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“The new fashion of introducing the candidate’s children into an election contest is a pretty one,” said Mrs. Panstreppon; “it takes away something from the acerbity of party warfare, and it makes an interesting experience for children to look back on in after years. Still, if you will listen to my advice, Matilda, you will not take Hyacinth with you down to Luffbridge on election day.”

“Not take Hyacinth!” exclaimed his mother; “but why not? Jutterly is bringing his three children, and they are going to drive a pair of Nubian donkeys about the town, to emphasise the fact that their father has been appointed Colonial Secretary. We are making the demand for a strong Navy a special feature in our campaign, and it will be particularly appropriate to have Hyacinth dressed in his sailor suit. He’ll look heavenly.”

“The question is, not how he’ll look, but how he’ll behave. He’s a delightful child, of course, but there is a strain of unbridled pugnacity in him that breaks out at times in a really alarming fashion. You may have forgotten the affair of the little Gaffin children; I haven’t.”

“I was in India at the time, and I’ve only a vague recollection of what happened; he was very naughty, I know.”

“He was in his goat-carriage, and met the Gaffins in their perambulator, and he drove the goat full tilt at them and sent the perambulator spinning. Little Jacky Gaffin was pinned down under the wreckage, and while the nurse had her hands full with the goat Hyacinth was laying into Jacky’s legs with his belt like a small fury.”

“I’m not defending him,” said Matilda, “but they must have done something to annoy him.”

“Nothing intentionally, but some one had unfortunately told him that they were half French–their mother was a Duboc, you know–and he had been having a history lesson that morning, and had just heard of the final loss of Calais by the English, and was furious about it. He said he’d teach the little toads to go snatching towns from us, but we didn’t know at the time that he was referring to the Gaffins. I told him afterwards that all bad feeling between the two nations had died out long ago, and that anyhow the Gaffins were only half French, and he said that it was only the French half of Jacky that he had been hitting; the rest had been buried under the perambulator. If the loss of Calais unloosed such fury in him, I tremble to think what the possible loss of the election might entail.”

“All that happened when he was eight; he’s older now and knows better.”

“Children with Hyacinth’s temperament don’t know better as they grow older; they merely know more.”

“Nonsense. He will enjoy the fun of the election, and in any case he’ll be tired out by the time the poll is declared, and the new sailor suit that I’ve had made for him is just in the right shade of blue for our election colours, and it will exactly match the blue of his eyes. He will be a perfectly charming note of colour.”

“There is such a thing as letting one’s aesthetic sense override one’s moral sense,” said Mrs. Panstreppon. “I believe you would have condoned the South Sea Bubble and the persecution of the Albigenses if they had been carried out in effective colour schemes. However, if anything unfortunate should happen down at Luffbridge, don’t say it wasn’t foreseen by one member of the family.”

The election was keenly but decorously contested. The newly- appointed Colonial Secretary was personally popular, while the Government to which he adhered was distinctly unpopular, and there was some expectancy that the majority of four hundred, obtained at the last election, would be altogether wiped out. Both sides were hopeful, but neither could feel confident. The children were a great success; the little Jutterlys drove their chubby donkeys solemnly up and down the main streets, displaying posters which advocated the claims of their father on the broad general grounds that he was their father, while as for Hyacinth, his conduct might have served as a model for any seraph-child that had strayed unwittingly on to the scene of an electoral contest. Of his own accord, and under the delighted eyes of half a dozen camera operators, he had gone up to the Jutterly children and presented them with a packet of butterscotch; “we needn’t be enemies because we’re wearing the opposite colours,” he said with engaging friendliness, and the occupants of the donkey-cart accepted his offering with polite solemnity. The grown-up members of both political camps were delighted at the incident–with the exception of Mrs. Panstreppon, who shuddered.