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I think, that within the next two or three years, I heard
McRueit's name mentioned several times, or saw it in the papers,
connected with strong political movements. I had no very definite
idea of where he was residing, however. Business called
me to a western county, and on the road I fell into the company
of a great political schemer and partisan—one of those joints (of
the feline political body), the next remove from the “cat's
paw.” Finding that I cared not a straw for politics, and that we
were going to the same town, he undertook the blandishment of
an overflow of confidence upon me, probably with the remote
possibility that he might have occasion to use me. I gave in to
it so far as courteously to receive all his secrets, and we arrived
at our destination excellent friends.

The town was in a ferment with the coming election of a member
for the legislature, and the hotel being very crowded, Mr.
Develin (my fellow-traveller) and myself were put into a double-bedded
room. Busy with my own affairs, I saw but little of him,
and he seemed quite too much occupied for conversation, till the
third night after our arrival. Lying in bed with the moonlight
streaming into the room, he began to give me some account of
the campaign preparing for around us, and presently mentioned


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the name of McRueit—(the name, by the way, that I had seen
upon the placards, without caring particularly to inquire whether
or not it was “mine ancient” aversion).

“They are not aware,” said Mr. Develin, after talking on the
subject awhile, “that this petty election, is, in fact, the grain of
sand that is to turn the presidential scale. If McRueit should be
elected (as I am sorry to say there seems every chance he will
be), Van Buren's doom is sealed. I have come a little too late
here. I should have had time to know something more of this
man McRueit—”

“Perhaps I can give you some idea of him,” interrupted I,
“for he has chanced to be more in my way than I would have
bargained for. But what do you wish to know particularly?”
(I spoke, as the reader will see, in the unsuspecting innocence
of my heart).

“Oh—anything—anything! Tell me all you know of him!”

Mr. Develin's vividness rather surprised me, for he raised
himself on his elbow in bed—but I went on and narrated very
much what I have put down for the reader in the two preceding

“How do you spell Mrs. Wanmaker's name?” asked my imbedded
vis-à-vis, as I stopped and turned over to go to sleep.

I spelt it for him.

He jumped out of bed, dressed himself and left the room.
Will the reader permit me to follow him, like Asmodeus, giving
with Asmodean brevity the knowledge I afterward gained of his
use of my involuntary revelation?

Mr. Develin roused the active member of the Van Buren committee
from his slumber, and in an hour had the printers of their
party paper at work upon a placard. A large meeting was to be


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held the next day in the town-hall, during which both candidates,
it was supposed, would address the people. Ladies were to occupy
the galleries. The hour came round. Mrs. McRueit's
carriage drove into the village a few minutes before eleven, and
as she stopped at a shop for a moment, a letter was handed her
by a boy. She sat still and read it. She was alone. Her face
turned livid with paleness after its first flush, and forgetting her
errand at the shop, she drove on to the town-hall. She took her
seat in a prominent part of the gallery. The preliminaries were
gone through with, and her husband rose to speak. He was a
plausible orator, an eloquent man. But there was a sentiment
circulating in the audience—something whispered from man to
man—that strangely took off the attention of the audience. He
could not, as he had never before found difficulty in doing, keep
their eyes upon his lips. Every one was gazing on his wife!
And there she sat—with her INJURED LOOK!—pale, sad, apparently
striving to listen and conceal her mental suffering. It was
as convincing to the audience of the truth of the insinuation that
was passing from mouth to mouth—as convincing as would have
been a revelation from Heaven. McRueit followed the many upturned
eyes at last, and saw that they were bent on his wife, and
that—once more—after years of conciliation, she wore THAT
INJURED LOOK! His heart failed him. He evidently comprehended
that the spirit that had driven him from Saratoga, years
before—popular sympathy with women—had overtaken him and
was plotting against him once more. His speech began to lose
its concentration. He talked wide. The increasing noise over-powered
him, and he descended at last from the platform in the
midst of a universal hiss. The other candidate rose and spoke;
and at the close of his speech the meeting broke up, and as they


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dispersed, their eyes were met at every corner with a large placard,
in which “injured wife,” “unfaithful husband,” “widow
W—n—k—r,” were the words in prominent capitals. The
election came on the next day, and Mr. McRueit being signally
defeated, Mr. Van Buren's election to the Presidency (if Mr.
Develin knew anything) was made certain—brought about by a

My business in the county was the purchase of land, and for a
year or two afterward, I was a great deal there. Feeling that I
had unintentionally furnished a weapon to his enemies, I did penance
by cultivating McRueit. I went often to his house. He
was at first a good deal broken up by the sudden check to his
ambition, but he rallied with a change in his character for which
I was not prepared. He gave up all antagonism toward his wife.
He assumed a new manner to her. She had been skilfully managed
before—but he took her now confidingly behind his shield.
He felt overmastered by the key she had to popular sympathy,
and he determined wisely to make it turn in his favor. By assiduity,
by tenderness, childlikeness, he succeeded in completely
convincing her that he had but one out-of-doors wish—that of
embellishing her existence by his success. The effort on her was
marvellous. She recovered her health, gradually changed to a
joyous and earnest promoter of her husband's interests, and they
were soon a marked model in the county for conjugal devotion.
The popular impression soon gained ground that Mr. McRueit
had been shamefully wronged by the previous prejudice against
his character as a husband. The tide that had already turned,
soon swelled to a flood, and Mr. McRueit now—but Mr. McRueit
is too powerful a person in the present government to follow


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any farther. Suffice it to say that he might return to Mrs.
Wanmaker and his old courses if he liked—for his wife's
INJURED LOOK is entirely fattened out of possibility by her happiness.
She weighs two hundred, and could no more look injured
than Sir John Falstaff.