Part III
Chapter II
 

"I am going to have my salon, or at all events the beginning of it, at once," said Betty to Sally Carter on the afternoon of her arrival, "and I want you to help me."

"I am ready for any change," said Miss Carter. Her appearance was unaltered, and she had spoken of Emory's death without emotion. Whether she had put the past behind her with the philosophy of her nature, or whether his marriage with a woman for whose breed she had a bitter and fastidious contempt had killed her love before his death, Betty could only guess. She made no attempt to learn the truth. Sally's inner life was her own; that her outer was unchanged was enough for her friends.

"I am going to give a dinner to thirty people on the sixth of January. Here is the list. You will see that every man is in official life. There are eight Senators, five members of the House, the British Ambassador, and the Librarian of Congress. Some of them know my desire for a salon and are ready to help me. I shall talk about it quite freely. In these days you must come out plainly and say what you want. If you wait to be too subtle, the world runs by you. I am determined to have a salon, and a famous one at that. This is an ambitious list, but half-way methods don't appeal to me."

"Nobody ever accused you of an affinity for the second best, my dear; but you may thank your three stars of luck for providing you with the fortune and position to achieve your ambitions: beauty and brains alone wouldn't do it. Senator North," she continued from the list in her hand: "Mrs. North is wonderfully improved, by the way; has not been so well in twenty years. Senator Burleigh: he is out flat-footed against free silver since the failure of the bi-metallic envoys, and his State is furious. Senator Shattuc is for it, so they probably don't speak. Senator Ward might be induced to fall in love with Lady Mary and turn his eloquence on the Senate in behalf of a marriage between Uncle Sam and Britannia. There is no knowing what your salon may accomplish, and that would be a sight for the gods. Senator Maxwell will inveigh in twelve languages against recognizing the belligerency of the Cubans. Senator French will supply the distinguished literary element. Senator March represents the conservative Democrat who is too good for the present depraved condition of his State. If you want to immortalize yourself, invent a political broom. Senator Eustis: he thinks the only fault with the Senate is that it is too good-natured and does not say No often enough. Who are the Representatives? The only Speaker, the immortal Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means--don't place me near him, for I've just paid a hideous bill at the Custom House and I'd scratch his eyes out. Mr. Montgomery: he and Lady Mary are getting almost devoted. Trust a clever woman to pinch the memory of any other woman to death. The redoubtable Mr. Legrand, also of Maine, upon whom the shafts of an embittered minority seem to fall so harmlessly; and Mr. Armstrong--who is he? I thought I knew as much about politics as you, by this time, but I don't recall his name."

"I met him at Narragansett, and had several talks with him. He is a Bryanite, but very gentlemanly, and his convictions were so strong and so unquestionably genuine that he interested me. I want the best of all parties. We can't sit up and agree with each other."

"Don't let that worry you, darling. Mr. North has been contradicting everybody in the Senate for twenty years. Your devoted Burleigh quarrels with everybody but yourself. Mr. Maxwell snubs everybody who presumes to disagree with him, and French is so superior that I long for some naughty little boys to give him a coat of pink paint. Your salon will probably fight like cats. If the war cloud gets any bigger, your mother will go to bed early on salon nights and send for a policeman. I look forward to it with an almost painful joy. I want to go in to dinner with Mr. March, by the way. He is the noblest-looking man in Congress--looks like what the statues of the founders of the Republic would look like if they were decently done. I'll paint the menu cards for you, and I'll wear a new gown I've just paid ninety-three dollars duty on--I certainly shall tear out the eyes of 'the honourable gentleman from Maine.'"