"If Madeleine Ross marries that coarse, horrid old Illinois politician,"
said she to her husband, "I never will forgive her so long as I live."
Mr. Clinton tried to excuse Madeleine, and even went so far as to suggest that the difference of age was no greater than in their own case; but his wife trampled ruthlessly on his argument.
"At any rate," said she, "I never came to Washington as a widow on purpose to set my cap for the first candidate for the Presidency, and I never made a public spectacle of my indecent eagerness in the very galleries of the Senate; and Mrs. Lee ought to be ashamed of herself. She is a cold-blooded, heartless, unfeminine cat."
Little Victoria Dare, who babbled like the winds and streams, with utter indifference as to what she said or whom she addressed, used to bring choice bits of this gossip to Mrs. Lee. She always affected a little stammer when she said anything uncommonly impudent, and put on a manner of languid simplicity. She felt keenly the satisfaction of seeing Madeleine charged with her own besetting sins. For years all Washington had agreed that Victoria was little better than one of the wicked; she had done nothing but violate every rule of propriety and scandalise every well-regulated family in the city, and there was no good in her. Yet it could not be denied that Victoria was amusing, and had a sort of irregular fascination; consequently she was universally tolerated. To see Mrs. Lee thrust down to her own level was an unmixed pleasure to her, and she carefully repeated to Madeleine the choice bits of dialogue which she picked up in her wanderings.
"Your cousin, Mrs. Clinton, says you are a ca-ca-cat, Mrs. Lee."
"I don't believe it, Victoria. Mrs. Clinton never said anything of the sort."
"Mrs. Marston says it is because you have caught a ra-ra-rat, and Senator Clinton was only a m-m-mouse!"