"Well, I guessed about right, didn't I?" inquired Mr. Tooting, biting off one of the political cigars. "I gave you a pretty straight tip, didn't I, that young Tom Gaylord was goin' to have somebody make that motion to- day? But say, it's funny he couldn't get a better one than that feller Harper. If you hadn't come along, they'd have smashed him to pulp. I'll bet the most surprised man in the State to-night, next to Brush Bascom, is young Tom Gaylord. It's a wonder he ain't been up here to thank you."
"Maybe he has been," replied Mr. Crewe. "I told Waters to keep everybody out to-night because I want to know exactly what I'm going to say on the floor tomorrow. I don't want 'em to give me trouble. Did you bring some of those papers with you?"
Mr. Tooting fished a bundle from his overcoat pocket. The papers in question, of which he had a great number stored away in Ripton, represented the foresight, on Mr. Tooting's part, of years. He was a young man with a praiseworthy ambition to get on in the world, and during his apprenticeship in the office of the Honourable Hilary Vane many letters and documents had passed through his hands. A less industrious person would have neglected the opportunity. Mr. Tooting copied them; and some, which would have gone into the waste-basket, he laid carefully aside, bearing in mind the adage about little scraps of paper--if there is one. At any rate, he now had a manuscript collection which was unique in its way, which would have been worth much to a great many men, and with characteristic generosity he was placing it at the disposal of Mr. Crewe.
Mr. Crewe, in reading them, had other sensations. He warmed with indignation as an American citizen that a man should sit in a mahogany office in New York and dictate the government of a free and sovereign State; and he found himself in the grip of a righteous wrath when he recalled what Mr. Flint had written to him. "As a neighbour, it will give me the greatest pleasure to help you to the extent of my power, but the Northeastern Railroads cannot interfere in legislative or political matters." The effrontery of it was appalling! Where, he demanded of Mr. Tooting, did the common people come in? And this extremely pertinent question Mr. Tooting was unable to answer.
But the wheels of justice had begun to turn.
Mr. Tooting had not exaggerated the tumult and affright at the Pelican Hotel. The private telephone in Number Seven was busy all evening, while more or less prominent gentlemen were using continually the public ones in the boxes in the reading room downstairs. The Feudal system was showing what it could do, and the word had gone out to all the holders of fiefs that the vassals should be summoned. The Duke of Putnam had sent out a general call to the office-holders in that county. Theirs not to reason why--but obey; and some of them, late as was the hour, were already travelling (free) towards the capital. Even the congressional delegation in Washington had received telegrams, and sent them again to Federal office-holders in various parts of the State. If Mr. Crewe had chosen to listen, he could have heard the tramp of armed men. But he was not of the metal to be dismayed by the prospect of a great conflict. He was as cool as Cromwell, and after Mr. Tooting had left him to take charge once more of his own armies in the yield, the genlemon from Leith went to bed and slept soundly.
The day of the battle dawned darkly, with great flakes flying. As early as seven o'clock the later cohorts began to arrive, and were soon as thick as bees in the Pelican, circulating in the lobby, conferring in various rooms of which they had the numbers with occupants in bed and out. A wonderful organization, that Feudal System, which eould mobilize an army overnight! And each unit of it, like the bee, working unselfishly for the good of the whole; like the bee, flying straight for the object to be attained. Every member of the House from Putnam County, for instance, was seen by one of these indefatigable captains, and if the member had a mortgage or an ambition, or a wife and family that made life a problem, or a situation on the railroad or in some of the larger manufacturing establishments, let him beware! If he lived in lodgings in the town, he stuck his head out of the window to perceive a cheery neighbour from the country on his doorstep. Think of a system which could do this, not for Putnam County alone, but for all the counties in the State!
The Honourable Hilary Vane, captain-general of the Forces, had had but four hours' sleep, and his Excellency, the Honourable Asa Gray, when he arose in the twilight of the morning, had to step carefully to avoid the cigar butts on the floor which--like so many empty cartridge shells were unpleasant reminders that a rebellion of no mean magnitude had arisen against the power to which he owed allegiance, and by the favour of which he was attended with pomp and circumstance wherever he chose to go.