She declared herself to be the moral image of Martha Washington, and she started a discussion whether Carrington or Lord Dunbeg would best suit her in the r?le of the General.
"Mr. Carrington is exemplary," she said, "but oh, what joy to be Martha Washington and a Countess too!"
WHEN he reached his rooms that afternoon, Senator Ratcliffe found there, as he expected, a choice company of friends and admirers, who had beguiled their leisure hours since noon by cursing him in every variety of profane language that experience could suggest and impatience stimulate. On his part, had he consulted his own feelings only, he would then and there have turned them out, and locked the doors behind them. So far as silent maledictions were concerned, no profanity of theirs could hold its own against the intensity and deliberation with which, as he found himself approaching his own door, he expressed between his teeth his views in respect to their eternal interests. Nothing could be less suited to his present humour than the society which awaited him in his rooms. He groaned in spirit as he sat down at his writing-table and looked about him. Dozens of office-seekers were besieging the house; men whose patriotic services in the last election called loudly for recognition from a grateful country.
They brought their applications to the Senator with an entreaty that he would endorse and take charge of them. Several members and senators who felt that Ratcliffe had no reason for existence except to fight their battle for patronage, were lounging about his room, reading newspapers, or beguiling their time with tobacco in various forms; at long intervals making dull remarks, as though they were more weary than their constituents of the atmosphere that surrounds the grandest government the sun ever shone upon.
Several newspaper correspondents, eager to barter their news for Ratcliffe's hints or suggestions, appeared from time to time on the scene, and, dropping into a chair by Ratcliffe's desk, whispered with him in mysterious tones.
Thus the Senator worked on, hour after hour, mechanically doing what was required of him, signing papers without reading them, answering remarks without hearing them, hardly looking up from his desk, and appearing immersed in labour. This was his protection against curiosity and garrulity.
The pretence of work was the curtain he drew between himself and the world.
Behind this curtain his mental operations went on, undisturbed by what was about him, while he heard all that was said, and said little or nothing himself. His followers respected this privacy, and left him alone. He was their prophet, and had a right to seclusion. He was their chieftain, and while he sat in his monosyllabic solitude, his ragged tail reclined in various attitudes about him, and occasionally one man spoke, or another swore. Newspapers and tobacco were their resource in periods of absolute silence.