Buckle to--deepen the sea-green to turf, turn the ship into a hearse. Let the boys have a taste of your quality."
The artists arrived just as the last touch was put on. They stood transfixed with admiration.
"My souls but she's a stunner, that hearse! The hackman will just go all to pieces when he sees that won't he Andy?"
"Oh, it is sphlennid, sphlennid! Herr Tracy, why haf you not said you vas a so sublime aartist? Lob' Gott, of you had lif'd in Paris you would be a Pree de Rome, dot's votes de matter!"
The arrangements were soon made. Tracy was taken into full and equal partnership, and he went straight to work, with dash and energy, to reconstructing gems of art whose accessories had failed to satisfy. Under his hand, on that and succeeding days, artillery disappeared and the emblems of peace and commerce took its place--cats, hacks, sausages, tugs, fire engines, pianos, guitars, rocks, gardens, flower-pots, landscapes--whatever was wanted, he flung it in; and the more out of place and absurd the required object was, the more joy he got out of fabricating it. The pirates were delighted, the customers applauded, the sex began to flock in, great was the prosperity of the firm. Tracy was obliged to confess to himself that there was something about work,--even such grotesque and humble work as this--which most pleasantly satisfied a something in his nature which had never been satisfied before, and also gave him a strange new dignity in his own private view of himself.
The Unqualified Member from Cherokee Strip was in a state of deep dejection. For a good while, now, he had been leading a sort of life which was calculated to kill; for it had consisted in regularly alternating days of brilliant hope and black disappointment. The brilliant hopes were created by the magician Sellers, and they always promised that now he had got the trick, sure, and would effectively influence that materialized cowboy to call at the Towers before night. The black disappointments consisted in the persistent and monotonous failure of these prophecies.
At the date which this history has now reached, Sellers was appalled to find that the usual remedy was inoperative, and that Hawkins's low spirits refused absolutely to lift. Something must be done, he reflected; it was heart-breaking, this woe, this smileless misery, this dull despair that looked out from his poor friend's face. Yes, he must be cheered up. He mused a while, then he saw his way. He said in his most conspicuously casual vein:
"Er--uh--by the way, Hawkins, we are feeling disappointed about this thing--the way the materializee is acting, I mean--we are disappointed; you concede that?"
"Concede it? Why, yes, if you like the term."
"Very well; so far, so good. Now for the basis of the feeling. It is not that your heart, your affections are concerned; that is to say, it is not that you want the materializee Itself. You concede that?"
"Yes, I concede that, too--cordially."
"Very well, again; we are making progress. To sum up: The feeling, it is conceded, is not engendered by the mere conduct of the materializee; it is conceded that it does not arise from any pang which the personality of the materializee could assuage. Now then, "said the earl, with the light of triumph in his eye, "the inexorable logic of the situation narrows us down to this: our feeling has its source in the money-loss involved. Come--isn't that so?"
"Goodness knows I concede that, with all my heart."
"Very well. When you've found out the source of a disease, you've also found out what remedy is required--just as in this case. In this case money is required. And only money."
The old, old seduction was in that airy, confident tone and those significant words--usually called pregnant words in books. The old answering signs of faith and hope showed up in Hawkins's countenance, and he said:
"Only money? Do you mean that you know a way to--"
"Washington, have you the impression that I have no resources but those I allow the public and my intimate friends to know about?"
"Is it likely, do you think, that a man moved by nature and taught by experience to keep his affairs to himself and a cautious and reluctant tongue in his head, wouldn't be thoughtful enough to keep a few resources in reserve for a rainy day, when he's got as many as I have to select from?"
"Oh, you make me feel so much better already, Colonel!"
"Have you ever been in my laboratory?"