Mrs. Lee asked what she did with all this knowledge. Mrs. Baker shook her pink-and-white countenance, and almost paralysed her opposite neighbour by a sort of Grande Duchesse wink:
"Oh, my dear! you are new here. If you had seen Washington in war-times and for a few years afterwards, you wouldn't ask that. We had more congressional business than all the other agents put together. Every one came to us then, to get his bill through, or his appropriation watched. We were hard at work all the time. You see, one can't keep the run of three hundred men without some trouble. My husband used to make lists of them in books with a history of each man and all he could learn about him, but I carried it all in my head."
"Do you mean that you could get them all to vote as you pleased?" asked Madeleine.
"Well! we got our bills through," replied Mrs. Baker.
"But how did you do it? did they take bribes?"
"Some of them did. Some of them liked suppers and cards and theatres and all sorts of things. Some of them could be led, and some had to be driven like Paddy's pig who thought he was going the other way. Some of them had wives who could talk to them, and some--hadn't," said Mrs. Baker, with a queer intonation in her abrupt ending.
"But surely," said Mrs. Lee, "many of them must have been above--I mean, they must have had nothing to get hold of; so that you could manage them."
Mrs. Baker laughed cheerfully and remarked that they were very much of a muchness.