Part 4 out of 6
"Here, in the outer office."
"But," said Maitland, desperately, "where can we place him? He is
impossible in any position--dangerous in the office, useless as a
foreman, doubtful and uncertain as a workman."
"One thing is quite certain," said Jack decidedly, "he must be
under discipline. He is useless on his own. I thought that
perhaps he might work beside me. I could keep an eye on him.
Tony has nothing in him to work with. I should like to hear old
Matheson on him--the Reverend Murdo, I mean. That is a great theme
of his--'To the man who has nothing you can give nothing.'"
"Matheson?" said Maitland. "A chum of yours, I understand.
"A very decent sort, father," replied Jack. "I have been doing a
little economics with him during the winter. His radicalism is of
a sound type, I think. He is a regular bear at economics and he is
even better at the humanity business, the brother-man stuff. He is
really sound there."
"I can guess what you mean," said his father, "though I don't quite
catch on to all your jargon. But I confess that I suspect there is
a whole lot of nonsense associated with these theories."
"You will pardon me, Dad," said Jack, "if I suggest that your
education is really not yet complete."
"Whose is?" inquired his father, curtly.
"But about Tony," continued Jack, "I wish I had him in a gang under
me. I would work him, or break his neck."
His father sat silently pondering for some minutes. Then, as if
making a sudden resolve, he said: "Jack, I have been wanting to
speak with you about something for some weeks. I have come to a
place where it is imperative that I get some relief from my load.
You see, I am carrying the whole burden of management practically
alone. I look after the financing, the markets, I keep an eye on
production and even upon the factory management. In normal
conditions I could manage to get along, but in these critical days,
when every department calls for close, constant and sane supervision,
I feel that I must have relief. If I could be relieved of the job
of shop management, I could give myself to the other departments
where the situation at present is extremely critical. I want a
manager, Jack. Why not take the job? Now," he continued, holding
up his hand, as his son was about to speak, "listen for a moment or
two. I have said the situation is serious. Let me explain that.
The financing of this business in the present crisis requires a
man's full time and energy. Markets, credits, collections, all
demand the very closest attention."
Jack glanced at his father's face. For the first time he noticed
how deep-cut were the lines that indicated care, anxiety and worry.
A sudden remorse seized him.
"I am awfully sorry, sir," he said, "I have not been of much help
Maitland waved his hand as if dismissing the suggestion. "Now you
know nothing of the financial side, but you do know men and you can
handle them. You proved that in the war, and, in another way, you
proved that during this recent athletic contest. I followed that
very closely and I say without hesitation that it was a remarkably
fine bit of work and the reactions were of the best. Jack, I
believe that you would make a great manager if you gave yourself to
it, and thought it worth while. Now, listen to me." Thereupon the
father proceeded to lay before his son the immediately pressing
problems in the business--the financial obligations already
assumed, the heavy accumulation of stock for which there were no
markets, the increasing costs in production with no hope of relief,
but rather every expectation of added burdens in this direction.
As he listened to his father, Jack was appalled with what he
considered the overwhelmingly disastrous situation in which the
business was placed. At the same time he saw his father in a new
light. This silent, stern, reserved man assumed a role of hero in
his eyes, facing desperate odds and silently fighting a lonely and
doubtful battle. The son was smitten with a sense of his own
futility. In him was born a desire and a resolve to stand beside
his father in this conflict and if the battle went against them, to
share in the defeat.
"Dad," cried his son impulsively, "I am a rotter. I have been of
no help to you, but only a burden. I had no idea the situation was
so serious." Remorse and alarm showed in his tone.
"Don't misunderstand me," said his father. "This is new to you and
appears more serious than it is. There is really no ground, or
little ground, for anxiety or alarm. Let me give you the other
side." Then he proceeded to set forth the resources of the
business, the extent of his credit, his plans to meet the present
situation and to prepare for possible emergencies. "We are not at
the wall yet, by any means, Jack," he said, his voice ringing out
with a resolute courage. "But I am bound to say that if any sudden
or untoward combination of circumstances, a strike, for instance,
should arise, disaster might follow."
Jack's heart sank still lower. He was practically certain that a
strike was imminent. Although without any official confirmation of
his suspicions, he had kept his eyes and ears opened and he was
convinced that trouble was unavoidable. As his father continued to
set forth his plans, his admiration for him grew. He brought to
bear upon the problems with which he was grappling a clear head,
wide knowledge and steady courage. He was a general, planning a
campaign in the face of serious odds. He recalled a saying of his
old Commander-in-Chief in France: "War is a business and will be
won by the application of business principles and business methods.
Given a body of fighting men such as I command, the thing becomes a
problem of transportation, organization, reserve, insurance. War
is a business and will be won by fighting men directed or governed
by business principles." He was filled with regret that he had not
given himself more during these last months to the study of these
principles. The prospect of a fight against impending disaster
touched his imagination and stimulated him like a bugle call.
"I see what you want, father," he said. "You want to have some
good N. C. O.'s. The N. C. O. is the backbone of the army," he
quoted with a grin.
"N. C. O?" echoed his father. He was not sufficiently versed in
military affairs to catch the full meaning of the army rag.
"What I mean is," said Jack, "that no matter how able a military
commander is, he must have efficient subordinates to carry on. No
Colonel can do his own company and platoon work."
His father nodded: "You've got it, Jack. I want a manager to whom
I can entrust a policy without ever having to think of it again. I
don't want a man who gets on top of the load, but one who gets
"You want a good adjutant, father, and a sergeant-major."
"I suppose so," said the father, "although your military terms are
a little beyond me. After all, the thing is simple enough. On the
management side, we want increase in production, which means
decrease in production costs, and this means better organization of
the work and the workers."
Jack nodded and after a moment, said: "May I add, sir, one thing
"Yes," said his father.
"Team play," said Jack. "That is my specialty, you know.
Individualism in a game may be spectacularly attractive, but it
doesn't get the goal."
"Team play," said his father. "Co-operation, I suppose you mean.
My dear boy, this is no time for experimentation in profit-sharing
schemes, if that is what you are after. Anyway, the history of
profiteering schemes as I have read it is not such as to warrant
entire confidence in their soundness. You cannot change the
economic system overnight."
"That is true enough, Dad," said his son, "and perhaps I am a fool.
But I remember, and you remember, what everybody said, and
especially what the experts said, about the military methods and
tactics before the war. You say you cannot change the economic
system overnight, and yet the whole military system was changed
practically overnight. In almost every particular, there was a
complete revolution. Cavalry, fortress defences, high explosives,
the proper place for machine guns, field tactics, in fact, the
whole business was radically changed. And if we hadn't changed,
they would be speaking German in the schools of England, like
enough, by this time."
"Jack, you may be right," said his father, with a touch of
impatience, "but I don't want to be worried just now. It is easy
enough for your friend, Matheson, and other academic industrial
directors, to suggest experiments with other people's money. If we
could only get production, I would not mind very much what wages we
had to pay. But I confess when industrial strife is added to my
other burdens, it is almost more than I can bear."
"I am awfully sorry, Dad," replied his son. "I have no wish to
worry you, but how are you going to get production? Everybody says
it has fallen off terribly during and since the war. How are you
going to bring it up? Not by the pay envelope, I venture to say,
and that is why I suggested team play. And I am not thinking about
co-operative schemes of management, either. Some way must be found
to interest the fellows in their job, in the work itself, as
distinct from the financial returns. Unless the chaps are
interested in the game, they won't get the goals."
"My boy," said his father wearily, "that old interest in work is
gone. That old pride in work which we used to feel when I was at
the job myself, is gone. We have a different kind of workman
"Dad, don't believe that," said Jack. "Remember the same thing was
said before the war. We used to hear all about that decadent race
stuff. The war proved it to be all rot. The race is as fine as
ever it was. Our history never produced finer fighting men."
"You may be right," said his father. "If we could only get rid of
these cursed agitators."
"There again, Dad, if you will excuse me, I believe you are
mistaken. I have been working with these men for the last nine
months, I have attended very regularly the meetings of their unions
and I have studied the whole situation with great care. The union
is a great institution. I am for it heart and soul. It is soundly
and solidly democratic, and the agitators cut very little figure.
I size up the whole lot about this way: Fifty per cent of the men
are steady-going fellows with ambition to climb; twenty-five per
cent are content to grub along for the day's pay and with no great
ambition worrying them. Of the remainder, ten per cent are sincere
and convinced reformers, more or less half-baked intellectuals; ten
per cent love the sound of their own voices, hate work and want to
live by their jaw, five per cent only are unscrupulous and selfish
agitators. But, Dad, believe me, fire-brands may light fires, but
solid fagots only can keep fires going. You cannot make
conflagrations out of torches alone."
"That is Matheson, I suppose," said his father, smiling at him.
"Well, I own up. I have got a lot of stuff from Matheson. All the
same I believe I have fairly sized up the labour situation."
"Boy, boy," said his father, "I am tired of it all. I believe with
some team play you and I could make it go. Alone, I am not so
sure. Will you take the job?"
There was silence between them for a few minutes. Then Jack
answered slowly: "I am not sure of myself at all, Dad, but I can
see you must have someone and I am willing to try the planing
"Thank you, boy," said his father, stretching his hand quickly
across the table, "I will back you up and won't worry you. Within
reasonable limits I will give you a free hand."
"I know you will, Dad," said Jack, "and of course I have been in
the army long enough to know the difference between the O. C. and
"Now, what about Tony?" inquired Maitland, reverting suddenly to
what both felt to be a painful and perplexing problem. "What are
we to do with him?"
"I will take him on," said Jack. "I suppose I must."
"He will be a heavy handicap to you, boy. Is there no other way?"
"I see no other way," Jack replied. "I will give him a trial.
Shall I bring him in?"
"Bring him in."
In a minute or two Jack returned with Tony. As Maitland's eyes
fell upon him, he could not prevent a start of shocked surprise.
"Why, Tony!" he exclaimed. "What in all the world is wrong with
you? You are ill." Trembling, pale, obviously unstrung, Tony
stood before him, his shifty eyes darting now at one face, then at
the other, his hands restless, his whole appearance suggesting an
imminent nervous collapse. "Why, Tony, boy, what is wrong with
you?" repeated Maitland. The kindly tone proved too much for
Tony's self-control. He gulped, choked, and stood speechless, his
eyes cast down to the floor.
"Sit down, Tony," said Maitland. "Give him a chair, Jack."
But Jack said, "He doesn't need a chair. He is not here for a
visit. You wanted to say something to him, did you not?" Jack's
dry, matter-of-fact and slightly contemptuous tone had an instant
and extraordinary effect upon the wretched man beside him.
Instantly, Tony stiffened up. His head went back, he cast a swift
glance at Jack's face, whose smile, slightly quizzical, slightly
contemptuous, appeared to bite into his vitals. A hot flame of
colour swept his pale and pasty face.
"I want a job, sir," he said, in a tone low and fierce, looking
straight at Mr. Maitland.
Maitland, taking his cue from his son, replied in a quiet voice:
"Can you hold a job?"
"God knows," said Tony.
"He does," replied Maitland, "but what about you?"
Tony stood for a few moments saying nothing, darting uncertain
glances now and then at Jack, on whose face still lingered the
smile which Tony found so disturbing.
"If you want work," continued Mr. Maitland, "and want to make it
go, Tony, you can go with Jack. He will give it to you."
"Jack!" exclaimed Tony. His face was a study. Uncertainty, fear,
hope, disappointment were all there.
"Yes, Jack," said Mr. Maitland. "He is manager in these works
Tony threw back his head and laughed. "I guess I will have to
work, then," he said.
"You just bet you will, Tony," replied Jack. "Come along, we will
"I am taking you home. See you to-night, sir," Jack added, nodding
to his father.
The two young men passed out together to the car.
"Yes, Tony," said Jack, "I have taken over your job."
"My job? What do you mean by that?" asked Tony, bitter and sullen
in face and tone.
"I am the new manager of the planing mill. Dad had you slated for
that position, but you hadn't manager-timber in you."
Tony's answer was an oath, deep and heartfelt.
"Yes," continued Jack, "manager-timber is rare and slow-growing
Again Tony swore but kept silence, and so remained till they had
reached his home. Together they walked into the living room.
There they found Annette, and with her McNish. Both rose upon
their entrance, McNish showing some slight confusion, and assuming
the attitude of a bulldog on guard, Annette vividly eager,
"Well," she cried, her hands going fluttering to her bosom.
"I have got a job, Annette," said Tony, with a short laugh. "Here
is my boss."
For a moment the others stood looking at Jack, surprised into
"I tell you, he is the new manager," repeated Tony, "and he is my
"What does he mean, Jack?" cried the girl, coming forward to
Maitland with a quick, impulsive movement.
"Just what he says, Annette. I am the new manager of the planing
mill and I have given Tony a job."
Again there fell a silence. Into the eyes of the bulldog McNish
there shot a strange gleam of something that seemed almost like
pleasure. In those brief moments of silence life was readjusting
itself with them all. Maitland had passed from the rank and file
of the workers into the class of those who direct and control their
work. Bred as they were and trained as they were in the democratic
atmosphere of Canada, they were immediately conscious of the
shifting of values.
Annette was the first to break silence. "I wish I could thank
you," she said, "but I cannot. I cannot." The girl's face had
changed. The eager light had faded from her dark eyes, her hands
dropped quietly to her side. "But I am sure you know," she added
after a pause, "how very, very grateful I am, how grateful we all
are, Mr. Maitland."
"Annette," said Jack severely, "drop that 'Mr.' stuff. I was your
friend yesterday. Am I any less your friend to-day? True enough,
I am Tony's boss, but Tony is my friend--that is, if he wants to
have it so. You must believe this, Annette."
He offered her his hand. With a sudden impulse she took it in both
of hers and held it hard against her breast, her eyes meanwhile
burning into his with a look of adoration, open and unashamed. She
apparently forgot the others in the room.
"Jack," she cried, her voice thrilling with passion, "I don't care
what you are. I don't care what you think. I will never, never
forget what you have done for me."
Maitland flung a swift glance at McNish and was startled at the
look of rage, of agonised rage, that convulsed his face.
"My dear Annette," he said, with a light laugh, "don't make too
much of it. I was glad to help Tony and you. Why shouldn't I help
As he was speaking they heard the sound of a door closing and
looking about, Jack found that McNish had gone, to be followed by
Tony a moment or two later.
"Oh, never mind him," cried Annette, answering Jack's look of
surprise. "He has to go to work. And it doesn't matter in the
Jack was vaguely disturbed by McNish's sudden disappearance.
"But, Annette," he said, "I don't want McNish to think that I--that
"What?" She leaned toward him, her face all glowing with warm and
eager light, her eyes aflame, her bosom heaving. "What, Jack?" she
whispered. "What does it matter what he thinks?"
He put out his hands. With a quick, light step she was close to
him, her face lifted up in passionate surrender. Swiftly Jack's
arms went around her and he drew her toward him.
"Annette, dear," he said, and his voice was quiet and kind, too
kind. "You are a dear girl and a good girl, and I am glad to have
helped you and shall always be glad to help you."
The door opened and Tony slipped into the room. With passionate
violence, Annette threw away the encircling arms.
"Ah!" she cried, a sob catching her voice. "You--you shame me.
No--I shame myself." Rigid, with head flung back, she stood before
him, her eyes ablaze with passionate anger, her hands clenched
tight. She had flung herself at him and had been rejected.
"What the devil is this?" cried Tony, striding toward them. "What
is he doing to you, Annette?"
"He?" cried Annette, her breath coming in sobs. "To me? Nothing!
Keep out of it, Tony." She pushed him fiercely aside. "He has
done nothing! No! No! Nothing but what is good and kind. Ah!
kind. Yes, kind." Her voice rose shrill in scorn of herself and
of him. "Oh, yes, he is kind." She laughed wildly, then broke
into passionate tears. She turned from them and fled to her room,
leaving the two men looking at each other.
"Poor child," said Jack, the first to recover speech. "She is
quite all in. She has had two hard weeks of it."
"Two hard weeks," repeated Tony, his eyes glaring. "What is the
matter with my sister? What have you done to her?" His voice was
like the growl of a savage dog.
"Don't be a confounded fool, Tony," replied Jack. "You ought to
know what is the matter with your sister. You have had something
to do with it. And now your job is to see if you can make it up to
her. To-morrow morning, at seven o'clock, remember," he said
curtly, and, turning on his heel, he passed out.
It seemed to Jack as he drove home that life had suddenly become a
tangle of perplexities and complications. First there was Annette.
He was genuinely distressed as he thought of the scene through
which they had just passed. That he himself had anything to do
with her state of mind did not occur to him.
"Poor little girl," he said to himself, "she really needs a change
of some sort, a complete rest. We must find some way of helping
her. She will be all right in a day or two." With which he
dismissed the subject.
Then there was McNish. McNish was a sore puzzle to him. He had
come to regard the Scotchman with a feeling of sincere friendliness.
He remembered gratefully his ready and efficient help against the
attacks of the radical element among his fellow workmen. On several
occasions he, with the Reverend Murdo Matheson, had foregathered in
the McNish home to discuss economic problems over a quiet pipe. He
was always conscious of a reserve deepening at times to a sullenness
in McNish's manner, the cause of which he could not certainly
discover. That McNish was possessed of a mentality of more than
ordinary power there was no manner of doubt. Jack had often
listened with amazement to his argumentation with the Reverend
Murdo, against whom he proved over and over again his ability to
hold his own, the minister's superiority as a trained logician being
more than counterbalanced by his antagonist's practical experience.
As he thought of these evenings, he was ready to believe that his
suspicion of the Scotchman's ill-will toward himself was due
largely to imagination, and yet he could not rid himself of the
unpleasant memory of McNish's convulsed face that afternoon.
"What the deuce is the matter with the beggar, anyway?" he said to
Suddenly a new suggestion came to him.
"It can't be," he added, "surely the idiot is not jealous." Then
he remembered Annette's attitude at the moment, her hands pressing
his hard to her breast, her face lifted up in something more than
appeal. "By Jove! I believe that may be it," he mused. "And
Annette? Had she observed it? What was in her heart? Was there a
reason for the Scotchman's jealousy on that side?"
This thought disturbed him greatly. He was not possessed of a
larger measure of self-conceit than falls to the lot of the average
young man, but the thought that possibly Annette had come to regard
him other than as a friend released a new tide of emotion within
him. Rapidly he passed in review many incidents in their
association during the months since he returned from the war, and
gradually the conviction forced itself upon him that possibly
McNish was not without some cause for jealousy. It was rotten luck
and was bound to interfere with their present happy relations. Yet
none the less was he conscious that it was not altogether an
unpleasant thought to him that in some subtle way a new bond had
been established between this charming young girl and himself.
But he must straighten things out with McNish at the very first
opportunity. He was a decent chap and would make Annette a first-
rate husband. Indeed, it pleased Jack not a little to feel that he
would be able to further the fortunes of both. McNish had good
foreman timber in him and would make a capable assistant. As to
this silly prejudice of his, Jack resolved that he would take steps
immediately to have that removed. That he could accomplish this he
had little doubt.
But the most acutely pressing of the problems that engaged his mind
were those that arose out of his new position as manager. The mere
organizing and directing of men in their work gave him little
anxiety. He was sure of himself as far as that was concerned. He
was sure of his ability to introduce among the men a system of team
play that would result in increased production and would induce
altogether better results. He thought he knew where the weak spots
were. He counted greatly upon the support of the men who had been
associated with him in the Maitland Mills Athletic Association.
With their backing, he was certain that he could eliminate most of
that very considerable wastage in time that even a cursory
observation had revealed to him in the shops, due to such causes as
dilatory workers, idle machines, lack of co-ordination, improper
routing of work, and the like. He had the suspicion that a little
investigation would reveal other causes of wastage as well.
There was one feature in the situation that gave him concern and
that was the radical element in the unions. Simmons and his gang
had from the very first assumed an attitude of hostility to
himself, had sought to undermine his influence and had fought his
plans for the promotion of clean sport among the Mill men. None
knew better than Simmons that an active interest in clean and
vigorous outdoor sports tended to produce contentment of mind, and
a contented body of men offered unfertile soil for radical and
socialistic doctrines. Hence, Simmons had from the first openly
and vociferously opposed with contemptuous and bitter indignation
all Jack's schemes and plans for the promotion of athletic sports.
But Jack had been able to carry the men with him and the recent
splendid victory over a famous team had done much to discredit
brother Simmons and his propaganda.
Already Jack was planning a new schedule of games for the summer.
Baseball, football, cricket, would give occupation and interest to
all classes of Mill workers. And in his new position he felt he
might be able, to an even greater degree, to carry out the plans
which he had in mind. On the other hand, he knew full well that
men were apt to be suspicious of welfare schemes "promoted from
above." His own hockey men he felt sure he could carry with him.
If he could only win McNish to be his sergeant-major, success would
be assured. This must be his first care.
He well knew that McNish had no love for Simmons, whom the
Scotchman despised first, because he was no craftsman, and chiefly
because he had no soundly-based system of economics but was
governed by the sheerest opportunism in all his activities. A
combination between McNish and Simmons might create a situation not
easy to deal with. Jack resolved that that combination should be
prevented. He would see McNish at once, after the meeting of his
local, which he remembered was set for that very night.
This matter being settled, he determined to proceed immediately to
the office for an interview with Wickes. He must get to know as
speedily as possible something of the shop organization and of its
effect upon production. He found Mr. Wickes awaiting him with
tremulous and exultant delight, eager to put himself, his
experience, his knowledge and all that he possessed at the disposal
of the new manager. The whole afternoon was given to this work,
and before the day was done, Jack had in his mind a complete
picture of the planing mill, with every machine in place and an
estimate, more or less exact, of the capacity of every machine. In
the course of this investigation, he was surprised to discover that
there was no detailed record of the actual production of each
machine, nor, indeed, anything in the way of an accurate cost
system in any department of the whole business.
"How do you keep track of your men and their work, Wickes?" he
"Oh!" said the old man, "the foremen know all about that, Mr.
"But how can they know? What check have they?"
"Well, they are always about, Mr. Jack, and keep their eyes on
"I see," said Jack. "And do you find that works quite
"Well, sir, we have never gone into details, you know, Mr. Jack,
but if you wish--"
"Oh, no, Wickes, I am just trying to get the hang of things, you
know." Jack was unwilling to even suggest a criticism of method at
so early a stage in his managerial career. "I want to know how you
run things, Wickes, and at any time I shall be glad of assistance
The old bookkeeper hastened to give him almost tearful assurance of
his desire to assist to the utmost of his power.
The meeting of Local 197 of the Woodworkers' Union was largely
attended, a special whip having been sent out asking for a full
meeting on the ground that a matter of vital importance to
unionised labour was to be considered.
The matter of importance turned out to be nothing less than a
proposition that the Woodworkers' Union should join with all other
unions in the town to make a united demand upon their respective
employers for an increase in wages and better conditions all
around, in connection with their various industries. The question
was brought up in the form of a resolution from their executive,
which strongly urged that this demand should be approved and that a
joint committee should be appointed to take steps for the
enforcement of the demand. The executive had matters thoroughly in
hand. Brother Simmons and the more radical element were kept to
the background, the speakers chosen to present the case being all
moderates. There was no suggestion of extreme measures. Their
demands were reasonable, and it was believed that the employers
were prepared to give fair consideration--indeed, members had had
assurance from an authoritative quarter on the other side that such
was the case.
Notwithstanding the moderate tone adopted in presenting it, the
resolution met with strenuous opposition. The great majority of
those present were quiet, steady-going men who wanted chiefly to
be let alone at their work and who were hostile to the suggested
action, which might finally land them in "trouble." The old-time
workers in the Maitland Mills had no grievances against their
employer. They, of course, would gladly accept an increase in
wages, for the cost of living was steadily climbing, but they
disliked intensely the proposed method of making a general demand
for an increase in wages and for better conditions.
The sporting element in the meeting were frankly and fiercely
antagonistic to anything that would disturb the present friendly
relation with their employers in the Maitland Mills. "The old man"
had always done the square thing. He had shown himself a "regular
fellow" in backing them up in all their games during the past year.
He had always given them a fair hearing and a square deal. They
would not stand for any hold-up game of this sort. It was a low-
down game, anyway.
The promoters of the resolution began to be anxious for their
cause. They had not anticipated any such a strong opposition and
were rather nonplussed as to the next move. Brother Simmons was in
a fury and was on the point of breaking forth into a passionate
denunciation of scabs and traitors generally when, to the amazement
of all and the intense delight of the supporters of the
administration, McNish arose and gave unqualified support to the
His speech was a masterpiece of diplomacy, and revealed his long
practice in the art of oratory in that best of all training
schools, the labour union of the Old Land. He began by expressing
entire sympathy with the spirit of the opposition. The opposition,
however, had completely misunderstood the intent and purport of the
resolution. None of them desired trouble. There need not be,
indeed, he hoped there would not be trouble, but there were certain
very ugly facts that must be faced. He then, in terse, forceful
language, presented the facts in connection with the cost of
living, quoting statistics from the Department of Labour to show
the steady rise in the price of articles of food, fuel and clothing
since the beginning of the war, a truly appalling array. He had
secured price lists from dealers in these commodities, both
wholesale and retail, to show the enormous profits made during the
war. There were returned soldiers present. They had not hesitated
at the call of duty to give all they had for their country. They
had been promised great things when they had left their homes,
their families, their business and their jobs. How had they found
things upon their return? He illustrated his argument from the
cases of men present. It was a sore spot with many of them and he
pressed hard upon it. They were suffering to-day; worse, their
wives and children were suffering. Had anyone heard of their
employers suffering? Here again he offered illustrations of men
who had made a good thing out of the war. True, there were many
examples of the other kind of employer, but they must deal with
classes and not individuals in a case like this. This was part of
a much bigger thing than any mere local issue. He drew upon his
experience in the homeland with overwhelming effect. His voice
rose and rolled in his richest Doric as he passionately denounced
the tyranny of the masters in the coal and iron industries in the
homeland. He was not an extremist; he had never been one. Indeed,
all who knew him would bear him out when he said that he had been
an opponent of Brother Simmons and those who thought with him on
economic questions. This sudden change in attitude would doubtless
surprise his brothers. He had been forced to change by the stern
logic of facts. There was nothing in this resolution which any
reasonable worker might object to. There was nothing in the
resolution that every worker with any sympathy with his fellow
workers should not support. Moreover, he warned them that if they
presented a united front, there would be little fear of trouble.
If they were divided in their ranks, or if they were halfhearted in
their demands, they would invite opposition and, therefore,
trouble. He asked them all to stand together in supporting a
reasonable demand, which he felt sure reasonable men would consider
The effect of his speech was overwhelming. The administration
supporters were exuberant in their enthusiastic applause and in
their vociferous demands for a vote. The opposition were paralysed
by the desertion of one whom they had regarded and trusted as a
leader against the radical element and were left without answer to
the masterly array of facts and arguments which he had presented.
At this point, the door opened and Maitland walked in. A few
moments of tense silence, and then something seemed to snap. The
opposition, led by the hockey men and their supporters, burst into
a demonstration of welcome. The violence of the demonstration was
not solely upon Maitland's account. The leaders of the opposition
were quick to realise that his entrance had created a diversion for
them which might save them from disastrous defeat. They made the
most of this opportunity, prolonging the demonstration and joining
in a "chair procession" which carried Maitland shoulder-high about
the room, in the teeth of the violent protest of Brother Simmons
and his following.
Order being restored, business was again resumed, when Brother
Macnamara rose to his feet and, in a speech incoherent at times,
but always forceful, proposed that the usual order be suspended
and that here and now a motion be carried expressing their
gratification at the recent great hockey victory and referring in
highly laudatory terms to the splendid work of Brother Captain
Maitland, to whose splendid efforts victory was largely due.
It was in vain that Brother Simmons and those of his way of
thinking sought to stem the tide of disorder. The motion was
carried with acclaim.
No sooner had this matter been disposed of than Maitland rose to
his feet and said:
"Mr. President, I wish to thank you all for this very kind
reference to my team and myself. I take very little credit for
the victory which we won. We had a good team, indeed, quite a
remarkable team. I have played in a good many athletic teams of
various kinds, but in two particulars the Maitland Mills Hockey
Team is the most remarkable of any I have known--first, in their
splendid loyalty in taking their training and sticking together;
that was beyond all praise; and, secondly, in the splendid grit
which they showed in playing a losing game. Now, Mr. President, I
am going to do something which gives me more regret than any of you
can understand. I have to offer my resignation as a member of this
union. I have accepted the position of manager of the planing mill
and I understand that this makes it necessary that I resign as a
member of this union. I don't really see why this should be
necessary. I don't believe myself that it should, and, brothers, I
expect to live long enough to belong to a union that will allow a
fellow like me to be a member with chaps like you. But meantime,
for the present I must resign. You have treated me like a brother
and a chum. I have learned a lot from you all, but one thing
especially, which I shall never forget: that there is no real
difference in men that is due to their position in life; that a
man's job doesn't change his heart."
He paused for a few moments as if to gather command of his voice,
which had become suddenly husky.
"I am sorry to leave you, boys, and I want to say to you from my
heart that though I cannot remain a member of this union, I can be
and I will be a brother to you all the same. And I promise you
that, as far as I can, I will work for the good of the union in the
future as I have done in the past."
McNish alone was prepared for this dramatic announcement, although
they all knew that Maitland sooner or later would assume a position
which would link him up with the management of the business. But
the suddenness of the change and the dramatic setting of the
announcement created an impression so profound as to neutralise
completely the effect of McNish's masterly speech.
Disappointed and enraged at the sudden turn of events, he was too
good a general to allow himself to be routed in disorder. He set
about to gather his disordered forces for a fresh attack, when once
more the hockey men took command of the field. This time it was
Snoopy Sykes, the most voiceless member of the union.
After a few moments of dazed silence that followed Maitland's
announcement of his resignation, Snoopy rose and, encouraged by the
cheers of his astonished comrades, began the maiden speech of his
"Mr. President," he shouted.
"Go to it, Snoopy, old boy."
"I never made a speech in my life, never--"
"Good, old scout, never begin younger! Cheerio, old son!"
"And I want to say that he don't need to. I once heard of a feller
who didn't. He kept on and he didn't do no harm to nobody. And
the Captain here wouldn't neither. So what I say is he don't need
to," and Snoopy sat down with the whole brotherhood gazing at him
in silence and amazed perplexity, not one of them being able to
attach the faintest meaning to Snoopy's amazing oration.
At length Fatty Findlay, another of the voiceless ones, but the
very special pal of Snoopy Sykes, broke forth in a puzzled voice:
"Say it again, Snoopy."
There was a roar of laughter, which only grew in volume as Snoopy
turned toward his brothers a wrathful and bewildered countenance.
"No," said another voice. "Say something else, Snoopy. Shoot a
goal this time."
Again Snoopy rose. "What I said was this," he began indignantly.
Again there was a roar of laughter.
"Say, you fellers, shut up and give a feller a chance. The Captain
wants to resign. I say 'No.' He is a darned good scout. We want
him and we won't let him go. Let him keep his card."
"By the powers," roared Macnamara, "it is a goal, Snoopy. It's a
humdinger. I second the motion."
It was utterly in vain that Brother Simmons and his whole following
pointed out unitedly and successively the utter impossibility and
absurdity of the proposal which was unconstitutional and without
precedent. The hockey team had the company with them and with the
bit in their teeth swept all before them.
At this point, McNish displayed the master-hand that comes from
long experience. He saw his opportunity and seized it.
"Mr. President," he said, and at once he received the most complete
attention. "A confess this is a most extraordinary proposal, but
A'm goin' tae support it." The roar that answered told him that he
had regained control of the meeting. "Brother Simmons says it is
unconstitutional and without precedent. He is no correct in this.
A have known baith maisters and managers who retained their union
cards. A grant ye it is unusual, but may I point oot that the
circumstances are unusual?"--Wild yells of approval--"And Captain
Maitland is an unusual man"--louder yells of approval--"It may that
there is something in the constitution o' this union that stands in
the way--"Cries of "No! No!" and consignment of the constitution to
a nameless locality.--"A venture to suggest that a committee be
appointed, consisting of Brothers Sykes, Macnamara and the
chairman, wi' poors tae add, tae go into this maitter with Captain
Maitland and report."
It was a master-stroke. A true union man regards with veneration
the constitution and hesitates to tamper with it except in a
perfectly constitutional manner. The opposition to the
administration's original resolution had gained what they sought, a
temporary stay. The committee was appointed and the danger to both
the resolution and the constitution for the present averted.
Again Mr. McNish took command. "And noo, Mr. President," he said,
"the oor is late. We are all tired and we all wish to give mair
thocht to the main maitter before us. A move, therefore, that we
adjourn to the call o' the Executive."
Once more Brother Simmons found himself in a protesting minority,
and the meeting broke up, the opposition jubilant over their
victory, the supporters of the administration determined to await a
more convenient time.
LIGHT THAT IS DARKNESS
At the next monthly meeting of Local 197 of the Woodworkers' Union,
the executive had little difficulty in finally shelving the report
of its committee appointed to deal with the resignation of Captain
Maitland, and as little difficulty in passing by unanimous vote
their resolution held up at the last meeting. The allied unions
had meantime been extended to include the building trades. Their
organization had been perfected and their discipline immensely
strengthened. Many causes contributed to this result. A month's
time had elapsed and the high emotional tides due to athletic
enthusiasm, especially the hockey victory, had had space to
subside. The dead season for all outdoor games was upon them and
the men, losing touch with each other and with their captain, who
was engrossed in studying his new duties, began to spend their
leisure hours in loafing about the streets or lounging in the pool
All over the country the groundswell of unrest was steadily and
rapidly rising. The returned soldiers who had failed to readjust
themselves to the changed conditions of life and to the changes
wrought in themselves by the war, embittered, disillusioned and
disappointed, fell an easy prey to unscrupulous leaders and were
being exploited in the interests of all sorts of fads and foolish
movements. Their government bonuses were long since spent and many
of them, through no fault of their own, found themselves facing a
situation full of difficulty, hardship, and often of humiliation.
Under the influence of financial inflation and deceived by the
abundant flow of currency in every department of business,
industries by the score started up all over the land. Few could
foresee the approach of dark and stern days. It was in vain that
financial leaders began to sound a note of warning, calling for
retrenchment and thrift. And now the inevitable results were
beginning to appear. The great steel and coal industries began to
curtail their operations, while desperately striving to maintain war
prices for their products. Other industries followed their example.
All the time the cost of living continued to mount. Foodstuffs
reached unheard-of prices, which, under the manipulations of
unscrupulous dealers, continued to climb.
Small wonder that working men with high wages and plenty of money
in their hands cherished exaggerated ideas of their wealth and
developed extravagant tastes in dress, amusements and in standard
of living. With the rest of the world, they failed to recognise
the fact that money was a mere counter in wealth and not wealth
itself. To a large extent, thrift was abandoned and while deposits
in the savings banks grew in volume, the depositors failed to
recognise the fact that the value of the dollar had decreased fifty
per cent. Already the reaction from all this had begun to set in.
Nervousness paralysed the great financial institutions. The fiat
went forth "No more money for industrial enterprises. No more
advances on wholesale stocks." The order was issued "Retrench.
Take your losses, unload your stocks." This men were slow to do,
and while all agreed upon the soundness of the policy, each waited
for the other to begin.
Through the month of April anxiety, fear and discontent began to
haunt the minds of business men. In the labour world the High
Command was quick to sense the approach of a crisis and began to
make preparations for the coming storm. The whole industrial and
commercial world gradually crystallised into its two opposing
classes. A subsidised press began earnestly to demand lower cost
in productions retrenchment in expenditure, a cut in labour costs,
a general and united effort to meet the inevitable burden of
On the other hand, an inspired press began to raise an outcry
against the increasing cost of living, to point out the effect of
the house famine upon the income of the working man, and to sound a
warning as to the danger and folly of any sudden reduction in the
Increased activity in the ranks of organised labour began to be
apparent. Everywhere the wild and radical element was gaining in
influence and in numbers, and the spirit of faction and internecine
strife became rampant.
It was due to the dominating forcefulness of McNish, the leader of
the moderates, that the two factions in the allied unions had been
consolidated, and a single policy agreed upon. His whole past had
been a preparation for just a crisis as the present. His wide
reading, his shrewd practical judgment, his large experience in
labour movements in the Old Land, gave him a position of commanding
influence which enabled him to dominate the executives and direct
their activities. His sudden and unexplained acceptance of the
more radical program won for him an enthusiastic following of the
element which had hitherto recognised the leadership of Brother
Simmons. Day and night, with a zeal that never tired, he laboured
at the work of organising and disciplining the various factions and
parties in the ranks of labour into a single compact body of
fighting men under a single command. McNish was in the grip of one
of the mightiest of human passions. Since that day in the Perrotte
home, when he had seen the girl that he loved practically offer
herself, as he thought, to another man, he had resolutely kept
himself away from her. He had done with her forever and he had
torn out of his heart the genuine friendship which he had begun to
hold toward the man who had deprived him of her love. But deep in
his heart he nourished a passion for vengeance that became an
obsession, a madness with him. He merely waited the opportunity to
gratify his passion.
He learned that the Maitland Mills were in deep water, financially.
His keen economic instinct and his deep study of economic movements
told him that a serious financial crisis, continent-wide, was
inevitable and imminent. It only needed a successful labour war to
give the final touch that would bring the whole industrial fabric
tumbling into ruin. The desire for immediate revenge upon the man
toward whom he had come to cherish an implacable hatred would not
suffer him to await the onset of a nation-wide industrial crisis.
He fancied that he saw the opportunity for striking an immediate
blow here in Blackwater.
He steadily thwarted Maitland's attempts to get into touch with
him, whether at the works or in his own home, where Maitland had
become a frequent visitor. He was able only partially to allay his
mother's anxiety and her suspicion that all was not well with him.
That shrewd old lady knew her son well enough to suspect that some
untoward circumstance had befallen him, but she knew also that she
could do no more than bide her time.
With the workers of the Maitland Mills circumstances favoured the
plans of McNish and the Executive of the allied unions. The new
manager was beginning to make his hand felt upon the wheel. Checks
upon wastage in labour time and in machine time were being
instituted; everywhere there was a tightening up of loose screws
and a knitting up of loose ends, with the inevitable consequent
irritation. This was especially true in the case of Tony Perrotte,
to whom discipline was ever an external force and never an inward
compulsion. Inexact in everything he did, irregular in his habits,
irresponsible in his undertakings, he met at every turn the
pressure of the firm, resolute hand of the new manager. Deep down
in his heart there was an abiding admiration and affection for Jack
Maitland, but he loathed discipline and kicked against it.
The first of May is ever a day of uncertainty and unrest in the
world of labour. It is a time for readjustment, for the fixing of
wage scales, for the assertion of labour rights and the ventilating
of labour wrongs. It is a time favourable to upheaval, and is
therefore awaited by all employers of labour with considerable
On the surface there was not a ripple to indicate that as far as
the Maitland Mills were concerned there was beneath a surging tide
of unrest. So undisturbed indeed was the surface that the
inexperienced young manager was inclined to make light of the
anxieties of his father, and was confident in his assurance that
the danger of a labour crisis had, for the present at least, been
Out of the blue heaven fell the bolt. The mails on May Day morning
brought to the desk of every manager of every industry in
Blackwater, and to every building contractor, a formal document
setting forth in terms courteous but firm the demands of the
executives of the allied unions of Blackwater.
"Well, it has come, boy," was Maitland's greeting to his son, who
came into the office for the usual morning consultation.
"What?" said Jack.
"War," replied his father, tossing him the letter and watching his
face as he read it.
Jack handed him the letter without a word.
"Well, what do you think of it?" said his father.
"It might be worse."
"Worse?" roared his father. "Worse? How can it be worse?"
"Well, it is really a demand for an increase in wages. The others,
I believe, are mere frills. And between ourselves, sir, though I
haven't gone into it very carefully, I am not sure but that an
increase in wages is about due."
Maitland glowered at his son in a hurt and hopeless rage.
"An increase in wages due?" he said. "After the increase of six
months ago? The thing is preposterous. The ungrateful
At this point the telephone upon his desk rang. Jack took up the
"Good morning, Mr. McGinnis. . . . Yes, he is here. Yes. . . .
At least, I suppose so. . . . Oh, I don't know. . . . It is
rather peremptory. . . . All right, sir, I shall tell him."
"Let me talk to him," said his father, impatiently.
"Never mind just now, Dad," said Jack, with his hand over the
receiver. Then through the telephone he said: "All right, sir; he
will await you here. Good morning."
". . . The old boy is wild," said Jack with a slight laugh. "The
wires are quite hot."
"This is no joke, Jack, I can tell you. McGinnis is coming over,
"Yes," replied Jack, "but we won't get much help from him."
"Why not?" inquired his father. "He is a very shrewd and able
"He may be all that, sir, but in a case like this, if you really
want my opinion, and I have no wish to be disrespectful, he is a
hot-headed ass. Just the kind of employer to rejoice the heart of
a clever labour leader who is out for trouble. Dad," and Jack's
voice became very earnest, "let's work this out by ourselves. We
can handle our own men better without the help of McGinnis or any
"That is just the trouble. Look at this precious document, 'The
Allied Unions.' What have I got to do with them? And signed by
Simmons and McDonough. Who is McDonough, pray?"
"McDonough? Oh, I know McDonough. He is a little like McGinnis--
big-hearted, hot-headed, good in a scrap, useless in a conference.
But I suggest, sir, that we ignore the slight unpleasant
technicalities in the manner and method of negotiation and try to
deal with our own people in a reasonable way."
"I am ready always to meet my own people, but I refuse utterly to
deal with this committee!" It was not often that Mr. Maitland
became profane, but in his description of this particular group of
individuals his ordinary English suffered a complete collapse.
"Dad, McGinnis will be here in a few minutes. I should like to
suggest one or two things, if you will allow me."
"Go on," said his father quickly.
"Dad, this is war, and I have learned a little about that game
'over there.' And I have learned something about it in my athletic
activities. The first essential is to decline to play the enemy's
game. Let's discover his plan of campaign. As I read this
document, the thing that hits my eye is this: do they really want
the things they ask for, or is the whole thing a blind? What I
mean is, do they really want war or peace? I say let's feel them
out. If they are after peace, the thing is easy. If they want
war, this may come to be a very serious thing. Meantime, Dad,
let's not commit ourselves to McGinnis. Let's play it alone."
Mr. Maitland's lips had set in a thin, hard line. His face was
like a mask of grey steel. He sat thinking silently.
"Here he comes," said Jack, looking out of the window. "Dad, you
asked me to come into this with you. Let's play the game together.
I found it wise to place the weight on the defence line. Will you
play defence in this?"
The lines in his father's face began to relax.
"All right, boy, we'll play it together, and meantime I shall play
"By Jove, Dad," cried Jack, in a tone of exultant confidence,
"we'll beat 'em. And now here comes that old Irish fire-eater.
I'll go. No alliance, Dad, remember." His father nodded as Jack
left the room, to return almost immediately with Mr. McGinnis,
evidently quite incoherent with rage.
In the outer office Jack paused beside the desk of the old
bookkeeper. From behind the closed door came the sound of high
"Rough stuff in there, eh, Wickes," said Jack, with a humorous
smile. For some moments he stood listening. "War is a terrible
thing," he added with a grin.
"What seems to be the matter, Mr. Jack?"
Jack laid before him the document sent out by the Allied Unions.
"Oh, this is terrible, Mr. Jack! And just at this time. I am very
much afraid it will ruin us."
"Ruin us? Rot. Don't ever say that word again. We will possibly
have a jolly good row. Someone will be hurt and perhaps all of us,
more or less, but I don't mean to be beaten, if I know myself," he
added, with the smile on his face that his hockey team loved to see
before a match. "Now, Wickes," continued Jack, "get that idea of
failure out of your mind. We are going to win. And meantime, let
us prepare for our campaign. Here's a bit of work I want you to do
for me. Get four things for me: the wages for the last three
years--you have the sheets?"
"--The cost of living from the Labour Gazette for the last three
years--you have them here--and the rates of increase in wages.
Plot a diagram showing all these things. You know what I mean?"
"Yes, sir, I understand."
"And find out the wages paid at our competing points."
"All right, Mr. Jack. I know what you want. I can give you the
necessary information in regard to the first three points almost at
once. It will take some days, however, to get the wages of our
"All right, old boy. Carry on!" said Jack, and with the same smile
on his face he passed out of the office into the shops.
It amused him slightly to observe the change in the attitude and
bearing of his men. They would not look at him fairly in the face.
Even Snoopy Sykes and Macnamara avoided his glance. But he had for
everyone his usual cheery word. Why should he not? These chaps
had no hatred for him, nor he for them. He had come to understand
union methods of discipline and recognised fully the demands for
loyalty and obedience imposed upon its members by the organisation.
These men of his were bound to the union by solemn obligations. He
bore them no ill-will on that score. Rather he respected them the
more for it. If a fight was inevitable, he would do his best to
beat them but he would allow no spirit of hatred to change his mind
toward them nor cloud his judgment.
The day was full of excursions and alarms. A hurry call was sent
out by McGinnis to all employers who had received copies of the
document from the Allied Unions. In the afternoon a meeting was
held in the Board of Trade Building, but it was given over chiefly
to vituperation and threatening directed toward their variously
described employees. With one heart and voice all affirmed with
solemn, and in many cases with profane oaths that they would not
yield a jot to the insolent demands of this newly organised body.
"I have already sent my answer," shouted Mr. McGinnis.
"What did you say, Mac?"
"Told 'em to go to hell, and told 'em that if any of these highly
coloured committee men came on my premises, I would kick 'em into
the middle of next week."
Jack, who was present at the meeting, sat listening with silent and
amused pity. They seemed to him so like a group of angry children
whose game had suddenly been interfered with and whose rage
rendered them incapable of coherent thought.
Grant Maitland, who, throughout the meeting had sat silent, finally
rose and said: "Gentlemen, the mere expression of feeling may
afford a sort of satisfaction but the question is, What is to be
done? That the situation is grave for all of us we know too well.
Not many of us are in a position to be indifferent to a strike.
Let us get down to business. What shall we do?"
"Fight them to a finish! Smash the unions!" were the suggestions
in various forms and with various descriptive adjectives.
"It may come to a fight, gentlemen, but however gratifying a fight
may be to our feelings, a fight may be disastrous to our business.
A strike may last for weeks, perhaps months. Are we in a position
to stand that? And as for smashing the unions, let us once and for
all put such a thought out of our minds. These unions have all
international affiliations. It is absurd to imagine that we here
in Blackwater could smash a single union."
Fiercely McGinnis made reply. "I want to tell you right here and
now that I am prepared to close down and go out of business but I
will have no outside committee tell me how to run my job."
But no one took this threat seriously, and no one but knew that a
shut-down for any of them might mean disaster. They all recalled
those unfilled orders which they were straining every nerve to
complete before the market should break, or cancellation should
come. It added not a little to their rage that they knew
themselves to be held in the grip of circumstances over which they
had little control.
After much angry deliberation it was finally agreed that they
should appoint a committee to consider the whole situation and to
prepare a plan of action. Meantime the committee were instructed
to temporise with the enemy.
The evening papers announced the imminence of a strike the extent
and magnitude of which had never been experienced in the history of
Blackwater. Everywhere the citizens of the industrial town were
discussing the disturbing news anxiously, angrily, indifferently,
according as they were variously affected. But there was a general
agreement among all classes of citizens that a strike in the
present industrial and financial situation which was already
serious enough, would be nothing short of a calamity, because no
matter what the issue would be, no matter which of the parties won
in the conflict, a fight meant serious loss not only to the two
parties immediately concerned, but to the whole community as well.
With the rank and file of the working people there was little heart
for a fight. More especially, men upon whom lay the responsibility
for the support of homes shrank from the pain and the suffering, as
well as from the loss which experience taught them a strike must
entail. It is safe to say that in every working man's home in
Blackwater that night there was to be found a woman who, as she put
her children to bed, prayed that trouble might be averted, for she
knew that in every war it is upon the women and children that in
the last analysis the sorest burden must fall. To them even
victory would mean for many months a loss of luxuries for the
family, it might be of comforts; and defeat, which would come not
until after long conflict, would mean not only straitened means but
actual poverty, with all the attendant humiliation and bitterness
which would kill for them the joy of life and sensibly add to its
already heavy burden.
That night Jack Maitland felt that a chat with the Reverend Murdo
Matheson might help to clear his own mind as to the demands of the
Allied Unions. He found the minister in his study and in great
distress of soul.
"I am glad to see you, Maitland," he said, giving him a hearty
greeting. "My hope is largely placed in you and you must not fail
me in this crisis. What exactly are the demands of the unions?"
Maitland spread before him the letter which his father had received
that morning. The Reverend Murdo read it carefully over, then,
with a sigh of relief, he said: "Well, it might be worse. There
should not be much difficulty in coming to an agreement between
people anxious for peace."
After an hour spent in canvassing the subject from various points
of view, the Reverend Murdo exclaimed: "Let us go and see McNish."
"The very thing," said Maitland. "I have been trying to get in
touch with him for the last month or so, but he avoids me."
"Ay," replied the Reverend Murdo, "he has a reason, no doubt."
To Maitland's joy they found McNish at home. They were received
with none-too-cordial a welcome by the son, with kindly, even eager
greeting by the mother.
"Come awa in, Minister; come awa, Mr. Maitland. You have come to
talk about the 'trouble,' a doot. Malcolm does-na want to talk
about it to me, a bad sign. He declines to converse even, wi' me,
Mr. Matheson. Perhaps ye may succeed better wi' him."
"Mr. Matheson can see for himself," said her son, using his most
correct English, "the impropriety of my talking with an employer in
"Nonsense, McNish," said the minister briskly. "You know me quite
well and we both know Maitland. It is just sheer nonsense to say
that you cannot talk with us. Everyone in town is talking. Every
man in your union is talking, trying to justify their present
position, which, I am bound to say, takes some justifying."
"Why?" asked McNish hotly.
"Because the demands are some of them quite unsound. Some other
than you had a hand in drawing up your Petition of Right, McNish,
and some of the demands are impossible."
"How do you--" began McNish indignantly, but the minister held up
his hand and continued:
"And some of them are both sound and reasonable."
"What's wrang with the demands?" said McNish.
"That's what I am about to show you," said the minister with grave
"Aye, minister," said the mother with a chuckle of delight.
"That's you! That's you! Haud at him! Haud at him! That's you!"
They took seats about the blazing fire for the evening was still
shrewd enough to make the fire welcome.
"Noo, Mr. Matheson," said the old lady, leaning toward him with
keen relish in her face, "read me the union demands. Malcolm wadna
read nor talk nor anything but glower."
The Reverend Murdo read the six clauses.
"Um! They're no bad negotiating pints."
"Negotiatin' pints!" exclaimed her son indignantly. "Noo, mither,
ye maun play the game. A'm no gaun tae argue with ye to-night.
Nor wi' any of ye," he added.
"Nonsense, Malcolm. You can't object to talk over these points
with us. You must talk them over before you're done with them.
And you'll talk them over before the whole town, too."
"What do you mean, 'before the whole town'?" said Malcolm.
"This is a community question. This community is interested and
greatly interested. It will demand a full exposition of the
attitude of the unions."
"The community!" snorted McNish in contempt.
"Aye, the community," replied the minister, "and you are not to
snort at it. That's the trouble with you labour folk. You think
you are the whole thing. You forget the third and most important
party in any industrial strife, the community. The community is
interested first, in justice being done to its citizens--to all its
citizens, mind you; second, in the preservation of the services
necessary to its comfort and well-being; third, in the continuance
of the means of livelihood to wage earners."
"Ye missed one," said McNish grimly. "The conserving of the
profits of labour for the benefit of the capitalist."
"I might have put that in, too," said the minister, "but it is
included in my first. But I should have added another which, to my
mind, is of the very first importance, the preservation of the
spirit of brotherly feeling and Christian decency as between man
and man in this community."
"Aye, ye might," replied Malcolm in bitter irony, "and ye might
begin with the ministers and the churches."
"Whisht, laddie," said his mother sharply, "Mind yer manners."
"He doesn't mean me specially, Mrs. McNish, but I will not say but
what he is right."
"No," replied McNish, "I don't mean you exactly, Mr. Matheson."
"Don't take it back, McNish," said the minister. "I need it. We
all need it in the churches, and we will take it, too. But come
now, let us look at these clauses. You are surely not standing for
them all, or for them all alike?"
"Why not, then?" said McNish, angrily.
"I'll tell you," replied the minister, "and won't take long,
either." He proceeded to read over carefully the various clauses
in the demands of the allied unions, emphasizing and explaining the
meaning of each clause. "First, as to wages. This is purely a
matter for adjustment to the cost of living and general industrial
conditions. It is a matter of arithmetic and common sense. There
is no principle involved."
"I don't agree with you," said McNish. "There is more than the
cost of living to be considered. There is the question of the
standard of living. Why should it be considered right that the
standard of living for the working man should be lower than that
for the professional man or the capitalist?"
"There you are again, McNish," said the minister. "You are not up
to your usual to-night. You know quite well that every working man
in my parish lives better than I do, and spends more money on his
living. The standard of living has no special significance with
the working man to-day as distinguished from the professional man.
We are not speaking of the wasteful and idle rich. So I repeat
that here it is a matter of adjustment and that there is no
principle involved. Now, as regard to hours. You ask an eight-
hour day and a Saturday half-holiday. That, too, is a matter of
"What about production, Mr. Matheson?" said Maitland. "And
overhead? Production costs are abnormally high to-day and so are
carrying charges. I am not saying that a ten-hour day is not too
long. Personally, I believe that a man cannot keep at his best for
ten hours in certain industries--not in all."
"Long hours do not mean big production, Maitland. Not long hours
but intensive and co-ordinated work bring up production and lower
"What about idle machines and overhead?" inquired Maitland.
"A very important consideration," said the minister. "The only
sound rule governing factory industry especially is this: the
longest possible machine time, the shortest possible man time. But
here again it is a question of organisation, adjustment and co-
ordination of work and workers. We all want education here."
"If I remember right," said McNish, and he could not keep the
bitterness out of his voice, "I have heard you say something in the
pulpit at times in regard to the value of men's immortal souls.
What care can men take of their bodies and minds, let alone their
souls, if you work them ten hours a day?"
"There is a previous question, McNish," said the minister. "Why
give more leisure time to men who spend their leisure hours now in
pool rooms and that sort of nonsense?"
"And whose fault is that," replied McNish sharply. "Who is
responsible that they have not learned to use their leisure more
wisely? And further, what about your young bloods and their
"Ay, A doot he has ye there, minister," said Mrs. McNish with a
"He has," said the minister. "The point is well taken and I
acknowledge it freely. My position is that the men need more
leisure, but, more than that, they need instruction as to how to
use their leisure time wisely. But let us get on to the third
point. 'A Joint Committee of References demanded to which all
complaints shall be referred.' Now, that's fine. That's the
Whitley plan. It is quite sound and has proved thoroughly useful
"I quite agree," said Maitland frankly. "But certain conditions
must be observed."
"Of course, of course," replied the minister. "Conditions must be
observed everywhere. Now, the fourth point: 'The foreman must be
a member of the union.' Thoroughly unsound. They can't ride two
horses at once.
"I am not so sure of that," said Maitland. "For my part, I should
like to have retained my membership in the union. The more that
both parties meet for conference, the better. And the more
connecting links between them, the better. I should like to see a
union where employers and employees should have equal rights of
McNish grunted contemptuously.
"It would be an interesting experiment," said the minister. "An
interesting experiment, McNish, and you are not to grunt like that.
The human element, of course, is the crux here. If we had the
right sort of foreman he might be trusted to be a member of the
union, but a man cannot direct and be directed at the same time.
But that union of yours, Maitland, with both parties represented in
it, is a big idea. It is worth considering. What do you think
about it, McNish?"
"What do I think of it? It is sheer idealistic nonsense."
"It is a noble idea, laddie, and no to be sneered at, but A doot it
needs a better world for it than we hae at the present."
"I am afraid that is true," said the minister. "But meantime a
foreman is a man who gives orders and directs work, and, generally
speaking, he must remain with a directorate in any business. There
may be exceptions. You must acknowledge that, McNish."
"I'll acknowledge nothing of the sort," replied McNish, and entered
into a long argument which convinced no one.
"Now we come to the next, number five: 'a voice in the management,'
it means. Come now, McNish, this is rather much. Do you want Mr.
Maitland's job here, or is there anyone in your shop who would be
anything but an embarrassment trying running the Maitland Mills,
and you know quite well that the men want nothing of the sort. It
may be as Mrs. McNish said, 'a good negotiating point,' but it has
no place in practical politics here in Blackwater. How would you
like, for instance, to take orders from Simmons?"
The old lady chuckled delightedly. "He has you there, laddie, he
has you there!"
But this McNish would not acknowledge, and proceeded to argue at
great length on purely theoretical grounds for joint control of
industries, till his mother quite lost patience with him.
"Hoots, laddie, haud yer hoofs on mither earth. Would ye want yon
radical bodies to take chairge o' ony business in which ye had a
baubee? Ye're talkin' havers."
"Now, let us look at the last," said Mr. Matheson. "It is
practically a demand for the closed shop. Now, McNish, I ask you,
man to man, what is the use of putting that in there? It is not
even a negotiating point."
At that McNish fired up. "It is no negotiating point," he
declared. "I stand for that. It is vital to the very existence of
unionised labour. Everyone knows that. Unionism cannot maintain
itself in existence without the closed shop. It is the ideal
toward which all unionised labour works."
"Now, McNish, tell me honestly," said the minister, "do you expect
or hope for an absolutely closed shop in the factories here in
Blackwater, or in the Building Industries? Have you the faintest
shadow of a hope?"
"We may not get it," said McNish, "but that is no reason why we
should not fight for it. Men have died fighting for the impossible
because they knew it was right, and, by dying for it, they have
brought it to pass."
"Far be it from me, McNish, to deny that. But I am asking you now,
again as man to man, do you know of any industry, even in the Old
Land, where the closed shop absolutely prevails, and do you think
that conditions in Blackwater give you the faintest hope of a
closed shop here?"
"Yes," shouted McNish, springing to his feet, "there is hope.
There is hope even in Blackwater."
"Tut, tut, laddie," said his mother. "Dinna deeve us. What has
come ower ye that ye canna talk like a reasonable man? Noo, Mr.
Matheson, ye've had enough of the labour matters. A'll mak ye a
cup of tea."
"Thank you, Mrs. McNish," said the minister gravely, "but I cannot
linger. I have still work to do to-night." He rose from his chair
and found his coat. His manner was gravely sad and gave evidence
of his disappointment with the evening's conversation.
"Dinna fash yerself, minister," said the old lady, helping him on
with his coat. "The 'trouble' will blow ower, a doot. It'll a'
come oot richt."
"Mrs. McNish, what I have seen and heard in this house to-night,"
said the minister solemnly, "gives me little hope that it will all
come right, but rather gives me grave concern." Then, looking
straight into the eyes of her son, he added: "I came here
expecting to find help and guidance in discovering a reasonable way
out of a very grave and serious difficulty. I confess I have been
"Mr. Matheson," said McNish, "I am always glad to discuss any
matter with you in a reasonable and kindly way."
"I am afraid my presence has not helped very much, Mrs. McNish,"
said Maitland. "I am sorry I came tonight. I did come earnestly
desiring and hoping that we might find a way out. It seems I have
made a mistake."
"You came at my request, Maitland," said the minister. "If a
mistake has been made, it is mine. Good-night, Mrs. McNish. Good-
night, Malcolm. I don't pretend to know or understand what is in
your heart, but I am going to say to you as your minister that
where there is evil passion there can be no clear thinking. And
further, let me say that upon you will devolve a heavy responsibility
for the guidance you give these men. Good-night again. Remember
that One whom we both acknowledge as the source of all true light
said: 'If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that
darkness.'" He shook hands first with the mother, then with the
son, who turned away from him with a curt "Good-night" and nodded to
For a moment or two neither of the men spoke. They were both
grievously disappointed in the interview.
"I never saw him like that," said the Reverend Murdo at length.
"What can be the matter with him? With him passion is darkening
"Well," said Maitland, "I have found out one thing that I wanted."
"And what is that?"
"These men clearly do not want what they are asking for. They want
chiefly war--at least, McNish does."
"I am deeply disappointed in McNish," replied the minister, "and I
confess I am anxious. McNish, above all others, is the brains of
this movement, and in that mood there is little hope of reason from
him. I fear it will be a sore fight, with a doubtful issue."
"Oh, I don't despair," said Maitland cheerily. "I have an idea he
has a quarrel with me. He wants to get me. But we can beat him."
The Reverend Murdo waited for a further explanation, but was too
much of a gentleman to press the point and kept silent till they
reached his door.
"You will not desert us, Mr. Matheson," said Maitland earnestly.
"Desert you? It is my job. These people are my people. We cannot
"Right you are," said Maitland. "Cheerio. We'll carry on. He
shook hands warmly with the minister and went off, whistling
"That is a man to follow," said the minister to himself. "He goes
whistling into a fight."
The negotiations between the men and their employers, in which the
chief exponents of the principles of justice and fair play were Mr.
McGinnis on the one hand and Brother Simmons on the other, broke
down at the second meeting, which ended in a vigorous personal
encounter between these gentlemen, without, however, serious injury
The following day a general strike was declared. All work ceased
in the factories affected and building operations which had begun
in a moderate way were arrested. Grant Maitland was heartily
disgusted with the course of events and more especially with the
humiliating and disgraceful manner in which the negotiations had
"You were quite right, Jack," he said to his son the morning after
which the strike had been declared. "That man McGinnis is quite
"It really made little difference, Dad. The negotiations were
hopeless from the beginning. There was no chance of peace."
"Because McNish wants war." He proceeded to give an account of the
evening spent at the McNish home. "When McNish wants peace, we can
easily end the strike," concluded Jack.
"There is something in what you say, doubtless," replied his father,
"but meantime there is a lot to be done."
"What do you mean exactly, Father?"
"We have a lot of stock made up on hand. The market is dead at
present prices. There is no hope of sales. The market will fall
lower still. I propose that we take our loss and unload at the
best rate we can get."
"That is your job, Dad. I know little about that, but I believe
you are right. I have been doing a lot of reading in trade
journals and that sort of thing, and I believe that a big slump is
surely coming. But there is a lot to do in my department at the
Mills, also. I am not satisfied with the inside arrangement of our
planing mill. There is a lot of time wasted and there is an almost
complete lack of co-ordination. Here is a plan I want to show you.
The idea is to improve the routing of our work."
Maitland glanced at the plan perfunctorily, more to please his son
than anything else. But, after a second glance, he became deeply
interested and began to ask questions. After half an hour's study
"Jack, this is really a vast improvement. Strange, I never thought
of a great many of these things."
"I have been reading up a bit, and when I was on my trip two weeks
ago I looked in upon two or three of the plants of our competitors.
I believe this will be more up-to-date and will save time and
"I am sure it will, boy. And we will put this in hand at once.
But what about men?"
"Oh, we can pick up labourers, and that is all we want at the
"All right, go at it. I will give you a hand myself."
"Then there is something else, Dad. We ought to have a good
athletic field for our men."
His father gasped at him.
"An athletic field for those ungrateful rascals?"
"Father, they are not rascals," said his son. "They are just the
same to-day as they ever were. A decent lot of chaps who don't
think the same as we do on a number of points. But they are coming
back again some time and we may as well be ready for them. Look at
And before Grant Maitland could recover his speech he found himself
looking at a beautifully-drawn plan of athletic grounds set out
with walks, shade trees and shrubbery, and with a plain but
commodious club-house appearing in the background.
"And where do you get this land, and what does it cost you?"
"The land," replied Jack, "is your land about the old mill. It
will cost us nothing, I hope. The old mill site contains two and
one-half acres. It can be put in shape with little work. The mill
itself is an eyesore; ought to have been removed long ago. Dad,
you ought to have seen the plant at Violetta, that is in Ohio, you
know. It is a joy to behold. But never mind about that. The
lumber in the old mill can be used up in the club-house. The
timbers are wonderful; nothing like them to-day anywhere. The
outside finishing will be done with slabs from our own yard. They
will make a very pretty job."
"And where do you get the men for this work?" inquired his father.
"Why, our men. It is for themselves and they are our men."
"Voluntary work, I suppose?" inquired Maitland.
"Voluntary work?" said Jack. "We couldn't have men work for us for
"And you mean to pay them for the construction of their own athletic
grounds and club-house?"
"But why not?" inquired Jack in amazement.
His father threw back his head and began to laugh.
"This is really the most extraordinary thing I have ever heard of
in all my life," he said, after he had done with his laugh. "Your
men strike; you prepare for them a beautiful club-house and
athletic grounds as a reward for their loyalty. You pay them wages
so that they may be able to sustain the strike indefinitely."
Again he threw back his head and continued laughing as Jack had
never in his life heard him laugh.
"Why not, Dad?" said Jack, gazing at his father in half-shamed
perplexity. "The idea of athletic grounds and club-house is
according to the best modern thought. These are our own men. You
are not like McGinnis. You are not enraged at them. You don't
hate them. They are going to work for us again in some days or
weeks. They are idle and therefore available for work. You can
get better work from them than from other men. And you wouldn't
take their work from them for nothing."
Again his father began to laugh. "Your argument, Jack," he said
when he was able to control his speech, "is absolutely unanswerable.
There is no answer possible on any count; but did ever man hear
of such a scheme? Did you?"
"I confess not. But, Dad, you are a good sport. We are out to win
this fight, but we don't want to injure anybody. We are going to
beat them, but we don't want to abuse them unnecessarily. Besides,
I think it is good business. And then, you see, I really like
"Simmons, for instance?" said his father with an ironical smile.
"Well, Simmons, just as much as you can like an ass."
"And McNish?" inquired Maitland.
"McNish," echoed Jack, a cloud falling upon his face. "I confess I
don't understand McNish. At least," he added, "I am sorry for
McNish. But what do you say to my scheme, Dad?"
"Well, boy," said his father, beginning to laugh again, "give me a
night to think it over."
Then Jack departed, not quite sure of himself or of the plan which
appeared to give his father such intense amusement. "At any rate,"
he said to himself as he walked out of the office, "if it is a joke
it is a good one. And it has given the governor a better laugh
than he has had for five years."
The Mayor of Blackwater was peculiarly sensitive to public opinion
and acutely susceptible of public approval. In addition, he was
possessed of a somewhat exalted idea of his powers as the
administrator in public affairs, and more particularly as a
mediator in times of strife. He had been singularly happy in his
mediation between the conflicting elements in his Council, and more
than once he had been successful in the composing of disputes in
arbitration cases submitted to his judgment. Moreover, he had an
eye to a second term in the mayor's chair, which gubernatorial and
majestical office gave full scope to the ruling ambition of his
life, which was, in his own words, "to guard the interests and
promote the well-being of my people."
The industrial strike appeared to furnish him with an opportunity
to gratify this ambition. He resolved to put an end to this
unnecessary and wasteful struggle, and to that end he summoned to a
public meeting his fellow citizens of all classes, at which he
invited each party in the industrial strife to make a statement of
their case, in the hope that a fair and reasonable settlement might
The employers were more than dubious of the issue, having but a
small idea of the mayor's power of control and less of his common-
sense. Brother Simmons, however, foreseeing a magnificent field
for the display of his forensic ability, a thing greatly desired by
labour leaders of his kidney, joyfully welcomed the proposal.
McNish gave hesitating assent, but, relying upon his experience in
the management of public assemblies and confident of his ability to
shape events to his own advantage, he finally agreed to accept the
The public meeting packed the City Hall, with representatives of
both parties in the controversy in about equal numbers and with a
great body of citizens more or less keenly interested in the issue
of the meeting and expectant of a certain amount of "fun." The
Mayor's opening speech was thoroughly characteristic. He was
impressed with the responsibility that was his for the well-being
of his people. Like all right-thinking citizens of this fair town
of Blackwater, he deeply regretted this industrial strife. It
interfered with business. It meant loss of money to the strikers.
It was an occasion of much inconvenience to the citizens and it
engendered bitterness of feeling that might take months, even
years, to remove. He stood there as the friend of the working man.
He was a working man himself and was proud of it. He believed that
on the whole they were good fellows. He was a friend also of the
employers of labour. What could we do without them? How could our
great industries prosper without their money and their brains? The
one thing necessary for success was co-operation. That was the
great word in modern democracy. In glowing periods he illustrated
this point from their experiences in the war. All they wanted to
do was to sit down together, and, man to man, talk their difficulties
over. He would be glad to assist them, and he had no doubt as to
the result. He warned the working man that hard times were coming.
The spectre of unemployment was already parading their streets.
Unemployment meant disorder, rioting. This, he assured them, would
not be permitted. At all costs order would be maintained. He had
no wish to threaten, but he promised them that the peace would be
preserved at all costs. He suggested that the strikers should get
back at once to work and the negotiations should proceed in the
At this point Brother Simmons rose.
"The mayor (h)urges the workers to get back to work," he said.
"Does 'e mean at (h)increased pay, or not? 'E says as 'ow this
strike interferes with business. 'E doesn't tell us what business.
But I can tell 'im it (h)interferes with the business of robbery of
the workin' man. 'E deplores the loss of money to the strikers.
Let me tell 'im that the workin' men are prepared to suffer that
loss. True, they 'ave no big bank accounts to carry 'em on, but
there are things that they love more than money--liberty and
justice and the rights of the people. What are we strikin' for?
Nothin' but what is our own. The workin' man makes (h)everything
that is made. What percentage of the returns does 'e get in wages?
They won't tell us that. Last year these factories were busy in
the makin' o' munitions. Mr. McGinnis 'ere was makin' shells. I'd
like to (h)ask, Mr. Mayor, what profit Mr. McGinnis made out of
Mr. McGinnis sprang to his feet, "I want to tell you," he said in a
voice choking with rage, "that it is none of your high-explosive
"'E says as it is none o' my business," cried Brother Simmons,
joyously taking Mr. McGinnis on. "Let me (h)ask 'im who paid for
these shells? I did, you did, all of us did. Not my business?
Then 'ose business is it? (H)If 'e was paid a fair price for 'is
shells, (h)all right, I say nothin' against it. If 'e was paid
more than a fair price, then 'e is a robber, worse, 'e is a blood
robber, because the price was paid in blood."
At once a dozen men were on their feet. Cries of "Order! Order!"
and "Put him out!" arose on every hand. The mayor rose from his
chair and, in an impressive voice, said: "We must have order. Sit
down, Mr. Simmons." Simmons sat down promptly. Union men are
thoroughly disciplined in points of order. "We must have order,"
continued the mayor. "I will not permit any citizen to be
insulted. We all did our bit in this town of Blackwater. Some of
us went to fight, and some that could not go to fight 'kept the
home fires burning'." A shout of derisive laughter from the
working men greeted this phrase. The mayor was deeply hurt. "I
want to say that those who could not go to the war did their bit at
home. Let the meeting proceed, but let us observe the courtesies
that are proper in debate."
Again Simmons took the floor. "As I was sayin', Mr. Mayor--"
Cries of "Order! Order! Sit down!"
"--Mr. Mayor, I believe I 'ave the floor?"
"Yes, you have. Go on. But you must not insult."
"(H)Insult? Did I (h)insult anybody? I don't know what Mr. McGinnis
made from 'is shells. I only said that if--you (h)understand--if 'e
made more than e ought to, 'e is a robber. And since the price of
our freedom was paid in blood, if 'e made more than was fair, 'e's a
Again the cries arose. "Throw him out!" Once more the mayor rose.
"You must not make insinuations, sir," he cried angrily. "You must
not make insinuations against respectable citizens."
"(H)Insinooations," cried Simmons. "No, sir, I never make no
(h)insinooations. If I knew that (h)any man 'ere 'ad made
(h)unfair profits I wouldn't make no (h)insinooations. I would
charge 'im right 'ere with blood robbery. And let me say," shouted
Simmons, taking a step into the aisle, "that the time may come when
the working men of this country will make these charges, and will
(h)ask the people who kept the ''ome fires burning'--"
Yells of derisive laughter.
"--what profits came to them from these same 'ome fires. The
people will (h)ask for an (h)explanation of these bank accounts, of
these new factories, of these big stores, of these (h)autermobiles.
The people that went to the war and were (h)unfortoonate enough to
return came back to poverty, while many of these 'ere 'ome fire
burners came (h)out with fortunes." At this point brother Simmons
cast a fierce and baleful eye upon a group of the employers who sat
silent and wrathful before him. "And now, what I say," continued
At this point a quiet voice was heard.
"Mr. Mayor, I rise to a point of order."
Immediately Simmons took his seat.
"Mr. Farrington," said the mayor, recognising one of the largest
building contractors in the town.
"Mr. Mayor, I should like to ask what are we discussing this
afternoon? Are we discussing the war records of the citizens of
Blackwater? If so, that is not what I came for. It may be
interesting to find out what each man did in the war. I find that
those who did most say least. I don't know what Mr. Simmons did in
the war. I suppose he was there."
With one spring Simmons was on his feet and in the aisle. He
ripped off coat and vest, pulled his shirt over his head and
revealed a back covered with the network of ghastly scars. "The
gentleman (h)asks," he panted, "what I done in the war. I don't
know. I cannot say what I done in the war, but that is what the
war done to me." The effect was positively overwhelming.
A deadly silence gripped the audience for a single moment. Then
upon every hand rose fierce yells, oaths and strange cries. Above
the uproar came Farrington's booming voice. Leaving his seat,
which was near the back of the hall, he came forward, crying out:
"Mr. Mayor! Mr. Mayor! I demand attention!" As he reached
Simmons's side, he paused and, facing about, he looked upon the
array of faces pale and tense with passion. "I want to apologise
to this gentleman," he said in a voice breaking with emotion. "I
should not have said what I did. The man who bears these scars is
a man I am proud to know." He turned swiftly toward Simmons with
outstretched hand. "I am proud to know you, sir. I could not go
to the war. I was past age. I sent my two boys. They are over
there still." As the two men shook hands, for once in his life
Simmons was speechless. His face was suffused with uncontrollable
feeling. On every side were seen men, strong men, with tears
streaming down their faces. A nobler spirit seemed to fall upon
them all. In the silence that followed, Mr. Maitland rose.
"Mr. Mayor," he said quietly, "we have all suffered together in
this war. I, for one, want to do the fair thing by our men. Let
us meet them and talk things over before any fair-minded committee.
Surely we who have suffered together in war can work together in
peace." It was a noble appeal, and met with a noble response. On
all sides and from all parties a storm of cheers broke forth.
Then the Reverend Murdo Matheson rose to his feet. "Mr. Mayor," he
said, "I confess I was not hopeful of the result of this meeting.
But I am sure we all recognise the presence and influence of a
mightier Spirit than ours. From the outset I have been convinced
that the problems in the industrial situation here are not beyond
solution, and should yield to fair and reasonable consideration. I
venture to move that a committee of five be appointed, two to be