Part 6 out of 8
"I'm not thinking of that--"
"I _wish_ you'd come."
"I don't feel comfortable about it, Hal. I'm here as Percy's guest, and
he mightn't like--"
"I'll ask him if he objects to your taking a stroll," he suggested, with
"No, no! That would make it worse!" Jessie had no humour whatever about
"Well, Vivie Cass was out, and some of the others are going. He hasn't
objected to that."
"I know, Hal. But he knows they're all right."
Hal laughed. "Come on, Jessie. Percy won't hold you for my sins! You
have a long train journey before you, and some fresh air will be good
She saw that she must make some concession to him, if she was to keep
any of her influence over him.
"All right," she said, with resignation, and disappeared and returned
with a heavy veil over her face, to conceal her from prying reportorial
eyes; also an equipment of mackintosh, umbrella and overshoes, against
the rain. The two stole out of the car, feeling like a couple of
Skirting the edge of the throng about the pit-mouth, they came to the
muddy, unpaved quarter in which the Italians had their homes; he held
her arm, steering her through the miniature sloughs and creeks. It was
thrilling to him to have her with him thus, to see her sweet face and
hear her voice full of love. Many a time he had thought of her here, and
told her in his imagination of his experiences!
He told her now--about the Minetti family, and how he had met Big and
Little Jerry on the street, and how they had taken him in, and then been
driven by fear to let him go again. He told his check-weighman story,
and was telling how Jeff Cotton had arrested him; but they came to the
Minetti cabin, and the terrifying narrative was cut short.
It was Little Jerry who came to the door, with the remains of breakfast
distributed upon his cheeks; he stared in wonder at the mysteriously
veiled figure. Entering, they saw Rosa sitting in a chair nursing her
baby. She rose in confusion; but she did not quite like to turn her back
upon her guests, so she stood trying to hide her breast as best she
could, blushing and looking very girlish and pretty.
Hal introduced Jessie, as an old friend who was interested to meet his
new friends, and Jessie threw back her veil and sat down. Little Jerry
wiped off his face at his mother's command, and then came where he could
stare at this incredibly lovely vision.
"I've been telling Miss Arthur what good care you took of me," said Hal
to Rosa. "She wanted to come and thank you for it."
"Yes," added Jessie, graciously. "Anybody who is good to Hal earns my
Rosa started to murmur something; but Little Jerry broke in, with his
cheerful voice, "Why you call him Hal? His name's Joe!"
"Ssh!" cried Rosa. But Hal and Jessie laughed--and so the process of
Americanising Little Jerry was continued.
"I've got lots of names," said Hal. "They called me Hal when I was a kid
"Did _she_ know you then?" inquired Little Jerry.
"Is she your girl?"
Rosa laughed shyly, and Jessie blushed, and looked charming. She
realised vaguely a difference in manners. These people accepted the
existence of "girls," not concealing their interest in the phenomenon.
"It's a secret," warned Hal. "Don't you tell on us!"
"I can keep a secret," said Little Jerry. After a moment's pause he
added, dropping his voice, "You gotta keep secrets if you work in North
"You bet your life," said Hal.
"My father's a Socialist," continued the other, addressing Jessie; then,
since one thing leads on to another, "My father's a shot-firer."
"What's a shot-firer?" asked Jessie, by way of being sociable.
"Jesus!" exclaimed Little Jerry. "Don't you know nothin' about minin'?"
"No," said Jessie. "You tell me."
"You couldn't get no coal without a shot-firer," declared Little Jerry.
"You gotta get a good one, too, or maybe you bust up the mine. My
father's the best they got."
"What does he do?"
"Well, they got a drill--long, long, like this, all the way across the
room; and they turn it and bore holes in the coal. Sometimes they got
machines to drill, only we don't like them machines, 'cause it takes the
men's jobs. When they got the holes, then the shot-firer comes and sets
off the powder. You gotta have--" and here Little Jerry slowed up,
pronouncing each syllable very carefully--"per-miss-i-ble powder--what
don't make no flame. And you gotta know just how much to put in. If you
put in too much, you smash the coal, and the miner raises hell; if you
don't put in enough, you make too much work for him, an' he raises hell
again. So you gotta get a good shot-firer."
Jessie looked at Hal, and he saw that her dismay was mingled with
genuine amusement. He judged this a good way for her to get her
education, so he proceeded to draw out Little Jerry on other aspects of
coal-mining: on short weights and long hours, grafting bosses and
camp-marshals, company-stores and boarding-houses, Socialist agitators
and union organisers. Little Jerry talked freely of the secrets of the
camp. "It's all right for you to know," he remarked gravely. "You're
"You little cherub!" exclaimed Jessie.
"What's a cherub?" was Little Jerry's reply.
So the time passed in a way that was pleasant. Jessie was completely won
by this little Dago mine-urchin, in spite of all his frightful
curse-words; and Hal saw that she was won, and was delighted by the
success of this experiment in social amalgamation. He could not read
Jessie's mind, and realise that underneath her genuine delight were
reservations born of her prejudices, the instinctive cruelty of caste.
Yes, this little mine chap was a cherub, now; but how about when he grew
big? He would grow ugly and coarse-looking, in ten years one would not
know him from any other of the rough and dirty men of the village.
Jessie took the fact that common people grow ugly as they mature as a
proof that they are, in some deep and permanent way, the inferiors of
those above them. Hal was throwing away his time and strength, trying to
make them into something which Nature had obviously not intended them to
be! She decided to make that point to Hal on their way back to the
train. She realised that he had brought her here to educate her; like
all the rest of the world, she resented forcible education, and she was
not without hope that she might turn the tables and educate Hal.
Pretty soon Rosa finished nursing the baby, and Jessie remarked the
little one's black eyes. This topic broke down the mother's shyness, and
they were chatting pleasantly, when suddenly they heard sounds outside
which caused them to start up. It was a clamour of women's voices; and
Hal and Rosa sprang to the door. Just now was a critical time, when
every one was on edge for news.
Hal threw open the door and called to those outside "What is it?" There
came a response, in a woman's voice, "They've found Rafferty!"
"Nobody knows yet."
"In Room Seventeen. Eleven of them--Rafferty, and young Flanagan, and
Johannson, the Swede. They're near dead--can't speak, they say. They
won't let anybody near them."
Other voices broke in; but the one which answered Hal had a different
quality; it was a warm, rich voice, unmistakably Irish, and it held
Jessie's attention. "They've got them in the tipple-room, and the women
want to know about their men, and they won't tell them. They're beatin'
them back like dogs!"
There was a tumult of weeping, and Hal stepped out of the cabin, and in
a minute or so he entered again, supporting on his arm a girl, clad in a
faded blue calico dress, and having a head of very conspicuous red hair.
She seemed half fainting, and kept moaning that it was horrible,
horrible. Hal led her to a chair, and she sank into it and hid her face
in her hands, sobbing, talking incoherently between her sobs.
Jessie stood looking at this girl. She felt the intensity of her
excitement, and shared it; yet at the same time there was something in
Jessie that resented it. She did not wish to be upset about things like
this, which she could not help. Of course these unfortunate people were
suffering; but--what a shocking lot of noise the poor thing was making!
A part of the poor thing's excitement was rage, and Jessie realised
that, and resented it still more. It was as if it were a personal
challenge to her; the same as Hal's fierce social passions, which so
bewildered and shocked her.
"They're beatin' the women back like dogs!" the girl repeated.
"Mary," said Hal, trying to soothe her, "the doctors will be doing their
best. The women couldn't expect to crowd about them!"
"Maybe they couldn't; but that's not it, Joe, and ye know it! They been
bringin' up dead bodies, some they found where the explosion was--blown
all to pieces. And they won't let anybody see them. Is that because of
the doctors? No, it ain't! It's because they want to tell lies about the
number killed! They want to count four or five legs to a man! And that's
what's drivin' the women crazy! I saw Mrs. Zamboni, tryin' to get into
the shed, and Pete Hanun caught her by the breasts and shoved her back.
'I want my man!' she screamed. 'Well, what do you want him for? He's all
in pieces!' 'I want the pieces!' 'What good'll they do you? Are you
goin' to eat him?'"
There were cries of horror now, even from Jessie; and the strange girl
hid her face in her hands and began to sob again. Hal put his hand
gently on her arm.
"Mary," he pleaded, "it's not so bad--at least they're getting the
"How do ye know what they're doin'? They might be sealin' up parts of
the mine down below! That's what makes it so horrible--nobody knows
what's happenin'! Ye should have heard poor Mrs. Rafferty screamin'.
Joe, it went through me like a knife. Just think, it's been half an hour
since they brought him up, and the poor lady can't be told if her man is
Hal stood for a few moments in thought. He was surprised that such
things should be happening while Percy Harrigan's train was in the
village. He was considering whether he should go to Percy, or whether a
hint to Cotton or Cartwright would not be sufficient.
"Mary," he said, in a quiet voice, "you needn't distress yourself so. We
can get better treatment for the women, I'm sure."
But her sobbing went on. "What can ye do? They're bound to have their
"No," said Hal. "There's a difference now. Believe me--something can be
done. I'll step over and have a word with Jeff Cotton."
He started towards the door; but there came a cry: "Hal!" It was Jessie,
whom he had almost forgotten in his sudden anger at the bosses.
At her protest he turned and looked at her; then he looked at Mary. He
saw the latter's hands fall from her tear-stained face, and her
expression of grief give way to one of wonder. "Hal!"
"Excuse me," he said, quickly. "Miss Burke, this is my friend, Miss
Arthur." Then, not quite sure if this was a satisfactory introduction,
he added, "Jessie, this is my friend, Mary."
Jessie's training could not fail in any emergency. "Miss Burke," she
said, and smiled with perfect politeness. But Mary said nothing, and the
strained look did not leave her face.
In the first excitement she had almost failed to notice this stranger;
but now she stared, and realisation grew upon her. Here was a girl,
beautiful with a kind of beauty hardly to be conceived of in a
mining-camp; reserved, yet obviously expensive--even in a mackintosh and
rubber-shoes. Mary was used to the expensiveness of Mrs. O'Callahan, but
here was a new kind of expensiveness, subtle and compelling, strangely
unconscious. And she laid claim to Joe Smith, the miner's buddy! She
called him by a name hitherto unknown to his North Valley associates! It
needed no word from Little Jerry to guide Mary's instinct; she knew in a
flash that here was the "other girl."
Mary was seized with sudden acute consciousness of the blue calico
dress, patched at the shoulder and stained with grease-spots; of her
hands, big and rough with hard labour; of her feet, clad in shoes worn
sideways at the heel, and threatening to break out at the toes. And as
for Jessie, she too had the woman's instinct; she too saw a girl who was
beautiful, with a kind of beauty of which she did not approve, but which
she could not deny--the beauty of robust health, of abounding animal
energy. Jessie was not unaware of the nature of her own charms, having
been carefully educated to conserve them; nor did she fail to make note
of the other girl's handicaps--the patched and greasy dress, the big
rough hands, the shoes worn sideways. But even so, she realised that
"Red Mary" had a quality which she lacked--that beside this wild rose of
a mining-camp, she, Jessie Arthur, might possibly seem a garden flower,
fragile and insipid.
She had seen Hal lay his hand upon Mary's arm, and heard her speak to
him. She called him Joe! And a sudden fear had leaped into Jessie's
Like many girls who have been delicately reared, Jessie Arthur knew more
than she admitted, even to herself. She knew enough to realise that
young men with ample means and leisure are not always saints and
ascetics. Also, she had heard the remark many times made that these
women of the lower orders had "no morals." Just what did such a remark
mean? What would be the attitude of such a girl as Mary
Burke--full-blooded and intense, dissatisfied with her lot in life--to a
man of culture and charm like Hal? She would covet him, of course; no
woman who knew him could fail to covet him. And she would try to steal
him away from his friends, from the world to which he belonged, the
future of happiness and ease to which he was entitled. She would have
powers--dark and terrible powers, all the more appalling to Jessie
because they were mysterious. Might they possibly be able to overcome
even the handicap of a dirty calico dress, of big rough hands and shoes
These reflections, which have taken many words to explain, came to
Jessie in one flash of intuition. She understood now, all at once, the
incomprehensible phenomenon--that Hal should leave friends and home and
career, to come and live amid this squalor and suffering! She saw the
old drama of the soul of man, heaven and hell contending for mastery of
it; and she knew that she was heaven, and that this "Red Mary" was hell.
She looked at Hal. He seemed to her so fine and true; his face was
frank, he was the soul of honourableness. No, it was impossible to
believe that he had yielded to such a lure! If that had been the case,
he would never have brought her to this cabin, he would never have taken
a chance of her meeting the girl. No; but he might be struggling against
temptation, he might be in the toils of it, and only half aware of it.
He was a man, and therefore blind; he was a dreamer, and it would be
like him to idealise this girl, calling her naive and primitive,
thinking that she had no wiles! Jessie had come just in time to save
him! And she would fight to save him--using wiles more subtle than those
at the command of any mining-camp hussy!
It was the surging up in Jessie Arthur of that instinctive self, the
creature of hereditary cruelty, of the existence of which Hal had no
idea. She drew back, and there was a quiet _hauteur_ in her tone as she
spoke. "Hal, come here, please."
He came; and she waited until he was close enough for intimacy, and then
said, "Have you forgotten you have to take me back to the train?"
"Can't you come with me for a few minutes?" he pleaded. "It would have
such a good effect if you did."
"I can't go into that crowd," she answered; and suddenly her voice
trembled, and the tears came into her sweet brown eyes. "Don't you know,
Hal, that I couldn't stand such terrible sights? This poor girl--she is
used to them--she is hardened! But I--I--oh, take me away, take me away,
dear Hal!" This cry of a woman for protection came with a familiar echo
to Hal's mind. He did not stop to think--he was moved by it
instinctively. Yes, he had exposed the girl he loved to suffering! He
had meant it for her own good, but even so, it was cruel!
He stood close to her, and saw the love-light in her eyes; he saw the
tears, the trembling of her sensitive chin. She swayed to him, and he
caught her in his arms--and there, before these witnesses, she let him
press her to him, while she sobbed and whispered her distress. She had
been shy of caresses hitherto, watched and admonished by an experienced
mother; certainly she had never before made what could by the remotest
stretch of the imagination be considered an advance towards him. But now
she made it, and there was a cry of triumph in her soul as she saw that
he responded to it. He was still hers--and these low people should know
it, this "other girl" should know it!
Yet, in the midst of this very exultation, Jessie Arthur really felt the
grief she expressed for the women of North Valley; she really felt
horror at the story of Mrs. Zamboni's "man": so intricate is the soul of
woman, so puzzling that faculty, older than the ages, which enables her
to be hysterical, and at the same time to be guided in the use of that
hysteria by deep and infallible calculation.
But she made Hal realise that it was necessary for him to take her away.
He turned to Mary Burke and said, "Miss Arthur's train is leaving in a
short time. I'll have to take her hack, and then I'll go to the
pit-mouth with you and see what I can do."
"Very well," Mary answered; and her voice was hard and cold. But Hal did
not notice this. He was a man, and not able to keep up with the emotions
of one woman--to say nothing of two women at the same time.
He took Jessie out, and all the way hack to the train she fought a
desperate fight to get him away from here. She no longer even suggested
that he get decent clothing; she was willing for him to come as he was,
in his coal-stained mining-jumpers, in the private train of the Coal
King's son. She besought him in the name of their affection. She
threatened him that if he did not come, this might be the last time they
would meet. She even broke down in the middle of the street, and let him
stand there in plain sight of miners' wives and children, and of
possible newspaper reporters, holding her in his arms and comforting
Hal was much puzzled; but he would not give way. The idea of going off
in Percy Harrigan's train had come to seem morally repulsive to him; he
hated Percy Harrigan's train, and Percy Harrigan also, he declared. And
Jessie saw that she was only making him unreasonable--that before long
he might be hating her. With her instinctive _savoir faire_, she brought
up his suggestion that she might find some one to chaperon her, and stay
with him at North Valley until he was ready to come away.
Hal's heart leaped at that; he had no idea what was in her mind--the
certainty that no one of the ladies of the Harrigan party would run the
risk of offending her host by staying under such circumstances.
"You mean it, sweetheart?" he cried, happily.
She answered, "I mean that I love you, Hal."
"All right, dear!" he said. "We'll see if we can arrange it."
But as they walked on, she managed, without his realising it, to cause
him to reflect upon the effect of her staying. She was willing to do it,
if it was what he wanted; but it would injure, perhaps irrevocably, his
standing with her parents. They would telegraph her to come at once; and
if she did not obey, they would come by the next train. So on, until at
last Hal was moved to withdraw his own suggestion. After all, what was
the use of her staying, if her mind was on the people at home, if she
would simply keep him in hot water? Before the conversation was over Hal
had become clear in his mind that North Valley was no place for Jessie
Arthur, and that he had been a fool to think he could bring the two
She tried to get him to promise to leave as soon as the last man had
been brought out of the mine. He answered that he intended to leave
then, unless some new emergency should arise. She tried to get an
unqualified promise; and failing in that, when they had nearly got to
the train she suddenly made a complete surrender. Let him do what he
pleased--but let him remember that she loved him, that she needed him,
that she could not do without him. No matter what he might do, no matter
what people might say about him, she believed in him, she would stand by
him. Hal was deeply touched, and took her in his arms again and kissed
her tenderly under the umbrella, in the presence of the wondering stares
of several urchins with coal-smutted faces. He pledged anew his love for
her, assuring her that no amount of interest in mining-camps should ever
steal him from her.
Then he put her on the train, and shook hands with the departing guests.
He was so very sombre and harassed-looking that the young men forbore to
"kid" him as they would otherwise have done. He stood on the
station-platform and saw the train roll away--and felt, to his own
desperate bewilderment, that he hated these friends of his boyhood and
youth. His reason protested against it; he told himself there was
nothing they could do, no reason on earth for them to stay--and yet he
hated them. They were hurrying off to dance and flirt at the country
club--while he was going back to the pit-mouth, to try to get Mrs.
Zamboni the right to inspect the pieces of her "man"!
THE WILL OF KING COAL
The pit of death was giving up its secrets. The hoist was busy, and
cage-load after cage-load came up, with bodies dead and bodies living
and bodies only to be classified after machines had pumped air into them
for a while. Hal stood in the rain and watched the crowd and thought
that he had never witnessed a scene so compelling to pity and terror.
The silence that would fall when any one appeared who might have news to
tell! The sudden shriek of anguish from some woman whose hopes were
struck dead! The moans of sympathy that ran through the crowd,
alternating with cheers at some good tidings, shaking the souls of the
multitude as a storm of wind shakes a reed-field!
And the stories that ran through the camp--brought up from the
underground world--stories of incredible sufferings, and of still more
incredible heroisms! Men who had been four days without food or water,
yet had resisted being carried out of the mine, proposing to stay and
help rescue others! Men who had lain together in the darkness and
silence, keeping themselves alive by the water which seeped from the
rocks overhead, taking turns lying face upwards where the drops fell, or
wetting pieces of their clothing and sucking out the moisture! Members
of the rescue parties would tell how they knocked upon the barriers, and
heard the faint answering signals of the imprisoned men; how madly they
toiled to cut through, and how, when at last a little hole appeared,
they heard the cries of joy, and saw the eyes of men shining from the
darkness, while they waited, gasping, for the hole to grow bigger, so
that water and food might be passed in!
In some places they were fighting the fire. Long lines of hose had been
sent down, and men were moving forward foot by foot, as the smoke and
steam were sucked out ahead of them by the fan. Those who did this work
were taking their lives in their hands, yet they went without
hesitation. There was always hope of finding men in barricaded rooms
Hal sought out Jeff Cotton at the entrance to the tipple-room, which had
been turned into a temporary hospital. It was the first time the two had
met since the revelation in Percy's car, and the camp-marshal's face
took on a rather sheepish grin. "Well, Mr. Warner, you win," he
remarked; and after a little arguing he agreed to permit a couple of
women to go into the tipple-room and make a list of the injured, and go
out and give the news to the crowd. Hal went to the Minettis to ask Mary
Burke to attend to this; but Rosa said that Mary had gone out after he
and Miss Arthur had left, and no one knew where she was. So Hal went to
Mrs. David, who consented to get a couple of friends, and do the work
without being called a "committee." "I won't have any damned
committees!" the camp-marshal had declared.
So the night passed, and part of another day. A clerk from the office
came to Hal with a sealed envelope, containing a telegram, addressed in
care of Cartwright. "I most urgently beg of you to come home at once. It
will be distressing to Dad if he hears what has happened, and it will
not be possible to keep the matter from him for long."
As Hal read, he frowned; evidently the Harrigans had got busy without
delay! He went to the office and telephoned his answer. "Am planning to
leave in a day or two. Trust you will make an effort to spare Dad until
you have heard my story."
This message troubled Hal. It started in his mind long arguments with
his brother, and explanations and apologies to his father. He loved the
old man tenderly. What a shame if some emissary of the Harrigans were to
get to him to upset him with misrepresentations!
Also these ideas had a tendency to make Hal homesick; they brought more
vividly to his thoughts the outside world, with its physical
allurements--there being a limit to the amount of unwholesome meals and
dirty beds and repulsive sights a man of refinement can force himself to
endure. Hal found himself obsessed by a vision of a club dining-room,
with odours of grilled steaks and hot rolls, and the colours of salads
and fresh fruits and cream. The conviction grew suddenly strong in him
that his work in North Valley was nearly done!
Another night passed, and another day. The last of the bodies had been
brought out, and the corpses shipped down to Pedro for one of those big
wholesale funerals which are a feature of mine-life. The fire was out,
and the rescue-crews had given place to a swarm of carpenters and
timbermen, repairing the damage and making the mine safe. The reporters
had gone; Billy Keating having clasped Hal's hand, and promised to meet
him for luncheon at the club. An agent of the "Red Cross" was on hand,
and was feeding the hungry out of Mrs. Curtis's subscription-list. What
more was there for Hal to do--except to bid good-bye to his friends, and
assure them of his help in the future?
First among these friends was Mary Burke, whom he had had no chance to
talk to since the meeting with Jessie. He realised that Mary had been
deliberately avoiding him. She was not in her home, and he went to
inquire at the Rafferties', and stopped for a good-bye chat with the old
woman whose husband he had saved.
Rafferty was going to pull through. His wife had been allowed in to see
him, and tears rolled down her shrunken cheeks as she told about it. He
had been four days and nights blocked up in a little tunnel, with no
food or water, save for a few drops of coffee which he had shared with
other men. He could still not speak, he could hardly move a hand; but
there was life in his eyes, and his look had been a greeting from the
soul she had loved and served these thirty years and more. Mrs. Rafferty
sang praises to the Rafferty God, who had brought him safely through
these perils; it seemed obvious that He must be more efficient than the
Protestant God of Johannson, the giant Swede, who had lain by Rafferty's
side and given up the ghost.
But the doctor had stated that the old Irishman would never be good to
work again; and Hal saw a shadow of terror cross the sunshine of Mrs.
Rafferty's rejoicing. How could a doctor say a thing like that? Rafferty
was old, to be sure; but he was tough--and could any doctor imagine how
hard a man would try who had a family looking to him? Sure, he was not
the one to give up for a bit of pain now and then! Besides him, there
was only Tim who was earning; and though Tim was a good lad, and worked
steady, any doctor ought to know that a big family could not be kept
going on the wages of one eighteen-year-old pit-boy. As for the other
lads, there was a law that said they were too young to work. Mrs.
Rafferty thought there should be some one to put a little sense into the
heads of them that made the laws--for if they wanted to forbid children
to work in coal-mines, they should surely provide some other way to feed
Hal listened, agreeing sympathetically, and meantime watching her, and
learning more from her actions than from her words. She had been
obedient to the teachings of her religion, to be fruitful and multiply;
she had fed three grown sons into the maw of industry, and had still
eight children and a man to care for. Hal wondered if she had ever
rested a single minute of daylight in all her fifty-four years.
Certainly not while he had been in her house! Even now, while praising
the Rafferty God and blaming the capitalist law-makers, she was getting
a supper, moving swiftly, silently, like a machine. She was lean as an
old horse that has toiled across a desert; the skin over her cheek-bones
was tight as stretched rubber, and cords stood out in her wrists like
And now she was cringing before the spectre of destitution. He asked
what she would do about it, and saw the shadow of terror cross her face
again. There was one recourse from starvation, it seemed--to have her
children taken from her, and put in some institution! At the mention of
this, one of the special nightmares of the poor, the old woman began to
sob and cry again that the doctor was wrong; he would see, and Hal would
see--Old Rafferty would be back at his job in a week or two!
Hal went out on the street again. It was the hour which would have been
sunset in a level region; the tops of the mountains were touched with a
purple light, and the air was fresh and chill with early fall. Down the
darkening streets he saw a gathering of men; there was shouting, and
people running towards the place, so he hurried up, with the thought in
his mind, "What's the matter now?" There were perhaps a hundred men
crying out, their voices mingling like the sound of waves on the sea. He
could make out words: "Go on! Go on! We've had enough of it! Hurrah!"
"What's happened?" he asked, of some one on the outskirts; and the man,
recognising him, raised a cry which ran through the throng: "Joe Smith!
He's the boy for us! Come in here, Joe! Give us a speech!"
But even while Hal was asking questions, trying to get the situation
clear, other shouts had drowned out his name. "We've had enough of them
walking over us!" And somebody cried, more loudly, "Tell us about it!
Tell it again! Go on!"
A man was standing upon the steps of a building at one side. Hal stared
in amazement; it was Tim Rafferty. Of all people in the world--Tim, the
light-hearted and simple, Tim of the laughing face and the merry Irish
blue eyes! Now his sandy hair was tousled and his features distorted
with rage. "Him near dead!" he yelled. "Him with his voice gone, and
couldn't move his hand! Eleven years he's slaved for them, and near
killed in an accident that's their own fault--every man in this crowd
knows it's their own fault, by God!"
"Sure thing! You're right!" cried a chorus of voices "Tell it all!"
"They give him twenty-five dollars and his hospital expenses--and
what'll his hospital expenses be? They'll have him out on the street
again before he's able to stand. You know that--they done it to Pete
"You bet they did!"
"Them damned lawyers in there--gettin' 'em to sign papers when they
don't know what they're doin'. An' me that might help him can't get
near! By Christ, I say it's too much! Are we slaves, or are we dogs,
that we have to stand such things?"
"We'll stand no more of it!" shouted one. "We'll go in there and see to
"Come on!" shouted another. "To hell with their gunmen!"
Hal pushed his way into the crowd. "Tim!" he cried. "How do you know
"There's a fellow in there seen it."
"I can't tell you--they'd fire him; but it's somebody you know as well
as me. He come and told me. They're beatin' me old father out of
"They do it all the time!" shouted Wauchope, an English miner at Hal's
side. "That's why they won't let us in there."
"They done the same thing to my father!" put in another voice. Hal
recognised Andy, the Greek boy.
"And they want to start Number Two in the mornin'!" yelled Tim. "Who'll
go down there again? And with Alec Stone, him that damns the men and
saves the mules!"
"We'll not go back in them mines till they're safe!" shouted Wauchope.
"Let them sprinkle them--or I'm done with the whole business."
"And let 'em give us our weights!" cried another. "We'll have a
check-weighman, and we'll get what we earn!"
So again came the cry, "Joe Smith! Give us a speech, Joe! Soak it to
'em! You're the boy!"
Hal stood helpless, dismayed. He had counted his fight won--and here was
another beginning! The men were looking to him, calling upon him as the
boldest of the rebels. Only a few of them knew about the sudden change
in his fortunes.
Even while he hesitated, the line of battle had swept past him; the
Englishman, Wauchope, sprang upon the steps and began to address the
throng. He was one of the bowed and stunted men, but in this emergency
he developed sudden lung-power. Hal listened in astonishment; this
silent and dull-looking fellow was the last he would have picked for a
fighter. Tom Olson had sounded him out, and reported that he would hear
nothing, so they had dismissed him from mind. And here he was, shouting
"They're a set of robbers and murderers! They rob us everywhere we turn!
For my part, I've had enough of it! Have you?"
There was a roar from every one within reach of his voice. They had all
"All right, then--we'll fight them!"
"Hurrah! Hurrah! We'll have our rights!"
Jeff Cotton came up on the run, with "Bud" Adams and two or three of the
gunmen at his heels. The crowd turned upon them, the men on the
outskirts clenching their fists, showing their teeth like angry dogs.
Cotton's face was red with rage, but he saw that he had a serious matter
in hand; he turned and went for more help--and the mob roared with
delight. Already they had begun their fight! Already they had won their
The crowd moved down the street, shouting and cursing as it went. Some
one started to sing the Marseillaise, and others took it up, and the
words mounted to a frenzy:
"To arms! To arms, ye brave!
March on, march on, all hearts resolved
On victory or death!"
There were the oppressed of many nations in this crowd; they sang in a
score of languages, but it was the same song. They would sing a few
bars, and the yells of others would drown them out. "March on! March on!
All hearts resolved!" Some rushed away in different directions to spread
the news, and very soon the whole population of the village was on the
spot; the men waving their caps, the women lifting up their hands and
shrieking--or standing terrified, realising that babies could not be fed
upon revolutionary singing.
Tim Rafferty was raised up on the shoulders of the crowd and made to
tell his story once more. While he was telling it, his old mother came
running, and her shrieks rang above the clamour: "Tim! Tim! Come down
from there! What's the matter wid ye?" She was twisting her hands
together in an agony of fright; seeing Hal, she rushed up to him. "Get
him out of there, Joe! Sure, the lad's gone crazy! They'll turn us out
of the camp, they'll give us nothin' at all--and what'll become of us?
Mother of God, what's the matter with the b'y?" She called to Tim again;
but Tim paid no attention, if he heard her. Tim was on the march to
Some one shouted that they would go to the hospital to protect the
injured men from the "damned lawyers." Here was something definite, and
the crowd moved in that direction, Hal following with the stragglers,
the women and children, and the less bold among the men. He noticed some
of the clerks and salaried employes of the company; presently he saw
Jeff Cotton again, and heard him ordering these men to the office to get
"Big Jack" David came along with Jerry Minetti, and Hal drew back to
consult with them. Jerry was on fire. It had come--the revolt he had
been looking forward to for years! Why were they not making speeches,
getting control of the men and organising them?
Jack David voiced uncertainty. They had to consider if this outburst
could mean anything permanent.
Jerry answered that it would mean what they chose to make it mean. If
they took charge, they could guide the men and hold them together.
Wasn't that what Tom Olson had wanted?
No, said the big Welshman, Olson had been trying to organise the men
secretly, as preliminary to a revolt in all the camps. That was quite
another thing from an open movement, limited to one camp. Was there any
hope of success for such a movement? If not, they would be foolish to
start, they would only be making sure of their own expulsion.
Jerry turned to Hal. What did he think?
And so at last Hal had to speak. It was hard for him to judge, he said.
He knew so little about labour matters. It was to learn about them that
he had come to North Valley. It was a hard thing to advise men to submit
to such treatment as they had been getting; but on the other hand, any
one could see that a futile outbreak would discourage everybody, and
make it harder than ever to organise them.
So much Hal spoke; but there was more in his mind, which he could not
speak. He could not say to these men, "I am a friend of yours, but I am
also a friend of your enemy, and in this crisis I cannot make up my mind
to which side I owe allegiance. I'm bound by a duty of politeness to the
masters of your lives; also, I'm anxious not to distress the girl I am
to marry!" No, he could not say such things. He felt himself a traitor
for having them in his mind, and he could hardly bring himself to look
these men in the eye. Jerry knew that he was in some way connected with
the Harrigans; probably he had told the rest of Hal's friends, and they
had been discussing it and speculating about the meaning of it. Suppose
they should think he was a spy?
So Hal was relieved when Jack David spoke firmly. They would only be
playing the game of the enemy if they let themselves be drawn in
prematurely. They ought to have the advice of Tom Olson.
Where was Olson? Hal asked; and David explained that on the day when Hal
had been thrown out of camp, Olson had got his "time" and set out for
Sheridan, the local headquarters of the union, to report the situation.
He would probably not come back; he had got his little group together,
he had planted the seed of revolt in North Valley.
They discussed back and forth the problem of getting advice. It was
impossible to telephone from North Valley without everything they said
being listened to; but the evening train for Pedro left in a few
minutes, and "Big Jack" declared that some one ought to take it. The
town of Sheridan was only fifteen or twenty miles from Pedro, and there
would be a union official there to advise them; or they might use the
long distance telephone, and persuade one of the union leaders in
Western City to take the midnight train, and be in Pedro next morning.
Hal, still hoping to withdraw himself, put this task off on Jack David.
They emptied out the contents of their pockets, so that he might have
funds enough, and the big Welshman darted off to catch the train. In the
meantime Jerry and Hal agreed to keep in the background, and to seek out
the other members of their group and warn them to do the same.
This programme was a convenient one for Hal; but as he was to find
almost at once, it had been adopted too late. He and Jerry started after
the crowd, which had stopped in front of one of the company buildings;
and as they came nearer they heard some one making a speech. It was the
voice of a woman, the tones rising clear and compelling. They could not
see the speaker, because of the throng, but Hal recognised her voice,
and caught his companion by the arm. "It's Mary Burke!"
Mary Burke it was, for a fact; and she seemed to have the crowd in a
kind of frenzy. She would speak one sentence, and there would come a
roar from the throng; she would speak another sentence, and there would
come another roar. Hal and Jerry pushed their way in, to where they
could make out the words of this litany of rage.
"Would they go down into the pit themselves, do ye think?"
"They would not!"
"Would they be dressed in silks and laces, do ye think?"
"They would not!"
"Would they have such fine soft hands, do ye think?"
"They would not!"
"Would they hold themselves too good to look at ye?"
"They would not! They would not!"
And Mary swept on: "If only ye'd stand together, they'd come to ye on
their knees to ask for terms! But ye're cowards, and they play on your
fears! Ye're traitors, and they buy ye out! They break ye into pieces,
they do what they please with ye--and then ride off in their private
cars, and leave gunmen to beat ye down and trample on your faces! How
long will ye stand it? How long?"
The roar of the mob rolled down the street and back again. "We'll not
stand it! We'll not stand it!" Men shook their clenched fists, women
shrieked, even children shouted curses. "We'll fight them! We'll slave
no more for them!"
And Mary found a magic word. "We'll have a union!" she shouted. "We'll
get together and stay together! If they refuse us our rights, we'll know
what to answer--we'll have a _strike!_"
There was a roar like the crashing of thunder in the mountains. Yes,
Mary had found the word! For many years it had not been spoken aloud in
North Valley, but now it ran like a flash of gunpowder through the
throng. "Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!" It seemed as if they would
never have enough of it. Not all of them had understood Mary's speech,
but they knew this word, "Strike!" They translated and proclaimed it in
Polish and Bohemian and Italian and Greek. Men waved their caps, women
waved their aprons--in the semi-darkness it was like some strange kind
of vegetation tossed by a storm. Men clasped one another's hands, the
more demonstrative of the foreigners fell upon one another's necks.
"Strike! Strike! Strike!"
"We're no longer slaves!" cried the speaker. "We're men--and we'll live
as men! We'll work as men--or we'll not work at all! We'll no longer be
a herd of cattle, that they can drive about as they please! We'll
organise, we'll stand together--shoulder to shoulder! Either we'll win
together, or we'll starve and die together! And not a man of us will
yield, not a man of us will turn traitor! Is there anybody here who'll
scab on his fellows?"
There was a howl, which might have come from a pack of wolves. Let the
man who would scab on his fellows show his dirty face in that crowd!
"Ye'll stand by the union?"
"We'll stand by it!"
She flung her arms to heaven with a gesture of passionate adjuration.
"Swear it on your lives! To stick to the rest of us, and never a man of
ye give way till ye've won! Swear! _Swear!_"
Men stood, imitating her gesture, their hands stretched up to the sky.
"We swear! We swear!"
"Ye'll not let them break ye! Ye'll not let them frighten ye!"
"Stand by your word, men! Stand by it! 'Tis the one chance for your
wives and childer!" The girl rushed on--exhorting with leaping words and
passionate out-flung arms--a tall, swaying figure of furious rebellion.
Hal listened to the speech and watched the speaker, marvelling. Here was
a miracle of the human soul, here was hope born of despair! And the
crowd around her--they were sharing the wonderful rebirth; their waving
arms, their swaying forms responded to Mary as an orchestra to the baton
of a leader.
A thrill shook Hal--a thrill of triumph! He had been beaten down
himself, he had wanted to run from this place of torment; but now there
was hope in North Valley--now there would be victory, freedom!
Ever since he had come to the coal-country, the knowledge had been
growing in Hal that the real tragedy of these people's lives was not
their physical suffering, but their mental depression--the dull,
hopeless misery in their minds. This had been driven into his
consciousness day by day, both by what he saw and by what others told
him. Tom Olson had first put it into words: "Your worst troubles are
inside the heads of the fellows you're trying to help!" How could hope
be given to men in this environment of terrorism? Even Hal himself,
young and free as he was, had been brought to despair. He came from a
class which is accustomed to say, "Do this," or "Do that," and it will
be done. But these mine-slaves had never known that sense of power, of
certainty; on the contrary, they were accustomed to having their efforts
balked at every turn, their every impulse to happiness or achievement
crushed by another's will.
But here was this miracle of the human soul! Here was hope in North
Valley! Here were the people rising--and Mary Burke at their head! It
was his vision come true--Mary Burke with a glory in her face, and her
hair shining like a crown of gold! Mary Burke mounted upon a snow-white
horse, wearing a robe of white, soft and lustrous--like Joan of Arc, or
a leader in a suffrage parade! Yes, and she was at the head of a host,
he had the music of its marching in his ears!
Underneath Hal's jesting words had been a real vision, a real faith in
this girl. Since that day when he had first discovered her, a wild rose
of the mining-camp taking in the family wash, he had realised that she
was no pretty young working-girl, but a woman with a mind and a
personality. She saw farther, she felt more deeply than the average of
these wage-slaves. Her problem was the same as theirs, yet more complex.
When he had wanted to help her and had offered to get her a job, she had
made clear that what she craved was not merely relief from drudgery, but
a life with intellectual interest. So then the idea had come to him that
Mary should become a teacher, a leader of her people. She loved them,
she suffered for them and with them, and at the same time she had a mind
that was capable of seeking out the causes of their misery. But when he
had gone to her with plans of leadership, he had been met by her
corroding despair; her pessimism had seemed to mock his dreams, her
contempt for these mine-slaves had belittled his efforts in their behalf
and in hers.
And now, here she was taking up the role he had planned for her! Her
very soul was in this shouting throng, he thought. She had lived the
lives of these people, shared their every wrong, been driven to
rebellion with them. Being a mere man, Hal missed one important point
about this startling development; he did not realise that Mary's
eloquence was addressed, not merely to the Rafferties and the Wauchopes,
and the rest of the North Valley mine-slaves, but to a certain
magazine-cover girl, clad in a mackintosh and a pale green hat and a
soft and filmy and horribly expensive motoring veil!
Mary's speech was brought to a sudden end. A group of the men had moved
down the street, and there arose a disturbance there. The noise of it
swelled louder, and more people began to move in that direction. Mary
turned to look, and all at once the whole throng surged down the street.
The trouble was at the hospital. In front of this building was a porch,
and on it Cartwright and Alec Stone were standing, with a group of the
clerks and office-employes, among whom Hal saw Predovich, Johnson, the
postmaster, and Si Adams. At the foot of the steps stood Tim Rafferty,
with a swarm of determined men at his back. He was shouting, "We want
them lawyers out of there!"
The superintendent himself had undertaken to parley with him. "There are
no lawyers in here, Rafferty."
"We don't trust you!" And the crowd took up the cry: "We'll see for
"You can't go into this building," declared Cartwright.
"I'm goin' to see my father!" shouted Tim. "I've got a right to see my
father, ain't I?"
"You can see him in the morning. You can take him away, if you want to.
We've no desire to keep him. But he's asleep now, and you can't disturb
"You weren't afraid to disturb them with your damned lawyers!" And there
was a roar of approval--so loud that Cartwright's denial could hardly be
"There have been no lawyers near him, I tell you."
"It's a lie!" shouted Wauchope. "They been in there all day, and you
know it. We mean to have them out."
"Go on, Tim!" cried Andy, the Greek boy, pushing his way to the front.
"Go on!" cried the others; and thus encouraged, Rafferty started up the
"I mean to see my father!" As Cartwright caught him by the shoulder, he
yelled, "Let me go, I say!"
It was evident that the superintendent was trying his best not to use
violence; he was ordering his own followers back at the same time that
he was holding the boy. But Tim's blood was up; he shoved forward, and
the superintendent, either striking him or trying to ward off a blow,
threw him backwards down the steps. There was an uproar of rage from the
throng; they surged forward, and at the same time some of the men on the
porch drew revolvers.
The meaning of that situation was plain enough. In a moment more the mob
would be up the steps, and there would be shooting. And if once that
happened, who could guess the end? Wrought up as the crowd was, it might
not stop till it had fired every company building, perhaps not until it
had murdered every company representative.
Hal had resolved to keep in the back-ground, but he saw that to keep in
the back-ground at that moment would be an act of cowardice, almost a
crime. He sprang forward, his cry rising above the clamour. "Stop, men!
There was probably no other man in North Valley who could have got
himself heeded at that moment. But Hal had their confidence, he had
earned the right to be heard. Had he not been to prison for them, had
they not seen him behind the bars? "Joe Smith!" The cry ran from one end
of the excited throng to the other.
Hal was fighting his way forward, shoving men to one side, imploring,
commanding silence. "Tim Rafferty! Wait!" And Tim, recognising the
Once clear of the press, Hal sprang upon the porch, where Cartwright did
not attempt to interfere with him.
"Men!" he cried. "Hold on a moment! This isn't what you want! You don't
want a fight!" He paused for an instant; but he knew that no mere
negative would hold them at that moment. They must be told what they did
want. Just now he had learned the particular words that would carry, and
he proclaimed them at the top of his voice: "What you want is a union! A
He was answered by a roar from the crowd, the loudest yet. Yes, that was
what they wanted! A strike! And they wanted Joe Smith to organise it, to
lead it. He had been their leader once, he had been thrown out of camp
for it. How he had got back they were not quite clear--but here he was,
and he was their darling. Hurrah for him! They would follow him to hell
And wasn't he the boy with the nerve! Standing there on the porch of the
hospital, right under the very noses of the bosses, making a union
speech to them, and the bosses never daring to touch him! The crowd,
realising this situation, went wild with delight. The English-speaking
men shouted assent to his words; and those who could not understand,
shouted because the others did.
They did not want fighting--of course not! Fighting would not help them!
What would help them was to get together, and stand a solid body of free
men. There would be a union committee, able to speak for all of them, to
say that no man would go to work any more until justice was secured!
They would have an end to the business of discharging men because they
asked for their rights, of blacklisting men and driving them out of the
district because they presumed to want what the laws of the state
How long could a man expect to stand on the steps of a company building,
with a super and a pit-boss at his back, and organise a union of
mine-workers? Hal realised that he must move the crowd from that
"You'll do what I say, now?" he demanded; and when they agreed in
chorus, he added the warning: "There'll be no fighting! And no drinking!
If you see any man drunk to-night, sit on him and hold him down!"
They laughed and cheered. Yes, they would keep straight. Here was a job
for sober men, you bet!
"And now," Hal continued, "the people in the hospital. We'll have a
committee go in and see about them. No noise--we don't want to disturb
the sick men. We only want to make sure nobody else is disturbing them.
Some one will go in and stay with them. Does that suit you?"
Yes, that suited them.
"All right," said Hal. "Keep quiet for a moment."
And he turned to the superintendent. "Cartwright," said he, "we want a
committee to go in and stay with our people." Then, as the
superintendent started to expostulate, he added, in a low voice, "Don't
be a fool, man! Don't you see I'm trying to save your life?"
The superintendent knew how bad it would be for discipline to let Hal
carry his point with the crowd; but also he saw the immediate
danger--and he was not sure of the courage and shooting ability of
book-keepers and stenographers.
"Be quick, man!" exclaimed Hal. "I can't hold these people long. If you
don't want hell breaking loose, come to your senses."
"All right," said Cartwright, swallowing his dignity.
And Hal turned to the men and announced the concession. There was a
shout of triumph.
"Now, who's to go?" said Hal, when he could he heard again; and he
looked about at the upturned faces. There Were Tim and Wauchope, the
most obvious ones; but Hal decided to keep them under his eye. He
thought of Jerry Minetti and of Mrs. David--but remembered his agreement
with "Big Jack," to keep their own little group in the back-ground. Then
he thought of Mary Burke; she had already done herself all the harm she
could do, and she was a person the crowd would trust. He called her, and
called Mrs. Ferris, an American woman in the crowd. The two came up the
steps, and Hal turned to Cartwright.
"Now, let's have an understanding," he said. "These people are going in
to stay with the sick men, and to talk to them if they want to, and
nobody's going to give them any orders but the doctors and nurses. Is
"All right," said the superintendent, sullenly.
"Good!" said Hal. "And for God's sake have a little sense and stand by
your word; this crowd has had all it can endure, and if you do any more
to provoke it, the consequences will be on you. And while you're about
it, see that the saloons are closed and kept closed until this trouble
is settled. And keep your people out of the way--don't let them go about
showing their guns and making faces."
Without waiting to hear the superintendent's reply, Hal turned to the
throng, and held up his hand for silence. "Men," he said, "we have a big
job to do--we're going to organise a union. And we can't do it here in
front of the hospital. We've made too much noise already. Let's go off
quietly, and have our meeting on the dump in back of the power-house.
Does that suit you?"
They answered that it suited them; and Hal, having seen the two women
passed safely into the hospital, sprang down from the porch to lead the
way. Jerry Minetti came to his side, trembling with delight; and Hal
clutched him by the arm and whispered, excitedly, "Sing, Jerry! Sing
them some Dago song!"
They got to the place appointed without any fighting. And meantime Hal
had worked out in his mind a plan for communicating with this polyglot
horde. He knew that half the men could not understand a word of English,
and that half the remainder understood very little. Obviously, if he was
to make matters clear to them, they must be sorted out according to
nationality, and a reliable interpreter found for each group.
The process of sorting proved a slow one, involving no end of shouting
and good-natured jostling--Polish here, Bohemian here, Greek here,
Italian here! When this job had been done, and a man found from each
nationality who understood enough English to translate to his fellows,
Hal started in to make a speech. But before he had spoken many
sentences, pandemonium broke loose. All the interpreters started
interpreting at the same time--and at the top of their lungs; it was
like a parade with the bands close together! Hal was struck dumb; then
he began to laugh, and the various audiences began to laugh; the orators
stopped, perplexed--then they too began to laugh. So wave after wave of
merriment rolled over the throng; the mood of the assembly was changed
all at once, from rage and determination to the wildest hilarity. Hal
learned his first lesson in the handling of these hordes of child-like
people, whose moods were quick, whose tempers were balanced upon a fine
It was necessary for him to make his speech through to the end, and then
move the various audiences apart, to be addressed by the various
interpreters. But then arose a new difficulty. How could any one control
these floods of eloquence? How be sure that the message was not being
distorted? Hal had been warned by Olson of company detectives who posed
as workers, gaining the confidence of men in order to incite them to
violence. And certainly some of these interpreters were violent-looking,
and one's remarks sounded strange in their translations!
There was the Greek orator, for example; a wild man, with wild hair and
eyes, who tore all his passions to tatters. He stood upon a barrel-head,
with the light of two pit-lamps upon him, and some two score of his
compatriots at his feet; he waved his arms, he shook his fists, he
shrieked, he bellowed. But when Hal, becoming uneasy, went over and
asked another English-speaking Greek what the orator was saying, the
answer was that he was promising that the law should be enforced in
Hal stood watching this perfervid little man, a study in the
possibilities of gesture. He drew back his shoulders and puffed out his
chest, almost throwing himself backwards off the barrel-head; he was
saying that the miners would be able to live like men. He crouched down
and bowed his head, moaning; he was telling them what would happen if
they gave up. He fastened his fingers in his long black hair and began
tugging desperately; he pulled, and then stretched out his empty hands;
he pulled again, so hard that it almost made one cry out with pain to
watch him. Hal asked what that was for; and the answer was, "He say,
'Stand by union! Pull one hair, he come out; pull all hairs, no come
out'!" It carried one back to the days of Aesop and his fables!
Tom Olson had told Hal something about the technique of an organiser,
who wished to drill these ignorant hordes. He had to repeat and repeat,
until the dullest in his audience had grasped his meaning, had got into
his head the all-saving idea of solidarity. When the various orators had
talked themselves out, and the audiences had come back to the
cinder-heap, Hal made his speech all over again, in words of one
syllable, in the kind of pidgin-English which does duty in the camps.
Sometimes he would stop to reinforce it with Greek or Italian or Slavish
words he had picked up. Or perhaps his eloquence would inflame some one
of the interpreters afresh, and he would wait while the man shouted a
few sentences to his compatriots. It was not necessary to consider the
possibility of boring any one, for these were patient and long-suffering
men, and now desperately in earnest.
They were going to have a union; they were going to do the thing in
regular form, with membership cards and officials chosen by ballot. So
Hal explained to them, step by step. There was no use organising unless
they meant to stay organised. They would choose leaders, one from each
of the principal language groups; and these leaders would meet and draw
up a set of demands, which would be submitted in mass-meeting, and
ratified, and then presented to the bosses with the announcement that
until these terms were granted, not a single North Valley worker would
go back into the pits.
Jerry Minetti, who knew all about unions, advised Hal to enroll the men
at once; he counted on the psychological effect of having each man come
forward and give in his name. But here at once they met a difficulty
encountered by all would-be organisers--lack of funds. There must be
pencils and paper for the enrollment; and Hal had emptied his pockets
for Jack David! He was forced to borrow a quarter, and send a messenger
off to the store. It was voted by the delegates that each member as he
joined the union should be assessed a dime. There would have to be some
telegraphing and telephoning if they were going to get help from the
A temporary committee was named, consisting of Tim Rafferty, Wauchope
and Hal, to keep the lists and the funds, and to run things until
another meeting could be held on the morrow; also a body-guard of a
dozen of the sturdiest and most reliable men were named to stay by the
committee. The messenger came back with pads and pencils, and sitting on
the ground by the light of pit-lamps, the interpreters wrote down the
names of the men who wished to join the union, each man in turn pledging
his word for solidarity and discipline. Then the meeting was declared
adjourned till daylight of the morrow, and the workers scattered to
their homes to sleep, with a joy and sense of power such as few of them
had ever known in their lives before.
The committee and its body-guard repaired to the dining-room of
Reminitsky's, where they stretched themselves out on the floor; no one
attempted to interfere with them, and while the majority snored
peacefully, Hal and a small group sat writing out the list of demands
which were to be submitted to the bosses in the morning. It was arranged
that Jerry should go down to Pedro by the early morning train, to get
into touch with Jack David and the union officials, and report to them
the latest developments. Because the officials were sure to have
detectives following them, Hal warned Jerry to go to MacKellar's house,
and have MacKellar bring "Big Jack" to meet him there. Also Jerry must
have MacKellar get the _Gazette_ on the long distance phone, and tell
Billy Keating about the strike.
A hundred things like this Hal had to think of; his head was a-buzz with
them, so that when he lay down to sleep he could not. He thought about
the bosses, and what they might be doing. The bosses would not be
sleeping, he felt sure!
And then came thoughts about his private-car friends; about the
strangeness of this plight into which he had got himself! He laughed
aloud in a kind of desperation as he recalled Percy's efforts to get him
away from here. And poor Jessie! What could he say to her now?
The bosses made no move that night; and when morning came, the strikers
hurried to the meeting-place, some of them without even stopping for
breakfast. They came tousled and unkempt, looking anxiously at their
fellows, as if unable to credit the memory of the bold thing they had
done on the night before. But finding the committee and its body-guard
on hand and ready for business, their courage revived, they felt again
the wonderful sentiment of solidarity which had made men of them. Pretty
soon speech-making began, and cheering and singing, which brought out
the laggards and the cowards. So in a short while the movement was in
full swing, with practically every man, woman and child among the
Mary Burke came from the hospital, where she had spent the night. She
looked weary and bedraggled, but her spirit of battle had not slumped.
She reported that she had talked with some of the injured men, and that
many of them had signed "releases," whereby the company protected itself
against even the threat of a lawsuit. Others had refused to sign, and
Mary had been vehement in warning them to stand out. Two other women
volunteered to go to the hospital, in order that she might have a chance
to rest; but Mary did not wish to rest, she did not feel as if she could
ever rest again.
The members of the newly-organised union proceeded to elect officers.
They sought to make Hal president, but he was shy of binding himself in
that irrevocable way, and succeeded in putting the honour off on
Wauchope. Tim Rafferty was made treasurer and secretary. Then a
committee was chosen to go to Cartwright with the demands of the men. It
included Hal, Wauchope, and Tim; an Italian named Marcelli, whom Jerry
had vouched for; a representative of the Slavs and one of the
Greeks--Rusick and Zammakis, both of them solid and faithful men.
Finally, with a good deal of laughter and cheering, the meeting voted to
add Mary Burke to this committee. It was a new thing to have a woman in
such a role, but Mary was the daughter of a miner and the sister of a
breaker-boy, and had as good a right to speak as any one in North
Hal read the document which had been prepared the night before. They
demanded the right to have a union without being discharged for it. They
demanded a check-weighman, to be elected by the men themselves. They
demanded that the mines should be sprinkled to prevent explosions, and
properly timbered to prevent falls. They demanded the right to trade at
any store they pleased. Hal called attention to the fact that every one
of these demands was for a right guaranteed by the laws of the state;
this was a significant fact, and he urged the men not to include other
demands. After some argument they voted down the proposition of the
radicals, who wanted a ten per cent. increase in wages. Also they voted
down the proposition of a syndicalist-anarchist, who explained to them
in a jumble of English and Italian that the mines belonged to them, and
that they should refuse all compromise and turn the bosses out
While this speech was being delivered, young Rovetta pushed his way
through the crowd and drew Hal to one side. He had been down by the
railroad-station and seen the morning train come in. From it had
descended a crowd of thirty or forty men, of that "hard citizen" type
which every miner in the district could recognise at the first glance.
Evidently the company officials had been keeping the telephone-wires
busy that night; they were bringing in, not merely this train-load of
guards, but automobile loads from other camps--from the Northeastern
down the canyon, and from Barela, in a side canyon over the mountain.
Hal told this news to the meeting, which received it with howls of rage.
So that was the bosses' plan! Hot-heads sprang upon the cinder-heap,
half a dozen of them trying to make speeches at once. The leaders had to
suppress these too impetuous ones by main force; once more Hal gave the
warning of "No fighting!" They were going to have faith in their union;
they were going to present a solid front to the company, and the company
would learn the lesson that intimidation would not win a strike.
So it was agreed, and the committee set out for the company's office,
Wauchope carrying in his hand the written demands of the meeting. Behind
the committee marched the crowd in a solid mass; they packed the street
in front of the office, while the heroic seven went up the steps and
passed into the building. Wauchope made inquiry for Mr. Cartwright, and
a clerk took in the message.
They stood waiting; and meanwhile, one of the office-people, coming in
from the street, beckoned to Hal. He had an envelope in his hand, and
gave it over without a word. It was addressed, "Joe Smith," and Hal
opened it, and found within a small visiting card, at which he stared.
"Edward S. Warner, Jr."!
For a moment Hal could hardly believe the evidence of his eyesight.
Edward in North Valley! Then, turning the card over, he read, in his
brother's familiar handwriting, "I am at Cartwright's house. I must see
you. The matter concerns Dad. Come instantly."
Fear leaped into Hal's heart. What could such a message mean?
He turned quickly to the committee and explained. "My father's an old
man, and had a stroke of apoplexy three years ago. I'm afraid he may be
dead, or very ill. I must go."
"It's a trick!" cried Wauchope excitedly.
"No, not possibly," answered Hal. "I know my brother's handwriting. I
must see him."
"Well," declared the other, "we'll wait. We'll not see Cartwright until
you get back."
Hal considered this. "I don't think that's wise," he said. "You can do
what you have to do just as well without me."
"But I wanted you to do the talking!"
"No," replied Hal, "that's your business, Wauchope. You are the
president of the union. You know what the men want, as well as I do; you
know what they complain of. And besides, there's not going to be any
need of talking with Cartwright. Either he's going to grant our demands
or he isn't."
They discussed the matter back and forth. Mary Burke insisted that they
were pulling Hal away just at the critical moment! He laughed as he
answered. She was as good as any man when it came to an argument. If
Wauchope showed signs of weakening, let her speak up!
So Hal hurried off, and climbed the street which led to the
superintendent's house, a concrete bungalow set upon a little elevation
overlooking the camp. He rang the bell, and the door opened, and in the
entrance stood his brother.
Edward Warner was eight years older than Hal; the perfect type of the
young American business man. His figure was erect and athletic, his
features were regular and strong, his voice, his manner, everything
about him spoke of quiet decision, of energy precisely directed. As a
rule, he was a model of what the tailor's art could do, but just now
there was something abnormal about his attire as well as his manner.
Hal's anxiety had been increasing all the way up the street. "What's the
matter with Dad?" he cried.
"Dad's all right," was the answer--"that is, for the moment."
"Peter Harrigan's on his way back from the East. He's due in Western
City to-morrow. You can see that something will be the matter with Dad
unless you quit this business at once."
Hal had a sudden reaction from his fear. "So that's all!" he exclaimed.
His brother was gazing at the young miner, dressed in sooty blue
overalls, his face streaked with black, his wavy hair all mussed. "You
wired me you were going to leave here, Hal!"
"So I was; but things happened that I couldn't foresee. There's a
"Yes; but what's that got to do with it?" Then, with exasperation in his
voice, "For God's sake, Hal, how much farther do you expect to go?"
Hal stood for a few moments, looking at his brother. Even in a tension
as he was, he could not help laughing. "I know how all this must seem to
you, Edward. It's a long story; I hardly know how to begin."
"No, I suppose not," said Edward, drily.
And Hal laughed again. "Well, we agree that far, at any rate. What I was
hoping was that we could talk it all over quietly, after the excitement
was past. When I explain to you about conditions in this place--"
But Edward interrupted. "Really, Hal, there's no use of such an
argument. I have nothing to do with conditions in Peter Harrigan's
The smile left Hal's face. "Would you have preferred to have me
investigate conditions in the Warner camps?" Hal had tried to suppress
his irritation, but there was simply no way these two could get along.
"We've had our arguments about these things, Edward, and you've always
had the best of me--you could tell me I was a child, it was presumptuous
of me to dispute your assertions. But now--well, I'm a child no longer,
and we'll have to meet on a new basis."
Hal's tone, more than his words, made an impression. Edward thought
before he spoke. "Well, what's your new basis?"
"Just now I'm in the midst of a strike, and I can hardly stop to
"You don't think of Dad in all this madness?"
"I think of Dad, and of you too, Edward; but this is hardly the time--"
"If ever in the world there was a time, this is it!"
Hal groaned inwardly. "All right," he said, "sit down. I'll try to give
you some idea how I got swept into this."
He began to tell about the conditions he had found in this stronghold of
the "G. F. C." As usual, when he talked about it, he became absorbed in
its human aspects; a fervour came into his tone, he was carried on, as
he had been when he tried to argue with the officials in Pedro. But his
eloquence was interrupted, even as it had been then; he discovered that
his brother was in such a state of exasperation that he could not listen
to a consecutive argument.
It was the old, old story; it had been thus as far back as Hal could
remember. It seemed one of the mysteries of nature, how she could have
brought two such different temperaments out of the same parentage.
Edward was practical and positive; he knew what he wanted in the world,
and he knew how to get it; he was never troubled with doubts, nor with
self-questioning, nor with any other superfluous emotions; he could not
understand people who allowed that sort of waste in their mental
processes. He could not understand people who got "swept into things."
In the beginning, he had had with Hal the prestige of the elder brother.
He was handsome as a young Greek god, he was strong and masterful;
whether he was flying over the ice with sure, strong strokes, or cutting
the water with his glistening shoulders, or bringing down a partridge
with the certainty and swiftness of a lightning stroke, Edward was the
incarnation of Success. When he said that one's ideas were "rot," when
he spoke with contempt of "mollycoddles"--then indeed one suffered in
soul, and had to go back to Shelley and Ruskin to renew one's courage.
The questioning of life had begun very early with Hal; there seemed to
be something in his nature which forced him to go to the roots of
things; and much as he looked up to his wonderful brother, he had been
made to realise that there were sides of life to which this brother was
blind. To begin with, there were religious doubts; the distresses of
mind which plague a young man when first it dawns upon him that the
faith he has been brought up in is a higher kind of fairy-tale. Edward
had never asked such questions, apparently. He went to church, because
it was the thing to do; more especially because it was pleasing to the
young lady he wished to marry to have him put on stately clothes, and
escort her to a beautiful place of music and flowers and perfumes, where
she would meet her friends, also in stately clothes. How abnormal it
seemed to Edward that a young man should give up this pleasant custom,
merely because he could not be sure that Jonah had swallowed a whale!
But it was when Hal's doubts attacked his brother's week-day
religion--the religion of the profit-system--that the controversy
between them had become deadly. At first Hal had known nothing about
practical affairs, and it had been Edward's duty to answer his
questions. The prosperity of the country had been built up by strong
men; and these men had enemies--evil-minded persons, animated by
jealousy and other base passions, seeking to tear down the mighty
structure. At first this devil-theory had satisfied the boy; but later
on, as he had come to read and observe, he had been plagued by doubts.
In the end, listening to his brother's conversation, and reading the
writings of so-called "muck-rakers," the realisation was forced upon him
that there were two types of mind in the controversy--those who thought
of profits, and those who thought of human beings.
Edward was alarmed at the books Hal was reading; he was still more
alarmed when he saw the ideas Hal was bringing home from college. There
must have been some strange change in Harrigan in a few years; no one
had dreamed of such ideas when Edward was there! No one had written
satiric songs about the faculty, or the endowments of eminent
In the meantime Edward Warner Senior had had a paralytic stroke, and
Edward Junior had taken charge of the company. Three years of this had
given him the point of view of a coal-operator, hard and set for a
life-time. The business of a coal-operator was to buy his labour cheap,
to turn out the maximum product in the shortest time, and to sell the
product at the market price to parties whose credit was satisfactory. If
a concern was doing that, it was a successful concern; for any one to
mention that it was making wrecks of the people who dug the coal, was to
be guilty of sentimentality and impertinence.
Edward had heard with dismay his brother's announcement that he meant to
study industry by spending his vacation as a common labourer. However,
when he considered it, he was inclined to think that the idea might not
be such a bad one. Perhaps Hal would not find what he was looking for;
perhaps, working with his hands, he might get some of the nonsense
knocked out of his head!
But now the experiment had been made, and the revelation had burst upon
Edward that it had been a ghastly failure. Hal had not come to realise
that labour was turbulent and lazy and incompetent, needing a strong
hand to rule it; on the contrary, he had become one of these turbulent
ones himself! A champion of the lazy and incompetent, an agitator, a
fomenter of class-prejudice, an enemy of his own friends, and of his
brother's business associates!
Never had Hal seen Edward in such a state of excitement. There was
something really abnormal about him, Hal realised; it puzzled him
vaguely while he talked, but he did not understand it until his brother
told how he had come to be here. He had been attending a dinner-dance at
the home of a friend, and Percy Harrigan had got him on the telephone at
half past eleven o'clock at night. Percy had had a message from
Cartwright, to the effect that Hal was leading a riot in North Valley;
Percy had painted the situation in such lurid colours that Edward had
made a dash and caught the midnight train, wearing his evening clothes,
and without so much as a tooth-brush with him!
Hal could hardly keep from bursting out laughing. His brother, his
punctilious and dignified brother, alighting from a sleeping-car at
seven o'clock in the morning, wearing a dress suit and a silk hat! And
here he was, Edward Warner Junior, the fastidious, who never paid less
than a hundred and fifty dollars for a suit of clothes, clad in a
"hand-me-down" for which he had expended twelve dollars and forty-eight
cents in a "Jew-store" in a coal-town!
But Edward would not stop for a single smile; his every faculty was
absorbed in the task he had before him, to get his brother out of this
predicament, so dangerous and so humiliating. Hal had come to a town
owned by Edward's business friends, and had proceeded to meddle in their
affairs, to stir up their labouring people and imperil their property.
That North Valley was the property of the General Fuel Company--not
merely the mines and the houses, but likewise the people who lived in
them--Edward seemed to have no doubt whatever; Hal got only exclamations
of annoyance when he suggested any other point of view. Would there have
been any town of North Valley, if it had not been for the capital and
energy of the General Fuel Company? If the people of North Valley did
not like the conditions which the General Fuel Company offered them,
they had one simple and obvious remedy--to go somewhere else to work.
But they stayed; they got out the General Fuel Company's coal, they took
the General Fuel Company's wages--
"Well, they've stopped taking them now," put in Hal.
All right, that was their affair, replied Edward. But let them stop
because they wanted to--not because outside agitators put them up to it.
At any rate, let the agitators not include a member of the Warner
The elder brother pictured old Peter Harrigan on his way back from the
East; the state of unutterable fury in which he would arrive, the storm
he would raise in the business world of Western City. Why, it was
unimaginable, such a thing had never been heard of! "And right when
we're opening up a new mine--when we need every dollar of credit we can
"Aren't we big enough to stand off Peter Harrigan?" inquired Hal.
"We have plenty of other people to stand off," was the answer. "We don't
have to go out of our way to make enemies."
Edward spoke, not merely as the elder brother, but also as the money-man
of the family. When the father had broken down from over-work, and had
been changed in one terrible hour from a driving man of affairs into a
childish and pathetic invalid, Hal had been glad enough that there was
one member of the family who was practical; he had been perfectly
willing to see his brother shoulder these burdens, while he went off to
college, to amuse himself with satiric songs. Hal had no
responsibilities, no one asked anything of him--except that he would not
throw sticks into the wheels of the machine his brother was running.
"You are living by the coal industry! Every dollar you spend comes from
"I know it! I know it!" cried Hal. "That's the thing that torments me!
The fact that I'm living upon the bounty of such wage-slaves--"
"Oh, cut it out!" cried Edward. "That's not what I mean!"
"I know--but it's what _I_ mean! From now on I mean to know about the
people who work for me, and what sort of treatment they get. I'm no
longer your kid-brother, to be put off with platitudes."
"You know ours are union mines, Hal--"
"Yes, but what does that mean? How do we work it? Do we give the men
"Of course! They have their check-weighmen."
"But then, how do we compete with the operators in this district, who
pay for a ton of three thousand pounds?"
"We manage it--by economy."
"Economy? I don't see Peter Harrigan wasting anything here!" Hal paused
for an answer, but none came. "Do we buy the check-weighmen? Do we bribe
the labour leaders?"
Edward coloured slightly. "What's the use of being nasty, Hal? You know
I don't do dirty work."
"I don't mean to be nasty, Edward; but you must know that many a
business-man can say he doesn't do dirty work, because he has others do
it for him. What about politics, for instance? Do we run a machine, and
put our clerks and bosses into the local offices?"
Edward did not answer, and Hal persisted, "I mean to know these things!
I'm not going to be blind any more!"
"All right, Hal--you can know anything you want; but for God's sake, not
now! If you want to be taken for a man, show a man's common sense!
Here's Old Peter getting back to Western City to-morrow night! Don't you
know that he'll be after me, raging like a mad bull? Don't you know that
if I tell him I can do nothing--that I've been down here and tried to
pull you away--don't you know he'll go after Dad?"
Edward had tried all the arguments, and this was the only one that
counted. "You must keep him away from Dad!" exclaimed Hal.
"You tell me that!" retorted the other. "And when you know Old Peter!
Don't you know he'll get at him, if he has to break down the door of the
house? He'll throw the burden of his rage on that poor old man! You've
been warned about it clearly; you know it may be a matter of life and
death to keep Dad from getting excited. I don't know what he'd do; maybe
he'd fly into a rage with you, maybe he'd defend you. He's old and weak,
he's lost his grip on things. Anyhow, he'd not let Peter abuse you--and
like as not he'd drop dead in the midst of the dispute! Do you want to
have that on your conscience, along with the troubles of your workingmen
Hal sat staring in front of him, silent. Was it a fact that every man
had something in his life which palsied his arm, and struck him helpless
in the battle for social justice?
When he spoke again, it was in a low voice. "Edward, I'm thinking about
a young Irish boy who works in these mines. He, too, has a father; and
this father was caught in the explosion. He's an old man, with a wife
and seven other children. He's a good man, the boy's a good boy. Let me
tell you what Peter Harrigan has done to them!"
"Well," said Edward, "whatever it is, it's all right, you can help them.
They won't need to starve."
"I know," said Hal, "but there are so many others; I can't help them
all. And besides, can't you see, Edward--what I'm thinking about is not
charity, but _justice_. I'm sure this boy, Tim Rafferty, loves his
father just exactly as much as I love my father; and there are other old
men here, with sons who love them--"
"Oh, Hal, for Christ's sake!" exclaimed Edward, in a sort of explosion.
He had no other words to express his impatience. "Do you expect to take
all the troubles in the world on your shoulders?" And he sprang up and
caught the other by the arm. "Boy, you've got to come away from here!"
Hal got up, without answering. He seemed irresolute, and his brother
started to draw him towards the door. "I've got a car here. We can get a
train in an hour--"
Hal saw that he had to speak firmly. "No, Edward," he said. "I can't
come just yet."
"I tell you you _must_ come!"
"I can't. I made these men a promise!"
"In God's name--what are these men to you? Compared with your own
"I can't explain it, Edward. I've talked for half an hour, and I don't
think you've even heard me. Suffice it to say that I see these people
caught in a trap--and one that my whole life has helped to make. I can't
leave them in it. What's more, I don't believe Dad would want me to do
it, if he understood."
The other made a last effort at self-control. "I'm not going to call you
a sentimental fool. Only, let me ask you one plain question. What do you
think you can _do_ for these people?"
"I think I can help to win decent conditions for them."
"Good God!" cried Edward; he sighed, in his agony of exasperation. "In
Peter Harrigan's mines! Don't you realise that he'll pick them up and
throw them out of here, neck and crop--the whole crew, every man in the
town, if necessary?"
"Perhaps," answered Hal; "but if the men in the other mines should join
them--if the big union outside should stand by them--"
"You're dreaming, Hal! You're talking like a child! I talked to the
superintendent here; he had telegraphed the situation to Old Peter, and
had just got an answer. Already he's acted, no doubt."
"Acted?" echoed Hal. "How do you mean?" He was staring at his brother in
"They were going to turn the agitators out, of course."
"_What?_ And while I'm here talking!"
Hal turned toward the door. "You knew it all the time!" he exclaimed.
"You kept me here deliberately!"
He was starting away, but Edward sprang and caught him. "What could you
"Turn me loose!" cried Hal, angrily.
"Don't be a fool, Hal! I've been trying to keep you out of the trouble.
There may be fighting."
Edward threw himself between Hal and the door, and there was a sharp
struggle. But the elder man was no longer the athlete, the young bronzed
god; he had been sitting at a desk in an office, while Hal had been
doing hard labour. Hal threw him to one side, and in a moment more had
sprung out of the door, and was running down the slope.
Coming to the main street of the village, Hal saw the crowd in front of
the office. One glance told him that something had happened. Men were
running this way and that, gesticulating, shouting. Some were coming in
his direction, and when they saw him they began to yell to him. The
first to reach him was Klowoski, the little Pole, breathless; gasping
with excitement. "They fire our committee!"
"Fire 'em out! Down canyon!" The little man was waving his arms in wild
gestures; his eyes seemed about to start out of his head. "Take 'em off!
Whole bunch fellers--gunmen! People see them--come out back door. Got
ever'body's arm tied. Gunmen fellers hold 'em, don't let 'em holler,
can't do nothin'! Got them cars waitin'--what you call?--"
"Sure, got three! Put ever'body in, quick like that--they go down road
like wind! Go down canyon, all gone! They bust our strike!" And the
little Pole's voice ended in a howl of despair.
"No, they won't bust our strike!" exclaimed Hal. "Not yet!"
Suddenly he was reminded of the fact that his brother had followed
him--puffing hard, for the run had been strenuous. He caught Hal by the
arm, exclaiming, "Keep out of this, I tell you!"
Thus while Hal was questioning Klowoski, he was struggling
half-unconsciously, to free himself from his brother's grasp. Suddenly
the matter was forced to an issue, for the little Polack emitted a cry
like an angry cat, and went at Edward with fingers outstretched like
claws. Hal's dignified brother would have had to part with his dignity,
if Hal had not caught Klowoski's onrush with his other arm. "Let him
alone!" he said. "It's my brother!" Whereupon the little man fell back
and stood watching in bewilderment.
Hal saw Androkulos running to him. The Greek boy had been in the street
back of the office, and had seen the committee carried off; nine people
had been taken--Wauchope, Tim Rafferty, and Mary Burke, Marcelli,
Zammakis and Rusick, and three others who had served as interpreters on
the night before. It had all been done so quickly that the crowd had
scarcely realised what was happening.
Now, having grasped the meaning of it, the men were beside themselves
with rage. They shook their fists, shouting defiance to a group of
officials and guards who were visible upon the porch of the
office-building. There was a clamour of shouts for revenge.
Hal could see instantly the dangers of the situation; he was like a man
watching the burning fuse of a bomb. Now, if ever, this polyglot horde
must have leadership--wise and cool and resourceful leadership.
The crowd, discovering his presence, surged down upon him like a wave.
They gathered round him, howling. They had lost the rest of their
committee, but they still had Joe Smith. Joe Smith! Hurrah for Joe! Let
the gunmen take him, if they could! They waved their caps, they tried to
lift him upon their shoulders, so that all could see him.
There was clamour for a speech, and Hal started to make his way to the
steps of the nearest building, with Edward holding on to his coat.
Edward was jostled; he had to part with his dignity--but he did not part
with his brother. And when Hal was about to mount the steps, Edward made
a last desperate effort, shouting into his ear, "Wait a minute! Wait!
Are you going to try to talk to this mob?"
"Of course. Don't you see there'll be trouble if I don't?"
"You'll get yourself killed! You'll start a fight, and get a lot of
these poor devils shot! Use your common sense, Hal; the company has
brought in guards, and they are armed, and your people aren't."
"That's exactly why I have to speak!"
The discussion was carried on under difficulties, the elder brother
clinging to the younger's arm, while the younger sought to pull free,
and the mob shouted with a single voice, "Speech! Speech!" There were
some near by who, like Klowoski, did not relish having this stranger
interfering with their champion, and showed signs of a disposition to
"mix in"; so at last Edward gave up the struggle, and the orator mounted
the steps and faced the throng.
Hal raised his arms as a signal for silence.
"Boys," he cried, "they've kidnapped our committee. They think they'll
break our strike that way--but they'll find they've made a mistake!"
"They will! Right you are!" roared a score of voices.
"They forget that we've got a union. Hurrah for our North Valley union!"
"Hurrah! Hurrah!" The cry echoed to the canyon-walls.
"And hurrah for the big union that will back us--the United Mine-Workers
Again the yell rang out; again and again. "Hurrah for the union! Hurrah
for the United Mine-Workers!" A big American miner, Ferris, was in the
front of the throng, and his voice beat in Hal's ears like a
"Boys," Hal resumed, when at last he could be heard, "use your brains a
moment. I warned you they would try to provoke you! They would like
nothing better than to start a scrap here, and get a chance to smash our
union! Don't forget that, boys, if they can make you fight, they'll
smash the union, and the union is our only hope!"
Again came the cry: "Hurrah for the union!" Hal let them shout it in
twenty languages, until they were satisfied.
"Now, boys," he went on, at last, "they've shipped out our committee.
They may ship me out in the same way--"
"No, they won't!" shouted voices in the crowd. And there was a bellow of
rage from Ferris. "Let them try it! We'll burn them in their beds!"
"But they _can_ ship me out!" argued Hal. "You _know_ they can beat us
at that game! They can call on the sheriff, they can get the soldiers,
if necessary! We can't oppose them by force--they can turn out every
man, woman and child in the village, if they choose. What we have to get
clear is that even that won't crush our union! Nor the big union
outside, that will be backing us! We can hold out, and make them take us
back in the end!"
Some of Hal's friends, seeing what he was trying to do, came to his
support. "No fighting! No violence! Stand by the union!" And he went on
to drive the lesson home; even though the company might evict them, the
big union of the four hundred and fifty thousand mine-workers of the
country would feed them, it would call out the rest of the workers in
the district in sympathy. So the bosses, who thought to starve and cow
them into submission, would find their mines lying permanently idle.
They would be forced to give way, and the tactics of solidarity would
So Hal went on, recalling the things Olson had told him, and putting
them into practice. He saw hope in their faces again, dispelling the
mood of resentment and rage.
"Now, boys," said he, "I'm going in to see the superintendent for you.
I'll be your committee, since they've shipped out the rest."
The steam-siren of Ferris bellowed again: "You're the boy! Joe Smith!"
"All right, men--now mind what I say! I'll see the super, and then I'll
go down to Pedro, where there'll be some officers of the United
Mine-workers this morning. I'll tell them the situation, and ask them to
back you. That's what you want, is it?"
That was what they wanted. "Big union!"
"All right. I'll do the best I can for you, and I'll find some way to
get word to you. And meantime you stand firm. The bosses will tell you
lies, they'll try to deceive you, they'll send spies and trouble-makers
among you--but you hold fast, and wait for the big union."
Hal stood looking at the cheering crowd. He had time to note some of the
faces upturned to him. Pitiful, toil-worn faces they were, each making
its separate appeal, telling its individual story of deprivation and
defeat. Once more they were transfigured, shining with that wonderful
new light which he had seen for the first time the previous evening. It
had been crushed for a moment, but it flamed up again; it would never
die in the hearts of men--once they had learned the power it gave.
Nothing Hal had yet seen moved him so much as this new birth of
enthusiasm. A beautiful, a terrible thing it was!
Hal looked at his brother, to see how he had been moved. What he saw on
his brother's face was satisfaction, boundless relief. The matter had
turned out all right! Hal was coming away!
Hal turned again to the men; somehow, after his glance at Edward, they
seemed more pitiful than ever. For Edward typified the power they were
facing--the unseeing, uncomprehending power that meant to crush them.
The possibility of failure was revealed to Hal in a flash of emotion,
overwhelming him. He saw them as they would be, when no leader was at
hand to make speeches to them. He saw them waiting, their life-long
habit of obedience striving to reassert itself; a thousand fears
besetting them, a thousand rumours preying upon them--wild beasts set on
them by their cunning enemies. They would suffer, not merely for
themselves, but for their wives and children--the very same pangs of
dread that Hal suffered when he thought of one old man up in Western
City, whose doctors had warned him to avoid excitement.
If they stood firm, if they kept their bargain with their leader, they
would be evicted from their homes, they would face the cold of the
coming winter, they would face hunger and the black-list. And he,
meantime--what would he be doing? What was his part of the bargain? He
would interview the superintendent for them, he would turn them over to
the "big union"--and then he would go off to his own life of ease and
pleasure. To eat grilled steaks and hot rolls in a perfectly appointed
club, with suave and softly-moving servitors at his beck! To dance at
the country club with exquisite creatures of chiffon and satin, of
perfume and sweet smiles and careless, happy charms! No, it was too
easy! He might call that his duty to his father and brother, but he
would know in his heart that it was treason to life; it was the devil,
taking him onto a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms of the
Moved by a sudden impulse, Hal raised his hands once more. "Boys," he
said, "we understand each other now. You'll not go back to work till the
big union tells you. And I, for my part, will stand by you. Your cause
is my cause, I'll go on fighting for you till you have your rights, till
you can live and work as men! Is that right?"
"That's right! That's right!"
"Very good, then--we'll swear to it!" And Hal raised his hands, and the
men raised theirs, and amid a storm of shouts, and a frantic waving of
caps, he made them the pledge which he knew would bind his own
conscience. He made it deliberately, there in his brother's presence.
This was no mere charge on a trench, it was enlisting for a war! But
even in that moment of fervour, Hal would have been frightened had he
realised the period of that enlistment, the years of weary and desperate
conflict to which he was pledging his life.