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- The American Senator - 40/115 -
Then the Paragon was shown into the room and Mounser Green and the young men were delighted to see him. Colonial governors at their seats of government, and Ministers Plenipotentiary in their ambassadorial residences are very great persons indeed; and when met in society at home, with the stars and ribbons which are common among them now, they are, less indeed, but still something. But at the colonial and foreign offices in London, among the assistant secretaries and clerks, they are hardly more than common men. All the gingerbread is gone there. His Excellency is no more than Jones, and the Representative or Alter Ego of Royalty mildly asks little favours of the junior clerks.
"Lord Drummond only wants to know what you wish and it shall be done," said Mounser Green. Lord Drummond was the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the day. "I hope I need hardly say that we were delighted that you accepted the offer."
"One doesn't like to refuse a step upward," said Morton; "otherwise Patagonia isn't exactly the place one would like."
"Very good climate," said Currie. "Ladies I have known who have gone there have enjoyed it very much."
"A little rough I suppose?"
"They didn't seem to say so. Young Bartletot took his wife out there, just married. He liked it. There wasn't much society, but they didn't care about that just at first"
"Ah;--I'm a single man," said Morton laughing. He was too good a diplomate to be pumped in that simple way by such a one as Archibald Currie.
"You'll like to see Lord Drummond. He is here and will be glad to shake hands with you. Come into my room," Then Mounser Green led the way into a small inner sanctum in which it may be presumed that he really did his work. It was here at any rate that he wrote the notes on official note paper.
"They haven't settled as yet how they're to be off it," said Currie in a whisper, as soon as the two men were gone, "but I'll bet a five-pound note that Bell Trefoil doesn't go out to Patagonia as his wife."
"We know the Senator here well enough." This was said in the inner room by Mounser Green to Morton, who had breakfasted with the Senator that morning and had made an appointment to meet him at the Foreign Office. The Senator wanted to secure a seat for himself at the opening of Parliament which was appointed to take place in the course of the next month, and being a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the American Senate of course thought himself entitled to have things done for him by the Foreign Office clerks. "Oh yes, I'll see him. Lord Drummond will get him a seat as a matter of course. How is he getting on with your neighbour at Dillsborough?"
"So you've heard of that."
"Heard of it! who hasn't heard of it?"--At this moment the messenger came in again and the Senator was announced. "Lord Drummond will manage about the seats in the House of Lords, Mr. Gotobed. Of course he'll see you if you wish it; but I'll take a note of it"
"If you'll do that, Mr. Green, I shall be fixed up straight. And I'd a great deal sooner see you than his lordship."
"That's very flattering, Mr. Gotobed, but I'm sure I don't know why."
"Because Lord Drummond always seems to me to have more on hand than he knows how to get through, and you never seem to have anything to do."
"That's not quite so flattering,--and would be killing, only that I feel that your opinion is founded on error. Mens conscia recti, Mr. Gotobed."
"Exactly. I understand English pretty well; better as far as I can see than some of those I meet around me here; but I don't go beyond that, Mr. Green."
"I merely meant to observe, Mr. Gotobed, that as, within my own breast, I am conscious of my zeal and diligence in Her Majesty's service your shafts of satire pass me by without hurting me. Shall I offer you a cigar? A candle burned at both ends is soon consumed." It was quite clear that as quickly as the Senator got through one end of his cigar by the usual process of burning, so quickly did he eat the other end. But he took that which Mounser Green offered him without any displeasure at the allusion. "I'm sorry to say that I haven't a spittoon," said Mounser Green, "but the whole fire-place is at your service." The Senator could hardly have heard this, as it made no difference in his practice.
Morton at this moment was sent for by the Secretary of State, and the Senator expressed his intention of waiting for him in Mr. Green's room. "How does the great Goarly case get on, Mr. Gotobed?" asked the clerk.
Well! I don't know that it's getting on very much."
"You are not growing tired of it, Senator?"
"Not by any means. But it's getting itself complicated, Mr. Green. I mean to see the end of it, and if I'm beat,--why I can take a beating as well as another man."
"You begin to think you will be beat?"
"I didn't say so, Mr. Green. It is very hard to understand all the ins and outs of a case like that in a foreign country."
"Then I shouldn't try it, Senator."
"There I differ. It is my object to learn all I can."
"At any rate I shouldn't pay for the lesson as you are like to do. What'll the bill be? Four hundred dollars?"
"Never mind, Mr. Green. If you'll take the opinion of a good deal older man than yourself and one who has perhaps worked harder, you'll understand that there's no knowledge got so thoroughly as that for which a man pays." Soon after this Morton came out from the great man's room and went away in company with the Senator.
The Senator's Letter
Soon after this Senator Gotobed went down, alone, to Dillsborough and put himself up at the Bush Inn. Although he had by no means the reputation of being a rich man, he did not seem to care much what money he spent in furthering any object he had taken in hand. He never knew how near he had been to meeting the direst inhospitality at Mr. Runciman's house. That worthy innkeeper, knowing well the Senator's sympathy with Goarly, Scrobby and Bearside, and being heart and soul devoted to the Rufford interest, had almost refused the Senator the accommodation he wanted. It was only when Mrs. Runciman represented to him that she could charge ten shillings a day for the use of her sitting-room, and also that Lord Rufford himself had condescended to entertain the gentleman, that Runciman gave way. Mr. Gotobed would, no doubt, have delighted in such inhospitality. He would have gone to the second-rate inn, which was very second-rate indeed, and have acquired a further insight into British manners and British prejudices. As it was, he made himself at home in the best upstairs sitting-room at the Bush, and was quite unaware of the indignity offered to him when Mr. Runciman refused to send him up the best sherry. Let us hope that this refusal was remembered by the young woman in the bar when she made out the Senator's bill.
He stayed at Dillsborough for three or four days during which he saw Goarly once and Bearside on two or three occasions,--and moreover handed to that busy attorney three bank notes for five pounds each. Bearside was clever enough to make him believe that Goarly would certainly obtain serious damages from the lord. With Bearside he was fairly satisfied, thinking however that the man was much more illiterate and ignorant than the general run of lawyers in the United States; but with Goarly he was by no means satisfied. Goarly endeavoured to keep out of his way and could not be induced to come to him at the Bush. Three times he walked out to the house near Dillsborough Wood, on each of which occasions Mrs. Goarly pestered him for money, and told him at great length the history of her forlorn goose. Scrobby, of whom he had heard, he could not see at all; and he found that Bearside was very unwilling to say anything about Scrobby. Scrobby, and the red herrings and the strychnine and the dead fox were, according to Bearside, to be kept quite distinct from the pheasants and the wheat. Bearside declared over and over again that there was no evidence to connect his client with the demise of the fox. When asked whether he did not think that his client had compassed the death of the animal, he assured the Senator that in such matters, he never ventured to think.
"Let us go by the evidence, Mr. Gotobed," he said.
"But I am paying my money for the sake of getting at the facts."
"Evidence is facts, sir," said the attorney. "Any way let us settle about the pheasants first"
The condition of the Senator's mind may perhaps be best made known by a letter which he wrote from Dillsborough to his especial and well-trusted friend Josiah Scroome, a member of the House of Representatives from his own state of Mickewa. Since he had been in England he had written constantly to his friend, giving him the result of his British experiences.
Bush Inn, Dillsborough, Ufford County, England, December 16, 187-.
MY DEAR SIR,
Since my last I have enjoyed myself very well and I am I trust beginning to understand something of the mode of thinking of this
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