Part 5 out of 8
Before this task was finished, Billy Keating came in, bringing the
twenty-five dollars which Edstrom had got from the post-office. They
found a notary public, before whom Hal made oath to each document; and
when these had been duly inscribed and stamped with the seal of the
state, he gave carbon copies to Keating, who hurried off to catch a
mail-train which was just due. Billy would not trust such things to the
local post-office; for Pedro was the hell of a town, he declared. As
they went out on the street again they noticed that their body-guard had
been increased by another husky-looking personage, who made no attempt
to conceal what he was doing.
Hal went around the corner to an office bearing the legend, "J.W.
Anderson, Justice of the Peace."
Jim Anderson, the horse-doctor, sat at his desk within. He had evidently
chewed tobacco before he assumed the ermine, and his reddish-coloured
moustache still showed the stains. Hal observed such details, trying to
weigh his chances of success. He presented the affidavit describing his
treatment in North Valley, and sat waiting while His Honour read it
through with painful slowness.
"Well," said the man, at last, "what do you want?"
"I want a warrant for Jeff Cotton's arrest."
The other studied him for a minute. "No, young fellow," said he. "You
can't get no such warrant here."
"Because Cotton's a deputy-sheriff; he had a right to arrest you."
"To arrest me without a warrant?"
"How do you know he didn't have a warrant?"
"He admitted to me that he didn't."
"Well, whether he had a warrant or not, it was his business to keep
order in the camp."
"You mean he can do anything he pleases in the camp?"
"What I mean is, it ain't my business to interfere. Why didn't you see
Si Adams, up to the camp?"
"They didn't give me any chance to see him."
"Well," replied the other, "there's nothing I can do for you. You can
see that for yourself. What kind of discipline could they keep in them
camps if any fellow that had a kick could come down here and have the
"Then a camp-marshal can act without regard to the law?"
"I didn't say that."
"Suppose he had committed murder--would you give a warrant for that?"
"Yes, of course, if it was murder."
"And if you knew that he was in the act of committing murder in a
coal-camp--would you try to stop him?"
"Yes, of course."
"Then here's another affidavit," said Hal; and he produced the one about
the sealing of the mine. There was silence while Justice Anderson read
But again he shook his head. "No, you can't get no such warrants here."
"Because it ain't my business to run a coal-mine. I don't understand it,
and I'd make a fool of myself if I tried to tell them people how to run
Hal argued with him. Could company officials in charge of a coal-mine
commit any sort of outrage upon their employes, and call it running
their business? Their control of the mine in such an emergency as this
meant the power of life and death over a hundred and seven men and boys;
could it be that the law had nothing to say in such a situation? But Mr.
Anderson only shook his head; it was not his business to interfere. Hal
might go up to the court-house and see Judge Denton about it. So Hal
gathered up his affidavits and went out to the street again--where there
were now three husky-looking personages waiting to escort him.
The district court was in session and Hal sat for a while in the
court-room, watching Judge Denton. Here was another prosperous and
well-fed appearing gentleman, with a rubicund visage shining over the
top of his black silk robe. The young miner found himself regarding both
the robe and the visage with suspicion. Could it be that Hal was
becoming cynical, and losing his faith in his fellow man? What he
thought of, in connection with the Judge's appearance, was that there
was a living to be made sitting on the bench, while one's partner
appeared before the bench as coal-company counsel!
In an interval of the proceedings, Hal spoke to the clerk, and was told
that he might see the judge at four-thirty; but a few minutes later Pete
Hanun came in and whispered to this clerk. The clerk looked at Hal, then
he went up and whispered to the Judge. At four-thirty, when the court
was declared adjourned, the Judge rose and disappeared into his private
office; and when Hal applied to the clerk, the latter brought out the
message that Judge Denton was too busy to see him.
But Hal was not to be disposed of in that easy fashion. There was a side
door to the court-room, with a corridor beyond it, and while he stood
arguing with the clerk he saw the rubicund visage of the Judge flit
He darted in pursuit. He did not shout or make a disturbance; but when
he was close behind his victim, he said, quietly, "Judge Denton, I
appeal to you for justice!"
The Judge turned and looked at him, his countenance showing annoyance.
"What do you want?"
It was a ticklish moment, for Pete Hanun was at Hal's heels, and it
would have needed no more than a nod from the Judge to cause him to
collar Hal. But the Judge, taken by surprise, permitted himself to
parley with the young miner; and the detective hesitated, and finally
fell back a step or two.
Hal repeated his appeal. "Your Honour, there are a hundred and seven men
and boys now dying up at the North Valley mine. They are being murdered,
and I am trying to save their lives!"
"Young man," said the Judge, "I have an urgent engagement down the
"Very well," replied Hal, "I will walk with you and tell you as you go."
Nor did he give "His Honour" a chance to say whether this arrangement
was pleasing to him; he set out by his side, with Pete Hanun and the
other two men some ten yards in the rear.
Hal told the story as he had told it to Mr. Richard Parker; and he
received the same response. Such matters were not easy to decide about;
they were hardly a Judge's business. There was a state official on the
ground, and it was for him to decide if there was violation of law.
Hal repeated his statement that a man who made a complaint to this
official had been thrown out of camp. "And I was thrown out also, your
"Nobody told me what for."
"Tut, tut, young man! They don't throw men out without telling them the
"But they _do_, your Honour! Shortly before that they locked me up in
jail, and held me for thirty-six hours without the slightest show of
"You must have been doing something!"
"What I had done was to be chosen by a committee of miners to act as
"Yes, your Honour. I am informed there's a law providing that when the
men demand a check-weighman, and offer to pay for him, the company must
permit him to inspect the weights. Is that correct?"
"It is, I believe."
"And there's a penalty for refusing?"
"The law always carries a penalty, young man."
"They tell me that law has been on the statute-books for fifteen or
sixteen years, and that the penalty is from twenty-five to five hundred
dollars fine. It's a case about which there can be no dispute, your
Honour--the miners notified the superintendent that they desired my
services, and when I presented myself at the tipple, I was refused
access to the scales; then I was seized and shut up in jail, and finally
turned out of the camp. I have made affidavit to these facts, and I
think I have the right to ask for warrants for the guilty men."
"Can you produce witnesses to your statements?"
"I can, your Honour. One of the committee of miners, John Edstrom, is
now in Pedro, having been kept out of his home, which he had rented and
paid for. The other, Mike Sikoria, was also thrown out of camp. There
are many others at North Valley who know all about it."
There was a pause. Judge Denton for the first time took a good look at
the young miner at his side; and then he drew his brows together in
solemn thought, and his voice became deep and impressive. "I shall take
this matter under advisement. What is your name, and where do you live?"
"Joe Smith, your Honour. I'm staying at Edward MacKellar's, but I don't
know how long I'll be able to stay there. There are company thugs
watching the place all the time."
"That's wild talk!" said the Judge, impatiently.
"As it happens," said Hal, "we are being followed by three of them at
this moment--one of them the same Pete Hanun who helped to drive me out
of North Valley. If you will turn your head you will see them behind
But the portly Judge did not turn his head.
"I have been informed," Hal continued, "that I am taking my life in my
hands by my present course of action. I believe I'm entitled to ask for
"What do you want me to do?"
"To begin with, I'd like you to cause the arrest of the men who are
"It's not my business to cause such arrests. You should apply to a
"I don't see any policeman. Will you tell me where to find one?"
His Honour was growing weary of such persistence. "Young man, what's the
matter with you is that you've been reading dime novels, and they've got
on your nerves!"
"But the men are right behind me, your Honour! Look at them!"
"I've told you it's not my business, young man!"
"But, your Honour, before I can find a policeman I may be dead!"
The other appeared to be untroubled by this possibility.
"And, your Honour, while you are taking these matters under advisement,
the men in the mine will be dead!"
Again there was no reply.
"I have some affidavits here," said Hal. "Do you wish them?"
"You can give them to me if you want to," said the other.
"You don't ask me for them?"
"I haven't yet."
"Then just one more question--if you will pardon me, your Honour. Can
you tell me where I can find an honest lawyer in this town--a man who
might be willing to take a case against the interests of the General
There was a silence--a long, long silence. Judge Denton, of the firm of
Denton and Vagleman, stared straight in front of him as he walked.
Whatever complicated processes might have been going on inside his mind,
his judicial features did not reveal them. "No, young man," he said at
last, "it's not my business to give you information about lawyers." And
with that the judge turned on his heel and went into the Elks' Club.
Hal stood and watched the portly figure until it disappeared; then he
turned back and passed the three detectives, who stopped. He stared at
them, but made no sign, nor did they. Some twenty feet behind him, they
fell in and followed as before.
Judge Denton had suggested consulting a policeman; and suddenly Hal
noticed that he was passing the City Hall, and it occurred to him that
this matter of his being shadowed might properly be brought to the
attention of the mayor of Pedro. He wondered what the chief magistrate
of such a "hell of a town" might be like; after due inquiry, he found
himself in the office of Mr. Ezra Perkins, a mild-mannered little
gentleman who had been in the undertaking-business, before he became a
figure-head for the so-called "Democratic" machine.
He sat pulling nervously at a neatly trimmed brown beard, trying to
wriggle out of the dilemma into which Hal put him. Yes, it might
possibly be that a young miner was being followed on the streets of the
town; but whether or not this was against the law depended on the
circumstances. If he had made a disturbance in North Valley, and there
was reason to believe that he might be intending trouble, doubtless the
company was keeping track of him. But Pedro was a law-abiding place, and
he would be protected in his rights so long as he behaved himself.
Hal replied by citing what MacKellar had told him about men being
slugged on the streets in broad day-light. To this Mr. Perkins answered
that there was uncertainty about the circumstances of these cases;
anyhow, they had happened before he became mayor. His was a reform
administration, and he had given strict orders to the Chief of Police
that there were to be no more incidents of the sort.
"Will you go with me to the Chief of Police and give him orders now?"
"I do not consider it necessary," said Mr. Perkins.
He was about to go home, it seemed. He was a pitiful little rodent, and
it was a shame to torment him; but Hal stuck to him for ten or twenty
minutes longer, arguing and insisting--until finally the little rodent
bolted for the door, and made his escape in an automobile. "You can go
to the Chief of Police yourself," were his last words, as he started the
machine; and Hal decided to follow the suggestion. He had no hope left,
but he was possessed by a kind of dogged rage. He _would_ not let go!
Upon inquiry of a passer-by, he learned that police headquarters was in
this same building, the entrance being just round the corner. He went
in, and found a man in uniform writing at a desk, who stated that the
Chief had "stepped down the street." Hal sat down to wait, by a window
through which he could look out upon the three gunmen loitering across
The man at the desk wrote on, but now and then he eyed the young miner
with that hostility which American policemen cultivate toward the lower
classes. To Hal this was a new phenomenon, and he found himself suddenly
wishing that he had put on MacKellar's clothes. Perhaps a policeman
would not have noticed the misfit!
The Chief came in. His blue uniform concealed a burly figure, and his
moustache revealed the fact that his errand down the street had had to
do with beer. "Well, young fellow?" said he, fixing his gaze upon Hal.
Hal explained his errand.
"What do you want me to do?" asked the Chief, in a decidedly hostile
"I want you to make those men stop following me."
"How can I make them stop?"
"You can lock them up, if necessary. I can point them out to you, if
you'll step to the window."
But the other made no move. "I reckon if they're follerin' you, they've
got some reason for it. Have you been makin' trouble in the camps?" He
asked this question with sudden force, as if it had occurred to him that
it might be his duty to lock up Hal.
"No," said Hal, speaking as bravely as he could--"no indeed, I haven't
been making trouble. I've only been demanding my rights."
"How do I know what you been doin'?"
The young miner was willing to explain, but the other cut him short.
"You behave yourself while you're in this town, young feller, d'you see?
If you do, nobody'll bother you."
"But," said Hal, "they've already threatened to bother me."
"What did they say?"
"They said something might happen to me on a dark night."
"Well, so it might--you might fall down and hit your nose."
The Chief was pleased with this wit, but only for a moment. "Understand,
young feller, we'll give you your rights in this town, but we got no
love for agitators, and we don't pretend to have. See?"
"You call a man an agitator when he demands his legal rights?"
"I ain't got time to argue with you, young feller. It's no easy matter
keepin' order in coal-camps, and I ain't going to meddle in the
business. I reckon the company detectives has got as good a right in
this town as you."
There was a pause. Hal saw that there was nothing to be gained by
further discussion with the Chief. It was his first glimpse of the
American policeman as he appears to the labouring man in revolt, and he
found it an illuminating experience. There was dynamite in his heart as
he turned and went out to the street; nor was the amount of the
explosive diminished by the mocking grins which he noted upon the faces
of Pete Hanun and the other two husky-looking personages.
Hal judged that he had now exhausted his legal resources in Pedro; the
Chief of Police had not suggested any one else he might call upon, so
there seemed nothing he could do but go back to MacKellar's and await
the hour of the night train to Western City. He started to give his
guardians another run, by way of working off at least a part of his own
temper; but he found that they had anticipated this difficulty. An
automobile came up and the three of them stepped in. Not to be outdone,
Hal engaged a hack, and so the expedition returned in pomp to
Hal found the old cripple in a state of perturbation. All that afternoon
his telephone had been ringing; one person after another had warned
him--some pleading with him, some abusing him. It was evident that among
them were people who had a hold on the old man; but he was undaunted,
and would not hear of Hal's going to stay at the hotel until train-time.
Then Keating returned, with an exciting tale to tell. Schulman, general
manager of the "G. F. C.," had been sending out messengers to hunt for
him, and finally had got him in his office, arguing and pleading,
cajoling and denouncing him by turns. He had got Cartwright on the
telephone, and the North Valley superintendent had laboured to convince
Keating that he had done the company a wrong. Cartwright had told a
story about Hal's efforts to hold up the company for money.
"Incidentally," said Keating, "he added the charge that you had seduced
a girl in his camp."
Hal stared at his friend. "Seduced a girl!" he exclaimed.
"That's what he said; a red-headed Irish girl."
"Well, damn his soul!"
There followed a silence, broken by a laugh from Billy. "Don't glare at
me like that. _I_ didn't say it!"
But Hal continued to glare, nevertheless. "The dirty little skunk!"
"Take it easy, sonny," said the fat man, soothingly. "It's quite the
usual thing, to drag in a woman. It's so easy--for of course there
always _is_ a woman. There's one in this case, I suppose?"
"There's a perfectly decent girl."
"But you've been friendly with her? You've been walking around where
people can see you?"
"So you see, they've got you. There's nothing you can do about a thing
of that sort."
"You wait and see!" Hal burst out.
The other gazed curiously at the angry young miner. "What'll you do?
Beat him up some night?"
But the young miner did not answer. "You say he described the girl?"
"He was kind enough to say she was a red-headed beauty, and with no one
to protect her but a drunken father. I could understand that must have
made it pretty hard for her, in one of these coal-camps." There was a
pause. "But see here," said the reporter, "you'll only do the girl harm
by making a row. Nobody believes that women in coal-camps have any
virtue. God knows, I don't see how they do have, considering the sort of
men who run the camps, and the power they have."
"Mr. Keating," said Hal, "did _you_ believe what Cartwright told you?"
Keating had started to light a cigar. He stopped in the middle, and his
eyes met Hal's. "My dear boy," said he, "I didn't consider it my
business to have an opinion."
"But what did you say to Cartwright?"
"Ah! That's another matter. I said that I'd been a newspaper man for a
good many years, and I knew his game."
"Thank you for that," said Hal. "You may be interested to know there
isn't any truth in the story."
"Glad to hear it," said the other. "I believe you."
"Also you may be interested to know that I shan't drop the matter until
I've made Cartwright take it back."
"Well, you're an enterprising cuss!" laughed the reporter. "Haven't you
got enough on your hands, with all the men you're going to get out of
Billy Keating went out again, saying that he knew a man who might be
willing to talk to him on the quiet, and give him some idea what was
going to happen to Hal. Meantime Hal and Edstrom sat down to dinner with
MacKellar. The family were afraid to use the dining-room of their home,
but spread a little table in the upstairs hall. The distress of mind of
MacKellar's wife and daughter was apparent, and this brought home to Hal
the terror of life in this coal-country. Here were American women, in an
American home, a home with evidences of refinement and culture; yet they
felt and acted as if they were Russian conspirators, in terror of
Siberia and the knout!
The reporter was gone a couple of hours; when he came back, he brought
news. "You can prepare for trouble, young fellow."
"Jeff Cotton's in town."
"How do you know?"
"I saw him in an automobile. If he left North Valley at this time, it
was for something serious, you may be sure."
"What does he mean to do?"
"There's no telling. He may have you slugged; he may have you run out of
town and dumped out in the desert; he may just have you arrested."
Hal considered for a moment. "For slander?"
"Or for vagrancy; or on suspicion of having robbed a bank in Texas, or
murdered your great-grandmother in Tasmania. The point is, he'll keep
you locked up till this trouble has blown over."
"Well," said Hal, "I don't want to be locked up. I want to go up to
Western City. I'm waiting for the train."
"You may have to wait till morning," replied Keating. "There's been
trouble on the railroad--a freight-car broke down and ripped up the
track; it'll be some time before it's clear."
They discussed this new problem back and forth. MacKellar wanted to get
in half a dozen friends and keep guard over Hal during the night; and
Hal had about agreed to this idea, when the discussion was given a new
turn by a chance remark of Keating's. "Somebody else is tied up by the
railroad accident. The Coal King's son!"
"The Coal King's son?" echoed Hal.
"Young Percy Harrigan. He's got a private car here--or rather a whole
train. Think of it--dining-car, drawing-room car, two whole cars with
sleeping apartments! Wouldn't you like to be a son of the Coal King?"
"Has he come on account of the mine-disaster?"
"Mine-disaster?" echoed Keating. "I doubt if he's heard of it. They've
been on a trip to the Grand Canyon, I was told; there's a baggage-car
with four automobiles."
"Is Old Peter with them?"
"No, he's in New York. Percy's the host. He's got one of his automobiles
out, and was up in town--two other fellows and some girls."
"Who's in his party?"
"I couldn't find out. You can see, it might be a story for the
_Gazette_--the Coal King's son, coming by chance at the moment when a
hundred and seven of his serfs are perishing in the mine! If I could
only have got him to say a word about the disaster! If I could even have
got him to say he didn't know about it!"
"Did you try?"
"What am I a reporter for?"
"Nothing happened; except that he froze me stiff."
"Where was this?"
"On the street. They stopped at a drug-store, and I stepped up. 'Is this
Mr. Percy Harrigan?' He was looking into the store, over my head. 'I'm a
reporter,' I said, 'and I'd like to ask you about the accident up at
North Valley.' 'Excuse me,' he said, in a tone--gee, it makes your blood
cold to think of it! 'Just a word,' I pleaded. 'I don't give
interviews,' he answered; and that was all--he continued looking over my
head, and everybody else staring in front of them. They had turned to
ice at my first word. If ever I felt like a frozen worm!"
There was a pause.
"Ain't it wonderful," reflected Billy, "how quick you can build up an
aristocracy! When you looked at that car, the crowd in it and the airs
they wore, you'd think they'd been running the world since the time of
William the Conqueror. And Old Peter came into this country with a
pedlar's pack on his shoulders!"
"We're hustlers here," put in MacKellar.
"We'll hustle all the way to hell in a generation more," said the
reporter. Then, after a minute, "Say, but there's one girl in that bunch
that was the real thing! She sure did get me! You know all those fluffy
things they do themselves up in--soft and fuzzy, makes you think of
spring-time orchards. This one was exactly the colour of
"You're susceptible to the charms of the ladies?" inquired Hal, mildly.
"I am," said the other. "I know it's all fake, but just the same, it
makes my little heart go pit-a-pat. I always want to think they're as
lovely as they look."
Hal's smile became reminiscent, and he quoted:
"Oh Liza-Ann, come out with me,
The moon is a-shinin' in the monkey-puzzle tree!"
Then he stopped, with a laugh. "Don't wear your heart on your sleeve,
Mr. Keating. She wouldn't be above taking a peck at it as she passed."
"At me? A worm of a newspaper reporter?"
"At you, a man!" laughed Hal. "I wouldn't want to accuse the lady of
posing; but a lady has her role in life, and has to keep her hand in."
There was a pause. The reporter was looking at the young miner with
sudden curiosity. "See here," he remarked, "I've been wondering about
you. How do you come to know so much about the psychology of the leisure
"I used to have money once," said Hal. "My family's gone down as quickly
as the Harrigans have come up."
Hal went on to question Keating about the apple-blossom girl. "Maybe I
could guess who she is. What colour was her hair?"
"The colour of molasses taffy when you've pulled it," said Billy; "but
all fluffy and wonderful, with star-dust in it. Her eyes were brown, and
her cheeks pink and cream."
"She had two rows of pearly white teeth, that flashed at you when she
"She didn't smile, unfortunately."
"Then her brown eyes gazed at you, wide open, full of wonder?"
"Yes, they did--only it was into the drug-store window."
"Did she wear a white hat of soft straw, with a green and white flower
garden on it, and an olive green veil, and maybe cream white ribbons?"
"By George, I believe you've seen her!" exclaimed the reporter.
"Maybe," said Hal. "Or maybe I'm describing the girl on the cover of one
of the current magazines!" He smiled; but then, seeing the other's
curiosity, "Seriously, I think I do know your young lady. If you
announce that Miss Jessie Arthur is a member of the Harrigan party, you
won't be taking a long chance."
"I can't afford to take any chance at all," said the reporter. "You mean
Robert Arthur's daughter?"
"Heiress-apparent of the banking business of Arthur and Sons," said Hal.
"It happens I know her by sight."
"I worked in a grocery-store where she used to come."
"Peterson and Company, in Western City."
"Oho! And you used to sell her candy."
"And your little heart used to go pit-a-pat, so that you could hardly
count the change?"
"Gave her too much, several times!"
"And you wondered if she was as good as she was beautiful! One day you
were thrilled with hope, the next you were cynical and bitter--till at
last you gave up in despair, and ran away to work in a coal-mine!"
They laughed, and MacKellar and Edstrom joined in. But suddenly Keating
became serious again. "I ought to be away on that story!" he exclaimed.
"I've got to get something out of that crowd about the disaster. Think
what copy it would make!"
"But how can you do it?"
"I don't know; I only know I ought to be trying. I'll hang round the
train, and maybe I can get one of the porters to talk."
"Interview with the Coal King's porter!" chuckled Hal. "How it feels to
make up a multi-millionaire's bed!"
"How it feels to sell stuffed dates to a banker's daughter!" countered
But suddenly it was Hal's turn to become serious. "Listen, Mr. Keating,"
said he, "why not let _me_ interview young Harrigan?"
"Yes! I'm the proper person--one of his miners! I help to make his money
for him, don't I? I'm the one to tell him about North Valley."
Hal saw the reporter staring at him in sudden excitement; he continued:
"I've been to the District Attorney, the Justice of the Peace, the
District Judge, the Mayor and the Chief of Police. Now, why shouldn't I
go to the Owner?"
"By thunder!" cried Billy. "I believe you'd have the nerve!"
"I believe I would," replied Hal, quietly.
The other scrambled out of his chair, wild with delight. "I dare you!"
"I'm ready," said Hal.
"You mean it?"
"Of course I mean it."
"In that costume?"
"Certainly. I'm one of his miners."
"But it won't go," cried the reporter. "You'll stand no chance to get
near him unless you're well dressed."
"Are you sure of that? What I've got on might be the garb of a
railroad-hand. Suppose there was something out of order in one of the
cars--the plumbing, for example?"
"But you couldn't fool the conductor or the porter."
"I might be able to. Let's try it."
There was a pause, while Keating thought. "The truth is," he said, "it
doesn't matter whether you succeed or not--it's a story if you even make
the attempt. The Coal King's son appealed to by one of his serfs! The
hard heart of Plutocracy rejects the cry of Labour!"
"Yes," said Hal, "but I really mean to get to him. Do you suppose he's
got back to the train yet?"
"They were starting to it when I left."
"And where _is_ the train?"
"Two or three hundred yards east of the station, I was told."
MacKellar and Edstrom had been listening enthralled to this exciting
conversation. "That ought to be just back of my house," said the former.
"It's a short train--four parlour-cars and a baggage-car," added
Keating. "It ought to be easy to recognise."
The old Scotchman put in an objection. "The difficulty may be to get out
of this house. I don't believe they mean to let you get away to-night."
"By Jove, that's so!" exclaimed Keating. "We're talking too much--let's
get busy. Are they watching the back door, do you suppose?"
"They've been watching it all day," said MacKellar.
"Listen," broke in Hal--"I've an idea. They haven't tried to interfere
with your going out, have they, Mr. Keating?"
"No, not yet."
"Nor with you, Mr. MacKellar?"
"No, not yet," said the Scotchman.
"Well," Hal suggested, "suppose you lend me your crutches?"
Whereat Keating gave an exclamation of delight. "The very thing!"
"I'll take your over-coat and hat," Hal added. "I've watched you get
about, and I think I can give an imitation. As for Mr. Keating, he's not
easy to mistake."
"Billy, the fat boy!" laughed the other. "Come, let's get on the job!"
"I'll go out by the front door at the same time," put in Edstrom, his
old voice trembling with excitement. "Maybe that'll help to throw them
off the track."
They had been sitting upstairs in MacKellar's room. Now they rose, and
were starting for the stairs, when suddenly there came a ring at the
front door bell. They stopped and stared at one another. "There they
are!" whispered Keating.
And MacKellar sat down suddenly, and held out his crutches to Hal. "The
hat and coat are in the front hall," he exclaimed. "Make a try for it!"
His words were full of vigour, but like Edstrom, his voice was
trembling. He was no longer young, and could not take adventure gaily.
Hal and Keating ran downstairs, followed by Edstrom. Hal put on the coat
and hat, and they went to the back door, while at the same time Edstrom
answered the bell in front.
The back door opened into a yard, and this gave, through a side gate,
into an alley. Hal's heart was pounding furiously as he began to hobble
along with the crutches. He had to go at MacKellar's slow pace--while
Keating, at his side, started talking. He informed "Mr. MacKellar," in a
casual voice, that the _Gazette_ was a newspaper which believed in the
people's cause, and was pledged to publish the people's side of all
public questions. Discoursing thus, they went out of the gate and into
A man emerged from the shadows and walked by them. He passed within
three feet of Hal, and peered at him, narrowly. Fortunately there was no
moon; Hal could not see the man's face, and hoped the man could not see
Meantime Keating was proceeding with his discourse. "You understand, Mr.
MacKellar," he was saying, "sometimes it's difficult to find out the
truth in a situation like this. When the interests are filling their
newspapers with falsehoods and exaggerations, it's a temptation for us
to publish falsehoods and exaggerations on the other side. But we find
in the long run that it pays best to publish the truth, Mr.
MacKellar--we can stand by it, and there's no come-back."
Hal, it must be admitted, was not paying much attention to this edifying
sermon. He was looking ahead, to where the alley debouched onto the
street. It was the street behind MacKellar's house, and only a block
from the railroad-track.
He dared not look behind, but he was straining his ears. Suddenly he
heard a shout, in John Edstrom's voice. "Run! Run!"
In a flash, Hal dropped the two crutches, and started down the alley,
Keating at his heels. They heard cries behind them, and a voice,
sounding quite near, commanded, "Halt!" They had reached the end of the
alley, and were in the act of swerving, when a shot rang out and there
was a crash of glass in a house beyond them on the far side of the
Farther on was a vacant lot with a path running across it. Following
this, they dodged behind some shanties, and came to another street--and
so to the railroad tracks. There was a long line of freight-cars before
them, and they ran between two of these, and climbing over the
couplings, saw a great engine standing, its headlight gleaming full in
their eyes. They sprang in front of it, and alongside the train, passing
a tender, then a baggage-car, then a parlour-car.
"Here we are!" exclaimed Keating, who was puffing like a bellows.
Hal saw that there were only three more cars to the train; also, he saw
a man in a blue uniform standing at the steps. He dashed towards him.
"Your car's on fire!" he cried.
"What?" exclaimed the man. "Where?"
"Here!" cried Hal; and in a flash he had sprung past the other, up the
steps and into the car.
There was a long, narrow corridor, to be recognised as the kitchen
portion of a dining-car; at the other end of this corridor was a
swinging door, and to this Hal leaped. He heard the conductor shouting
to him to stop, but he paid no heed. He slipped off his over-coat and
hat; and then, pushing open the door, he entered a brightly lighted
apartment--and the presence of the Coal King's son.
White linen and cut glass of the dining-saloon shone brilliantly under
electric lights, softened to the eye by pink shades. Seated at the
tables were half a dozen young men and as many young ladies, all in
evening costume; also two or three older ladies. They had begun the
first course of their meal, and were laughing and chatting, when
suddenly came this unexpected visitor, clad in coal-stained miner's
jumpers. He was not disturbing in the manner of his entry; but
immediately behind him came a fat man, perspiring, wild of aspect, and
wheezing like an old fashioned steam-engine; behind him came the
conductor of the train, in a no less evident state of agitation. So, of
course, conversation ceased. The young ladies turned in their chairs,
while several of the young men sprang to their feet.
There followed a silence: until finally one of the young men took a step
forward. "What's this?" he demanded, as one who had a right to demand.
Hal advanced towards the speaker, a slender youth, correct in
appearance, but not distinguished looking. "Hello, Percy!" said Hal.
A look of amazement came upon the other's face. He stared, but seemed
unable to believe what he saw. And then suddenly came a cry from one of
the young ladies; the one having hair the colour of molasses taffy when
you've pulled it--but all fluffy and wonderful, with stardust in it. Her
cheeks were pink and cream, and her brown eyes gazed, wide open, full of
wonder. She wore a dinner gown of soft olive green, with a cream white
scarf of some filmy material thrown about her bare shoulders.
She had started to her feet. "It's Hal!" she cried.
"Hal Warner!" echoed young Harrigan. "Why, what in the world--?"
He was interrupted by a clamour outside. "Wait a moment," said Hal,
quietly. "I think some one else is coming in."
The door was pushed violently open. It was pushed so violently that
Billy Keating and the conductor were thrust to one side; and Jeff Cotton
appeared in the entrance.
The camp-marshal was breathless, his face full of the passion of the
hunt. In his right hand he carried a revolver. He glared about him, and
saw the two men he was chasing; also he saw the Coal King's son, and the
rest of the astonished company. He stood, stricken dumb.
The door was pushed again, forcing him aside, and two more men crowded
in, both of them carrying revolvers in their hands. The foremost was
Pete Hanun, and he also stood staring. The "breaker of teeth" had two
teeth of his own missing, and when his prize-fighter's jaw dropped down,
the deficiency became conspicuous. It was probably his first entrance
into society, and he was like an overgrown boy caught in the jam-closet.
Percy Harrigan's manner became distinctly imperious. "What does this
mean?" he demanded.
It was Hal who answered. "I am seeking a criminal, Percy."
"What?" There were little cries of alarm from the women.
"Yes, a criminal; the man who sealed up the mine."
"Sealed up the mine?" echoed the other. "What do you mean?"
"Let me explain. First, I will introduce my friends. Harrigan, this is
my friend Keating."
Billy suddenly realised that he had a hat on his head. He jerked it off;
but for the rest, his social instincts failed him. He could only stare.
He had not yet got all his breath.
"Billy's a reporter," said Hal. "But you needn't worry--he's a
gentleman, and won't betray a confidence. You understand, Billy."
"Y--yes," said Billy, faintly.
"And this," said Hal, "is Jeff Cotton, camp-marshal at North Valley. I
suppose you know, Percy, that the North Valley mines belong to the 'G.
F. C.' Cotton, this is Mr. Harrigan."
Then Cotton remembered his hat; also his revolver, which he tried to get
out of sight behind his back.
"And this," continued Hal, "is Mr. Pete Hanun, by profession a breaker
of teeth. This other gentleman, whose name I don't know, is presumably
an assistant-breaker." So Hal went on, observing the forms of social
intercourse, his purpose being to give his mind a chance to work. So
much depended upon the tactics he chose in this emergency! Should he
take Percy to one side and tell him the story quietly, leaving it to his
sense of justice and humanity? No, that was not the way one dealt with
the Harrigans! They had bullied their way to the front; if anything were
done with them, it would be by force! If anything were done with Percy,
it would be by laying hold of him before these guests, exposing the
situation, and using their feelings to coerce him!
The Coal King's son was asking questions again. What was all this about?
So Hal began to describe the condition of the men inside the mine. "They
have no food or water, except what they had in their dinner-pails; and
it's been three days and a half since the explosion! They are breathing
bad air; their heads are aching, the veins swelling in their foreheads;
their tongues are cracking, they are lying on the ground, gasping. But
they are waiting--kept alive by the faith they have in their friends on
the surface, who will try to get to them. They dare not take down the
barriers, because the gases would kill them at once. But they know the
rescuers will come, so they listen for the sounds of axes and picks.
That is the situation."
Hal stopped and waited for some sign of concern from young Harrigan. But
no such sign was given. Hal went on:
"Think of it, Percy! There is one old man in that mine, an Irishman who
has a wife and eight children waiting to learn about his fate. I know
one woman who has a husband and three sons in the mine. For three days
and a half the women and children have been standing at the pit-mouth; I
have seen them sitting with their heads sunk upon their knees, or
shaking their fists, screaming curses at the criminal who is to blame."
There was a pause. "The criminal?" inquired young Harrigan. "I don't
"You'll hardly be able to believe it; but nothing has been done to
rescue these men. The criminal has nailed a cover of boards over the
pit-mouth, and put tarpaulin over it--sealing up men and boys to die!"
There was a murmur of horror from the diners.
"I know, you can't conceive such a thing. The reason is, there's a fire
in the mine; if the fan is set to working, the coal will burn. But at
the same time, some of the passages could be got clear of smoke, and
some of the men could be rescued. So it's a question of property against
lives; and the criminal has decided for the property. He proposes to
wait a week, two weeks, until the fire has been smothered; _then_ of
course the men and boys will be dead."
There was a silence. It was broken by young Harrigan. "Who has done
"His name is Enos Cartwright."
"But who _is_ he?"
"Just now when I said that I was seeking the criminal, I misled you a
little, Percy. I did it because I wanted to collect my thoughts." Hal
paused: when he continued, his voice was sharper, his sentences falling
like blows. "The criminal I've been telling you about is the
superintendent of the mine--a man employed and put in authority by the
General Fuel Company. The one who is being chased is not the one who
sealed up the mine, but the one who proposed to have it opened. He is
being treated as a malefactor, because the laws of the state, as well as
the laws of humanity, have been suppressed by the General Fuel Company;
he was forced to seek refuge in your car, in order to save his life from
thugs and gunmen in the company's employ!"
Knowing these people well, Hal could measure the effect of the
thunderbolt he had hurled among them. They were people to whom good
taste was the first of all the virtues; he knew how he was offending
them. If he was to win them to the least extent, he must explain his
presence here--a trespasser upon the property of the Harrigans.
"Percy," he continued, "you remember how you used to jump on me last
year at college, because I listened to 'muck-rakers.' You saw fit to
take personal offence at it. You knew that their tales couldn't be true.
But I wanted to see for myself, so I went to work in a coal-mine. I saw
the explosion; I saw this man, Jeff Cotton, driving women and children
away from the pit-mouth with blows and curses. I set out to help the men
in the mine, and the marshal rushed me out of camp. He told me that if I
didn't go about my business, something would happen to me on a dark
night. And you see--this is a dark night!"
Hal waited, to give young Harrigan a chance to grasp this situation and
to take command. But apparently young Harrigan was not aware of the
presence of the camp-marshal and his revolver. Hal tried again:
"Evidently these men wouldn't have minded killing me; they fired at me
just now. The marshal still has the revolver and you can smell the
powder-smoke. So I took the liberty of entering your car, Percy. It was
to save my life, and you'll have to excuse me."
The Coal King's son had here a sudden opportunity to be magnanimous. He
made haste to avail himself of it. "Of course, Hal," he said. "It was
quite all right to come here. If our employes were behaving in such
fashion, it was without authority, and they will surely pay for it." He
spoke with quiet certainty; it was the Harrigan manner, and before it
Jeff Cotton and the two mine-guards seemed to wither and shrink.
"Thank you, Percy," said Hal. "It's what I knew you'd say. I'm sorry to
have disturbed your dinner-party--"
"Not at all, Hal; it was nothing of a party."
"You see, Percy, it was not only to save myself, but the people in the
mine! They are dying, and every moment is precious. It will take a day
at least to get to them, so they'll be at their last gasp. Whatever's to
be done must be done at once."
Again Hal waited--until the pause became awkward. The diners had so far
been looking at him; but now they were looking at young Harrigan, and
young Harrigan felt the change.
"I don't know just what you expect of me, Hal. My father employs
competent men to manage his business, and I certainly don't feel that I
know enough to give them any suggestions." This again in the Harrigan
manner; but it weakened before Hal's firm gaze. "What can I do?"
"You can give the order to open the mine, to reverse the fan and start
it. That will draw out the smoke and gases, and the rescuers can go
"But Hal, I assure you I have no authority to give such an order."
"You must _take_ the authority. Your father's in the East, the officers
of the company are in their beds at home; you are here!"
"But I don't understand such things, Hal! I don't know anything of the
situation--except what you tell me. And while I don't doubt your word,
any man may make a mistake in such a situation."
"Come and see for yourself, Percy! That's all I ask, and it's easy
enough. Here is your train, your engine with steam up; have us switched
onto the North Valley branch, and we can be at the mine in half an hour.
Then--let me take you to the men who know! Men who've been working all
their lives in mines, who've seen accidents like this many times, and
who will tell you the truth--that there's a chance of saving many lives,
and that the chance is being thrown away to save some thousands of
dollars' worth of coal and timbers and track."
"But even if that's true, Hal, I have no _power_!"
"If you come there, you can cut the red-tape in one minute. What those
bosses are doing is a thing that can only be done in darkness!"
Under the pressure of Hal's vehemence, the Harrigan manner was failing;
the Coal King's son was becoming a bewildered and quite ordinary youth.
But there was a power greater than Hal behind him. He shook his head.
"It's the old man's business, Hal. I've no right to butt in!"
The other, in his desperate need, turned to the rest of the party. His
gaze, moving from one face to another, rested upon the magazine-cover
countenance, with the brown eyes wide open, full of wonder.
"Jessie! What do you think about it?"
The girl started, and distress leaped into her face. "How do you mean,
"Tell him he ought to save those lives!"
The moments seemed ages as Hal waited. It was a test, he realised. The
brown eyes dropped. "I don't understand such things, Hal!"
"But, Jessie, I am explaining them! Here are men and boys being
suffocated to death, in order to save a little money. Isn't that plain?"
"But how can I _know_, Hal?"
"I'm giving you my word, Jessie. Surely I wouldn't appeal to you unless
Still she hesitated. And there came a swift note of feeling into his
voice: "Jessie, dear!"
As if under a spell, the girl's eyes were raised to his; he saw a
scarlet flame of embarrassment spreading over her throat and cheeks.
"Jessie, I know--it seems an intolerable thing to ask! You've never been
rude to a friend. But I remember once you forgot your good manners, when
you saw a rough fellow on the street beating an old drudge-horse. Don't
you remember how you rushed at him--like a wild thing! And now--think of
it, dear, here are old drudge-creatures being tortured to death; but not
Still the girl gazed at him. He could read grief, dismay in her eyes; he
saw tears steal from them, and stream down her cheeks. "Oh, I don't
know, I don't _know!_" she cried; and hid her face in her hands, and
began to sob aloud.
There was a painful pause. Hal's gaze travelled on, and came to a
grey-haired lady in a black dinner-gown, with a rope of pearls about her
neck. "Mrs. Curtis! Surely _you_ will advise him!"
The grey-haired lady started--was there no limit to his impudence? She
had witnessed the torturing of Jessie. But Jessie was his fiancee; he
had no such claim upon Mrs. Curtis. She answered, with iciness in her
tone: "I could not undertake to dictate to my host in such a matter."
"Mrs. Curtis! You have founded a charity for the helping of stray cats
and dogs!" These words rose to Hal's lips; but he did not say them. His
eyes moved on. Who else might help to bully a Harrigan?
Next to Mrs. Curtis sat Reggie Porter, with a rose in the button-hole of
his dinner-jacket. Hal knew the role in which Reggie was there--a kind
of male chaperon, an assistant host, an admirer to the wealthy, a solace
to the bored. Poor Reggie lived other people's lives, his soul
perpetually a-quiver with other people's excitements, with gossip,
preparations for tea-parties, praise of tea-parties past. And always the
soul was pushing; calculating, measuring opportunities, making up in
tact and elegance for distressing lack of money. Hal got one swift
glimpse of the face; the sharp little black moustaches seemed standing
up with excitement, and in a flash of horrible intuition Hal read the
situation--Reggie was expecting to be questioned, and had got ready an
answer that would increase his social capital in the Harrigan family
Across the aisle sat Genevieve Halsey: tall, erect, built on the scale
of a statue. You thought of the ox-eyed Juno, and imagined stately
emotions; but when you came to know Genevieve, you discovered that her
mind was slow, and entirely occupied with herself. Next to her was Bob
Creston, smooth-shaven, rosy-cheeked, exuding well-being--what is called
a "good fellow," with a wholesome ambition to win cups for his athletic
club, and to keep up the score of his rifle-team of the state militia.
Jolly Bob might have spoken, out of his good heart; but he was in love
with a cousin of Percy's, Betty Gunnison, who sat across the table from
him--and Hal saw her black eyes shining, her little fists clenched
tightly, her lips pressed white. Hal understood Betty--she was one of
the Harrigans, working at the Harrigan family task of making the
children of a pack-pedlar into leaders in the "younger set!"
Next sat "Vivie" Cass, whose talk was of horses and dogs and such
ungirlish matters; Hal had discussed social questions in her presence,
and heard her view expressed in one flashing sentence--"If a man eats
with his knife, I consider him my personal enemy!" Over her shoulder
peered the face of a man with pale eyes and yellow moustaches--Bert
Atkins, cynical and world-weary, whom the papers referred to as a
"club-man," and whom Hal's brother had called a "tame cat." There was
"Dicky" Everson, like Hal, a favourite of the ladies, but nothing more;
"Billy" Harris, son of another "coal man"; Daisy, his sister; and
Blanche Vagleman, whose father was Old Peter's head lawyer, whose
brother was the local counsel, and publisher of the Pedro _Star_.
So Hal's eyes moved from face to face, and his mind from personality to
personality. It was like the unrolling of a scroll; a panorama of a
world he had half forgotten. He had no time for reflection, but one
impression came to him, swift and overwhelming. Once he had lived in
this world and taken it as a matter of course. He had known these
people, gone about with them; they had seemed friendly, obliging, a good
sort of people on the whole. And now, what a change! They seemed no
longer friendly! Was the change in them? Or was it Hal who had become
cynical--so that he saw them in this terrifying new light, cold, and
unconcerned as the stars about men who were dying a few miles away!
Hal's eyes came back to the Coal King's son, and he discovered that
Percy was white with anger. "I assure you, Hal, there's no use going on
with this. I have no intention of letting myself be bulldozed."
Percy's gaze shifted with sudden purpose to the camp-marshal. "Cotton,
what do you say about this? Is Mr. Warner correct in his idea of the
"You know what such a man would say, Percy!" broke in Hal.
"I don't," was the reply. "I wish to know. What is it, Cotton?"
"He's mistaken, Mr. Harrigan." The marshal's voice was sharp and
"In what way?"
"The company's doing everything to get the mine open, and has been from
"Oh!" And there was triumph in Percy's voice. "What is the cause of the
"The fan was broken, and we had to send for a new one. It's a job to set
it up--such things can't be done in an hour."
Percy turned to Hal. "You see! There are two opinions, at least!"
"Of course!" cried Betty Gunnison, her black eyes snapping at Hal. She
would have said more, but Hal interrupted, stepping closer to his host.
"Percy," he said, in a low voice, "come back here, please. I have a word
to say to you alone."
There was just a hint of menace in Hal's voice; his gaze went to the far
end of the car, a space occupied only by two negro waiters. These
retired in haste as the young men moved towards them; and so, having the
Coal King's son to himself, Hal went in to finish this fight.
Percy Harrigan was known to Hal, as a college-boy is known to his
class-mates. He was not brutal, like his grim old father; he was merely
self-indulgent, as one who had always had everything; he was weak, as
one who had never had to take a bold resolve. He had been brought up by
the women of the family, to be a part of what they called "society"; in
which process he had been given high notions of his own importance. The
life of the Harrigans was dominated by one painful memory--that of a
pedlar's pack; and Hal knew that Percy's most urgent purpose was to be
regarded as a real and true and freehanded aristocrat. It was this
knowledge Hal was using in his attack.
He began with apologies, attempting to soothe the other's anger. He had
not meant to make a scene like this; it was the gunmen who had forced
it, putting his life in danger. It was the very devil, being chased
about at night and shot at! He had lost his nerve, really; he had forgot
what little manners he had been able to keep as a miner's buddy. He had
made a spectacle of himself; good Lord yes, he realised how he must
--And Hal looked at his dirty miner's jumpers, and then at Percy. He
could see that Percy was in hearty agreement thus far--he had indeed
made a spectacle of himself, and of Percy too! Hal was sorry about this
latter, but here they were, in a pickle, and it was certainly too late
now. This story was out--there could be no suppressing it! Hal might sit
down on his reporter-friend, Percy might sit down on the waiters and the
conductor and the camp-marshal and the gunmen--but he could not possibly
sit down on all his friends! They would talk about nothing else for
weeks! The story would be all over Western City in a day--this amazing,
melodramatic, ten-twenty-thirty story of a miner's buddy in the private
car of the Coal King's son!
"And you must see, Percy," Hal went on, "it's the sort of thing that
sticks to a man. It's the thing by which everybody will form their idea
of you as long as you live!"
"I'll take my chances with my friends' criticism," said the other, with
some attempt at the Harrigan manner.
"You can make it whichever kind of story you choose," continued Hal,
implacably. "The world will say, He decided for the dollars; or it will
say, He decided for the lives. Surely, Percy, your family doesn't need
those particular dollars so badly! Why, you've spent more on this one
And Hal waited, to give his victim time to calculate.
The result of the thinking was a question worthy of Old Peter. "What are
_you_ getting out of this?"
"Percy," said Hal, "you must _know_ I'm getting nothing! If you can't
understand it otherwise, say to yourself that you are dealing with a man
who's irresponsible. I've seen so many terrible things--I've been chased
around so much by camp-marshals--why, Percy, that man Cotton has six
notches on his gun! I'm simply crazy!" And into the brown eyes of this
miner's buddy came a look wild enough to convince a stronger man than
Percy Harrigan. "I've got just one idea left in the world, Percy--to
save those miners! You make a mistake unless you realise how desperate I
am. So far I've done this thing incog! I've been Joe Smith, a miner's
buddy. If I'd come out and told my real name--well, maybe I wouldn't
have made them open the mine, but at least I'd have made a lot of
trouble for the G. F. C.! But I didn't do it; I knew what a scandal it
would make, and there was something I owed my father. But if I see
there's no other way, if it's a question of letting those people perish,
I'll throw everything else to the winds. Tell your father that; tell him
I threatened to turn this man Keating loose and blow the thing wide
open--denounce the company, appeal to the Governor, raise a disturbance
and get arrested on the street, if necessary, in order to force the
facts before the public. You see, I've got the facts, Percy! I've been
there and seen with my own eyes. Can't you realise that?"
The other did not answer, but it was evident that he realised.
"On the other hand, see how you can fix it, if you choose. You were on a
pleasure trip when you heard of this disaster; you rushed up and took
command, you opened the mine, you saved the lives of your employes. That
is the way the papers will handle it."
Hal, watching his victim intently, and groping for the path to his mind,
perceived that he had gone wrong. Crude as the Harrigans were, they had
learned that it is not aristocratic to be picturesque.
"All right then!" said Hal, quickly. "If you prefer, you needn't be
mentioned. The bosses up at the camp have the reporters under their
thumbs, they'll handle the story any way you want it. The one thing I
care about is that you run your car up and see the mine opened. Won't
you do it, Percy?"
Hal was gazing into the other's eyes, knowing that life and death for
the miners hung upon his nod. "Well? What is the answer?"
"Hal," exclaimed Percy, "my old man will give me hell!"
"All right; but on the other hand, _I'll_ give you hell; and which will
Again there was a silence. "Come along, Percy! For God's sake!" And
Hal's tone was desperate, alarming.
And suddenly the other gave way. "All right!"
Hal drew a breath. "But mind you!" he added. "You're not going up there
to let them fool you! They'll try to bluff you out--they may go as far
as to refuse to obey you. But you must stand by your guns--for, you see,
I'm going along, I'm going to see that mine open. I'll never quit till
the rescuers have gone down!"
"Will they go, Hal?"
"Will they go? Good God, man, they're clamouring for the chance to go!
They've almost been rioting for it. I'll go with them--and you, too,
Percy--the whole crowd of us idlers will go! When we come out, we'll
know something about the business of coal-mining!"
"All right, I'm with you," said the Coal King's son.
Hal never knew what Percy said to Cartwright that night; he only knew
that when they arrived at the mine the superintendent was summoned to a
consultation, and half an hour later Percy emerged smiling, with the
announcement that Hal Warner had been mistaken all along; the mine
authorities had been making all possible haste to get the fan ready,
with the intention of opening the mine at the earliest moment. The work
was now completed, and in an hour or two the fan was to be started, and
by morning there would be a chance of rescuers getting in. Percy said
this so innocently that for a moment Hal wondered if Percy himself might
not believe it. Hal's position as guest of course required that he
should graciously pretend to believe it, consenting to appear as a fool
before the rest of the company.
Percy invited Hal and Billy Keating to spend the night in the train; but
this Hal declined. He was too dirty, he said; besides, he wanted to be
up at daylight, to be one of the first to go down the shaft. Percy
answered that the superintendent had vetoed this proposition--he did not
want any one to go down but experienced men, who could take care of
themselves. When there were so many on hand ready and eager to go, there
was no need to imperil the lives of amateurs.
At the risk of seeming ungracious, Hal declared that he would "hang
around" and see them take the cover off the pit-mouth. There were
mourning parties in some of the cabins, where women were gathered
together who could not sleep, and it would be an act of charity to take
them the good news.
Hal and Keating set out; they went first to the Rafferties', and saw
Mrs. Rafferty spring up and stare at them, and then scream aloud to the
Holy Virgin, waking all the little Rafferties to frightened clamour.
When the woman had made sure that they really knew what they were
talking about, she rushed out to spread the news, and so pretty soon the
streets were alive with hurrying figures, and a crowd gathered once more
at the pit-mouth.
Hal and Keating went on to Jerry Minetti's. Out of a sense of loyalty to
Percy, Hal did no more than repeat Percy's own announcement, that it had
been Cartwright's intention all along to have the mine opened. It was
funny to see the effect of this statement--the face with which Jerry
looked at Hal! But they wasted no time in discussion; Jerry slipped into
his clothes and hurried with them to the pit-mouth.
Sure enough, a gang was already tearing off the boards and canvas. Never
since Hal had been in North Valley had he seen men working with such a
will! Soon the great fan began to stir, and then to roar, and then to
sing; and there was a crowd of a hundred people, roaring and singing
It would be some hours before anything more could be done; and suddenly
Hal realised that he was exhausted. He and Billy Keating went back to
the Minetti cabin, and spreading themselves a blanket on the floor, lay
down with sighs of relief. As for Billy, he was soon snoring; but to Hal
there came sudden reaction from all the excitement, and sleep was far
An ocean of thoughts came flooding into his mind: the world outside,
_his_ world, which he had banished deliberately for several months, and
which he had so suddenly been compelled to remember! It had seemed so
simple, what he had set out to do that summer: to take another name, to
become a member of another class, to live its life and think its
thoughts, and then come back to his own world with a new and fascinating
adventure to tell about! The possibility that his own world, the world
of Hal Warner, might find him out as Joe Smith, the miner's buddy--that
was a possibility which had never come to his mind. He was like a
burglar, working away at a job in darkness, and suddenly finding the
room flooded with light.
He had gone into the adventure, prepared to find things that would shock
him; he had known that somehow, somewhere, he would have to fight the
"system." But he had never expected to find himself in the thick of the
class-war, leading a charge upon the trenches of his own associates. Nor
was this the end, he knew; this war would not be settled by the winning
of a trench! Lying here in the darkness and silence, Hal was realising
what he had got himself in for. To employ another simile, he was a man
who begins a flirtation on the street, and wakes up next morning to find
It was not that he had regrets for the course he had taken with Percy.
No other course had been thinkable. But while Hal had known these North
Valley people for ten weeks, he had known the occupants of Percy's car
for as many years. So these latter personalities loomed large in his
consciousness, and here in the darkness their thoughts about him,
whether actively hostile or passively astonished, laid siege to the
defences of his mind.
Particularly he found himself wrestling with Jessie Arthur. Her face
rose up before him, appealing, yearning. She had one of those perfect
faces, which irresistibly compel the soul of a man. Her brown eyes, soft
and shining, full of tenderness; her lips, quick to tremble with
emotion; her skin like apple-blossoms, her hair with star-dust in it!
Hal was cynical enough about coal-operators and mine-guards, but it
never occurred to him that Jessie's soul might be anything but what
these bodily charms implied. He was in love with her; and he was too
young, too inexperienced in love to realise that underneath the
sweetness of girlhood, so genuine and so lovable, might lie deep,
unconscious cruelty, inherited and instinctive--the cruelty of caste,
the hardness of worldly prejudice. A man has to come to middle age, and
to suffer much, before he understands that the charms of women, those
rare and magical perfections of eyes and teeth and hair, that softness
of skin and delicacy of feature, have cost labour and care of many
generations, and imply inevitably that life has been feral, that customs
and conventions have been murderous and inhuman.
Jessie had failed Hal in his desperate emergency. But now he went over
the scene, and told himself that the test had been an unfair one. He had
known her since childhood, and loved her, and never before had he seen
an act or heard a word that was not gracious and kind. But--so he told
himself--she gave her sympathy to those she knew; and what chance had
she ever had to know working-people? He must give her the chance; he
must compel her, even against her will, to broaden her understanding of
life! The process might hurt her, it might mar the unlined softness of
her face, but nevertheless, it would be good for her--it would be a
So, lying there in the darkness and silence, Hal found himself absorbed
in long conversation with his sweetheart. He escorted her about the
camp, explaining things to her, introducing her to this one and that. He
took others of his private-car friends and introduced them to his North
Valley friends. There were individuals who had qualities in common, and
would surely hit it off! Bob Creston, for example, who was good at a
"song and dance"--he would surely be interested in "Blinky," the
vaudeville specialist of the camp! Mrs. Curtis, who liked cats, would
find a bond of sisterhood with old Mrs. Nagle, who lived next door to
the Minettis, and kept five! And even Vivie Cass, who hated men who ate
with their knives--she would be driven to murder by the table-manners of
Reminitsky's boarders, but she would take delight in "Dago Charlie," the
tobacco-chewing mule which had once been Hal's pet! Hal could hardly
wait for daylight to come, so that he might begin these efforts at
Towards dawn Hal fell asleep; he was awakened by Billy Keating, who sat
up yawning, at the same time grumbling and bewailing. Hal realised that
Billy also had discovered troubles during the night. Never in all his
career as a journalist had he had such a story; never had any man had
such a story--and it must be killed!
Cartwright had got the reporters together late the night before and told
them the news--that the company had at last succeeded in getting the
mine ready to be opened; also that young Mr. Harrigan was there in his
private train, prompted by his concern for the entombed miners. The
reporters would mention his coming, of course, but were requested not to
"play it up," nor to mention the names of Mr. Harrigan's guests.
Needless to say they were not told that the "buddy" who had been thrown
out of camp for insubordination had turned out to be the son of Edward
S. Warner, the "coal magnate."
A fine, cold rain was falling, and Hal borrowed an old coat of Jerry's
and slipped it on. Little Jerry clamoured to go with him, and after some
controversy Hal wrapped him in a shawl and slung him onto his shoulder.
It was barely daylight, but already the whole population of the village
was on hand at the pit-mouth. The helmet-men had gone down to make
tests, so the hour of final revelation was at hand. Women stood with wet
shawls about their hunched shoulders, their faces white and strained,
their suspense too great for any sort of utterance. A ghastly thought it
was, that while they were shuddering in the wet, their men below might
be expiring for lack of a few drops of water!
The helmet-men, coming up, reported that lights would burn at the bottom
of the shaft; so it was safe for men to go down without helmets, and the
volunteers of the first rescue party made ready. All night there had
been a clattering of hammers, where the carpenters were working on a new
cage. Now it was swung from the hoist, and the men took their places in
it. When at last the hoist began to move, and the group disappeared
below the surface of the ground, you could hear a sigh from a thousand
throats, like the moaning of wind in a pine-tree. They were leaving
women and children above, yet not one of these women would have asked
them to stay--such was the deep unconscious bond of solidarity which
made these toilers of twenty nations one!
It was a slow process, letting down the cage; on account of the danger
of gas, and the newness of the cage, it was necessary to proceed a few
feet at a time, waiting for a pull upon the signal-cord to tell that the
men were all right. After they had reached the bottom, there would be
more time, no one could say how long, before they came upon survivors
with signs of life in them. There were bodies near the foot of the
shaft, according to the reports of the helmet-men, but there was no use
delaying to bring these up, for they must have been dead for days. Hal
saw a crowd of women clamouring about the helmet-men, trying to find out
if these bodies had been recognised. Also he saw Jeff Cotton and Bud
Adams at their old duty of driving the women back.
The cage returned for a second load of men. There was less need of
caution now; the hoist worked quickly, and group after group of men with
silent, set faces, and pickaxes and crow-bars and shovels in their
hands, went down into the pit of terror. They would scatter through the
workings, testing everywhere ahead of them with safety-lamps, and
looking for barriers erected by the imprisoned men for defence against
the gases. As they hammered on these barriers, perhaps they would hear
the signals of living men on the other side; or they would break through
in silence, and find men too far gone to make a sound, yet possibly with
the spark of life still in them.
One by one, Hal's friends went down--"Big Jack" David, and Wresmak, the
Bohemian, Klowoski, the Pole, and finally Jerry Minetti. Little Jerry
waved his hand from his perch on Hal's shoulder; while Rosa, who had
come out and joined them, was clinging to Hal's arm, silent, as if her
soul were going down in the cage. There went blue-eyed Tim Rafferty to
look for his father, and black-eyed "Andy," the Greek boy, whose father
had perished in a similar disaster years ago; there went Rovetta, and
Carmino, the pit-boss, Jerry's cousin. One by one their names ran
through the crowd, as of heroes marching out to battle.
Looking about, Hal saw some of the guests of the Harrigan party. There
was Vivie Cass, standing under an umbrella with Bert Atkins; and there
was Bob Creston with Dicky Everson. These two had on mackintoshes and
water-proof hats, and were talking to Cartwright; tall, immaculate men,
who seemed like creatures of another world beside the stunted and
Seeing Hal, they moved over to him. "Where did you get the kid?"
inquired Bob, his rosy, smooth-shaven face breaking into a smile.
"I picked him up," said Hal, giving Little Jerry a toss and sliding him
off his shoulder.
"Hello, kid!" said Bob.
And the answer came promptly, "Hello, yourself!" Little Jerry knew how
to talk American; he was a match for any society man! "My father's went
down in that cage," said he, looking up at the tall stranger, his bright
black eyes sparkling.
"Is that so!" replied the other. "Why don't you go?"
"My father'll get 'em out. He ain't afraid o' nothin', my father!"
"What's your father's name?"
"Oho! And what'll you be when you grow up?"
"I'm goin' to be a shot-firer."
"In this mine?"
"You bet not!"
Little Jerry looked mysterious. "I ain't tellin' all I know," said he.
The two young fellows laughed. Here was education for them! "Maybe
you'll go back to the old country?" put in Dicky Everson.
"No, sir-ee!" said Little Jerry. "I'm American."
"Maybe you'll be president some day."
"That's what my father says," replied the little chap--"president of a
Again they laughed; but Rosa gave a nervous whisper and caught at the
child's sleeve. That was not the sort of thing to say to mysterious and
rich-looking strangers! "This is Little Jerry's mother, Mrs. Minetti,"
put in Hal, by way of reassuring her.
"Glad to meet you, Mrs. Minetti," said the two young men, taking off
their hats with elaborate bows; they stared, for Rosa was a pretty
object as she blushed and made her shy response. She was much
embarrassed, having never before in her life been bowed to by men like
And here they were greeting Joe Smith as an old friend, and calling him
by a strange name! She turned her black Italian eyes upon Hal in
inquiry, and he felt a flush creeping over him. It was almost as
uncomfortable to be found out by North Valley as to be found out by
The men talked about the rescue-work, and what Cartwright had been
telling of its progress. The fire was in one of the main passages, and
was burning out the timbering, spreading rapidly under the draft from
the reversed fan. There could be little hope of rescue in this part of
the mine, but the helmet-men would defy the heat and smoke in the burned
out passages. They knew how likely was the collapse of such portions of
the mine; but also they knew that men had been working here before the
explosion. "I must say they're a game lot!" remarked Dicky.
A group of women and children were gathered about to listen, their
shyness overcome by their torturing anxiety for news. They made one
think of women in war-time, listening to the roar of distant guns and
waiting for the bringing in of the wounded. Hal saw Bob and Dicky glance
now and then at the ring of faces about them; they were getting
something of this mood, and that was a part of what he had desired for
"Are the others coming out?" he asked.
"I don't know," said Bob. "I suppose they're having breakfast. It's time
we went in."
"Won't you come with us?" added Dicky.
"No, thanks," replied Hal, "I've an engagement with the kid here." And
he gave Little Jerry's hand a squeeze. "But tell some of the other
fellows to come. They'll be interested in these things."
"All right," said the two, as they moved away.
After allowing a sufficient time for the party in the dining-car to
finish breakfast, Hal went down to the tracks, and induced the porter to
take in his name to Percy Harrigan. He was hoping to persuade Percy to
see the village under other than company chaperonage; he heard with
dismay the announcement that the party had arranged to depart in the
course of a couple of hours.
"But you haven't seen anything at all!" Hal protested.
"They won't let us into the mine," replied the other. "What else is
there we can do?"
"I wanted you to talk to the people and learn something about conditions
here. You ought not to lose this chance, Percy!"
"That's all right, Hal, but you might understand this isn't a convenient
time. I've got a lot of people with me, and I've no right to ask them to
"But can't they learn something also, Percy?"
"It's raining," was the reply; "and ladies would hardly care to stand
round in a crowd and see dead bodies brought out of a mine."
Hal got the rebuke. Yes, he had grown callous since coming to North
Valley; he had lost that delicacy of feeling, that intuitive
understanding of the sentiments of ladies, which he would surely have
exhibited a short time earlier in his life. He was excited about this
disaster; it was a personal thing to him, and he lost sight of the fact
that to the ladies of the Harrigan party it was, in its details, merely
sordid and repelling. If they went out in the mud and rain of a
mining-village and stood about staring, they would feel that they were
exhibiting, not human compassion, but idle curiosity. The sights they
would see would harrow them to no purpose; and incidentally they would
be exposing themselves to distressing publicity. As for offering
sympathy to widows and orphans--well, these were foreigners mostly, who
could not understand what was said to them, and who might be more
embarrassed than helped by the intrusion into their grief of persons
from an alien world.
The business of offering sympathy had been reduced to a system by the
civilisation which these ladies helped to maintain; and, as it happened,
there was one present who was familiar with this system. Mrs. Curtis had
already acted, so Percy informed Hal; she had passed about a
subscription-paper, and in a couple of minutes over a thousand dollars
had been pledged. This would be paid by check to the "Red Cross," whose
agents would understand how to distribute relief among such sufferers.
So the members of Percy's party felt that they had done the proper and
delicate thing, and might go their ways with a quiet conscience.
"The world can't stop moving just because there's been a mine-disaster,"
said the Coal King's son. "People have engagements they must keep."
And he went on to explain what these engagements were. He himself had to
go to a dinner that evening, and would barely be able to make it. Bert
Atkins was to play a challenge match at billiards, and Mrs. Curtis was
to attend a committee meeting of a woman's club. Also it was the last
Friday of the month; had Hal forgotten what that meant?
After a moment Hal remembered--the "Young People's Night" at the country
club! He had a sudden vision of the white colonial mansion on the
mountain-side, with its doors and windows thrown wide, and the strains
of an orchestra floating out. In the ball-room the young ladies of
Percy's party would appear--Jessie, his sweetheart, among them--gowned
in filmy chiffons and laces, floating in a mist of perfume and colour
and music. They would laugh and chatter, they would flirt and scheme
against one another for the sovereignty of the ball-room--while here in
North Valley the sobbing widows would be clutching their mangled dead in
their arms! How strange, how ghastly it seemed! How like the scenes one
read of on the eve of the French Revolution!
Percy wanted Hal to come away with the party. He suggested this
tactfully at first, and then, as Hal did not take the hint, he began to
press the matter, showing signs of irritation. The mine was open
now--what more did Hal want? When Hal suggested that Cartwright might
order it closed again, Percy revealed the fact that the matter was in
his father's hands. The superintendent had sent a long telegram the
night before, and an answer was due at any moment. Whatever the answer
ordered would have to be done.
There was a grim look upon Hal's face, but he forced himself to speak
politely. "If your father orders anything that interferes with the
rescuing of the men--don't you see, Percy, that I have to fight him?"
"But how _can_ you fight him?"
"With the one weapon I have--publicity."
"You mean--" Percy stopped, and stared.
"I mean what I said before--I'd turn Billy Keating loose and blow this
whole story wide open."
"Well, by God!" cried young Harrigan. "I must say I'd call it damned
dirty of you! You said you'd not do it, if I'd come here and open the
"But what good does it do to open it, if you close it again before the
men are out?" Hal paused, and when he went on it was in a sincere
attempt at apology. "Percy, don't imagine I fail to appreciate the
embarrassments of this situation. I know I must seem a cad to you--more
than you've cared to tell me. I called you my friend in spite of all our
quarrels. All I can do is to assure you that I never intended to get
into such a position as this."
"Well, what the hell did you want to come here for? You knew it was the
property of a friend--"
"That's the question at issue between us, Percy. Have you forgotten our
arguments? I tried to convince you what it meant that you and I should
own the things by which other people have to live. I said we were
ignorant of the conditions under which our properties were worked, we
were a bunch of parasites and idlers. But you laughed at me, called me a
crank, an anarchist, said I swallowed what any muck-raker fed me. So I
said: 'I'll go to one of Percy's mines! Then, when he tries to argue
with me, I'll have him!' That was the way the thing started--as a joke.
But then I got drawn into things. I don't want to be nasty, but no man
with a drop of red blood in his veins could stay in this place a week
without wanting to fight! That's why I want you to stay--you ought to
stay, to meet some of the people and see for yourself."
"Well, I can't stay," said the other, coldly. "And all I can tell you is
that I wish you'd go somewhere else to do your sociology."
"But where could I go, Percy? Somebody owns everything. If it's a big
thing, it's almost certain to be somebody we know."
Said Percy, "If I might make a suggestion, you could have begun with the
coal-mines of the Warner Company."
Hal laughed. "You may be sure I thought of that, Percy. But see the
situation! If I was to accomplish my purpose, it was essential that I
shouldn't be known. And I had met some of my father's superintendents in
his office, and I knew they'd recognise me. So I _had_ to go to some
"Most fortunate for the Warner Company," replied Percy, in an ugly tone.
Hal answered, gravely, "Let me tell you, I don't intend to leave the
Warner Company permanently out of my sociology."
"Well," replied the other, "all I can say is that we pass one of their
properties on our way back, and nothing would please me better than to
stop the train and let you off!"
Hal went into the drawing-room car. There were Mrs. Curtis and Reggie
Porter, playing bridge with Genevieve Halsey and young Everson. Bob
Creston was chatting with Betty Gunnison, telling her what he had seen
outside, no doubt. Bert Atkins was looking over the morning paper,
yawning. Hal went on, seeking Jessie Arthur, and found her in one of the
compartments of the car, looking out of the rain-drenched
window--learning about a mining-camp in the manner permitted to young
ladies of her class.
He expected to find her in a disturbed state of mind, and was prepared
to apologise. But when he met the look of distress she turned upon him,
he did not know just where to begin. He tried to speak casually--he had
heard she was going away. But she caught him by the hand, exclaiming:
"Hal, you are coming with us!"
He did not answer for a moment, but sat down by her. "Have I made you
suffer so much, Jessie?"
He saw tears start into her eyes. "Haven't you _known_ you were making
me suffer? Here I was as Percy's guest; and to have you put such
questions to me! What could I say? What do I know about the way Mr.
Harrigan should run his business?"
"Yes, dear," he said, humbly. "Perhaps I shouldn't have drawn you into
it. But the matter was so complicated and so sudden. Can't you
understand that, and forgive me? Everything has turned out so well!"
But she did not think that everything had turned out well. "In the first
place, for you to be here, in such a plight! And when I thought you were
hunting mountain-goats in Mexico!"
He could not help laughing; but Jessie had not even a smile. "And
then--to have you drag our love into the thing, there before every one!"
"Was that really so terrible, Jessie?"
She looked at him with amazement. That he, Hal Warner, could have done
such a thing, and not realise how terrible it was! To put her in a
position where she had to break either the laws of love or the laws of
good-breeding! Why, it had amounted to a public quarrel. It would be the
talk of the town--there was no end to the embarrassment of it!
"But, sweetheart!" argued Hal. "Try to see the reality of this
thing--think about those people in the mine. You really _must_ do that!"
She looked at him, and noticed the new, grim lines that had come upon
his youthful face. Also, she caught the note of suppressed passion in
his voice. He was pale and weary looking, in dirty clothes, his hair
unkempt and his face only half washed. It was terrifying--as if he had
gone to war.
"Listen to me, Jessie," he insisted. "I want you to know about these
things. If you and I are ever to make each other happy, you must try to
grow up with me. That was why I was glad to have you here--you would
have a chance to see for yourself. Now I ask you not to go without
"But I have to go, Hal. I can't ask Percy Harrigan to stay and
"You can stay without him. You can ask one of the ladies to chaperon
She gazed at him in dismay. "Why, Hal! What a thing to suggest!"
"Think how it would look!"
"I can't think so much about looks, dear--"
She broke in: "Think what Mamma would say!"
"She wouldn't like it, I know--"
"She would be wild! She would never forgive either of us. She would
never forgive any one who stayed with me. And what would Percy say, if I
came here as his guest, and stayed to spy on him and his father? Don't
you see how preposterous it would be?"
Yes, he saw. He was defying all the conventions of her world, and it
seemed to her a course of madness. She clutched his hands in hers, and
the tears ran down her cheeks.
"Hal," she cried, "I can't leave you in this dreadful place! You look
like a ghost, and a scarecrow, too! I want you to go and get some decent
clothes and come home on this train."
But he shook his head. "It's not possible, Jessie."
"Because I have a duty to do here. Can't you understand, dear? All my
life, I've been living on the labour of coal-miners, and I've never
taken the trouble to go near them, to see how my money was got!"
"But, Hal! These aren't your people! They are Mr. Harrigan's people!"
"Yes," he said, "but it's all the same. They toil, and we live on their
toil, and take it as a matter of course."
"But what can one _do_ about it, Hal?"
"One can understand it, if nothing else. And you see what I was able to
do in this case--to get the mine open."
"Hal," she exclaimed, "I can't understand you! You've become so cynical,
you don't believe in any one! You're quite convinced that these
officials meant to murder their working people! As if Mr. Harrigan would
let his mines be run that way!"
"Mr. Harrigan, Jessie? He passes the collection plate at St. George's!
That's the only place you've ever seen him, and that's all you know
"I know what everybody says, Hal! Papa knows him, and my brothers--yes,
your own brother, too! Isn't it true that Edward would disapprove what
"Yes, dear, I fear so."
"And you set yourself up against them--against everybody you know! Is it
reasonable to think the older people are all wrong, and only you are
right? Isn't it at least possible you're making a mistake? Think about
it--honestly, Hal, for my sake!"
She was looking at him pleadingly; and he leaned forward and took her
hand. "Jessie," he said, his voice trembling, "I _know_ that these
working people are oppressed; I know it, because I have been one of
them! And I know that such men as Peter Harrigan, and even my own
brother, are to blame! And they've got to be faced by some one--they've
got to be made to see! I've come to see it clearly this summer--that's
the job I have to do!"
She was gazing at him with her wide-open, beautiful eyes; underneath her
protests and her terror, she was thrilling with awe at this amazing
madman she loved. "They will _kill_ you!" she cried.
"No, dearest--you don't need to worry about that--I don't think they'll
"But they shot at you!"
"No, they shot at Joe Smith, a miner's buddy. They won't shoot at the
son of a millionaire--not in America, Jessie."
"But some dark night--"
"Set your mind at rest," he said, "I've got Percy tied up in this, and
everybody knows it. There's no way they could kill me without the whole
story's coming out--and so I'm as safe as I would be in my bed at home!"
Hal was still possessed by his idea that Jessie must be taught--she must
have knowledge forced upon her, whether she would or no. The train would
not start for a couple of hours, and he tried to think of some use he
could make of that precious interval. He recalled that Rosa Minetti had
returned to her cabin to attend to her baby. A sudden vision came to him
of Jessie in that little home. Rosa was sweet and good, and assuredly
Little Jerry was a "winner."
"Sweetheart," he said, "I wish you'd come for a walk with me."
"But it's raining, Hal!"
"It won't hurt you to spoil one dress; you have plenty."