Read DAVY : CHAPTER II - THE PEOPLE’S IDOL of David Lockwin - The People's Idol, free online book, by John McGovern, on ReadCentral.com.

If David Lockwin had planned to increase all his prospects, and if all his plans had worked with precision, he could in nowise have pushed his interests more powerfully than by marrying Esther Wandrell.

It might have been said of Lockwin that he was impractical; that he was a dreamer. He had done singular things. He had not studied the ways of public opinion.

But now, to solidify all his future to take a secure place in society, especially as his leanings toward politics are pronounced to do these things this palliates and excuses the adoption of the golden-haired boy.

Lockwin hears this from his friend, the doctor. Lockwin hears it from the world. The more he hears it the less he likes it.

But people, particularly the doctor, are happy in Lockwin. His popularity in the district is amazing. He will soon be deep in politics. He has put Harpwood out of the combat so the doctor says.

And David Lockwin, when he comes home at night, still sees his boy at the window. What a noble affection is that love for this waif! Why should such a thought seize the man as he sits in his library with wife and son? Why should not David be tender and good to the woman who loves him so well, and is so proud of her husband?

Tender and good he is as if he pitied her. Tender and good is she. So that if an orphan in the great city should be in the especial care of the Lord, why should not that orphan drop into this house, exactly as has happened, and no matter at all what society may have said?

“You must run for Congress!” the doctor commands.

It spurs Lockwin. He thinks of the great white dome at Washington. He thinks of his marked ability as an orator, everywhere conceded. He says he does not care to enter upon a life so active, but he is not truly in earnest.

“You must run for Congress!” the committee says the next week.

Feelings of friendliness for the incumbent of the office to give Lockwin a sufficient excuse for inaction.

The incumbent dies suddenly a week later.

“You must run to save the party,” the committeemen announce.

A day later the matter is settled. The great editors are seen; the boss of the machine is satisfied; the ward-workers and the saloon-keepers are infused with party allegiance.

David Lockwin begins at one end of State street and drinks, or pretends to drink, at every bar between Lake and Fortieth streets. This libation poured on the altar of liberty, he is popularly declared to be in the race. The newspapers announce that he is the people’s idol, and the boss of the machine sends word to the newspapers that it is all well enough, but it must be kept up.

David Lockwin rents head-quarters in the district, and shakes hands with all the touching committees. Twelve members of the Sons of Labor can carry their union over to him. It will require $100, as the union is mostly democratic.

They are told they must see Mr. Lockwin’s central committee. But Mr. Lockwin must be prepared to deliver an address on the need of reform in the government, looking to the civil service, to retrenchment and to the complete allegiance of the officeholder to his employers, the voters.

Mr. Lockwin must listen with attention to a plan by which the central committee of the Sodalified Assembly can be packed with republicans at the annual election, to take place the next Sunday. This will enable Lockwin to carry the district in case he should get the nomination. To show a deep interest in the party and none in himself must arouse popular idolatry.

This popular idolatry must be kept awake, because Harpwood has opened head-quarters and is visited by the same touching committees. He has been up and down State street, and has drunk more red liquor than was seen to go down Lockwin’s throat. In more ways than one, Harpwood shows the timber out of which popular idols are made.

The doctor is alarmed. He makes a personal canvass of all his patients. They do not know when the primaries will be held. They do not know who ought to go to Washington. All they know is that the congressman is dead and there must be a special election, which is going to cost them some extra money. If the boss of the machine will see to it, that will do!

But Lockwin is the man. This the boss has been at pains to determine. The marriage has made things clear.

One should study the boss. Why is he king? If we have a democracy how is it that everybody in office or in hope of office obeys the pontiff? It is the genius of the people for government. The boss is at a summer resort near the city.

To him comes Harpwood, and finds the great contractor, the promoter of the outer docks, the park commissioners, and a half-dozen other great men already on the ground.

“Harpwood,” says the boss, “I am out of politics, particularly in your district. Yet, if you can carry the primaries, I could help you considerably. Carry the primaries, me boy, and I’ll talk with you further. See you again. Good-bye.”

The next day comes Lockwin.

There are no “me-boys” now. Here is the candidate. He must be put in irons.

“Lockwin, what makes you want to go to Congress?”

“I don’t believe I do want to go, but I was told you wished to see me up here, privately.”

“Well, you ought to know whether or not you want to go. Nobody wants you there if it isn’t yourself. Harpwood will go if you don’t.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“Well, if you want our support, we must have a pledge from you. I guess you want to go, and we are willing to put you there for the unexpired term and the next one. Then are you ready to climb down? Say the word. The mayor and the senator are out there waiting for me.”

“All right. It is a bargain.”

“And you won’t feel bad when we knock you out, in three years?”

“No. I will probably be glad to come home.”

“Very well; we will carry the primaries. But that district needs watching. Spend lots of money.”