Lee all the conversation, as indeed he was compelled to do under penalty of bringing her to his party under false pretences.
"Just my luck," said he; "here I am forced to ask no end of people to meet a man, who at the same time says he shall probably not come. Why, under the stars, couldn't he say, like other people, whether he was coming or not?
I've known dozens of senators, Mrs. Lee, and they're all like that. They never think of any one but themselves."
Mrs. Lee smiled rather a forced smile, and soothed his wounded feelings; she had no doubt the dinner would be very agreeable whether the Senator were there or not; at any rate she would do all she could to carry it off well, and Sybil should wear her newest dress. Still she was a little grave, and Mr. Schneidekoupon could only declare that she was a trump; that he had told Ratcliffe she was the cleverest woman he ever met, and he might have added the most obliging, and Ratcliffe had only looked at him as though he were a green ape. At all which Mrs. Lee laughed good-naturedly, and sent him away as soon as she could.
When he was gone, she walked up and down the room and thought. She saw the meaning of Ratcliffe's sudden change in tone. She had no more doubt of his coming to the dinner than she had of the reason why he came. And was it possible that she was being drawn into something very near a flirtation with a man twenty years her senior; a politician from Illinois; a huge, ponderous, grey-eyed, bald senator, with a Websterian head, who lived in Peonia? The idea was almost too absurd to be credited; but on the whole the thing itself was rather amusing. "I suppose senators can look out for themselves like other men," was her final conclusion. She thought only of his danger, and she felt a sort of compassion for him as she reflected on the possible consequences of a great, absorbing love at his time of life.
Her conscience was a little uneasy; but of herself she never thought. Yet it is a historical fact that elderly senators have had a curious fascination for young and handsome women. Had they looked out for themselves too? And which parties most needed to be looked after?
When Madeleine and her sister arrived at Welckley's 's the next Saturday evening, they found poor Schneidekoupon in a temper very unbecoming a host.
"He won't come! I told you he wouldn't come!" said he to Madeleine, as he handed her into the house. "If I ever turn communist, it will be for the fun of murdering a senator."