Part 2 out of 5
"I've been hearing about you from Mr. Arverne," he said, "and he tells
me that you want to look over the works."
"Mr. Nebett?" queried the boy, and in response to an affirmative nod,
he continued, "Yes, sir, I'm very anxious to see part of it at any rate.
I can see that it's a huge place, but gun-making must be so interesting
that I'd like to see how it's done."
"I think Mr. Arverne said something to me about your writing up a
special report, a summary or something of that kind."
"That was just a suggestion, Mr. Nebett," the boy replied. "I told Mr.
Arverne that the Census Bureau did issue special bulletins on selected
industries, and that perhaps I might have an opportunity to make use of
some information. But that's a personal idea of mine only, because most
of those bulletins are written by experts in the Bureau."
"Well," was the reply, "I don't see that it can do us any harm, anyway,
and if you are so interested you can come along with me. I like to go
through the works every once in so often, and perhaps I can tell you
more about these things than any other man in the place, because I get a
chance to see it as a whole."
"If you would," began the boy.
"Come along, then," said the official, without further parley, and he
led the way out of the general offices and across the street to the
first of a huge group of buildings. Walking through the yard the two
came presently to a long structure running alongside the railroad
sidings. "This," Hamilton was informed, "is just the storeroom for raw
material as it comes off the cars."
He turned half round as though to leave the building, but Hamilton
stopped him with a question.
"Steel, principally?" he asked.
"What kind of steel?" persisted Hamilton.
"Oh, different kinds."
"Why different kinds?" continued the boy, working his eyebrows, as was
his habit when in earnest. "For different kinds of guns?"
"Yes," answered the older man, evidently deciding that he would have to
go into the matter thoroughly with Hamilton, and passing on into the
storehouse. "We get mostly three kinds of steel, nickel steel, carbon
steel, and soft steel, with a small proportion of other forms. We do
that for the very reason you mentioned, that they are used for different
kinds of work. Nickel steel we do not use for the cheaper grades of
guns, because it is so much harder, and costs so much more to work.
Indeed, very few gun-makers use nickel steel for barrels at all, but we
do on all our high-grade work."
"I notice," Hamilton said, "that all the steel here is stored in bars
and rods. Do you buy it that way, or have you a rolling mill in
connection with the plant?"
"Buy it," the other said immediately. "You can't run a rolling mill at a
profit except on a large scale, and, anyway, this is too far from the
source of supply. We get our copper in ingots, but not our steel."
"I notice," the boy continued, fingering a long ticket attached to a
bundle of steel rods by a wire, "that you say here, 'Do not disturb
until report from laboratory is received.'"
"Certainly," said the other, "every order as it comes in is tested. We
have two laboratories, a physical and a chemical, and not a scrap of
material is used until it is found to be fully up to the specifications.
There's no guesswork there, but the most rigid scientific tests. That
keeps any poor material from slipping through.
"Now," he continued, "I'll show you what happens to those bars."
He led the way to a small building where the bars were cut into certain
recognized lengths for the men at the drop forges to handle.
"This forging shop," the manufacturer said, entering it as he spoke, "is
where most of the metal parts of the gun are first roughly shaped, and
this man is working on part of a cartridge ejector. Watch him now," he
went on, following the action of the workman; "he takes a piece of steel
out of the furnace behind him, lays it on the die, touches a lever, and
the big drop-hammer comes down,--once, twice. He turns it over, brings
the drop-hammer down again, once, twice, and the piece is shaped. It has
rough edges all round, of course, and so he takes it, while it is still
glowing red, to a more exact die, and brings the drop-hammer down once,
and turns it over, then brings down the hammer again once. Now the shape
is almost perfect but for that fringe of metal all round. He picks it
up, puts it on that die on this next machine close by his hand, touches
a lever, and a knife, exactly the shape of the die comes down, crunch!
shaving off the iron clean all round, and there is your forging done,
and all with the one heating. Of course it isn't finished off, but you
can see for yourself that the rough work is done, and all in the space
of a few moments."
Hamilton found it hard to tear himself away, for while the principle was
the same, all the different forges were turning out different parts, and
it was a fascination to the boy to see those glowing lumps of steel come
out of the furnace and with the few strokes of the drop-hammer, fall a
few seconds later, the shaped part of a rifle. Some of the machines were
making receivers for the stock, the largest piece of metal, and other
small parts like the trigger or the hammer, while still others were
preparing the barrels of the gun for drilling.
"It is not likely to occur to you," said his guide, "that it would not
do to let all those various parts cool off by chance. For example, in
winter they would cool more rapidly than in summer, and those near the
door more quickly than those in the inner part of the forging house.
That would make them of varying hardness. So, in order to make sure that
they shall be the same, all those pieces you have seen being made are
"How is the annealing done?" asked Hamilton.
"That is simple enough," was the reply. "All that has to be done is to
heat them again all to the same degree of heat, then let the oven cool
at a certain rate. Here are the annealing ovens."
"This is certainly a hot place," said the boy, as he stepped into the
next building. "Whew! I wonder any one stays in here."
"No one does," his conductor answered. "We have this arranged so that
all the furnaces are filled in the morning, when they are cold, and
there are pyrometers to tell when the right heat is reached. All the
ovens, you see, are managed by these switches near the door. Look
He slipped one of the switches into place, and the pyrometer needle
swung around and pointed to the degree of heat in the oven which it was
supposed to register.
"What are those little clocks for?"
"One for each oven," Mr. Nebett answered; "the keeper of the furnaces
sets them when an oven is up to the required heat. Then, you see, it is
easy to tell when they have been cooling long enough."
"I should think," said Hamilton, "that making the barrel was the most
important part of a gun, because, after all, that is the only part a
bullet touches, and it must have to be exact. I've often thought of
that, how the tiniest difference at the mouth of the barrel would at a
thousand yards range cause it to be away off the mark."
"It does have to be exact," his guide answered, "but that is a matter of
care rather than of difficulty. In this next building we bore the
rifle-barrels, just a simple boring process, as you see, but there are
all sorts of precautions taken to insure absolute steadiness. As soon as
a barrel is taken from the boring machine it is put through a test, to
determine whether it is correct in size to the one-half of
one-thousandth of an inch in diameter. If it is not as exact as that, it
is set aside. That is only the first of a long series of tests, too. You
would be surprised at the number of barrels that are rejected from the
time of the first selection until the gun is completed. Here, for
example, is perhaps the most sensational one."
He led the boy to a small building, standing by itself in the middle of
the yard, heavily built, and looking almost like a log cabin of the old
type, made of great timbers. It was just a bit of a place, divided into
two parts by a heavy timber wall.
"What in the wide world is this for?" asked the boy.
"I'll show you in a minute, I think we're just in time," the official
said, as he led the way in. Hamilton followed him into the inner
chamber. A long row of gun barrels was the first thing the boy noticed,
the barrels all lying in slots. A gray-haired man was filling a heavy
charge of powder behind each one. The guns were pointing into a bank of
"If you notice," said his guide, "you'll see that a little device, like
the old percussion cap is right by each of those charges of powder. Are
you all ready, Jim?" he queried, as the old man straightened up.
"Yes, Mr. Nebett," was the reply.
"All right," the other said, "we'll go into the room." He pointed out to
Hamilton, as they passed from one part of this little building to the
other, that each of these percussion caps was attached to a wire which
ran through the wall to the little room into which they were going.
"Look out, Mr. Nebett," said the old man, after he had closed and
fastened the heavy door, "and you, young sir, don't be frightened," and
he pulled the wire hanging overhead.
There was a terrific explosion and a roar, and though Hamilton had been
half expecting it, he jumped. Then he laughed.
"I guess I did jump, after all," he said. "What was that for?"
"To test the strength of the barrels," said his friend, as the old
workman slid back the heavy door. "There, you see," he added, "one of
them did burst." He pointed to one of the gun barrels rent at the side.
"Once in a while," he continued, "they just go up in pieces, and if you
look at the walls and the ceiling you'll see any number of bits of metal
driven in deeply."
"But he seemed to be putting in an awfully heavy charge," said the boy.
"We do that in order to be sure that we shall not expend a great deal of
labor on a barrel which in the end would fail to pass inspection, and
also to safeguard against accident," the other explained. "We do use a
very heavy charge because our guns sell all over the world, and in some
countries--England, for instance--the test is extremely severe. It's a
costly process, as it spoils a lot of barrels, but it is better to lose
material than to put out a piece of work which might not be
Hamilton looked around the proof-room carefully. Certainly it seemed to
have gone through the wars. From the thick wood huge gashes had been
rent, and the entire interior was jagged and splintered.
"How much of a charge do you put to each barrel?" he asked; and when the
formula was given him for each of the different styles of rifle, the boy
whistled in amazement.
"I should think that any barrels that stood that test could stand
anything afterwards," he said admiringly.
"Well, they do," the other said. "It's very seldom that you hear of a
first-class gun exploding. I don't recall a case of one of ours for
years and years. And even if by some chance flaw they did, the good
ones, being nickel steel, would just make a hole in the barrel,--not fly
to pieces. But, as a matter of fact, any barrel that has been through
that 'proof-room' will have been subjected to the greatest strain it
will ever have to undergo, for there is no cartridge made that would
have one-half the power in proportion to the size of the barrel."
From the proof-room Hamilton's guide led him through different parts of
the works, where various machines were employed in preparing and
finishing the rough forgings he had seen made and annealed. Thus, for
example, in a receiver for a gun stock, one machine worked a bevel edge
on it, another bored it to the size of the gun barrel, accurate to the
thousandth part of an inch, another pierced the tiny screw holes, and
yet other machines made even the minute screw, done, as was explained to
Hamilton, so that the threads in each should fit with absolute
"But do you really mean to say," queried Hamilton in surprise, "that
every one of these fifty or more parts of each gun is inspected and
The official led him to a number of long rows of tables.
"Here," he said, "are girls doing nothing else all day long. Here is a
testing die for a part of the ejector of one of our 1911 models. You see
that there are two spaces for all of them. It must fit into this one, it
must not fit into that, which is a thousandth of an inch smaller. If too
big, you see it won't fit into either, if too small, it would fit into
the one where it ought not. Every tiny piece is gauged on all its sides
and in every hole and at all points with this double gauge system."
"That doesn't leave much for guesswork," said Hamilton. "But there is
something that's been puzzling me."
"What is that?" asked his guide.
"I've always heard a lot about gun-metal," Hamilton answered, "and yet
all the way through, these parts have been nothing but steel. And all
the guns I ever saw had that bluish look, as gun-metal has. For example,
my watch is what they call gun-metal," and he took it from his pocket
and showed the back of it.
"Gun-metal," said the other, "is an alloy of copper and tin and once was
used almost exclusively for cannon and big guns generally. But you're
right about all guns having a bluish tinge. That is all steel, but it is
treated by a process called coloring or bluing. I'll show you--both the
old way and the new."
Going down the stairs and crossing the yard, he took Hamilton into a
small building where there were a couple of open charcoal furnaces, in
which the charcoal was intensely hot, but not hot enough to catch fire.
The pieces of finished steel were buried in this charcoal, and every
few minutes the men in charge would draw them out, wipe them over with a
bunch of oiled waste, and thrust them back into the fire. It was about
the dirtiest, blackest, grimiest work the boy had ever seen.
"That is the old way," Hamilton was told, "and although it is handwork
instead of machine work it is not a bit better in its results than the
new way. The modern system, besides, is much simpler and cleaner."
In the next building was a row of charcoal ovens, revolving in such a
way that the parts to be blued were alternately covered and released
from the superheated charcoal, the effect of the greasing also being
done at every automatic revolution Each furnace door bore an asbestos
"What are those clocks for?" asked Hamilton. "The same as those others,
I suppose, so that the man in charge can put in a number of certain
parts of a gun and leave them in for a regular length of time at a
certain heat, and pull them out all done?"
"Just that," was the reply. "The only gain in the old style is that each
part being handled separately, if there is ever so little difference in
the metal, the bluer can give it a shorter or a longer time, whereas
the machine treats all alike."
"Then when the gun is assembled, all the work is done?" queried
Hamilton, who was becoming a little tired from his long tramp through
the works and among the furnace-heated shops.
"No," said the other. "That wouldn't do at all. A gun has not only got
to shoot, but it has got to shoot straight."
"But how in the world," said Hamilton, "can you tell whether a gun will
shoot straight or not?"
"One of the most important ways," said his informant, "is to let an
expert look through the barrel. One of our best men, for example, has
done nothing else all his life; his father before him was a
barrel-sighter and his son has just entered the works. He does it this
way--here, you try," and he handed a barrel to Hamilton. "Rest the
barrel in this crotch," he continued, "and look at the window. You see
there is a piece of ground glass with a thin black line running across
it. Point the barrel so that it is aimed just below that line, and if
you get it right, you will see a reflection of that line running
lengthways up the barrel."
[Illustration: MAKING GUN-SIGHTS TRUE. Marksmen firing new-made rifles
and adjusting the sights until every weapon carries perfectly.
(_Courtesy of Winchester Repeating Arms Co._)]
Hamilton put the barrel up and looked and looked, but for a minute or
two he could not get the direction, then he caught the line. But the
reflection in the barrel was confusing, and it seemed to him that he saw
"It's awfully hard just to get that straight," the boy said, "and it's
"That man you saw there," answered his guide, as they moved away, "can
tell almost to the width of a thread of a spider's web if a barrel is
straight. Here, too, is another barrel test going on. You see this man
is pushing a soft lead slug which fits the barrel snugly through the
barrel by means of a brass rod. It takes a certain amount of pressure to
push the lead slug through the barrel. Such slight variations in
diameter of the bore as one-tenth of a thousandth can be readily
detected, for if the barrel is smaller at any point than where it
entered, the slug will stick, and if it is the least bit larger at any
point, the slug will slide through too easily. Men accustomed to this
class of work can readily detect an increase or decrease in diameter of
one ten-thousandth part of an inch."
"You certainly have it down fine, Mr. Nebett," Hamilton commented.
"We try to," responded his guide. "Then when the barrel experts have
had their turn, the gun is assembled and goes to the action men."
"Who are they?" asked the boy.
"They test the trigger pull, the cartridge ejection, the fall of the
hammer, the filling of the magazine, and all such points. They have two
sets of dummies, such as were used for testing the parts. One must fit,
the other not, and so any fault in the mechanism is detected. The same
with ejection,--we must be sure that a cartridge will not stick. Then
"Still more tests!"
"Didn't I tell you that we had to be sure that a gun could be made not
only to shoot but to shoot straight? Our crack shots get the guns next."
"What do they do?" asked the boy, "fire at targets?"
"Yes. But first a man, incased in an armored barricade, shoots a few
extra heavy cartridges in each rifle, in order to make sure that no
weakness has been caused by the various processes through which all the
parts have passed. Then he turns it over to the crack shots. They fire
half a dozen shots at a target, then look at the target through a
telescope. Those men know that they can hit the bull's eye every time,
so that if the shots are wide of the mark, either there is a defect in
the gun or the sights are not true. In nine cases out of ten it is the
fault of the sights, and they file them true."
"Then really every gun has been fired before being sold?"
"We turn out about sixteen hundred guns a day, and each one has been
fired several times."
"The same standard of accuracy is needed in those. It is just as
important that a shotgun should throw a certain percentage of its shot
within a certain radius as it is that a rifle bullet should go straight.
Down in this little room," he continued, "a man stands all day shooting
down this gallery, forty yards range, and each target is brought back
and measured. In a circle with a fifteen-inch radius a boy counts the
numbers of holes made in the paper by the tiny shot. There should be
300. If there are 290 the gun is passed, but if less it is rejected.
Sometimes you get very queer shot patterns without knowing why."
"Do all shotguns throw as evenly as that?"
"All good ones should. It is astonishing to see how regularly the
'scatter' of a barrel will work out. Every barrel, of course, is stamped
with the number of shots it has put into the fifteen-inch circle."
"And you make cartridges, too, don't you?" Hamilton asked.
"That's one of the largest branches of our business," his guide replied,
"but there's not very much in that to show you, except of course the
making of the metal caps, and this is simply the punching of circular
pieces of copper or brass, turning up the edges, or 'cupping' them, as
it is called, drawing them to length, inserting the primer pocket and
heading--the filling is done in a building perpetually closed to
visitors. We think too much of our visitors," he added with a smile, "to
risk blowing them up. I don't suppose really, that there would be any
danger,--we have not had an accident for years,--but it's a business in
which accident is only prevented by extreme care, and we believe in
Chatting pleasantly, Mr. Nebett showed Hamilton through the various
general offices, the payroll department, and the draughting and
designing room, and finally returned to the business manager's office,
where they found the schedule awaiting him, filled out in almost every
detail. A few spaces had been left blank until the boy's return, some
trifling explanation being readily answered by him.
[Illustration: "A BULL'S-EYE EVERY TIME!" The expert looking through
telescope at target which he has fired at with new guns to test their
accuracy. (_Courtesy of Winchester Repeating Arms Co._)]
"I must thank you ever so much," said the boy, turning to the director
of the company who had taken so much trouble in showing him around, "it
has been one of the most interesting afternoons I have had in all my
life. I feel quite as though I had been witnessing the equipping of the
world's armies on the eve of a great war."
"That would be all right," said the business manager, "if we were making
military rifles, but ninety-five per cent of our work is for sporting
"But how about your cartridges?"
"There, perhaps," Mr. Nebett said, "The Hague tribunal would look
askance at us."
Hamilton had his portfolio under his arm, but at the door he turned.
"How many cartridges do you put out?" he asked.
"Six million a day," was the reply.
THE BOY LEADER OF A CRUSADE
So long as Hamilton's work dealt with the larger manufactories of the
district he encountered comparatively little trouble, as he knew enough
of the desires of the Census Bureau to be able to help those business
men whose books did not specifically divide receipts, expenses, and so
forth in the same order as the government required. Indeed, he made
several very pleasant acquaintanceships during the weeks in New Haven,
and it was not until he was "checking up," going to all the small places
that had not been listed, that he really found himself in difficulties.
He anticipated trouble with the dressmakers, and consequently his
delight was great when he learned that this had been omitted from the
census since 1904 because it is a "neighborhood industry." But the
milliners proved just as bad.
In the first place, Hamilton could not work up any enthusiasm over a
millinery establishment, and although he had definite instructions that
each one was to be considered as a factory and entered upon the
schedules as one, he thought such an idea was stretching the point a
little far. Fortunately he had covered a large number of them during the
first weeks of the work, visiting the places in the early morning and in
the evening when the offices of the larger factories were closed. His
worst clash occurred at almost the very last one to which he went.
It was a little after five o'clock, just as it was beginning to get
dark, that Hamilton, having ascertained from the Business Telephone
Directory the address of a milliner not down on his lists, who did work
for wholesale as well as retail trade, went up the steps of a really
handsome house, and rang the bell. He did so reluctantly, for there was
no plate on the door, and he did not wish to annoy strangers. But the
address seemed straight enough.
The door was opened by a becapped maid, and Hamilton was shown into a
handsomely furnished drawing room. On a table in the corner, the boy
caught sight of a pile of fashion magazines, and he was sure that he was
on the right track. After a few moments' delay, a richly dressed little
Frenchwoman bustled in. She seemed surprised to see the boy, and halted
on the threshold. Hamilton rose.
"I understand, Madame," he said, "that you are an 'exclusive' milliner?"
The woman looked bewildered.
"You make hats?" Hamilton continued, perceiving at a glance that the
woman was foreign-born.
"Is it a hatter zat you want?" she asked.
"No, no," the boy replied, "I just want to know if you are a milliner?"
The Frenchwoman, not at all enlightened by this explanation, answered:
"I do not make ze hats; I design zem, and ze ozzers make zem."
"Oh, I thought you were the proprietor," said Hamilton; "then you don't
own this place!"
"I am ze proprietor, but I do not own ze house," she said; "I pay ze
rent. But why you ask? I pay my rent!"
"Oh, of course," answered Hamilton, "but that has nothing to do with it.
I did not wish to trouble you that way. I come from the census, and
wanted to make sure that this was the place I was looking for."
"What is zat--ze census?"
"That is the way the government finds out about all the people in the
country," explained Hamilton, "their names and how old they are, what
they work at and how many people they employ, the wages they pay or are
paid, and all sorts of things."
The Frenchwoman's eyes had been getting bigger and rounder at every
sentence, and when Hamilton had finished, she said with an air of
"An' they tol' me zere was no police spy in America!"
"There isn't, so far as I know," the boy answered.
"I'm not a police spy," the boy said, a little nettled at being
"No? Zen zat is all ze more strange. In my country zose are ze questions
ze gendarmes ask. An' if you are not policeman, why do you wear badge?"
she queried, pointing to the little census shield on Hamilton's coat.
"That has nothing to do with the police," the boy insisted, "that's a
census badge. Madame," he added, "do I look like a policeman?"
The Frenchwoman, remembering the military appearance of the gendarmes
of her native land and the burly make-up of the American policeman,
shook her head.
"Perhaps you are disguise'?" she said, with a smile.
"No, I'm not disguised," Hamilton responded, "and the badge is just to
show that I have the right to ask you these questions."
"I do not know anyzing at all about it," the milliner objected, "but if
you say you have ze right!" she shrugged her shoulders and sat down.
Hamilton promptly picked up his portfolio, opened it on his knee, and
began to put some of the queries required. He got along well enough
while the formal questions about name, address, nature of work, and so
forth were in hand, but the question about the number of hours worked
during the year made the woman most indignant.
"What is ze good of a question like zat?" she asked. "What does it
matter if ze girls work all ze night to finish ze hat for ze gr-rand
occasion, ze wedding, ze garden party? When zey work more, zey get more
"Of course," said Hamilton diplomatically, "with such a number of
society people as you deal with that must happen very often."
It was a successful move. The Frenchwoman beamed on him.
"In ze season, yes, perhaps twenty or thirty evenings, but even zen ze
girl go home by twelve o'clock."
Hamilton smiled to himself as he did a little figuring and filled up the
schedule to show the prevailing practice followed in the establishment
during the year. He was a little dubious about asking the questions
concerning the wages paid, but he found no trouble.
"In your kind of work," he said, "I suppose the girls get good wages."
"Ze very best," the woman answered, and Hamilton found that this was
true. Indeed, so anxious was she to impress on him how much better were
the wages paid by her than those in other establishments that the boy
secured a large amount of unexpected valuable information. But he came
to a dead stop on the question of raw material used during the year. For
the material used in wholesale work the figures were easily secured, but
the retail trade was another matter. This the milliner really could not
give, for, as she pointed out, most of the few especial customers she
had, brought the materials to her to be made up, and she had no means
of knowing what had been paid for them. Nor would she even try to make
"But I must know," said Hamilton, in despair. "See for yourself,--here
it says that every factory must state the total cost of all material
used during the year and the value of the products."
"Factory!" the milliner jumped to her feet. "What you say--a factory!
Zis establishment a factory! And me, one of ze designers of ze great
Maison Chic in Paris! Zis is insult!"
For a moment Hamilton was amazed at the tempest he had so suddenly
evoked; then he tried to pacify the woman.
"That's just a general word," he said, "and it is used for every place
where things are made."
"No, no, no," she cried, "I know bezzer zan zat. A factory has chimney,
high, high, and smoke, an' nasty smells, an' machines. I have seen zem!"
"That's one kind of factory," answered the boy, "but it is only one
kind. But if you like we won't use the word at all."
This time, however, Hamilton's persuasions were of no avail. The
milliner had taken offense at the word "factory," and not another word
could the boy get out of her on any subject; the deadlock had become
absolute when the door opened and the maid showed in a young girl,
evidently a customer. The proprietress immediately greeted her in
voluble French, recounting as nearly as Hamilton could judge from her
gestures her sorrows and trials at the boy's hands.
As soon as there was a lull, Hamilton said to the newcomer:
"I beg your pardon, but since you seem to know French, would you mind
explaining to Madame what the census is? She seems to think I am a
police spy, or something."
"Oh, the census!" the girl exclaimed. "I could not make out what it was
all about. I thought it must be some question of taxes."
"No," Hamilton explained, "it is the Census of Manufactures, and
millinery places have to be counted. I got along all right, and have
finished my schedule but for one thing, and that I cannot get hold of.
If you would just ask her the cost of the materials in the hats she made
last year, I'll be through and then I won't be delaying you."
But not even the girl's fluent French could bring any light on this
subject, and laughingly she had to admit to the boy that her success
had been no greater than his own.
"I'll tell you," said Hamilton; "I've got an idea how we could get at
"How?" asked the girl interestedly, for having taken a part in it, she
was American enough to be unwilling to give up; "what have you to
suggest--what is your plan?"
"You are one of Madame's customers?"
"And, of course, whatever kind of books are kept here, there must be
some sort of ledger, so that your bills can go to you every month."
The girl made a little grimace.
"The bills certainly come," she assured him.
"Well, then," said Hamilton triumphantly, "if we can find out from
Madame what proportion of all her trade your account is, and if you can
make a guess as to what the material you have brought her cost you, we
shall come pretty close to being able to make an estimate on the cost of
goods of all her customers."
"That's an excellent scheme," the girl said. "I don't know that I can
give very exact figures, but you want just a rough idea?"
"I'd like it exact, of course," the boy answered, "but since that
doesn't seem easy to get, the next best thing is a close estimate."
With this device in mind, very few minutes elapsed before the required
information was secured, a rough guess made at the result, and the
schedule finally filled out. As Hamilton rose to go, the girl said
laughingly: "I think I should at least receive 'honorable mention' in
the dispatches as a census-taker, the same as soldiers do in war."
"Very well," said Hamilton, smiling in return, "I'll bear it in mind,"
and thanking her heartily, he went on his way, greatly relieved that the
difficulty was over.
In a piece of extra territory that Mr. Burns had assigned to the boy,
there were several factories in which there had been some difficulty in
securing properly filled schedules, partly because much of the work was
done on the night shift. Because of this, Hamilton had got in touch with
some of these factories--they were principally glass works--on the night
side first. He frequently found it necessary to work thus in the
evenings, especially after this added work, which was given him because
the district proved too large for the agent having it in charge.
Little by little he worked these down until but one remained, owned by
Germans, where the boy experienced great difficulty in securing any sort
of attention. The night superintendent, however, was ready to help, and
Hamilton went to him constantly in the endeavor to have the schedule for
that factory filled. This was the easier, as the night superintendent in
question had recently been promoted to that position from head
One night, waiting for the superintendent to work out these figures, he
sauntered through the works. A phrase from Edwin Markham's "The Hoe-Man
in the Making" kept ringing through his head. It ran as follows--"It is
in the glass-factory perhaps, that the child is pushed most hopelessly
under the blind hammer of greed," and the boy wondered whether this
especial works was one of those which the poet-author had visited. Owing
to the number of times Hamilton had been forced to go to this factory,
two or three of the men had come to know him by sight, and they nodded
now as he passed through. Noticing a boy that looked even younger than
himself,--for unconsciously his eye was seeking that of which he was
thinking,--he turned to one of the men who had nodded to him, and said
casually, and with an air of surprise:
"Why, that chap there doesn't look any older than me!"
"I don't suppose he is so very old," the man replied, "sixteen, maybe."
"Seems a shame to have to start in so young," Hamilton went on, with an
assumed air of carelessness, "and I suppose he's been here some years."
"Probably about four or five," was the reply.
"You know," continued Hamilton, in a conversational tone, "I should
think it would be hard for a boy to start in working like that, and at
The man paused in his work an instant, and looked at the lad, passing
his hand over his forehead as he did so.
"I was just ten years old when I began," he said. "I'm only thirty now.
I look fifty, don't I?"
"You certainly look over thirty," Hamilton admitted.
"Oh, I look fifty all right, I know that, and I'm as nearly played out
as a man of fifty. And it's all due to work when I was a youngster.
Every year that a boy is put to hard physical work before he is sixteen
is equal to five years taken off his life."
"I wonder that any employer does it, and that any State permits it,"
"There's not as much of it in Connecticut as in other States, although
the figures show that it is growing here," was the reply. "But you talk
as though you had been having a session with 'the crusader,'" the
"Who's the crusader?" asked Hamilton.
"Haven't you seen him, then? With your ideas, you ought to get along
well together. And," he added, more seriously, "'the crusader' will be
heard of yet."
"He's a boy who started at work in this place when he was only seven
years old," the workman answered. "He's been here eight years now, and
he's an odd genius. He taught himself to read and write, but he doesn't
read anything except about labor conditions all over the world, and he
knows all there is to know, I guess, about this business of children
working. All the labor union people and the socialists know 'the
crusader,' young as he is, and they send him, free, nearly every book
and paper that's published."
[Illustration: YOUNG BOYS FROM THE PIT. A group of workers in a coal
mine during dinner-time. Many even younger work on the night shift.
(_Courtesy of the Ridgway co._)]
"But why do you call him 'the crusader'?" asked Hamilton.
"Because he has some crusade idea on the brain,--thinks he can start a
revolution or something that will put a stop to child labor, and he
talks all the time of getting ready for this 'crusade' as he calls it.
But everybody likes him just the same, and he's a good worker--when he's
"Which is he?" asked Hamilton. "I'd like to talk to him, if I might."
"No reason why you shouldn't," the other answered "he's kept busy of
course, but there are minutes in which he can talk, and 'the crusader'
is given special favors, anyway. That's the boy, 'carrying in' over
Hamilton looked with interest at the boy thus pointed out. He would have
been noticeable, even without the knowledge of his peculiar position,
but with it, his difference from his fellows became most marked.
Hamilton had a couple of large apples in his pocket, and he thought this
might be a good opening. Taking one of them out of his pocket, he
started to eat it, and sauntered leisurely over to where the boy was
working. He watched him for a minute or two; then, when the boy looked
up, he said casually:
"Have an apple?"
Almost wolfishly the work-boy took the fruit from Hamilton and commenced
to devour it. It was clear either that he was hungry or that such a
luxury as an apple seldom fell to his lot. A few sentences passed, and
then Hamilton asked:
"How long have you been in the factory here?"
"Eight years," 'the crusader' replied.
"You must have been just a youngster when you first came, then?"
"Seven years old," was the answer, "and small at that!"
"It's a shame to let little children work like that, I think," said
Hamilton, wondering whether this would have the effect of rousing the
other, "it must do them harm."
But even though expecting some fiery retort, Hamilton was unprepared for
the transformation in the lad. A moment before he had been a stooped
childish figure with an old and weary face, carrying trays of hot glass
from furnace to bench and bench to furnace, but at the word he turned.
The air of weariness fell from him, his back straightened, life and
passion flamed into his eyes, and despite the grime and sordidness of
his surroundings, despite the rags in which he was clothed, under the
dull glow of the furnaces and the flickering violet play of a distant
arc light he seemed the bearer of some high message as his boyish
treble, rich in the tones of a familiar despair, rang through the
"The land is filled with the voice o' cryin'," he began, "an' no one
seems to hear. Tens o' thousands o' children cry themselves to sleep
every night, knowin' that the mornin' only brings another day o' misery.
Think of a little boy or girl o' ten years old, sufferin' already so
much that hope is gone, an' tired enough to die! There are twenty-five
thousand children less than ten years old in the fact'ries of America."
"Perhaps the people who could help don't know about it," suggested
"They know," the other continued, "but they don't care. They stop their
ears to the cryin' o' the children an' talk about America as the land of
opportunity. It _is_ the land of opportunity--opportunity for the
children to starve, opportunity to suffer, opportunity to die wretched
an' to be glad to die. There's no country in the world where children
are tortured as they are in the fact'ries of the United States."
"Oh, surely it can't be as bad as that," protested Hamilton.
The objection only increased the "crusader's" vehemence.
"There don't any children have to work anywhere as they do here," he
fairly shouted, "here where they rob the cradle for workers, where the
little voices become sad and bitter 'most as soon as they can lisp,
where the brightness o' childhood fades out before its time, an' where
its only world is the mill, the shop, an' the fact'ry. Their tiny bones
unset, they make them stand in one position all day long until you hear
the children moanin' hour after hour, moanin' and no one hears, or
"They send missionaries to China," cried the lad further, "but there's
no child labor there; they try to reform the 'unspeakable Turk' but
there's no atrocity upon the children there; they call the heathen lost,
though in the worst an' wildes' tribes the children have a home an'
lovin', if savage care; Russia cries shame on what goes on in our
fact'ries here, an' even an Indian chief that they were showin' the
sights of our great cities to, when asked what had surprised him most,
"You mean it is peculiar to America? That there is really more of it
here than in Europe?" asked Hamilton incredulously.
"More? There's none there like there is here. An' it's gettin' worse all
the time, worse this year than last year, worse last year than ten years
ago. 'Child-labor,' somebody says, 'has about it no halo of antiquity.
It is a thing of yesterday, a sudden toadstool in the infernal garden.'
It is all our own," he laughed harshly, "let us be proud of it."
"How many children did you say?" asked Hamilton tersely, staggered and
shocked by this statement of the facts of the case.
"Enough to sink the land in shame," the speaker declared. "There were a
trifle over a hundred thousand children between the ages of six and
fourteen workin' in the fact'ries of America last year. The figures
showed that over half of 'em were workin' more'n eight hours a day, that
a large percentage were workin' twelve to sixteen hours, an' twenty-two
thousand of 'em are at night work."
As he said the last words, the "crusader" hurried away in response to a
call from one of the men. He resumed his carrying in of the red-hot
bottles from the benches where the men had been molding them, to the
annealing oven, and for a time Hamilton watched him. The work was a
fearful strain. Sitting where he was, Hamilton could see all the way to
the annealing oven. Counting the number of steps the "crusader" had to
take, Hamilton found the distance to be about one hundred feet, and
watching another boy, who was working regularly, not intermittently as
was the city lad's new acquaintance, he found that seventy-two trips an
hour were made, making the distance covered in eight hours nearly
The red-hot bottles were carried in asbestos shovels, and these had to
be kept fairly straight, imposing a terrific strain upon the back. In
addition to this, the boys were compelled to face the furnace each time
they came back, passing from the heat of the melting oven, in front of a
draughty open door, to the heat of the annealing oven.
In order to keep up with the work, the boys had to run, for it could not
be done at a walk, and thus were alternately greatly overheated and
chilled with icy draughts.
Seeing that the "crusader" would be busy for a while, but wanting to
take the matter up with him further, Hamilton strolled over to where the
glass-blowers were working. This particular factory was turning out
cheap glass bottles, and there was little of the fascination that exists
in factories where high-grade glass is made into many curious shapes and
blown with great skill into marvelous thinness. In the middle of the
room was a large round furnace containing a number of small doors not
quite four feet from the ground, and a glass-blower was stationed before
each of these. With long iron blowpipes these men, by giving the
blowpipe a little twirl as they thrust it into the semi-molten metal,
drew out on the end of it a small mass of glass, of about the
consistency of nearly melted sealing wax, and holding this mass on the
end of the blowpipe by keeping it in motion, they blew it into balls and
rolled the ball of soft, red-hot glass on their rolling boards. Then
they lifted the blowpipe and blew again, sharp and hard, forcing the
soft glass to its proper form. The now cooling glass was broken from the
end of the blowpipe with a sharp, snapping sound, and the blowpipe was
plunged in the furnace again for another bottle. The whole had taken
but a few seconds.
"Why do they have so many boys around these places?" queried Hamilton of
the workman he had been watching.
"Have to, they say," the glass-blower replied, "cheap bottles mean cheap
labor. No one ever expects to pay anything for a bottle--that is thrown
in with everything liquid you buy. The manufacturer's got to make his
little profit somewhere an' in a cheap bottle he makes it by employin'
young boys cheap an' workin' 'em till they drop."
"Is it done this way everywhere?"
The workman shook his head.
"No need to do it even here," he said. "It takes money, though, to put
in an endless belt to carry the bottles to the annealin' oven. The big
fact'ries mostly have 'em, but there are plenty o' places like this in
small towns where everythin' is done on a cheap scale, an' a boy's labor
is about the cheapes' thing in the United States--unless it's a girl's."
Seeing that the glass-blower was being delayed in his task, Hamilton
sauntered away, and went back to the place where the "crusader" worked.
The latter broke out again as soon as he saw the boy coming.
"I've been talkin' to you about children workin'," he said, "but you
haven't thought of babies bein' made to work?"
"Of four an' five years old."
"But they couldn't do any real work!" exclaimed Hamilton.
"Do you know what one factory owner in the South said, not knowin' he
was talkin' to a member o' the child-labor commission? He said 'A kid
three year old can soon learn to straighten out tobacco leaves for
wrappers, and a little worker of four is good help in stripping.'"
"In a cigar factory?"
"Of course,--an' the children find it so hard to keep up that they are
taught to chew snuff--as a stimulant--before they are six year old. Jane
Addams, writin' o' the torture chambers they call cotton mills in parts
o' the South, said she saw on the night shift, with her teeth all
blackened and decayed from excessive snuff chewin', a little girl o'
five year old, busily and clumsily tyin' threads in coarse muslin, an'
answerin' a question she said she had been there every night throughout
the hot summer excep' two, when 'her legs and back wouldn't let her get
up.' An' what do you suppose the fact'ry owner did--send a physician?
No, he docked her the two days' wages for the time she'd been away ill,
an' another day's fine as a punishment."
"That's brutal!" cried Hamilton. "Didn't the parents protest?"
"The parents? That's where the mill-owners have their strongest help.
They threaten to discharge the parents if the children don't work an'
work hard, and they force the father or mother into whippin' the child
to compel it to stay at the loom. The whole country went to war once
over the question of a negro havin' to work under compulsion,--or at
least, that had quite a bit to do with the war,--but you can enslave
white children, you can starve 'em, you can shut 'em up in rooms without
air, you can surround 'em with dangerous machinery, you can force 'em to
be whipped, you can snatch 'em from their cradles in their homes, you
can snap your fingers at the schools, an' you can fill churchyards with
a worse Massacre o' the Innocents than history ever tells about, an' the
men and women of America don't care."
[Illustration: "I 'AIN'T SEEN DAYLIGHT FOR TWO YEARS." Trapper boy
working a twelve-hour day below ground, often too tired to go up in the
cage at the end of the day and sleeping on the ground beside the track.
(_Courtesy of the Ridgway Co._)]
"Oh, yes, they do," again protested Hamilton. "It must be that they
"How can they help but know? There are a few that have heard what Spargo
calls 'The Bitter Cry of the Children,' but those few are very few, an'
the misery an' shame goes on, gettin' worse with ev'ry year."
"What's going to be done?"
"The children will have to rescue the children," the boy cried. "If
men's hearts are cold and women's hearts are asleep, at least the boys
can hear. There's no power like a boy's, an' a boy will do anythin'
that's big and brave and worth the doin'. In a year from now I'm goin'
to start a crusade, like the Children's Crusade in hist'ry, an' march to
every mill an' fact'ry in the United States where a child is workin',
and make the owner sign a paper pledgin' himself not to employ a child
again. Give me an army of American boys an' I'll sweep the country like
a flight o' locusts."
"But who would join?"
"Every boy worth his salt. S'pose I came to you an' said 'In that mill
at the end o' your street, little children are bein' slaved and driven
to death because no one has the nerve to say what they think. We'll
rescue those children. Join us, we're five hundred strong!' Would you go
"Guess I'd have to join," the boy agreed, "but you'd get into all sorts
"Can I get into a worse trouble than any o' those babies have?" the
other asked indignantly. "What right have I to go on, even as I do,
knowin' how they are sufferin'. I don't care about trouble, I've had
nothin' else all my life. But if by gettin' into trouble myself, I could
get even one hollow-eyed shadow of a child to run about and play like
other folks, I'd be willin' to take anythin' that come after. I don't
see that carryin' bottles is goin' to help the world much, but if I can
carry hope an' health to some little boy or girl, I'm goin' to do it.
How, I don't know. But I ain't goin' to die without bein' able to
remember some poor child that's better off because lived."
"What can I do to help?" asked Hamilton eagerly and aggressively, as
though he expected instant marching orders to some distant factory.
"You can do somethin',--every boy can do somethin'. If nothin' else, you
can help to wake a sleepin' an' selfish nation. If the cryin' o' the
children has ever rung in your ears, it'll never stop till you're doin'
somethin' to help. Do you think I could dream every day, as I do, o'
that 'spectral army of pygmy people sucked in from the hills to dance
beside the crazing wheel' and not do somethin'?"
"Could I hear trampin' round me day an' night, the laggin' step of a
'gaunt goblin army that outwatches the sun by day an' the stars by
night, an' work an' sleep in peace? An' there's one thing more to say,
an' then I must go,--that there's a stain o' shame 'pon the honor of
America that'll never be wiped away until child labor is put down!"
Thoughtful and subdued in spirit, Hamilton strolled back to the night
superintendent's office, where he found the figures done at last and the
completed schedule awaiting him. He gratefully accepted the offer of a
cup of coffee, from some which had just been sent in, and sat down
beside the desk.
"I've been talking with the 'crusader,'" he remarked.
The night superintendent looked up interestedly.
"What do you think of him?" he asked, a little sharply, Hamilton
"I think there's no question about his being sincere," the boy answered,
"but I can hardly believe that the figures he gives and the facts he
talks about are true."
"They're true enough, I'm sorry to say," said the older man, sighing,
"but the 'crusader' usually isn't fair to the South. He blames the South
for the cotton mill horrors, when, as a matter of fact, a very large
proportion of the mills in which the worst conditions were found are
owned by New England capitalists. I'm a New Englander by birth myself,
'naughty-two' at Yale, but I'm able to see the mistakes of the North
just the same."
"I've always been taught that the North was more or less mixed up in
it," answered Hamilton. "It was shown to me a long time ago that the
slavery in the South wasn't started by the plantation owners. There were
no Southern vessels in the slave trade, they were all New England
skippers and New England bottoms. The shame of the slave traffic belongs
originally to the North."
"And now a large share of the child labor, too," the other agreed. "But
you've got to remember that it was the easy shiftlessness of the South
that made such conditions possible. I guess the blame is about even."
"But is nothing being done on this child-labor business?" asked
Hamilton. "I tried to find that out from the 'crusader' but he didn't
"Yes," said the superintendent heartily, "a great deal is being done.
The Bureau of the Census has been of immense service, and other bureaus
of the Department of Commerce and Labor are working on it, largely
through information gathered for them by the census. Then there have
been thorough Congressional investigations, and the States are being
checked up hard to insure that factory inspection shall be real, not
nominal. Don't let the 'crusader' persuade you that everybody is asleep
and that nothing is being done; the government is doing a good deal,
although the country as a whole is unaware of it."
"Yet it is increasing?"
"In spite of all that is done to prevent it, it is increasing," the
other said quietly, "that is the sad part. If it could be thought of as
a passing thing, it would be bad enough, but to know that every month
hundreds of children die from enforced labor and that greater numbers
fill their places, is a sad reflection on the industrial life of
"Well, as the South progresses, that will probably take care of itself,
won't it?" queried the boy.
The superintendent looked at him curiously.
"I think you told me last evening that you were a New York boy," he
"Yes, Mr. Wharton," answered Hamilton.
"I suppose you consider New York a fairly progressive city?"
"Greatest on earth!" affirmed the boy in true Gotham style.
"Yet that same progressive city," the older man declared, "is the
headquarters of several forms of industry in which large percentages of
the workers are children under fourteen years of age."
"What kinds of business can those be?" asked Hamilton in surprise.
"Making ostrich plumes and artificial flowers. It's not factory labor,
of course, but that doesn't alter the point that at least half the
output of artificial flowers is made by the cramped fingers of children,
generally after school and far into the night. They are not officially
reported, of course, but less than twenty per cent is done by men. The
disgraceful fact that the New York schools are so crowded that many of
them can only give 'half-time' to the children and consequently teach
them in two sections is a great help to the sweat-shop managers. But
every city has its own share of this child labor in the homes, although
in some of the smaller places, civic associations and municipalities
have taken the matter in hand with considerable success. Even that is
but a drop in the ocean."
"Your 'crusader' will have to lead his crusade then, it seems," the boy
"Poor lad!" sighed the superintendent.
"Why?" asked Hamilton.
"He will never lead that crusade," the older man replied pensively.
The man tapped his chest significantly.
"He is incurably ill," he said, "partly glass-blowers' disease from
breathing the particles of glass dust. Men don't mind it so much, but it
is fatal to children when the lungs are not yet strong. We keep the
'crusader' here in order to help him as much as we can, although he
gives a lot of trouble in the works with his revolutionary theories. I
haven't the heart to send him away; he couldn't get other work, and
being all alone in the world, he might starve."
"That he will not live six months. That army of boys of which he speaks
so often will never go on the march, the banners he has designed for it
will wave over no other battalions than those he has seen in dreams, and
the drums will sound the final 'taps' for him before they roll for the
advance. And in that sleep, the cries of the children shall all be happy
[Illustration: EIGHT YEARS OLD AND "TIRED OF WORKING." Boy in Southern
cotton mill who has been employed "two summers and a winter before
"DON'T DEPORT MY OLD MOTHER!"
The "crusader's" talk on the child-labor question set Hamilton's mind
working, and as soon as he got back to Washington and was busy
tabulating the manufacturing statistics which had been gathered and sent
in, he tried to learn something about the employment of children. He
chanced to meet one of the photographers who had been with the
Congressional commission, and the tales this man told were even more
detailed. Hamilton found that the figures quoted had not been
overstated, and he determined that just as soon as he grew old enough he
would do all he could toward correcting this abuse.
But Hamilton found the actual statistical work not a little tedious,
although it was work which usually he enjoyed, and this sense of the
time dragging was largely due to the fact that the boy had not heard a
word about his being considered in line for the population work. It was
therefore a considerable relief to him when Mr. Burns said to him
suddenly one morning:
"So you're going over to the population side, I hear?"
"Am I? I didn't know," Hamilton replied. "I had wanted to go, but not
hearing anything about it, I was afraid the plan had been shelved."
"The Director told me this morning that you were going to be
"The Director himself?"
"Yes. I had a talk with him about the figures for the manufactures of
the New England States, and we happened to mention you; he knew your
name, so I told him that your schedules had averaged six and a third per
cent better than those of any one else in that section. So he said,
'That reminds me, I had almost forgotten that I had decided to put Noble
on the population work. I'll see that arrangements for that transfer are
made,' and he scribbled something on a pad."
"That was awfully kind of you, Mr. Burns," said Hamilton, "to mention me
to the Director in that way."
The statistician looked at him curiously.
"I wasn't dealing in kindness," he said dryly, "I was dealing in
percentages. If that turned out well for you, it is yourself you have
to thank, not me. I merely stated the figures, and they read in your
The boy laughed outright.
"I believe, Mr. Burns," he said, "that you would more easily forgive a
man who attacked you personally than one who gave you an incorrect list
"Certainly I would," the statistician replied. "I could hit back in the
first case, but in the second who can tell how far I might be led
"Well," the boy answered, "I'm glad at any rate that my figures tallied
up all right."
"I don't want to seem inquisitive," said the older man, "but when did
you get in the population examination?"
"There was some talk of my being accepted without going through the
exam," said Hamilton, "because of the fact that I was doing census work
of a more difficult character already, but I thought I would rather feel
that everything had been done in the usual manner. I took the exam at
New Haven, one afternoon."
"But are you going to do the population work there?"
"No, Mr. Burns," the boy explained. "The Director wrote to me that I
would be allowed to send in a formal application in the regular way
through the supervisor of the enumeration district to which I had asked
to be assigned. The supervisor of that district had said beforehand that
he would be willing to appoint me, as the section was so sparse that
enough qualified enumerators were hard to get."
"Well, where are you going, then?"
"I don't know, for sure yet, of course," the boy explained, "whether
everything will go through as planned, but if so, I shall be going to
"In the mountains where you had been visiting?"
"Oh, no," the boy answered, "in another part of the State
entirely,--down toward the black belt of Kentucky."
"Kentucky isn't a black belt State," his friend objected.
"No, Mr. Burns, but there are parts where the negroes are tolerably
thickly settled. The supervisor is a friend of my older brother, and he
says that is an interesting part of the country."
"But can a Board of Examiners in one district look over the papers for
the supervisor of another district?"
"No, sir," explained the boy, "but they can allow the examination to be
taken before them and have the papers sent to the supervisor of the
other district. It was a little irregular, I suppose, but the Director
knew all about it and it was for the good of the census, he thought, as
he had been told there were not enough enumerators in the district to
which I hoped to go."
"Well," the statistician replied, "if you're headed for Kentucky I
should think you'd like to see your folks before going."
"I had planned to go up on Saturday afternoon," Hamilton said. "I can
get to New York by evening and spend Saturday night and all day Sunday
there, catching the midnight train back. It brings me in early enough
for office hours."
"And this is Friday," said the other thoughtfully. "I'll tell you what
to do. I can arrange for you to be off Saturday morning; it is only a
half day, and you can catch the first train out after business hours
"That would be bully!"
"I estimate," the statistician said, rapidly dotting down some figures
on a pad, "that the fractions of overtime you have worked recently,
cumulatively considered, enable me to do that fairly, so that you've
"That's fine," said Hamilton, "for the family is going to Europe for the
summer, and I shouldn't see any of them at all unless I ran up to New
The older man nodded his confirmation of the suggested arrangement, and
returned to his figures. During the noon hour Hamilton hurriedly packed
a grip, and was back at the office without a minute lost, for he found a
train leaving at a most advantageous hour, and by calling a taxi he was
just able to catch it.
At breakfast the following morning, the conversation turned upon
immigration, and Hamilton read in a newspaper the statement that two
large liners were in New York harbor and would dock that morning, that
each carried a record passenger list of immigrants, and that Ellis
Island was making preparations for a busy day.
"I've never seen Ellis Island," the boy announced "Father, do you know
if visitors are allowed over there?"
"I'm fairly sure of it," his father replied, "but in any case there
ought to be no trouble for you, since the Bureau of the Census is a
part of the Department of Commerce and Labor, just as is the Bureau of
"I think I'd like to go."
"I think you ought to go," his father said. "Taking up the population
business, you ought to try to get hold of all the information you can,
ahead of time. I have been there several times, on business, and it is a
most interesting place."
Accordingly, the eleven o'clock boat from the Barge Office, New York,--a
pier near Castle Garden, the historic immigration station,--carried
Hamilton to the famous Ellis Island. Preferring his request, the lad
speedily found himself in the presence of the Commissioner. He stated
his wants briefly.
"Mr. Commissioner," he said, "I'm an assistant agent of the Census
Bureau in Washington, and I'm just going to my station as an enumerator
for the population. I have two days in New York and I'd like to learn
how things are done on the Island here. May I have a pass?"
The Commissioner answered briefly.
"Read this," he said, taking a sheaf of manuscript out of the drawer of
his desk, "and here's a short review for the use of visitors, and I'll
send you in to the Chief Clerk to get a pass, and if there's anything
more you want, let me know." He touched a bell. "Show this gentleman to
Mr. Tuckman, and let him be given a special pass," he said,--and
Hamilton was ushered out promptly, thinking as he went that this was
evidently one place where time was not wasted.
The Chief Clerk was equally ready to assist the lad, and armed with his
special pass he started round the building, finding himself practically
free of the island. Hamilton possessed the capacity of making friends
readily, and with his alert manner and direct appeal, he usually secured
attention. Walking sharply through the place he soon found himself down
in what was called the Information Division. For the moment one of the
clerks was not busy, and Hamilton, stepping up to him, began to ply him
with questions. A tall young fellow, who was standing nearby, listened
for a few moments, then turned to Hamilton.
"See here," he said, "you can't learn much about Ellis Island just by
asking questions, you've got to go around and see for yourself."
"That's just what I propose doing," Hamilton answered, "but I thought it
wouldn't be such a bad plan to get an idea of things first, and then I
should understand what I saw. There's not much use in watching things
unless you understand just what's going on. I have some knowledge of it,
of course, because the Commissioner gave me some reading matter to look
over, and I've got a special pass, so that I want to make the best use
"Suppose you come along with me, then," said his new acquaintance, who
was none other than the Chief of the Information Division, "and I'll
show you round myself as far as I can spare the time. It so happens that
there are a lot of scattering things I want to look after through the
building to-day, and if you don't mind my leaving you alone, once in a
while, I'll take you through systematically. Where do you want to
"Right at the very start," rejoined Hamilton "I always think the
beginning is the most important part, and I'd hate to lose any of it."
"All right," said his conductor good-humoredly; "if you want it all, you
shall have it. I notice, too," he said, as they walked along the hall
and out of the door to the well-kept lawns that stretch between the main
building and the sea wall, "that you're in good time, for there's a
barge just pulling in."
"The barge is from one of the liners that came in this morning, I
suppose?" queried the lad.
"Yes, one of the Hamburg boats," his guide replied.
"Are those barges run by the immigration authorities?"
"No," was the answer, "those are owned or managed by the steamboat
companies. They bring all the steerage passengers who can't show that
they are citizens, and all the cabin passengers who are being detained."
"Cabin passengers," echoed Hamilton in surprise; "I didn't think any
cabin passengers came to Ellis Island. All second cabin, I suppose?"
"Not a bit of it," answered the immigration official; "there's quite a
sprinkling of first-class passengers as well. Why, during a period of
three months recently, nearly three thousand cabin passengers were
detained on the island here, and I suppose twenty per cent of them had
come over in the first-class saloon."
"But why should any first-class passengers be stopped and shipped to
Ellis Island?" queried the boy. "I don't understand. I thought Ellis
Island was to keep out people who were paupers, or diseased, or were
[Illustration: THE BIGGEST LINER IN THE WORLD COMING IN. Ocean steamship
with thousands of immigrants on board entering New York harbor; the
Statue of Liberty in the distance. (_Brown Bros._)]
"That's just exactly what it is for," the other replied, "but the United
States government doesn't think that having money enough to pay for a
first-class passage makes every man a desirable citizen! A first-class
berth is no insurance against an incurable disease, for example, and
there's nothing to prevent a criminal from coming over in the first
cabin." He laughed. "Most of them do, I think," he said.
"It really never appealed to me just that way," the boy remarked; "I
supposed always that first-class passengers went right through if they
"That would mix things up," the older man said. "Why, in that case we
should have all the mentally deficient, all the paupers, and all the
freaks landing here in shoals. Any group of friends, or any government,
for that matter, would find it cheap and easy to dump all the public
charges of Europe on our shores for the price of a first-class ticket.
Oh, no, that would never do. Once in a while, you hear passengers on the
big liners complaining of the inquiries made before they land, but it's
got to be done. You can see for yourself what would happen if we
"But if they bring plenty of money, they would not become public
"No, and we can't exclude them on that ground. But money, for example,
has nothing to do with crime or anarchism or things of that sort. I tell
you, there's a big slice of our work done before ever a vessel reaches
her dock at a New York pier. Of course, problems do come up nearly every
day, such as circus freaks, for instance."
"You mean the living skeleton, the tattooed lady, the fat baby, the
giant, and so forth?" asked Hamilton.
"Exactly. Are those people to be considered desirable citizens, or not?
There is no question as to their inability to make a living by any
customary kind of work, but on the other hand it is very difficult to
prove that they could not get good money at a sideshow. If, however,
they are able to show that they have been engaged in Europe by an
American circus manager, they can come under the alien contract labor
"Then this string of people," said Hamilton, pointing to those who had
just been unloaded from the barge, "may be from all classes of the
"They might be," his guide replied, "but the chances are that they are
all steerage. Cabin passengers that are detained usually come on the
last boat, with the inspector. We have quarters here with a little more
privacy for them, and they are kept together. But now watch this line.
Suppose we go this way," and stepping over a low iron railing, the
official, followed by Hamilton, walked briskly up beside the line. A few
yards from the door of the building, this line of people passed into a
long barred lane. At the entrance of this stood an inspector who checked
off the large ticket each immigrant had pinned on him to show his
identity, in order to prevent confusion further on. Passing before the
inspector at brief but regularly measured intervals, the immigrants
walked one by one up this barred lane to where it made a right angle.
"There's the first inspecting doctor," said Hamilton's conductor,
pointing to a man standing just at the angle and watching carefully each
immigrant as he walked up. After a moment Hamilton turned to his
companion in surprise:
"But he isn't doing anything!" he said.
"Doctor," said the chief of the division, with a laugh, "I am afraid we
shall have to investigate this matter. Here is a lad who says that
you're doing nothing. He's watched you for a couple of minutes and you
haven't made a move."
Hamilton began to protest, but the big doctor only laughed in reply,
without taking his eyes, however, from the procession of figures which
one by one walked up to him and made the turn round the angle.
"If he'll wait a minute or two more," he said, "perhaps I'll have a
chance to do something, and save my reputation."
There was a pause; then the doctor continued:
"I think there's something doing now; watch this man coming up."
"He seems to limp just the merest trifle, that's all I can see," the boy
"Bone disease of some kind, or maybe joint," the doctor said,
"tuberculous hip, like as not," and as the man passed by he leaned
forward and chalked a big "B" on the shoulder of his coat. "'B' for
Bones," the doctor explained to Hamilton.
"What will happen to him?" asked the boy of the immigration official.
"Because of that mark?"
"It simply means that he will be held for 'special inquiry.' He may be
all right, but before he is passed, he will have to be examined
physically--a thorough physical examination, I mean. Now here, you see,
is another doctor."
Eight or ten yards further on stood another man, all in white as the
first had been, who took up the inspection where the judge of bone
malformations had left off. A sunken chest, he explained to Hamilton, a
hectic flush, a pinched nostril, an evident difficulty in breathing, a
certain carriage of the head, a blueness of the lips, certain types of
pallor, all these and a number of little points which experience had
shown to be symptoms of organic disease his trained eye could detect at
a glance, and he, too, every few minutes, stooped forward and chalked
upon the coat of the man or the blouse of the woman, as the case might
be, a letter which told of a suspected disease.
"I suppose I ought not to say anything," said Hamilton, "but that looks
a little 'hit-or-miss' to me. It's hard on an immigrant to be detained
on the basis of a medical examination that barely takes ten seconds."
"If that were all," said the official, smiling, "it surely would be a
hardship. But you don't quite get the point. All these passengers really
are detained, and this arrangement is only a way to render the detention
shorter by letting those go through unchecked who do not need further
examination. This is not to delay the suspects, but to cause less
trouble to the others. Here, however is where most of them get stopped."
He pointed to another doctor, standing close to the last, who examined
the eyes quickly and deftly (principally for a chronic and contagious
disease called "trachoma"), scrupulously cleansing fingers and
instrument between each immigrant.
Passing the eye doctors the immigrants came to an inspector who stood at
a place where a large grating was built midway in the passage, dividing
it into two parts. All those who had been marked by any of the doctors,
and, in the cases of families, all those in the party of any one so
marked, passed up the right hand passage which led to the Special
Inquiry; the others were guided to the left hand side of the grating,
which led directly into the main primary inspection room.
"Do you suppose they understand anything of the meaning of that
division," asked Hamilton, "why some go on this side and some on the
"They don't at all," was the reply. "You will notice that there are no
signs up, and that no attempt is made--at this point--to talk to the
immigrant or to try to make him understand anything. Then, too, since
all the members of a family or party are kept together, there is no
reason why they should make a disturbance. They simply go where they are
sent. If we separated the families, sending some on one side and some on
the other, then there would be trouble!"
"That's true," said Hamilton, "in many cases they couldn't read the
signs, and they don't know at all what the doctors' marks mean."
"Exactly, and once past the inspector, there is no getting out or coming
back, for the two passages lead directly into two series of rooms from
which there is no outlet except in a given direction."
"But the others who are all right,--where do they go?" asked the boy.
"They're not safe yet," his conductor answered "They have only passed a
preliminary looking over. All that this first group of doctors does,
remember, is to detect the questionable or to pass the obviously
unquestionable--whichever way you like to put it, and thus avoid delay
in the primary inspection room."
"Which group are we going to see first?"
"Those who have been passed," was the reply, "because most of them will
go right out, and you can follow that more easily."
Going up the stairs, Hamilton found himself in an immense room all
divided up into little lanes by bars and gratings. Each of these lanes
bore a large number suspended over its entrance, corresponding to the
number of one of the manifest sheets of the vessel, and likewise to the
number pinned on the clothing of every immigrant while he was still on
the vessel, when his name was tallied with the manifest sheet.
"I see the reason of those numbers they have pinned on them now," said
Hamilton, "it's all the same principle, to avoid talk and questioning."
"Certainly," his friend said, "and if you look a little closely, you
will see that in addition to the big number on the card that is pinned
on, there is also a smaller number."
"I had noticed that," Hamilton answered, "and I was going to ask you
what it was for."
"That is the number of the name on the manifest sheet," the other
replied. "Thus, for example if Giordano Bruno is the tenth name on the
seventh manifest sheet, this man at the top of the stairs will guide him
into aisle number seven. Then, when his turn comes and he has moved up
to the desk at the end of the line, the inspector doesn't have to waste
time questioning him, and finding the place on the manifest sheet. He
looks at the number, runs his finger down to the tenth name, and has him
"It's a great system," said Hamilton admiringly.
"Why you're right at the start of it," said the official with a laugh;
"wait till you get further on, if you want to find system."
"Here I see, too, the questioning begins," remarked Hamilton.
"Yes, some of the inspectors at the desk know several languages, and
they are assisted by interpreters when necessary. They hold a
responsible position, because they can decide to let an alien land. You
see they ask the immigrant the same questions that are on the manifest
sheet. If the answers tally all the way through, if the man understands
and gives an apparently straight story, if he has a sufficiency of funds
to keep him until he has a chance to get work, and especially if he has
already a railroad ticket to friends at some inland point, he is given a
blue ticket and allowed to pass directly through to the right into the
railroad waiting rooms."
"But if he hasn't?"
"Then he goes down this passage which leads again to the special inquiry
rooms where you saw the others going. He is given a different colored
ticket, in accordance with the expected objection. You see, the
inspector does not attempt to pass upon the merits of the case. He just
affirms that the passenger has not made his title clear. Just as before,
the aim is to enable the desirable immigrant to land as quickly and
easily as possible. Supposing there were no crowd, an immigrant could
land on the wharf, be looked over by the doctors, pass through the
primary inspection, answer all questions, and be in the railroad waiting
rooms ready for his train in less than four minutes. That's not much of
"It certainly isn't," Hamilton agreed. "And I notice that most of them
seem entitled to land."
"That varies a great deal," his guide said. "I think it averages about
ninety per cent. In a few ships, especially those handling little of
the Continental traffic, those held for special inquiry drop as low as
five per cent, while for the vessels bringing immigrants from southern
and eastern Europe, the proportion held will rise to nearly one-third of
the entire passenger list."
"All right," said Hamilton in a satisfied tone, "I guess I have that
straight. But I notice there is a third stream of people. One, you say,
is going to the railroad waiting rooms, one down to special inquiry, but
how about the third?"
"That's the 'temporary detention' group. I'll take you there in a
minute, but let us finish up with the man who is to be admitted. Here is
the railroad waiting room."
A few feet further on Hamilton found an immense room, like a railroad
ticket office, where tickets could be bought for any railroad or
steamship route to any point in the United States or Canada. A
money-changing booth was in the place, where foreign money could be
turned into United States currency at the exact quotation for the day,
even down to the fractions of a cent.
"Why are they pinning on more tickets?" asked Hamilton. "I thought when
they took off the tickets upstairs that would be the end of it."
"That also is to make it easier for them," the other said. "Most of
these people are poor, and we try to make traveling as cheap for them as
possible. Nearly all the railroads run one train each day that carries
special cars for the immigrant service. They give, accordingly, a
cheaper rate to the government. Supposing, for example, that the regular
number of the Lehigh Valley train was always numbered '9,' then every
man who purchased a ticket for a point on the Lehigh Valley would be
given the ticket '9.' Then, when the boat that was taking the passengers
for Lehigh Valley points left Ellis Island, all the 9's would be
gathered together and no one would be left behind."
"Nothing seems to have been forgotten," said Hamilton, "even food, for I
see there's a big counter over there."
"That's quite a thing, too," the other said. "A man can get two days'
food, six meals, for a dollar, or a little over sixteen cents a meal."
"And what in the wide world can he buy for that price?" exclaimed the
"Here's a sample of the contents of one box," the other said; "read it,
it tells you what there is. 'Four loaves of bread, two pounds of cooked
beans, twelve ounces of sausage, one can of beef, one can of sardines,
six ham sandwiches, three pies, and four oranges.' I'm sure you wouldn't
starve on that."
"No," said Hamilton, "I think I could get along if I ate it all. But why
is it that most of the immigrants here are men? Have the women been lost
in the shuffle?"
The immigration official laughed.
"They're not lost," he said, "most of the women pass through the
'temporary detention' rooms. We're going to visit there now. Of course
there are some women who will be able to take the train directly, but we
try to see that they go with some one, or that their being met is
assured. The tickets pinned on them are not given until an inspector has
seen their railroad tickets, and they do not land in New York streets at
all. A boat takes each group to the railroad pier, and they are escorted
to the train by an inspector, who places them in charge of the conductor
who is responsible for their arrival at their destination. Nearly all go
West or South and start from the Jersey side. It is an entirely
different matter with women and children who want to land in New York
City. In every case they are detained until called for by some relative.
And that relative has to prove to us that he really is the relative in
"How do they meet?"
"I'll show you right now. In this room," he continued, entering another
large waiting room, "are all the people 'temporarily detained.' Most of
them will he released shortly. If you listen you can hear just how it is
done, because that clerk who has just come in has a list."
As he spoke a young fellow stepped forward and read a list of nine
names. Seven of the nine were in the room and came to the front, the
clerk ticking off their names on the sheet.
"Can we go on?" asked Hamilton. "I would like to see just how this
"All right," responded his guide, smiling at the boy's eagerness, "go
As they reached the next room, Hamilton saw the clerk ushering the seven
immigrants behind a grating. Outside the grate was a narrow open space
and then a desk. On the farther side of the desk the friends of the
seven in question were waiting. There was one lad, just about his own
age, among the friends, and Hamilton waited curiously to see whom he was
to meet. Among the immigrants was a sweet-faced old Frenchwoman, and
Hamilton hoped that she might be the lad's relative. As it chanced, this
boy was the first to come up.
[Illustration: IMMIGRATION STATION, ELLIS ISLAND. The greatest center of
racial activity in the world, where a million aliens yearly pass through
to American citizenship. (_Courtesy of U.S. Immigration Station, Ellis
"For whom are you calling?" he was asked.
The young lad answered clearly and promptly, and the clerk nodded
approvingly as the questions proceeded.
"You say you have an older brother," the clerk said, "and the two of you
are able to keep your grandmother?"
"Yes, indeed, sir," was the reply.
"You are young to have come. Why didn't your brother come instead?"
"He has been a waiter in a French hotel," answered the boy, "and has not
learned much English He asked me to come."
A few short, sharp queries established the relationship without question
and the boy was released from the desk. The door in the grating was
opened, and to Hamilton's delight it was the old Frenchwoman who came
out. After a most affectionate greeting, they went off together, the boy
coming back to thank the clerk profusely, with true French courtesy.
"I suppose all that is necessary," said Hamilton "but I'll admit I don't
see why. No one would be likely to call for some one else's
"We want to be sure that women who land here are really with their own
people," said the official, evading a more direct statement, "and
sometimes if the chief of the 'temporary detention' work is not
satisfied, the immigrant is sent back to 'special inquiry.'"
"How long are they detained?"
"Nearly all go out the same day. A few, however, have to telegraph for
their friends to meet them, and we look after that on their behalf. They
are never temporarily detained over five days, except in the case where
a child has been held in quarantine and some member of the family has to
remain until the patient is released in order to take charge of him.
That covers, you see, all those who come here except the 'special
"May I see those?" asked Hamilton.
"That's not so easy," his friend replied, "and you wouldn't get much out
of it. They are handled, one by one, in Courts of Special Inquiry, each
court consisting of three inspectors, an interpreter, and a
stenographer, while doctors are always on call. Special Inquiry,
remember, does not mean that there is any reason for excluding the
immigrant, merely that his inclusion is not self-evident. In most cases,
answers to a few questions settle all difficulties, and the decisions to
exclude are rare. In doubtful cases, a Court of Special Inquiry takes
great pains to investigate the whole condition closely. When a decision
to exclude is reached, the immigrant is given an opportunity to 'appeal'
to the Commissioner, and these appeals vary from fifteen to seventy a
day. Further appeals may be taken in rare cases."
"And when all appeals are lost?"
"Then the immigrant must be deported at the expense of the steamship
company that brought him."
"What are the usual grounds for deportation?" asked Hamilton.
"Principally persons of unsound mind, insane, diseased, paupers likely
to become a public charge, criminals, anarchists, contract laborers, and
those who by physical defect are unable to make a living."
"It seems to me that you go to a great deal of trouble here," Hamilton
said, "and it must be a big expense keeping and looking after such a mob
"We don't pay for their keep," the official answered; "we make the
steamship companies do that. They are expected to bring desirable, not
undesirable immigrants here, and if they bring people whom we cannot
accept, they must take the consequences and bear the expense of
deporting them. Our deporting division looks after that, and it is one
of the hardest parts of our work. We've a pathetic case there now."
"You mean that Bridget Mahoney case," said an inspector, who had just
stepped up. "I beg your pardon for interrupting, but I was just going to
ask you to come and see about that case. There are some new
"I'll go right in," said Hamilton's guide interestedly. "I think you
might come along, too," he added, turning to the boy.
"Who is Bridget Mahoney?" Hamilton asked. "That's a good old Irish
"And she's a good old Irish soul," the other answered. "She landed here
about three weeks ago, fully expecting her son to meet her, but during
the five days when she was in temporary detention he failed to show up."
"But why didn't you telegraph to the son?" asked Hamilton, who was
beginning to feel as though he knew all the ropes.
"We couldn't find his right address."
"Was he a traveling man?"
"It wasn't that. The woman said she knew he lived in a town called
Johnson, or Johnston, or something like that, but she didn't know in
what State. Now there are nearly forty post-offices with that name in
America, and we sent telegrams or letters to every one of these. But we
never received a definite reply."
"Well, if she's all right, as you say she is," said Hamilton, "why can't
she land and wait until her son is reached?"
"Bridget's over seventy," the chief replied, "and not very strong; she'd
be a public charge, sure."
"And yet she's all right?"
"Oh, perfectly," he said as soon as they reached the building.
"We got this telegram yesterday and I took it to your office this
morning," the newcomer answered, "to talk it over with you, but you
The chief of the Information Division glanced at the telegram and then
turned it over to Hamilton.
"Read that," he said. "That's the way it came, without signature or
Hamilton read it eagerly, and as soon as he had finished, "that's from
Bridget Mahoney's son," he announced, with as absolute assurance as
though it had been signed.
The deportation official looked up in surprise, but Hamilton's guide
made a hasty explanatory introduction.
"We should like to be as sure as you are," said the deportation chief,
"although I think we all rather hope it is from him. But you see it
isn't dated Johnstown or anything like that, and it isn't signed. Just
simply the words:
"If you notice," he continued, "it comes from away out West, and it
might apply to any one of thousands of cases. 'My Old Mother' might have
been deported weeks ago."
"But this is yesterday's wire," Hamilton's friend interjected, "you said
there were new developments in the case."
"There are," Farrell replied, drawing another telegram out of his
pocket. "This one came this morning, and it's just about as intelligent
as the one you have. Notice, though, that it's dated from Chicago early
"What does it say?" burst out Hamilton, too eager to wait until it was
"It's very short," was the answer, "it just reads:
"Unsigned, just as before."
"It must be from the same person," Hamilton suggested.
"I think there's little doubt of that," the deportation chief agreed.
"Whoever sent it must be traveling fast," the boy remarked, "that last
one was from Montana."
"I've been doing my best to persuade myself that I have the right to
keep Bridget longer. Twice I've begged an extra stay from the
Commissioner, and he's been willing to consent, but he thinks she's got
to go back now. There's really no valid reason that I can give against
As they walked toward the desk in the deporting division, one of the
clerks called the chief. He came back a moment or two later with a
telegram in his hand.
"A third one," he said, "it must have come while I was out at lunch. The
same person wrote all three, for this is almost the same as the first;
"Where's it dated from?" asked the boy.
"I hadn't noticed," the deportation chief replied. "Oh, yes, why it's
"That's pretty near here!" Hamilton said excitedly. "Oh, Mr. Farrell,
what time was that sent?"
"Quarter to twelve."
"Whoever sent it ought to be here by now! Mr. Farrell, I'm just as sure
as can be that is from Bridget Mahoney's son."
"If it is, he may reach here in time," the other answered, "but it will
mean a great deal of trouble, because the boat sails early in the
morning long before the office here is open, and the deported aliens go
on board to-night. Indeed they are going now---if they haven't gone."
"And Bridget with them?"
"Yes, I'm sorry to say Bridget is with them." He strolled to the
window. "No," he continued, "they haven't gone yet, but they will in a
"Could I see her before she goes?"
"Just to cheer her up a bit," pleaded the boy.
The two men looked at each other, and Hamilton's new acquaintance
"You won't say anything about these telegrams," the chief warned him.
"No--very well," said Hamilton, "but it seems a shame that she doesn't
The three passed through the door to the yard beside the lawns, and
there Hamilton encountered one of the most desolate groups he had ever
seen, sitting and standing in all attitudes of dejection. Among them was
a little old lady with snow-white hair, walking with a stick, but
clear-eyed and brisk-looking.
"You're Mrs. Mahoney?" the boy asked.
"I'm Bridget Mahoney, young masther," the old Irishwoman answered, "at
your service, sorr."
"I hear you haven't found your son yet," Hamilton said; "did you write
to him before you left the old country?"
"I did, dear, but I intoirely disremember what I did wid the letther. I
know I intinded to give it to Mickey O'Murry, but I'll niver tell ye
whether I did give it to him, an' if I did, there's no knowin' av he
posted it. 'Tis a difficult thing to remember, this letther-postin' and
maybe he forgot."
"But what did you write on the envelope? Can't you remember what you