Henry John Wrixon.

Jacob Shumate; or, The people's march (Volume 1) online

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old Taft, the publican, he'll have been at the station in good


time for his questions about the liquor laws ; but, bless
you ! he won't wait : he'll be back long ago to the Blue

' Yes, to be sure, promiscuous questions are bothering,
as you say,' replied our politician. ' Often one may want
time to explain one's views and put them properly. Any
man can ask a question that no one can answer.'

' Just so, my dear sir as few private expressions of
opinions as possible. Leave all to your meeting on Monday.
Tell them so tell them so. Keep her free, sir,' continued
the agent, reverting to his old illustration ' keep her free,
easy before the wind, and then you know you can round
her up a bit, or slack her off a bit, according to the proper
navigation ' ; and he nodded to his candidate.

By this time they were slowly entering the town of
Brassville Brassville that was big with the political fate
of our politician. As they passed along they could see
from the train some of the election placards that Quiggle
was so proud of, posted through the street that ran parallel
to the line.

' Ain't half bad, are they ? ' he remarked, as he eyed
complacently his handiwork. Frankfort looked up and
read in big emphatic lines and posters of all sizes and all
colours ' Frankfort and Free Water.' ' The Right Man
and the Reservoir.' ' The Liberal and the Loan.' ' Meeks
and No Money.' ' Ebenezer and Drought.' ' Edward Fairlie
and Fountains.'

Frankfort was rather taken aback by all this enthusiastic
identification of his name with the Reservoir ; but he had
determined to say nothing till he had an opportunity of
finally discussing the matter with Mr. Fairlie. He would
be quite explicit in his speech at the meeting, at any rate.
His attention was called from the perplexing dilemma
which was facing him, by Quiggle exclaiming aloud, ' Ah
now, that's mean of Seth real mean now ! '

' Why, what's wrong ? ' he asked.

' What's wrong ? Look there ! Seth Pride has gone
and cribbed from your placard,' said Quiggle, pointing to
a flaming poster, with an emphatic blue ribbon border, that
proclaimed ' Prohibition and Public Fountains.'


' Seth now,' the agent continued, ' should have left the
fountains to us. I was out first. " Edward Fairlie and
Fountains " go very nicely.'

As they stepped out upon the platform, they found that
several who had been there at the hour of arrival fixed
by the time-table had left ; but still there remained a group
of the citizens of Brassville, most of whom were supporters
of Frankfort ; and prominent among them was Mr. Seth
Pride himself. Him the jealous Quiggle would have
assailed about the borrowed placard, were it not that he
was prudently desirous of getting the candidate to the Lake
Reservoir Hotel as soon as possible, so as to obviate that
random questioning which, as we have seen, he considered to
be both unprofitable and dangerous in electioneering.

Seth Pride was thus left free to welcome our politician,
which he did in formal phrase, assuring him that, much as
he and his friends valued the Reservoir for the sake of the
town and district, they specially prized it for the moral
effect that the grand supply of fresh pure water would have
in promoting their cause and temperance generally.

' We truly say, sir, in our Blue Ribbon placard " Pro-
hibition and Public Fountains." You can have Prohibition,
if you first have public fountains.'

' I am all for temperance,' remarked Frankfort, ' but as
to Prohibition '

' You'll be at our meeting on Monday night, Seth/
interposed Quiggle, ' and our new Member will deal with
the whole question. You'll be happy, I can tell you, when
you hear him.'

' I trust so,' said Mr. Pride. ' And let me convey to you,
sir, the special compliments of Miss Gazelle. She trusts
to make your acquaintance later on. She knows of your
noble principles on the emancipation of woman.'

There could be no doubt that both Seth Pride and
Miss Gazelle had sincerely in view a great moral purpose,
namely, to make men sober and generally improve social
life. There may have been in their mixed championship
some personal ambition ; and their cause so absorbed them
that they could think of nothing else, nor could they make
any allowance for other people thinking of anything else


either ; still, it had the great merit of being, amid all the
din and hollowness of political cries, a cause guided by a
high moral purpose.

At the mention of woman by Mr. Pride, Bill Nash, the
cobbler, came edging up closer to our politician. He had
once been stigmatised by Miss Gazelle as the impenitent
cobbler, when he was persisting in disturbing one of her
meetings, and the epithet had stuck to him.

' What's that Seth Pride's a-saying about wimmin ? ' he
asked, as he pushed in towards Frankfort in a shuffling

' Shake hands keep him right,' whispered Quiggle, as
the candidate and Bill Nash clasped hands.

' He says, Bill, that all the ladies are to be enfranchised
made free to vote like, you know,' the agent explained.

' Ah well, just as Mr. Pride wants about the wimmin
he can do as 'e likes wi' 'em, so long as you get us the
water, Mr. Franker. Give me the water without the
wimmin, before the wimmin without the water ' ; and Mr.
Nash gave an awkward look round for moral support to his

' All right, Bill ! ' exclaimed Quiggle ; ' come to our meet-
ing on Monday, and you'll hear all about it. We want you
and all the leading men to roll up.'

Soon pushing through the little crowd, they reached
their vehicle, which was placarded on both sides ' Frankfort
and Free Water,' and drove to the Lake Reservoir Hotel.
The driver pointed out, on the way, where the main pipes
were to enter the town direct from the filtering basin, which
was to be about a mile up in the rising ground. Mr. Tom
Hilton, the landlord of the Lake Reservoir, welcomed them
in a free-and-easy manner to the house, and handed Frank-
fort a letter from his uncle, Mr. Fairlie. He opened the
letter with some eagerness, as he was anxious to have his
contemplated meeting with Mr. Fairlie as soon as possible,
so that he might clearly ascertain and finally settle his
position with regard to this disquieting problem that was
now daily and hourly coming nearer to him. He was
disappointed to find that his uncle had to leave town for
a couple of days to go to the Silveracre side, in order


to look into the accounts of one of the Bank's branches ;
but Mr. Fairlie expected to return on the Monday after-
noon, and he expressed the hope that Frankfort would
come and see him then, so that they could talk over the
prospects of the election. He added that his aunt would
have insisted upon his staying with them, as he did on
his previous visit, only that she knew it was better for him
at election times to be at the hotel. The kind lady herself
indeed added a few womanly strokes in a P.S., concluding
with ' Success to you and the Reservoir. H. F.'

As our politician was being shown upstairs, he noticed
off the landing what appeared to be a rather spacious bath-
room, and with the instinctive longing of one who had just
come from a railway journey, he bethought himself of
getting a bath, before taking a short walk with Quiggle
down the town. Upon inquiry, however, he ascertained
that the spacious baths had been constructed somewhat
prematurely in the, as it proved, too confident expectation
that the Brassville Reservoir would have been in the last
Loan. Now, however, though everything was completed
internally, they were at a standstill in the matter of baths
till they could connect with the reticulation of the new
works. So he had to content himself with a wash in the
basin, and soon was ready to begin the work of can-
vassing, placing himself upon view, as it were, of the
electors. He found the placards up everywhere announcing
his meeting for the following Monday. The list of the
independent electors whom he met and talked with would
be long to tell. He got somewhat confused with the
number of new faces, and once was upon the point, till
Quiggle stopped him, of greeting anew a citizen whom he
had a little before shaken hands with in another street.
But two things, and two only, appeared to him to stand
out clearly from all the hubbub one, the general con-
demnation of Meeks, who had been for some days in the
town engaged in an uphill canvass ; the other, that the
Reservoir was quietly taken as an accepted fact. Both
topics were taken for granted, and so he was saved trouble
in regard to them. This was quite agreeable to him ; for,
as to the Reservoir, he was at present holding his peace ;


and as for Meeks, he felt it would be unworthy of him to
join in any vulgar outcry against his antagonist.

After they had seen a number of electors, Quiggle left
our politician with Woodall, the bookseller, while he went
down to the offices of the Trumpeter and the Scorcher, to
see to the advertisements for Monday's meeting ; and also,
while settling accounts at each office up to date, to arrange
for suitable notices of the arrival of his candidate. Our
politician enjoyed the conversation with the bookseller.
Woodall belonged to that not inconsiderable class of electors
who, if they do not talk as much as others, think more
independently. These men often have not the weight in
the political battle that their numbers entitle them to, for
they are not disciplined to act together ; and in that battle,
as in all other battles, the compact, well-drilled, and cleverly-
led battalions carry the day sometimes against a scattered
and inert majority. Our politician had no wish to make
the conversation degenerate into a mere canvass upon his
part; but Woodall volunteered his views upon some matters
connected with the election. Meeks was a poor creature,
no doubt, but not so bad as some of them made out. ' And,
after all,' he added, ' what better can you expect from our
system ? '

This was not very reassuring to our politician, who
stood at the threshold, soon, as he hoped, to enter as one
of the workers under this system himself. Woodall, who
had been only thinking of his subject, noticed the flit of
disappointment that passed over Frankfort's face, and con-
tinued :

' To be sure, some men may be strong enough to be
stronger than the system. But I speak of the rank and

' Well, Mr. Woodall, I cannot say whether I belong to
the rank and file or not ; but I hope to be returned for
Brassville, and yet to do nothing that I need be ashamed of.'

'Just so, Mr. Frankfort ; so I hope and believe too. You
are not fixing that parcel right, my boy : the books should
be packed edges in.'

This last remark was addressed to a flaxen-haired, re-
fined-looking boy, who was fumbling over a set of books


that he was trying to encase in several large wrappers of
brown paper, after the manner of booksellers.

'Give it to me, Harry, I will finish it. You can go up
the shop. It is queer,' he continued, addressing Frankfort,
' how stupid intellectually quick boys sometimes are in the
simplest practical things. That boy is a capital scholar
for his age ; yet he cannot see, though he has often been
shown, that if you don't put the edges inside they are apt
to get rubbed.

' Yes,' he went on, ' as I was saying just now, I hope
and believe that you will be returned, Mr. Frankfort. But
why? Why, to be plain with you as a gentleman you
understand plain, truthful speech because Meeks did not
get us the Reservoir, and we think you will. If we believed
that Meeks would get it and that you would not, whom do
you think we'd have ? Whom would you expect us to have

Frankfort rather quailed under this decisive way of
putting the case. Yet the bookseller appeared to be an
intelligent man, of broad views. So he resolved to sound
his ideas upon the Reservoir question a little further.

' You are all for the Reservoir, I suppose ? '

' Well, of course I am for it,' he said with a quiet laugh.
' I'm in no public position. I have no special duty to look
after the State's interests. So I am all for it.'

' Yet you support it, I presume, on public grounds ? '

' I support it as a citizen of Brassville. If we can get
a quarter of a million spent here, we will all be the richer
for it Henry Woodall, bookseller, included. You can-
not expect me to object to that, if the generous State gives
it to me.'

' But then,' said Frankfort, feeling that the bookseller
was not speaking his whole mind upon the matter, ' you
know that you'll have to pay six or seven per cent interest
upon it afterwards.'

1 As to that,' replied Woodall, finishing up and tying
round his parcel, and looking down to see if the folds were
straight underneath ' as to that, Mr. Frankfort, you under-
stand that, though I don't refuse the Loan, personally I did
not propose it. I have nothing to do with arranging the


terms, whether of repayment or otherwise. As to the
interest,' he continued quietly, as he looked up from the
parcel at our politician, and speaking very slowly, ' even
unpractical Harry there could see that this small district is
as likely to pay it as it is to pay the Army Pensions List of
the United States.'

Here the conversation was interrupted by Quiggle, who,
having arranged with the Trumpeter and the Scorcher, had
come back for his principal. For he held it his duty, as
the agent managing this election, not to leave him for the
evening till he had seen him safe back at the Lake Reservoir
Hotel ; which done, and having congratulated him on the
excellent progress they were making, he hastened to his
home, which was a couple of miles out of the town, where
Mrs. Quiggle and the children were eagerly expecting him.
For he was an affectionate little man, and he had not seen
wife and family since he left them early in the week, on
going to the capital to transact his business and to accom-
pany the candidate back to Brassville.

Frankfort was not sorry to be left alone. Electioneering
is hard work. The iteration of the same subjects, fresh to
each new inquirer, but only too familiar to you, tells like the
continuous dropping of the water on the stone. Holding
noisy meetings is a relief to it. He needed rest. But there
was another reason why he was glad to be left alone. He
wanted to think over the position that was facing him. It
was narrowing down now to a decisive issue. This was
Friday evening, and on Monday afternoon he was to meet
his uncle and come to a final understanding as to what the
constituency would demand. The public declaration of his
principles was to be made a few hours later on the Monday
evening. From his careful observation of the country
around Brassville made on his journey down, and now of
the wants and resources of the place itself, he could see
clearly that Mr. Dorland was not far wrong when he
described the whole project emphatically as a job. No
more was Blanksby wrong in his estimate of it. Even
Woodall, while admitting that he wanted it, did not pretend
that it was anything else than a job. The bookseller
excused himself by saying that he had no public position or


duty to the State to discharge. But could he, Frankfort,
say the same if he should be elected ? If, as was plain
enough, the district was merely seeking to grasp a largess
out of the Treasury, what would be his real purpose in
assisting them ? Would it not be simply to secure a seat
in Parliament for himself and further his own prospects ?
Yet how unanimous and how resolute were they all for it.
Matter here sufficient for one evening's cogitation !

After breakfast the next day, Saturday, Ouiggle arrived
early to take his candidate upon further rounds among the
electors. He told him that a number of societies and
representative bodies were desirous of having interviews
with him, but that Louis Quiggle knew better than to allow
them to come till after the meeting on Monday. ' Keep
her free keep her free, easy going, moderate sail, till after
the meeting,' he remarked. The Town Council, it seemed,
wanted to discuss with him the basis of rating for paying
the interest on the quarter of a million. The Labour Union
was determined to have the work done by day labour under
Government control, instead of having it let out to contractors.
The importers of pipes and of the necessary machinery for
the engine-houses desired to have the customs duty on their
wares remitted, so as to cheapen the work ; while, on the
other hand, the makers of those lines of manufactures main-
tained that the use of all imported stuff should be prohibited,
so as to encourage native industry. The Plumbers' Union
wished a few alterations to be made in the Plumbers Act,
in view of the extensive work that would fall to their lot,
and that the minimum wage to be fixed by the Government
for the employees should be a reasonably liberal one.

' All right, Quiggle, I'll see the lot of them on Tuesday,'
said Frankfort, as they walked together down the street.

' Why, here's Hedger coming along perhaps the lawyers
want a deputation too,' remarked the agent, laughing.

' Well met, sir ; I welcome you to Brassville,' said
Hedger. ' When I saw you at Lamborn's 1 thought some
way you'd come to belong to us in time. You're one of the
family, ye see. We all like Fairlie useful man in the Bank
parlour at a pinch. I hope you'll prove equally useful to
us, Mr. Frankfort, at this pinch.'


'You're very kind, Mr. Hedger, and I hope that the
election day will show that I do belong to you. Here is
Quiggle who says that you gentlemen of the law want me
to meet a deputation from the lawyers about the Reservoir.'

' From us ? Oh no we want no deputations.'

* Well, to be sure, I suppose not. Your profession has
not much interest in it, has it ? '

' My word though, haven't we ? The conveyancing
alone of the land to be taken up means thousands to us
not to talk of arbitrations and litigation. Yes, yes, where
there's money spending, there's work brewing,' responded
the candid Hedger. ' Besides/ he added, turning con-
fidentially to the candidate, 'the landowners are our best
clients, and some of them will gain 2 or 3 an acre for
parts of their land by it. I should say that it would add
some 20,000 to the value of Lamborn's property."

Our politician and the agent then passed on to pay an
official visit to His Worship the Mayor. This was expected
of all candidates, and the Mayor preserved the dignity of
his office by giving an impartial welcome to all comers, as
Mayor ; but in his individual capacity as Simon Trigge,
Esquire, he reserved the right of supporting ' the candidate
of his free choice as a plain man.' While they were walking
up the street Quiggle informed Frankfort that as a fact His
Worship was going straight for him, right before the wind ;
and that he, Quiggle, had already chalked him up ; though
he was compelled to mark the Town Clerk as doubtful,
owing to his being indebted to Meeks, many years ago, for
getting him registered (irregularly) as a Government Sur-
veyor. Of course, however, he would not expect any
intimation of His Worship's private opinion at the official
interview, the more especially as the representative of the
Scorcher was likely to be present. As a fact, it turned out
as the agent had said. His Worship received them with
dignity, the Town Clerk standing a little behind him on one
side. But the Mayor gave no vent to his opinions upon the
subject that every one was thinking of, beyond the indefinite
statement that ' Mr. Frankfort might rely upon it that the
Mayor and Corporation of Brassville would ever prove true
to the man of the people's choice.'


The civic interview, therefore, was short, and Quiggle
hurried away his candidate to meet the other public bodies
and representative men, of whom there were a good many,
for Brassville was full of political life. Our politician was
struck by the intelligent bearing of the people he met ;
there was nothing to be seen among them of the ignorance
or passion that marked the crowd of old. Yet they did
not concern themselves with high matters. They did not
appear to be troubled about great questions of National
policy. They were active for their own local wants, and as
Government undertook to supply these, dealing with the
Government for them engaged much energy that under a
different system would be expended upon general politics.

They got back from their second street canvass about
mid-day, and Quiggle gave our politician the grateful infor-
mation that he could have the rest of the day to himself, as
under the Public Recreation Act (which a special bye-law
passed under the auspices of Mayor Trigge had made
applicable to Brassville) no business could be transacted or
work done in the town on Saturday afternoon. They did
their late shopping on the Friday. The people therefore
were scattered about in quest of change or amusement.
Quiggle felt that it was only reasonable that he should rest
from his work as well as the others, and enjoy a quiet after-
noon and a Sunday's repose with Mrs. Quiggle and the
children, before he entered upon the raging battle of the
coming week. Mrs. Quiggle, indeed, had given him positive
orders, when he was leaving in the morning, to come home
in time to give the baby only two months old its usual
airing in the perambulator, which it had got very irregularly
during his absence on his late visit to the city. But he
advised Frankfort to attend the lecture announced for that
evening at the hall of the Young Men's Association of
Brassville. Frankfort knew the hall, and had met the
President, Mr. Job Runter, who was to take the chair,
when he was in the town before. ' And,' continued Quiggle,
'Job knows of your coming I told him ; he'll take you
in tow as soon as you put your head inside the door.'
The agent then departed till the Monday, having first
picked out of a bundle of papers and cuttings a neatly-


printed leaflet which contained the announcement of the

From this it appeared that Mr. Edmund Bainbridge, a
native of the town, who had just returned from a business
trip to India, was to discourse upon the wonders of that
land. Our politician felt disinclined to go, as he knew that
Myles Dillon was to arrive that evening from Miranda, to be
ready for the operation at the Hospital on the Sunday morn-
ing, and he certainly would have preferred to spend a few
hours with him. But he had been always accustomed to
put business before pleasure, so after he had told Mr. Hilton,
the landlord of the Lake Reservoir Hotel, to be on the look-
out for Dillon, he walked down to the lecture hall.

He found it filled with what might be described as
the middle class of Brassville moral, intelligent, homely
people, the very backbone, you would say, of a nation.
The president at once recognised Frankfort, and did 'take
him in tow ' as Quiggle had expected, and towed him straight
up to the platform. He would have preferred a quiet seat
among the crowd ; but he felt that a man, by seeking to
become a public man, at once made himself public property,
and people naturally like to have a good look at their
favourites. Even the chips that Mr. Gladstone chopped out
of the trees at Hawarden were regarded with admiration
across the Atlantic. When all were seated the President
introduced the lecturer in those highly favourable terms
which men use in describing one another upon such occasions.
He concluded by saying that the information that Mr.
Bainbridge would give them on the irrigation system of
India would be of supreme moment to Brassville at the
present time. It certainly seemed that the lecturer had
bestowed much thought and observation on that subject,
as his address mainly consisted of a minute description
of the Saderwarry Reservoir and a comprehensive account
of the points of resemblance in the natural features of
the country about Saderwarry and Brassville, respectively.
He pointedly turned towards our politician at the most
pregnant passages of his discourse, and each time all eyes were
turned upon the coming Member, just as if he were supposed
to have the Reservoir somewhere about him. Loud applause


greeted each reference to the coming boon, with an occa-
sional exclamation of assent from the body of the hall such

Online LibraryHenry John WrixonJacob Shumate; or, The people's march (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 45)