University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
The master's house

a tale of Southern life




Page 326


The resignation of a member “elect” of the Legislature,
caused an unexpected election to be held to supply the
vacancy. Col. Lee, being a Virginian, and coming, as he
often remarked, from the only State in the Union that
made “politics a business,” of course took a deep interest
in “public affairs;” and as he could not get from
the people a nomination for himself, he determined, as a
compliment to his friend Mr. Moreton to obtain for that
gentleman the distinguished honor.

Mr. Moreton was highly respected, but was not in the
popular sense a “favorite with the masses.” He was
eccentric in his humors, and, from long habit, accustomed
to indulge in any caprice of feeling uppermost in his
mind, consequently, he had the reputation of being very
proud; and his occasionally amiable, and probably his
natural manner, was regarded with suspicion by those who
had become prejudiced by his frequent displays of insensibility
and hauteur. But Mr. Moreton was wealthy, and
Lee had a Virginian theory, that every thing could be


Page 327
carried at the polls by a judicious use of money; and after
some difficulty succeeded, to the surprise of every body
but those in the secret, to have Mr. Moreton declared the
choice of “the party!”

It required all Col. Lee's eloquence to induce Mr.
Moreton to become a candidate; but his pride and his
ambition were wrought upon, and with the understanding
that Mr. Moreton's friends were to do all the electioneering,
the selected candidate was declared “duly in the
field.” On the Saturday succeeding these events, Mr.
Moreton's name appeared in large type in the columns of
the Southern Clarion, with a highly laudatory editorial

The election was to be what was called a “short brush,”
and the “Moreton party” entered at once upon their arduous
duties. Busteed, and his hangers-on, immediately
rose into popularity. Loafers, who had not been known
to have a cent for months, were in the streets spending
money, and “working” for Moreton; and one or two
“awful republicans,” who had made it their business for
years to denounce Moreton “as a stuck-up aristocrat,
who hated poor men, and tried to run over them, because
he owned a hundred niggers,” suddenly became convinced
that they were mistaken; and they felt it a matter of simple
justice, and in “honor bound,” to give Mr. Moreton
their cordial support.

Now the “representative district” had an extraordinary
geographical peculiarity. It was a long narrow belt
of land, bounded in front by the Mississippi,—in the rear,
by a “dry river.” The lands fronting upon the “Father


Page 328
of waters” were rich and fertire beyond comparison, and
were taken up by large plantations, and possessed of
course but few white inhabitants, the population being
mostly negroes. The lands shelving toward “dry river”
were `piny woods,” and densely occupied by poor white
men, who, owning but few servants, were obliged to work

The “opposition,” therefore, conceived the idea, that
as the defeat of Mr. Moreton under the circumstances was
almost hopeless, (there not being time to bring the proper
influences to bear,) the best thing that could be done was
to bring out a “Green River candidate;” set him going
with the cry of “the poor man's friend,” and the “piny
woods pony,” and let him “rip,” as some of the boys
said, who liked the fun of the contest, without caring for
the result.

To carry out this design, a man living in “Possum
Hollow,” by the name of Duffy White, who was the father
of a large family, miserably poor and ignorant, but self-conceited,
and who from the habit of using large words without
knowing the meaning of them, was considered a great
man in his region of country,—was declared an “independent
candidate,” who would run without regard to
cliques, “chickenry,” or mercenary influences. This decided
upon, Duffy White's name was sent to the Southern
for publication, which caused the editor much

The difficulty lay in this: if the editor of the
local paper had any sentiment whatever, it was to hate
rich men; and although he was constantly lending himself


Page 329
to elevate them, and sustain their sway in the community,
still it was a heartless support, and bought for a
price. Lee had delicately sent to him a note, inclosing a
fifty dollar bill, in which he stated, that he did not expect
him (the editor) to occupy his columns in support of candidates
for political honors, and give his labor without just

On the other hand, Duffy White had his sympathy
simply because he was Duffy White, and also because a
leading member elect of the Legislature, and a friend of
the candidate for the United States Senate, had of course
sent the editor a letter, in which he spoke in very complimentary
terms of the Southern Clarion, and suggested
that it might get the State printing, if Duffy White could
be elected: Mr. Moreton was known to be friendly to a
journal printed in another part of the State. The editor
of the Clarion finally pursued his usual course when
deeply puzzled; he went over to the “Head-quarters,”
and took several successive “drinks,” and after getting
his ideas sufficiently conglomerated to write himself out of
the difficulty, he dashed off the following notice, and
placed it in his most valuable columns.

“In our last issue, we noticed the `regular nomination'
of Peyton Moreton, Esq., as candidate for the vacant
seat in the Legislature. At that time we were not aware
that Mr. Moreton would have an opposing candidate. It
will be seen, by reference to the proper column, that
Capt. Duffy White has consented to allow his name to be
used; and we understand that he has many warm friends
and admirers. As an independent journalist, it is best,


Page 330
perhaps, that we take no part in this contest; both gentlemen
are personally known and honored in our midst; and
either, if elected, will serve his constituents with credit,
and worthily represent the State.” This editorial was read
and laughed at; Mr. Moreton never dreamed of any serious
opposition, and in anticipation of his election, took to
studying with the greatest avidity “Jefferson's Manual,”
and arranging his ideas on the subject of the “New Constitution.”

A few days only, however, had passed away before the
scales began to fall from their eyes. A United States
Senator was to be elected, and the candidate for that
office knew that he could receive no support from Mr.
Moreton, for they not only differed in politics, but were
not personally friendly; but having plenty of money, and
determined, if possible, to be elected, he sent the “right
kind of a man from the State Capitol” over to “Possum
Hollow” to see Duffy White, to furnish him with the
“sinews of war,”—get his tickets printed,—supply his
electors with whiskey, and slang terms; and before Col.
Lee was aware of it, Duffy White's party came out “of
the woods,” like an army “terrible with banners.”

A clap of thunder at noonday could not have been
more unexpected to the people of Beechland. The excitement
was immense. Some of the “independent voters,”
whom Lee had apparently secured to himself by a shake of
the hand, or the loan of a few dollars, began to stagger in
their fealty, and the “sturdy republicans,” who had been so
suddenly convinced that Mr. Moreton was not so proud a
man as they thought him, went over to Duffy White's


Page 331
side, body and soul; acknowledging privately, that they
had been for the moment influenced by improper motives.

The shock to Mr. Moreton was overwhelming. He
had, against his wishes, been induced to run,—never
dreaming of opposition; or, if defeated, presumed that it
would be by some opponent worthy of his steel, and the
possibility of Duffy White's being preferred to him by his
fellow-citizens as a representative, stung him to the quick;
roused all his energy and all his bitterness; and by
the advice of Lee, he got out an old carriage, with a
couple of plough-horses attached, and putting on homespun
clothes, and his overseer's hat, he started out seriously
to electioneer,—giving his confidential lieutenants
to understand, that any reasonable, or unreasonable,
amount of money was at their command to keep him from
being disgraced. The season of the year was fine; the
people had their “crops laid by,” and the unexpected
excitement of the election was a source of gratification to
all,—for to people who had little or nothing to do, it gave
pleasant employment to body and mind.

Ten days more, and the result would be known.
Duffy White, it was evident, had secured the entire sympathy
of his neighborhood constituents. Hardly a man in
the “piny woods” but felt that he was bound to sustain a
candidate, brought out in compliment to “the toiling millions;”
in fact, it seemed as if there had seized upon the
community a sort of fascination, and Duffy White—who
made a mark to represent his name—who was even ignorant
of the proper use of the simplest words of his native


Page 332
tongue, was likely to be elected to the responsible office of
maker and conservator of the laws.

So indefatigable had been the canvassers on both
sides, that the friends of the two candidates had procured
the names of voters in the sparse population of the
county, and it could be told with almost unerring certainty
how would stand the ballot. The consequence was,
that Mr. Moreton's friends discovered that a few votes
might decide the result; and then rose into sudden notice
a “genteel gambler,” by the name of Hickman, who could
by his influence on certain of Busteed's customers, control
some eight or ten of the “independent constituency.”
No sooner had Col. Lee informed himself of the fact, than
he immediately saw that it was necessary to secure Hickman
to Mr. Moreton's interest; and he accordingly set
about the task.

Meanwhile, Mr. Moreton, who was of the most excitable
temperament, was wrought up to the highest pitch of
disquietude. He wanted the thing decided, and to be out
of his agony. Duffy White bestrode him night and day.
He became disgusted with the concessions of opinion he
had to make to people he despised,—of affected sympathy
for people he fairly hated,—yet he was kept in this terrible
slavery, because it was necessary for him to defeat
Duffy White.

“D—n Duffy White!” he would roar out, when by
himself in the woods; “d—n Duffy White!” he would
exclaim in the sacred precincts of his own fireside.

Mrs. Moreton never interfered with her husband's
plans, except to give them her cordial indorsement; but


Page 333
she became absolutely alarmed at Mr. Moreton's intense
feeling, and for the first time in the many years of her
married life,—made a suggestion.

She urged Mr. Moreton to treat this horrid Duffy
White as he deserved—“treat him,” said she, “with
sovereign contempt; and, by resigning, put it out of the
power of vulgar people to affect your happiness, or for one
moment destroy your peace.” But Mr. Moreton had
become infected with the idea of office,—to be a member
of the Legislature,—a position he had always ridiculed
and scoffed at, suddenly became important for his welfare,
and writhing, as he was, in the mud and mire of political
chicanery, he allowed himself to be hurried on.

Hickman was a sensitive person, and loved popularity;
and finding himself cut off by his “professional pursuits”
from such society as he most admired, he took pleasure in
courting the good will of that class of idlers who hang
about bar-rooms, in every decaying town; and as he seemingly
gave much, and demanded little in return, he thus
found himself unexpectedly honored with the disposition
of a certain number of his admirers' votes. It had always
been Hickman's darling ambition to become acquainted
with Col. Lee; and when that gentleman, after passing him
by in silent contempt for years, met him, and shook him
by the hand, and expressed a great interest in his welfare
and happiness, Hickman was shrewd enough to understand
the cause of his sudden popularity, and at once
determined to make the best possible use of it for his own

Mildmay, without ever having spoken to Hickman, had


Page 334
in some way mortally offended him; and as he, Hickman,
possessed a mean spirit, and wanted to win the reputation
of a “fighting man,” he came to the singular determination
that it would be a source of great glory to challenge
Mildmay, and thus, without running any danger,
receive the consideration so universally (as he supposed)
bestowed upon a professed duellist.

Hickman had often overheard Col. Lee speak in no
respectful terms of what he called Mr. Mildmay's courage;
it had become a kind of prevalent idea that Mildmay
was principled against duelling. But, since the trial,
Mildmay's strict attention to business,—his love of books,
his conscientious discharge of every duty as a citizen,—
his interference on one or two occasions as a peacemaker
between parties who had difficulties,—his intense desire to
leave Toadvine to be punished by the written law, rather
than by violence,—his condemnation, by example, of intemperance,—all
these things had gradually caused him
to be looked upon as one “destitute of spirit,” as “lacking
chivalry;” and he became in popular estimation a rich
but utterly ruined man, from the force of an unfortunate
“Northern education.”

With the determination on the part of Hickman to
make the most out of his sudden acquaintance with Mr.
Moreton, he met Col. Lee's advances with coldness; and
it was not until he had been out to Mr. Moreton's house,
that he allowed himself to be formally approached with
regard to the coming political struggle. After a sumptuous
dinner, and the use of much wine, the subject of
the election was flatly broached, and the proud and dignified


Page 335
Mr. Moreton, in the excitement of the moment, condescended
to ask Hickman for his support.

But Hickman had determined to have his pound of
flesh. It was a pleasure to him to see those begging and
suing for his influence who had so long and so lately
passed him unheeded by; and after enjoying this triumph
to his heart's content, he coldly told Mr. Moreton of his
feelings toward Mildmay,—dwelt upon the supposed insults
he had received from that young man,—and demanded,
as the only price that could be paid for his votes,
that Mr. Moreton would the next day take from him,
Hickman, a challenge to the owner of Heritage Place.

Although of late there had sprung up between Mr.
Moreton and Mildmay, some coolness, yet had Hickman
proposed to Mr. Moreton such a thing, as being his second
on the day before his nomination for office, Mr. Moreton
would probably have chastised Hickman on the spot, but
on the present occasion, his astonishment at the impertinence
of Hickman, and his fear for the moment to offend
him, kept him silent; and for the first time in his life, he
felt humbled in his own imperial heart.

Hickman bore the suspense of Mr. Moreton's indecision
with the same blank look that he would have assumed,
had he staked his all on the turning of a card, and in this
his professional pursuits had given him a manner that was
now of service.

“I'll think of this!” said Mr. Moreton, finally moving
away. “I'll think of this!” he repeated, and turning to
Hickman, he continued: “Col. Lee will give you my answer
in the morning.”


Page 336

“Master!” said the servant, presenting herself with a
silver salver, containing some minute but fragrant cups of
coffee and Havana cigars—“Master, the gentleman has
gone without his coffee.”

Mr. Moreton was pacing hurriedly up and down the
gallery; he was very fond of coffee, and for the first time
in years, when in health, he waved it away, and continued
his agitated strides. Lee, however, helped himself, and
after slowly drinking the delicious beverage, he took up a
cigar, and telling the girl to bring him a light, sat composedly
down. In a few moments the smoke was curling
around his head. Meanwhile Mr. Moreton passed and repassed
before him, resembling, in his agitation, and in the
mechanical certainty of his steps, a lion exercising in his

“Lee!” said Mr. Moreton, finally—“Lee! by heaven,
sir, this is insufferable! I'm badgered by that scoundrel,
Duffy White, and bearded in my own den, by a miserable
blackleg, that should be hung up to the first tree.”

“It's bad, Moreton!” returned Lee, in an affected
voice; “but it's nothing after all. Take the challenge,”
he continued; “Hickman is an arrant coward, and Mildmay
is too psalm-singing, and too much of a gentleman to
accept it; we'll keep the thing on the tapis until after the
election, get Hickman's votes, and then let him go to the
d—l, or what is just the same, make him and Mildmay
shake hands, and say no more about the matter.”

“If I thought,” replied Mr. Moreton, checking his
strides, “if I thought I should in any way, by this matter,
compromise myself; if I thought Mildmay would look upon


Page 337
my conduct as I do, I'd stop here, and vote for Duffy
White myself, before I would secure my seat by such

“But Mildmay won't think about it as you do!” said
Col. Lee. “He will receive the challenge, ask to have an
explanation made to Hickman (for Mildmay has never intentionally
offended him), and you will make Mildmay feel
obliged for acting in the matter, and if Hickman ever says
any thing offensive, I will, myself, chastise his impertinence.”

“I'll have nothing to do with it,” said Mr. Moreton, after
a long hesitation—“nothing to do with it. I am ashamed,”
he continued, “that I consented to run for an office which
cannot be obtained without so many sacrifices. I abandon
the contest, and leave the arena of politics until gentlemen
can appear upon it, and be respected.”

Col. Lee knew the disposition of Mr. Moreton too well
to argue with him after he had come to a determination;
he therefore rose to depart, when, just at the moment, there
appeared at the gate the well-known Col. Price. The
overseer was a “piney woods man,” and was much relied
upon by Mr. Moreton, for his influence with that class of
people; the consequence was, that ever since the contest
began, the overseer, on the pretence of attending to political
interests, had neglected the more important ones of the
plantation; and he had just returned from Beechland, with
the latest news.

Out of breath, a little intoxicated, and much excited;
he gave a history of his tour among the people on Green
River, and related many anecdotes illustrative of the “unfair


Page 338
means” used to prejudice the people against Mr.
Moreton. He related, among other things, that there had
been “an extra” printed and circulated, that represented
Mr. Moreton as a man that wouldn't let his overseers, or
any other poor men, come into his presence, unless they
held their hats in their hands, and behaved like niggers;
that he would not allow said poor men, particularly “if
they were from the piney woods,” to sit down at his table,
but rudely drove them away from his house, or if particularly
kind, would send them to the negro quarters, to get
something to eat! It was furthermore asserted, that he
had started on an electioneering tour, with a suit of clothes
on he had borrowed from his overseer; that he had a silver
cup and “old brandy,” to treat the “aristocracy”
with, and a gourd and “sixteen cent whiskey,” for the
common people; and finally and lastly, that Mr. Moreton's
body servant, who accompanied him in his travels round
the parish, was present, merely to do the shaking hands
with the poor folks, he, Mr. Moreton, being afraid to do it
himself, lest he would get the itch, or some other contamination.

In conclusion, Col. Price (who had really gone out frolicking
around, without regard to Mr. Moreton's interests),
pretended, or did believe, that if Mr. Moreton could secure
a certain named number of votes at the Beechland
precinct, his election was certain; in fact, Duffy White acknowledged
to him (Col. Price), that such was the case.

The political thermometer in Mr. Moreton's breast, now
rose again; with Lee he looked over the prepared list of votes,
and Hickman's ten ballots placed the election beyond a doubt.


Page 339
Hickman gained,—triumph was sure. Moreton hesitated,
argued, took a favorable view of the challenge, began to
think it was nothing serious after all, a mere whim of
Hickman's,—that Mildmay would forget it in a few days—
that any thing unpleasant could be reconciled at the dinner
which Mr. Moreton proposed to give, to celebrate his election;
and the end was, that Lee left for Beechland, with
the understanding that he would prepare a respectful challenge
for Hickman, get that gentleman's name signed to it,
bring it out the next day to Mr. Moreton, who would deliver
it to Mildmay, and leave it take its course.

Mildmay was so busy attending to his planting interests,
that he had only heard by accident, that there was to
be an election, and that Mr. Moreton was the candidate.
It was his intention therefore, at a stated time, to ride over
with Annie to Mr. Moreton's house, and talk with him on
the subject; he was, therefore, not surprised the next
day, when he saw Mr. Moreton coming toward Heritage
Place, and supposing the gentleman was upon the business
of the canvass, Mildmay met him at the gate, and warmly
welcomed him into the house.

The more Mildmay talked, the more moody became
Mr. Moreton; the interview soon settled down chilly and
ceremonious; at length Mr. Moreton, with evident embarrassment,
put his hand in his breast, and taking out a
neatly enveloped note, handed it to Mr. Mildmay.

Graham broke the seal, and read the contents with evident
surprise. Supposing that his eyes deceived him, he
went to the window, and re-read the note, and having assured
himself of the contents, he looked at Mr. Moreton,


Page 340
as if to assure himself that that gentleman was the bearer
of such a message; having confirmed himself in all these
particulars, he folded up the note, quietly placed it in its
envelope, and said:

“Mr. Moreton, I must confess my surprise at receiving
a message of this kind, particularly as it is from a man,
whom I have no very certain knowledge that I have ever
seen. The fact that you have deemed it important enough
to bring it, makes it necessary that I should treat it with
due reflection; if I return you an answer on next Monday,
will it be with your sanction, and so far as the time is concerned,

Mildmay's voice and manner relieved Mr. Moreton, for
every moment he was losing his self-control, and sinking in
his own estimation, for consenting to bear the message at
all. He therefore eagerly caught at the future time mentioned
for the receipt of the answer, and remarked:

“That will be soon enough, Mr. Mildmay, and perhaps
the best time, as I am this week exceedingly busy with unexpected

“You shall hear from me then,” said Mildmay quietly,
for he determined, from the moment that he comprehended
the nature of the note, not to speak an unnecessary word.
In a few moments more, Mr. Moreton, after declining any
refreshment, mounted his horse, and rode away.

Mildmay, after due reflection upon the challenge, decided
that he would not alarm Annie by mentioning the
subject to her; and that he would write an informal note
to Mr. Moreton, refusing to accept the challenge, or have
any thing to do with Mr. Hickman, whose character


Page 341
and position he had become accidentally acquainted with,
through some casual remarks of his neighbor, Mr. Speers.

He therefore prepared his answer, determined to take
advantage of the first opportunity to send it, by a suitable
person, to Mr. Moreton; and thus the matter rested.

The day of the election was also the day for sending
the reply, and on the morning of that important event,
Mildmay noticed Mr. Moreton's eldest son approaching his
house, and on inquiry, found that the lad was going some
distance, to attend a “precinct,” a few miles off, where
he would remain all day, and bring home the returns of
the “poll” to his father, in the evening. Mildmay congratulated
himself upon having such an excellent person
to take his rather delicate epistle, and gave it to young
Master Moreton, with the request that he would deliver it
as directed, on his return at night,—the lad promised to
do so, and continued his journey on the road.

It was agreed by Squire Hobby, Busteed, and the “oldest
inhabitant,” that there never had been such an excitement
at Beechland, as there was at the present occasion.
Mr. Moreton's friends exerted themselves to the utmost;
they had a large stock of champagne and boned
turkey, in an out-of-the-way place, for Col. Lee and his
friends, and some bad liquor, “barbecued beef,” and sea
biscuit “for the masses,” who were Mr. Moreton's friends.
Of this last named “lunch,” as there were no other refreshments
provided, Duffy White's voters partook with
great gusto, some one having told them, that that was
“Duffy's treat,” while Moreton's constituents met in Col.
Lee's “private rooms.”


Page 342

The Beechland precinct was clearly against Duffy
White. Hickman's men came in, headed by Puckett, and
they created a great deal of amusement, by holding their
tickets, inscribed with Mr. Moreton's name, open, and high
over their heads. Hickman performed his promise to the
letter, and so it was announced to Mr. Moreton, who was
in high spirits, and now entirely confident of success.

The fact, however, that Mr. Moreton had condescended
to take a challenge from Hickman to Mildmay, was much
speculated upon by many quiet, thinking people, who were
in their hearts opposed to duelling; and as they had an
opportunity of expressing their indignation through the
ballot-box, without incurring any responsibility, Mr. Moreton
was therefore quietly deprived of about four votes for
every one gained by Hickman's influence, that, under
other circumstances, would have been his. The consequence
was, that when the poll was made up, much to the
astonishment of all parties, it was found, “that Mr. Moreton
had run ahead of his ticket” every where but at

It would be impossible to describe the overwhelming
confusion that seized upon Mr. Moreton, when he learned
his defeat; he stalked up and down his gallery a perfectly
wretched man. He did not, or would not, comprehend
the real causes of this disaster, but in accordance with his
whole life of neglect of self-control, which had comparatively
ruined the usefulness of his otherwise splendid
mind, he seemed to be desirous of finding some object on
which to vent his spleen, amid which he remembered the
note he had received from Mildmay by the hand of his


Page 343
son, but which had heretofore been unread, in the crowding
excitements of the hour.

While engaged in reading the first line in the frank
and manly epistle of Mildmay, Col. Lee presented himself.
He had come out to Mr. Moreton's to console his
friend, and explain away the unhappy effects of the election
catastrophe. He was received with marked coolness;
there was a glimmering in Mr. Moreton's mind that
the colonel was the cause of his unpleasant position,
and Lee had an idea that such was the case himself. It
was, therefore, that that gentleman sat quietly down, depending
upon his address, and events as they presented
themselves, to make his peace with the “defeated candidate.”

Mr. Moreton, without particularly excusing himself,
after he saw that Lee was seated, resumed the reading of
Mildmay's note. Could Mr. Moreton have received it
under other circumstances,—could his naturally sound
judgment have operated a moment upon his mind, he
would have sent for Mildmay, and in his natural, if expressed,
enthusiasm, hugged him to his heart as a friend
and younger brother,—so cordial, so frank, so manly, was
Mildmay's letter: but such was not to be the case. After
reading the epistle more than once, and after having several
times determined to send for Mildmay, and himself
make an explanation of his conduct so far as Hickman
was concerned,—his pride would revolt at making any
concession; he was afraid that Col. Lee would not approve
of such a course; he remembered how Mildmay had
disagreed with him in their last conversation, and without


Page 344
being conscious of it himself, he had adopted the prevailing
idea, that Mildmay “wouldn't fight:” so, amid all
these conflicting emotions, he turned to Col. Lee, and said,
“Mildmay refuses to meet Hickman.”

This remark was a relief to the colonel; he at once
comprehended, that by making the proposed duel the subject
of conversation, he could lead Mr. Moreton off from
an unpleasant subject,—break the force of the first disappointment,
and prepare the way to have it consigned to
forgetfulness. The colonel therefore said: “I hope, Mr.
Moreton, that Mr. Mildmay has not had the effrontery, in
refusing to accept Hickman's challenge, to put it upon the
ground that Mr. Hickman is not a gentleman?”

“I didn't notice whether he did or no,” returned Mr.
Moreton, perusing the note again, and then handing it to
Col. Lee, who also read it attentively.

Col. Lee, still desirous of leading Mr. Moreton away
from thinking of the election, finally said, “I think Mr.
Mildmay does insinuate that Mr. Hickman is not a gentleman;
at all events, he clearly says that he received the challenge
with surprise, considering the source from whence it

Mr. Moreton's face flushed with conflicting emotions,
and walking up and down the gallery a few times, he said,
with some excitement, “I hope that I have not fallen so
low, that a person for whom I act as a friend, can be
treated with contempt.”

“I don't think Hickman deserves to be quarrelled
about,” said Lee, with indifference; “he is good enough
for gentlemen to use when necessary, but nothing more.”


Page 345

“At the same time, Lee,” said Mr. Moreton, for the first
time fully comprehending his position toward Hickman,
“if a gentleman agrees to take a challenge, the circumstances
become very peculiar, where the second leaves a
positive affront on the principal, to go unnoticed.”

“That's true,” said Col. Lee, in an authoritative
tone, the idea suddenly flashing upon him, that if Moreton
challenged Mildmay, he would of course have the arrangement
of the preliminaries, which were much more elegant
and aristocratic than elections; and also remembering that
Mildmay “wouldn't fight,” he concluded, to play upon
Mr. Moreton's high sense of honor, so as to get that gentleman
to take Hickman's place; and so well did he succeed,
that when he left for Beechland late at night, Mr. Moreton's
disappointment at the result of the election was entirely
swallowed up by more vindictive feelings; and Lee,
in his lonely homeward ride, rehearsed to himself the exciting
preliminaries of a “personal meeting,” in which
he was to be the leading second, thereby acquiring for
himself additional social and personal glory.