, who was sleepy and still sulky, thanked her and went off to his
room. She returned to Harriet, who finally appeared to sleep.

Betty took the key from the door and put it in her pocket, then lay
down on the sofa to sleep while she could: she anticipated a long and
difficult day with Harriet. She was awakened suddenly by the noise of
a door violently slammed. Immediately, she heard the sound of running
feet.

She looked at the bed. Harriet was not there. A draught of cold air
struck her, and she saw a curtain flutter. She ran to the window. It
was open. She stepped out upon the roof of the veranda, and went
rapidly round the corner to Emory's room. One of the windows was open.
Betty looked up at the dark forest behind the lonely house and caught
her breath. What should she see? But she went on. A candle burned in
the room. Harriet sat on a chair in her nightgown, her black hair
hanging about her.

"I told him," she said, in a hollow but even voice. "I was drunk with
religion, and I told him. I didn't come to my senses till I looked up
--I was on the floor--and saw his face. He has gone away."

"What did he say?"

"Nothing. Not a word."

She drew a long sigh. "I'm so tired," she said. "I reckon I'll go to
bed."




XXIII



For four days they had no word from Jack Emory. Harriet slept late on
the first day. When she awoke she was an intelligent being again, and
strove for the controlled demeanor which she always had seemed to feel
was necessary to her self-respect. But more than once she let Betty
see how nervous and terrified she was.

"I am sure he will come back," she said, with the emphasis of
unadmitted doubt. "Sure! He adores me. Of course he would not have
married me if he had known, but that is done and cannot be undone.
When he realizes that, he will come back, for he loves me. We are
bound together and he will return in time."

Betty, who scarcely left her, gave her what encouragement she could.
Men were contradictory beings. Jack had the fanatical pride and
prejudices of his race, but he was in love. It was possible that after
a few months of loneliness in his old house he would give way to an
uncontrollable longing and send for his wife. She had made inquiries
at the railroad station, and ascertained that he had taken a ticket
for New York. Undoubtedly he had gone on to Washington.

She reproached herself bitterly for having slept and allowed Harriet
to escape; but Harriet, to whom she did not hesitate to express
herself, shook her head.

"You could not have stayed awake for twenty-four hours, and I should
have found a chance sooner or later. The idea came to me up there
while I was shouting and nearly crazy with excitement and the
excitement of all those half-mad negroes in that wild forest,--the
idea came to me that I must tell him, and I believed that it came
straight from the Lord. It seemed to me that He was there and told me
that was my only hope,--to tell him myself before he found it out from
your mother or Miss Trumbull. The idea never left me for a minute; it
possessed me. I was so afraid you wouldn't have waited when I found
out I was late,--that they would tell him before I got home. But I
wanted to tell him alone. When you ordered me not to leave the room, I
felt like I wanted to do anything you told me, but when I found you'd
gone to sleep, I felt like I couldn't wait another minute. I crawled
out of the window and went to him. And perhaps I did right. I can't
think it wasn't an inspiration to confess and be forgiven before he
found out for himself."

Betty was in the living-room with Senator North when a letter from
Jack Emory was brought to her. With it, also bearing the Washington
postmark, was another, directed in an unfamiliar and illiterate hand.
Betty, cold with apprehension, tore open Emory's letter. It read:--

Dear Betty,--You know, of course, that my wife confessed to me the
terrible fact that she has negro blood in her veins. My one impulse
when she told me was to get back to my home like a beaten dog to its
kennel. I did little thinking on the train; whether I talked to people
or whether I was too stupefied to think, I cannot tell you. But here I
have done thinking enough. At first I hated, I loathed, I abhorred
her. I resolved merely never to see her again, to ask you to send her
to Europe as quickly as possible, to threaten her with exposure and
arrest if she ever returned. But, Betty, although I have not yet
forgiven her, although the thought of her awful hidden birthmark still
fills me with horror and disgust, I know the weakness of man. The
marriage is void according to the laws of Virginia, and I know that if
I returned to her she would insist upon remarriage in a Northern
State--and I might succumb. And rather than do that, rather than
dishonour my blood, rather than do that monstrous wrong, not only to
my family but to the South that has my heart's allegiance--as
passionate an allegiance as if I had fought and bled on her
battlefields--I am going to kill myself.

Do not for a moment imagine, Betty, that I hold you to account. I can
guess why you did not warn me in the beginning, why you did not tell
me when it was too late. Would that I had gone on to the end faithful
to my ideal of you! My lonely years in this old house were brightened
and made endurable with the mere thought of you. But man was not made
to live on shadows, and I loved again, so deeply that I dare not trust
myself to live.

I send her only one message--she must drop my name. She has no legal
title to it according to the laws of Virginia; the marriage would be
declared void were it known that she had black blood in her. I would
spare her shame and exposure, but she shall not bear my name, and it
is my dying request that you use any means to make her drop it. Good-
bye.
            JACK EMORY.

Betty thrust the letter into Senator North's hand. "Read it!" she
said. "Read it! Oh, do you suppose he has--"

Her glance fell on the other letter and she opened it with heavy
fingers. It read:--

Mis Betty,--Marse Jack done shot himself. He tole me not to telegraf.
Yours truly,
          JIM.

Betty stood staring at Senator North as he read Jack's letter. When he
had finished it, she handed him the other. He read it, then took her
cold hands in his.

"You must tell her," he said. "It is a terrible trial for you, but you
must do it."

"Ah!" she cried sharply. "I believe you are thinking of me only, not
of that poor girl."

"My dear," he said, "that poor creature was doomed the moment she
entered the world. No amount of sympathy, no amount of help that you
or I could give her would alter her fate one jot. For all the women of
that accursed cross of black and white there is absolutely no hope--so
long as they live in this country, at all events. They almost
invariably have intelligence. If they marry negroes, they are
humiliated. If they pin their faith to the white man, they become
outcasts among the respectable Blacks by their own act, as the act of
others has made them outcasts among the Whites, Their one compensation
is the inordinate conceit which most of them possess. Do not think I
am heartless. I have thought long and deeply on the subject. But no
legislation can reach them, and the American character will have to be
born again before there is any change in the social law. It is one of
those terrible facts of life that rise isolated above the so-called
problems. If Harriet lives through this, she will fall upon other
miseries incidental to her breed, as sure as there is life about us,
for she has the seeds of many crops within her. So it is true that all
my concern is for you. In a way I helped to bring this on you; but you
did what was right, and I have no regrets. And you must think of me as
always beside you, not only ready to help you, but thinking of you
constantly."

She forgot Harriet for the moment. "Oh, I do," she said, "I do! I
wonder what strength I would have had through this if you had not been
behind me."

"You are capable of a great deal, but no woman is strong enough to
stand alone long. Send for Harriet to come here. I don't wish you to
be alone with her when she hears this news."

Betty rang the bell, and sent a servant for Harriet. She put Emory's
letter in her pocket.

"I shall not give her that terrible message of his until she quite has
got over the shock of his death," she said. "Let her be his widow for
a little while. Then she can go to Europe and resume her own name. She
soon will be forgotten here."

Harriet came in a few moments. She barely had sat down since she had
risen after a restless night. But she had refused to talk even to
Betty. As she entered the room and was greeted by one of those
silences with which the mind tells its worst news, she fell back
against the door, her hands clutching at her gown. Betty handed her
the servant's letter.

She took it with twitching fingers, and read it as if it had been a
letter of many pages. Then she extended her rigid arms until she
looked like a cross.

"Oh!" she articulated. "Oh! Oh!"

But in a moment she laughed. "I don't feel surprised, somehow," she
said sullenly. "I suppose I knew all along he'd do it. Every day that
I live I'll curse your unjust and murderous race while other people
are saying their prayers. May the black race overrun the world and
taint every vein of blood upon it. For me, I accept my destiny. I'm a
pariah, an outcast. I'll live to do evil, to square accounts with the
race that has made me what I am. I'll go back to that camp, and leave
it with whatever negro will have me, and when I'm so degraded I don't
care for anything, I'll go out and ruin every white man I can. I'll
keep the money you gave me, so that I'll be able to do more harm--"

"You can go," said Betty, "but not yet. You shall go with me first and
bury your husband. If you attempt to escape until I give you
permission, I shall have you locked up. I shall take two menservants
with us. Now come upstairs with me and pack your portmanteau."

She slipped her hand into Senator North's. "Good-bye," she said
hurriedly. "I shall return Friday night. Please come over Saturday
morning."

Harriet preceded Betty upstairs, and obeyed her orders sullenly. Betty
locked her in her room, and went to break the news to her mother. Mrs.
Madison received it without excitement, remarking among her tears that
it was one of the denouements she had imagined, and that on the whole
it was the best thing he could have done. She consented to go with her
maid to the hotel till Friday, and the party left for Washington that
evening.




XXIV



They returned late on Friday night. As Betty had anticipated,
Harriet's exhausted body had not harboured a violent spirit for long.
When they arrived in New York, she bought herself a crape veil
reaching to her toes, and when she entered the dilapidated old house
where her husband lay dead, she began to weep heavily. Her tears
scarcely ceased to flow until she had started on her way to the
mountains again, and, hot as it was, she never raised her veil during
the nine hours' train journey from New York to the lake, except to eat
the food that Betty forced upon her.

Mrs. Madison had returned, and Betty, after telling her those details
of the funeral which elderly people always wish to know, went to her
room, for she was tired and longed for sleep. But Harriet entered
almost immediately and sat down. She barely had spoken since Monday;
but it was evident that she was ready to talk at last, and Betty
stifled a yawn and sat upon the edge of her bed. Harriet was a
delicate subject and must be treated with vigilant consideration,
except at those times where an almost brutal firmness was necessary.
She looked sad and haggard, but very beautiful, and Betty reflected
that with her voice she might begin life over again, and in a public
career forget her brief attempt at happiness. If she failed, it would
be because there was so little grip in her; Nature had been lavish
only with the more brilliant endowments.

"Betty," she began, "I want to tell you that I'm sorry I said those
dreadful words when I learned he was dead. But suspense and the doubt
that had begun to work had nearly driven me crazy. I don't mind
saying, though, that I wish I had kept on meaning them, that I could
do what I said I'd do, for I meant them then--I reckon I did! But I
haven't any backbone, my will is a poor miserable weak thing that
takes a spurt and then fizzles out. And I'd rather be good than bad.
I reckon that has something to do with it. I'd have gone to the bad, I
suppose, if you hadn't taken hold of me; I'd have just drifted that
way, although I liked teaching Sunday-school, and I liked to feel I
was good and respectable and could look down on people that were no
better than they should be. And now that I've been living with such
respectable and high-toned people as you all are, I don't think I
could stand niggers and poor white trash again--"

"I am sure you will be good," interrupted Betty, encouragingly. "And
you owe him respect. Don't forget that, and make allowances for him."

"Ah, yes!" "Her face convulsed, but she calmed herself and went on.
"You will never know how I loved him. I was proud enough of the name,
but I worshipped him; and he killed himself to get rid of me! Oh, yes,
I'll make allowances, for I killed him as surely as if I had pulled
that trigger--" "Put the heavier blame on those that went before you,"
said Betty, with intent to soothe. "You did wrong in deceiving him,
but helpless women should be forgiven much that they do, in their
desperate battle with Circumstance. Think of it as a warning, but not
as a crime." Don't let _anything_ make you morbid. Life is full of
pleasure. Go and look for it, and put the past behind you."

Harriet shook her head. "I am not you," she said. "I am _I_. And I
feel as if there was a heavy hand on my neck pressing me down. If I
should live to be a toothless old woman, I should never feel that I
had any right to be happy again. Heaven knows what I might be tempted
to do, but I should laugh at myself for a fool, all the same."

The colour rushed over her face, but she continued steadily: "There's
something else I must tell you before I can sleep to-night. I've read
his letter to you. I knew he'd written it, and down there while you
were asleep I took it out of your pocket and read it. It was I who
suggested going over to Virginia, for I was afraid some newspaper
would get hold of it if we were married in Washington, where he was so
well known. I didn't know there was such a law in Virginia. So,
you see, the Lord was on his side a little. I don't bear his name. I'm
as much of an outcast as the vengeance of a wronged man could wish--"

"I am sure he thought of you kindly at the last, and I never shall
think of you in that--that other way. You must go to Europe and begin
life over again."

Harriet rose and kissed Betty affectionately. "Good-night," she said.
"You are just worn out, and I have kept you up. But I felt I wanted to
tell you--and that no matter how ungrateful I sometimes appear I
always love you; and I'd rather be you than any one in the world,
because you're so unlike myself."

Betty went with her to the door. "Go to sleep," she said. "Don't lie
awake and think."

"Oh, I will sleep," she said. "Don't worry about that."




XXV



Betty slept late on the following morning, but arose as soon as she
awoke and dressed herself hurriedly. Senator North was an early
visitor. Doubtless he was waiting for her on the veranda.

She ran downstairs, feeling that she could hum a tune. The morning was
radiant, and for the last five days it had seemed to her that the
atmosphere was as black as Harriet's veil. She wanted the fresh air
and the sunshine, the lake and the forest again. She wanted to talk
for long hours with the one man who she was sure could never do a weak
or cowardly act. She wanted to feel that her heavy responsibilities
were pushed out of sight, and that she could live her own life for a
little.

She almost had reached the front door when a man sprang up the steps
and through it, closing it behind him. It was John, the butler, and
his face was white.

"What is it?" she managed to ask him. "What on earth has happened
now?" "It's Miss Walker, Miss. They found her three hours ago--on the
lake. The coroner's been here. They're bringing her in. I told them to
take her in the side door. I hoped we'd get her to her room before you
come down. I'll attend to everything, Miss."

Betty heard the slow tramp of feet on the side veranda. It was the
most horrid sound she ever had heard, and she wondered if she should
cease to hear it as long as she lived. She went into the living-room
and covered her face with her hands. She had not cried for Jack Emory,
but she cried passionately now. She felt utterly miserable, and
crushed with a sense of failure; as if all the wretchedness and
tragedy of the past fortnight were her own making. Two lives had
almost been given into her keeping, and in spite of her daring and
will the unseen forces had conquered. And then she wondered if the
water had been very cold, and shivered and drew herself together. And
it must have been horribly dark. Harriet was afraid of the dark, and
always had burned a taper at night.

She heard Senator North come up the front steps and knock. As no one
responded, he opened the door and came into the living-room.

"I have just heard that she has drowned herself," he said; and if
there was a note of relief in his voice, Betty did not hear it. She
ran to him and threw herself into his arms and clung to him.

"You said you would," she sobbed. "And I never shall be in greater
grief than this. I feel as if it were my entire fault, as if I were a
terrible failure, as if I had let two lives slip through my hands. Oh,
poor poor Harriet! Why are some women ever born? What terrible purpose
was she made to live twenty-four wretched years for? You wanted me to
become serious. I feel as if I never could smile again."

He held her closely, and in that strong warm embrace she was comforted
long before she would admit; but he soothed her as if she were a
child, and he did not kiss her.





_Part III_

_The Political Sea Turns Red_




I



Betty Madison arrived in Washington two days before Christmas, with
the sensation of having lived through several life-times since Lady
Mary's car had left the Pennsylvania station on the fourteenth of
March; she half expected to see several new public buildings, and she
found herself wondering if her old friends were much changed.

People capable of the deepest and most enduring impressions often
receive these impressions upon apparently shallow waters. They feel
the blow, but it skims the surface at the moment, to choose its place
and sink slowly, surely, into the thinking brain.

Betty's immediate attitude toward the tragic fact of Harriet's death
was almost spectacular. She felt herself the central figure in a
thrilling and awful drama, its horror stifling for a moment the hope
that the man whose footsteps followed closely upon that tramping of
heavy feet would fulfil his promise and take her in his arms. And when
he did her sense of personal responsibility left her, as well as her
clearer comprehension of what had happened to bring about this climax
so long and so ardently desired.

But she had not seen Senator North since the day following the
funeral. Mrs. Madison had announced with emphasis that she had had as
much as she could stand and would not remain another day in the
Adirondacks; she wanted Narragansett and the light and agreeable
society of many Southern friends who did not have frequent tragedies
in their families. Betty telegraphed for rooms at one of the
large hotels at the Pier, and thereafter had the satisfaction of
seeing her mother gossip contentedly for hours with other ladies of
lineage and ante-bellum reminiscences, or sit with even deeper
contentment for intermediate hours upon the veranda of the Casino.
When she herself was bored beyond endurance, she crossed the bay and
lunched or dined in Newport, where she had many friends; and she spent
much time on horseback. When the season was over, they paid a round of
visits to country houses, and finished with the few weeks in New York
necessary for the replenishment of Miss Madison's wardrobe. She had
hoped to reach Washington for the opening of Congress, but her mother
had been ill, prolonging the last visit a fortnight, and gowns must be
consulted upon, fitted and altered did the world itself stand still.
And this was the one period of mental rest that Betty had experienced
since her parting from Senator North.

She had been much with people during these five months, seeking and
finding little solitude, and few had found any change in her beyond a
deeper shade of indifference and more infrequent flashes of humour.
She permitted men to amuse her if she did not amuse them, to all out-
door sports she was faithful, and she read the new books and talked
intelligently of the fashions. When the conversation swung with the
precision of a pendulum from clothes and love to war with Spain, her
mind leapt at once to action, and she argued every advocate of war
into a state of fury. She had responded heavily to the President's
appeal in behalf of the reconcentrados, but her mind was no longer
divided. The failure of the belligerency resolutions to reach the
attention of the House during the Extra Session of Congress had
rekindled the war fever in the country; and the constant chatter about
the suffering Cuban and the duty of the United States, the black
iniquity of the Speaker and the timidity of the President, were
wearying to the more evenly balanced members of the community. "You
say that we need a war," said Betty contemptuously one day, "that it
will shake us up and do us good. If we had fallen as low as that, no
war could lift us, certainly not the act of bullying a small country,
of rushing into a war with the absolute certainty of success. But we
need no war. American manhood is where it always has been and always
will be until we reach that pitch of universal luxury and sloth and
vice which extinguished Rome. Those commercial and financial pursuits
should make a man less a man is the very acme of absurdity. If our men
were drawn into a righteous war to-morrow or a hundred years hence,
they would fight to the glory of their country and their own honour.
But if they swagger out to whip a decrepit and wheezy old man, when
the excitement is over they will wish that the whole episode could be
buried in oblivion. And I would be willing to wager anything you like
that if this war does come off, so false is its sentiment that it will
not inspire one great patriotic poem, nor even one of merit, and that
the only thing you will accomplish will be to drag Cuba from the
relaxing clutches of one tyrant and fling her to a horde of
politicians and greedy capitalists."

But, except when politics possessed it, her brain seldom ceased, no
matter how crowded her environment, from pondering on the events of
the summer, and pondering, it sobered and grew older. She had engaged
in a conflict with the Unseen Forces of life and been conquered. She
had been obliged to stand by and see these forces work their will upon
a helpless being, who carried in solution the vices of civilizations
and men persisting to their logical climax, almost demanding aloud the
sacrifice of the victim to death that this portion of themselves might
be buried with her. Despite her intelligence, nothing else could have
given her so clear a realization of the eternal persistence of all
acts, of the sequential symmetrical links they forge in the great
chain of Circumstance. It was this that made her hope more eager that
the United States would be guided by its statesmen and not by
hysteria, and it was this that made her think deeply and constantly
upon her future relation with Senator North.

The danger was as great as ever. Her brain had sobered, but her heart
had not. Separation and the absence of all communication--they had
agreed not to correspond--had strengthened and intensified a love that
had been half quiescent so long as its superficial wants were
gratified. Troubled times were coming when he would need her, would
seek her whenever he could, and yet when their meetings must be short
and unsatisfactory. When hours are no longer possible, minutes become
precious, and the more precious the more dangerous. If she were older,
if tragedy and thought had sobered and matured her character, if she
were deprived of the protection of the lighter moods of her mind,
would not the danger be greater still? The childish remnant upon which
she had instinctively relied had gone out of her, she had a deeper and
grimmer knowledge of what life would be without the man who had
conquered her through her highest ideals and most imperious needs; and
of what it would be with him.

She had no intention of making a problem out of the matter, constantly
as her mind dwelt upon the future. Senator North had told her once
that problems fled when the time for action began. She supposed that
one of two things would happen after her return to Washington: great
events would absorb his mind and leave him with neither the desire nor
the time for more than an occasional friendly hour with her; or after
a conscientious attempt to take up their relationship on the old lines
and give each other the companionship both needed, all intercourse
would abruptly cease.




II



"I am going to have my _salon,_ or at all events the beginning of it,
at once," said Betty to Sally Carter on the afternoon of her arrival,
"and I want you to help me."

"I am ready for any change," said Miss Carter. Her appearance was
unaltered, and she had spoken of Emory's death without emotion.
Whether she had put the past behind her with the philosophy of her
nature, or whether his marriage with a woman for whose breed she had a
bitter and fastidious contempt had killed her love before his death,
Betty could only guess. She made no attempt to learn the truth.
Sally's inner life was her own; that her outer was unchanged was
enough for her friends.

"I am going to give a dinner to thirty people on the sixth of January.
Here is the list. You will see that every man is in official life.
There are eight Senators, five members of the House, the British
Ambassador, and the Librarian of Congress. Some of them know my desire
for a _salon_ and are ready to help me. I shall talk about it quite
freely. In these days you must come out plainly and say what you want.
If you wait to be too subtle, the world runs by you. I am determined
to have a _salon,_ and a famous one at that. This is an ambitious
list, but half-way methods don't appeal to me."

"Nobody ever accused you of an affinity for the second best, my dear;
but you may thank your three stars of luck for providing you with the
fortune and position to achieve your ambitions: beauty and brains
alone wouldn't do it. Senator North," she continued from the list in
her hand: "Mrs. North is wonderfully improved, by the way; has not
been so well in twenty years. Senator Burleigh: he is out flat-footed
against free silver since the failure of the bi-metallic envoys, and
his State is furious. Senator Shattuc is for it, so they probably
don't speak. Senator Ward might be induced to fall in love with Lady
Mary and turn his eloquence on the Senate in behalf of a marriage
between Uncle Sam and Britannia. There is no knowing what your
_salon_ may accomplish, and that would be a sight for the gods.
Senator Maxwell will inveigh in twelve languages against recognizing
the belligerency of the Cubans. Senator French will supply the
distinguished literary element. Senator March represents the
conservative Democrat who is too good for the present depraved
condition of his State. If you want to immortalize yourself, invent a
political broom. Senator Eustis: he thinks the only fault with the
Senate is that it is too good-natured and does not say No often
enough. Who are the Representatives? The only Speaker, the immortal
Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means--don't place me near
him, for I've just paid a hideous bill at the Custom House and I'd
scratch his eyes out. Mr. Montgomery: he and Lady Mary are getting
almost devoted. Trust a clever woman to pinch the memory of any other
woman to death. The redoubtable Mr. Legrand, also of Maine, upon whom
the shafts of an embittered minority seem to fall so harmlessly; and
Mr. Armstrong--who is he? I thought I knew as much about politics as
you, by this time, but I don't recall his name."

"I met him at Narragansett, and had several talks with him. He is a
Bryanite, but very gentlemanly, and his convictions were so strong and
so unquestionably genuine that he interested me. I want the best of
all parties. We can't sit up and agree with each other."

"Don't let that worry you, darling. Mr. North has been contradicting
everybody in the Senate for twenty years. Your devoted Burleigh
quarrels with everybody but yourself. Mr. Maxwell snubs everybody who
presumes to disagree with him, and French is so superior that I long
for some naughty little boys to give him a coat of pink paint. Your
_salon_ will probably fight like cats. If the war cloud gets any
bigger, your mother will go to bed early on _salon_ nights and send
for a policeman. I look forward to it with an almost painful joy.
I want to go in to dinner with Mr. March, by the way. He is the
noblest-looking man in Congress--looks like what the statues of the
founders of the Republic would look like if they were decently done.
I'll paint the menu cards for you, and I'll wear a new gown I've just
paid ninety-three dollars duty on--I certainly shall tear out the eyes
of 'the honourable gentleman from Maine.'"




III



When Sally had gone, after an hour of consultation on the various
phases of the dinner, Betty sat for some moments striving to call up
something from the depths of her brain, something that had smitten it
disagreeably as it fell, but sunk too quickly, under a torrent of
words, to be analyzed at the moment. It had made an extremely
unpleasant impression;--painful perhaps would be a better word.

In the course of ten minutes she found the sentence which had made the
impression: "Mrs. North is wonderfully improved, by the way; has not
been so well in twenty years."

The words seemed to hang themselves up in a row in her mind; they
turned scarlet and rattled loudly. Betty made no attempt to veil her
mental vision; she stared hard at the words and at the impression they
had produced. Mrs. North was out of danger, and the fact was a bitter
disappointment to her. In spite of the resolute expulsion of the very
shadow of Mrs. North from her thought, her sub-consciousness had
conceived and brought forth and nurtured hope. What had made her
content to drift, what had made her look with an almost philosophical
eye on the future, was the unadmitted certainty that in the natural
course of events a woman with a shattered constitution must go her way
and leave her husband free. Had he thought of this? He must have, she
concluded. She was beginning to look facts squarely in the face; it
was an old habit with him, older than herself. There never was a more
practical brain.

For the first time in her life she almost hated herself. She had done
and felt many things which she sincerely regretted, but this seemed
incomparably the worst. And despite her protest, her bitter self-
contempt, the sting of disappointment remained; she could not extract
it.

She went out and walked several miles, as she always did when nervous
and troubled. She came to the conclusion that she was glad to have
heard this news to-day. She and Senator North were to meet in the
evening for the first time in five months. She had looked forward to
this meeting with such a mingling of delight and terror that several
times she had been on the point of sending him word not to come. But
the impression Sally's information had made had hardened her. She was
so disappointed in herself, so humiliated to find that a mortal may
fancy himself treading the upper altitudes, only to discover that the
baser forces in the brain are working independently of the will, that
she felt in anything but a melting mood. She knew that this mood would
pass; she had watched the workings of the brain, its abrupt
transitions and its reactions, too long to hope that she suddenly had
acquired great and enduring strength. The future had not expelled one
jot of its dangers, perhaps had supplemented them, but for the hour
she not only was safe from herself, but the necessity to turn him from
her door had receded one step.

She had intended to receive him in the large and formal environment of
the parlor, but in her present mood the boudoir was safe, and she was
glad not to disappoint him; she knew that he loved the room. And if
her brain had sobered, her femininity would endure unaltered for ever.
She wore a charming new gown of white crepe de chine flowing over a
blue petticoat, and a twist of blue in her hair. She had written to
him from New York when to call, and he had sent a large box of lilies
of the valley to greet her. She had arranged them in a bowl, and
wore only a spray at her throat. Women with beautiful figures seldom
care for the erratic lines and curves of the floral decoration. She
heard him coming down the corridor and caught her breath, but that was
all. She did not tremble nor change colour.

When he came in, he took both her hands and looked at her steadily for
a moment. They made no attempt at formal greeting, and there was no
need of subterfuge of any sort between them. No two mortals ever
understood each other better.

"I see the change in you," he said. "I expected it. You have given me
a great deal, and your last survival of childhood was not the least.
The serious element has developed itself, and you look the embodiment
of an Ideal." He dropped her hands and walked to the end of the room.
When he returned and threw himself into a chair, she knew that his
face had changed, then been ordered under control.

"What shall I talk to you about?" he asked with an almost nervous
laugh. "Politics? Comparatively little happened in the Senate before
the holidays. The President's message was of peculiar interest to me,
inasmuch as it indicated that he is approaching Spain in the right way
and will succeed in both relieving the Cubans and averting war if the
fire-eaters will let him alone. The Cubans probably will not listen to
the offer of autonomy, for it comes several years too late and their
confidence in Spain has gone forever; but I am hoping that while this
country is waiting to see the result, it will come to its senses. The
pressure upon us has been intolerable. Both Houses have been flooded
with petitions and memorials by the thousands: from Legislatures,
Chambers of Commerce, Societies, Churches, from associations of every
sort, and from perhaps a million citizens. The Capitol looks like a
paper factory. If autonomy fails soon enough, or if some new chapter
of horrors can be concocted by the Yellow Press, or if the unforeseen
happens, war will come. The average Congressman and even Senator does
not resist the determined pressure of his constituents, and to do them
justice they have talked themselves into believing that they are as
excited as the idle minds at home who are feeling dramatic and calling
it sympathy. And the average mind hates to be on the unpopular side.

"Forgive me if I am bitter," he said, standing up suddenly and looking
down on her with a smile, "but a good many of us are, just now. We
can't help it. A great and just war would be met unflinchingly and
with all pride; but the prospect of this hysterical row between a bull
pup and a senile terrier fills us with impatience and disgust. The
President must feel that he is expiating all the sins of the human
race. The only man in the United States to be envied, so far, is the
Speaker of the House; it is almost a satisfaction to think that he
looks like the monument he is; and for the time being his importance
overshadows the President's. If the President can hold on, however, he
will negotiate Spain out of this hemisphere in less than a year."

"I knew you were worried about it," she said softly. "I felt that so
keenly that I never lost an opportunity to war against the war. I made
enemies right and left, and acquired a reputation for heartlessness."

"Our minds are much alike," he said, staring down at her and dropping
his voice for a moment. "You may have done it for me, but you are as
sincere as I am. I have stimulated your mind, that is all. How much
you can do here in Washington--among the men who legislate--I cannot
say. A woman who takes a high and definite stand is always an
influence for good; but the women who influence men's votes are not of
your type. They are women who sacrifice anything to gain their ends,
or those who have educated themselves to play upon the vanity and
other petty qualities of men; every peg in their brain is hung with a
political trick. The only men who attract you are too strong to vote
under the influence of any woman, even if they loved her. If Shattuc
were not as obstinate as a mule," he added more lightly, "I should ask
you to convert him to the principles of sound currency. That is
another ugly cloud ahead: there is going to be an attempt made to pass
through both Houses a concurrent resolution advocating the free and
unlimited coinage of silver and to pay the public debt with it. As far
as our honour goes, the passing of such a resolution would affect us
as deeply as if it were to become a law. We should stand before the
world as willing and ready to violate the national honour, ignore our
pledges and recklessly impair our credit. I don't think the resolution
will pass the House, the Republican majority is too strong there, but
I am afraid it will pass the Senate; although we are in the majority,
a good many Republicans are Western men and Silverites. A certain
number on both sides of the Chamber are voting merely to please their
constituents, feeling reasonably sure that the resolution will fail in
the House. They appear to care little for the honour of the Senate;
they certainly have not the backbone to defy their constituents if
they do care for it. To the outside world the Senate is a unit; every
resolution that passes it might come out of one gigantic skull at
peace with itself. This one will be passed by a small majority who
have not imagination enough to read the works of future historians,
nor even to grasp public opinion as unexpressed by their constituents.

"There is one fact that the second-rate politician never grasps," he
said, walking impatiently up and down; Betty had never seen him so
restless. "That is, that the true American respects convictions; no
matter how many fads he may conceive nor how loud he may clamour for
their indulgence, when his mind begins to balance methodically again,
he respects the man who told him he was wrong and imperilled his own
re-election rather than vote against his convictions. Many a Senator
has lost re-election through yielding to pressure, for elections do
not always occur at the height of a popular agitation; and when men
have had time to cool off and think, they despise and distrust the
waverer. If you will read the biographies in the Congressional
Directory, you will see that with a very few exceptions the New
Englanders are the only men who come back here--to both Houses--term
after term. They practically are here for life; and the reason is
that they belong to the same hard-headed, clear-thinking, unyielding,
and puritanically upright race as the men who elect them to office.
They have their faults, but they represent the iron backbone of this
country, and in spite of fads and aberrations, and gales in general on
the political sea, they will remain the prevailing influence. If I
speak seldom in the Senate, I certainly make a good many speeches to
you. But I want you to understand all I can teach you and to do what
you can."

"Yes," she said, rising abruptly, "I want an object in life, a vital
interest. I need it! A year ago I took up politics out of curiosity
and ennui; to-day they represent a safeguard as well as a necessity. I
cannot write books nor paint pictures; charities bore me and I never
shall marry. My heart must go to the wall, and my brain is very
active. The more one studies and observes politics the more absorbing
they become. But that is only a part of it. I want to be of some use
to the country, to accomplish something for the public good; and it
will be a form of happiness to think that I am working with you--for I
certainly agree with you in all things, whatever the cause. When the
time comes that we meet in public only, I can have that much happiness
at least; and I always shall know where I can help you--"

"The mere fact that you are alive is help enough--and torment enough.
I shall go now. We have gotten through this first meeting better than
I had hoped."

They both laughed a little as they shook hands, for politics had
cleared the air.




IV



He came in again on Sunday, but Burleigh and other men were there; and
as the Senate had adjourned until the fifth, there was no excuse for
him to call at the late hour when she was sure to be alone; so he
dropped in twice to luncheon, and they went for a long walk in Rock
Creek Park afterward. On one of these occasions Sally Carter joined
them; and on the other, although but for the occasional passer-by they
were alone for two hours in the wild beauty of rocky gorges and winter
woods, they talked of war and Spain. He left her at the door.

On Thursday night she was to have her dinner, and in spite of her
stormy inner life she felt a pleasurable nervousness as the hour
approached; for on its results depended the colour of her future. With
love or without it she had to live on, and if she could see the way to
serve her country, to preserve some of its higher ideals as well as to
win a distinguished position, she had no doubt that in time she should
find resignation.

All her invitations but one had been accepted: the British Ambassador
was attending a diplomatic dinner, but would come in later. Betty was
not altogether regretful, for the question of precedence, with all her
personages, was sufficiently complicated. The Speaker ranked the
Senators, but there were eight Senators to be disposed of with tact;
they might overlook a mistake, but their wives or daughters would not.

She had spared no pains to honour her guests. She still scorned the
plutocratic multiplication of flowers until they seemed to rattle like
the dollars they stood for, but the table looked very beautiful, and
the silver and china and crystal had endured through several
generations. Some of it had been used in the White House in the days
when it was an honour to have a President in one's family. Her
father's wine-cellar had been celebrated, and she had employed
connoisseurs in its replenishment ever since the duties of
entertaining had devolved upon her. She also had her own _chef,_ and
knew with what satisfaction he filled the culinary brain-cells of the
patient diner out in Washington. All the lower house was softly lit
with candles; except her boudoir, which was dark and locked.

She wore a gown of apple-green satin which looked simple and was not.
Mrs. Madison was like an exquisite miniature, in satin of a pinkish
gray hue, trimmed with much Alencon, a collar of diamonds, and a pink
spray in her soft white hair. Her blue eyes were very bright, and
there was a pink colour in her cheeks, but she looked better than she
felt. She was, indeed, hot and cold by turns, and she held herself
with a majesty of mien which only a tiny woman can accomplish.

Sally Carter was the first to arrive, and looked remarkably well in
her black velvet of Custom House indignities. The Montgomerys
followed, and Lady Mary wore the azure and white in which she appeared
harmless and undiplomatic. No one was more than ten minutes late, and
at eight o'clock the party was seated about the great round table in
the dining-room.

Senator North sat on Betty's right, Senator Ward on her left. Next to
that astute diplomatist was the lady in azure and white, whom he
admired profoundly and understood thoroughly. She never knew the
latter half of his attitude, however. He was a gallant American, and
delighted to indulge a pretty woman in her fads and ambitions. Mrs.
Madison achieved resignation between the Speaker of the House and
Senator Maxwell, and Sally Carter was paired with Senator March.

Betty had meditated several hours over the placing of her guests, and
had invited as many pretty and charming women as the matrimonial
entanglements of her statesmen would permit. Fortunately it was early
in the year, and a number of wives had tarried behind their husbands.
The family portraits on the dark old walls had not looked down upon so
brilliant a gathering for half a century, and Betty's eyes sparkled
and she lifted her head, her nostrils dilating. The light in her inner
life burned low, and her brain was luminous with the excitement of
the hour. And as he was beside her, there really was no cause for
repining.

At once the talk was all of war. Washington, like the rest of the
country, did not rise to its highest pitch of excitement until after
the destruction of the _Maine_, but no other subject could hold its
interest for long. In ordinary conditions politics are barely
mentioned when the most political city in the world is in evening
dress, but war is a microbe.

"I am for it," announced Lady Mary, "if only to give you a chance to
find out whom your friends are."

"There is nothing in the history of human nature or of nations to
disprove that our friends of to-day may be our enemies of to-morrow,"
observed Senator North.

"I believe you hate England."

"On the contrary, I am probably the best friend she has in the Senate.
My mission is to forestall the hate which leads so many ardent but
ill-mated couples into the divorce courts."

"Well, you will see," said Lady Mary, mysteriously.

"I do not doubt it," said Senator North, smiling. "And we shall be
grateful. If the circumstances ever are reversed, we shall do as much
for her."

"How much?"

"That will depend upon the quality of statesmanship in both Houses."

"I wish you would explain what you mean by that." Lady Mary's wide
voice was too well trained to sharpen. Her cold blue eyes wore the
dreamy expression of their most active moments.

"I wish I knew whether the statesmen of the future were to be
Populists or Republicans."

"Well, whatever you mean you have no sentiment."

"I have no sentimentalism."

Lady Mary shrugged her shoulders and turned to Senator Ward. She knew
better than to talk politics to him before dinner was two thirds over,
but she bent her pretty head to him, and gave him her distinguished
attentions while he re-invigorated his weary brain. He smiled
encouragingly.

"The statesmen of the future will be Populists, Senator," announced
Betty's last recruit, a man with a keen sharply cut face and a
slightly nasal though not displeasing voice. He was forty and looked
thirty.

"The Populist will have called himself so many things by that time
that 'statesman' will do as well as any other," growled the Speaker.
"'The Statesmen's Party' would sound well, and would be worthy of the
noble pretensions of your leader."

"Well, they are noble," said Armstrong tartly, but glad of the
opportunity to talk back to the personage who treated him in the House
as a Czar treats a minion. "We are the only party that is ready to
cling to the Constitution as if it were the rock of ages."

"Well, you've clung so hard you've turned it upside down, and the new
inventions and patent improvements you've stuccoed it with will do for
the 'Statesmen's Party,' but not for the United States--Madam?"

Mrs. Madison had touched his arm timidly, and asked him if he liked
terrapin. Her colour was deeper, but she exerted herself to keep the
attention of this huge personality whom a poor worm might be tempted
to assassinate.

Senator Burleigh's voice rose above the chatter. "Who would be a
Western Senator?" he said plaintively. "My colleague and I received a
document today, signed by two thousand of our constituents, the entire
population of an obscure but determined town, in which we were ordered
to acknowledge the belligerency of the Cubans at once or expect to be
tarred and feathered upon our return. The climate of my State is
excellent for consumption, but bad for nerves. Doubtless most of these
men come of good New England stock, whose relatives 'back East' would
never think of doing such a thing; but the intoxicating climate they
have been inhaling for half a generation, to say nothing of the raw
conditions, makes them want to fight creation."

Senator Maxwell, who had more of the restlessness of youth than the
repose of age, threw back his silver head and gave his little
irritated laugh. "That is it," he said. "It is the lust of blood that
possesses the United States. They don't know it. They call it
sympathy; but their blood is aching for a fight, so that they can read
the exciting horrors of it in the newspapers. You might as well reason
with mad dogs."

"I shall not attempt to reason with my kennel," said Burleigh. "In the
present congested state of the mails this particular memorial has gone
astray."

"The trials of a Senator!" cried Sally Carter. "Petitions and
lobbyists, election clouds, fractious and dishonest legislatures,
unprincipled bosses and the country gone mad!"

"I can give you a list as long as my arm," said Senator March, grimly;
"and you may believe it or not, but it is all I can do to walk in my
Committee-room and I haven't a chair to sit on. I live under a snow-
storm of petitions, memorials, and resolutions. I expect to see them
come flying through the window, and I dream of nothing else."

Betty had taken part in the general conversation until the last few
moments, but as it concentrated on the subject of Cuban autonomy and
her guests ceased to appeal to her, she fell into conversation with
Senator North, who she knew would be willing to dispense with politics
for a few moments.

"You have no idea how I miss Jack Emory," she said. "He half lived
with us, you know, and I am always expecting to meet him in the hall.
When I was writing my invitations I caught myself beginning a note,
'Dear Jack.' It is uncanny."

"It is the only revenge the dead have; and doubtless it is this vivid
after life of theirs in memory that is at the root of the belief in
ghosts. You say that you are going to open your _salon_ every year
with a dinner to the original members. It will be interesting to watch
the two faces in some of the seats--if you attempt to fill the vacant
chairs."

Betty pressed her handkerchief against her lips, for she knew they had
turned white. She was but twenty-eight, and if her _salon_ was the
success it promised to be she would sit at the head of this table
for twenty-eight years to come, and then have compassed fewer years
than the man beside her. She had refused resolutely to permit her
thought to dwell on the tragic difference in their ages, a difference
that had no meaning now, but would symbolize death and desolation
hereafter; but her mind had moments of abrupt insight that no Will
could conquer, and not long since she had gasped and covered her face
with her hands.

"That was brutal of me," he said hurriedly. "Your dinner is the
brilliant success that it deserves to be, and you should be permitted
to be entirely happy. There is not a bored face, and if they are all
jabbering about the everlasting subject, so much the better for you.
It gives your _salon_ its political character at once; you would have
had a hard time getting them to begin on bimetallism and the census--
perish the thought! Ward is now making Lady Mary think that she is a
greater diplomatist than himself. Maxwell and the Speaker are
wrangling across your mother, who looks alarmed; Burleigh is flirting
desperately with Miss Alice Maxwell, who is purring upon his
senatorial vanity; your Populist is breaking out into the turgid
rhetoric of Mr. Bryan; French has persuaded that charming English girl
that he is the most literary man in America, and Miss Carter is
condoling with March about an ungrateful State. So be happy, my
darling, be happy."

His voice had dropped suddenly. She made an involuntary movement
toward him.

"I am," she said below her breath. "I am." She added in a moment,
"Will you always come to my Thursday evenings, no matter what
happens?"

"Always."

He had turned slightly, and one hand was on his knee. She slipped hers
into it recklessly; they were safe in the crowd, and her hand ached
for his. It ached from the grasp it received, for he was a man whose
self-control was absolute or non-existent. But she clung to him as
long as she dared, and when she withdrew her hand she sought for
distraction in her company.

It looked as gay and happy as if war had been invented to animate
conversation and make a bored people feel dramatic. Death was close
upon the heels of two of the distinguished men present; but even
though the eyes of the soul be raised everlastingly to the world
above, they are blind to the portal. The busy member who had incurred
Miss Carter's disapproval and the brilliant Librarian of Congress were
among the liveliest at the feast.

It was Senator Ward at one end of the table and Burleigh at the other,
who finally started the topic of Miss Madison's intended _salon_, not
only that those unacquainted with her ambition might be enlightened,
but that the great intention should receive a concrete form without
further delay. A half-hour later, when the women left the table, Betty
had the satisfaction of knowing that whatever the final result of her
venture, her stand was as fully recognized as if she had written a
book and found a publisher and critics to advertise her.




V



Betty went to the Senate Gallery on the following day at the request
of Armstrong, and heard an exposition of the Populist religion by the
benevolent-looking bore from Nebraska. He was followed by an
arraignment of the "gold standard Administration" and the Republican
Party, from the leading advocate of bimetallism with-or-without-the-
concurrence-of-Europe. The utterances of both gentlemen were delivered
with the repose and dignity peculiar to their body, and Patriotism and
the Constitution would appear to be their watchword and fetish.
Burleigh came up to the gallery as the Silver Senator sat down, and
smiled wearily at Betty's puzzled comments.

"Of course they sound well," he replied. "In the first place there is
always much to be said on both sides of any question, and a clever
speaker can make his side dwarf the other. And of course no party
could exist five minutes unless it had some good in it. There are
several admirable principles in the Populist creed; there are enough
windy theories to upset the Constitution of which they prate; and, by
the way, the more wrong-headed a would-be statesman is the more
hysterically does he plead for the Constitution. As to the other
Senator--I sympathize as deeply with the farmer as any man, and I
hoped against hope for the success of the bimetallic envoys; but the
farmer is of considerably less importance than the national honour;
and if a man is not statesman enough to take the national view when he
comes to the Senate, he had better stay at home and become a party
boss."

"Are you in trouble at home? I saw that you made a speech just before
you left."

"They are furious, and elections are imminent; but I never have
believed that it paid in the end to be a politician, and I propose to
hold to that view. If I am not re-elected this time, I will venture to
say that I shall be six years later--"

"Oh, I should be sorry! I should be sorry! Your heart is in the
Senate. How could you settle down contentedly to practise law in a
Western city for six years?"

"I certainly should have very little to offer a woman," he said
bitterly. His frank handsome face had lost the expression of gayety
which had sat so gracefully upon the determination of its contours; he
looked harassed and a trifle cynical. "There is only one thing I hate
more than leaving the United States Senate--and God knows I love it
and its traditions: what that is I feel I now have no right--"

"Oh, yes, you have; for if I loved you I would live at the North Pole
with you, and I hate cold weather. I don't want you to put me in that
sort of position, both for the sake of your own pride and for our
friendship."

"That is like you, and I shall take you at your word. Perhaps you can
imagine what it cost me to come out and declare myself in a State
howling for Silver, when I knew that to leave Washington meant losing
my chance with you. For if I am not re-elected I must go out there and
stay. I could afford to live here, of course--I hope you know that I
have plenty of money--but my political future is there. Even if you
made it a condition, I should not pull up stakes, for a man who
despised himself for abandoning his ambitions and his power for
usefulness could not be happy with any woman."

"I should not make such a condition. As I said, I willingly would go
West with you if I loved you."

"Would to God you did! What I meant was that in going I lose my
chance."

Betty looked at him and shook her head slowly.

"Yes!" he said. "Yes! Yes! I believe, I know that I could win you with
time. And now that the future looks dark I want you more than ever."

"Ah, I wish I could love you," she exclaimed fervently. "I have enough
of feminine insight to know that a woman is really happy only when she
is making a man happy, and that she is almost ready to bless the
troubles which give her the opportunity to console him."

She was looking straight down at Senator North as she spoke. Her voice
was impassioned as she finished, and she forgot the man at her side.
But he never had suspected that she loved another man. His face
flushed and he lowered his head eagerly.

"Betty!" he said, "Betty! Come to me and I swear to make you happy.
You don't know what love is. You need to be taught. Any man can make a
woman of feeling love him if he loves her enough and she has no
antipathy to him. And there is no reason under heaven why we should
not be happy together."

There was only one. Betty was convinced of that; and for the moment
the dull ache in her heart prompted her to wish that she never had
seen the man down there listening impassively to remarks on the
Immigration bill. She wanted to be happy, she was made to be happy,
and it was easy to imagine the most exacting woman deeply attached to
Robert Burleigh. What was love that it defied the Will? Why could not
she shake up her brain as one shakes up a misused sofa-cushion and
beat it into proper shape? What was love that persisted in spite of
the Will and the judgment, that came whence no mortal could discover,
but an abnormal condition of the brain, a convolution that no human
treatment could reach? But she only shook her head at Burleigh,
although she knew that it would be wisdom to give him her hand in full
view of the stragglers in the gallery.

"I must go now," she said. "I have calls to pay. Come and dine with us
to-night. If there is even a chance of our losing you, my mother and I
must have all of you that we can, meanwhile."




VI



"It is just a year ago to-day, Betty, that you nearly killed me by
announcing your determination to go into politics--or whatever you
choose to call it. I put down the date. A great deal has happened
since then--poor dear Jack! And I often think of that unfortunate
creature, too. But you and I are here in this same room, and I wonder
if you are glad or sorry that you entered upon this eccentric course."

"I have no regrets," said Betty, smiling. "And I don't think you have.
You like every man that comes here, and while they are talking to you
forget that you ever had an ache. As for me--no, I have no regrets,
not one. I am glad."

"Well, I will admit that they are much better than I thought. I must
say I never saw a finer set of men than those at your dinner, and I
felt proud of my country, although I was nervous once or twice. I
almost love Mr. Burleigh; so I refrain from further criticism. But,
Betty, there is one thing I feel I must say--"

She hesitated and readjusted her cushions nervously. Betty looked at
her inquiringly, and experienced a slight chill. She stood up suddenly
and put her foot on the fender.

"It is this," continued Mrs. Madison, hurriedly. "I think you are too
much with Senator North. He was here constantly before you left
Washington, and of course I know you boated with him a great deal last
summer. Since your return he has been here several times, and you
treat him with twice the attention with which you treat any other man.
Of course I can understand the attraction which a man with a brain
like that must have for you, but there is something more important
to be considered. You have been the most noticeable girl in Washington
for years--in our set--and now that you have branched out in this
extraordinary manner and are even going to have a _salon_, you'll
quickly be the most conspicuous in the other set. Mr. North is easily
the most conspicuous figure in the Senate--a half dozen of your new
friends, including that Speaker, have told me so--and if this
friendship keeps on people will talk, as sure as fate. There is no
harm done yet--I sounded Sally Carter--but there will be. That sort of
gossip grows gradually and surely; it is not like a great scandal that
blazes up and out and that people get tired of; they will get into the
habit of believing all sorts of dreadful things, and they never will
acquire the habit of disbelieving them."

Betty made no reply. She stood staring into the fire.

"It would have been more difficult for me to say such a thing to you a
year ago; but you seem a good deal older, somehow. I suppose it is
being so much with men old enough to be your father, and talking
constantly about things that give me the nightmare to think of. And of
course you have had two terrible shocks. But you are so buoyant I hope
you will get over all that in time. Wouldn't you like to go to the
Riviera, and then to London for the season?"

"And desert my _salon?_" asked Betty, lightly. "You forget this is the
long term. I am praying that summer will come late, so that you can
stay on. It never had occurred to me that any one would notice my
friendship with Mr. North. I hope they will do nothing so silly as to
comment on it."

"Well, they will, if you are not very careful. And there is no
position in the world so unenviable as that of a girl who gets herself
talked about with a married man. Men lose interest in her and raise
their eyebrows at the clubs when her name is mentioned, and women
gradually drop her. Money and position will cover up a good many
indiscretions in a married woman or a widow, but the world always has
demanded that a girl shall be immaculate; and if she permits Society
to think she is not, it punishes her for violating one of its pet
standards. Mr. North can be nothing to you. The day is sure to come
when you will want to marry. No woman is really satisfied in any other
state."

Betty turned and looked squarely at her mother, who had lost even the
semblance of nervousness in her deep maternal anxiety.

"Do you believe that I love Mr. North?"

"Yes, I do. And I know that he loves you. There is no mistaking the
way a man turns to a woman every time she begins to speak. But on that
score I have no fears. I know that you not only must have the high
principles of the women of your race, but that you are too much a
woman-of-the-world to enter upon a _liaison_, which would mean
constant lying, fear, blackmail by servants, and general wretchedness.
And I have perfect faith in him. Even a scoundrel will hesitate a long
while before he makes himself responsible for the future of a girl in
your position, and Mr. North is not a scoundrel but an honourable
gentleman. Moreover he knows that a scandal would ruin him in his
Puritanical State; and he adores his sons, who are prouder of him than
if he were ten Presidents. But the world can talk and continue to
talk, and to act as viciously about an imprudent friendship as about a
_liaison_, for it has no means of proving anything and likes to
believe the worst. Now, I shan't say any more. You are capable of
doing your own thinking. Only do think--please." Betty nodded to
her mother, and went to her boudoir and sat there for hours. Nothing
could have put the ugly practical side of her romance so precisely
before her as her mother's black and white statement, full of the
little colloquial phrases with which an un-ambitious world expresses
itself. Even for him, Betty reflected, she could not endure vulgar
gossip, and wondered how any high-bred woman could for any man.

"For what else does civilization mean," she thought, "if those of us
that have its highest advantages are not wiser and more fastidious
than the mob? And unless a woman is ready to go and live in a cave,
she cannot be happy in the loss of the world's regard, for it can make
her uncomfortable in quite a thousand little ways. Expediency is the
root of all morality. It is stupid to be unmoral, and that is the long
and the short of it. I would marry him to-morrow if I had to cook for
him, if he were dishonoured by his country, if he were smitten
suddenly with ill-health and never could walk again. I am willing to
go through life alone for his sake, even without seeing him, and after
he is dead and gone. I love him absolutely, and if there is another
world I must meet him there. But I am not willing to become a social
pariah on his account."

She never had permitted her mind to linger on the practical aspect of
a different relationship, to admit that such a chapter was possible
outside of her imagination, but she did so now, deliberately. She knew
that what her mother had intimated was true, that the happiness to be
got out of it would amount to very little, and that the day would come
when she would say that it was not worth the price. There were many
times when she was not capable of reasoning coldly on this question,
but she had been listening for two hours to Senator French on the
restriction of immigration, and felt all intellect.

Her mind turned to Harriet. There was a creature foredoomed to
destruction by the forces within her, struggling in vain, assisted and
guarded in vain. Should she, with her inheritance of kindly forces
within and without, deliberately readjust her manifest lines into a
likeness of Harriet Walker's? And she knew that even if she hoodwinked
the world, the miserable deception of it all, the nervous terrors, not
only would wear love down, but shatter her ideals of herself and him.
She would be infinitely more miserable than now.

It relieved her to have thought that phase out, and she put it aside.
But the other? Must she give him up? What pleasure could she find in
sitting here with him if her mother's apprehensive mind did not leave
the room for a moment? What pleasure if a vulgar world were
whispering? She reflected with some bitterness that one danger was
receding. He had not entered this room since the day of her return.
Although he had called several times, he had come in the evening, when
she always sat with her mother, or in the morning, when Mrs. Madison
again was sure to be present. She knew that he dared not come here,
and that it was more than likely he never would call at the old hour
again.

She realized these two facts suddenly and vividly; her mind worked
with a brutal frankness at times. She began to cry heavily, the tears
raining on her intellectual mood and obliterating it. If she were not
to see him alone again, she might as well ask him to come to the house
on Thursday evenings only, and to show her no attention in public; if
she could not have the old hours again, she wanted nothing less. And
she wanted them passionately; those hours came back to her with a
poignancy of happiness in memory that the present had not revealed,
and the thought that they had gone for ever filled her with a
suffocating anguish that was as complete as it was sudden. She
implored him under her breath to come to her, then prayed that he
would not....

She became conscious that she was in a mood to take any step, were he
here, rather than lose him; and the mood terrified her. Would the time
come when this intolerable pain would kill every inheritance in her
brain, its empire the more absolute because it made passion itself
insignificant in the more terrible want of the heart? If it did, she
would marry Burleigh. She made up her mind instantly. She would fight
as long as she could, for she passionately desired to live her life
alone with the idea of this man; but if she were not strong enough,
she would marry and bury herself in the West. Nothing but an
irrevocable step would affect a permanent mental attitude, and
Burleigh would give her little time for thought.




VII



Betty went very often to the Senate Gallery in these days, for it was
the only place where one might have relief from the eternal subject of
Cuba. Although the House broke loose under cover of the Diplomatic and
Consular Appropriation Bill when it was in the Committee of the Whole
and free of the Speaker's iron hand, and raged for two days with the
vehemence of long-repressed passion, the Senate permitted only an
occasional spurt from its warlike members, and pursued its even way
with the important bills before it. But at teas, dinners, luncheons,
and receptions people chattered with amiability or in suavity about
the hostile demonstrations at Havana against Americans, the Spanish
Minister's letter, Spain's demand for the recall of Consul-General
Lee, the dying reconcentrados, the exploits of the insurgents, and the
general possibilities of war. The old Madison house, which had ignored
politics for half a century, vibrated with polite excitement on
Thursday evenings. About a hundred people came to these receptions,
which finished with a supper, and it was understood that the free
expression of opinion should be the rule; consequently several
repressed members of both Houses delivered impromptu speeches, in the
guise of toasts, before that select audience; much to the amusement of
Senator North and the Speaker of the House. Burleigh's was really
impassioned and brilliant; and Armstrong's, if woolly in its phrasing
and Populistic in its length, was sufficiently entertaining.

As for Mrs. Madison, she became imbued with the fear that war would be
declared in her house. Two Cabinet ministers had been added to the
_salon_, and what they in conjunction with the colossal Speaker and
Senators North and Ward might accomplish if they cared to try, was
appalling to contemplate. She begged Betty to adjourn the _salon_ till
peace had come again.

But to this Betty would not hearken. It was the sun of her week,
through whose heavy clouds flickered the pale stars of distractions
for which she was beginning to care little. One of life's
compensations is that there is always something ahead, some trifling
event of interest or pleasure upon which one may fix one's eye and
endeavour to forget the dreary tissue of monotony and commonplace
between. Betty found herself acquiring the habit of casting her eye
over the day as soon as she awoke in the morning, and if nothing
distracting presented itself, she planned for something as well as she
could.

She endeavoured to introduce the pleasant English custom of asking a
few congenial spirits to come for a cup of afternoon tea. These little
informal reunions are among the most delightful episodes of London
life, and if established as a custom in Washington would be like the
greenest of oases in the whirling breathless sandstorms of that social
Sahara. But even Betty Madison, strong as she was both in position and
personality, met with but a moderate success. When women have from six
to twenty-five calls to pay every afternoon of the season, with at
least one tea a day besides, they have little time or inclination for
pleasant informalities. Doubtless Miss Madison's friends felt that
they should be relieved of the additional tax. Even the women of the
fashionable set, which includes some of the Old Washingtonians and
many newer comers of equally high degree, and which ignores the
official set, preserve the same ridiculous fashion of calling in
person six days in the week instead of merely leaving cards as in
older and more civilized communities. In London, society has learned
to combine the maximum of pleasure with the minimum of work.
Washington society is its antithesis; and although many of the most
brilliant men in America are in its official set, and the brightest
and most charming women in its fashionable as well as political set,
they are, through the exigencies of the old social structure, of
little use to each other. Betty occasionally managed to capture three
or four people who talked delightfully when they felt they had time to
indulge in consecutive sentences, but as a rule people came on her
reception day only, and many of them walked in at one door of her
drawing-room and out at the other.

The debate in the Senate on the payment of bonds interested her
deeply, for she knew that it meant days of uneasiness for Senator
North, who rarely was absent from his seat. His brief speech on the
subject was the finest she had heard him make, and although it was
bitter and sarcastic while he was arraigning the adherents of the
resolution to pay the government debt in silver, he became impersonal
and almost impassioned as he argued in behalf of national honesty.

Betty never had seen him so close to excitement, and she wondered if
he found it a relief to speak out on any subject. But if he ever
thought of her down there he made no sign, for he neither raised his
eyes to the gallery nor did he pay her a second visit in her select
but conspicuous precinct.

The resolution passed the Senate, and on that evening Senator North
called at the Madison house. It was two weeks since he had called
before, and although he had come to her evenings and they had met at
several dinners, they had not attempted conversation.

The Montgomery's and Carters had dined at the house, and all were in
the parlour when he arrived. After a few minutes he was able to talk
apart with Betty. They moved gradually toward the end of the room and
sat down on a small sofa.

"I am glad you came to-night," she said. "It was my impulse to go to
you when I heard how the vote had gone."

"I knew it," he replied, "and if I could have come straight up here to
the old room, I should have hung up the vote with my overcoat in the
hall."

He looked harassed, and his eyes, while they had lost nothing of their
magnetic power, were less calmly penetrating than usual. They looked
as if their fires had been unloosed more than once of late and were
under indifferent control.

"You will not come to that room again!"

"No. And I soon shall cease to come here at all except on Thursdays."

"You almost have done that now. I think I get more satisfaction
watching you from the gallery than anything else. You look very calm
and senatorial, and you always are standing some one in a corner who
is trying to make a speech."

"I am relieved to know that I do not inspire the amazement of my
colleagues. It is a long while since I have felt calm and senatorial,
however. But these are days for alertness of mind, and even the most
distracting of women must be shut up in her cupboard and forgotten for
a few hours every day."

"I think I rather like that."

"Of course you do. A woman always likes a strong lover. And you have
plenty of revenge, if you did but know."

"I know," she said; and as she raised her eyes and looked at him
steadily, he believed her.

"Tell me at least that you miss coming to that room--I want to hear
you say it."

"Good God!"

Betty caught her breath. But when women feel fire between their
fingers and are reckless before the swift approach of a greater
wretchedness than that possessing them, they are merciless to
themselves and the man.

"Can you stay away?" she whispered. "Can you?"

"It is the one thing I can do."

"Do you realize what you are saying?--that you have put me aside for
ever? Are you willing to admit that it is all over? How am I to live
on and on and on? Can you fancy me alone next summer in the
Adirondacks--"


"Hush! Hush! Do you wish me to come? Answer me honestly, without any
feminine subterfuge."

"No, I do not."
"And I should not come if you did, for I know the price we both should
pay better than you do, and only complete happiness could justify such
a step. You and I could find happiness in marriage only--we both
demand too much! But I also know that the higher faculties of the mind
do not always prevail, and I shall not see you alone again."

She pushed him further. "You take this philosophically because you
have loved before and recovered. You feel sure that no love lasts."

"When a man loves as I love you, he has no past. There are no
experiences alive in his memory to help him to philosophy. With the
entire world the last love is the only love. As for myself, I shall
not love again and I shall not recover."

"I wore white because I knew you would come tonight," she said softly.

"Yes, and you would torment me if I went down on my knees and begged
for mercy."

"Senator," said Montgomery, approaching them. "I suppose it is some
satisfaction to you to know that that resolution cannot pass the
House."

"I hope you will make a speech on the subject that will look well in
the Record," said North, with some sarcasm.

Montgomery laughed. "That is a good suggestion. I wonder if some of
our orators ever read themselves over in cold blood. The back numbers
of the Record ought to be a solemn warning."

"Unfortunately most people don't know when they have made fools of
themselves; that is one reason the world grows wise so slowly. I don't
doubt your speech will look well. You've been remarkably sane for a
young man of enthusiasms. Reserve some of your logic, however, for the
greater conflict that is coming. The pressure on the President is
becoming very severe, and the worst of it is that a great part of it
comes from Congressmen of his own party."

"One of our Populists has christened these 'kickers' 'the
reconcentrados;' which is not bad, as there is said to be a kickers'
caucus in process of organization. But if the pressure on the
President is severe, it is equally so on us, and I suppose the
'kickers' are those who have one knob too few in their backbones.
Some, however, have got the war bee inside their skulls instead of in
their hats, and will be fit subjects for a lunatic asylum if the thing
doesn't end soon, one way or another. And they reiterate and reiterate
that they don't want war, when they know that any determined step we
can take is bound to lead to it. I have no patience with them. They
either are fools or are trying to keep on both sides of the fence at
once."

"Politics are very complicated," said Senator North, dryly.

"How do you and Mary manage to live in the same house?" asked Betty.
"She is all for war."

"Oh, I think she rather likes the opportunity to argue. And she is so
divided between the desire for me to be a good American and the desire
that England shall have an excuse to hug us that she could not get
into a temper over it if she tried. She has made no attempt to
influence my course. Heaven knows how much money I've been made to
disburse in behalf of the reconcentrados, but I like women to be
tender-hearted and would not harden them for the sake of a few
dollars, even were they dumped in Havana Harbor--By the way, I wonder
if the _Maine_ is all right down there? She has the city under her
guns, and they know it--"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, don't suggest any new horrors," said Senator
North, rising. "Besides, the Spaniards are not in the final stages of
idiocy. It would be like the New York _Journal_ to blow up the
_Maine_, as it seems to have reached that stage of hysteria which
betokens desperation; but the ship is safe as far as the Spaniards are
concerned."

Lady Mary rose to go; and Betty, who was informal with her friends,
went out into the hall with her instead of ringing for a servant.
Senator North remained in the parlor for a few moments to say good-
night to Mrs. Madison and the Carters, and Betty, although the
Montgomerys did not linger, waited for him to come out. There was
nothing to reflect the light in the dark walls of the large square
hall, and it always was shadowy, and provocative to lovers at any
time.

When he entered it, he looked at her for a moment without speaking,
and did not approach her.

"You might be the ghost of another Betty Madison--in that white gown,"
he said. "Was there not a famous one in the days of 1812, and did she
not love a British officer--or something of that sort?"

"They parted here in this hall--and she lived on and died of old age.
Such is life. I sleep in her bed, where, I suppose, she suffered much
as I do."

She came forward and pushed her hand into his. "I am not a ghost," she
said.

He too believed it to be their last meeting alone, and he raised her
hand to his lips and held it there.

"I wish we could have stayed on and on in the Adirondacks," she said
unsteadily. "Everything seemed to go well with us there."

"People in mid-ocean usually are happy and irresponsible. They would
not be if it were anything but an intermediate state. But it is enough
to know that on land our troubles are waiting for us."

She shivered and drew closer to him. The dangerous fire in her eyes
faded.

"Mine are becoming very great," she said. "All I can do is to distract
my mind, to fill up my time."

"And I can do nothing to help you! That is the tragedy of a love like
ours: the more a man loves a woman he cannot marry the more he must
make her suffer--either way; it is simply a choice of methods, and if
he really loves her he chooses the least complicated."

"It is bad enough."

Her eyes filled for the first time in his presence since the morning
of Harriet's death, but her mental temper was very different, and she
looked at him steadily through her tears.

"_I_ cannot help _you_," she said. "That is the hardest part. You are
harassed in many ways, and you are dreading the bitterness of a
greater defeat than today. I could be so much to you--so much. And I
can be nothing. By that time you will have ceased to come here. I know
that you mean not to come again after to-night, except when the house
is full of company."

He began to answer, but stopped. She felt his heart against her arm,
and his lips burnt her hand, his eyes her own.

"Listen," she said rapidly, "if war should be declared I shall be in
the gallery to hear it. I will come straight home and shut myself up
in my boudoir--for hours--to be with you in a way--Shall I? Will--
would it mean anything to you?"

"Of course it would!"

His face was fully unmasked, and she moved abruptly to it as to a
magnet. In another moment they were in the more certain seclusion of
the vestibule, and she was in his arms. They clung together with a
passion which despair with ironic compensation made perfect, and their
first kiss which was to be their last expressed for a moment the
longing of the year of their love and of the years that were to come.
That such a moment ever could end was so incredible that when Betty
suddenly found herself alone she looked about in every direction for
him, and then the blood rushed through her in a tide of impotent fury.

It was this blind rage that enabled her to go back to the parlor and
keep up until the Carters went home a few moments later, and her
mother had gone to bed. Then she went to her boudoir and locked
herself in.

How she got through that night without sending him an imperious
summons she never knew, unless it were that she found some measure of
relief in a letter she wrote to him. If she could not see him, he was
still her lover, her only intimate friend, and her confessor. She
promised not to write again, but she demanded what help he could give
her.

She sent the letter in the morning, and he replied at once:--

I know. Do you think it was necessary to tell me? Do you suppose my
mind left you for a moment last night, and that I know and love you so
little that I failed to imagine and understand in a single particular?
If I were less of a man and more of a god, I should go to you and give
you the help you need, but I am only strong enough to keep away from
you. Not in thought, however,--if that is any help.

We shall meet in public and speak together. I have no desire to forget
you nor that you should forget me. We neither of us shall forget, but
we shall live and endure, as the strongest of us always do. You tell
me that you are tormented by the thought that you have added to my
trials. Remember that all other trials sink into insignificance beside
this, and yet that this greatest that has come to me in a long life is
glorified by the fact of its existence. And if it is almost a relief
to know that I shall not see you alone again, it is a satisfaction and
a joy to remember that I have kissed you. R.N.




VIII



For a few days Betty was almost happy again. She had come so close to
the nucleus of love that it had warmed her veins and intoxicated her
brain. Imagination for a brief moment had given place to reality, and
if she felt wiser and older still than after her five months of
meditation on the events of the summer, she felt less sober. One great
desire of the past year had been fulfilled, and its memory sparkled in
her brain, and her heart was lighter. It had been hours before she had
ceased to feel the pressure of his arms.

She wondered how she could have been so weak as to think of marrying
Burleigh in self-defence, and she punished him by an indifference of
manner which approached frigidity; until one of the evening journals
copied a bitter attack upon him from the leading newspaper of his
State, when she relented and permitted him to console himself in her
presence. And although, as the weeks passed and she saw Senator North
from the gallery of the Senate only, or for a few impersonal moments
in the crowd, and the elixir in her veins lost its strength, still she
felt that life was sufferable once more. She had endeavoured to put
Mrs. North from her mind, but more than once she caught herself
wishing that some one would mention her name. Nobody did in those
excited days, and Betty had no means of learning whether her sudden
good health had been final or temporary. Sally Carter did not allude
to her again. When she and Betty met, it was to wrangle on the Cuban
question, for Miss Carter was all for war.

And then one day the newsboys shrieked in the streets that the
_Maine_ had been blown up in Havana Harbor.

For a few days Congress held its peace, and the country showed a
praiseworthy attempt to believe in the theory of accident or to wait
for full proof of Spanish treachery. The _Maine_ was blown up on
Tuesday, and on Thursday night at the Madisons' the subject almost was
avoided; it was the most peaceful _salon_ Betty had held.

But it was merely the calm before the storm. The fever was still in
the country's blood, which began to flow freely to the brain again as
soon as the shock was over. The press could not let pass the most
glorious opportunity in its history for head-lines; there were more
mass meetings than even the press could grapple with, and all the
latent oratorical ability in the country burst into flower. It seemed
to Betty when she rose in the night and leaned out of her window that
she could hear the roar of the great national storm.

And it rose and swelled and left the old landmarks behind it. The
memory of the gales of the past year, with the intervals of doubt and
rest, was insignificant beside this volume of fury pouring out of
every State, to concentrate at last, fierce, unreasoning, and
irresistible, about the White House and Capitol Hill. It was not long
before the great quiet village on the Potomac seemed to epitomize the
terrible mood of the country it represented, and the country had
made up its mind long before the report of the Maine Court of Inquiry
came in. The cry no longer was for the suffering Cuban, but for
revenge. The Senate held down its "kickers" with an iron hand, but one
or two of the inferior men managed to shout across the Chamber to
their constituents. Senator North scarcely left his seat. Burleigh
told Betty that he should not allude to the subject in the Senate
until after the Court of Inquiry's report, but then, whatever the
result, he should speak and ask for war. Betty argued with him by the
hour, and although he discussed the matter from every side, it was
evident that he did it merely for the pleasure of talking to her and
that she could not shake his resolution for a moment. It was time for
the United States to put an end to the barbarous state of affairs a
few miles from her shores, and that was the end of it. He admitted the
patriotism of Senator North's attitude, but contended that the
United States would be more dishonoured if she disregarded this
terrible appeal to her humanity. When Betty accused him of short-
sightedness, he replied that a foretold result required a straight
line of succession, and that when great events thickened the line of
succession was anything but straight; therefore ultimates could not be
foretold. He admitted that Senator North had proved himself possessed
of the faculty of what Herbert Spencer calls representativeness more
than once, but men as wise and calm in their judgment had been
mistaken before. But he and others of his standing were preserving the
dignity of the Senate, and that was something.




IX



"If you have this war," said Lady Mary Montgomery to Betty, who had
come to receive with her on one of her Tuesdays, "it will be strictly
constitutional if you look at it in the right way. This is a
government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and as
the people are practically a unit in their howl for war, they have a
right to it, and the responsibility is on their shoulders, not on your
few statesmen."

"That is a real gem of feminine logic, but not only is one wise man of
more account than ten thousand fools, but a unit is a unit and has no
comparative state. The serious men from one end of the country to the
other are doing all they can to quell the excitement; so are the few
decent newspapers that we possess. But they are dealing with a mob; an
excited mob is always mad, and in this case the keepers are not
numerous enough for the lunatics. But no one will question that the
intelligent keepers are right and the mob wrong. The average
intelligence is always shallow, and in electric climates very
excitable. We are dealing to-day no less with a huge mob, even if it
is not massed and marching, than were the few sane men of the French
Revolution. An exciting idea is like a venomous microbe; it bites into
the brain, and if circumstances do not occur to expel it, it produces
a form of mania. That is the only way I can account for Burleigh's
attitude; he is one of the few exceptions. There are thousands of men
in the United States whose brains could stand any strain, but there
are hundreds of thousands who were born to swell a mob. As for
'government by the people,' that phrase should be translated to-day
into 'tyranny of the people.' England under a constitutional monarchy
is far freer than we are."

"Well, I am suppressed and will say no more. I suppose I shall have a
mob to-day. If anything, people are paying more calls than ever, for
they can't stay indoors for twenty-five minutes with no one to talk
to. It is getting monotonous. I wish that the President and the Senate
would begin to play, but they look as impassive as the statues in the
parks."

The rooms filled quickly. By five o'clock the usual crowd was there,
and if it had its dowdy battalion as ever, there was no evidence that
the more fortunate had lost their interest in dress, despite the
warlike state of their nerves. Not that all were for war, by any
means. Many were clinging to a forlorn hope, but they could talk of
nothing else.

Betty had just listened to the twenty-eighth theory of the cause of
the Maine's destruction when she turned in response to a familiar
drawl.

"Why, howdy, Miss Madison, I'm real glad to run across you at last."

Betty was so taken aback that she mechanically surrendered her hand to
the limp pressure of her former housekeeper. But she was not long
recovering herself.

"Miss Trumbull, is it not? I was not aware that you were an
acquaintance of Lady Mary Montgomery's."

"Well, I can't say as I know her real intimate yet, but I guess I
shall in time, as we're both wives of Congressmen."

"Ah? You are married?" Betty experienced a fleeting desire to see the
man who had been captivated by Miss Trumbull.

"Ye--as. I went out West to visit my sister after I left you and was
married before I knew it--to Mr. George Washington Mudd. He's real
nice, and smart--My! I expect to be in the White House before I die."

"It is among the possibilities, of course. I hope you are happy, and
that meanwhile he is able to take care of you comfortably." Mrs. Mudd
glistened with black silk and jet, but the cut of her gown was of the
Middle West.

"Well, I guess! He's a lawyer and can make two hundred dollars a month
any day. Of course I can't set up a house in Washington, but I live at
the Ellsmere, and three or four of us Congressional ladies receive
together and share carriages. I'll be happy to have you call--the
first and third Tuesdays; but we always put it in the Post."

"I have little time for calling. I am very busy in many ways."

"Well, I'm sorry. You don't look as well as you did up in the
mountains; you look real tired, come to examine you. But your dresses
are always so swell one sees those first. I always did think you had
just the prettiest dresses I ever saw."

Betty did not turn her back upon the woman; it was a relief to talk on
any subject that stood aloof from war. Mrs. Mudd rambled on.

"I suppose you're engaged to Senator Burleigh by this time? He's our
Senator, you know, but I don't know as he's likely to be, long. We
want silver, and I guess we've got to have it."

"I suppose you take quite an interest in politics now," said Betty,
looking at the woman's large self-satisfied face. So far, matrimony
had not been a chastening influence. Mrs. Mudd looked more conceited
than ever.

"Well, I guess I always knew as much about them as anybody; and now
I'm in politics, I guess the President couldn't give me many points.
If he don't declare war soon, I'll go up to the White House and tell
him what I think of him."

"Suppose you make a speech from the House Gallery. It is Congress that
declares war, not the President."

Mrs. Mudd's face turned the dull red which Betty well remembered. "I
guess I know what I'm talking' about. It's the President--"

But Betty's back was upon her, and Betty was listening to the agitated
comments of one of the year's debutantes upon the destruction of the
Maine.

"Was night ever so welcome before?" thought Betty, as she settled
herself between the four posts of her great-aunt's bed, a few hours
later. "Here, at least, not an echo of war can penetrate, and if I
think of other things that scald my pillow, it is almost a relief."




X



On the following evening she went with the Montgomerys to the Army and
Navy reception at the White House. Lady Mary had but to express a wish
for a card to any function in Washington; and her popularity had much
to do with her love for her adopted country.

It was the first time Betty ever had entered the historic mansion, and
as she waited for twenty minutes in the crush of people on the front
porch, she reflected that probably it was the last.

But when she was in the great East Room, which was hung with flags and
glittered with uniforms, and was filled with the strains of martial
music, she thrilled again with the historical sense, and almost wished
there was a prospect of a war which would compel her to patriotic
excitement.

They remained in the East Room for some time before going to shake
hands with the President, that the long queue of people patiently
crawling to the Blue Room might have time to wear itself down to a
point. As Betty stood there eagerly watching the scene, and talking to
first one and then another of the Army men who came up to speak to
her, she became deeply impressed with the fact that this was the
calmest function she had attended in Washington during the winter.
There was no excitement on the faces of these men in uniform, and they
said little and hardly mentioned the subject of war. They looked stern
and thoughtful; and Betty felt proud of them, and wished they were
doing themselves honour in a better cause.

She went down the long central corridor after a time, past the crowd
wedged before the central door, gaping at the receiving party, to a
room where she and the Montgomerys joined the diminished queue
extending from a side entrance to the Blue Room. She was not surprised
to see Mrs. Mudd in front of her, for although the Representative's
wife should have received a card for another evening, she was quite
capable of forcing her way in without one; as doubtless a good many
others had done to-night. She wore her black silk gown and her bonnet,
and although most of the women present were in brilliant evening
dress, Mrs. Mudd had several to keep her in countenance. She glanced
wearily over her shoulder during the slow progress of the queue, and
caught sight of Betty. Her place was precious, but she left it at once
and came down the line.

"I'll go in along with you," she said. "George couldn't come and I've
felt kinder lonesome ever sense I got here. And we've been three
quarters of an hour getting this far. It's terrible tiresome, but as
I've found you I guess I can stand the rest of it."

Betty detected the flicker of malice in her former housekeeper's
voice. They were on equal ground for once, and Miss Madison and Mrs.
Mudd would shake hands with their President within consecutive
moments. She smiled with some cynicism, but was too good-natured to
snub the native ambition where it could do no harm.

"I saw Senator North to-day," observed Mrs. Mudd, "and he looked
crosser 'n two sticks. He's mad because they'll have war in spite of
him. I call him right down unpatriotic, and so do lots of others."

"That disturbs him a great deal. He is much more concerned about the
country making a fool of itself."

"This country's all right, and we couldn't go wrong if we tried. Them
that sets themselves up to be so terrible superior are just bad
Americans, that's the long and the short of it, and they'll find it
out at the next elections. If Senator North should take a trip out
West just now, they'd tar and feather him, and I'd like to be there to
see it done. They can't say what they think of his setting on
patriotic Senators loud enough. And as for the President--"

"Well, don't criticise the President while you are under his roof. It
is bad manners. Here we are. Will you go in first?"

"Well, I don't see why I shouldn't. I'll hurry on so they can see your
dress; it's just too lovely for anything."

Betty wore a white embroidered chiffon over green; she shook out the
train, which had been over her arm ever since she entered the house.
Her name was announced in a loud tone, and she entered the pretty
flowery Blue Room with its charmingly dressed receiving party standing
before a large group of favoured and critical friends, and facing the
inquisitive eyes in the central doorway. The President grasped her
hand and said, "How do you do, Miss Madison?" in so pleased and so
cordial a tone that Betty for a fleeting moment wondered where she
could have met him before. Then she smiled, made a comprehensive bow
to his wife and the women of the Cabinet, and passed on. Mrs. Mudd,
who had shaken hands relentlessly with every weary member of the
receiving party, reached the door of exit after her and clutched her
by the arm.

"Say!" she exclaimed with excitement, although her drawl was but half
conquered. "Where _do_ you s'pose I could have met the President
before? I know by the way he said 'Mrs. Mudd,' he remembered me, but I
just can't think, to save my life. My! ain't he fascinating?"

Betty had laughed aloud. "I am sorry to hurt your vanity," she
replied, "but the President is said to have the best manners of any
man who has occupied the White House within living memory."

"What d'you mean?" cried Mrs. Mudd, sharply. "D' you mean he didn't
know me? I just know he did, so there! And he can pack his clothes in
my trunk as soon as he likes."

"Good heaven!"
"Oh, that's slang. I forgot you were so terrible superior. But you've
got good cause to know I'm virtuous. Lands sakes! I guess nobody ever
said I warn't."

"I don't fancy anybody ever did."

They were in the East Room again, with the stars and stripes, the
moving glitter of gold, the loud hum mingled with the distant strains
of martial music.

"It's really inspiring," said Lady Mary. "I wish I could write a war
poem."

"I hope there is nothing coming to inspire war doggerel; the prospect
of a new crop of war stories and war plays is too painful. We were all
brought up on the Civil War and are resigned to its literature. But
life is too short to get used to a new variety."

"Betty dear, ennui has embittered you, and I must confess that I am a
trifle weary of the war before it has begun, myself. Randolph, I think
I prefer you should vote for peace."

"I'm afraid we'll have no peace till we've had war first," said Mr.
Montgomery, grimly.

"Oh, we're goin' to have war," drawled Mrs. Mudd. "Just don't you
worry about that. Now don't blush," she said in Betty's ear. "Senator
North's makin' straight for you. I suspicion you like him better 'n
Burleigh--"

Betty had turned upon her at last, and the woman tittered nervously
and fell back in the crowd.

Senator North and Miss Madison shook hands with that absence of
emotion which is one of the conditions of a crowded environment, and
Lady Mary suggested they should all go to the conservatory, where it
was cooler.

Betty told Senator North of the impression the Army and Navy men had
made on her, and he laughed.

"Of course they are not excited and say little," he said. "They will
do the acting and leave the talking to the private citizens. The only
argument in favour of the war and the large standing army which might
be its consequence is that several hundred thousand more men would
have disciplined brains inside their skulls."

"That dreadful housekeeper I had in the Adirondacks is here, married
to a Representative named George Washington Mudd."

"I never heard of him, but I am sorry she has come here to remind you
of what I should like to have you forget for a time. I do believe a
specimen of every queer fish in the country comes to this pond."

They passed one of the bands, and conversation was impossible until
they entered the great conservatory with its wide cool walks among the
green. It was not crowded, and although there was no seclusion in it
at any time, its lights were few and it had a sequestered atmosphere.

Betty and Senator North involuntarily drew closer together.

"In a way I am happy now," she said. "It is something to be with you
and close to you. I will not think of how much this may lack until I
am alone again and there is no limit to my wants."

"I feel the reverse of depressed," he said, smiling. "Are you quite
well? You look a little tired."

"I am tired with much thinking; but that is inevitable. One cannot
love hopelessly and look one's best. I always despised the heroines of
romance who went into a decline, but Nature demands some tribute in
spite of the strongest will."

He held her arm more closely, but he set his lips and did not answer.
She spoke again after a moment.

"Since that night I have not been nearly so unhappy, however. I even
feel gay sometimes, and my sense of humour has come back. It would be
quite dreadful to go through life without that, but I thought I had
lost it."

He had turned his eyes and was regarding her intently; but much as she
loved them she felt as helpless as ever before their depths. They
could pierce and burn, but they never were limpid for a moment.

"You do not misunderstand that?" she asked hurriedly. "It does not
mean that I love you less, but more, if anything. And I am not
resigned! Only, I feel as if in some way I had received a little help,
as if--I cannot express it."

"I understand you perfectly. We are a little closer than we were, and
life is not quite so grey."

"That is it. And I would supplement your bare statement of the fact,
if I dared."

"If you do, I certainly shall kiss you right here in the crowd," he
said, and they smiled into each other's eyes. There was little need of
explanations between them.

"That would form a brief diversion for Washington. And as for Mrs.
Mudd--By the way, I hope I am not going off. You are the second person
who has told me that I am not looking well."

"You are improved as far as I am concerned. And if you ever faded,
happiness would restore you at once. If happiness never came, perhaps
you would not care--would you?"

She shrugged her beautiful shoulders and smiled quizzically.

"I don't know. _Je suis femme_. I think I might always find some
measure of consolation in the mirror if it behaved properly."

"Your sincerity is one of your charms. So walk and eat and live in the
world, and think as little as you can."

"This conservatory is fearfully draughty," remarked Lady Mary, close
to Betty's shoulder. "I don't want to stay all night, do you?"

"I am ready," said Betty; but she sighed, for she had been almost
happy for the hour.




XI



If the reception at the White House had been calm, Betty's _salon_ on
the following evening was not. On Tuesday the House, after duly
relieving its feelings by an hour and a half of war talk, flaming with
every variety of patriotism, passed the bill appropriating $50,000,000
for the national defence. On Wednesday the bill passed the Senate
without a word beyond the "ayes" of its members. On the morrow the War
Department would begin the mobilization of the army; and although the
_Maine_ Court of Inquiry had not completed its labours, the New York
World, in the interest of curious humanity, had instituted a submarine
inquiry of its own and given the result to the country. Even Senator
North regarded war as almost inevitable, although the controvertible
proof of explosion from without only involved the Spanish by
inference.

The women who were privileged to attend the now famous _salon_ wore
their freshest and most becoming gowns, and most of the Senators would
have been glad to have frivoled away the evening in compliments, so
refreshing was the sight of an attractive face after a long and
anxious day. But the eyes of the women sparkled with patriotic fire
only. One burst into tears and others threatened hysterics, but got
through the evening comfortably. Mrs. Madison sat on a sofa and fanned
herself nervously; Senator Maxwell and Senator North at her request
kept close to her side.

"They were not so excited during the Civil War," she exclaimed, as a
shrill voice smote her ear. "I suppose we have developed more nerves
or something."

"The mind was possessed by the Grim Fact during the Civil War," said
Senator Maxwell. "This is a second-rate thing that appeals to the
nerves and not to the soul."

Betty, who understood the patient longing of her statesmen for
variety, had imported for the evening several members of the troupe
singing at the Metropolitan Opera House. Conversation consequently was
interrupted six or seven times, but it burst forth with increased
vigour at the end of every song; and when the Polish tenor with
mistaken affability sang "The Star Spangled Banner," the women and
some of the younger men took it up with such vehemence that Mrs.
Madison put her fingers to her ears. When one girl jumped on a chair
and waved her handkerchief, which she had painted red, white, and
blue, the unwilling hostess asked Senator North if he thought Betty
would be able to keep her head till the end of the evening, or would
be excited to some extraordinary antic.

"There is not the least danger," he replied soothingly. "Miss Madison
could manage to look impassive if a cyclone were raging within her. It
is a long while since the Americans have had a chance to be excited.
You must make allowances."

Betty for some time had suppressed her Populist with difficulty. He
was one of those Americans to whom a keen thin face and a fair
education give the superficial appearance of refinement. In a country
as democratic as the United States and where schooling and
intelligence are so widespread, it is possible for many half-bred men
to create a good impression when in an equable frame of mind. But
excitement tears their thin coat of gentility in twain, and Betty
already regretted having invited Armstrong to her salon. He had not
missed a Thursday evening, for he not only appreciated the social
advantage of a footing in such a house, but his clever mind enjoyed
the conversation there, and the frankly expressed opinions of well-
bred people who argued without acerbity and never called each other
names. With his slender well-dressed figure and bright fair sharply
cut face, he by no means looked an alien, and if he could have
corrected the habit of contradicting people up and down--to say
nothing of his occasional indulgence in the Congressional snort--his
manners would have passed muster in any gathering. He was a good
specimen of the ambitious American of obscure birth and clever but
shallow brain, quick to seize every opportunity for advancement. But
politics were his strongest instinct, and exciting crises stifled
every other.

He was very much excited to-night, for he had, during the afternoon,
tried three times to bring in a war resolution, and thrice been
extinguished by the Speaker. When the tenor started "The Star-Spangled
Banner," he braced himself against the wall and sang at the top of his
lungs; and the performance seemed to lash his temper rather than
relieve it. He twice raised his voice to unburden his mind, and was
distracted by Betty, who kept him close beside her. Finally she
attempted to change the subject by chatting of personal matters.

"I went to the White House last night," she said, "and was delighted
to find that the President had the most charming manners--"

"What's a manner?" interrupted Armstrong, roughly. "You women are all
alike. I suppose you'd turn up your nose at William J. Bryan because
he ain't what you call a gentleman. But if he were in the White House
instead of that milk-and-water puppet of Wall Street, we'd be shooting
those murderers down in Cuba as we ought to be. The President and the
whole Republican party," he shouted, "are a lot of hogs who've chawed
so much gold their digestion won't work and their brains are torpid;
and there's nothing to do but to kick them into this war--the whole
greedy, white-livered, Trust-owned, thieving lot of them, including
that great immaculate Joss up at the White House with his manners.
Damn his manners! They come too high--"

"Armstrong," said Burleigh soothingly, but with a glint in his eye, "I
have an important communication to make to you. Will you come out into
the hall a moment?" He passed his arm through the Populist's, and led
him unresistingly away.

Betty glanced at her mother. Mrs. Madison was fanning herself with an
air of profound satisfaction. As she met her daughter's eyes, she
raised her brows, and her whole being breathed the content of the
successful prophetess. Senator North looked grimly amused. Betty
turned away hastily. She felt much like laughing, herself.

Burleigh returned alone. "I took the liberty of telling him to go and
not to come again," he said. "That sort of man never apologizes, so
you are rid of him."

Betty smiled and thanked him; then she frowned a little, for she saw
several people glance significantly at each other. She knew that
Washington took it for granted she would marry Burleigh.

They went in to supper a few moments later, and in that admirable meal
the weary statesmen found the solace that woman denied him. And the
flowers were fragrant; the candlelight was grateful to tired eyes, and
the champagne unrivalled. Until the toasts--which in this agitated
time had become a necessary feature of the _salon_--the conversation,
under the tactful management of Betty and several of her friends, and
the diverting influence of the great singers, was but a subdued hum
about nothing in particular. When at the end of an hour Burleigh rose
impulsively and proposed the health of the President, even the
Democrats responded with as much warmth as courtesy.

"You manage your belligerents very well," said Senator North, when he
shook her hand awhile later. "Yours has probably been the only amiable
supper-room in Washington to-night."




XII



"Now!" exclaimed Sally Carter, who was sobbing hysterically, "I hope
they will impeach the President if he delays any longer with the
_Maine_ report and if he doesn't send a warlike message on top of
it. After that speech I don't see why Congress should wait for him at
all."

It was the seventeenth of March, and she and Betty were driving home
from the Capitol after listening to the Senator from Vermont on the
situation in Cuba,--to that cold, bare, sober statement of the result
of personal investigation, which produced a far deeper and more
historical impression than all the impassioned rhetoric which had rent
the air since the agitation began. He appeared to have no feeling on
the matter, no personal bias; he told what he had seen, and he had
seen misery, starvation, and wholesale death. He blamed the Spaniards
no more than the insurgents, but two hundred thousand people were the
victims of both; and the bold yet careful etching he made of the Cuban
drama burnt itself into the brains of the forty-six Senators present
and of the eight hundred people in the galleries.

"I cannot bring myself to think that death is the worst of all evils,"
said Betty, "and I do not think that we have any right to go to war
with Spain, no matter what she chooses to do with her own. Besides,
she is thoroughly frightened now, and I believe would rectify her
mistakes in an even greater measure than she has already tried to do,
if the President were given time to handle her with tact and
diplomacy. If the country would give him a chance to save her pride,
war could be averted."

"You are heartless! Don't argue with me. I hate argument when my
emotions feel as if they had dynamite in them. I could sit down on the
floor of the Senate and scream until war was declared. I hate Senator
North. He never moved a muscle of his face during that entire terrible
recital. He hardly looked interested. He is a heartless brute."

"He is not heartless. He fears everlasting complications if we go to
war with Spain, the expenditure of hundreds of millions, as one result
of those complications, and danger to the Constitution. The statesman
thinks of his own country first--"

"I won't listen! I won't! I won't! Oh, I never thought I could get so
excited about anything. I believe I'm going to have nervous
prostration and I sha'n't see you again till war is declared. So
there!"

The carriage stopped at her house, and she jumped out and ran up the
steps. She kept her word, and it was weeks before Betty saw her to
speak to again.

"If intelligent people get into that condition," thought Betty, "what
can be expected of the fools? And the fools are more dangerous in the
United States than elsewhere, because they are just bright enough to
think that they know more than the Almighty ever knew in His best
days."

A few days later she was crossing Statuary Hall on her way back from
the House Gallery; whither she had gone during an Executive Session of
the Senate, when she met Senator North. His face illuminated as he saw
her, and they both turned spontaneously and went to a bench behind the
immortal ones of the Republic, who in dust and marble were happier
than their inheritors to-day.

"I am thinking of coming down here to live, renting a Committee Room,"
said Betty. "It is the only place where I do not have my opinion asked
and where I do not quarrel with my friends. Molly is sure I shall be
taken for a lobbyist, and if people were not too absorbed to notice
me, I think I should engage a companion; but as it is, I believe I am
safe enough. I have had this simple brown serge made, on purpose."

"There is not the least danger of your motives being misconstrued, and
the Capitol is swarming with women, all the time. They seem to regard
it as a sort of National Theatre, where the most exciting denouement
may take place any minute. I fancy they have come from all over the
country for the satisfaction of being able to say, for the rest of
their lives, that they were in at the death. The poor Capitol has
become a sort of asylum for wandering lunatics."

Betty laughed. "I feel calmer here than anywhere else, especially now
that Molly has gone over to the Cubans since the publication of that
speech. I suspect it has made a good many other converts. I didn't
think the tide of excitement in the country could rise any higher, but
it appears to have needed that last straw. Have you any hope left?"

"None whatever. The politicians in both parties are rushing the
President off his feet and inflaming the country at the same time.
Sincere sympathizers with Cuba, like Burleigh, are holding their peace
until the President shall have declared himself, but there is very
little patriotism amongst politicians desirous of re-election. If
Spain was a quick-thinking nation and was not stultified by a mulish
obstinacy for which the word 'pride' is a euphemism, or if the
President could hypnotize the country for six months, all would be
well, but I do not look for a miracle. I have done all I can. I have
persuaded my own State to keep quiet, and that has lessened the
pressure a little; and I have persuaded no less than eight of our
bellicose members to say nothing on the floor of the Senate until the
President has sent in his message,--that delay is necessary if we are
to meet war with any sort of preparation. That is all I can do, for I
don't care to speak on the subject again, to bring it up in the Senate
until it no longer can be held down. But I have said a good deal in
the lobby."

"I suspect you have! Do you mind all the talk about your being
unpatriotic, and that sort of thing? I cried for an hour the other day
over an article in a New York paper, headed 'A Traitor,' and saying
the most hideous things about you."

"I didn't read it. And don't spoil your eyes over anything sensational
American newspapers may say of anybody; let them alone and read the
few decent ones. For a public man to worry over such assaults would be
a stupid waste of his mental energy; for if he is in the right he
consoles himself with the reflection that the traitor of to-day is the
patriot of to-morrow. But let politics go to the winds for a little.
Tell me something about yourself. I have started no less than four
times to go to see you--at half-past six in the afternoon--and turned
back."

"I go there and sit almost every afternoon. This excitement has been a
godsend. If the world had been pursuing its even way during the last
two months, I don't know what would have happened to me. What am I to
do when it is over?" she broke out, for they were almost secluded.
"The more I think of the future the more hopeless it seems. If there
is war, I'll go as a nurse--"

"You will do nothing of the sort. Promise me that--instantly. There
will be trained nurses without end, and you would run the risk of
fever for nothing. Promise me."

"But I _must_ do something. I have hours that you cannot imagine.
Ordinarily I keep up very well, for I have character enough to make
the best of life, whatever happens; but one can control one's heart
with one's will just so long and no longer. When the world is quiet
and I am alone at night, if I don't go to sleep at once--it is
terrible! Do you think I should be afraid of death? If I have got to
go through life with this terrible ache in my heart, in my whole body
--for when I cry my very fingers cramp--I'd a thousand times rather go
to Cuba and have done with it."

For a moment he only stared at her. Then he parted his lips as if to
speak, but closed them again so firmly that Betty wondered what he was
holding back. But his eyes, although they had flashed for a moment and
burned still, told her nothing. He did not speak for fully a minute.
Then he said,--

"Death can be met with fortitude by any strong brain, but not a
lifetime of miserable invalidism. If you contracted fever down there,
you might get rid of it in several years and you might not.
Meanwhile," he added, smiling, "you would become yellow and wrinkled.
So promise me at once that you will not go."

"I swear it!" she said with an attempt at gayety. "Not even for you
will I get yellow and wrinkled--and I adore you! Tell me," she went on
rapidly and with little further attempt at self-control; "what shall I
do next? Shall I go abroad? There is no distraction in castles and
cathedrals and crooked streets; they must be enjoyed when one is idle
and tranquil. I'm tired of pictures. I suppose I've seen about twenty
miles of them in my life. As for the old masters they give me
nightmares. There is nothing left but society, and I don't like
foreigners and should find little novelty in England--and many
reminders! The future appalls me. I cannot face it. Am I inconsiderate
to talk like this when you are so worried? Sometimes I feel that I
have no right to be even sensible of my individuality when a whole
nation is convulsed; it seems almost absurd that there are hundreds of
thousands of tragedies within the great one--but there are! There are!
And the war will bring oblivion to only those to whom it brings
death."

She stopped, panting, after the torrent of words. His hand had closed
about her arm, and he was bending close above her. His face had
flushed deeply, and once more he opened his lips as if to speak, but
did not. Betty shook suddenly. Was the word he would not utter "Wait"?
There could be no doubt that a word struggled for utterance, and that
he held it back. If he did not, Betty felt that her love would turn
cold. For a great love may be killed by a sudden blow, and there is
always some one thing that will kill the greatest. But she wished
that his brain would flash its message to hers.

The silence between them became so intense and the strain on her eyes
so intolerable that she dropped her head and fumbled with her muff.
She dared not speak, dared not divert his mind. He was too much the
master of his own fate.

"Don't ever hesitate to speak out through consideration for me, my
dear," he said. "The only relief we both have is to speak our thoughts
occasionally. And you can tell me nothing of yourself that I do not
know already. I never forget that you are tormented. But Time will
help you. The future which looms with a few dull and insupportable
Facts is crowded with small details which consume both time and
thought, and it is full of little unexpected pleasures. War is very
diverting. One's attitude to a war after the first few shocks is as to
a great military drama. If by a miracle ours should be averted, then
go to England, where you will have men at least to talk to. When plans
for the future are futile, live in the present and be careful to make
no mistake. It is the only philosophy for those who are not in the
favour of Circumstance. I am going now. Bend your ear closer. I have
had so little opportunity to be tender with you, and I have thought of
that as much as of anything else."

Betty inclined her head eagerly, and he whispered to her for a moment,
then left her.

For a few moments she did not move. The buoyancy of her nature was
still considerable, and his last words had thrilled her and made her
almost as happy as if he would return in an hour. She rose finally and
walked across the hall, her inclination divided between the Senate
Gallery where she might look at him, and her boudoir where she might
fling herself on her divan and think of him. As she was moving along
slowly, seeing no one, her arm was caught by a bony hand, and a
familiar drawl smote her ear.

"Laws, Miss Madison, have you gone blind all of a sudden? But you look
as if you had two stars in your eyes."

"How do you do, Mrs. Mudd? These are times to make anybody absent-
minded."

"Well, I guess! We're gettin' there and no mistake. Now look quick,
Miss Madison--there's my husband, the one that's just got up off that
bench. He's been talkin' to a constituent."

Betty glanced across the Hall with some interest: she occasionally had
doubted the reality of George Washington Mudd. A tall stout man in a
loose black overcoat, a black slouch hat, and a big cotton umbrella
under his arm, was stalking across the Hall with his head in the air,
as if to sniff at the marble effigies of the great. Betty felt young
again and gave a delighted laugh.

"Why, I didn't know there really was anything like that!" she cried.
"I thought--"

"Well, I guess I'd like to know what you mean," exclaimed an infuriate
voice; and Betty, turning to Mrs. Mudd's dark red face, recovered
herself instantly.

"I mean that your husband belongs to a type that our dramatists have
thought worthy of preservation and of exercising their finest art
upon. I often give writers credit for more creative ability than they
possess, for I always am seeing some one in real life whose entire
type I had supposed had come straight out of their genius. Take
yourself, for instance. If I had not met you outside of a book, I
should have thought you a triumph of imagination."

"Well--thanks," drawled Mrs. Mudd, mollified though doubtful. "I don't
claim that George is handsome, but he's the smartest man in our
district and he'll make the House sit up yet." She giggled and rolled
her eyes. "He was downright jealous because I came home from the
reception and raved over the President," she announced. "Oh, my!"

"Perhaps he's a Populist," suggested Betty.

"Not much he ain't. He's a good Democrat with Silver principles."

"Well, I'm glad you're happy. Good-afternoon."

"I love the greatest man in America and she loves George Washington
Mudd," thought Betty, as she walked down the corridor. "Mortals die,
but love is imperishable. A half-century hence and where will the love
that dwells in every fibre of me now, have gone? Will it be dust with
my dust, or vigorous with eternal youth in some poor girl who never
heard my name?"

And then she went home to her boudoir.




XIII



Betty, who had come justly to the conclusion that she knew something
of politics after a year's application to the science and several
object lessons, made in the following weeks her first acquaintance
with the intricacies which sometimes may involve political motives.
The President was not given time to exhaust diplomacy with Spain,
although in his War Message he was obliged to state that he had done
so. To deal successfully with a proud and mediaeval country required
months, not days, and as Spain had grudgingly but surely yielded all
along the line to the demands of the United States, it is safe to
assume that she would have withdrawn peacefully her forces from Cuba
if her pride could have been saved. Sagasta was working in the
interests of peace; but a bigoted old country, too indolent to read
history, and puzzled at a youthful nation's industry in the cause of
humanity, would move so fast and no faster.

The President was rushed off his feet and his hand was forced. An
honest but delirious country was threatening impeachment and
clamouring for war. Its representatives were hammering on the doors of
the White House and shrieking in Congress. A dishonest press was
inflaming it and injuring it in the eyes of the world by assaulting
the integrity of the Executive and of the leading men in both Houses;
and unscrupulous politicians were extracting every possible party
advantage, until it looked as if the Democratic party, rent asunder by
Mr. Bryan and his doctrines, would be unified once more. The House,
after the President's calm and impersonal message on the _Maine_
report, acted like a mutinous school of bad boys who had not been
taught the first principles of breeding and dignity; the few gentlemen
in it hardly tried to make themselves heard, and even the Speaker was
powerless to quell a couple of hundred tempers all rampant at once.
Every conceivable insult was heaped upon the head of the President as
he delayed his War Message from day to day, hoping against hope, and
gaining what time he could to strengthen the Navy.

It became necessary therefore for the high-class men in the Senate,
particularly the Republicans, to present an unbroken front. Whatever
the conclusions of the President, they must stand by him. It was their
duty as Americans first and Republicans after; for they had elected
him to the high and representative office he filled, they were
responsible for him, he had done nothing to forfeit their confidence,
and everything, by his wise and conservative course, to win their
approval. And it was their duty to their party to uphold him, for
internal dissensions in this great crisis would weaken their forces
and play them into the hands of the Democrats. Therefore, Senator
North and others, who had strenuously and consistently opposed war
from any cause, until it became evident that the President had been
elbowed into the position of a puppet by his people instead of being
permitted to guide them, withdrew their opposition, and when his
Message finally was forced from his hand, let it be known that they
should support it against the powerful faction in the Senate which
demanded the recognition of Cuba as a Republic. The Message meant war,
but a war that no longer could be averted, and there was nothing left
for any high-minded statesman and loyal party man to do but to defend
the President from those who would usurp his authority and tie his
hands, to demonstrate to the world their belief in a statesmanship
which was being attacked at every point by those whom his Message had
disappointed, and to provide against one future embarrassment the
more.

When Betty had trodden the maze this far, she realized the unenviable
position of the conservative faction in the Senate. North's position
was particularly unpleasant. He had stood to the country as the
embodiment of its conservative spirit, the spirit which was opposed
uncompromisingly to this war. Several days before the speech of the
Senator from Vermont exploded the inflamed nervous system of the
country, he had made an address which had been copied in every
State in the Union and been hopefully commented on abroad. In this
speech, which was a passionless, impersonal, and judicial argument
against interference in the domestic affairs of a friendly nation
seeking to put down an insurgent population whose record for butchery
and crime equalled her own, as well as a brilliant forecast of the
evils, foreign and domestic, which must follow such a war, he
demonstrated that if war was declared at this period it would be
unjustifiable because it would be the direct result of the accident to
the _Maine_, which, as the explosion could not be traced to the
Spanish officials, was not a _casus belli_. Prior to that accident no
important or considerable number of the American people had clamoured
for war, only for according belligerent rights to the Cubans, which
measure they were not wise enough to see would lead to war. Therefore,
had the _Maine_ incident not occurred, the President would have been
given the necessary time for successful diplomacy, despite the frantic
efforts of the press and the loud-voiced minority; and it could not be
claimed that the present clamour, dating from the fifteenth of
February, was honestly in behalf of the suffering Cuban. It was for
revenge, and it was an utterly unreasonable demand for revenge, as no
sane man believed that Spain had seized the first opportunity to cut
her throat; and until it could be proved that she had done so, it was
a case for indemnity, not for war. Therefore, if war came at the
present juncture it was because the people of the United States had
made up their minds they wanted a fight, they would have a fight, they
didn't care whether they had an excuse or not.

The speech made a profound impression even in the agitated state of
the public mind, for bitterly as North might be denounced he always
was listened to. The press lashed itself into a fury and wrote head-
lines which would have ridden its editors into prison had the country
possessed libel laws adequate to protect a noble provision of the
Constitution. The temperate men in the country had been with North
from the beginning, but the excited millions excoriated him the more
loudly. He was denounced at public banquets and accused by excited
citizens all over the Union, except in his own State, of every
depravity, from holding an unimaginable number of Spanish bonds to
taking a ferocious pleasure in the sufferings of the reconcentrados.

And in the face of this he must cast his vote for war.

A weaker man would have held stubbornly to his position, made
notorious by his personality, and a less patriotic have chosen the
satisfaction of being consistent to the bitter end and winning some
measure of approval from the unthinking.

But North was a statesman, and although Betty did not see him to speak
to for many weeks after the Message went to Congress, she doubted if
he had hesitated a moment in choosing his course. He was a man who
made a problem of nothing, who thought and acted promptly on all
questions great and small. It was his manifest duty to support his
President, who was also the head of his party, and to do what he could
to win the sympathy of Europe for his country by making its course
appear the right and inevitable one.

North's position was the logical result of the deliberations and
decisions of the year 1787. Hamilton, the greatest creative and
constructive genius of his century, never so signally proved his far-
sighted statesmanship as when he pleaded for an aristocratic republic
with a strong centralized government. As he was capable of anything,
he doubtless foresaw the tyranny of the people into which ill-
considered liberty would degenerate, just as he foresaw the many
strong, wise, and even great men who would be born to rule the country
wisely if given the necessary power. If the educated men of the
country knew that its destinies were wholly in their hands, and that
they alone could achieve the highest honours, there is not one of them
who would not train himself in the science of government. Such men,
ruling a country in which liberty did not mean a heterogeneous
monarchy, would make the lot of the masses far easier than it is
to-day. The fifteen million Irish plebeians with which the country is
cursed would be harmlessly raising pigs in the country. Hamilton, in
one of his letters, speaks of democracy as a poison. Some twenty years
ago an eminent Englishman bottled and labelled the poison in its
infinite variety, as a warning to the extreme liberals in his own
country. We attempted one ideal, and we almost have forgotten what the
ideal was. Hamilton's could not have fared worse, and there is good
reason to believe that educated and thinking men, unhampered by those
who talk bad grammar and think not, would have raised our standards
far higher than they are, even with men like North patiently and
dauntlessly striving to counteract the poison below. At all events,
there would be no question of a President's hand being forced. Nor
would such a class of rulers put a man in the White House whose hand
could be forced.

Although Betty knew North would disregard the sneers of the press and
of ambitious orators who would declaim while cannon thundered, she
also knew that his impassive exterior hid a sense of humiliating
defeat, and that the moment in which he was obliged to utter his aye
for war would be the bitterest of his life. She fancied that he forgot
her in these days, but she was willing to have it so. The intense
breathless excitement of that time, when scarcely a Senator left his
seat from ten in the morning till some late hour of the night, except
to snatch a meal; the psychological effect of the silent excited
crowds in the galleries and corridors of the Capitol and on its lawns
and the immensity of its steps; the solemnity and incalculable
significance of the approaching crisis, and the complete gravity of
the man who possessed her mind, carried her out of herself and merged
her personality for a brief while into the great personality of the
nation.




XIV



It was half-past one o'clock in the morning of the nineteenth of
April. A thousand people, weary and breathless but intensely silent,
were crowded together in the galleries of the Senate. They had been
there all night, some of them since early afternoon, a few since
twelve o'clock. Outside, the corridors were so packed with humanity
that it was a wonder the six acres of building did not sway. For the
first time in hours they were silent and motionless, although they
could hear nothing.

On the floor of the Senate almost every chair was occupied, and every
Senator was singularly erect; no one was lounging, or whispering, or
writing to-night. All faced the Vice-President, alone on his dais,
much as an army faces its general. Every foot of the wide semicircle
between the last curve of chairs and the wall was occupied by members
of the House of Representatives, who stood in a dignified silence with
which they had been little acquainted of late.

The Senate no longer looked like a Club. It recalled the description
of Bryce: "The place seems consecrated to great affairs."

The Secretary was about to call the roll for the vote which would
decide the fate of Cuba and alter for ever the position of the United
States in the family of nations.

Betty had been in the gallery all night and a part of the preceding
day. When the Senate took a recess at half-past six in the evening,
she and Mary Montgomery, while Mrs. Shattuc guarded their seats, had
forced their way down to the restaurant, but had been obliged to
content themselves with a few sandwiches bought at the counter. But
Betty was conscious of neither hunger nor fatigue, although the strain
during the last eight hours had been almost insupportable: the brief
sharp debates, the prosing of bores, interrupted by angry cries of
"Vote! Vote!" the reiterated announcement of the Chairman of the
Committee on Foreign Relations that the conferees could not agree, the
perpetual nagging of two Democrats and one Populist, the long trying
intervals of debate on matters irrelevant to the great question
torturing every mind, during which there was much confusion on the
floor: the Senators talked constantly in groups except when the
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations brought in his amended
bill;--all this had made up a day trying to the stoutest nerves, and
more than one person had fainted and been carried from the galleries.

The blood throbbed in Betty Madison's head from repressed excitement
and the long strain on her nerves. But the solemnity of the scene
affected her so powerfully that her ego seemed dead, she only was
conscious of looking down upon history. It seemed to her that for the
first time she fully realized the tremendous issues involved in the
calling of that roll of names. The attitude of the American people
which she had deprecated and scorned was dignified by the attitude of
that historical body below her. Even Senator North did not interest
her. The Senate for the time was a unit.

It seemed to her an interminable interval between the last echo of the
rumbling voice of the Clerk who had read the resolution amended by the
report of the conferees, and the first raucous exasperated note of the
Secretary's clerk, after a brief colloquy between Senators. This clerk
calls the roll of the Senate at all times as if he hated every member
of it, and to-night he was nervous.

Betty felt the blood throb in her ears as she counted the sharp
decisive "ayes" and "nos," although Burleigh, whom she had seen during
the recess, had told her there was no doubt of the issue. As the clerk
entered the M's, she came to herself with a shock, and simultaneously
was possessed by a desire to get out of the gallery before Senator
North's time came to say "aye." She had heard the roll called many
times, she knew there were fourteen M's, and that she would have time
to get out of the gallery if she were quick about it. She made so
violent an effort to control the excitement raging within her that her
brain ached as if a wedge had been driven through it. She whispered
hurriedly to Mary Montgomery, who was leaning breathlessly over the
rail and did not hear her, then made her way up to the door as rapidly
as she could; even the steps were set thick with people.

As she was passed out of the gallery by the doorkeeper, and found
herself precipitated upon that pale trembling hollow-eyed crowd wedged
together like atoms in a rock, her knees trembled and her courage
almost failed her. Several caught her by the arms, and asked her how
the vote was going; but she only shrugged her shoulders with the
instinct of self-defence and pushed her way toward a big policeman. He
knew her and put out his hand, thrusting one or two people aside.

"This has been too much for you, miss, I reckon," he said. "I'll get
you downstairs. Keep close behind me."

He forced a way through the crowd to the elevator. To attempt to part
the compact mass on the staircase would invite disaster. The elevator
boy had deserted his post that he might hear the news the sooner, but
the policeman pushed Betty into the car, and manipulated the ropes
himself. On the lower floor was another dense crowd; but he got her to
the East door after rescuing her twice, called her carriage and
returned to his post, well pleased with his bill.

For many moments Betty, bruised from elbows, breathless from her
passage through that crush in the stagnant air, could not think
connectedly. She vaguely recalled Mrs. Mudd's large face and black
silk dress in the Diplomats' Gallery, which even a Cabinet minister
might not enter without a permit from a member of the Corps. Doubtless
the doorkeepers had been flung to and fro more than once to-night,
like little skiffs in an angry sea. She wondered how she had had
sufficient presence of mind to fee the policeman, and hoped she had
not given him silver instead of the large bill which had seemed to
spring to her fingers at the end of that frightful journey.

She leaned out of the open window, wishing it were winter, that the
blood might be driven from her head; but there was only the slight
chill of a delicious April morning in the air, and the young leaves
fluttered gently in the trees. In the afternoon hundreds of boys had
sold violets in the streets, and the perfume lingered, floating above
the heavier scent of the magnolias in the parks. Betty's weary mind
pictured Washington as it would be a few weeks hence, a great forest
of brilliant living green amidst which one had almost to look for the
houses and the heroes in the squares. Every street was an avenue whose
tall trees seemed to cut the sky into blue banners--the word started
the rearrangement of her scattered senses; in a few weeks the dust
would be flying up to the green from thousands of marching feet.

She burst into tears, and they gave her some relief. The carriage
stopped at the house a moment later, and she went directly to her
boudoir. She took off her hat and pulled down her hair, rubbing her
fingers against her burning head. Senator North took possession of her
mind at once. The Senate was no longer a unit to her excited
imagination; it seemed to dissolve away and leave one figure standing
there beaten and alone.

She forgot the passionate efforts of other Senators in behalf of
peace; to her the fine conservative strength of the Senate was
personified in one man. And if there were others as pure and unselfish
in their ideals, his at least was the master intellect.

She wondered if he remembered in this hour of bitter defeat that she
had promised to come to this room and give him what she could of
herself. That was weeks and weeks ago, and she had not repeated her
intention, as she should have done. But he loved her, and was not
likely to forget anything she said to him. Or would he care if he did
remember? Must not personal matters seem of small account to-night? Or
was he too weary to care for anything but sleep? Perhaps he had flung
himself down on a sofa in the cloak-room, or in his Committee Room,
and forgotten the national disaster while she watched.

She had been walking rapidly up and down the room. Her thoughts were
not yet coherent, and instinct prompted her to get the blood out of
her head if she could. A vague sense of danger possessed her, but she
was not capable of defining it. Suddenly she stopped and held her
breath. She had become aware of a recurring footstep on the sidewalk.
Her window abutted some thirty feet away. She craned her head forward,
listening so intently that the blood pounded in her ears. She expected
to hear the gate open, the footsteps to grow softer on the path. But
they continued to pace the stone flags of the sidewalk.

She opened her door, ran down the hall and into the parlor. Without an
instant's hesitation she flung open a window and leaned out. The light
from the street lamp fell full upon her. He could not fail to see her
were he there. But he was not. The man pacing up and down before the
house was the night watchman.

Betty closed the window hurriedly and stumbled back into the dark
room. The disappointment and reaction were intolerable. She felt the
same blind rage with Circumstance which had attacked her the night he
had kissed and left her. In such crises conventions are non-existent;
she might have been primeval woman for all she recalled in that hour
of the teachings of the centuries. Had he been there, she would have
called him in. He was hers, whatever stood between them, and she alone
had the right to console him.

Her mind turned suddenly to his house. He was there, of course; it was
absurd to imagine that his cool deliberation would ever forsake him.
The moment the Senate adjourned he would have put on his hat, walked
down to the East door, called a cab and gone home. And he was in his
library. Why she felt so positive that he was there and not in bed she
could not have told, but she saw the light in the long wing. She put
her hands to her face suddenly, and moved to the door. She stumbled
over a chair, and then noticed the intense darkness of the room. But
beyond she saw distinctly the big red brick house of Senator North,
with the light burning in the wing. Was she going to him? She wondered
vaguely, for her will seemed to be at the bottom of a pile of
struggling thoughts and to have nothing to say in the matter. Surely
she must. He was a man who stood alone and scorned sympathy or help,
but he would be glad of hers because it was hers; there was no
possible doubt of that. And in spite of his record he must for the
hour feel a bitter and absolute failure.

A pebble would bring him to the window. He would come out, and come
back here with her. She opened her arms suddenly. The room was so dark
she almost could fancy him beside her. Would that he were!

She had no adequate conception of a morrow. The future was drab and
formless. His trouble drew her like a magnet. She trembled at the mere
thought of being able to make him forget.

And he? If he came out and saw her standing there, he would be more
than a man if he resisted the impulse to return with her here and take
her in his arms. And he too must be in a state of mind in which to-day
dwarfed and blotted out to-morrow.

For the moment she stood motionless, almost breathless, realizing so
vividly the procession of bitter and apprehensive thoughts in the mind
which for so long had possessed and controlled hers that she forgot
her intention, even her desire to go to him. It was this moment of
insight and abstraction from self that saved her. Her own mind seemed
to awake suddenly.

It was as if her thinking faculty had descended to her heart during
the last hours and been made dizzy and dull by the wild hot whirl of
emotions there. It climbed suddenly to where it belonged, and set the
rested machinery of her brain to work.

Doubtless his impulse had been to come to her, to the room where he
knew she was alone and would receive him if he demanded admittance. He
had put the temptation aside, as he had put aside many others; and it
had been in her mind, was in her mind still, to make the temptation
irresistible. And if he felt a failure to-night, she had it in her
power to wreck his life utterly.

It was more than possible that in the remaining years of his vigour
dwelt his tardy opportunities for historical fame. The great Republic
had sailed out of her summer sea into foreign waters, stormy,
unfriendly, bristling with unimaginable dangers. Once more she would
need great statesmen, not merely able legislators, and there could be
no doubt in the mind of any student of the Senate that she would
discover them swiftly. North was the greatest of these; and the record
of his future, brilliant, glorious perhaps, seemed to unroll itself
suddenly in the dark room.

Betty drew a long hard breath. Her cheeks were cool at last, and she
wondered if her heart were dead, it felt so cold. What mad impulse
nearly had driven her to him to-night, independently of her will;
which had slept, worn out, like other faculties, by a day of hunger,
excitement, fatigue, and physical pain? The impulse had risen
unhindered and uncriticised from her heart, and if it had risen once
it could rise again. The days to come would be full of excitement.
She fancied that she already heard the roar of cannon, the beating of
drums, the sobs of women. And below the racket and its sad
accompaniment was always the low indignant mutter of a triumphant
people at those who had dared to set themselves above the popular
clamour and ask for sanity. The intolerable longing that had become
her constant companion would be fed by every device of unpropitious
Circumstance. Again and again she would experience this impulse to go
to him, and some night the blood would not recede from her brain in
time.

She groped her way out of the dark parlor and down the hall, grateful
for an excuse to walk slowly. Her boudoir was brilliant, and the
struggle of the last few moments seemed the more terrible and
significant by contrast with the dainty luxurious room. She wondered
if she ever should dare to enter the parlor again, and if it always
would not look dark to her.

She sat down at her desk and wrote a letter. It ran:--
Dear Mr. Burleigh,--I will marry you if you still wish it. Will you
dine with us to-night?

Betty Madison.

She was too tired for emotion, but she knew what would come later.
Nevertheless, she went to the front door and asked the watchman to
post the letter. Then she went to bed.




XV



The Senate adjourned a few moments after Betty left the gallery. There
was little conversation in the cloak-room. The Senators were very
tired, and it surely was a brain of bubbles that could indulge in
comment upon the climax of the great finished chapter of the old
Republic.

North put on his hat and overcoat at once and left the Capitol. After
the close confinement in heated and vitiated air for sixteen hours,
the thought of a cab was intolerable: he shook his head at the old
darky who owned him and whom he never had been able to dodge during
his twenty years' service in Washington, plunged his hands into his
overcoat pockets, and strode off with an air of aggressive
determination which amused him as a fitting anti-climax. The darky
grinned and drove home without looking for another fare. His Senator
not only had paid him by the month for several years, but had
supported his family for the last ten.

North inhaled the pure cool air, the delicious perfume of violet and
magnolia, as Betty had done. Once he paused and looked up at the
wooded heights surrounding the city, then down at the Potomac and the
great expanse of roofs and leaves. The Washington Monument, the
purest, coldest, most impersonal monument on earth, looked as gray as
the sky, but its outlines were as sharp as at noonday. North often
watched it from the window of his Committee Room; he had seen it rosy
with the mists of sunset, as dark as granite under stormy skies, as
waxen as death. Normally, it was white and pure and inspiring, never
companionable, but helpful in its cold and lofty beauty.

"It _is_ a monument," he thought, to-night, "and to more than
Washington."

He turned into Massachusetts Avenue and strolled along, in no hurry to
find himself between walls again. He was not conscious of physical
fatigue, and experienced no longing for bed, but his brain was tired
and he enjoyed the absence of enforced companionship and continued
alertness, the cool air, the quiet morning in her last sleep.

Betty, like all brilliant women who love passionately, had over-
imagined, in her solitude and excitement. It is true that North had
felt the bitterness of defeat, that his mind had dwelt upon the
miserable and blasting thought that after years of unquestioned
statesmanship and leadership, of hard work and unremitting devotion,
his will had had no weight against hysteria and delirium. But both
bitterness and the sense of failure had been dismissed in the moment
when he had, once for all, accepted the situation; and that had been
several days before. Since then, he had shoved aside the past, and had
given his undivided thought to the present and the future. He had
uttered his "aye" almost indifferently; it had been given to the
President days since.

Nevertheless, his brain, tired as it was, did not wander from the
great climax in his country's history. To that country at large this
climax meant simply a brief and arrogant chastisement of a cruel
little nation; the generals would have been quite justified in sending
their dress clothes and golf sticks on to Havana; but North knew that
this officious "police duty" was the noisy prologue to a new United
States, possibly to the birth of a new Constitution.

"Is this the grand finale of the people's rule?" he thought. "They
have screamed for the moon as they never screamed before, and this
time they have got it fairly between their teeth. Well, it is a dead
old planet; will its decay vitiate their own blood and leave them the
half-willing prey of a Circumstance they do not dream of now? Dewey
will take the Philippines, of course. He would be an inefficient fool
if he did not, and he is the reverse. The Spanish in Cuba will crumble
almost before the world realizes that the war has begun. The United
States will find itself sitting open-mouthed with two huge prizes in
its lap. It may, in a fit of virtue which would convulse history, give
them back, present them, with much good advice and more rhetoric, to
their rightful owners. And it may not. These prizes are crusted with
gold; and the stars and stripes will look so well in the breeze above
that the pride of patriotism may decide they must remain there. And if
it does--if it does... The extremists in the Senate will grow twenty
years in one... With the bit between their teeth and the arrogance
of triumph in their blood--"

He found himself in front of his own house. He turned slowly and
looked intently for a moment toward I Street. His face softened, then
he jerked out his latchkey, let himself in and went directly to the
library. He still had no desire for bed, and threw himself into an
easy-chair before the andirons. But it was the first time in several
days that he had sat in a luxurious chair, and the room was full of
soft warmth. He fell asleep, and although he seemed to awaken
immediately, he could only conclude, when the experience which
followed was over, that he had been dreaming.

He suddenly became aware that a chair beside him was occupied, and he
wheeled about sharply. His sense of companionship was justified; a man
sat there. North stared at him, more puzzled than surprised,
endeavouring to fit the familiar face to some name on his long list of
acquaintances, and wondering who in Washington could have given a
fancy-dress ball that night. His visitor wore his hair in a queue and
powdered, a stock of soft lawn, and a dress-coat of plum-coloured
cloth cut as in the days of the founders of the Republic.

Although it was some moments before North recognized his visitor, his
resentment at this unseasonable intrusion passed quickly; the
personality in the chair was so charming, so magnetic, so genial. He
was a young man, between thirty and forty, with a long nose, a mobile
mouth, dark gray-blue eyes full of fire and humour, and a massive
head. It was a face of extraordinary power and intellect, but lit up
by a spirit so audacious and impulsive and triumphant that it was
like a leaping flame of dazzling brilliancy in some forbidding
fortress. He was smiling with a delighted expression of good
fellowship; but North experienced a profound conviction that the man
was weighing and analyzing him, that he would weigh and analyze
everybody with whom he came in contact, and make few mistakes.

"Who the deuce can he be?" he thought, "and why doesn't he speak?" And
then it occurred to him that he had not spoken, himself. He was about
to inquire with somewhat perfunctory courtesy in what manner he could
serve his visitor, when his glance fell on the man's hands. He sat
erect with a slight exclamation and experienced a stiffening at the
roots of his hair. The hands under the lace ruffles were the most
beautiful that ever had been given to a man, even to as small a man as
this. They were white and strong and delicate, with pointed fingers
wide apart, and filbert nails. North knew them well, for they were the
hands of the man whom he admired above all men in the history of his
country. But until to-night he had seen them on canvas only, in the
Treasury Department of the United States. His feeling of terror
passed, and he sat forward eagerly.

"The little lion," he said caressingly, for the man before him might
have been his son, although he had been in his tomb with a bullet in
his heart for nearly a century. But he looked so young, so restless,
so indomitable, that the years slipped out of the century, and
Hamilton once more was the most brilliant ornament of a country which
had never ceased to need him.

"Yes," he said brightly, "here I am, sir, and you see me at last. This
is that one moment in the lifetime of the few when the spirit burns
through the flesh and recognizes another spirit who has lost that dear
and necessary medium. I have been with you a great deal in your life,
but you never have been able to see me until to-night." He gave his
head an impatient toss. "How I have wished I were alive during the
last three or four months!" he exclaimed. "Not that I could have
accomplished what you could not, sir, but it would have been such a
satisfaction to have been able to make the effort, and then, when I
failed, to tell democracy what I thought of it."

North smiled. All sense of the supernatural had left him. His soul and
Hamilton's were face to face; that was the one glorified fact. "I have
been tempted several times lately to wish that we had your
aristocratic republic," he said, "and that I were the head and centre
of it. I have felt a strong desire to wring the neck of that many-
headed nuisance called 'the people,' and proceed as if it were where
the God of nations intended those incapable of governing should
be and remain without protest."

"Oh, yes, you are an aristocrat. That is the reason I have enjoyed the
society of your mind all these years. You were so like me in many ways
when you were my age, and since then I seem to have grown older with
you. I died so young. But in you, in the last twenty years, I seem to
have lived on. You have built an iron wall all round those terrible
fires of your youth, and roofed it over. It is only now and then that
a panel melts and the flame leaps out; and the panel is so quickly
replaced! I too should have conquered myself like that and made fewer
and fewer mistakes."

"God knows what I might not have been able to do for my country. I
have been mad to leap into the arena often enough."

"You are not dead. No man is, whose inspiration lives on. More than
one of us would be of shorter stature and shorter gait if we never had
had your accomplishment to ponder over. And as to what the nation
would have been without you--"

"Yes!" cried Hamilton. "Yes! How can any man of ability submit to
death without protest, shrug his shoulders cynically, and say that no
man's disappearance causes more than a whirl of bubbles on the
surface, that the world goes on its old gait undisturbed, and does as
well with the new as the old? Look at Great Britain. She hasn't a
single great man in all her eleven million square miles to lead her.
That is answer enough to a theory which some men are sincere enough in
believing. This country always has needed great leaders, and sometimes
she has had them and sometimes not. The time is coming when she will
need them as she has not done since the days when three or four of us
set her on her feet."

North stood up suddenly and looked down on Hamilton. "What are we
coming to?" he asked abruptly. "Monarchy?"

The guest tapped the toe of his little slipper with the tips of his
beautiful fingers. He laughed gayly. "I can see only a little farther
ahead than your own far-penetrating brain, sir. What do you think?"

"As I walked home tonight, the situation possessed my mind, which by
some process of its own seemed to develop link after link in coming
events. It seemed to me that I saw a thoroughly disorganized people,
unthinkingly but ruthlessly thrusting aside all ideals, and--
consequently--in time--ready for anything."

Hamilton nodded, "If they had begun with my ideal, they would have
remained there. Now they will leap far behind that--when there is a
strong enough man down there in the White House. Certain radical
changes, departures from their traditions and those of their fathers,
will school them for greater changes still. In some great critical
moment when a dictator seems necessary they will shrug their shoulders
and say, 'Why not?'"

"I believe you are right, but I doubt if it comes in my time."

Hamilton shook his head. "Every state in Europe has its upper lip
curled back above its teeth, and who knows, when the leashes snap,
what our fate will be, now that we have practically abandoned our
policy of non-interference in the affairs of the Eastern Hemisphere?
If all Europe is at somebody's throat in the next five years, we shall
not escape; be sure of that. Then will be the great man's opportunity.
You always have despised the office of President. Work for it from
this day. The reaction from this madness will help you. Democrats as
well as Republicans will turn to you as the one man worthy of the
confidence of the entire country."

"Not if they guessed that I meditated treason, sir. Nor should I. I
agree with you that your ideal was the best, but there is nothing for
me to do but to make the best of the one I've inherited. If I am
aristocratic in my preferences, I am also a pretty thoroughgoing
American."

"Yes, yes, I know, sir. You never will meditate what, if premeditated,
would be treason. But when the great moment comes, when your
patriotism and your statesmanship force you to admit that if the
country is to be saved it must be rescued from the people, and that
you alone can rescue it, then you will tear the Constitution down its
middle. This country is past amendments. It must begin over again. And
the whole great change must come from one man. The people never could
be got to vote for an aristocratic republic. They must be stunned into
accepting a monarchy. After the monarchy, then the real, the great
Republic."

The two men looked long into each other's eyes. Then North said,--

"I repeat that I never should work nor scheme for the position that
such a change might bring me. Nevertheless, believing, as I do, that
we are on the threshold of a new and entirely different era in this
country, if the time should come when I felt that I, as its most
highly trained servant, could best serve the United States by taking
her destinies entirely into my own hands, I should do so without an
instant's hesitation. I have done all I could to preserve the old
order for them, and they have called me traitor and gone their own
way. Now let them take the consequences."

Hamilton set his mobile lips in a hard line. His eyes looked like
steel. "Yes," he said harshly, "let them take the consequences. They
had their day, they have gone mad with democracy, let them now die of
their own poison. The greatest Republic the world ever will have known
is only in the ante-room of its real history." He stood up suddenly
and held out his hand. "Good-bye, sir," he said. "We may or may not
meet again before you too are forced to abandon your work. But I often
shall be close to you, and I believe, I firmly believe, that you will
do exactly as I should do if I stood on solid ground to-day."

North took the exquisite hand that had written the greatest state
papers of the century, and looked wonderingly at its white beauty. It
suddenly gave him the grip of an iron vise. North returned the
pressure. Then the strong hand melted from his, and he stood alone.

Exactly in what the transition from sleep to waking consisted, North
was not able to define. There was a brief sense of change, including a
lifting of heavy eyelids. Technically he awoke. But he was standing on
the hearthrug. And his right hand ached.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"What difference does it make whether he appeared to my waking eyes or
passed through my sleeping brain and sat down with my soul?"

He plunged his hands into his pockets and stood thinking for many
minutes. He said, half aloud, finally,--

"Not in my time, perhaps. But it will come, it will come."




XVI



When Betty awoke at four o'clock in the afternoon, she discovered with
some surprise that she had slept soundly for eleven hours. Her head
was a trifle heavy, but after her bath she felt so fresh again that
the previous day and night seemed like a very long and very ugly
dream. She reflected that if she had not written to Burleigh before
she went to bed she certainly should do so now. He still seemed the
one safeguard for the future; she had convinced herself that with her
capacity for violent emotion and nervous exaltation, her head was not
to be trusted.

She felt calm enough this afternoon, and she opened with no enthusiasm
the note which had arrived from Burleigh. She might have drawn some
from its superabundant amount, but she frowned and threw it in the
fire. Then she went to her mother's room and announced her engagement.

"My dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Madison. "Well!--I am delighted."

Then she looked keenly at Betty and withheld her congratulations. But
she asked no questions, although the edge suddenly left her pleasure
and she began to wonder if Burleigh were to be congratulated.

"He is coming to dinner," Betty continued, "and I want you to promise
me that you will not leave us alone for a moment, and that you will go
with me to New York to-morrow."

"I will do anything you like, of course, and I always enjoy New York."

"I want to get away from Washington, and I want to shop more than
anything in life. I hate the thought of everything serious,--the
country, the war, everybody and everything, and I feel that if I could
spend two weeks with shops and dressmakers I'd be quite happy--almost
my old self again."

"I wish you were," said Mrs. Madison, with a sigh. "I wish this
country never had had any politics."

The instinct of coquetry was deeply rooted in Betty Madison, but that
evening she selected her most unbecoming gown. She was one of those
women who never look well in black, and look their worst in it when
their complexion shows the tear of secret trouble and broken rest. She
had a demi-toilette of black chiffon trimmed with jet and relieved
about the neck with pink roses. She cut off the roses; and when
arrayed had the satisfaction of seeing herself look thirty-five.
For a moment she wavered, and Leontine, with tears, begged to be
allowed to remove the gown; but Betty set her teeth and went
downstairs.

She had the further satisfaction of seeing a brief flash of surprise
and disappointment in Burleigh's eyes as he came forward to greet her;
and, indeed, the gown seemed to depress the company for the entire
evening. Betty tried to rattle on gayly, but the painful certainty
that she looked thirty-five (perhaps more), and that Burleigh saw it,
and her mother (who was visibly depressed) saw it, and the butler and
the footman (both of whom, she knew through Leontine, admired her
extravagantly) saw it, dashed her spirits to zero, and she fell into
an unreasoning rage with Senator North.

"I am going to New York to-morrow, and you are not to follow me," she
said with a final effort at playfulness. "I have been at such a
nervous strain over this wretched war that I must be frivolous and
feminine for two whole weeks--and what so serious as being engaged?"

Burleigh sighed. His spirits were unaccountably low. He had forgotten
his country for an entire day, and rushed up to the house ten minutes
before the appointed hour, his spirits as high as a boy's on his way
to the cricket field. But his apple had turned to ashes in a funereal
gown, and there seemed no colour about it anywhere.

"Of course you want a change," he said, "but I hope you will write to
me."

"I'll write you a little note every day," she said with sudden
contrition. "I know I'll feel--and look ever so much better in a few
days."

"There!" she thought with a sigh, "I've made this wretched sacrifice
for nothing, and I'll never forget how I'm looking at the present
moment, to my dying day. I know I'll wear my most distracting gown the
next time he comes. Well, what difference? I've got to marry him,
anyhow."

She shook hands cordially with him when he rose to go, an hour later,
but she did not leave her mother's side. He did not attempt to smile,
but shook hands silently with both and left the room as rapidly as
dignity would permit.

Mrs. Madison put her handkerchief to her eyes and burst into tears.

"Poor dear man!" she exclaimed. "I felt exactly as if we were having
our last dinner together before he went off to the war to get killed.
I never spent such a dismal evening in my life. And what on earth made
you put on that horrid gown? You look a fright--you almost look older
than he does."

"Don't turn the knife round, please. I'm rather sorry, to tell the
truth, but I didn't want him to be too overjoyed. I couldn't have
stood it."

"Are you sorry that you have engaged yourself to him?"

"No, I am glad--very glad." But she said it without enthusiasm. When
she went up to her room, she presented the black gown to Leontine and
sent her to bed. Then she put on a peignoir of pink silk and lace and
examined herself in the mirror. She looked fifteen years younger and
wholly charming; there was no doubt of it.




XVII



The next day, before starting for New York, she wrote a note to
Senator North:--

I am going to marry Robert Burleigh. On Tuesday morning I almost went
to your house--to bring you back with me here. I came to my senses in
time; but I might not again. I want you to understand.

I wish he were not on the winning side. But he is the only man I can
even think of marrying.

I do not think this much is disloyal to him. But I will not say other
things.           B. M.

Burleigh came to the train to see her off, and Betty looked so
charming in her rich brown travelling frock and little turban, and
smiled so gayly upon him, that his heavy spirit lifted its wings and
he begged to be allowed to go to New York on Saturday. But to this she
would not listen, and he was forced to content himself with making
elaborate preparations for her comfort in the little drawing-room, and
buying a copy of every paper and magazine the newsboy had on sale.

"I am sure he will make an ideal husband," said Mrs. Madison, as she
waved her hand to him from the window. "He certainly is very much of a
man," admitted Betty, "but what on earth are we to do with all these
papers? I haven't room to turn round."

The excitement in Washington, great as it was, had been mostly within
doors; in New York it appeared to be entirely in the streets, if one
excepted the corridors of the hotels. The population, still pale and
nervously talkative, surged up and down the sidewalks. On the morrow
the city put forth her hundred thousand flags. The very air seemed to
turn to stars and stripes.

The Madisons went to the Waldorf-Astoria, and in its refreshing
solitudes felt for the first time in months that they must go in
search of excitement if they wanted it; none would reach them here.

"Now that the war is declared, I am sorry;" admitted Mrs. Madison,
"for so many Americans will be killed."

"Instead of Cubans. I've done with the war. I won't even regret."

For three days Betty shopped furiously, or held long consultations
with her dressmaker. On Sunday, after church, she read to her mother,
but refused to discuss her engagement, and on Monday she resumed her
shopping. She wrote to Burleigh immediately after breakfast every
morning, then dismissed him from her mind for twenty-four hours.

The beautiful spring fabrics were in the shops, and she bought so many
things she did not want, even for a trousseau, that she wondered if
Mrs. Mudd would accept a trunk full of "things." She envied Mrs. Mudd,
and would find a contradictory pleasure in making her happy. Miss
Trumbull never had manifested any false pride, and matrimony had
altered her little in other ways.

At night she slept very well, and if she did not think of Burleigh,
neither would she think of Senator North.

She did not open a newspaper. What the country did now had no interest
for her; it was marching to its drums, and nothing could stop it. And
she would have her fill of politics for the rest of her natural life.
As Mrs. Madison always was content with a novel, she made no complaint
at the absence of newspapers, particularly as the fighting had not
begun. Moreover, Betty took her to the theatre every evening, a
dissipation which her invalidism endured without a protest.

It was on Wednesday afternoon that Betty, returning to her rooms, met
Sally Carter in a corridor of the hotel. The two girls kissed as if no
war had come between them, and Miss Carter announced that she was
going to Cuba to nurse the American soldier.

"I almost feel conscience-stricken," she remarked, "now that we
actually are in for it. I don't think I believed it ever really could
happen. It was more like a great drama that was about to take place
somewhere on the horizon. But if the American boys have to be shot,
I'm going to be there to do what I can."

They entered the parlor of Mrs. Madison's suite, and that good lady,
who had read until her eyes ached, welcomed Sally with effusion and
demanded news of Washington.

"We haven't seen a paper or a soul," she said. "We have our meals up
here, and I feel as if I were a Catholic in retreat. It's been a
relief in a way, especially after the _salon_, but I should like to
know if Washington has burned down, or anything."

"Washington is still there and still excited," said Miss Carter,
dropping into a chair and taking off her hat, which she ran the pin
through and flung on the floor. "How it keeps it up is beyond the
comprehension of one poor set of nerves. I am now dead to all emotion
and longing for work. I'm even sorry I painted my best French
handkerchiefs red, white, and blue. If you haven't seen the papers I
suppose you don't know that Mrs. North is dead. She died suddenly
of paralysis on the twenty-second. The strength she got in the
Adirondacks soon began to leave her by degrees; the doctor--who is
mine, you know--told me the other day that it meant nothing but a
temporary improvement at any time; but he had hoped that she would
live for several years yet. Betty, what on earth do you find so
interesting in Fifth Avenue? I hate it, with its sixty different
architectures."

"But it looks so beautiful with all the flags," said Betty, "and the
one opposite is really magnificent."

It was a half-hour before Sally ceased from chattering and went in
search of her father. Betty had managed to control both her face and
her knees, and listened as politely as a person may who longs to
strangle the intruder and achieve solitude. The moment Sally had gone
Betty went straight to her room, avoiding her mother's eyes, which
turned themselves intently upon her.

She did not reappear for dinner, as her mother was made cheerful by
the society of the Carters; but as Sally passed her room on her way to
bed, she called her in, and the two girls had a few moments'
conversation.




XVIII



"Molly," said Betty, the next morning, "I should like to go up to the
Adirondacks alone for a few weeks. Would you mind staying here with
the Colonel and Sally for another ten days and then returning with
them? Sally says she will move into my room and that she and the
Colonel will take you to the theatre and do everything they can to
make you happy. You know the Colonel delights to be with you."

"I understand, of course, that you are going," said Mrs. Madison. "I
shall not be bored, if that is what you mean. I hope you will
telegraph at once, so that the house will be warmed at least a day
before you arrive. I suppose you have got to a point in your affairs
where you must have solitude, but I wish you had not, and I wish you
would go where it is warmer."

"Oh, I shall be comfortable enough." She added in a moment, "Don't
think I do not appreciate your consideration, for I do."

Then she sat down at the desk and wrote a note to Burleigh. It was a
brief epistle, but she was a long while writing it. Her previous notes
had been dashed off in ten minutes, and usually related to the play of
the previous evening. His replies had been a curious mingling of half-
offended pride and a passion which was only restrained by the fear
that the lady was not yet ready for it.

Finally Betty concocted the missive to the satisfaction of her mind's
diplomatic condition. She had not yet brought herself to begin any of
her notes to him formally. "Dear Robert" was as yet unnatural, and
"Dear Mr. Burleigh" absurd; so she ignored the convention.

"I suddenly have made up my mind to go to the Adirondacks for a month,
_quite alone,_" she wrote. "When one is going to take a tremendous
step, one needs solitude that one may do a great deal of hard
thinking. I don't wonder that some Catholic women go into retreat. At
all events, Washington, 'the world,' even my mother, even you, who
always are so kind and considerate, seem impossible to me at present;
and if I am to live with some one else for the rest of my life, I must
have one uninterrupted month of solitary myself. Doubtless that will
do me till the end of my time! So would you mind if I asked you not
even to write to me? I have enjoyed your notes so much, but I want to
feel absolutely alone. Don't think this is petty egoism. It goes far
deeper than that! If we ever are to understand each other I am sure I
need not explain myself further.
      B. M."

"It has a rather heartless ring," she thought with a sigh, "but it
will intrigue him, and--who knows? As heaven is my witness, I do not.
But I do know this, that unless I get away from them all and fairly
inside of myself, whatever I do will seem the wrong thing and I might
end by making a dramatic fool of myself."




XIX



The ice was on the lake this time, although it was melting rapidly,
but the sun shone all day. She had to wear her furs in the woods, but
the greens had never looked so vivid and fresh, and save for an
occasional woodchopper and her own servants, there was not a soul to
be met in that high solitude. The hotel across the lake would not open
for a month. Even the birds still lingered in the South.

After she had been alone for two days she wondered why, when in
trouble before, she had not turned instinctively to solitude in the
forest. It is only the shallow mind that dislikes and fears the lonely
places of Nature: the intellect, no matter what vapours may be sent up
from the heart, finds not only solace in retirement, but another form
of that companionship of the ego which the deeply religious find in
retreat. The intellectual may lack the supreme self-satisfaction of
the religious, but they find a keen pleasure in being able to make the
very most of the results of years of consistent effort.

Betty, whether alone by a roaring fire of pine cones in the living-
room, or wandering along the edge of the lake in the cold brilliant
sunshine, or in the more mysterious depths of the forest, listening to
the silence or watching the drops of light fall through the matted
treetops, felt more at peace with the world than she had done since
her fatal embarkation on the political sea. She put the memory of
Harriet Walker, insistent at first, impatiently aside, and in a day or
two that shadow crept back to its grave.

For a few days her mind, in its grateful repose, hesitated to grapple
with the question which had sent her to the mountains; and on one of
them, while thinking idly on the great political questions which had
magnetized so much of her thought during the past year, the
inspiration for which she had so often longed shot up from the
concentrated results of thinking and experience, and revealed in what
manner she could be of service to her country. This was, whatever her
personal life, to gather about her, once a week, as many bright boys
of her own condition as she could find, and interest and educate them
in the principles of patriotic statesmanship. With her own burning
interest in the subject and her personal fascination, she could
accomplish far more than any weary professor could do.

She had come up to these fastnesses to decide the future happiness of
one or two of three people, and she felt sober enough; but for almost
a week she wished that she could live here alone for the rest of her
life: she believed that in time she would be serenely content. She had
the largest capacity for human happiness, but she guessed that the
imagination could be so trained that when far from worldly conditions
it could create a world of its own, and would shrink more and more
from the practical realities. For Imagination has the instinct of
a nun in its depths and loves the cloister of a picturesque solitude.
It is a Fool's Paradise, but not inferior to the one which mortals are
at liberty to enter and ruin.

But Betty could not live here alone, she could not ignore her
responsibilities in any such primitive fashion; and so long as her
heart was alive it would make battle for real and tangible happiness.

She had a question to decide which involved not only the heart but the
mind: if she made a mistake now, she would be at odds with her higher
faculties for the rest of her life. She dreaded the sophistry which
sat on either side of the subject; and it was a question whether the
very strength of her impulse toward the man she had loved for a year
was not the strongest argument in its favour.

But she had given her word to another man, and she had the high and
almost fanatical sense of honour of the Southern race. On the other
hand, she had a practical modern brain, and during the last year she
had been living in close contact with much hard common-sense. She had
imagination, and she knew that she already had made Burleigh suffer
deeply, and had it in her power to raise that suffering to acuteness;
and if that buoyant nature were soured, a useful career might be
seriously impaired. On the other hand, she had made a greater man more
miserable still, and while he was finding life black enough she had
rushed into the camp of the enemy; and his capacity for suffering was
far deeper and more enduring than that of the younger man.

She tried to put herself as much aside from the question as possible,
but she had her rights and they made themselves heard. She knew, had
known at once, that she had outraged all she held most dear, in
engaging herself to one man when she loved another, and she had begun
to wonder--in irresistible flashes--before the news had come which
sent her to the mountains, if she should falter at the last moment.
But breeding has carried many a woman over the ploughshares of life,
and her mind was probably strong enough to go on to the inevitable
without theatric climax. At the same time the idea of marriage with
one man when she loved another was abhorrent; that it was particularly
so since marriage with the other had become possible, she understood
perfectly. And although she continued to reason and to argue, she had
a lurking suspicion that while she might be strong enough to conquer a
desire she might not be able to conquer a physical revolt, and that it
would rout her standards and decide the issue.

She had made up her mind that she would hesitate for a month and no
longer, and she also had determined that she would decide the question
for herself and throw none of the responsibility on Senator North; she
felt the impulse to write to him impersonally more than once. (Perhaps
her sense of humour also restrained her.) She wondered if it were one
year or twenty years since she had gone to him for advice; and she
knew that whichever way she decided, the desire for his good opinion
would have something to do with it.

There are only a certain number of arguments in any brain, and after
they have been reiterated a sufficient number of times they pall. From
argument Betty lapsed naturally into meditation, and the subject of
these meditations, tender, regretful, and impassioned, was one man
only; and Burleigh had no place in them. Occasionally she forced him
into her mind, but he seemed as anxious to get out as she was to drive
him; and after the ice melted and she was able to spend hours on the
lake, and rest under spreading oaks, where she had only to shut her
eyes to imagine herself companioned, she felt herself unfaithful if
she cast a solitary thought to Burleigh.

At the end of the month she was not tired of solitude, but she was
tired of her intellectual attitude. She was human first and mental
afterward; and she wanted nothing on earth but to be the wife of the
man whom she had loved for a lifetime in a year. The moment she
formulated this wish, hesitation fled and she could not wind up her
engagement with Burleigh rapidly enough. Her letter, however, was very
sweet and apologetic, and it was also very honest. She knew that
unless she told him she loved another man and intended to marry him,
he would take the next train for the Adirondacks and plead his cause
in person. His reply was characteristic.

"Very well," it ran. "I do not pretend to say I was not prepared after
your last letter from New York. And although I could not guess your
motive in accepting me, I knew that you did not love me. But if I am
not overwhelmed with surprise, the pain is no easier on that account,
and will not be until the grass has had time to grow over it a little.
And at least it is a relief to know the worst. Of course I forgive
you. I doubt if any man could feel bitterly toward you. You compel too
much love for that.

"Don't worry about me. I have work enough to do--a State to talk sense
into and a nation to which to devote my poor energies. My brain such
as it is will be constantly occupied, which is the next best good a
man can have."
                   ROBERT BURLEIGH.

Betty wrote him four pages of enthusiastic friendliness in reply, and
paid him the compliment of postponing her letter to Senator North
until the following day.

But on that day she rose with the feeling that the sun never would
set.

She was as brief as possible, for she knew that he hated long letters.
Nevertheless, she conveyed an exact impression of her weeks of
deliberation and analysis.

"I want you to understand," she went on, "that my only wish when I
came here for solitary thought was to do the right thing, irrespective
of my own wishes in the matter. But it seems to me there is exactly as
much to be said on one side as on the other, and it all comes to this:
right or wrong, I have decided for you because I love you; and if you
no longer can admire me, if you think that I have violated my sense of
honour, then at least I shall marry no one else.               B. M."

And as her imagination was strong she did allow herself to be tortured
by doubts during the three days that elapsed before she heard from
him. She had hoped he would telegraph, but he did not, and her
imagination and her common-sense had a long and indecisive argument
which threatened ultimate depression. On the third night, however, a
messenger from the hotel opposite brought her a note from Senator
North.

"I don't know that your mental exercise has done you any harm," he had
written, "but it certainly was thrown away. You have too much common-
sense and too thorough a capacity for loving to do anything so foolish
or so outrageous as to marry the wrong man. If you had followed a
romantic impulse--induced by nervous excitement--and married him the
day you learned that your word might be put to too severe a test, you
would have been miserable, and so would Burleigh. A mistaken sense of
duty has been the cause of quite one fourth of the unhappiness of
mankind, and few have been so bigoted as not to acknowledge this when
too late. And a broken engagement is a small injustice to a man
compared to a lifetime with an unloving wife. Burleigh is unhappy now,
but it is no lack of admiration which prompts me to say that if he had
married you he would have been unhappier still. You could do nothing
by halves.

"Formalities with us would be an affectation unworthy of either, and I
have come to you at once. I knew that you would send for me, but I
preferred to wait until you wrote that your engagement was broken.
What I felt when I received your note announcing it, I leave to your
imagination, and I forgot it as quickly as possible. I understood
perfectly, but you exaggerated the dangers; for my love for you is so
great and so absorbing, so complete in all its parts, that nothing
but marriage would satisfy me. I should have preferred a memory to a
failure.

"If your mother were with you, I should go over to-night. But I shall
wait for you at five to-morrow morning where you were in the habit of
letting me board your boat. And the day will not be long enough!
R. N."

Betty slept little that night, but felt no lack of freshness the next
morning when she rose shortly after four. A broken night meant little
to her now, and happiness would have stimulated every faculty if she
had not slept for a week.

She rowed swiftly across the lake. It was almost June now, and the
warmth of summer was in the air, the paler greens among the grim old
trees of the forest. The birds had come from the South and were
singing to the accompaniment of the pines, the roar of distant
cataracts; and yet the world seemed still. The stars were white and
faint; the moon was tangled in a treetop on the highest peak.

He might have been the only man awake as he stood with the forest
behind him, and she recalled her fancy that although her horizon was
thick with flying mist his figure stood there, immovable, always. He
looked as if he had not moved since he stood there last, but the mist
was gone.

As he stepped into the boat, she moved back that he might take the
oars.

"I have on a white frock, and a blue ribbon in my hair," she said
nervously, but smiling, "else I could not have forgotten that a year
has come and gone."

He too was smiling. "I think it is the only year we ever shall want to
forget," he said. And he rowed up the lake.

THE END.




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