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at Apple.” As he prepared to leave, the board members

2023-12-05 23:43:09source:androidClassification:law

Hence, when Mrs. Lightfoot Lee was announced, and the two sisters were ushered into the presidential parlour, she put on a coldly patronizing air, and in reply to Madeleine's hope that she found Washington agreeable, she intimated that there was much in Washington which struck her as awful wicked, especially the women; and, looking at Sybil, she spoke of the style of dress in this city which she said she meant to do what she could to put a stop to. She'd heard tell that people sent to Paris for their gowns, just as though America wasn't good enough to make one's clothes! Jacob (all Presidents' wives speak of their husbands by their first names) had promised her to get a law passed against it. In her town in Indiana, a young woman who was seen on the street in such clothes wouldn't be spoken to. At these remarks, made with an air and in a temper quite unmistakable, Madeleine became exasperated beyond measure, and said that "Washington would be pleased to see the President do something in regard to dress-reform--or any other reform;" and with this allusion to the President's ante-election reform speeches, Mrs. Lee turned her back and left the room, followed by Sybil in convulsions of suppressed laughter, which would not have been suppressed had she seen the face of their hostess as the door shut behind them, and the energy with which she shook her head and said: "See if I don't reform you yet, you--jade!"

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Mrs. Lee gave Ratcliffe a lively account of this interview, and he laughed nearly as convulsively as Sybil over it, though he tried to pacify her by saying that the President's most intimate friends openly declared his wife to be insane, and that he himself was the person most afraid of her. But Mrs. Lee declared that the President was as bad as his wife; that an equally good President and President's wife could be picked up in any corner-grocery between the Lakes and the Ohio; and that no inducement should ever make her go near that coarse washerwoman again.

at Apple.” As he prepared to leave, the board members

Ratcliffe did not attempt to change Mrs. Lee's opinion. Indeed he knew better than any man how Presidents were made, and he had his own opinions in regard to the process as well as the fabric produced. Nothing Mrs. Lee could say now affected him. He threw off his responsibility and she found it suddenly resting on her own shoulders. When she spoke with indignation of the wholesale removals from office with which the new administration marked its advent to power, he told her the story of the President's fundamental principle, and asked her what she would have him do. "He meant to tie my hands," said Ratcliffe, "and to leave his own free, and I accepted the condition. Can I resign now on such a ground as this?" And Madeleine was obliged to agree that he could not. She had no means of knowing how many removals he made in his own interest, or how far he had outwitted the President at his own game. He stood before her a victim and a patriot. Every step he had taken had been taken with her approval. He was now in office to prevent what evil he could, not to be responsible for the evil that was done; and he honestly assured her that much worse men would come in when he went out, as the President would certainly take good care that he did go out when the moment arrived.

at Apple.” As he prepared to leave, the board members

Mrs. Lee had the chance now to carry out her scheme in coming to Washington, for she was already deep in the mire of politics and could see with every advantage how the great machine floundered about, bespattering with mud even her own pure garments. Ratcliffe himself, since entering the Treasury, had begun to talk with a sneer of the way in which laws were made, and openly said that he wondered how government got on at all. Yet he declared still that this particular government was the highest expression of political thought. Mrs. Lee stared at him and wondered whether he knew what thought was. To her the government seemed to have less thought in it than one of Sybil's gowns, for if they, like the government, were monstrously costly, they were at least adapted to their purpose, the parts fitted together, and they were neither awkward nor unwieldy.

There was nothing very encouraging in all this, but it was better than New York. At least it gave her something to look at, and to think about. Even Lord Dunbeg preached practical philanthropy to her by the hour. Ratcliffe, too, was compelled to drag himself out of the rut of machine politics, and to justify his right of admission to her house. There Mr. French discoursed at great length, until the fourth of March sent him home to Connecticut; and he brought more than one intelligent member of Congress to Mrs. Lee's parlour. Underneath the scum floating on the surface of politics, Madeleine felt that there was a sort of healthy ocean current of honest purpose, which swept the scum before it, and kept the mass pure.

This was enough to draw her on. She reconciled herself to accepting the Ratcliffian morals, for she could see no choice. She herself had approved every step she had seen him take. She could not deny that there must be something wrong in a double standard of morality, but where was it? Mr.

Ratcliffe seemed to her to be doing good work with as pure means as he had at hand. He ought to be encouraged, not reviled. What was she that she should stand in judgment?

Others watched her progress with less satisfaction. Mr. Nathan Gore was one of these, for he came in one evening, looking much out of temper, and, sitting down by her side he said he had come to bid good-bye and to thank her for the kindness she had shown him; he was to leave Washington the next morning. She too expressed her warm regret, but added that she hoped he was only going in order to take his passage to Madrid.

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