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The Old Partisan
by [?]


I sat so far back in the gallery that my opinion of my delegate friend dwindled with every session. Nevertheless my unimportant seat had its advantages. I could see the vast assembly and watch the throbbing of the Republican pulse if I could not hear its heart-beats. Therefore, perhaps, I studied my neighbors more than I might study them under different circumstances. The great wooden hall had its transient and unsubstantial character stamped on every bare wooden joist and unclinched nail. It was gaudy with flags and bunting and cheap portraits. There were tin bannerettes crookedly marshaled on the floor, to indicate the homes of the different states. A few delegates, doubtless new to the business and over-zealous, were already on the floor, but none of the principals were visible. They were perspiring and arguing in those committee rooms, those hotel lobbies and crowded hotel rooms where the real business of the convention was already done and neatly prepared for presentation to the nation. I had nothing to keep me from studying my neighbors. In front of me sat two people who had occupied the same seats at every session that I was present, a young girl and an old man. The girl wore the omnipresent shirt waist (of pretty blue and white tints, with snowy cuffs and collar), and her green straw hat was decked with blue cornflowers, from which I inferred that she had an eye on the fashions. Her black hair was thick and glossy under the green straw. I thought that she had a graceful neck. It was very white. Whiter than her face, which kept a touch of sunburn, as if she were often out in the open air. Somehow I concluded that she was a shop-girl and rode a wheel. If I were wrong it is not likely that I shall ever know.

The old man I fancied, was not so old as he looked; his delicate, haggard profile may have owed its sunken lines and the dim eye to sickness rather than to years. He wore the heavy black broadcloth of the rural politician, and his coat sagged over his narrow chest as if he had left his waistcoat at home. On his coat lapel were four old-fashioned Blaine badges. Incessantly he fanned himself.

“It can’t be they ain’t going to nominate him to-day?” he asked rather than asserted, his voice breaking on the higher notes, the mere wreck of a voice.

“Oh, maybe later,” the girl reassured him.

“Well, I wanted to attend a Republican convention once more before I died. Your ma would have it I wasn’t strong enough; but I knew better; you and I knew better; didn’t we, Jenny?”

She made no answer except to pat his thin, ribbed brown hand with her soft, white, slim one; but there was a world of sympathy in the gesture and her silent smile.

“I wonder what your ma said when she came down-stairs and found the letter, and us gone,” he cackled with the garrulous glee of a child recounting successful mischief; “made me think of the times when you was little and I stole you away for the circus. Once, your pa thought you was lost–‘member? And once, you had on your school dress and you’d tore it–she did scold you that time. But we had fun when they used to let me have money, didn’t we, Jenny?”

“Well, now I earn money, we have good times, too, grandpa,” said Jenny, smiling the same tender, comprehending smile.

“We do that; I don’t know what I would do ‘cept for you, lambie, and this is–this is a grand time, Jenny, you look and listen; it’s a great thing to see a nation making its principles and its president–and such a president!”

He half turned his head as he spoke, with a mounting enthusiasm, thus bringing his flushing face and eager eyes–no longer dim–into the focus of his next neighbor’s bright gray eyes. The neighbor was a young man, not very young, but hardly to be called elderly, of an alert bearing and kindly smile.