Tom tried to seem at his ease, and he went through the motions fairly well, but at bottom he felt resentful toward all the three witnesses of his exhibition; in fact, he felt so annoyed at them for having witnessed it and noticed it that he almost forgot to feel annoyed at himself for placing it before them. However, something presently happened which made him almost comfortable, and brought him nearly back to a state of charity and friendliness. This was a little spat between the twins; not much of a spat, but still a spat; and before they got far with it, they were in a decided condition of irritation while pretending to be actuated by more respectable motives. By his help the fire got warmed up to the blazing point, and he might have had the happiness of seeing the flames show up in another moment, but for the interruption of a knock on the door--an interruption which fretted him as much as it gratified Wilson. Wilson opened the door.
The visitor was a good-natured, ignorant, energetic middle-aged Irishman named John Buckstone, who was a great politician in a small way, and always took a large share in public matters of every sort. One of the town's chief excitements, just now, was over the matter of rum. There was a strong rum party and a strong anti-rum party. Buckstone was training with the rum party, and he had been sent to hunt up the twins and invite them to attend a mass meeting of that faction. He delivered his errand, and said the clans were already gathering in the big hall over the market house. Luigi accepted the invitation cordially. Angelo less cordially, since he disliked crowds, and did not drink the powerful intoxicants of America. In fact, he was even a teetotaler sometimes-- when it was judicious to be one.
The twins left with Buckstone, and Tom Driscoll joined the company with them uninvited.
In the distance, one could see a long wavering line of torches drifting down the main street, and could hear the throbbing of the bass drum, the clash of cymbals, the squeaking of a fife or two, and the faint roar of remote hurrahs. The tail end of this procession was climbing the market house stairs when the twins arrived in its neighborhood; when they reached the hall, it was full of people, torches, smoke, noise, and enthusiasm. They were conducted to the platform by Buckstone--Tom Driscoll still following--and were delivered to the chairman in the midst of a prodigious explosion of welcome. When the noise had moderated a little, the chair proposed that "our illustrious guests be at once elected, by complimentary acclamation, to membership in our ever-glorious organization, the paradise of the free and the perdition of the slave."
This eloquent discharge opened the floodgates of enthusiasm again, and the election was carried with thundering unanimity. Then arose a storm of cries:
"Wet them down! Wet them down! Give them a drink!"
Glasses of whisky were handed to the twins. Luigi waves his aloft, then brought it to his lips; but Angelo set his down. There was another storm of cries.
"What's the matter with the other one?" "What is the blond one going back on us for?" "Explain! Explain!"
The chairman inquired, and then reported:
"We have made an unfortunate mistake, gentlemen. I find that the Count Angelo Capello is opposed to our creed--is a teetotaler, in fact, and was not intending to apply for membership with us. He desires that we reconsider the vote by which he was elected. What is the pleasure of the house?"
There was a general burst of laughter, plentifully accented with whistlings and catcalls, but the energetic use of the gavel presently restored something like order. Then a man spoke from the crowd, and said that while he was very sorry that the mistake had been made, it would not be possible to rectify it at the present meeting. According to the bylaws, it must go over to the next regular meeting for action. He would not offer a motion, as none was required. He desired to apologize to the gentlemen in the name of the house, and begged to assure him that as far as it might lie in the power of the Sons of Liberty, his temporary membership in the order would be made pleasant to him.