Book IV. "Alexander the Great"
Chapter XXXI
 

After dinner he called on Oliver Wolcott, the Comptroller, one of his closest friends, and related the scene of the morning, adding the explanation. Wolcott was a Puritan, and did not approve of the marital digressions of his friends. But in this case the offence was so much less than the accusation that he listened with frequent ejaculations of content. He agreed at once to call at Hamilton's house at eight o'clock, look over the papers, and read them aloud when the trio arrived.

"And may the devil damn them," he added. "It will be one of the keenest pleasures of my life to confound them. The unpatriotic villains! They know that in disgracing you they would discredit the United States, and in their hearts they know that your measures are the only wheels for this country to run on; but to their party spite they would sacrifice everything. I'll be there."

And when the men called that night at nine o'clock, he read them the correspondence from beginning to end--Reynold's letters, and those of the woman. More than once Muhlenberg begged him to desist, but he was merciless. When he had finished, Hamilton explained that he had disguised his handwriting lest the man forge or make other use of it.

The three rose as soon as the ordeal was over. "It is no use for me to attempt to express my regret or my humiliation," said Muhlenberg, "I shall be ashamed of this as long as I live."

"I feel like an ass and a spy," exclaimed Venable. "I heartily beg your pardon, sir."

"Your mistake was justifiable. Are you satisfied?"

"More than satisfied."

Hamilton turned to Monroe.

"I made a mistake," said the Senator from Virginia. "I beg your pardon."

"And I shall hear no more of this?"

He received the solemn promise of each, then let them go. But he locked the letters carefully in their drawer again.

"Are you going to keep those things?" asked Wolcott. "It must have made you sick to listen to them."

"It did. Perhaps I shall keep them for penance, perhaps because I do not trust Monroe."