Aladdin & Co. A Romance of Yankee Magic

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Which is of Introductory Character.

Our National Convention met in Chicago that year, and I was one of the delegates. I had looked forward to it with keen expectancy. I was now, at five o’clock of the first day, admitting to myself that it was a bore.

The special train, with its crowd of overstimulated enthusiasts, the throngs at the stations, the brass bands, bunting, and buncombe all jarred upon me. After a while my treason was betrayed to the boys by the fact that I was not hoarse. They punished me by making me sing as a solo the air of each stanza of “Marching Through Georgia,” “Tenting To-night on the Old Camp-ground,” and other patriotic songs, until my voice was assimilated to theirs. But my gorge rose at it all, and now, at five o’clock of the first day, I was seeking a place of retirement where I could be alone and think over the marvelous event which had suddenly raised me from yesterday’s parity with the fellows on the train to my present state of exaltation.

I should have preferred a grotto in Vau Vau or some south-looking mountain glen; but in the absence of any such retreat in Chicago, I turned into the old art-gallery in Michigan Avenue. As I went floating in space past its door, my eye caught through the window the gleam of the white limbs of statues, and my being responded to the soul vibrations they sent out. So I paid my fee, entered, and found the tender solitude for which my heart longed. I sat down and luxuriated in thoughts of the so recent marvelous experience. Need I explain that I was young and the experience was one of the heart?

I was so young that my delegateship was regarded as a matter to excite wonder. I saw my picture in the papers next morning as a youth of twenty-three who had become his party’s leader in an important agricultural county. Some, in the shameless laudation of a sensational press, compared me to the younger Pitt. As a matter of fact, I had some talent for organization, and in any gathering of men, I somehow never lacked a following. I was young enough to be an honest partisan, enthusiastic enough to be useful, strong enough to be respected, ignorant enough to believe my party my country’s safeguard, and I was prominent in my county before I was old enough to vote. At twenty-one I conducted a convention fight which made a member of Congress. It was quite natural, therefore, that I should be delegate to this convention, and that I had looked forward to it with keen expectancy. The remarkable thing was my falling off from its work now by virtue of that recent marvelous experience which as I have admitted was one of the heart. Do not smile. At three-and-twenty even delegates have hearts.

My mental and sentimental state is of importance in this history, I think, or I should not make so much of it. I feel sure that I should not have behaved just as I did had I not been at that moment in the iridescent cloudland of newly-reciprocated love. Alice had accepted me not an hour before my departure for Chicago....