Part 10 out of 12
"Yes, keep him out of it," cried Annixter from his position at
the extreme end of the line. "Go back to Hooven's house, Pres,
and look after the horses," he added. "This is no business of
yours. And keep the road behind us clear. Don't let ANY ONE
come near, not ANY ONE, understand?"
Presley withdrew, leading the buckskin and the horses that
Gethings and Cutter had ridden. He fastened them under the great
live oak and then came out and stood in the road in front of the
house to watch what was going on.
In the ditch, shoulder deep, the Leaguers, ready, watchful,
waited in silence, their eyes fixed on the white shimmer of the
road leading to Guadalajara.
"Where's Hooven?" enquired Cutter.
"I don't know," Osterman replied. "He was out watching the Lower
Road with Harran Derrick. Oh, Harran," he called, "isn't Hooven
"I don't know what he is waiting for," answered Harran. "He was
to have come in just after me. He thought maybe the marshal's
party might make a feint in this direction, then go around by the
Upper Road, after all. He wanted to watch them a little longer.
But he ought to be here now."
"Think he'll take a shot at them on his own account?"
"Oh, no, he wouldn't do that."
"Maybe they took him prisoner."
"Well, that's to be thought of, too."
Suddenly there was a cry. Around the bend of the road in front
of them came a cloud of dust. From it emerged a horse's head.
"Hello, hello, there's something."
"Remember, we are not to fire first."
"Perhaps that's Hooven; I can't see. Is it? There only seems to
be one horse."
"Too much dust for one horse."
Annixter, who had taken his field glasses from Harran, adjusted
them to his eyes.
"That's not them," he announced presently, "nor Hooven either.
That's a cart." Then after another moment, he added, "The
butcher's cart from Guadalajara."
The tension was relaxed. The men drew long breaths, settling
back in their places.
"Do we let him go on, Governor?"
"The bridge is down. He can't go by and we must not let him go
back. We shall have to detain him and question him. I wonder
the marshal let him pass."
The cart approached at a lively trot.
"Anybody else in that cart, Mr. Annixter?" asked Magnus. "Look
carefully. It may be a ruse. It is strange the marshal should
have let him pass."
The Leaguers roused themselves again. Osterman laid his hand on
"No," called Annixter, in another instant, "no, there's only one
man in it."
The cart came up, and Cutter and Phelps, clambering from the
ditch, stopped it as it arrived in front of the party.
"Hey--what--what?" exclaimed the young butcher, pulling up. "Is
that bridge broke?"
But at the idea of being held, the boy protested at top voice,
badly frightened, bewildered, not knowing what was to happen
"No, no, I got my meat to deliver. Say, you let me go. Say, I
ain't got nothing to do with you."
He tugged at the reins, trying to turn the cart about. Cutter,
with his jack-knife, parted the reins just back of the bit.
"You'll stay where you are, m' son, for a while. We're not going
to hurt you. But you are not going back to town till we say so.
Did you pass anybody on the road out of town?"
In reply to the Leaguers' questions, the young butcher at last
told them he had passed a two-horse buggy and a lot of men on
horseback just beyond the railroad tracks. They were headed for
"That's them, all right," muttered Annixter. "They're coming by
this road, sure."
The butcher's horse and cart were led to one side of the road,
and the horse tied to the fence with one of the severed lines.
The butcher, himself, was passed over to Presley, who locked him
in Hooven's barn.
"Well, what the devil," demanded Osterman, "has become of
In fact, the butcher had seen nothing of Hooven. The minutes
were passing, and still he failed to appear.
"What's he up to, anyways?"
"Bet you what you like, they caught him. Just like that crazy
Dutchman to get excited and go too near. You can always depend
on Hooven to lose his head."
Five minutes passed, then ten. The road towards Guadalajara lay
empty, baking and white under the sun.
"Well, the marshal and S. Behrman don't seem to be in any hurry,
"Shall I go forward and reconnoitre, Governor?" asked Harran.
But Dabney, who stood next to Annixter, touched him on the
shoulder and, without speaking, pointed down the road. Annixter
looked, then suddenly cried out:
"Here comes Hooven."
The German galloped into sight, around the turn of the road, his
rifle laid across his saddle. He came on rapidly, pulled up, and
dismounted at the ditch.
"Dey're commen," he cried, trembling with excitement. "I watch
um long dime bei der side oaf der roadt in der busches. Dey
shtop bei der gate oder side der relroadt trecks and talk long
dime mit one n'udder. Den dey gome on. Dey're gowun sure do zum
monkey-doodle pizeness. Me, I see Gritschun put der kertridges
in his guhn. I tink dey gowun to gome MY blace first. Dey gowun
to try put me off, tek my home, bei Gott."
"All right, get down in here and keep quiet, Hooven. Don't fire
"Here they are."
A half-dozen voices uttered the cry at once.
There could be no mistake this time. A buggy, drawn by two
horses, came into view around the curve of the road. Three
riders accompanied it, and behind these, seen at intervals in a
cloud of dust were two--three--five--six others.
This, then, was S. Behrman with the United States marshal and his
posse. The event that had been so long in preparation, the event
which it had been said would never come to pass, the last trial
of strength, the last fight between the Trust and the People, the
direct, brutal grapple of armed men, the law defied, the
Government ignored, behold, here it was close at hand.
Osterman cocked his revolver, and in the profound silence that
had fallen upon the scene, the click was plainly audible from end
to end of the line.
"Remember our agreement, gentlemen," cried Magnus, in a warning
voice. "Mr. Osterman, I must ask you to let down the hammer of
No one answered. In absolute quiet, standing motionless in their
places, the Leaguers watched the approach of the marshal.
Five minutes passed. The riders came on steadily. They drew
nearer. The grind of the buggy wheels in the grit and dust of
the road, and the prolonged clatter of the horses' feet began to
make itself heard. The Leaguers could distinguish the faces of
In the buggy were S. Behrman and Cyrus Ruggles, the latter
driving. A tall man in a frock coat and slouched hat--the
marshal, beyond question--rode at the left of the buggy; Delaney,
carrying a Winchester, at the right. Christian, the real estate
broker, S. Behrman's cousin, also with a rifle, could be made out
just behind the marshal. Back of these, riding well up, was a
group of horsemen, indistinguishable in the dust raised by the
Steadily the distance between the Leaguers and the posse
"Don't let them get too close, Governor," whispered Harran.
When S. Behrman's buggy was about one hundred yards distant from
the irrigating ditch, Magnus sprang out upon the road, leaving
his revolvers behind him. He beckoned Garnett and Gethings to
follow, and the three ranchers, who, with the exception of
Broderson, were the oldest men present, advanced, without arms,
to meet the marshal.
Magnus cried aloud:
"Halt where you are."
From their places in the ditch, Annixter, Osterman, Dabney,
Harran, Hooven, Broderson, Cutter, and Phelps, their hands laid
upon their revolvers, watched silently, alert, keen, ready for
At the Governor's words, they saw Ruggles pull sharply on the
reins. The buggy came to a standstill, the riders doing
likewise. Magnus approached the marshal, still followed by
Garnett and Gethings, and began to speak. His voice was audible
to the men in the ditch, but his words could not be made out.
They heard the marshal reply quietly enough and the two shook
hands. Delaney came around from the side of the buggy, his horse
standing before the team across the road. He leaned from the
saddle, listening to what was being said, but made no remark.
From time to time, S. Behrman and Ruggles, from their seats in
the buggy, interposed a sentence or two into the conversation,
but at first, so far as the Leaguers could discern, neither
Magnus nor the marshal paid them any attention. They saw,
however, that the latter repeatedly shook his head and once they
heard him exclaim in a loud voice:
"I only know my duty, Mr. Derrick."
Then Gethings turned about, and seeing Delaney close at hand,
addressed an unheard remark to him. The cow-puncher replied
curtly and the words seemed to anger Gethings. He made a
gesture, pointing back to the ditch, showing the intrenched
Leaguers to the posse. Delaney appeared to communicate the news
that the Leaguers were on hand and prepared to resist, to the
other members of the party. They all looked toward the ditch and
plainly saw the ranchers there, standing to their arms.
But meanwhile Ruggles had addressed himself more directly to
Magnus, and between the two an angry discussion was going
forward. Once even Harran heard his father exclaim:
"The statement is a lie and no one knows it better than
"Here," growled Annixter to Dabney, who stood next him in the
ditch, "those fellows are getting too close. Look at them edging
up. Don't Magnus see that?"
The other members of the marshal's force had come forward from
their places behind the buggy and were spread out across the
road. Some of them were gathered about Magnus, Garnett, and
Gethings; and some were talking together, looking and pointing
towards the ditch. Whether acting upon signal or not, the
Leaguers in the ditch could not tell, but it was certain that one
or two of the posse had moved considerably forward. Besides
this, Delaney had now placed his horse between Magnus and the
ditch, and two others riding up from the rear had followed his
example. The posse surrounded the three ranchers, and by now,
everybody was talking at once.
"Look here," Harran called to Annixter, "this won't do. I don't
like the looks of this thing. They all seem to be edging up, and
before we know it they may take the Governor and the other men
"They ought to come back," declared Annixter.
"Somebody ought to tell them that those fellows are creeping up."
By now, the angry argument between the Governor and Ruggles had
become more heated than ever. Their voices were raised; now and
then they made furious gestures.
"They ought to come back," cried Osterman. "We couldn't shoot
now if anything should happen, for fear of hitting them."
"Well, it sounds as though something were going to happen pretty
They could hear Gethings and Delaney wrangling furiously; another
deputy joined in.
"I'm going to call the Governor back," exclaimed Annixter,
suddenly clambering out of the ditch.
"No, no," cried Osterman, "keep in the ditch. They can't drive
us out if we keep here."
Hooven and Harran, who had instinctively followed Annixter,
hesitated at Osterman's words and the three halted irresolutely
on the road before the ditch, their weapons in their hands.
"Governor," shouted Harran, "come on back. You can't do
Still the wrangle continued, and one of the deputies, advancing a
little from out the group, cried out:
"Keep back there! Keep back there, you!"
"Go to hell, will you?" shouted Harran on the instant. "You're
on my land."
"Oh, come back here, Harran," called Osterman. "That ain't going
to do any good."
"There--listen," suddenly exclaimed Harran. "The Governor is
calling us. Come on; I'm going."
Osterman got out of the ditch and came forward, catching Harran
by the arm and pulling him back.
"He didn't call. Don't get excited. You'll ruin everything.
Get back into the ditch again."
But Cutter, Phelps, and the old man Dabney, misunderstanding what
was happening, and seeing Osterman leave the ditch, had followed
his example. All the Leaguers were now out of the ditch, and a
little way down the road, Hooven, Osterman, Annixter, and Harran
in front, Dabney, Phelps, and Cutter coming up from behind.
"Keep back, you," cried the deputy again.
In the group around S. Behrman's buggy, Gethings and Delaney were
yet quarrelling, and the angry debate between Magnus, Garnett,
and the marshal still continued.
Till this moment, the real estate broker, Christian, had taken no
part in the argument, but had kept himself in the rear of the
buggy. Now, however, he pushed forward. There was but little
room for him to pass, and, as he rode by the buggy, his horse
scraped his flank against the hub of the wheel. The animal
recoiled sharply, and, striking against Garnett, threw him to the
ground. Delaney's horse stood between the buggy and the Leaguers
gathered on the road in front of the ditch; the incident,
indistinctly seen by them, was misinterpreted.
Garnett had not yet risen when Hooven raised a great shout:
"HOCH, DER KAISER! HOCH, DER VATERLAND!"
With the words, he dropped to one knee, and sighting his rifle
carefully, fired into the group of men around the buggy.
Instantly the revolvers and rifles seemed to go off of
themselves. Both sides, deputies and Leaguers, opened fire
simultaneously. At first, it was nothing but a confused roar of
explosions; then the roar lapsed to an irregular, quick
succession of reports, shot leaping after shot; then a moment's
silence, and, last of all, regular as clock-ticks, three shots at
exact intervals. Then stillness.
Delaney, shot through the stomach, slid down from his horse, and,
on his hands and knees, crawled from the road into the standing
wheat. Christian fell backward from the saddle toward the buggy,
and hung suspended in that position, his head and shoulders on
the wheel, one stiff leg still across his saddle. Hooven, in
attempting to rise from his kneeling position, received a rifle
ball squarely in the throat, and rolled forward upon his face.
Old Broderson, crying out, "Oh, they've shot me, boys," staggered
sideways, his head bent, his hands rigid at his sides, and fell
into the ditch. Osterman, blood running from his mouth and nose,
turned about and walked back. Presley helped him across the
irrigating ditch and Osterman laid himself down, his head on his
folded arms. Harran Derrick dropped where he stood, turning over
on his face, and lay motionless, groaning terribly, a pool of
blood forming under his stomach. The old man Dabney, silent as
ever, received his death, speechless. He fell to his knees, got
up again, fell once more, and died without a word. Annixter,
instantly killed, fell his length to the ground, and lay without
movement, just as he had fallen, one arm across his face.
On their way to Derrick's ranch house, Hilma and Mrs. Derrick
heard the sounds of distant firing.
"Stop!" cried Hilma, laying her hand upon young Vacca's arm.
"Stop the horses. Listen, what was that?"
The carry-all came to a halt and from far away across the
rustling wheat came the faint rattle of rifles and revolvers.
"Say," cried Vacca, rolling his eyes, "oh, say, they're fighting
Mrs. Derrick put her hands over her face.
"Fighting," she cried, "oh, oh, it's terrible. Magnus is there--
"Where do you think it is?" demanded Hilma.
"That's over toward Hooven's."
"I'm going. Turn back. Drive to Hooven's, quick."
"Better not, Mrs. Annixter," protested the young man. "Mr.
Annixter said we were to go to Derrick's. Better keep away from
Hooven's if there's trouble there. We wouldn't get there till
it's all over, anyhow."
"Yes, yes, let's go home," cried Mrs. Derrick, "I'm afraid. Oh,
Hilma, I'm afraid."
"Come with me to Hooven's then."
"There, where they are fighting? Oh, I couldn't. I--I can't.
It would be all over before we got there as Vacca says."
"Sure," repeated young Vacca.
"Drive to Hooven's," commanded Hilma. "If you won't, I'll walk
there." She threw off the lap-robes, preparing to descend. "And
you," she exclaimed, turning to Mrs. Derrick, "how CAN you--when
Harran and your husband may be--may--are in danger."
Grumbling, Vacca turned the carry-all about and drove across the
open fields till he reached the road to Guadalajara, just below
"Hurry!" cried Hilma.
The horses started forward under the touch of the whip. The
ranch houses of Quien Sabe came in sight.
"Do you want to stop at the house?" inquired Vacca over his
"No, no; oh, go faster--make the horses run."
They dashed through the houses of the Home ranch.
"Oh, oh," cried Hilma suddenly, "look, look there. Look what
they have done."
Vacca pulled the horses up, for the road in front of Annixter's
house was blocked.
A vast, confused heap of household effects was there--chairs,
sofas, pictures, fixtures, lamps. Hilma's little home had been
gutted; everything had been taken from it and ruthlessly flung
out upon the road, everything that she and her husband had bought
during that wonderful week after their marriage. Here was the
white enamelled "set" of the bedroom furniture, the three chairs,
wash-stand and bureau,--the bureau drawers falling out, spilling
their contents into the dust; there were the white wool rugs of
the sitting-room, the flower stand, with its pots all broken, its
flowers wilting; the cracked goldfish globe, the fishes already
dead; the rocking chair, the sewing machine, the great round
table of yellow oak, the lamp with its deep shade of crinkly red
tissue paper, the pretty tinted photographs that had hung on the
wall--the choir boys with beautiful eyes, the pensive young girls
in pink gowns--the pieces of wood carving that represented quails
and ducks, and, last of all, its curtains of crisp, clean muslin,
cruelly torn and crushed--the bed, the wonderful canopied bed so
brave and gay, of which Hilma had been so proud, thrust out there
into the common road, torn from its place, from the discreet
intimacy of her bridal chamber, violated, profaned, flung out
into the dust and garish sunshine for all men to stare at, a
mockery and a shame.
To Hilma it was as though something of herself, of her person,
had been thus exposed and degraded; all that she held sacred
pilloried, gibbeted, and exhibited to the world's derision.
Tears of anguish sprang to her eyes, a red flame of outraged
modesty overspread her face.
"Oh," she cried, a sob catching her throat, "oh, how could they
do it?" But other fears intruded; other greater terrors impended.
"Go on," she cried to Vacca, "go on quickly."
But Vacca would go no further. He had seen what had escaped
Hilma's attention, two men, deputies, no doubt, on the porch of
the ranch house. They held possession there, and the evidence of
the presence of the enemy in this raid upon Quien Sabe had
"No, SIR," he declared, getting out of the carry-all, "I ain't
going to take you anywhere where you're liable to get hurt.
Besides, the road's blocked by all this stuff. You can't get the
Hilma sprang from the carry-all.
"Come," she said to Mrs. Derrick.
The older woman, trembling, hesitating, faint with dread, obeyed,
and Hilma, picking her way through and around the wreck of her
home, set off by the trail towards the Long Trestle and Hooven's.
When she arrived, she found the road in front of the German's
house, and, indeed, all the surrounding yard, crowded with
people. An overturned buggy lay on the side of the road in the
distance, its horses in a tangle of harness, held by two or three
men. She saw Caraher's buckboard under the live oak and near it
a second buggy which she recognised as belonging to a doctor in
"Oh, what has happened; oh, what has happened?" moaned Mrs.
"Come," repeated Hilma. The young girl took her by the hand and
together they pushed their way through the crowd of men and women
and entered the yard.
The throng gave way before the two women, parting to right and
left without a word.
"Presley," cried Mrs. Derrick, as she caught sight of him in the
doorway of the house, "oh, Presley, what has happened? Is Harran
safe? Is Magnus safe? Where are they?"
"Don't go in, Mrs. Derrick," said Presley, coming forward, "don't
"Where is my husband?" demanded Hilma.
Presley turned away and steadied himself against the jamb of the
Hilma, leaving Mrs. Derrick, entered the house. The front room
was full of men. She was dimly conscious of Cyrus Ruggles and S.
Behrman, both deadly pale, talking earnestly and in whispers to
Cutter and Phelps. There was a strange, acrid odour of an
unfamiliar drug in the air. On the table before her was a
satchel, surgical instruments, rolls of bandages, and a blue,
oblong paper box full of cotton. But above the hushed noises of
voices and footsteps, one terrible sound made itself heard--the
prolonged, rasping sound of breathing, half choked, laboured,
"Where is my husband?" she cried. She pushed the men aside. She
saw Magnus, bareheaded, three or four men lying on the floor, one
half naked, his body swathed in white bandages; the doctor in
shirt sleeves, on one knee beside a figure of a man stretched out
Garnett turned a white face to her.
"Where is my husband?"
The other did not reply, but stepped aside and Hilma saw the dead
body of her husband lying upon the bed. She did not cry out.
She said no word. She went to the bed, and sitting upon it, took
Annixter's head in her lap, holding it gently between her hands.
Thereafter she did not move, but sat holding her dead husband's
head in her lap, looking vaguely about from face to face of those
in the room, while, without a sob, without a cry, the great tears
filled her wide-opened eyes and rolled slowly down upon her
On hearing that his wife was outside, Magnus came quickly
forward. She threw herself into his arms.
"Tell me, tell me," she cried, "is Harran--is----"
"We don't know yet," he answered. "Oh, Annie----"
Then suddenly the Governor checked himself. He, the indomitable,
could not break down now.
"The doctor is with him," he said; "we are doing all we can. Try
and be brave, Annie. There is always hope. This is a terrible
day's work. God forgive us all."
She pressed forward, but he held her back.
"No, don't see him now. Go into the next room. Garnett, take
care of her."
But she would not be denied. She pushed by Magnus, and, breaking
through the group that surrounded her son, sank on her knees
beside him, moaning, in compassion and terror.
Harran lay straight and rigid upon the floor, his head propped by
a pillow, his coat that had been taken off spread over his chest.
One leg of his trousers was soaked through and through with
blood. His eyes were half-closed, and with the regularity of a
machine, the eyeballs twitched and twitched. His face was so
white that it made his yellow hair look brown, while from his
opened mouth, there issued that loud and terrible sound of
guttering, rasping, laboured breathing that gagged and choked and
gurgled with every inhalation.
"Oh, Harrie, Harrie," called Mrs. Derrick, catching at one of his
The doctor shook his head.
"He is unconscious, Mrs. Derrick."
"Where was he--where is--the--the----"
"Through the lungs."
"Will he get well? Tell me the truth."
"I don't know. Mrs. Derrick."
She had all but fainted, and the old rancher, Garnett, half-
carrying, half-leading her, took her to the one adjoining room--
Minna Hooven's bedchamber. Dazed, numb with fear, she sat down
on the edge of the bed, rocking herself back and forth,
"Harrie, Harrie, oh, my son, my little boy."
In the outside room, Presley came and went, doing what he could
to be of service, sick with horror, trembling from head to foot.
The surviving members of both Leaguers and deputies--the warring
factions of the Railroad and the People--mingled together now
with no thought of hostility. Presley helped the doctor to cover
Christian's body. S. Behrman and Ruggles held bowls of water
while Osterman was attended to. The horror of that dreadful
business had driven all other considerations from the mind. The
sworn foes of the last hour had no thought of anything but to
care for those whom, in their fury, they had shot down. The
marshal, abandoning for that day the attempt to serve the writs,
departed for San Francisco.
The bodies had been brought in from the road where they fell.
Annixter's corpse had been laid upon the bed; those of Dabney and
Hooven, whose wounds had all been in the face and head, were
covered with a tablecloth. Upon the floor, places were made for
the others. Cutter and Ruggles rode into Guadalajara to bring
out the doctor there, and to telephone to Bonneville for others.
Osterman had not at any time since the shooting, lost
consciousness. He lay upon the floor of Hooven's house, bare to
the waist, bandages of adhesive tape reeved about his abdomen and
shoulder. His eyes were half-closed. Presley, who looked after
him, pending the arrival of a hack from Bonneville that was to
take him home, knew that he was in agony.
But this poser, this silly fellow, this cracker of jokes, whom no
one had ever taken very seriously, at the last redeemed himself.
When at length, the doctor had arrived, he had, for the first
time, opened his eyes.
"I can wait," he said. "Take Harran first."
And when at length, his turn had come, and while the sweat rolled
from his forehead as the doctor began probing for the bullet, he
had reached out his free arm and taken Presley's hand in his,
gripping it harder and harder, as the probe entered the wound.
His breath came short through his nostrils; his face, the face of
a comic actor, with its high cheek bones, bald forehead, and
salient ears, grew paler and paler, his great slit of a mouth
shut tight, but he uttered no groan.
When the worst anguish was over and he could find breath to
speak, his first words had been:
"Were any of the others badly hurt?"
As Presley stood by the door of the house after bringing in a
pail of water for the doctor, he was aware of a party of men who
had struck off from the road on the other side of the irrigating
ditch and were advancing cautiously into the field of wheat. He
wondered what it meant and Cutter, coming up at that moment,
Presley asked him if he knew.
"It's Delaney," said Cutter. "It seems that when he was shot he
crawled off into the wheat. They are looking for him there."
Presley had forgotten all about the buster and had only a vague
recollection of seeing him slide from his horse at the beginning
of the fight. Anxious to know what had become of him, he hurried
up and joined the party of searchers.
"We better look out," said one of the young men, "how we go
fooling around in here. If he's alive yet he's just as liable as
not to think we're after him and take a shot at us."
"I guess there ain't much fight left in him," another answered.
"Look at the wheat here."
"Lord! He's bled like a stuck pig."
"Here's his hat," abruptly exclaimed the leader of the party.
"He can't be far off. Let's call him."
They called repeatedly without getting any answer, then proceeded
cautiously. All at once the men in advance stopped so suddenly
that those following carromed against them. There was an
outburst of exclamation.
"Here he is!"
"Good Lord! Sure, that's him."
"Poor fellow, poor fellow."
The cow-puncher lay on his back, deep in the wheat, his knees
drawn up, his eyes wide open, his lips brown. Rigidly gripped in
one hand was his empty revolver.
The men, farm hands from the neighbouring ranches, young fellows
from Guadalajara, drew back in instinctive repulsion. One at
length ventured near, peering down into the face.
"Is he dead?" inquired those in the rear.
"I don't know."
"Well, put your hand on his heart."
"No! I--I don't want to."
"What you afraid of?"
"Well, I just don't want to touch him, that's all. It's bad
luck. YOU feel his heart."
"You can't always tell by that."
"How can you tell, then? Pshaw, you fellows make me sick. Here,
let me get there. I'll do it."
There was a long pause, as the other bent down and laid his hand
on the cow-puncher's breast.
"I can't tell. Sometimes I think I feel it beat and sometimes I
don't. I never saw a dead man before."
"Well, you can't tell by the heart."
"What's the good of talking so blame much. Dead or not, let's
carry him back to the house."
Two or three ran back to the road for planks from the broken
bridge. When they returned with these a litter was improvised,
and throwing their coats over the body, the party carried it back
to the road. The doctor was summoned and declared the cow-
puncher to have been dead over half an hour.
"What did I tell you?" exclaimed one of the group.
"Well, I never said he wasn't dead," protested the other. "I
only said you couldn't always tell by whether his heart beat or
But all at once there was a commotion. The wagon containing Mrs.
Hooven, Minna, and little Hilda drove up.
"Eh, den, my men," cried Mrs. Hooven, wildly interrogating the
faces of the crowd. "Whadt has happun? Sey, den, dose vellers,
hev dey hurdt my men, eh, whadt?"
She sprang from the wagon, followed by Minna with Hilda in her
arms. The crowd bore back as they advanced, staring at them in
"Eh, whadt has happun, whadt has happun?" wailed Mrs. Hooven, as
she hurried on, her two hands out before her, the fingers spread
wide. "Eh, Hooven, eh, my men, are you alle righdt?"
She burst into the house. Hooven's body had been removed to an
adjoining room, the bedroom of the house, and to this room Mrs.
Hooven--Minna still at her heels--proceeded, guided by an
instinct born of the occasion. Those in the outside room, saying
no word, made way for them. They entered, closing the door
behind them, and through all the rest of that terrible day, no
sound nor sight of them was had by those who crowded into and
about that house of death. Of all the main actors of the tragedy
of the fight in the ditch, they remained the least noted,
obtruded themselves the least upon the world's observation. They
were, for the moment, forgotten.
But by now Hooven's house was the centre of an enormous crowd. A
vast concourse of people from Bonneville, from Guadalajara, from
the ranches, swelled by the thousands who had that morning
participated in the rabbit drive, surged about the place; men and
women, young boys, young girls, farm hands, villagers,
townspeople, ranchers, railroad employees, Mexicans, Spaniards,
Portuguese. Presley, returning from the search for Delaney's
body, had to fight his way to the house again.
And from all this multitude there rose an indefinable murmur. As
yet, there was no menace in it, no anger. It was confusion
merely, bewilderment, the first long-drawn "oh!" that greets the
news of some great tragedy. The people had taken no thought as
yet. Curiosity was their dominant impulse. Every one wanted to
see what had been done; failing that, to hear of it, and failing
that, to be near the scene of the affair. The crowd of people
packed the road in front of the house for nearly a quarter of a
mile in either direction. They balanced themselves upon the
lower strands of the barbed wire fence in their effort to see
over each others' shoulders; they stood on the seats of their
carts, buggies, and farm wagons, a few even upon the saddles of
their riding horses. They crowded, pushed, struggled, surged
forward and back without knowing why, converging incessantly upon
When, at length, Presley got to the gate, he found a carry-all
drawn up before it. Between the gate and the door of the house a
lane had been formed, and as he paused there a moment, a group of
Leaguers, among whom were Garnett and Gethings, came slowly from
the door carrying old Broderson in their arms. The doctor,
bareheaded and in his shirt sleeves, squinting in the sunlight,
attended them, repeating at every step:
"Slow, slow, take it easy, gentlemen."
Old Broderson was unconscious. His face was not pale, no
bandages could be seen. With infinite precautions, the men bore
him to the carry-all and deposited him on the back seat; the rain
flaps were let down on one side to shut off the gaze of the
But at this point a moment of confusion ensued. Presley, because
of half a dozen people who stood in his way, could not see what
was going on. There were exclamations, hurried movements. The
doctor uttered a sharp command and a man ran back to the house
returning on the instant with the doctor's satchel. By this
time, Presley was close to the wheels of the carry-all and could
see the doctor inside the vehicle bending over old Broderson.
"Here it is, here it is," exclaimed the man who had been sent to
"I won't need it," answered the doctor, "he's dying now."
At the words a great hush widened throughout the throng near at
hand. Some men took off their hats.
"Stand back," protested the doctor quietly, "stand back, good
The crowd bore back a little. In the silence, a woman began to
sob. The seconds passed, then a minute. The horses of the
carry-all shifted their feet and whisked their tails, driving off
the flies. At length, the doctor got down from the carry-all,
letting down the rain-flaps on that side as well.
"Will somebody go home with the body?" he asked. Gethings
stepped forward and took his place by the driver. The carry-all
Presley reentered the house. During his absence it had been
cleared of all but one or two of the Leaguers, who had taken part
in the fight. Hilma still sat on the bed with Annixter's head in
her lap. S. Behrman, Ruggles, and all the railroad party had
gone. Osterman had been taken away in a hack and the tablecloth
over Dabney's body replaced with a sheet. But still unabated,
agonised, raucous, came the sounds of Harran's breathing.
Everything possible had already been done. For the moment it was
out of the question to attempt to move him. His mother and
father were at his side, Magnus, with a face of stone, his look
fixed on those persistently twitching eyes, Annie Derrick
crouching at her son's side, one of his hands in hers, fanning
his face continually with the crumpled sheet of an old newspaper.
Presley on tip-toes joined the group, looking on attentively.
One of the surgeons who had been called from Bonneville stood
close by, watching Harran's face, his arms folded.
"How is he?" Presley whispered.
"He won't live," the other responded.
By degrees the choke and gurgle of the breathing became more
irregular and the lids closed over the twitching eyes. All at
once the breath ceased. Magnus shot an inquiring glance at the
"He is dead, Mr. Derrick," the surgeon replied.
Annie Derrick, with a cry that rang through all the house,
stretched herself over the body of her son, her head upon his
breast, and the Governor's great shoulders bowed never to rise
"God help me and forgive me," he groaned.
Presley rushed from the house, beside himself with grief, with
horror, with pity, and with mad, insensate rage. On the porch
outside Caraher met him.
"Is he--is he--" began the saloon-keeper.
"Yes, he's dead," cried Presley. "They're all dead, murdered,
shot down, dead, dead, all of them. Whose turn is next?"
"That's the way they killed my wife, Presley."
"Caraher," cried Presley, "give me your hand. I've been wrong
all the time. The League is wrong. All the world is wrong. You
are the only one of us all who is right. I'm with you from now
on. BY GOD, I TOO, I'M A RED!"
In course of time, a farm wagon from Bonneville arrived at
Hooven's. The bodies of Annixter and Harran were placed in it,
and it drove down the Lower Road towards the Los Muertos ranch
The bodies of Delaney and Christian had already been carried to
Guadalajara and thence taken by train to Bonneville .
Hilma followed the farm wagon in the Derricks' carry-all, with
Magnus and his wife. During all that ride none of them spoke a
word. It had been arranged that, since Quien Sabe was in the
hands of the Railroad, Hilma should come to Los Muertos. To that
place also Annixter's body was carried.
Later on in the day, when it was almost evening, the undertaker's
black wagon passed the Derricks' Home ranch on its way from
Hooven's and turned into the county road towards Bonneville. The
initial excitement of the affair of the irrigating ditch had died
down; the crowd long since had dispersed. By the time the wagon
passed Caraher's saloon, the sun had set. Night was coming on.
And the black wagon went on through the darkness, unattended,
ignored, solitary, carrying the dead body of Dabney, the silent
old man of whom nothing was known but his name, who made no
friends, whom nobody knew or spoke to, who had come from no one
knew whence and who went no one knew whither.
Towards midnight of that same day, Mrs. Dyke was awakened by the
sounds of groaning in the room next to hers. Magnus Derrick was
not so occupied by Harran's death that he could not think of
others who were in distress, and when he had heard that Mrs. Dyke
and Sidney, like Hilma, had been turned out of Quien Sabe, he had
thrown open Los Muertos to them.
"Though," he warned them, "it is precarious hospitality at the
Until late, Mrs. Dyke had sat up with Hilma, comforting her as
best she could, rocking her to and fro in her arms, crying with
her, trying to quiet her, for once having given way to her grief,
Hilma wept with a terrible anguish and a violence that racked her
from head to foot, and at last, worn out, a little child again,
had sobbed herself to sleep in the older woman's arms, and as a
little child, Mrs. Dyke had put her to bed and had retired
Aroused a few hours later by the sounds of a distress that was
physical, as well as mental, Mrs. Dyke hurried into Hilma's room,
carrying the lamp with her.
Mrs. Dyke needed no enlightenment. She woke Presley and besought
him to telephone to Bonneville at once, summoning a doctor. That
night Hilma in great pain suffered a miscarriage.
Presley did not close his eyes once during the night; he did not
even remove his clothes. Long after the doctor had departed and
that house of tragedy had quieted down, he still remained in his
place by the open window of his little room, looking off across
the leagues of growing wheat, watching the slow kindling of the
dawn. Horror weighed intolerably upon him. Monstrous things,
huge, terrible, whose names he knew only too well, whirled at a
gallop through his imagination, or rose spectral and grisly
before the eyes of his mind. Harran dead, Annixter dead,
Broderson dead, Osterman, perhaps, even at that moment dying.
Why, these men had made up his world. Annixter had been his best
friend, Harran, his almost daily companion; Broderson and
Osterman were familiar to him as brothers. They were all his
associates, his good friends, the group was his environment,
belonging to his daily life. And he, standing there in the dust
of the road by the irrigating ditch, had seen them shot. He
found himself suddenly at his table, the candle burning at his
elbow, his journal before him, writing swiftly, the desire for
expression, the craving for outlet to the thoughts that clamoured
tumultuous at his brain, never more insistent, more imperious.
Thus he wrote:
"Dabney dead, Hooven dead, Harran dead, Annixter dead, Broderson
dead, Osterman dying, S. Behrman alive, successful; the Railroad
in possession of Quien Sabe. I saw them shot. Not twelve hours
since I stood there at the irrigating ditch. Ah, that terrible
moment of horror and confusion! powder smoke--flashing pistol
barrels--blood stains--rearing horses--men staggering to their
death--Christian in a horrible posture, one rigid leg high in the
air across his saddle--Broderson falling sideways into the ditch--
Osterman laying himself down, his head on his arms, as if tired,
tired out. These things, I have seen them. The picture of this
day's work is from henceforth part of my mind, part of ME. They
have done it, S. Behrman and the owners of the railroad have done
it, while all the world looked on, while the people of these
United States looked on. Oh, come now and try your theories upon
us, us of the ranchos, us, who have suffered, us, who KNOW. Oh,
talk to US now of the 'rights of Capital,' talk to US of the
Trust, talk to US of the 'equilibrium between the classes.' Try
your ingenious ideas upon us. WE KNOW. I cannot tell whether or
not your theories are excellent. I do not know if your ideas are
plausible. I do not know how practical is your scheme of
society. I do not know if the Railroad has a right to our lands,
but I DO know that Harran is dead, that Annixter is dead, that
Broderson is dead, that Hooven is dead, that Osterman is dying,
and that S. Behrman is alive, successful, triumphant; that he has
ridden into possession of a principality over the dead bodies of
five men shot down by his hired associates.
"I can see the outcome. The Railroad will prevail. The Trust
will overpower us. Here in this corner of a great nation, here,
on the edge of the continent, here, in this valley of the West,
far from the great centres, isolated, remote, lost, the great
iron hand crushes life from us, crushes liberty and the pursuit
of happiness from us, and our little struggles, our moment's
convulsion of death agony causes not one jar in the vast,
clashing machinery of the nation's life; a fleck of grit in the
wheels, perhaps, a grain of sand in the cogs--the momentary creak
of the axle is the mother's wail of bereavement, the wife's cry
of anguish--and the great wheel turns, spinning smooth again,
even again, and the tiny impediment of a second, scarce noticed,
is forgotten. Make the people believe that the faint tremour in
their great engine is a menace to its function? What a folly to
think of it. Tell them of the danger and they will laugh at you.
Tell them, five years from now, the story of the fight between
the League of the San Joaquin and the Railroad and it will not be
believed. What! a pitched battle between Farmer and Railroad, a
battle that cost the lives of seven men? Impossible, it could
not have happened. Your story is fiction--is exaggerated.
"Yet it is Lexington--God help us, God enlighten us, God rouse us
from our lethargy--it is Lexington; farmers with guns in their
hands fighting for Liberty. Is our State of California the only
one that has its ancient and hereditary foe? Are there no other
Trusts between the oceans than this of the Pacific and
Southwestern Railroad? Ask yourselves, you of the Middle West,
ask yourselves, you of the North, ask yourselves, you of the
East, ask yourselves, you of the South--ask yourselves, every
citizen of every State from Maine to Mexico, from the Dakotas to
the Carolinas, have you not the monster in your boundaries? If
it is not a Trust of transportation, it is only another head of
the same Hydra. Is not our death struggle typical? Is it not
one of many, is it not symbolical of the great and terrible
conflict that is going on everywhere in these United States? Ah,
you people, blind, bound, tricked, betrayed, can you not see it?
Can you not see how the monsters have plundered your treasures
and holding them in the grip of their iron claws, dole them out
to you only at the price of your blood, at the price of the lives
of your wives and your little children? You give your babies to
Moloch for the loaf of bread you have kneaded yourselves. You
offer your starved wives to Juggernaut for the iron nail you have
He spent the night over his journal, writing down such thoughts
as these or walking the floor from wall to wall, or, seized at
times with unreasoning horror and blind rage, flinging himself
face downward upon his bed, vowing with inarticulate cries that
neither S. Behrman nor Shelgrim should ever live to consummate
Morning came and with it the daily papers and news. Presley did
not even glance at the "Mercury." Bonneville published two other
daily journals that professed to voice the will and reflect the
temper of the people and these he read eagerly.
Osterman was yet alive and there were chances of his recovery.
The League--some three hundred of its members had gathered at
Bonneville over night and were patrolling the streets and, still
resolved to keep the peace, were even guarding the railroad shops
and buildings. Furthermore, the Leaguers had issued manifestoes,
urging all citizens to preserve law and order, yet summoning an
indignation meeting to be convened that afternoon at the City
It appeared from the newspapers that those who obstructed the
marshal in the discharge of his duty could be proceeded against
by the District Attorney on information or by bringing the matter
before the Grand Jury. But the Grand Jury was not at that time
in session, and it was known that there were no funds in the
marshal's office to pay expenses for the summoning of jurors or
the serving of processes. S. Behrman and Ruggles in interviews
stated that the Railroad withdrew entirely from the fight; the
matter now, according to them, was between the Leaguers and the
United States Government; they washed their hands of the whole
business. The ranchers could settle with Washington. But it
seemed that Congress had recently forbade the use of troops for
civil purposes; the whole matter of the League-Railroad contest
was evidently for the moment to be left in status quo.
But to Presley's mind the most important piece of news that
morning was the report of the action of the Railroad upon hearing
of the battle.
Instantly Bonneville had been isolated. Not a single local train
was running, not one of the through trains made any halt at the
station. The mails were not moved. Further than this, by some
arrangement difficult to understand, the telegraph operators at
Bonneville and Guadalajara, acting under orders, refused to
receive any telegrams except those emanating from railway
officials. The story of the fight, the story creating the first
impression, was to be told to San Francisco and the outside world
by S. Behrman, Ruggles, and the local P. and S. W. agents.
An hour before breakfast, the undertakers arrived and took charge
of the bodies of Harran and Annixter. Presley saw neither Hilma,
Magnus, nor Mrs. Derrick. The doctor came to look after Hilma.
He breakfasted with Mrs. Dyke and Presley, and from him Presley
learned that Hilma would recover both from the shock of her
husband's death and from her miscarriage of the previous night.
"She ought to have her mother with her," said the physician.
"She does nothing but call for her or beg to be allowed to go to
her. I have tried to get a wire through to Mrs. Tree, but the
company will not take it, and even if I could get word to her,
how could she get down here? There are no trains."
But Presley found that it was impossible for him to stay at Los
Muertos that day. Gloom and the shadow of tragedy brooded heavy
over the place. A great silence pervaded everything, a silence
broken only by the subdued coming and going of the undertaker and
his assistants. When Presley, having resolved to go into
Bonneville, came out through the doorway of the house, he found
the undertaker tying a long strip of crape to the bell-handle.
Presley saddled his pony and rode into town. By this time, after
long hours of continued reflection upon one subject, a sombre
brooding malevolence, a deep-seated desire of revenge, had grown
big within his mind. The first numbness had passed off;
familiarity with what had been done had blunted the edge of
horror, and now the impulse of retaliation prevailed. At first,
the sullen anger of defeat, the sense of outrage, had only
smouldered, but the more he brooded, the fiercer flamed his rage.
Sudden paroxysms of wrath gripped him by the throat; abrupt
outbursts of fury injected his eyes with blood. He ground his
teeth, his mouth filled with curses, his hands clenched till they
grew white and bloodless. Was the Railroad to triumph then in
the end? After all those months of preparation, after all those
grandiloquent resolutions, after all the arrogant presumption of
the League! The League! what a farce; what had it amounted to
when the crisis came? Was the Trust to crush them all so easily?
Was S. Behrman to swallow Los Muertos? S. Behrman! Presley saw
him plainly, huge, rotund, white; saw his jowl tremulous and
obese, the roll of fat over his collar sprinkled with sparse
hairs, the great stomach with its brown linen vest and heavy
watch chain of hollow links, clinking against the buttons of
imitation pearl. And this man was to crush Magnus Derrick--had
already stamped the life from such men as Harran and Annixter.
This man, in the name of the Trust, was to grab Los Muertos as he
had grabbed Quien Sabe, and after Los Muertos, Broderson's ranch,
then Osterman's, then others, and still others, the whole valley,
the whole State.
Presley beat his forehead with his clenched fist as he rode on.
"No," he cried, "no, kill him, kill him, kill him with my hands."
The idea of it put him beside himself. Oh, to sink his fingers
deep into the white, fat throat of the man, to clutch like iron
into the great puffed jowl of him, to wrench out the life, to
batter it out, strangle it out, to pay him back for the long
years of extortion and oppression, to square accounts for bribed
jurors, bought judges, corrupted legislatures, to have justice
for the trick of the Ranchers' Railroad Commission, the
charlatanism of the "ten per cent. cut," the ruin of Dyke, the
seizure of Quien Sabe, the murder of Harran, the assassination of
It was in such mood that he reached Caraher's. The saloon-keeper
had just opened his place and was standing in his doorway,
smoking his pipe. Presley dismounted and went in and the two had
a long talk.
When, three hours later, Presley came out of the saloon and rode
on towards Bonneville, his face was very pale, his lips shut
tight, resolute, determined. His manner was that of a man whose
mind is made up.
The hour for the mass meeting at the Opera House had been set for
one o'clock, but long before noon the street in front of the
building and, in fact, all the streets in its vicinity, were
packed from side to side with a shifting, struggling, surging,
and excited multitude. There were few women in the throng, but
hardly a single male inhabitant of either Bonneville or
Guadalajara was absent. Men had even come from Visalia and
Pixley. It was no longer the crowd of curiosity seekers that had
thronged around Hooven's place by the irrigating ditch; the
People were no longer confused, bewildered. A full realisation
of just what had been done the day before was clear now in the
minds of all. Business was suspended; nearly all the stores were
closed. Since early morning the members of the League had put in
an appearance and rode from point to point, their rifles across
their saddle pommels. Then, by ten o'clock, the streets had
begun to fill up, the groups on the corners grew and merged into
one another; pedestrians, unable to find room on the sidewalks,
took to the streets. Hourly the crowd increased till shoulders
touched and elbows, till free circulation became impeded, then
congested, then impossible. The crowd, a solid mass, was wedged
tight from store front to store front. And from all this throng,
this single unit, this living, breathing organism--the People--
there rose a droning, terrible note. It was not yet the wild,
fierce clamour of riot and insurrection, shrill, high pitched;
but it was a beginning, the growl of the awakened brute, feeling
the iron in its flank, heaving up its head with bared teeth, the
throat vibrating to the long, indrawn snarl of wrath.
Thus the forenoon passed, while the people, their bulk growing
hourly vaster, kept to the streets, moving slowly backward and
forward, oscillating in the grooves of the thoroughfares, the
steady, low-pitched growl rising continually into the hot, still
Then, at length, about twelve o'clock, the movement of the throng
assumed definite direction. It set towards the Opera House.
Presley, who had left his pony at the City livery stable, found
himself caught in the current and carried slowly forward in its
direction. His arms were pinioned to his sides by the press, the
crush against his body was all but rib-cracking, he could hardly
draw his breath. All around him rose and fell wave after wave of
faces, hundreds upon hundreds, thousands upon thousands, red,
lowering, sullen. All were set in one direction and slowly,
slowly they advanced, crowding closer, till they almost touched
one another. For reasons that were inexplicable, great,
tumultuous heavings, like ground-swells of an incoming tide,
surged over and through the multitude. At times, Presley, lifted
from his feet, was swept back, back, back, with the crowd, till
the entrance of the Opera House was half a block away; then, the
returning billow beat back again and swung him along, gasping,
staggering, clutching, till he was landed once more in the vortex
of frantic action in front of the foyer. Here the waves were
shorter, quicker, the crushing pressure on all sides of his body
left him without strength to utter the cry that rose to his lips;
then, suddenly the whole mass of struggling, stamping, fighting,
writhing men about him seemed, as it were, to rise, to lift,
multitudinous, swelling, gigantic. A mighty rush dashed Presley
forward in its leap. There was a moment's whirl of confused
sights, congested faces, opened mouths, bloodshot eyes, clutching
hands; a moment's outburst of furious sound, shouts, cheers,
oaths; a moment's jam wherein Presley veritably believed his ribs
must snap like pipestems and he was carried, dazed, breathless,
helpless, an atom on the crest of a storm-driven wave, up the
steps of the Opera House, on into the vestibule, through the
doors, and at last into the auditorium of the house itself.
There was a mad rush for places; men disdaining the aisle,
stepped from one orchestra chair to another, striding over the
backs of seats, leaving the print of dusty feet upon the red
plush cushions. In a twinkling the house was filled from stage
to topmost gallery. The aisles were packed solid, even on the
edge of the stage itself men were sitting, a black fringe on
either side of the footlights.
The curtain was up, disclosing a half-set scene,--the flats,
leaning at perilous angles,--that represented some sort of
terrace, the pavement, alternate squares of black and white
marble, while red, white, and yellow flowers were represented as
growing from urns and vases. A long, double row of chairs
stretched across the scene from wing to wing, flanking a table
covered with a red cloth, on which was set a pitcher of water and
a speaker's gavel.
Promptly these chairs were filled up with members of the League,
the audience cheering as certain well-known figures made their
appearance--Garnett of the Ruby ranch, Gethings of the San Pablo,
Keast of the ranch of the same name, Chattern of the Bonanza,
elderly men, bearded, slow of speech, deliberate.
Garnett opened the meeting; his speech was plain,
straightforward, matter-of-fact. He simply told what had
happened. He announced that certain resolutions were to be drawn
up. He introduced the next speaker.
This one pleaded for moderation. He was conservative. All along
he had opposed the idea of armed resistance except as the very
last resort. He "deplored" the terrible affair of yesterday. He
begged the people to wait in patience, to attempt no more
violence. He informed them that armed guards of the League were,
at that moment, patrolling Los Muertos, Broderson's, and
Osterman's. It was well known that the United States marshal
confessed himself powerless to serve the writs. There would be
no more bloodshed.
"We have had," he continued, "bloodshed enough, and I want to say
right here that I am not so sure but what yesterday's terrible
affair might have been avoided. A gentleman whom we all esteem,
who from the first has been our recognised leader, is, at this
moment, mourning the loss of a young son, killed before his eyes.
God knows that I sympathise, as do we all, in the affliction of
our President. I am sorry for him. My heart goes out to him in
this hour of distress, but, at the same time, the position of the
League must be defined. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the
people of this county. The League armed for the very purpose of
preserving the peace, not of breaking it. We believed that with
six hundred armed and drilled men at our disposal, ready to
muster at a moment's call, we could so overawe any attempt to
expel us from our lands that such an attempt would not be made
until the cases pending before the Supreme Court had been
decided. If when the enemy appeared in our midst yesterday they
had been met by six hundred rifles, it is not conceivable that
the issue would have been forced. No fight would have ensued,
and to-day we would not have to mourn the deaths of four of our
fellow-citizens. A mistake has been made and we of the League
must not be held responsible."
The speaker sat down amidst loud applause from the Leaguers and
less pronounced demonstrations on the part of the audience.
A second Leaguer took his place, a tall, clumsy man, half-
"I want to second what my colleague has just said," he began.
"This matter of resisting the marshal when he tried to put the
Railroad dummies in possession on the ranches around here, was
all talked over in the committee meetings of the League long ago.
It never was our intention to fire a single shot. No such
absolute authority as was assumed yesterday was delegated to
anybody. Our esteemed President is all right, but we all know
that he is a man who loves authority and who likes to go his own
gait without accounting to anybody. We--the rest of us Leaguers--
never were informed as to what was going on. We supposed, of
course, that watch was being kept on the Railroad so as we
wouldn't be taken by surprise as we were yesterday. And it seems
no watch was kept at all, or if there was, it was mighty
ineffective. Our idea was to forestall any movement on the part
of the Railroad and then when we knew the marshal was coming
down, to call a meeting of our Executive Committee and decide as
to what should be done. We ought to have had time to call out
the whole League. Instead of that, what happens? While we're
all off chasing rabbits, the Railroad is allowed to steal a march
on us and when it is too late, a handful of Leaguers is got
together and a fight is precipitated and our men killed. I'M
sorry for our President, too. No one is more so, but I want to
put myself on record as believing he did a hasty and
inconsiderate thing. If he had managed right, he could have had
six hundred men to oppose the Railroad and there would not have
been any gun fight or any killing. He DIDN'T manage right and
there WAS a killing and I don't see as how the League ought to be
held responsible. The idea of the League, the whole reason why
it was organised, was to protect ALL the ranches of this valley
from the Railroad, and it looks to me as if the lives of our
fellow-citizens had been sacrificed, not in defending ALL of our
ranches, but just in defence of one of them--Los Muertos--the one
that Mr. Derrick owns."
The speaker had no more than regained his seat when a man was
seen pushing his way from the back of the stage towards Garnett.
He handed the rancher a note, at the same time whispering in his
ear. Garnett read the note, then came forward to the edge of the
stage, holding up his hand. When the audience had fallen silent
"I have just received sad news. Our friend and fellow-citizen,
Mr. Osterman, died this morning between eleven and twelve
Instantly there was a roar. Every man in the building rose to
his feet, shouting, gesticulating. The roar increased, the Opera
House trembled to it, the gas jets in the lighted chandeliers
vibrated to it. It was a raucous howl of execration, a bellow of
rage, inarticulate, deafening.
A tornado of confusion swept whirling from wall to wall and the
madness of the moment seized irresistibly upon Presley. He
forgot himself; he no longer was master of his emotions or his
impulses. All at once he found himself upon the stage, facing
the audience, flaming with excitement, his imagination on fire,
his arms uplifted in fierce, wild gestures, words leaping to his
mind in a torrent that could not be withheld.
"One more dead," he cried, "one more. Harran dead, Annixter
dead, Broderson dead, Dabney dead, Osterman dead, Hooven dead;
shot down, killed, killed in the defence of their homes, killed
in the defence of their rights, killed for the sake of liberty.
How long must it go on? How long must we suffer? Where is the
end; what is the end? How long must the iron-hearted monster
feed on our life's blood? How long must this terror of steam and
steel ride upon our necks? Will you never be satisfied, will you
never relent, you, our masters, you, our lords, you, our kings,
you, our task-masters, you, our Pharoahs. Will you never listen
to that command 'LET MY PEOPLE GO'? Oh, that cry ringing down
the ages. Hear it, hear it. It is the voice of the Lord God
speaking in his prophets. Hear it, hear it--'Let My people go!'
Rameses heard it in his pylons at Thebes, Caesar heard it on the
Palatine, the Bourbon Louis heard it at Versailles, Charles
Stuart heard it at Whitehall, the white Czar heard it in the
Kremlin,--'LET MY PEOPLE GO.' It is the cry of the nations, the
great voice of the centuries; everywhere it is raised. The voice
of God is the voice of the People. The people cry out 'Let us,
the People, God's people, go.' You, our masters, you, our kings,
you, our tyrants, don't you hear us? Don't you hear God speaking
in us? Will you never let us go? How long at length will you
abuse our patience? How long will you drive us? How long will
you harass us? Will nothing daunt you? Does nothing check you?
Do you not know that to ignore our cry too long is to wake the
Red Terror? Rameses refused to listen to it and perished
miserably. Caesar refused to listen and was stabbed in the
Senate House. The Bourbon Louis refused to listen and died on
the guillotine; Charles Stuart refused to listen and died on the
block; the white Czar refused to listen and was blown up in his
own capital. Will you let it come to that? Will you drive us to
it? We who boast of our land of freedom, we who live in the
country of liberty?
"Go on as you have begun and it WILL come to that. Turn a deaf
ear to that cry of 'Let My people go' too long and another cry
will be raised, that you cannot choose but hear, a cry that you
cannot shut out. It will be the cry of the man on the street,
the 'a la Bastille' that wakes the Red Terror and unleashes
Revolution. Harassed, plundered, exasperated, desperate, the
people will turn at last as they have turned so many, many times
before. You, our lords, you, our task-masters, you, our kings;
you have caught your Samson, you have made his strength your own.
You have shorn his head; you have put out his eyes; you have set
him to turn your millstones, to grind the grist for your mills;
you have made him a shame and a mock. Take care, oh, as you love
your lives, take care, lest some day calling upon the Lord his
God he reach not out his arms for the pillars of your temples."
The audience, at first bewildered, confused by this unexpected
invective, suddenly took fire at his last words. There was a
roar of applause; then, more significant than mere vociferation,
Presley's listeners, as he began to speak again, grew suddenly
silent. His next sentences were uttered in the midst of a
"They own us, these task-masters of ours; they own our homes,
they own our legislatures. We cannot escape from them. There is
no redress. We are told we can defeat them by the ballot-box.
They own the ballot-box. We are told that we must look to the
courts for redress; they own the courts. We know them for what
they are,--ruffians in politics, ruffians in finance, ruffians in
law, ruffians in trade, bribers, swindlers, and tricksters. No
outrage too great to daunt them, no petty larceny too small to
shame them; despoiling a government treasury of a million
dollars, yet picking the pockets of a farm hand of the price of a
loaf of bread.
"They swindle a nation of a hundred million and call it
Financiering; they levy a blackmail and call it Commerce; they
corrupt a legislature and call it Politics; they bribe a judge
and call it Law; they hire blacklegs to carry out their plans and
call it Organisation; they prostitute the honour of a State and
call it Competition.
"And this is America. We fought Lexington to free ourselves; we
fought Gettysburg to free others. Yet the yoke remains; we have
only shifted it to the other shoulder. We talk of liberty--oh,
the farce of it, oh, the folly of it! We tell ourselves and
teach our children that we have achieved liberty, that we no
longer need fight for it. Why, the fight is just beginning and
so long as our conception of liberty remains as it is to-day, it
"For we conceive of Liberty in the statues we raise to her as a
beautiful woman, crowned, victorious, in bright armour and white
robes, a light in her uplifted hand--a serene, calm, conquering
goddess. Oh, the farce of it, oh, the folly of it! Liberty is
NOT a crowned goddess, beautiful, in spotless garments,
victorious, supreme. Liberty is the Man In the Street, a
terrible figure, rushing through powder smoke, fouled with the
mud and ordure of the gutter, bloody, rampant, brutal, yelling
curses, in one hand a smoking rifle, in the other, a blazing
"Freedom is NOT given free to any who ask; Liberty is not born of
the gods. She is a child of the People, born in the very height
and heat of battle, born from death, stained with blood, grimed
with powder. And she grows to be not a goddess, but a Fury, a
fearful figure, slaying friend and foe alike, raging, insatiable,
merciless, the Red Terror."
Presley ceased speaking. Weak, shaking, scarcely knowing what he
was about, he descended from the stage. A prolonged explosion of
applause followed, the Opera House roaring to the roof, men
cheering, stamping, waving their hats. But it was not
intelligent applause. Instinctively as he made his way out,
Presley knew that, after all, he had not once held the hearts of
his audience. He had talked as he would have written; for all
his scorn of literature, he had been literary. The men who
listened to him, ranchers, country people, store-keepers,
attentive though they were, were not once sympathetic. Vaguely
they had felt that here was something which other men--more
educated--would possibly consider eloquent. They applauded
vociferously but perfunctorily, in order to appear to understand.
Presley, for all his love of the people, saw clearly for one
moment that he was an outsider to their minds. He had not helped
them nor their cause in the least; he never would.
Disappointed, bewildered, ashamed, he made his way slowly from
the Opera House and stood on the steps outside, thoughtful, his
He had failed, thus he told himself. In that moment of crisis,
that at the time he believed had been an inspiration, he had
failed. The people would not consider him, would not believe
that he could do them service. Then suddenly he seemed to
remember. The resolute set of his lips returned once more.
Pushing his way through the crowded streets, he went on towards
the stable where he had left his pony.
Meanwhile, in the Opera House, a great commotion had occurred.
Magnus Derrick had appeared.
Only a sense of enormous responsibility, of gravest duty could
have prevailed upon Magnus to have left his house and the dead
body of his son that day. But he was the President of the
League, and never since its organisation had a meeting of such
importance as this one been held. He had been in command at the
irrigating ditch the day before. It was he who had gathered the
handful of Leaguers together. It was he who must bear the
responsibility of the fight.
When he had entered the Opera House, making his way down the
central aisle towards the stage, a loud disturbance had broken
out, partly applause, partly a meaningless uproar. Many had
pressed forward to shake his hand, but others were not found
wanting who, formerly his staunch supporters, now scenting
opposition in the air, held back, hesitating, afraid to
compromise themselves by adhering to the fortunes of a man whose
actions might be discredited by the very organisation of which he
was the head.
Declining to take the chair of presiding officer which Garnett
offered him, the Governor withdrew to an angle of the stage,
where he was joined by Keast.
This one, still unalterably devoted to Magnus, acquainted him
briefly with the tenor of the speeches that had been made.
"I am ashamed of them, Governor," he protested indignantly, "to
lose their nerve now! To fail you now! it makes my blood boil.
If you had succeeded yesterday, if all had gone well, do you
think we would have heard of any talk of 'assumption of
authority,' or 'acting without advice and consent'? As if there
was any time to call a meeting of the Executive Committee. If
you hadn't acted as you did, the whole county would have been
grabbed by the Railroad. Get up, Governor, and bring 'em all up
standing. Just tear 'em all to pieces, show 'em that you are the
head, the boss. That's what they need. That killing yesterday
has shaken the nerve clean out of them."
For the instant the Governor was taken all aback. What, his
lieutenants were failing him? What, he was to be questioned,
interpolated upon yesterday's "irrepressible conflict"? Had
disaffection appeared in the ranks of the League--at this, of all
moments? He put from him his terrible grief. The cause was in
danger. At the instant he was the President of the League only,
the chief, the master. A royal anger surged within him, a wide,
towering scorn of opposition. He would crush this disaffection
in its incipiency, would vindicate himself and strengthen the
cause at one and the same time. He stepped forward and stood in
the speaker's place, turning partly toward the audience, partly
toward the assembled Leaguers.
"Gentlemen of the League," he began, "citizens of Bonneville"
But at once the silence in which the Governor had begun to speak
was broken by a shout. It was as though his words had furnished
a signal. In a certain quarter of the gallery, directly
opposite, a man arose, and in a voice partly of derision, partly
of defiance, cried out:
"How about the bribery of those two delegates at Sacramento?
Tell us about that. That's what we want to hear about."
A great confusion broke out. The first cry was repeated not only
by the original speaker, but by a whole group of which he was but
a part. Others in the audience, however, seeing in the
disturbance only the clamour of a few Railroad supporters,
attempted to howl them down, hissing vigorously and exclaiming:
"Put 'em out, put 'em out."
"Order, order," called Garnett, pounding with his gavel. The
whole Opera House was in an uproar.
But the interruption of the Governor's speech was evidently not
unpremeditated. It began to look like a deliberate and planned
attack. Persistently, doggedly, the group in the gallery
"Tell us how you bribed the delegates at Sacramento. Before you
throw mud at the Railroad, let's see if you are clean yourself."
"Put 'em out, put 'em out."
"Briber, briber--Magnus Derrick, unconvicted briber! Put him
Keast, beside himself with anger, pushed down the aisle
underneath where the recalcitrant group had its place and,
shaking his fist, called up at them:
"You were paid to break up this meeting. If you have anything to
say; you will be afforded the opportunity, but if you do not let
the gentleman proceed, the police will be called upon to put you
But at this, the man who had raised the first shout leaned over
the balcony rail, and, his face flaming with wrath, shouted:
"YAH! talk to me of your police. Look out we don't call on them
first to arrest your President for bribery. You and your howl
about law and justice and corruption! Here "--he turned to the
audience--" read about him, read the story of how the Sacramento
convention was bought by Magnus Derrick, President of the San
Joaquin League. Here's the facts printed and proved."
With the words, he stooped down and from under his seat dragged
forth a great package of extra editions of the "Bonneville
Mercury," not an hour off the presses. Other equally large
bundles of the paper appeared in the hands of the surrounding
group. The strings were cut and in handfuls and armfuls the
papers were flung out over the heads of the audience underneath.
The air was full of the flutter of the newly printed sheets.
They swarmed over the rim of the gallery like clouds of
monstrous, winged insects, settled upon the heads and into the
hands of the audience, were passed swiftly from man to man, and
within five minutes of the first outbreak every one in the Opera
House had read Genslinger's detailed and substantiated account of
Magnus Derrick's "deal" with the political bosses of the
Genslinger, after pocketing the Governor's hush money, had "sold
Keast, one quiver of indignation, made his way back upon the
stage. The Leaguers were in wild confusion. Half the assembly
of them were on their feet, bewildered, shouting vaguely. From
proscenium wall to foyer, the Opera House was a tumult of noise.
The gleam of the thousands of the "Mercury" extras was like the
flash of white caps on a troubled sea.
Keast faced the audience.
"Liars," he shouted, striving with all the power of his voice to
dominate the clamour, "liars and slanderers. Your paper is the
paid organ of the corporation. You have not one shadow of proof
to back you up. Do you choose this, of all times, to heap your
calumny upon the head of an honourable gentleman, already
prostrated by your murder of his son? Proofs--we demand your
"We've got the very assemblymen themselves," came back the
answering shout. "Let Derrick speak. Where is he hiding? If
this is a lie, let him deny it. Let HIM DISPROVE the charge."
"Derrick, Derrick," thundered the Opera House.
Keast wheeled about. Where was Magnus? He was not in sight upon
the stage. He had disappeared. Crowding through the throng of
Leaguers, Keast got from off the stage into the wings. Here the
crowd was no less dense. Nearly every one had a copy of the
"Mercury." It was being read aloud to groups here and there, and
once Keast overheard the words, "Say, I wonder if this is true,
"Well, and even if it was," cried Keast, turning upon the
speaker, "we should be the last ones to kick. In any case, it
was done for our benefit. It elected the Ranchers' Commission."
"A lot of benefit we got out of the Ranchers' Commission,"
retorted the other.
"And then," protested a third speaker, "that ain't the way to do--
if he DID do it--bribing legislatures. Why, we were bucking
against corrupt politics. We couldn't afford to be corrupt."
Keast turned away with a gesture of impatience. He pushed his
way farther on. At last, opening a small door in a hallway back
of the stage, he came upon Magnus.
The room was tiny. It was a dressing-room. Only two nights
before it had been used by the leading actress of a comic opera
troupe which had played for three nights at Bonneville. A
tattered sofa and limping toilet table occupied a third of the
space. The air was heavy with the smell of stale grease paint,
ointments, and sachet. Faded photographs of young women in
tights and gauzes ornamented the mirror and the walls.
Underneath the sofa was an old pair of corsets. The spangled
skirt of a pink dress, turned inside out, hung against the wall.
And in the midst of such environment, surrounded by an excited
group of men who gesticulated and shouted in his very face, pale,
alert, agitated, his thin lips pressed tightly together, stood
"Here," cried Keast, as he entered, closing the door behind him,
"where's the Governor? Here, Magnus, I've been looking for you.
The crowd has gone wild out there. You've got to talk 'em down.
Come out there and give those blacklegs the lie. They are saying
you are hiding."
But before Magnus could reply, Garnett turned to Keast.
"Well, that's what we want him to do, and he won't do it."
"Yes, yes," cried the half-dozen men who crowded around Magnus,
"yes, that's what we want him to do."
Keast turned to Magnus.
"Why, what's all this, Governor?" he exclaimed. "You've got to
answer that. Hey? why don't you give 'em the lie?"
"I--I," Magnus loosened the collar about his throat "it is a lie.
I will not stoop--I would not--would be--it would be beneath my--
my--it would be beneath me."
Keast stared in amazement. Was this the Great Man the Leader,
indomitable, of Roman integrity, of Roman valour, before whose
voice whole conventions had quailed? Was it possible he was
AFRAID to face those hired villifiers?
"Well, how about this?" demanded Garnett suddenly. "It is a lie,
isn't it? That Commission was elected honestly, wasn't it?"
"How dare you, sir!" Magnus burst out. "How dare you question
me--call me to account! Please understand, sir, that I tolerate----"
"Oh, quit it!" cried a voice from the group. "You can't scare
us, Derrick. That sort of talk was well enough once, but it
don't go any more. We want a yes or no answer."
It was gone--that old-time power of mastery, that faculty of
command. The ground crumbled beneath his feet. Long since it
had been, by his own hand, undermined. Authority was gone. Why
keep up this miserable sham any longer? Could they not read the
lie in his face, in his voice? What a folly to maintain the
wretched pretence! He had failed. He was ruined. Harran was
gone. His ranch would soon go; his money was gone. Lyman was
worse than dead. His own honour had been prostituted. Gone,
gone, everything he held dear, gone, lost, and swept away in that
fierce struggle. And suddenly and all in a moment the last
remaining shells of the fabric of his being, the sham that had
stood already wonderfully long, cracked and collapsed.
"Was the Commission honestly elected?" insisted Garnett. "Were
the delegates--did you bribe the delegates?"
"We were obliged to shut our eyes to means," faltered Magnus.
"There was no other way to--" Then suddenly and with the last
dregs of his resolution, he concluded with: "Yes, I gave them two
thousand dollars each."
"Oh, hell! Oh, my God!" exclaimed Keast, sitting swiftly down
upon the ragged sofa.
There was a long silence. A sense of poignant embarrassment
descended upon those present. No one knew what to say or where
to look. Garnett, with a laboured attempt at nonchalance,
"I see. Well, that's what I was trying to get at. Yes, I see."
"Well," said Gethings at length, bestirring himself, "I guess
I'LL go home."
There was a movement. The group broke up, the men making for the
door. One by one they went out. The last to go was Keast. He
came up to Magnus and shook the Governor's limp hand.
"Good-bye, Governor," he said. "I'll see you again pretty soon.
Don't let this discourage you. They'll come around all right
after a while. So long."
He went out, shutting the door.
And seated in the one chair of the room, Magnus Derrick remained
a long time, looking at his face in the cracked mirror that for
so many years had reflected the painted faces of soubrettes, in
this atmosphere of stale perfume and mouldy rice powder.
It had come--his fall, his ruin. After so many years of
integrity and honest battle, his life had ended here--in an
actress's dressing-room, deserted by his friends, his son
murdered, his dishonesty known, an old man, broken, discarded,
discredited, and abandoned.
Before nightfall of that day, Bonneville was further excited by
an astonishing bit of news. S. Behrman lived in a detached house
at some distance from the town, surrounded by a grove of live oak
and eucalyptus trees. At a little after half-past six, as he was
sitting down to his supper, a bomb was thrown through the window
of his dining-room, exploding near the doorway leading into the
hall. The room was wrecked and nearly every window of the house
shattered. By a miracle, S. Behrman, himself, remained
On a certain afternoon in the early part of July, about a month
after the fight at the irrigating ditch and the mass meeting at
Bonneville, Cedarquist, at the moment opening his mail in his
office in San Francisco, was genuinely surprised to receive a
visit from Presley.
"Well, upon my word, Pres," exclaimed the manufacturer, as the
young man came in through the door that the office boy held open
for him, "upon my word, have you been sick? Sit down, my boy.
Have a glass of sherry. I always keep a bottle here."
Presley accepted the wine and sank into the depths of a great
leather chair near by.
"Sick?" he answered. "Yes, I have been sick. I'm sick now. I'm
gone to pieces, sir."
His manner was the extreme of listlessness--the listlessness of
great fatigue. "Well, well," observed the other. "I'm right
sorry to hear that. What's the trouble, Pres?"
"Oh, nerves mostly, I suppose, and my head, and insomnia, and
weakness, a general collapse all along the line, the doctor tells
me. 'Over-cerebration,' he says; 'over-excitement.' I fancy I
rather narrowly missed brain fever."
"Well, I can easily suppose it," answered Cedarquist gravely,
"after all you have been through."
Presley closed his eyes--they were sunken in circles of dark
brown flesh--and pressed a thin hand to the back of his head.
"It is a nightmare," he murmured. "A frightful nightmare, and
it's not over yet. You have heard of it all only through the
newspaper reports. But down there, at Bonneville, at Los
Muertos--oh, you can have no idea of it, of the misery caused by
the defeat of the ranchers and by this decision of the Supreme
Court that dispossesses them all. We had gone on hoping to the
last that we would win there. We had thought that in the Supreme
Court of the United States, at least, we could find justice. And
the news of its decision was the worst, last blow of all. For
Magnus it was the last--positively the very last."
"Poor, poor Derrick," murmured Cedarquist. "Tell me about him,
Pres. How does he take it? What is he going to do?"
"It beggars him, sir. He sunk a great deal more than any of us
believed in his ranch, when he resolved to turn off most of the
tenants and farm the ranch himself. Then the fight he made
against the Railroad in the Courts and the political campaign he
went into, to get Lyman on the Railroad Commission, took more of
it. The money that Genslinger blackmailed him of, it seems, was
about all he had left. He had been gambling--you know the
Governor--on another bonanza crop this year to recoup him. Well,
the bonanza came right enough--just in time for S. Behrman and
the Railroad to grab it. Magnus is ruined."
"What a tragedy! what a tragedy!" murmured the other. "Lyman
turning rascal, Harran killed, and now this; and all within so
short a time--all at the SAME time, you might almost say."
"If it had only killed him," continued Presley; "but that is the
worst of it."
"How the worst?"
"I'm afraid, honestly, I'm afraid it is going to turn his wits,
sir. It's broken him; oh, you should see him, you should see
him. A shambling, stooping, trembling old man, in his dotage
already. He sits all day in the dining-room, turning over
papers, sorting them, tying them up, opening them again,
forgetting them--all fumbling and mumbling and confused. And at
table sometimes he forgets to eat. And, listen, you know, from
the house we can hear the trains whistling for the Long Trestle.
As often as that happens the Governor seems to be--oh, I don't
know, frightened. He will sink his head between his shoulders,
as though he were dodging something, and he won't fetch a long
breath again till the train is out of hearing. He seems to have
conceived an abject, unreasoned terror of the Railroad."
"But he will have to leave Los Muertos now, of course?"
"Yes, they will all have to leave. They have a fortnight more.
The few tenants that were still on Los Muertos are leaving. That
is one thing that brings me to the city. The family of one of
the men who was killed--Hooven was his name--have come to the
city to find work. I think they are liable to be in great
distress, unless they have been wonderfully lucky, and I am
trying to find them in order to look after them."
"You need looking after yourself, Pres."
"Oh, once away from Bonneville and the sight of the ruin there,
I'm better. But I intend to go away. And that makes me think, I
came to ask you if you could help me. If you would let me take
passage on one of your wheat ships. The Doctor says an ocean
voyage would set me up."
"Why, certainly, Pres," declared Cedarquist. "But I'm sorry
you'll have to go. We expected to have you down in the country
with us this winter."
Presley shook his head.
"No," he answered. "I must go. Even if I had all my health, I
could not bring myself to stay in California just now. If you
can introduce me to one of your captains"
"With pleasure. When do you want to go? You may have to wait a
few weeks. Our first ship won't clear till the end of the
"That would do very well. Thank you, sir."
But Cedarquist was still interested in the land troubles of the
Bonneville farmers, and took the first occasion to ask:
"So, the Railroad are in possession on most of the ranches?"
"On all of them," returned Presley. "The League went all to
pieces, so soon as Magnus was forced to resign. The old story--
they got quarrelling among themselves. Somebody started a
compromise party, and upon that issue a new president was
elected. Then there were defections. The Railroad offered to
lease the lands in question to the ranchers--the ranchers who
owned them," he exclaimed bitterly, "and because the terms were
nominal--almost nothing--plenty of the men took the chance of
saving themselves. And, of course, once signing the lease, they
acknowledged the Railroad's title. But the road would not lease
to Magnus. S. Behrman takes over Los Muertos in a few weeks
"No doubt, the road made over their title in the property to
him," observed Cedarquist, "as a reward of his services."
"No doubt," murmured Presley wearily. He rose to go.
"By the way," said Cedarquist, "what have you on hand for, let us
say, Friday evening? Won't you dine with us then? The girls are
going to the country Monday of next week, and you probably won't
see them again for some time if you take that ocean voyage of
"I'm afraid I shall be very poor company, sir," hazarded Presley.
"There's no 'go,' no life in me at all these days. I am like a
clock with a broken spring."
"Not broken, Pres, my boy;" urged the other, "only run down. Try
and see if we can't wind you up a bit. Say that we can expect
you. We dine at seven."
"Thank you, sir. Till Friday at seven, then."
Regaining the street, Presley sent his valise to his club (where
he had engaged a room) by a messenger boy, and boarded a Castro
Street car. Before leaving Bonneville, he had ascertained, by
strenuous enquiry, Mrs. Hooven's address in the city, and
thitherward he now directed his steps.
When Presley had told Cedarquist that he was ill, that he was
jaded, worn out, he had only told half the truth. Exhausted he
was, nerveless, weak, but this apathy was still invaded from time
to time with fierce incursions of a spirit of unrest and revolt,
reactions, momentary returns of the blind, undirected energy that
at one time had prompted him to a vast desire to acquit himself
of some terrible deed of readjustment, just what, he could not
say, some terrifying martyrdom, some awe-inspiring immolation,
consummate, incisive, conclusive. He fancied himself to be fired
with the purblind, mistaken heroism of the anarchist, hurling his
victim to destruction with full knowledge that the catastrophe
shall sweep him also into the vortex it creates.
But his constitutional irresoluteness obstructed his path
continually; brain-sick, weak of will, emotional, timid even, he
temporised, procrastinated, brooded; came to decisions in the
dark hours of the night, only to abandon them in the morning.
Once only he had ACTED. And at this moment, as he was carried
through the windy, squalid streets, he trembled at the
remembrance of it. The horror of "what might have been"
incompatible with the vengeance whose minister he fancied he was,
oppressed him. The scene perpetually reconstructed itself in his
imagination. He saw himself under the shade of the encompassing
trees and shrubbery, creeping on his belly toward the house, in
the suburbs of Bonneville, watching his chances, seizing
opportunities, spying upon the lighted windows where the raised
curtains afforded a view of the interior. Then had come the
appearance in the glare of the gas of the figure of the man for
whom he waited. He saw himself rise and run forward. He
remembered the feel and weight in his hand of Caraher's bomb--the
six inches of plugged gas pipe. His upraised arm shot forward.
There was a shiver of smashed window-panes, then--a void--a red
whirl of confusion, the air rent, the ground rocking, himself
flung headlong, flung off the spinning circumference of things
out into a place of terror and vacancy and darkness. And then
after a long time the return of reason, the consciousness that
his feet were set upon the road to Los Muertos, and that he was
fleeing terror-stricken, gasping, all but insane with hysteria.
Then the never-to-be-forgotten night that ensued, when he
descended into the pit, horrified at what he supposed he had
done, at one moment ridden with remorse, at another raging
against his own feebleness, his lack of courage, his wretched,
vacillating spirit. But morning had come, and with it the
knowledge that he had failed, and the baser assurance that he was
not even remotely suspected. His own escape had been no less
miraculous than that of his enemy, and he had fallen on his knees
in inarticulate prayer, weeping, pouring out his thanks to God
for the deliverance from the gulf to the very brink of which his
feet had been drawn.
After this, however, there had come to Presley a deep-rooted
suspicion that he was--of all human beings, the most wretched--a
failure. Everything to which he had set his mind failed--his
great epic, his efforts to help the people who surrounded him,
even his attempted destruction of the enemy, all these had come
to nothing. Girding his shattered strength together, he resolved
upon one last attempt to live up to the best that was in him, and
to that end had set himself to lift out of the despair into which
they had been thrust, the bereaved family of the German, Hooven.
After all was over, and Hooven, together with the seven others
who had fallen at the irrigating ditch, was buried in the
Bonneville cemetery, Mrs. Hooven, asking no one's aid or advice,