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he did clean forget his daughter-she had "If you'll come into the library," to chase after him to the carriage. She Shelby told her, "you can wait more comwas with him at the party, you see. She's fortably while your father talks with Mr. all right, too; but her daddy-well, look Graves. They 're likely to have a long at him! Say, how do you s'pose those but- session." tons are holding?"
He switched on the electric lights, which The man in shirt-sleeves looked and showed a large apartment lined with grinned. Breelton, who had been conducted files and book-cases. There was a table to the news-room by his guide, was giving in the middle, and by it stood a couple a beautiful illustration of a fat little fel- of chairs. Then he vanished for a molow swollen by pride to the danger-limit. ment, reappearing with several maga
“Your young man, Mr. Shelby, has zines. informed me of the-- ahem!- of the ap- “Possibly you 've seen all these," he pointment,” he said to the managing edi- said briskly; "but I 'll try to find more. tor. “He informs me also that you desire I 'll fetch them to you, or send them to some suitable declaration from me, and I you, in a moment." shall be pleased to grant the request; but She thanked him gravely, and sank into first I prefer to-ah-ah-confer with a chair, smiling wanly while he bustled your Mr. Graves. A very worthy man about, adjusting the portable reading-light Mr. Graves. I have, sir,
I have, sir, an excellent for her greater convenience. If she saw opinion of his judgment."
that he closed the door by which they had "Mr. Graves will be flattered," said entered, and that presently he departed by Shelby. “I'll take you to his office." another, which opened into the corridor,
The managing editor, however, while the circumstance did not impress her. The he addressed Breelton, was looking at magazines lay untouched on the table, and Breelton's daughter. She was a slender she sat, with hands clasped, gazing straight girl, dark-eyed, and, as he noted, singu- before her. Now and then the sound of larly pale. He saw, too, that Hamilton her father's voice reached her, but it had risen as she entered, and stepped to- seemed to fail to cheer her or to remind ward her. The young man's face was as her of the enviable lot of the daughter of pale as the girl's. Shelby did not observe an ambassador. that either spoke to the other before Breel- The door from the hall opened, and she ton, wheeling about, caught sight of them. turned her head, rousing herself to greet The pervasive smile faded from his coun- the benevolent Shelby. It was Hamilton, tenance. Two strides carried him close to though, who stood in the doorway, and Hamilton.
who came forward as she rose to her feet. "You 've heard,” he said low and For a little neither spoke. gruffly. "Your own good sense must tell "You did n't expect me,” he said at last. you how impossible this makes an engage- “Mr. Shelby, he's our managing editor, ment between you two. There must be you know-sent me to tell you he could n't no more of such folly. I absolutely for- find any more magazines.” bid it."
She received the explanation in the spirit Shelby did not overhear the speech, but in which it was offered. he could make a shrewd guess at its tenor ;
“You should n't have come, yet, yet for the girl's lips trembled, and Hamilton, I 'm glad you have," she said. “We as white as a sheet, bowed and retreated to could n't drop everything without--withhis desk. Breelton's smile--and now it out had a new touch of triumph-was again in “Without an effort to do it decently evidence when he turned to Shelby.
and in order?" “You may conduct me, sir, to Mr. Something in his tone hurt her. "Yes, Graves," he said magniloquently.
decently and in order,” she said quickly. Shelby lost no time in ushering the visi- "That is the best way-much the best tor into the presence of the editor-in-chief; way, believe me!” but, this done, he indulged in a little piece Hamilton laughed mirthlessly. "You of strategy.
Miss Breelton, following know what your father told me not ten uncertainly in the wake of her parent, saw minutes ago. I don't think it was decent, a door open and heard herself addressed. but it sounded like an order. It would
I 'm a
seem to settle things definitely enough, "Then don't you see your father was if-"
right? At this moment I could n't, in “If?” she repeated, looking at him won- self-respect, ask you to marry me. ” deringly as he hesitated.
"Perhaps not-not while he is ambas“If it settles anything at all.”
sador,” she said hesitatingly. “But am“But I don't understand.”
no longer “He meant it to be clear: you and I are meeting his eye, and the faint Alush in her not for each other. This infernal appoint- cheek was growing-"but ambassadorships ment of his ended our romance. On the don't last-last forever. And, when it 's strength of it he refused point-blank to
over, 1-1-" sanction an engagement to which he pre- Hamilton caught her hands and held viously might have agreed, though reluc- them tight. "And when it 's over, you 'll tantly. And without his sanction—" be free!” he cried. “And when I come to
Again he paused, gazing at her with ask you what I can't ask now, you 'll be hungry eyes. A faint flush stole into her free to listen?" pale cheeks, but she shook her head.
Her smile was like sunshine dispersing "No; not without his sanction,” she the mists. “I shall be free then, if I 'm said slowly and sorrowfully.
not free now." "Well, you see it did settle things," the “Of course, in view of your father's opyoung man said grimly.
“I 'm not sur- position, there can't be an engagement?” prised it should. Ambassadors rank next “Oh, no!" to princes, don't they? That puts ambas- Hamilton's
brightening sadors' daughters next to princesses, and "We'll have this fixed definitely," said just as far off, virtually, where beggars he. “There can't be an engagement, but are concerned.”
there is n't an earthly objection to an “But you 're not a beggar !" she cried. understanding, is there?
“From the lofty heights I 'll look like "Oh, no indeed!" she assured him. one. Your father 's right: it would be Meanwhile, in the
the editorial-room, folly for you to— to care for me.
Breelton was tasting the sweets of power. hired man-hired by the week, liable to be He had greedily read the fateful pressturned off at any time. There 's no use despatch, marveling, it may be, at its cold blinking at facts just because they are hard and unadorned directness, --something with and ugly and painful.”
illuminated capitals and a rhetorical “But a soldier 's a hired man,” she flourish or two would have been more to urged. "And have n't we heard of sol- his fancy,- but not disposed to cavil, since diers with marshals' batons in their knap- it conveyed news so epoch-making. He sacks?"
was at the table which stood near Graves's "That day 's gone. I 'm working for a desk, and two or three written pages were pittance, for a newspaper. If I were the before him. When Shelby wandered in, editor, I'd be drawing a salary that however, the ambassador-to-be was leaning would n't pay for your flowers and gloves back in his chair. His manner might have at the embassy. Oh, I know it well been described as lordly condescension. enough! I see the worldly wisdom of the “Very well put, Mr. Graves," he was view. I'm not a man to seek an alliance saying; “very well put, sir. It is, as you for which I am not fit. But you 'll forget say, a splendid honor and a high distincme-you may be abroad for years."
tion. But, I submit, it is more: it is rec“I shall never forget you!"
ognition, sir-recognition.” "You can't help it, dear." The word Graves appeared to be disposed to folslipped his lips, and he frowned; but her low his own line of thought. face brightened.
“It is forty years since this State has “But there are desirable places about had a first-class diplomatic appointment," embassies,” she pointed out. “Ambas- said he. “Then Amos Harding was sent sadors have secretaries."
to Paris. Harding was a remarkable man. “No, no! Do you think I could accept He was a ripe scholar."
Here the eyea place like that — become a dependent on glasses tapped the desk, as if checking off your father's bounty?"
an item in a tally—“He was an able “I'm afraid you would n't."
lawyer, and had served with marked sucLXXXII–73
cess on the bench" — Another tap—“He will observe, upon the element of recogniwas of unusual executive ability"— Tap tion, upon the tribute paid to the party's -"In the Civil War he supervised the fidelity to the Administration's policies in organization of a dozen regiments" - the last election.” Tap—"He was one of the best gov- Graves's glasses tapped the desk very ernors the State ever had; a party
man softly. The State, for years counted safe, who knew no partizanship when public in- had been held in the party column by the terests were at stake."
narrowest of majorities. But Breelton, There the glasses beat a tattoo, while to unheeding, continued his remarks to the Shelby's eyes Breelton swelled like a tur- managing editor. key-cock. He seemed to be accepting the “I have also prepared a telegram to recital of Harding's virtues as a handsome, the President in acknowledgment of the if indirect, tribute to his own.
honor done me, and one of thanks to Sen“Sir,” he said pompously—“sir, I shall ator Worth for bearing the suggestion of be pleased to strive, and I trust compe- my name to the White House." tently, to prove myself a worthy successor. "Worth?" Shelby repeated. “So he enAlso I shall endeavor to instil into my gineered it?" policy that which our diplomacy has too Breelton's eyebrows rose, as if he took often lacked-vigor, sir, vigor. But I in- exception to such bluntness in dealing with sist-I positively must insist — that the the seats of the mighty. “My dear sir," personal element in my selection, no mat- he began hotly, then suddenly changed his ter how gratifying it may be, must not tone. "Lest there be misunderstanding, I make us lose sight of that other element to will explain--as a highly confidential comwhich I have referred-recognition. Sir, munication, that before Senator Worth I deem this a recognition not only of such went back to Washington I confided to humble services as I may have been able to him that I should be pleased to place myrender --" Here he paused briefly, as if self at the Government's disposal; that I expecting protests at this self-abasement- should enjoy residence abroad for a time; "Ahem! not only recognition of my own but that I should allow him the greatest services, but also of the magnificent sup- latitude in selecting a post which would port the party in this State has given to the be commensurate not only with my labors Administration. It is because I regard the for the party, but with the party's record matter thus that I have decided to prepare in our State as well. And, if you will be a somewhat formal statement to the peo- so good, sir, as to see that these messages ple.”
are filed with the telegraph-company, I Graves glanced at Shelby. "Mr. Breel- shall be your debtor." ton prefers the statement to an interview," He took the other papers from the he explained.
table, and handed them to Shelby. "Exactly," the ambassador-to-be chimed “No trouble at all; I'll send them in. “It seems to me the greater formality over," the managing editor said. He better accords with the dignity and impor- turned away, but Breelton followed him tance of the subject. It seems to me, too, into the hall. that it should be given the greatest possible "Just a moment, Mr. Shelby," the publicity, and I shall thank you, Mr. favored of Fortune cried. “May I ask Shelby, to see that it is widely dissemi- you not to intrust them to a-ah-ah-a nated. Your press association would fur- common messenger ?". nish an admirable medium, would it not?” "I'll give them to one of our most
“The best,” Shelby told him. “State- trustworthy men.” ment ready?”
“I thank you,” Breelton said impresBreelton picked up one of the papers sively, and went back to resume his confrom the table.
ference with Graves. "I have aimed at brevity, sir,” he said, Brief as this interview in the corridor "and I think I have attained it. You re- had been, it was to play its part in the call Lincoln's 'Gettysburg Address,' I night's events. It chanced to take place presume? He had the same idea that I opposite the door of "Baldy" Sanderson's have-go right to your point when you room, at a moment when the demon of the wish to reach the masses. I dwell, as you wire had paused briefly to secure a firmer hold on his hammer. “Baldy” looked up, wrote a line or two on a slip of paper, and saw the two men. So did a copy-boy which, a moment later, he laid Sore who happened to be at his elbow. Now, Sanderson. what a healthy copy-boy does not know The operator glanced at it, and nodded. about current gossip in a newspaper-office "Something just coming on that," he is not worth knowing. The urchin nudged said, and threw a vindictive energy into “Baldy" vigorously.
his pounding of his keys as he set down the “Pipe him off! That 's him," he said following: in a stage whisper.
“Correction–T. editors-In Wash"Who?" "Baldy" growled.
ington diplomatic appointments please “The guy that 's goin' as 'bassador to read, Jerome H. Breelton of Vershire, , Czar Nicky. You got the word just be consul at St. Peter's Bay." fore lunch."
Whether or not this was the precise "Umph!" the operator ejaculated; but form in which the "correction” came over he stared hard at Breelton. That an am- the wire is neither here nor there. As bassador! Doubling up for two days and written out by “Baldy," it might have nights on a heavy wire tends to dim sunny been taken to cast responsibility for the optimism and to sharpen criticism of fel- error on the sender; but Shelby asked no low-men. Somewhere in the back of annoying questions. Despite his lack of Sanderson's brain doubt stirred - such a love for Breelton, it was with reluctant doubt as comes to harass Mr. Suburban foot that he entered the editorial-room, when he counts his bundles preparatory to though he passed the message to Graves the dash for his train, a suggestion of almost eagerly. Everybody likes to shift something amiss, something overlooked, the burden of breaking bad news, and this something not as it should be. Just what news was bound to be more than merely was it that happened when that despatch bad. Graves read, gulped, and glared at was coming in?“Baldy's" big dose of Shelby with savage reproach; but the mancoffee had dulled his thirst, and it had also aging editor declined to meet his eye. quickened his wits and made him less like Breelton, pausing in the midst of somea recording automaton. That an ambas- thing very like an oration, was smitten by sador! That fussy little man a figure at vague forebodings. the Russian court! Apparently so, and on “What is it?" he asked. "Anything the strength of his testimony and the tes- more about me--about the appointment?" timony of the great press association of Graves cleared his throat.
“I regret, which he was the mouthpiece. The oper- Mr. Breelton, to say that it is." ator's hand stole to his key, and he began The other leaned forward in his chair, to click off a message to division head- his hands gripping its arms. "Something quarters.
---something about the ambassadorship?" Shelby, meanwhile, had sought his own he gasped. “Some other man-some other den, and was poring over Breelton's ad- Breelton--gets it?" dress to the public. It was short, as the “You 're the man; but-but it is n't an author had declared; but its taste was ambassadorship. You 're offered a place doubtful and its phraseology ponderous. as consul." If the nomination really had been made, “Consul!" Breelton's voice rose in a people would smile; if there was any mis- falsetto shriek. "Say, you're joking! take, the roar of laughter would shake a You must be! Me a consul! Let me see dozen States. But could there be a mis- what it says!" take? Despite faith in the inerrancy of He caught at the despatch, but his hand the news service, Graves undoubtedly was shook and his sight seemed blurred, and a skeptic, and Breelton's own explanation the paper Auttered to the floor. Graves removed the chance of Effingham's Mach- picked it up. iavellian hand in the affair. Shelby's “You 're trying to fool me!" Breelton uneasiness was growing. He had no stir- cried. “It 's a put-up job. It 's a joke, I ring desire to protect Breelton, but it was tell
you; but I'm on to it!" his mission in life to save the paper from Graves brought down his glasses upon blunders. He tucked the statement and the desk as a speaker might wield a gavel the telegrams into a pocket, and swiftly to calm a boisterous legislature.
"Mr. Breelton, this is Amalgamated Press matter," he said solemnly; "and it 's axiomatic that the Amalgamated Press never jokes."
Even the distracted Breelton could not disregard the tone of authority.
"But you-it-it can't mean consul," he said almost with a whine. "Consulgeneral it must be."
Graves shook his head, but Breelton was insistent. "Must be at least consul-general," he urged. "Maybe that would pay better-less expense, you know."
"It is consul."
Breelton's jaw dropped, but he struggled to regain self-control. "It 's-it 's not what I-what my services deserve, gentlemen," he said. "Of course it lacks the diplomatic honors and robs me of the opportunity to enjoy circles where I'd have shone; but I-I 've got to have time to consider it. Consul to St. Petersburg! I don't know-it 's possible-I 've heard there is a big income with some of those places."
"St. Peter's Bay," he said, "is the seat of government of a British crown colony. It's tropical-latitude four degrees, twenty minutes north, to be exact. Rainfall, one hundred and thirty-one inches a year. Population, in 1900, 4356, of whom twenty-three were of European blood. If it had a better harbor, it might do more business. The climate renders it undesirable as a place of residence for women or children of Caucasian stock; but, except for beriberi and bubonic plague, it has been fairly free from epidemics in recent years."
Breelton dropped back into his chair, and covered his face with his hands. There was a long pause before he spoke dully and unhappily: