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LOVE AND POLITICS-FAIR MARJORIE
UDGE GILDERSLEEVE, I believe."
“Yes, sir. What can I do for you? Sit down, sir. Zed, stir up the fire!" This to a ruddy-faced lad with a rude shock of corn-tassel hair. “Mighty cold out. Come far? Better draw your chair up to the stove and warm your feet. Comfort before business," with a low chuckle.
Judge Gildersleeve had a habit of carrying on a monologue when meeting strangers. It enabled him to study them without interruption.
“As I was saying, young man, what can I do for you?"
“I have no business, Judge Gildersleeve. I have called simply to pay my respects to you."
“And why to me?"
“Because for years you have been at the head of the
"What is your name, sir?”
"What!-son of Abe Simonson of Hawcreek Township?
“Yes, sir, he is my father.” This with quiet dignity, though the color had risen to the roots of the young man's hair.
"I beg your pardon, sir. You certainly don't resemble your father. Indeed, I never knew that Abe Simonson had a son. Where do you work-got a trade?"
“I'm a lawyer, sir-or suppose I am. At least, I've been admitted to the bar, and have had some practice."
The Judge elevated his eyebrows. "Huh!" to himself, "a lawyer! Abe Simonson's son! Yet the youngster looks it, now that I take a square squint at him. Uncommonly fine head. Resembles Justice Marshall. Reminds me of the old Greek and Roman jurists, only younger. Nature does play some devilish pranks"-all the while drumming his fingertips on the table. Then aloud, "Where were you born, sir?"
"In Missouri, in 1832; or so my father says." “And why the qualifying clause ?”
"Because, sir, sometimes I seem to remember being somewhere else about the time I began to note things at St. Joseph, Missouri,-a dream-vision dissolving into rugged reality.”
“Strange fancy. You must be a theosophist, a transmigrationist.“
“Oh, no, sir,—nothing so metaphysical as that."
The Judge felt in his pocket for a cigar. Finding none, he lighted his pipe, all the while keenly scrutinizing his young caller. “The ordinary Raleigh County youth would have been stumped by such terms as I have used, but this youngster-old Abe Simonson's son-disclaims being ‘metaphysical.' Humph!” The Judge's mind was busy.
"You say you are a lawyer, Mr. Simonson; but how about your general education ?-your-"
"Nothing to boast of, I assure you, Judge Gildersleeve. However, I'm a Harvard man, '53, and
"The hell-I beg your pardon, sir. You, old Abe Simonson's son, a Harvard man, great class of '53? Why, I remember." The Judge paused. He “remembered” that in '53 he had sentenced Abe Simonson to the penitentiary for five years for horse stealing.
“And you graduated from Harvard?"
“Yes, sir,” modestly. “I worked my way through."
“Worked your way through! I'm proud of you! Shake, young man, shake!" The Judge leaped to his feet and was extending his hand. “Dog my cats! I'm a Yale man myself, '27. Why, damn it-I beg your pardon, sir !-you warm the cockles of my heart. Sit down and tell me all about it."
“There's little to tell, Judge Gildersleeve. I was just a grub, that's all. I was too busy keeping up with my classes, and earning money to meet my expenses-tuition, books, and board-for anything else. In fact, but for the encouragement of Charlie Eliot, one of my classmates, I don't think I could have pulled through."
“Member of any of the frats? On the ‘nine' or 'eleven'? How about the Cambridge gals?” The Judge's eyes were twinkling with good humor.
"As for the frats and sports, Judge, I was too busy shoveling snow and ashes for rich people, sawing wood, doing errands, and, toward the last, coaching sophs and freshies for their exams. As for the girls—ah, well, you know girls have no use for poor boys.”
Just then there was a good-sized earthquake in the next room. The Judge exclaimed, “Damn that Zed !” and excused himself. There was a giggle, and a low-voiced colloquy that sounded like tender entreaty, followed by a mock-gruff refusal; presently the Judge returned.
"Your story interests me, Mr. Simonson. After your graduation at Harvard?"
“Why, I spent a year in Europe.”
“In Europe?” The Judge frowned, plainly, incredulous, and half rose as if to end the interview.
“It was this way, Judge Gildersleeve: I got a job on a cattle-ship and worked my way over. The captain's brother had the European agency for Bumbold's Compound Extract of Fuchu, and through him—a Harvard man, as it happened,
43—I got a place with one of his advertising gangs. Didn't like the job, but it gave me a chance to get outdoor exercise, make some money, and, incidentally, see Europe.”
The explanation, brief and frank, pleased the Judge, and at once restored the entente cordiale.
“Yes, once more back to dear old Harvard, invigorated, broadened, and with my whole year's salary in my pocket, for,” he added with a smile, "you see, I worked my way back on another cattle-ship."
"Oh, there's little more to add-work and study, study and work, always with the dream of the final Commencement, and the day when I could begin an honorable career in a great and noble profession." The young lawyer's face was flushed, and there was a tremor in his voice.
"Did you ever see-Daniel Webster?”
“Yes, sir-and once I opened the door of his carriage. He spoke to me kindly, gave me his hand, and pronounced a blessing on me. He was very sorrowful. He had just made his Seventh of March Speech and it seemed that everybody had turned against him."
The Judge to himself: "And from Missouri-old Abe Simonson's son — Harvard man — attorney-at-law — noble man. Great God!"
Judge Edmund P. Gildersleeve was not an emotional man, but now he was moved deeply. His heart went out to the young lawyer. A Simonson, he thought, yet a nobleman; a thoroughbred sprung from basest stock; a stainless knight sired by a groveling knave. The Judge knew New Richmond's proud caste, its haughty exclusiveness. Why had this young man come to New Richmond to achieve fame and fortune? But it was not for him to question. For the young man it meant defeat at first, and social crucifixion.
He would be condemned without a hearing, ostracized. Simonson—the very word a hissing and a byword, a cruel sentence, an inflexible excommunication. “Yet he himself is innocent and I like him," mused the Judge. “By the Eternal, I'll help him, stand by him. So shall Culpepper, and Wilcox, and Pinckney, and all the rest. I'll make it a personal matter. I don't care anything about his politics or religion. I'll try to forget his scoundrelly old father. He's a brother college alumnus, and-he saw Daniel Webster, and actually shook hands with him. Besides, he's a gentleman-I can't be mistaken. He tells a straight story, doesn't disown his scapegrace father, and isn't ashamed of honest poverty. Yes, sir, I'll stand by him and—I'll see him through.”
"I cannot begin to tell you, Mr. Simonson,” arousing from his meditations, “how much I have enjoyed the narrative of your college experiences. Really, you have put me under obligations to you. But most of all do I appreciate your courtesy in calling on me and honoring me with your confidence. And now, as a slight compensation, I want you to be my guest tonight; and, as it is about supper time, we'd better be going.”
In vain the young lawyer strove to excuse himself, though at heart both proud and glad of his sudden access of good fortune, for he knew it meant much to be the invited guest of Judge Gildersleeve.
The introductions at The Maples were simple and informal, and supper was already on the table. There was another guest-Harold Culpepper, son of the Doctor. The young lawyer was seated next to Marjorie, the Judge's only daughter; and opposite them were Mr. Culpepper and Marjorie's brother Fred.
"Mother," said the Judge, "Mr. Simonson has been renewing my youth this afternoon with an account of his college days and experiences."