The Victim A romance of the Real Jefferson Davis

#Fiction #Historical
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Excerpt CHAPTER I THE CURTAIN RISES "For the Lord's sake, Jennie—" Dick Welford paused at the bottom of a range of steps which wound up the capitol hill from Pennsylvania Avenue. The girl standing at the top stamped her foot imperiously. "Hurry—hurry!" "I won't—" "Then I'll leave you!" The boy laughed. "You don't dare. It's barely sunup—still dark in spots—the boogers'll get you—" With a grin he deliberately sat down. "Dick Welford, you're the laziest white man I ever saw in my life—We won't get a seat, I tell you—" "We can stand up." "We won't even get our noses in the door—" "You don't think these old Senators get up at daylight, do you?" "They didn't go to bed last night—" "I'll bet they didn't!" Dick laughed. "I know one that didn't anyhow—" "Who?" "Senator Davis." "How do you know?" "Spent the night there. Father stayed so late, Mrs. Davis put me to bed. Regular procession all night long! And among his visitors the Blackest Republican of them all—" "Old Abe run over from Illinois to say good-by?" "No, but his right hand man Seward did—" "Sly old snuff-dipping hypocrite—" "Anyhow, he's the brains of his party." "And he called on Jeff Davis last night?" "Not the first time either. Mrs. Davis told me that when the Senator was so ill with neuralgia and came near losing his sight, Seward came every day, sat in the darkened room and talked for hours to his enemy—" "That's because he's a Black Republican. Their ways are dark. They like rooms with the shades pulled down—" "Anyhow he likes Mr. Davis." "Well, it's good-by to the old Union—how many Senators are going to-day?" "Yulee and Mallory from Florida, Clay and Fitzpatrick from Alabama and Senator Davis—" "All in a day?" "Yes—" "Jennie, they'll talk their heads off. It'll be three o'clock before the first one finishes. We'll die. Let's go to Mt. Vernon—" "Dick Welford, I'm ashamed of you. You've no patriotism at all—" "And I just proposed a pilgrimage to the home of George Washington!" "You don't care what happens in the Senate Chamber to-day—" "No—I don't." The boy's lazy figure slowly rose, mounted the steps, paused and looked down into the tense eager young face. "You really want to know," he began slowly, "why speaking tires me now?" "Yes—why?" "Because it's a waste of breath—we're going to fight!" The girl flushed with excitement. "Who told you? What have you heard? Who said so?" A dreamy look in the boy's eyes deepened. "Nobody's told me. I just know. It's in the air. A wild duck knows when to go north. A bluebird knows when to move south. It's in the air. That's the way I know—" his voice dropped. "Let's go to Mt. Vernon and spend the day, Jennie—" The girl looked up sharply. The low persuasive tones were unmistakable. The faintest flush mantled her cheeks. "No—I wouldn't miss those speeches for anything. You promised to take me to the Senate gallery. Come on." With a quick bound the boy scaled the next flight of steps and looked down at her laughing: "All right, why don't you come on!" With a frown she sprang up the stone stairs and he caught her step with a sudden military salute....
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