The political campaign in Dawson’s Landing opened in a pretty warm fashion, and waned hotter every week. Luigi’s whole heart was in it, and even Angelo developed a surprising amount of interest—which was natural, because he was not merely representing Whigism, a matter of no consequence to him; but he was representing something immensely finer and greater—to wit, Reform. In him was centered the hopes of the whole reform element of the town; he was the chosen and admired champion of every clique that had a pet reform of any sort or kind at heart. He was president of the great Teetotalers’ Union, its chiefest prophet and mouthpiece.
But as the canvass went on, troubles began to spring up all around—troubles for the twins, and through them for all the parties and segments and factions of parties. Whenever Luigi had possession of the legs, he carried Angelo to balls, rum shops, Sons of Liberty parades, horse-races, campaign riots, and everywhere else that could damage him with his party and the church; and when it was Angelo’s week he carried Luigi diligently to all manner of moral and religious gatherings, doing his best to regain the ground he had lost before. As a result of these double performances, there was a storm blowing all the time, an ever-rising storm, too—a storm of frantic criticism of the twins, and rage over their extravagant, incomprehensible conduct.
Luigi had the final chance. The legs were his for the closing week of the canvass. He led his brother a fearful dance.
But he saved his best card for the very eve of the election. There was to be a grand turnout of the Teetotalers’ Union that day, and Angelo was to march at the head of the procession and deliver a great oration afterward. Luigi drank a couple of glasses of whisky—which steadied his nerves and clarified his mind, but made Angelo drunk. Everybody who saw the march, saw that the Champion of the Teetotalers was half seas over, and noted also that his brother, who made no hypocritical pretensions to extra temperance virtues, was dignified and sober. This eloquent fact could not be unfruitful at the end of a hot political canvass. At the mass-meeting Angelo tried to make his great temperance oration, but was so discommoded—by hiccoughs and thickness of tongue that he had to give it up; then drowsiness overtook him and his head drooped against Luigi’s and he went to sleep. Luigi apologized for him, and was going on to improve his opportunity with an appeal for a moderation of what he called “the prevailing teetotal madness,” but persons in the audience began to howl and throw things at him, and then the meeting rose in wrath and chased him home.
This episode was a crusher for Angelo in another way. It destroyed his chances with Rowena. Those chances had been growing, right along, for two months. Rowena had partly confessed that she loved him, but wanted time to consider. Now the tender dream was ended, and she told him so the moment he was sober enough to understand. She said she would never marry a man who drank.
“But I don’t drink,” he pleaded.
“That is nothing to the point,” she said, coldly, “you get drunk, and that is worse.”
[There was a long and sufficiently idiotic discussion here, which ended as reported in a previous note.]