Part I
Chapter VII
 

That evening, as Betty was rummaging through a cupboard in the library looking for a seal, she came upon a box of Cuban cigars. They could have been her father's only and of his special importation: he had smoked the choicest tobacco that Havana had been able to furnish.

She knew that many men would prize that box of cigars, carefully packed in lead and ripened by time, and she suddenly determined to send it to Senator North. She felt that it would be an acute pleasure to give him something, and as for the cigars they were too good for any one else. She took the box to her room and wrapped it up carefully and badly; but when she came to the note which must accompany it, she paused before the difficulties which mechanically presented themselves. Senator North might naturally feel surprise to receive a present from a young woman with whom he had talked exactly six minutes. If she wrote playfully, offering a small tribute at the shrine of statesmanship, he might wonder if she worked slippers for handsome young clergymen and burned candles before the photograph of a popular tenor. She might send them anonymously, but that would not give her the least satisfaction. Finally, she reluctantly decided to wait until she met him again and could lead the conversation up to cigars. "Perhaps he will see me in the gallery to-morrow," she thought.

But although he sat in his comfortable revolving-chair for two hours the next afternoon, he never lifted his eyes to the gallery. She heard several brief and excellent speeches, but went home dissatisfied. On the day after her return from New York, whither she went to perform the duty of bridesmaid; she had a similar experience, twice varied. Senator Burleigh made a short speech in a voice that was truly magnificent, and following up Senator North's attack on the bill unpopular on the Republican side of the Chamber. He was answered by "Blunderbuss" Pepper, the new Senator who had turned every aristocrat out of office in his aristocratic Southern State and filled the vacancies with men of his own humble origin. He was a burly untidy- looking man, and frequently as uncouth in speech, a demagogue and excitable. But the Senate, now that three years in that body had toned him down, conceded his ability and took his abuse with the utmost good-nature. Betty recalled his biography as sketched by Senator Burleigh, and noted that almost every Senator wheeled about with an expression of lively interest, as his reiterated "Mr. President, Mr. President," secured him the floor. They were not disappointed, nor was Betty. In a few moments he was roaring like a mad bull and hurling invective upon the entire Republican Party, which "would deprive the South of legitimate representation if it could." He was witty and scored many points, provoking more than one laugh from both sides of the Chamber; and when he finished with a parting yell of imprecation, his audience returned to their correspondence and conversation with an indulgent smile. Betty wondered what he had been like before the Senate had "toned him down."

That night she addressed the cigars to Jack Emory and sent them off at once. "I do believe I came very close to making a fool of myself," she thought. "What on earth made me want to give those cigars to Senator North?--to give him anything? What a little ninny he would have thought me!" She puzzled long over this deflection from her usual imperious course with men, but concluding that women having so many silly twists in their brains, it was useless to try to understand them all, dismissed the matter from her mind.