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

The colored man opened his mouth to speak, but the other checked him and went on: “I’m sorry, but I’m in a great hurry now. I’m compelled to leave town to-day, much against my will, but I shall be back in a week; come around and see me then. Always glad to see you, you know. Sorry I’m so busy now; good-morning, good-morning.”

Mr. Johnson allowed himself to be guided politely, but decidedly, to the door. The triumph died out of his face as the reluctant good-morning fell from his lips. As he walked away, he tried to look upon the matter philosophically. He tried to reason with himself–to prove to his own consciousness that the Congressman was very busy and could not give the time that morning. He wanted to make himself believe that he had not been slighted or treated with scant ceremony. But, try as he would, he continued to feel an obstinate, nasty sting that would not let him rest, nor forget his reception. His pride was hurt. The thought came to him to go at once to the President, but he had experience enough to know that such a visit would be vain until he had seen the dispenser of patronage for his district. Thus, there was nothing for him to do but to wait the necessary week. A whole week! His brow knitted as he thought of it.

In the course of these cogitations, his walk brought him to his hotel, where he found his friends of the night before awaiting him. He tried to put on a cheerful face. But his disappointment and humiliation showed through his smile, as the hollows and bones through the skin of a cadaver.

“Well, what luck?” asked Col. Mason, cheerfully.

“Are we to congratulate you?” put in Mr. Perry.

“Not yet, not yet, gentlemen. I have not seen the President yet. The fact is–ahem–my Congressman is out of town.”

He was not used to evasions of this kind, and he stammered slightly and his yellow face turned brick-red with shame.

“It is most annoying,” he went on, “most annoying. Mr. Barker won’t be back for a week, and I don’t want to call on the President until I have had a talk with him.”

“Certainly not,” said Col. Mason, blandly. “There will be delays.” This was not his first pilgrimage to Mecca.

Mr. Johnson looked at him gratefully. “Oh, yes; of course, delays,” he assented; “most natural. Have something.”

At the end of the appointed time, the office-seeker went again to see the Congressman. This time he was admitted without question, and got the chance to state his wants. But somehow, there seemed to be innumerable obstacles in the way. There were certain other men whose wishes had to be consulted; the leader of one of the party factions, who, for the sake of harmony, had to be appeased. Of course, Mr. Johnson’s worth was fully recognized, and he would be rewarded according to his deserts. His interests would be looked after. He should drop in again in a day or two. It took time, of course, it took time.

Mr. Johnson left the office unnerved by his disappointment. He had thought it would be easy to come up to Washington, claim and get what he wanted, and, after a glance at the town, hurry back to his home and his honors. It had all seemed so easy–before election; but now–

A vague doubt began to creep into his mind that turned him sick at heart. He knew how they had treated Davis, of Louisiana. He had heard how they had once kept Brotherton, of Texas–a man who had spent all his life in the service of his party–waiting clear through a whole administration, at the end of which the opposite party had come into power. All the stories of disappointment and disaster that he had ever heard came back to him, and he began to wonder if some one of these things was going to happen to him.