34. Chapter XXXIV.
The young men nowadays were emancipating
themselves from the law and business and taking up all sorts
of new things. If they were not absorbed in state politics
or municipal reform, the chances were that they
were going in for Central American archaeology, for
architecture or landscape-engineering; taking a keen
and learned interest in the prerevolutionary buildings
of their own country, studying and adapting Georgian
types, and protesting at the meaningless use of the
word "Colonial." Nobody nowadays had "Colonial"
houses except the millionaire grocers of the suburbs.
But above all--sometimes Archer put it above all--it
was in that library that the Governor of New York,
coming down from Albany one evening to dine and
spend the night, had turned to his host, and said,
banging his clenched fist on the table and gnashing his
eye-glasses: "Hang the professional politician! You're
the kind of man the country wants, Archer. If the
stable's ever to be cleaned out, men like you have got
to lend a hand in the cleaning."
"Men like you--" how Archer had glowed at the
phrase! How eagerly he had risen up at the call! It was
an echo of Ned Winsett's old appeal to roll his sleeves
up and get down into the muck; but spoken by a man
who set the example of the gesture, and whose summons
to follow him was irresistible.
Archer, as he looked back, was not sure that men
like himself WERE what his country needed, at least in
the active service to which Theodore Roosevelt had
pointed; in fact, there was reason to think it did not,
for after a year in the State Assembly he had not been
re-elected, and had dropped back thankfully into
obscure if useful municipal work, and from that again to
the writing of occasional articles in one of the
reforming weeklies that were trying to shake the country
out of its apathy. It was little enough to look back on;
but when he remembered to what the young men of his
generation and his set had looked forward--the narrow
groove of money-making, sport and society to
which their vision had been limited--even his small
contribution to the new state of things seemed to count,
as each brick counts in a well-built wall. He had done
little in public life; he would always be by nature a
contemplative and a dilettante; but he had had high
things to contemplate, great things to delight in; and
one great man's friendship to be his strength and pride.