This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1906
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene at once plunged into a discussion of fashion, the one thing that left her husband high and dry, so far as his native irony was concerned.

That same night McQuade concluded some interesting business. He possessed large interests in the local breweries. Breweries on the average do not pay very good dividends on stock, so the brewer often establishes a dozen saloons about town to help the business along. McQuade owned a dozen or more of these saloons, some in the heart of the city, some in the outlying wards of the town. He conducted the business with his usual shrewdness. The saloons were all well managed by Germans, who, as a drinking people, are the most orderly in the world. It was not generally known that McQuade was interested in the sale of liquors. His name was never mentioned in connection with the saloons.

One of these saloons was on a side street. The back door of it faced the towpath. It did not have a very good reputation; and though, for two years, no disturbances had occurred there, the police still kept an eye on the place. It was on the boundary line of the two most turbulent wards in the city. To the north was the Italian colony, to the south was the Irish colony. Both were orderly and self-respecting as a rule, though squalor and poverty abounded. But these two races are at once the simplest and most quick-tempered, and whenever an Irishman or an Italian crossed the boundary line there was usually a hurry call for the patrol wagon, and some one was always more or less battered up.

Over this saloon was a series of small rooms which were called “wine rooms,” though nobody opened wine there. Beer was ten cents a glass up stairs, and whisky twenty. Women were not infrequently seen climbing the stairs to these rooms. But, as already stated, everybody behaved. Schmuck, who managed the saloon, was a giant of a man, a Turnvereiner, who could hold his own with any man in town. It will be understood that the orderliness was therefore due to a respect for Schmuck’s strength, and not to any inclination to be orderly.

On this night, then, at nine o’clock, a man entered and approached the bar. He was sharp-eyed, lean-faced, with a heavy blue beard closely shaven, saving the mustache, which was black and hung over the man’s lips. He wore good clothes. There was a large diamond on one of his fingers and another in the bosom of his shirt, in which a white tie was tucked carefully. They were yellow diamonds. But those among whom this man moved did not know the difference between yellow stones and white. Morrissy was accounted very well-to-do.

“Hello, Schmuck!” he hailed. “Got the room up stairs in order?”

“Yes.” Schmuck wiped the bar. “Der poss iss coming to-night, I see. Huh?”

“Yes. He ought to be along now,” replied Morrissy, glancing at his watch, which was as conspicuous as his yellow diamonds.

“How you getting along mit der poys?”

“Oh, we’re coming along fine, all right.”

“Going to call ’em out uf der mills? Huh?”

“Perhaps. When the boss comes, tell him I’m up stairs.”

Morrissy lighted a cigar, took the evening papers from the end of the bar, and disappeared. Schmuck could hear him moving the chairs about. Ten minutes later McQuade appeared. Schmuck nodded toward the stairs, and without a word McQuade went up.

“Good evening, Morrissy. I missed a car, or I’d have been here earlier.”

“That’s all right, Mr. McQuade; glad to wait for you.” Morrissy threw aside his papers and drew his chair to the table.

McQuade closed the door and sat down.

“You got my letter?” he began, wiping his forehead.

Morrissy nodded.


“Well, the boys will go out Monday morning. A committee will wait on Bennington in the morning. He won’t back down and discharge the English inventor, so it’s a sure thing they’ll walk out, every mother’s son of them.”

“On the morning they go out, I’ll send you my check for five hundred.”

“For the union?”

“I’ll send it to you, and you can use it as you see fit. On Monday morning, then.”

“Sure thing.”

They smoked for a while. Suddenly McQuade laid a bulky envelope on the table, got up and went out. Morrissy weighed the envelope carefully, thrust it into his pocket, and also departed.

“Five hundred now, and five hundred on Monday. I can see him sending a check. It will be bills. Bah! I should have called out the boys anyhow.”

McQuade hurried home. He had another appointment, vastly more important than the one he had just kept. Bolles had returned from New York. It was easy enough to buy a labor union, but it was a different matter to ruin a man of Warrington’s note. Bolles had telegraphed that he would be in Herculaneum that night. That meant that he had found something worth while. Each time the car stopped to let passengers on or off, McQuade stirred restlessly. He jumped from the car when it reached his corner, and walked hurriedly down the street to his house, a big pile of red granite and an architectural nightmare. He rushed up the steps impatiently, applied his latch-key and pushed in the door. He slammed it and went directly to his study. Bolles was asleep in a chair. McQuade shook him roughly. Bolles opened his eyes.

“You’ve been on a drunk,” said McQuade, quickly noting the puffed eyes and haggard cheeks.

“But I’ve got what I went after, all the same,” replied Bolles truculently.

“What have you got? If you’ve done any faking, I’ll break every bone in your body.”

“Now, look here, Mr. McQuade; don’t talk to me like that.”

“What have you got, then?”

“Well, I’ve got something that’s worth five hundred; that’s what. I worked like a nigger for a month; pumped everybody that ever knew him. Not a blame thing, till night before last I ran into the janitor of the apartments where Warrington lived.”

“Go on.”

“He’d been fired, and I got him drunk. I asked him if any women had ever gone up to Warrington’s rooms. One. He was sitting in the basement. It was a hot night, and he was sitting up because he could not sleep. At midnight a coupe drove up, and Warrington and a woman alighted. From the looks of things she was drunk, but he found out afterward that she was very sick. The woman remained in Warrington’s apartments till the following morning.”

“When was all this?”

“About four years ago. She left very early.”

“Hell!” roared McQuade, doubling his fists. “And I’ve been sending you money every week for such news as this! I want something big, you fool! What earthly use is this information to me? I couldn’t frighten Warrington with it.”

“I haven’t told you the woman’s name yet,” said Bolles, leering.

“The woman’s name? What’s that got to do with it?”

“A whole lot. It was Katherine Challoner, the actress, Bennington’s wife; that’s who it was!”

McQuade sat very still. So still, that he could hear the clock ticking in the parlor. Bennington’s wife!

Chapter XII

The death of his aunt gave Warrington a longing for action–swift mental and physical action. To sit in that dark, empty house, to read or to write, was utterly impossible; nor had he any desire to take long rides into the country. His mind was never clearer than when he rode alone, and what he wanted was confusion, noise, excitement, struggle. So he made an appointment with Senator Henderson the next morning. He left the Benningtons with the promise that he would return that evening and dine with them. Warrington had become the senator’s hobby; he was going to do great things with this young man’s future. He would some day make an ambassador of him; it would be a pleasant souvenir of his old age. Warrington was brilliant, a fine linguist, was a born diplomat, had a good voice, and a fund of wit and repartee; nothing more was required. He would give the name Warrington a high place in the diplomatic history of the United States. Some of the most capable diplomats this country had produced had been poets. Warrington’s being a playwright would add luster to the office. The senator was going over these things, when a clerk announced that Mr. Warrington was waiting to see him.

“Send him right in.”

Immediately Warrington entered. He was simply dressed in a business suit of dark blue. He wore a straw hat and a black tie. There was no broad band of crape on his hat or his sleeve. He had the poet’s horror of parading grief, simply because it was considered fashionable to do so. He sincerely believed that outward mourning was obsolete, a custom of the Middle Ages.

“Ha!” ejaculated the senator.

“Good morning. How goes the fight?”

“Fine, my boy; I’ll land you there next week; you see if I don’t. The main obstacle is the curious attitude of the press. You and I know the reason well enough. McQuade is back of this influence. But the voter doesn’t know this, and will accept the surface indications only. Now you know the newspaper fellows. Why not drop around to the offices and find out something definite?”

“It’s a good idea, Senator. I’ll do it this very morning.”

“Has McQuade any personal grudge against you?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

“He’s a bad enemy, and often a downright unscrupulous one. If it’s only politics, I’ll have a chat with him myself. You pump the newspapers. You leave it to me to swing the boys into line at the convention.”

Then they proceeded to go over the ground thoroughly. Something must be done with the newspapers. The delegates and minor bosses were already grumbling. Had nothing appeared in the newspapers, Warrington’s nomination would have gone through without even minor opposition. But the Republican machine was in sore straits. If Donnelly won this time, it would mean years of Democratic rule in an essentially Republican town. McQuade must be broken, his strong barricades toppled; and now that there would be no surprise for the public, the majority of the delegates began to look doubtfully upon what they called the senator’s coup. They wanted the City Hall, and they did not care how they got there. Warrington was a fine chap, and all that, but his acquaintanceship was limited. He could not go about shaking hands like Donnelly, who knew everybody, high and low. The laboring man knew nothing about Warrington, save that he was famous for writing plays they had not seen, nor would have understood if they had. Warrington was a “swell”; he had nothing in common with the man who carried the dinner-pail.

“And there the matter stands, my boy,” concluded the senator, shifting his cigar from one corner of his mouth to the other. “If I can swing the convention the rest will be plain sailing, once you start speech-making. Oh, McQuade is clever. He knew that by exposing my hand he would lessen your chances. But you tackle the newspapers and see what can be done. And good luck to you.”

McQuade came down early that morning. The first thing he did was to call on the editor of the Times.

“Here’s something,” he said, tossing a few typewritten pages on the editor’s desk. “This’ll settle Warrington’s hash, Walford.”

“What is it?” asked Walford.

“Read it and see for yourself.” McQuade sat down and picked up the early New York papers.

Walford read slowly. When he reached the last paragraph he returned to the first and read the article through again. He laid it down and faced his employer.

“Mr. McQuade, the Call and the Times are the only papers in town that pay dividends. The Times as it stands to-day is a good, legitimate business investment. Do you want the circulation to drop ten thousand and the big advertisers to cancel their contracts?”

“What’s the matter with the story? Isn’t it all right?”

“Frankly, it isn’t.”

“It’s true,” said McQuade, his fist thudding on the desk; “it’s true, I tell you, every damned word of it.”

“The truth of it isn’t the question. It’s the advisability of publishing it. I say to you that if you insist on this story’s publication, you’ll kill the Times deader than a door-nail. I’ll call the business manager in.” Walford whistled through a tube, and shortly after the business manager appeared. “Read this,” said Walford briefly, “and give Mr. McQuade your honest opinion regarding its publication. Mr. McQuade thinks it ought to run as local news.”

The business manager read it.

“It makes good reading, Mr. McQuade, but if you want to kill the Times, run it. There are some stories that can only be rumored, not printed, and this is one of them. If this appears, you have my word that every decent advertiser will cancel his contract forthwith.”

Walford looked at his employer in frank triumph. McQuade had great confidence in these two men. He ripped the manuscript into squares and filtered them through his fingers into the waste-basket.

“You boys are probably right,” he said reluctantly. “I have no desire to see the paper lose its sound footing. But this would have killed the man socially and politically, so far as this town is concerned.”

“Admitted,” replied Walford, straightening out some proofs. “But we’ll topple him over in a legitimate way.”

“Go ahead, then. I’m not particular how it’s done so long as you do it. Perhaps, after all, it’s just as well. I’ve got another idea. I can see that I’ve made a mistake.”

McQuade started down the stairs to the street and met Warrington coming up. The two men paused for a moment, then went on. Once on the sidewalk, McQuade turned and hesitated. No, he had nothing to say to Mr. Warrington. He strode down the street toward his own offices.

It will be seen that Warrington had gone directly into the enemy’s camp. He knew Walford of old; they were tolerably good friends. He gave his card to the boy. Walford, on reading it, stuffed several newspapers into the waste-basket and pressed his foot on them. He was a bit shaken.

“Send him in. Hello, Dick,” he said. “How are you? You’re the last man I expected to see this morning. What can I do for you?”

“You can tell your political reporter and your editorial man to let up on me for a week,” said Warrington directly. “What the devil have I done to you chaps that you should light into me after this fashion?”

“You have become rich and famous, Dick, and mediocrity can stand anything but that.” But there was a twinkle in Walford’s eyes.

“Come, Wally, you know that isn’t the truth.”

“Well, if you want the truth I’ll give it to you. Answer me frankly and honestly, do you consider that you have any moral right to accept a nomination for the mayoralty of Herculaneum?”

“Moral right. I’ll pick up that phrase and carry it to your camp. I have as much moral right as Donnelly, who, if he hasn’t been caught, is none the less culpable for breaking his oath of loyalty. You know this as well as I do.”

Walford eyed the waste-basket thoughtfully.

“Now, we’ll turn to the legal side,” continued Warrington. “I was born here; I cast my first vote here; for several years I’ve been a property owner and have paid my taxes without lying to the tax-assessor. It is notorious that Donnelly is worth half a million, and yet he is assessed upon a house worth about seven thousand. You have called me a meddler; you apply the term every day. Now draw the distinction, as to eligibility, between Donnelly and myself.”

Walford got up from his chair and closed the door. He returned and sat down again.

“Dick, politics is politics, and its ways are dark and mysterious, like the heathen Chinee. If I had your talent–if I had your ability to earn money, I’d walk out of this office this moment. But I am only a poor devil of a newspaper man. I’ve a family. When I was twenty, eighteen years ago, I was earning twelve a week; to-day it is forty; when I am sixty it will return to twelve. You know the business; you know the value they set on a man’s brains in this city. And there’s always somebody waiting for your shoes. Now, listen. In the first place I must live, and as honorably as environment permits me. By conviction I am a Democrat; I believe in the Democratic principles. Thus, I consider it my duty to thwart, if possible, any and all moves the Republican party makes. I recognize your strength, and I shall do what I can from my side of the barricade to defeat your nomination at the Republican convention; for I believe you able, if once nominated, to lead your party to success and victory. But I shall fight you honestly, Dick. In all I have said so far, there has been no innuendo; I’ve stood out in the open. I did you a good turn this morning, but you will never be any the wiser. Personally, I like you; I have always liked you, and I am glad to see one man of the craft rise above the grubs and earn a splendid competence. It hasn’t been easy, Dick; you’ve had to fight for it, and that’s what I admire. You’re a good, clean fighter. If I should rebel against continuing this attack against you, the attack would go on, but I shouldn’t. That would do neither of us any good. McQuade might find a man with less scruples than I have. And that’s how the matter stands, Dick.”

“Well, you’re frank and honest about it, and I know you will at least give me a square deal, in the event of my nomination.”

“You may reckon on that. Good luck to you and bad luck to your cause.”

They talked about the old days for a while, and then Warrington departed and directed his steps to the office of the Journal, the paper in which he had begun his career. Oh, here they were willing to do anything in their power from now on. If he was really determined to accept the nomination, they would aid him editorially. That evening the editor made good his word, frankly indorsing Warrington as the best possible choice for Republican nominee. The editor explained his former attitude by setting forth his belief that Mr. Warrington’s candidacy was not serious. At the office of the Telegraph they treated him cordially enough. They never meddled with politics till the fight was on. Then they picked the candidate whose views most coincided with their own. If Mr. Warrington was nominated, doubtless they would support his ticket. The general manager had been a classmate of Warrington’s. He called on him and explained his errand. The manager simply wrote on a pad: “McQuade owns fifty-five per cent. of the shares,” held it under Warrington’s nose and then tore it up.

“That’s where our independence stands at this moment.”

“I had heard of this, but didn’t quite believe it,” Warrington said. Bill Osborne evidently knew what was going on, then. “I’m sorry to have troubled you.”

“None at all.”

On the street Warrington was stopped by Ben Jordan, the Telegraph’s star reporter, who had worked with Warrington on the Journal.

“Say, Dick, I am glad to see you. I was going up to your house on purpose to see you. Come over to Martin’s a minute. I’ve got some news that might interest you.”

“I don’t like Martin’s place,” said Warrington. “Let’s compromise on Hanley’s.”

“All right, my boy.”

They walked down to Hanley’s, talking animatedly.

“What will you have, Ben?”

“Musty ale.”

“Two musty ales,” Warrington ordered. “Well, Ben?”

Ben took a deep swallow of ale. He was the best all-round reporter in the city; he knew more people than Osborne knew. Murders, strikes, fires, they were all the same to Ben. He knew where to start and where to end. The city editor never sent Ben out on a hunt for scandal; he knew better than to do that. Nine times out of ten, the other papers got the scandal and Ben’s behavior became one. The labor unions were Ben’s great stand-by. On dull days he could always get a story from the unions. He attended their meetings religiously. They trusted him implicitly, for Ben never broke his word to any one but his landlady. He was short and wiry, with a head so large as to be almost a deformity. On top of this head was a shock of brick-colored hair that resembled a street-cleaner’s broom. And Ben’s heart was as big as his head. His generosity was always getting him into financial trouble.

“Dick, you’re a friend of Bennington’s. You can quietly tip him that his men will go out Monday morning. There’s only one thing that will avert a strike, and that’s the discharge of the Englishman.”

“Bennington will never discharge him.”

“So I understand. He’ll have a long strike on his hands.”

“Do you know the inside?”

“Enough to say that the men will go out. They’re a lot of sheep. They’ve an idea they’ve been wronged. But you can’t reason with them.”

“Ben, you go up to the shops yourself and tell Bennington what you know.”

“I don’t know him. How’ll he take it?”

“Tell him I sent you.”

“I’ll do it, Dick. But if he kicks me out, the drinks will be on you. What countermove will he make?”

“Better ask him yourself. But if you have any influence among the unions, tell them to go slow. They haven’t sized up Bennington. Wait a moment. I’ll give you a note to him.” He called for paper and envelopes, and wrote:

Dear John:

This will introduce to you Mr. Jordan, a reporter in whom I have the greatest confidence. Whatever you may tell him you may rest assured that he will never repeat. I am sending him to you in hopes he may suggest some plan by which to ward off the impending strike. There may be a little self-interest on my side. A strike just now will raise the devil in politics. You may trust Jordan fully.


He pushed it across the table. “There, that will smooth the way.”

“Many thanks, my son. Where’s he eat his lunch?”

“Usually in the office.”

“Well, I’m off!”

Ben always had his eye on the story of to-morrow, and he would face all or any difficulties in pursuit of the end. If he could stop the strike at the Bennington shops it would be a great thing for the Telegraph and a great thing for Ben. So he hailed a car, serenely unconscious that he was taking a position absolutely opposed to that of his employer. He arrived at the shops some time before the noon hour. His letter opened all doors. Bennington was in his private office. He read the letter and offered Ben a chair.

“I have never been interviewed,” he said.

“I am not here for an interview,” said Ben. “Your men will go out Monday.”

“Monday? How did you learn that?”

“My business takes me among the unions. What shall you do in the event of the strike?”

“And I have no desire to be interviewed.”

“You read Mr. Warrington’s letter. Perhaps, if I knew what stand you will take, I could talk to the men myself. I have averted three or four strikes in my time, simply because the boys know that I always speak the truth, the plain truth. In this case I feel that you have the right on your side. You haven’t said anything yet. The union is practically trying to bluff you into coming to its terms: the discharge of the inventor, or a strike.”

“Are you representing the union?”

“I am representing nobody but myself.”

“I may tell you, then, that I shall not discharge the inventor. Nor will I, if the men go out, take a single one of them back.”

“The men will not believe that. They never do. They’ve been so successful in Pennsylvania that they are attempting to repeat that success all over the Country. They have grown pig-headed. I feel sorry for the poor devils, who never realize when they are well off.”

“I feel sorry, too, Mr. Jordan,” said Bennington. He played a tattoo on his strong white teeth with his pencil. “Mr. Warrington seems to know you well.”

“We began on the Journal together. You will not tell me what your plan is, then?”

“I’d rather not, for honestly, I can not see how it would better the case.”

“It might be worth while to give me a chance.”

Bennington re-read Warrington’s note. Then he studied the frank blue eyes of the reporter.

“Miss Ward, you may go,” he said to the stenographer. “Now,”–when the girl had gone,–“you will give me your word?”

“It’s all I have.”

“How can you convince the men without telling them?”

“Oh, I meant that whatever you tell me shall not see light in the papers till I have your permission. There’s a weekly meeting to-night. They will decide finally at this meeting. To-morrow will be too late.”

Bennington was an accurate judge of men. He felt that he could trust this shock-headed journalist. If without any loss of self-respect, if without receding a single step from his position, he could avert the crash, he would gladly do so. He had reached one determination, and nothing on earth would swerve him. So he told Ben just exactly what would happen if the men went out. Ben did not doubt him for a moment. He, too, was something of a judge of men. This man would never back down.

“I give you this to show them, if your arguments do not prevail,” concluded Bennington, producing a folded paper. “They will hardly doubt this.”

Ben opened it. It was a permit from the municipal government to tear down a brick structure within the city limits. Ben stowed the permit in his pocket. He looked with admiration at the man who could plan, coolly and quietly, the destruction of a fortune that had taken a quarter of a century to build. He was grave. There was a big responsibility pressing on his shoulders.

“Much obliged. You will never regret the confidence you repose in me. Now I’ll tell you something on my side. It is not the inventor, though the men believe it is. The inventor is a pretext of Morrissy, the union leader.”

“A pretext?”

“I can’t prove what I say, that’s the trouble; but McQuade has his hand in this. I wish to Heaven I could find solid proofs.”

“McQuade?” Bennington scowled. He could readily understand now. McQuade! This was McQuade’s revenge. He could wait patiently all this while!

“I’ll do what I can, Mr. Bennington; I’ll do what I can.”

Bennington ate no lunch that noon. Instead, he wandered about the great smoky shops, sweeping his glance over the blast-furnaces, the gutters into which the molten ore was poured, the giant trip-hammers, the ponderous rolling-machines, the gas-furnaces for tempering fine steel. The men moved aside. Only here and there a man, grown old in the shops, touched his grimy cap. … To tear it down! It would be like rending a limb, for he loved every brick and stone and girder, as his father before him had loved them. He squared his shoulders, and his jaws hardened. No man, without justice on his side, should dictate to him; no man should order him to hire this man or discharge that one. He alone had that right; he alone was master. Bennington was not a coward; he would not sell to another; he would not shirk the task laid out for his hand. Unionism, such as it stood, must receive a violent lesson. And McQuade?

“Damn him!” he muttered, his fingers knotting.

Education subdues or obliterates the best of fighting in the coward only. The brave man is always masculine in these crises, and he will fight with his bare hands when reason and intelligence fail. A great longing rose up in Bennington’s heart to have it out physically with McQuade. To feel that gross bulk under his knees, to sink his fingers into that brawny throat!–The men, eying him covertly, saw his arms go outward and his hands open and shut convulsively. More than ever they avoided his path. Once before they had witnessed a similar abstraction. They had seen him fling to the ground a huge puddler who had struck his apprentice without cause. The puddler, one of the strongest men in the shops, struggled to his feet and rushed at his assailant. Bennington had knocked him down again, and this time the puddler remained on the ground, insensible. Bennington had gone back to his office, shutting and opening his fists. Ay, they had long since ceased calling him the dude. The man of brawn has a hearty respect for spectacular exhibitions of strength.

One o’clock. The trip-hammers began their intermittent thunder, the rolling-machines shrieked, and the hot ore sputtered and crackled. Bennington returned to his office and re-read the letter his father had written to him on his death-bed. He would obey it to the final line.

That particular branch of the local unions which was represented in the Bennington steel-mills met in the loft of one of the brick buildings off the main street. The room was spacious, but ill ventilated. That, night it was crowded. The men were noisy, and a haze of rank tobacco-smoke drifted aimlessly about, vainly seeking egress. Morrissy called the meeting to order at eight-thirty. He spoke briefly of the injustice of the employers, locally and elsewhere, of the burdens the laboring man had always borne and would always bear, so long as he declined to demand his rights. The men cheered him. Many had been drinking freely. Morrissy stated the case against Bennington. He used his words adroitly and spoke with the air of a man who regrets exceedingly a disagreeable duty.

From his seat in the rear Jordan watched him, following each word closely. He saw that Morrissy knew his business thoroughly.

“We’ll get what we want, men; we always do. It isn’t a matter of money; it’s principle. If we back down, we are lost; if we surrender this time, we’ll have to surrender one thing at a time till we’re away back where we started from, slaves to enrich the oppressor. We’ve got to fight for our rights. Here’s an inventor who, if we permit him to remain, will succeed in throwing two hundred men out of work. Bennington is making enough money as things are now. There’s no need of improvement, such as will take bread and butter out of our mouths, out of the mouths of our wives and children. We’ve got to strike. That’ll bring him to his senses.”

At the conclusion he was loudly applauded.

Jordan stood up and waited till the noise had fully subsided. Everybody knew him. They had seen him stand up before, and he always said something worth listening to.

“You all know me, boys,” he began.

“You bet!”

“You’re all right!”

“Speech! Go ahead!”

Jordan caught Morrissy’s eye. Morrissy nodded with bad grace. Jordan spoke for half an hour. He repeated word for word what Bennington had told him. In the end he was greeted with laughter.

“Very well, boys,” he said, shrugging. “It’s none of my business. You’ve never caught me lying yet. You don’t know this man Bennington. I believe I do. He’ll make good his threat. Wait and see.”

“How much were you paid to attend this meeting?” demanded Morrissy, sneering.

“A good deal less than you were, Mr. Morrissy.” There was a dangerous flush on Ben’s cheeks, but the smoke was so dense that Morrissy failed to observe it. The men laughed again, accepting Ben’s retort as a piece of banter. Ben went on doggedly: “I have in my pocket a permit to tear down the shops. Bennington gave it to me to produce. Look at it, if you doubt my word. There it is.”

The men passed it along the aisles. It came back presently, much the worse for the wear. Some of the older men looked exceedingly grave, but they were in the minority.

“Anybody can get a permit to tear down his property,” said Morrissy scornfully. “It’s a big bluff, men. What! tear down the golden goose? Not in a thousand years! It’s a plain bluff. And I’m sorry to see a decent man like our newspaper friend on the enemy’s side.”

“If I am on the enemy’s side, Mr. Morrissy, it’s because I’m a friend of every man here, save one,” significantly. “You men will vote a strike. I can see that. But you’ll regret it to your last day. I’ve nothing more to say. I helped you once when old man Bennington was alive, but I guess you’ve forgotten it.” Ben sat down in silence.

“We’ll proceed with the voting,” said Morrissy.

Half an hour later there was a cheer. The men would go out Monday, if the demands of the committee were not acceded to. The meeting broke up, and many of the men flocked into the near-by saloons. Morrissy approached Ben, who had waited for him. No one was within earshot.

“What the hell do you mean by saying you were paid less than I was?” he said, his jaw protruding at an ugly angle.

“I mean, Morrissy,” answered Ben fearlessly, “that you had better move carefully in the future. If I were you, I wouldn’t accept any unstamped envelopes in Herculaneum It would be a good plan to go to some other town for that.”

“Why, damn you!” Morrissy raised his fist.

“Stay where you are,” warned Ben, seizing a camp-chair “or I’ll break your head. Listen to me. I’m starting out from this night on to break you, and, by God, I’ll do it before the year is over. This is your last strike, so make the most of it. You were at Schmuck’s the other night, you and McQuade. There was a friend of mine on the other side of the partition. Unfortunately this friend was alone. I haven’t got any proofs, but I’ll get them.”

Morrissy became yellower than his diamonds. Ben flung aside his chair and left the hall. He went straight to Martin’s saloon. He found Bill Osborne alone at a table.

“Will they strike, Ben?” he asked in a rough whisper.

“Yes. I thought I might influence them, Bill, but I’ve only made an ass of myself. Two whiskies,” he ordered, “and make one of them stiff. I told Morrissy.”

“You didn’t mention my name, Ben? Don’t say you told him that I was on the other side of the partition!” Bill’s eyes nearly stood out of his head.

“I told him nothing. How’d you happen to land in Schmuck’s saloon, anyhow? Why didn’t you telephone me when you heard Morrissy come in?”

“Oh. Ben, I was drunk! If I hadn’t been so drunk!” Bill’s eyes overflowed remorsefully.

Ben swore.

“And say, Ben, that fellow Bolles is back in town. He was in here a few minutes ago, drunk as a lord. He flashed a roll of bills that would have choked an ox.”

“Where is he now?”

“Up stairs playing the wheel.”

Ben shook his head. He had his salary in his pocket, and he vividly remembered what roulette had done to it a fortnight gone.

“If Bolles is drunk, it wouldn’t do any good to talk to him.” Ben sighed and drank his liquor neat. He was tired.

Chapter XIII

Regularly once a week Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene visited a hair-dresser. This distinguished social leader employed a French maid who was very adept at dressing hair, but the two never got along very well verbally; Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene insisted on speaking in broken French while the maid persisted in broken English. Such conversation is naturally disjointed and leads nowhere. The particular hair-dresser who received Mrs. Haldene’s patronage possessed a lively imagination together with an endless chain of gossip. Mrs. Haldene was superior to gossiping with servants, but a hair-dresser is a little closer in relation to life. Many visited her in the course of a week, and some had the happy faculty of relieving their minds of what they saw and heard regardless of the social status of the listener. Mrs. Haldene never came away from the hair-dresser’s empty-handed; in fact, she carried away with her food for thought that took fully a week to digest.

Like most places of its kind, the establishment was located in the boarding-house district; but this did not prevent fashionable carriages from stopping at the door, nor the neighboring boarders from sitting on their front steps and speculating as to whom this or that carriage belonged. There was always a maid on guard in the hall; she was very haughty and proportionately homely. It did not occur to the proprietress that this maid was a living advertisement of her incompetence to perform those wonders stated in the neat little pamphlets piled on the card-table; nor did it impress the patrons, who took it for granted that the maid, naturally enough, could not afford to have the operation of beauty performed.

A woman with wrinkles is always hopeful.

A strange medley of persons visited this house, each seeking in her own peculiar way the elixir of life, which is beauty, or the potion of love, which is beauty’s handmaiden. There were remedies plus remedies; the same skin-food was warranted to create double-chins or destroy them; the same tonic killed superfluous hair or made it grow on bald spots. A freckle to eradicate, a wrinkle to remove, a moth-patch to bleach, a grey hair to dye; nothing was impossible here, not even credulity. It was but meet that the mistress should steal past the servant, that the servant should dodge the mistress. Every woman craves beauty, but she does not want the public to know that her beauty is of the kind in which nature has no hand. No man is a hero to his valet; no woman is a beauty to her maid. In and out, to and fro; the social leader, the shop-girl, the maid, the woman of the town, the actress, the thin old spinster and the fat matron, here might they be found.

At rare intervals a man was seen to ring the bell, but he was either a bill-collector or a husband in search of his wife.

The proprietress knew everybody intimately–by sight. She was squat, dyed, rouged and penciled, badly, too. She was written down in the city directory as Madame de Chevreuse, but she was emphatically not of French extraction. In her alphabet there were generally but twenty-five letters; there were frequent times when she had no idea that there existed such a letter as “g.” How she came to appropriate so distinguished a name as De Chevreuse was a puzzle. Her husband –for she had a husband–was always reading French history in English, and doubtless this name appealed to his imagination and romance. Nobody knew what Madame’s real name was, nor that of her husband, for he was always called “Monseer.”

The reception-room was decorated after the prevailing fashion. There was gilt and pretense. There were numerous glass cases, filled with lotions and skin-foods and other articles of toilet; there were faceless heads adorned with all shades of hair, scalps, pompadours, and wigs. A few false-faces grinned or scowled or smirked from frames or corners where they were piled. There were tawdry masquerade costumes, too, and theatrical make-up. Curtains divided the several shampooing booths, and a screen cut off the general view of the operation of beauty. However, there were chinks large enough for the inquisitive, and everybody was inquisitive who patronized Madame de Chevreuse, pronounced Chevroose.

And always and ever there prevailed without regeneration the odor of cheap perfumes and scented soaps.

Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene left her carriage at the door, perfectly willing that the neighborhood should see her alight. She climbed the steps, stately and imposing. She was one of the few women who could overawe the homely girl in the hallway.

“Is Madame at liberty?”

“She will be shortly, Mrs. Haldene.”

Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene passed into the reception-room and sat down by the manicure table. The screen was in position. Some one was being beautified. From time to time she heard voices.

“The make-up is taking splendidly to-day.”

“Well, it didn’t last week. I sweat pink beads all over my new muslin.”

“It does peel in hot weather. I understand that Mrs. Welford is going to Dakota.”

“He ought to have the first chance there, if what I’ve heard about her is true. These society women make me tired.”

“They haven’t much to occupy their time.”

“Oh, I don’t know. They occupy their time in running around after the other women’s husbands.”

“And the husbands?”

“The other men’s wives.”

“You aren’t very charitable.”

“Nobody’s ever given me any charity, I’m sure.”

From one of the shampooing booths:

“But you would look very well in the natural grey, ma’am.”

“My husband doesn’t think so.”

“But his hair is grey.”

“That doesn’t lessen his regard for brunettes.”

Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene shrugged her majestic shoulders and gazed again into the street. She always regretted that Madame could not be induced to make private visits.

A white poodle, recently shampooed, dashed through the rooms. There is always a watery-eyed, red-lidded poodle in an establishment of this order. The masculine contempt for the pug has died. It took twenty years to accomplish these obsequies. But the poodle, the poor poodle! Call a man a thief, a wretch, a villain, and he will defend himself; but call him a poodle, and he slinks out of sight. It is impossible to explain definitely the cause of this supreme contempt for the poodle, nor why it should be considered the epitome of opprobrium to be called one.


“Yes, Madame!” replied the girl in the hall.

“Take Beauty into the kitchen and close the door. He’s just been washed, and I don’t want him all speckled up with hair-dye.”

The girl drove the poodle out of the reception-room and caught him in the hall. Presently the kitchen door slammed and the odor of onions in soup no longer fought against the perfumes and soaps for supremacy.

“There,” said Madame behind the screen, “you have no rival in town now for beauty.”

“I’ll be here again next Tuesday.”

“Same time?”

“Yes, in the morning.”

A woman emerged from behind the screen. She possessed a bold beauty, the sort that appeals to men without intellect. She was dressed extravagantly: too many furbelows, too many jewels, too many flowers. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene recognized her instantly and turned her head toward the window. She heard the woman pass by her, enter the hall and leave the house. She saw her walk quickly away, stop suddenly as if she had forgotten something, open her large purse, turn its contents inside out, replace them, and proceed. But a letter lay on the sidewalk unnoticed. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene secretly hoped that it would remain there till she made her departure.

“Handsome woman, isn’t she?” said Madame. “I don’t know what it is, but they are always good-looking.”

“Who is she?” asked Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene, who knew very well who the woman was.

“She is one of Mr. McQuade’s lady friends.”


“Yes.” Madame was shrewd. She saw that it wouldn’t do to tell Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene anything about a woman who could in no way be of use to her. “Have you heard of the Sybil?”

“The Sybil?” repeated Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene.

“Yes. A new fortune-teller, and everybody says she’s a wonder. I haven’t been to her yet, but I’m goin’ just as soon as I get time.”

“Do you believe they know what they are talking about?” incredulously.

“Know! I should say I did. Old Mother Danforth has told me lots of things that have come true. She was the one who predicted the Spanish war and the president’s assassination. It is marvelous, but she done it.”

Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene shuddered. With all her faults, she loved the English language.

“How do you want your hair fixed?” Madame inquired, seeing that her patron’s interest in mediums was not strong.

“The same as usual. Last week you left a streak, and I am sure everybody noticed it at the Gordon tea. Be careful to-day.”

Thereupon Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene constituted herself a martyr to the cause. She was nervous and fidgety in the chair, for the picture of that letter on the sidewalk kept recurring. In the meantime Madame told her all that had happened and all that hadn’t, which is equally valuable. The toilet lasted an hour; and when Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene rose from the chair, Madame was as dry as a brook in August. Her patron hurried to the street. The letter was still on the sidewalk. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene picked it up and quickly sought her carriage. Pah! how the thing smelt of sachet-powder. Her aristocratic nose wrinkled in disdain. But her curiosity surmounted her natural repugnance. The address was written in a coarse masculine hand. The carriage had gone two blocks before she found the necessary courage to open the letter. The envelope had already been opened, so in reading it her conscience suggested nothing criminal.

Gossip began on the day Eve entered the Garden of Eden. To be sure, there was little to gossip about, but that little Eve managed without difficulty to collect. It is but human to take a harmless interest in what our next-door neighbor is doing, has done, or may do. Primarily gossip was harmless; to-day it is still harmless in some quarters. The gossip of the present time is like the prude, always looking for the worst and finding it. The real trouble with the gossip lies in the fact that she has little else to do; her own affairs are so uninteresting that she is perforce obliged to look into the affairs of her neighbors. Then, to prove that she is well informed, she feels compelled to repeat what she has seen or heard, more or less accurately. From gossiping to meddling is but a trifling step. To back up a bit of gossip, one often meddles. Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene was naturally a daughter of Eve; she was more than a gossip, she was a prophetess. She foretold scandal. She would move Heaven and earth, so the saying goes, to prove her gossip infallible. And when some prophecy of hers went wrong, she did everything in her power to right it. To have acquired the reputation of prophesying is one thing, always to fulfil these prophecies is another. It never occurred to her that she was destroying other people’s peace of mind, that she was constituting herself a Fate, that she was meddling with lives which in no wise crossed or interfered with her own. She had no real enmity either for Warrington or Mrs. Jack; simply, she had prophesied that Warrington had taken up his residence in Herculaneum in order to be near Katherine Challoner, John Bennington’s wife. Here was a year nearly gone, and the smoke of the prophecy had evaporated, showing that there had been no fire below.

Neither Warrington nor Mrs. Jack was in her thoughts when she opened the letter, which was signed by McQuade’s familiar appellation.

Dear Girl–I’ve got them all this trip. I’ll put Bennington on the rack and wring Warrington’s political neck, the snob, swelling it around among decent people! What do you think? Why, Warrington used to run after the Challoner woman before she was married; and I have proof that she went to Warrington’s room one night and never left till morning. How’s that sound? They stick up their noses at you, do they? Wait! They won’t look so swell when I’m through with them. If Warrington’s name is even mentioned at the Republican convention, I’ve missed my guess. I got your bills this morning. You’d better go light till I’ve settled with these meddlers. Then we’ll pack up our duds and take that trip to Paris I promised you.


Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene shivered. How horribly vulgar! She felt polluted for a moment, and half wished she had let the missive lie where it had fallen. But this sense of disgust wore off directly. She had been right, then; there was something wrong; it was her duty, her duty to society, to see that this thing went no further. And that flirtation between Patty and the dramatist must be brought to a sudden halt. How? Ah, she would now find the means. He was merely hoodwinking Patty; it was a trick to be near Mrs. Jack. She had ignored her, had she? She had always scorned to listen to the truth about people, had she? And well she might! Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene’s lips tightened. Those friends of hers who had doubted would presently doubt no more. She hadn’t the slightest idea how McQuade would use his information; she didn’t even care, so long as he used it. She grew indignant. The idea of that woman’s posing as she did! The idea of her dreaming to hold permanently the footing she had gained in society! It was nothing short of monstrous. The ever-small voice of conscience spoke, but she refused to listen. She did not ask herself if what McQuade had in his possession was absolute truth. Humanity believes most what it most desires to believe. And aside from all this, it was a triumph, a vindication of her foresight.

“To the Western Union,” she called to the groom. When the carriage drew up before the telegraph office, she gave the letter to the groom. “I found this on the sidewalk. Have them return it to the owner by messenger.” This was done. “Now, home,” she ordered.

That afternoon she attended a large reception. Her bland smile was as bland as ever, but her eyes shone with suppressed excitement. The Benningtons were there, but there was only a frigid nod when she encountered Mrs. Jack and Patty. She wondered that she nodded at all. She took her friend, Mrs. Fairchilds, into a corner. She simply had to tell some one of her discovery, or at least a hint of it.

“Do you recollect what I told you?”

“About–?” Mrs. Fairchilds glanced quickly at Mrs. Jack.

“Yes. Every word was true, and there will be a great upheaval shortly. But not a word to a soul. I never gossip, but in this instance I feel it my duty to warn you. How and where I learned the truth is immaterial. I have learned it, and that is sufficient. It is frightful; it makes my blood boil when I think of it. And she goes everywhere, as if she had a perfect right.”

“What have you found?” Mrs. Fairchilds could scarcely breathe, so great was her curiosity.

“You will learn soon enough without my telling you.” And that was all Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene would say.

But it was enough, enough for her purpose. Within an hour’s time all the old doubt had been stirred into life again, and the meddlers gathered about for the feast. It is all so simple and easy.

Mrs. Jack moved here and there, serenely beautiful, serenely happy, serenely unconscious of the blow that was soon to strike at the very heart of her life. Once in a while her brows would draw together abstractedly. She was thinking of John, and of the heartaches he was having over the action of the men at the shops.

Patty was not gay. She seemed to be impatient to leave. Three or four times she asked Mrs. Jack if she were ready to go; she was tired, the people bored her, she wanted to go home. Finally Mrs. Jack surrendered.

That night at dinner John was very quiet and absent-minded. The shops, the shops, he was thinking of them continuously. In his heart of hearts he had no faith in the reporter’s influence. The strike mania had seized the men, and nothing now could hold them back. He knew they would doubt his threat to tear down the buildings. Not till he sent the builder’s wrecking crew would they understand. Not a hair’s breadth, not the fraction of an inch; if they struck, it would be the end. He gazed at his wife, the melting lights of love in his handsome eyes. Hey-dey! She would always be with him, and together they would go about the great world and forget the injustice and ingratitude of men. But it was going to be hard. Strong men must have something to lay their hands to. He knew that he could not remain idle very long; he must be doing something. But out of the shops he felt that he would be like a ship without steering apparatus–lost, aimless, purposeless.


He woke from his dream, and forced a smile to his lips.

“You haven’t eaten anything.”

“I’m not hungry, dear.”

“You haven’t spoken half a dozen words since you came home.”

“Haven’t I? I must have been thinking.”

“About the shops?” laying her hand on his and pressing it strongly.

“Yes. I’m afraid, heart o’ mine, that it’s all over. If they do not strike now, they will later on; if not on this pretext, on some other.”

“Why not let him go, John?”

“No.” His jaws hardened. “It isn’t a question of his going or staying; it is simply a question of who is master, the employed or the employer. The men say it’s the principle of the thing; it shall be fought out on those grounds. I’m going down to the club to-night with Dick. I feel the need of getting out and breathing. Dick’s not the best company just now, but he’ll understand what I need. Poor devil! he’s got his hands full, too.”

She understood his mood, and offered no objection. She raised his hand and brushed it with her lips.

“I love you, John.”

He smiled gratefully.

“You go over to mother’s for the evening, and I’ll drop in on the way home and pick you up.”

Patty was in the music-room, so Mrs. Jack did not disturb her, but started at her basket-work. Mrs. Bennington read till eight, and retired. Patty played all the melancholy music she could think of. When love first makes its entrance into the human heart, there is neither joy nor gladness nor gaiety. On the contrary, there is a vast shadow of melancholy, a painful sadness, doubt and cross-purpose, boldness at one moment and timidity at the next, a longing for solitude. Music and painting and poetry, these arts that only attracted, now engage.

So Patty played.

Sometimes Mrs. Jack looked up from her work, wondering. She had never heard Patty play so many haunting, dismal compositions. At nine the telephone rang, and she dropped her work instantly, thinking the call might be from John. Ah, if the men would only listen to reason!


“Is Mrs. Bennington at home?” asked a voice, unfamiliar to her ears.

“There are two. Which one do you wish?”

“Mrs. John Bennington.”

“This is Mrs. John Bennington speaking. What is it?”

There was a pause.

“I have something very important to communicate to you. In the first place, you must use your influence in making Mr. Warrington withdraw his name as a candidate for nomination.”

“Who is this speaking?” she asked sharply.

“Mr. McQuade.”

The receiver nearly fell from her hand. McQuade? What in the world–

“Did you get the name?”

“Yes. But I fail to understand what you are talking about. I warn you that I shall ring off immediately.”

“One moment, please. If you hang up the receiver, you will regret it. I wish you no ill, Mrs. Bennington. If it were possible I should like to talk with you personally, for this matter deeply concerns your future happiness. I can not call; I have been ordered out of your husband’s house. It lies in your power to influence Warrington to drop his political ambition. Information has come to my hand that would not look very well in the newspapers. It is in my power to stop it, but I promise not to lift a hand if you refuse.”

“I not only refuse, but I promise to repeat your conversation to my husband this very night.” With that Mrs. Jack hung up the receiver. She rose, pale and terribly incensed. The low fellow! How dared he, how dared he! “Patty!” The call brooked no dallying.

The music ceased. Patty came out, blinking.

“You called me, Kate?”

“Patty, McQuade has been calling me up on the telephone.”


“McQuade, McQuade! He says that if I do not influence Mr. Warrington to withdraw his name–Did you ever hear of such a thing? I am furious! What can it mean? He says he has heard something about me which he can suppress but will not if I–Why, Patty, what shall I do? What shall I do?” She crushed her hands together wildly.

“Tell John,” said Patty sensibly.

“John? He would thresh McQuade within an inch of his life.”

“Tell Warrington, then.”

“He would do the same as John. But what can the wretch have found? God knows, Patty, I have always been a good, true woman. … Think of that man’s telephoning me!”

Patty ran to her side and flung her arms about her brother’s wife. Patty loved her.

“Don’t you bother your head, darling. It can’t be anything but a political dodge; it can’t be anything serious. McQuade is low enough to frighten women, but don’t let him frighten you. I know he lies,” said the loyal Patty. “And now that I think it over, it would be best to say nothing to John or Richard. Fisticuffs would get into the papers, and it’s my opinion that’s just what this man McQuade wants. He could swear to a thousand lies, if the matter became public. But oh!” clenching her hands fiercely, “I’d give a year of my life to see John thresh him. But you say nothing; let us wait and see.”

Wise Patty!

At that very moment McQuade sat swinging in his swivel-chair. There was a smile of satisfaction on his face.

“That’ll bring ’em,” he said aloud, though he was alone. “That’ll bring ’em both up here, roaring like lions. They’ll muss up the furniture, and then I can tell the reporters all about it. Even Walford can’t object this time.”

He rubbed his hands together like Shylock at the thought of his pound of flesh. He had waited a long time. They had ordered him, McQuade. who held the city in his hand–they had ordered him out of the house. Not a grain of mercy, not half a grain. Two birds with one stone. He was shrewd for all his illiteracy. He knew women passably well. This one would tell her husband, who would seek for immediate vengeance.

But sometimes chance overthrows the best-laid plans of cleverness and foresight. And this remarkable plan of McQuade’s was deranged by a chance guess by Patty.

Meantime at Martin’s it was growing lively. The bar was crowded, the restaurant was being liberally patronized, and persons went up the stairs that did not return. Jordan paid the check, and he and Osborne went out.

“When’ll they go out, Ben?”


“Too bad. I wish I’d been sober.”

“I’ll break Morrissy’s head one of these fine days. Let’s go over to Johnny’s; there’s music over there.”

“All right, Ben.”

“And no more booze, mind.”

“Just as you say.”

Up stairs the gambling-den was doing a good business. The annual trotting meet had brought many sporting men to town. They were standing around the faro table; the two roulette wheels were going, and the Klondike machine spun ceaselessly. There were a dozen stacks of chips in front of Bolles. He was smiling, flushed with triumph and whisky.

“Three hundred to the good, old boy!” he said to the man who spun the ivory ball. “I’ll break you fellows to-night.”

“Bring Mr. Bolles another whisky,” said the proprietor.

“I’ll take all you can bring.”

“You’re a tank, sure.”

“You bet!” Bolles grinned.

So did the banker, covertly. He had seen the comedy played a thousand times. Few men ever took away their winnings, once they started in to drink, and Bolles was already drunk. He lost his next bet. He doubled and lost again. Then he stacked his favorite number. The ball rolled into it, but jumped the compartment, wizard-wise, and dropped into single-o. Bolles cursed the luck. Another whisky was placed at his elbow. He drank it at a gulp.

“Make the limit five,” he cried.

The banker nodded to the man at the wheel.

Bolles made six bets. He lost them. A quarter of an hour later his entire winnings had passed over the table. He swore, and drew out a roll of bills. He threw a fifty on the black. Red won. He doubled on black. Red won. He plunged. He could not win a single bet. He tried numbers, odd and even, the dozens, splits, squares, column. Fortune had withdrawn her favor.


He played his last ten on black, and lost.

“Let me have a hundred.”

The banker shook his head and pointed to the signs on the wall: “Checks for money, money for checks, no mouth-bets.”

Bolles felt in his pockets and repeated the futile search.

“Not a damned cent!” he shouted. “Cleaned out!”

“Give Mr. Bolles a ten-spot,” said the banker. “But you can’t play it here, Bolles,” was the warning.

Bolles stuffed the note in his pocket and rose. He was very drunk; he himself did not realize how drunk he was till he started for the door. He staggered and lurched against the sideboard. His hat rolled from his head. An attendant quickly recovered it, and Bolles slapped it on his head.

“Get out o’ the way! It’s a snide game, anyhow. You’ve got wires on the machine. You’ve got seven hundred o’ my money, and you give me ten! Hell!”

They opened the door for him and he stumbled out into the dark, unlighted hallway. He leaned against the wall, trying to think it out, searching his pockets again and again. Why in hell hadn’t he left some of the money with the bartender? Broke, clean, flat broke! And he had pushed his winnings up to three hundred! He became ugly, now that he fully realized what had happened. He ground his teeth and cursed loudly; he even kicked the door savagely. Then he swung rather than walked down the stairs. He turned into the bar and bought three more whiskies, and was then primed for any deviltry. He was very drunk, but it was a wide-awake drunkenness, cruel and revengeful. He turned into the alley and tried to think of some plan by which he could borrow enough to make a new attempt at fickle fortune. To-morrow he could strike McQuade again, but to-night McQuade wouldn’t listen to him. Every once in a while he would renew the searching of his pockets, but there was only the remainder of the ten the banker had given him.

John and Warrington had played an uninteresting game of billiards at the club, then finally sought the night and tramped idly about the streets. With Warrington it was sometimes his aunt, sometimes the new life that beat in his heart when he saw Patty, sometimes this game he was playing which had begun in jest and had turned to earnest. With John it was the shops, the shops, always and ever the shops. When they spoke it was in monosyllables. Nevertheless it was restful to each of them to be so well understood that verbal expression was not necessary. They had started toward Martin’s on the way home, when Warrington discovered that he was out of cigars. He ran back three or four doors while John proceeded slowly. Just as he was about to cross the alley-way a man suddenly lurched out into the light. He was drunk, but not the maudlin, helpless intoxication that seeks and invites sociability. He was murderously drunk, strong, nervous, excited. He barred Bennington’s way.

“I thought it was you!” he said venomously.

Bennington drew back and started to pass around the man. He did not recognize him. He saw in the action only a man disorderly drunk. But he hadn’t taken two steps before the other’s words stopped him abruptly.

“You’re a millionaire, eh? Well, I’ll soon fix you and your actress and her lover. Take that as a starter!”

He struck Bennington savagely on the cheek-bone. Bennington stumbled back, but managed to save himself from falling. Instantly all the war that was in his soul saw an outlet. He came back, swift as a panther and as powerful. In an instant his assailant was on his back on the pavement, the strong fingers tightening about the wretch’s throat; Bolles was a powerful man, but he had not the slightest chance. Not a sound from either man. There were one or two pedestrians on the opposite side of the street, but either these did not see or would not.

Warrington had made a hurried purchase. As he left the cigar store, he saw the two men fall. He ran up quickly, wondering what the trouble was. He had no idea that John was one of the men, but as he saw the light grey suit, and the Panama lying on the ground, he knew.

“For God’s sake, John, what are you doing?” he cried.

With a superhuman effort he dragged the enraged man from the prostrate form in the road. It no longer struggled, but lay inert and without motion.

“Was I killing him, Dick?” said John, in a quavering voice. “He struck me and–Am I mad, or has the world turned upside down in a minute?”

“What did he say?” asked Warrington. He was badly frightened. He knelt at the side of Bolles and felt of his heart. It still beat.

“What did he say? Nothing, nothing!–Where’s my hat? I’m going home– Have I–?”

“No, he’s alive; but I came just in time.”

At this moment Bolles turned over and slowly struggled to a sitting posture. His hands went feebly toward his throat.

“He’s all right,” said Warrington. “We’d better light out. Now what the devil–“

“He struck me. He was drunk. I’ve been in a fighting mood all day. Call that carriage.”

When Mrs. Jack saw him she screamed.


“The asphalt was wet, girl, and I took a bad fall.” But John lied with ill grace.

Chapter XIV

The Bennington mills, or shops, were situated just inside the city limits. Beyond was a beautiful undulating country of pastures and wheat-fields, dotted frequently with fine country homes. The mills were somewhat isolated from the general manufacturing settlement, but had spurs of track that for practical purposes were much nearer the main line of freight traffic than any of those manufacturing concerns which posed as its rivals. It was a great quadrangle of brick, partly surrounded by a prison-like wall. Within this wall was a court, usually piled high with coke and coal and useless molds. The building was, by turns, called foundry, mills and shops. The men who toiled there called it the shops. Day and night, night and day, there was clangor and rumbling and roaring and flashes of intense light. In the daytime great volumes of smoke poured from the towering chimneys, and at night flames shot up to the very walls of heaven, burnishing the clouds.

The elder Bennington was one of those men who, with a firm standing on the present, lay admirable plans for the future. He had been in no great hurry to get rich. He went leisurely about it, tantalizing fortune, it might be said. His first venture had shown foresight. At the beginning of the Civil War he had secured an option on many thousand tons of coal. Without taking an actual penny from his pockets, he had netted a comfortable fortune. Again, his foresight recognized that the day would come when the whole continent would gird itself in steel. With his ready money he bought ground and built a small mill. This prospered. He borrowed from the banks, and went on building. Ten years passed. The property was unencumbered; he had paid both interest and principal. He did not believe in stock-holders. He sold no stock. Every nail, bolt and screw was his; every brick, stone and beam. There were no directors to meddle with his plans, no fool’s hand to block his progress, to thwart his vast projects. Slowly he became rich, for every piece of steel that went out to the purchasers was honest steel. Sagacity and loyalty overcame all obstacles. Many a time he might have sold at a handsome profit. But selling wasn’t his idea; he had a son. Besides, this was his life-work, and he detested the idle rich, which at that time were just coming into evidence.

He never speculated; but he bought government bonds, railroad bonds, municipal bonds, for he had great faith in his country. He had the same faith in his native city, too, for he secured all the bank stock that came his way. Out of every ten dollars he earned he invested five, saved three, and spent two. He lived well, but not ostentatiously. He never gave directly to charities, but he gave work to hundreds, and made men self-reliant and independent, which is a far nobler charity. He never denied himself a vacation; he believed that no man should live and die at his desk. There was plenty of time for work and plenty for play; but neither interfered with the other. He was an ardent fisherman, a keen hunter, and a lover of horses.

More than all these things, he was one of those rare individuals one seldom meets–the born father. He made a man of his son and a woman of his daughter. When he sent the boy to England, he knew that the boy might change his clothes, but neither his character nor his patriotism. He voted independently; he was never a party man; thus, public office was never thrust in his way. Perhaps he was too frankly honest. He never worried when his son reached the mating age. “Whoever my boy marries will be the woman he loves, and he is too much his father’s son not to love among his equals.” He was a college-bred man besides, but few knew this. He had an eye for paintings, an ear for music, and a heart for a good book. It is this kind of man whom nature allows to be reproduced in his children.

He was gruff, but this gruffness was simply a mask to keep at arm’s length those persons whom he did not desire for friends.

When he died he left a will that was a model of its kind. There were not a hundred lines in the document. He divided his fortune into three parts, but he turned the shops over to his son John, without stipulations, wholly and absolutely, to do with them as he pleased. But he had written a letter in which he had set forth his desires. It may be understood at once that these desires readily coincided with those of the son.

John had not begun in the office. On the contrary, during school vacations he worked as a puddler’s apprentice, as a molder’s apprentice, in the rail-shop, in the sheet-and wire-shops. He worked with his hands, too, and drew his envelope on Saturday nights like the rest of them. There was never any talk about John’s joining the union; the men looked upon his efforts good-naturedly and as a joke. The father, with wisdom always at his elbow, never let the fishing trips go by. John had his play. At the age of twenty he knew as much about the manufacture of steel as the next one. He loved the night shifts, when the whole place seethed and glowed like an inferno. This manual education had done something else, too. It had broadened his shoulders, deepened his chest, and flattened his back. Many a time the old man used to steal out and watch the young Hercules, stripped to the waist, drag rails to the cooling-room. When John entered college athletics he was not closely confined to the training-tables.

Under the guidance of such a father, then, there could not be as a result anything less than a thorough man.

On the following Monday morning succeeding the encounter with Bolles, John boarded a car and went out to the shops as usual. He found nothing changed. The clerks in the office were busy with huge ledgers, though it is true that many a hand was less firm than on ordinary days. Rumors were flying about, from clerk to clerk, but none knew what the boss intended to do. From the shops themselves came the roaring and hammering that had gone on these thirty years or more. Bennington opened his mail and read each letter carefully. There were orders for rails, wire rope and sheets for boilers. The business of the concern always passed through his hands first. Even when he was out of town, duplicates of all orders were sent to him. He laid each letter in the flat basket; but this morning there was no “O. K.–J. B.” scrawled across the tops. There would be time enough for that later. He rose and went to the window and looked down into the court. His heart beat heavily. There was something besides the possibility of a strike on his mind. But he flung this thought aside and returned to the strike. Was it right or was it wrong? Should he follow out his father’s request, letter for letter? To punish two or three who were guilty, would it be right to punish several hundred who were not? And those clerks and assistants yonder, upon whom families depended, who had nothing to do with unionism, one way or the other, what about them? Fate strikes blindly; the innocent fall with the guilty. The analysis of his own desires was quick enough. Surrender? Not much! Not an inch, not a tenth part of an inch, would he move. If men permitted themselves to be sheep in the hands of an unscrupulous man, so much the worse. He promised himself this much: all those who appealed to him honestly, for these he would find employment elsewhere. There were other mills and shops in town that would be glad enough to employ a Bennington man, which signified capability.

“Mr. Bennington?”

John turned. Chittenden, the young English inventor, stood respectfully just within the door.

“Good morning, Mr. Chittenden. How’s the invention going? Did you get that special pulley from Pittsburgh yet?”

“The invention is going very well, sir. But it is not of that I wish to speak.”

“Have you joined the union, then?” asked Bennington, with a shade of irony which did not escape the keen-eyed Englishman.

“No!” This was not spoken; it was more like a shout. “I have joined no union, and my brain may rot before I do. The truth is, sir, I hear that if the men go out you’ll tear down the shops.” He hesitated.

“Go on.”

“Well, I do not want this to happen on my account. I am young; I can wait; I’ll take my tinkering elsewhere. You’ve been very good to me sir, and I should hate to see you troubled.”

“Chittenden, you can’t leave me now. If you do, I shall never forgive you. You are a valuable piece of property just now. You are to be my test case, as the lawyers say. If you go now the men will think I weakened and forced you out. You gave me your word that you would stay here till _I_ told you to go.”

“There’s nothing more to be said, sir. You may depend upon me.”

“Thanks. The day you perfect your machine, on that day I shall find the capital to promote it. Good morning.”

“The committee was coming up after me, sir,” was the reply.

“Ah!” Bennington’s eyes flashed. “Then remain to hear what I have to say to them.”

All this while the girl at the typewriter never paused. Clickity-click! clickity-click! Suddenly all noises ceased, all but the noise of the typewriter. The two men looked at each other quickly and comprehensively. There was a tramping of feet on the stairs, and presently a knock on the door. Clickity-click!

“You may go,” said Bennington to the girl.

The girl gathered up her notes and passed into the main office.

Again came the knock, more aggressive this time.

“Come in.”

The committee, headed by Morrissy, entered with shuffling feet. Morrissy saw the Englishman and scowled.

“Well, gentlemen?” said Bennington, sitting on his desk and resting a foot on his chair.

“We have come to learn what you intend to do about this Britisher,” began Morrissy.

“I don’t recollect your face,” replied Bennington thoughtfully. “How long have you been in the shops?”

“I’m not in your shops,” returned Morrissy blusteringly.

“In that case,” said Bennington mildly, “there’s the door. I do not see how this matter concerns you.”

“Well, it does concern me, as you’ll find soon,” cried Morrissy, choking with sudden rage.

“I’ll give you one minute to make the foot of the stairs. If you’re not there at the end of that time, I’ll take you by the collar and help you.” Bennington drew out his watch.

“He’s the head of our union, Mr. Bennington,” interposed one of the men, shifting his feet uneasily.

“Oh! Then he’s the man who is really making all this trouble?” Bennington nodded as if he had just arrived at a solution.

“I’m here to see that my men have their rights.” Morrissy failed to understand this mild young man. “And it’ll take a bigger man than you to throw me out of here. This Britisher either joins the union or he goes.”

“If he joins the union he’ll be permitted to continue the perfecting of his invention?”

“His invention is not necessary at present. The output as it is meets the demand.”

“Look here, Mr. Morrissy, I’ll make you a proposition.”


“You and I will go down to the molding-room and have it out with our fists. If you win, Chittenden goes; if I win, he stays and the men return to work.”

“This isn’t no kid’s play, Mr. Bennington. You’ve got a big strike looking you in the face.”

Bennington laughed. “I’m afraid you’re a coward. So Mr. Chittenden must join the union or go. It isn’t a question of wage scale or hours; it simply revolves around Mr. Chittenden. Supposing he joins the union, what will you give him to do?” Bennington’s voice was that of a man who wishes to know all sides of the question.

“Well, he’ll have to learn where they all started from.”

“Mr. Chittenden is an expert machinist.”

“Let him join the union, then, and there won’t be any trouble here. I want justice. This shop is union, and no non-union man can work here. I want justice, that’s all.”

“You’ll get that all in good time, Mr.–ah–?”


“Mr. Morrissy. Mr. Chittenden, are you willing to join the union?” Bennington smiled as he plied this question.

“Not I! My word, I’d as lief starve as become a union man, and under such a master. I prize my manhood and independence above all things. I have already refused to join. I never take back what I say.”

“Neither do I, Mr. Chittenden.” Bennington stood up.

“Then out he goes,” said Morrissy, recovering his truculence.

“On what authority?” Bennington’s voice was growing milder and milder. “On what authority?” he repeated.

“On mine!” cried Morrissy.

“You are mistaken. I am master here. Mr. Chittenden will remain on the pay-roll.”

“Then in ten minutes the men will walk out on my orders. You’re making a big mistake, Mr. Bennington.”

“That is for me to judge.”

“Ten minutes to make up your mind.” Morrissy made a gesture toward his watch.

“Don’t bother about the time, Mr. Morrissy. We’ll spend the ten minutes in the molding-room.”

Morrissy turned pale.

“Oh, we shan’t come to fisticuffs, Mr. Morrissy. I am a gentleman, and you are not. Not a word!” as Morrissy clenched his fists. “Mr. Shipley,” said Bennington to one of the committee, “will you get all the men together? I have a few words to say to them before this ten minutes is up. I want to give the men a fair show.”

“You can have twenty minutes, my English-bred gentleman,” snarled Morrissy. At that moment he would have given a thousand dollars for the strength to whip the man whose ruin he believed he was planning. “I’m kind of anxious myself to hear what you’ve got to say.

“In fact, I hope you will listen carefully to every word I say,” replied Bennington, with a nod toward the door.

The committee went out solemnly. Morrissy was next to the last to go down the stairs. Bennington followed closely behind him.

“Some day I’ll get a good chance at you, Mr. Morrissy, and the devil take care of you when I do. I shall see to it that the law will be found to fit your case.”

Morrissy shifted over to the balustrade, looking over his shoulder at the speaker.

“Look here, you can’t talk to me that way, Bennington.”

“Can’t I? I’ll proceed. In the first place, you’re a damn scoundrel. You’ve brought about this trouble simply to show that you have power to injure me. Well, you can’t injure me, Mr. Morrissy, but you will do irreparable injury to these poor men who put their trust in you and your kind. Chittenden? That’s a pretty poor excuse. You’ve always harbored a grudge against my father, and this seems to be your chance. You’ve the idea that you can intimidate me. You can’t intimidate me any more than you could my father. More than all this, McQuade is back of this move; and if I can prove that you accepted a bribe from him, I’ll have you both in court for conspiracy.”

“You’re talking big. It won’t do you any good.”

“Wait. I should be willing to wait ten years to call you a thief and a blackguard in public. But I say to you now, privately, you are both a thief and a blackguard.”

Morrissy stepped back, red in the face. But he recognized the disadvantage of his position. He was one step lower than his accuser.

“Go on,” said Bennington, his voice now hard and metallic; “go on down. There’ll be no rough and tumble here. I won’t give you that satisfaction.”

“Well, you mark my words, I’ll get satisfaction out of you shortly, and then you’ll talk on the other side of your mouth. This is business now. When that’s done, why, I’ll make you eat every one of those words.”

Bennington laughed sinisterly. He could crush the life out of this flabby ruffian with one arm, easily.

Nothing more was said, and the way to the great molding-room was traversed silently. Shipley sent out orders, and in a few minutes the men congregated to hear what the boss had to say. It was, to say the least, an unusual proceeding, this of an employer delivering a speech to his men after they had practically declared a strike. Morrissy now regretted that he had given Bennington any grace at all, for it was not to be doubted that there was only a small majority of the men who had voted for a strike. And these were the young men; youth is always so hot-headed and cock-sure of itself. The older men, the men who had drawn their pay in the shops for twenty years or more, they were not so confident.

Bennington mounted a pile of molds and raised his hand. The murmur of voices dwindled away into silence. The sun came in through the spreading skylights, and Bennington stood in the center of the radiance. He was a man, every inch of him, and not a man among them could deny it. There are many things that are recognizable even to crass minds, and one of these is a man. Genius they look upon with contempt, but not strength and resolution; they can not comprehend what is not visible to the eye.

“Fire away, boss!” said a voice from the crowd.

Many of the men smiled, but there was no answering smile on the face of the man on the molds.

“I have but few words to say to you men, and I trust for the sake of your families that you will weigh carefully every word I utter.” Bennington took his father’s letter from his pocket and unfolded it. “You are about to take a step such as you all will live to regret. My father never threatened; he acted. I shall follow his example. You are on the verge of striking. I shall recognize the strike only at the moment you decide to leave the shops. You will strike without cause, without justice, simply because you are commanded to do so by your leader.”

“Hold on, Mr. Bennington!” cried one of those nearest him. “We have the right to vote, and we voted against your policy in hiring a non-union man.”

“Put it that way if it pleases you,” replied Bennington. “I say that you strike simply to show how strong your power is. It is a fine thing to have power, but it is finer by far to use it only when justice makes a cause. But power is a terrible weapon in the hands of those who can not direct it wisely. Let me come to facts. Your wages are the highest in the city, five per cent. above the union scale; your hours are the shortest; there is no Sunday-night shift; you have at your pleasure a gymnasium and a swimming-pool; you are each of you given a week’s vacation in the summer on full pay, a thing no other concern of the kind in the state does; all the machinery is flawless, minimizing your chances of danger; in fact, you draw pay fifty-two weeks in the year in the squarest shop in the world. If any man wishes to deny these things, let him stand forth.”

But there was neither sound nor movement from the men.

Bennington continued. “Men, you have no grievance. This man Chittenden, the alleged cause of your striking, takes no food or pay from your mouths or your pockets; he interferes with you in no manner whatever. The contrivance he is trying to complete will not limit the output, but will triple it, necessitating the employment of more men. But your leader says that the present output is wholly sufficient, and you are taking his word for it. Mr. Chittenden represents progress, but you have taken it into your heads that you will have none of it. He refuses to join the union, and I refuse to discharge him on that ground. I do not say that this shall not be a union shop; I say that I shall employ whom I will for any purpose I see fit. It is your say, so say it; yours is the power; use it. … Patience, just a little longer. I have shown much of it during the past year.”

The men swayed restlessly, and then became still again when they saw that he was going to read something.

“I have here the last letter my father ever wrote me. As I received it after his death, I might say that it is a voice from the grave. I will read that part which affects the shops.

“‘And so, my son, I leave you this last request. Day after day, year after year, I have toiled honestly, with the will and the foresight God gave me. I die prosperous and contented, having acquired my riches without ill to any and without obligation. I have never wronged any man, though often the power to do so has been in my hands. But reason always cools hot blood, and I have always kept a strong curb on all my angry impulses. Some day the men will strike again, what about I know not; but this I do know: it will be without justice. I have bent to them nine out of ten times. Nine of their demands were not wholly unreasonable, but the tenth was. And this demand was that I should have no non-union men in the shops. This strike lasted four months. You will recall it. I do not know how long it might have gone on, had not the poor devil, who was the cause of it, died. I and the men came together again. We patched up our differences, covertly, so to speak. The men appeared at the gates one morning, and I let them in without referring by a single word to what had taken place. The principle of unionism is a noble thing, but ignoble men, like rust in girders, gnaw rapidly into principles and quickly and treacherously nullify their good.

“‘The destroyer is everywhere. The apple has its worm, the rose its canker, the steel its rust. It is the ignorant and envious man who misuses power that, rightly directed, moves toward the emancipation of the human race. There are cruel and grasping and dishonest employers, who grind the heart and soul out of men. The banding together of the laboring men was done in self-defense; it was a case of survive or perish. The man who inaugurated unionism was a great philanthropist. The unions began well; that is because their leaders were honest, and because there was no wolf in the fold to recognize the extent of power. It was an ignorant man who first discovered it, and for the most part ignorance still wears the crown and holds the scepter. The men who put themselves under the guidance of a dishonest labor leader are much to be pitied. The individual laboring man always had my right hand, but I have never had any particular reason to admire the union leader.

“‘There were two hundred and twelve strikes last year, of which only six had cause. The others were brought about by politicians and greedy unions. Dishonesty finds the line of least resistance in greed. Now, I have studied the strike problem from beginning to end. There can be no strike at the Bennington shops for a just cause. Had I lived long enough, the shops would have been open-shop. My son, never surrender once to injustice, for if you do you will establish a precedent, and you will go on surrendering to the end of time. I leave the shops to you. There is but one thing I demand, and that is that you shall never sell the shops; Bennington or nothing. If you have difficulties with the men, weigh them on the smallest scales. You will be master there–you alone. It is a big responsibility, but I have the greatest confidence in you. When the time comes, show that you are master, even to the tearing down of every brick and stone that took me so long to erect. I shall be where such disasters will not worry me in the least.'”

Bennington refolded the letter slowly. The men stood absolutely motionless, waiting.

“Men, if you go out this day, not one of you will ever find employment here again. My sense of justice is large, and nothing but that shall dictate to me. I shall employ and discharge whom I will; no man or organization of men shall say to me that this or that shall be done here. I am master, but perhaps you will understand this too late. Stay or go; that is as you please. If you stay, nothing more will be said on my part; if you go … Well, I shall tear down these walls and sell the machinery for scrap-iron!”

For the first time he showed emotion. He brought his hands strongly together, as a man puts the final blow to the nail, then buttoned up his coat and stood erect, his chin aggressive and his mouth stern.

“Well, which is it to be?” he demanded.

“You are determined to keep Chittenden?”

“Positively determined.”

“We’ll go out, Mr. Bennington,” said Shipley.

“And what’s more,” added Morrissy, “we’ll see that nobody else comes in.”

He lighted a cigar, shoved his hands into his trousers pockets and walked insolently toward the exit. The majority of the men were grinning. Tear down this place? Kill the goose that laid the golden egg? It was preposterous. Why, no man had ever done a thing like that. It was to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face. It was a case of bluff, pure and simple. Winter was nearly three months off. By that time this smart young man would be brought to his senses. So they began filing out in twos and threes, their blouses and dinner-pails tucked under their arms. Many were whistling lightly, many were smoking their pipes, but there were some who passed forth silent and grave. If this young man was a chip of the old block, they had best start out at once in search of a new job.

Bennington jumped down from his impromptu platform and closed the ponderous doors. Then he hurried to the main office, where he notified the clerks what had happened. He returned to his private office. He arranged his papers methodically, closed the desk, and sat down. His gaze wandered to the blue hills and rolling pastures, and his eyes sparkled; but he forced back what had caused it, and presently his eyes became dry and hard.

“‘You and your actress and her lover’,” he murmured softly. “My God, I am very unhappy!”

Chapter XV

The anonymous letter is still being written. This is the weapon of the cowardly and envious heart, so filled with venom and malice that it has the courage or brazenness to go about piously proclaiming the word duty. Beware of the woman who has ink-stains on her fingers and a duty to perform; beware of her also who never complains of the lack of time, but who is always harking on duty, duty. Some people live close to the blinds. Oft on a stilly night one hears the blinds rattle never so slightly. Is anything going on next door? Does a carriage stop across the way at two o’clock of a morning? Trust the woman behind the blinds to answer. Coming or going, little or nothing escapes this vigilant eye that has a retina not unlike that of a horse, since it magnifies the diameter of everything nine times. To hope for the worst and to find it, that is the golden text of the busybody. The busybody is always a prude; and prude signifies an evil-minded person who is virtuous bodily. They are never without ink or soft lead-pencils. Ink has accomplished more wonderful things than man can enumerate; though just now a dissertation on ink in ink is ill-timed.

To return again to the anonymous letter. Add and multiply the lives it has wrecked, the wars brought about. Menelaus, King of the Greeks, doubtless received one regarding Helen’s fancy for that simpering son of Priam, Paris. The anonymous letter was in force even in that remote period, the age of myths. It is consistent, for nearly all anonymous letters are myths. A wife stays out late; her actions may be quite harmless, only indiscreet. There is, alack! always some intimate friend who sees, who dabbles her pen in the ink-well and labors over a