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Mr. Cornelius Johnson, Office-Seeker
by [?]

“How long do you expect to be with us, Professor?” inquired Col. Mason, the horse who had bent his force to the party wheel in the Georgia ruts.

“Oh, about ten days, I reckon, at the furthest. I want to spend some time sight-seeing. I’ll drop in on the Congressman from my district to-morrow, and call a little later on the President.”

“Uh, huh!” said Col. Mason. He had been in the city for some time.

“Yes, sir, I want to get through with my little matter and get back home. I’m not asking for much, and I don’t anticipate any trouble in securing what I desire. You see, it’s just like this, there’s no way for them to refuse us. And if any one deserves the good things at the hands of the administration, who more than we old campaigners, who have been helping the party through its fights from the time that we had our first votes?”

“Who, indeed?” said the Washington man.

“I tell you, gentlemen, the administration is no fool. It knows that we hold the colored vote down there in our vest pockets and it ain’t going to turn us down.”

“No, of course not, but sometimes there are delays–“

“Delays, to be sure, where a man doesn’t know how to go about the matter. The thing to do, is to go right to the centre of authority at once. Don’t you see?”

“Certainly, certainly,” chorused the other gentlemen.

Before going, the Washington man suggested that the newcomer join them that evening and see something of society at the capital. “You know,” he said, “that outside of New Orleans, Washington is the only town in the country that has any colored society to speak of, and I feel that you distinguished men from different sections of the country owe it to our people that they should be allowed to see you. It would be an inspiration to them.”

So the matter was settled, and promptly at 8:30 o’clock Mr. Cornelius Johnson joined his friends at the door of his hotel. The grey Prince Albert was scrupulously buttoned about his form, and a shiny top hat replaced the felt of the afternoon. Thus clad, he went forth into society, where he need be followed only long enough to note the magnificence of his manners and the enthusiasm of his reception when he was introduced as Prof. Cornelius Johnson, of Alabama, in a tone which insinuated that he was the only really great man his state had produced.

It might also be stated as an effect of this excursion into Vanity Fair, that when he woke the next morning he was in some doubt as to whether he should visit his Congressman or send for that individual to call upon him. He had felt the subtle flattery of attention from that section of colored society which imitates–only imitates, it is true, but better than any other, copies–the kindnesses and cruelties, the niceties and deceits, of its white prototype. And for the time, like a man in a fog, he had lost his sense of proportion and perspective. But habit finally triumphed, and he called upon the Congressman, only to be met by an under-secretary who told him that his superior was too busy to see him that morning.


“Too busy,” repeated the secretary.

Mr. Johnson drew himself up and said: “Tell Congressman Barker that Mr. Johnson, Mr. Cornelius Johnson, of Alabama, desires to see him. I think he will see me.”

“Well, I can take your message,” said the clerk, doggedly, “but I tell you now it won’t do you any good. He won’t see any one.”

But, in a few moments an inner door opened, and the young man came out followed by the desired one. Mr. Johnson couldn’t resist the temptation to let his eyes rest on the underling in a momentary glance of triumph as Congressman Barker hurried up to him, saying: “Why, why, Cornelius, how’do? how’do? Ah, you came about that little matter, didn’t you? Well, well, I haven’t forgotten you; I haven’t forgotten you.”