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A Council Of State
by [?]

“They’re going to denounce the administration.”

“Hem, well in your judgment, what will that amount to, Miss Kirkman?”

“They are the representative talking men from all sections of the country, and they have their following, and so there’s no use disputing that they can do some harm.”

“Hum, what are they going to denounce the administration for?”

“Oh, there’s a spirit of general discontent, and they’ve got to denounce something, so it had as well be the administration as anything else.”

There was a new gleam in Mr. Hamilton’s eye that was not one of pleasure as he asked, “Who are the leaders in this movement?”

“That’s just what I brought this list for. There’s Courtney, editor of the New York Beacon, who is rabid; there’s Jones of Georgia, Gray of Ohio–“

“Whew,” whistled the boss, “Gray of Ohio, why he’s on the inside.”

“Yes, and I can’t see what’s the matter with him, he’s got his position, and he ought to keep his mouth shut.”

“Oh, there are ways of applying the screw. Go on.”

“Then, too, there’s Shackelford of Mississippi, Duncan of South Carolina, Stowell of Kentucky, and a lot of smaller fry who are not worth mentioning.”

“Are they organized?”

“Yes, Courtney has seen to that, the forces are compact.”

“We must split them. How is the bishop?”


“Any influence?”

“Lots of it.”

“How’s your young man, the one for whom you’ve been soliciting a place–what’s his name?”

Miss Kirkman did her womanhood the credit of blushing, “Joseph Aldrich, you mean. You can trust to me to see that he’s on the right side.”

“Happy is the man who has the right woman to boss him, and who has sense enough to be bossed by her; his path shall be a path of roses, and his bed a flowery bed of ease. Now to business. They must not denounce the administration. What are the conditions of membership in this convention?”

“Any one may be present, but it costs a fee of five dollars for the privilege of the floor.”

Mr. Hamilton turned to the desk and made out a check. He handed it to Miss Kirkman, saying, “Cash this, and pack that convention for the administration. I look to you and the people you may have behind you to check any rash resolutions they may attempt to pass. I want you to be there every day and take notes of the speeches made, and their character and tenor. I shall have Mr. Richardson there also to help you. The record of each man’s speech will be sent to his central committee, and we shall know how to treat him in the future. You know, Miss Kirkman, it is our method to help our friends and to crush our enemies. I shall depend upon you to let me know which is which. Good-morning.”

“Good-morning, Mr. Hamilton.”

“And, oh, Miss Kirkman, just a moment. Frank,” the secretary came in, “bring me that jewel case out of the safe. Here, Miss Kirkman, Mrs. Hamilton told me if you came in to ask if you would mind running past the safety deposit vaults and putting these in for her?”

“Certainly not,” said Miss Kirkman.

This was one of the ways in which Miss Kirkman was made to remember her race. And the relation to that race, which nothing in her face showed, came out strongly in her willingness thus to serve. The confidence itself flattered her, and she was never tired of telling her acquaintances how she had put such and such a senator’s wife’s jewels away, or got a servant for a cabinet minister.

When her other duties were done she went directly to a small dingy office building and entered a room, over which was the sign, “Joseph Aldrich, Counselor and Attorney at Law.”

“How do, Joe.”

“Why, Miss Kirkman, I’m glad to see you,” said Mr. Aldrich, coming forward to meet her and setting a chair. He was a slender young man, of a complexion which among the varying shades bestowed among colored people is termed a light brown skin. A mustache and a short Vandyke beard partially covered a mouth inclined to weakness. Looking at them, an observer would have said that Miss Kirkman was the stronger man of the two.