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[308]

“Oh, it's probably just a temporary change,” was the answer.

“I do hope it is,” he murmured, his lips trembling and the tears springing to his eyes. ‘I want that portrait to remain always among the portraits of my friends.’

Reference to Mr. Corcoran brings to mind what is probably the only genuine affaire de coeur of Clingman's life. It is a romantic story, known only to a few of the old man's friends, and may be referred to now without offence to any one. When the ex-senator entered the House he was a suitor for the hand of Corcoran's only daughter and the heiress to the great estate of the philanthropist, which estate, however, was a very small one in those days compared to the millions comprised in it at this time.

Young Clingman was a gallant and persistent suitor, and as the father stood aloof there was a good prospect that Miss Corcoran would honor the brilliant North Carolinian with her heart and hand. Another figure intruded in the way, however. Senator Slidell, afterwards a famous prisoner of war, had for his private secretary a young man named Eustis, of Louisiana, a brother of the present ambassador to France. The private secretary was not in the least disheartened by the rivalry of the popular representative. He belonged to one of the first families of his State, and admitted no superiority. The struggle between the two Southerners was long and generous, and when the lady finally decided in favor of the Louisianian, the North Carolinian was generous and hearty in his congratulations.

That Clingman's disappointment was keen and lasting was not to be discovered by any outward display, but that the wound was too deep to be healed was proven by the fact that he remained and will die a bachelor.

It is said that this affair had much to do with the recklessness exhibited by Clingman in the war, and which led to his rapid promotion to the rank of general.

“Let us make this a Thermopylae,” said Clingman to Joe Johnston, when they were surrounded by Sherman's army.

“I am not in the Thermopylae business,” retorted Johnston, and surrendered forthwith.

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