Part 4 out of 6
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene at once plunged into a discussion of fashion,
the one thing that left her husband high and dry, so far as his native
irony was concerned.
That same night McQuade concluded some interesting business. He
possessed large interests in the local breweries. Breweries on the
average do not pay very good dividends on stock, so the brewer often
establishes a dozen saloons about town to help the business along.
McQuade owned a dozen or more of these saloons, some in the heart of
the city, some in the outlying wards of the town. He conducted the
business with his usual shrewdness. The saloons were all well managed
by Germans, who, as a drinking people, are the most orderly in the
world. It was not generally known that McQuade was interested in the
sale of liquors. His name was never mentioned in connection with the
One of these saloons was on a side street. The back door of it faced
the towpath. It did not have a very good reputation; and though, for
two years, no disturbances had occurred there, the police still kept
an eye on the place. It was on the boundary line of the two most
turbulent wards in the city. To the north was the Italian colony, to
the south was the Irish colony. Both were orderly and self-respecting
as a rule, though squalor and poverty abounded. But these two races
are at once the simplest and most quick-tempered, and whenever an
Irishman or an Italian crossed the boundary line there was usually a
hurry call for the patrol wagon, and some one was always more or less
Over this saloon was a series of small rooms which were called "wine
rooms," though nobody opened wine there. Beer was ten cents a glass up
stairs, and whisky twenty. Women were not infrequently seen climbing
the stairs to these rooms. But, as already stated, everybody behaved.
Schmuck, who managed the saloon, was a giant of a man, a Turnvereiner,
who could hold his own with any man in town. It will be understood
that the orderliness was therefore due to a respect for Schmuck's
strength, and not to any inclination to be orderly.
On this night, then, at nine o'clock, a man entered and approached the
bar. He was sharp-eyed, lean-faced, with a heavy blue beard closely
shaven, saving the mustache, which was black and hung over the man's
lips. He wore good clothes. There was a large diamond on one of his
fingers and another in the bosom of his shirt, in which a white tie
was tucked carefully. They were yellow diamonds. But those among whom
this man moved did not know the difference between yellow stones and
white. Morrissy was accounted very well-to-do.
"Hello, Schmuck!" he hailed. "Got the room up stairs in order?"
"Yes." Schmuck wiped the bar. "Der poss iss coming to-night, I see.
"Yes. He ought to be along now," replied Morrissy, glancing at his
watch, which was as conspicuous as his yellow diamonds.
"How you getting along mit der poys?"
"Oh, we're coming along fine, all right."
"Going to call 'em out uf der mills? Huh?"
"Perhaps. When the boss comes, tell him I'm up stairs."
Morrissy lighted a cigar, took the evening papers from the end of the
bar, and disappeared. Schmuck could hear him moving the chairs about.
Ten minutes later McQuade appeared. Schmuck nodded toward the stairs,
and without a word McQuade went up.
"Good evening, Morrissy. I missed a car, or I'd have been here
"That's all right, Mr. McQuade; glad to wait for you." Morrissy threw
aside his papers and drew his chair to the table.
McQuade closed the door and sat down.
"You got my letter?" he began, wiping his forehead.
"Well, the boys will go out Monday morning. A committee will wait on
Bennington in the morning. He won't back down and discharge the
English inventor, so it's a sure thing they'll walk out, every
mother's son of them."
"On the morning they go out, I'll send you my check for five hundred."
"For the union?"
"I'll send it to you, and you can use it as you see fit. On Monday
They smoked for a while. Suddenly McQuade laid a bulky envelope on the
table, got up and went out. Morrissy weighed the envelope carefully,
thrust it into his pocket, and also departed.
"Five hundred now, and five hundred on Monday. I can see him sending a
check. It will be bills. Bah! I should have called out the boys
McQuade hurried home. He had another appointment, vastly more
important than the one he had just kept. Bolles had returned from New
York. It was easy enough to buy a labor union, but it was a different
matter to ruin a man of Warrington's note. Bolles had telegraphed that
he would be in Herculaneum that night. That meant that he had found
something worth while. Each time the car stopped to let passengers on
or off, McQuade stirred restlessly. He jumped from the car when it
reached his corner, and walked hurriedly down the street to his house,
a big pile of red granite and an architectural nightmare. He rushed up
the steps impatiently, applied his latch-key and pushed in the door.
He slammed it and went directly to his study. Bolles was asleep in a
chair. McQuade shook him roughly. Bolles opened his eyes.
"You've been on a drunk," said McQuade, quickly noting the puffed eyes
and haggard cheeks.
"But I've got what I went after, all the same," replied Bolles
"What have you got? If you've done any faking, I'll break every bone
in your body."
"Now, look here, Mr. McQuade; don't talk to me like that."
"What have you got, then?"
"Well, I've got something that's worth five hundred; that's what. I
worked like a nigger for a month; pumped everybody that ever knew him.
Not a blame thing, till night before last I ran into the janitor of
the apartments where Warrington lived."
"He'd been fired, and I got him drunk. I asked him if any women had
ever gone up to Warrington's rooms. One. He was sitting in the
basement. It was a hot night, and he was sitting up because he could
not sleep. At midnight a coupe drove up, and Warrington and a woman
alighted. From the looks of things she was drunk, but he found out
afterward that she was very sick. The woman remained in Warrington's
apartments till the following morning."
"When was all this?"
"About four years ago. She left very early."
"Hell!" roared McQuade, doubling his fists. "And I've been sending you
money every week for such news as this! I want something big, you
fool! What earthly use is this information to me? I couldn't frighten
Warrington with it."
"I haven't told you the woman's name yet," said Bolles, leering.
"The woman's name? What's that got to do with it?"
"A whole lot. It was Katherine Challoner, the actress, Bennington's
wife; that's who it was!"
McQuade sat very still. So still, that he could hear the clock ticking
in the parlor. Bennington's wife!
The death of his aunt gave Warrington a longing for action--swift
mental and physical action. To sit in that dark, empty house, to read
or to write, was utterly impossible; nor had he any desire to take
long rides into the country. His mind was never clearer than when he
rode alone, and what he wanted was confusion, noise, excitement,
struggle. So he made an appointment with Senator Henderson the next
morning. He left the Benningtons with the promise that he would return
that evening and dine with them. Warrington had become the senator's
hobby; he was going to do great things with this young man's future.
He would some day make an ambassador of him; it would be a pleasant
souvenir of his old age. Warrington was brilliant, a fine linguist,
was a born diplomat, had a good voice, and a fund of wit and repartee;
nothing more was required. He would give the name Warrington a high
place in the diplomatic history of the United States. Some of the most
capable diplomats this country had produced had been poets.
Warrington's being a playwright would add luster to the office. The
senator was going over these things, when a clerk announced that Mr.
Warrington was waiting to see him.
"Send him right in."
Immediately Warrington entered. He was simply dressed in a business
suit of dark blue. He wore a straw hat and a black tie. There was no
broad band of crape on his hat or his sleeve. He had the poet's horror
of parading grief, simply because it was considered fashionable to do
so. He sincerely believed that outward mourning was obsolete, a custom
of the Middle Ages.
"Ha!" ejaculated the senator.
"Good morning. How goes the fight?"
"Fine, my boy; I'll land you there next week; you see if I don't. The
main obstacle is the curious attitude of the press. You and I know the
reason well enough. McQuade is back of this influence. But the voter
doesn't know this, and will accept the surface indications only. Now
you know the newspaper fellows. Why not drop around to the offices and
find out something definite?"
"It's a good idea, Senator. I'll do it this very morning."
"Has McQuade any personal grudge against you?"
"Not to my knowledge."
"He's a bad enemy, and often a downright unscrupulous one. If it's
only politics, I'll have a chat with him myself. You pump the
newspapers. You leave it to me to swing the boys into line at the
Then they proceeded to go over the ground thoroughly. Something must
be done with the newspapers. The delegates and minor bosses were
already grumbling. Had nothing appeared in the newspapers,
Warrington's nomination would have gone through without even minor
opposition. But the Republican machine was in sore straits. If
Donnelly won this time, it would mean years of Democratic rule in an
essentially Republican town. McQuade must be broken, his strong
barricades toppled; and now that there would be no surprise for the
public, the majority of the delegates began to look doubtfully upon
what they called the senator's coup. They wanted the City Hall, and
they did not care how they got there. Warrington was a fine chap, and
all that, but his acquaintanceship was limited. He could not go about
shaking hands like Donnelly, who knew everybody, high and low. The
laboring man knew nothing about Warrington, save that he was famous
for writing plays they had not seen, nor would have understood if they
had. Warrington was a "swell"; he had nothing in common with the man
who carried the dinner-pail.
"And there the matter stands, my boy," concluded the senator, shifting
his cigar from one corner of his mouth to the other. "If I can swing
the convention the rest will be plain sailing, once you start
speech-making. Oh, McQuade is clever. He knew that by exposing my hand
he would lessen your chances. But you tackle the newspapers and see
what can be done. And good luck to you."
McQuade came down early that morning. The first thing he did was to
call on the editor of the Times.
"Here's something," he said, tossing a few typewritten pages on the
editor's desk. "This'll settle Warrington's hash, Walford."
"What is it?" asked Walford.
"Read it and see for yourself." McQuade sat down and picked up the
early New York papers.
Walford read slowly. When he reached the last paragraph he returned to
the first and read the article through again. He laid it down and
faced his employer.
"Mr. McQuade, the Call and the Times are the only papers in town that
pay dividends. The Times as it stands to-day is a good, legitimate
business investment. Do you want the circulation to drop ten thousand
and the big advertisers to cancel their contracts?"
"What's the matter with the story? Isn't it all right?"
"Frankly, it isn't."
"It's true," said McQuade, his fist thudding on the desk; "it's true,
I tell you, every damned word of it."
"The truth of it isn't the question. It's the advisability of
publishing it. I say to you that if you insist on this story's
publication, you'll kill the Times deader than a door-nail. I'll call
the business manager in." Walford whistled through a tube, and shortly
after the business manager appeared. "Read this," said Walford
briefly, "and give Mr. McQuade your honest opinion regarding its
publication. Mr. McQuade thinks it ought to run as local news."
The business manager read it.
"It makes good reading, Mr. McQuade, but if you want to kill the
Times, run it. There are some stories that can only be rumored, not
printed, and this is one of them. If this appears, you have my word
that every decent advertiser will cancel his contract forthwith."
Walford looked at his employer in frank triumph. McQuade had great
confidence in these two men. He ripped the manuscript into squares and
filtered them through his fingers into the waste-basket.
"You boys are probably right," he said reluctantly. "I have no desire
to see the paper lose its sound footing. But this would have killed
the man socially and politically, so far as this town is concerned."
"Admitted," replied Walford, straightening out some proofs. "But we'll
topple him over in a legitimate way."
"Go ahead, then. I'm not particular how it's done so long as you do
it. Perhaps, after all, it's just as well. I've got another idea. I
can see that I've made a mistake."
McQuade started down the stairs to the street and met Warrington
coming up. The two men paused for a moment, then went on. Once on the
sidewalk, McQuade turned and hesitated. No, he had nothing to say to
Mr. Warrington. He strode down the street toward his own offices.
It will be seen that Warrington had gone directly into the enemy's
camp. He knew Walford of old; they were tolerably good friends. He
gave his card to the boy. Walford, on reading it, stuffed several
newspapers into the waste-basket and pressed his foot on them. He was
a bit shaken.
"Send him in. Hello, Dick," he said. "How are you? You're the last man
I expected to see this morning. What can I do for you?"
"You can tell your political reporter and your editorial man to let up
on me for a week," said Warrington directly. "What the devil have I
done to you chaps that you should light into me after this fashion?"
"You have become rich and famous, Dick, and mediocrity can stand
anything but that." But there was a twinkle in Walford's eyes.
"Come, Wally, you know that isn't the truth."
"Well, if you want the truth I'll give it to you. Answer me frankly
and honestly, do you consider that you have any moral right to accept
a nomination for the mayoralty of Herculaneum?"
"Moral right. I'll pick up that phrase and carry it to your camp. I
have as much moral right as Donnelly, who, if he hasn't been caught,
is none the less culpable for breaking his oath of loyalty. You know
this as well as I do."
Walford eyed the waste-basket thoughtfully.
"Now, we'll turn to the legal side," continued Warrington. "I was born
here; I cast my first vote here; for several years I've been a
property owner and have paid my taxes without lying to the
tax-assessor. It is notorious that Donnelly is worth half a million,
and yet he is assessed upon a house worth about seven thousand. You
have called me a meddler; you apply the term every day. Now draw the
distinction, as to eligibility, between Donnelly and myself."
Walford got up from his chair and closed the door. He returned and sat
"Dick, politics is politics, and its ways are dark and mysterious,
like the heathen Chinee. If I had your talent--if I had your ability
to earn money, I'd walk out of this office this moment. But I am only
a poor devil of a newspaper man. I've a family. When I was twenty,
eighteen years ago, I was earning twelve a week; to-day it is forty;
when I am sixty it will return to twelve. You know the business; you
know the value they set on a man's brains in this city. And there's
always somebody waiting for your shoes. Now, listen. In the first
place I must live, and as honorably as environment permits me. By
conviction I am a Democrat; I believe in the Democratic principles.
Thus, I consider it my duty to thwart, if possible, any and all moves
the Republican party makes. I recognize your strength, and I shall do
what I can from my side of the barricade to defeat your nomination at
the Republican convention; for I believe you able, if once nominated,
to lead your party to success and victory. But I shall fight you
honestly, Dick. In all I have said so far, there has been no innuendo;
I've stood out in the open. I did you a good turn this morning, but
you will never be any the wiser. Personally, I like you; I have always
liked you, and I am glad to see one man of the craft rise above the
grubs and earn a splendid competence. It hasn't been easy, Dick;
you've had to fight for it, and that's what I admire. You're a good,
clean fighter. If I should rebel against continuing this attack
against you, the attack would go on, but I shouldn't. That would do
neither of us any good. McQuade might find a man with less scruples
than I have. And that's how the matter stands, Dick."
"Well, you're frank and honest about it, and I know you will at least
give me a square deal, in the event of my nomination."
"You may reckon on that. Good luck to you and bad luck to your cause."
They talked about the old days for a while, and then Warrington
departed and directed his steps to the office of the Journal, the
paper in which he had begun his career. Oh, here they were willing to
do anything in their power from now on. If he was really determined to
accept the nomination, they would aid him editorially. That evening
the editor made good his word, frankly indorsing Warrington as the
best possible choice for Republican nominee. The editor explained his
former attitude by setting forth his belief that Mr. Warrington's
candidacy was not serious. At the office of the Telegraph they treated
him cordially enough. They never meddled with politics till the fight
was on. Then they picked the candidate whose views most coincided with
their own. If Mr. Warrington was nominated, doubtless they would
support his ticket. The general manager had been a classmate of
Warrington's. He called on him and explained his errand. The manager
simply wrote on a pad: "McQuade owns fifty-five per cent. of the
shares," held it under Warrington's nose and then tore it up.
"That's where our independence stands at this moment."
"I had heard of this, but didn't quite believe it," Warrington said.
Bill Osborne evidently knew what was going on, then. "I'm sorry to
have troubled you."
"None at all."
On the street Warrington was stopped by Ben Jordan, the Telegraph's
star reporter, who had worked with Warrington on the Journal.
"Say, Dick, I am glad to see you. I was going up to your house on
purpose to see you. Come over to Martin's a minute. I've got some news
that might interest you."
"I don't like Martin's place," said Warrington. "Let's compromise on
"All right, my boy."
They walked down to Hanley's, talking animatedly.
"What will you have, Ben?"
"Two musty ales," Warrington ordered. "Well, Ben?"
Ben took a deep swallow of ale. He was the best all-round reporter in
the city; he knew more people than Osborne knew. Murders, strikes,
fires, they were all the same to Ben. He knew where to start and where
to end. The city editor never sent Ben out on a hunt for scandal; he
knew better than to do that. Nine times out of ten, the other papers
got the scandal and Ben's behavior became one. The labor unions were
Ben's great stand-by. On dull days he could always get a story from
the unions. He attended their meetings religiously. They trusted him
implicitly, for Ben never broke his word to any one but his landlady.
He was short and wiry, with a head so large as to be almost a
deformity. On top of this head was a shock of brick-colored hair that
resembled a street-cleaner's broom. And Ben's heart was as big as his
head. His generosity was always getting him into financial trouble.
"Dick, you're a friend of Bennington's. You can quietly tip him that
his men will go out Monday morning. There's only one thing that will
avert a strike, and that's the discharge of the Englishman."
"Bennington will never discharge him."
"So I understand. He'll have a long strike on his hands."
"Do you know the inside?"
"Enough to say that the men will go out. They're a lot of sheep.
They've an idea they've been wronged. But you can't reason with them."
"Ben, you go up to the shops yourself and tell Bennington what you
"I don't know him. How'll he take it?"
"Tell him I sent you."
"I'll do it, Dick. But if he kicks me out, the drinks will be on you.
What countermove will he make?"
"Better ask him yourself. But if you have any influence among the
unions, tell them to go slow. They haven't sized up Bennington. Wait a
moment. I'll give you a note to him." He called for paper and
envelopes, and wrote:
This will introduce to you Mr. Jordan, a reporter in whom I have the
greatest confidence. Whatever you may tell him you may rest assured
that he will never repeat. I am sending him to you in hopes he may
suggest some plan by which to ward off the impending strike. There may
be a little self-interest on my side. A strike just now will raise the
devil in politics. You may trust Jordan fully.
He pushed it across the table. "There, that will smooth the way."
"Many thanks, my son. Where's he eat his lunch?"
"Usually in the office."
"Well, I'm off!"
Ben always had his eye on the story of to-morrow, and he would face
all or any difficulties in pursuit of the end. If he could stop the
strike at the Bennington shops it would be a great thing for the
Telegraph and a great thing for Ben. So he hailed a car, serenely
unconscious that he was taking a position absolutely opposed to that
of his employer. He arrived at the shops some time before the noon
hour. His letter opened all doors. Bennington was in his private
office. He read the letter and offered Ben a chair.
"I have never been interviewed," he said.
"I am not here for an interview," said Ben. "Your men will go out
"Monday? How did you learn that?"
"My business takes me among the unions. What shall you do in the event
of the strike?"
"And I have no desire to be interviewed."
"You read Mr. Warrington's letter. Perhaps, if I knew what stand you
will take, I could talk to the men myself. I have averted three or
four strikes in my time, simply because the boys know that I always
speak the truth, the plain truth. In this case I feel that you have
the right on your side. You haven't said anything yet. The union is
practically trying to bluff you into coming to its terms: the
discharge of the inventor, or a strike."
"Are you representing the union?"
"I am representing nobody but myself."
"I may tell you, then, that I shall not discharge the inventor. Nor
will I, if the men go out, take a single one of them back."
"The men will not believe that. They never do. They've been so
successful in Pennsylvania that they are attempting to repeat that
success all over the Country. They have grown pig-headed. I feel sorry
for the poor devils, who never realize when they are well off."
"I feel sorry, too, Mr. Jordan," said Bennington. He played a tattoo
on his strong white teeth with his pencil. "Mr. Warrington seems to
know you well."
"We began on the Journal together. You will not tell me what your plan
"I'd rather not, for honestly, I can not see how it would better the
"It might be worth while to give me a chance."
Bennington re-read Warrington's note. Then he studied the frank blue
eyes of the reporter.
"Miss Ward, you may go," he said to the stenographer. "Now,"--when the
girl had gone,--"you will give me your word?"
"It's all I have."
"How can you convince the men without telling them?"
"Oh, I meant that whatever you tell me shall not see light in the
papers till I have your permission. There's a weekly meeting to-night.
They will decide finally at this meeting. To-morrow will be too late."
Bennington was an accurate judge of men. He felt that he could trust
this shock-headed journalist. If without any loss of self-respect, if
without receding a single step from his position, he could avert the
crash, he would gladly do so. He had reached one determination, and
nothing on earth would swerve him. So he told Ben just exactly what
would happen if the men went out. Ben did not doubt him for a moment.
He, too, was something of a judge of men. This man would never back
"I give you this to show them, if your arguments do not prevail,"
concluded Bennington, producing a folded paper. "They will hardly
Ben opened it. It was a permit from the municipal government to tear
down a brick structure within the city limits. Ben stowed the permit
in his pocket. He looked with admiration at the man who could plan,
coolly and quietly, the destruction of a fortune that had taken a
quarter of a century to build. He was grave. There was a big
responsibility pressing on his shoulders.
"Much obliged. You will never regret the confidence you repose in me.
Now I'll tell you something on my side. It is not the inventor, though
the men believe it is. The inventor is a pretext of Morrissy, the
"I can't prove what I say, that's the trouble; but McQuade has his
hand in this. I wish to Heaven I could find solid proofs."
"McQuade?" Bennington scowled. He could readily understand now.
McQuade! This was McQuade's revenge. He could wait patiently all this
"I'll do what I can, Mr. Bennington; I'll do what I can."
Bennington ate no lunch that noon. Instead, he wandered about the
great smoky shops, sweeping his glance over the blast-furnaces, the
gutters into which the molten ore was poured, the giant trip-hammers,
the ponderous rolling-machines, the gas-furnaces for tempering fine
steel. The men moved aside. Only here and there a man, grown old in
the shops, touched his grimy cap. ... To tear it down! It would be
like rending a limb, for he loved every brick and stone and girder, as
his father before him had loved them. He squared his shoulders, and
his jaws hardened. No man, without justice on his side, should dictate
to him; no man should order him to hire this man or discharge that
one. He alone had that right; he alone was master. Bennington was not
a coward; he would not sell to another; he would not shirk the task
laid out for his hand. Unionism, such as it stood, must receive a
violent lesson. And McQuade?
"Damn him!" he muttered, his fingers knotting.
Education subdues or obliterates the best of fighting in the coward
only. The brave man is always masculine in these crises, and he will
fight with his bare hands when reason and intelligence fail. A great
longing rose up in Bennington's heart to have it out physically with
McQuade. To feel that gross bulk under his knees, to sink his fingers
into that brawny throat!--The men, eying him covertly, saw his arms go
outward and his hands open and shut convulsively. More than ever they
avoided his path. Once before they had witnessed a similar
abstraction. They had seen him fling to the ground a huge puddler who
had struck his apprentice without cause. The puddler, one of the
strongest men in the shops, struggled to his feet and rushed at his
assailant. Bennington had knocked him down again, and this time the
puddler remained on the ground, insensible. Bennington had gone back
to his office, shutting and opening his fists. Ay, they had long since
ceased calling him the dude. The man of brawn has a hearty respect for
spectacular exhibitions of strength.
One o'clock. The trip-hammers began their intermittent thunder, the
rolling-machines shrieked, and the hot ore sputtered and crackled.
Bennington returned to his office and re-read the letter his father
had written to him on his death-bed. He would obey it to the final
That particular branch of the local unions which was represented in
the Bennington steel-mills met in the loft of one of the brick
buildings off the main street. The room was spacious, but ill
ventilated. That, night it was crowded. The men were noisy, and a haze
of rank tobacco-smoke drifted aimlessly about, vainly seeking egress.
Morrissy called the meeting to order at eight-thirty. He spoke briefly
of the injustice of the employers, locally and elsewhere, of the
burdens the laboring man had always borne and would always bear, so
long as he declined to demand his rights. The men cheered him. Many
had been drinking freely. Morrissy stated the case against Bennington.
He used his words adroitly and spoke with the air of a man who regrets
exceedingly a disagreeable duty.
From his seat in the rear Jordan watched him, following each word
closely. He saw that Morrissy knew his business thoroughly.
"We'll get what we want, men; we always do. It isn't a matter of
money; it's principle. If we back down, we are lost; if we surrender
this time, we'll have to surrender one thing at a time till we're away
back where we started from, slaves to enrich the oppressor. We've got
to fight for our rights. Here's an inventor who, if we permit him to
remain, will succeed in throwing two hundred men out of work.
Bennington is making enough money as things are now. There's no need
of improvement, such as will take bread and butter out of our mouths,
out of the mouths of our wives and children. We've got to strike.
That'll bring him to his senses."
At the conclusion he was loudly applauded.
Jordan stood up and waited till the noise had fully subsided.
Everybody knew him. They had seen him stand up before, and he always
said something worth listening to.
"You all know me, boys," he began.
"You're all right!"
"Speech! Go ahead!"
Jordan caught Morrissy's eye. Morrissy nodded with bad grace. Jordan
spoke for half an hour. He repeated word for word what Bennington had
told him. In the end he was greeted with laughter.
"Very well, boys," he said, shrugging. "It's none of my business.
You've never caught me lying yet. You don't know this man Bennington.
I believe I do. He'll make good his threat. Wait and see."
"How much were you paid to attend this meeting?" demanded Morrissy,
"A good deal less than you were, Mr. Morrissy." There was a dangerous
flush on Ben's cheeks, but the smoke was so dense that Morrissy failed
to observe it. The men laughed again, accepting Ben's retort as a
piece of banter. Ben went on doggedly: "I have in my pocket a permit
to tear down the shops. Bennington gave it to me to produce. Look at
it, if you doubt my word. There it is."
The men passed it along the aisles. It came back presently, much the
worse for the wear. Some of the older men looked exceedingly grave,
but they were in the minority.
"Anybody can get a permit to tear down his property," said Morrissy
scornfully. "It's a big bluff, men. What! tear down the golden goose?
Not in a thousand years! It's a plain bluff. And I'm sorry to see a
decent man like our newspaper friend on the enemy's side."
"If I am on the enemy's side, Mr. Morrissy, it's because I'm a friend
of every man here, save one," significantly. "You men will vote a
strike. I can see that. But you'll regret it to your last day. I've
nothing more to say. I helped you once when old man Bennington was
alive, but I guess you've forgotten it." Ben sat down in silence.
"We'll proceed with the voting," said Morrissy.
Half an hour later there was a cheer. The men would go out Monday, if
the demands of the committee were not acceded to. The meeting broke
up, and many of the men flocked into the near-by saloons. Morrissy
approached Ben, who had waited for him. No one was within earshot.
"What the hell do you mean by saying you were paid less than I was?"
he said, his jaw protruding at an ugly angle.
"I mean, Morrissy," answered Ben fearlessly, "that you had better move
carefully in the future. If I were you, I wouldn't accept any
unstamped envelopes in Herculaneum It would be a good plan to go to
some other town for that."
"Why, damn you!" Morrissy raised his fist.
"Stay where you are," warned Ben, seizing a camp-chair "or I'll break
your head. Listen to me. I'm starting out from this night on to break
you, and, by God, I'll do it before the year is over. This is your
last strike, so make the most of it. You were at Schmuck's the other
night, you and McQuade. There was a friend of mine on the other side
of the partition. Unfortunately this friend was alone. I haven't got
any proofs, but I'll get them."
Morrissy became yellower than his diamonds. Ben flung aside his chair
and left the hall. He went straight to Martin's saloon. He found Bill
Osborne alone at a table.
"Will they strike, Ben?" he asked in a rough whisper.
"Yes. I thought I might influence them, Bill, but I've only made an
ass of myself. Two whiskies," he ordered, "and make one of them stiff.
I told Morrissy."
"You didn't mention my name, Ben? Don't say you told him that I was on
the other side of the partition!" Bill's eyes nearly stood out of his
"I told him nothing. How'd you happen to land in Schmuck's saloon,
anyhow? Why didn't you telephone me when you heard Morrissy come in?"
"Oh. Ben, I was drunk! If I hadn't been so drunk!" Bill's eyes
"And say, Ben, that fellow Bolles is back in town. He was in here a
few minutes ago, drunk as a lord. He flashed a roll of bills that
would have choked an ox."
"Where is he now?"
"Up stairs playing the wheel."
Ben shook his head. He had his salary in his pocket, and he vividly
remembered what roulette had done to it a fortnight gone.
"If Bolles is drunk, it wouldn't do any good to talk to him." Ben
sighed and drank his liquor neat. He was tired.
Regularly once a week Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene visited a hair-dresser.
This distinguished social leader employed a French maid who was very
adept at dressing hair, but the two never got along very well
verbally; Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene insisted on speaking in broken French
while the maid persisted in broken English. Such conversation is
naturally disjointed and leads nowhere. The particular hair-dresser
who received Mrs. Haldene's patronage possessed a lively imagination
together with an endless chain of gossip. Mrs. Haldene was superior to
gossiping with servants, but a hair-dresser is a little closer in
relation to life. Many visited her in the course of a week, and some
had the happy faculty of relieving their minds of what they saw and
heard regardless of the social status of the listener. Mrs. Haldene
never came away from the hair-dresser's empty-handed; in fact, she
carried away with her food for thought that took fully a week to
Like most places of its kind, the establishment was located in the
boarding-house district; but this did not prevent fashionable
carriages from stopping at the door, nor the neighboring boarders from
sitting on their front steps and speculating as to whom this or that
carriage belonged. There was always a maid on guard in the hall; she
was very haughty and proportionately homely. It did not occur to the
proprietress that this maid was a living advertisement of her
incompetence to perform those wonders stated in the neat little
pamphlets piled on the card-table; nor did it impress the patrons, who
took it for granted that the maid, naturally enough, could not afford
to have the operation of beauty performed.
A woman with wrinkles is always hopeful.
A strange medley of persons visited this house, each seeking in her
own peculiar way the elixir of life, which is beauty, or the potion of
love, which is beauty's handmaiden. There were remedies plus remedies;
the same skin-food was warranted to create double-chins or destroy
them; the same tonic killed superfluous hair or made it grow on bald
spots. A freckle to eradicate, a wrinkle to remove, a moth-patch to
bleach, a grey hair to dye; nothing was impossible here, not even
credulity. It was but meet that the mistress should steal past the
servant, that the servant should dodge the mistress. Every woman
craves beauty, but she does not want the public to know that her
beauty is of the kind in which nature has no hand. No man is a hero to
his valet; no woman is a beauty to her maid. In and out, to and fro;
the social leader, the shop-girl, the maid, the woman of the town, the
actress, the thin old spinster and the fat matron, here might they be
At rare intervals a man was seen to ring the bell, but he was either a
bill-collector or a husband in search of his wife.
The proprietress knew everybody intimately--by sight. She was squat,
dyed, rouged and penciled, badly, too. She was written down in the
city directory as Madame de Chevreuse, but she was emphatically not of
French extraction. In her alphabet there were generally but
twenty-five letters; there were frequent times when she had no idea
that there existed such a letter as "g." How she came to appropriate
so distinguished a name as De Chevreuse was a puzzle. Her husband
--for she had a husband--was always reading French history in English,
and doubtless this name appealed to his imagination and romance.
Nobody knew what Madame's real name was, nor that of her husband, for
he was always called "Monseer."
The reception-room was decorated after the prevailing fashion. There
was gilt and pretense. There were numerous glass cases, filled with
lotions and skin-foods and other articles of toilet; there were
faceless heads adorned with all shades of hair, scalps, pompadours,
and wigs. A few false-faces grinned or scowled or smirked from frames
or corners where they were piled. There were tawdry masquerade
costumes, too, and theatrical make-up. Curtains divided the several
shampooing booths, and a screen cut off the general view of the
operation of beauty. However, there were chinks large enough for the
inquisitive, and everybody was inquisitive who patronized Madame de
Chevreuse, pronounced Chevroose.
And always and ever there prevailed without regeneration the odor of
cheap perfumes and scented soaps.
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene left her carriage at the door, perfectly willing
that the neighborhood should see her alight. She climbed the steps,
stately and imposing. She was one of the few women who could overawe
the homely girl in the hallway.
"Is Madame at liberty?"
"She will be shortly, Mrs. Haldene."
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene passed into the reception-room and sat down by
the manicure table. The screen was in position. Some one was being
beautified. From time to time she heard voices.
"The make-up is taking splendidly to-day."
"Well, it didn't last week. I sweat pink beads all over my new
"It does peel in hot weather. I understand that Mrs. Welford is going
"He ought to have the first chance there, if what I've heard about her
is true. These society women make me tired."
"They haven't much to occupy their time."
"Oh, I don't know. They occupy their time in running around after the
other women's husbands."
"And the husbands?"
"The other men's wives."
"You aren't very charitable."
"Nobody's ever given me any charity, I'm sure."
From one of the shampooing booths:
"But you would look very well in the natural grey, ma'am."
"My husband doesn't think so."
"But his hair is grey."
"That doesn't lessen his regard for brunettes."
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene shrugged her majestic shoulders and gazed again
into the street. She always regretted that Madame could not be induced
to make private visits.
A white poodle, recently shampooed, dashed through the rooms. There is
always a watery-eyed, red-lidded poodle in an establishment of this
order. The masculine contempt for the pug has died. It took twenty
years to accomplish these obsequies. But the poodle, the poor poodle!
Call a man a thief, a wretch, a villain, and he will defend himself;
but call him a poodle, and he slinks out of sight. It is impossible to
explain definitely the cause of this supreme contempt for the poodle,
nor why it should be considered the epitome of opprobrium to be called
"Yes, Madame!" replied the girl in the hall.
"Take Beauty into the kitchen and close the door. He's just been
washed, and I don't want him all speckled up with hair-dye."
The girl drove the poodle out of the reception-room and caught him in
the hall. Presently the kitchen door slammed and the odor of onions in
soup no longer fought against the perfumes and soaps for supremacy.
"There," said Madame behind the screen, "you have no rival in town now
"I'll be here again next Tuesday."
"Yes, in the morning."
A woman emerged from behind the screen. She possessed a bold beauty,
the sort that appeals to men without intellect. She was dressed
extravagantly: too many furbelows, too many jewels, too many flowers.
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene recognized her instantly and turned her head
toward the window. She heard the woman pass by her, enter the hall and
leave the house. She saw her walk quickly away, stop suddenly as if
she had forgotten something, open her large purse, turn its contents
inside out, replace them, and proceed. But a letter lay on the
sidewalk unnoticed. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene secretly hoped that it would
remain there till she made her departure.
"Handsome woman, isn't she?" said Madame. "I don't know what it is,
but they are always good-looking."
"Who is she?" asked Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene, who knew very well who the
"She is one of Mr. McQuade's lady friends."
"Yes." Madame was shrewd. She saw that it wouldn't do to tell Mrs.
Franklyn-Haldene anything about a woman who could in no way be of use
to her. "Have you heard of the Sybil?"
"The Sybil?" repeated Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene.
"Yes. A new fortune-teller, and everybody says she's a wonder. I
haven't been to her yet, but I'm goin' just as soon as I get time."
"Do you believe they know what they are talking about?" incredulously.
"Know! I should say I did. Old Mother Danforth has told me lots of
things that have come true. She was the one who predicted the Spanish
war and the president's assassination. It is marvelous, but she done
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene shuddered. With all her faults, she loved the
"How do you want your hair fixed?" Madame inquired, seeing that her
patron's interest in mediums was not strong.
"The same as usual. Last week you left a streak, and I am sure
everybody noticed it at the Gordon tea. Be careful to-day."
Thereupon Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene constituted herself a martyr to the
cause. She was nervous and fidgety in the chair, for the picture of
that letter on the sidewalk kept recurring. In the meantime Madame
told her all that had happened and all that hadn't, which is equally
valuable. The toilet lasted an hour; and when Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene
rose from the chair, Madame was as dry as a brook in August. Her
patron hurried to the street. The letter was still on the sidewalk.
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene picked it up and quickly sought her carriage.
Pah! how the thing smelt of sachet-powder. Her aristocratic nose
wrinkled in disdain. But her curiosity surmounted her natural
repugnance. The address was written in a coarse masculine hand. The
carriage had gone two blocks before she found the necessary courage to
open the letter. The envelope had already been opened, so in reading
it her conscience suggested nothing criminal.
Gossip began on the day Eve entered the Garden of Eden. To be sure,
there was little to gossip about, but that little Eve managed without
difficulty to collect. It is but human to take a harmless interest in
what our next-door neighbor is doing, has done, or may do. Primarily
gossip was harmless; to-day it is still harmless in some quarters. The
gossip of the present time is like the prude, always looking for the
worst and finding it. The real trouble with the gossip lies in the
fact that she has little else to do; her own affairs are so
uninteresting that she is perforce obliged to look into the affairs of
her neighbors. Then, to prove that she is well informed, she feels
compelled to repeat what she has seen or heard, more or less
accurately. From gossiping to meddling is but a trifling step. To back
up a bit of gossip, one often meddles. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene was
naturally a daughter of Eve; she was more than a gossip, she was a
prophetess. She foretold scandal. She would move Heaven and earth, so
the saying goes, to prove her gossip infallible. And when some
prophecy of hers went wrong, she did everything in her power to right
it. To have acquired the reputation of prophesying is one thing,
always to fulfil these prophecies is another. It never occurred to her
that she was destroying other people's peace of mind, that she was
constituting herself a Fate, that she was meddling with lives which in
no wise crossed or interfered with her own. She had no real enmity
either for Warrington or Mrs. Jack; simply, she had prophesied that
Warrington had taken up his residence in Herculaneum in order to be
near Katherine Challoner, John Bennington's wife. Here was a year
nearly gone, and the smoke of the prophecy had evaporated, showing
that there had been no fire below.
Neither Warrington nor Mrs. Jack was in her thoughts when she opened
the letter, which was signed by McQuade's familiar appellation.
Dear Girl--I've got them all this trip. I'll put Bennington on the
rack and wring Warrington's political neck, the snob, swelling it
around among decent people! What do you think? Why, Warrington used to
run after the Challoner woman before she was married; and I have proof
that she went to Warrington's room one night and never left till
morning. How's that sound? They stick up their noses at you, do they?
Wait! They won't look so swell when I'm through with them. If
Warrington's name is even mentioned at the Republican convention, I've
missed my guess. I got your bills this morning. You'd better go light
till I've settled with these meddlers. Then we'll pack up our duds and
take that trip to Paris I promised you.
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene shivered. How horribly vulgar! She felt polluted
for a moment, and half wished she had let the missive lie where it had
fallen. But this sense of disgust wore off directly. She had been
right, then; there was something wrong; it was her duty, her duty to
society, to see that this thing went no further. And that flirtation
between Patty and the dramatist must be brought to a sudden halt. How?
Ah, she would now find the means. He was merely hoodwinking Patty; it
was a trick to be near Mrs. Jack. She had ignored her, had she? She
had always scorned to listen to the truth about people, had she? And
well she might! Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene's lips tightened. Those friends
of hers who had doubted would presently doubt no more. She hadn't the
slightest idea how McQuade would use his information; she didn't even
care, so long as he used it. She grew indignant. The idea of that
woman's posing as she did! The idea of her dreaming to hold
permanently the footing she had gained in society! It was nothing
short of monstrous. The ever-small voice of conscience spoke, but she
refused to listen. She did not ask herself if what McQuade had in his
possession was absolute truth. Humanity believes most what it most
desires to believe. And aside from all this, it was a triumph, a
vindication of her foresight.
"To the Western Union," she called to the groom. When the carriage
drew up before the telegraph office, she gave the letter to the groom.
"I found this on the sidewalk. Have them return it to the owner by
messenger." This was done. "Now, home," she ordered.
That afternoon she attended a large reception. Her bland smile was as
bland as ever, but her eyes shone with suppressed excitement. The
Benningtons were there, but there was only a frigid nod when she
encountered Mrs. Jack and Patty. She wondered that she nodded at all.
She took her friend, Mrs. Fairchilds, into a corner. She simply had to
tell some one of her discovery, or at least a hint of it.
"Do you recollect what I told you?"
"About--?" Mrs. Fairchilds glanced quickly at Mrs. Jack.
"Yes. Every word was true, and there will be a great upheaval shortly.
But not a word to a soul. I never gossip, but in this instance I feel
it my duty to warn you. How and where I learned the truth is
immaterial. I have learned it, and that is sufficient. It is
frightful; it makes my blood boil when I think of it. And she goes
everywhere, as if she had a perfect right."
"What have you found?" Mrs. Fairchilds could scarcely breathe, so
great was her curiosity.
"You will learn soon enough without my telling you." And that was all
Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene would say.
But it was enough, enough for her purpose. Within an hour's time all
the old doubt had been stirred into life again, and the meddlers
gathered about for the feast. It is all so simple and easy.
Mrs. Jack moved here and there, serenely beautiful, serenely happy,
serenely unconscious of the blow that was soon to strike at the very
heart of her life. Once in a while her brows would draw together
abstractedly. She was thinking of John, and of the heartaches he was
having over the action of the men at the shops.
Patty was not gay. She seemed to be impatient to leave. Three or four
times she asked Mrs. Jack if she were ready to go; she was tired, the
people bored her, she wanted to go home. Finally Mrs. Jack
That night at dinner John was very quiet and absent-minded. The shops,
the shops, he was thinking of them continuously. In his heart of
hearts he had no faith in the reporter's influence. The strike mania
had seized the men, and nothing now could hold them back. He knew they
would doubt his threat to tear down the buildings. Not till he sent
the builder's wrecking crew would they understand. Not a hair's
breadth, not the fraction of an inch; if they struck, it would be the
end. He gazed at his wife, the melting lights of love in his handsome
eyes. Hey-dey! She would always be with him, and together they would
go about the great world and forget the injustice and ingratitude of
men. But it was going to be hard. Strong men must have something to
lay their hands to. He knew that he could not remain idle very long;
he must be doing something. But out of the shops he felt that he would
be like a ship without steering apparatus--lost, aimless, purposeless.
He woke from his dream, and forced a smile to his lips.
"You haven't eaten anything."
"I'm not hungry, dear."
"You haven't spoken half a dozen words since you came home."
"Haven't I? I must have been thinking."
"About the shops?" laying her hand on his and pressing it strongly.
"Yes. I'm afraid, heart o' mine, that it's all over. If they do not
strike now, they will later on; if not on this pretext, on some
"Why not let him go, John?"
"No." His jaws hardened. "It isn't a question of his going or staying;
it is simply a question of who is master, the employed or the
employer. The men say it's the principle of the thing; it shall be
fought out on those grounds. I'm going down to the club to-night with
Dick. I feel the need of getting out and breathing. Dick's not the
best company just now, but he'll understand what I need. Poor devil!
he's got his hands full, too."
She understood his mood, and offered no objection. She raised his hand
and brushed it with her lips.
"I love you, John."
He smiled gratefully.
"You go over to mother's for the evening, and I'll drop in on the way
home and pick you up."
Patty was in the music-room, so Mrs. Jack did not disturb her, but
started at her basket-work. Mrs. Bennington read till eight, and
retired. Patty played all the melancholy music she could think of.
When love first makes its entrance into the human heart, there is
neither joy nor gladness nor gaiety. On the contrary, there is a vast
shadow of melancholy, a painful sadness, doubt and cross-purpose,
boldness at one moment and timidity at the next, a longing for
solitude. Music and painting and poetry, these arts that only
attracted, now engage.
So Patty played.
Sometimes Mrs. Jack looked up from her work, wondering. She had never
heard Patty play so many haunting, dismal compositions. At nine the
telephone rang, and she dropped her work instantly, thinking the call
might be from John. Ah, if the men would only listen to reason!
"Is Mrs. Bennington at home?" asked a voice, unfamiliar to her ears.
"There are two. Which one do you wish?"
"Mrs. John Bennington."
"This is Mrs. John Bennington speaking. What is it?"
There was a pause.
"I have something very important to communicate to you. In the first
place, you must use your influence in making Mr. Warrington withdraw
his name as a candidate for nomination."
"Who is this speaking?" she asked sharply.
The receiver nearly fell from her hand. McQuade? What in the world--
"Did you get the name?"
"Yes. But I fail to understand what you are talking about. I warn you
that I shall ring off immediately."
"One moment, please. If you hang up the receiver, you will regret it.
I wish you no ill, Mrs. Bennington. If it were possible I should like
to talk with you personally, for this matter deeply concerns your
future happiness. I can not call; I have been ordered out of your
husband's house. It lies in your power to influence Warrington to drop
his political ambition. Information has come to my hand that would not
look very well in the newspapers. It is in my power to stop it, but I
promise not to lift a hand if you refuse."
"I not only refuse, but I promise to repeat your conversation to my
husband this very night." With that Mrs. Jack hung up the receiver.
She rose, pale and terribly incensed. The low fellow! How dared he,
how dared he! "Patty!" The call brooked no dallying.
The music ceased. Patty came out, blinking.
"You called me, Kate?"
"Patty, McQuade has been calling me up on the telephone."
"McQuade, McQuade! He says that if I do not influence Mr. Warrington
to withdraw his name--Did you ever hear of such a thing? I am
furious! What can it mean? He says he has heard something about me
which he can suppress but will not if I--Why, Patty, what shall I do?
What shall I do?" She crushed her hands together wildly.
"Tell John," said Patty sensibly.
"John? He would thresh McQuade within an inch of his life."
"Tell Warrington, then."
"He would do the same as John. But what can the wretch have found? God
knows, Patty, I have always been a good, true woman. ... Think of that
man's telephoning me!"
Patty ran to her side and flung her arms about her brother's wife.
Patty loved her.
"Don't you bother your head, darling. It can't be anything but a
political dodge; it can't be anything serious. McQuade is low enough
to frighten women, but don't let him frighten you. I know he lies,"
said the loyal Patty. "And now that I think it over, it would be best
to say nothing to John or Richard. Fisticuffs would get into the
papers, and it's my opinion that's just what this man McQuade wants.
He could swear to a thousand lies, if the matter became public. But
oh!" clenching her hands fiercely, "I'd give a year of my life to see
John thresh him. But you say nothing; let us wait and see."
At that very moment McQuade sat swinging in his swivel-chair. There
was a smile of satisfaction on his face.
"That'll bring 'em," he said aloud, though he was alone. "That'll
bring 'em both up here, roaring like lions. They'll muss up the
furniture, and then I can tell the reporters all about it. Even
Walford can't object this time."
He rubbed his hands together like Shylock at the thought of his pound
of flesh. He had waited a long time. They had ordered him, McQuade.
who held the city in his hand--they had ordered him out of the house.
Not a grain of mercy, not half a grain. Two birds with one stone. He
was shrewd for all his illiteracy. He knew women passably well. This
one would tell her husband, who would seek for immediate vengeance.
But sometimes chance overthrows the best-laid plans of cleverness and
foresight. And this remarkable plan of McQuade's was deranged by a
chance guess by Patty.
Meantime at Martin's it was growing lively. The bar was crowded, the
restaurant was being liberally patronized, and persons went up the
stairs that did not return. Jordan paid the check, and he and Osborne
"When'll they go out, Ben?"
"Too bad. I wish I'd been sober."
"I'll break Morrissy's head one of these fine days. Let's go over to
Johnny's; there's music over there."
"All right, Ben."
"And no more booze, mind."
"Just as you say."
Up stairs the gambling-den was doing a good business. The annual
trotting meet had brought many sporting men to town. They were
standing around the faro table; the two roulette wheels were going,
and the Klondike machine spun ceaselessly. There were a dozen stacks
of chips in front of Bolles. He was smiling, flushed with triumph and
"Three hundred to the good, old boy!" he said to the man who spun the
ivory ball. "I'll break you fellows to-night."
"Bring Mr. Bolles another whisky," said the proprietor.
"I'll take all you can bring."
"You're a tank, sure."
"You bet!" Bolles grinned.
So did the banker, covertly. He had seen the comedy played a thousand
times. Few men ever took away their winnings, once they started in to
drink, and Bolles was already drunk. He lost his next bet. He doubled
and lost again. Then he stacked his favorite number. The ball rolled
into it, but jumped the compartment, wizard-wise, and dropped into
single-o. Bolles cursed the luck. Another whisky was placed at his
elbow. He drank it at a gulp.
"Make the limit five," he cried.
The banker nodded to the man at the wheel.
Bolles made six bets. He lost them. A quarter of an hour later his
entire winnings had passed over the table. He swore, and drew out a
roll of bills. He threw a fifty on the black. Red won. He doubled on
black. Red won. He plunged. He could not win a single bet. He tried
numbers, odd and even, the dozens, splits, squares, column. Fortune
had withdrawn her favor.
He played his last ten on black, and lost.
"Let me have a hundred."
The banker shook his head and pointed to the signs on the wall:
"Checks for money, money for checks, no mouth-bets."
Bolles felt in his pockets and repeated the futile search.
"Not a damned cent!" he shouted. "Cleaned out!"
"Give Mr. Bolles a ten-spot," said the banker. "But you can't play it
here, Bolles," was the warning.
Bolles stuffed the note in his pocket and rose. He was very drunk; he
himself did not realize how drunk he was till he started for the door.
He staggered and lurched against the sideboard. His hat rolled from
his head. An attendant quickly recovered it, and Bolles slapped it on
"Get out o' the way! It's a snide game, anyhow. You've got wires on
the machine. You've got seven hundred o' my money, and you give me
They opened the door for him and he stumbled out into the dark,
unlighted hallway. He leaned against the wall, trying to think it out,
searching his pockets again and again. Why in hell hadn't he left some
of the money with the bartender? Broke, clean, flat broke! And he had
pushed his winnings up to three hundred! He became ugly, now that he
fully realized what had happened. He ground his teeth and cursed
loudly; he even kicked the door savagely. Then he swung rather than
walked down the stairs. He turned into the bar and bought three more
whiskies, and was then primed for any deviltry. He was very drunk, but
it was a wide-awake drunkenness, cruel and revengeful. He turned into
the alley and tried to think of some plan by which he could borrow
enough to make a new attempt at fickle fortune. To-morrow he could
strike McQuade again, but to-night McQuade wouldn't listen to him.
Every once in a while he would renew the searching of his pockets, but
there was only the remainder of the ten the banker had given him.
John and Warrington had played an uninteresting game of billiards at
the club, then finally sought the night and tramped idly about the
streets. With Warrington it was sometimes his aunt, sometimes the new
life that beat in his heart when he saw Patty, sometimes this game he
was playing which had begun in jest and had turned to earnest. With
John it was the shops, the shops, always and ever the shops. When they
spoke it was in monosyllables. Nevertheless it was restful to each of
them to be so well understood that verbal expression was not
necessary. They had started toward Martin's on the way home, when
Warrington discovered that he was out of cigars. He ran back three or
four doors while John proceeded slowly. Just as he was about to cross
the alley-way a man suddenly lurched out into the light. He was
drunk, but not the maudlin, helpless intoxication that seeks and
invites sociability. He was murderously drunk, strong, nervous,
excited. He barred Bennington's way.
"I thought it was you!" he said venomously.
Bennington drew back and started to pass around the man. He did not
recognize him. He saw in the action only a man disorderly drunk. But
he hadn't taken two steps before the other's words stopped him
"You're a millionaire, eh? Well, I'll soon fix you and your actress
and her lover. Take that as a starter!"
He struck Bennington savagely on the cheek-bone. Bennington stumbled
back, but managed to save himself from falling. Instantly all the war
that was in his soul saw an outlet. He came back, swift as a panther
and as powerful. In an instant his assailant was on his back on the
pavement, the strong fingers tightening about the wretch's throat;
Bolles was a powerful man, but he had not the slightest chance. Not a
sound from either man. There were one or two pedestrians on the
opposite side of the street, but either these did not see or would
Warrington had made a hurried purchase. As he left the cigar store, he
saw the two men fall. He ran up quickly, wondering what the trouble
was. He had no idea that John was one of the men, but as he saw the
light grey suit, and the Panama lying on the ground, he knew.
"For God's sake, John, what are you doing?" he cried.
With a superhuman effort he dragged the enraged man from the prostrate
form in the road. It no longer struggled, but lay inert and without
"Was I killing him, Dick?" said John, in a quavering voice. "He struck
me and--Am I mad, or has the world turned upside down in a minute?"
"What did he say?" asked Warrington. He was badly frightened. He knelt
at the side of Bolles and felt of his heart. It still beat.
"What did he say? Nothing, nothing!--Where's my hat? I'm going home--
"No, he's alive; but I came just in time."
At this moment Bolles turned over and slowly struggled to a sitting
posture. His hands went feebly toward his throat.
"He's all right," said Warrington. "We'd better light out. Now what
"He struck me. He was drunk. I've been in a fighting mood all day.
Call that carriage."
When Mrs. Jack saw him she screamed.
"The asphalt was wet, girl, and I took a bad fall." But John lied with
The Bennington mills, or shops, were situated just inside the city
limits. Beyond was a beautiful undulating country of pastures and
wheat-fields, dotted frequently with fine country homes. The mills
were somewhat isolated from the general manufacturing settlement, but
had spurs of track that for practical purposes were much nearer the
main line of freight traffic than any of those manufacturing concerns
which posed as its rivals. It was a great quadrangle of brick, partly
surrounded by a prison-like wall. Within this wall was a court,
usually piled high with coke and coal and useless molds. The building
was, by turns, called foundry, mills and shops. The men who toiled
there called it the shops. Day and night, night and day, there was
clangor and rumbling and roaring and flashes of intense light. In the
daytime great volumes of smoke poured from the towering chimneys, and
at night flames shot up to the very walls of heaven, burnishing the
The elder Bennington was one of those men who, with a firm standing on
the present, lay admirable plans for the future. He had been in no
great hurry to get rich. He went leisurely about it, tantalizing
fortune, it might be said. His first venture had shown foresight. At
the beginning of the Civil War he had secured an option on many
thousand tons of coal. Without taking an actual penny from his
pockets, he had netted a comfortable fortune. Again, his foresight
recognized that the day would come when the whole continent would gird
itself in steel. With his ready money he bought ground and built a
small mill. This prospered. He borrowed from the banks, and went on
building. Ten years passed. The property was unencumbered; he had paid
both interest and principal. He did not believe in stock-holders. He
sold no stock. Every nail, bolt and screw was his; every brick, stone
and beam. There were no directors to meddle with his plans, no fool's
hand to block his progress, to thwart his vast projects. Slowly he
became rich, for every piece of steel that went out to the purchasers
was honest steel. Sagacity and loyalty overcame all obstacles. Many a
time he might have sold at a handsome profit. But selling wasn't his
idea; he had a son. Besides, this was his life-work, and he detested
the idle rich, which at that time were just coming into evidence.
He never speculated; but he bought government bonds, railroad bonds,
municipal bonds, for he had great faith in his country. He had the
same faith in his native city, too, for he secured all the bank stock
that came his way. Out of every ten dollars he earned he invested
five, saved three, and spent two. He lived well, but not
ostentatiously. He never gave directly to charities, but he gave work
to hundreds, and made men self-reliant and independent, which is a far
nobler charity. He never denied himself a vacation; he believed that
no man should live and die at his desk. There was plenty of time for
work and plenty for play; but neither interfered with the other. He
was an ardent fisherman, a keen hunter, and a lover of horses.
More than all these things, he was one of those rare individuals one
seldom meets--the born father. He made a man of his son and a woman of
his daughter. When he sent the boy to England, he knew that the boy
might change his clothes, but neither his character nor his
patriotism. He voted independently; he was never a party man; thus,
public office was never thrust in his way. Perhaps he was too frankly
honest. He never worried when his son reached the mating age. "Whoever
my boy marries will be the woman he loves, and he is too much his
father's son not to love among his equals." He was a college-bred man
besides, but few knew this. He had an eye for paintings, an ear for
music, and a heart for a good book. It is this kind of man whom nature
allows to be reproduced in his children.
He was gruff, but this gruffness was simply a mask to keep at arm's
length those persons whom he did not desire for friends.
When he died he left a will that was a model of its kind. There were
not a hundred lines in the document. He divided his fortune into three
parts, but he turned the shops over to his son John, without
stipulations, wholly and absolutely, to do with them as he pleased.
But he had written a letter in which he had set forth his desires. It
may be understood at once that these desires readily coincided with
those of the son.
John had not begun in the office. On the contrary, during school
vacations he worked as a puddler's apprentice, as a molder's
apprentice, in the rail-shop, in the sheet-and wire-shops. He worked
with his hands, too, and drew his envelope on Saturday nights like the
rest of them. There was never any talk about John's joining the union;
the men looked upon his efforts good-naturedly and as a joke. The
father, with wisdom always at his elbow, never let the fishing trips
go by. John had his play. At the age of twenty he knew as much about
the manufacture of steel as the next one. He loved the night shifts,
when the whole place seethed and glowed like an inferno. This manual
education had done something else, too. It had broadened his
shoulders, deepened his chest, and flattened his back. Many a time the
old man used to steal out and watch the young Hercules, stripped to
the waist, drag rails to the cooling-room. When John entered college
athletics he was not closely confined to the training-tables.
Under the guidance of such a father, then, there could not be as a
result anything less than a thorough man.
On the following Monday morning succeeding the encounter with Bolles,
John boarded a car and went out to the shops as usual. He found
nothing changed. The clerks in the office were busy with huge ledgers,
though it is true that many a hand was less firm than on ordinary
days. Rumors were flying about, from clerk to clerk, but none knew
what the boss intended to do. From the shops themselves came the
roaring and hammering that had gone on these thirty years or more.
Bennington opened his mail and read each letter carefully. There were
orders for rails, wire rope and sheets for boilers. The business of
the concern always passed through his hands first. Even when he was
out of town, duplicates of all orders were sent to him. He laid each
letter in the flat basket; but this morning there was no "O. K.--J.
B." scrawled across the tops. There would be time enough for that
later. He rose and went to the window and looked down into the court.
His heart beat heavily. There was something besides the possibility of
a strike on his mind. But he flung this thought aside and returned to
the strike. Was it right or was it wrong? Should he follow out his
father's request, letter for letter? To punish two or three who were
guilty, would it be right to punish several hundred who were not? And
those clerks and assistants yonder, upon whom families depended, who
had nothing to do with unionism, one way or the other, what about
them? Fate strikes blindly; the innocent fall with the guilty. The
analysis of his own desires was quick enough. Surrender? Not much! Not
an inch, not a tenth part of an inch, would he move. If men permitted
themselves to be sheep in the hands of an unscrupulous man, so much
the worse. He promised himself this much: all those who appealed to
him honestly, for these he would find employment elsewhere. There were
other mills and shops in town that would be glad enough to employ a
Bennington man, which signified capability.
John turned. Chittenden, the young English inventor, stood
respectfully just within the door.
"Good morning, Mr. Chittenden. How's the invention going? Did you get
that special pulley from Pittsburgh yet?"
"The invention is going very well, sir. But it is not of that I wish
"Have you joined the union, then?" asked Bennington, with a shade of
irony which did not escape the keen-eyed Englishman.
"No!" This was not spoken; it was more like a shout. "I have joined no
union, and my brain may rot before I do. The truth is, sir, I hear
that if the men go out you'll tear down the shops." He hesitated.
"Well, I do not want this to happen on my account. I am young; I can
wait; I'll take my tinkering elsewhere. You've been very good to me
sir, and I should hate to see you troubled."
"Chittenden, you can't leave me now. If you do, I shall never forgive
you. You are a valuable piece of property just now. You are to be my
test case, as the lawyers say. If you go now the men will think I
weakened and forced you out. You gave me your word that you would stay
here till _I_ told you to go."
"There's nothing more to be said, sir. You may depend upon me."
"Thanks. The day you perfect your machine, on that day I shall find
the capital to promote it. Good morning."
"The committee was coming up after me, sir," was the reply.
"Ah!" Bennington's eyes flashed. "Then remain to hear what I have to
say to them."
All this while the girl at the typewriter never paused.
Clickity-click! clickity-click! Suddenly all noises ceased, all but
the noise of the typewriter. The two men looked at each other quickly
and comprehensively. There was a tramping of feet on the stairs, and
presently a knock on the door. Clickity-click!
"You may go," said Bennington to the girl.
The girl gathered up her notes and passed into the main office.
Again came the knock, more aggressive this time.
The committee, headed by Morrissy, entered with shuffling feet.
Morrissy saw the Englishman and scowled.
"Well, gentlemen?" said Bennington, sitting on his desk and resting a
foot on his chair.
"We have come to learn what you intend to do about this Britisher,"
"I don't recollect your face," replied Bennington thoughtfully. "How
long have you been in the shops?"
"I'm not in your shops," returned Morrissy blusteringly.
"In that case," said Bennington mildly, "there's the door. I do not
see how this matter concerns you."
"Well, it does concern me, as you'll find soon," cried Morrissy,
choking with sudden rage.
"I'll give you one minute to make the foot of the stairs. If you're
not there at the end of that time, I'll take you by the collar and
help you." Bennington drew out his watch.
"He's the head of our union, Mr. Bennington," interposed one of the
men, shifting his feet uneasily.
"Oh! Then he's the man who is really making all this trouble?"
Bennington nodded as if he had just arrived at a solution.
"I'm here to see that my men have their rights." Morrissy failed to
understand this mild young man. "And it'll take a bigger man than you
to throw me out of here. This Britisher either joins the union or he
"If he joins the union he'll be permitted to continue the perfecting
of his invention?"
"His invention is not necessary at present. The output as it is meets
"Look here, Mr. Morrissy, I'll make you a proposition."
"You and I will go down to the molding-room and have it out with our
fists. If you win, Chittenden goes; if I win, he stays and the men
return to work."
"This isn't no kid's play, Mr. Bennington. You've got a big strike
looking you in the face."
Bennington laughed. "I'm afraid you're a coward. So Mr. Chittenden
must join the union or go. It isn't a question of wage scale or hours;
it simply revolves around Mr. Chittenden. Supposing he joins the
union, what will you give him to do?" Bennington's voice was that of a
man who wishes to know all sides of the question.
"Well, he'll have to learn where they all started from."
"Mr. Chittenden is an expert machinist."
"Let him join the union, then, and there won't be any trouble here. I
want justice. This shop is union, and no non-union man can work here.
I want justice, that's all."
"You'll get that all in good time, Mr.--ah--?"
"Mr. Morrissy. Mr. Chittenden, are you willing to join the union?"
Bennington smiled as he plied this question.
"Not I! My word, I'd as lief starve as become a union man, and under
such a master. I prize my manhood and independence above all things. I
have already refused to join. I never take back what I say."
"Neither do I, Mr. Chittenden." Bennington stood up.
"Then out he goes," said Morrissy, recovering his truculence.
"On what authority?" Bennington's voice was growing milder and milder.
"On what authority?" he repeated.
"On mine!" cried Morrissy.
"You are mistaken. I am master here. Mr. Chittenden will remain on the
"Then in ten minutes the men will walk out on my orders. You're making
a big mistake, Mr. Bennington."
"That is for me to judge."
"Ten minutes to make up your mind." Morrissy made a gesture toward his
"Don't bother about the time, Mr. Morrissy. We'll spend the ten
minutes in the molding-room."
Morrissy turned pale.
"Oh, we shan't come to fisticuffs, Mr. Morrissy. I am a gentleman, and
you are not. Not a word!" as Morrissy clenched his fists. "Mr.
Shipley," said Bennington to one of the committee, "will you get all
the men together? I have a few words to say to them before this ten
minutes is up. I want to give the men a fair show."
"You can have twenty minutes, my English-bred gentleman," snarled
Morrissy. At that moment he would have given a thousand dollars for
the strength to whip the man whose ruin he believed he was planning.
"I'm kind of anxious myself to hear what you've got to say.
"In fact, I hope you will listen carefully to every word I say,"
replied Bennington, with a nod toward the door.
The committee went out solemnly. Morrissy was next to the last to go
down the stairs. Bennington followed closely behind him.
"Some day I'll get a good chance at you, Mr. Morrissy, and the devil
take care of you when I do. I shall see to it that the law will be
found to fit your case."
Morrissy shifted over to the balustrade, looking over his shoulder at
"Look here, you can't talk to me that way, Bennington."
"Can't I? I'll proceed. In the first place, you're a damn scoundrel.
You've brought about this trouble simply to show that you have power
to injure me. Well, you can't injure me, Mr. Morrissy, but you will do
irreparable injury to these poor men who put their trust in you and
your kind. Chittenden? That's a pretty poor excuse. You've always
harbored a grudge against my father, and this seems to be your chance.
You've the idea that you can intimidate me. You can't intimidate me
any more than you could my father. More than all this, McQuade is back
of this move; and if I can prove that you accepted a bribe from him,
I'll have you both in court for conspiracy."
"You're talking big. It won't do you any good."
"Wait. I should be willing to wait ten years to call you a thief and a
blackguard in public. But I say to you now, privately, you are both a
thief and a blackguard."
Morrissy stepped back, red in the face. But he recognized the
disadvantage of his position. He was one step lower than his accuser.
"Go on," said Bennington, his voice now hard and metallic; "go on
down. There'll be no rough and tumble here. I won't give you that
"Well, you mark my words, I'll get satisfaction out of you shortly,
and then you'll talk on the other side of your mouth. This is business
now. When that's done, why, I'll make you eat every one of those
Bennington laughed sinisterly. He could crush the life out of this
flabby ruffian with one arm, easily.
Nothing more was said, and the way to the great molding-room was
traversed silently. Shipley sent out orders, and in a few minutes the
men congregated to hear what the boss had to say. It was, to say the
least, an unusual proceeding, this of an employer delivering a speech
to his men after they had practically declared a strike. Morrissy now
regretted that he had given Bennington any grace at all, for it was
not to be doubted that there was only a small majority of the men who
had voted for a strike. And these were the young men; youth is always
so hot-headed and cock-sure of itself. The older men, the men who had
drawn their pay in the shops for twenty years or more, they were not
Bennington mounted a pile of molds and raised his hand. The murmur of
voices dwindled away into silence. The sun came in through the
spreading skylights, and Bennington stood in the center of the
radiance. He was a man, every inch of him, and not a man among them
could deny it. There are many things that are recognizable even to
crass minds, and one of these is a man. Genius they look upon with
contempt, but not strength and resolution; they can not comprehend
what is not visible to the eye.
"Fire away, boss!" said a voice from the crowd.
Many of the men smiled, but there was no answering smile on the face
of the man on the molds.
"I have but few words to say to you men, and I trust for the sake of
your families that you will weigh carefully every word I utter."
Bennington took his father's letter from his pocket and unfolded it.
"You are about to take a step such as you all will live to regret. My
father never threatened; he acted. I shall follow his example. You are
on the verge of striking. I shall recognize the strike only at the
moment you decide to leave the shops. You will strike without cause,
without justice, simply because you are commanded to do so by your
"Hold on, Mr. Bennington!" cried one of those nearest him. "We have
the right to vote, and we voted against your policy in hiring a
"Put it that way if it pleases you," replied Bennington. "I say that
you strike simply to show how strong your power is. It is a fine thing
to have power, but it is finer by far to use it only when justice
makes a cause. But power is a terrible weapon in the hands of those
who can not direct it wisely. Let me come to facts. Your wages are the
highest in the city, five per cent. above the union scale; your hours
are the shortest; there is no Sunday-night shift; you have at your
pleasure a gymnasium and a swimming-pool; you are each of you given a
week's vacation in the summer on full pay, a thing no other concern of
the kind in the state does; all the machinery is flawless, minimizing
your chances of danger; in fact, you draw pay fifty-two weeks in the
year in the squarest shop in the world. If any man wishes to deny
these things, let him stand forth."
But there was neither sound nor movement from the men.
Bennington continued. "Men, you have no grievance. This man
Chittenden, the alleged cause of your striking, takes no food or pay
from your mouths or your pockets; he interferes with you in no manner
whatever. The contrivance he is trying to complete will not limit the
output, but will triple it, necessitating the employment of more men.
But your leader says that the present output is wholly sufficient, and
you are taking his word for it. Mr. Chittenden represents progress,
but you have taken it into your heads that you will have none of it.
He refuses to join the union, and I refuse to discharge him on that
ground. I do not say that this shall not be a union shop; I say that I
shall employ whom I will for any purpose I see fit. It is your say, so
say it; yours is the power; use it. ... Patience, just a little
longer. I have shown much of it during the past year."
The men swayed restlessly, and then became still again when they saw
that he was going to read something.
"I have here the last letter my father ever wrote me. As I received it
after his death, I might say that it is a voice from the grave. I will
read that part which affects the shops.
"'And so, my son, I leave you this last request. Day after day, year
after year, I have toiled honestly, with the will and the foresight
God gave me. I die prosperous and contented, having acquired my riches
without ill to any and without obligation. I have never wronged any
man, though often the power to do so has been in my hands. But reason
always cools hot blood, and I have always kept a strong curb on all my
angry impulses. Some day the men will strike again, what about I know
not; but this I do know: it will be without justice. I have bent to
them nine out of ten times. Nine of their demands were not wholly
unreasonable, but the tenth was. And this demand was that I should
have no non-union men in the shops. This strike lasted four months.
You will recall it. I do not know how long it might have gone on, had
not the poor devil, who was the cause of it, died. I and the men came
together again. We patched up our differences, covertly, so to speak.
The men appeared at the gates one morning, and I let them in without
referring by a single word to what had taken place. The principle of
unionism is a noble thing, but ignoble men, like rust in girders, gnaw
rapidly into principles and quickly and treacherously nullify their
"'The destroyer is everywhere. The apple has its worm, the rose its
canker, the steel its rust. It is the ignorant and envious man who
misuses power that, rightly directed, moves toward the emancipation of
the human race. There are cruel and grasping and dishonest employers,
who grind the heart and soul out of men. The banding together of the
laboring men was done in self-defense; it was a case of survive or
perish. The man who inaugurated unionism was a great philanthropist.
The unions began well; that is because their leaders were honest, and
because there was no wolf in the fold to recognize the extent of
power. It was an ignorant man who first discovered it, and for the
most part ignorance still wears the crown and holds the scepter. The
men who put themselves under the guidance of a dishonest labor leader
are much to be pitied. The individual laboring man always had my right
hand, but I have never had any particular reason to admire the union
"'There were two hundred and twelve strikes last year, of which only
six had cause. The others were brought about by politicians and greedy
unions. Dishonesty finds the line of least resistance in greed. Now, I
have studied the strike problem from beginning to end. There can be no
strike at the Bennington shops for a just cause. Had I lived long
enough, the shops would have been open-shop. My son, never surrender
once to injustice, for if you do you will establish a precedent, and
you will go on surrendering to the end of time. I leave the shops to
you. There is but one thing I demand, and that is that you shall never
sell the shops; Bennington or nothing. If you have difficulties with
the men, weigh them on the smallest scales. You will be master
there--you alone. It is a big responsibility, but I have the greatest
confidence in you. When the time comes, show that you are master, even
to the tearing down of every brick and stone that took me so long to
erect. I shall be where such disasters will not worry me in the
Bennington refolded the letter slowly. The men stood absolutely
"Men, if you go out this day, not one of you will ever find employment
here again. My sense of justice is large, and nothing but that shall
dictate to me. I shall employ and discharge whom I will; no man or
organization of men shall say to me that this or that shall be done
here. I am master, but perhaps you will understand this too late. Stay
or go; that is as you please. If you stay, nothing more will be said
on my part; if you go ... Well, I shall tear down these walls and sell
the machinery for scrap-iron!"
For the first time he showed emotion. He brought his hands strongly
together, as a man puts the final blow to the nail, then buttoned up
his coat and stood erect, his chin aggressive and his mouth stern.
"Well, which is it to be?" he demanded.
"You are determined to keep Chittenden?"
"We'll go out, Mr. Bennington," said Shipley.
"And what's more," added Morrissy, "we'll see that nobody else comes
He lighted a cigar, shoved his hands into his trousers pockets and
walked insolently toward the exit. The majority of the men were
grinning. Tear down this place? Kill the goose that laid the golden
egg? It was preposterous. Why, no man had ever done a thing like that.
It was to cut off one's nose to spite one's face. It was a case of
bluff, pure and simple. Winter was nearly three months off. By that
time this smart young man would be brought to his senses. So they
began filing out in twos and threes, their blouses and dinner-pails
tucked under their arms. Many were whistling lightly, many were
smoking their pipes, but there were some who passed forth silent and
grave. If this young man was a chip of the old block, they had best
start out at once in search of a new job.
Bennington jumped down from his impromptu platform and closed the
ponderous doors. Then he hurried to the main office, where he notified
the clerks what had happened. He returned to his private office. He
arranged his papers methodically, closed the desk, and sat down. His
gaze wandered to the blue hills and rolling pastures, and his eyes
sparkled; but he forced back what had caused it, and presently his
eyes became dry and hard.
"'You and your actress and her lover'," he murmured softly. "My God, I
am very unhappy!"
The anonymous letter is still being written. This is the weapon of the
cowardly and envious heart, so filled with venom and malice that it
has the courage or brazenness to go about piously proclaiming the word
duty. Beware of the woman who has ink-stains on her fingers and a duty
to perform; beware of her also who never complains of the lack of
time, but who is always harking on duty, duty. Some people live close
to the blinds. Oft on a stilly night one hears the blinds rattle never
so slightly. Is anything going on next door? Does a carriage stop
across the way at two o'clock of a morning? Trust the woman behind the
blinds to answer. Coming or going, little or nothing escapes this
vigilant eye that has a retina not unlike that of a horse, since it
magnifies the diameter of everything nine times. To hope for the worst
and to find it, that is the golden text of the busybody. The busybody
is always a prude; and prude signifies an evil-minded person who is
virtuous bodily. They are never without ink or soft lead-pencils. Ink
has accomplished more wonderful things than man can enumerate; though
just now a dissertation on ink in ink is ill-timed.
To return again to the anonymous letter. Add and multiply the lives it
has wrecked, the wars brought about. Menelaus, King of the Greeks,
doubtless received one regarding Helen's fancy for that simpering son
of Priam, Paris. The anonymous letter was in force even in that remote
period, the age of myths. It is consistent, for nearly all anonymous
letters are myths. A wife stays out late; her actions may be quite
harmless, only indiscreet. There is, alack! always some intimate
friend who sees, who dabbles her pen in the ink-well and labors over a