Infomotions, Inc.King Coal : a Novel / Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968



Author: Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968
Title: King Coal : a Novel
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): hal; north valley; jeff cotton; joe smith; mary burke; tim rafferty
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Title: King Coal
       A Novel

Author: Upton Sinclair

Release Date: February, 2005 [EBook #7522]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on May 13, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK KING COAL ***




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and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team




KING COAL

_A NOVEL_

BY

UPTON SINCLAIR



TO

MARY CRAIG KIMBROUGH

To whose persistence in the perilous task of tearing her husband's
manuscript to pieces, the reader is indebted for the absence of most of
the faults from this book.



CONTENTS


BOOK ONE

THE DOMAIN OF KING COAL


BOOK TWO

THE SERFS OF KING COAL


BOOK THREE

THE HENCHMEN OF KING COAL


BOOK FOUR

THE WILL OF KING COAL




INTRODUCTION


Upton Sinclair is one of the not too many writers who have consecrated
their lives to the agitation for social justice, and who have also
enrolled their art in the service of a set purpose. A great and
non-temporizing enthusiast, he never flinched from making sacrifices.
Now and then he attained great material successes as a writer, but
invariably he invested and lost his earnings in enterprises by which he
had hoped to ward off injustice and to further human happiness. Though
disappointed time after time, he never lost faith nor courage to start
again.

As a convinced socialist and eager advocate of unpopular doctrines, as
an exposer of social conditions that would otherwise be screened away
from the public eye, the most influential journals of his country were
as a rule arraigned against him. Though always a poor man, though never
willing to grant to publishers the concessions essential for many
editions and general popularity, he was maliciously represented to be a
carpet knight of radicalism and a socialist millionaire. He has several
times been obliged to change his publisher, which goes to prove that he
is no seeker of material gain.

Upton Sinclair is one of the writers of the present time most deserving
of a sympathetic interest. He shows his patriotism as an American, not
by joining in hymns to the very conditional kind of liberty peculiar to
the United States, but by agitating for infusing it with the elixir of
real liberty, the liberty of humanity. He does not limit himself to a
dispassionate and entertaining description of things as they are. But in
his appeals to the honour and good-fellowship of his compatriots, he
opens their eyes to the appalling conditions under which wage-earning
slaves are living by the hundreds of thousands. His object is to better
these unnatural conditions, to obtain for the very poorest a glimpse of
light and happiness, to make even them realise the sensation of cosy
well-being and the comfort of knowing that justice is to be found also
for them.

This time Upton Sinclair has absorbed himself in the study of the
miner's life in the lonesome pits of the Rocky Mountains, and his
sensitive and enthusiastic mind has brought to the world an American
parallel to GERMINAL, Emile Zola's technical masterpiece.

The conditions described in the two books are, however, essentially
different. While Zola's working-men are all natives of France, one meets
in Sinclair's book a motley variety of European emigrants, speaking a
Babel of languages and therefore debarred from forming some sort of
association to protect themselves against being exploited by the
anonymous limited Company. Notwithstanding this natural bar against
united action on the part of the wage-earning slaves, the Company feels
far from at ease and jealously guards its interests against any attempt
of organising the men.

A young American of the upper class, with great sympathy for the
downtrodden and an honest desire to get a first-hand knowledge of their
conditions in order to help them, decides to take employment in a mine
under a fictitious name and dressed like a working-man. His unusual way
of trying to obtain work arouses suspicion. He is believed to be a
professional strike-leader sent out to organise the miners against their
exploiters, and he is not only refused work, but thrashed mercilessly.
When finally he succeeds in getting inside, he discovers with growing
indignation the shameless and inhuman way in which those who unearth the
black coal are being exploited.

These are the fundamental ideas of the book, but they give but a faint
notion of the author's poetic attitude. Most beautifully is this shown
in Hal's relation to a young Irish girl, Red Mary. She is poor, and her
daily life harsh and joyless, but nevertheless her wonderful grace is
one of the outstanding features of the book. The first impression of
Mary is that of a Celtic Madonna with a tender heart for little
children. She develops into a Valkure of the working-class, always ready
to fight for the worker's right.

The last chapters of the book give a description of the miners' revolt
against the Company. They insist upon their right to choose a deputy to
control the weighing-in of the coal, and upon having the mines sprinkled
regularly to prevent explosion. They will also be free to buy their food
and utensils wherever they like, even in shops not belonging to the
Company.

In a postscript Sinclair explains the fundamental facts on which his
work of art has been built up. Even without the postscript one could not
help feeling convinced that the social conditions he describes are true
to life. The main point is that Sinclair has not allowed himself to
become inspired by hackneyed phrases that bondage and injustice and the
other evils and crimes of Kingdoms have been banished from Republics,
but that he is earnestly pointing to the honeycombed ground on which the
greatest modern money-power has been built. The fundament of this power
is not granite, but mines. It lives and breathes in the light, because
it has thousands of unfortunates toiling in the darkness. It lives and
has its being in proud liberty because thousands are slaving for it,
whose thraldom is the price of this liberty.

This is the impression given to the reader of this exciting novel.

GEORG BRANDES.




BOOK ONE

THE DOMAIN OF KING COAL



SECTION 1.

The town of Pedro stood on the edge of the mountain country; a
straggling assemblage of stores and saloons from which a number of
branch railroads ran up into the canyons, feeding the coal-camps.
Through the week it slept peacefully; but on Saturday nights, when the
miners came trooping down, and the ranchmen came in on horseback and in
automobiles, it wakened to a seething life.

At the railroad station, one day late in June, a young man alighted from
a train. He was about twenty-one years of age, with sensitive features,
and brown hair having a tendency to waviness. He wore a frayed and faded
suit of clothes, purchased in a quarter of his home city where the
Hebrew merchants stand on the sidewalks to offer their wares; also a
soiled blue shirt without a tie, and a pair of heavy boots which had
seen much service. Strapped on his back was a change of clothing and a
blanket, and in his pockets a comb, a toothbrush, and a small pocket
mirror.

Sitting in the smoking-car of the train, the young man had listened to
the talk of the coal-camps, seeking to correct his accent. When he got
off the train he proceeded down the track and washed his hands with
cinders, and lightly powdered some over his face. After studying the
effect of this in his mirror, he strolled down the main street of Pedro,
and, selecting a little tobacco-shop, went in. In as surly a voice as he
could muster, he inquired of the proprietress, "Can you tell me how to
get to the Pine Creek mine?"

The woman looked at him with no suspicion in her glance. She gave the
desired information, and he took a trolley and got off at the foot of
the Pine Creek canyon, up which he had a thirteen-mile trudge. It was
a sunshiny day, with the sky crystal clear, and the mountain air
invigourating. The young man seemed to be happy, and as he strode on
his way, he sang a song with many verses:

  "Old King Coal was a merry old soul,
    And a merry old soul was he;
  He made him a college all full of knowledge--
    Hurrah for you and me!

  "Oh, Liza-Ann, come out with me,
    The moon is a-shinin' in the monkey-puzzle tree;
  Oh, Liza-Ann, I have began
    To sing you the song of Harrigan!

  "He keeps them a-roll, this merry old soul--
    The wheels of industree;
  A-roll and a-roll, for his pipe and his bowl
    And his college facultee!

  "Oh, Mary-Jane, come out in the lane,
    The moon is a-shinin' in the old pecan;
  Oh, Mary-Jane, don't you hear me a-sayin'
    I'll sing you the song of Harrigan!

  "So hurrah for King Coal, and his fat pay-roll,
    And his wheels of industree!
  Hurrah for his pipe, and hurrah for his bowl--
    And hurrah for you and me!

  "Oh, Liza-Ann, come out with me,
    The moon is a-shinin'--"

And so on and on--as long as the moon was a-shinin' on a college campus.
It was a mixture of happy nonsense and that questioning with which
modern youth has begun to trouble its elders. As a marching tune, the
song was a trifle swift for the grades of a mountain canyon; Warner
could stop and shout to the canyon-walls, and listen to their answer,
and then march on again. He had youth in his heart, and love and
curiosity; also he had some change in his trousers' pocket, and a ten
dollar bill, for extreme emergencies, sewed up in his belt. If a
photographer for Peter Harrigan's General Fuel Company could have got a
snap-shot of him that morning, it might have served as a "portrait of a
coal-miner" in any "prosperity" publication.

But the climb was a stiff one, and before the end the traveller became
aware of the weight of his boots, and sang no more. Just as the sun was
sinking up the canyon, he came upon his destination--a gate across the
road, with a sign upon it:

PINE CREEK COAL CO.

PRIVATE PROPERTY

TRESPASSING FORBIDDEN

Hal approached the gate, which was of iron bars, and padlocked. After
standing for a moment to get ready his surly voice, he kicked upon the
gate and a man came out of a shack inside.

"What do you want?" said he.

"I want to get in. I'm looking for a job."

"Where do you come from?"

"From Pedro."

"Where you been working?"

"I never worked in a mine before."

"Where did you work?"

"In a grocery-store."

"What grocery-store?"

"Peterson & Co., in Western City."

The guard came closer to the gate and studied him through the bars.

"Hey, Bill!" he called, and another man came out from the cabin. "Here's
a guy says he worked in a grocery, and he's lookin' for a job."

"Where's your papers?" demanded Bill.

Every one had told Hal that labour was scarce in the mines, and that the
companies were ravenous for men; he had supposed that a workingman would
only have to knock, and it would be opened unto him. "They didn't give
me no papers," he said, and added, hastily, "I got drunk and they fired
me." He felt quite sure that getting drunk would not bar one from a coal
camp.

But the two made no move to open the gate. The second man studied him
deliberately from top to toe, and Hal was uneasily aware of possible
sources of suspicion. "I'm all right," he declared. "Let me in, and I'll
show you."

Still the two made no move. They looked at each other, and then Bill
answered, "We don't need no hands."

"But," exclaimed Hal, "I saw a sign down the canyon--"

"That's an old sign," said Bill.

"But I walked all the way up here!"

"You'll find it easier walkin' back."

"But--it's night!"

"Scared of the dark, kid?" inquired Bill, facetiously.

"Oh, say!" replied Hal. "Give a fellow a chance! Ain't there some way I
can pay for my keep--or at least for a bunk to-night?"

"There's nothin' for you," said Bill, and turned and went into the
cabin.

The other man waited and watched, with a decidedly hostile look. Hal
strove to plead with him, but thrice he repeated, "Down the canyon with
you." So at last Hal gave up, and moved down the road a piece and sat
down to reflect.

It really seemed an absurdly illogical proceeding, to post a notice,
"Hands Wanted," in conspicuous places on the roadside, causing a man to
climb thirteen miles up a mountain canyon, only to be turned off without
explanation. Hal was convinced that there must be jobs inside the
stockade, and that if only he could get at the bosses he could persuade
them. He got up and walked down the road a quarter of a mile, to where
the railroad-track crossed it, winding up the canyon. A train of
"empties" was passing, bound into the camp, the cars rattling and
bumping as the engine toiled up the grade. This suggested a solution of
the difficulty.

It was already growing dark. Crouching slightly, Hal approached the
cars, and when he was in the shadows, made a leap and swung onto one of
them. It took but a second to clamber in, and he lay flat and waited,
his heart thumping.

Before a minute had passed he heard a shout, and looking over, he saw
the Cerberus of the gate running down a path to the track, his
companion, Bill, just behind him. "Hey! come out of there!" they yelled;
and Bill leaped, and caught the car in which Hal was riding.

The latter saw that the game was up, and sprang to the ground on the
other side of the track and started out of the camp. Bill followed him,
and as the train passed, the other man ran down the track to join him.
Hal was walking rapidly, without a word; but the Cerberus of the gate
had many words, most of them unprintable, and he seized Hal by the
collar, and shoving him violently, planted a kick upon that portion of
his anatomy which nature has constructed for the reception of kicks. Hal
recovered his balance, and, as the man was still pursuing him, he turned
and aimed a blow, striking him on the chest and making him reel.

Hal's big brother had seen to it that he knew how to use his fists; he
now squared off, prepared to receive the second of his assailants. But
in coal-camps matters are not settled in that primitive way, it
appeared. The man halted, and the muzzle of a revolver came suddenly
under Hal's nose. "Stick 'em up!" said the man.

This was a slang which Hal had never heard, but the meaning was
inescapable; he "stuck 'em up." At the same moment his first assailant
rushed at him, and dealt him a blow over the eye which sent him
sprawling backward upon the stones.



SECTION 2.

When Hal came to himself again he was in darkness, and was conscious of
agony from head to toe. He was lying on a stone floor, and he rolled
over, but soon rolled back again, because there was no part of his back
which was not sore. Later on, when he was able to study himself, he
counted over a score of marks of the heavy boots of his assailants.

He lay for an hour or two, making up his mind that he was in a lock-up,
because he could see the starlight through iron bars. He could hear
somebody snoring, and he called half a dozen times, in a louder and
louder voice, until at last, hearing a growl, he inquired, "Can you give
me a drink of water?"

"I'll give you hell if you wake me up again," said the voice; after
which Hal lay in silence until morning.

A couple of hours after daylight, a man entered his cell. "Get up," said
he, and added a prod with his foot. Hal had thought he could not do it,
but he got up.

"No funny business now," said his jailer, and grasping him by the sleeve
of his coat, marched him out of the cell and down a little corridor into
a sort of office, where sat a red-faced personage with a silver shield
upon the lapel of his coat. Hal's two assailants of the night before
stood nearby.

"Well, kid?" said the personage in the chair. "Had a little time to
think it over?" "Yes," said Hal, briefly.

"What's the charge?" inquired the personage, of the two watchmen.

"Trespassing and resisting arrest."

"How much money you got, young fellow?" was, the next question.

Hal hesitated.

"Speak up there!" said the man.

"Two dollars and sixty-seven cents," said Hal--"as well as I can
remember."

"Go on!" said the other. "What you givin' us?" And then, to the two
watchmen, "Search him."

"Take off your coat and pants," said Bill, promptly, "and your boots."

"Oh, I say!" protested Hal.

"Take 'em off!" said the man, and clenched his fists. Hal took 'em off,
and they proceeded to go through the pockets, producing a purse with the
amount stated, also a cheap watch, a strong pocket knife, the
tooth-brush, comb and mirror, and two white handkerchiefs, which they
looked at contemptuously and tossed to the spittle-drenched floor.

They unrolled the pack, and threw the clean clothing about. Then,
opening the pocket-knife, they proceeded to pry about the soles and
heels of the boots, and to cut open the lining of the clothing. So they
found the ten dollars in the belt, which they tossed onto the table with
the other belongings. Then the personage with the shield announced, "I
fine you twelve dollars and sixty-seven cents, and your watch and
knife." He added, with a grin, "You can keep your snot-rags."

"Now see here!" said Hal, angrily. "This is pretty raw!"

"You get your duds on, young fellow, and get out of here as quick as you
can, or you'll go in your shirt-tail."

But Hal was angry enough to have been willing to go in his skin. "You
tell me who you are, and your authority for this procedure?"

"I'm marshal of the camp," said the man.

"You mean you're an employe of the General Fuel Company? And you propose
to rob me--"

"Put him out, Bill," said the marshal. And Hal saw Bill's fists clench.

"All right," he said, swallowing his indignation. "Wait till I get my
clothes on." And he proceeded to dress as quickly as possible; he rolled
up his blanket and spare clothing, and started for the door.

"Remember," said the marshal, "straight down the canyon with you, and if
you show your face round here again, you'll get a bullet through you."

So Hal went out into the sunshine, with a guard on each side of him as
an escort. He was on the same mountain road, but in the midst of the
company-village. In the distance he saw the great building of the
breaker, and heard the incessant roar of machinery and falling coal. He
marched past a double lane of company houses and shanties, where
slattern women in doorways and dirty children digging in the dust of the
roadside paused and grinned at him--for he limped as he walked, and it
was evident enough what had happened to him.

Hal had come with love and curiosity. The love was greatly
diminished--evidently this was not the force which kept the wheels of
industry a-roll. But the curiosity was greater than ever. What was there
so carefully hidden inside this coal-camp stockade?

Hal turned and looked at Bill, who had showed signs of humour the day
before. "See here," said he, "you fellows have got my money, and you've
blacked my eye and kicked me blue, so you ought to be satisfied. Before
I go, tell me about it, won't you?"

"Tell you what?" growled Bill.

"Why did I get this?"

"Because you're too gay, kid. Didn't you know you had no business trying
to sneak in here?"

"Yes," said Hal; "but that's not what I mean. Why didn't you let me in
at first?"

"If you wanted a job in a mine," demanded the man, "why didn't you go at
it in the regular way?"

"I didn't know the regular way."

"That's just it. And we wasn't takin' chances with you. You didn't look
straight."

"But what did you think I was? What are you afraid of?"

"Go on!" said the man. "You can't work me!"

Hal walked a few steps in silence, pondering how to break through. "I
see you're suspicious of me," he said. "I'll tell you the truth, if
you'll let me." Then, as the other did not forbid him, "I'm a college
boy, and I wanted to see life and shift for myself a while. I thought it
would be a lark to come here."

"Well," said Bill, "this ain't no foot-ball field. It's a coal-mine."

Hal saw that his story had been accepted. "Tell me straight," he said,
"what did you think I was?"

"Well, I don't mind telling," growled Bill. "There's union agitators
trying to organise these here camps, and we ain't taking no chances with
'em. This company gets its men through agencies, and if you'd went and
satisfied them, you'd 'a been passed in the regular way. Or if you'd
went to the office down in Pedro and got a pass, you'd 'a been all
right. But when a guy turns up at the gate, and looks like a dude and
talks like a college perfessor, he don't get by, see?"

"I see," said Hal. And then, "If you'll give me the price of a breakfast
out of my money, I'll be obliged."

"Breakfast is over," said Bill. "You sit round till the pinyons gets
ripe." He laughed; but then, mellowed by his own joke, he took a quarter
from his pocket and passed it to Hal. He opened the padlock on the gate
and saw him out with a grin; and so ended Hal's first turn on the wheels
of industry.



SECTION 3.

Hal Warner started to drag himself down the road, but was unable to make
it. He got as far as a brooklet that came down the mountain-side, from
which he might drink without fear of typhoid; there he lay the whole
day, fasting. Towards evening a thunder-storm came up, and he crawled
under the shelter of a rock, which was no shelter at all. His single
blanket was soon soaked through, and he passed a night almost as
miserable as the previous one. He could not sleep, but he could think,
and he thought about what had happened to him. "Bill" had said that a
coal mine was not a foot-ball field, but it seemed to Hal that the net
impress of the two was very much the same. He congratulated himself that
his profession was not that of a union organiser.

At dawn he dragged himself up, and continued his journey, weak from cold
and unaccustomed lack of food. In the course of the day he reached a
power-station near the foot of the canyon. He did not have the price of
a meal, and was afraid to beg; but in one of the group of buildings by
the roadside was a store, and he entered and inquired concerning prunes,
which were twenty-five cents a pound. The price was high, but so was the
altitude, and as Hal found in the course of time, they explained the one
by the other--not explaining, however, why the altitude of the price was
always greater than the altitude of the store. Over the counter he saw a
sign: "We buy scrip at ten per cent discount." He had heard rumours of a
state law forbidding payment of wages in "scrip"; but he asked no
questions, and carried off his very light pound of prunes, and sat down
by the roadside and munched them.

Just beyond the power-house, down on the railroad track, stood a little
cabin with a garden behind it. He made his way there, and found a
one-legged old watchman. He asked permission to spend the night on the
floor of the cabin; and seeing the old fellow look at his black eye, he
explained, "I tried to get a job at the mine, and they thought I was a
union organiser."

"Well," said the man, "I don't want no union organisers round here."

"But I'm not one," pleaded Hal.

"How do I know what you are? Maybe you're a company spy."

"All I want is a dry place to sleep," said Hal. "Surely it won't be any
harm for you to give me that."

"I'm not so sure," the other answered. "However, you can spread your
blanket in the corner. But don't you talk no union business to me."

Hal had no desire to talk. He rolled himself in his blanket and slept
like a man untroubled by either love or curiosity. In the morning the
old fellow gave him a slice of corn bread and some young onions out of
his garden, which had a more delicious taste than any breakfast that had
ever been served him. When Hal thanked his host in parting, the latter
remarked: "All right, young fellow, there's one thing you can do to pay
me, and that is, say nothing about it. When a man has grey hair on his
head and only one leg, he might as well be drowned in the creek as lose
his job."

Hal promised, and went his way. His bruises pained him less, and he was
able to walk. There were ranch-houses in sight--it was like coming back
suddenly to America!



SECTION 4.

Hal had now before him a week's adventures as a hobo: a genuine hobo,
with no ten dollar bill inside his belt to take the reality out of his
experiences. He took stock of his worldly goods and wondered if he still
looked like a dude. He recalled that he had a smile which had fascinated
the ladies; would it work in combination with a black eye? Having no
other means of support, he tried it on susceptible looking housewives,
and found it so successful that he was tempted to doubt the wisdom of
honest labour. He sang the Harrigan song no more, but instead the words
of a hobo-song he had once heard:

"Oh, what's the use of workin' when there's women in the land?"

The second day he made the acquaintance of two other gentlemen of the
road, who sat by the railroad-track toasting some bacon over a fire.
They welcomed him, and after they had heard his story, adopted him into
the fraternity and instructed him in its ways of life. Pretty soon he
made the acquaintance of one who had been a miner, and was able to give
him the information he needed before climbing another canyon.

"Dutch Mike" was the name this person bore, for reasons he did not
explain. He was a black-eyed and dangerous-looking rascal, and when the
subject of mines and mining was broached, he opened up the flood-gates
of an amazing reservoir of profanity. He was through with that game--Hal
or any other God-damned fool might have his job for the asking. It was
only because there were so many natural-born God-damned fools in the
world that the game could be kept going. "Dutch Mike" went on to relate
dreadful tales of mine-life, and to summon before him the ghosts of one
pit-boss after another, consigning them to the fires of eternal
perdition.

"I wanted to work while I was young," said he, "but now I'm cured, an'
fer good." The world had come to seem to him a place especially
constructed for the purpose of making him work, and every faculty he
possessed was devoted to foiling this plot. Sitting by a camp-fire near
the stream which ran down the valley, Hal had a merry time pointing out
to "Dutch Mike" how he worked harder at dodging work than other men
worked at working. The hobo did not seem to mind that, however--it was a
matter of principle with him, and he was willing to make sacrifices for
his convictions. Even when they had sent him to the work-house, he had
refused to work; he had been shut in a dungeon, and had nearly died on a
diet of bread and water, rather than work. If everybody would do the
same, he said, they would soon "bust things."

Hal took a fancy to this spontaneous revolutionist, and travelled with
him for a couple of days, in the course of which he pumped him as to
details of the life of a miner. Most of the companies used regular
employment agencies, as the guard had mentioned; but the trouble was,
these agencies got something from your pay for a long time--the bosses
were "in cahoots" with them. When Hal wondered if this were not against
the law, "Cut it out, Bo!" said his companion. "When you've had a job
for a while, you'll know that the law in a coal-camp is what your boss
tells you." The hobo went on to register his conviction that when one
man has the giving of jobs, and other men have to scramble for them, the
law would never have much to say in the deal. Hal judged this a profound
observation, and wished that it might be communicated to the professor
of political economy at Harrigan.

On the second night of his acquaintance with "Dutch Mike," their
"jungle" was raided by a constable with half a dozen deputies; for a
determined effort was being made just then to drive vagrants from the
neighbourhood--or to get them to work in the mines. Hal's friend, who
slept with one eye open, made a break in the darkness, and Hal followed
him, getting under the guard of the raiders by a foot-ball trick. They
left their food and blankets behind them, but "Dutch Mike" made light of
this, and lifted a chicken from a roost to keep them cheerful through
the night hours, and stole a change of underclothing off a clothes-line
the next day. Hal ate the chicken, and wore the underclothing, thus
beginning his career in crime.

Parting from "Dutch Mike," he went back to Pedro. The hobo had told him
that saloon-keepers nearly always had friends in the coal-camps, and
could help a fellow to a job. So Hal began enquiring, and the second one
replied, Yes, he would give him a letter to a man at North Valley, and
if he got the job, the friend would deduct a dollar a month from his
pay. Hal agreed, and set out upon another tramp up another canyon, upon
the strength of a sandwich "bummed" from a ranch-house at the entrance
to the valley. At another stockaded gate of the General Fuel Company he
presented his letter, addressed to a person named O'Callahan, who turned
out also to be a saloon-keeper.

The guard did not even open the letter, but passed Hal in at sight of
it, and he sought out his man and applied for work. The man said he
would help him, but would have to deduct a dollar a month for himself,
as well as a dollar for his friend in Pedro. Hal kicked at this, and
they bartered back and forth; finally, when Hal turned away and
threatened to appeal directly to the "super," the saloon-keeper
compromised on a dollar and a half.

"You know mine-work?" he asked.

"Brought up at it," said Hal, made wise, now, in the ways of the world.

"Where did you work?"

Hal named several mines, concerning which he had learned something from
the hoboes. He was going by the name of "Joe Smith," which he judged
likely to be found on the payroll of any mine. He had more than a week's
growth of beard to disguise him, and had picked up some profanity as
well.

The saloon-keeper took him to interview Mr. Alec Stone, pit-boss in
Number Two mine, who inquired promptly: "You know anything about mules?"

"I worked in a stable," said Hal, "I know about horses."

"Well, mules is different," said the man. "One of my stable-men got the
colic the other day, and I don't know if he'll ever be any good again."

"Give me a chance," said Hal. "I'll manage them."

The boss looked him over. "You look like a bright chap," said he. "I'll
pay you forty-five a month, and if you make good I'll make it fifty."

"All right, sir. When do I start in?"

"You can't start too quick to suit me. Where's your duds?"

"This is all I've got," said Hal, pointing to the bundle of stolen
underwear in his hand.

"Well, chuck it there in the corner," said the man; then suddenly he
stopped, and looked at Hal, frowning. "You belong to any union?"

"Lord, no!"

"Did you _ever_ belong to any union?"

"No, sir. Never."

The man's gaze seemed to imply that Hal was lying, and that his secret
soul was about to be read. "You have to swear to that, you know, before
you can work here."

"All right," said Hal, "I'm willing."

"I'll see you about it to-morrow," said the other. "I ain't got the
paper with me. By the way, what's your religion?"

"Seventh Day Adventist."

"Holy Christ! What's that?"

"It don't hurt," said Hal. "I ain't supposed to work on Saturdays, but I
do."

"Well, don't you go preachin' it round here. We got our own
preacher--you chip in fifty cents a month for him out of your wages.
Come ahead now, and I'll take you down." And so it was that Hal got his
start in life.



SECTION 5.

The mule is notoriously a profane and godless creature; a blind alley of
Nature, so to speak, a mistake of which she is ashamed, and which she
does not permit to reproduce itself. The thirty mules under Hal's charge
had been brought up in an environment calculated to foster the worst
tendencies of their natures. He soon made the discovery that the "colic"
of his predecessor had been caused by a mule's hind foot in the stomach;
and he realised that he must not let his mind wander for an instant, if
he were to avoid this dangerous disease.

These mules lived their lives in the darkness of the earth's interior;
only when they fell sick were they taken up to see the sunlight and to
roll about in green pastures. There was one of them called "Dago
Charlie," who had learned to chew tobacco, and to rummage in the pockets
of the miners and their "buddies." Not knowing how to spit out the
juice, he would make himself ill, and then he would swear off from
indulgence. But the drivers and the pit-boys knew his failing, and would
tempt "Dago Charlie" until he fell from grace. Hal soon discovered this
moral tragedy, and carried the pain of it in his soul as he went about
his all-day drudgery.

He went down the shaft with the first cage, which was very early in the
morning. He fed and watered his charges, and helped to harness them.
Then, when the last four hoofs had clattered away, he cleaned out the
stalls, and mended harness, and obeyed the orders of any person older
than himself who happened to be about.

Next to the mules, his torment was the "trapper-boys," and other
youngsters with whom he came into contact. He was a newcomer, and so
they hazed him; moreover, he had an inferior job--there seemed to their
minds to be something humiliating and comic about the task of tending
mules. These urchins came from a score of nations of Southern Europe and
Asia; there were flat-faced Tartars and swarthy Greeks and shrewd-eyed
little Japanese. They spoke a compromise language, consisting mainly of
English curse words and obscenities; the filthiness which their minds
had spawned was incredible to one born and raised in the sunlight. They
alleged obscenities of their mothers and their grandmothers; also of the
Virgin Mary, the one mythological character they had heard of. Poor
little creatures of the dark, their souls grimed and smutted even more
quickly and irrevocably than their faces!

Hal had been advised by his boss to inquire for board at "Reminitsky's."
He came up in the last car, at twilight, and was directed to a dimly
lighted building of corrugated iron, where upon inquiry he was met by a
stout Russian, who told him he could be taken care of for twenty-seven
dollars a month, this including a cot in a room with eight other single
men. After deducting a dollar and a half a month for his saloon-keepers,
fifty cents for the company clergyman and a dollar for the company
doctor, fifty cents a month for wash-house privileges and fifty cents
for a sick and accident benefit fund, he had fourteen dollars a month
with which to clothe himself, to found a family, to provide himself with
beer and tobacco, and to patronise the libraries and colleges endowed by
the philanthropic owners of coal mines.

Supper was nearly over at Reminitsky's when he arrived; the floor looked
like the scene of a cannibal picnic, and what food was left was cold. It
was always to be this way with him, he found, and he had to make the
best of it. The dining-room of this boarding-house, owned and managed by
the G. F. C., brought to his mind the state prison, which he had once
visited--with its rows of men sitting in silence, eating starch and
grease out of tin-plates. The plates here were of crockery half an inch
thick, but the starch and grease never failed; the formula of
Reminitsky's cook seemed to be, When in doubt add grease, and boil it
in. Even ravenous as Hal was after his long tramp and his labour below
ground, he could hardly swallow this food. On Sundays, the only time he
ate by daylight, the flies swarmed over everything, and he remembered
having heard a physician say that an enlightened man should be more
afraid of a fly than of a Bengal tiger. The boarding-house provided him
with a cot and a supply of vermin, but with no blanket, which was a
necessity in the mountain regions. So after supper he had to seek out
his boss, and arrange to get credit at the company-store. They were
willing to give a certain amount of credit, he found, as this would
enable the camp-marshal to keep him from straying. There was no law to
hold a man for debt--but Hal knew by this time how much a camp-marshal
cared for law.



SECTION 6.

For three days Hal toiled in the bowels of the mine, and ate and pursued
vermin at Reminitsky's. Then came a blessed Sunday, and he had a couple
of free hours to see the sunlight and to get a look at the North Valley
camp. It was a village straggling along more than a mile of the mountain
canyon. In the centre were the great breaker-buildings, the shaft-house,
and the power-house with its tall chimneys; nearby were the
company-store and a couple of saloons. There were several
boarding-houses like Reminitsky's, and long rows of board cabins
containing from two to four rooms each, some of them occupied by several
families. A little way up a slope stood a school-house, and another
small one-room building which served as a church; the clergyman
belonging to the General Fuel Company denomination. He was given the use
of the building, by way of start over the saloons, which had to pay a
heavy rental to the company; it seemed a proof of the innate perversity
of human nature that even in spite of this advantage, heaven was losing
out in the struggle against hell in the coal-camp.

As one walked through this village, the first impression was of
desolation. The mountains towered, barren and lonely, scarred with the
wounds of geologic ages. In these canyons the sun set early in the
afternoon, the snow came early in the fall; everywhere Nature's hand
seemed against man, and man had succumbed to her power. Inside the camps
one felt a still more cruel desolation--that of sordidness and
animalism. There were a few pitiful attempts at vegetable-gardens, but
the cinders and smoke killed everything, and the prevailing colour was
of grime. The landscape was strewn with ash-heaps, old wire and
tomato-cans, and smudged and smutty children playing.

There was a part of the camp called "shanty-town," where, amid miniature
mountains of slag, some of the lowest of the newly-arrived foreigners
had been permitted to build themselves shacks out of old boards, tin,
and sheets of tar-paper. These homes were beneath the dignity of
chicken-houses, yet in some of them a dozen people were crowded, men and
women sleeping on old rags and blankets on a cinder floor. Here the
babies swarmed like maggots. They wore for the most part a single ragged
smock, and their bare buttocks were shamelessly upturned to the heavens.
It was so the children of the cave-men must have played, thought Hal;
and waves of repulsion swept over him. He had come with love and
curiosity, but both motives failed here. How could a man of sensitive
nerves, aware of the refinements and graces of life, learn to love these
people, who were an affront to his every sense--a stench to his
nostrils, a jabbering to his ear, a procession of deformities to his
eye? What had civilisation done for them? What could it do? After all,
what were they fit for, but the dirty work they were penned up to do? So
spoke the haughty race-consciousness of the Anglo-Saxon, contemplating
these Mediterranean hordes, the very shape of whose heads was
objectionable.

But Hal stuck it out; and little by little new vision came to him. First
of all, it was the fascination of the mines. They were old mines--veritable
cities tunnelled out beneath the mountains, the main passages running
for miles. One day Hal stole off from his job, and took a trip with a
"rope-rider," and got through his physical senses a realisation of the
vastness and strangeness and loneliness of this labyrinth of night. In
Number Two mine the vein ran up at a slope of perhaps five degrees; in
part of it the empty cars were hauled in long trains by an endless rope,
but coming back loaded, they came of their own gravity. This involved
much work for the "spraggers," or boys who did the braking; it sometimes
meant run-away cars, and fresh perils added to the everyday perils of
coal-mining.

The vein varied from four to five feet in thickness; a cruelty of nature
which made it necessary that the men at the "working face"--the place
where new coal was being cut--should learn to shorten their stature.
After Hal had squatted for a while and watched them at their tasks, he
understood why they walked with head and shoulders bent over and arms
hanging down, so that, seeing them coming out of the shaft in the
gloaming, one thought of a file of baboons. The method of getting out
the coal was to "undercut" it with a pick, and then blow it loose with a
charge of powder. This meant that the miner had to lie on his side while
working, and accounted for other physical peculiarities.

Thus, as always, when one understood the lives of men, one came to pity
instead of despising. Here was a separate race of creatures,
subterranean, gnomes, pent up by society for purposes of its own.
Outside in the sunshine-flooded canyon, long lines of cars rolled down
with their freight of soft-coal; coal which would go to the ends of the
earth, to places the miner never heard of, turning the wheels of
industry whose products the miner would never see. It would make
precious silks for fine ladies, it would cut precious jewels for their
adornment; it would carry long trains of softly upholstered cars across
deserts and over mountains; it would drive palatial steamships out of
wintry tempests into gleaming tropic seas. And the fine ladies in their
precious silks and jewels would eat and sleep and laugh and lie at
ease--and would know no more of the stunted creatures of the dark than
the stunted creatures knew of them. Hal reflected upon this, and subdued
his Anglo-Saxon pride, finding forgiveness for what was repulsive in
these people--their barbarous, jabbering speech, their vermin-ridden
homes, their bare-bottomed babies.



SECTION 7.

It chanced before many days that Hal got a holiday, relieving the
monotony of his labours as stableman: an accidental holiday, not
provided for in his bargain with the pit-boss. Something went wrong with
the ventilating-course in Number Two, and he began to notice a headache,
and heard the men grumbling that their lamps were burning low. Then, as
matters began to get serious, orders came to get the mules to the
surface.

Which meant an amusing adventure. The delight of Hal's pets at seeing
the sunlight was irresistibly comic. They could not be kept from lying
down and rolling on their backs in the cinder-strewn street; and when
they were corralled in a distant part of the camp where actual grass
grew, they abandoned themselves to rapture like a horde of school
children at a picnic.

So Hal had a few free hours; and being still young and not cured of idle
curiosities, he climbed the canyon wall to see the mountains. As he was
sliding down again, toward evening, a vivid spot of colour was painted
into his picture of mine-life; he found himself in somebody's back yard,
and being observed by somebody's daughter, who was taking in the family
wash. It was a splendid figure of a lass, tall and vigorous, with the
sort of hair that in polite circles is called auburn, and that flaming
colour in the cheeks which is Nature's recompense to people who live
where it rains all the time. She was the first beautiful sight Hal had
seen since he had come up the canyon, and it was only natural that he
should be interested. It seemed to him that, so long as the girl stared,
he had a right to stare back. It did not occur to him that he too was a
pleasing sight--that the mountain air had given colour to his cheeks and
a shine to his gay brown eyes, while the mountain winds had blown his
wavy brown hair.

"Hello," said she, at last, in a warm voice, unmistakably Irish.

"Hello yourself," said Hal, in the accepted dialect; then he added, with
more elegance, "Pardon me for trespassing on your wash."

Her grey eyes opened wider. "Go on!" she said.

"I'd rather stay," said Hal. "It's a beautiful sunset."

"I'll move, so ye can see it better." She carried her armful of clothes
over and dropped them into the basket.

"No," said Hal, "it's not so fine now. The colours have faded."

She turned and gazed at him again. "Go on wid ye! I been teased about my
hair since before I could talk."

"'Tis envy," said Hal, dropping into her way of speech; and he came a
few steps nearer, so that he could inspect the hair more closely. It lay
above her brow in undulations which were agreeable to the decorative
instinct, and a tight heavy braid of it fell over her shoulders and
swung to her waist-line. He observed the shoulders, which were sturdy,
obviously accustomed to hard labour; not conforming to accepted romantic
standards of femininity, yet having an athletic grace of their own. They
were covered with a faded blue calico dress, unfortunately not entirely
clean; also, the young man noticed, there was a rent in one shoulder
through which a patch of skin was visible. The girl's eyes, which had
been following his, became defiant; she tossed a piece of her washing
over the shoulder, where it stayed through the balance of the interview.

"Who are ye?" she demanded, suddenly.

"My name's Joe Smith. I'm a stableman in Number Two."

"And what were ye doin' up there, if a body might ask?" She lifted her
grey eyes to the bare mountainside, down which he had come sliding in a
shower of loose stones and dirt.

"I've been surveying my empire," said he.

"Your what?"

"My empire. The land belongs to the company, but the landscape belongs
to him who cares for it."

She tossed her head a little. "Where did ye learn to talk like ye do?"

"In another life," said he--"before I became a stableman. Not in entire
forgetfulness, but trailing clouds of glory did I come."

For a moment she wrestled with this. Then a smile broke upon her face.
"Sure, 'tis like a poetry-book! Say some more!"

"_O, singe fort, so suess und fein_!" quoted Hal--and saw her look
puzzled.

"Aren't you American?" she inquired; and he laughed. To speak a foreign
language in North Valley was not a mark of culture!

"I've been listening to the crowd at Reminitsky's," he said,
apologetically.

"Oh! You eat there?"

"I go there three times a day. I can't say I eat very much. Could you
live on greasy beans?"

"Sure," laughed the girl, "the good old pertaties is good enough for
me."

"I should have said you lived on rose leaves!" he observed.

"Go on wid ye! 'Tis the blarney-stone ye been kissin'!"

"'Tis no stone I'd be wastin' my kisses on."

"Ye're gettin' bold, Mister Smith. I'll not listen to ye." And she
turned away, and began industriously taking her clothes from the line.
But Hal did not want to be dismissed. He came a step closer.

"Coming down the mountain-side," he said, "I found something wonderful.
It's bare and grim up there, but I came on a sheltered corner where the
sun shone, and there was a wild rose. Only one! I thought to myself, 'So
roses grow, even in the loneliest parts of the world!'"

"Sure, 'tis a poetry-book again!" she cried. "Why didn't ye bring the
rose?"

"There is a poetry-book that tells us to 'leave the wild-rose on its
stalk.' It will go on blooming there; but if one were to pluck it, it
would wither in a few hours."

He had meant nothing more by this than to keep the conversation going.
But her answer turned the tide of their acquaintance.

"Ye can never be sure, lad. Perhaps to-night a storm may come and blow
it to pieces. Perhaps if ye'd pulled it and been happy, 'twould 'a been
what the rose was for."

Whatever of unconscious patronage there had been in the poet's attitude
was lost now in the eternal mystery. Whether the girl knew it--or
cared--she had won the woman's first victory. She had caught the man's
mind and pinned it with curiosity. What did this wild rose of the mining
camps mean?

The wild rose, apparently unconscious that she had said anything
epoch-making, was busy with the wash; and meantime Hal Warner studied
her features and pondered her words. From a lady of sophistication they
would have meant only one thing, an invitation; but in this girl's clear
grey eyes was nothing of wantonness, only pain. But what was this pain
in the face and words of one so young, so eager and alive? Was it the
melancholy of her race, the thing one got in old folk-songs? Or was it a
new and special kind of melancholy, engendered in mining-camps in the
far West of America?

The girl's countenance was as intriguing as her words. Her grey eyes
were set under sharply defined dark brows, which did not match her hair.
Her lips also were sharply defined, and straight, almost without curves,
so that it seemed as if her mouth had been painted in carmine upon her
face. These features gave her, when she stared at you, an aspect vivid
and startling, bold, with a touch of defiance. But when she smiled, the
red lips would curve into gentler lines, and the grey eyes would become
wistful, and seemingly darker in colour. Winsome indeed, but not simple,
was this Irish lass!



SECTION 8.

Hal asked the name of his new acquaintance, and she told him it was Mary
Burke. "Ye've not been here long, I take it," she said, "or ye'd have
heard of 'Red Mary.' 'Tis along of this hair."

"I've not been here long," he answered, "but I shall hope to stay
now--along of this hair! May I come to see you some time, Miss Burke?"

She did not reply, but glanced at the house where she lived. It was an
unpainted, three room cabin, more dilapidated than the average, with
bare dirt and cinders about it, and what had once been a picket-fence,
now falling apart and being used for stove-wood. The windows were
cracked and broken, and upon the roof were signs of leaks that had been
crudely patched.

"May I come?" he made haste to ask again--so that he would not seem to
look too critically at her home.

"Perhaps ye may," said the girl, as she picked up the clothes basket. He
stepped forward, offering to carry it, but she did not give it up.
Holding it tight, and looking him defiantly in the face, she said, "Ye
may come, but ye'll not find it a happy place to visit, Mr. Smith. Ye'll
hear soon enough from the neighbours."

"I don't think I know any of your neighbours," said he.

There was sympathy in his voice; but her look was no less defiant.
"Ye'll hear about it, Mr. Smith; but ye'll hear also that I hold me head
up. And 'tis not so easy to do that in North Valley."

"You don't like the place?" he asked; and he was amazed by the effect of
this question, which was merely polite. It was as if a storm cloud had
swept over the girl's face. "I hate it! 'Tis a place of fear and
devils!"

He hesitated a moment; then, "Will you tell me what you mean by that
when I come?"

But "Red Mary" was winsome again. "When ye come, Mr. Smith, I'll not be
entertaining ye with troubles. I'll put on me company manner, and we'll
go out for a nice walk, if ye please."

All the way as he walked back to Reminitsky's to supper, Hal thought
about this girl; not merely her pleasantness to the eye, so unexpected
in this place of desolation, but her personality, which baffled him--the
pain that seemed always just beneath the surface of her thoughts, the
fierce pride which flashed out at the slightest suggestion of sympathy,
the way she had of brightening when he spoke the language of metaphor,
however trite. How had she come to know about poetry-books? He wanted to
know more about this miracle of Nature--this wild rose blooming on a
bare mountain-side!



SECTION 9.

There was one of Mary Burke's remarks upon which Hal soon got light--her
statement that North Valley was a place of fear. He listened to the
tales of these underworld men, until it came so that he shuddered with
dread each time that he went down in the cage.

There was a wire-haired and almond eyed Korean, named Cho, a
"rope-rider" in Hal's part of the mine. He was one of those who had
charge of the long trains of cars, called "trips," which were hauled
through the main passage-ways; the name "rope-rider" came from the fact
that he sat on the heavy iron ring to which the rope was attached. He
invited Hal to a seat with him, and Hal accepted, at peril of his job as
well as of his limbs. Cho had picked up what he fondly thought was
English, and now and then one could understand a word. He pointed upon
the ground, and shouted above the rattle of the cars: "Big dust!" Hal
saw that the ground was covered with six inches of coal-dust, while on
the old disused walls one could write his name in it. "Much blow-up!"
said the rope-rider; and when the last empty cars had been shunted off
into the working-rooms, and he was waiting to make up a return "trip,"
he laboured with gestures to explain what he meant. "Load cars. Bang!
Bust like hell!"

Hal knew that the mountain air in this region was famous for its
dryness; he learned now that the quality which meant life to invalids
from every part of the world meant death to those who toiled to keep the
invalids warm. Driven through the mines by great fans, this air took out
every particle of moisture, and left coal dust so thick and dry that
there were fatal explosions from the mere friction of loading-shovels.
So it happened that these mines were killing several times as many men
as other mines throughout the country.

Was there no remedy for this, Hal asked, talking with one of his
mule-drivers, Tim Rafferty, the evening after his ride with Cho. There
was a remedy, said Tim--the law required sprinkling the mines with
"adobe-dust"; and once in Tim's life, he remembered this law's being
obeyed. There had come some "big fellows" inspecting things, and
previous to their visit there had been an elaborate campaign of
sprinkling. But that had been several years ago, and now the apparatus
was stored away, nobody knew where, and one heard nothing about
sprinkling.

It was the same with precautions against gas. The North Valley mines
were especially "gassy," it appeared. In these old rambling passages one
smelt a stink as of all the rotten eggs in all the barn-yards of the
world; and this sulphuretted hydrogen was the least dangerous of the
gases against which a miner had to contend. There was the dreaded
"choke-damp," which was odourless, and heavier than air. Striking into
soft, greasy coal, one would open a pocket of this gas, a deposit laid
up for countless ages, awaiting its predestined victim. A man might sink
to sleep as he lay at work, and if his "buddy," or helper, happened to
be out of sight, and to delay a minute too long, it would be all over
with the man. And there was the still more dreaded "fire-damp," which
might wreck a whole mine, and kill scores and even hundreds of men.

Against these dangers there was a "fire-boss," whose duty was to go
through the mine, testing for gas, and making sure that the
ventilating-course was in order, and the fans working properly. The
"fire-boss" was supposed to make his rounds in the early morning, and
the law specified that no one should go to work till he had certified
that all was safe. But what if the "fire-boss" overslept himself, or
happened to be drunk? It was too much to expect thousands of dollars to
be lost for such a reason. So sometimes one saw men ordered to their
work, and sent down grumbling and cursing. Before many hours some of
them would be prostrated with headache, and begging to be taken out; and
perhaps the superintendent would not let them out, because if a few
came, the rest would get scared and want to come also.

Once, only last year, there had been an accident of that sort. A young
mule-driver, a Croatian, told Hal about it while they sat munching the
contents of their dinner-pails. The first cage-load of men had gone down
into the mine, sullenly protesting; and soon afterwards some one had
taken down a naked light, and there had been an explosion which had
sounded like the blowing up of the inside of the world. Eight men had
been killed, the force of the explosion being so great that some of the
bodies had been wedged between the shaft wall and the cage, and it had
been necessary to cut them to pieces to get them out. It was them Japs
that were to blame, vowed Hal's informant. They hadn't ought to turn
them loose in coal mines, for the devil himself couldn't keep a Jap from
sneaking off to get a smoke.

So Hal understood how North Valley was a place of fear. What tales the
old chambers of these mines could have told, if they had had voices! Hal
watched the throngs pouring in to their labours, and reflected that
according to the statisticians of the government eight or nine of every
thousand of them were destined to die violent deaths before a year was
out, and some thirty more would be badly injured. And they knew this,
they knew it better than all the statisticians of the government; yet
they went to their tasks! Reflecting upon this, Hal was full of wonder.
What was the force that kept men at such a task? Was it a sense of duty?
Did they understand that society had to have coal and that some one had
to do the "dirty work" of providing it? Did they have a vision of a
future, great and wonderful, which was to grow out of their ill-requited
toil? Or were they simply fools or cowards, submitting blindly, because
they had not the wit nor the will to do otherwise? Curiosity held him,
he wanted to understand the inner souls of these silent and patient
armies which through the ages have surrendered their lives to other
men's control.



SECTION 10.

Hal was coming to know these people; to see them no longer as a mass,
to be despised or pitied in bulk, but as individuals, with individual
temperaments and problems, exactly like people in the world of the
sunlight. Mary Burke and Tim Rafferty, Cho the Korean and Madvik the
Croatian--one by one these individualities etched themselves into the
foreground of Hal's picture, making it a thing of life, moving him to
sympathy and fellowship. Some of these people, to be sure, were stunted
and dulled to a sordid ugliness of soul and body--but on the other hand,
some of them were young, and had the light of hope in their hearts, and
the spark of rebellion.

There was "Andy," a boy of Greek parentage; Androkulos was his right
name--but it was too much to expect any one to get that straight in a
coal-camp. Hal noticed him at the store, and was struck by his beautiful
features, and the mournful look in his big black eyes. They got to
talking, and Andy made the discovery that Hal had not spent all his time
in coal-camps, but had seen the great world. It was pitiful, the
excitement that came into his voice; he was yearning for life, with its
joys and adventures--and it was his destiny to sit ten hours a day by
the side of a chute, with the rattle of coal in his ears and the dust of
coal in his nostrils, picking out slate with his fingers. He was one of
many scores of "breaker-boys."

"Why don't you go away?" asked Hal.

"Christ! How I get away? Got mother, two sisters."

"And your father?" So Hal made the discovery that Andy's father had been
one of those men whose bodies had had to be cut to pieces to get them
out of the shaft. Now the son was chained to the father's place, until
his time too should come!

"Don't want to be miner!" cried the boy. "Don't want to get _kil-lid_!"

He began to ask, timidly, what Hal thought he could do if he were to run
away from his family and try his luck in the world outside. Hal,
striving to remember where he had seen olive-skinned Greeks with big
black eyes in this beautiful land of the free, could hold out no better
prospect than a shoe-shining parlour, or the wiping out of wash-bowls in
a hotel-lavatory, handing over the tips to a fat padrone.

Andy had been to school, and had learned to read English, and the
teacher had loaned him books and magazines with wonderful pictures in
them; now he wanted more than pictures, he wanted the things which they
portrayed. So Hal came face to face with one of the difficulties of
mine-operators. They gathered a population of humble serfs, selected
from twenty or thirty races of hereditary bondsmen; but owing to the
absurd American custom of having public-schools, the children of this
population learned to speak English, and even to read it. So they became
too good for their lot in life; and then a wandering agitator would get
in, and all of a sudden there would be hell. Therefore in every
coal-camp had to be another kind of "fire-boss," whose duty it was to
guard against another kind of explosions--not of carbon monoxide, but of
the human soul.

The immediate duties of this office in North Valley devolved upon Jeff
Cotton, the camp-marshal. He was not at all what one would have expected
from a person of his trade--lean and rather distinguished-looking, a man
who in evening clothes might have passed for a diplomat. But his mouth
would become ugly when he was displeased, and he carried a gun with six
notches upon it; also he wore a deputy-sheriff's badge, to give him
immunity for other notches he might wish to add. When Jeff Cotton came
near, any man who was explosive went off to be explosive by himself. So
there was "order" in North Valley, and it was only on Saturday and
Sunday nights, when the drunks had to be suppressed, or on Monday
mornings when they had to be haled forth and kicked to their work, that
one realised upon what basis this "order" rested.

Besides Jeff Cotton, and his assistant, "Bud" Adams, who wore badges,
and were known, there were other assistants who wore no badges, and were
not supposed to be known. Coming up in the cage one evening, Hal made
some remark to the Croatian mule-driver, Madvik, about the high price of
company-store merchandise, and was surprised to get a sharp kick on the
ankle. Afterwards, as they were on their way to supper, Madvik gave him
the reason. "Red-faced feller, Gus. Look out for him--company spotter."

"Is that so?" said Hal, with interest. "How do you know?"

"I know. Everybody know."

"He don't look like he had much sense," said Hal--who had got his idea
of detectives from Sherlock Holmes.

"No take much sense. Go pit-boss, say, 'Joe feller talk too much. Say
store rob him.' Any damn fool do that. Hey?"

"To be sure," admitted Hal. "And the company pays him for it?"

"Pit-boss pay him. Maybe give him drink, maybe two bits. Then pit-boss
come to you: 'You shoot your mouth off too much, feller. Git the hell
out of here!' See?"

Hal saw.

"So you go down canyon. Then maybe you go 'nother mine. Boss say, 'Where
you work?' You say 'North Valley.' He say, 'What your name?' You say,
'Joe Smith.' He say, 'Wait.' He go in, look at paper; he come out, say,
'No job!' You say, 'Why not?' He say, 'Shoot off your mouth too much,
feller. Git the hell out of here!' See?"

"You mean a black-list," said Hal.

"Sure, black-list. Maybe telephone, find out all about you. You do
anything bad, like talk union"--Madvik had dropped his voice and
whispered the word "union"--"they send your picture--don't get job
nowhere in state. How you like that?"



SECTION 11.

Before long Hal had a chance to see this system of espionage at work,
and he began to understand something of the force which kept these
silent and patient armies at their tasks. On a Sunday morning he was
strolling with his mule-driver friend Tim Rafferty, a kindly lad with a
pair of dreamy blue eyes in his coal-smutted face. They came to Tim's
home, and he invited Hal to come in and meet his family. The father was
a bowed and toil-worn man, but with tremendous strength in his solid
frame, the product of many generations of labour in coal-mines. He was
known as "Old Rafferty," despite the fact that he was well under fifty.
He had been a pit-boy at the age of nine, and he showed Hal a faded
leather album with pictures of his ancestors in the "oul' country"--men
with sad, deeply lined faces, sitting very stiff and solemn to have
their presentments made permanent for posterity.

The mother of the family was a gaunt, grey-haired woman, with no teeth,
but with a warm heart. Hal took to her, because her home was clean; he
sat on the family door-step, amid a crowd of little Rafferties with
newly-washed Sunday faces, and fascinated them with tales of adventures
cribbed from Clark Russell and Captain Mayne Reid. As a reward he was
invited to stay for dinner, and had a clean knife and fork, and a clean
plate of steaming hot potatoes, with two slices of salt pork on the
side. It was so wonderful that he forthwith inquired if he might forsake
his company boarding-house and come and board with them.

Mrs. Rafferty opened wide her eyes. "Sure," exclaimed she, "do you think
you'd be let?"

"Why not?" asked Hal.

"Sure, 't would be a bad example for the others."

"Do you mean I _have_ to board at Reminitsky's?"

"There be six company boardin'-houses," said the woman.

"And what would they do if I came to you?"

"First you'd get a hint, and then you'd go down the canyon, and maybe us
after ye."

"But there's lots of people have boarders in shanty-town," objected Hal.

"Oh! Them wops! Nobody counts them--they live any way they happen to
fall. But you started at Reminitsky's, and 't would not be healthy for
them that took ye away."

"I see," laughed Hal. "There seem to be a lot of unhealthy things
hereabouts."

"Sure there be! They sent down Nick Ammons because his wife bought milk
down the canyon. They had a sick baby, and it's not much you get in this
thin stuff at the store. They put chalk in it, I think; any way, you can
see somethin' white in the bottom."

"So you have to trade at the store, too!"

"I thought ye said ye'd worked in coal-mines," put in Old Rafferty, who
had been a silent listener.

"So I have," said Hal. "But it wasn't quite that bad."

"Sure," said Mrs. Rafferty, "I'd like to know where 'twas then--in this
country. Me and me old man spent weary years a-huntin'."

Thus far the conversation had proceeded naturally; but suddenly it was
as if a shadow passed over it--a shadow of fear. Hal saw Old Rafferty
look at his wife, and frown and make signs to her. After all, what did
they know about this handsome young stranger, who talked so glibly, and
had been in so many parts of the world?

"'Tis not complainin' we'd be," said the old man.

And his wife made haste to add, "If they let peddlers and the like of
them come in, 'twould be no end to it, I suppose. We find they treat us
here as well as anywhere."

"'Tis no joke, the life of workin' men, wherever ye try it," added the
other; and when young Tim started to express an opinion, they shut him
up with such evident anxiety that Hal's heart ached for them, and he
made haste to change the subject.



SECTION 12.

On the evening of the same Sunday Hal went to pay his promised call upon
Mary Burke. She opened the front door of the cabin to let him in, and
even by the dim rays of the little kerosene lamp, there came to him an
impression of cheerfulness. "Hello," she said--just as she had said it
when he had slid down the mountain into the family wash. He followed her
into the room, and saw that the impression he had got of cheerfulness
came from Mary herself. How bright and fresh she looked! The old blue
calico, which had not been entirely clean, was newly laundered now, and
on the shoulder where the rent had been was a neat patch of unfaded
blue.

There being only three rooms in Mary's home, two of these necessarily
bed-rooms, she entertained her company in the kitchen. The room was
bare, Hal saw--there was not even so much as a clock by way of ornament.
The only charm the girl had been able to give to it, in preparation for
company, was that of cleanness. The board floor had been newly sanded
and scrubbed; the kitchen table also had been scrubbed, and the kettle
on the stove, and the cracked tea-pot and bowls on the shelf. Mary's
little brother and sister were in the room: Jennie, a dark-eyed,
dark-haired little girl, frail, with a sad, rather frightened face; and
Tommie, a round headed youngster, like a thousand other round headed and
freckle-faced boys. Both of them were now sitting very straight in their
chairs, staring at the visitor with a certain resentment, he thought. He
suspected that they had been included in the general scrubbing. Inasmuch
as it had been uncertain just when the visitor would come, they must
have been required to do this every night, and he could imagine family
disturbances, with arguments possibly not altogether complimentary to
Mary's new "feller."

There seemed to be a certain uneasiness in the place.

Mary did not invite her company to a seat, but stood irresolute; and
after Hal had ventured a couple of friendly remarks to the children, she
said, abruptly, "Shall we be takin' that walk that we spoke of, Mr.
Smith?"

"Delighted!" said Hal; and while she pinned on her hat before the broken
mirror on the shelf, he smiled at the children and quoted two lines from
his Harrigan song--

  "Oh, Mary-Jane, come out in the lane,
  The moon is a-shinin' in the old pecan!"

Tommie and Jennie were too shy to answer, but Mary exclaimed, "'Tis in a
tin-can ye see it shinin' here!"

They went out. In the soft summer night it was pleasant to stroll under
the moon--especially when they had come to the remoter parts of the
village, where there were not so many weary people on door-steps and
children playing noisily. There were other young couples walking here,
under the same moon; the hardest day's toil could not so sap their
energies that they did not feel the spell of this soft summer night.

Hal, being tired, was content to stroll and enjoy the stillness; but
Mary Burke sought information about the mysterious young man she was
with. "Ye've not worked long in coal-mines, Mr. Smith?" she remarked.

Hal was a trifle disconcerted. "How did you find that out?"

"Ye don't look it--ye don't talk it. Ye're not like anybody or anything
around here. I don't know how to say it, but ye make me think more of
the poetry-books."

Flattered as Hal was by this naive confession, he did not want to talk
of the mystery of himself. He took refuge in a question about the
"poetry-books." "I've read some," said the girl; "more than ye'd have
thought, perhaps." This with a flash of her defiance.

He asked more questions, and learned that she, like the Greek boy,
"Andy," had come under the influence of that disturbing American
institution, the public-school; she had learned to read, and the pretty
young teacher had helped her, lending her books and magazines. Thus she
had been given a key to a treasure-house, a magic carpet on which to
travel over the world. These similes Mary herself used--for the Arabian
Nights had been one of the books that were loaned to her. On rainy days
she would hide behind the sofa, reading at a spot where the light crept
in--so that she might be safe from small brothers and sisters!

Joe Smith had read these same books, it appeared; and this seemed
remarkable to Mary, for books cost money and were hard to get. She
explained how she had searched the camp for new magic carpets, finding a
"poetry-book" by Longfellow, and a book of American history, and a story
called "David Copperfield," and last and strangest of all, another story
called "Pride and Prejudice." A curious freak of fortune--the prim and
sentimentally quivering Jane Austen in a coal-camp in a far Western
wilderness! An adventure for Jane, as well as for Mary!

What had Mary made of it, Hal wondered. Had she revelled, shop-girl
fashion, in scenes of pallid ease? He learned that what she had made of
it was despair. This world outside, with its freedom and cleanness, its
people living gracious and worth-while lives, was not for her; she was
chained to a scrub-pail in a coal-camp. Things had got so much worse
since the death of her mother, she said. Her voice had become dull and
hard--Hal thought that he had never heard a young voice express such
hopelessness.

"You've never been anywhere but here?" he asked.

"I been in two other camps," she said--"first the Gordon, and then East
Run. But they're all alike."

"But you've been down to the towns?"

"Only for a day, once or twice a year. Once I was in Sheridan, and in a
church I heard a lady sing."

She stopped for a moment, lost in this memory. Then suddenly her voice
changed--and he could imagine in the darkness that she had tossed her
head defiantly. "I'll not be entertainin' company with my troubles! Ye
know how tiresome that is when ye hear it from somebody else--like my
next-door neighbour, Mrs. Zamboni. D' ye know her?"

"No," said Hal.

"The poor old lady has troubles enough, God knows. Her man's not much
good--he's troubled with the drink; and she's got eleven childer, and
that's too many for one woman. Don't ye think so?"

She asked this with a naivete which made Hal laugh. "Yes," he said, "I
do."

"Well, I think people'd help her more if she'd not complain so! And half
of it in the Slavish language, that a body can't understand!" So Mary
began to tell funny things about Mrs. Zamboni and her other polyglot
neighbours, imitating their murdering of the Irish dialect. Hal thought
her humour was naive and delightful, and he led her on to more cheerful
gossip during the remainder of their walk.



SECTION 13.

But then, as they were on their way home, tragedy fell upon them.
Hearing a step behind them, Mary turned and looked; then catching Hal by
the arm, she drew him into the shadows at the side, whispering to him to
be silent. The bent figure of a man went past them, lurching from side
to side.

When he had turned and gone into the house, Mary said, "It's my father.
He's ugly when he's like that." And Hal could hear her quick breathing
in the darkness.

So that was Mary's trouble--the difficulty in her home life to which she
had referred at their first meeting! Hal understood many things in a
flash--why her home was bare of ornament, and why she did not invite her
company to sit down. He stood silent, not knowing what to say. Before he
could find the word, Mary burst out, "Oh, how I hate O'Callahan, that
sells the stuff to my father! His home with plenty to eat in it, and his
wife dressin' in silk and goin' down to mass every Sunday, and thinkin'
herself too good for a common miner's daughter! Sometimes I think I'd
like to kill them both."

"That wouldn't help much," Hal ventured.

"No, I know--there'd only be some other one in his place. Ye got to do
more than that, to change things here. Ye got to get after them that
make money out of O'Callahan."

So Mary's mind was groping for causes! Hal had thought her excitement
was due to humiliation, or to fear of a scene of violence when she
reached home; but she was thinking of the deeper aspects of this
terrible drink problem. There was still enough unconscious snobbery in
Hal Warner for him to be surprised at this phenomenon in a common
miner's daughter; and so, as at their first meeting, his pity was turned
to intellectual interest.

"They'll stop the drink business altogether some day," he said. He had
not known that he was a Prohibitionist; he had become one suddenly!

"Well," she answered, "they'd best stop it soon, if they don't want to
he too late. 'Tis a sight to make your heart sick to see the young lads
comin' home staggerin', too drunk even to fight."

Hal had not had time to see much of this aspect of North Valley. "They
sell to boys?" he asked.

"Sure, who's to care? A boy's money's as good as a man's."

"But I should think the company--"

"The company lets the saloon-buildin'--that's all the company cares."

"But they must care something about the efficiency of their hands!"

"Sure, there's plenty more where they come from. When ye can't work,
they fire ye, and that's all there is to it."

"And is it so easy to get skilled men?"

"It don't take much skill to get out coal. The skill is in keepin' your
bones whole--and if you can stand breakin' 'em, the company can stand
it."

They had come to the little cabin. Mary stood for a moment in silence.
"I'm talkin' bitter again!" she exclaimed suddenly. "And I promised ye
me company manner! But things keep happening to set me off." And she
turned abruptly and ran into the house. Hal stood for a moment wondering
if she would return; then, deciding that she had meant that as good
night, he went slowly up the street.

He fought against a mood of real depression, the first he had known
since his coming to North Valley. He had managed so far to keep a
certain degree of aloofness, that he might see this industrial world
without prejudice. But to-night his pity for Mary had involved him more
deeply. To be sure, he might be able to help her, to find her work in
some less crushing environment; but his mind went on to the
question--how many girls might there be in mining-camps, young and
eager, hungering for life, but crushed by poverty, and by the burden of
the drink problem?

A man walked past Hal, greeting him in the semi-darkness with a nod and
a motion of the hand. It was the Reverend Spragg, the gentleman who was
officially commissioned to combat the demon rum in North Valley.

Hal had been to the little white church the Sunday before, and heard the
Reverend Spragg preach a doctrinal sermon, in which the blood of the
lamb was liberally sprinkled, and the congregation heard where and how
they were to receive compensation for the distresses they endured in
this vale of tears.

What a mockery it seemed! Once, indubitably, people had believed such
doctrines; they had been willing to go to the stake for them. But now
nobody went to the stake for them--on the contrary, the company
compelled every worker to contribute out of his scanty earnings towards
the preaching of them. How could the most ignorant of zealots confront
such an arrangement without suspicion of his own piety? Somewhere at the
head of the great dividend-paying machine that was called the General
Fuel Company must be some devilish intelligence that had worked it all
out, that had given the orders to its ecclesiastical staff: "We want the
present--we leave you the future! We want the bodies--we leave you the
souls! Teach them what you will about heaven--so long as you let us
plunder them on earth!"

In accordance with this devil's program, the Reverend Spragg might
denounce the demon rum, but he said nothing about dividends based on the
renting of rum-shops, nor about local politicians maintained by company
contributions, plus the profits of wholesale liquor. He said nothing
about the conclusions of modern hygiene, concerning over-work as a cause
of the craving for alcohol; the phrase "industrial drinking," it seemed,
was not known in General Fuel Company theology! In fact, when you
listened to such a sermon, you would never have guessed that the hearers
of it had physical bodies at all; certainly you would never have guessed
that the preacher had a body, which was nourished by food produced by
the overworked and under-nourished wage-slaves whom he taught!



SECTION 14.

For the most part the victims of this system were cowed and spoke of
their wrongs only in whispers; but there was one place in the camp, Hal
found, where they could not keep silence, where their sense of outrage
battled with their fear. This place was the solar plexus of the
mine-organism, the centre of its nervous energies; to change the simile,
it was the judgment-seat, where the miner had sentence passed upon
him--sentence either to plenty, or to starvation and despair.

This place was the "tipple," where the coal that came out of the mine
was weighed and recorded. Every digger, as he came from the cage, made
for this spot. There was a bulletin-board, and on it his number, and the
record of the weights of the cars he had sent out that day. And every
man, no matter how ignorant, had learned enough English to read those
figures.

Hal had gradually come to realise that here was the place of drama. Most
of the men would look, and then, without a sound or glance about, would
slouch off with drooping shoulders. Others would mumble to
themselves--or, what amounted to the same thing, would mumble to one
another in barbarous dialects. But about one in five could speak
English; and scarcely an evening passed that some man did not break
loose, shaking his fist at the sky, or at the weigh-boss--behind the
latter's back. He might gather a knot of fellow-grumblers about him; it
was to be noted that the camp-marshal had the habit of being on hand at
this hour.

It was on one of these occasions that Hal first noticed Mike Sikoria, a
grizzle-haired old Slovak, who had spent twenty years in the mines of
these regions. All the bitterness of all the wrongs of all these years
welled up in Old Mike, as he shouted his score aloud: "Nineteen,
twenty-two, twenty-four, twenty! Is that my weight, Mister? You want me
to believe that's my weight?"

"That's your weight," said the weigh-boss, coldly.

"Well, by Judas, your scale is off, Mister! Look at them cars--them cars
is big! You measure them cars, Mister--seven feet long, three and a half
feet high, four feet wide. And you tell me them don't go but twenty?"

"You don't load them right," said the boss.

"Don't load them right?" echoed the old miner; he became suddenly
plaintive, as if more hurt than angered by such an insinuation. "You
know all the years I work, and you tell me I don't know a load? When I
load a car, I load him like a miner, I don't load him like a Jap, that
don't know about a mine! I put it up--I chunk it up like a stack of hay.
I load him square--like that." With gestures the old fellow was
illustrating what he meant. "See there! There's a ton on the top, and a
ton and a half on the bottom--and you tell me I get only nineteen,
twenty!"

"That's your weight," said the boss, implacably.

"But, Mister, your scale is wrong! I tell you I used to get my weight. I
used to get forty-five, forty-six on them cars. Here's my buddy--ask him
if it ain't so. What is it, Bo?"

"Um m m-mum," said Bo, who was a negro--though one could hardly be sure
of this for the coal-dust on him.

"I can't make a living no more!" exclaimed the old Slovak, his voice
trembling and his wizened dark eyes full of pleading. "What you think I
make? For fifteen days, fifty cents! I pay board, and so help me God,
Mister--and I stand right here--I swear for God I make fifty cents. I
dig the coal and I ain't got no weight, I ain't got nothing! Your scale
is wrong!"

"Get out!" said the weigh-boss, turning away.

"But, Mister!" cried Old Mike, following behind him, and pouring his
whole soul into his words. "What is this life, Mister? You work like a
burro, and you don't get nothing for it! You burn your own powder--half
a dollar a day powder--what you think of that? Crosscut--and you get
nothing! Take the skip and a pillar, and you get nothing! Brush--and you
get nothing! Here, by Judas, a poor man, going and working his body to
the last point, and blood is run out! You starve me to death, I say! I
have got to have something to eat, haven't I?"

And suddenly the boss whirled upon him. "Get the hell out of here!" he
shouted. "If you don't like it, get your time and quit. Shut your face,
or I'll shut it for you."

The old man quailed and fell silent. He stood for a moment more, biting
his whiskered lips nervously; then his shoulders sank together, and he
turned and slunk off, followed by his negro helper.



SECTION 15.

Old Mike boarded at Reminitsky's, and after supper was over, Hal sought
him out. He was easy to know, and proved an interesting acquaintance.
With the help of his eloquence Hal wandered through a score of camps in
the district. The old fellow had a temper that he could not manage, and
so he was always on the move; but all places were alike, he said--there
was always some trick by which a miner was cheated of his earnings. A
miner was a little business man, a contractor who took a certain job,
with its expenses and its chance of profit or loss. A "place" was
assigned to him by the boss--and he undertook to get out the coal from
it, being paid at the rate of fifty-five cents a ton for each ton of
clean coal. In some "places" a man could earn good money, and in others
he would work for weeks, and not be able to keep up with his
store-account.

It all depended upon the amount of rock and slate that was found with
the coal. If the vein was low, the man had one or two feet of rock to
take off the ceiling, and this had to be loaded on separate cars and
taken away. This work was called "brushing," and for it the miner
received no pay. Or perhaps it was necessary to cut through a new
passage, and clean out the rock; or perhaps to "grade the bottom," and
lay the ties and rails over which the cars were brought in to be loaded;
or perhaps the vein ran into a "fault," a broken place where there was
rock instead of coal--and this rock must be hewed away before the miner
could get at the coal. All such work was called "dead-work," and it was
the cause of unceasing war. In the old days the company had paid extra
for it; now, since they had got the upper hand of the men, they were
refusing to pay. And so it was important to the miner to have a "place"
assigned him where there was not so much of this dead work. And the
"place" a man got depended upon the boss; so here, at the very outset,
was endless opportunity for favouritism and graft, for quarrelling, or
"keeping in" with the boss. What chance did a man stand who was poor and
old and ugly, and could not speak English good? inquired old Mike, with
bitterness. The boss stole his cars and gave them to other people; he
took the weight off the cars, and gave them to fellows who boarded with
him, or treated him to drinks, or otherwise curried favour with him.

"I work five days in the Southeastern," said Mike, and when I work them
five days, so help me God, brother, if I don't get up out of this chair,
fifteen cents I was still in the hole yet. Fourteen inches of rock! And
the Mr. Bishop--that is the superintendent--I says, 'Do you pay
something for that rock?' 'Huh?' says he. 'Well,' I says, 'if you don't
pay nothing for the rock, I don't go ahead with it. I ain't got no place
to put that rock.' 'Get the hell out of here,' says he, and when I
started to fight he pull gun on me. And then I go to Cedar Mountain, and
the super give me work there, and he says, 'You go Number Four,' and he
says, 'Rail is in Number Three, and the ties.' And he says, 'I pay you
for it when you put it in.' So I take it away and I put it in, and I
work till twelve o'clock. Carried the three pair of rails and the ties,
and I pulled all the spikes--"

"Pulled the spikes?" asked Hal.

"Got no good spikes. Got to use old spikes, what you pull out of them
old ties. So then I says, 'What is my half day, what you promise me?'
Says he, 'You ain't dug no coal yet!' 'But, mister,' says I, 'you
promise me pay to pull them spikes and put in them ties!' Says he,
'Company pay nothin' for dead work--you know that,' says he, and that is
all the satisfaction I get."

"And you didn't get your half day's pay?"

"Sure I get nothin'. Boss do just as he please in coal mine."



SECTION 16.

There was another way, Old Mike explained, in which the miner was at the
mercy of others; this was the matter of stealing cars. Each miner had
brass checks with his number on them, and when he sent up a loaded car,
he hung one of these checks on a hook inside. In the course of the long
journey to the tipple, some one would change the check, and the car was
gone. In some mines, the number was put on the car with chalk; and how
easy it was for some one to rub it out and change it! It appeared to Hal
that it would have been a simple matter to put a number padlock on the
car, instead of a check; but such an equipment would have cost the
company one or two hundred dollars, he was told, and so the stealing
went on year after year.

"You think it's the bosses steal these cars?" asked Hal.

"Sometimes bosses, sometimes bosses' friend--sometimes company himself
steal them from miners." In North Valley it was the company, the old
Slovak insisted. It was no use sending up more than six cars in one day,
be declared; you could never get credit for more than six. Nor was it
worth while loading more than a ton on a car; they did not really weigh
the cars, the boss just ran them quickly over the scales, and had orders
not to go above a certain average. Mike told of an Italian who had
loaded a car for a test, so high that he could barely pass it under the
roof of the entry, and went up on the tipple and saw it weighed himself,
and it was sixty-five hundred pounds. They gave him thirty-five hundred,
and when he started to fight, they arrested him. Mike had not seen him
arrested, but when he had come out of the mine, the man was gone, and
nobody ever saw him again. After that they put a door onto the
weigh-room, so that no one could see the scales.

The more Hal listened to the men and reflected upon these things, the
more he came to see that the miner was a contractor who had no
opportunity to determine the size of the contract before he took it on,
nor afterwards to determine how much work he had done. More than that,
he was obliged to use supplies, over the price and measurements of which
he had no control. He used powder, and would find himself docked at the
end of the month for a certain quantity, and if the quantity was wrong,
he would have no redress. He was charged a certain sum for
"black-smithing"--the keeping of his tools in order; and he would find a
dollar or two deducted from his account each month, even though he had
not been near the blacksmith shop.

Let any business-man in the world consider the proposition, thought Hal,
and say if he would take a contract upon such terms! Would a man
undertake to build a dam, for example, with no chance to measure the
ground in advance, nor any way of determining how many cubic yards of
concrete he had to put in? Would a grocer sell to a customer who
proposed to come into the store and do his own weighing--and meantime
locking the grocer outside? Merely to put such questions was to show the
preposterousness of the thing; yet in this district were fifteen
thousand men working on precisely such terms.

Under the state law, the miner had a right to demand a check-weighman to
protect his interest at the scales, paying this check-weighman's wages
out of his own earnings. Whenever there was any public criticism about
conditions in the coal-mines, this law would be triumphantly cited by
the operators; and one had to have actual experience in order to realise
what a bitter mockery this was to the miner.

In the dining-room Hal sat next to a fair-haired Swedish giant named
Johannson, who loaded timbers ten hours a day. This fellow was one who
indulged in the luxury of speaking his mind, because he had youth and
huge muscles, and no family to tie him down. He was what is called a
"blanket-stiff," wandering from mine to harvest-field and from
harvest-field to lumber-camp. Some one broached the subject of
check-weighmen to him, and the whole table heard his scornful laugh. Let
any man ask for a check-weighman!

"You mean they would fire him?" asked Hal.

"Maybe!" was the answer. "Maybe they make him fire himself."

"How do you mean?"

"They make his life one damn misery till he go."

So it was with check-weighman--as with scrip, and with company stores,
and with all the provisions of the law to protect the miner against
accidents. You might demand your legal rights, but if you did, it was a
matter of the boss's temper. He might make your life one damn misery
till you went of your own accord. Or you might get a string of curses
and an order, "Down the canyon!"--and likely as not the toe of a boot in
your trouser-seat, or the muzzle of a revolver under your nose.



SECTION 17.

Such conditions made the coal-district a place of despair. Yet there
were men who managed to get along somehow, and to raise families and
keep decent homes. If one had the luck to escape accident, if he did not
marry too young, or did not have too many children; if he could manage
to escape the temptations of liquor, to which overwork and monotony
drove so many; if, above all, he could keep on the right side of his
boss--why then he might have a home, and even a little money on deposit
with the company.

Such a one was Jerry Minetti, who became one of Hal's best friends. He
was a Milanese, and his name was Gerolamo, which had become Jerry in the
"melting-pot." He was about twenty-five years of age, and what is
unusual with the Italians, was of good stature. Their meeting took
place--as did most of Hal's social experiences--on a Sunday. Jerry had
just had a sleep and a wash, and had put on a pair of new blue overalls,
so that he presented a cheering aspect in the sunlight. He walked with
his head up and his shoulders square, and one could see that he had few
cares in the world.

But what caught Hal's attention was not so much Jerry as what followed
at Jerry's heels; a perfect reproduction of him, quarter-size, also with
a newly-washed face and a pair of new blue overalls. He too had his head
up, and his shoulders square, and he was an irresistible object,
throwing out his heels and trying his best to keep step. Since the
longest strides he could take left him behind, he would break into a
run, and getting close under his father's heels, would begin keeping
step once more.

Hal was going in the same direction, and it affected him like the music
of a military band; he too wanted to throw his head up and square his
shoulders and keep step. And then other people, seeing the grin on his
face, would turn and watch, and grin also. But Jerry walked on gravely,
unaware of this circus in the rear.

They went into a house; and Hal, having nothing to do but enjoy life,
stood waiting for them to come out. They returned in the same
procession, only now the man had a sack of something on his shoulder,
while the little chap had a smaller load poised in imitation. So Hal
grinned again, and when they were opposite him, he said, "Hello."

"Hello," said Jerry, and stopped. Then, seeing Hal's grin, he grinned
back; and Hal looked at the little chap and grinned, and the little chap
grinned back. Jerry, seeing what Hal was grinning at, grinned more than
ever; so there stood all three in the middle of the road, grinning at
one another for no apparent reason.

"Gee, but that's a great kid!" said Hal.

"Gee, you bet!" said Jerry; and he set down his sack. If some one
desired to admire the kid, he was willing to stop any length of time.

"Yours?" asked Hal.

"You bet!" said Jerry, again.

"Hello, Buster!" said Hal.

"Hello yourself!" said the kid. One could see in a moment that he had
been in the "melting-pot."

"What's your name?" asked Hal.

"Jerry," was the reply.

"And what's his name?" Hal nodded towards the man--

"Big Jerry."

"Got any more like you at home?"

"One more," said Big Jerry. "Baby."

"He ain't like me," said Little Jerry. "He's little."

"And you're big?" said Hal.

"He can't walk!"

"Neither can you walk!" laughed Hal, and caught him up and slung him
onto his shoulder. "Come on, we'll ride!"

So Big Jerry took up his sack again, and they started off; only this
time it was Hal who fell behind and kept step, squaring his shoulders
and flinging out his heels. Little Jerry caught onto the joke, and
giggled and kicked his sturdy legs with delight. Big Jerry would look
round, not knowing what the joke was, but enjoying it just the same.

They came to the three-room cabin which was Both Jerrys' home; and Mrs.
Jerry came to the door, a black-eyed Sicilian girl, who did not look old
enough to have even one baby. They had another bout of grinning, at the
end of which Big Jerry said, "You come in?"

"Sure," said Hal.

"You stay supper," added the other. "Got spaghetti."

"Gee!" said Hal. "All right, let me stay, and pay for it."

"Hell, no!" said Jerry. "You no pay!"

"No! No pay!" cried Mrs. Jerry, shaking her pretty head energetically.

"All right," said Hal, quickly, seeing that he might hurt their
feelings. "I'll stay if you're sure you have enough."

"Sure, plenty!" said Jerry. "Hey, Rosa?"

"Sure, plenty!" said Mrs. Jerry.

"Then I'll stay," said Hal. "You like spaghetti, Kid?"

"Jesus!" cried Little Jerry.

Hal looked about him at this Dago home. It was a tome in keeping with
its pretty occupant. There were lace curtains in the windows, even
shinier and whiter than at the Rafferties; there was an incredibly
bright-coloured rug on the floor, and bright coloured pictures of Mount
Vesuvius and of Garibaldi on the walls. Also there was a cabinet with
many interesting treasures to look at--a bit of coral and a conch-shell,
a shark's tooth and an Indian arrow-head, and a stuffed linnet with a
glass cover over him. A while back Hal would not have thought of such
things as especially stimulating to the imagination; but that was before
he had begun to spend five-sixths of his waking hours in the bowels of
the earth.

He ate supper, a real Dago supper; the spaghetti proved to be real Dago
spaghetti, smoking hot, with tomato sauce and a rich flavour of
meat-juice. And all through the meal Hal smacked his lips and grinned at
Little Jerry, who smacked his lips and grinned back. It was all so
different from feeding at Reminitsky's pig-trough, that Hal thought he
had never had such a good supper in his life before. As for Mr. and Mrs.
Jerry, they were so proud of their wonderful kid, who could swear in
English as good as a real American, that they were in the seventh
heaven.

When the meal was over, Hal leaned back and exclaimed, just as he had at
the Rafferties', "Lord, how I wish I could board here!"

He saw his host look at his wife. "All right," said he. "You come here.
I board you. Hey, Rosa?"

"Sure," said Rosa.

Hal looked at them, astonished. "You're sure they'll let you?" he asked.

"Let me? Who stop me?"

"I don't know. Maybe Reminitsky. You might get into trouble."

Jerry grinned. "I no fraid," said he. "Got friends here. Carmino my
cousin. You know Carmino?"

"No," said Hal.

"Pit-boss in Number One. He stand by me. Old Reminitsky go hang! You
come here, I give you bunk in that room, give you good grub. What you
pay Reminitsky?"

"Twenty-seven a month."

"All right, you pay me twenty-seven, you get everything good. Can't get
much stuff here, but Rosa good cook, she fix it."

Hal's new friend--besides being a favourite of the boss--was a
"shot-firer"; it was his duty to go about the mine at night, setting off
the charges of powder which the miners had got ready by day. This was
dangerous work, calling for a skilled man, and it paid pretty well; so
Jerry got on in the world and was not afraid to speak his mind, within
certain limits. He ignored the possibility that Hal might be a company
spy, and astonished him by rebellious talk of the different kinds of
graft in North Valley, and at other places he had worked since coming to
America as a boy. Minetti was a Socialist, Hal learned; he took an
Italian Socialist paper, and the clerk at the post-office knew what sort
of paper it was, and would "josh" him about it. What was more
remarkable, Mrs. Minetti was a Socialist also; that meant a great deal
to a man, as Jerry explained, because she was not under the domination
of a priest.



SECTION 18.

Hal made the move at once, sacrificing part of a month's board, which
Reminitsky would charge against his account with the company. But he was
willing to pay for the privilege of a clean home and clean food. To his
amusement he found that in the eyes of his Irish friends he was losing
caste by going to live with the Minettis. There were most rigid social
lines in North Valley, it appeared. The Americans and English and Scotch
looked down upon the Welsh and Irish; the Welsh and Irish looked down
upon the Dagoes and Frenchies; the Dagoes and Frenchies looked down upon
Polacks and Hunkies, these in turn upon Greeks, Bulgarians and
"Montynegroes," and so on through a score of races of Eastern Europe,
Lithuanians, Slovaks, and Croatians, Armenians, Roumanians, Rumelians,
Ruthenians--ending up with Greasers, niggers, and last and lowest, Japs.

It was when Hal went to pay another call upon the Rafferties that he
made this discovery. Mary Burke happened to be there, and when she
caught sight of him, her grey eyes beamed with mischief. "How do ye do,
Mr. Minetti?" she cried.

"How do ye do, Miss Rosetti?" he countered.

"You lika da spagett?"

"You no lika da spagett?"

"I told ye once," laughed the girl--"the good old pertaties is good
enough for me!"

"And you remember," said he, "what I answered?"

Yes, she remembered! Her cheeks took on the colour of the rose-leaves he
had specified as her probable diet.

And then the Rafferty children, who had got to know Hal well, joined in
the teasing. "Mister Minetti! Lika da spagetti!" Hal, when he had
grasped the situation, was tempted to retaliate by reminding them that
he had offered to board with the Irish, and been turned down; but he
feared that the elder Rafferty might not appreciate this joke, so
instead he pretended to have supposed all along that the Rafferties were
Italians. He addressed the elder Rafferty gravely, pronouncing the name
with the accent on the second syllable--"Signer Rafferti"; and this so
amused the old man that he chuckled over it at intervals for an hour.
His heart warmed to this lively young fellow; he forgot some of his
suspicions, and after the youngsters had been sent away to bed, he
talked more or less frankly about his life as a coal-miner.

"Old Rafferty" had once been on the way to high station. He had been
made tipple-boss at the San Jose mine, but had given up his job because
he had thought that his religion did not permit him to do what he was
ordered to do. It had been a crude proposition of keeping the men's
score at a certain level, no matter how much coal they might send up;
and when Rafferty had quit rather than obey such orders, he had had to
leave the mine altogether; for of course everybody knew why he had quit,
and his mere presence had the effect of keeping discontent alive.

"You think there are no honest companies at all?" Hal asked.

The old man answered, "There be some, but 'tis not so easy as ye might
think to be honest. They have to meet each other's prices, and when one
short-weights, the others have to. 'Tis a way of cuttin' wages without
the men findin' it out; and there be people that do not like to fall
behind with their profits." Hal found himself thinking of old Peter
Harrigan, who controlled the General Fuel Company, and had made the
remark: "I am a great clamourer for dividends!"

"The trouble with the miner," continued Old Rafferty, "is that he has no
one to speak for him. He stands alone--"

During this discourse, Hal had glanced at "Red Mary," and noticed that
she sat with her arms on the table, her sturdy shoulders bowed in a
fashion which told of a hard day's toil. But here she broke into the
conversation; her voice came suddenly, alive with scorn: "The trouble
with the miner is that he's a _slave!_"

"Ah, now--" put in the old man, protestingly.

"He has the whole world against him, and he hasn't got the sense to get
together--to form a union, and stand by it!"

There fell a sudden silence in the Rafferty home. Even Hal was
startled--for this was the first time during his stay in the camp that
he had heard the dread word "union" spoken above a whisper.

"I know!" said Mary, her grey eyes full of defiance. "Ye'll not have the
word spoken! But some will speak it in spite of ye!"

"'Tis all very well," said the old man. "When ye're young, and a woman
too--"

"A woman! Is it only the women that can have courage?"

"Sure," said he, with a wry smile, "'tis the women that have the
tongues, and that can't he stopped from usin' them. Even the boss must
know that."

"Maybe so," replied Mary. "And maybe 'tis the women have the most to
suffer in a coal-camp; and maybe the boss knows that." The girl's cheeks
were red.

"Mebbe so," said Rafferty; and after that there was silence, while he
sat puffing his pipe. It was evident that he did not care to go on, that
he did not want union speeches made in his home. After a while Mrs.
Rafferty made a timid effort to change the course of the talk, by asking
after Mary's sister, who had not been well; and after they had discussed
remedies for the ailments of children, Mary rose, saying, "I'll be goin'
along."

Hal rose also. "I'll walk with you, if I may," he said.

"Sure," said she; and it seemed that the cheerfulness of the Rafferty
family was restored by the sight of a bit of gallantry.



SECTION 19.

They strolled down the street, and Hal remarked, "That's the first word
I've heard here about a union."

Mary looked about her nervously. "Hush!" she whispered.

"But I thought you said you were talking about it!"

She answered, "'Tis one thing, talkin' in a friend's house, and another
outside. What's the good of throwin' away your job?"

He lowered his voice. "Would you seriously like to have a union here?"

"Seriously?" said she. "Didn't ye see Mr. Rafferty--what a coward he is?
That's the way they are! No, 'twas just a burst of my temper. I'm a bit
crazy to-night--something happened to set me off."

He thought she was going on, but apparently she changed her mind.
Finally he asked, "What happened?"

"Oh, 'twould do no good to talk," she answered; and they walked a bit
farther in silence.

"Tell me about it, won't you?" he said; and the kindness in his tone
made its impression.

"'Tis not much ye know of a coal-camp, Joe Smith," she said. "Can't ye
imagine what it's like--bein' a woman in a place like this? And a woman
they think good-lookin'!"

"Oh, so it's that!" said he, and was silent again. "Some one's been
troubling you?" he ventured after a while.

"Sure! Some one's always troublin' us women! Always! Never a day but we
hear it. Winks and nudges--everywhere ye turn."

"Who is it?"

"The bosses, the clerks--anybody that has a chance to wear a stiff
collar, and thinks he can offer money to a girl. It begins before she's
out of short skirts, and there's never any peace afterwards."

"And you can't make them understand?"

"I've made them understand me a bit; now they go after my old man."

"What?"

"Sure! D'ye suppose they'd not try that? Him that's so crazy for liquor,
and can never get enough of it!"

"And your father?--" But Hal stopped. She would not want that question
asked!

She had seen his hesitation, however. "He was a decent man once," she
declared. "'Tis the life here, that turns a man into a coward. 'Tis
everything ye need, everywhere ye turn--ye have to ask favours from some
boss. The room ye work in, the dead work they pile on ye; or maybe 'tis
more credit ye need at the store, or maybe the doctor to come when ye're
sick. Just now 'tis our roof that leaks--so bad we can't find a dry
place to sleep when it rains."

"I see," said Hal. "Who owns the house?"

"Sure, there's none but company houses here."

"Who's supposed to fix it?"

"Mr. Kosegi, the house-agent. But we gave him up long ago--if he does
anything, he raises the rent. Today my father went to Mr. Cotton. He's
supposed to look out for the health of the place, and it seems hardly
healthy to keep people wet in their beds."

"And what did Cotton say?" asked Hal, when she stopped again.

"Well, don't ye know Jeff Cotton--can't ye guess what he'd say? 'That's
a fine girl ye got, Burke! Why don't ye make her listen to reason?' And
then he laughed, and told me old father he'd better learn to take a
hint. 'Twas bad for an old man to sleep in the rain--he might get
carried off by pneumonia."

Hal could no longer keep back the question, "What did your father do?"

"I'd not have ye think hard of my old father," she said, quickly. "He
used to be a fightin' man, in the days before O'Callahan had his way
with him. But now he knows what a camp-marshal can do to a miner!"



SECTION 20.

Mary Burke had said that the company could stand breaking the bones of
its men; and not long after Number Two started up again, Hal had a
chance to note the truth of this assertion.

A miner's life depended upon the proper timbering of the room where he
worked. The company undertook to furnish the timbers, but when the miner
needed them, he would find none at hand, and would have to make the
mile-long trip to the surface. He would select timbers of the proper
length, and would mark them--the understanding being that they were to
be delivered to his room by some of the labourers. But then some one
else would carry them off--here was more graft and favouritism, and the
miner might lose a day or two of work, while meantime his account was
piling up at the store, and his children might have no shoes to go to
school. Sometimes he would give up waiting for timbers, and go on taking
out coal; so there would be a fall of rock--and the coroner's jury would
bring in a verdict of "negligence," and the coal-operators would talk
solemnly about the impossibility of teaching caution to miners. Not so
very long ago Hal had read an interview which the president of the
General Fuel Company had given to a newspaper, in which he set forth the
idea that the more experience a miner had the more dangerous it was to
employ him, because he thought he knew it all, and would not heed the
wise regulations which the company laid down for his safety!

In Number Two mine there were some places being operated by the "room
and pillar" method; the coal being taken out as from a series of rooms,
the portion corresponding to the walls of the rooms being left to uphold
the roof. These walls are the "pillars"; and when the end of the vein is
reached, the miner begins to work backwards, "pulling the pillars," and
letting the roof collapse behind him. This is a dangerous task; as he
works, the man has to listen to the drumming sounds of the rock above
his head, and has to judge just when to make his escape. Sometimes he is
too anxious to save a tool; or sometimes the collapse comes without
warning. In that case the victim is seldom dug out; for it must be
admitted that a man buried under a mountain is as well buried as a
company could be expected to arrange it.

In Number Two mine a man was caught in this way. He stumbled as he ran,
and the lower half of his body was pinned fast; the doctor had to come
and pump opiates into him, while the rescue crew was digging him loose.
The first Hal knew of the accident was when he saw the body stretched
out on a plank, with a couple of old sacks to cover it. He noticed that
nobody stopped for a second glance. Going up from work, he asked his
friend Madvik, the mule driver, who answered, "Lit'uanian feller--got
mash." And that was all. Nobody knew him, and nobody cared about him.

It happened that Mike Sikoria had been working nearby, and was one of
those who helped to get the victim out. Mike's negro "buddy" had been in
too great haste to get some of the rock out of the way, and had got his
hand crushed, and would not be able to work for a month or so. Mike told
Hal about it, in his broken English. It was a terrible thing to see a
man trapped like that, gasping, his eyes almost popping out of his head.
Fortunately he was a young fellow, and had no family.

Hal asked what they would do with the body; the answer was they would
bury him in the morning. The company had a piece of ground up the
canyon.

"But won't they have an inquest?" he inquired.

"Inques'?" repeated the other. "What's he?"

"Doesn't the coroner see the body?"

The old Slovak shrugged his bowed shoulders; if there was a coroner in
this part of the world, he had never heard of it; and he had worked in a
good many mines, and seen a good many men put under the ground. "Put him
in a box and dig a hole," was the way he described the procedure.

"And doesn't the priest come?"

"Priest too far away."

Afterwards Hal made inquiry among the English-speaking men, and learned
that the coroner did sometimes come to the camp. He would empanel a jury
consisting of Jeff Cotton, the marshal, and Predovich, the Galician Jew
who worked in the company store, and a clerk or two from the company's
office, and a couple of Mexican labourers who had no idea what it was
all about. This jury would view the corpse, and ask a couple of men what
had happened, and then bring in a verdict: "We find that the deceased
met his death from a fall of rock caused by his own fault." (In one case
they had added the picturesque detail: "No relatives, and damned few
friends!")

For this service the coroner got a fee, and the company got an official
verdict, which would be final in case some foreign consul should
threaten a damage suit. So well did they have matters in hand that
nobody in North Valley had ever got anything for death or injury; in
fact, as Hal found later, there had not been a damage suit filed against
any coal-operator in that county for twenty-three years!

This particular, accident was of consequence to Hal, because it got him
a chance to see the real work of mining. Old Mike was without a helper,
and made the proposition that Hal should take the job. It was better
than a stableman's, for it paid two dollars a day.

"But will the boss let me change?" asked Hal.

"You give him ten dollar, he change you," said Mike.

"Sorry," said Hal, "I haven't got ten dollars."

"You give him ten dollar credit," said the other.

And Hal laughed. "They take scrip for graft, do they?"

"Sure they take him," said Mike.

"Suppose I treat my mules bad?" continued the other. "So I can make him
change me for nothing!"

"He change you to hell!" replied Mike. "You get him cross, he put us in
bad room, cost us ten dollar a week. No, sir--you give him drink, say
fine feller, make him feel good. You talk American--give him jolly!"



SECTION 21.

Hal was glad of this opportunity to get better acquainted with his
pit-boss. Alec Stone was six feet high, and built in proportion, with
arms like hams--soft with fat, yet possessed of enormous strength. He
had learned his manner of handling men on a sugar-plantation in
Louisiana--a fact which, when Hal heard it, explained much. Like a
stage-manager who does not heed the real names of his actors, but calls
them by their character-names, Stone had the habit of addressing his men
by their nationalities: "You, Polack, get that rock into the car! Hey,
Jap, bring them tools over here! Shut your mouth, now, Dago, and get to
work, or I'll kick the breeches off you, sure as you're alive!"

Hal had witnessed one occasion when there was a dispute as to whose duty
it was to move timbers. There was a great two-handled cross-cut saw
lying on the ground, and Stone seized it and began to wave it, like a
mighty broadsword, in the face of a little Bohemian miner. "Load them
timbers, Hunkie, or I'll carve you into bits!" And as the terrified man
shrunk back, he followed, until his victim was flat against a wall, the
weapon swinging to and fro under his nose after the fashion of "The Pit
and the Pendulum." "Carve you into pieces, Hunkie! Carve you into
stew-meat!" When at last the boss stepped back, the little Bohemian
leaped to load the timbers.

The curious part about it to Hal was that Stone seemed to be reasonably
good-natured about such proceedings. Hardly one time in a thousand did
he carry out his bloodthirsty threats, and like as not he would laugh
when he had finished his tirade, and the object of it would grin in
turn--but without slackening his frightened efforts. After the
broad-sword waving episode, seeing that Hal had been watching, the boss
remarked, "That's the way you have to manage them wops." Hal took this
remark as a tribute to his American blood, and was duly flattered.

He sought out the boss that evening, and found him with his feet upon
the railing of his home. "Mr. Stone," said he, "I've something I'd like
to ask you."

"Fire away, kid," said the other.

"Won't you come up to the saloon and have a drink?"

"Want to get something out of me, hey? You can't work me, kid!" But
nevertheless he slung down his feet from the railing, and knocked the
ashes out of his pipe and strolled up the street with Hal.

"Mr. Stone," said Hal, "I want to make a change."

"What's that? Got a grouch on them mules?"

"No, sir, but I got a better job in sight. Mike Sikoria's buddy is laid
up, and I'd like to take his place, if you're willing."

"Why, that's a nigger's place, kid. Ain't you scared to take a nigger's
place?"

"Why, sir?"

"Don't you know about hoodoos?"

"What I want," said Hal, "is the nigger's pay."

"No," said the boss, abruptly, "you stick by them mules. I got a good
stableman, and I don't want to spoil him. You stick, and by and by I'll
give you a raise. You go into them pits, the first thing you know you'll
get a fall of rock on your head, and the nigger's pay won't be no good
to you."

They came to the saloon and entered. Hal noted that a silence fell
within, and every one nodded and watched. It was pleasant to be seen
going out with one's boss.

O'Callahan, the proprietor, came forward with his best society smile and
joined them, and at Hal's invitation they ordered whiskies. "No, you
stick to your job," continued the pit-boss. "You stay by it, and when
you've learned to manage mules, I'll make a boss out of you, and let you
manage men."

Some of the bystanders tittered. The pit-boss poured down his whiskey,
and set the glass on the bar. "That's no joke," said he, in a tone that
every one could hear. "I learned that long ago about niggers. They'd say
to me, 'For God's sake, don't talk to our niggers like that. Some night
you'll have your house set afire.' But I said, 'Pet a nigger, and you've
got a spoiled nigger.' I'd say, 'Nigger, don't you give me any of your
imp, or I'll kick the breeches off you.' And they knew I was a
gentleman, and they stepped lively."

"Have another drink," said Hal.

The pit-boss drank, and becoming more sociable, told nigger stories. On
the sugar-plantations there was a rush season, when the rule was twenty
hours' work a day; when some of the niggers tried to shirk it, they
would arrest them for swearing or crap-shooting, and work them as
convicts, without pay. The pit-boss told how one "buck" had been brought
before the justice of the peace, and the charge read, "being
cross-eyed"; for which offence he had been sentenced to sixty days' hard
labour. This anecdote was enjoyed by the men in the saloon--whose
race-feelings seemed to be stronger than their class-feelings.

When the pair went out again, it was late, and the boss was cordial.
"Mr. Stone," began Hal, "I don't want to bother you, but I'd like first
rate to get more pay. If you could see your way to let me have that
buddy's job, I'd be more than glad to divide with you."

"Divide with me?" said Stone. "How d'ye mean?" Hal waited with some
apprehension--for if Mike had not assured him so positively, he would
have expected a swing from the pit-boss's mighty arm.

"It's worth about fifteen a month more to me. I haven't any cash, but if
you'd be willing to charge off ten dollars from my store-account, it
would be well worth my while."

They walked for a short way in silence. "Well, I'll tell you," said the
boss, at last; "that old Slovak is a kicker--one of these fellows that
thinks he could run the mine if he had a chance. And if you get to
listenin' to him, and think you can come to me and grumble, by God--"

"That's all right, sir," put in Hal, quickly. "I'll manage that for
you--I'll shut him up. If you'd like me to, I'll see what fellows he
talks with, and if any of them are trying to make trouble, I'll tip you
off."

"Now that's the talk," said the boss, promptly. "You do that, and I'll
keep my eye on you and give you a chance. Not that I'm afraid of the old
fellow--I told him last time that if I heard from him again, I'd kick
the breeches off him. But when you got half a thousand of this foreign
scum, some of them Anarchists, and some of them Bulgars and Montynegroes
that's been fightin' each other at home--"

"I understand," said Hal. "You have to watch 'em."

"That's it," said the pit-boss. "And by the way, when you tell the
store-clerk about that fifteen dollars, just say you lost it at poker."

"I said ten dollars," put in Hal, quickly.

"Yes, I know," responded the other. "But _I_ said fifteen!"



SECTION 22.

Hal told himself with satisfaction that he was now to do the real work
of coal-mining. His imagination had been occupied with it for a long
time; but as so often happens in the life of man, the first contact with
reality killed the results of many years' imagining. It killed all
imagining, in fact; Hal found that his entire stock of energy, both
mental and physical, was consumed in enduring torment. If any one had
told him the horror of attempting to work in a room five feet high, he
would not have believed it. It was like some of the dreadful devices of
torture which one saw in European castles, the "iron maiden" and the
"spiked collar." Hal's back burned as if hot irons were being run up and
down it; every separate joint and muscle cried aloud. It seemed as if he
could never learn the lesson of the jagged ceiling above his head--he
bumped it and continued to bump it, until his scalp was a mass of cuts
and bruises, and his head ached till he was nearly blind, and he would
have to throw himself flat on the ground.

Then old Mike Sikoria would grin. "I know. Like green mule! Some day get
tough!"

Hal recalled the great thick callouses on the flanks of his former
charges, where the harness rubbed against them. "Yes, I'm a 'green
mule,' all right!"

It was amazing how many ways there were to bruise and tear one's
fingers, loading lumps of coal into a car. He put on a pair of gloves,
but these wore through in a day. And then the gas, and the smoke of
powder, stifling one; and the terrible burning of the eyes, from the
dust and the feeble light. There was no way to rub these burning eyes,
because everything about one was equally dusty. Could anybody have
imagined the torment of that--any of those ladies who rode in softly
upholstered parlour-cars, or reclined upon the decks of steam-ships in
gleaming tropic seas?

Old Mike was good to his new "buddy." Mike's spine was bent and his
hands were hardened by forty years of this sort of toil, so he could do
the work of two men, and entertain his friend with comments into the
bargain. The old fellow had the habit of talking all the time, like a
child; he would talk to his helper, to himself, to his tools. He would
call these tools by obscene and terrifying names--but with entire
friendliness and good humour. "Get in there, you son-of-a-gun!" he would
say to his pick. "Come along here, you wop!" he would say to his car.
"In with you, now, you old buster!" he would say to a lump of coal. And
he would lecture Hal on the details of mining. He would tell stories of
successful days, or of terrible mishaps. Above all he would tell about
rascality--cursing the "G. F. C.," its foremen and superintendents, its
officials, directors and stock-holders, and the world which permitted
such a criminal institution to exist.

Noon-time would come, and Hal would lie upon his back, too worn to eat.
Old Mike would sit munching; his abundant whiskers came to a point on
his chin, and as his jaws moved, he looked for all the world like an
aged billy-goat. He was a kind-hearted and anxious old billy-goat, and
sought to tempt his buddy with a bit of cheese or a swig of cold coffee.
He believed in eating--no man could keep up steam if he did not stoke
the furnace. Failing in this, he would try to divert Hal's mind, telling
stories of mining-life in America and Russia. He was most proud to have
an "American feller" for a buddy, and tried to make the work as easy as
possible, for fear lest Hal might quit.

Hal did not quit; but he would drag himself out towards night, so
exhausted that he would fall asleep in the cage. He would fall asleep at
supper, and go in and sink down on his cot and sleep like a log. And oh,
the torture of being routed out before daybreak! Having to shake the
sleep out of his head, and move his creaking joints, and become aware of
the burning in his eyes, and the blisters and sores on his hands!

It was a week before he had a moment that was not pain; and he never got
fully used to the labour. It was impossible for any one to work so hard
and keep his mental alertness, his eagerness and sensitiveness; it was
impossible to work so hard and be an adventurer--to be anything, in
fact, but a machine. Hal had heard that phrase of contempt, "the inertia
of the masses," and had wondered about it. He no longer wondered, he
knew. Could a man be brave enough to protest to a pit-boss when his body
was numb with weariness? Could he think out a definite conclusion as to
his rights and wrongs, and back his conclusion with effective action,
when his mental faculties were paralysed by such weariness of body?

Hal had come here, as one goes upon the deck of a ship in mid-ocean, to
see the storm. In this ocean of social misery, of ignorance and despair,
one saw upturned, tortured faces, writhing limbs and clutching hands; in
one's ears was a storm of lamentation, upon one's cheek a spray of blood
and tears. Hal found himself so deep in this ocean that he could no
longer find consolation in the thought that he could escape whenever he
wanted to: that he could say to himself, It is sad, it is terrible--but
thank God, I can get out of it when I choose! I can go back into the
warm and well-lighted saloon and tell the other passengers how
picturesque it is, what an interesting experience they are missing!



SECTION 23.

During these days of torment, Hal did not go to see "Red Mary"; but
then, one evening, the Minettis' baby having been sick, she came in to
ask about it, bringing what she called "a bit of a custard" in a bowl.
Hal was suspicious enough of the ways of men, especially of
business-men; but when it came to women he was without insight--it did
not occur to him as singular that an Irish girl with many troubles at
home should come out to nurse a Dago woman's baby. He did not reflect
that there were plenty of sick Irish babies in the camp, to whom Mary
might have taken her "bit of a custard." And when he saw the surprise of
Rosa, who had never met Mary before, he took it to be the touching
gratitude of the poor!

There are, in truth, many kinds of women, with many arts, and no man has
time to learn them all. Hal had observed the shop-girl type, who dress
themselves with many frills, and cast side-long glances, and indulge in
fits of giggles to attract the attention of the male; he was familiar
with the society-girl type, who achieve the same end with more subtle
and alluring means. But could there be a type who hold little Dago
babies in their laps, and call them pretty Irish names, and feed them
custard out of a spoon? Hal had never heard of that kind, and he thought
that "Red Mary" made a charming picture--a Celtic madonna with a
Sicilian infant in her arms.

He noticed that she was wearing the same faded blue calico-dress with a
patch on the shoulder. Man though he was, he realised that dress is an
important consideration in the lives of women. He was tempted to suspect
that this blue calico might be the only dress that Mary owned; but
seeing it newly laundered every time, he concluded that she must have at
least one other. At any rate, here she was, crisp and fresh-looking; and
with the new shining costume, she had put on the long promised "company
manner": high spirits and badinage, precisely like any belle of the
world of luxury, who powders and bedecks herself for a ball. She had
been grim and complaining in former meetings with this interesting young
man; she had frightened him away, apparently; perhaps she could win him
back by womanliness and good humour.

She rallied him upon his battered scalp and his creaking back, telling
him he looked ten years older--which he was fully prepared to believe.
Also she had fun with him for working under a Slovak--another loss of
caste, it appeared! This was a joke the Minettis could share
in--especially Little Jerry, who liked jokes. He told Mary how Joe Smith
had had to pay fifteen dollars for his new job, besides several drinks
at O'Callahan's. Also he told how Mike Sikoria had called Joe his "green
mule." Little Jerry complained about the turn of events, for in the old
days Joe had taught him a lot of fine new games--and now he was sore,
and would not play them. Also, in the old days he had sung a lot of
jolly songs, full of the most fascinating rhymes. There was a song about
a "monkey puzzle tree"! Had Mary ever seen that kind of tree? Little
Jerry never got tired of trying to imagine what it might look like.

The Dago urchin stood and watched gravely while Mary fed the custard to
the baby; and when two or three spoonfuls were held out to him, he
opened his mouth wide, and afterwards licked his lips. Gee, that was
good stuff!

When the last taste was gone, he stood gazing at Mary's shining coronet.
"Say," said he, "was your hair always like that?"

Hal and Mary burst into laughter, while Rosa cried "Hush!" She was never
sure what this youngster would say next.

"Sure, did ye think I painted it?" asked Mary.

"I didn't know," said Little Jerry. "It looks so nice and new." And he
turned to Hal. "Ain't it?"

"You bet," said Hal, and added, "Go on and tell her about it. Girls like
compliments."

"Compliments?" echoed Little Jerry. "What's that?"

"Why," said Hal, "that's when you say that her hair is like the sunrise,
and her eyes are like twilight, or that she's a wild rose on a
mountain-side."

"Oh," said the Dago urchin, somewhat doubtfully. "Anyhow," he added,
"she make nice custard!"



SECTION 24.

The time came for Mary to take her departure, and Hal got up, wincing
with pain, to escort her home. She regarded him gravely, having not
realised before how seriously he was suffering. As they walked along she
asked, "Why do ye do such work, when ye don't have to?"

"But I _do_ have to! I have to earn a living!"

"Ye don't have to earn it that way! A bright young fellow like you--an
American!"

"Well," said Hal, "I thought it would be interesting to see coal
mining."

"Now ye've seen it," said the girl--"now quit!"

"But it won't do me any harm to go on for a while!"

"Won't it? How can ye know? When any day they may carry you out on a
plank!"

Her "company manner" was gone; her voice was full of bitterness, as it
always was when she spoke of North Valley. "I know what I'm tellin' ye,
Joe Smith. Didn't I lose two brothers in it--as fine lads as ye'd find
anywhere in the world! And many another lad I've seen go in laughin',
and come out a corpse--or what is worse, for workin' people, a cripple.
Sometimes I'd like to go and stand at the pit-mouth in the mornin' and
cry to them, 'Go back, go back! Go down the canyon this day! Starve, if
ye have to, beg if ye have to, only find some other work but
coal-minin'!'"

Her voice had risen to a passion of protest; when she went on a new note
came into it--a note of personal terror. "It's worse now--since you
came, Joe! To see ye settin' out on the life of a miner--you, that are
young and strong and different. Oh, go away, Joe, go away while ye can!"

He was astonished at her intensity. "Don't worry about me, Mary," he
said. "Nothing will happen to me. I'll go away after a while."

The path was irregular, and he had been holding her arm as they walked.
He felt her trembling, and went on again, quickly, "It's not I that
should go away, Mary. It's yourself. You hate the place--it's terrible
for you to have to live here. Have you never thought of going away?"

She did not answer at once, and when she did the excitement was gone
from her voice; it was flat and dull with despair. "'Tis no use to think
of me. There's nothin' I can do--there's nothin' any girl can do when
she's poor. I've tried--but 'tis like bein' up against a stone wall. I
can't even save the money to get on a train with! I've tried it--I been
savin' for two years--and how much d'ye think I got, Joe? Seven dollars!
Seven dollars in two years! No--ye can't save money in a place where
there's so many things that wring the heart. Ye may hate them for being
cowards--but ye must help when ye see a man killed, and his family
turned out without a roof to cover them in the winter-time!"

"You're too tender-hearted, Mary."

"No, 'tis not that! Should I go off and leave me own brother and sister,
that need me?"

"But you could earn money and send it to them."

"I earn a little here--I do cleanin' and nursin' for some that need me."

"But outside--couldn't you earn more?"

"I could get a job in a restaurant for seven or eight a week, but I'd
have to spend more, and what I sent home would not go so far, with me
away. Or I could get a job in some other woman's home, and work fourteen
hours a day for it. But, Joe, 'tis not more drudgery I want, 'tis
somethin' fair to look upon--somethin' of my own!" She flung out her
arms suddenly like one being stifled. "Oh, I want somethin' that's fair
and clean!"

Again he felt her trembling. Again the path was rough, and having an
impulse of sympathy, he put his arm about her. In the world of leisure,
one might indulge in such considerateness, and he assumed it would not
he different with a miner's daughter. But then, when she was close to
him, he felt, rather than heard, a sob.

"Mary!" he whispered; and they stopped. Almost without realising it, he
put his other arm about her, and in a moment more he felt her warm
breath on his cheek, and she was trembling and shaking in his embrace.
"Joe! Joe!" she whispered. "_You_ take me away!"

She was a rose in a mining-camp, and Hal was deeply moved. The primrose
path of dalliance stretched fair before him, here in the soft summer
night, with a moon overhead which bore the same message as it bore in
the Italian gardens of the leisure-class. But not many minutes passed
before a cold fear began to steal over Hal. There was a girl at home,
waiting for him; and also there was the resolve which had been growing
in him since his coming to this place--a resolve to find some way of
compensation to the poor, to repay them for the freedom and culture he
had taken; not to prey upon them, upon any individual among them. There
were the Jeff Cottons for that!

"Mary," he pleaded, "we mustn't do this."

"Why not?"

"Because--I'm not free. There is some one else."

He felt her start, but she did not draw away.

"Where?" she asked, in a low voice.

"At home, waiting for me."

"And why didn't ye tell me?"

"I don't know."

Hal realised in a moment that the girl had ground of complaint against
him. According to the simple code of her world, he had gone some
distance with her; he had been seen to walk out with her, he had been
accounted her "fellow." He had led her to talk to him of herself--he had
insisted upon having her confidences. And these people who were poor did
not have subtleties, there was no room in their lives for intellectual
curiosities, for Platonic friendships or philanderings. "Forgive me,
Mary!" he said.

She made no answer; but a sob escaped her, and she drew back from his
arms--slowly. He struggled with an impulse to clasp her again. She was
beautiful, warm with life--and so much in need of happiness!

But he held himself in check, and for a minute or two they stood apart.
Then he asked, humbly, "We can still be friends, Mary, can't we? You
must know--I'm so _sorry_!"

But she could not endure being pitied. "'Tis nothin'," she said. "Only I
thought I was going to get away! That's what ye mean to me."



SECTION 25.

Hal had promised Alec Stone to keep a look-out for trouble-makers; and
one evening the boss stopped him on the street, and asked him if he had
anything to report. Hal took the occasion to indulge his sense of
humour.

"There's no harm in Mike Sikoria," said he. "He likes to shoot off his
head, but if he's got somebody to listen, that's all he wants. He's just
old and grouchy. But there's another fellow that I think would bear
watching."

"Who's that?" asked the boss.

"I don't know his last name. They call him Gus and he's a 'cager.'
Fellow with a red face."

"I know," said Stone--"Gus Durking."

"Well, he tried his best to get me to talk about unions. He keeps
bringing it up, and I think he's some kind of trouble-maker."

"I see," said the boss. "I'll get after him."

"You won't say I told you," said Hal, anxiously.

"Oh, no--sure not." And Hal caught the trace of a smile on the
pit-boss's face.

He went away, smiling in his turn. The "red-faced feller. Gus," was the
person Madvik had named as being a "spotter" for the company!

There were ins and outs to this matter of "spotting," and sometimes it
was not easy to know what to think. One Sunday morning Hal went for a
walk up the canyon, and on the way he met a young chap who got to
talking with him, and after a while brought up the question of
working-conditions in North Valley. He had only been there a week, he
said, but everybody he had met seemed to be grumbling about short
weight. He himself had a job as an "outside man," so it made no
difference to him, but he was interested, and wondered what Hal had
found.

Straightway came the question, was this really a workingman, or had Alec
Stone set some one to spying upon his spy. This was an intelligent
fellow, an American--which in itself was suspicious, for most of the new
men the company got in were from "somewhere East of Suez."

Hal decided to spar for a while. He did not know, he said, that
conditions were any worse here than elsewhere. You heard complaints, no
matter what sort of job you took.

Yes, said the stranger, but matters seemed to be especially bad in the
coal-camps. Probably it was because they were so remote, and the
companies owned everything in sight.

"Where have you been?" asked Hal, thinking that this might trap him.

But the other answered straight; he had evidently worked in half a dozen
of the camps. In Mateo he had paid a dollar a month for wash-house
privileges, and there had never been any water after the first three men
had washed. There had been a common wash-tub for all the men, an
unthinkably filthy arrangement. At Pine Creek--Hal found the very naming
of the place made his heart stand still--at Pine Creek he had boarded
with his boss, but the roof of the building leaked, and everything he
owned was ruined; the boss would do nothing--yet when the boarder moved,
he lost his job. At East Ridge, this man and a couple of other fellows
had rented a two room cabin and started to board themselves, in spite of
the fact that they had to pay a dollar-fifty a sack for potatoes and
eleven cents a pound for sugar at the company store. They had continued
until they made the discovery that the water supply had run short, and
that the water for which they were paying the company a dollar a month
was being pumped from the bottom of the mine, where the filth of mules
and men was plentiful!

Hal forced himself to remain non-committal; he shook his head and said
it was too bad, but the workers always got it in the neck, and he didn't
see what they could do about it. So they strolled back to the camp, the
stranger evidently baffled, and Hal, for his part, feeling like the
reader of a detective story at the end of the first chapter. Was this
young man the murderer, or was he the hero? One would have to read on in
the book to find out!



SECTION 26.

Hal kept his eye upon his new acquaintance, and perceived that he was
talking with others. Before long the man tackled Old Mike; and Mike of
course could not refuse an invitation to grumble, though it came from
the devil himself. Hal decided that something must be done about it.

He consulted his friend Jerry, who, being a radical, might have some
touch-stone by which to test the stranger. Jerry sought him out at
noon-time, and came back and reported that he was as much in the dark as
Hal. Either the man was an agitator, seeking to "start something," or
else he was a detective sent in by the company. There was only one way
to find out--which was for some one to talk freely with him, and see
what happened to that person!

After some hesitation, Hal decided that he would be the victim. It
rewakened his love of adventure, which digging in a coal-mine had
subdued in him. The mysterious stranger was a new sort of miner, digging
into the souls of men; Hal would countermine him, and perhaps blow him
up. He could afford the experiment better than some others--better, for
example, than little Mrs. David, who had already taken the stranger into
her home, and revealed to him the fact that her husband had been a
member of the most revolutionary of all miners' organisations, the South
Wales Federation.

So next Sunday Hal invited the stranger for another walk. The man showed
reluctance--until Hal said that he wanted to talk to him. As they walked
up the canyon, Hal began, "I've been thinking about what you said of
conditions in these camps, and I've concluded it would be a good thing
if we had a little shaking up here in North Valley."

"Is that so?" said the other.

"When I first came here, I used to think the men were grouchy. But now
I've had a chance to see for myself, and I don't believe anybody gets a
square deal. For one thing, nobody gets full weight in these mines--at
least not unless he's some favourite of the boss. I'm sure of it, for
I've tried all sorts of experiments with my partner. We've loaded a car
extra light, and got eighteen hundredweight, and then we've loaded one
high and solid, so that we'd know it had twice as much in it--but all we
ever got was twenty-two and twenty-three. There's just no way you can
get over that--though everybody knows those big cars can be made to hold
two or three tons."

"Yes, I suppose they might," said the other.

"And if you get the smallest piece of rock in, you get a 'double-O,'
sure as fate; and sometimes they say you got rock in when you didn't.
There's no law to make them prove it."

"No, I suppose not."

"What it comes to is simply this--they make you think they are paying
fifty-five a ton, but they've secretly cut you down to thirty-five. And
yesterday at the company-store I paid a dollar and a half for a pair of
blue overalls that I'd priced in Pedro for sixty cents."

"Well," said the other, "the company has to haul them up here, you
know!"

So, gradually, Hal made the discovery that the tables were turned--the
mysterious personage was now occupied in holding _him_ at arm's length!
For some reason, Hal's sudden interest in industrial justice had failed
to make an impression.

So his career as a detective came to an inglorious end. "Say, man!" he
exclaimed "What's your game, anyhow?"

"Game?" said the other, quietly. "How do you mean?"

"I mean, what are you here for?"

"I'm here for two dollars a day--the same as you, I guess."

Hal began to laugh. "You and I are like a couple of submarines, trying
to find each other under water. I think we'd better come to the surface
to do our fighting."

The other considered the simile, and seemed to like it. "You come
first," said he. But he did not smile. His quiet blue eyes were fixed on
Hal with deadly seriousness.

"All right," said Hal; "my story isn't very thrilling. I'm not an
escaped convict, I'm not a company spy, as you may be thinking. Nor am I
a 'natural born' coal-miner. I happen to have a brother and some friends
at home who think they know about the coal-industry, and it got on my
nerves, and I came to see for myself. That's all, except that I've found
things interesting, and want to stay on a while, so I hope you aren't a
'dick'!"

The other walked in silence, weighing Hal's words. "That's not exactly
what you'd call a usual story," he remarked, at last.

"I know," replied Hal. "The best I can say for it is that it's true."

"Well," said the stranger, "I'll take a chance on it. I have to trust
somebody, if I'm ever to get anywhere. I picked you out because I liked
your face." He gave Hal another searching look as he walked. "Your smile
isn't that of a cheat. But you're young--so let me remind you of the
importance of secrecy in this place."

"I'll keep mum," said Hal; and the stranger opened a flap inside his
shirt, and drew out a letter which certified him to be Thomas Olson, an
organiser for the United Mine-Workers, the great national union of the
coal-miners!



SECTION 27.

Hal was so startled by this discovery that he stopped in his tracks and
gazed at the man. He had heard a lot about "trouble-makers" in the
camps, but so far the only kind he had seen were those hired by the
company to make trouble for the men. But now, here was a union
organiser! Jerry had suggested the possibility, but Hal had not thought
of it seriously; an organiser was a mythological creature, whispered
about by the miners, cursed by the company and its servants, and by
Hal's friends at home. An incendiary, a fire-brand, a loudmouthed,
irresponsible person, stirring up blind and dangerous passions! Having
heard such things all his life, Hal's first impulse was of distrust. He
felt like the one-legged old switchman who had given him a place to
sleep, after his beating at Pine Creek, and who had said, "Don't you
talk no union business to me!"

Seeing Hal's emotion, the organiser gave an uneasy laugh. "While you're
hoping I'm not a 'dick,' I trust you understand I'm hoping _you're_ not
one."

Hal's answer was to the point. "I was taken for an organiser once," he
said, and his hands sought the seat of his ancient bruises.

The other laughed. "You got off with a beating? You were lucky. Down in
Alabama, not so long ago, they tarred and feathered one of us."

Dismay came upon Hal's face; but after a moment he too began to laugh.
"I was just thinking about my brother and his friends--what they'd have
said if I'd come home from Pine Creek in a coat of tar and feathers!"

"Possibly," ventured the other, "they'd have said you got what you
deserved."

"Yes, that seems to be their attitude. That's the rule they apply to all
the world--if anything goes wrong with you, it must he your own fault.
It's a land of equal opportunity."

"And you'll notice," said the organiser, "that the more privileges
people have had, the more boldly they talk that way."

Hal began to feel a sense of comradeship with this stranger, who was
able to understand one's family troubles! It had been a long time since
Hal had talked with any one from the outside world, and he found it a
relief to his mind. He remembered how, after he had got his beating, he
had lain out in the rain and congratulated himself that he was not what
the guards had taken him for. Now he was curious about the psychology of
an organiser. A man must have strong convictions to follow that
occupation!

He made the remark, and the other answered, "You can have my pay any
time you'll do my work. But let me tell you, too, it isn't being beaten
and kicked out of camp that bothers one most; it isn't the camp-marshal
and the spy and the blacklist. Your worst troubles are inside the heads
of the fellows you're trying to help! Have you ever thought what it
would mean to try to explain things to men who speak twenty different
languages?"

"Yes, of course," said Hal. "I wonder how you ever get a start."

"Well, you look for an interpreter--and maybe he's a company spy. Or
maybe the first man you try to convert reports you to the boss. For, of
course, some of the men are cowards, and some of them are crooks;
they'll sell out the next fellow for a better 'place'--maybe for a glass
of beer."

"That must have a tendency to weaken your convictions," said Hal.

"No," said the other, in a matter of fact tone. "It's hard, but one
can't blame the poor devils. They're ignorant--kept so deliberately. The
bosses bring them here, and have a regular system to keep them from
getting together. And of course these European peoples have their old
prejudices--national prejudices, religious prejudices, that keep them
apart. You see two fellows, one you think is exactly as miserable as the
other--but you find him despising the other, because back home he was
the other's superior. So they play into the bosses' hands."



SECTION 28.

They had come to a remote place in the canyon, and found themselves
seats on a flat rock, where they could talk in comfort.

"Put yourself in their place," said the organiser. "They're in a strange
country, and one person tells them one thing, and another tells them
something else. The masters and their agents say: 'Don't trust the union
agitators. They're a lot of grafters, they live easy and don't have to
work. They take your money and call you out on strike, and you lose your
jobs and your home; they sell you out, maybe, and go on to some other
place to repeat the same trick.' And the workers think maybe that's
true; they haven't the wit to see that if the union leaders are corrupt,
it must be because the bosses are buying them. So you see, they're
completely bedevilled; they don't know which way to turn."

The man was speaking quietly, but there was a little glow of excitement
in his face. "The company is forever repeating that these people are
satisfied--that it's we who are stirring them up. But are they
satisfied? You've been here long enough to know!"

"There's no need to discuss that," Hal answered. "Of course they're not
satisfied! They've seemed to me like a lot of children crying in the
dark--not knowing what's the matter with them, or who's to blame, or
where to turn for help."

Hal found himself losing his distrust of this man. He did not correspond
in any way to Hal's imaginary picture of a union organiser; he was a
blue-eyed, clean-looking young American, and instead of being wild and
loud-mouthed, he seemed rather wistful. He had indignation, of course,
but it did not take the form of ranting or florid eloquence; and this
repression was making its appeal to Hal, who, in spite of his democratic
impulses, had the habits of thought of a class which shrinks from
noisiness and over-emphasis.

Also Hal was interested in his attitude towards the weaknesses of
working-people. The "inertia" of the poor, which caused so many people
to despair for them--their cowardice and instability--these were things
about which Hal had heard all his life. "You can't help them," people
would say. "They're dirty and lazy, they drink and shirk, they betray
each other. They've always been like that." The idea would be summed up
in a formula: "You can't change human nature!" Even Mary Burke, herself
one of the working-class, spoke of the workers in this angry and
scornful way. But Olson had faith in their manhood, and went ahead to
awaken and teach them.

To his mind the path was clear and straight. "They must be taught the
lesson of solidarity. As individuals, they're helpless in the power of
the great corporations; but if they stand together, if they sell their
labour as a unit--then they really count for something." He paused, and
looked at the other inquiringly. "How do you feel about unions?"

Hal answered, "They're one of the things I want to find out about. You
hear this and that--there's so much prejudice on each side. I want to
help the under dog, but I want to be sure of the right way."

"What other way is there?" And Olson paused. "To appeal to the tender
hearts of the owners?"

"Not exactly; but mightn't one appeal to the world in general--to public
opinion? I was brought up an American, and learned to believe in my
country. I can't think but there's some way to get justice. Maybe if the
men were to go into politics--"

"Politics?" cried Olson. "My God! How long have you been in this place?"

"Only a couple of months."

"Well, stay till November, and see what they do with the ballot-boxes in
these camps!"

"I can imagine, of course--"

"No, you can't. Any more than you could imagine the graft and the
misery!"

"But if the men should take to voting together--"

"How _can_ they take to voting together--when any one who mentions the
idea goes down the canyon? Why, you can't even get naturalisation
papers, unless you're a company man; they won't register you, unless the
boss gives you an O. K. How are you going to make a start, unless you
have a union?"

It sounded reasonable, Hal had to admit; but he thought of the stories
he had heard about "walking delegates," all the dreadful consequences of
"union domination." He had not meant to go in for unionism!

Olson was continuing. "We've had laws passed, a whole raft of laws about
coal-mining--the eight-hour law, the anti-scrip law, the company-store
law, the mine-sprinkling law, the check-weighman law. What difference
has it made in North Valley that there are such laws on the
statute-books? Would you ever even know about them?"

"Ah, now!" said Hal. "If you put it that way--if your movement is to
have the law enforced--I'm with you!"

"But how will you get the law enforced, except by a union? No individual
man can do it--it's 'down the canyon' with him if he mentions the law.
In Western City our union people go to the state officials, but they
never do anything--and why? They know we haven't got the men behind us!
It's the same with the politicians as it is with the bosses--the union
is the thing that counts!"

Hal found this an entirely new argument. "People don't realise that
idea--that men have to be organised to get their _legal_ rights."

And the other threw up his hands with a comical gesture. "My God! If you
want to make a list of the things that people don't realise about us
miners!"



SECTION 29.

Olson was eager to win Hal, and went on to tell all the secrets of his
work. He sought men who believed in unions, and were willing to take the
risk of trying to convert others. In each place he visited he would get
a group together, and would arrange some way to communicate with them
after he left, smuggling in propaganda literature for distribution. So
there would be the nucleus of an organisation. In a year or two they
would have such a nucleus in every camp, and then they would be ready to
come into the open, calling meetings in the towns, and in places in the
canyons to which the miners would flock. So the flame of revolt would
leap up; men would join the movement faster than the companies could get
rid of them, and they would make a demand for their rights, backed with
the threat of a strike throughout the entire district.

"You understand," added Olson, "we have a legal right to organise--even
though the bosses disapprove. You need not stand back on that score."

"Yes," said Hal; "but it occurs to me that as a matter of tactics, it
would be better here in North Valley if you chose some issue there's
less controversy about; if, for instance, you'd concentrate on getting a
check-weighman."

The other smiled. "We'd have to have a union to back the demand; so
what's the difference?"

"Well," argued Hal, "there are prejudices to be reckoned with. Some
people don't like the idea of a union--they think it means tyranny and
violence--"

The organiser laughed. "You aren't convinced but that it does yourself,
are you! Well, all I can tell you is, if you want to tackle the job of
getting a check-weighman in North Valley, I'll not stand in your way!"

Here was an idea--a real idea! Life had grown dull for Hal since he had
become a buddy, working in a place five feet high. This would promise
livelier times!

But was it a thing he wanted to do? So far he had been an observer of
conditions in this coal-camp. He had convinced himself that conditions
were cruel, and he had pretty well convinced himself that the cruelty
was needless and deliberate. But when it came to a question of an action
to be taken--then he hesitated, and old prejudices and fears made
themselves heard. He had been told that labour was "turbulent" and
"lazy," that it had to be "ruled with a strong hand"; now, was he
willing to weaken the strong hand, to ally himself with those who
"fomented labour troubles"?

But this would not be the same thing, he told himself. This suggestion
of Olson's was different from trade unionism, which might be a
demoralising force, leading the workers from one demand to another,
until they were seeking to "dominate industry." This would be merely an
appeal to the law, a test of that honesty and fair dealing to which the
company everywhere laid claim. If, as the bosses proclaimed, the workers
were fully protected by the check-weighman law; if, as all the world was
made to believe, the reason there was no check-weighman was simply
because the men did not ask for one--why, then there would be no harm
done. If on the other hand a demand for a right that was not merely a
legal right, but a moral right as well--if that were taken by the bosses
as an act of rebellion against the company--well, Hal would understand a
little more about the "turbulence" of labour! If, as Old Mike and
Johannson and the rest maintained, the bosses would "make your life one
damn misery" till you left--then he would be ready to make a few damn
miseries for the bosses in return!

"It would be an adventure," said Hal, suddenly.

And the other laughed. "It would that!"

"You're thinking I'll have another Pine Creek experience," Hal added.
"Well, maybe so--but I have to try things out for myself. You see, I've
got a brother at home, and when I think about going in for revolution, I
have imaginary arguments with him. I want to be able to say 'I didn't
swallow anybody's theories; I tried it for myself, and this is what
happened.'"

"Well," replied the organiser, "that's all right. But while you're
seeking education for yourself and your brother, don't forget that I've
already got my education. I _know_ what happens to men who ask for a
check-weighman, and I can't afford to sacrifice myself proving it
again."

"I never asked you to," laughed Hal. "If I won't join your movement, I
can't expect you to join mine! But if I can find a few men who are
willing to take the risk of making a demand for a check-weighman--that
won't hurt your work, will it?"

"Sure not!" said the other. "Just the opposite--it'll give me an object
lesson to point to. There are men here who don't even know they've a
legal right to a check-weighman. There are others who know they don't
get their weights, but aren't sure its the company that's cheating them.
If the bosses should refuse to let any one inspect the weights, if they
should go further and fire the men who ask it--well, there'll be plenty
of recruits for my union local!"

"All right," said Hal. "I'm not setting out to recruit your union local,
but if the company wants to recruit it, that's the company's affair!"
And on this bargain the two shook hands.




BOOK TWO

THE SERFS OF KING COAL




SECTION 1.

Hal was now started upon a new career, more full of excitements than
that of stableman or buddy, with perils greater than those of falling
rock or the hind feet of mules in the stomach. The inertia which
overwork produces had not had time to become a disease with him; youth
was on his side, with its zest for more and yet more experience. He
found it thrilling to be a conspirator, to carry about with him secrets
as dark and mysterious as the passages of the mine in which he worked.

But Jerry Minetti, the first person he told of Tom Olson's purpose in
North Valley, was older in such thrills. The care-free look which Jerry
was accustomed to wear vanished abruptly, and fear came into his eyes.
"I know it come some day," he exclaimed--"trouble for me and Rosa!"

"How do you mean?"

"We get into it--get in sure. I say Rosa, 'Call yourself Socialist--what
good that do? No help any. No use to vote here--they don't count no
Socialist vote, only for joke!' I say, 'Got to have union. Got to
strike!' But Rosa say, 'Wait little bit. Save little bit money, let
children grow up. Then we help, no care if we no got any home.'"

"But we're not going to start a union now!" objected Hal. "I have
another plan for the present."

Jerry, however, was not to be put at ease. "No can wait!" he declared.
"Men no stand it! I say, 'It come some day quick--like blow-up in mine!
Somebody start fight, everybody fight.'" And Jerry looked at Rosa, who
sat with her black eyes fixed anxiously upon her husband. "We get into
it," he said; and Hal saw their eyes turn to the room where Little Jerry
and the baby were sleeping.

Hal said nothing--he was beginning to understand the meaning of
rebellion to such people. He watched with curiosity and pity the
struggle that went on; a struggle as old as the soul of man--between the
voice of self-interest, of comfort and prudence, and the call of duty,
of the ideal. No trumpet sounded for this conflict, only the still small
voice within.

After a while Jerry asked what it was Hal and Olson had planned; and Hal
explained that he wanted to make a test of the company's attitude toward
the check-weighman law. Hal thought it a fine scheme; what did Jerry
think?

Jerry smiled sadly. "Yes, fine scheme for young feller--no got family!"

"That's all right," said Hal, "I'll take the job--I'll be the
check-weighman."

"Got to have committee," said Jerry--"committee go see boss."

"All right, but we'll get young fellows for that too--men who have no
families. Some of the fellows who live in the chicken-coops in
shanty-town. They won't care what happens to them."

But Jerry would not share Hal's smile. "No got sense 'nough, them
fellers. Take sense to stick together." He explained that they would
need a group of men to stand back of the committee; such a group would
have to be organised, to hold meetings in secret--it would be
practically the same thing as a union, would be so regarded by the
bosses and their spotters. And no organisation of any sort was permitted
in the camps. There had been some Serbians who had wanted to belong to a
fraternal order back in their home country, but even that had been
forbidden. If you wanted to insure your life or your health, the company
would attend to it--and get the profit from it. For that matter, you
could not even buy a post-office money-order, to send funds back to the
old country; the post-office clerk, who was at the same time a clerk in
the company-store, would sell you some sort of a store-draft.

So Hal was facing the very difficulties about which Olson had warned
him. The first of them was Jerry's fear. Yet Hal knew that Jerry was no
"coward"; if any man had a contempt for Jerry's attitude, it was because
he had never been in Jerry's place!

"All I'll ask of you now is advice," said Hal. "Give me the names of
some young fellows who are trustworthy, and I'll get their help without
anybody suspecting you."

"You my boarder!" was Jerry's reply to this.

So again Hal was "up against it." "You mean that would get you into
trouble?"

"Sure! They know we talk. They know I talk Socialism, anyhow. They fire
me sure!"

"But how about your cousin, the pit-boss in Number One?"

"He no help. May be get fired himself. Say damn fool--board
check-weighman!"

"All right," said Hal. "Then I'll move away now, before it's too late.
You can say I was a trouble-maker, and you turned me off."

The Minettis sat gazing at each other--a mournful pair. They hated to
lose their boarder, who was such good company, and paid them such good
money. As for Hal, he felt nearly as bad, for he liked Jerry and his
girl-wife, and Little Jerry--even the black-eyed baby, who made so much
noise and interrupted conversation!

"No!" said Jerry. "I no run, away! I do my share!"

"That's all right," replied Hal. "You do your share--but not just yet.
You stay on in the camp and help Olson after I'm fired. We don't want
the best men put out at once."

So, after further argument, it was decided, and Hal saw little Rosa sink
back in her chair and draw a deep breath of relief. The time for
martyrdom was put off; her little three-roomed cabin, her furniture and
her shining pans and her pretty white lace curtains, might be hers for a
few weeks longer!



SECTION 2.

Hal went back to Reminitsky's boarding-house; a heavy sacrifice, but not
without its compensations, because it gave him more chance to talk with
the men.

He and Jerry made up a list of those who could be trusted with the
secret: the list beginning with the name of Mike Sikoria. To be put on a
committee, and sent to interview a boss, would appeal to Old Mike as the
purpose for which he had been put upon earth! But they would not tell
him about it until the last minute, for fear lest in his excitement he
might shout out the announcement the next time he lost one of his cars.

There was a young Bulgarian miner named Wresmak who worked near Hal. The
road into this man's room ran up an incline, and he had hardly been able
to push his "empties" up the grade. While he was sweating and straining
at the task, Alec Stone had come along, and having a giant's contempt
for physical weakness, began to cuff him. The man raised his
arm--whether in offence or to ward off the blow, no one could be sure;
but Stone fell upon him and kicked him all the way down the passage,
pouring out upon him furious curses. Now the man was in another room,
where he had taken out over forty car-loads of rock, and been allowed
only three dollars for it. No one who watched his face when the pit-boss
passed would doubt that this man would be ready to take his chances in a
movement of protest.

Then there was a man whom Jerry knew, who had just come out of the
hospital, after contact with the butt-end of the camp-marshal's
revolver. This was a Pole, who unfortunately did not know a word of
English; but Olson, the organiser, had got into touch with another Pole,
who spoke a little English, and would pass the word on to his
fellow-countryman. Also there was a young Italian, Rovetta, whom Jerry
knew and whose loyalty he could vouch for.

There was another person Hal thought of--Mary Burke. He had been
deliberately avoiding her of late; it seemed the one safe thing to
do--although it seemed also a cruel thing, and left his mind ill at
ease. He went over and over what had happened. How had the trouble got
started? It is a man's duty in such cases to take the blame upon
himself; but a man does not like to take blame upon himself, and he
tries to make it as light as possible. Should Hal say that it was
because he had been too officious that night in helping Mary where the
path was rough? She had not actually needed such help, she was quite as
capable on her feet as he! But he had really gone farther than that--he
had had a definite sentimental impulse; and he had been a cad--he should
have known all along that all this girl's discontent, all the longing of
her starved soul, would become centred upon him, who was so "different,"
who had had opportunity, who made her think of the "poetry-books"!

But here suddenly seemed a solution of the difficulty; here was a new
interest for Mary, a safe channel in which her emotions could run. A
woman could not serve on a miners' committee, but she would be a good
adviser, and her sharp tongue would be a weapon to drive others into
line. Being aflame with this enterprise, Hal became impersonal,
man-fashion--and so fell into another sentimental trap! He did not stop
to think that Mary's interest in the check-weighman movement might be
conditioned in part by a desire to see more of him; still less did it
occur to him that he might be glad for a pretext to see Mary.

No, he was picturing her in a new role, an activity more inspiriting
than cooking and nursing. His "poetry-book" imagination took fire; he
gave her a hope and a purpose, a pathway with a goal at the end. Had
there not been women leaders in every great proletarian movement?

He went to call on her, and met her at the door of her cabin. "'Tis a
cheerin' sight to see ye, Joe Smith!" she said. And she looked him in
the eye and smiled.

"The same to you, Mary Burke!" he answered.

She was game, he saw; she was going to be a "good sport." But he noticed
that she was paler than when he had seen her last. Could it be that
these gorgeous Irish complexions ever faded? He thought that she was
thinner too; the old blue calico seemed less tight upon her.

Hal plunged into his theme. "Mary, I had a vision of you to-day!"

"Of me, lad? What's that?"

He laughed. "I saw you with a glory in your face, and your hair shining
like a crown of gold. You were mounted on a snow-white horse, and wore a
robe of white, soft and lustrous--like Joan of Arc, or a leader in a
suffrage parade. You were riding at the head of a host--I've still got
the music in my ears, Mary!"

"Go on with ye, lad--what's all this about?"

"Come in and I'll tell you," he said.

So they went into the bare kitchen, and sat in bare wooden chairs--Mary
folding her hands in her lap like a child who has been promised a
fairy-story. "Now hurry," said she. "I want to know about this new dress
ye're givin' me. Are ye tired of me old calico?"

He joined in her smile. "This is a dress you will weave for yourself,
Mary, out of the finest threads of your own nature--out of courage and
devotion and self-sacrifice."

"Sure, 'tis the poetry-book again! But what is it ye're really meanin'?"

He looked about him. "Is anybody here?"

"Nobody."

But instinctively he lowered his voice as he told his story. There was
an organiser of the "big union" in the camp, and he was going to rouse
the slaves to protest.

The laughter went out of Mary's face. "Oh! It's that!" she said, in a
flat tone. The vision of the snow-white horse and the soft and lustrous
robe was gone. "Ye can never do anything of that sort here!"

"Why not?"

"'Tis the men in this place. Don't ye remember what I told ye at Mr.
Rafferty's? They're cowards!"

"Ah, Mary, it's easy to say that. But it's not so pleasant being turned
out of your home--"

"Do ye have to tell me that?" she cried, with sudden passion. "Haven't I
seen that?"

"Yes, Mary; but I want to _do_ something--"

"Yes, and haven't I wanted to do something? Sure, I've wanted to bite
off the noses of the bosses!"

"Well," he laughed, "we'll make that a part of our programme." But Mary
was not to be lured into cheerfulness; her mood was so full of pain and
bewilderment that he had an impulse to reach out and take her hand
again. But he checked that; he had come to divert her energies into a
safe channel!

"We must waken these men to resistance, Mary!"

"Ye can't do it, Joe--not the English-speakin' men. The Greeks and the
Bulgars, maybe--they're fightin' at home, and they might fight here. But
the Irish never--never! Them that had any backbone went out long ago.
Them that stayed has been made into boot-licks. I know them, every man
of them. They grumble, and curse the boss, but then they think of the
blacklist, and they go back and cringe at his feet."

"What such men want--"

"'Tis booze they want, and carousin' with the rotten women in the
coal-towns, and sittin' up all night winnin' each other's money with a
greasy pack of cards! They take their pleasure where they find it, and
'tis nothin' better they want."

"Then, Mary, if that's so, don't you see it's all the more reason for
trying to teach them? If not for their own sakes, for the sake of their
children! The children, mustn't grow up like that! They are learning
English, at least--"

Mary gave a scornful laugh. "Have ye been up to that school?"

He answered no; and she told him there were a hundred and twenty
children packed in one room, three in a seat, and solid all round the
wall. She went on, with swift anger--the school was supposed to be paid
for out of taxes, but as nobody owned any property but the company, it
was all in the company's hands. The school-board consisted of Mr.
Cartwright, the mine-superintendent, and Jake Predovich, a clerk in the
store, and the preacher, the Reverend Spraggs. Old Spraggs would bump
his nose on the floor if the "super" told him to.

"Now, now!" said Hal, laughing. "You're down on him because his
grandfather was an Orangeman!"



SECTION 3.

Mary Burke had been suckled upon despair, and the poison of it was deep
in her blood. Hal began to realise that it would be as hard to give her
a hope as to rouse the workers whom she despised. She was brave enough,
no doubt, but how could he persuade her to be brave for men who had no
courage for themselves?

"Mary," he said, "in your heart you don't really hate these people. You
know how they suffer, you pity them for it. You give their children your
last cent when they need it--"

"Ah, lad!" she cried, and he saw tears suddenly spring into her eyes.
"'Tis because I love them so that I hate them! Sometimes 'tis the bosses
I would murder, sometimes 'tis the men. What is it ye're wantin' me to
do?"

And then, even before he could answer, she began to run over the list of
her acquaintances in the camp. Yes, there was one man Hal ought to talk
to; he would be too old to join them, but his advice would be
invaluable, and they could be sure he would never betray them. That was
old John Edstrom, a Swede from Minnesota, who had worked in this
district from the time the mines had first started up. He had been
active in the great strike eight years ago, and had been black-listed,
his four sons with him. The sons were scattered now to the four parts of
the world, but the father had stayed nearby, working as a ranch-hand and
railroad labourer, until a couple of years ago, during a rush season, he
had got a chance to come back into the mines.

He was old, old, declared Mary--must be sixty. And when Hal remarked
that that did not sound so frightfully aged, she answered that one
seldom heard of a man being able to work in a coal-mine at that age; in
fact, there were not many who managed to live to that age. Edstrom's
wife was dying now, and he was having a hard time.

"'Twould not be fair to let such an old gentleman lose his job," said
Mary. "But at least he could give ye good advice."

So that evening the two of them went to call on John Edstrom, in a tiny
unpainted cabin in "shanty-town," with a bare earth floor, and a half
partition of rough boards to hide his dying wife from his callers. The
woman's trouble was cancer, and this made calling a trying matter, for
there was a fearful odour in the place. For some time it was impossible
for Hal to force himself to think about anything else; but finally he
overcame this weakness, telling himself that this was a war, and that a
man must be ready for the hospital as well as for the parade-ground.

He looked about, and saw that the cracks of Edstrom's cabin were stopped
with rags, and the broken windowpanes mended with brown paper. The old
man had evidently made an effort to keep the place neat, and Hal noticed
a row of books on a shelf. Because it was cold in these mountain regions
at night, even in September, the old man had a fire in the little
cast-iron stove, and sat huddled by it. There were only a few hairs left
on his head, and his scrubby beard was as white as anything could be in
a coal-camp. The first impression of his face was of its pallor, and
then of the benevolence in the faded dark eyes; also his voice was
gentle, like a caress. He rose to greet his visitors, and put out to Hal
a trembling hand, which resembled the paw of some animal, horny and
misshapen. He made a move to draw up a bench, and apologised for his
unskillful house-keeping. It occurred to Hal that a man might be able to
work in a coal-mine at sixty, and not be able to work in it at
sixty-one.

Hal had requested Mary to say nothing about his purpose, until after he
had a chance to judge for himself. So now the girl inquired about Mrs.
Edstrom. There was no news, the man answered; she was lying in a stupor,
as usual. Dr. Barrett had come again, but all he could do was to give
her morphine. No one could do any more, the doctor declared.

"Sure, he'd not know it if they could!" sniffed Mary.

"He's not such a bad one, when he's sober," said Edstrom, patiently.

"And how often is that?" sniffed Mary again. She added, by way of
explanation to Hal, "He's a cousin of the super."

Things were better here than in some places, said Edstrom. At Harvey's
Run, where he had worked, a man had got his eye hurt, and had lost it
through the doctor's instrument slipping; broken arms and legs had been
set wrong, and either the men had to go through life as cripples, or go
elsewhere and have the bones re-broken and reset, It was like everything
else--the doctor was a part of the company machine, and if you had too
much to say about him, it was down the canyon with you. You not only had
a dollar a month taken out of your pay, but if you were injured, and he
came to attend you, he would charge whatever extra he pleased.

"And you have to pay?" asked Hal.

"They take it off your account," said the old man.

"Sometimes they take it when he's done nothin' at all," added Mary.
"They charged Mrs. Zamboni twenty-five dollars for her last baby--and
Dr. Barrett never set foot across her door till three hours after the
baby was in my arms!"



SECTION 4.

The talk went on. Wishing to draw the old man out, Hal spoke of various
troubles of the miners, and at last he suggested that the remedy might
be found in a union. Edstrom's dark eyes studied him, and then turned to
Mary. "Joe's all right," said the girl, quickly. "You can trust him."

Edstrom made no direct answer to this, but remarked that he had once
been in a strike. He was a marked man, now, and could only stay in the
camp so long as he attended strictly to his own affairs. The part he had
played in the big strike had never been forgotten; the bosses had let
him work again, partly because they had needed him at a rush time, and
partly because the pit-boss happened to be a personal friend.

"Tell him about the big strike," said Mary. "He's new in this district."

The old man had apparently accepted Mary's word for Hal's good faith,
for he began to narrate those terrible events which were a whispered
tradition of the camps. There had been a mighty effort of ten thousand
slaves for freedom; and it had been crushed with utter ruthlessness.
Ever since these mines had been started, the operators had controlled
the local powers of government, and now, in the emergency, they had
brought in the state militia as well, and used it frankly to drive the
strikers back to work. They had seized the leaders and active men, and
thrown them into jail without trial or charges; when the jails would
hold no more, they kept some two hundred in an open stockade, called a
"bull-pen," and finally they loaded them into freight-cars, took them at
night out of the state, and dumped them off in the midst of the desert
without food or water.

John Edstrom had been one of these men. He told how one of his sons had
been beaten and severely injured in jail, and how another had been kept
for weeks in a damp cellar, so that he had come out crippled with
rheumatism for life. The officers of the state militia had done these
things; and when some of the local authorities were moved to protest,
the militia had arrested them--even the judges of the civil courts had
been forbidden to sit, under threat of imprisonment. "To hell with the
constitution!" had been the word of the general in command; his
subordinate had made famous the saying, "No habeas corpus; we'll give
them post-mortems!"

Tom Olson had impressed Hal with his self-control, but this old man made
an even deeper impression upon him. As he listened, he became humble,
touched with awe. Incredible as it might seem, when John Edstrom talked
about his cruel experiences, it was without bitterness in his voice, and
apparently without any in his heart. Here, in the midst of want and
desolation, with his family broken and scattered, and the wolf of
starvation at his door, he could look back upon the past without hatred
of those who had ruined him. Nor was this because he was old and feeble,
and had lost the spirit of revolt; it was because he had studied
economics, and convinced himself that it was an evil system which
blinded men's eyes and poisoned their souls. A better day was coming, he
said, when this evil system would be changed, and it would be possible
for men to be merciful to one another.

At this point in the conversation, Mary Burke gave voice once more to
her corroding despair. How could things ever be changed? The bosses were
mean-hearted, and the men were cowards and traitors. That left nobody
but God to do the changing--and God had left things as they were for
such a long time!

Hal was interested to hear how Edstrom dealt with this attitude. "Mary,"
he said, "did you ever read about ants in Africa?"

"No," said she.

"They travel in long columns, millions and millions of them. And when
they come to a ditch, the front ones fall in, and more and more of them
on top, till they fill up the ditch, and the rest cross over. We are
ants, Mary."

"No matter how many go in," cried the girl, "none will ever get across.
There's no bottom to the ditch!"

He answered: "That's more than any ant can know. Mary. All they know is
to go in. They cling to each other's bodies, even in death; they make a
bridge, and the rest go over."

"I'll step one side!" she declared, fiercely. "I'll not throw meself
away."

"You may step one side," answered the other--"but you'll step back into
line again. I know you better than you know yourself, Mary."

There was silence in the little cabin. The winds of an early fall
shrilled outside, and life suddenly seemed to Hal a stern and merciless
thing. He had thought in his youthful fervour it would be thrilling to
be a revolutionist; but to be an ant, one of millions and millions, to
perish in a bottomless ditch--that was something a man could hardly
bring himself to face! He looked at the bowed figure of this white
haired toiler, vague in the feeble lamplight, and found himself thinking
of Rembrandt's painting, the Visit of Emmaus: the ill-lighted room in
the dirty tavern, and the two ragged men, struck dumb by the glow of
light about the forehead of their table-companion. It was not fantastic
to imagine a glow of light about the forehead of this soft-voiced old
man!

"I never had any hope it would come in my time," the old man was saying
gently. "I did use to hope my boys might see it--but now I'm not sure
even of that. But in all my life I never doubted that some day the
working-people will cross over to the promised land. They'll no longer
be slaves, and what they make won't be wasted by idlers. And take it
from one who knows, Mary--for a workingman or woman not to have that
faith, is to have lost the reason for living."

Hal decided that it would be safe to trust this man, and told him of his
check-weighman plan. "We only want your advice," he explained,
remembering Mary's warning. "Your sick wife--"

But the old man answered, sadly, "She's almost gone, and I'll soon be
following. What little strength I have left might as well be used for
the cause."



SECTION 5.

This business of conspiracy was grimly real to men whose living came out
of coal; but Hal, even at the most serious moments, continued to find in
it the thrill of romance. He had read stories of revolutionists, and of
the police who hunted them. That such excitements were to be had in
Russia, he knew; but if any one had told him they could be had in his
own free America, within a few hours' journey of his home city and his
college-town, he could not have credited the statement.

The evening after his visit to Edstrom, Hal was stopped on the street by
his boss. Encountering him suddenly, Hal started, like a pick-pocket who
runs into a policeman.

"Hello, kid," said the pit-boss.

"Hello, Mr. Stone," was the reply.

"I want to talk to you," said the boss.

"All right, sir." And then, under his breath, "He's got me!"

"Come up to my house," said Stone; and Hal followed, feeling as if
hand-cuffs were already on his wrists.

"Say," said the man, as they walked, "I thought you were going to tell
me if you'd heard any talk."

"I haven't heard any, sir."

"Well," continued Stone, "you want to get busy; there's sure to be
kickers in every coal-camp." And deep within, Hal drew a sigh of relief.
It was a false alarm!

They came to the boss's house, and he took a chair on the piazza and
motioned Hal to take another. They sat in semi-darkness, and Stone
dropped his voice as he began. "What I want to talk to you about now is
something else--this election."

"Election, sir?"

"Didn't you know there was one? The Congressman in this district died,
and there's a special election three weeks from next Tuesday."

"I see, sir." And Hal chuckled inwardly. He would get the information
which Tom Olson had recommended to him!

"You ain't heard any talk about it?" inquired the pit-boss.

"Nothing at all, sir. I never pay much attention to politics--it ain't
in my line."

"Well, that's the way I like to hear a miner talk!" said the pit-boss,
with heartiness. "If they all had sense enough to leave politics to the
politicians, they'd be a sight better off. What they need is to tend to
their own jobs."

"Yes, sir," agreed Hal, meekly--"like I had to tend to them mules, if I
didn't want to get the colic."

The boss smiled appreciatively. "You've got more sense than most of 'em.
If you'll stand by me, there'll be a chance for you to move up in the
world."

"Thank you, Mr. Stone," said Hal. "Give me a chance."

"Well now, here's this election. Every year they send us a bunch of
campaign money to handle. A bit of it might come your way."

"I could use it, I reckon," said Hal, brightening visibly. "What is it
you want?"

There was a pause, while Stone puffed on his pipe. He went on, in a
business-like manner. "What I want is somebody to feel things out a bit,
and let me know the situation. I thought it better not to use the men
that generally work for me, but somebody that wouldn't be suspected.
Down in Sheridan and Pedro they say the Democrats are making a big stir,
and the company's worried. I suppose you know the 'G. F. C.' is
Republican."

"I've heard so."

"You might think a congressman don't have much to do with us, way off in
Washington; but it has a bad effect to have him campaigning, telling the
men the company's abusing them. So I'd like you just to kind o'
circulate a bit, and start the men on politics, and see if any of them
have been listening to this MacDougall talk. (MacDougall's this here
Democrat, you know.) And I want to find out whether they've been sending
in literature to this camp, or have any agents here. You see, they claim
the right to come in and make speeches, and all that sort of thing.
North Valley's an incorporated town, so they've got the law on their
side, in a way, and if we shut 'em out, they make a howl in the papers,
and it looks bad. So we have to get ahead of them in quiet ways.
Fortunately there ain't any hall in the camp for them to meet in, and
we've made a local ordinance against meetings on the street. If they try
to bring in circulars, something has to happen to them before they get
distributed. See?"

"I see," said Hal; he thought of Tom Olson's propaganda literature!

"We'll pass the word out,--it's the Republican the company wants
elected; and you be on the lookout and see how they take it in the
camp."

"That sounds easy enough," said Hal. "But tell me, Mr. Stone, why do you
bother? Do so many of these wops have votes?"

"It ain't the wops so much. We get them naturalised on purpose--they
vote our way for a glass of beer. But the English-speaking men, or the
foreigners that's been here too long, and got too big for their
breeches--they're the ones we got to watch. If they get to talking
politics, they don't stop there; the first thing you know, they're
listening to union agitators, and wanting to run the camp."

"Oh yes, I see!" said Hal, and wondered if his voice sounded right.

But the pit-boss was concerned with his own troubles. "As I told Si
Adams the other day, what I'm looking for is fellows that talk some new
lingo--one that nobody will ever understand! But I suppose that would be
too easy. There's no way to keep them from learning some English!"

Hal decided to make use of this opportunity to perfect his education.
"Surely, Mr. Stone," he remarked, "you don't have to count any votes if
you don't want to!"

"Well, I'll tell you," replied Stone; "it's a question of the easiest
way to manage things. When I was superintendent over to Happy Gulch, we
didn't waste no time on politics. The company was Democratic at that
time, and when election night come, we wrote down four hundred votes for
the Democratic candidates. But the first thing we knew, a bunch of
fellers was taken into town and got to swear they'd voted the Republican
ticket in our camp. The Republican papers were full of it, and some fool
judge ordered a recount, and we had to get busy over night and mark up a
new lot of ballots. It gave us a lot of bother!"

The pit-boss laughed, and Hal joined him discreetly.

"So you see, you have to learn to manage. If there's votes for the wrong
candidate in your camp, the fact gets out, and if the returns is too
one-sided, there's a lot of grumbling. There's plenty of bosses that
don't care, but I learned my lesson that time, and I got my own
method--that is not to let any opposition start. See?"

"Yes, I see."

"Maybe a mine-boss has got no right to meddle in politics--but there's
one thing he's got the say about, and that is who works in his mine.
It's the easiest thing to weed out--weed out--" Hal never forgot the
motion of beefy hands with which Alec Stone illustrated these words. As
he went on, the tones of his voice did not seem so good-natured as
usual. "The fellows that don't want to vote my way can go somewhere else
to do their voting. That's all I got to say on politics!"

There was a brief pause, while Stone puffed on his pipe. Then it may
have occurred to him that it was not necessary to go into so much detail
in breaking in a political recruit. When he resumed, it was in a
good-natured tone of dismissal. "That's what you do, kid. To-morrow you
get a sprained wrist, so you can't work for a few days, and that'll give
you a chance to bum round and hear what the men are saying. Meantime,
I'll see you get your wages."

"That sounds all right," said Hal; but showing only a small part of his
satisfaction!

The pit-boss rose from his chair and knocked the ashes from his pipe.
"Mind you--I want the goods. I've got other fellows working, and I'm
comparing 'em. For all you know, I may have somebody watching you."

"Yes," said Hal, and grinned cheerfully. "I'll not fail to bear that in
mind."



SECTION 6.

The first thing Hal did was to seek out Tom Olson and narrate this
experience. The two of them had a merry time over it. "I'm the favourite
of a boss now!" laughed Hal.

But the organiser became suddenly serious. "Be careful what you do for
that fellow."

"Why?"

"He might use it on you later on. One of the things they try to do if
you make any trouble for them, is to prove that you took money from
them, or tried to."

"But he won't have any proofs."

"That's my point--don't give him any. If Stone says you've been playing
the political game for him, then some fellow might remember that you did
ask him about politics. So don't have any marked money on you."

Hal laughed. "Money doesn't stay on me very long these days. But what
shall I say if he asks me for a report?"

"You'd better put your job right through, Joe--so that he won't have
time to ask for any report."

"All right," was the reply. "But just the same, I'm going to get all the
fun there is, being the favourite of a boss!"

And so, early the next morning when Hal went to his work he proceeded to
"sprain his wrist." He walked about in pain, to the great concern of Old
Mike; and when finally he decided that he would have to lay off, Mike
followed him half way to the shaft, giving him advice about hot and cold
cloths. Leaving the old Slovak to struggle along as best he could alone,
Hal went out to bask in the wonderful sunshine of the upper world, and
the still more wonderful sunshine of a boss's favour.

First he went to his room at Reminitsky's, and tied a strip of old shirt
about his wrist, and a clean handkerchief on top of that; by this symbol
he was entitled to the freedom of the camp and the sympathy of all men,
and so he sallied forth.

Strolling towards the tipple of Number One, he encountered a wiry,
quick-moving little man, with restless black eyes and a lean,
intelligent face. He wore a pair of common miner's "jumpers," but even
so, he was not to be taken for a workingman. Everything about him spoke
of authority.

"Morning, Mr. Cartwright," said Hal.

"Good morning," replied the superintendent; then, with a glance at Hal's
bandage, "You hurt?"

"Yes, sir. Just a bit of sprain, but I thought I'd better lay off."

"Been to the doctor?"

"No, sir. I don't think it's that bad."

"You'd better go. You never know how bad a sprain is."

"Right, sir," said Hal. Then, as the superintendent was passing, "Do you
think, Mr. Cartwright, that MacDougall stands any chance of being
elected?"

"I don't know," replied the other, surprised. "I hope not. You aren't
going to vote for him, are you?"

"Oh, no. I'm a Republican--born that way. But I wondered if you'd heard
any MacDougall talk."

"Well, I'm hardly the one that would hear it. You take an interest in
politics?"

"Yes, sir--in a way. In fact, that's how I came to get this wrist."

"How's that? In a fight?"

"No, sir; but you see, Mr. Stone wanted me to feel out sentiment in the
camp, and he told me I'd better sprain my wrist and lay off."

The "super," after staring at Hal, could not keep from laughing. Then he
looked about him. "You want to be careful, talking about such things."

"I thought I could surely trust the superintendent," said Hal, drily.

The other measured him with his keen eyes; and Hal, who was getting the
spirit of political democracy, took the liberty of returning the gaze.
"You're a wide-awake young fellow," said Cartwright, at last. "Learn the
ropes here, and make yourself useful, and I'll see you're not passed
over."

"All right, sir--thank you."

"Maybe you'll be made an election-clerk this time. That's worth three
dollars a day, you know."

"Very good, sir." And Hal put on his smile again. "They tell me you're
the mayor of North Valley."

"I am."

"And the justice of the peace is a clerk in your store. Well, Mr.
Cartwright, if you need a president of the board of health or a dog
catcher, I'm your man--as soon, that is, as my wrist gets well."

And so Hal went on his way. Such "joshing" on the part of a "buddy" was
of course absurdly presumptuous; the superintendent stood looking after
him with a puzzled frown upon his face.



SECTION 7.

Hal did not look back, but turned into the company-store. "North Valley
Trading Company" read the sign over the door; within was a Serbian woman
pointing out what she wanted to buy, and two little Lithuanian girls
watching the weighing of a pound of sugar. Hal strolled up to the person
who was doing the weighing, a middle-aged man with a yellow moustache
stained with tobacco-juice. "Morning, Judge."

"Huh!" was the reply from Silas Adams, justice of the peace in the town
of North Valley.

"Judge," said Hal, "what do you think about the election?"

"I don't think about it," said the other. "Busy weighin' sugar."

"Anybody round here going to vote for MacDougall?"

"They better not tell me if they are!"

"What?" smiled Hal. "In this free American republic?"

"In this part of the free American republic a man is free to dig coal,
but not to vote for a skunk like MacDougall." Then, having tied up the
sugar, the "J. P." whittled off a fresh chew from his plug, and turned
to Hal. "What'll you have?"

Hal purchased half a pound of dried peaches, so that he might have an
excuse to loiter, and be able to keep time with the jaws of the Judge.
While the order was being filled, he seated himself upon the counter.
"You know," said he, "I used to work in a grocery."

"That so? Where at?"

"Peterson & Co., in American City." Hal had told this so often that he
had begun to believe it.

"Pay pretty good up there?"

"Yes, pretty fair." Then, realising that he had no idea what would
constitute good pay in a grocery, Hal added, quickly, "Got a bad wrist
here!"

"That so?" said the other.

He did not show much sociability; but Hal persisted, refusing to believe
that any one in a country store would miss an opening to discuss
politics, even with a miner's helper. "Tell me," said he, "just what is
the matter with MacDougall?"

"The matter with him," said the Judge, "is that the company's against
him." He looked hard at the young miner. "You meddlin' in politics?" he
growled. But the young miner's gay brown eyes showed only appreciation
of the earlier response; so the "J. P." was tempted into specifying the
would-be congressman's vices. Thus conversation started; and pretty soon
the others in the store joined in--"Bob" Johnson, bookkeeper and
post-master, and "Jake" Predovich, the Galician Jew who was a member of
the local school-board, and knew the words for staple groceries in
fifteen languages.

Hal listened to an exposition of the crimes of the political opposition
in Pedro County. Their candidate, MacDougall, had come to the state as a
"tin-horn gambler," yet now he was going around making speeches in
churches, and talking about the moral sentiment of the community. "And
him with a district chairman keeping three families in Pedro!" declared
Si Adams.

"Well," ventured Hal, "if what I hear is true, the Republican chairman
isn't a plaster saint. They say he was drunk at the convention--"

"Maybe so," said the "J. P." "But we ain't playin' for the prohibition
vote; and we ain't playin' for the labour vote--tryin' to stir up the
riff-raff in these coal-camps, promisin' 'em high wages an' short hours.
Don't he know he can't get it for 'em? But he figgers he'll go off to
Washington and leave us here to deal with the mess he's stirred up!"

"Don't you fret," put in Bob Johnson--"he ain't goin' to no Washin'ton."

The other two agreed, and Hal ventured again, "He says you stuff the
ballot-boxes."

"What do you suppose his crowd is doin' in the cities? We got to meet
'em some way, ain't we?"

"Oh, I see," said Hal, naively. "You stuff them worse!"

"Sometimes we stuff the boxes, and sometimes we stuff the voters." There
was an appreciative titter from the others, and the "J. P." was moved to
reminiscence. "Two years ago I was election clerk, over to Sheridan, and
we found we'd let 'em get ahead of us--they had carried the whole state.
'By God,' said Alf. Raymond, 'we'll show 'em a trick from the
coal-counties! And there won't be no recount business either!' So we
held back our returns till the rest had come in, and when we seen how
many votes we needed, we wrote 'em down. And that settled it."

"That seems a simple method," remarked Hal. "They'll have to get up
early to beat Alf."

"You bet you!" said Si, with the complacency of one of the gang. "They
call this county the 'Empire of Raymond.'"

"It must be a cinch," said Hal--"being the sheriff, and having the
naming of so many deputies as they need in these coal-camps!"

"Yes," agreed the other. "And there's his wholesale liquor business,
too. If you want a license in Pedro county, you not only vote for Alf,
but you pay your bills on time!"

"Must be a fortune in that!" remarked Hal; and the Judge, the
Post-master and the School-commissioner appeared like children listening
to a story of a feast. "You bet you!"

"I suppose it takes money to run politics in this county," Hal added.

"Well, Alf don't put none of it up, you can bet! That's the company's
job."

This from the Judge; and the School-commissioner added, "De coin in dese
camps is beer."

"Oh, I see!" laughed Hal. "The companies buy Alf's beer, and use it to
get him votes!"

"Sure thing!" said the Post-master.

At this moment he happened to reach into his pocket for a cigar, and Hal
observed a silver shield on the breast of his waistcoat. "That a
deputy's badge?" he inquired, and then turned to examine the
School-commissioner's costume. "Where's yours?"

"I git mine ven election comes," said Jake, with a grin.

"And yours, Judge?"

"I'm a justice of the peace, young feller," said Silas, with dignity.

Leaning round, and observing a bulge on the right hip of the
School-commissioner, Hal put out his hand towards it. Instinctively the
other moved his hand to the spot.

Hal turned to the Post-master. "Yours?" he asked.

"Mine's under the counter," grinned Bob.

"And yours, Judge?"

"Mine's in the desk," said the Judge.

Hal drew a breath. "Gee!" said he. "It's like a steel trap!" He managed
to keep the laugh on his face, but within he was conscious of other
feelings than those of amusement. He was losing that "first fine
careless rapture" with which he had set out to run with the hare and the
hounds in North Valley!



SECTION 8.

Two days after this beginning of Hal's political career, it was arranged
that the workers who were to make a demand for a check-weighman should
meet in the home of Mrs. David. When Mike Sikoria came up from the pit
that day, Hal took him aside and told him of the gathering. A look of
delight came upon the old Slovak's face as he listened; he grabbed his
buddy by the shoulders, crying, "You mean it?"

"Sure meant it," said Hal. "You want to be on the committee to go and
see the boss?"

"_Pluha biedna_!" cried Mike--which is something dreadful in his own
language. "By Judas, I pack up my old box again!"

Hal felt a guilty pang. Should he let this old man into the thing? "You
think you'll have to move out of camp?" he asked.

"Move out of state this time! Move back to old country, maybe!" And Hal
realised that he could not stop him now, even if he wanted to. The old
fellow was so much excited that he hardly ate any supper, and his buddy
was afraid to leave him alone, for fear he might blurt out the news.

It had been agreed that those who attended the meeting should come one
by one, and by different routes. Hal was one of the first to arrive, and
he saw that the shades of the house had been drawn, and the lamps turned
low. He entered by the back door, where "Big Jack" David stood on guard.
"Big Jack," who had been a member of the South Wales Federation at home,
made sure of Hal's identity, and then passed him in without a word.

Inside was Mike--the first on hand. Mrs. David, a little black-eyed
woman with a never-ceasing tongue, was bustling about, putting things in
order; she was so nervous that she could not sit still. This couple had
come from their birth-place only a year or so ago, and had brought all
their wedding presents to their new home--pictures and bric-a-brac and
linen. It was the prettiest home Hal had so far been in, and Mrs. David
was risking it deliberately, because of her indignation that her husband
had had to foreswear his union in order to get work in America.

The young Italian, Rovetta, came, then old John Edstrom. There being not
chairs enough in the house, Mrs. David had set some boxes against the
wall, covering them with cloth; and Hal noticed that each person took
one of these boxes, leaving the chairs for the later comers. Each one as
he came in would nod to the others, and then silence would fall again.

When Mary Burke entered, Hal divined from her aspect and manner that she
had sunk back into her old mood of pessimism. He felt a momentary
resentment. He was so thrilled with this adventure; he wanted everybody
else to be thrilled--especially Mary! Like every one who has not
suffered much, he was repelled by a condition of perpetual suffering in
another. Of course Mary had good reasons for her black moods--but she
herself considered it necessary to apologise for what she called her
"complainin'"! She knew that he wanted her to help encourage the others;
but here she was, putting herself in a corner and watching this
wonderful proceeding, as if she had said: "I'm an ant, and I stay in
line--but I'll not pretend I have any hope in it!"

Rosa and Jerry had insisted on coming, in spite of Hal's offer to spare
them. After them came the Bulgarian, Wresmak; then the Polacks, Klowoski
and Zamierowski. Hal found these difficult names to remember, but the
Polacks were not at all sensitive about this; they would grin
good-naturedly while he practised, nor would they mind if he gave it up
and called them Tony and Pete. They were humble men, accustomed all
their lives to being driven about. Hal looked from one to another of
their bowed forms and toil-worn faces, appearing more than ever sombre
and mournful in the dim light; he wondered if the cruel persecution
which had driven them to protest would suffice to hold them in line.

Once a newcomer, having misunderstood the orders, came to the front door
and knocked; and Hal noted that every one started, and some rose to
their feet in alarm. Again he recognised the atmosphere of novels of
Russian revolutionary life. He had to remind himself that these men and
women, gathered here like criminals, were merely planning to ask for a
right guaranteed them by the law!

The last to come was an Austrian miner named Huszar, with whom Olson had
got into touch. Then, it being time to begin, everybody looked uneasily
at everybody else. Few of them had conspired before, and they did not
know quite how to set about it. Olson, the one who would naturally have
been their leader, had deliberately stayed away. They must run this
check-weighman affair for themselves!

"Somebody talk," said Mrs. David at last; and then, as the silence
continued, she turned to Hal. "You're going to be the check-weighman.
You talk."

"I'm the youngest man here," said Hal, with a smile. "Some older fellow
talk."

But nobody else smiled. "Go on!" exclaimed old Mike; and so at last Hal
stood up. It was something he was to experience many times in the
future; because he was an American, and educated, he was forced into a
position of leadership.

"As I understand it, you people want a check-weighman. Now, they tell me
the pay for a check-weighman should be three dollars a day, but we've
got only seven miners among us, and that's not enough. I will offer to
take the job for twenty-five cents a day from each man, which will make
a dollar-seventy-five, less than what I'm getting now as a buddy. If we
get thirty men to come in, then I'll take ten cents a day from each, and
make the full three dollars. Does that seem fair?"

"Sure!" said Mike; and the others added their assent by word or nod.

"All right. Now, there's nobody that works in this mine but knows the
men don't get their weight. It would cost the company several hundred
dollars a day to give us our weight, and nobody should be so foolish as
to imagine they'll do it without a struggle. We've got to make up our
minds to stand together."

"Sure, stand together!" cried Mike.

"No get check-weighman!" exclaimed Jerry, pessimistically.

"Not unless we try, Jerry," said Hal.

And Mike thumped his knee. "Sure try! And get him too!"

"Right!" cried "Big Jack." But his little wife was not satisfied with
the response of the others. She gave Hal his first lesson in the
drilling of these polyglot masses.

"Talk to them. Make them understand you!" And she pointed them out one
by one with her finger: "You! You! Wresmak, here, and you, Klowoski, and
you, Zam--you other Polish fellow. Want check-weighman. Want to get all
weight. Get all our money. Understand?"

"Yes, yes!"

"Get committee, go see super! Want check-weighman. Understand? Got to
have check-weighman! No back down, no scare."

"No--no scare!" Klowoski, who understood some English, explained rapidly
to Zamierowski; and Zamierowski, whose head was still plastered where
Jeff Cotton's revolver had hit it, nodded eagerly in assent. In spite of
his bruises, he would stand by the others, and face the boss.

This suggested another question. "Who's going to do the talking to the
boss?"

"You do that," said Mrs. David, to Hal.

"But I'm the one that's to be paid. It's not for me to talk."

"No one else can do it right," declared the woman.

"Sure--got to be American feller!" said Mike.

But Hal insisted. If he did the talking, it would look as if the
check-weighman had been the source of the movement, and was engaged in
making a good paying job for himself.

There was discussion back and forth, until finally John Edstrom spoke
up. "Put me on the committee."

"You?" said Hal. "But you'll be thrown out! And what will your wife do?"

"I think my wife is going to die to-night," said Edstrom, simply.

He sat with his lips set tightly, looking straight before him. After a
pause he went on: "If it isn't to-night, it will be to-morrow, the
doctor says; and after that, nothing will matter. I shall have to go
down to Pedro to bury her, and if I have to stay, it will make little
difference to me, so I might as well do what I can for the rest of you.
I've been a miner all my life, and Mr. Cartwright knows it; that might
have some weight with him. Let Joe Smith and Sikoria and myself be the
ones to go and see him, and the rest of you wait, and don't give up your
jobs unless you have to."



SECTION 9.

Having settled the matter of the committee, Hal told the assembly how
Alec Stone had asked him to spy upon the men. He thought they should
know about it; the bosses might try to use it against him, as Olson had
warned. "They may tell you I'm a traitor," he said. "You must trust me."

"We trust you!" exclaimed Mike, with fervour; and the others nodded
their agreement.

"All right," Hal answered. "You can rest sure of this one thing--if I
get onto that tipple, you're going to get your weights!"

"Hear, hear!" cried "Big Jack," in English fashion. And a murmur ran
about the room. They did not dare make much noise, but they made clear
that that was what they wanted.

Hal sat down, and began to unroll the bandage from his wrist. "I guess
I'm through with this," he said, and explained how he had come to wear
it.

"What?" cried Old Mike. "You fool me like that?" And he caught the
wrist, and when he had made sure there was no sign of swelling upon it,
he shook it so that he almost sprained it really, laughing until the
tears ran down his cheeks. "You old son-of-a-gun!" he exclaimed.
Meantime Klowoski was telling the story to Zamierowski, and Jerry
Minetti was explaining it to Wresmak, in the sort of pidgin-English
which does duty in the camps. Hal had never seen such real laughter
since coming to North Valley.

But conspirators cannot lend themselves long to merriment. They came
back to business again. It was agreed that the hour for the committee's
visit to the superintendent should be quitting-time on the morrow. And
then John Edstrom spoke, suggesting that they should agree upon their
course of action in case they were offered violence.

"You think there's much chance of that?" said some one.

"Sure there be!" cried Mike Sikoria. "One time in Cedar Mountain we go
see boss, say air-course blocked. What you think he do them fellers? He
hit them one lick in nose, he kick them three times in behind, he run
them out!"

"Well," said Hal, "if there's going to be anything like that, we must be
ready."

"What you do?" demanded Jerry.

It was time for Hal's leadership. "If he hits me one lick in the nose,"
he declared, "I'll hit him one lick in the nose, that's all."

There was a bit of applause at this. That was the way to talk! Hal
tasted the joys of his leadership. But then his fine self-confidence met
with a sudden check--a "lick in the nose" of his pride, so to speak.
There came a woman's voice from the corner, low and grim: "Yes! And get
ye'self killed for all your trouble!"

He looked towards Mary Burke, and saw her vivid face, flushed and
frowning. "What do you mean?" he asked. "Would you have us turn and run
away?"

"I would that!" said she. "Rather than have ye killed, I would! What'll
ye do if he pulls his gun on ye?"

"Would he pull his gun on a committee?"

Old Mike broke in again. "One time in Barela--ain't I told you how I
lose my cars? I tell weigh-boss somebody steal my cars, and he pull gun
on me, and he say, 'Get the hell off that tipple, you old billy-goat, I
shoot you full of holes!'"

Among his class-mates at college, Hal had been wont to argue that the
proper way to handle a burglar was to call out to him, saying, "Go
ahead, old chap, and help yourself; there's nothing here I'm willing to
get shot for." What was the value of anything a burglar could steal, in
comparison with a man's own life? And surely, one would have thought,
this was a good time to apply the plausible theory. But for some reason
Hal failed even to remember it. He was going ahead, precisely as if a
ton of coal per day was the one thing of consequence in life!

"What shall we do?" he asked. "We don't want to back out."

But even while he asked the question, Hal was realising that Mary was
right. His was the attitude of the leisure-class person, used to having
his own way; but Mary, though she had a temper too, was pointing the
lesson of self-control. It was the second time to-night that she had
injured his pride. But now he forgave her in his admiration; he had
always known that Mary had a mind and could help him! His admiration was
increased by what John Edstrom was saying--they must do nothing that
would injure the cause of the "big union," and so they must resolve to
offer no physical resistance, no matter what might be done to them.

There was vehement argument on the other side. "We fight! We fight!"
declared Old Mike, and cried out suddenly, as if in anticipation of the
pain in his injured nose. "You say me stand that?"

"If you fight back," said Edstrom, "we'll all get the worst of it. The
company will say we started the trouble, and put us in the wrong. We've
got to make up our mind to rely on moral force."

So, after more discussion, it was agreed; every man would keep his
temper--that is, if he could! So they shook hands all round, pledging
themselves to stand firm. But, when the meeting was declared adjourned,
and they stole out one by one into the night, they were a very sober and
anxious lot of conspirators.



SECTION 10.

Hal slept but little that night. Amid the sounds of the snoring of eight
of Reminitsky's other boarders, he lay going over in his mind various
things which might happen on the morrow. Some of them were far from
pleasant things; he tried to picture himself with a broken nose, or with
tar and feathers on him. He recalled his theory as to the handling of
burglars. The "G. F. C." was a burglar of gigantic and terrible
proportions; surely this was a time to call out, "Help yourself!" But
instead of doing it, Hal thought about Edstrom's ants, and wondered at
the power which made them stay in line.

When morning came, he went up into the mountains, where a man may wander
and renew his moral force. When the sun had descended behind the
mountain-tops, he descended also, and met Edstrom and Sikoria in front
of the company office.

They nodded a greeting, and Edstrom told Hal that his wife had died
during the day. There being no undertaker in North Valley, he had
arranged for a woman friend to take the body down to Pedro, so that he
might be free for the interview with Cartwright. Hal put his hand on the
old man's shoulder, but attempted no word of condolence; he saw that
Edstrom had faced the trouble and was ready for duty.

"Come ahead," said the old man, and the three went into the office.
While a clerk took their message to the inner office, they stood for a
couple of minutes, shifting uneasily from one foot to the other, and
turning their caps in their hands in the familiar manner of the lowly.

At last Mr. Cartwright appeared in the doorway, his small sparely-built
figure eloquent of sharp authority. "Well, what's this?" he inquired.

"If you please," said Edstrom, "we'd like to speak to you. We've
decided, sir, that we want to have a check-weighman."

"_What_?" The word came like the snap of a whip.

"We'd like to have a check-weighman, sir."

There was a moment's silence. "Come in here." They filed into the inner
office, and he shut the door.

"Now. What's this?"

Edstrom repeated his words again.

"What put that notion into your heads?"

"Nothing, sir; only we thought we'd be better satisfied."

"You think you're not getting your weight?"

"Well, sir, you see--some of the men--we think it would be better if we
had the check-weighman. We're willing to pay for him."

"Who's this check-weighman to be?"

"Joe Smith, here."

Hal braced himself to meet the other's stare. "Oh! So it's you!" Then,
after a moment, "So that's why you were feeling so gay!"

Hal was not feeling in the least gay at the moment; but he forebore to
say so. There was a silence.

"Now, why do you fellows want to throw away your money?" The
superintendent started to argue with them, showing the absurdity of the
notion that they could gain anything by such a course. The mine had been
running for years on its present system, and there had never been any
complaint. The idea that a company as big and as responsible as the "G.
F. C." would stoop to cheat its workers out of a few tons of coal! And
so on, for several minutes.

"Mr. Cartwright," said Edstrom, when the other had finished, "you know
I've worked all my life in mines, and most of it in this district. I am
telling you something I know when I say there is general dissatisfaction
throughout these camps because the men feel they are not getting their
weight. You say there has been no public complaint; you understand the
reason for this--"

"What is the reason?"

"Well," said Edstrom, gently, "maybe you don't know the reason--but
anyway we've decided that we want a check-weighman."

It was evident that the superintendent had been taken by surprise, and
was uncertain how to meet the issue. "You can imagine," he said, at
last, "the company doesn't relish hearing that its men believe it's
cheating them--"

"We don't say the company knows anything about it, Mr. Cartwright. It's
possible that some people may be taking advantage of us, without either
the company or yourself having anything to do with it. It's for your
protection as well as ours that a check-weighman is needed."

"Thank you," said the other, drily. His tone revealed that he was
holding himself in by an effort. "Very well," he added, at last. "That's
enough about the matter, if your minds are made up. I'll give you my
decision later."

This was a dismissal, and Mike Sikoria turned humbly, and started to the
door. But Edstrom was one of the ants that did not readily "step one
side"; and Mike took a glance at him, and then stepped back into line in
a hurry, as if hoping his delinquency had not been noted.

"If you please, Mr. Cartwright," said Edstrom, "we'd like your decision,
so as to have the check-weighman start in the morning."

"What? You're in such a hurry?"

"There's no reason for delay, sir. We've selected our man, and we're
ready to pay him."

"Who are the men who are ready to pay him? Just you two"

"I am not at liberty to name the other men, sir."

"Oh! So it's a secret movement!"

"In a way--yes, sir."

"Indeed!" said the superintendent, ominously. "And you don't care what
the company thinks about it!"

"It's not that, Mr. Cartwright, but we don't see anything for the
company to object to. It's a simple business arrangement--"

"Well, if it seems simple to you, it doesn't to me," snapped the other.
And then, getting himself in hand, "Understand me, the company would not
have the least objection to the men making sure of their weights, if
they really think it's necessary. The company has always been willing to
do the right thing. But it's not a matter that can be settled off hand.
I will let you know later."

Again they were dismissed, and again Old Mike turned, and Edstrom also.
But now another ant sprang into the ditch. "Just when will you be
prepared to let the check-weighman begin work, Mr. Cartwright?" asked
Hal.

The superintendent gave him a sharp look, and again it could be seen
that he made a strong effort to keep his temper. "I'm not prepared to
say," he replied. "I will let you know, as soon as convenient to me.
That's all now." And as he spoke he opened the door, putting something
into the action that was a command.

"Mr. Cartwright," said Hal, "there's no law against our having a
check-weighman, is there?"

The look which these words drew from the superintendent showed that he
knew full well what the law was. Hal accepted this look as an answer,
and continued, "I have been selected by a committee of the men to act as
their check-weighman, and this committee has duly notified the company.
That makes me a check-weighman, I believe, Mr. Cartwright, and so all I
have to do is to assume my duties." Without waiting for the
superintendent's answer, he walked to the door, followed by his somewhat
shocked companions.



SECTION 11.

At the meeting on the night before it had been agreed to spread the news
of the check-weighman movement, for the sake of its propaganda value. So
now when the three men came out from the office, there was a crowd
waiting to know what had happened; men clamoured questions, and each one
who got the story would be surrounded by others eager to hear. Hal made
his way to the boarding-house, and when he had finished his supper, he
set out from place to place in the camp, telling the men about the
check-weighman plan and explaining that it was a legal right they were
demanding. All this while Old Mike stayed on one side of him, and
Edstrom on the other; for Tom Olson had insisted strenuously that Hal
should not be left alone for a moment. Evidently the bosses had given
the same order; for when Hal came out from Reminitsky's, there was
"Jake" Predovich, the store-clerk, on the fringe of the crowd, and he
followed wherever Hal went, doubtless making note of every one he spoke
to.

They consulted as to where they were to spend the night. Old Mike was
nervous, taking the activities of the spy to mean that they were to be
thugged in the darkness. He told horrible stories of that sort of thing.
What could be an easier way for the company to settle the matter? They
would fix up some story; the world outside would believe they had been
killed in a drunken row, perhaps over some woman. This last suggestion
especially troubled Hal; he thought of the people at home. No, he must
not sleep in the village! And on the other hand he could not go down the
canyon, for if he once passed the gate, he might not be allowed to
repass it.

An idea occurred to him. Why not go _up_ the canyon? There was no
stockade at the upper end of the village--nothing but wilderness and
rocks, without even a road.

"But where we sleep?" demanded Old Mike, aghast.

"Outdoors," said Hal.

"_Pluha biedna_! And get the night air into my bones?"

"You think you keep the day air in your bones when you sleep inside?"
laughed Hal.

"Why don't I, when I shut them windows tight, and cover up my bones?"

"Well, risk the night air once," said Hal. "It's better than having
somebody let it into you with a knife."

"But that fellow Predovich--he follow us up canyon too!"

"Yes, but he's only one man, and we don't have to fear him. If he went
back for others, he'd never be able to find us in the darkness."

Edstrom, whose notions of anatomy were not so crude as Mike's, gave his
support to this suggestion; so they got their blankets and stumbled up
the canyon in the still, star-lit night. For a while they heard the spy
behind them, but finally his footsteps died away, and after they had
moved on for some distance, they believed they were safe till daylight.
Hal had slept out many a night as a hunter, but it was a new adventure
to sleep out as the game!

At dawn they rose, and shook the dew from their blankets, and wiped it
from their eyes. Hal was young, and saw the glory of the morning, while
poor Mike Sikoria groaned and grumbled over his stiff and aged joints.
He thought he had ruined himself forever, but he took courage at
Edstrom's mention of coffee, and they hurried down to breakfast at their
boarding-house.

Now came a critical time, when Hal had to be left by himself. Edstrom
was obliged to go down to see to his wife's funeral; and it was obvious
that if Mike Sikoria were to lay off work, he would be providing the
boss with an excuse for firing him. The law which provided for a
check-weighman had failed to provide for a check-weighman's body-guard!

Hal had announced his programme in that flash of defiance in
Cartwright's office. As soon as work started up, he went to the tipple.
"Mr. Peters," he said, to the tipple-boss, "I've come to act as
check-weighman."

The tipple-boss was a man with a big black moustache, which made him
look like the pictures of Nietzsche. He stared at Hal, frankly
dumbfounded. "What the devil?" said he.

"Some of the men have chosen me check-weighman," explained Hal, in a
business-like manner. "When their cars come up, I'll see to their
weights."

"You keep off this tipple, young fellow!" said Peters. His manner was
equally business-like.

So the would-be check-weighman came out and sat on the steps to wait.
The tipple was a fairly public place, and he judged he was as safe there
as anywhere. Some of the men grinned and winked at him as they went
about their work; several found a chance to whisper words of
encouragement. And all morning he sat, like a protestant at the
palace-gates of a mandarin in China, It was tedious work, but he
believed that he would be able to stand it longer than the company.



SECTION 12.

In the middle of the morning a man came up to him--"Bud" Adams, a
younger brother of the "J. P.," and Jeff Cotton's assistant. Bud was
stocky, red-faced, and reputed to be handy with his fists. So Hal rose
up warily when he saw him.

"Hey, you," said Bud. "There's a telegram at the office for you."

"For me?"

"Your name's Joe Smith, ain't it?"

"Yes."

"Well, that's what it says."

Hal considered for a moment. There was no one to be telegraphing Joe
Smith. It was only a ruse to get him away.

"What's in the telegram?" he asked.

"How do I know?" said Bud.

"Where is it from?"

"I dunno that."

"Well," said Hal, "you might bring it to me here."

The other's eyes flew open. This was not a revolt, it was a revolution!
"Who the hell's messenger boy do you think I am?" he demanded.

"Don't the company deliver telegrams?" countered Hal, politely. And Bud
stood struggling with his human impulses, while Hal watched him
cautiously. But apparently those who had sent the messenger had given
him precise instructions; for he controlled his wrath, and turned and
strode away.

Hal continued his vigil. He had his lunch with him; and was prepared to
eat alone--understanding the risk that a man would be running who showed
sympathy with him. He was surprised, therefore, when Johannson, the
giant Swede, came and sat down by his side. There also came a young
Mexican labourer, and a Greek miner. The revolution was spreading!

Hal felt sure the company would not let this go on. And sure enough,
towards the middle of the afternoon, the tipple-boss came out and
beckoned to him. "Come here, you!" And Hal went in.

The "weigh-room" was a fairly open place; but at one side was a door
into an office. "This way," said the man.

But Hal stopped where he was.

"This is where the check-weighman belongs, Mr. Peters."

"But I want to talk to you."

"I can hear you, sir." Hal was in sight of the men, and he knew that was
his only protection.

The tipple-boss went back into the office; and a minute later Hal saw
what had been intended. The door opened and Alec Stone came out.

He stood for a moment looking at his political henchman. Then he came
up. "Kid," he said, in a low voice, "you're overdoing this. I didn't
intend you to go so far."

"This is not what you intended, Mr. Stone," answered Hal.

The pit-boss came closer yet. "What you looking for, kid? What you
expect to get out of this?"

Hal's gaze was unwavering. "Experience," he replied.

"You're feeling smart, sonny. But you'd better stop and realise what
you're up against. You ain't going to get away with it, you know; get
that through your head--you ain't going to get away with it. You'd
better come in and have a talk with me."

There was a silence.

"Don't you know how it'll be, Smith? These little fires start up--but we
put 'em out. We know how to do it, we've got the machinery. It'll all be
forgotten in a week or two, and then where'll you be at? Can't you see?"

As Hal still made no reply, the other's voice dropped lower. "I
understand your position. Just give me a nod, and it'll be all right.
You tell the men that you've watched the weights, and that they're all
right. They'll be satisfied, and you and me can fix it up later."

"Mr. Stone," said Hal, with intense gravity, "am I correct in the
impression that you are offering me a bribe?"

In a flash, the man's self-control vanished. He thrust his huge fist
within an inch of Hal's nose, and uttered a foul oath. But Hal did not
remove his nose from the danger-zone, and over the fist a pair of angry
brown eyes gazed at the pit-boss. "Mr. Stone, you had better realise
this situation. I am in dead earnest about this matter, and I don't
think it will be safe for you to offer me violence."

For a moment or two the man continued to glare at Hal; but it appeared
that he, like Bud Adams, had been given instructions. He turned abruptly
and strode back into the office.

Hal stood for a bit, until he had made sure of his composure. After
which he strolled over towards the scales. A difficulty had occurred to
him for the first time--that he did not know anything about the working
of coal-scales.

But he was given no time to learn. The tipple-boss reappeared. "Get out
of here, fellow!" said he.

"But you invited me in," remarked Hal, mildly.

"Well, now I invite you out again."

And so the protestant resumed his vigil at the mandarin's palace-gates.



SECTION 13.

When the quitting-whistle blew, Mike Sikoria came quickly to join Hal
and hear what had happened. Mike was exultant, for several new men had
come up to him and offered to join the check-weighman movement. The old
fellow was not sure whether this was owing to his own eloquence as a
propagandist, or to the fine young American buddy he had; but in either
case he was equally proud. He gave Hal a note which had been slipped
into his hand, and which Hal recognised as coming from Tom Olson. The
organiser reported that every one in the camp was talking
check-weighman, and so from a propaganda standpoint they could count
their move a success, no matter what the bosses might do. He added that
Hal should have a number of men stay with him that night, so as to have
witnesses if the company tried to "pull off anything." "And be careful
of the new men," he added; "one or two of them are sure to be spies."

Hal and Mike discussed their programme for the second night. Neither of
them were keen for sleeping out again--the old Slovak because of his
bones, and Hal because he saw there were now several spies following
them about. At Reminitsky's, he spoke to some of those who had offered
their support, and asked them if they would be willing to spend the
night with him in Edstrom's cabin. Not one shrank from this test of
sincerity; they all got their blankets, and repaired to the place, where
Hal lighted the lamp and held an impromptu check-weighman meeting--and
incidentally entertained himself with a spy-hunt!

One of the new-comers was a Pole named Wojecicowski; this, on top of
Zamierowski, caused Hal to give up all effort to call the Poles by their
names. "Woji" was an earnest little man, with a pathetic, tired face. He
explained his presence by the statement that he was sick of being
robbed; he would pay his share for a check-weighman, and if they fired
him, all right, he would move on, and to hell with them. After which
declaration he rolled up in a blanket and went to snoring on the floor
of the cabin. That did not seem to be exactly the conduct of a spy.

Another was an Italian, named Farenzena; a dark-browed and
sinister-looking fellow, who might have served as a villain in any
melodrama. He sat against the wall and talked in guttural tones, and Hal
regarded him with deep suspicion. It was not easy to understand his
English, but finally Hal managed to make out the story he was
telling--that he was in love with a "fanciulla," and that the
"fanciulla" was playing with him. He had about made up his mind that she
was a coquette, and not worth bothering with, so he did not care any
curses if they sent him down the canyon. "Don't fight for fanciulla,
fight for check-weighman!" he concluded, with a growl.

Another volunteer was a Greek labourer, a talkative young chap who had
sat with Hal at lunch-time, and had given his name as Apostolikas. He
entered into fluent conversation with Hal, explaining how much
interested he was in the check-weighman plan; he wanted to know just
what they were going to do, what chance of success they thought they
had, who had started the movement and who was in it. Hal's replies took
the form of little sermons on working-class solidarity. Each time the
man would start to "pump" him, Hal would explain the importance of the
present issue to the miners, how they must stand by one another and make
sacrifices for the good of all. After he had talked abstract theories
for half an hour, Apostolikas gave up and moved on to Mike Sikoria, who,
having been given a wink by Hal, talked about "scabs," and the dreadful
things that honest workingmen would do to them. When finally the Greek
grew tired again, and lay down on the floor, Hal moved over to Old Mike
and whispered that the first name of Apostolikas must be Judas!



SECTION 14.

Old Mike went to sleep quickly; but Hal had not worked for several days,
and had exciting thoughts to keep him awake. He had been lying quiet for
a couple of hours, when he became aware that some one was moving in the
room. There was a lamp burning dimly, and through half-closed eyes he
made out one of the men lifting himself to a sitting position. At first
he could not be sure which one it was, but finally he recognised the
Greek.

Hal lay motionless, and after a minute or so he stole another look and
saw the man crouching and listening, his hands still on the floor.
Through half opened eye-lids Hal continued to steal glimpses, while the
other rose and tip-toed towards him, stepping carefully over the
sleeping forms.

Hal did his best to simulate the breathing of sleep: no easy matter,
with the man stooping over him, and a knife-thrust as one of the
possibilities of the situation. He took the chance, however; and after
what seemed an age, he felt the man's fingers lightly touch his side.
They moved down to his coat-pocket.

"Going to search me!" thought Hal; and waited, expecting the hand to
travel to other pockets. But after what seemed an interminable period,
he realised that Apostolikas had risen again, and was stepping back to
his place. In a minute more he had lain down, and all was still in the
cabin.

Hal's hand moved to the pocket, and his fingers slid inside. They
touched something, which he recognised instantly as a roll of bills.

"I see!" thought he. "A frame-up!" And he laughed to himself, his mind
going back to early boyhood--to a dilapidated trunk in the attic of his
home, containing story-books that his father had owned. He could see
them now, with their worn brown covers and crude pictures: "The Luck and
Pluck Series," by Horatio Alger; "Live or Die," "Rough and Ready," etc.
How he had thrilled over the story of the country-boy who comes to the
city, and meets the villain who robs his employer's cash-drawer and
drops the key of it into the hero's pocket! Evidently some one connected
with the General Fuel Company had read Horatio Alger!

Hal realised that he could not be too quick about getting those bills
out of his pocket. He thought of returning them to "Judas," but decided
that he would save them for Edstrom, who was likely to need money before
long. He gave the Greek half an hour to go to sleep, then with his
pocket-knife he gently picked out a hole in the cinders of the floor and
buried the money as best he could. After which he wormed his way to
another place, and lay thinking.



SECTION 15.

Would they wait until morning, or would they come soon? He was inclined
to the latter guess, so he was only slightly startled when, an hour or
two later, he heard the knob of the cabin-door turned. A moment later
came a crash and the door was burst open, with the shoulder of a heavy
man behind it.

The room was in confusion in a second. Men sprang to their feet, crying
out; others sat up bewildered, still half asleep. The room was bright
from an electric torch in the hands of one of the invaders. "There's the
fellow!" cried a voice, which Hal instantly recognised as belonging to
Jeff Cotton, the camp-marshal. "Stick 'em up, there! You, Joe Smith!"
Hal did not wait to see the glint of the marshal's revolver.

There followed a silence. As this drama was being staged for the benefit
of the other men, it was necessary to give them time to get thoroughly
awake, and to get their eyes used to the light. Meantime Hal stood, his
hands in the air. Behind the torch he could make out the faces of the
marshal, Bud Adams, Alec Stone, Jake Predovich, and two or three others.

"Now, men," said Cotton, at last, "you are some of the fellows that want
a check-weighman. And this is the man you chose. Is that right?"

There was no answer.

"I'm going to show you the kind of fellow he is. He came to Mr. Stone
here and offered to sell you out."

"It's a lie, men," said Hal, quietly.

"He took some money from Mr. Stone to sell you out!" insisted the
marshal.

"It's a lie," said Hal, again.

"He's got that money now!" cried the other.

And Hal cried, in turn, "They are trying to frame something on me, boys!
Don't let them fool you!"

"Shut up," commanded the marshal; then, to the men, "I'll show you. I
think he's got that money on him now. Jake, search him."

The store-clerk advanced.

"Watch out, boys!" exclaimed Hal. "They will put something in my
pockets." And then to Old Mike, who had started angrily forward, "It's
all right, Mike! Let them alone!"

"Jake, take off your coat," ordered Cotton. "Roll up your sleeves. Show
your hands."

It was for all the world like the performance of a prestidigitator. The
little Jew took off his coat and rolled up his sleeves above his elbows.
He exhibited his hands to the audience, turning them this way and that;
then, keeping them out in front of him, he came slowly towards Hal, like
a hypnotist about to put him to sleep.

"Watch him!" said Cotton. "He's got that money on him, I know."

"Look sharp!" cried Hal. "If it isn't there, they'll put it there."

"Keep your hands up, young fellow," commanded the marshal. "Keep back
from him there!" This last to Mike Sikoria and the other spectators, who
were pressing nearer, peering over one another's shoulders.

It was all very serious at the time, but afterwards, when Hal recalled
the scene, he laughed over the grotesque figure of Predovich searching
his pockets while keeping as far away from him as possible, so that
every one might know that the money had actually come out of Hal's
pocket. The searcher put his hands first in the inside pockets, then in
the pockets of Hal's shirt. Time was needed to build up this climax!

"Turn around," commanded Cotton; and Hal turned, and the Jew went
through his trouser-pockets. He took out in turn Hal's watch, his comb
and mirror, his handkerchief; after examining them and holding them up,
he dropped them onto the floor. There was a breathless hush when he came
to Hal's purse, and proceeded to open it. Thanks to the greed of the
company, there was nothing in the purse but some small change. Predovich
closed it and dropped it to the floor.

"Wait now! He's not through!" cried the master of ceremonies. "He's got
that money somewhere, boys! Did you look in his side-pockets, Jake?"

"Not yet," said Jake.

"Look sharp!" cried the marshal; and every one craned forward eagerly,
while Predovich stooped down on one knee, and put his hand into one coat
pocket and then into the other.

He took his hand out again, and the look of dismay upon his face was so
obvious that Hal could hardly keep from laughing. "It ain't dere!" he
declared.

"What?" cried Cotton, and they stared at each other. "By God, he's got
rid of it!"

"There's no money on me, boys!" proclaimed Hal. "It's a job they are
trying to put over on us."

"He's hid it!" shouted the marshal. "Find it, Jake!"

Then Predovich began to search again, swiftly, and with less
circumstance. He was not thinking so much about the spectators now, as
about all that good money gone for nothing! He made Hal take off his
coat, and ripped open the lining; he unbuttoned the trousers and felt
inside; he thrust his fingers down inside Hal's shoes.

But there was no money, and the searchers were at a standstill. "He took
twenty-five dollars from Mr. Stone to sell you out!" declared the
marshal. "He's managed to get rid of it somehow."

"Boys," cried Hal, "they sent a spy in here, and told him to put money
on me." He was looking at Apostolikas as he spoke; he saw the man start
and shrink back.

"That's him! He's a scab!" cried Old Mike. "He's got the money on him, I
bet!" And he made a move towards the Greek.

So the camp-marshal realised suddenly that it was time to ring down the
curtain on this drama. "That's enough of this foolishness," he declared.
"Bring that fellow along here!" And in a flash a couple of the party had
seized Hal's wrists, and a third had grabbed him by the collar of his
shirt. Before the miners had time to realise what was happening, they
had rushed their prisoner out of the cabin.

The quarter of an hour which followed was an uncomfortable one for the
would-be check-weighman. Outside, in the darkness, the camp-marshal was
free to give vent to his rage, and so was Alec Stone. They poured out
curses upon him, and kicked him and cuffed him as they went along. One
of the men who held his wrists twisted his arm, until he cried out with
pain; then they cursed him harder, and bade him hold his mouth. Down the
dark and silent street they went swiftly, and into the camp-marshal's
office, and upstairs to the room which served as the North Valley jail.
Hal was glad enough when they left him here, slamming the iron door
behind them.



SECTION 16.

It had been a crude and stupid plot, yet Hal realised that it was
adapted to the intelligence of the men for whom it was intended. But for
the accident that he had stayed awake, they would have found the money
on him, and next morning the whole camp would have heard that he had
sold out. Of course his immediate friends, the members of the committee,
would not have believed it; but the mass of the workers would have
believed it, and so the purpose of Tom Olson's visit to North Valley
would have been balked. Throughout the experiences which were to come to
him, Hal retained his vivid impression of that adventure; it served to
him as a symbol of many things. Just as the bosses had tried to bedevil
him, to destroy his influence with his followers, so later on he saw
them trying to bedevil the labour-movement, to confuse the intelligence
of the whole country.

Now Hal was in jail. He went to the window and tried the bars--but found
that they had been made for such trials. Then he groped his way about in
the darkness, examining his prison, which proved to be a steel cage
built inside the walls of an ordinary room. In one corner was a bench,
and in another corner another bench, somewhat broader, with a mattress
upon it. Hal had read a little about jails--enough to cause him to avoid
this mattress. He sat upon the bare bench, and began to think.

It is a fact that there is a peculiar psychology incidental to being in
jail; just as there is a peculiar psychology incidental to straining
your back and breaking your hands loading coal-cars in a five foot vein;
and another, and quite different psychology, produced by living at ease
off the labours of coal-miners. In a jail, you have first of all the
sense of being an animal; the animal side of your being is emphasised,
the animal passions of hatred and fear are called into prominence, and
if you are to escape being dominated by them, it can only be by intense
and concentrated effort of the mind. So, if you are a thinking man, you
do a great deal of thinking in a jail; the days are long, and the nights
still longer--you have time for all the thoughts you can have.

The bench was hard, and seemed to grow harder. There was no position in
which it could be made to grow soft. Hal got up and paced about, then he
lay down for a while, then got up and walked again; and all the while he
thought, and all the while the jail-psychology was being impressed upon
his mind.

First, he thought about his immediate problem. What were they going to
do to him? The obvious thing would be to put him out of camp, and so be
done with him; but would they rest content with that, in their
irritation at the trick he had played? Hal had heard vaguely of that
native American institution, the "third degree," but had never had
occasion to think of it as a possibility in his own life. What a
difference it made, to think of it in that way!

Hal had told Tom Olson that he would not pledge himself to organise a
union, but that he would pledge himself to get a check-weighman; and
Olson had laughed, and seemed quite content--apparently assuming that it
would come to the same thing. And now, it rather seemed that Olson had
known what he was talking about. For Hal found his thoughts no longer
troubled with fears of labour union domination and walking delegate
tyranny; on the contrary, he became suddenly willing for the people of
North Valley to have a union, and to be as tyrannical as they knew how!
And in this change, though Hal had no idea of it, he was repeating an
experience common among reformers; many of whom begin as mild and
benevolent advocates of some obvious bit of justice, and under the
operation of the jail-psychology are made into blazing and determined
revolutionists. "Eternal spirit of the chainless mind," says Byron.
"Greatest in dungeons Liberty thou art!"

The poet goes on to add that "When thy sons to fetters are confined--"
then "Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind." And just as it was in
Chillon, so it seemed to be in North Valley. Dawn came, and Hal stood at
the window of his cell, and heard the whistle blow and saw the workers
going to their tasks, the toil-bent, pallid faced creatures of the
underworld, like a file of baboons in the half-light. He waved his hand
to them, and they stopped and stared, and then waved back; he realised
that every one of those men must be thinking about his imprisonment, and
the reason for it--and so the jail-psychology was being communicated to
them. If any of them cherished distrust of unions, or doubt of the need
of organisation in North Valley--that distrust and that doubt were being
dissipated!

--There was only one thing discouraging about the matter, as Hal thought
it over. Why should the bosses have left him here in plain sight, when
they might so easily have put him into an automobile, and whisked him
down to Pedro before daylight? Was it a sign of the contempt they felt
for their slaves? Did they count upon the sight of the prisoner in the
window to produce fear instead of resentment? And might it not be that
they understood their workers better than the would-be check-weighman?
He recalled Mary Burke's pessimism about them, and anxiety gnawed at his
soul; and--such is the operation of the jail-psychology--he fought
against this anxiety. He hated the company for its cynicism, he clenched
his hands and set his teeth, desiring to teach the bosses a lesson, to
prove to them that their workers were not slaves, but men!



SECTION 17.

Toward the middle of the morning, Hal heard footsteps in the corridor
outside, and a man whom he did not know opened the barred door and set
down a pitcher of water and a tin plate with a hunk of bread on it. When
he started to leave, Hal spoke: "Just a minute, please."

The other frowned at him.

"Can you give me any idea how long I am to stay in here?"

"I cannot," said the man.

"If I'm to be locked up," said Hal, "I've certainly a right to know what
is the charge against me."

"Go to blazes!" said the other, and slammed the door and went down the
corridor.

Hal went to the window again, and passed the time watching the people
who went by. Groups of ragged children gathered, looking up at him,
grinning and making signs--until some one appeared below and ordered
them away.

As time passed, Hal became hungry. The taste of bread, eaten alone,
becomes speedily monotonous, and the taste of water does not relieve it;
nevertheless, Hal munched the bread, and drank the water, and wished for
more.

The day dragged by; and late in the afternoon the keeper came again,
with another hunk of bread and another pitcher of water. "Listen a
moment," said Hal, as the man was turning away.

"I got nothin' to say to you," said the other.

"I have something to say to you," pleaded Hal. "I have read in a book--I
forget where, but it was written by some doctor--that white bread does
not contain the elements necessary to the sustaining of the human body."

"Go on!" growled the jailer. "What yer givin' us?"

"I mean," explained Hal, "a diet of bread and water is not what I'd
choose to live on."

"What would yer choose?"

The tone suggested that the question was a rhetorical one; but Hal took
it in good faith. "If I could have some beefsteak and mashed potatoes--"

The door of the cell closed with a slam whose echoes drowned out the
rest of that imaginary menu. And so once more Hal sat on the hard bench,
and munched his hunk of bread, and thought jail-thoughts.

When the quitting-whistle blew, he stood at the window, and saw the
groups of his friends once again, and got their covert signals of
encouragement. Then darkness fell, and another long vigil began.

It was late; Hal had no means of telling how late, save that all the
lights in the camps were out. He made up his mind that he was in for the
night, and had settled himself on the floor with his arm for a pillow,
and had dozed off to sleep, when suddenly there came a scraping sound
against the bars of his window. He sat up with a start, and heard
another sound, unmistakably the rustling of paper. He sprang to the
window, where by the faint light of the stars he could make out
something dangling. He caught at it; it seemed to be an ordinary
note-book, such as stenographers use, tied on the end of a pole.

Hal looked out, but could see no one. He caught hold of the pole and
jerked it, as a signal; and then he heard a whisper which he recognised
instantly as Rovetta's. "Hello! Listen. Write your name hundred times in
book. I come back. Understand?"

The command was a sufficiently puzzling one, but Hal realised that this
was no time for explanations. He answered, "Yes," and broke the string
and took the notebook. There was a pencil attached, with a piece of
cloth wrapped round the point to protect it.

The pole was withdrawn, and Hal sat on the bench, and began to write,
three or four times on a page, "Joe Smith--Joe Smith--Joe Smith." It is
not hard to write "Joe Smith," even in darkness, and so, while his hand
moved, Hal's mind was busy with this mystery. It was fairly to be
assumed that his committee did not want his autograph to distribute for
a souvenir; they must want it for some vital purpose, to meet some new
move of the bosses. The answer to this riddle was not slow in coming:
having failed in their effort to find money on him, the bosses had
framed up a letter, which they were exhibiting as having been written by
the would-be check-weigh-man. His friends wanted his signature to
disprove the authenticity of the letter.

Hal wrote a free and rapid hand, with a generous flourish; he felt sure
it would be different from Alec Stone's idea of a working-boy's scrawl.
His pencil flew on and on--"Joe Smith--Joe Smith--" page after page,
until he was sure that he had written a signature for every miner in the
camp, and was beginning on the buddies. Then, hearing a whistle outside,
he stopped and sprang to the window.

"Throw it!" whispered a voice; and Hal threw it. He saw a form vanish up
the street, after which all was quiet again. He listened for a while, to
see if he had roused his jailer; then he lay down on the bench--and
thought more jail-thoughts!



SECTION 18.

Morning came, and the mine-whistle blew, and Hal stood at the window
again. This time he noticed that some of the miners on their way to work
had little strips of paper in their hands, which strips they waved
conspicuously for him to see. Old Mike Sikoria came along, having a
whole bunch of strips in his hands, which he was distributing to all who
would take them. Doubtless he had been warned to proceed secretly, but
the excitement of the occasion had been too much for him; he capered
about like a young spring lamb, and waved the strips at Hal in plain
sight of all the world.

Such indiscreet behaviour met the return it invited. As Hal watched, he
saw a stocky figure come striding round the corner, confronting the
startled old Slovak. It was Bud Adams, the mine-guard, and his hard
fists were clenched, and his whole body gathered for a blow. Mike saw
him, and was as if suddenly struck with paralysis; his toil-bent
shoulders sunk together, and his hands fell to his sides--his fingers
opening, and his precious strips of paper fluttering to the ground. Mike
stared at Bud like a fascinated rabbit, making no move to protect
himself.

Hal clutched the bars, with an impulse to leap to his friend's defence.
But the expected blow did not fall; the mine-guard contented himself
with glaring ferociously, and giving an order to the old man. Mike
stooped and picked up the papers--the process taking him some time, as
he was unable or unwilling to take his eyes off the mine-guard's. When
he got them all in his hands, there came another order, and he gave them
up to Bud. After which he fell back a step, and the other followed, his
fists still clenched, and a blow seeming about to leap from him every
moment. Mike receded another step, and then another--so the two of them
backed out of sight around the corner. Men who had been witnesses of
this little drama turned and slunk off, and Hal was given no clue as to
its outcome.

A couple of hours afterwards, Hal's jailer came up, this time without
any bread and water. He opened the door and commanded the prisoner to
"come along." Hal went downstairs, and entered Jeff Cotton's office.

The camp-marshal sat at his desk with a cigar between his teeth. He was
writing, and he went on writing until the jailer had gone out and closed
the door. Then he turned his revolving chair and crossed his legs,
leaning back and looking at the young miner in his dirty blue overalls,
his hair tousled and his face pale from his period of confinement. The
camp-marshal's aristocratic face wore a smile. "Well, young fellow,"
said he, "you've been having a lot of fun in this camp."

"Pretty fair, thank you," answered Hal.

"Beat us out all along the line, hey?" Then, after a pause, "Now, tell
me, what do you think you're going to get out of it?"

"That's what Alec Stone asked me," replied Hal. "I don't think it would
do much good to explain. I doubt if you believe in altruism any more
than Stone does."

The camp-marshal took his cigar from his mouth, and flicked off the
ashes. His face became serious, and there was a silence, while he
studied Hal. "You a union organiser?" he asked, at last.

"No," said Hal.

"You're an educated man; you're no labourer, that I know. Who's paying
you?"

"There you are! You don't believe in altruism."

The other blew a ring of smoke across the room. "Just want to put the
company in the hole, hey? Some kind of agitator?"

"I am a miner who wants to be a check-weighman."

"Socialist?"

"That depends upon developments here."

"Well," said the marshal, "you're an intelligent chap, that I can see.
So I'll lay my hand on the table and you can study it. You're not going
to serve as check-weighman in North Valley, nor any other place that the
'G. F. C.' has anything to do with. Nor are you going to have the
satisfaction of putting the company in a hole. We're not even going to
beat you up and make a martyr of you. I was tempted to do that the other
night, but I changed my mind."

"You might change the bruises on my arm," suggested Hal, in a pleasant
voice.

"We're going to offer you the choice of two things," continued the
marshal, without heeding this mild sarcasm. "Either you will sign a
paper admitting that you took the twenty-five dollars from Alec Stone,
in which case we will fire you and call it square; or else we will prove
that you took it, in which case we will send you to the pen for five or
ten years. Do you get that?"

Now when Hal had applied for the job of check-weighman, he had been
expecting to be thrown out of the camp, and had intended to go, counting
his education complete. But here, as he sat and gazed into the marshal's
menacing eyes, he decided suddenly that he did not want to leave North
Valley. He wanted to stay and take the measure of this gigantic
"burglar," the General Fuel Company.

"That's a serious threat, Mr. Cotton," he remarked. "Do you often do
things like that?"

"We do them when we have to," was the reply.

"Well, it's a novel proposition. Tell me more about it. What will the
charge be?"

"I'm not sure about that--we'll put it up to our lawyers. Maybe they'll
call it conspiracy, maybe blackmail. They'll make it whatever carries a
long enough sentence."

"And before I enter my plea, would you mind letting me see the letter
I'm supposed to have written."

"Oh, you've heard about the letter, have you?" said the camp-marshal,
lifting his eyebrows in mild surprise. He took from his desk a sheet of
paper and handed it to Hal, who read:

"Dere mister Stone, You don't need worry about the check-wayman. Pay me
twenty five dollars, and I will fix it right. Yours try, Joe Smith."

Having taken in the words of the letter, Hal examined the paper, and
perceived that his enemies had taken the trouble, not merely to forge a
letter in his name, but to have it photographed, to have a cut made of
the photograph, and to have it printed. Beyond doubt they had
distributed it broadcast in the camp. And all this in a few hours! It
was as Olson had said--a regular system to keep the men bedevilled.



SECTION 19.

Hal took a minute or so to ponder the situation. "Mr. Cotton," he said,
at last. "I know how to spell better than that. Also my handwriting is a
bit more fluent."

There was a trace of a smile about the marshal's cruel lips. "I know,"
he replied. "I've not failed to compare them."

"You have a good secret-service department!" said Hal.

"Before you get through, young fellow, you'll discover that our legal
department is equally efficient."

"Well," said Hal, "they'll need to be; for I don't see how you can get
round the fact that I'm a check-weighman, chosen according to the law,
and with a group of the men behind me."

"If that's what you're counting on," retorted Cotton, "you may as well
forget it. You've got no group any more."

"Oh! You've got rid of them?"

"We've got rid of the ring-leaders."

"Of whom?"

"That old billy-goat, Sikoria, for one."

"You've shipped him?"

"We have."

"I saw the beginning of that. Where have you sent him?"

"That," smiled the marshal, "is a job for _your_ secret-service
department!"

"And who else?"

"John Edstrom has gone down to bury his wife. It's not the first time
that dough-faced old preacher has made trouble for us, but it'll be the
last. You'll find him in Pedro--probably in the poor-house."

"No," responded Hal, quickly--and there came just a touch of elation in
his voice--"he won't have to go to the poor-house at once. You see, I've
just sent twenty-five dollars to him."

The camp-marshal frowned. "Really!" Then, after a pause, "You _did_ have
that money on you! I thought that lousy Greek had got away with it!"

"No. Your knave was honest. But so was I. I knew Edstrom had been
getting short weight for years, so he was the one person with any right
to the money."

This story was untrue, of course; the money was still buried in
Edstrom's cabin. But Hal meant for the old miner to have it in the end,
and meantime he wanted to throw Cotton off the track.

"A clever trick, young man!" said the marshal. "But you'll repent it
before you're through. It only makes me more determined to put you where
you can't do us any harm."

"You mean in the pen? You understand, of course, it will mean a jury
trial. You can get a jury to do what you want?"

"They tell me you've been taking an interest in politics in Pedro
County. Haven't you looked into our jury-system?"

"No, I haven't got that far."

The marshal began blowing rings of smoke again.

"Well, there are some three hundred men on our jury-list, and we know
them all. You'll find yourself facing a box with Jake Predovich as
foreman, three company-clerks, two of Alf Raymond's saloon-keepers, a
ranchman with a mortgage held by the company-bank, and five Mexicans who
have no idea what it's all about, but would stick a knife into your back
for a drink of whiskey. The District Attorney is a politician who
favours the miners in his speeches, and favours us in his acts; while
Judge Denton, of the district court, is the law partner of Vagleman, our
chief-counsel. Do you get all that?"

"Yes," said Hal. "I've heard of the 'Empire of Raymond'; I'm interested
to see the machinery. You're quite open about it!"

"Well," replied the marshal, "I want you to know what you're up against.
We didn't start this fight, and we're perfectly willing to end it
without trouble. All we ask is that you make amends for the mischief
you've done us."

"By 'making amends,' you mean I'm to disgrace myself--to tell the men
I'm a traitor?"

"Precisely," said the marshal.

"I think I'll have a seat while I consider the matter," said Hal; and he
took a chair, and stretched out his legs, and made himself elaborately
comfortable. "That bench upstairs is frightfully hard," said he, and
smiled mockingly upon the camp-marshal.



SECTION 20.

When this conversation was continued, it was upon a new and unexpected
line. "Cotton," remarked the prisoner, "I perceive that you are a man of
education. It occurs to me that once upon a time you must have been what
the world calls a gentleman."

The blood started into the camp-marshal's face. "You go to hell!" said
he.

"I did not intend to ask questions," continued Hal. "I can well
understand that you mightn't care to answer them. My point is that,
being an ex-gentleman, you may appreciate certain aspects of this case
which would be beyond the understanding of a nigger-driver like Stone,
or an efficiency expert like Cartwright. One gentleman can recognise
another, even in a miner's costume. Isn't that so?"

Hal paused for an answer, and the marshal gave him a wary look. "I
suppose so," he said.

"Well, to begin with, one gentleman does not smoke without inviting
another to join him."

The man gave another look. Hal thought he was going to consign him to
hades once more; but instead he took a cigar from his vest-pocket and
held it out.

"No, thank you," said Hal, quietly. "I do not smoke. But I like to be
invited."

There was a pause, while the two men measured each other.

"Now, Cotton," began the prisoner, "you pictured the scene at my trial.
Let me carry on the story for you. You have your case all framed up,
your hand-picked jury in the box, and your hand-picked judge on the
bench, your hand-picked prosecuting-attorney putting through the job;
you are ready to send your victim to prison, for an example to the rest
of your employes. But suppose that, at the climax of the proceedings,
you should make the discovery that your victim is a person who cannot be
sent to prison?"

"Cannot be sent to prison?" repeated the other. His tone was thoughtful.
"You'll have to explain."

"Surely not to a man of your intelligence! Don't you know, Cotton, there
are people who cannot be sent to prison?"

The camp-marshal smoked his cigar for a bit. "There are some in this
county," said he. "But I thought I knew them all."

"Well," said Hal, "has it never occurred to you that there might be some
in this _state_?"

There followed a long silence. The two men were gazing into each other's
eyes; and the more they gazed, the more plainly Hal read uncertainty in
the face of the marshal.

"Think how embarrassing it would be!" he continued. "You have your drama
all staged--as you did the night before last--only on a larger stage,
before a more important audience; and at the _denouement_ you find that,
instead of vindicating yourself before the workers in North Valley, you
have convicted yourself before the public of the state. You have shown
the whole community that you are law-breakers; worse than that--you have
shown that you are jack-asses!"

This time the camp-marshal gazed so long that his cigar went out. And
meantime Hal was lounging in his chair, smiling at him strangely. It was
as if a transformation was taking place before the marshal's eyes; the
miner's "jumpers" fell away from Hal's figure, and there was a suit of
evening-clothes in their place!

"Who the devil are you?" cried the man.

"Well now!" laughed Hal. "You boast of the efficiency of your secret
service department! Put them at work upon this problem. A young man, age
twenty-one, height five feet ten inches, weight one hundred and
fifty-two pounds, eyes brown, hair chestnut and rather wavy, manner
genial, a favourite with the ladies--at least that's what the society
notes say--missing since early in June, supposed to be hunting
mountain-goats in Mexico. As you know, Cotton, there's only one city in
the state that has any 'society,' and in that city there are only
twenty-five or thirty families that count. For a secret service
department like that of the 'G. F. C.', that is really too easy."

Again there was a silence, until Hal broke it. "Your distress is a
tribute to your insight. The company is lucky in the fact that one of
its camp-marshals happens to be an ex-gentleman."

Again the other flushed. "Well, by God!" he said, half to himself; and
then, making a last effort to hold his bluff--"You're kidding me!"

"'Kidding,' as you call it, is one of the favourite occupations of
society, Cotton. A good part of our intercourse consists of it--at least
among the younger set."

Suddenly the marshal rose. "Say," he demanded, "would you mind going
back upstairs for a few minutes?"

Hal could not restrain his laughter at this. "I should mind it very
much," he said. "I have been on a bread and water diet for thirty-six
hours, and I should like very much to get out and have a breath of fresh
air."

"But," said the other, lamely, "I've got to send you up there."

"That's another matter," replied Hal. "If you send me, I'll go, but it's
your look-out. You've kept me here without legal authority, with no
charge against me, and without giving me an opportunity to see counsel.
Unless I'm very much mistaken, you are liable criminally for that, and
the company is liable civilly. That is your own affair, of course. I
only want to make clear my position--when you ask me would I _mind_
stepping upstairs, I, answer that I would mind very much indeed."

The camp-marshal stood for a bit, chewing nervously on his extinct
cigar. Then he went to the door. "Hey, Gus!" he called. Hal's jailer
appeared, and Cotton whispered to him, and he went away again. "I'm
telling him to get you some food, and you can sit and eat it here. Will
that suit you better?"

"It depends," said Hal, making the most of the situation. "Are you
inviting me as your prisoner, or as your guest?"

"Oh, come off!" said the other.

"But I have to know my legal status. It will be of importance to my
lawyers."

"Be my guest," said the camp-marshal.

"But when a guest has eaten, he is free to go out, if he wishes to!"

"I will let you know about that before you get through."

"Well, be quick. I'm a rapid eater."

"You'll promise you won't go away before that?"

"If I do," was Hal's laughing reply, "it will be only to my place of
business. You can look for me at the tipple, Cotton!"



SECTION 21.

The marshal went out, and a few moments later the jailer came back, with
a meal which presented a surprising contrast to the ones he had
previously served. There was a tray containing cold ham, a couple of
soft boiled eggs, some potato salad, and a cup of coffee with rolls and
butter.

"Well, well!" said Hal, condescendingly. "That's even nicer than
beefsteak and mashed potatoes!" He sat and watched, not offering to
help, while the other made room for the tray on the table in front of
him. Then the man stalked out, and Hal began to eat.

Before he had finished, the camp-marshal returned. He seated himself in
his revolving chair, and appeared to be meditative. Between bites, Hal
would look up and smile at him.

"Cotton," said he, "you know there is no more certain test of breeding
than table-manners. You will observe that I have not tucked my napkin in
my neck, as Alec Stone would have done."

"I'm getting you," replied the marshal.

Hal set his knife and fork side by side on his plate. "Your man has
overlooked the finger-bowl," he remarked. "However, don't bother. You
might ring for him now, and let him take the tray."

The camp-marshal used his voice for a bell, and the jailer came.
"Unfortunately," said Hal, "when your people were searching me, night
before last, they dropped my purse, so I have no tip for the waiter."

The "waiter" glared at Hal as if he would like to bite him; but the
camp-marshal grinned. "Clear out, Gus, and shut the door," said he.

Then Hal stretched his legs and made himself comfortable again. "I must
say I like being your guest better than being your prisoner!"

There was a pause.

"I've been talking it over with Mr. Cartwright," began the marshal.
"I've got no way of telling how much of this is bluff that you've been
giving me, but it's evident enough that you're no miner. You may be some
newfangled kind of agitator, but I'm damned if I ever saw an agitator
that had tea-party manners. I suppose you've been brought up to money;
but if that's so, why you want to do this kind of thing is more than I
can imagine."

"Tell me, Cotton," said Hal, "did you never hear of _ennui_?"

"Yes," replied the other, "but aren't you rather young to be troubled
with that complaint?"

"Suppose I've seen others suffering from it, and wanted to try a
different way of living from theirs?"

"If you're what you say, you ought to be still in college."

"I go back for my senior year this fall."

"What college?"

"You doubt me still, I see!" said Hal, and smiled. Then, unexpectedly,
with a spirit which only moonlit campuses and privilege could beget, he
chanted:

  "Old King Coal was a merry old soul,
    And a merry old soul was he;
  He made him a college, all full of knowledge--
    Hurrah for you and me!"

"What college is that?" asked the marshal. And Hal sang again:

  "Oh, Liza-Ann, come out with me,
  The moon is a-shinin' in the monkey-puzzle tree!
  Oh, Liza-Ann, I have began
  To sing you the song of Harrigan!"

"Well, well!" commented the marshal, when the concert was over. "Are
there many more like you at Harrigan?"

"A little group--enough to leaven the lump."

"And this is your idea of a vacation?"

"No, it isn't a vacation; it's a summer-course in practical sociology."

"Oh, I see!" said the marshal; and he smiled in spite of himself.

"All last year we let the professors of political economy hand out their
theories to us. But somehow the theories didn't seem to correspond with
the facts. I said to myself, 'I've got to check them up.' You know the
phrases, perhaps--individualism, _laissez faire_, freedom of contract,
the right of every man to work for whom he pleases. And here you see how
the theories work out--a camp-marshal with a cruel smile on his face and
a gun on his hip, breaking the laws faster than a governor can sign
them."

The camp-marshal decided suddenly that he had had enough of this
"tea-party." He rose to his feet to cut matters short. "If you don't
mind, young man," said he, "we'll get down to business!"



SECTION 22.

He took a turn about the room, then he came and stopped in front of Hal.
He stood with his hands thrust into his pockets, with a certain jaunty
grace that was out of keeping with his occupation. He was a handsome
devil, Hal thought--in spite of his dangerous mouth, and the marks of
dissipation on him.

"Young man," he began, with another effort at geniality. "I don't know
who you are, but you're wide awake; you've got your nerve with you, and I
admire you. So I'm willing to call the thing off, and let you go back
and finish that course at college."

Hal had been studying the other's careful smile. "Cotton," he said, at
last, "let me get the proposition clear. I don't have to say I took that
money?"

"No, we'll let you off from that."

"And you won't send me to the pen?"

"No. I never meant to do that, of course. I was only trying to bluff
you. All I ask is that you clear out, and give our people a chance to
forget."

"But what's there in that for me, Cotton? If I had wanted to run away, I
could have done it any time during the last eight or ten weeks."

"Yes, of course, but now it's different. Now it's a matter of my
consideration."

"Cut out the consideration!" exclaimed Hal. "You want to get rid of me,
and you'd like to do it without trouble. But you can't--so forget it."

The other was staring, puzzled. "You mean you expect to stay here?"

"I mean just that."

"Young man, I've had enough of this! I've got no more time to play. I
don't care who you are, I don't care about your threats. I'm the marshal
of this camp, and I have the job of keeping order in it. I say you're
going to get out!"

"But, Cotton," said Hal, "this is an incorporated town! I have a right
to walk on the streets--exactly as much right as you."

"I'm not going to waste time arguing. I'm going to put you into an
automobile and take you down to Pedro!"

"And suppose I go to the District Attorney and demand that he prosecute
you?"

"He'll laugh at you."

"And suppose I go to the Governor of the state?"

"He'll laugh still louder."

"All right, Cotton; maybe you know what you're doing; but I wonder--I
wonder just how sure you feel. Has it never occurred to you that your
superiors might not care to have you take these high-handed steps?"

"My superiors? Who do you mean?"

"There's one man in the state you must respect--even though you despise
the District Attorney and the Governor. That is Peter Harrigan."

"Peter Harrigan?" echoed the other; and then he burst into a laugh.
"Well, you _are_ a merry lad!"

Hal continued to study him, unmoved. "I wonder if you're sure! He'll
stand for everything you've done."

"He will!" said the other.

"For the way you treat the workers? He knows you are giving short
weights."

"Oh hell!" said the other. "Where do you suppose he got the money for
your college?"

There was a pause; at last the marshal asked, defiantly, "Have you got
what you want?"

"Yes," replied Hal. "Of course, I thought it all along, but it's hard to
convince other people. Old Peter's not like most of these Western
wolves, you know; he's a pious high-church man."

The marshal smiled grimly. "So long as there are sheep," said he,
there'll be wolves in sheep's clothing."

"I see," said Hal. "And you leave them to feed on the lambs!"

"If any lamb is silly enough to be fooled by that old worn-out skin,"
remarked the marshal, "it deserves to be eaten."

Hal was studying the cynical face in front of him. "Cotton," he said,
"the shepherds are asleep; but the watch-dogs are barking. Haven't you
heard them?"

"I hadn't noticed."

"They are barking, barking! They are going to wake the shepherds! They
are going to save the sheep!"

"Religion don't interest me," said the other, looking bored; "your kind
any more than Old Peter's."

And suddenly Hal rose to his feet. "Cotton," said he, "my place is with
the flock! I'm going back to my job at the tipple!" And he started
towards the door.



SECTION 23.

Jeff Cotton sprang forward. "Stop!" he cried.

But Hal did not stop.

"See here, young man!" cried the marshal. "Don't carry this joke too
far!" And he sprang to the door, just ahead of his prisoner. His hand
moved toward his hip.

"Draw your gun, Cotton," said Hal; and, as the marshal obeyed, "Now I
will stop. If I obey you in future, it will be at the point of your
revolver."

The marshal's mouth was dangerous-looking. "You may find that in this
country there's not so much between the drawing of a gun and the firing
of it!"

"I've explained my attitude," replied Hal. "What are your orders?"

"Come back and sit in this chair."

So Hal sat, and the marshal went to his desk, and took up the telephone.
"Number seven," he said, and waited a moment. "That you, Tom? Bring the
car right away."

He hung up the receiver, and there followed a silence; finally Hal
inquired, "I'm going to Pedro?"

There was no reply.

"I see I've got on your nerves," said Hal. "But I don't suppose it's
occurred to you that you deprived me of my money last night. Also, I've
an account with the company, some money coming to me for my work? What
about that?"

The marshal took up the receiver and gave another number. "Hello,
Simpson. This is Cotton. Will you figure out the time of Joe Smith,
buddy in Number Two, and send over the cash. Get his account at the
store; and be quick, we're waiting for it. He's going out in a hurry."
Again he hung up the receiver.

"Tell me," said Hal, "did you take that trouble for Mike Sikoria?"

There was silence.

"Let me suggest that when you get my time, you give me part of it in
scrip. I want it for a souvenir."

Still there was silence.

"You know," persisted the prisoner, tormentingly, "there's a law against
paying wages in scrip."

The marshal was goaded to speech. "We don't pay in scrip."

"But you do, man! You know you do!"

"We give it when they ask their money ahead."

"The law requires you to pay them twice a month, and you don't do it.
You pay them once a month, and meantime, if they need money, you give
them this imitation money!"

"Well, if it satisfies them, where's your kick?"

"If it doesn't satisfy them, you put them on the train and ship them
out?"

The marshal sat in silence, tapping impatiently with his fingers on the
desk.

"Cotton," Hal began, again, "I'm out for education, and there's
something I'd like you to explain to me--a problem in human psychology.
When a man puts through a deal like this, what does he tell himself
about it?"

"Young man," said the marshal, "if you'll pardon me, you are getting to
be a bore."

"Oh, but we've got an automobile ride before us! Surely we can't sit in
silence all the way!" After a moment he added, in a coaxing tone, "I
really want to learn, you know. You might be able to win me over."

"No!" said Cotton, promptly. "I'll not go in for anything like that!"

"But why not?"

"Because, I'm no match for you in long-windedness. I've heard you
agitators before, you're all alike: you think the world is run by
talk--but it isn't."

Hal had come to realise that he was not getting anywhere in his duel
with the camp-marshal. He had made every effort to get somewhere; he had
argued, threatened, bluffed, he had even sung songs for the marshal! But
the marshal was going to ship him out, that was all there was to it.

Hal had gone on with the quarrel, simply because he had to wait for the
automobile, and because he had endured indignities and had to vent his
anger and disappointment. But now he stopped quarrelling suddenly. His
attention was caught by the marshal's words, "You think the world is run
by talk!" Those were the words Hal's brother always used! And also, the
marshal had said, "You agitators!" For years it had been one of the
taunts Hal had heard from his brother, "You will turn into one of these
agitators!" Hal had answered, with boyish obstinacy, "I don't care if I
do!" And now, here the marshal was calling him an agitator, seriously,
without an apology, without the license of blood relationship. He
repeated the words, "That's what gets me about you agitators--you come
in here trying to stir these people up--"

So that was the way Hal seemed to the "G. F. C."! He had come here
intending to be a spectator, to stand on the deck of the steamer and
look down into the ocean of social misery. He had considered every step
so carefully before he took it! He had merely tried to be a
check-weighman, nothing more! He had told Tom Olson he would not go in
for unionism; he had had a distrust of union organisers, of agitators of
all sorts--blind, irresponsible persons who went about stirring up
dangerous passions. He had come to admire Tom Olson--but that had only
partly removed his prejudices; Olson was only one agitator, not the
whole lot of them!

But all his consideration for the company had counted for nothing;
likewise all his efforts to convince the marshal that he was a
leisure-class person. In spite of all Hal's "tea-party manners," the
marshal had said, "You agitators!" What was he judging by, Hal wondered.
Had he, Hal Warner, come to look like one of these blind, irresponsible
persons? It was time that he took stock of himself!

Had two months of "dirty work" in the bowels of the earth changed him
so? The idea was bound to be disconcerting to one who had been a
favourite of the ladies! Did he talk like it?--he who had been "kissing
the Blarney-stone!" The marshal had said he was "long-winded!" Well, to
be sure, he had talked a lot; but what could the man expect--having shut
him up in jail for two nights and a day, with only his grievances to
brood over! Was that the way real agitators were made--being shut up
with grievances to brood over?

Hal recalled his broodings in the jail. He had been embittered; he had
not cared whether North Valley was dominated by labour unions. But that
had all been a mood, the same as his answer to his brother; that was
jail psychology, a part of his summer course in practical sociology. He
had put it aside; but apparently it had made a deeper impression upon
him than he had realised. It had changed his physical aspect! It had
made him look and talk like an agitator! It had made him
"irresponsible," "blind!"

Yes, that was it! All this dirt, ignorance, disease, this knavery and
oppression, this maiming of men in body and soul in the coal-camps of
America--all this did not exist--it was the hallucination of an
"irresponsible" brain! There was the evidence of Hal's brother and the
camp-marshal to prove it; there was the evidence of the whole world to
prove it! The camp-marshal and his brother and the whole world could not
be "blind!" And if you talked to them about these conditions, they
shrugged their shoulders, they called you a "dreamer," a "crank," they
said you were "off your trolley"; or else they became angry and bitter,
they called you names; they said, "You agitators!"



SECTION 24.

The camp-marshal of North Valley had been "agitated" to such an extent
that he could not stay in his chair. All the harassments of his troubled
career had come pouring into his mind. He had begun pacing the floor,
and was talking away, regardless of whether Hal listened or not.

"A campful of lousy wops! They can't understand any civilised language,
they've only one idea in the world--to shirk every lick of work they
can, to fill up their cars with slate and rock and blame it on some
other fellow, and go off to fill themselves with booze. They won't work
fair, they won't fight fair--they fight with a knife in the back! And
you agitators with your sympathy for them--why the hell do they come to
this country, unless they like it better than their own?"

Hal had heard this question before; but they had to wait for the
automobile--and being sure that he was an agitator now, he would make
all the trouble he could! "The reason is obvious enough," he said.
"Isn't it true that the 'G. F. C.' employs agents abroad to tell them of
the wonderful pay they get in America?"

"Well, they get it, don't they? Three times what they ever got at home!"

"Yes, but it doesn't do them any good. There's another fact which the
'G. F. C.' doesn't mention--that the cost of living is even higher than
the wages. Then, too, they're led to think of America as a land of
liberty; they come, hoping for a better chance for themselves and their
children; but they find a camp-marshal who's off in his geography--who
thinks the Rocky Mountains are somewhere in Russia!"

"I know that line of talk!" exclaimed the other. "I learned to wave the
starry flag when I was a kid. But I tell you, you've got to get coal
mined, and it isn't the same thing as running a Fourth of July
celebration. Some church people make a law they shan't work on
Sunday--and what comes of that? They have thirty-six hours to get soused
in, and so they can't work on Monday!"

"Surely there's a remedy, Cotton! Suppose the company refused to rent
buildings to saloon-keepers?"

"Good God! You think we haven't tried it? They go down to Pedro for the
stuff, and bring back all they can carry--inside them and out. And if we
stop that--then our hands move to some other camps, where they can spend
their money as they please. No, young man, when you have such cattle,
you have to drive them! And it takes a strong hand to do it--a man like
Peter Harrigan. If there's to be any coal, if industry's to go on, if
there's to be any progress--"

"We have that in our song!" laughed Hal, breaking into the
camp-marshal's discourse--

  "He keeps them a-roll, that merry old soul--
    The wheels of industree;
  A-roll and a-roll, for his pipe and his bowl
    And his college facultee!"

"Yes," growled the marshal. "It's easy enough for you smart young chaps
to make verses, while you're living at ease on the old man's bounty. But
that don't answer any argument. Are you college boys ready to take over
his job? Or these Democrat politicians that come in here, talking
fool-talk about liberty, making labour laws for these wops--"

"I begin to understand," said Hal. "You object to the politicians who
pass the laws, you doubt their motives--and so you refuse to obey. But
why didn't you tell me sooner you were an anarchist?"

"Anarchist?" cried the marshal. "_Me_ an anarchist?"

"That's what an anarchist is, isn't it?"

"Good God! If that isn't the limit! You come here, stirring up the
men--a union agitator, or whatever you are--and you know that the first
idea of these people, when they do break loose, is to put dynamite in
the shafts and set fire to the buildings!"

"Do they do that?" There was surprise in Hal's tone.

"Haven't you read what they did in the last big strike? That dough-faced
old preacher, John Edstrom, could tell you. He was one of the bunch."

"No," said Hal, "you're mistaken. Edstrom has a different philosophy.
But others did, I've no doubt. And since I've been here, I can
understand their point of view entirely. When they set fire to the
buildings, it was because they thought you and Alec Stone might be
inside."

The marshal did not smile.

"They want to destroy the properties," continued Hal, "because that's
the only way they can think of to punish the tyranny and greed of the
owners. But, Cotton, suppose some one were to put a new idea into their
heads; suppose some one were to say to them, 'Don't destroy the
properties--_take them!_'"

The other stared. "Take them! So that's your idea of morality!"

"It would be more moral than the method by which Peter got them in the
beginning."

"What method is that?" demanded the marshal, with some appearance of
indignation. "He paid the market-price for them, didn't he?"

"He paid the market-price for politicians. Up in Western City I happen
to know a lady who was a school-commissioner when he was buying
school-lands from the state--lands that were known to contain coal. He
was paying three dollars an acre, and everybody knew they were worth
three thousand."

"Well," said Cotton, "if you don't buy the politicians, you wake up some
fine morning and find that somebody else has bought them. If you have
property, you have to protect it."

"Cotton," said Hal, "you sell Old Peter your time--but surely you might
keep part of your brains! Enough to look at your monthly pay-check and
realise that you too are a wage-slave, not much better than the miners
you despise."

The other smiled. "My check might be bigger, I admit; but I've figured
over it, and I think I have an easier time than you agitators. I'm
top-dog, and I expect to stay on top."

"Well, Cotton, on that view of life, I don't wonder you get drunk now
and then. A dog-fight, with no faith or humanity anywhere! Don't think
I'm sneering at you--I'm talking out of my heart to you. I'm not so
young, nor such a fool, that I haven't had the dog-fight aspect of
things brought to my attention. But there's something in a fellow that
insists he isn't all dog; he has at least a possibility of something
better. Take these poor under-dogs sweating inside the mountain, risking
their lives every hour of the day and night to provide you and me with
coal to keep us warm--to 'keep the wheels of industry a-roll'--"



SECTION 25.

These were the last words Hal spoke. They were obvious enough words, yet
when he looked back upon the coincidence, it seemed to him a singular
one. For while he was sitting there chatting, it happened that the poor
under-dogs inside the mountain were in the midst of one of those
experiences which make the romance and terror of coal-mining. One of the
boys who were employed underground, in violation of the child labour
law, was in the act of bungling his task. He was a "spragger," whose
duty it was to thrust a stick into the wheel of a loaded car to hold it;
and he was a little chap, and the car was in motion when he made the
attempt. It knocked him against the wall--and so there was a load of
coal rolling down grade, pursued too late by half a dozen men. Gathering
momentum, it whirled round a curve and flew from the track, crashing
into timbers and knocking them loose. With the timbers came a shower of
coal-dust, accumulated for decades in these old workings; and at the
same time came an electric light wire, which, as it touched the car,
produced a spark.

And so it was that Hal, chatting with the marshal, suddenly felt, rather
than heard, a deafening roar; he felt the air about him turn into a
living thing which struck him a mighty blow, hurling him flat upon the
floor. The windows of the room crashed inward upon him in a shower of
glass, and the plaster of the ceiling came down on his head in another
shower.

When he raised himself, half stunned, he saw the marshal, also on the
floor; these two conversationalists stared at each other with horrified
eyes. Even as they crouched, there came a crash above their heads, and
half the ceiling of the room came toward them, with a great piece of
timber sticking through. All about them were other crashes, as if the
end of the world had come.

They struggled to their feet, and rushing to the door, flung it open,
just as a jagged piece of timber shattered the side-walk in front of
them. They sprang back again, "Into the cellar!" cried the marshal,
leading the way to the back-stairs.

But before they had started down these stairs, they realised that the
crashing had ceased. "What is it?" gasped Hal, as they stood.

"Mine-explosion," said the other; and after a few seconds they ran to
the door again.

The first thing they saw was a vast pillar of dust and smoke, rising
into the sky above them. It spread before their dazed eyes, until it
made night of everything about them. There was still a rain of lighter
debris pattering down over the village; as they stared, and got their
wits about them, remembering how things had looked before this, they
realised that the shaft-house of Number One had disappeared.

"Blown up, by God!" cried the marshal; and the two ran out into the
street, and looking up, saw that a portion of the wrecked building had
fallen through the roof of the jail above their heads.

The rain of debris had now ceased, but there were clouds of dust which
covered the two men black; the clouds grew worse, until they could
hardly see their way at all. And with the darkness there fell silence,
which, after the sound of the explosion and the crashing of debris,
seemed the silence of death.

For a few moments Hal stood dazed. He saw a stream of men and boys
pouring from the breaker; while from every street there appeared a
stream of women; women old, women young--leaving their cooking on the
stove, their babies in the crib, with their older children screaming at
their skirts, they gathered in swarms about the pit-mouth, which was
like the steaming crater of a volcano.

Cartwright, the superintendent, appeared, running toward the fan-house.
Cotton joined him, and Hal followed. The fan-house was a wreck, the
giant fan lying on the ground a hundred feet away, its blades smashed.
Hal was too inexperienced in mine-matters to get the full significance
of this; but he saw the marshal and the superintendent stare blankly at
each other, and heard the former's exclamation, "That does for us!"
Cartwright said not a word; but his thin lips were pressed together, and
there was fear in his eyes.

Back to the smoking pit-mouth the two men hurried, with Hal following.
Here were a hundred, two hundred women crowded, clamouring questions all
at once. They swarmed about the marshal, the superintendent, the other
bosses--even about Hal, crying hysterically in Polish and Bohemian and
Greek. When Hal shook his head, indicating that he did not understand
them, they moaned in anguish, or shrieked aloud. Some continued to stare
into the smoking pit-mouth; others covered the sight from their eyes, or
sank down upon their knees, sobbing, praying with uplifted hands.

Little by little Hal began to realise the full horror of a
mine-disaster. It was not noise and smoke and darkness, nor frantic,
wailing women; it was not anything above ground, but what was below in
the smoking black pit! It was men! Men whom Hal knew, whom he had worked
with and joked with, whose smiles he had shared; whose daily life he had
come to know! Scores, possibly hundreds of them, they were down here
under his feet--some dead, others injured, maimed. What would they do?
What would those on the surface do for them? Hal tried to get to Cotton,
to ask him questions; but the camp-marshal was surrounded, besieged. He
was pushing the women back, exclaiming, "Go away! Go home!"

What? Go home? they cried. When their men were in the mine? They crowded
about him closer, imploring, shrieking.

"Get out!" he kept exclaiming. "There's nothing you can do! There's
nothing anybody can do yet! Go home! Go home!" He had to beat them back
by force, to keep them from pushing one another into the pit-mouth.

Everywhere Hal looked were women in attitudes of grief: standing rigid,
staring ahead of them as if in a trance; sitting down, rocking to and
fro; on their knees with faces uplifted in prayer; clutching their
terrified children about their skirts. He saw an Austrian woman, a
pitiful, pale young thing with a ragged grey shawl about her head,
stretching out her hands and crying: "Mein Mann! Mein Mann!" Presently
she covered her face, and her voice died into a wail of despair: "O,
mein Mann! O, mein Mann!" She turned away, staggering about like some
creature that has received a death wound. Hal's eyes followed her; her
cry, repeated over and over incessantly, became the leit-motif of this
symphony of horror.

He had read about mine-disasters in his morning newspaper; but here a
mine-disaster became a thing of human flesh and blood. The unendurable
part of it was the utter impotence of himself and of all the world. This
impotence became clearer to him each moment--from the exclamations of
Cotton and of the men he questioned. It was monstrous, incredible--but
it was so! They must send for a new fan, they must wait for it to be
brought in, they must set it up and get it into operation; they must
wait for hours after that while smoke and gas were cleared out of the
main passages of the mine; and until this had been done, there was
nothing they could do--absolutely nothing! The men inside the mine would
stay. Those who had not been killed outright would make their way into
the remoter chambers, and barricade themselves against the deadly "after
damp." They would wait, without food or water, with air of doubtful
quality--they would wait and wait, until the rescue-crew could get to
them!



SECTION 26.

At moments in the midst of this confusion, Hal found himself trying to
recall who had worked in Number One, among the people he knew. He
himself had been employed in Number Two, so he had naturally come to
know more men in that mine. But he had known some from the other
mine--Old Rafferty for one, and Mary Burke's father for another, and at
least one of the members of his check-weighman group--Zamierowski. Hal
saw in a sudden vision the face of this patient little man, who smiled
so good-naturedly while Americans were trying to say his name. And Old
Rafferty, with all his little Rafferties, and his piteous efforts to
keep the favour of his employers! And poor Patrick Burke, whom Hal had
never seen sober; doubtless he was sober now, if he was still alive!

Then in the crowd Hal encountered Jerry Minetti, and learned that
another man who had been down was Farenzena, the Italian whose
"fanciulla" had played with him; and yet another was Judas
Apostolikas--having taken his thirty pieces of silver with him into the
deathtrap!

People were making up lists, just as Hal was doing, by asking questions
of others. These lists were subject to revision--sometimes under
dramatic circumstances. You saw a woman weeping, with her apron to her
eyes; suddenly she would look up, give a piercing cry, and fling her
arms about the neck of some man. As for Hal, he felt as if he were
encountering a ghost when suddenly he recognised Patrick Burke, standing
in the midst of a group of people. He went over and heard the old man's
story--how there was a Dago fellow who had stolen his timbers, and he
had come up to the surface for more; so his life had been saved, while
the timber-thief was down there still--a judgment of Providence upon
mine-miscreants!

Presently Hal asked if Burke had been to tell his family. He had run
home, he said, but there was nobody there. So Hal began pushing his way
through the throngs, looking for Mary, or her sister Jennie, or her
brother Tommie. He persisted in this search, although it occurred to him
to wonder whether the family of a hopeless drunkard would appreciate the
interposition of Providence in his behalf.

He encountered Olson, who had had a narrow escape, being employed as a
surface-man near the hoist. All this was an old story to the organiser,
who had worked in mines since he was eight years old, and had seen many
kinds of disaster. He began to explain things to Hal, in a matter of
fact way. The law required a certain number of openings to every mine,
also an escape-way with ladders by which men could come out; but it cost
good money to dig holes in the ground.

At this time the immediate cause of the explosion was unknown, but they
could tell it was a "dust explosion" by the clouds of coke-dust, and no
one who had been into the mine and seen its dry condition would doubt
what they would find when they went down and traced out the "force" and
its effects. They were supposed to do regular sprinkling, but in such
matters the bosses used their own judgment.

Hal was only half listening to these explanations. The thing was too raw
and too horrible to him. What difference did it make whose fault it was?
The accident had happened, and the question was now how to meet the
emergency! Underneath Olson's sentences he heard the cry of men and boys
being asphyxiated in dark dungeons--he heard the wailing of women, like
a surf beating on a distant shore, or the faint, persistent
accompaniment of muted strings: "O, mein Mann! O, mein Mann!"

They came upon Jeff Cotton again. With half a dozen men to help him, he
was pushing back the crowd from the pit-mouth, and stretching barbed
wired to hold them back. He was none too gentle about it, Hal thought;
but doubtless women are provoking when they are hysterical. He was
answering their frenzied questions, "Yes, yes! We're getting a new fan.
We're doing everything we can, I tell you. We'll get them out. Go home
and wait."

But of course no one would go home. How could a woman sit in her house,
or go about her ordinary tasks of cooking or washing, while her man
might be suffering asphyxiation under the ground? The least she could do
was to stand at the pit-mouth--as near to him as she could get! Some of
them stood motionless, hour after hour, while others wandered through
the village streets, asking the same people, over and over again, if
they had seen their loved ones. Several had turned up, like Patrick
Burke; there seemed always a chance for one more.



SECTION 27.

In the course of the afternoon Hal came upon Mary Burke on the street.
She had long ago found her father, and seen him off to O'Callahan's to
celebrate the favours of Providence. Now Mary was concerned with a
graver matter. Number Two Mine was in danger! The explosion in Number
One had been so violent that the gearing of the fan of the other mine,
nearly a mile up the canyon, had been thrown out of order. So the fan
had stopped; and when some one had gone to Alec Stone, asking that he
bring out the men, Stone had refused. "What do ye think he said?" cried
Mary. "What do ye think? 'Damn the men! Save the mules!'"

Hal had all but lost sight of the fact that there was a second mine in
the village, in which hundreds of men and boys were still at work.
"Wouldn't they know about the explosion?" he asked.

"They might have heard the noise," said Mary. "But they'd not know what
it was; and the bosses won't tell them till they've got out the mules."

For all that he had seen in North Valley, Hal could hardly credit that
story. "How do you know it, Mary?"

"Young Rovetta just told me. He was there, and heard it with his own
ears."

He was staring at her. "Let's go and make sure," he said, and they
started up the main street of the village. On the way they were joined
by others--for already the news of this fresh trouble had begun to
spread. Jeff Cotton went past them in an automobile, and Mary exclaimed,
"I told ye so! When ye see him goin', ye know there's dirty work to be
done!"

They came to the shaft-house of Number Two, and found a swarm of people,
almost a riot. Women and children were shrieking and gesticulating,
threatening to break into the office and use the mine-telephone to warn
the men themselves. And here was the camp-marshal driving them back. Hal
and Mary arrived in time to see Mrs. David, whose husband was at work in
Number Two, shaking her fist in the marshal's face and screaming at him
like a wild-cat. He drew his revolver upon her; and at this Hal started
forward. A blind fury seized him--he would have thrown himself upon the
marshal.

But Mary Burke stopped him, flinging her arms about him, and pinning him
by main force. "No, no!" she cried. "Stay back, man! D'ye want to get
killed?"

He was amazed at her strength. He was amazed also at the vehemence of
her emotion. She was calling him a crazy fool, and names even more
harsh. "Have ye no more sense than a woman? Running into the mouth of a
revolver like that!"

The crisis passed in a moment, for Mrs. David fell back, and then the
marshal put up his weapon. But Mary continued scolding Hal, trying to
drag him away. "Come on now! Come out of here!"

"But, Mary! We must do something!"

"Ye can do nothin', I tell ye! Ye'd ought to have sense enough to know
it. I'll not let ye get yeself murdered! Come away now!" And half by
force and half by cajoling, she got him farther down the street.

He was trying to think out the situation. Were the men in Number Two
really in danger? Could it be possible that the bosses would take such a
chance in cold blood? And right at this moment, with the disaster in the
other mine before their eyes! He could not believe it; and meantime
Mary, at his side, was declaring that the men were in no real danger--it
was only Alec Stone's brutal words that had set her crazy.

"Don't ye remember the time when the air-course was blocked before, and
ye helped to get up the mules yeself? Ye thought nothin' of it then, and
'tis the same now. They'll get everybody out in time!"

She was concealing her real feelings in order to keep him safe; he let
her lead him on, while he tried to think of something else to do. He
would think of the men in Number Two; they were his best friends, Jack
David, Tim Rafferty, Wresmak, Androkulos, Klowoski. He would think of
them, in their remote dungeons--breathing bad air, becoming sick and
faint--in order that mules might be saved! He would stop in his tracks,
and Mary would drag him on, repeating over and over, "Ye can do nothin'!
Nothin'!" And then he would think, What could he do? He had put up his
best bluff to Jeff Cotton a few hours earlier, and the answer had been
the muzzle of the marshal's revolver in his face. All he could
accomplish now would be to bring himself to Cotton's attention, and be
thrust out of camp forthwith.



SECTION 28.

They came to Mary's home; and next door was the home of the Slav woman,
Mrs. Zamboni, about whom in the past she had told him so many funny
stories. Mrs. Zamboni had had a new baby every year for sixteen years,
and eleven of these babies were still alive. Now her husband was trapped
in Number One, and she was distracted, wandering about the streets with
the greater part of her brood at her heels. At intervals she would emit
a howl like a tortured animal, and her brood would take it up in various
timbres. Hal stopped to listen to the sounds, but Mary put her fingers
into her ears and fled into the house. Hal followed her, and saw her
fling herself into a chair and burst into hysterical weeping. And
suddenly Hal realised what a strain this terrible affair had been upon
Mary. It had been bad enough to him--but he was a man, and more able to
contemplate sights of horror. Men went to their deaths in industry and
war, and other men saw them go and inured themselves to the spectacle.
But women were the mothers of these men; it was women who bore them in
pain, nursed them and reared them with endless patience--women could
never become inured to the spectacle! Then too, the women's fate was
worse. If the men were dead, that was the end of them; but the women
must face the future, with its bitter memories, its lonely and desolate
struggle for existence. The women must see the children suffering, dying
by slow stages of deprivation.

Hal's pity for all suffering women became concentrated upon the girl
beside him. He knew how tenderhearted she was. She had no man in the
mine, but some day she would have, and she was suffering the pangs of
that inexorable future. He looked at her, huddled in her chair, wiping
away her tears with the hem of her old blue calico. She seemed
unspeakably pathetic--like a child that has been hurt. She was sobbing
out sentences now and then, as if to herself: "Oh, the poor women, the
poor women! Did ye see the face of Mrs. Jonotch? She'd jumped into the
smoking pit-mouth if they'd let her!"

"Don't suffer so, Mary!" pleaded Hal--as if he thought she could stop.

"Let me alone!" she cried. "Let me have it out!" And Hal, who had had no
experience with hysteria, stood helplessly by.

"There's more misery than I ever knew there was!" she went on. "'Tis
everywhere ye turn, a woman with her eyes burnin' with suffering
wondering if she'll ever see her man again! Or some mother whose lad may
be dying and she can do nothin' for him!"

"And neither can you do anything, Mary," Hal pleaded again. "You're only
sorrowing yourself to death."

"Ye say that to me?" she cried. "And when ye were ready to let Jeff
Cotton shoot ye, because you were so sorry for Mrs. David! No, the
sights here nobody can stand."

He could think of nothing to answer. He drew up a chair and sat by her
in silence, and after a while she began to grow calmer, and wiped away
her tears, and sat gazing dully through the doorway into the dirty
little street.

Hal's eyes followed hers. There were the ash-heaps and tomato-cans,
there were two of Mrs. Zamboni's bedraggled brood, poking with sticks
into a dump-heap--looking for something to eat, perhaps, or for
something to play with. There was the dry, waste grass of the road-side,
grimy with coal-dust, as was everything else in the village. What a
scene!--And this girl's eyes had never a sight of anything more
inspiring than this. Day in and day out, all her life long, she looked
at this scene! Had he ever for a moment reproached her for her "black
moods"? With such an environment could men or women be cheerful--could
they dream of beauty, aspire to heights of nobility and courage, to
happy service of their fellows? There was a miasma of despair over this
place; it was not a real place--it was a dream-place--a horrible,
distorted nightmare! It was like the black hole in the ground which
haunted Hal's imagination, with men and boys at the bottom of it, dying
of asphyxiation!

Suddenly it came to Hal--he wanted to get away from North Valley! To get
away at all costs! The place had worn down his courage; slowly, day
after day, the sight of misery and want, of dirt and disease, of hunger,
oppression, despair, had eaten the soul out of him, had undermined his
fine structure of altruistic theories. Yes, he wanted to escape--to a
place where the sun shone, where the grass grew green, where human
beings stood erect and laughed and were free. He wanted to shut from his
eyes the dust and smoke of this nasty little village; to stop his ears
to that tormenting sound of women wailing: "O, mein Mann! O, mein Mann!"

He looked at the girl, who sat staring before her, bent forward, her
arms hanging limply over her knees.

"Mary," he said, "you must go away from here! It's no place for a
tenderhearted girl to be. It's no place for any one!"

She gazed at him dully for a moment. "It was me that was tellin' _you_
to go away," she said, at last. "Ever since ye came here I been sayin'
it! Now I guess ye know what I mean."

"Yes," he said, "I do, and I want to go. But I want you to go too."

"D'ye think 'twould do me any good, Joe?" she asked. "D'ye think 'twould
do me any good to get away? Could I ever forget the sights I've seen
this day? Could I ever have any real, honest happiness anywhere after
this?"

He tried to reassure her, but he was far from reassured himself. How
would it be with him? Would he ever feel that he had a right to
happiness after this? Could he take any satisfaction in a pleasant and
comfortable world, knowing that it was based upon such hideous misery?
His thoughts went to that world, where careless, pleasure-loving people
sought gratification of their desires. It came to him suddenly that what
he wanted more than to get away was to bring those people here, if only
for a day, for an hour, that they might hear this chorus of wailing
women!



SECTION 29.

Mary made Hal swear that he would not get into a fight with Cotton; then
they went to Number Two. They found the mules coming up, and the bosses
promising that in a short while the men would be coming. Everything was
all right--there was not a bit of danger! But Mary was afraid to trust
Hal, in spite of his promise, so she lured him back to Number One.

They found that a rescue-car had just arrived from Pedro, bringing
doctors and nurses, also several "helmets." These "helmets" were strange
looking contrivances, fastened over the head and shoulders, air-tight,
and provided with oxygen sufficient to last for an hour or more. The men
who wore them sat in a big bucket which was let down the shaft with a
windlass, and every now and then they pulled on a signal-cord to let
those on the surface know they were alive. When the first of them came
back, he reported that there were bodies near the foot of the shaft, but
apparently all dead. There was heavy black smoke, indicating a fire
somewhere in the mine; so nothing more could be done until the fan had
been set up. By reversing the fan, they could draw out the smoke and
gases and clear the shaft.

The state mine-inspector had been notified, but was ill at home, and was
sending one of his deputies. Under the law this official would have
charge of all the rescue work, but Hal found that the miners took no
interest in his presence. It had been his duty to prevent the accident,
and he had not done so. When he came, he would do what the company
wanted.

Some time after dark the workers began to come out of Number Two, and
their women, waiting at the pit-mouth, fell upon their necks with cries
of thankfulness. Hal observed other women, whose men were in Number One,
and would perhaps never come out again, standing and watching these
greetings with wistful, tear-filled eyes. Among those who came out was
Jack David, and Hal walked home with him and his wife, listening to the
latter abuse Jeff Cotton and Alec Stone, which was an education in the
vocabulary of class-consciousness. The little Welsh woman repeated the
pit-boss's saying, "Damn the men, save the mules!" She said it again and
again--it seemed to delight her like a work of art, it summed up so
perfectly the attitude of the bosses to their men! There were many other
people repeating that saying, Hal found; it went all over the village,
in a few days it went all over the district. It summed up what the
district believed to be the attitude of the coal-operators to the
workers!

Having got over the first shock of the disaster, Hal wanted information,
and he questioned Big Jack, a solid and well-read man who had given
thought to every aspect of the industry. In his quiet, slow way, he
explained to Hal that the frequency of accidents in this district was
not due to any special difficulty in operating these mines, the
explosiveness of the gases or the dryness of the atmosphere. It was
merely the carelessness of those in charge, their disregard of the laws
for the protection of the men. There ought to be a law with "teeth" in
it--for example, one providing that for every man killed in a coal-mine
his heirs should receive a thousand dollars, regardless of who had been
to blame for the accident. Then you would see how quickly the operators
would get busy and find remedies for the "unusual" dangers!

As it was, they knew that no matter how great their culpability, they
could get off with slight loss. Already, no doubt, their lawyers were on
the spot, and by the time the first bodies were brought out, they would
be fixing things up with the families. They would offer a widow a ticket
back to the old country; they would offer a whole family of orphaned
children, maybe fifty dollars, maybe a hundred dollars--and it would be
a case of take it or leave it. You could get nothing from the courts;
the case was so hopeless that you could not even find a lawyer to make
the attempt. That was one reform in which the companies believed, said
"Big Jack," with sarcasm; they had put the "shyster lawyer" out of
business!



SECTION 30.

There followed a night and then another day of torturing suspense. The
fan came, but it had to be set up before anything could be done. As
volumes of black smoke continued to pour from the shaft, the opening was
made tight with a board and canvas cover; it was necessary, the bosses
said, but to Hal it seemed the climax of horror. To seal up men and boys
in a place of deadly gases!

There was something peculiarly torturing in the idea of men caught in a
mine; they were directly under one's feet, yet it was impossible to get
to them, to communicate with them in any way! The people on top yearned
to them, and they, down below, yearned back. It was impossible to forget
them for even a few minutes. People would become abstracted while they
talked, and would stand staring into space; suddenly, in the midst of a
crowd, a woman would bury her face in her hands and burst into tears,
and then all the others would follow suit.

Few people slept in North Valley during those two nights. They held
mourning parties in their homes or on the streets. Some house-work had
to be done, of course, but no one did anything that could be left
undone. The children would not play; they stood about, silent, pale,
like wizened-up grown people, over-mature in knowledge of trouble. The
nerves of every one were on edge, the self-control of every one balanced
upon a fine point.

It was a situation bound to be fruitful in imaginings and rumours,
stimulated to those inclined to signs and omens--the seers of ghosts, or
those who went into trances, or possessed second sight or other
mysterious gifts. There were some living in a remote part of the village
who declared they had heard explosions under the ground, several blasts
in quick succession. The men underground were setting off dynamite by
way of signalling!

In the course of the second day Hal sat with Mary Burke upon the steps
of her home. Old Patrick lay within, having found the secret of oblivion
at O'Callahan's. Now and then came the moaning of Mrs. Zamboni, who was
in her cabin with her brood of children. Mary had been in to feed them,
because the distracted mother let them starve and cry. Mary was worn
out, herself; the wonderful Irish complexion had faded, and there were
no curves to the vivid lips. They had been sitting in silence, for there
was nothing to talk of but the disaster--and they had said all there was
to say about that. But Hal had been thinking while he watched Mary.

"Listen, Mary," he said, at last; "when this thing is over, you must
really come away from here. I've thought it all out--I have friends in
Western City who will give you work, so you can take care of yourself,
and of your brother and sister too. Will you go?"

But she did not answer. She continued to gaze indifferently into the
dirty little street.

"Truly, Mary," he went on. "Life isn't so terrible everywhere as it is
here. Come away! Hard as it is to believe, you'll forget all this.
People suffer, but then they stop suffering; it's nature's way--to make
them forget."

"Nature's way has been to beat me dead," said she.

"Yes, Mary. Despair can become a disease, but it hasn't with you. You're
just tired out. If you'll try to rouse yourself--" And he reached over
and caught her hand with an attempt at playfulness. "Cheer up, Mary!
You're coming away from North Valley."

She turned and looked at him. "Am I?" she asked, impassively; and she
went on studying his face. "Who are ye, Joe Smith? What are ye doin'
here?"

"Working in a coal-mine," he laughed, still trying to divert her.

But she went on, as gravely as before. "Ye're no working man, that I
know. And ye're always offering me help! Ye're always sayin' what ye can
do for me!" She paused and there came some of the old defiance into her
face. "Joe, ye can have no idea of the feelin's that have got hold of me
just now. I'm ready to do something desperate; ye'd best be leavin' me
alone, Joe!"

"I think I understand, Mary. I would hardly blame you for anything you
did."

She took up his words eagerly. "Wouldn't ye, Joe? Ye're sure? Then what
I want is to get the truth from ye. I want ye to talk it out fair!"

"All right, Mary. What is it?"

But her defiance had vanished suddenly. Her eyes dropped, and he saw her
fingers picking nervously at a fold of her dress. "About us, Joe," she
said. "I've thought sometimes ye cared for me. I've thought ye liked to
be with me--not just because ye were sorry for me, but because of _me_.
I've not been sure, but I can't help thinkin' it's so. Is it?"

"Yes, it is," he said, a little uncertainly. "I _do_ care for you."

"Then is it that ye don't care for that other girl all the time?"

"No," he said, "it's not that."

"Ye can care for two girls at the same time?"

He did not know what to say. "It would seem that I can, Mary."

She raised her eyes again and studied his face. "Ye told me about that
other girl, and I been wonderin', was it only to put me off? Maybe it's
me own fault, but I can't make meself believe in that other girl, Joe!"

"You're mistaken, Mary," he answered, quickly. "What I told you was
true."

"Well, maybe so," she said, but there was no conviction in her tone. "Ye
come away from her, and ye never go where she is or see her--it's hard
to believe ye'd do that way if ye were very close to her. I just don't
think ye love her as much as ye might. And ye say you do care some for
me. So I've thought--I've wondered--"

She stopped, forcing herself to meet his gaze: "I been tryin' to work it
out! I know ye're too good a man for me, Joe. Ye come from a better
place in life, ye've a right to expect more in a woman--"

"It's not that, Mary!"

But she cut him short. "I know that's true! Ye're only tryin' to save my
feelin's. I know ye're better than me! I've tried hard to hold me head
up, I've tried a long time not to let meself go to pieces. I've even
tried to keep cheerful, telling meself I'd not want to be like Mrs.
Zamboni, forever complainin'. But 'tis no use tellin' yourself lies! I
been up to the church, and heard the Reverend Spragg tell the people
that the rich and poor are the same in the sight of the Lord. And maybe
'tis so, but I'm not the Lord, and I'll never pretend I'm not ashamed to
be livin' in a place like this."

"I'm sure the Lord has no interest in keeping you here--" he began.

But she broke in, "What makes it so hard to bear is knowin' there's so
many wonderful things in the world, and ye can never have them! 'Tis as
if ye had to see them through a pane of glass, like in the window of a
store. Just think, Joe Smith--once, in a church in Sheridan, I heard a
lady sing beautiful music; once in my whole lifetime! Can ye guess what
it meant to me?"

"Yes, Mary, I can."

"But I had that all out with meself--years ago. I knew the price a
workin' girl has to pay for such things, and I said, I'll not let meself
think about them. I've hated this place, I've wanted to get away--but
there's only one way to go, to let some man take ye! So I've stayed;
I've kept straight, Joe. I want ye to believe that."

"Of course, Mary!"

"No! It's not been 'of course'! It means ye have to fight with
temptations. It's many a time I've looked at Jeff Cotton, and thought
about the things I need! And I've done without! But now comes the thing
a woman wants more than all the other things in the world!"

She paused, but only for a moment. "They tell ye to love a man of your
own class. Me old mother said that to me, before she died. But suppose
ye didn't happen to? Suppose ye'd stopped and thought what it meant,
havin' one baby after another, till ye're worn out and drop--like me old
mother did? Suppose ye knew good manners when ye see them--ye knew
interestin' talk when ye heard it!" She clasped her hands suddenly
before her, exclaiming, "Ah, 'tis something different ye are, Joe--so
different from anything around here! The way ye talk, the way ye move,
the gay look in your eyes! No miner ever had that happy look, Joe; me
heart stops beatin' almost when ye look at me!" She stopped with a sharp
catching of her breath, and he saw that she was struggling for
self-control. After a moment she exclaimed, defiantly: "But they'd tell
ye, be careful, ye daren't love that kind of man; ye'd only have your
heart broken!"

There was silence. For this problem the amateur sociologist had no
solution at hand--whether for the abstract question, or for its concrete
application!



SECTION 31.

Mary forced herself to go on. "This is how I've worked it out, Joe! I
said to meself, 'Ye love this man; and it's his _love_ ye want--nothin'
else! If he's got a place in the world, ye'd only hold him back--and
ye'd not want to do that. Ye don't want his name, or his friends, or any
of those things--ye want _him_!' Have ye ever heard of such a thing as
that?"

Her cheeks were flaming, but she continued to meet his gaze. "Yes, I've
heard of it," he answered, in a low voice.

"What would ye say to it? Is it honest? The Reverend Spragg would say
'twas the devil, no doubt; Father O'Gorman, down in Pedro, would call it
mortal sin; and maybe they know--but I don't! I only know I can't stand
it any more!"

Tears sprang to her eyes, and she cried out suddenly, "Oh, take me away
from here! Take me away and give me a chance, Joe! I'll ask nothing,
I'll never stand in your way; I'll work for ye, I'll cook and wash and
do everything for ye, I'll wear my fingers to the bone! Or I'll go out
and work at some job, and earn my share. And I'll make ye this
promise--if ever ye get tired and want to leave me, ye'll not hear a
word of complaint!"

She made no conscious appeal to his senses; she sat gazing at him
honestly through her tears, and that made it all the harder to answer
her.

What could he say? He felt the old dangerous impulse--to take the girl
in his arms and comfort her. When finally he spoke it was with an effort
to keep his voice calm. "I'd say yes, Mary, if I thought it would work."

"It _would_ work! It would, Joe! Ye can quit when ye want to. I mean
it!"

"There's no woman lives who can be happy on such terms, Mary. She wants
her man, and she wants him to herself, and she wants him always; she's
only deluding herself if she believes anything else. You're over-wrought
now, what you've seen in the last few days has made you wild--"

"No!" she exclaimed. "'Tis not only that! I been thinkin' about it for
weeks."

"I know. You've been thinking, but you wouldn't have spoken if it hadn't
been for this horror." He paused for a moment, to renew his own
self-possession. "It won't do, Mary," he declared. "I've seen it tried
more than once, and I'm not so old either. My own brother tried it once,
and ruined himself."

"Ah, ye're afraid to trust me, Joe!"

"No, it's not that; what I mean is--he ruined his own heart, he made
himself selfish. He took everything, and gave nothing. He's much older
than I, so I've had a chance to see its effect on him. He's cold, he has
no faith, even in his own nature; when you talk to him about making the
world better he tells you you're a fool."

"It's another way of bein' afraid of me," she insisted. "Afraid you'd
ought to marry me!"

"But, Mary--there's the other girl. I really love her, and I'm promised
to her. What can I do?"

"'Tis that I've never believed you loved her," she said, in a whisper.
Her eyes fell and she began picking nervously again at the faded blue
dress, which was smutted and grease-stained, perhaps from her recent
effort with Mrs. Zamboni's brood. Several times Hal thought she was
going to speak, but she shut her lips tightly again; he watched her, his
heart aching.

When finally she spoke, it was still in a whisper, and there was a note
of humility he had never heard from her before. "Ye'll not be wantin' to
speak to me, Joe, after what I've said."

"Oh, Mary!" he exclaimed, and caught her hand, "don't say I've made you
more unhappy! I want to help you! Won't you let me be your friend--your
real, true friend? Let me help you to get out of this trap; you'll have
a chance to look about, you'll find a way to be happy--the whole world
will seem different to you then, and you'll laugh at the idea that you
ever wanted me!"



SECTION 32.

The two of them went back to the pit-mouth. It had been two days since
the disaster, and still the fan had not been started, and there was no
sign of its being started. The hysteria of the women was growing, and
there was a tension in the crowds. Jeff Cotton had brought in a force of
men to assist him in keeping order. They had built a fence of barbed
wire about the pit-mouth and its approaches, and behind this wire they
walked--hard-looking citizens with policemen's "billies," and the bulge
of revolvers plainly visible on their hips.

During this long period of waiting, Hal had talks with members of his
check-weighman group. They told what had happened while he was in jail,
and this reminded him of something which had been driven from his mind
by the explosion. Poor old John Edstrom was down in Pedro, perhaps in
dire need. Hal went to the old Swede's cabin that night, climbed through
a window, and dug up the buried money. There were five five-dollar
bills, and he put them in an envelope, addressed them in care of General
Delivery, Pedro, and had Mary Burke take them to the post office and
register them.

The hours dragged on, and still there was no sign of the pit-mouth being
opened. There began to be secret gatherings of the miners and their
wives to complain at the conduct of the company; and it was natural that
Hal's friends who had started the check-weighman movement, should take
the lead in these. They were among the most intelligent of the workers,
and saw farther into the meaning of events. They thought, not merely of
the men who were trapped under ground at this moment, but of thousands
of others who would be trapped through years to come. Hal, especially,
was pondering how he could accomplish something definite before he left
the camp; for of course he would have to leave soon--Jeff Cotton would
remember him, and carry out his threat to get rid of him.

Newspapers had come in, with accounts of the disaster, and Hal and his
friends read these. It was evident that the company had been at pains to
have the accounts written from its own point of view. There existed some
public sensitiveness on the subject of mine-disasters in this state. The
death-rate from accidents was seen to be mounting steadily; the reports
of the state mine inspector showed six per thousand in one year, eight
and a half in the next, and twenty-one and a half in the next. When
fifty or a hundred men were killed in a single accident, and when such
accidents kept happening, one on the heels of another, even the most
callous public could not help asking questions. So in this case the "G.
F. C." had been careful to minimise the loss of life, and to make
excuses. The accident had been owing to no fault of the company's; the
mine had been regularly sprinkled, both with water and adobe dust, and
so the cause of the explosion must have been the carelessness of the men
in handling powder.

In Jack David's cabin one night there arose a discussion as to the
number of men entombed in the mine. The company's estimate of the number
was forty, but Minetti and Olson and David agreed that this was absurd.
Any man who went about in the crowds could satisfy himself that there
were two or three times as many unaccounted for. And this falsification
was deliberate, for the company had a checking system, whereby it knew
the name of every man in the mine. But most of these names were
unpronounceable Slavish, and the owners of the names had no friends to
mention them--at least not in any language understood by American
newspaper editors.

It was all a part of the system, declared Jack David: its purpose and
effect being to enable the company to go on killing men without paying
for them, either in money or in prestige. It occurred to Hal that it
might be worth while to contradict these false statements--almost as
worth while as to save the men who were at this moment entombed. Any one
who came forward to make such a contradiction would of course be giving
himself up to the black-list; but then, Hal regarded himself as a man
already condemned to that penalty.

Tom Olson spoke up. "What would you do with your contradiction?"

"Give it to the papers," Hal answered.

"But what papers would print it?"

"There are two rival papers in Pedro, aren't there?"

"One owned by Alf Raymond, the sheriff-emperor, and the other by
Vagleman, counsel for the 'G. F. C.' Which one would you try?"

"Well then, the outside papers--those in Western City. There are
reporters here now, and some one of them would surely take it."

Olson answered, declaring that they would not get any but labour and
Socialist papers to print such news. But even that was well worth doing.
And Jack David, who was strong for unions and all their activities, put
in, "The thing to do is to take a regular census, so as to know exactly
how many are in the mine."

The suggestion struck fire, and they agreed to set to work that same
evening. It would be a relief to do something, to have something in
their minds but despair. They passed the word to Mary Burke, to Rovetta,
Klowoski, and others; and at eleven o'clock the next morning they met
again, and the lists were put together, and it was found that no less
than a hundred and seven men and boys were positively known to be inside
Number One.



SECTION 33.

As it happened, however, discussion of this list and the method of
giving it to the world was cut short by a more urgent matter. Jack David
came in with news of fresh trouble at the pit-mouth. The new fan was
being put in place; but they were slow about it, so slow that some
people had become convinced that they did not mean to start the fan at
all, but were keeping the mine sealed to prevent the fire from
spreading. A group of such malcontents had presumed to go to Mr.
Carmichael, the deputy state mine-inspector, to urge him to take some
action; and the leader of these protestants, Huszar, the Austrian, who
had been one of Hal's check-weighman group, had been taken into custody
and marched at double-quick to the gate of the stockade!

Jack David declared furthermore that he knew a carpenter who was working
in the fan-house, and who said that no haste whatever was being made.
All the men at the fan-house shared that opinion; the mine was sealed,
and would stay sealed until the company was sure the fire was out.

"But," argued Hal, "if they were to open it, the fire would spread; and
wouldn't that prevent rescue work?"

"Not at all," declared "Big Jack." He explained that by reversing the
fan they could draw the smoke up through the air-course, which would
clear the main passages for a time. "But, you see, some coal might catch
fire, and some timbers; there might be falls of rock so they couldn't
work some of the rooms again."

"How long will they keep the mine sealed?" cried Hal, in consternation.

"Nobody can say. In a big mine like that, a fire might smoulder for a
week."

"Everybody be dead!" cried Rosa Minetti, wringing her hands in a sudden
access of grief.

Hal turned to Olson. "Would they possibly do such a thing?"

"It's been done--more than once," was the organiser's reply.

"Did you never hear about Cherry, Illinois?" asked David. "They did it
there, and more than three hundred people lost their lives." He went on
to tell that dreadful story, known to every coal-miner. They had sealed
the mine, while women fainted and men tore their clothes in frenzy--some
going insane. They had kept it sealed for two weeks, and when they
opened it, there were twenty-one men still alive!

"They did the same thing in Diamondville, Wyoming," added Olson. "They
built up a barrier, and when they took it away they found a heap of dead
men, who had crawled to it and torn their fingers to the bone trying to
break through."

"My God!" cried Hal, springing to his feet. "And this man
Carmichael--would he stand for that?"

"He'd tell you they were doing their best," said "Big Jack." "And maybe
he thinks they are. But you'll see--something'll keep happening; they'll
drag on from day to day, and they'll not start the fan till they're
ready."

"Why, it's murder!" cried Hal.

"It's business," said Tom Olson, quietly.

Hal looked from one to another of the faces of these working people. Not
one but had friends in that trap; not one but might be in the same trap
to-morrow!

"You have to stand it!" he exclaimed, half to himself.

"Don't you see the guards at the pit-mouth?" answered David. "Don't you
see the guns sticking out of their pockets?"

"They bring in more guards this morning," put in Jerry Minetti. "Rosa,
she see them get off."

"They know what they doin'!" said Rosa. "They only fraid we find it out!
They told Mrs. Zamboni she keep away or they send her out of camp. And
old Mrs. Jonotch--her husband and three sons inside!"

"They're getting rougher and rougher," declared Mrs. David. "That big
fellow they call Pete, that came up from Pedro--the way he's handling
the women is a shame!"

"I know him," put in Olson; "Pete Hanun. They had him in Sheridan when
the union first opened headquarters. He smashed one of our organisers in
the mouth and broke four of his teeth. They say he has a jail-record."

All through the previous year at college Hal had listened to lectures
upon political economy, filled with the praises of a thing called
"Private Ownership." This Private Ownership developed initiative and
economy; it kept the wheels of industry a-roll, it kept fat the
pay-rolls of college faculties; it accorded itself with the sacred laws
of supply and demand, it was the basis of the progress and prosperity
wherewith America had been blessed. And here suddenly Hal found himself
face to face with the reality of it; he saw its wolfish eyes glaring
into his own, he felt its smoking hot breath in his face, he saw its
gleaming fangs and claw-like fingers, dripping with the blood of men and
women and children. Private Ownership of coal-mines! Private Ownership
of sealed-up entrances and non-existent escape-ways! Private Ownership
of fans which did not start, of sprinklers which did not sprinkle.
Private Ownership of clubs and revolvers, and of thugs and ex-convicts
to use them, driving away rescuers and shutting up agonised widows and
orphans in their homes! Oh, the serene and well-fed priests of Private
Ownership, chanting in academic halls the praises of the bloody Demon!

Suddenly Hal stopped still. Something had risen in him, the existence of
which he had never suspected. There was a new look upon his face, his
voice was deep as a strong man's when he spoke: "I am going to make them
open that mine!"

They looked at him. They were all of them close to the border of
hysteria, but they caught the strange note in his utterance. "I am going
to make them open that mine!"

"How?" asked Olson.

"The public doesn't know about this thing. If the story got out, there'd
be such a clamour, it couldn't go on!"

"But how will you get it out?"

"I'll give it to the newspapers! They can't suppress such a thing--I
don't care how prejudiced they are!"

"But do you think they'd believe what a miner's buddy tells them?" asked
Mrs. David.

"I'll find a way to make them believe me," said Hal. "I'm going to make
them open that mine!"



SECTION 34.

In the course of his wanderings about the camp, Hal had observed several
wide-awake looking young men with notebooks in their hands. He could see
that these young men were being made guests of the company, chatting
with the bosses upon friendly terms; nevertheless, he believed that
among them he might find one who had a conscience--or at any rate who
would yield to the temptation of a "scoop." So, leaving the gathering at
Mrs. David's, Hal went to the pit-mouth, watching out for one of these
reporters; when he found him, he followed him for a while, desiring to
get him where no company "spotter" might interfere. At the first chance,
he stepped up, and politely asked the reporter to come into a side
street, where they might converse undisturbed.

The reporter obeyed the request; and Hal, concealing the intensity of
his feelings, so as not to repel the other, let it be known that he had
worked in North Valley for some months, and could tell much about
conditions in the camp. There was the matter of adobe-dust, for example.
Explosions in dry mines could be prevented by spraying the walls with
this material. Did the reporter happen to know that the company's claim
to have used it was entirely false?

No, the reporter answered, he did not know this. He seemed interested,
and asked Hal's name and occupation. Hal told him "Joe Smith," a
"buddy," who had recently been chosen as check-weighman. The reporter, a
lean and keen-faced young man, asked many questions--intelligent
questions; incidentally he mentioned that he was the local correspondent
of the great press association whose stories of the disaster were sent
to every corner of the country. This seemed to Hal an extraordinary
piece of good fortune, and he proceeded to tell this Mr. Graham about
the census which some of the workers had taken; they were able to give
the names of a hundred and seven men and boys who were inside the mine.
The list was at Mr. Graham's disposal if he cared to see it. Mr. Graham
seemed more interested than ever, and made notes in his book.

Another thing, more important yet, Hal continued; the matter of the
delay in getting the fan started. It had been three days since the
explosion, but there had been no attempt at entering the mine. Had Mr.
Graham seen the disturbance at the pit-mouth that morning? Did he
realise that a man had been thrown out of camp merely because he had
appealed to the deputy state mine-inspector? Hal told what so many had
come to believe--that the company was saving property at the expense of
life. He went on to point out the human meaning of this--he told about
old Mrs. Rafferty, with her failing health and her eight children; about
Mrs. Zamboni, with eleven children; about Mrs. Jonotch, with a husband
and three sons in the mine. Led on by the reporter's interest, Hal began
to show some of his feeling. These were human beings, not animals; they
loved and suffered, even though they were poor and humble!

"Most certainly!" said Mr. Graham. "You're right, and you may rest
assured I'll look into this."

"There's one thing more," said Hal. "If my name is mentioned, I'll be
fired, you know."

"I won't mention it," said the other.

"Of course, if you can't publish the story without giving its source--"

"I'm the source," said the reporter, with a smile. "Your name would not
add anything."

He spoke with quiet assurance; he seemed to know so completely both the
situation and his own duty in regard to it, that Hal felt a thrill of
triumph. It was as if a strong wind had come blowing from the outside
world, dispelling the miasma which hung over this coal-camp. Yes, this
reporter _was_ the outside world! He was the power of public opinion,
making itself felt in this place of knavery and fear! He was the voice
of truth, the courage and rectitude of a great organisation of
publicity, independent of secret influences, lifted above corruption!

"I'm indebted to you," said Mr. Graham, at the end, and Hal's sense of
victory was complete. What an extraordinary chance--that he should have
run into the agent of the great press association! The story would go
out to the great world of industry, which depended upon coal as its
life-blood. The men in the factories, the wheels of which were turned by
coal--the travellers on trains which were moved by coal--they would hear
at last of the sufferings of those who toiled in the bowels of the earth
for them! Even the ladies, reclining upon the decks of palatial
steamships in gleaming tropic seas--so marvellous was the power of
modern news-spreading agencies, that these ladies too might hear the cry
for help of these toilers, and of their wives and little ones! And from
this great world would come an answer, a universal shout of horror, of
execration, that would force even old Peter Harrigan to give way! So Hal
mused--for he was young, and this was his first crusade.

He was so happy that he was able to think of himself again, and to
realise that he had not eaten that day. It was noon-time, and he went
into Reminitsky's, and was about half through with the first course of
Reminitsky's two-course banquet, when his cruel disillusioning fell upon
him!

He looked up and saw Jeff Cotton striding into the dining-room, making
straight for him. There was blood in the marshal's eye, and Hal saw it,
and rose, instinctively.

"Come!" said Cotton, and took him by the coat-sleeve and marched him
out, almost before the rest of the diners had time to catch their
breath.

Hal had no opportunity now to display his "tea-party manners" to the
camp-marshal. As they walked, Cotton expressed his opinion of him, that
he was a skunk, a puppy, a person of undesirable ancestry; and when Hal
endeavoured to ask a question--which he did quite genuinely, not
grasping at once the meaning of what was happening--the marshal bade him
"shut his face," and emphasised the command by a twist at his
coat-collar. At the same time two of the huskiest mine-guards, who had
been waiting at the dining-room door, took him, one by each arm, and
assisted his progress.

They went down the street and past Jeff Cotton's office, not stopping
this time. Their destination was the railroad-station, and when Hal got
there, he saw a train standing. The three men marched him to it, not
releasing him till they had jammed him down into a seat.

"Now, young fellow," said Cotton, "we'll see who's running this camp!"

By this time Hal had regained a part of his self-possession. "Do I need
a ticket?" he asked.

"I'll see to that," said the marshal.

"And do I get my things?"

"You save some questions for your college professors," snapped the
marshal.

So Hal waited; and a minute or two later a man arrived on the run with
his scanty belongings, rolled into a bundle and tied with a piece of
twine. Hal noted that this man was big and ugly, and was addressed by
the camp-marshal as "Pete."

The conductor shouted, "All aboard!" And at the same time Jeff Cotton
leaned over towards Hal and spoke in a menacing whisper: "Take this from
me, young fellow; don't stop in Pedro, move on in a hurry, or something
will happen to you on a dark night."

After which he strode down the aisle, and jumped off the moving train.
But Hal noticed that Pete Hanun, the breaker of teeth, stayed on the car
a few seats behind him.




BOOK THREE

THE HENCHMEN OF KING COAL




SECTION 1.

It was Hal's intention to get to Western City as quickly as possible to
call upon the newspaper editors. But first he must have money to travel,
and the best way he could think of to get it was to find John Edstrom.
He left the train, followed by Pete Hanun; after some inquiry, he came
upon the undertaker who had buried Edstrom's wife, and who told him
where the old Swede was staying, in the home of a labouring-man nearby.

Edstrom greeted him with eager questions: Who had been killed? What was
the situation? Hal told in brief sentences what had happened. When he
mentioned his need of money, Edstrom answered that he had a little, and
would lend it, but it was not enough for a ticket to Western City. Hal
asked about the twenty-five dollars which Mary Burke had sent by
registered mail; the old man had heard nothing about it, he had not been
to the post-office. "Let's go now!" said Hal, at once; but as they were
starting downstairs, a fresh difficulty occurred to him. Pete Hanun was
on the street outside, and it was likely that he had heard about this
money from Jeff Cotton; he might hold Edstrom up and take it away.

"Let me suggest something," put in the old man. "Come and see my friend
Ed MacKellar. He may be able to give us some advice--even to think of
some way to get the mine open." Edstrom explained that MacKellar, an old
Scotchman, had been a miner, but was now crippled, and held some petty
office in Pedro. He was a persistent opponent of "Alf" Raymond's
machine, and they had almost killed him on one occasion. His home was
not far away, and it would take little time to consult him.

"All right," said Hal, and they set out at once. Pete Hanun followed
them, not more than a dozen yards behind, but did not interfere, and
they turned in at the gate of a little cottage. A woman opened the door
for them, and asked them into the dining-room where MacKellar was
sitting--a grey-haired old man, twisted up with rheumatism and obliged
to go about on crutches.

Hal told his story. As the Scotchman had been brought up in the mines,
it was not necessary to go into details about the situation. When Hal
told his idea of appealing to the newspapers, the other responded at
once, "You won't have to go to Western City. There's a man right here
who'll do the business for you; Keating, of the _Gazette_."

"The Western City _Gazette?_" exclaimed Hal. He knew this paper; an
evening journal selling for a cent, and read by working-men. Persons of
culture who referred to it disposed of it with the adjective "yellow."

"I know," said MacKellar, noting Hal's tone. "But it's the only paper
that will publish your story anyway."

"Where is this Keating?"

"He's been up at the mine. It's too bad you didn't meet him."

"Can we get hold of him now?"

"He might be in Pedro. Try the American Hotel."

Hal went to the telephone, and in a minute was hearing for the first
time the cheery voice of his friend and lieutenant-to-be, "Billy"
Keating. In a couple of minutes more the owner of the voice was at
MacKellar's door, wiping the perspiration from his half-bald forehead.
He was round-faced, like a full moon, and as jolly as Falstaff; when you
got to know him better, you discovered that he was loyal as a
Newfoundland dog. For all his bulk, Keating was a newspaper man, every
inch of him "on the job."

He started to question the young miner as soon as he was introduced, and
it quickly became clear to Hal that here was the man he was looking for.
Keating knew exactly what questions to ask, and had the whole story in a
few minutes. "By thunder!" he cried. "My last edition!" And he pulled
out his watch, and sprang to the telephone. "Long distance," he called;
then, "I want the city editor of the Western City _Gazette_. And,
operator, please see if you can't rush it through. It's very urgent, and
last time I had to wait nearly half an hour."

He turned back to Hal, and proceeded to ask more questions, at the same
time pulling a bunch of copy-paper from his pocket and making notes. He
got all Hal's statements about the lack of sprinkling, the absence of
escape-ways, the delay in starting the fan, the concealing of the number
of men in the mine. "I knew things were crooked up there!" he exclaimed.
"But I couldn't get a lead! They kept a man with me every minute of the
time. You know a fellow named Predovich?"

"I do," said Hal. "The company store-clerk; he once went through my
pockets."

Keating made a face of disgust. "Well, he was my chaperon. Imagine
trying to get the miners to talk to you with that sneak at your heels! I
said to the superintendent, 'I don't need anybody to escort me around
your place.' And he looked at me with a nasty little smile. 'We wouldn't
want anything to happen to you while you're in this camp, Mr. Keating.'
'You don't consider it necessary to protect the lives of the other
reporters,' I said. 'No,' said he; 'but the _Gazette_ has made a great
many enemies, you know.' 'Drop your fooling, Mr. Cartwright,' I said.
'You propose to have me shadowed while I'm working on this assignment?'
'You can put it that way,' he answered, 'if you think it'll please the
readers of the _Gazette_.'"

"Too bad we didn't meet!" said Hal. "Or if you'd run into any of our
check-weighman crowd!"

"Oh! You know about that check-weighman business!" exclaimed the
reporter. "I got a hint of it--that's how I happened to be down here
to-day. I heard there was a man named Edstrom, who'd been shut out for
making trouble; and I thought if I could find him, I might get a lead."

Hal and MacKellar looked at the old Swede, and the three of them began
to laugh. "Here's your man!" said MacKellar.

"And here's your check-weighman!" added Edstrom, pointing to Hal.

Instantly the reporter was on his job again; he began to fire another
series of questions. He would use that check-weighman story as a
"follow-up" for the next day, to keep the subject of North Valley alive.
The story had a direct bearing on the disaster, because it showed what
the North Valley bosses were doing when they should have been looking
after the safety of their mine. "I'll write it out this afternoon and
send it by mail," said Keating; he added, with a smile, "That's one
advantage of handling news the other papers won't touch--you don't have
to worry about losing your 'scoops'!"



SECTION 2.

Keating went to the telephone again, to worry "long distance"; then,
grumbling about his last edition, he came back to ask more questions
about Hal's experiences. Before long he drew out the story of the young
man's first effort in the publicity game; at which he sank back in his
chair, and laughed until he shook, as the nursery-rhyme describes it,
"like a bowlful of jelly."

"Graham!" he exclaimed. "Fancy, MacKellar, he took that story to
Graham!"

The Scotchman seemed to find it equally funny; together they explained
that Graham was the political reporter of the _Eagle_, the paper in
Pedro which was owned by the Sheriff-emperor. One might call him Alf
Raymond's journalistic jackal; there was no job too dirty for him.

"But," cried Hal, "he told me he was correspondent for the Western press
association!"

"He's that, too," replied Billy.

"But does the press association employ spies for the 'G. F. C.'?"

The reporter answered, drily, "When you understand the news game better,
you'll realise that the one thing the press association cares about in a
correspondent is that he should have respect for property. If respect
for property is the back-bone of his being, he can learn what news is,
and the right way to handle it."

Keating turned to the Scotchman. "Do you happen to have a typewriter in
the house, Mr. MacKellar?"

"An old one," said the other--"lame, like myself."

"I'll make out with it. I'd ask this young man over to my hotel, but I
think he'd better keep off the streets as much as possible."

"You're right. If you take my advice, you'll take the typewriter
upstairs, where there's no chance of a shot through the window."

"Great heavens!" exclaimed Hal. "Is this America, or mediaeval Italy?"

"It's the Empire of Raymond," replied MacKellar. "They shot my friend
Tom Burton dead while he stood on the steps of his home. He was opposing
the machine, and had evidence about ballot-frauds he was going to put
before the Grand Jury."

While Keating continued to fret with "long distance," the old Scotchman
went on trying to impress upon Hal the danger of his position. Quite
recently an organiser of the miners' union had been beaten up in broad
day-light and left insensible on the sidewalk; MacKellar had watched the
trial and acquittal of the two thugs who had committed this crime--the
foreman of the jury being a saloon-keeper one of Raymond's heelers, and
the other jurymen being Mexicans, unable to comprehend a word of the
court proceedings.

"Exactly such a jury as Jeff Cotton promised me!" remarked Hal, with a
feeble attempt at a smile.

"Yes," answered the other; "and don't make any mistake about it, if they
want to put you away, they can do it. They run the whole machine here. I
know how it is, for I had a political job myself, until they found they
couldn't use me."

The old Scotchman went on to explain that he had been elected justice of
peace, and had tried to break up the business of policemen taking money
from the women of the town; he had been forced to resign, and his
enemies had made his life a torment. Recently he had been candidate for
district judge on the Progressive ticket, and told of his efforts to
carry on a campaign in the coal-camps--how his circulars had been
confiscated, his posters torn down, his supporters "kangarooed." It was
exactly as Alec Stone, the pit-boss, had explained to Hal. In some of
the camps the meeting-halls belonged to the company; in others they
belonged to saloon-keepers whose credit depended upon Alf Raymond. In
the few places where there were halls that could be hired, the machine
had gone to the extreme of sending in rival entertainments, furnishing
free music and free beer in order to keep the crowds away from
MacKellar.

All this time Billy Keating had been chafing and scolding at "long
distance." Now at last he managed to get his call, and silence fell in
the room. "Hello, Pringle, that you? This is Keating. Got a big story on
the North Valley disaster. Last edition put to bed yet? Put Jim on the
wire. Hello, Jim! Got your book?" And then Billy, evidently talking to a
stenographer, began to tell the story he had got from Hal. Now and then
he would stop to repeat or spell a word; once or twice Hal corrected him
on details. So, in about a quarter of an hour, they put the job through;
and Keating turned to Hal.

"There you are, son," said he. "Your story'll be on the street in
Western City in a little over an hour; it'll be down here as soon
thereafter as they can get telephone connections. And take my advice, if
you want to keep a whole skin, you'll be out of Pedro when that
happens!"



SECTION 3.

When Hal spoke, he did not answer Billy Keating's last remark. He had
been listening to a retelling of the North Valley disaster over the
telephone; so he was not thinking about his skin, but about a hundred
and seven men and boys buried inside a mine.

"Mr. Keating," said he, "are you sure the _Gazette_ will print that
story?"

"Good Lord!" exclaimed the other. "What am I here for?"

"Well, I've been disappointed once, you know."

"Yes, but you got into the wrong camp. We're a poor man's paper, and
this is what we live on."

"There's no chance of its being 'toned down'?"

"Not the slightest, I assure you."

"There's no chance of Peter Harrigan's suppressing it?"

"Peter Harrigan made his attempts on the _Gazette_ long ago, my boy."

"Well," said Hal, "and now tell me this--will it do the work?"

"In what way?"

"I mean--in making them open the mine."

Keating considered for a moment. "I'm afraid it won't do much."

Hal looked at him blankly. He had taken it for granted the publication
of the facts would force the company to move. But Keating explained that
the _Gazette_ read mainly by working-people, and so had comparatively
little influence. "We're an afternoon paper," he said; "and when people
have been reading lies all morning, it's not easy to make them believe
the truth in the afternoon."

"But won't the story go to other papers--over the country, I mean?"

"Yes, we have a press service; but the papers are all like the
_Gazette_--poor man's papers. If there's something very raw, and we keep
pounding away for a long time, we can make an impression; at least we
limit the amount of news the Western press association can suppress. But
when it comes to a small matter like sealing up workingmen in a mine,
all we can do is to worry the 'G. F. C.' a little."

So Hal was just where he had begun! "I must find some other plan," he
exclaimed.

"I don't see what you can do," replied the other.

There was a pause, while the young miner pondered. "I had thought of
going up to Western City and appealing to the editors," he said, a
little uncertainly.

"Well, I can tell you about that--you might as well save your car-fare.
They wouldn't touch your story."

"And if I appealed to the Governor?"

"In the first place, he probably wouldn't see you. And if he did, he
wouldn't do anything. He's not really the Governor, you know; he's a
puppet put up there to fool you. He only moves when Harrigan pulls a
string."

"Of course I knew he was Old Peter's man," said Hal. "But then"--and he
concluded, somewhat lamely, "What _can_ I do?"

A smile of pity came upon the reporter's face. "I can see this is the
first time you've been up against 'big business.'" And then he added,
"You're young! When you've had more experience, you'll leave these
problems to older heads!" But Hal failed to get the reporter's sarcasm.
He had heard these exact words in such deadly seriousness from his
brother! Besides, he had just come from scenes of horror.

"But don't you see, Mr. Keating?" he exclaimed. "It's impossible for me
to sit still while those men die?"

"I don't know about your sitting still," said the other. "All I know is
that all your moving about isn't going to do them any good."

Hal turned to Edstrom and MacKellar. "Gentlemen," he said, "listen to me
for a minute." And there was a note of pleading in his voice--as if he
thought they were deliberately refusing to help him! "We've got to do
something about this. We've _got_ to do something! I'm new at the game,
as Mr. Keating says; but you aren't. Put your minds on it, gentlemen,
and help me work out a plan!"

There was a long silence. "God knows," said Edstrom, at last. "I'd
suggest something if I could."

"And I, too," said MacKellar. "You're up against a stone-wall, my boy.
The government here is simply a department of the 'G. F. C.' The
officials are crooks--company servants, all of them."

"Just a moment now," said Hal. "Let's consider. Suppose we had a real
government--what steps would we take? We'd carry such a case to the
District Attorney, wouldn't we?"

"Yes, no doubt of it," said MacKellar.

"You mentioned him before," said Hal. "He threatened to prosecute some
mine-superintendents for ballot-frauds, you said."

"That was while he was running for election," said MacKellar.

"Oh! I remember what Jeff Cotton said--that he was friendly to the
miners in his speeches, and to the companies in his acts."

"That's the man," said the other, drily.

"Well," argued Hal, "oughtn't I go to him, to give him a chance, at
least? You can't tell, he might have a heart inside him."

"It isn't a heart he needs," replied MacKellar; "it's a back-bone."

"But surely I ought to put it up to him! If he won't do anything, at
least I'll put him on record, and it'll make another story for you,
won't it, Mr. Keating?"

"Yes, that's true," admitted the reporter. "What would you ask him to
do?"

"Why, to lay the matter before the Grand Jury; to bring indictments
against the North Valley bosses."

"But that would take a long time; it wouldn't save the men in the mine."

"What might save them would be the threat of it." MacKellar put in. "I
don't think any threat of Dick Barker's would count for that much. The
bosses know they could stop him."

"Well, isn't there somebody else? Shouldn't I try the courts?"

"What courts?"

"I don't know. You tell me."

"Well," said the Scotchman, "to begin at the bottom, there's a justice
of the peace."

"Who's he?"

"Jim Anderson, a horse-doctor. He's like any other J.P. you ever
knew--he lives on petty graft."

"Is there a higher court?"

"Yes, the district court; Judge Denton. He's the law-partner of
Vagleman, counsel for the 'G. F. C.' How far would you expect to get
with him?"

"I suppose I'm clutching at straws," said Hal. "But they say that's what
a drowning man does. Anyway, I'm going to see these people, and maybe
out of the lot of them I can find one who'll act. It can't do any harm!"

The three men thought of some harm it might do; they tried to make Hal
consider the danger of being slugged Or shot. "They'll do it!" exclaimed
MacKellar. "And no trouble for them--they'll prove you were stabbed by a
drunken Dago, quarrelling over some woman."

But Hal had got his head set; he believed he could put this job through
before his enemies had time to lay any plans. Nor would he let any of
his friends accompany him; he had something more important for both
Edstrom and Keating to do--and as for MacKellar, he could not get about
rapidly enough. Hal bade Edstrom go to the post-office and get the
registered letter, and proceed at once to change the bills. It was his
plan to make out affidavits, and if the officials here would not act, to
take the affidavits to the Governor. And for this he would need money.
Meantime, he said, let Billy Keating write out the check-weighman story,
and in a couple of hours meet him at the American Hotel, to get copies
of the affidavits for the _Gazette_.

Hal was still wearing the miner's clothes he had worn on the night of
his arrest in Edstrom's cabin. But he declined MacKellar's offer to lend
him a business-suit; the old Scotchman's clothes would not fit him, he
knew, and it would be better to make his appeal as a real miner than as
a misfit gentleman.

These matters being settled, Hal went out upon the street, where Pete
Hanun, the breaker of teeth, fell in behind him. The young miner at once
broke into a run, and the other followed suit, and so the two of them
sped down the street, to the wonder of people on the way. As Hal had had
practice as a sprinter, no doubt Pete was glad that the District
Attorney's office was not far away!



SECTION 4.

Mr. Richard Parker was busy, said the clerk in toe outer office; for
which Hal was not sorry, as it gave him a chance to get his breath.
Seeing a young man flushed and panting, the clerk stared with curiosity;
but Hal offered no explanation, and the breaker of teeth waited on the
street outside.

Mr. Parker received his caller in a couple of minutes. He was a well-fed
gentleman with generous neck and chin, freshly shaved and rubbed with
talcum powder. His clothing was handsome, his linen immaculate; one got
the impression of a person who "did himself well." There were papers on
his desk, and he looked preoccupied.

"Well?" said he, with a swift glance at the young miner.

"I understand that I am speaking to the District Attorney of Pedro
County?"

"That's right."

"Mr. Parker, have you given any attention to the circumstances of the
North Valley disaster?"

"No," said Mr. Parker. "Why?"

"I have just come from North Valley, and I can give you information
which may be of interest to you. There are a hundred and seven people
entombed in the mine, and the company officials have sealed it, and are
sacrificing those lives."

The other put down the correspondence, and made an examination of his
caller from under his heavy eyelids. "How do you know this?"

"I left there only a few hours ago. The facts are known to all the
workers in the camp."

"You are speaking from what you heard?"

"I am speaking from what I know at first hand. I saw the disaster, I saw
the pit-mouth boarded over and covered with canvas. I know a man who was
driven out of camp this morning for complaining about the delay in
starting the fan. It has been over three days since the explosion, and
still nothing has been done."

Mr. Parker proceeded to fire a series of questions, in the sharp,
suspicious manner customary to prosecuting officials. But Hal did not
mind that; it was the man's business to make sure.

Presently he demanded to know how he could get corroboration of Hal's
statements.

"You'll have to go up there," was the reply.

"You say the facts are known to the men. Give me the names of some of
them."

"I have no authority to give their names, Mr. Parker."

"What authority do you need? They will tell me, won't they?"

"They may, and they may not. One man has already lost his job; not every
man cares to lose his job."

"You expect me to go up there on your bare say-so?"

"I offer you more than my say-so. I offer an affidavit."

"But what do I know about you?"

"You know that I worked in North Valley--or you can verify the fact by
using the telephone. My name is Joe Smith, and I was a miner's helper in
Number Two."

But that was not sufficient, said Mr. Parker; his time was valuable, and
before he took a trip to North Valley he must have the names of
witnesses who would corroborate these statements.

"I offer you an affidavit!" exclaimed Hal. "I say that I have knowledge
that a crime is being committed--that a hundred and seven human lives
are being sacrificed. You don't consider that a sufficient reason for
even making inquiry?"

The District Attorney answered again that he desired to do his duty, he
desired to protect the workers in their rights; but he could not afford
to go off on a "wild goose chase," he must have the names of witnesses.
And Hal found himself wondering. Was the man merely taking the first
pretext for doing nothing? Or could it be that an official of the state
would go as far as to help the company by listing the names of
"trouble-makers"?

In spite of his distrust, Hal was resolved to give the man every chance
he could. He went over the whole story of the disaster. He took Mr.
Parker up to the camp, showed him the agonised women and terrified
children crowding about the pit-mouth, driven back with clubs and
revolvers. He named family after family, widows and mothers and orphans.
He told of the miners clamouring for a chance to risk their lives to
save their fellows. He let his own feelings sweep him along; he pleaded
with fervour for his suffering friends.

"Young man," said the other, breaking in upon his eloquence, "how long
have you been working in North Valley?"

"About ten weeks."

"How long have you been working in coal-mines?"

"That was my first experience."

"And you think that in ten weeks you have learned enough to entitle you
to bring a charge of 'murder' against men who have spent their lives in
learning the business of mining?"

"As I have told you," exclaimed Hal, "it's not merely my opinion; it's
the opinion of the oldest and most experienced of the miners. I tell you
no effort whatever is being made to save those men! The bosses care
nothing about their men! One of them, Alec Stone, was heard by a crowd
of people to say, 'Damn the men! Save the mules!'"

"Everybody up there is excited," declared the other. "Nobody can think
straight at present--you can't think straight yourself. If the mine's on
fire, and if the fire is spreading to such an extent that it can't be
put out--"

"But, Mr. Parker, how can you say that it's spreading to such an
extent?"

"Well, how can you say that it isn't?"

There was a pause. "I understand there's a deputy mine-inspector up
there," said the District Attorney, suddenly. "What's his name?"

"Carmichael," said Hal.

"Well, and what does _he_ say about it?"

"It was for appealing to him that the miner, Huszar, was turned out of
camp."

"Well," said Mr. Parker--and there came a note into his voice by which
Hal knew that he had found the excuse he sought--"Well, it's
Carmichael's business, and I have no right to butt in on it. If he comes
to me and asks for indictments, I'll act--but not otherwise. That's all
I have to say about it."

And Hal rose. "Very well, Mr. Parker," said he. "I have put the facts
before you. I was told you wouldn't do anything, but I wanted to give
you a chance. Now I'm going to ask the Governor for your removal!" And
with these words the young miner strode out of the office.



SECTION 5.

Hal went down the street to the American Hotel, where there was a public
stenographer. When this young woman discovered the nature of the
material he proposed to dictate, her fingers trembled visibly; but she
did not refuse the task, and Hal proceeded to set forth the
circumstances of the sealing of the pit-mouth of Number One Mine at
North Valley, and to pray for warrants for the arrest of Enos Cartwright
and Alec Stone. Then he gave an account of how he had been selected as
check-weighman and been refused access to the scales; and with all the
legal phraseology he could rake up, he prayed for the arrest of Enos
Cartwright and James Peters, superintendent and tipple-boss at North
Valley, for these offences. In another affidavit he narrated how Jeff
Cotton, camp-marshal, had seized him at night, mistreated him, and shut
him in prison for thirty-six hours without warrant or charge; also how
Cotton, Pete Hanun, and two other parties by name unknown, had illegally
driven him from the town of North Valley, threatening him with violence;
for which he prayed the arrest of Jeff Cotton, Pete Hanun, and the two
parties unknown.

Before this task was finished, Billy Keating came in, bringing the
twenty-five dollars which Edstrom had got from the post-office. They
found a notary public, before whom Hal made oath to each document; and
when these had been duly inscribed and stamped with the seal of the
state, he gave carbon copies to Keating, who hurried off to catch a
mail-train which was just due. Billy would not trust such things to the
local post-office; for Pedro was the hell of a town, he declared. As
they went out on the street again they noticed that their body-guard had
been increased by another husky-looking personage, who made no attempt
to conceal what he was doing.

Hal went around the corner to an office bearing the legend, "J.W.
Anderson, Justice of the Peace."

Jim Anderson, the horse-doctor, sat at his desk within. He had evidently
chewed tobacco before he assumed the ermine, and his reddish-coloured
moustache still showed the stains. Hal observed such details, trying to
weigh his chances of success. He presented the affidavit describing his
treatment in North Valley, and sat waiting while His Honour read it
through with painful slowness.

"Well," said the man, at last, "what do you want?"

"I want a warrant for Jeff Cotton's arrest."

The other studied him for a minute. "No, young fellow," said he. "You
can't get no such warrant here."

"Why not?"

"Because Cotton's a deputy-sheriff; he had a right to arrest you."

"To arrest me without a warrant?"

"How do you know he didn't have a warrant?"

"He admitted to me that he didn't."

"Well, whether he had a warrant or not, it was his business to keep
order in the camp."

"You mean he can do anything he pleases in the camp?"

"What I mean is, it ain't my business to interfere. Why didn't you see
Si Adams, up to the camp?"

"They didn't give me any chance to see him."

"Well," replied the other, "there's nothing I can do for you. You can
see that for yourself. What kind of discipline could they keep in them
camps if any fellow that had a kick could come down here and have the
marshal arrested?"

"Then a camp-marshal can act without regard to the law?"

"I didn't say that."

"Suppose he had committed murder--would you give a warrant for that?"

"Yes, of course, if it was murder."

"And if you knew that he was in the act of committing murder in a
coal-camp--would you try to stop him?"

"Yes, of course."

"Then here's another affidavit," said Hal; and he produced the one about
the sealing of the mine. There was silence while Justice Anderson read
it through.

But again he shook his head. "No, you can't get no such warrants here."

"Why not?"

"Because it ain't my business to run a coal-mine. I don't understand it,
and I'd make a fool of myself if I tried to tell them people how to run
their business."

Hal argued with him. Could company officials in charge of a coal-mine
commit any sort of outrage upon their employes, and call it running
their business? Their control of the mine in such an emergency as this
meant the power of life and death over a hundred and seven men and boys;
could it be that the law had nothing to say in such a situation? But Mr.
Anderson only shook his head; it was not his business to interfere. Hal
might go up to the court-house and see Judge Denton about it. So Hal
gathered up his affidavits and went out to the street again--where there
were now three husky-looking personages waiting to escort him.



SECTION 6.

The district court was in session and Hal sat for a while in the
court-room, watching Judge Denton. Here was another prosperous and
well-fed appearing gentleman, with a rubicund visage shining over the
top of his black silk robe. The young miner found himself regarding both
the robe and the visage with suspicion. Could it be that Hal was
becoming cynical, and losing his faith in his fellow man? What he
thought of, in connection with the Judge's appearance, was that there
was a living to be made sitting on the bench, while one's partner
appeared before the bench as coal-company counsel!

In an interval of the proceedings, Hal spoke to the clerk, and was told
that he might see the judge at four-thirty; but a few minutes later Pete
Hanun came in and whispered to this clerk. The clerk looked at Hal, then
he went up and whispered to the Judge. At four-thirty, when the court
was declared adjourned, the Judge rose and disappeared into his private
office; and when Hal applied to the clerk, the latter brought out the
message that Judge Denton was too busy to see him.

But Hal was not to be disposed of in that easy fashion. There was a side
door to the court-room, with a corridor beyond it, and while he stood
arguing with the clerk he saw the rubicund visage of the Judge flit
past.

He darted in pursuit. He did not shout or make a disturbance; but when
he was close behind his victim, he said, quietly, "Judge Denton, I
appeal to you for justice!"

The Judge turned and looked at him, his countenance showing annoyance.
"What do you want?"

It was a ticklish moment, for Pete Hanun was at Hal's heels, and it
would have needed no more than a nod from the Judge to cause him to
collar Hal. But the Judge, taken by surprise, permitted himself to
parley with the young miner; and the detective hesitated, and finally
fell back a step or two.

Hal repeated his appeal. "Your Honour, there are a hundred and seven men
and boys now dying up at the North Valley mine. They are being murdered,
and I am trying to save their lives!"

"Young man," said the Judge, "I have an urgent engagement down the
street."

"Very well," replied Hal, "I will walk with you and tell you as you go."
Nor did he give "His Honour" a chance to say whether this arrangement
was pleasing to him; he set out by his side, with Pete Hanun and the
other two men some ten yards in the rear.

Hal told the story as he had told it to Mr. Richard Parker; and he
received the same response. Such matters were not easy to decide about;
they were hardly a Judge's business. There was a state official on the
ground, and it was for him to decide if there was violation of law.

Hal repeated his statement that a man who made a complaint to this
official had been thrown out of camp. "And I was thrown out also, your
Honour."

"What for?"

"Nobody told me what for."

"Tut, tut, young man! They don't throw men out without telling them the
reason!"

"But they _do_, your Honour! Shortly before that they locked me up in
jail, and held me for thirty-six hours without the slightest show of
authority."

"You must have been doing something!"

"What I had done was to be chosen by a committee of miners to act as
their check-weighman."

"Their check-weighman?"

"Yes, your Honour. I am informed there's a law providing that when the
men demand a check-weighman, and offer to pay for him, the company must
permit him to inspect the weights. Is that correct?"

"It is, I believe."

"And there's a penalty for refusing?"

"The law always carries a penalty, young man."

"They tell me that law has been on the statute-books for fifteen or
sixteen years, and that the penalty is from twenty-five to five hundred
dollars fine. It's a case about which there can be no dispute, your
Honour--the miners notified the superintendent that they desired my
services, and when I presented myself at the tipple, I was refused
access to the scales; then I was seized and shut up in jail, and finally
turned out of the camp. I have made affidavit to these facts, and I
think I have the right to ask for warrants for the guilty men."

"Can you produce witnesses to your statements?"

"I can, your Honour. One of the committee of miners, John Edstrom, is
now in Pedro, having been kept out of his home, which he had rented and
paid for. The other, Mike Sikoria, was also thrown out of camp. There
are many others at North Valley who know all about it."

There was a pause. Judge Denton for the first time took a good look at
the young miner at his side; and then he drew his brows together in
solemn thought, and his voice became deep and impressive. "I shall take
this matter under advisement. What is your name, and where do you live?"

"Joe Smith, your Honour. I'm staying at Edward MacKellar's, but I don't
know how long I'll be able to stay there. There are company thugs
watching the place all the time."

"That's wild talk!" said the Judge, impatiently.

"As it happens," said Hal, "we are being followed by three of them at
this moment--one of them the same Pete Hanun who helped to drive me out
of North Valley. If you will turn your head you will see them behind
us."

But the portly Judge did not turn his head.

"I have been informed," Hal continued, "that I am taking my life in my
hands by my present course of action. I believe I'm entitled to ask for
protection."

"What do you want me to do?"

"To begin with, I'd like you to cause the arrest of the men who are
shadowing me."

"It's not my business to cause such arrests. You should apply to a
policeman."

"I don't see any policeman. Will you tell me where to find one?"

His Honour was growing weary of such persistence. "Young man, what's the
matter with you is that you've been reading dime novels, and they've got
on your nerves!"

"But the men are right behind me, your Honour! Look at them!"

"I've told you it's not my business, young man!"

"But, your Honour, before I can find a policeman I may be dead!"

The other appeared to be untroubled by this possibility.

"And, your Honour, while you are taking these matters under advisement,
the men in the mine will be dead!"

Again there was no reply.

"I have some affidavits here," said Hal. "Do you wish them?"

"You can give them to me if you want to," said the other.

"You don't ask me for them?"

"I haven't yet."

"Then just one more question--if you will pardon me, your Honour. Can
you tell me where I can find an honest lawyer in this town--a man who
might be willing to take a case against the interests of the General
Fuel Company?"

There was a silence--a long, long silence. Judge Denton, of the firm of
Denton and Vagleman, stared straight in front of him as he walked.
Whatever complicated processes might have been going on inside his mind,
his judicial features did not reveal them. "No, young man," he said at
last, "it's not my business to give you information about lawyers." And
with that the judge turned on his heel and went into the Elks' Club.



SECTION 7.

Hal stood and watched the portly figure until it disappeared; then he
turned back and passed the three detectives, who stopped. He stared at
them, but made no sign, nor did they. Some twenty feet behind him, they
fell in and followed as before.

Judge Denton had suggested consulting a policeman; and suddenly Hal
noticed that he was passing the City Hall, and it occurred to him that
this matter of his being shadowed might properly be brought to the
attention of the mayor of Pedro. He wondered what the chief magistrate
of such a "hell of a town" might be like; after due inquiry, he found
himself in the office of Mr. Ezra Perkins, a mild-mannered little
gentleman who had been in the undertaking-business, before he became a
figure-head for the so-called "Democratic" machine.

He sat pulling nervously at a neatly trimmed brown beard, trying to
wriggle out of the dilemma into which Hal put him. Yes, it might
possibly be that a young miner was being followed on the streets of the
town; but whether or not this was against the law depended on the
circumstances. If he had made a disturbance in North Valley, and there
was reason to believe that he might be intending trouble, doubtless the
company was keeping track of him. But Pedro was a law-abiding place, and
he would be protected in his rights so long as he behaved himself.

Hal replied by citing what MacKellar had told him about men being
slugged on the streets in broad day-light. To this Mr. Perkins answered
that there was uncertainty about the circumstances of these cases;
anyhow, they had happened before he became mayor. His was a reform
administration, and he had given strict orders to the Chief of Police
that there were to be no more incidents of the sort.

"Will you go with me to the Chief of Police and give him orders now?"
demanded Hal.

"I do not consider it necessary," said Mr. Perkins.

He was about to go home, it seemed. He was a pitiful little rodent, and
it was a shame to torment him; but Hal stuck to him for ten or twenty
minutes longer, arguing and insisting--until finally the little rodent
bolted for the door, and made his escape in an automobile. "You can go
to the Chief of Police yourself," were his last words, as he started the
machine; and Hal decided to follow the suggestion. He had no hope left,
but he was possessed by a kind of dogged rage. He _would_ not let go!

Upon inquiry of a passer-by, he learned that police headquarters was in
this same building, the entrance being just round the corner. He went
in, and found a man in uniform writing at a desk, who stated that the
Chief had "stepped down the street." Hal sat down to wait, by a window
through which he could look out upon the three gunmen loitering across
the way.

The man at the desk wrote on, but now and then he eyed the young miner
with that hostility which American policemen cultivate toward the lower
classes. To Hal this was a new phenomenon, and he found himself suddenly
wishing that he had put on MacKellar's clothes. Perhaps a policeman
would not have noticed the misfit!

The Chief came in. His blue uniform concealed a burly figure, and his
moustache revealed the fact that his errand down the street had had to
do with beer. "Well, young fellow?" said he, fixing his gaze upon Hal.

Hal explained his errand.

"What do you want me to do?" asked the Chief, in a decidedly hostile
voice.

"I want you to make those men stop following me."

"How can I make them stop?"

"You can lock them up, if necessary. I can point them out to you, if
you'll step to the window."

But the other made no move. "I reckon if they're follerin' you, they've
got some reason for it. Have you been makin' trouble in the camps?" He
asked this question with sudden force, as if it had occurred to him that
it might be his duty to lock up Hal.

"No," said Hal, speaking as bravely as he could--"no indeed, I haven't
been making trouble. I've only been demanding my rights."

"How do I know what you been doin'?"

The young miner was willing to explain, but the other cut him short.
"You behave yourself while you're in this town, young feller, d'you see?
If you do, nobody'll bother you."

"But," said Hal, "they've already threatened to bother me."

"What did they say?"

"They said something might happen to me on a dark night."

"Well, so it might--you might fall down and hit your nose."

The Chief was pleased with this wit, but only for a moment. "Understand,
young feller, we'll give you your rights in this town, but we got no
love for agitators, and we don't pretend to have. See?"

"You call a man an agitator when he demands his legal rights?"

"I ain't got time to argue with you, young feller. It's no easy matter
keepin' order in coal-camps, and I ain't going to meddle in the
business. I reckon the company detectives has got as good a right in
this town as you."

There was a pause. Hal saw that there was nothing to be gained by
further discussion with the Chief. It was his first glimpse of the
American policeman as he appears to the labouring man in revolt, and he
found it an illuminating experience. There was dynamite in his heart as
he turned and went out to the street; nor was the amount of the
explosive diminished by the mocking grins which he noted upon the faces
of Pete Hanun and the other two husky-looking personages.



SECTION 8.

Hal judged that he had now exhausted his legal resources in Pedro; the
Chief of Police had not suggested any one else he might call upon, so
there seemed nothing he could do but go back to MacKellar's and await
the hour of the night train to Western City. He started to give his
guardians another run, by way of working off at least a part of his own
temper; but he found that they had anticipated this difficulty. An
automobile came up and the three of them stepped in. Not to be outdone,
Hal engaged a hack, and so the expedition returned in pomp to
MacKellar's.

Hal found the old cripple in a state of perturbation. All that afternoon
his telephone had been ringing; one person after another had warned
him--some pleading with him, some abusing him. It was evident that among
them were people who had a hold on the old man; but he was undaunted,
and would not hear of Hal's going to stay at the hotel until train-time.

Then Keating returned, with an exciting tale to tell. Schulman, general
manager of the "G. F. C.," had been sending out messengers to hunt for
him, and finally had got him in his office, arguing and pleading,
cajoling and denouncing him by turns. He had got Cartwright on the
telephone, and the North Valley superintendent had laboured to convince
Keating that he had done the company a wrong. Cartwright had told a
story about Hal's efforts to hold up the company for money.
"Incidentally," said Keating, "he added the charge that you had seduced
a girl in his camp."

Hal stared at his friend. "Seduced a girl!" he exclaimed.

"That's what he said; a red-headed Irish girl."

"Well, damn his soul!"

There followed a silence, broken by a laugh from Billy. "Don't glare at
me like that. _I_ didn't say it!"

But Hal continued to glare, nevertheless. "The dirty little skunk!"

"Take it easy, sonny," said the fat man, soothingly. "It's quite the
usual thing, to drag in a woman. It's so easy--for of course there
always _is_ a woman. There's one in this case, I suppose?"

"There's a perfectly decent girl."

"But you've been friendly with her? You've been walking around where
people can see you?"

"Yes."

"So you see, they've got you. There's nothing you can do about a thing
of that sort."

"You wait and see!" Hal burst out.

The other gazed curiously at the angry young miner. "What'll you do?
Beat him up some night?"

But the young miner did not answer. "You say he described the girl?"

"He was kind enough to say she was a red-headed beauty, and with no one
to protect her but a drunken father. I could understand that must have
made it pretty hard for her, in one of these coal-camps." There was a
pause. "But see here," said the reporter, "you'll only do the girl harm
by making a row. Nobody believes that women in coal-camps have any
virtue. God knows, I don't see how they do have, considering the sort of
men who run the camps, and the power they have."

"Mr. Keating," said Hal, "did _you_ believe what Cartwright told you?"

Keating had started to light a cigar. He stopped in the middle, and his
eyes met Hal's. "My dear boy," said he, "I didn't consider it my
business to have an opinion."

"But what did you say to Cartwright?"

"Ah! That's another matter. I said that I'd been a newspaper man for a
good many years, and I knew his game."

"Thank you for that," said Hal. "You may be interested to know there
isn't any truth in the story."

"Glad to hear it," said the other. "I believe you."

"Also you may be interested to know that I shan't drop the matter until
I've made Cartwright take it back."

"Well, you're an enterprising cuss!" laughed the reporter. "Haven't you
got enough on your hands, with all the men you're going to get out of
the mine?"



SECTION 9.

Billy Keating went out again, saying that he knew a man who might be
willing to talk to him on the quiet, and give him some idea what was
going to happen to Hal. Meantime Hal and Edstrom sat down to dinner with
MacKellar. The family were afraid to use the dining-room of their home,
but spread a little table in the upstairs hall. The distress of mind of
MacKellar's wife and daughter was apparent, and this brought home to Hal
the terror of life in this coal-country. Here were American women, in an
American home, a home with evidences of refinement and culture; yet they
felt and acted as if they were Russian conspirators, in terror of
Siberia and the knout!

The reporter was gone a couple of hours; when he came back, he brought
news. "You can prepare for trouble, young fellow."

"Why so?"

"Jeff Cotton's in town."

"How do you know?"

"I saw him in an automobile. If he left North Valley at this time, it
was for something serious, you may be sure."

"What does he mean to do?"

"There's no telling. He may have you slugged; he may have you run out of
town and dumped out in the desert; he may just have you arrested."

Hal considered for a moment. "For slander?"

"Or for vagrancy; or on suspicion of having robbed a bank in Texas, or
murdered your great-grandmother in Tasmania. The point is, he'll keep
you locked up till this trouble has blown over."

"Well," said Hal, "I don't want to be locked up. I want to go up to
Western City. I'm waiting for the train."

"You may have to wait till morning," replied Keating. "There's been
trouble on the railroad--a freight-car broke down and ripped up the
track; it'll be some time before it's clear."

They discussed this new problem back and forth. MacKellar wanted to get
in half a dozen friends and keep guard over Hal during the night; and
Hal had about agreed to this idea, when the discussion was given a new
turn by a chance remark of Keating's. "Somebody else is tied up by the
railroad accident. The Coal King's son!"

"The Coal King's son?" echoed Hal.

"Young Percy Harrigan. He's got a private car here--or rather a whole
train. Think of it--dining-car, drawing-room car, two whole cars with
sleeping apartments! Wouldn't you like to be a son of the Coal King?"

"Has he come on account of the mine-disaster?"

"Mine-disaster?" echoed Keating. "I doubt if he's heard of it. They've
been on a trip to the Grand Canyon, I was told; there's a baggage-car
with four automobiles."

"Is Old Peter with them?"

"No, he's in New York. Percy's the host. He's got one of his automobiles
out, and was up in town--two other fellows and some girls."

"Who's in his party?"

"I couldn't find out. You can see, it might be a story for the
_Gazette_--the Coal King's son, coming by chance at the moment when a
hundred and seven of his serfs are perishing in the mine! If I could
only have got him to say a word about the disaster! If I could even have
got him to say he didn't know about it!"

"Did you try?"

"What am I a reporter for?"

"What happened?"

"Nothing happened; except that he froze me stiff."

"Where was this?"

"On the street. They stopped at a drug-store, and I stepped up. 'Is this
Mr. Percy Harrigan?' He was looking into the store, over my head. 'I'm a
reporter,' I said, 'and I'd like to ask you about the accident up at
North Valley.' 'Excuse me,' he said, in a tone--gee, it makes your blood
cold to think of it! 'Just a word,' I pleaded. 'I don't give
interviews,' he answered; and that was all--he continued looking over my
head, and everybody else staring in front of them. They had turned to
ice at my first word. If ever I felt like a frozen worm!"

There was a pause.

"Ain't it wonderful," reflected Billy, "how quick you can build up an
aristocracy! When you looked at that car, the crowd in it and the airs
they wore, you'd think they'd been running the world since the time of
William the Conqueror. And Old Peter came into this country with a
pedlar's pack on his shoulders!"

"We're hustlers here," put in MacKellar.

"We'll hustle all the way to hell in a generation more," said the
reporter. Then, after a minute, "Say, but there's one girl in that bunch
that was the real thing! She sure did get me! You know all those fluffy
things they do themselves up in--soft and fuzzy, makes you think of
spring-time orchards. This one was exactly the colour of
apple-blossoms."

"You're susceptible to the charms of the ladies?" inquired Hal, mildly.

"I am," said the other. "I know it's all fake, but just the same, it
makes my little heart go pit-a-pat. I always want to think they're as
lovely as they look."

Hal's smile became reminiscent, and he quoted:

  "Oh Liza-Ann, come out with me,
    The moon is a-shinin' in the monkey-puzzle tree!"

Then he stopped, with a laugh. "Don't wear your heart on your sleeve,
Mr. Keating. She wouldn't be above taking a peck at it as she passed."

"At me? A worm of a newspaper reporter?"

"At you, a man!" laughed Hal. "I wouldn't want to accuse the lady of
posing; but a lady has her role in life, and has to keep her hand in."

There was a pause. The reporter was looking at the young miner with
sudden curiosity. "See here," he remarked, "I've been wondering about
you. How do you come to know so much about the psychology of the leisure
class?"

"I used to have money once," said Hal. "My family's gone down as quickly
as the Harrigans have come up."



SECTION 10.

Hal went on to question Keating about the apple-blossom girl. "Maybe I
could guess who she is. What colour was her hair?"

"The colour of molasses taffy when you've pulled it," said Billy; "but
all fluffy and wonderful, with star-dust in it. Her eyes were brown, and
her cheeks pink and cream."

"She had two rows of pearly white teeth, that flashed at you when she
smiled?"

"She didn't smile, unfortunately."

"Then her brown eyes gazed at you, wide open, full of wonder?"

"Yes, they did--only it was into the drug-store window."

"Did she wear a white hat of soft straw, with a green and white flower
garden on it, and an olive green veil, and maybe cream white ribbons?"

"By George, I believe you've seen her!" exclaimed the reporter.

"Maybe," said Hal. "Or maybe I'm describing the girl on the cover of one
of the current magazines!" He smiled; but then, seeing the other's
curiosity, "Seriously, I think I do know your young lady. If you
announce that Miss Jessie Arthur is a member of the Harrigan party, you
won't be taking a long chance."

"I can't afford to take any chance at all," said the reporter. "You mean
Robert Arthur's daughter?"

"Heiress-apparent of the banking business of Arthur and Sons," said Hal.
"It happens I know her by sight."

"How's that?"

"I worked in a grocery-store where she used to come."

"Whereabouts?"

"Peterson and Company, in Western City."

"Oho! And you used to sell her candy."

"Stuffed dates."

"And your little heart used to go pit-a-pat, so that you could hardly
count the change?"

"Gave her too much, several times!"

"And you wondered if she was as good as she was beautiful! One day you
were thrilled with hope, the next you were cynical and bitter--till at
last you gave up in despair, and ran away to work in a coal-mine!"

They laughed, and MacKellar and Edstrom joined in. But suddenly Keating
became serious again. "I ought to be away on that story!" he exclaimed.
"I've got to get something out of that crowd about the disaster. Think
what copy it would make!"

"But how can you do it?"

"I don't know; I only know I ought to be trying. I'll hang round the
train, and maybe I can get one of the porters to talk."

"Interview with the Coal King's porter!" chuckled Hal. "How it feels to
make up a multi-millionaire's bed!"

"How it feels to sell stuffed dates to a banker's daughter!" countered
the other.

But suddenly it was Hal's turn to become serious. "Listen, Mr. Keating,"
said he, "why not let _me_ interview young Harrigan?"

"_You?_"

"Yes! I'm the proper person--one of his miners! I help to make his money
for him, don't I? I'm the one to tell him about North Valley."

Hal saw the reporter staring at him in sudden excitement; he continued:
"I've been to the District Attorney, the Justice of the Peace, the
District Judge, the Mayor and the Chief of Police. Now, why shouldn't I
go to the Owner?"

"By thunder!" cried Billy. "I believe you'd have the nerve!"

"I believe I would," replied Hal, quietly.

The other scrambled out of his chair, wild with delight. "I dare you!"
he exclaimed.

"I'm ready," said Hal.

"You mean it?"

"Of course I mean it."

"In that costume?"

"Certainly. I'm one of his miners."

"But it won't go," cried the reporter. "You'll stand no chance to get
near him unless you're well dressed."

"Are you sure of that? What I've got on might be the garb of a
railroad-hand. Suppose there was something out of order in one of the
cars--the plumbing, for example?"

"But you couldn't fool the conductor or the porter."

"I might be able to. Let's try it."

There was a pause, while Keating thought. "The truth is," he said, "it
doesn't matter whether you succeed or not--it's a story if you even make
the attempt. The Coal King's son appealed to by one of his serfs! The
hard heart of Plutocracy rejects the cry of Labour!"

"Yes," said Hal, "but I really mean to get to him. Do you suppose he's
got back to the train yet?"

"They were starting to it when I left."

"And where _is_ the train?"

"Two or three hundred yards east of the station, I was told."

MacKellar and Edstrom had been listening enthralled to this exciting
conversation. "That ought to be just back of my house," said the former.

"It's a short train--four parlour-cars and a baggage-car," added
Keating. "It ought to be easy to recognise."

The old Scotchman put in an objection. "The difficulty may be to get out
of this house. I don't believe they mean to let you get away to-night."

"By Jove, that's so!" exclaimed Keating. "We're talking too much--let's
get busy. Are they watching the back door, do you suppose?"

"They've been watching it all day," said MacKellar.

"Listen," broke in Hal--"I've an idea. They haven't tried to interfere
with your going out, have they, Mr. Keating?"

"No, not yet."

"Nor with you, Mr. MacKellar?"

"No, not yet," said the Scotchman.

"Well," Hal suggested, "suppose you lend me your crutches?"

Whereat Keating gave an exclamation of delight. "The very thing!"

"I'll take your over-coat and hat," Hal added. "I've watched you get
about, and I think I can give an imitation. As for Mr. Keating, he's not
easy to mistake."

"Billy, the fat boy!" laughed the other. "Come, let's get on the job!"

"I'll go out by the front door at the same time," put in Edstrom, his
old voice trembling with excitement. "Maybe that'll help to throw them
off the track."



SECTION 11.

They had been sitting upstairs in MacKellar's room. Now they rose, and
were starting for the stairs, when suddenly there came a ring at the
front door bell. They stopped and stared at one another. "There they
are!" whispered Keating.

And MacKellar sat down suddenly, and held out his crutches to Hal. "The
hat and coat are in the front hall," he exclaimed. "Make a try for it!"
His words were full of vigour, but like Edstrom, his voice was
trembling. He was no longer young, and could not take adventure gaily.

Hal and Keating ran downstairs, followed by Edstrom. Hal put on the coat
and hat, and they went to the back door, while at the same time Edstrom
answered the bell in front.

The back door opened into a yard, and this gave, through a side gate,
into an alley. Hal's heart was pounding furiously as he began to hobble
along with the crutches. He had to go at MacKellar's slow pace--while
Keating, at his side, started talking. He informed "Mr. MacKellar," in a
casual voice, that the _Gazette_ was a newspaper which believed in the
people's cause, and was pledged to publish the people's side of all
public questions. Discoursing thus, they went out of the gate and into
the alley.

A man emerged from the shadows and walked by them. He passed within
three feet of Hal, and peered at him, narrowly. Fortunately there was no
moon; Hal could not see the man's face, and hoped the man could not see
his.

Meantime Keating was proceeding with his discourse. "You understand, Mr.
MacKellar," he was saying, "sometimes it's difficult to find out the
truth in a situation like this. When the interests are filling their
newspapers with falsehoods and exaggerations, it's a temptation for us
to publish falsehoods and exaggerations on the other side. But we find
in the long run that it pays best to publish the truth, Mr.
MacKellar--we can stand by it, and there's no come-back."

Hal, it must be admitted, was not paying much attention to this edifying
sermon. He was looking ahead, to where the alley debouched onto the
street. It was the street behind MacKellar's house, and only a block
from the railroad-track.

He dared not look behind, but he was straining his ears. Suddenly he
heard a shout, in John Edstrom's voice. "Run! Run!"

In a flash, Hal dropped the two crutches, and started down the alley,
Keating at his heels. They heard cries behind them, and a voice,
sounding quite near, commanded, "Halt!" They had reached the end of the
alley, and were in the act of swerving, when a shot rang out and there
was a crash of glass in a house beyond them on the far side of the
street.

Farther on was a vacant lot with a path running across it. Following
this, they dodged behind some shanties, and came to another street--and
so to the railroad tracks. There was a long line of freight-cars before
them, and they ran between two of these, and climbing over the
couplings, saw a great engine standing, its headlight gleaming full in
their eyes. They sprang in front of it, and alongside the train, passing
a tender, then a baggage-car, then a parlour-car.

"Here we are!" exclaimed Keating, who was puffing like a bellows.

Hal saw that there were only three more cars to the train; also, he saw
a man in a blue uniform standing at the steps. He dashed towards him.
"Your car's on fire!" he cried.

"What?" exclaimed the man. "Where?"

"Here!" cried Hal; and in a flash he had sprung past the other, up the
steps and into the car.

There was a long, narrow corridor, to be recognised as the kitchen
portion of a dining-car; at the other end of this corridor was a
swinging door, and to this Hal leaped. He heard the conductor shouting
to him to stop, but he paid no heed. He slipped off his over-coat and
hat; and then, pushing open the door, he entered a brightly lighted
apartment--and the presence of the Coal King's son.



SECTION 12.

White linen and cut glass of the dining-saloon shone brilliantly under
electric lights, softened to the eye by pink shades. Seated at the
tables were half a dozen young men and as many young ladies, all in
evening costume; also two or three older ladies. They had begun the
first course of their meal, and were laughing and chatting, when
suddenly came this unexpected visitor, clad in coal-stained miner's
jumpers. He was not disturbing in the manner of his entry; but
immediately behind him came a fat man, perspiring, wild of aspect, and
wheezing like an old fashioned steam-engine; behind him came the
conductor of the train, in a no less evident state of agitation. So, of
course, conversation ceased. The young ladies turned in their chairs,
while several of the young men sprang to their feet.

There followed a silence: until finally one of the young men took a step
forward. "What's this?" he demanded, as one who had a right to demand.

Hal advanced towards the speaker, a slender youth, correct in
appearance, but not distinguished looking. "Hello, Percy!" said Hal.

A look of amazement came upon the other's face. He stared, but seemed
unable to believe what he saw. And then suddenly came a cry from one of
the young ladies; the one having hair the colour of molasses taffy when
you've pulled it--but all fluffy and wonderful, with stardust in it. Her
cheeks were pink and cream, and her brown eyes gazed, wide open, full of
wonder. She wore a dinner gown of soft olive green, with a cream white
scarf of some filmy material thrown about her bare shoulders.

She had started to her feet. "It's Hal!" she cried.

"Hal Warner!" echoed young Harrigan. "Why, what in the world--?"

He was interrupted by a clamour outside. "Wait a moment," said Hal,
quietly. "I think some one else is coming in."

The door was pushed violently open. It was pushed so violently that
Billy Keating and the conductor were thrust to one side; and Jeff Cotton
appeared in the entrance.

The camp-marshal was breathless, his face full of the passion of the
hunt. In his right hand he carried a revolver. He glared about him, and
saw the two men he was chasing; also he saw the Coal King's son, and the
rest of the astonished company. He stood, stricken dumb.

The door was pushed again, forcing him aside, and two more men crowded
in, both of them carrying revolvers in their hands. The foremost was
Pete Hanun, and he also stood staring. The "breaker of teeth" had two
teeth of his own missing, and when his prize-fighter's jaw dropped down,
the deficiency became conspicuous. It was probably his first entrance
into society, and he was like an overgrown boy caught in the jam-closet.

Percy Harrigan's manner became distinctly imperious. "What does this
mean?" he demanded.

It was Hal who answered. "I am seeking a criminal, Percy."

"What?" There were little cries of alarm from the women.

"Yes, a criminal; the man who sealed up the mine."

"Sealed up the mine?" echoed the other. "What do you mean?"

"Let me explain. First, I will introduce my friends. Harrigan, this is
my friend Keating."

Billy suddenly realised that he had a hat on his head. He jerked it off;
but for the rest, his social instincts failed him. He could only stare.
He had not yet got all his breath.

"Billy's a reporter," said Hal. "But you needn't worry--he's a
gentleman, and won't betray a confidence. You understand, Billy."

"Y--yes," said Billy, faintly.

"And this," said Hal, "is Jeff Cotton, camp-marshal at North Valley. I
suppose you know, Percy, that the North Valley mines belong to the 'G.
F. C.' Cotton, this is Mr. Harrigan."

Then Cotton remembered his hat; also his revolver, which he tried to get
out of sight behind his back.

"And this," continued Hal, "is Mr. Pete Hanun, by profession a breaker
of teeth. This other gentleman, whose name I don't know, is presumably
an assistant-breaker." So Hal went on, observing the forms of social
intercourse, his purpose being to give his mind a chance to work. So
much depended upon the tactics he chose in this emergency! Should he
take Percy to one side and tell him the story quietly, leaving it to his
sense of justice and humanity? No, that was not the way one dealt with
the Harrigans! They had bullied their way to the front; if anything were
done with them, it would be by force! If anything were done with Percy,
it would be by laying hold of him before these guests, exposing the
situation, and using their feelings to coerce him!

The Coal King's son was asking questions again. What was all this about?
So Hal began to describe the condition of the men inside the mine. "They
have no food or water, except what they had in their dinner-pails; and
it's been three days and a half since the explosion! They are breathing
bad air; their heads are aching, the veins swelling in their foreheads;
their tongues are cracking, they are lying on the ground, gasping. But
they are waiting--kept alive by the faith they have in their friends on
the surface, who will try to get to them. They dare not take down the
barriers, because the gases would kill them at once. But they know the
rescuers will come, so they listen for the sounds of axes and picks.
That is the situation."

Hal stopped and waited for some sign of concern from young Harrigan. But
no such sign was given. Hal went on:

"Think of it, Percy! There is one old man in that mine, an Irishman who
has a wife and eight children waiting to learn about his fate. I know
one woman who has a husband and three sons in the mine. For three days
and a half the women and children have been standing at the pit-mouth; I
have seen them sitting with their heads sunk upon their knees, or
shaking their fists, screaming curses at the criminal who is to blame."

There was a pause. "The criminal?" inquired young Harrigan. "I don't
understand!"

"You'll hardly be able to believe it; but nothing has been done to
rescue these men. The criminal has nailed a cover of boards over the
pit-mouth, and put tarpaulin over it--sealing up men and boys to die!"

There was a murmur of horror from the diners.

"I know, you can't conceive such a thing. The reason is, there's a fire
in the mine; if the fan is set to working, the coal will burn. But at
the same time, some of the passages could be got clear of smoke, and
some of the men could be rescued. So it's a question of property against
lives; and the criminal has decided for the property. He proposes to
wait a week, two weeks, until the fire has been smothered; _then_ of
course the men and boys will be dead."

There was a silence. It was broken by young Harrigan. "Who has done
this?"

"His name is Enos Cartwright."

"But who _is_ he?"

"Just now when I said that I was seeking the criminal, I misled you a
little, Percy. I did it because I wanted to collect my thoughts." Hal
paused: when he continued, his voice was sharper, his sentences falling
like blows. "The criminal I've been telling you about is the
superintendent of the mine--a man employed and put in authority by the
General Fuel Company. The one who is being chased is not the one who
sealed up the mine, but the one who proposed to have it opened. He is
being treated as a malefactor, because the laws of the state, as well as
the laws of humanity, have been suppressed by the General Fuel Company;
he was forced to seek refuge in your car, in order to save his life from
thugs and gunmen in the company's employ!"



SECTION 13.

Knowing these people well, Hal could measure the effect of the
thunderbolt he had hurled among them. They were people to whom good
taste was the first of all the virtues; he knew how he was offending
them. If he was to win them to the least extent, he must explain his
presence here--a trespasser upon the property of the Harrigans.

"Percy," he continued, "you remember how you used to jump on me last
year at college, because I listened to 'muck-rakers.' You saw fit to
take personal offence at it. You knew that their tales couldn't be true.
But I wanted to see for myself, so I went to work in a coal-mine. I saw
the explosion; I saw this man, Jeff Cotton, driving women and children
away from the pit-mouth with blows and curses. I set out to help the men
in the mine, and the marshal rushed me out of camp. He told me that if I
didn't go about my business, something would happen to me on a dark
night. And you see--this is a dark night!"

Hal waited, to give young Harrigan a chance to grasp this situation and
to take command. But apparently young Harrigan was not aware of the
presence of the camp-marshal and his revolver. Hal tried again:

"Evidently these men wouldn't have minded killing me; they fired at me
just now. The marshal still has the revolver and you can smell the
powder-smoke. So I took the liberty of entering your car, Percy. It was
to save my life, and you'll have to excuse me."

The Coal King's son had here a sudden opportunity to be magnanimous. He
made haste to avail himself of it. "Of course, Hal," he said. "It was
quite all right to come here. If our employes were behaving in such
fashion, it was without authority, and they will surely pay for it." He
spoke with quiet certainty; it was the Harrigan manner, and before it
Jeff Cotton and the two mine-guards seemed to wither and shrink.

"Thank you, Percy," said Hal. "It's what I knew you'd say. I'm sorry to
have disturbed your dinner-party--"

"Not at all, Hal; it was nothing of a party."

"You see, Percy, it was not only to save myself, but the people in the
mine! They are dying, and every moment is precious. It will take a day
at least to get to them, so they'll be at their last gasp. Whatever's to
be done must be done at once."

Again Hal waited--until the pause became awkward. The diners had so far
been looking at him; but now they were looking at young Harrigan, and
young Harrigan felt the change.

"I don't know just what you expect of me, Hal. My father employs
competent men to manage his business, and I certainly don't feel that I
know enough to give them any suggestions." This again in the Harrigan
manner; but it weakened before Hal's firm gaze. "What can I do?"

"You can give the order to open the mine, to reverse the fan and start
it. That will draw out the smoke and gases, and the rescuers can go
down."

"But Hal, I assure you I have no authority to give such an order."

"You must _take_ the authority. Your father's in the East, the officers
of the company are in their beds at home; you are here!"

"But I don't understand such things, Hal! I don't know anything of the
situation--except what you tell me. And while I don't doubt your word,
any man may make a mistake in such a situation."

"Come and see for yourself, Percy! That's all I ask, and it's easy
enough. Here is your train, your engine with steam up; have us switched
onto the North Valley branch, and we can be at the mine in half an hour.
Then--let me take you to the men who know! Men who've been working all
their lives in mines, who've seen accidents like this many times, and
who will tell you the truth--that there's a chance of saving many lives,
and that the chance is being thrown away to save some thousands of
dollars' worth of coal and timbers and track."

"But even if that's true, Hal, I have no _power_!"

"If you come there, you can cut the red-tape in one minute. What those
bosses are doing is a thing that can only be done in darkness!"

Under the pressure of Hal's vehemence, the Harrigan manner was failing;
the Coal King's son was becoming a bewildered and quite ordinary youth.
But there was a power greater than Hal behind him. He shook his head.
"It's the old man's business, Hal. I've no right to butt in!"

The other, in his desperate need, turned to the rest of the party. His
gaze, moving from one face to another, rested upon the magazine-cover
countenance, with the brown eyes wide open, full of wonder.

"Jessie! What do you think about it?"

The girl started, and distress leaped into her face. "How do you mean,
Hal?"

"Tell him he ought to save those lives!"

The moments seemed ages as Hal waited. It was a test, he realised. The
brown eyes dropped. "I don't understand such things, Hal!"

"But, Jessie, I am explaining them! Here are men and boys being
suffocated to death, in order to save a little money. Isn't that plain?"

"But how can I _know_, Hal?"

"I'm giving you my word, Jessie. Surely I wouldn't appeal to you unless
I knew."

Still she hesitated. And there came a swift note of feeling into his
voice: "Jessie, dear!"

As if under a spell, the girl's eyes were raised to his; he saw a
scarlet flame of embarrassment spreading over her throat and cheeks.
"Jessie, I know--it seems an intolerable thing to ask! You've never been
rude to a friend. But I remember once you forgot your good manners, when
you saw a rough fellow on the street beating an old drudge-horse. Don't
you remember how you rushed at him--like a wild thing! And now--think of
it, dear, here are old drudge-creatures being tortured to death; but not
horses--working-men!"

Still the girl gazed at him. He could read grief, dismay in her eyes; he
saw tears steal from them, and stream down her cheeks. "Oh, I don't
know, I don't _know!_" she cried; and hid her face in her hands, and
began to sob aloud.



SECTION 14.

There was a painful pause. Hal's gaze travelled on, and came to a
grey-haired lady in a black dinner-gown, with a rope of pearls about her
neck. "Mrs. Curtis! Surely _you_ will advise him!"

The grey-haired lady started--was there no limit to his impudence? She
had witnessed the torturing of Jessie. But Jessie was his fiancee; he
had no such claim upon Mrs. Curtis. She answered, with iciness in her
tone: "I could not undertake to dictate to my host in such a matter."

"Mrs. Curtis! You have founded a charity for the helping of stray cats
and dogs!" These words rose to Hal's lips; but he did not say them. His
eyes moved on. Who else might help to bully a Harrigan?

Next to Mrs. Curtis sat Reggie Porter, with a rose in the button-hole of
his dinner-jacket. Hal knew the role in which Reggie was there--a kind
of male chaperon, an assistant host, an admirer to the wealthy, a solace
to the bored. Poor Reggie lived other people's lives, his soul
perpetually a-quiver with other people's excitements, with gossip,
preparations for tea-parties, praise of tea-parties past. And always the
soul was pushing; calculating, measuring opportunities, making up in
tact and elegance for distressing lack of money. Hal got one swift
glimpse of the face; the sharp little black moustaches seemed standing
up with excitement, and in a flash of horrible intuition Hal read the
situation--Reggie was expecting to be questioned, and had got ready an
answer that would increase his social capital in the Harrigan family
bank!

Across the aisle sat Genevieve Halsey: tall, erect, built on the scale
of a statue. You thought of the ox-eyed Juno, and imagined stately
emotions; but when you came to know Genevieve, you discovered that her
mind was slow, and entirely occupied with herself. Next to her was Bob
Creston, smooth-shaven, rosy-cheeked, exuding well-being--what is called
a "good fellow," with a wholesome ambition to win cups for his athletic
club, and to keep up the score of his rifle-team of the state militia.
Jolly Bob might have spoken, out of his good heart; but he was in love
with a cousin of Percy's, Betty Gunnison, who sat across the table from
him--and Hal saw her black eyes shining, her little fists clenched
tightly, her lips pressed white. Hal understood Betty--she was one of
the Harrigans, working at the Harrigan family task of making the
children of a pack-pedlar into leaders in the "younger set!"

Next sat "Vivie" Cass, whose talk was of horses and dogs and such
ungirlish matters; Hal had discussed social questions in her presence,
and heard her view expressed in one flashing sentence--"If a man eats
with his knife, I consider him my personal enemy!" Over her shoulder
peered the face of a man with pale eyes and yellow moustaches--Bert
Atkins, cynical and world-weary, whom the papers referred to as a
"club-man," and whom Hal's brother had called a "tame cat." There was
"Dicky" Everson, like Hal, a favourite of the ladies, but nothing more;
"Billy" Harris, son of another "coal man"; Daisy, his sister; and
Blanche Vagleman, whose father was Old Peter's head lawyer, whose
brother was the local counsel, and publisher of the Pedro _Star_.

So Hal's eyes moved from face to face, and his mind from personality to
personality. It was like the unrolling of a scroll; a panorama of a
world he had half forgotten. He had no time for reflection, but one
impression came to him, swift and overwhelming. Once he had lived in
this world and taken it as a matter of course. He had known these
people, gone about with them; they had seemed friendly, obliging, a good
sort of people on the whole. And now, what a change! They seemed no
longer friendly! Was the change in them? Or was it Hal who had become
cynical--so that he saw them in this terrifying new light, cold, and
unconcerned as the stars about men who were dying a few miles away!

Hal's eyes came back to the Coal King's son, and he discovered that
Percy was white with anger. "I assure you, Hal, there's no use going on
with this. I have no intention of letting myself be bulldozed."

Percy's gaze shifted with sudden purpose to the camp-marshal. "Cotton,
what do you say about this? Is Mr. Warner correct in his idea of the
situation?"

"You know what such a man would say, Percy!" broke in Hal.

"I don't," was the reply. "I wish to know. What is it, Cotton?"

"He's mistaken, Mr. Harrigan." The marshal's voice was sharp and
defiant.

"In what way?"

"The company's doing everything to get the mine open, and has been from
the beginning."

"Oh!" And there was triumph in Percy's voice. "What is the cause of the
delay?"

"The fan was broken, and we had to send for a new one. It's a job to set
it up--such things can't be done in an hour."

Percy turned to Hal. "You see! There are two opinions, at least!"

"Of course!" cried Betty Gunnison, her black eyes snapping at Hal. She
would have said more, but Hal interrupted, stepping closer to his host.
"Percy," he said, in a low voice, "come back here, please. I have a word
to say to you alone."

There was just a hint of menace in Hal's voice; his gaze went to the far
end of the car, a space occupied only by two negro waiters. These
retired in haste as the young men moved towards them; and so, having the
Coal King's son to himself, Hal went in to finish this fight.



SECTION 15.

Percy Harrigan was known to Hal, as a college-boy is known to his
class-mates. He was not brutal, like his grim old father; he was merely
self-indulgent, as one who had always had everything; he was weak, as
one who had never had to take a bold resolve. He had been brought up by
the women of the family, to be a part of what they called "society"; in
which process he had been given high notions of his own importance. The
life of the Harrigans was dominated by one painful memory--that of a
pedlar's pack; and Hal knew that Percy's most urgent purpose was to be
regarded as a real and true and freehanded aristocrat. It was this
knowledge Hal was using in his attack.

He began with apologies, attempting to soothe the other's anger. He had
not meant to make a scene like this; it was the gunmen who had forced
it, putting his life in danger. It was the very devil, being chased
about at night and shot at! He had lost his nerve, really; he had forgot
what little manners he had been able to keep as a miner's buddy. He had
made a spectacle of himself; good Lord yes, he realised how he must
seem!

--And Hal looked at his dirty miner's jumpers, and then at Percy. He
could see that Percy was in hearty agreement thus far--he had indeed
made a spectacle of himself, and of Percy too! Hal was sorry about this
latter, but here they were, in a pickle, and it was certainly too late
now. This story was out--there could be no suppressing it! Hal might sit
down on his reporter-friend, Percy might sit down on the waiters and the
conductor and the camp-marshal and the gunmen--but he could not possibly
sit down on all his friends! They would talk about nothing else for
weeks! The story would be all over Western City in a day--this amazing,
melodramatic, ten-twenty-thirty story of a miner's buddy in the private
car of the Coal King's son!

"And you must see, Percy," Hal went on, "it's the sort of thing that
sticks to a man. It's the thing by which everybody will form their idea
of you as long as you live!"

"I'll take my chances with my friends' criticism," said the other, with
some attempt at the Harrigan manner.

"You can make it whichever kind of story you choose," continued Hal,
implacably. "The world will say, He decided for the dollars; or it will
say, He decided for the lives. Surely, Percy, your family doesn't need
those particular dollars so badly! Why, you've spent more on this one
train-trip!"

And Hal waited, to give his victim time to calculate.

The result of the thinking was a question worthy of Old Peter. "What are
_you_ getting out of this?"

"Percy," said Hal, "you must _know_ I'm getting nothing! If you can't
understand it otherwise, say to yourself that you are dealing with a man
who's irresponsible. I've seen so many terrible things--I've been chased
around so much by camp-marshals--why, Percy, that man Cotton has six
notches on his gun! I'm simply crazy!" And into the brown eyes of this
miner's buddy came a look wild enough to convince a stronger man than
Percy Harrigan. "I've got just one idea left in the world, Percy--to
save those miners! You make a mistake unless you realise how desperate I
am. So far I've done this thing incog! I've been Joe Smith, a miner's
buddy. If I'd come out and told my real name--well, maybe I wouldn't
have made them open the mine, but at least I'd have made a lot of
trouble for the G. F. C.! But I didn't do it; I knew what a scandal it
would make, and there was something I owed my father. But if I see
there's no other way, if it's a question of letting those people perish,
I'll throw everything else to the winds. Tell your father that; tell him
I threatened to turn this man Keating loose and blow the thing wide
open--denounce the company, appeal to the Governor, raise a disturbance
and get arrested on the street, if necessary, in order to force the
facts before the public. You see, I've got the facts, Percy! I've been
there and seen with my own eyes. Can't you realise that?"

The other did not answer, but it was evident that he realised.

"On the other hand, see how you can fix it, if you choose. You were on a
pleasure trip when you heard of this disaster; you rushed up and took
command, you opened the mine, you saved the lives of your employes. That
is the way the papers will handle it."

Hal, watching his victim intently, and groping for the path to his mind,
perceived that he had gone wrong. Crude as the Harrigans were, they had
learned that it is not aristocratic to be picturesque.

"All right then!" said Hal, quickly. "If you prefer, you needn't be
mentioned. The bosses up at the camp have the reporters under their
thumbs, they'll handle the story any way you want it. The one thing I
care about is that you run your car up and see the mine opened. Won't
you do it, Percy?"

Hal was gazing into the other's eyes, knowing that life and death for
the miners hung upon his nod. "Well? What is the answer?"

"Hal," exclaimed Percy, "my old man will give me hell!"

"All right; but on the other hand, _I'll_ give you hell; and which will
be worse?"

Again there was a silence. "Come along, Percy! For God's sake!" And
Hal's tone was desperate, alarming.

And suddenly the other gave way. "All right!"

Hal drew a breath. "But mind you!" he added. "You're not going up there
to let them fool you! They'll try to bluff you out--they may go as far
as to refuse to obey you. But you must stand by your guns--for, you see,
I'm going along, I'm going to see that mine open. I'll never quit till
the rescuers have gone down!"

"Will they go, Hal?"

"Will they go? Good God, man, they're clamouring for the chance to go!
They've almost been rioting for it. I'll go with them--and you, too,
Percy--the whole crowd of us idlers will go! When we come out, we'll
know something about the business of coal-mining!"

"All right, I'm with you," said the Coal King's son.



SECTION 16.

Hal never knew what Percy said to Cartwright that night; he only knew
that when they arrived at the mine the superintendent was summoned to a
consultation, and half an hour later Percy emerged smiling, with the
announcement that Hal Warner had been mistaken all along; the mine
authorities had been making all possible haste to get the fan ready,
with the intention of opening the mine at the earliest moment. The work
was now completed, and in an hour or two the fan was to be started, and
by morning there would be a chance of rescuers getting in. Percy said
this so innocently that for a moment Hal wondered if Percy himself might
not believe it. Hal's position as guest of course required that he
should graciously pretend to believe it, consenting to appear as a fool
before the rest of the company.

Percy invited Hal and Billy Keating to spend the night in the train; but
this Hal declined. He was too dirty, he said; besides, he wanted to be
up at daylight, to be one of the first to go down the shaft. Percy
answered that the superintendent had vetoed this proposition--he did not
want any one to go down but experienced men, who could take care of
themselves. When there were so many on hand ready and eager to go, there
was no need to imperil the lives of amateurs.

At the risk of seeming ungracious, Hal declared that he would "hang
around" and see them take the cover off the pit-mouth. There were
mourning parties in some of the cabins, where women were gathered
together who could not sleep, and it would be an act of charity to take
them the good news.

Hal and Keating set out; they went first to the Rafferties', and saw
Mrs. Rafferty spring up and stare at them, and then scream aloud to the
Holy Virgin, waking all the little Rafferties to frightened clamour.
When the woman had made sure that they really knew what they were
talking about, she rushed out to spread the news, and so pretty soon the
streets were alive with hurrying figures, and a crowd gathered once more
at the pit-mouth.

Hal and Keating went on to Jerry Minetti's. Out of a sense of loyalty to
Percy, Hal did no more than repeat Percy's own announcement, that it had
been Cartwright's intention all along to have the mine opened. It was
funny to see the effect of this statement--the face with which Jerry
looked at Hal! But they wasted no time in discussion; Jerry slipped into
his clothes and hurried with them to the pit-mouth.

Sure enough, a gang was already tearing off the boards and canvas. Never
since Hal had been in North Valley had he seen men working with such a
will! Soon the great fan began to stir, and then to roar, and then to
sing; and there was a crowd of a hundred people, roaring and singing
also.

It would be some hours before anything more could be done; and suddenly
Hal realised that he was exhausted. He and Billy Keating went back to
the Minetti cabin, and spreading themselves a blanket on the floor, lay
down with sighs of relief. As for Billy, he was soon snoring; but to Hal
there came sudden reaction from all the excitement, and sleep was far
from him.

An ocean of thoughts came flooding into his mind: the world outside,
_his_ world, which he had banished deliberately for several months, and
which he had so suddenly been compelled to remember! It had seemed so
simple, what he had set out to do that summer: to take another name, to
become a member of another class, to live its life and think its
thoughts, and then come back to his own world with a new and fascinating
adventure to tell about! The possibility that his own world, the world
of Hal Warner, might find him out as Joe Smith, the miner's buddy--that
was a possibility which had never come to his mind. He was like a
burglar, working away at a job in darkness, and suddenly finding the
room flooded with light.

He had gone into the adventure, prepared to find things that would shock
him; he had known that somehow, somewhere, he would have to fight the
"system." But he had never expected to find himself in the thick of the
class-war, leading a charge upon the trenches of his own associates. Nor
was this the end, he knew; this war would not be settled by the winning
of a trench! Lying here in the darkness and silence, Hal was realising
what he had got himself in for. To employ another simile, he was a man
who begins a flirtation on the street, and wakes up next morning to find
himself married.

It was not that he had regrets for the course he had taken with Percy.
No other course had been thinkable. But while Hal had known these North
Valley people for ten weeks, he had known the occupants of Percy's car
for as many years. So these latter personalities loomed large in his
consciousness, and here in the darkness their thoughts about him,
whether actively hostile or passively astonished, laid siege to the
defences of his mind.

Particularly he found himself wrestling with Jessie Arthur. Her face
rose up before him, appealing, yearning. She had one of those perfect
faces, which irresistibly compel the soul of a man. Her brown eyes, soft
and shining, full of tenderness; her lips, quick to tremble with
emotion; her skin like apple-blossoms, her hair with star-dust in it!
Hal was cynical enough about coal-operators and mine-guards, but it
never occurred to him that Jessie's soul might be anything but what
these bodily charms implied. He was in love with her; and he was too
young, too inexperienced in love to realise that underneath the
sweetness of girlhood, so genuine and so lovable, might lie deep,
unconscious cruelty, inherited and instinctive--the cruelty of caste,
the hardness of worldly prejudice. A man has to come to middle age, and
to suffer much, before he understands that the charms of women, those
rare and magical perfections of eyes and teeth and hair, that softness
of skin and delicacy of feature, have cost labour and care of many
generations, and imply inevitably that life has been feral, that customs
and conventions have been murderous and inhuman.

Jessie had failed Hal in his desperate emergency. But now he went over
the scene, and told himself that the test had been an unfair one. He had
known her since childhood, and loved her, and never before had he seen
an act or heard a word that was not gracious and kind. But--so he told
himself--she gave her sympathy to those she knew; and what chance had
she ever had to know working-people? He must give her the chance; he
must compel her, even against her will, to broaden her understanding of
life! The process might hurt her, it might mar the unlined softness of
her face, but nevertheless, it would be good for her--it would be a
"growing pain"!

So, lying there in the darkness and silence, Hal found himself absorbed
in long conversation with his sweetheart. He escorted her about the
camp, explaining things to her, introducing her to this one and that. He
took others of his private-car friends and introduced them to his North
Valley friends. There were individuals who had qualities in common, and
would surely hit it off! Bob Creston, for example, who was good at a
"song and dance"--he would surely be interested in "Blinky," the
vaudeville specialist of the camp! Mrs. Curtis, who liked cats, would
find a bond of sisterhood with old Mrs. Nagle, who lived next door to
the Minettis, and kept five! And even Vivie Cass, who hated men who ate
with their knives--she would be driven to murder by the table-manners of
Reminitsky's boarders, but she would take delight in "Dago Charlie," the
tobacco-chewing mule which had once been Hal's pet! Hal could hardly
wait for daylight to come, so that he might begin these efforts at
social amalgamation!



SECTION 17.

Towards dawn Hal fell asleep; he was awakened by Billy Keating, who sat
up yawning, at the same time grumbling and bewailing. Hal realised that
Billy also had discovered troubles during the night. Never in all his
career as a journalist had he had such a story; never had any man had
such a story--and it must be killed!

Cartwright had got the reporters together late the night before and told
them the news--that the company had at last succeeded in getting the
mine ready to be opened; also that young Mr. Harrigan was there in his
private train, prompted by his concern for the entombed miners. The
reporters would mention his coming, of course, but were requested not to
"play it up," nor to mention the names of Mr. Harrigan's guests.
Needless to say they were not told that the "buddy" who had been thrown
out of camp for insubordination had turned out to be the son of Edward
S. Warner, the "coal magnate."

A fine, cold rain was falling, and Hal borrowed an old coat of Jerry's
and slipped it on. Little Jerry clamoured to go with him, and after some
controversy Hal wrapped him in a shawl and slung him onto his shoulder.
It was barely daylight, but already the whole population of the village
was on hand at the pit-mouth. The helmet-men had gone down to make
tests, so the hour of final revelation was at hand. Women stood with wet
shawls about their hunched shoulders, their faces white and strained,
their suspense too great for any sort of utterance. A ghastly thought it
was, that while they were shuddering in the wet, their men below might
be expiring for lack of a few drops of water!

The helmet-men, coming up, reported that lights would burn at the bottom
of the shaft; so it was safe for men to go down without helmets, and the
volunteers of the first rescue party made ready. All night there had
been a clattering of hammers, where the carpenters were working on a new
cage. Now it was swung from the hoist, and the men took their places in
it. When at last the hoist began to move, and the group disappeared
below the surface of the ground, you could hear a sigh from a thousand
throats, like the moaning of wind in a pine-tree. They were leaving
women and children above, yet not one of these women would have asked
them to stay--such was the deep unconscious bond of solidarity which
made these toilers of twenty nations one!

It was a slow process, letting down the cage; on account of the danger
of gas, and the newness of the cage, it was necessary to proceed a few
feet at a time, waiting for a pull upon the signal-cord to tell that the
men were all right. After they had reached the bottom, there would be
more time, no one could say how long, before they came upon survivors
with signs of life in them. There were bodies near the foot of the
shaft, according to the reports of the helmet-men, but there was no use
delaying to bring these up, for they must have been dead for days. Hal
saw a crowd of women clamouring about the helmet-men, trying to find out
if these bodies had been recognised. Also he saw Jeff Cotton and Bud
Adams at their old duty of driving the women back.

The cage returned for a second load of men. There was less need of
caution now; the hoist worked quickly, and group after group of men with
silent, set faces, and pickaxes and crow-bars and shovels in their
hands, went down into the pit of terror. They would scatter through the
workings, testing everywhere ahead of them with safety-lamps, and
looking for barriers erected by the imprisoned men for defence against
the gases. As they hammered on these barriers, perhaps they would hear
the signals of living men on the other side; or they would break through
in silence, and find men too far gone to make a sound, yet possibly with
the spark of life still in them.

One by one, Hal's friends went down--"Big Jack" David, and Wresmak, the
Bohemian, Klowoski, the Pole, and finally Jerry Minetti. Little Jerry
waved his hand from his perch on Hal's shoulder; while Rosa, who had
come out and joined them, was clinging to Hal's arm, silent, as if her
soul were going down in the cage. There went blue-eyed Tim Rafferty to
look for his father, and black-eyed "Andy," the Greek boy, whose father
had perished in a similar disaster years ago; there went Rovetta, and
Carmino, the pit-boss, Jerry's cousin. One by one their names ran
through the crowd, as of heroes marching out to battle.



SECTION 18.

Looking about, Hal saw some of the guests of the Harrigan party. There
was Vivie Cass, standing under an umbrella with Bert Atkins; and there
was Bob Creston with Dicky Everson. These two had on mackintoshes and
water-proof hats, and were talking to Cartwright; tall, immaculate men,
who seemed like creatures of another world beside the stunted and
coal-smutted miners.

Seeing Hal, they moved over to him. "Where did you get the kid?"
inquired Bob, his rosy, smooth-shaven face breaking into a smile.

"I picked him up," said Hal, giving Little Jerry a toss and sliding him
off his shoulder.

"Hello, kid!" said Bob.

And the answer came promptly, "Hello, yourself!" Little Jerry knew how
to talk American; he was a match for any society man! "My father's went
down in that cage," said he, looking up at the tall stranger, his bright
black eyes sparkling.

"Is that so!" replied the other. "Why don't you go?"

"My father'll get 'em out. He ain't afraid o' nothin', my father!"

"What's your father's name?"

"Big Jerry."

"Oho! And what'll you be when you grow up?"

"I'm goin' to be a shot-firer."

"In this mine?"

"You bet not!"

"Why not?"

Little Jerry looked mysterious. "I ain't tellin' all I know," said he.

The two young fellows laughed. Here was education for them! "Maybe
you'll go back to the old country?" put in Dicky Everson.

"No, sir-ee!" said Little Jerry. "I'm American."

"Maybe you'll be president some day."

"That's what my father says," replied the little chap--"president of a
miners' union."

Again they laughed; but Rosa gave a nervous whisper and caught at the
child's sleeve. That was not the sort of thing to say to mysterious and
rich-looking strangers! "This is Little Jerry's mother, Mrs. Minetti,"
put in Hal, by way of reassuring her.

"Glad to meet you, Mrs. Minetti," said the two young men, taking off
their hats with elaborate bows; they stared, for Rosa was a pretty
object as she blushed and made her shy response. She was much
embarrassed, having never before in her life been bowed to by men like
these.

And here they were greeting Joe Smith as an old friend, and calling him
by a strange name! She turned her black Italian eyes upon Hal in
inquiry, and he felt a flush creeping over him. It was almost as
uncomfortable to be found out by North Valley as to be found out by
Western City!

The men talked about the rescue-work, and what Cartwright had been
telling of its progress. The fire was in one of the main passages, and
was burning out the timbering, spreading rapidly under the draft from
the reversed fan. There could be little hope of rescue in this part of
the mine, but the helmet-men would defy the heat and smoke in the burned
out passages. They knew how likely was the collapse of such portions of
the mine; but also they knew that men had been working here before the
explosion. "I must say they're a game lot!" remarked Dicky.

A group of women and children were gathered about to listen, their
shyness overcome by their torturing anxiety for news. They made one
think of women in war-time, listening to the roar of distant guns and
waiting for the bringing in of the wounded. Hal saw Bob and Dicky glance
now and then at the ring of faces about them; they were getting
something of this mood, and that was a part of what he had desired for
them.

"Are the others coming out?" he asked.

"I don't know," said Bob. "I suppose they're having breakfast. It's time
we went in."

"Won't you come with us?" added Dicky.

"No, thanks," replied Hal, "I've an engagement with the kid here." And
he gave Little Jerry's hand a squeeze. "But tell some of the other
fellows to come. They'll be interested in these things."

"All right," said the two, as they moved away.



SECTION 19.

After allowing a sufficient time for the party in the dining-car to
finish breakfast, Hal went down to the tracks, and induced the porter to
take in his name to Percy Harrigan. He was hoping to persuade Percy to
see the village under other than company chaperonage; he heard with
dismay the announcement that the party had arranged to depart in the
course of a couple of hours.

"But you haven't seen anything at all!" Hal protested.

"They won't let us into the mine," replied the other. "What else is
there we can do?"

"I wanted you to talk to the people and learn something about conditions
here. You ought not to lose this chance, Percy!"

"That's all right, Hal, but you might understand this isn't a convenient
time. I've got a lot of people with me, and I've no right to ask them to
wait."

"But can't they learn something also, Percy?"

"It's raining," was the reply; "and ladies would hardly care to stand
round in a crowd and see dead bodies brought out of a mine."

Hal got the rebuke. Yes, he had grown callous since coming to North
Valley; he had lost that delicacy of feeling, that intuitive
understanding of the sentiments of ladies, which he would surely have
exhibited a short time earlier in his life. He was excited about this
disaster; it was a personal thing to him, and he lost sight of the fact
that to the ladies of the Harrigan party it was, in its details, merely
sordid and repelling. If they went out in the mud and rain of a
mining-village and stood about staring, they would feel that they were
exhibiting, not human compassion, but idle curiosity. The sights they
would see would harrow them to no purpose; and incidentally they would
be exposing themselves to distressing publicity. As for offering
sympathy to widows and orphans--well, these were foreigners mostly, who
could not understand what was said to them, and who might be more
embarrassed than helped by the intrusion into their grief of persons
from an alien world.

The business of offering sympathy had been reduced to a system by the
civilisation which these ladies helped to maintain; and, as it happened,
there was one present who was familiar with this system. Mrs. Curtis had
already acted, so Percy informed Hal; she had passed about a
subscription-paper, and in a couple of minutes over a thousand dollars
had been pledged. This would be paid by check to the "Red Cross," whose
agents would understand how to distribute relief among such sufferers.
So the members of Percy's party felt that they had done the proper and
delicate thing, and might go their ways with a quiet conscience.

"The world can't stop moving just because there's been a mine-disaster,"
said the Coal King's son. "People have engagements they must keep."

And he went on to explain what these engagements were. He himself had to
go to a dinner that evening, and would barely be able to make it. Bert
Atkins was to play a challenge match at billiards, and Mrs. Curtis was
to attend a committee meeting of a woman's club. Also it was the last
Friday of the month; had Hal forgotten what that meant?

After a moment Hal remembered--the "Young People's Night" at the country
club! He had a sudden vision of the white colonial mansion on the
mountain-side, with its doors and windows thrown wide, and the strains
of an orchestra floating out. In the ball-room the young ladies of
Percy's party would appear--Jessie, his sweetheart, among them--gowned
in filmy chiffons and laces, floating in a mist of perfume and colour
and music. They would laugh and chatter, they would flirt and scheme
against one another for the sovereignty of the ball-room--while here in
North Valley the sobbing widows would be clutching their mangled dead in
their arms! How strange, how ghastly it seemed! How like the scenes one
read of on the eve of the French Revolution!



SECTION 20.

Percy wanted Hal to come away with the party. He suggested this
tactfully at first, and then, as Hal did not take the hint, he began to
press the matter, showing signs of irritation. The mine was open
now--what more did Hal want? When Hal suggested that Cartwright might
order it closed again, Percy revealed the fact that the matter was in
his father's hands. The superintendent had sent a long telegram the
night before, and an answer was due at any moment. Whatever the answer
ordered would have to be done.

There was a grim look upon Hal's face, but he forced himself to speak
politely. "If your father orders anything that interferes with the
rescuing of the men--don't you see, Percy, that I have to fight him?"

"But how _can_ you fight him?"

"With the one weapon I have--publicity."

"You mean--" Percy stopped, and stared.

"I mean what I said before--I'd turn Billy Keating loose and blow this
whole story wide open."

"Well, by God!" cried young Harrigan. "I must say I'd call it damned
dirty of you! You said you'd not do it, if I'd come here and open the
mine!"

"But what good does it do to open it, if you close it again before the
men are out?" Hal paused, and when he went on it was in a sincere
attempt at apology. "Percy, don't imagine I fail to appreciate the
embarrassments of this situation. I know I must seem a cad to you--more
than you've cared to tell me. I called you my friend in spite of all our
quarrels. All I can do is to assure you that I never intended to get
into such a position as this."

"Well, what the hell did you want to come here for? You knew it was the
property of a friend--"

"That's the question at issue between us, Percy. Have you forgotten our
arguments? I tried to convince you what it meant that you and I should
own the things by which other people have to live. I said we were
ignorant of the conditions under which our properties were worked, we
were a bunch of parasites and idlers. But you laughed at me, called me a
crank, an anarchist, said I swallowed what any muck-raker fed me. So I
said: 'I'll go to one of Percy's mines! Then, when he tries to argue
with me, I'll have him!' That was the way the thing started--as a joke.
But then I got drawn into things. I don't want to be nasty, but no man
with a drop of red blood in his veins could stay in this place a week
without wanting to fight! That's why I want you to stay--you ought to
stay, to meet some of the people and see for yourself."

"Well, I can't stay," said the other, coldly. "And all I can tell you is
that I wish you'd go somewhere else to do your sociology."

"But where could I go, Percy? Somebody owns everything. If it's a big
thing, it's almost certain to be somebody we know."

Said Percy, "If I might make a suggestion, you could have begun with the
coal-mines of the Warner Company."

Hal laughed. "You may be sure I thought of that, Percy. But see the
situation! If I was to accomplish my purpose, it was essential that I
shouldn't be known. And I had met some of my father's superintendents in
his office, and I knew they'd recognise me. So I _had_ to go to some
other mines."

"Most fortunate for the Warner Company," replied Percy, in an ugly tone.

Hal answered, gravely, "Let me tell you, I don't intend to leave the
Warner Company permanently out of my sociology."

"Well," replied the other, "all I can say is that we pass one of their
properties on our way back, and nothing would please me better than to
stop the train and let you off!"



SECTION 21.

Hal went into the drawing-room car. There were Mrs. Curtis and Reggie
Porter, playing bridge with Genevieve Halsey and young Everson. Bob
Creston was chatting with Betty Gunnison, telling her what he had seen
outside, no doubt. Bert Atkins was looking over the morning paper,
yawning. Hal went on, seeking Jessie Arthur, and found her in one of the
compartments of the car, looking out of the rain-drenched
window--learning about a mining-camp in the manner permitted to young
ladies of her class.

He expected to find her in a disturbed state of mind, and was prepared
to apologise. But when he met the look of distress she turned upon him,
he did not know just where to begin. He tried to speak casually--he had
heard she was going away. But she caught him by the hand, exclaiming:
"Hal, you are coming with us!"

He did not answer for a moment, but sat down by her. "Have I made you
suffer so much, Jessie?"

He saw tears start into her eyes. "Haven't you _known_ you were making
me suffer? Here I was as Percy's guest; and to have you put such
questions to me! What could I say? What do I know about the way Mr.
Harrigan should run his business?"

"Yes, dear," he said, humbly. "Perhaps I shouldn't have drawn you into
it. But the matter was so complicated and so sudden. Can't you
understand that, and forgive me? Everything has turned out so well!"

But she did not think that everything had turned out well. "In the first
place, for you to be here, in such a plight! And when I thought you were
hunting mountain-goats in Mexico!"

He could not help laughing; but Jessie had not even a smile. "And
then--to have you drag our love into the thing, there before every one!"

"Was that really so terrible, Jessie?"

She looked at him with amazement. That he, Hal Warner, could have done
such a thing, and not realise how terrible it was! To put her in a
position where she had to break either the laws of love or the laws of
good-breeding! Why, it had amounted to a public quarrel. It would be the
talk of the town--there was no end to the embarrassment of it!

"But, sweetheart!" argued Hal. "Try to see the reality of this
thing--think about those people in the mine. You really _must_ do that!"

She looked at him, and noticed the new, grim lines that had come upon
his youthful face. Also, she caught the note of suppressed passion in
his voice. He was pale and weary looking, in dirty clothes, his hair
unkempt and his face only half washed. It was terrifying--as if he had
gone to war.

"Listen to me, Jessie," he insisted. "I want you to know about these
things. If you and I are ever to make each other happy, you must try to
grow up with me. That was why I was glad to have you here--you would
have a chance to see for yourself. Now I ask you not to go without
seeing."

"But I have to go, Hal. I can't ask Percy Harrigan to stay and
inconvenience everybody!"

"You can stay without him. You can ask one of the ladies to chaperon
you."

She gazed at him in dismay. "Why, Hal! What a thing to suggest!"

"Why so?"

"Think how it would look!"

"I can't think so much about looks, dear--"

She broke in: "Think what Mamma would say!"

"She wouldn't like it, I know--"

"She would be wild! She would never forgive either of us. She would
never forgive any one who stayed with me. And what would Percy say, if I
came here as his guest, and stayed to spy on him and his father? Don't
you see how preposterous it would be?"

Yes, he saw. He was defying all the conventions of her world, and it
seemed to her a course of madness. She clutched his hands in hers, and
the tears ran down her cheeks.

"Hal," she cried, "I can't leave you in this dreadful place! You look
like a ghost, and a scarecrow, too! I want you to go and get some decent
clothes and come home on this train."

But he shook his head. "It's not possible, Jessie."

"Why not?"

"Because I have a duty to do here. Can't you understand, dear? All my
life, I've been living on the labour of coal-miners, and I've never
taken the trouble to go near them, to see how my money was got!"

"But, Hal! These aren't your people! They are Mr. Harrigan's people!"

"Yes," he said, "but it's all the same. They toil, and we live on their
toil, and take it as a matter of course."

"But what can one _do_ about it, Hal?"

"One can understand it, if nothing else. And you see what I was able to
do in this case--to get the mine open."

"Hal," she exclaimed, "I can't understand you! You've become so cynical,
you don't believe in any one! You're quite convinced that these
officials meant to murder their working people! As if Mr. Harrigan would
let his mines be run that way!"

"Mr. Harrigan, Jessie? He passes the collection plate at St. George's!
That's the only place you've ever seen him, and that's all you know
about him."

"I know what everybody says, Hal! Papa knows him, and my brothers--yes,
your own brother, too! Isn't it true that Edward would disapprove what
you're doing?"

"Yes, dear, I fear so."

"And you set yourself up against them--against everybody you know! Is it
reasonable to think the older people are all wrong, and only you are
right? Isn't it at least possible you're making a mistake? Think about
it--honestly, Hal, for my sake!"

She was looking at him pleadingly; and he leaned forward and took her
hand. "Jessie," he said, his voice trembling, "I _know_ that these
working people are oppressed; I know it, because I have been one of
them! And I know that such men as Peter Harrigan, and even my own
brother, are to blame! And they've got to be faced by some one--they've
got to be made to see! I've come to see it clearly this summer--that's
the job I have to do!"

She was gazing at him with her wide-open, beautiful eyes; underneath her
protests and her terror, she was thrilling with awe at this amazing
madman she loved. "They will _kill_ you!" she cried.

"No, dearest--you don't need to worry about that--I don't think they'll
kill me."

"But they shot at you!"

"No, they shot at Joe Smith, a miner's buddy. They won't shoot at the
son of a millionaire--not in America, Jessie."

"But some dark night--"

"Set your mind at rest," he said, "I've got Percy tied up in this, and
everybody knows it. There's no way they could kill me without the whole
story's coming out--and so I'm as safe as I would be in my bed at home!"



SECTION 22.

Hal was still possessed by his idea that Jessie must be taught--she must
have knowledge forced upon her, whether she would or no. The train would
not start for a couple of hours, and he tried to think of some use he
could make of that precious interval. He recalled that Rosa Minetti had
returned to her cabin to attend to her baby. A sudden vision came to him
of Jessie in that little home. Rosa was sweet and good, and assuredly
Little Jerry was a "winner."

"Sweetheart," he said, "I wish you'd come for a walk with me."

"But it's raining, Hal!"

"It won't hurt you to spoil one dress; you have plenty."

"I'm not thinking of that--"

"I _wish_ you'd come."

"I don't feel comfortable about it, Hal. I'm here as Percy's guest, and
he mightn't like--"

"I'll ask him if he objects to your taking a stroll," he suggested, with
pretended gravity.

"No, no! That would make it worse!" Jessie had no humour whatever about
these matters.

"Well, Vivie Cass was out, and some of the others are going. He hasn't
objected to that."

"I know, Hal. But he knows they're all right."

Hal laughed. "Come on, Jessie. Percy won't hold you for my sins! You
have a long train journey before you, and some fresh air will be good
for you."

She saw that she must make some concession to him, if she was to keep
any of her influence over him.

"All right," she said, with resignation, and disappeared and returned
with a heavy veil over her face, to conceal her from prying reportorial
eyes; also an equipment of mackintosh, umbrella and overshoes, against
the rain. The two stole out of the car, feeling like a couple of
criminals.

Skirting the edge of the throng about the pit-mouth, they came to the
muddy, unpaved quarter in which the Italians had their homes; he held
her arm, steering her through the miniature sloughs and creeks. It was
thrilling to him to have her with him thus, to see her sweet face and
hear her voice full of love. Many a time he had thought of her here, and
told her in his imagination of his experiences!

He told her now--about the Minetti family, and how he had met Big and
Little Jerry on the street, and how they had taken him in, and then been
driven by fear to let him go again. He told his check-weighman story,
and was telling how Jeff Cotton had arrested him; but they came to the
Minetti cabin, and the terrifying narrative was cut short.

It was Little Jerry who came to the door, with the remains of breakfast
distributed upon his cheeks; he stared in wonder at the mysteriously
veiled figure. Entering, they saw Rosa sitting in a chair nursing her
baby. She rose in confusion; but she did not quite like to turn her back
upon her guests, so she stood trying to hide her breast as best she
could, blushing and looking very girlish and pretty.

Hal introduced Jessie, as an old friend who was interested to meet his
new friends, and Jessie threw back her veil and sat down. Little Jerry
wiped off his face at his mother's command, and then came where he could
stare at this incredibly lovely vision.

"I've been telling Miss Arthur what good care you took of me," said Hal
to Rosa. "She wanted to come and thank you for it."

"Yes," added Jessie, graciously. "Anybody who is good to Hal earns my
gratitude."

Rosa started to murmur something; but Little Jerry broke in, with his
cheerful voice, "Why you call him Hal? His name's Joe!"

"Ssh!" cried Rosa. But Hal and Jessie laughed--and so the process of
Americanising Little Jerry was continued.

"I've got lots of names," said Hal. "They called me Hal when I was a kid
like you."

"Did _she_ know you then?" inquired Little Jerry.

"Yes, indeed."

"Is she your girl?"

Rosa laughed shyly, and Jessie blushed, and looked charming. She
realised vaguely a difference in manners. These people accepted the
existence of "girls," not concealing their interest in the phenomenon.

"It's a secret," warned Hal. "Don't you tell on us!"

"I can keep a secret," said Little Jerry. After a moment's pause he
added, dropping his voice, "You gotta keep secrets if you work in North
Valley."

"You bet your life," said Hal.

"My father's a Socialist," continued the other, addressing Jessie; then,
since one thing leads on to another, "My father's a shot-firer."

"What's a shot-firer?" asked Jessie, by way of being sociable.

"Jesus!" exclaimed Little Jerry. "Don't you know nothin' about minin'?"

"No," said Jessie. "You tell me."

"You couldn't get no coal without a shot-firer," declared Little Jerry.
"You gotta get a good one, too, or maybe you bust up the mine. My
father's the best they got."

"What does he do?"

"Well, they got a drill--long, long, like this, all the way across the
room; and they turn it and bore holes in the coal. Sometimes they got
machines to drill, only we don't like them machines, 'cause it takes the
men's jobs. When they got the holes, then the shot-firer comes and sets
off the powder. You gotta have--" and here Little Jerry slowed up,
pronouncing each syllable very carefully--"per-miss-i-ble powder--what
don't make no flame. And you gotta know just how much to put in. If you
put in too much, you smash the coal, and the miner raises hell; if you
don't put in enough, you make too much work for him, an' he raises hell
again. So you gotta get a good shot-firer."

Jessie looked at Hal, and he saw that her dismay was mingled with
genuine amusement. He judged this a good way for her to get her
education, so he proceeded to draw out Little Jerry on other aspects of
coal-mining: on short weights and long hours, grafting bosses and
camp-marshals, company-stores and boarding-houses, Socialist agitators
and union organisers. Little Jerry talked freely of the secrets of the
camp. "It's all right for you to know," he remarked gravely. "You're
Joe's girl!"

"You little cherub!" exclaimed Jessie.

"What's a cherub?" was Little Jerry's reply.



SECTION 23.

So the time passed in a way that was pleasant. Jessie was completely won
by this little Dago mine-urchin, in spite of all his frightful
curse-words; and Hal saw that she was won, and was delighted by the
success of this experiment in social amalgamation. He could not read
Jessie's mind, and realise that underneath her genuine delight were
reservations born of her prejudices, the instinctive cruelty of caste.
Yes, this little mine chap was a cherub, now; but how about when he grew
big? He would grow ugly and coarse-looking, in ten years one would not
know him from any other of the rough and dirty men of the village.
Jessie took the fact that common people grow ugly as they mature as a
proof that they are, in some deep and permanent way, the inferiors of
those above them. Hal was throwing away his time and strength, trying to
make them into something which Nature had obviously not intended them to
be! She decided to make that point to Hal on their way back to the
train. She realised that he had brought her here to educate her; like
all the rest of the world, she resented forcible education, and she was
not without hope that she might turn the tables and educate Hal.

Pretty soon Rosa finished nursing the baby, and Jessie remarked the
little one's black eyes. This topic broke down the mother's shyness, and
they were chatting pleasantly, when suddenly they heard sounds outside
which caused them to start up. It was a clamour of women's voices; and
Hal and Rosa sprang to the door. Just now was a critical time, when
every one was on edge for news.

Hal threw open the door and called to those outside "What is it?" There
came a response, in a woman's voice, "They've found Rafferty!"

"Alive?"

"Nobody knows yet."

"Where?"

"In Room Seventeen. Eleven of them--Rafferty, and young Flanagan, and
Johannson, the Swede. They're near dead--can't speak, they say. They
won't let anybody near them."

Other voices broke in; but the one which answered Hal had a different
quality; it was a warm, rich voice, unmistakably Irish, and it held
Jessie's attention. "They've got them in the tipple-room, and the women
want to know about their men, and they won't tell them. They're beatin'
them back like dogs!"

There was a tumult of weeping, and Hal stepped out of the cabin, and in
a minute or so he entered again, supporting on his arm a girl, clad in a
faded blue calico dress, and having a head of very conspicuous red hair.
She seemed half fainting, and kept moaning that it was horrible,
horrible. Hal led her to a chair, and she sank into it and hid her face
in her hands, sobbing, talking incoherently between her sobs.

Jessie stood looking at this girl. She felt the intensity of her
excitement, and shared it; yet at the same time there was something in
Jessie that resented it. She did not wish to be upset about things like
this, which she could not help. Of course these unfortunate people were
suffering; but--what a shocking lot of noise the poor thing was making!
A part of the poor thing's excitement was rage, and Jessie realised
that, and resented it still more. It was as if it were a personal
challenge to her; the same as Hal's fierce social passions, which so
bewildered and shocked her.

"They're beatin' the women back like dogs!" the girl repeated.

"Mary," said Hal, trying to soothe her, "the doctors will be doing their
best. The women couldn't expect to crowd about them!"

"Maybe they couldn't; but that's not it, Joe, and ye know it! They been
bringin' up dead bodies, some they found where the explosion was--blown
all to pieces. And they won't let anybody see them. Is that because of
the doctors? No, it ain't! It's because they want to tell lies about the
number killed! They want to count four or five legs to a man! And that's
what's drivin' the women crazy! I saw Mrs. Zamboni, tryin' to get into
the shed, and Pete Hanun caught her by the breasts and shoved her back.
'I want my man!' she screamed. 'Well, what do you want him for? He's all
in pieces!' 'I want the pieces!' 'What good'll they do you? Are you
goin' to eat him?'"

There were cries of horror now, even from Jessie; and the strange girl
hid her face in her hands and began to sob again. Hal put his hand
gently on her arm.

"Mary," he pleaded, "it's not so bad--at least they're getting the
people out."

"How do ye know what they're doin'? They might be sealin' up parts of
the mine down below! That's what makes it so horrible--nobody knows
what's happenin'! Ye should have heard poor Mrs. Rafferty screamin'.
Joe, it went through me like a knife. Just think, it's been half an hour
since they brought him up, and the poor lady can't be told if her man is
alive."



SECTION 24.

Hal stood for a few moments in thought. He was surprised that such
things should be happening while Percy Harrigan's train was in the
village. He was considering whether he should go to Percy, or whether a
hint to Cotton or Cartwright would not be sufficient.

"Mary," he said, in a quiet voice, "you needn't distress yourself so. We
can get better treatment for the women, I'm sure."

But her sobbing went on. "What can ye do? They're bound to have their
way!"

"No," said Hal. "There's a difference now. Believe me--something can be
done. I'll step over and have a word with Jeff Cotton."

He started towards the door; but there came a cry: "Hal!" It was Jessie,
whom he had almost forgotten in his sudden anger at the bosses.

At her protest he turned and looked at her; then he looked at Mary. He
saw the latter's hands fall from her tear-stained face, and her
expression of grief give way to one of wonder. "Hal!"

"Excuse me," he said, quickly. "Miss Burke, this is my friend, Miss
Arthur." Then, not quite sure if this was a satisfactory introduction,
he added, "Jessie, this is my friend, Mary."

Jessie's training could not fail in any emergency. "Miss Burke," she
said, and smiled with perfect politeness. But Mary said nothing, and the
strained look did not leave her face.

In the first excitement she had almost failed to notice this stranger;
but now she stared, and realisation grew upon her. Here was a girl,
beautiful with a kind of beauty hardly to be conceived of in a
mining-camp; reserved, yet obviously expensive--even in a mackintosh and
rubber-shoes. Mary was used to the expensiveness of Mrs. O'Callahan, but
here was a new kind of expensiveness, subtle and compelling, strangely
unconscious. And she laid claim to Joe Smith, the miner's buddy! She
called him by a name hitherto unknown to his North Valley associates! It
needed no word from Little Jerry to guide Mary's instinct; she knew in a
flash that here was the "other girl."

Mary was seized with sudden acute consciousness of the blue calico
dress, patched at the shoulder and stained with grease-spots; of her
hands, big and rough with hard labour; of her feet, clad in shoes worn
sideways at the heel, and threatening to break out at the toes. And as
for Jessie, she too had the woman's instinct; she too saw a girl who was
beautiful, with a kind of beauty of which she did not approve, but which
she could not deny--the beauty of robust health, of abounding animal
energy. Jessie was not unaware of the nature of her own charms, having
been carefully educated to conserve them; nor did she fail to make note
of the other girl's handicaps--the patched and greasy dress, the big
rough hands, the shoes worn sideways. But even so, she realised that
"Red Mary" had a quality which she lacked--that beside this wild rose of
a mining-camp, she, Jessie Arthur, might possibly seem a garden flower,
fragile and insipid.

She had seen Hal lay his hand upon Mary's arm, and heard her speak to
him. She called him Joe! And a sudden fear had leaped into Jessie's
heart.

Like many girls who have been delicately reared, Jessie Arthur knew more
than she admitted, even to herself. She knew enough to realise that
young men with ample means and leisure are not always saints and
ascetics. Also, she had heard the remark many times made that these
women of the lower orders had "no morals." Just what did such a remark
mean? What would be the attitude of such a girl as Mary
Burke--full-blooded and intense, dissatisfied with her lot in life--to a
man of culture and charm like Hal? She would covet him, of course; no
woman who knew him could fail to covet him. And she would try to steal
him away from his friends, from the world to which he belonged, the
future of happiness and ease to which he was entitled. She would have
powers--dark and terrible powers, all the more appalling to Jessie
because they were mysterious. Might they possibly be able to overcome
even the handicap of a dirty calico dress, of big rough hands and shoes
worn sideways?

These reflections, which have taken many words to explain, came to
Jessie in one flash of intuition. She understood now, all at once, the
incomprehensible phenomenon--that Hal should leave friends and home and
career, to come and live amid this squalor and suffering! She saw the
old drama of the soul of man, heaven and hell contending for mastery of
it; and she knew that she was heaven, and that this "Red Mary" was hell.

She looked at Hal. He seemed to her so fine and true; his face was
frank, he was the soul of honourableness. No, it was impossible to
believe that he had yielded to such a lure! If that had been the case,
he would never have brought her to this cabin, he would never have taken
a chance of her meeting the girl. No; but he might be struggling against
temptation, he might be in the toils of it, and only half aware of it.
He was a man, and therefore blind; he was a dreamer, and it would be
like him to idealise this girl, calling her naive and primitive,
thinking that she had no wiles! Jessie had come just in time to save
him! And she would fight to save him--using wiles more subtle than those
at the command of any mining-camp hussy!



SECTION 25.

It was the surging up in Jessie Arthur of that instinctive self, the
creature of hereditary cruelty, of the existence of which Hal had no
idea. She drew back, and there was a quiet _hauteur_ in her tone as she
spoke. "Hal, come here, please."

He came; and she waited until he was close enough for intimacy, and then
said, "Have you forgotten you have to take me back to the train?"

"Can't you come with me for a few minutes?" he pleaded. "It would have
such a good effect if you did."

"I can't go into that crowd," she answered; and suddenly her voice
trembled, and the tears came into her sweet brown eyes. "Don't you know,
Hal, that I couldn't stand such terrible sights? This poor girl--she is
used to them--she is hardened! But I--I--oh, take me away, take me away,
dear Hal!" This cry of a woman for protection came with a familiar echo
to Hal's mind. He did not stop to think--he was moved by it
instinctively. Yes, he had exposed the girl he loved to suffering! He
had meant it for her own good, but even so, it was cruel!

He stood close to her, and saw the love-light in her eyes; he saw the
tears, the trembling of her sensitive chin. She swayed to him, and he
caught her in his arms--and there, before these witnesses, she let him
press her to him, while she sobbed and whispered her distress. She had
been shy of caresses hitherto, watched and admonished by an experienced
mother; certainly she had never before made what could by the remotest
stretch of the imagination be considered an advance towards him. But now
she made it, and there was a cry of triumph in her soul as she saw that
he responded to it. He was still hers--and these low people should know
it, this "other girl" should know it!

Yet, in the midst of this very exultation, Jessie Arthur really felt the
grief she expressed for the women of North Valley; she really felt
horror at the story of Mrs. Zamboni's "man": so intricate is the soul of
woman, so puzzling that faculty, older than the ages, which enables her
to be hysterical, and at the same time to be guided in the use of that
hysteria by deep and infallible calculation.

But she made Hal realise that it was necessary for him to take her away.
He turned to Mary Burke and said, "Miss Arthur's train is leaving in a
short time. I'll have to take her hack, and then I'll go to the
pit-mouth with you and see what I can do."

"Very well," Mary answered; and her voice was hard and cold. But Hal did
not notice this. He was a man, and not able to keep up with the emotions
of one woman--to say nothing of two women at the same time.

He took Jessie out, and all the way hack to the train she fought a
desperate fight to get him away from here. She no longer even suggested
that he get decent clothing; she was willing for him to come as he was,
in his coal-stained mining-jumpers, in the private train of the Coal
King's son. She besought him in the name of their affection. She
threatened him that if he did not come, this might be the last time they
would meet. She even broke down in the middle of the street, and let him
stand there in plain sight of miners' wives and children, and of
possible newspaper reporters, holding her in his arms and comforting
her.

Hal was much puzzled; but he would not give way. The idea of going off
in Percy Harrigan's train had come to seem morally repulsive to him; he
hated Percy Harrigan's train, and Percy Harrigan also, he declared. And
Jessie saw that she was only making him unreasonable--that before long
he might be hating her. With her instinctive _savoir faire_, she brought
up his suggestion that she might find some one to chaperon her, and stay
with him at North Valley until he was ready to come away.

Hal's heart leaped at that; he had no idea what was in her mind--the
certainty that no one of the ladies of the Harrigan party would run the
risk of offending her host by staying under such circumstances.

"You mean it, sweetheart?" he cried, happily.

She answered, "I mean that I love you, Hal."

"All right, dear!" he said. "We'll see if we can arrange it."

But as they walked on, she managed, without his realising it, to cause
him to reflect upon the effect of her staying. She was willing to do it,
if it was what he wanted; but it would injure, perhaps irrevocably, his
standing with her parents. They would telegraph her to come at once; and
if she did not obey, they would come by the next train. So on, until at
last Hal was moved to withdraw his own suggestion. After all, what was
the use of her staying, if her mind was on the people at home, if she
would simply keep him in hot water? Before the conversation was over Hal
had become clear in his mind that North Valley was no place for Jessie
Arthur, and that he had been a fool to think he could bring the two
together.

She tried to get him to promise to leave as soon as the last man had
been brought out of the mine. He answered that he intended to leave
then, unless some new emergency should arise. She tried to get an
unqualified promise; and failing in that, when they had nearly got to
the train she suddenly made a complete surrender. Let him do what he
pleased--but let him remember that she loved him, that she needed him,
that she could not do without him. No matter what he might do, no matter
what people might say about him, she believed in him, she would stand by
him. Hal was deeply touched, and took her in his arms again and kissed
her tenderly under the umbrella, in the presence of the wondering stares
of several urchins with coal-smutted faces. He pledged anew his love for
her, assuring her that no amount of interest in mining-camps should ever
steal him from her.

Then he put her on the train, and shook hands with the departing guests.
He was so very sombre and harassed-looking that the young men forbore to
"kid" him as they would otherwise have done. He stood on the
station-platform and saw the train roll away--and felt, to his own
desperate bewilderment, that he hated these friends of his boyhood and
youth. His reason protested against it; he told himself there was
nothing they could do, no reason on earth for them to stay--and yet he
hated them. They were hurrying off to dance and flirt at the country
club--while he was going back to the pit-mouth, to try to get Mrs.
Zamboni the right to inspect the pieces of her "man"!




BOOK FOUR

THE WILL OF KING COAL




SECTION 1.

The pit of death was giving up its secrets. The hoist was busy, and
cage-load after cage-load came up, with bodies dead and bodies living
and bodies only to be classified after machines had pumped air into them
for a while. Hal stood in the rain and watched the crowd and thought
that he had never witnessed a scene so compelling to pity and terror.
The silence that would fall when any one appeared who might have news to
tell! The sudden shriek of anguish from some woman whose hopes were
struck dead! The moans of sympathy that ran through the crowd,
alternating with cheers at some good tidings, shaking the souls of the
multitude as a storm of wind shakes a reed-field!

And the stories that ran through the camp--brought up from the
underground world--stories of incredible sufferings, and of still more
incredible heroisms! Men who had been four days without food or water,
yet had resisted being carried out of the mine, proposing to stay and
help rescue others! Men who had lain together in the darkness and
silence, keeping themselves alive by the water which seeped from the
rocks overhead, taking turns lying face upwards where the drops fell, or
wetting pieces of their clothing and sucking out the moisture! Members
of the rescue parties would tell how they knocked upon the barriers, and
heard the faint answering signals of the imprisoned men; how madly they
toiled to cut through, and how, when at last a little hole appeared,
they heard the cries of joy, and saw the eyes of men shining from the
darkness, while they waited, gasping, for the hole to grow bigger, so
that water and food might be passed in!

In some places they were fighting the fire. Long lines of hose had been
sent down, and men were moving forward foot by foot, as the smoke and
steam were sucked out ahead of them by the fan. Those who did this work
were taking their lives in their hands, yet they went without
hesitation. There was always hope of finding men in barricaded rooms
beyond.

Hal sought out Jeff Cotton at the entrance to the tipple-room, which had
been turned into a temporary hospital. It was the first time the two had
met since the revelation in Percy's car, and the camp-marshal's face
took on a rather sheepish grin. "Well, Mr. Warner, you win," he
remarked; and after a little arguing he agreed to permit a couple of
women to go into the tipple-room and make a list of the injured, and go
out and give the news to the crowd. Hal went to the Minettis to ask Mary
Burke to attend to this; but Rosa said that Mary had gone out after he
and Miss Arthur had left, and no one knew where she was. So Hal went to
Mrs. David, who consented to get a couple of friends, and do the work
without being called a "committee." "I won't have any damned
committees!" the camp-marshal had declared.

So the night passed, and part of another day. A clerk from the office
came to Hal with a sealed envelope, containing a telegram, addressed in
care of Cartwright. "I most urgently beg of you to come home at once. It
will be distressing to Dad if he hears what has happened, and it will
not be possible to keep the matter from him for long."

As Hal read, he frowned; evidently the Harrigans had got busy without
delay! He went to the office and telephoned his answer. "Am planning to
leave in a day or two. Trust you will make an effort to spare Dad until
you have heard my story."

This message troubled Hal. It started in his mind long arguments with
his brother, and explanations and apologies to his father. He loved the
old man tenderly. What a shame if some emissary of the Harrigans were to
get to him to upset him with misrepresentations!

Also these ideas had a tendency to make Hal homesick; they brought more
vividly to his thoughts the outside world, with its physical
allurements--there being a limit to the amount of unwholesome meals and
dirty beds and repulsive sights a man of refinement can force himself to
endure. Hal found himself obsessed by a vision of a club dining-room,
with odours of grilled steaks and hot rolls, and the colours of salads
and fresh fruits and cream. The conviction grew suddenly strong in him
that his work in North Valley was nearly done!

Another night passed, and another day. The last of the bodies had been
brought out, and the corpses shipped down to Pedro for one of those big
wholesale funerals which are a feature of mine-life. The fire was out,
and the rescue-crews had given place to a swarm of carpenters and
timbermen, repairing the damage and making the mine safe. The reporters
had gone; Billy Keating having clasped Hal's hand, and promised to meet
him for luncheon at the club. An agent of the "Red Cross" was on hand,
and was feeding the hungry out of Mrs. Curtis's subscription-list. What
more was there for Hal to do--except to bid good-bye to his friends, and
assure them of his help in the future?

First among these friends was Mary Burke, whom he had had no chance to
talk to since the meeting with Jessie. He realised that Mary had been
deliberately avoiding him. She was not in her home, and he went to
inquire at the Rafferties', and stopped for a good-bye chat with the old
woman whose husband he had saved.

Rafferty was going to pull through. His wife had been allowed in to see
him, and tears rolled down her shrunken cheeks as she told about it. He
had been four days and nights blocked up in a little tunnel, with no
food or water, save for a few drops of coffee which he had shared with
other men. He could still not speak, he could hardly move a hand; but
there was life in his eyes, and his look had been a greeting from the
soul she had loved and served these thirty years and more. Mrs. Rafferty
sang praises to the Rafferty God, who had brought him safely through
these perils; it seemed obvious that He must be more efficient than the
Protestant God of Johannson, the giant Swede, who had lain by Rafferty's
side and given up the ghost.

But the doctor had stated that the old Irishman would never be good to
work again; and Hal saw a shadow of terror cross the sunshine of Mrs.
Rafferty's rejoicing. How could a doctor say a thing like that? Rafferty
was old, to be sure; but he was tough--and could any doctor imagine how
hard a man would try who had a family looking to him? Sure, he was not
the one to give up for a bit of pain now and then! Besides him, there
was only Tim who was earning; and though Tim was a good lad, and worked
steady, any doctor ought to know that a big family could not be kept
going on the wages of one eighteen-year-old pit-boy. As for the other
lads, there was a law that said they were too young to work. Mrs.
Rafferty thought there should be some one to put a little sense into the
heads of them that made the laws--for if they wanted to forbid children
to work in coal-mines, they should surely provide some other way to feed
the children.

Hal listened, agreeing sympathetically, and meantime watching her, and
learning more from her actions than from her words. She had been
obedient to the teachings of her religion, to be fruitful and multiply;
she had fed three grown sons into the maw of industry, and had still
eight children and a man to care for. Hal wondered if she had ever
rested a single minute of daylight in all her fifty-four years.
Certainly not while he had been in her house! Even now, while praising
the Rafferty God and blaming the capitalist law-makers, she was getting
a supper, moving swiftly, silently, like a machine. She was lean as an
old horse that has toiled across a desert; the skin over her cheek-bones
was tight as stretched rubber, and cords stood out in her wrists like
piano-wires.

And now she was cringing before the spectre of destitution. He asked
what she would do about it, and saw the shadow of terror cross her face
again. There was one recourse from starvation, it seemed--to have her
children taken from her, and put in some institution! At the mention of
this, one of the special nightmares of the poor, the old woman began to
sob and cry again that the doctor was wrong; he would see, and Hal would
see--Old Rafferty would be back at his job in a week or two!



SECTION 2.

Hal went out on the street again. It was the hour which would have been
sunset in a level region; the tops of the mountains were touched with a
purple light, and the air was fresh and chill with early fall. Down the
darkening streets he saw a gathering of men; there was shouting, and
people running towards the place, so he hurried up, with the thought in
his mind, "What's the matter now?" There were perhaps a hundred men
crying out, their voices mingling like the sound of waves on the sea. He
could make out words: "Go on! Go on! We've had enough of it! Hurrah!"

"What's happened?" he asked, of some one on the outskirts; and the man,
recognising him, raised a cry which ran through the throng: "Joe Smith!
He's the boy for us! Come in here, Joe! Give us a speech!"

But even while Hal was asking questions, trying to get the situation
clear, other shouts had drowned out his name. "We've had enough of them
walking over us!" And somebody cried, more loudly, "Tell us about it!
Tell it again! Go on!"

A man was standing upon the steps of a building at one side. Hal stared
in amazement; it was Tim Rafferty. Of all people in the world--Tim, the
light-hearted and simple, Tim of the laughing face and the merry Irish
blue eyes! Now his sandy hair was tousled and his features distorted
with rage. "Him near dead!" he yelled. "Him with his voice gone, and
couldn't move his hand! Eleven years he's slaved for them, and near
killed in an accident that's their own fault--every man in this crowd
knows it's their own fault, by God!"

"Sure thing! You're right!" cried a chorus of voices "Tell it all!"

"They give him twenty-five dollars and his hospital expenses--and
what'll his hospital expenses be? They'll have him out on the street
again before he's able to stand. You know that--they done it to Pete
Cullen!"

"You bet they did!"

"Them damned lawyers in there--gettin' 'em to sign papers when they
don't know what they're doin'. An' me that might help him can't get
near! By Christ, I say it's too much! Are we slaves, or are we dogs,
that we have to stand such things?"

"We'll stand no more of it!" shouted one. "We'll go in there and see to
it ourselves!"

"Come on!" shouted another. "To hell with their gunmen!"

Hal pushed his way into the crowd. "Tim!" he cried. "How do you know
this?"

"There's a fellow in there seen it."

"Who?"

"I can't tell you--they'd fire him; but it's somebody you know as well
as me. He come and told me. They're beatin' me old father out of
damages!"

"They do it all the time!" shouted Wauchope, an English miner at Hal's
side. "That's why they won't let us in there."

"They done the same thing to my father!" put in another voice. Hal
recognised Andy, the Greek boy.

"And they want to start Number Two in the mornin'!" yelled Tim. "Who'll
go down there again? And with Alec Stone, him that damns the men and
saves the mules!"

"We'll not go back in them mines till they're safe!" shouted Wauchope.
"Let them sprinkle them--or I'm done with the whole business."

"And let 'em give us our weights!" cried another. "We'll have a
check-weighman, and we'll get what we earn!"

So again came the cry, "Joe Smith! Give us a speech, Joe! Soak it to
'em! You're the boy!"

Hal stood helpless, dismayed. He had counted his fight won--and here was
another beginning! The men were looking to him, calling upon him as the
boldest of the rebels. Only a few of them knew about the sudden change
in his fortunes.

Even while he hesitated, the line of battle had swept past him; the
Englishman, Wauchope, sprang upon the steps and began to address the
throng. He was one of the bowed and stunted men, but in this emergency
he developed sudden lung-power. Hal listened in astonishment; this
silent and dull-looking fellow was the last he would have picked for a
fighter. Tom Olson had sounded him out, and reported that he would hear
nothing, so they had dismissed him from mind. And here he was, shouting
terrible defiance!

"They're a set of robbers and murderers! They rob us everywhere we turn!
For my part, I've had enough of it! Have you?"

There was a roar from every one within reach of his voice. They had all
had enough.

"All right, then--we'll fight them!"

"Hurrah! Hurrah! We'll have our rights!"

Jeff Cotton came up on the run, with "Bud" Adams and two or three of the
gunmen at his heels. The crowd turned upon them, the men on the
outskirts clenching their fists, showing their teeth like angry dogs.
Cotton's face was red with rage, but he saw that he had a serious matter
in hand; he turned and went for more help--and the mob roared with
delight. Already they had begun their fight! Already they had won their
first victory!



SECTION 3.

The crowd moved down the street, shouting and cursing as it went. Some
one started to sing the Marseillaise, and others took it up, and the
words mounted to a frenzy:

  "To arms! To arms, ye brave!
  March on, march on, all hearts resolved
  On victory or death!"

There were the oppressed of many nations in this crowd; they sang in a
score of languages, but it was the same song. They would sing a few
bars, and the yells of others would drown them out. "March on! March on!
All hearts resolved!" Some rushed away in different directions to spread
the news, and very soon the whole population of the village was on the
spot; the men waving their caps, the women lifting up their hands and
shrieking--or standing terrified, realising that babies could not be fed
upon revolutionary singing.

Tim Rafferty was raised up on the shoulders of the crowd and made to
tell his story once more. While he was telling it, his old mother came
running, and her shrieks rang above the clamour: "Tim! Tim! Come down
from there! What's the matter wid ye?" She was twisting her hands
together in an agony of fright; seeing Hal, she rushed up to him. "Get
him out of there, Joe! Sure, the lad's gone crazy! They'll turn us out
of the camp, they'll give us nothin' at all--and what'll become of us?
Mother of God, what's the matter with the b'y?" She called to Tim again;
but Tim paid no attention, if he heard her. Tim was on the march to
Versailles!

Some one shouted that they would go to the hospital to protect the
injured men from the "damned lawyers." Here was something definite, and
the crowd moved in that direction, Hal following with the stragglers,
the women and children, and the less bold among the men. He noticed some
of the clerks and salaried employes of the company; presently he saw
Jeff Cotton again, and heard him ordering these men to the office to get
revolvers.

"Big Jack" David came along with Jerry Minetti, and Hal drew back to
consult with them. Jerry was on fire. It had come--the revolt he had
been looking forward to for years! Why were they not making speeches,
getting control of the men and organising them?

Jack David voiced uncertainty. They had to consider if this outburst
could mean anything permanent.

Jerry answered that it would mean what they chose to make it mean. If
they took charge, they could guide the men and hold them together.
Wasn't that what Tom Olson had wanted?

No, said the big Welshman, Olson had been trying to organise the men
secretly, as preliminary to a revolt in all the camps. That was quite
another thing from an open movement, limited to one camp. Was there any
hope of success for such a movement? If not, they would be foolish to
start, they would only be making sure of their own expulsion.

Jerry turned to Hal. What did he think?

And so at last Hal had to speak. It was hard for him to judge, he said.
He knew so little about labour matters. It was to learn about them that
he had come to North Valley. It was a hard thing to advise men to submit
to such treatment as they had been getting; but on the other hand, any
one could see that a futile outbreak would discourage everybody, and
make it harder than ever to organise them.

So much Hal spoke; but there was more in his mind, which he could not
speak. He could not say to these men, "I am a friend of yours, but I am
also a friend of your enemy, and in this crisis I cannot make up my mind
to which side I owe allegiance. I'm bound by a duty of politeness to the
masters of your lives; also, I'm anxious not to distress the girl I am
to marry!" No, he could not say such things. He felt himself a traitor
for having them in his mind, and he could hardly bring himself to look
these men in the eye. Jerry knew that he was in some way connected with
the Harrigans; probably he had told the rest of Hal's friends, and they
had been discussing it and speculating about the meaning of it. Suppose
they should think he was a spy?

So Hal was relieved when Jack David spoke firmly. They would only be
playing the game of the enemy if they let themselves be drawn in
prematurely. They ought to have the advice of Tom Olson.

Where was Olson? Hal asked; and David explained that on the day when Hal
had been thrown out of camp, Olson had got his "time" and set out for
Sheridan, the local headquarters of the union, to report the situation.
He would probably not come back; he had got his little group together,
he had planted the seed of revolt in North Valley.

They discussed back and forth the problem of getting advice. It was
impossible to telephone from North Valley without everything they said
being listened to; but the evening train for Pedro left in a few
minutes, and "Big Jack" declared that some one ought to take it. The
town of Sheridan was only fifteen or twenty miles from Pedro, and there
would be a union official there to advise them; or they might use the
long distance telephone, and persuade one of the union leaders in
Western City to take the midnight train, and be in Pedro next morning.

Hal, still hoping to withdraw himself, put this task off on Jack David.
They emptied out the contents of their pockets, so that he might have
funds enough, and the big Welshman darted off to catch the train. In the
meantime Jerry and Hal agreed to keep in the background, and to seek out
the other members of their group and warn them to do the same.



SECTION 4.

This programme was a convenient one for Hal; but as he was to find
almost at once, it had been adopted too late. He and Jerry started after
the crowd, which had stopped in front of one of the company buildings;
and as they came nearer they heard some one making a speech. It was the
voice of a woman, the tones rising clear and compelling. They could not
see the speaker, because of the throng, but Hal recognised her voice,
and caught his companion by the arm. "It's Mary Burke!"

Mary Burke it was, for a fact; and she seemed to have the crowd in a
kind of frenzy. She would speak one sentence, and there would come a
roar from the throng; she would speak another sentence, and there would
come another roar. Hal and Jerry pushed their way in, to where they
could make out the words of this litany of rage.

"Would they go down into the pit themselves, do ye think?"

"They would not!"

"Would they be dressed in silks and laces, do ye think?"

"They would not!"

"Would they have such fine soft hands, do ye think?"

"They would not!"

"Would they hold themselves too good to look at ye?"

"They would not! They would not!"

And Mary swept on: "If only ye'd stand together, they'd come to ye on
their knees to ask for terms! But ye're cowards, and they play on your
fears! Ye're traitors, and they buy ye out! They break ye into pieces,
they do what they please with ye--and then ride off in their private
cars, and leave gunmen to beat ye down and trample on your faces! How
long will ye stand it? How long?"

The roar of the mob rolled down the street and back again. "We'll not
stand it! We'll not stand it!" Men shook their clenched fists, women
shrieked, even children shouted curses. "We'll fight them! We'll slave
no more for them!"

And Mary found a magic word. "We'll have a union!" she shouted. "We'll
get together and stay together! If they refuse us our rights, we'll know
what to answer--we'll have a _strike!_"

There was a roar like the crashing of thunder in the mountains. Yes,
Mary had found the word! For many years it had not been spoken aloud in
North Valley, but now it ran like a flash of gunpowder through the
throng. "Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!" It seemed as if they would
never have enough of it. Not all of them had understood Mary's speech,
but they knew this word, "Strike!" They translated and proclaimed it in
Polish and Bohemian and Italian and Greek. Men waved their caps, women
waved their aprons--in the semi-darkness it was like some strange kind
of vegetation tossed by a storm. Men clasped one another's hands, the
more demonstrative of the foreigners fell upon one another's necks.
"Strike! Strike! Strike!"

"We're no longer slaves!" cried the speaker. "We're men--and we'll live
as men! We'll work as men--or we'll not work at all! We'll no longer be
a herd of cattle, that they can drive about as they please! We'll
organise, we'll stand together--shoulder to shoulder! Either we'll win
together, or we'll starve and die together! And not a man of us will
yield, not a man of us will turn traitor! Is there anybody here who'll
scab on his fellows?"

There was a howl, which might have come from a pack of wolves. Let the
man who would scab on his fellows show his dirty face in that crowd!

"Ye'll stand by the union?"

"We'll stand by it!"

"Ye'll swear?"

"We'll swear!"

She flung her arms to heaven with a gesture of passionate adjuration.
"Swear it on your lives! To stick to the rest of us, and never a man of
ye give way till ye've won! Swear! _Swear!_"

Men stood, imitating her gesture, their hands stretched up to the sky.
"We swear! We swear!"

"Ye'll not let them break ye! Ye'll not let them frighten ye!"

"No! No!"

"Stand by your word, men! Stand by it! 'Tis the one chance for your
wives and childer!" The girl rushed on--exhorting with leaping words and
passionate out-flung arms--a tall, swaying figure of furious rebellion.
Hal listened to the speech and watched the speaker, marvelling. Here was
a miracle of the human soul, here was hope born of despair! And the
crowd around her--they were sharing the wonderful rebirth; their waving
arms, their swaying forms responded to Mary as an orchestra to the baton
of a leader.

A thrill shook Hal--a thrill of triumph! He had been beaten down
himself, he had wanted to run from this place of torment; but now there
was hope in North Valley--now there would be victory, freedom!

Ever since he had come to the coal-country, the knowledge had been
growing in Hal that the real tragedy of these people's lives was not
their physical suffering, but their mental depression--the dull,
hopeless misery in their minds. This had been driven into his
consciousness day by day, both by what he saw and by what others told
him. Tom Olson had first put it into words: "Your worst troubles are
inside the heads of the fellows you're trying to help!" How could hope
be given to men in this environment of terrorism? Even Hal himself,
young and free as he was, had been brought to despair. He came from a
class which is accustomed to say, "Do this," or "Do that," and it will
be done. But these mine-slaves had never known that sense of power, of
certainty; on the contrary, they were accustomed to having their efforts
balked at every turn, their every impulse to happiness or achievement
crushed by another's will.

But here was this miracle of the human soul! Here was hope in North
Valley! Here were the people rising--and Mary Burke at their head! It
was his vision come true--Mary Burke with a glory in her face, and her
hair shining like a crown of gold! Mary Burke mounted upon a snow-white
horse, wearing a robe of white, soft and lustrous--like Joan of Arc, or
a leader in a suffrage parade! Yes, and she was at the head of a host,
he had the music of its marching in his ears!

Underneath Hal's jesting words had been a real vision, a real faith in
this girl. Since that day when he had first discovered her, a wild rose
of the mining-camp taking in the family wash, he had realised that she
was no pretty young working-girl, but a woman with a mind and a
personality. She saw farther, she felt more deeply than the average of
these wage-slaves. Her problem was the same as theirs, yet more complex.
When he had wanted to help her and had offered to get her a job, she had
made clear that what she craved was not merely relief from drudgery, but
a life with intellectual interest. So then the idea had come to him that
Mary should become a teacher, a leader of her people. She loved them,
she suffered for them and with them, and at the same time she had a mind
that was capable of seeking out the causes of their misery. But when he
had gone to her with plans of leadership, he had been met by her
corroding despair; her pessimism had seemed to mock his dreams, her
contempt for these mine-slaves had belittled his efforts in their behalf
and in hers.

And now, here she was taking up the role he had planned for her! Her
very soul was in this shouting throng, he thought. She had lived the
lives of these people, shared their every wrong, been driven to
rebellion with them. Being a mere man, Hal missed one important point
about this startling development; he did not realise that Mary's
eloquence was addressed, not merely to the Rafferties and the Wauchopes,
and the rest of the North Valley mine-slaves, but to a certain
magazine-cover girl, clad in a mackintosh and a pale green hat and a
soft and filmy and horribly expensive motoring veil!



SECTION 5.

Mary's speech was brought to a sudden end. A group of the men had moved
down the street, and there arose a disturbance there. The noise of it
swelled louder, and more people began to move in that direction. Mary
turned to look, and all at once the whole throng surged down the street.

The trouble was at the hospital. In front of this building was a porch,
and on it Cartwright and Alec Stone were standing, with a group of the
clerks and office-employes, among whom Hal saw Predovich, Johnson, the
postmaster, and Si Adams. At the foot of the steps stood Tim Rafferty,
with a swarm of determined men at his back. He was shouting, "We want
them lawyers out of there!"

The superintendent himself had undertaken to parley with him. "There are
no lawyers in here, Rafferty."

"We don't trust you!" And the crowd took up the cry: "We'll see for
ourselves!"

"You can't go into this building," declared Cartwright.

"I'm goin' to see my father!" shouted Tim. "I've got a right to see my
father, ain't I?"

"You can see him in the morning. You can take him away, if you want to.
We've no desire to keep him. But he's asleep now, and you can't disturb
the others."

"You weren't afraid to disturb them with your damned lawyers!" And there
was a roar of approval--so loud that Cartwright's denial could hardly be
heard.

"There have been no lawyers near him, I tell you."

"It's a lie!" shouted Wauchope. "They been in there all day, and you
know it. We mean to have them out."

"Go on, Tim!" cried Andy, the Greek boy, pushing his way to the front.
"Go on!" cried the others; and thus encouraged, Rafferty started up the
steps.

"I mean to see my father!" As Cartwright caught him by the shoulder, he
yelled, "Let me go, I say!"

It was evident that the superintendent was trying his best not to use
violence; he was ordering his own followers back at the same time that
he was holding the boy. But Tim's blood was up; he shoved forward, and
the superintendent, either striking him or trying to ward off a blow,
threw him backwards down the steps. There was an uproar of rage from the
throng; they surged forward, and at the same time some of the men on the
porch drew revolvers.

The meaning of that situation was plain enough. In a moment more the mob
would be up the steps, and there would be shooting. And if once that
happened, who could guess the end? Wrought up as the crowd was, it might
not stop till it had fired every company building, perhaps not until it
had murdered every company representative.

Hal had resolved to keep in the back-ground, but he saw that to keep in
the back-ground at that moment would be an act of cowardice, almost a
crime. He sprang forward, his cry rising above the clamour. "Stop, men!
Stop!"

There was probably no other man in North Valley who could have got
himself heeded at that moment. But Hal had their confidence, he had
earned the right to be heard. Had he not been to prison for them, had
they not seen him behind the bars? "Joe Smith!" The cry ran from one end
of the excited throng to the other.

Hal was fighting his way forward, shoving men to one side, imploring,
commanding silence. "Tim Rafferty! Wait!" And Tim, recognising the
voice, obeyed.

Once clear of the press, Hal sprang upon the porch, where Cartwright did
not attempt to interfere with him.

"Men!" he cried. "Hold on a moment! This isn't what you want! You don't
want a fight!" He paused for an instant; but he knew that no mere
negative would hold them at that moment. They must be told what they did
want. Just now he had learned the particular words that would carry, and
he proclaimed them at the top of his voice: "What you want is a union! A
_strike!_"

He was answered by a roar from the crowd, the loudest yet. Yes, that was
what they wanted! A strike! And they wanted Joe Smith to organise it, to
lead it. He had been their leader once, he had been thrown out of camp
for it. How he had got back they were not quite clear--but here he was,
and he was their darling. Hurrah for him! They would follow him to hell
and back!

And wasn't he the boy with the nerve! Standing there on the porch of the
hospital, right under the very noses of the bosses, making a union
speech to them, and the bosses never daring to touch him! The crowd,
realising this situation, went wild with delight. The English-speaking
men shouted assent to his words; and those who could not understand,
shouted because the others did.

They did not want fighting--of course not! Fighting would not help them!
What would help them was to get together, and stand a solid body of free
men. There would be a union committee, able to speak for all of them, to
say that no man would go to work any more until justice was secured!
They would have an end to the business of discharging men because they
asked for their rights, of blacklisting men and driving them out of the
district because they presumed to want what the laws of the state
awarded them!



SECTION 6.

How long could a man expect to stand on the steps of a company building,
with a super and a pit-boss at his back, and organise a union of
mine-workers? Hal realised that he must move the crowd from that
perilous place.

"You'll do what I say, now?" he demanded; and when they agreed in
chorus, he added the warning: "There'll be no fighting! And no drinking!
If you see any man drunk to-night, sit on him and hold him down!"

They laughed and cheered. Yes, they would keep straight. Here was a job
for sober men, you bet!

"And now," Hal continued, "the people in the hospital. We'll have a
committee go in and see about them. No noise--we don't want to disturb
the sick men. We only want to make sure nobody else is disturbing them.
Some one will go in and stay with them. Does that suit you?"

Yes, that suited them.

"All right," said Hal. "Keep quiet for a moment."

And he turned to the superintendent. "Cartwright," said he, "we want a
committee to go in and stay with our people." Then, as the
superintendent started to expostulate, he added, in a low voice, "Don't
be a fool, man! Don't you see I'm trying to save your life?"

The superintendent knew how bad it would be for discipline to let Hal
carry his point with the crowd; but also he saw the immediate
danger--and he was not sure of the courage and shooting ability of
book-keepers and stenographers.

"Be quick, man!" exclaimed Hal. "I can't hold these people long. If you
don't want hell breaking loose, come to your senses."

"All right," said Cartwright, swallowing his dignity.

And Hal turned to the men and announced the concession. There was a
shout of triumph.

"Now, who's to go?" said Hal, when he could he heard again; and he
looked about at the upturned faces. There Were Tim and Wauchope, the
most obvious ones; but Hal decided to keep them under his eye. He
thought of Jerry Minetti and of Mrs. David--but remembered his agreement
with "Big Jack," to keep their own little group in the back-ground. Then
he thought of Mary Burke; she had already done herself all the harm she
could do, and she was a person the crowd would trust. He called her, and
called Mrs. Ferris, an American woman in the crowd. The two came up the
steps, and Hal turned to Cartwright.

"Now, let's have an understanding," he said. "These people are going in
to stay with the sick men, and to talk to them if they want to, and
nobody's going to give them any orders but the doctors and nurses. Is
that right?"

"All right," said the superintendent, sullenly.

"Good!" said Hal. "And for God's sake have a little sense and stand by
your word; this crowd has had all it can endure, and if you do any more
to provoke it, the consequences will be on you. And while you're about
it, see that the saloons are closed and kept closed until this trouble
is settled. And keep your people out of the way--don't let them go about
showing their guns and making faces."

Without waiting to hear the superintendent's reply, Hal turned to the
throng, and held up his hand for silence. "Men," he said, "we have a big
job to do--we're going to organise a union. And we can't do it here in
front of the hospital. We've made too much noise already. Let's go off
quietly, and have our meeting on the dump in back of the power-house.
Does that suit you?"

They answered that it suited them; and Hal, having seen the two women
passed safely into the hospital, sprang down from the porch to lead the
way. Jerry Minetti came to his side, trembling with delight; and Hal
clutched him by the arm and whispered, excitedly, "Sing, Jerry! Sing
them some Dago song!"



SECTION 7.

They got to the place appointed without any fighting. And meantime Hal
had worked out in his mind a plan for communicating with this polyglot
horde. He knew that half the men could not understand a word of English,
and that half the remainder understood very little. Obviously, if he was
to make matters clear to them, they must be sorted out according to
nationality, and a reliable interpreter found for each group.

The process of sorting proved a slow one, involving no end of shouting
and good-natured jostling--Polish here, Bohemian here, Greek here,
Italian here! When this job had been done, and a man found from each
nationality who understood enough English to translate to his fellows,
Hal started in to make a speech. But before he had spoken many
sentences, pandemonium broke loose. All the interpreters started
interpreting at the same time--and at the top of their lungs; it was
like a parade with the bands close together! Hal was struck dumb; then
he began to laugh, and the various audiences began to laugh; the orators
stopped, perplexed--then they too began to laugh. So wave after wave of
merriment rolled over the throng; the mood of the assembly was changed
all at once, from rage and determination to the wildest hilarity. Hal
learned his first lesson in the handling of these hordes of child-like
people, whose moods were quick, whose tempers were balanced upon a fine
point.

It was necessary for him to make his speech through to the end, and then
move the various audiences apart, to be addressed by the various
interpreters. But then arose a new difficulty. How could any one control
these floods of eloquence? How be sure that the message was not being
distorted? Hal had been warned by Olson of company detectives who posed
as workers, gaining the confidence of men in order to incite them to
violence. And certainly some of these interpreters were violent-looking,
and one's remarks sounded strange in their translations!

There was the Greek orator, for example; a wild man, with wild hair and
eyes, who tore all his passions to tatters. He stood upon a barrel-head,
with the light of two pit-lamps upon him, and some two score of his
compatriots at his feet; he waved his arms, he shook his fists, he
shrieked, he bellowed. But when Hal, becoming uneasy, went over and
asked another English-speaking Greek what the orator was saying, the
answer was that he was promising that the law should be enforced in
North Valley!

Hal stood watching this perfervid little man, a study in the
possibilities of gesture. He drew back his shoulders and puffed out his
chest, almost throwing himself backwards off the barrel-head; he was
saying that the miners would be able to live like men. He crouched down
and bowed his head, moaning; he was telling them what would happen if
they gave up. He fastened his fingers in his long black hair and began
tugging desperately; he pulled, and then stretched out his empty hands;
he pulled again, so hard that it almost made one cry out with pain to
watch him. Hal asked what that was for; and the answer was, "He say,
'Stand by union! Pull one hair, he come out; pull all hairs, no come
out'!" It carried one back to the days of Aesop and his fables!

Tom Olson had told Hal something about the technique of an organiser,
who wished to drill these ignorant hordes. He had to repeat and repeat,
until the dullest in his audience had grasped his meaning, had got into
his head the all-saving idea of solidarity. When the various orators had
talked themselves out, and the audiences had come back to the
cinder-heap, Hal made his speech all over again, in words of one
syllable, in the kind of pidgin-English which does duty in the camps.
Sometimes he would stop to reinforce it with Greek or Italian or Slavish
words he had picked up. Or perhaps his eloquence would inflame some one
of the interpreters afresh, and he would wait while the man shouted a
few sentences to his compatriots. It was not necessary to consider the
possibility of boring any one, for these were patient and long-suffering
men, and now desperately in earnest.

They were going to have a union; they were going to do the thing in
regular form, with membership cards and officials chosen by ballot. So
Hal explained to them, step by step. There was no use organising unless
they meant to stay organised. They would choose leaders, one from each
of the principal language groups; and these leaders would meet and draw
up a set of demands, which would be submitted in mass-meeting, and
ratified, and then presented to the bosses with the announcement that
until these terms were granted, not a single North Valley worker would
go back into the pits.

Jerry Minetti, who knew all about unions, advised Hal to enroll the men
at once; he counted on the psychological effect of having each man come
forward and give in his name. But here at once they met a difficulty
encountered by all would-be organisers--lack of funds. There must be
pencils and paper for the enrollment; and Hal had emptied his pockets
for Jack David! He was forced to borrow a quarter, and send a messenger
off to the store. It was voted by the delegates that each member as he
joined the union should be assessed a dime. There would have to be some
telegraphing and telephoning if they were going to get help from the
outside world.

A temporary committee was named, consisting of Tim Rafferty, Wauchope
and Hal, to keep the lists and the funds, and to run things until
another meeting could be held on the morrow; also a body-guard of a
dozen of the sturdiest and most reliable men were named to stay by the
committee. The messenger came back with pads and pencils, and sitting on
the ground by the light of pit-lamps, the interpreters wrote down the
names of the men who wished to join the union, each man in turn pledging
his word for solidarity and discipline. Then the meeting was declared
adjourned till daylight of the morrow, and the workers scattered to
their homes to sleep, with a joy and sense of power such as few of them
had ever known in their lives before.



SECTION 8.

The committee and its body-guard repaired to the dining-room of
Reminitsky's, where they stretched themselves out on the floor; no one
attempted to interfere with them, and while the majority snored
peacefully, Hal and a small group sat writing out the list of demands
which were to be submitted to the bosses in the morning. It was arranged
that Jerry should go down to Pedro by the early morning train, to get
into touch with Jack David and the union officials, and report to them
the latest developments. Because the officials were sure to have
detectives following them, Hal warned Jerry to go to MacKellar's house,
and have MacKellar bring "Big Jack" to meet him there. Also Jerry must
have MacKellar get the _Gazette_ on the long distance phone, and tell
Billy Keating about the strike.

A hundred things like this Hal had to think of; his head was a-buzz with
them, so that when he lay down to sleep he could not. He thought about
the bosses, and what they might be doing. The bosses would not be
sleeping, he felt sure!

And then came thoughts about his private-car friends; about the
strangeness of this plight into which he had got himself! He laughed
aloud in a kind of desperation as he recalled Percy's efforts to get him
away from here. And poor Jessie! What could he say to her now?

The bosses made no move that night; and when morning came, the strikers
hurried to the meeting-place, some of them without even stopping for
breakfast. They came tousled and unkempt, looking anxiously at their
fellows, as if unable to credit the memory of the bold thing they had
done on the night before. But finding the committee and its body-guard
on hand and ready for business, their courage revived, they felt again
the wonderful sentiment of solidarity which had made men of them. Pretty
soon speech-making began, and cheering and singing, which brought out
the laggards and the cowards. So in a short while the movement was in
full swing, with practically every man, woman and child among the
workers present.

Mary Burke came from the hospital, where she had spent the night. She
looked weary and bedraggled, but her spirit of battle had not slumped.
She reported that she had talked with some of the injured men, and that
many of them had signed "releases," whereby the company protected itself
against even the threat of a lawsuit. Others had refused to sign, and
Mary had been vehement in warning them to stand out. Two other women
volunteered to go to the hospital, in order that she might have a chance
to rest; but Mary did not wish to rest, she did not feel as if she could
ever rest again.

The members of the newly-organised union proceeded to elect officers.
They sought to make Hal president, but he was shy of binding himself in
that irrevocable way, and succeeded in putting the honour off on
Wauchope. Tim Rafferty was made treasurer and secretary. Then a
committee was chosen to go to Cartwright with the demands of the men. It
included Hal, Wauchope, and Tim; an Italian named Marcelli, whom Jerry
had vouched for; a representative of the Slavs and one of the
Greeks--Rusick and Zammakis, both of them solid and faithful men.
Finally, with a good deal of laughter and cheering, the meeting voted to
add Mary Burke to this committee. It was a new thing to have a woman in
such a role, but Mary was the daughter of a miner and the sister of a
breaker-boy, and had as good a right to speak as any one in North
Valley.



SECTION 9.

Hal read the document which had been prepared the night before. They
demanded the right to have a union without being discharged for it. They
demanded a check-weighman, to be elected by the men themselves. They
demanded that the mines should be sprinkled to prevent explosions, and
properly timbered to prevent falls. They demanded the right to trade at
any store they pleased. Hal called attention to the fact that every one
of these demands was for a right guaranteed by the laws of the state;
this was a significant fact, and he urged the men not to include other
demands. After some argument they voted down the proposition of the
radicals, who wanted a ten per cent. increase in wages. Also they voted
down the proposition of a syndicalist-anarchist, who explained to them
in a jumble of English and Italian that the mines belonged to them, and
that they should refuse all compromise and turn the bosses out
forthwith.

While this speech was being delivered, young Rovetta pushed his way
through the crowd and drew Hal to one side. He had been down by the
railroad-station and seen the morning train come in. From it had
descended a crowd of thirty or forty men, of that "hard citizen" type
which every miner in the district could recognise at the first glance.
Evidently the company officials had been keeping the telephone-wires
busy that night; they were bringing in, not merely this train-load of
guards, but automobile loads from other camps--from the Northeastern
down the canyon, and from Barela, in a side canyon over the mountain.

Hal told this news to the meeting, which received it with howls of rage.
So that was the bosses' plan! Hot-heads sprang upon the cinder-heap,
half a dozen of them trying to make speeches at once. The leaders had to
suppress these too impetuous ones by main force; once more Hal gave the
warning of "No fighting!" They were going to have faith in their union;
they were going to present a solid front to the company, and the company
would learn the lesson that intimidation would not win a strike.

So it was agreed, and the committee set out for the company's office,
Wauchope carrying in his hand the written demands of the meeting. Behind
the committee marched the crowd in a solid mass; they packed the street
in front of the office, while the heroic seven went up the steps and
passed into the building. Wauchope made inquiry for Mr. Cartwright, and
a clerk took in the message.

They stood waiting; and meanwhile, one of the office-people, coming in
from the street, beckoned to Hal. He had an envelope in his hand, and
gave it over without a word. It was addressed, "Joe Smith," and Hal
opened it, and found within a small visiting card, at which he stared.
"Edward S. Warner, Jr."!

For a moment Hal could hardly believe the evidence of his eyesight.
Edward in North Valley! Then, turning the card over, he read, in his
brother's familiar handwriting, "I am at Cartwright's house. I must see
you. The matter concerns Dad. Come instantly."

Fear leaped into Hal's heart. What could such a message mean?

He turned quickly to the committee and explained. "My father's an old
man, and had a stroke of apoplexy three years ago. I'm afraid he may be
dead, or very ill. I must go."

"It's a trick!" cried Wauchope excitedly.

"No, not possibly," answered Hal. "I know my brother's handwriting. I
must see him."

"Well," declared the other, "we'll wait. We'll not see Cartwright until
you get back."

Hal considered this. "I don't think that's wise," he said. "You can do
what you have to do just as well without me."

"But I wanted you to do the talking!"

"No," replied Hal, "that's your business, Wauchope. You are the
president of the union. You know what the men want, as well as I do; you
know what they complain of. And besides, there's not going to be any
need of talking with Cartwright. Either he's going to grant our demands
or he isn't."

They discussed the matter back and forth. Mary Burke insisted that they
were pulling Hal away just at the critical moment! He laughed as he
answered. She was as good as any man when it came to an argument. If
Wauchope showed signs of weakening, let her speak up!



SECTION 10.

So Hal hurried off, and climbed the street which led to the
superintendent's house, a concrete bungalow set upon a little elevation
overlooking the camp. He rang the bell, and the door opened, and in the
entrance stood his brother.

Edward Warner was eight years older than Hal; the perfect type of the
young American business man. His figure was erect and athletic, his
features were regular and strong, his voice, his manner, everything
about him spoke of quiet decision, of energy precisely directed. As a
rule, he was a model of what the tailor's art could do, but just now
there was something abnormal about his attire as well as his manner.

Hal's anxiety had been increasing all the way up the street. "What's the
matter with Dad?" he cried.

"Dad's all right," was the answer--"that is, for the moment."

"Then what--?"

"Peter Harrigan's on his way back from the East. He's due in Western
City to-morrow. You can see that something will be the matter with Dad
unless you quit this business at once."

Hal had a sudden reaction from his fear. "So that's all!" he exclaimed.

His brother was gazing at the young miner, dressed in sooty blue
overalls, his face streaked with black, his wavy hair all mussed. "You
wired me you were going to leave here, Hal!"

"So I was; but things happened that I couldn't foresee. There's a
strike."

"Yes; but what's that got to do with it?" Then, with exasperation in his
voice, "For God's sake, Hal, how much farther do you expect to go?"

Hal stood for a few moments, looking at his brother. Even in a tension
as he was, he could not help laughing. "I know how all this must seem to
you, Edward. It's a long story; I hardly know how to begin."

"No, I suppose not," said Edward, drily.

And Hal laughed again. "Well, we agree that far, at any rate. What I was
hoping was that we could talk it all over quietly, after the excitement
was past. When I explain to you about conditions in this place--"

But Edward interrupted. "Really, Hal, there's no use of such an
argument. I have nothing to do with conditions in Peter Harrigan's
camps."

The smile left Hal's face. "Would you have preferred to have me
investigate conditions in the Warner camps?" Hal had tried to suppress
his irritation, but there was simply no way these two could get along.
"We've had our arguments about these things, Edward, and you've always
had the best of me--you could tell me I was a child, it was presumptuous
of me to dispute your assertions. But now--well, I'm a child no longer,
and we'll have to meet on a new basis."

Hal's tone, more than his words, made an impression. Edward thought
before he spoke. "Well, what's your new basis?"

"Just now I'm in the midst of a strike, and I can hardly stop to
explain."

"You don't think of Dad in all this madness?"

"I think of Dad, and of you too, Edward; but this is hardly the time--"

"If ever in the world there was a time, this is it!"

Hal groaned inwardly. "All right," he said, "sit down. I'll try to give
you some idea how I got swept into this."

He began to tell about the conditions he had found in this stronghold of
the "G. F. C." As usual, when he talked about it, he became absorbed in
its human aspects; a fervour came into his tone, he was carried on, as
he had been when he tried to argue with the officials in Pedro. But his
eloquence was interrupted, even as it had been then; he discovered that
his brother was in such a state of exasperation that he could not listen
to a consecutive argument.

It was the old, old story; it had been thus as far back as Hal could
remember. It seemed one of the mysteries of nature, how she could have
brought two such different temperaments out of the same parentage.
Edward was practical and positive; he knew what he wanted in the world,
and he knew how to get it; he was never troubled with doubts, nor with
self-questioning, nor with any other superfluous emotions; he could not
understand people who allowed that sort of waste in their mental
processes. He could not understand people who got "swept into things."

In the beginning, he had had with Hal the prestige of the elder brother.
He was handsome as a young Greek god, he was strong and masterful;
whether he was flying over the ice with sure, strong strokes, or cutting
the water with his glistening shoulders, or bringing down a partridge
with the certainty and swiftness of a lightning stroke, Edward was the
incarnation of Success. When he said that one's ideas were "rot," when
he spoke with contempt of "mollycoddles"--then indeed one suffered in
soul, and had to go back to Shelley and Ruskin to renew one's courage.

The questioning of life had begun very early with Hal; there seemed to
be something in his nature which forced him to go to the roots of
things; and much as he looked up to his wonderful brother, he had been
made to realise that there were sides of life to which this brother was
blind. To begin with, there were religious doubts; the distresses of
mind which plague a young man when first it dawns upon him that the
faith he has been brought up in is a higher kind of fairy-tale. Edward
had never asked such questions, apparently. He went to church, because
it was the thing to do; more especially because it was pleasing to the
young lady he wished to marry to have him put on stately clothes, and
escort her to a beautiful place of music and flowers and perfumes, where
she would meet her friends, also in stately clothes. How abnormal it
seemed to Edward that a young man should give up this pleasant custom,
merely because he could not be sure that Jonah had swallowed a whale!

But it was when Hal's doubts attacked his brother's week-day
religion--the religion of the profit-system--that the controversy
between them had become deadly. At first Hal had known nothing about
practical affairs, and it had been Edward's duty to answer his
questions. The prosperity of the country had been built up by strong
men; and these men had enemies--evil-minded persons, animated by
jealousy and other base passions, seeking to tear down the mighty
structure. At first this devil-theory had satisfied the boy; but later
on, as he had come to read and observe, he had been plagued by doubts.
In the end, listening to his brother's conversation, and reading the
writings of so-called "muck-rakers," the realisation was forced upon him
that there were two types of mind in the controversy--those who thought
of profits, and those who thought of human beings.

Edward was alarmed at the books Hal was reading; he was still more
alarmed when he saw the ideas Hal was bringing home from college. There
must have been some strange change in Harrigan in a few years; no one
had dreamed of such ideas when Edward was there! No one had written
satiric songs about the faculty, or the endowments of eminent
philanthropists!

In the meantime Edward Warner Senior had had a paralytic stroke, and
Edward Junior had taken charge of the company. Three years of this had
given him the point of view of a coal-operator, hard and set for a
life-time. The business of a coal-operator was to buy his labour cheap,
to turn out the maximum product in the shortest time, and to sell the
product at the market price to parties whose credit was satisfactory. If
a concern was doing that, it was a successful concern; for any one to
mention that it was making wrecks of the people who dug the coal, was to
be guilty of sentimentality and impertinence.

Edward had heard with dismay his brother's announcement that he meant to
study industry by spending his vacation as a common labourer. However,
when he considered it, he was inclined to think that the idea might not
be such a bad one. Perhaps Hal would not find what he was looking for;
perhaps, working with his hands, he might get some of the nonsense
knocked out of his head!

But now the experiment had been made, and the revelation had burst upon
Edward that it had been a ghastly failure. Hal had not come to realise
that labour was turbulent and lazy and incompetent, needing a strong
hand to rule it; on the contrary, he had become one of these turbulent
ones himself! A champion of the lazy and incompetent, an agitator, a
fomenter of class-prejudice, an enemy of his own friends, and of his
brother's business associates!

Never had Hal seen Edward in such a state of excitement. There was
something really abnormal about him, Hal realised; it puzzled him
vaguely while he talked, but he did not understand it until his brother
told how he had come to be here. He had been attending a dinner-dance at
the home of a friend, and Percy Harrigan had got him on the telephone at
half past eleven o'clock at night. Percy had had a message from
Cartwright, to the effect that Hal was leading a riot in North Valley;
Percy had painted the situation in such lurid colours that Edward had
made a dash and caught the midnight train, wearing his evening clothes,
and without so much as a tooth-brush with him!

Hal could hardly keep from bursting out laughing. His brother, his
punctilious and dignified brother, alighting from a sleeping-car at
seven o'clock in the morning, wearing a dress suit and a silk hat! And
here he was, Edward Warner Junior, the fastidious, who never paid less
than a hundred and fifty dollars for a suit of clothes, clad in a
"hand-me-down" for which he had expended twelve dollars and forty-eight
cents in a "Jew-store" in a coal-town!



SECTION 11.

But Edward would not stop for a single smile; his every faculty was
absorbed in the task he had before him, to get his brother out of this
predicament, so dangerous and so humiliating. Hal had come to a town
owned by Edward's business friends, and had proceeded to meddle in their
affairs, to stir up their labouring people and imperil their property.
That North Valley was the property of the General Fuel Company--not
merely the mines and the houses, but likewise the people who lived in
them--Edward seemed to have no doubt whatever; Hal got only exclamations
of annoyance when he suggested any other point of view. Would there have
been any town of North Valley, if it had not been for the capital and
energy of the General Fuel Company? If the people of North Valley did
not like the conditions which the General Fuel Company offered them,
they had one simple and obvious remedy--to go somewhere else to work.
But they stayed; they got out the General Fuel Company's coal, they took
the General Fuel Company's wages--

"Well, they've stopped taking them now," put in Hal.

All right, that was their affair, replied Edward. But let them stop
because they wanted to--not because outside agitators put them up to it.
At any rate, let the agitators not include a member of the Warner
family!

The elder brother pictured old Peter Harrigan on his way back from the
East; the state of unutterable fury in which he would arrive, the storm
he would raise in the business world of Western City. Why, it was
unimaginable, such a thing had never been heard of! "And right when
we're opening up a new mine--when we need every dollar of credit we can
get!"

"Aren't we big enough to stand off Peter Harrigan?" inquired Hal.

"We have plenty of other people to stand off," was the answer. "We don't
have to go out of our way to make enemies."

Edward spoke, not merely as the elder brother, but also as the money-man
of the family. When the father had broken down from over-work, and had
been changed in one terrible hour from a driving man of affairs into a
childish and pathetic invalid, Hal had been glad enough that there was
one member of the family who was practical; he had been perfectly
willing to see his brother shoulder these burdens, while he went off to
college, to amuse himself with satiric songs. Hal had no
responsibilities, no one asked anything of him--except that he would not
throw sticks into the wheels of the machine his brother was running.
"You are living by the coal industry! Every dollar you spend comes from
it--"

"I know it! I know it!" cried Hal. "That's the thing that torments me!
The fact that I'm living upon the bounty of such wage-slaves--"

"Oh, cut it out!" cried Edward. "That's not what I mean!"

"I know--but it's what _I_ mean! From now on I mean to know about the
people who work for me, and what sort of treatment they get. I'm no
longer your kid-brother, to be put off with platitudes."

"You know ours are union mines, Hal--"

"Yes, but what does that mean? How do we work it? Do we give the men
their weights?"

"Of course! They have their check-weighmen."

"But then, how do we compete with the operators in this district, who
pay for a ton of three thousand pounds?"

"We manage it--by economy."

"Economy? I don't see Peter Harrigan wasting anything here!" Hal paused
for an answer, but none came. "Do we buy the check-weighmen? Do we bribe
the labour leaders?"

Edward coloured slightly. "What's the use of being nasty, Hal? You know
I don't do dirty work."

"I don't mean to be nasty, Edward; but you must know that many a
business-man can say he doesn't do dirty work, because he has others do
it for him. What about politics, for instance? Do we run a machine, and
put our clerks and bosses into the local offices?"

Edward did not answer, and Hal persisted, "I mean to know these things!
I'm not going to be blind any more!"

"All right, Hal--you can know anything you want; but for God's sake, not
now! If you want to be taken for a man, show a man's common sense!
Here's Old Peter getting back to Western City to-morrow night! Don't you
know that he'll be after me, raging like a mad bull? Don't you know that
if I tell him I can do nothing--that I've been down here and tried to
pull you away--don't you know he'll go after Dad?"

Edward had tried all the arguments, and this was the only one that
counted. "You must keep him away from Dad!" exclaimed Hal.

"You tell me that!" retorted the other. "And when you know Old Peter!
Don't you know he'll get at him, if he has to break down the door of the
house? He'll throw the burden of his rage on that poor old man! You've
been warned about it clearly; you know it may be a matter of life and
death to keep Dad from getting excited. I don't know what he'd do; maybe
he'd fly into a rage with you, maybe he'd defend you. He's old and weak,
he's lost his grip on things. Anyhow, he'd not let Peter abuse you--and
like as not he'd drop dead in the midst of the dispute! Do you want to
have that on your conscience, along with the troubles of your workingmen
friends?"



SECTION 12.

Hal sat staring in front of him, silent. Was it a fact that every man
had something in his life which palsied his arm, and struck him helpless
in the battle for social justice?

When he spoke again, it was in a low voice. "Edward, I'm thinking about
a young Irish boy who works in these mines. He, too, has a father; and
this father was caught in the explosion. He's an old man, with a wife
and seven other children. He's a good man, the boy's a good boy. Let me
tell you what Peter Harrigan has done to them!"

"Well," said Edward, "whatever it is, it's all right, you can help them.
They won't need to starve."

"I know," said Hal, "but there are so many others; I can't help them
all. And besides, can't you see, Edward--what I'm thinking about is not
charity, but _justice_. I'm sure this boy, Tim Rafferty, loves his
father just exactly as much as I love my father; and there are other old
men here, with sons who love them--"

"Oh, Hal, for Christ's sake!" exclaimed Edward, in a sort of explosion.
He had no other words to express his impatience. "Do you expect to take
all the troubles in the world on your shoulders?" And he sprang up and
caught the other by the arm. "Boy, you've got to come away from here!"

Hal got up, without answering. He seemed irresolute, and his brother
started to draw him towards the door. "I've got a car here. We can get a
train in an hour--"

Hal saw that he had to speak firmly. "No, Edward," he said. "I can't
come just yet."

"I tell you you _must_ come!"

"I can't. I made these men a promise!"

"In God's name--what are these men to you? Compared with your own
father!"

"I can't explain it, Edward. I've talked for half an hour, and I don't
think you've even heard me. Suffice it to say that I see these people
caught in a trap--and one that my whole life has helped to make. I can't
leave them in it. What's more, I don't believe Dad would want me to do
it, if he understood."

The other made a last effort at self-control. "I'm not going to call you
a sentimental fool. Only, let me ask you one plain question. What do you
think you can _do_ for these people?"

"I think I can help to win decent conditions for them."

"Good God!" cried Edward; he sighed, in his agony of exasperation. "In
Peter Harrigan's mines! Don't you realise that he'll pick them up and
throw them out of here, neck and crop--the whole crew, every man in the
town, if necessary?"

"Perhaps," answered Hal; "but if the men in the other mines should join
them--if the big union outside should stand by them--"

"You're dreaming, Hal! You're talking like a child! I talked to the
superintendent here; he had telegraphed the situation to Old Peter, and
had just got an answer. Already he's acted, no doubt."

"Acted?" echoed Hal. "How do you mean?" He was staring at his brother in
sudden anxiety.

"They were going to turn the agitators out, of course."

"_What?_ And while I'm here talking!"

Hal turned toward the door. "You knew it all the time!" he exclaimed.
"You kept me here deliberately!"

He was starting away, but Edward sprang and caught him. "What could you
have done?"

"Turn me loose!" cried Hal, angrily.

"Don't be a fool, Hal! I've been trying to keep you out of the trouble.
There may be fighting."

Edward threw himself between Hal and the door, and there was a sharp
struggle. But the elder man was no longer the athlete, the young bronzed
god; he had been sitting at a desk in an office, while Hal had been
doing hard labour. Hal threw him to one side, and in a moment more had
sprung out of the door, and was running down the slope.



SECTION 13.

Coming to the main street of the village, Hal saw the crowd in front of
the office. One glance told him that something had happened. Men were
running this way and that, gesticulating, shouting. Some were coming in
his direction, and when they saw him they began to yell to him. The
first to reach him was Klowoski, the little Pole, breathless; gasping
with excitement. "They fire our committee!"

"Fire them?"

"Fire 'em out! Down canyon!" The little man was waving his arms in wild
gestures; his eyes seemed about to start out of his head. "Take 'em off!
Whole bunch fellers--gunmen! People see them--come out back door. Got
ever'body's arm tied. Gunmen fellers hold 'em, don't let 'em holler,
can't do nothin'! Got them cars waitin'--what you call?--"

"Automobiles?"

"Sure, got three! Put ever'body in, quick like that--they go down road
like wind! Go down canyon, all gone! They bust our strike!" And the
little Pole's voice ended in a howl of despair.

"No, they won't bust our strike!" exclaimed Hal. "Not yet!"

Suddenly he was reminded of the fact that his brother had followed
him--puffing hard, for the run had been strenuous. He caught Hal by the
arm, exclaiming, "Keep out of this, I tell you!"

Thus while Hal was questioning Klowoski, he was struggling
half-unconsciously, to free himself from his brother's grasp. Suddenly
the matter was forced to an issue, for the little Polack emitted a cry
like an angry cat, and went at Edward with fingers outstretched like
claws. Hal's dignified brother would have had to part with his dignity,
if Hal had not caught Klowoski's onrush with his other arm. "Let him
alone!" he said. "It's my brother!" Whereupon the little man fell back
and stood watching in bewilderment.

Hal saw Androkulos running to him. The Greek boy had been in the street
back of the office, and had seen the committee carried off; nine people
had been taken--Wauchope, Tim Rafferty, and Mary Burke, Marcelli,
Zammakis and Rusick, and three others who had served as interpreters on
the night before. It had all been done so quickly that the crowd had
scarcely realised what was happening.

Now, having grasped the meaning of it, the men were beside themselves
with rage. They shook their fists, shouting defiance to a group of
officials and guards who were visible upon the porch of the
office-building. There was a clamour of shouts for revenge.

Hal could see instantly the dangers of the situation; he was like a man
watching the burning fuse of a bomb. Now, if ever, this polyglot horde
must have leadership--wise and cool and resourceful leadership.

The crowd, discovering his presence, surged down upon him like a wave.
They gathered round him, howling. They had lost the rest of their
committee, but they still had Joe Smith. Joe Smith! Hurrah for Joe! Let
the gunmen take him, if they could! They waved their caps, they tried to
lift him upon their shoulders, so that all could see him.

There was clamour for a speech, and Hal started to make his way to the
steps of the nearest building, with Edward holding on to his coat.
Edward was jostled; he had to part with his dignity--but he did not part
with his brother. And when Hal was about to mount the steps, Edward made
a last desperate effort, shouting into his ear, "Wait a minute! Wait!
Are you going to try to talk to this mob?"

"Of course. Don't you see there'll be trouble if I don't?"

"You'll get yourself killed! You'll start a fight, and get a lot of
these poor devils shot! Use your common sense, Hal; the company has
brought in guards, and they are armed, and your people aren't."

"That's exactly why I have to speak!"

The discussion was carried on under difficulties, the elder brother
clinging to the younger's arm, while the younger sought to pull free,
and the mob shouted with a single voice, "Speech! Speech!" There were
some near by who, like Klowoski, did not relish having this stranger
interfering with their champion, and showed signs of a disposition to
"mix in"; so at last Edward gave up the struggle, and the orator mounted
the steps and faced the throng.



SECTION 14.

Hal raised his arms as a signal for silence.

"Boys," he cried, "they've kidnapped our committee. They think they'll
break our strike that way--but they'll find they've made a mistake!"

"They will! Right you are!" roared a score of voices.

"They forget that we've got a union. Hurrah for our North Valley union!"

"Hurrah! Hurrah!" The cry echoed to the canyon-walls.

"And hurrah for the big union that will back us--the United Mine-Workers
of America!"

Again the yell rang out; again and again. "Hurrah for the union! Hurrah
for the United Mine-Workers!" A big American miner, Ferris, was in the
front of the throng, and his voice beat in Hal's ears like a
steam-siren.

"Boys," Hal resumed, when at last he could be heard, "use your brains a
moment. I warned you they would try to provoke you! They would like
nothing better than to start a scrap here, and get a chance to smash our
union! Don't forget that, boys, if they can make you fight, they'll
smash the union, and the union is our only hope!"

Again came the cry: "Hurrah for the union!" Hal let them shout it in
twenty languages, until they were satisfied.

"Now, boys," he went on, at last, "they've shipped out our committee.
They may ship me out in the same way--"

"No, they won't!" shouted voices in the crowd. And there was a bellow of
rage from Ferris. "Let them try it! We'll burn them in their beds!"

"But they _can_ ship me out!" argued Hal. "You _know_ they can beat us
at that game! They can call on the sheriff, they can get the soldiers,
if necessary! We can't oppose them by force--they can turn out every
man, woman and child in the village, if they choose. What we have to get
clear is that even that won't crush our union! Nor the big union
outside, that will be backing us! We can hold out, and make them take us
back in the end!"

Some of Hal's friends, seeing what he was trying to do, came to his
support. "No fighting! No violence! Stand by the union!" And he went on
to drive the lesson home; even though the company might evict them, the
big union of the four hundred and fifty thousand mine-workers of the
country would feed them, it would call out the rest of the workers in
the district in sympathy. So the bosses, who thought to starve and cow
them into submission, would find their mines lying permanently idle.
They would be forced to give way, and the tactics of solidarity would
triumph.

So Hal went on, recalling the things Olson had told him, and putting
them into practice. He saw hope in their faces again, dispelling the
mood of resentment and rage.

"Now, boys," said he, "I'm going in to see the superintendent for you.
I'll be your committee, since they've shipped out the rest."

The steam-siren of Ferris bellowed again: "You're the boy! Joe Smith!"

"All right, men--now mind what I say! I'll see the super, and then I'll
go down to Pedro, where there'll be some officers of the United
Mine-workers this morning. I'll tell them the situation, and ask them to
back you. That's what you want, is it?"

That was what they wanted. "Big union!"

"All right. I'll do the best I can for you, and I'll find some way to
get word to you. And meantime you stand firm. The bosses will tell you
lies, they'll try to deceive you, they'll send spies and trouble-makers
among you--but you hold fast, and wait for the big union."

Hal stood looking at the cheering crowd. He had time to note some of the
faces upturned to him. Pitiful, toil-worn faces they were, each making
its separate appeal, telling its individual story of deprivation and
defeat. Once more they were transfigured, shining with that wonderful
new light which he had seen for the first time the previous evening. It
had been crushed for a moment, but it flamed up again; it would never
die in the hearts of men--once they had learned the power it gave.
Nothing Hal had yet seen moved him so much as this new birth of
enthusiasm. A beautiful, a terrible thing it was!

Hal looked at his brother, to see how he had been moved. What he saw on
his brother's face was satisfaction, boundless relief. The matter had
turned out all right! Hal was coming away!

Hal turned again to the men; somehow, after his glance at Edward, they
seemed more pitiful than ever. For Edward typified the power they were
facing--the unseeing, uncomprehending power that meant to crush them.
The possibility of failure was revealed to Hal in a flash of emotion,
overwhelming him. He saw them as they would be, when no leader was at
hand to make speeches to them. He saw them waiting, their life-long
habit of obedience striving to reassert itself; a thousand fears
besetting them, a thousand rumours preying upon them--wild beasts set on
them by their cunning enemies. They would suffer, not merely for
themselves, but for their wives and children--the very same pangs of
dread that Hal suffered when he thought of one old man up in Western
City, whose doctors had warned him to avoid excitement.

If they stood firm, if they kept their bargain with their leader, they
would be evicted from their homes, they would face the cold of the
coming winter, they would face hunger and the black-list. And he,
meantime--what would he be doing? What was his part of the bargain? He
would interview the superintendent for them, he would turn them over to
the "big union"--and then he would go off to his own life of ease and
pleasure. To eat grilled steaks and hot rolls in a perfectly appointed
club, with suave and softly-moving servitors at his beck! To dance at
the country club with exquisite creatures of chiffon and satin, of
perfume and sweet smiles and careless, happy charms! No, it was too
easy! He might call that his duty to his father and brother, but he
would know in his heart that it was treason to life; it was the devil,
taking him onto a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms of the
earth!

Moved by a sudden impulse, Hal raised his hands once more. "Boys," he
said, "we understand each other now. You'll not go back to work till the
big union tells you. And I, for my part, will stand by you. Your cause
is my cause, I'll go on fighting for you till you have your rights, till
you can live and work as men! Is that right?"

"That's right! That's right!"

"Very good, then--we'll swear to it!" And Hal raised his hands, and the
men raised theirs, and amid a storm of shouts, and a frantic waving of
caps, he made them the pledge which he knew would bind his own
conscience. He made it deliberately, there in his brother's presence.
This was no mere charge on a trench, it was enlisting for a war! But
even in that moment of fervour, Hal would have been frightened had he
realised the period of that enlistment, the years of weary and desperate
conflict to which he was pledging his life.



SECTION 15.

Hal descended from his rostrum, and the crowds made way for him, and
with his brother at his side he went down the street to the office
building, upon the porch of which the guards were standing. His progress
was a triumphal one; rough voices shouted words of encouragement in his
ears, men jostled and fought to shake his hand or to pat him on the
back; they even patted Edward and tried to shake his hand, because he
was with Hal, and seemed to have his confidence. Afterwards Hal thought
it over and was merry. Such an adventure for Edward!

The younger man went up the steps of the building and spoke to the
guards. "I want to see Mr. Cartwright."

"He's inside," answered one, not cordially. With Edward following, Hal
entered, and was ushered into the private office of the superintendent.

Having been a working-man, and class-conscious, Hal was observant of the
manners of mine-superintendents; he noted that Cartwright bowed politely
to Edward, but did not include Edward's brother. "Mr. Cartwright," he
said, "I have come to you as a deputation from the workers of this
camp."

The superintendent did not appear impressed by the announcement.

"I am instructed to say that the men demand the redress of four
grievances before they return to work. First--"

Here Cartwright spoke, in his quick, sharp way. "There's no use going
on, sir. This company will deal only with its men as individuals. It
will recognise no deputations."

Hal's answer was equally quick. "Very well, Mr. Cartwright. In that
case, I come to you as an individual."

For a moment the superintendent seemed nonplussed.

"I wish to ask four rights which are granted to me by the laws of this
state. First, the right to belong to a union, without being discharged
for it."

The other had recovered his manner of quiet mastery. "You have that
right, sir; you have always had it. You know perfectly well that the
company has never discharged any one for belonging to a union."

The man was looking at Hal, and there was a duel of the eyes between
them. A cold anger moved Hal. His ability to endure this sort of thing
was at an end. "Mr. Cartwright," he said, "you are the servant of one of
the world's greatest actors; and you support him ably."

The other flushed and drew back; Edward put in quickly: "Hal, there's
nothing to be gained by such talk!"

"He has all the world for an audience," persisted Hal. "He plays the
most stupendous farce--and he and all his actors wearing such solemn
faces!"

"Mr. Cartwright," said Edward, with dignity, "I trust you understand
that I have done everything I can to restrain my brother."

"Of course, Mr. Warner," replied the superintendent. "And you must know
that I, for my part, have done everything to show your brother
consideration."

"Again!" exclaimed Hal. "This actor is a genius!"

"Hal, if you have business with Mr. Cartwright--"

"He showed me consideration by sending his gunmen to seize me at night,
drag me out of a cabin, and nearly twist the arm off me! Such humour
never was!"

Cartwright attempted to speak--but looking at Edward, not at Hal. "At
that time--"

"He showed me consideration by having me locked up in jail and fed on
bread and water for two nights and a day! Can you beat that humour?"

"At that time I did not know--"

"By forging my name to a letter and having it circulated in the camp!
Finally--most considerate of all--by telling a newspaper man that I had
seduced a girl here!"

The superintendent flushed still redder. "_No!_" he declared.

"_What?_" cried Hal. "You didn't tell Billy Keating of the _Gazette_
that I had seduced a girl in North Valley? You didn't describe the girl
to him--a red-haired Irish girl?"

"I merely said, Mr. Warner, that I had heard certain rumours--"

"_Certain_ rumours, Mr. Cartwright? The certainty was all of your
making! You made a definite and explicit statement to Mr. Keating--"

"I did not!" declared the other.

"I'll soon prove it!" And Hal started towards the telephone on
Cartwright's desk.

"What are you going to do, Hal?"

"I am going to get Billy Keating on the wire, and let you hear his
statement."

"Oh, rot, Hal!" cried Edward. "I don't care anything about Keating's
statement. You know that at that time Mr. Cartwright had no means of
knowing who you were."

Cartwright was quick to grasp this support. "Of course not, Mr. Warner!
Your brother came here, pretending to be a working boy--"

"Oh!" cried Hal. "So that's it! You think it proper to circulate
slanders about working boys in your camp?"

"You have been here long enough to know what the morals of such boys
are."

"I have been here long enough, Mr. Cartwright, to know that if you want
to go into the question of morals in North Valley, the place for you to
begin is with the bosses and guards you put in authority, and allow to
prey upon women."

Edward broke in: "Hal, there's nothing to be gained by pursuing this
conversation. If you have any business here, get it over with, for God's
sake!"

Hal made an effort to recover his self-possession. He came back to the
demands of the strike--but only to find that he had used up the
superintendent's self-possession. "I have given you my answer," declared
Cartwright, "I absolutely decline any further discussion."

"Well," said Hal, "since you decline to permit a deputation of your men
to deal with you in plain, business-like fashion, I have to inform you
as an individual that every other individual in your camp refuses to
work for you."

The superintendent did not let himself be impressed by this elaborate
sarcasm. "All I have to tell you, sir, is that Number Two mine will
resume work in the morning, and that any one who refuses to work will be
sent down the canyon before night."

"So quickly, Mr. Cartwright? They have rented their homes from the
company, and you know that according to the company's own lease they are
entitled to three days' notice before being evicted!"

Cartwright was so unwise as to argue. He knew that Edward was hearing,
and he wished to clear himself. "They will not be evicted by the
company. They will be dealt with by the town authorities."

"Of which you yourself are the head?"

"I happen to have been elected mayor of North Valley."

"As mayor of North Valley, you gave my brother to understand that you
would put me out, did you not?"

"I asked your brother to persuade you to leave."

"But you made clear that if he could not do this, you would put me out?"

"Yes, that is true."

"And the reason you gave was that you had had instructions by telegraph
from Mr. Peter Harrigan. May I ask to what office Mr. Harrigan has been
elected in your town?"

Cartwright saw his difficulty. "Your brother misunderstood me," he said,
crossly.

"Did you misunderstand him, Edward?"

Edward had walked to the window in disgust; he was looking at
tomato-cans and cinder-heaps, and did not see fit to turn around. But
the superintendent knew that he was hearing, and considered it necessary
to cover the flaw in his argument. "Young man," said he, "you have
violated several of the ordinances of this town."

"Is there an ordinance against organising a union of the miners?"

"No; but there is one against speaking on the streets."

"Who passed that ordinance, if I may ask?"

"The town council."

"Consisting of Johnson, postmaster and company-store clerk; Ellison,
company book-keeper; Strauss, company pit-boss; O'Callahan, company
saloon-keeper. Have I the list correct?"

Cartwright did not answer.

"And the fifth member of the town council is yourself, ex-officio--Mr.
Enos Cartwright, mayor and company-superintendent."

Again there was no answer.

"You have an ordinance against street-speaking; and at the same time
your company owns the saloon-buildings, the boarding-houses, the church
and the school. Where do you expect the citizens to do their speaking?"

"You would make a good lawyer, young man. But we who have charge here
know perfectly well what you mean by 'speaking'!"

"You don't approve, then, of the citizens holding meetings?"

"I mean that we don't consider it necessary to provide agitators with
opportunity to incite our employes."

"May I ask, Mr. Cartwright, are you speaking as mayor of an American
community, or as superintendent of a coal-mine?"

Cartwright's face had been growing continually redder. Addressing
Edward's back, he said, "I don't see any reason why this should
continue."

And Edward was of the same opinion. He turned. "Really, Hal--"

"But, Edward! A man accuses your brother of being a law-breaker! Have
you hitherto known of any criminal tendencies in our family?"

Edward turned to the window again and resumed his study of the
cinder-heaps and tomato-cans. It was a vulgar and stupid quarrel, but he
had seen enough of Hal's mood to realise that he would go on and on, so
long as any one was indiscreet enough to answer him.

"You say, Mr. Cartwright, that I have violated the ordinance against
speaking on the street. May I ask what penalty this ordinance carries?"

"You will find out when the penalty is exacted of you."

Hal laughed. "From what you said just now, I gather that the penalty is
expulsion from the town! If I understand legal procedure, I should have
been brought before the justice of the peace--who happens to be another
company store-clerk. Instead of that, I am sentenced by the mayor--or is
it the company superintendent? May I ask how that comes to be?"

"It is because of my consideration--"

"When did I ask consideration?"

"Consideration for your brother, I mean."

"Oh! Then your ordinance provides that the mayor--or is it the
superintendent?--may show consideration for the brother of a
law-breaker, by changing his penalty to expulsion from the town. Was it
consideration for Tommie Burke that caused you to have his sister sent
down the canyon?"

Cartwright clenched his hands. "I've had all I'll stand of this!"

He was again addressing Edward's back; and Edward turned and answered,
"I don't blame you, sir." Then to Hal, "I really think you've said
enough!"

"I hope I've said enough," replied Hal--"to convince you that the
pretence of American law in this coal-camp is a silly farce, an insult
and a humiliation to any man who respects the institutions of his
country."

"You, Mr. Warner," said the superintendent, to Edward, "have had
experience in managing coal-mines. You know what it means to deal with
ignorant foreigners, who have no understanding of American law--"

Hal burst out laughing. "So you're teaching them American law! You're
teaching them by setting at naught every law of your town and state,
every constitutional guarantee--and substituting the instructions you
get by telegraph from Peter Harrigan!"

Cartwright turned and walked to the door. "Young man," said he, over his
shoulder, "it will be necessary for you to leave North Valley this
morning. I only hope your brother will be able to persuade you to leave
without trouble." And the bang of the door behind him was the
superintendent's only farewell.



SECTION 17.

Edward turned upon his brother. "Now what the devil did you want to put
me through a scene like that for? So undignified! So utterly uncalled
for! A quarrel with a man so far beneath you!"

Hal stood where the superintendent had left him. He was looking at his
brother's angry face. "Was that all you got out of it, Edward?"

"All that stuff about your private character! What do you care what a
fellow like Cartwright thinks about you?"

"I care nothing at all what he thinks, but I care about having him use
such a slander. That's one of their regular procedures, so Billy Keating
says."

Edward answered, coldly, "Take my advice, and realise that when you deny
a scandal, you only give it circulation."

"Of course," answered Hal. "That's what makes me so angry. Think of the
girl, the harm done to her!"

"It's not up to you to worry about the girl."

"Suppose that Cartwright had slandered some woman friend of yours. Would
you have felt the same indifference?"

"He'd not have slandered any friend of mine; I choose my friends more
carefully."

"Yes, of course. What that means is that you choose them among the rich.
But I happen to be more democratic in my tastes--"

"Oh, for heaven's sake!" cried Edward. "You reformers are all alike--you
talk and talk and talk!"

"I can tell you the reason for that, Edward--a man like you can shut his
eyes, but he can't shut his ears!"

"Well, can't you let up on me for awhile--long enough to get out of this
place? I feel as if I were sitting on the top of a volcano, and I've no
idea when it may break out again."

Hal began to laugh. "All right," he said; "I guess I haven't shown much
appreciation of your visit. I'll be more sociable now. My next business
is in Pedro, so I'll go that far with you. There's one thing more--"

"What is it?"

"The company owes me money--"

"What money?"

"Some I've earned."

It was Edward's turn to laugh. "Enough to buy you a shave and a bath?"

He took out his wallet, and pulled off several bills; and Hal, watching
him, realised suddenly a change which had taken place in his own
psychology. Not merely had he acquired the class-consciousness of the
working-man, he had acquired the money-consciousness as well. He was
actually concerned about the dollars the company owed him! He had earned
those dollars by back- and heart-breaking toil, lifting lumps of coal
into cars; the sum was enough to keep the whole Rafferty family alive
for a week or two. And here was Edward, with a smooth brown leather
wallet full of ten- and twenty-dollar bills, which he peeled off without
counting, exactly as if money grew on trees, or as if coal came out of
the earth and walked into furnaces to the sound of a fiddle and a flute!

Edward had of course no idea of these abnormal processes going on in his
brother's mind. He was holding out the bills. "Get yourself some decent
things," he said. "I hope you don't have to stay dirty in order to feel
democratic?"

"No," answered Hal; and then, "How are we going?"

"I've a car waiting, back of the office."

"So you had everything ready!" But Edward made no answer; afraid of
setting off the volcano again.



SECTION 18.

They went out by the rear door of the office, entered the car, and sped
out of the village, unseen by the crowd. And all the way down the canyon
Edward pleaded with Hal to drop the controversy and come home at once.
He brought up the tragic question of Dad again; when that did not avail,
he began to threaten. Suppose Hal's money-resources were to be cut off,
suppose he were to find himself left out of his father's will--what
would he do then? Hal answered, without a smile, "I can always get a job
as organiser for the United Mine-Workers."

So Edward gave up that line of attack. "If you won't come," he declared,
"I'm going to stay by you till you do!"

"All right," said Hal. He could not help smiling at this dire threat.
"But if I take you about and introduce you to my friends, you must agree
that what you hear shall be confidential."

The other made a face of disgust. "What the devil would I want to talk
about your friends for?"

"I don't know what might happen," said Hal. "You're going to meet Peter
Harrigan and take his side, and I can't tell what you might conceive it
your duty to do."

The other exclaimed, with sudden passion, "I'll tell you right now! If
you try to go back to that coal-camp, I swear to God I'll apply to the
courts and have you shut up in a sanitarium. I don't think I'd have much
trouble in persuading a judge that you're insane."

"No," said Hal, with a laugh--"not a judge in this part of the world!"

Then, after studying his brother's face for a moment, it occurred to him
that it might be well not to let such an idea rest unimpeached in
Edward's mind. "Wait," said he, "till you meet my friend Billy Keating,
of the _Gazette_, and hear what he would do with such a story! Billy is
crazy to have me turn him loose to 'play up' my fight with Old Peter!"
The conversation went no farther--but Hal was sure that Edward would
"put that in his pipe and smoke it."

They came to the MacKellar home in Pedro, and Edward waited in the
automobile while Hal went inside. The old Scotchman welcomed him warmly,
and told him what news he had. Jerry Minetti had been there that
morning, and MacKellar at his request had telephoned to the office of
the union in Sheridan, and ascertained that Jack David had brought word
about the strike on the previous evening. All parties had been careful
not to mention names, for "leaks" in the telephone were notorious, but
it was clear who the messenger had been. As a result of the message,
Johann Hartman, president of the local union of the miners, was now at
the American Hotel in Pedro, together with James Moylan, secretary of
the district organisation--the latter having come down from Western City
on the same train as Edward.

This was all satisfactory; but MacKellar added a bit of information of
desperate import--the officers of the union declared that they could not
support a strike at the present time! It was premature, it could lead to
nothing but failure and discouragement to the larger movement they were
planning.

Such a possibility Hal had himself realised at the outset. But he had
witnessed the new birth of freedom at North Valley, he had seen the
hungry, toil-worn faces of men looking up to him for support; he had
been moved by it, and had come to feel that the union officials must be
moved in the same way. "They've simply got to back it!" he exclaimed.
"Those men must not be disappointed! They'll lose all hope, they'll sink
into utter despair! The labour men must realise that--I must make them!"

The old Scotchman answered that Minetti had felt the same way. He had
flung caution to the winds, and rushed over to the hotel to see Hartman
and Moylan. Hal decided to follow, and went out to the automobile.

He explained matters to his brother, whose comment was, Of course! It
was what he had foretold. The poor, mis-guided miners would go back to
their work, and their would-be leader would have to admit the folly of
his course. There was a train for Western City in a couple of hours; it
would be a great favour if Hal would arrange to take it.

Hal answered shortly that he was going to the American Hotel. His
brother might take him there, if he chose. So Edward gave the order to
the driver of the car. Incidentally, Edward began asking about
clothing-stores in Pedro. While Hal was in the hotel, pleading for the
life of his newly-born labour union, Edward would seek a costume in
which he could "feel like a human being."



SECTION 19.

Hal found Jerry Minetti with the two officials in their hotel-room: Jim
Moylan, district secretary, a long, towering Irish boy, black-eyed and
black-haired, quick and sensitive, the sort of person one trusted and
liked at the first moment; and Johann Hartman, local president, a
grey-haired miner of German birth, reserved and slow-spoken, evidently a
man of much strength, both physical and moral. He had need of it, any
one could realise, having charge of a union headquarters in the heart of
this "Empire of Raymond"!

Hal first told of the kidnapping of the committee. This did not surprise
the officials, he found; it was the thing the companies regularly did
when there was threat of rebellion in the camps. That was why efforts to
organise openly were so utterly hopeless. There was no chance for
anything but a secret propaganda, maintained until every camp had the
nucleus of an organisation.

"So you can't back this strike!" exclaimed Hal.

Not possibly, was Moylan's reply. It would be lost as soon as it was
begun. There was no slightest hope of success until a lot of
organisation work had been done.

"But meantime," argued Hal, "the union at North Valley will go to
pieces!"

"Perhaps," was the reply. "We'll only have to start another. That's what
the labour movement is like."

Jim Moylan was young, and saw Hal's mood. "Don't misunderstand us!" he
cried. "It's heartbreaking--but it's not in our power to help. We are
charged with building up the union, and we know that if we supported
everything that looked like a strike, we'd be bankrupt the first year.
You can't imagine how often this same thing happens--hardly a month
we're not called on to handle such a situation."

"I can see what you mean," said Hal. "But I thought that in this case,
right after the disaster, with the men so stirred--"

The young Irishman smiled, rather sadly. "You're new at this game," he
said. "If a mine-disaster was enough to win a strike, God knows our job
would be easy. In Barela, just down the canyon from you, they've had
three big explosions--they've killed over five hundred men in the past
year!"

Hal began to see how, in his inexperience, he had lost his sense of
proportion.

He looked at the two labour leaders, and recalled the picture of such a
person which he had brought with him to North Valley--a hot headed and
fiery agitator, luring honest workingmen from their jobs. But here was
the situation exactly reversed! Here was he in a blaze of
excitement--and two labour leaders turning the fire-hose on him! They
sat quiet and business-like, pronouncing a doom upon the slaves of North
Valley. Back to their black dungeons with them!

"What can we tell the men?" he asked, making an effort to repress his
chagrin.

"We can only tell them what I'm telling you--that we're helpless, till
we've got the whole district organised. Meantime, they have to stand the
gaff; they must do what they can to keep an organisation."

"But all the active men will be fired!"

"No, not quite all--they seldom get them all."

Here the stolid old German put in. In the last year the company had
turned out more than six thousand men because of union activity or
suspicion of it.

"_Six thousand!_" echoed Hal. "You mean from this one district?"

"That's what I mean."

"But there aren't more than twelve or fifteen thousand men in the
district!"

"I know that."

"Then how can you ever keep an organisation?"

The other answered, quietly, "They treat the new men the same as they
treated the old."

Hal thought suddenly of John Edstrom's ants! Here they were--building
their bridge, building it again and again, as often as floods might
destroy it! They had not the swift impatience of a youth of the
leisure-class, accustomed to having his own way, accustomed to thinking
of freedom and decency and justice as necessities of life. Much as Hal
learned from the conversation of these men, he learned more from their
silences--the quiet, matter-of-fact way they took things which had
driven him beside himself with indignation. He began to realise what it
would mean to stand by his pledge to those poor devils in North Valley.
He would need more than one blaze of excitement; he would need brains
and patience and discipline, he would need years of study and hard work!



SECTION 20.

Hal found himself forced to accept the decision of the labour-leaders.
They had had experience, they could judge the situation. The miners
would have to go back to work, and Cartwright and Alec Stone and Jeff
Cotton would drive them as before! All that the rebels could do was to
try to keep a secret organisation in the camp.

Jerry Minetti mentioned Jack David. He had gone back this morning,
without having seen the labour-leaders. So he might escape suspicion,
and keep his job, and help the union work.

"How about you?" asked Hal. "I suppose you've cooked your goose."

Jerry had never heard this phrase, but he got its meaning. "Sure thing!"
said he. "Cooked him plenty!"

"Didn't you see the 'dicks' down stairs in the lobby?" inquired Hartman.

"I haven't learned to recognise them yet."

"Well, you will, if you stay at this business. There hasn't been a
minute since our office was opened that we haven't had half a dozen on
the other side of the street. Every man that comes to see us is followed
back to his camp and fired that same day. They've broken into my desk at
night and stolen my letters and papers; they've threatened us with death
a hundred times."

"I don't see how you make any headway at all!"

"They can never stop us. They thought when they broke into my desk,
they'd get a list of our organisers. But you see, I carry the lists in
my head!"

"No small task, either," put in Moylan. "Would you like to know how many
organisers we have at work? Ninety-seven. And they haven't caught a
single one of them!"

Hal heard him, amazed. Here was a new aspect of the labour movement!
This quiet, resolute old "Dutchy," whom you might have taken for a
delicatessen-proprietor; this merry-eyed Irish boy, whom you would have
expected to be escorting a lady to a firemen's ball----they were
captains of an army of sappers who were undermining the towers of Peter
Harrigan's fortress of greed!

Hartman suggested that Jerry might take a chance at this sort of work.
He would surely be fired from North Valley, so he might as well send
word to his family to come to Pedro. In this way he might save himself
to work as an organiser; because it was the custom of these company
"spotters" to follow a man back to his camp and there identify him. If
Jerry took a train for Western City, they would be thrown off the track,
and he might get into some new camp and do organising among the
Italians. Jerry accepted this proposition with alacrity; it would put
off the evil day when Rosa and her little ones would be left to the
mercy of chance.

They were still talking when the telephone rang. It was Hartman's
secretary in Sheridan, reporting that he had just heard from the
kidnapped committee. The entire party, eight men and Mary Burke, had
been taken to Horton, a station not far up the line, and put on the
train with many dire threats. But they had left the train at the next
stop, and declared their intention of coming to Pedro. They were due at
the hotel very soon.

Hal desired to be present at this meeting, and went downstairs to tell
his brother. There was another dispute, of course. Edward reminded Hal
that the scenery of Pedro had a tendency to monotony; to which Hal could
only answer by offering to introduce his brother to his friends. They
were men who could teach Edward much, if he would consent to learn. He
might attend the session with the committee--eight men and a woman who
had ventured an act of heroism and been made the victims of a crime. Nor
were they bores, as Edward might be thinking! There was blue-eyed Tim
Rafferty, for example, a silent, smutty-faced gnome who had broken out
of his black cavern and spread unexpected golden wings of oratory; and
Mary Burke, of whom Edward might read in that afternoon's edition of the
Western City _Gazette_--a "Joan of Arc of the coal-camps," or something
equally picturesque. But Edward's mood was not to be enlivened. He had a
vision of his brother's appearance in the paper as the companion of this
Hibernian Joan!

Hal went off with Jerry Minetti to what his brother described as a
"hash-house," while Edward proceeded in solitary state to the
dining-room of the American Hotel. But he was not left in solitary
state; pretty soon a sharp-faced young man was ushered to a seat beside
him, and started up a conversation. He was a "drummer," he said; his
"line" was hardware, what was Edward's? Edward answered coldly that he
had no "line," but the young man was not rebuffed--apparently his "line"
had hardened his sensibilities. Perhaps Edward was interested in
coal-mines? Had he been visiting the camps? He questioned so
persistently, and came back so often to the subject, that at last it
dawned over Edward what this meant--he was receiving the attention of a
"spotter!" Strange to say, the circumstance caused Edward more
irritation against Peter Harrigan's regime than all his brother's
eloquence about oppression at North Valley.



SECTION 21.

Soon after dinner the kidnapped committee arrived, bedraggled in body
and weary in soul. They inquired for Johann Hartman, and were sent up to
the room, where there followed a painful scene. Eight men and a woman
who had ventured an act of heroism and been made the victims of a crime
could not easily be persuaded to see their efforts and sacrifices thrown
on the dump-heap, nor were they timid in expressing their opinions of
those who were betraying them.

"You been tryin' to get us out!" cried Tim Rafferty. "Ever since I can
remember you been at my old man to help you--an' here, when we do what
you ask, you throw us down!"

"We never asked you to go on strike," said Moylan.

"No, that's true. You only asked us to pay dues, so you fellows could
have fat salaries."

"Our salaries aren't very fat," replied the young leader, patiently.
"You'd find that out if you investigated."

"Well, whatever they are, they go on, while ours stop. We're on the
streets, we're done for. Look at us--and most of us has got families,
too! I got an old mother an' a lot of brothers and sisters, an' my old
man done up an' can't work. What do you think's to become of us?"

"We'll help you out a little, Rafferty--"

"To hell with you!" cried Tim. "I don't want your help! When I need
charity, I'll go to the county. They're another bunch of grafters, but
they don't pretend to be friends to the workin' man."

Here was the thing Tom Olson had told Hal at the outset--the workingmen
bedevilled, not knowing whom to trust, suspecting the very people who
most desired to help them. "Tim," he put in, "there's no use talking
like that. We have to learn patience--"

And the boy turned upon Hal. "What do you know about it? It's all a joke
to you. You can go off and forget it when you get ready. You've got
money, they tell me!"

Hal felt no resentment at this; it was what he heard from his own
conscience. "It isn't so easy for me as you think, Tim. There are other
ways of suffering besides not having money--"

"Much sufferin' you'll do--with your rich folks!" sneered Tim.

There was a murmur of protest from others of the committee.

"Good God, Rafferty!" broke in Moylan. "We can't help it, man--we're
just as helpless as you!"

"You say you're helpless--but you don't even try!"

"_Try?_ Do you want us to back a strike that we know hasn't a chance?
You might as well ask us to lie down and let a load of coal run over us.
We can't win, man! I tell you we can't _win_! We'd only be throwing away
our organisation!"

Moylan became suddenly impassioned. He had seen a dozen sporadic strikes
in this district, and many a dozen young strikers, homeless, desolate,
embittered, turning their disappointment on him. "We might support you
with our funds, you say--we might go on doing it, even while the company
ran the mine with scabs. But where would that land us, Rafferty? I seen
many a union on the rocks--and I ain't so old either! If we had a bank,
we'd support all the miners of the country, they'd never need to work
again till they got their rights. But this money we spend is the money
that other miners are earnin'--right now, down in the pits, Rafferty,
the same as you and your old man. They give us this money, and they say,
'Use it to build up the union. Use it to help the men that aren't
organised--take them in, so they won't beat down our wages and scab on
us. But don't waste it, for God's sake; we have to work hard to make it,
and if we don't see results, you'll get no more out of us.' Don't you
see how that is, man? And how it weighs on us, worse even then the fear
that maybe we'll lose our poor salaries--though you might refuse to
believe anything so good of us? You don't need to talk to me like I was
Peter Harrigan's son. I was a spragger when I was ten years old, and I
ain't been out of the pits so long that I've forgot the feeling. I
assure you, the thing that keeps me awake at night ain't the fear of not
gettin' a living, for I give myself a bit of education, working nights,
and I know I could always turn out and earn what I need; but it's
wondering whether I'm spending the miners' money the best way, whether
maybe I mightn't save them a little misery if I hadn't 'a' done this or
had 'a' done that. When I come down on that sleeper last night, here's
what I was thinking, Tim Rafferty--all the time I listened to the train
bumping--'Now I got to see some more of the suffering, I got to let some
good men turn against us, because they can't see why we should get
salaries while they get the sack. How am I going to show them that I'm
working for them--working as hard as I know how--and that I'm not to
blame for their trouble?'"

Here Wauchope broke in. "There's no use talking any more. I see we're up
against it. We'll not trouble you, Moylan."

"You trouble me," cried Moylan, "unless you stand by the movement!"

The other laughed bitterly. "You'll never know what I do. It's the road
for me--and you know it!"

"Well, wherever you go, it'll be the same; either you'll be fighting for
the union, or you'll be a weight that we have to carry."

The young leader turned from one to another of the committee, pleading
with them not to be embittered by this failure, but to turn it to their
profit, going on with the work of building up the solidarity of the
miners. Every man had to make his sacrifices, to pay his part of the
price. The thing of importance was that every man who was discharged
should be a spark of unionism, carrying the flame of revolt to a new
part of the country. Let each one do his part, and there would soon be
no place to which the masters could send for "scabs."



SECTION 22.

There was one member of this committee whom Hal watched with especial
anxiety----Mary Burke. She had not yet said a word; while the others
argued and protested, she sat with her lips set and her hands clenched.
Hal knew what rage this failure must bring to her. She had risen and
struggled and hoped, and the result was what she had always said it
would be--nothing! Now he saw her, with eyes large and dark with
fatigue, fixed on this fiery young labour-leader. He knew that a war
must be going on within her. Would she drop out entirely now? It was the
test of her character--as it was the test of the characters of all of
them.

"If only we're strong enough and brave enough," Jim Moylan was saying,
"we can use our defeats to educate our people and bring them together.
Right now, if we can make the men at North Valley see what we're doing,
they won't go back beaten, they won't be bitter against the union,
they'll only go back to wait. And ain't that a way to beat the
bosses--to hold our jobs, and keep the union alive, till we've got into
all the camps, and can strike and win?"

There was a pause; then Mary spoke. "How're you meanin' to tell the
men?" Her voice was without emotion, but nevertheless, Hal's heart
leaped. Whether Mary had any hope or not, she was going to stay in line
with the rest of the ants!

Johann Hartman explained his idea. He would have circulars printed in
several languages and distributed secretly in the camp, ordering the men
back to work. But Jerry met this suggestion with a prompt no. The people
would not believe the circulars, they would suspect the bosses of having
them printed. Hadn't the bosses done worse than that, "framing up" a
letter from Joe Smith to balk the check-weighman movement? The only
thing that would help would be for some of the committee to get into the
camp and see the men face to face.

"And it got to be quick!" Jerry insisted. "They get notice to work in
morning, and them that don't be fired. They be the best men, too--men we
want to save."

Other members of the committee spoke up, agreeing with this. Said
Rusick, the Slav, slow-witted and slow-spoken, "Them fellers get mighty
damn sore if they lose their job and don't got no strike." And Zammakis,
the Greek, quick and nervous, "We say strike; we got to say no strike."

What could they do? There was, in the first place, the difficulty of
getting away from the hotel, which was being watched by the "spotters."
Hartman suggested that if they went out all together and scattered, the
detectives could not follow all of them. Those who escaped might get
into North Valley by hiding in the "empties" which went up to the mine.

But Moylan pointed out that the company would be anticipating this; and
Rusick, who had once been a hobo, put in: "They sure search them cars.
They give us plenty hell, too, when they catch us."

Yes, it would be a dangerous mission. Mary spoke again. "Maybe a lady
could do it better."

"They'd beat a lady," said Minetti.

"I know, but maybe a lady might fool them. There's some widows that came
to Pedro for the funerals, and they're wearin' veils that hide their
faces. I might pretend to be one of them and get into the camp."

The men looked at one another. There was an idea! The scowl which had
stayed upon the face of Tim Rafferty ever since his quarrel with Moylan,
gave place suddenly to a broad grin.

"I seen Mrs. Zamboni on the street," said he. "She had on black veils
enough to hide the lot of us."

And here Hal spoke, for the first time since Tim Rafferty had silenced
him. "Does anybody know where to find Mrs. Zamboni?"

"She stay with my friend, Mrs. Swajka," said Rusick.

"Well," said Hal, "there's something you people don't know about this
situation. After they had fired you, I made another speech to the men,
and made them swear they'd stay on strike. So now I've got to go back
and eat my words. If we're relying on veils and things, a man can be
fixed up as well as a woman."

They were staring at him. "They'll beat you to death if they catch you!"
said Wauchope.

"No," said Hal, "I don't think so. Anyhow, it's up to me"--he glanced at
Tim Rafferty--"because I'm the only one who doesn't have to suffer for
the failure of our strike."

There was a pause.

"I'm sorry I said that!" cried Tim, impulsively.

"That's all right, old man," replied Hal. "What you said is true, and
I'd like to do something to ease my conscience." He rose to his feet,
laughing. "I'll make a peach of a widow!" he said. "I'm going up and
have a tea-party with my friend Jeff Cotton!"



SECTION 23.

Hal proposed going to find Mrs. Zamboni at the place where she was
staying; but Moylan interposed, objecting that the detectives would
surely follow him. Even though they should all go out of the hotel at
once, the one person the detective would surely stick to was the
arch-rebel and trouble-maker, Joe Smith. Finally they decided to bring
Mrs. Zamboni to the room. Let her come with Mrs. Swajka or some other
woman who spoke English, and go to the desk and ask for Mary Burke,
explaining that Mary had borrowed money from her, and that she had to
have it to pay the undertaker for the burial of her man. The hotel-clerk
might not know who Mary Burke was; but the watchful "spotters" would
gather about and listen, and if it was mentioned that Mary was from
North Valley, some one would connect her with the kidnapped committee.

This was made clear to Rusick, who hurried off, and in the course of
half an hour returned with the announcement that the women were on the
way. A few minutes later came a tap on the door, and there stood the
black-garbed old widow with her friend. She came in; and then came looks
of dismay and horrified exclamations. Rusick was requesting her to give
up her weeds to Joe Smith!

"She say she don't got nothing else," explained the Slav.

"Tell her I give her plenty money buy more," said Hal.

"Ai! Jesu!" cried Mrs. Zamboni, pouring out a sputtering torrent.

"She say she don't got nothing to put on. She say it ain't good to go no
clothes!"

"Hasn't she got on a petticoat?"

"She say petticoat got holes!"

There was a burst of laughter from the company, and the old woman turned
scarlet from her forehead to her ample throat. "Tell her she wrap up in
blankets," said Hal. "Mary Burke buy her new things."

It proved surprisingly difficult to separate Mrs. Zamboni from her
widow's weeds, which she had purchased with so great an expenditure of
time and tears. Never had a respectable lady who had borne sixteen
children received such a proposition; to sell the insignia of her
grief--and here in a hotel room, crowded with a dozen men! Nor was the
task made easier by the unseemly merriment of the men. "Ai! Jesu!" cried
Mrs. Zamboni again.

"Tell her it's very, very important," said Hal. "Tell her I must have
them." And then, seeing that Rusick was making poor headway, he joined
in, in the compromise-English one learns in the camps. "Got to have!
Sure thing! Got to hide! Quick! Get away from boss! See? Get killed if
no go!"

So at last the frightened old woman gave way. "She say all turn backs,"
said Rusick. And everybody turned, laughing in hilarious whispers,
while, with Mary Burke and Mrs. Swajka for a shield, Mrs. Zamboni got
out of her waist and skirt, putting a blanket round her red shoulders
for modesty's sake. When Hal put the garments on, there was a foot to
spare all round; but after they had stuffed two bed pillows down in the
front of him, and drawn them tight at the waist-line, the disguise was
judged more satisfactory. He put on the old lady's ample if ragged
shoes, and Mary Burke set the widow's bonnet on his head and adjusted
the many veils; after that Mrs. Zamboni's own brood of children would
not have suspected the disguise.

It was a merry party for a few minutes; worn and hopeless as Mary had
seemed, she was possessed now by the spirit of fun. But then quickly the
laughter died. The time for action had come. Mary Burke said that she
would stay with what was left of Mrs. Zamboni, to answer the door in
case any of the hotel people or the detectives should come. Hal asked
Jim Moylan to see Edward, and say that Hal was writing a manifesto to
the North Valley workers, and would not be ready to leave until the
midnight train.

These things agreed upon, Hal shook hands all round, and the eleven men
left the room at once, going down stairs and through the lobby,
scattering in every direction on the streets. Mrs. Swajka and the
pseudo-Mrs. Zamboni followed a minute later--and, as they anticipated,
found the lobby swept clear of detectives.



SECTION 24.

Bidding Mrs. Swajka farewell, Hal set out for the railroad station. But
before he had gone a block from the hotel, he ran into his brother,
coming straight towards him.

Edward's face wore a bored look; his very manner of carrying the
magazine under his arm said that he had selected it in a last hopeless
effort against the monotony of Pedro. Such a trick of fate, to take a
man of important affairs, and immure him at the mercy of a maniac in a
God-forsaken coal-town! What did people do in such a hole? Pay a nickel
to look at moving pictures of cow-boys and counterfeiters?

Edward's aspect was too much for Hal's sense of humour. Besides, he had
a good excuse; was it not proper to make a test of his disguise, before
facing the real danger in North Valley?

He placed himself in the path of his brother's progress, and in Mrs.
Zamboni's high, complaining tones, began, "Mister!"

Edward stared at the interrupting black figure. "Mister, you Joe Smith's
brother, hey?"

The question had to be repeated before Edward gave his grudging answer.
He was not proud of the relationship.

"Mister," continued the whining voice, "my old man got blow up in mine.
I get five pieces from my man what I got to bury yesterday in
grave-yard. I got to pay thirty dollar for bury them pieces and I don't
got no more money left. I don't got no money from them company fellers.
They come lawyer feller and he say maybe I get money for bury my man, if
I don't jay too much. But, Mister, I got eleven children I got to feed,
and I don't got no more man, and I don't find no new man for old woman
like me. When I go home I hear them children crying and I don't got no
food, and them company-stores don't give me no food. I think maybe you
Joe Smith's brother you good man, maybe you sorry for poor widow-woman,
you maybe give me some money, Mister, so I buy some food for them
children."

"All right," said Edward. He pulled out his wallet and extracted a bill,
which happened to be for ten dollars. His manner seemed to say, "For
heaven's sake, here!"

Mrs. Zamboni clutched the bill with greedy fingers, but was not
appeased. "You got plenty money, Mister! You rich man, hey! You maybe
give me all them moneys, so I got plenty feed them children? You don't
know them company-stores, Mister, them prices is way up high like
mountains; them children is hungry, they cry all day and night, and one
piece money don't last so long. You give me some more piece moneys,
Mister----hey?"

"I'll give you one more," said Edward. "I need some for myself." He
pulled off another bill.

"What you need so much, Mister? You don't got so many children, hey? And
you got plenty more money home, maybe!"

"That's all I can give you," said the man. He took a step to one side,
to get round the obstruction in his path.

But the obstruction took a step also--and with surprising agility.
"Mister, I thank you for them moneys. I tell them children I get moneys
from good man. I like you, Mister Smith, you give money for poor
widow-woman--you nice man."

And the dreadful creature actually stuck out one of her paws, as if
expecting to pat Edward on the cheek, or to chuck him under the chin. He
recoiled, as from a contagion; but she followed him, determined to do
something to him, he could not be sure what. He had heard that these
foreigners had strange customs!

"It's all right! It's nothing!" he insisted, and fell back--at the same
time glancing nervously about, to see if there were spectators of this
scene.

"Nice man, Mister! Nice man!" cried the old woman, with increasing
cordiality. "Maybe some day I find man like you, Mr. Edward Smith--so I
don't stay widow-woman no more. You think maybe you like to marry nice
Slavish woman, got plenty nice children?"

Edward, perceiving that the matter was getting desperate, sprang to one
side. It was a spring which should have carried him to safety; but to
his dismay the Slavish widow sprang also--her claws caught him under the
arm-pit, and fastening in his ribs, gave him a ferocious pinch. After
which the owner of the claws went down the street, not looking back, but
making strange gobbling noises, which might have been the weeping of a
bereaved widow in Slavish, or might have been almost anything else.



SECTION 25.

The train up to North Valley left very soon, and Hal figured that there
would be just time to accomplish his errand and catch the last train
back. He took his seat in the car without attracting attention, and sat
in his place until they were approaching their destination, the last
stop up the canyon. There were several of the miners' women in the car,
and Hal picked out one who belonged to Mrs. Zamboni's nationality, and
moved over beside her. She made place, with some remark; but Hal merely
sobbed softly, and the woman felt for his hand to comfort him. As his
hands were clasped together under the veils, she patted him reassuringly
on the knee.

At the boundary of the stockaded village the train stopped, and Bud
Adams came through the car, scrutinising every passenger. Seeing this,
Hal began to sob again, and murmured something indistinct to his
companion--which caused her to lean towards him, speaking volubly in her
native language. "Bud" passed by.

When Hal came to leave the train, he took his companion's arm; he sobbed
some more, and she talked some more, and so they went down the platform,
under the very eyes of Pete Hanun, the "breaker of teeth." Another woman
joined them, and they walked down the street, the women conversing in
Slavish, apparently without a suspicion of Hal.

He had worked out his plan of action. He would not try to talk with the
men secretly--it would take too long, and he might be betrayed before he
had talked with a sufficient number. One bold stroke was the thing. In
half an hour it would be supper-time, and the feeders would gather in
Reminitsky's dining-room. He would give his message there!

Hal's two companions were puzzled that he passed the Zamboni cabin,
where presumably the Zamboni brood were being cared for by neighbours.
But he let them make what they could of this, and went on to the Minetti
home. To the astonished Rosa he revealed himself, and gave her husband's
message--that she should take herself and the children down to Pedro,
and wait quietly until she heard from him. She hurried out and brought
in Jack David, to whom Hal explained matters. "Big Jack's" part in the
recent disturbance had apparently not been suspected; he and his wife,
with Rovetta, Wresmak, and Klowoski, would remain as a nucleus through
which the union could work upon the men.

The supper-hour was at hand, and the pseudo-Mrs. Zamboni emerged and
toddled down the street. As she passed into the dining-room of the
boarding-house, men looked at her, but no one spoke. It was the stage of
the meal where everybody was grabbing and devouring, in the effort to
get the best of his grabbing and devouring neighbours. The black-clad
figure went to the far end of the room; there was a vacant chair, and
the figure pulled it back from the table and climbed upon it. Then a
shout rang through the room: "Boys! Boys!"

The feeders looked up, and saw the widow's weeds thrown back, and their
leader, Joe Smith, gazing out at them. "Boys! I've come with a message
from the union!"

There was a yell; men leaped to their feet, chairs were flung back,
falling with a crash to the floor. Then, almost instantly, came silence;
you could have heard the movement of any man's jaws, had any man
continued to move them.

"Boys! I've been down to Pedro and seen the union people. I knew the
bosses wouldn't let me come back, so I dressed up, and here I am!"

It dawned upon them, the meaning of this fantastic costume; there were
cheers, laughter, yells of delight.

But Hal stretched out his hands, and silence fell again. "Listen to me!
The bosses won't let me talk long, and I've something important to say.
The union leaders say we can't win a strike now."

Consternation came into the faces before him. There were cries of
dismay. He went on:

"We are only one camp, and the bosses would turn us out, they'd get in
scabs and run the mines without us. What we must have is a strike of all
the camps at once. One big union and one big strike! If we walked out
now, it would please the bosses; but we'll fool them--we'll keep our
jobs, and keep our union too! You are members of the union, you'll go on
working for the union! Hooray for the North Valley union!"

For a moment there was no response. It was hard for men to cheer over
such a prospect! Hal saw that he must touch a different chord.

"We mustn't be cowards, boys! We've got to keep our nerve! I'm doing my
part--it took nerve to get in here! In Mrs. Zamboni's clothes, and with
two pillows stuffed in front of me!"

He thumped the pillows, and there was a burst of laughter. Many in the
crowd knew Mrs. Zamboni--it was what comedians call a "local gag." The
laughter spread, and became a gale of merriment. Men began to cheer:
"Hurrah for Joe! You're the girl! Will you marry me, Joe?" And so, of
course, it was easy for Hal to get a response when he shouted, "Hurrah
for the North Valley union!"

Again he raised his hands for silence, and went on again. "Listen, men.
They'll turn me out, and you're not going to resist them. You're going
to work and keep your jobs, and get ready for the big strike. And you'll
tell the other men what I say. I can't talk to them all, but you tell
them about the union. Remember, there are people outside planning and
fighting for you. We're going to stand by the union, all of us, till
we've brought these coal-camps back into America!" There was a cheer
that shook the walls of the room. Yes, that was what they wanted--to
live in America!

A crowd of men had gathered in the doorway, attracted by the uproar; Hal
noticed confusion and pushing, and saw the head and burly shoulders of
his enemy, Pete Hanun, come into sight.

"Here come the gunmen, boys!" he cried; and there was a roar of anger
from the crowd. Men turned, clenching their fists, glaring at the guard.
But Hal rushed on, quickly:

"Boys, hear what I say! Keep your heads! I can't stay in North Valley,
and you know it! But I've done the thing I came to do, I've brought you
the message from the union. And you'll tell the other men--tell them to
stand by the union!"

Hal went on, repeating his message over and over. Looking from one to
another of these toil-worn faces, he remembered the pledge he had made
them, and he made it anew: "I'm going to stand by you! I'm going on with
the fight, boys!"

There came more disturbance at the door, and suddenly Jeff Cotton
appeared, with a couple of additional guards, shoving their way into the
room, breathless and red in the face from running.

"Ah, there's the marshal!" cried Hal. "You needn't push, Cotton, there's
not going to be any trouble. We are union men here, we know how to
control ourselves. Now, boys, we're not giving up, we're not beaten,
we're only waiting for the men in the other camps! We have a union, and
we mean to keep it! Three cheers for the union!"

The cheers rang out with a will: cheers for the union, cheers for Joe
Smith, cheers for the widow and her weeds!

"You belong to the union! You stand by it, no matter what happens! If
they fire you, you take it on to the next place! You teach it to the new
men, you never let it die in your hearts! In union there is strength, in
union there is hope! Never forget it, men--_Union_!"

The voice of the camp-marshal rang out. "If you're coming, young woman,
come now!"

Hal dropped a shy curtsey. "Oh, Mr. Cotton! This is so sudden!" The
crowd howled; and Hal descended from his platform. With coquettish
gesturing he replaced the widow's veils about his face, and tripped
mincingly across the dining-room. When he reached the camp-marshal, he
daintily took that worthy's arm, and with the "breaker of teeth" on the
other side, and Bud Adams bringing up the rear, he toddled out of the
dining-room and down the street.

Hungry men gave up their suppers to behold that sight. They poured out
of the building, they followed, laughing, shouting, jeering. Others came
from every direction--by the time the party had reached the depot, a
good part of the population of the village was on hand; and everywhere
went the word, "It's Joe Smith! Come back with a message from the
union!" Big, coal-grimed miners laughed till the tears made streaks on
their faces; they fell on one another's necks for delight at this trick
which had been played upon their oppressors.

Even Jeff Cotton could not withhold his tribute. "By God, you're the
limit!" he muttered. He accepted the "tea-party" aspect of the affair,
as the easiest way to get rid of his recurrent guest, and avert the
possibilities of danger. He escorted the widow to the train and helped
her up the steps, posting escorts at the doors of her car; nor did the
attentions of these gallants cease until the train had moved down the
canyon and passed the limits of the North Valley stockade!



SECTION 26.

Hal took off his widow's weeds; and with them he shed the merriment he
had worn for the benefit of the men. There came a sudden reaction; he
realised that he was tired.

For ten days he had lived in a whirl of excitement, scarcely stopping to
sleep. Now he lay back in the car-seat, pale, exhausted; his head ached,
and he realised that the sum-total of his North Valley experience was
failure. There was left in him no trace of that spirit of adventure with
which he had set out upon his "summer course in practical sociology." He
had studied his lessons, tried to recite them, and been "flunked." He
smiled a bitter smile, recollecting the careless jesting that had been
on his lips as he came up that same canyon:

  "He keeps them a-roll, that merry old soul--
    The wheels of industree;
  A-roll and a-roll, for his pipe and his bowl
    And his college facultee!"

The train arrived in Pedro, and Hal took a hack at the station and drove
to the hotel. He still carried the widow's weeds rolled into a bundle.
He might have left them in the train, but the impulse to economy which
he had acquired during the last ten weeks had become a habit. He would
return them to Mrs. Zamboni. The money he had promised her might better
be used to feed her young ones. The two pillows he would leave in the
car; the hotel might endure the loss!

Entering the lobby, the first person Hal saw was his brother, and the
sight of that patrician face made human by disgust relieved Hal's
headache in part. Life was harsh, life was cruel; but here was weary,
waiting Edward, that boon of comic relief!

Edward demanded to know where the devil he had been; and Hal answered,
"I've been visiting the widows and orphans."

"Oh!" said Edward. "And while I sit in this hole and stew! What's that
you've got under your arm?"

Hal looked at the bundle. "It's a souvenir of one of the widows," he
said, and unrolled the garments and spread them out before his brother's
puzzled eyes. "A lady named Mrs. Swajka gave them to me. They belonged
to another lady, Mrs. Zamboni, but she doesn't need them any more."

"What have _you_ got to do with them?"

"It seems that Mrs. Zamboni is going to get married again." Hal lowered
his voice, confidentially. "It's a romance, Edward--it may interest you
as an illustration of the manners of these foreign races. She met a man
on the street, a fine, fine man, she says--and he gave her a lot of
money. So she went and bought herself some new clothes, and she wants to
give these widow's weeds to the new man. That's the custom in her
country, it seems--her sign that she accepts him as a suitor."

Seeing the look of wonderment growing on his brother's face, Hal had to
stop for a moment to keep his own face straight. "If that man wasn't
serious in his intention, Edward, he'll have trouble, for I know Mrs.
Zamboni's emotional nature. She'll follow him about everywhere--"

"Hal, that creature is insane!" And Edward looked about him nervously,
as if he thought the Slavish widow might appear suddenly in the hotel
lobby to demonstrate her emotional nature.

"No," replied Hal, "it's just one of those differences in national
customs." And suddenly Hal's face gave way. He began to laugh; he
laughed, perhaps more loudly than good form permitted.

Edward was much annoyed. There were people in the lobby, and they were
staring at him. "Cut it out, Hal!" he exclaimed. "Your fool jokes bore
me!" But nevertheless, Hal could see uncertainty in his brother's face.
Edward recognised those widow's weeds. And how could he be sure about
the "national customs" of that grotesque creature who had pinched him in
the ribs on the street?

"Cut it out!" he cried again.

Hal, changing his voice suddenly to the Zamboni key, exclaimed: "Mister,
I got eight children I got to feed, and I don't got no more man, and I
don't find no new man for old woman like me!"

So at last the truth in its full enormity began to dawn upon Edward. His
consternation and disgust poured themselves out; and Hal listened, his
laughter dying. "Edward," he said, "you don't take me seriously even
yet!"

"Good God!" cried the other. "I believe you're really insane!"

"You were up there, Edward! You heard what I said to those poor devils!
And you actually thought I'd go off with you and forget about them!"

Edward ignored this. "You're really insane!" he repeated. "You'll get
yourself killed, in spite of all I can do!"

But Hal only laughed. "Not a chance of it! You should have seen the
tea-party manners of the camp-marshal!"



SECTION 27.

Edward would have endeavoured to carry his brother away forthwith, but
there was no train until late at night; so Hal went upstairs, where he
found Moylan and Hartman with Mary Burke and Mrs. Zamboni, all eager to
hear his story. As the members of the committee, who had been out to
supper, came straggling in, the story was told again, and yet again.
They were almost as much delighted as the men in Reminitsky's. If only
all strikes that had to be called off could be called off as neatly as
that!

Between these outbursts of satisfaction, they discussed their future.
Moylan was going back to Western City, Hartman to his office in
Sheridan, from which he would arrange to send new organisers into North
Valley. No doubt Cartwright would turn off many men--those who had made
themselves conspicuous during the strike, those who continued to talk
union out loud. But such men would have to be replaced, and the union
knew through what agencies the company got its hands. The North Valley
miners would find themselves mysteriously provided with union literature
in their various languages; it would be slipped under their pillows, or
into their dinner-pails, or the pockets of their coats while they were
at work.

Also there was propaganda to be carried on among those who were turned
away; so that, wherever they went, they would take the message of
unionism. There had been a sympathetic outburst in Barela, Hal
learned--starting quite spontaneously that morning, when the men heard
what had happened at North Valley. A score of workers had been fired,
and more would probably follow in the morning. Here was a job for the
members of the kidnapped committee; Tim Rafferty, for example--would he
care to stay in Pedro for a week or two, to meet such men, and give them
literature and arguments?

This offer was welcome; for life looked desolate to the Irish boy at
this moment. He was out of a job, his father was a wreck, his family
destitute and helpless. They would have to leave their home, of course;
there would be no place for any Rafferty in North Valley. Where they
would go, God only knew; Tim would become a wanderer, living away from
his people, starving himself and sending home his pitiful savings.

Hal was watching the boy, and reading these thoughts. He, Hal Warner,
would play the god out of a machine in this case, and in several others
equally pitiful. He had the right to sign his father's name to checks, a
privilege which he believed he could retain, even while undertaking the
role of Haroun al Raschid in a mine-disaster. But what about the
mine-disasters and abortive strikes where there did not happen to be any
Haroun al Raschid at hand? What about those people, right in North
Valley, who did not happen to have told Hal of their affairs? He
perceived that it was only by turning his back and running that he would
escape from his adventure with any portion of his self-possession.
Truly, this fair-seeming and wonderful civilisation was like the floor
of a charnel-house or a field of battle; anywhere one drove a spade
beneath its surface, he uncovered horrors, sights for the eyes and
stenches for the nostrils that caused him to turn sick!

There was Rusick, for example; he had a wife and two children, and not a
dollar in the world. In the year and more that he had worked, faithfully
and persistently, to get out coal for Peter Harrigan, he had never once
been able to get ahead of his bill for the necessities of life at Old
Peter's store. All his belongings in the world could be carried in a
bundle on his back, and whether he ever saw these again would depend
upon the whim of old Peter's camp-marshal and guards. Rusick would take
to the road, with a ticket purchased by the union. Perhaps he would find
a job and perhaps not; in any case, the best he could hope for in life
was to work for some other Harrigan, and run into debt at some other
company-store.

There was Hobianish, a Serbian, and Hernandez, a Mexican, of whom the
same things were true, except that one had four children and the other
six. Bill Wauchope had only a wife--their babies had died, thank heaven,
he said. He did not seem to have been much moved by Jim Moylan's
pleadings; he was down and out; he would take to the road, and beat his
way to the East and back to England. They called this a free country! By
God, if he were to tell what had happened to him, he could not get an
English miner to believe it!

Hal gave these men his real name and address, and made them promise to
let him know how they got along. He would help a little, he said; in his
mind he was figuring how much he ought to do. How far shall a man go in
relieving the starvation about him, before he can enjoy his meals in a
well-appointed club? What casuist will work out this problem--telling
him the percentage he shall relieve of the starvation he happens
personally to know about, the percentage of that which he sees on the
streets, the percentage of that about which he reads in government
reports on the rise in the cost of living. To what extent is he
permitted to close his eyes, as he walks along the streets on his way to
the club? To what extent is he permitted to avoid reading government
reports before going out to dinner-dances with his fiancee? Problems
such as these the masters of the higher mathematics have neglected to
solve; the wise men of the academies and the holy men of the churches
have likewise failed to work out the formulas; and Hal, trying to obtain
them by his crude mental arithmetic, found no satisfaction in the
results.



SECTION 28.

Hal wanted a chance to talk to Mary Burke; they had had no intimate talk
since the meeting with Jessie Arthur, and now he was going away, for a
long time. He wanted to find out what plans Mary had for the future,
and--more important yet--what was her state of mind. If he had been able
to lift this girl from despair, his summer course in practical sociology
had not been all a failure!

He asked her to go with him to say good-bye to John Edstrom, whom he had
not seen since their unceremonious parting at MacKellar's, when Hal had
fled to Percy Harrigan's train. Downstairs in the lobby Hal explained
his errand to his waiting brother, who made no comment, but merely
remarked that he would follow, if Hal had no objection. He did not care
to make the acquaintance of the Hibernian Joan of Arc, and would not
come close enough to interfere with Hal's conversation with the lady;
but he wished to do what he could for his brother's protection. So there
set out a moon-light procession--first Hal and Mary, then Edward, and
then Edward's dinner-table companion, the "hardware-drummer!"

Hal was embarrassed in beginning his farewell talk with Mary. He had no
idea how she felt towards him, and he admitted with a guilty pang that
he was a little afraid to find out! He thought it best to be cheerful,
so he started to tell her how fine he thought her conduct during the
strike. But she did not respond to his remarks, and at last he realised
that she was labouring with some thoughts of her own.

"There's somethin' I got to say to ye!" she began, suddenly. "A couple
of days ago I knew how I meant to say it, but now I don't."

"Well," he laughed, "say it as you meant to."

"No; 'twas bitter--and now I'm on my knees before ye."

"Not that I want you to be bitter," said Hal, still laughing, "but it's
I that ought to be on my knees before you. I didn't accomplish anything,
you know."

"Ye did all ye could--and more than the rest of us. I want ye to know
I'll never forget it. But I want ye to hear the other thing, too!"

She walked on, staring before her, doubling up her hands in agitation.
"Well?" said he, still trying to keep a cheerful tone.

"Ye remember that day just after the explosion? Ye remember what I said
about--about goin' away with ye? I take it back."

"Oh, of course!" said he, quickly. "You were distracted, Mary--you
didn't know what you were saying."

"No, no! That's not it! But I've changed my mind; I don't mean to throw
meself away."

"I told you you'd see it that way," he said. "No man is worth it."

"Ah, lad!" said she. "'Tis the fine soothin' tongue ye have--but I'd
rather ye knew the truth. 'Tis that I've seen the other girl; and I hate
her!"

They walked for a bit in silence. Hal had sense enough to realise that
here was a difficult subject. "I don't want to be a prig, Mary," he said
gently; "but you'll change your mind about that, too. You'll not hate
her; you'll be sorry for her."

She laughed--a raw, harsh laugh. "What kind of a joke is that?"

"I know--it may seem like one. But it'll come to you some day. You have
a wonderful thing to live and fight for; while she"--he hesitated a
moment, for he was not sure of his own ideas on this subject--"she has
so many things to learn; and she may never learn them. She'll miss some
fine things."

"I know one of the fine things she does not mean to miss," said Mary,
grimly; "that's Mr. Hal Warner." Then, after they had walked again in
silence: "I want ye to understand me, Mr. Warner--"

"Ah, Mary!" he pleaded. "Don't treat me that way! I'm Joe."

"All right," she said, "Joe ye shall be. 'Twill remind ye of a pretty
adventure--bein' a workin' man for a few weeks. Well, that's a part of
what I have to tell ye. I've got my pride, even if I'm only a poor
miner's daughter; and the other day I found out me place."

"How do you mean?" he asked.

"Ye don't understand? Honest?"

"No, honest," he said.

"Ye're stupid with women, Joe. Ye didn't see what the girl did to me!
'Twas some kind of a bug I was to her. She was not sure if I was the
kind that bites, but she took no chances--she threw me off, like that."
And Mary snapped her hand, as one does when troubled with a bug.

"Ah, now!" pleaded Hal. "You're not being fair!"

"I'm bein' just as fair as I've got it in me to be, Joe. I been off and
had it all out. I can see this much--'tis not her fault, maybe--'tis her
class; 'tis all of ye--the very best of ye, even yeself, Joe Smith!"

"Yea," he replied, "Tim Rafferty said that."

"Tim said too much--but a part of it was true. Ye think ye've come here
and been one of us workin' people." But don't your own sense tell you
the difference, as if it was a canyon a million miles across--between a
poor ignorant creature in a minin' camp, and a rich man's daughter, a
lady? Ye'd tell me not to be ashamed of poverty; but would ye ever put
me by the side of her--for all your fine feelin's of friendship for them
that's beneath ye? Didn't ye show that at the Minettis'?"

"But don't you see, Mary--" He made an effort to laugh. "I got used to
obeying Jessie! I knew her a long time before I knew you."

"Ah, Joe! Ye've a kind heart, and a pleasant way of speakin'. But
wouldn't it interest ye to know the real truth? Ye said ye'd come out
here to learn the truth!"

And Hal answered, in a low voice, "Yes," and did not interrupt again.



SECTION 29.

Mary's voice had dropped low, and Hal thought how rich and warm it was
when she was deeply moved. She went on:

"I lived all me life in minin' camps, Joe Smith, and I seen men robbed
and beaten, and women cryin' and childer hungry. I seen the company,
like some great wicked beast that eat them up. But I never knew why, or
what it meant--till that day, there at the Minettis'. I'd read about
fine ladies in books, ye see; but I'd never been spoke to by one, I'd
never had to swallow one, as ye might say. But there I did--and all at
once I seemed to know where the money goes that's wrung out of the
miners. I saw why people were robbin' us, grindin' the life out of
us--for fine ladies like that, to keep them so shinin' and soft! 'Twould
not have been so bad, if she'd not come just then, with all the men and
boys dyin' down in the pits--dyin' for that soft, white skin, and those
soft, white hands, and all those silky things she swished round in. My
God, Joe--d'ye know what she seemed to me like? Like a smooth, sleek cat
that has just eat up a whole nest full of baby mice, and has the blood
of them all over her cheeks!"

Mary paused, breathing hard. Hal kept silence, and she went on again: "I
had it out with meself, Joe! I don't want ye to think I'm any better
than I am, and I asked meself this question--Is it for the men in the
pits that ye hate her with such black murder? Or is it for the one man
ye want, and that she's got? And I knew the answer to that! But then I
asked meself another question, too--Would ye be like her if ye could?
Would ye do what she's doin' right now--would ye have it on your soul?
And as God hears me, Joe, 'tis the truth I speak--I'd not do it! No, not
for the love of any man that ever walked on this earth!"

She had lifted her clenched fist as she spoke. She let it fall again,
and strode on, not even glancing at him. "Ye might try a thousand years,
Joe, and ye'd not realise the feelin's that come to me there at the
Minettis'. The shame of it--not what she done to me, but what she made
me in me own eyes! Me, the daughter of a drunken old miner, and her--I
don't know what her father is, but she's some sort of princess, and she
knows it. And that's the thing that counts, Joe! 'Tis not that she has
so much money, and so many fine things; that she knows how to talk, and
I don't, and that her voice is sweet, and mine is ugly, when I'm ragin'
as I am now. No--'tis that she's so _sure!_ That's the word I found to
say it; she's sure--sure--_sure!_ She has the fine things, she's always
had them, she has a right to have them! And I have a right to nothin'
but trouble, I'm hunted all day by misery and fear, I've lost even the
roof over me head! Joe, ye know I've got some temper--I'm not easy to
beat down; but when I'd got through bein' taught me place, I went off
and hid meself, I ground me face in the dirt, for the black rage of it!
I said to meself, 'Tis true! There's somethin' in her better than me!
She's some kind of finer creature.--Look at these hands!" She held them
out in the moonlight, with a swift, passionate gesture. "So she's a
right to her man, and I'm a fool to have ever raised me eyes to him! I
have to see him go away, and crawl back into me leaky old shack! Yes,
that's the truth! And when I point it out to the man, what d'ye think he
says? Why, he tells me gently and kindly that I ought to be sorry for
her! Christ! did ye ever hear the like of that?"

There was a long silence. Hal could not have said anything now, if he
had wished to. He knew that this was what he had come to seek! This was
the naked soul of the class-war!

"Now," concluded Mary, with clenched hands, and a voice that
corresponded, "now, I've had it out. I'm no slave; I've just as good a
right to life as any lady. I know I'll never have it, of course; I'll
never wear good clothes, nor live in a decent home, nor have the man I
want; but I'll know that I've done somethin' to help free the workin'
people from the shame that's put on them. That's what the strike done
for me, Joe! The strike showed me the way. We're beat this time, but
somehow it hasn't made the difference ye might think. I'm goin' to make
more strikes before I quit, and they won't all of them be beat!"

She stopped speaking; and Hal walked beside her, stirred by a conflict
of emotions. His vision of her was indeed true; she would make more
strikes! He was glad and proud of that; but then came the thought that
while she, a girl, was going on with the bitter war, he, a man, would be
eating grilled beefsteaks at the club!

"Mary," he said, "I'm ashamed of myself--"

"That's not it, Joe! Ye've no call to be ashamed. Ye can't help it where
ye were born--"

"Perhaps not, Mary. But when a man knows he's never paid for any of the
things he's enjoyed all his life, surely the least he can do is to be
ashamed. I hope you'll try not to hate me as you do the others."

"I never hated ye, Joe! Not for one moment! I tell ye fair and true, I
love ye as much as ever. I can say it, because I'd not have ye now; I've
seen the other girl, and I know ye'd never be satisfied with me. I don't
know if I ought to say it, but I'm thinkin' ye'll not be altogether
satisfied with her, either. Ye'll be unhappy either way--God help ye!"

The girl had read deeply into his soul in this last speech; so deeply
that Hal could not trust himself to answer. They were passing a
street-lamp, and she looked at him, for the first time since they had
started on their walk, and saw harassment in his face. A sudden
tenderness came into her voice. "Joe," she said; "ye're lookin' bad.
'Tis good ye're goin' away from this place!"

He tried to smile, but the effort was feeble.

"Joe," she went on, "ye asked me to be your friend. Well, I'll be that!"
And she held out the big, rough hand.

He took it. "We'll not forget each other, Mary," he said. There was a
catch in his voice.

"Sure, lad!" she exclaimed. "We'll make another strike some day, just
like we did at North Valley!"

Hal pressed the big hand; but then suddenly, remembering his brother
stalking solemnly in the rear, he relinquished the clasp, and failed to
say all the fine things he had in his mind. He called himself a rebel,
but not enough to be sentimental before Edward!



SECTION 30.

They came to the house where John Edstrom was staying. The labouring
man's wife opened the door. In answer to Hal's question, she said, "The
old gentleman's pretty bad."

"What's the matter with him?"

"Didn't you know he was hurt?"

"No. How?"

"They beat him up, sir. Broke his arm, and nearly broke his head."

Hal and Mary exclaimed in chorus, "Who did it? When?"

"We don't know who did it. It was four nights ago."

Hal realised it must have happened while he was escaping from
MacKellar's. "Have you had a doctor for him?"

"Yes, sir; but we can't do much, because my man is out of work, and I
have the children and the boarders to look after."

Hal and Mary ran upstairs. Their old friend lay in darkness, but he
recognised their voices and greeted them with a feeble cry. The woman
brought a lamp, and they saw him lying on his back, his head done up in
bandages, and one arm bound in splints. He looked really desperately
bad, his kindly old eyes deep-sunken and haggard, and his face--Hal
remembered what Jeff Cotton had called him, "that dough-faced old
preacher!"

They got the story of what had happened at the time of Hal's flight to
Percy's train. Edstrom had shouted a warning to the fugitives, and set
out to run after them; when one of the mine-guards, running past him,
had fetched him a blow over the eye, knocking him down. He had struck
his head upon the pavement, and lain there unconscious for many hours.
When finally some one had come upon him, and summoned a policeman, they
had gone through his pockets, and found the address of this place where
he was staying written on a scrap of paper. That was all there was to
the story--except that Edstrom had refrained from sending to MacKellar
for help, because he had felt sure they were all working to get the mine
open, and he did not feel he had the right to put his troubles upon
them.

Hal listened to the old man's feeble statements, and there came back to
him a surge of that fury which his North Valley experience had generated
in him. It was foolish, perhaps; for to knock down an old man who had
been making trouble was a comparatively slight exercise of the functions
of a mine-guard. But to Hal it seemed the most characteristic of all the
outrages he had seen; it was an expression of the company's utter
blindness to all that was best in life. This old man, who was so gentle,
so patient, who had suffered so much, and not learned to hate, who had
kept his faith so true! What did his faith mean to the thugs of the
General Fuel Company? What had his philosophy availed him, his
saintliness, his hopes for mankind? They had fetched him one swipe as
they passed him, and left him lying--alive or dead, it was all the same.

Hal had got some satisfaction out of his little adventure in widowhood,
and some out of Mary's self-victory; but there, listening to the old
man's whispered story, his satisfaction died. He realised again the grim
truth about his summer's experience--that the issue of it had been
defeat. Utter, unqualified defeat! He had caused the bosses a momentary
chagrin; but it would not take them many hours to realise that he had
really done them a service in calling off the strike for them. They
would start the wheels of industry again, and the workers would be just
where they had been before Joe Smith came to be stableman and buddy
among them. What was all the talk about solidarity, about hope for the
future; what would it amount to in the long run, the daily rolling of
the wheels of industry? The workers of North Valley would have exactly
the right they had always had--the right to be slaves, and if they did
not care for that, the right to be martyrs!

Mary sat holding the old man's hand and whispering words of passionate
sympathy, while Hal got up and paced the tiny attic, all ablaze with
anger. He resolved suddenly that he would not go back to Western City;
he would stay here, and get an honest lawyer to come, and set out to
punish the men who were guilty of this outrage. He would test out the
law to the limit; if necessary, he would begin a political fight, to put
an end to coal-company rule in this community. He would find some one to
write up these conditions, he would raise the money and publish a paper
to make them known! Before his surging wrath had spent itself, Hal
Warner had actually come out as a candidate for governor, and was
overturning the Republican machine--all because an unidentified
coal-company detective had knocked a dough-faced old miner into the
gutter and broken his arm!



SECTION 31.

In the end, of course, Hal had to come down to practical matters. He sat
by the bed and told the old man tactfully that his brother had come to
see him and had given him some money. This brother had plenty of money,
so Edstrom could be taken to the hospital; or, if he preferred, Mary
could stay near here and take care of him. They turned to the landlady,
who had been standing in the doorway; she had three boarders in her
little home, it seemed, but if Mary could share a bed with the
landlady's two children, they might make out. In spite of Hal's protest,
Mary accepted this offer; he saw what was in her mind--she would take
some of his money, because of old Edstrom's need, but she would take
just as little as she possibly could.

John Edstrom of course knew nothing of events since his injury, so Hal
told him the story briefly--though without mentioning the transformation
which had taken place in the miner's buddy. He told about the part Mary
had played in the strike; trying to entertain the poor old man, he told
how he had seen her mounted upon a snow-white horse, and wearing a robe
of white, soft and lustrous, like Joan of Arc, or the leader of a
suffrage parade.

"Sure," said Mary, "he's forever callin' attention to this old dress!"

Hal looked; she was wearing the same blue calico. "There's something
mysterious about that dress," said he. "It's one of those that you read
about in fairy-stories, that forever patch themselves, and keep
themselves new and starchy. A body only needs one dress like that!"

"Sure, lad," she answered. "There's no fairies in coal-camps--unless
'tis meself, that washes it at night, and dries it over the stove, and
irons it next mornin'."

She said this with unwavering cheerfulness; but even the old miner lying
in pain on the cot could realise the tragedy of a young girl's having
only one old dress in her love-hunting season. He looked at the young
couple, and saw their evident interest in each other; after the fashion
of the old, he was disposed to help along the romance. "She may need
some orange blossoms," he ventured, feebly.

"Go along with ye!" laughed Mary, still unwavering.

"Sure," put in Hal, with hasty gallantry, "'tis a blossom she is
herself! A rose in a mining-camp--and there's a dispute about her in the
poetry-books. One tells you to leave her on her stalk, and another says
to gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying!"

"Ye're mixin' me up," said Mary. "A while back I was ridin' on a white
horse."

"I remember," said Old Edstrom, "not so far back, you were an ant,
Mary."

Her face became grave. To jest about her personal tragedy was one thing,
to jest about the strike was another. "Yes, I remember. Ye said I'd stay
in the line! Ye were wiser than me, Mr. Edstrom."

"That's one of the things that come with being old, Mary." He moved his
gnarled old hand toward hers. "You're going on, now?" he asked. "You're
a unionist now, Mary?"

"I am that!" she answered, promptly, her grey eyes shining.

"There's a saying," said he--"once a striker, always a striker. Find a
way to get some education for yourself, Mary, and when the big strike
comes you'll be one of those the miners look to. I'll not be here, I
know--the young people must take my place."

"I'll do my part," she answered. Her voice was low; it was a kind of
benediction the old man was giving her.

The woman had gone downstairs to attend to her children; she came back
now to say that there was a gentleman at the door, who wanted to know
when his brother was coming. Hal remembered suddenly--Edward had been
pacing up and down all this while, with no company but a "hardware
drummer!" The younger brother's resolve to stay in Pedro had already
begun to weaken somewhat, and now it weakened still further; he realised
that life is complex, that duties conflict! He assured the old miner
again of his ability to see that he did not suffer from want, and then
he bade him farewell for a while.

He started out, and Mary went as far as the head of the stairway with
him. He took the girl's big, rough hand in his--this time with no one to
see. "Mary," he said, "I want you to know that nothing will make me
forget you; and nothing will make me forget the miners."

"Ah, Joe!" she cried. "Don't let them win ye away from us! We need ye so
bad!"

"I'm going back home for a while," he answered, "but you can be sure
that no matter what happens in my life, I'm going to fight for the
working people. When the big strike comes, as we know it's coming in
this coal-country, I'll be here to do my share."

"Sure lad," she said, looking him bravely in the eye, "and good-bye to
ye, Joe Smith." Her eyes did not waver; but Hal noted a catch in her
voice, and he found himself with an impulse to take her in his arms. It
was very puzzling. He knew he loved Jessie Arthur; he remembered the
question Mary had once asked him--could he be in love with two girls at
the same time? It was not in accord with any moral code that had been
impressed upon him, but apparently he could!



SECTION 32.

He went out to the street, where his brother was pacing up and down in a
ferment. The "hardware drummer" had made another effort to start a
conversation, and had been told to go to hell--no less!

"Well, are you through now?" Edward demanded, taking out his irritation
on Hal.

"Yes," replied the other. "I suppose so." He realised that Edward would
not be concerned about Edstrom's broken arm.

"Then, for God's sake, get some clothes on and let's have some food."

"All right," said Hal. But his answer was listless, and the other looked
at him sharply. Even by the moonlight Edward could see the lines in the
face of his younger brother, and the hollows around his eyes. For the
first time he realised how deeply these experiences were cutting into
the boy's soul. "You poor kid!" he exclaimed, with sudden feeling. But
Hal did not answer; he did not want sympathy, he did not want anything!

Edward made a gesture of despair. "God knows, I don't know what to do
for you!"

They started back to the hotel, and on the way Edward cast about in his
mind for a harmless subject of conversation. He mentioned that he had
foreseen the shutting up of the stores, and had purchased an outfit for
his brother. There was no need to thank him, he added grimly; he had no
intention of travelling to Western City in company with a hobo.

So the young miner had a bath, the first real one in a long time. (Never
again would it be possible for ladies to say in Hal Warner's presence
that the poor might at least keep clean!) He had a shave; he trimmed his
finger-nails, and brushed his hair, and dressed himself as a gentleman.
In spite of himself he found his cheerfulness partly restored. A strange
and wonderful sensation--to be dressed once more as a gentleman. He
thought of the saying of the old negro, who liked to stub his toe,
because it felt so good when it stopped hurting!

They went out to find a restaurant, and on the way one last misadventure
befell Edward. Hal saw an old miner walking past, and stopped with a
cry: "Mike!" He forgot all at once that he was a gentleman; the old
miner forgot it also. He stared for one bewildered moment, then he
rushed at Hal and seized him in the hug of a mountain grizzly.

"My buddy! My buddy!" he cried, and gave Hal a prodigious thump on the
back. "By Judas!" And he gave him a thump with the other hand. "Hey! you
old son-of-a-gun!" And he gave him a hairy kiss!

But in the very midst of these raptures it dawned over him that there
was something wrong about his buddy. He drew back, staring. "You got
good clothes! You got rich, hey?"

Evidently the old fellow had heard no rumour concerning Hal's secret.
"I've been doing pretty well," Hal said.

"What you work at, hey?"

"I been working at a strike in North Valley."

"What's that? You make money working at strike?"

Hal laughed, but did not explain. "What you working at?"

"I work at strike too--all alone strike."

"No job?"

"I work two days on railroad. Got busted track up there. Pay me
two-twenty-five a day. Then no more job."

"Have you tried the mines?"

"What? Me? They got me all right! I go up to San Jose. Pit-boss say,
'Get the hell out of here, you old groucher! You don't get no more jobs
in this district!'"

Hal looked Mike over, and saw that his dirty old face was drawn and
white, belying the feeble cheerfulness of his words. "We're going to
have something to eat," he said. "Won't you come with us?"

"Sure thing!" said Mike, with alacrity. "I go easy on grub now."

Hal introduced "Mr. Edward Warner," who said "How do you do?" He
accepted gingerly the calloused paw which the old Slovak held out to
him, but he could not keep the look of irritation from his face. His
patience was utterly exhausted. He had hoped to find a decent restaurant
and have some real food; but now, of course, he could not enjoy
anything, with this old gobbler in front of him.

They entered an all-night lunch-room, where Hal and Mike ordered
cheese-sandwiches and milk, and Edward sat and wondered at his brother's
ability to eat such food. Meantime the two cronies told each other their
stories, and Old Mike slapped his knee and cried out with delight over
Hal's exploits. "Oh, you buddy!" he exclaimed; then, to Edward, "Ain't
he a daisy, hey?" And he gave Edward a thump on the shoulder. "By Judas,
they don't beat my buddy!"

Mike Sikoria had last been seen by Hal from the window of the North
Valley jail, when he had been distributing the copies of Hal's
signature, and Bud Adams had taken him in charge. The mine-guard had
marched him into a shed in back of the power-house, where he had found
Kauser and Kalovac, two other fellows who had been arrested while
helping in the distribution.

Mike detailed the experience with his usual animation. "'Hey, Mister
Bud,' I say, 'if you going to send me down canyon, I want to get my
things.' 'You go to hell for your things,' says he. And then I say,
'Mister Bud, I want to get my time.' And he says, 'I give you plenty
time right here!' And he punch me and throw me over. Then he grab me up'
again and pull me outside, and I see big automobile waiting, and I say,
'Holy Judas! I get ride in automobile! Here I am, old fellow fifty-seven
years old, never been in automobile ride all my days. I think always I
die and never get in automobile ride!' We go down canyon, and I look
round and see them mountains, and feel nice cool wind in my face, and I
say, 'Bully for you, Mister Bud, I don't never forget this automobile. I
don't have such good time any day all my life.' And he say, 'Shut your
face, you old wop!' Then we come out on prairie, we go up in Black
Hills, and they stop, and say, 'Get out here, you sons o' guns.' And
they leave us there all alone. They say, 'You come back again, we catch
you and we rip the guts out of you!' They go away fast, and we got to
walk seven hours, us fellers, before we come to a house! But I don't
mind that, I begged some grub, and then I got job mending track; only I
don't find out if you get out of jail, and I think maybe I lose my buddy
and never see him no more."

Here the old man stopped, gazing affectionately at Hal. "I write you
letter to North Valley, but I don't hear nothing, and I got to walk all
the way on railroad track to look for you."

How was it? Hal wondered. He had encountered naked horror in this
coal-country--yet here he was, not entirely glad at the thought of
leaving it! He would miss Old Mike Sikoria, his hairy kiss and his
grizzly-bear hug!

He struck the old man dumb by pressing a twenty-dollar bill into his
hand. Also he gave him the address of Edstrom and Mary, and a note to
Johann Hartman, who might use him to work among the Slovaks who came
down into the town. Hal explained that he had to go back to Western City
that night, but that he would never forget his old friend, and would see
that he had a good job. He was trying to figure out some occupation for
the old man on his father's country-place. A pet grizzly!

Train-time came, and the long line of dark sleepers rolled in by the
depot-platform. It was late--after midnight; but, nevertheless, there
was Old Mike. He was in awe of Hal now, with his fine clothes and his
twenty-dollar bills; but, nevertheless, under stress of his emotion, he
gave him one more hug, and one more hairy kiss. "Good-bye, my buddy!" he
cried. "You come back, my buddy! I don't forget my buddy!" And when the
train began to move, he waved his ragged cap, and ran along the platform
to get a last glimpse, to call a last farewell. When Hal turned into the
car, it was with more than a trace of moisture in his eyes.




POSTSCRIPT


From previous experiences the writer has learned that many people,
reading a novel such as "King Coal," desire to be informed as to whether
it is true to fact. They write to ask if the book is meant to be so
taken; they ask for evidence to convince themselves and others. Having
answered thousands of such letters in the course of his life, it seems
to the author the part of common-sense to answer some of them in
advance.

"King Coal" is a picture of the life of the workers in unorganised
labour-camps in many parts of America, The writer has avoided naming a
definite place, for the reason that such conditions are to be found as
far apart as West Virginia, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, and Colorado.
Most of the details of his picture were gathered in the last-named
state, which the writer visited on three occasions during and just after
the great coal-strike of 1913-14. The book gives a true picture of
conditions and events observed by him at this time. Practically all the
characters are real persons, and every incident which has social
significance is not merely a true incident, but a typical one. The life
portrayed in "King Coal" is the life that is lived to-day by hundreds of
thousands of men, women and children in this "land of the free."

The reader who wishes evidence may be accommodated. There was never a
strike more investigated than the Colorado coal-strike. The material
about it in the writer's possession cannot be less than eight million
words, the greater part of it sworn testimony taken under government
supervision. There is, first, the report of the Congressional Committee,
a government document of three thousand closely printed pages, about two
million words; an equal amount of testimony given before the U. S.
Commission on Industrial Relations, also a government document; a
special report on the Colorado strike, prepared for the same commission,
a book of 189 pages, supporting every contention of this story; about
four hundred thousand words of testimony given before a committee
appointed at the suggestion of the Governor of Colorado; a report made
by the Rev. Henry A. Atkinson, who investigated the strike as
representative of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in
America, and of the Social Service Commission of the Congregational
Churches; the report of an elaborate investigation by the Colorado state
militia; the bulletins issued by both sides during the controversy; the
testimony given at various coroners' inquests; and, finally, articles by
different writers to be found in the files of _Everybody's Magazine_,
the _Metropolitan Magazine_, the _Survey_, _Harper's Weekly_, and
_Collier's Weekly_, all during the year 1914.

The writer prepared a collection of extracts from these various sources,
meaning to publish them in this place; but while the manuscript was in
the hands of the publishers, there appeared one document, which, in the
weight of its authority, seemed to discount all others. A decision was
rendered by the Supreme Court of the State of Colorado, in a case which
included the most fundamental of the many issues raised in "King Coal."
It is not often that the writer of a novel of contemporary life is so
fortunate as to have the truth of his work passed upon and established
by the highest judicial tribunal of the community!

In the elections of November, 1914, in Huerfano County, Colorado, J. B.
Farr, Republican candidate for re-election as sheriff, a person known
throughout the coal-country as "the King of Huerfano County," was
returned as elected by a majority of 329 votes. His rival, the
Democratic candidate, contested the election, alleging "malconduct,
fraud and corruption." The district court found in Farr's favour, and
the case was appealed on error to the Supreme Court of the State. On
June 21st, 1916, after Farr had served nearly the whole of his term of
office, the Supreme Court handed down a decision which unseated him and
the entire ticket elected with him, finding in favour of the opposition
ticket in all cases and upon all grounds charged.

The decision is long--about ten thousand words, and its legal
technicalities would not interest the reader. It will suffice to reprint
the essential paragraphs. The reader is asked to give these paragraphs
careful study, considering, not merely the specific offence denounced by
the court, but its wider implications. The offence was one so
unprecedented that the justices of the court, men chosen for their
learning in the history of offences, were moved to say: "We find no such
example of fraud within the books, and must seek the letter and spirit
of the law in a free government, as a scale in which to weigh such
conduct." And let it be noted, this "crime without a name" was not a
crime of passion, but of policy; it was a crime deliberately planned and
carried out by profit-seeking corporations of enormous power. Let the
reader imagine the psychology of the men of great wealth who ordered
this crime, as a means of keeping and increasing their wealth; let him
realise what must be the attitude of such men to their helpless workers;
and then let him ask himself whether there is any act portrayed in "King
Coal" which men of such character would shrink from ordering.

The Court decision first gives an outline of the case, using for the
most part the statements of the counsel for the defendant, Farr; so that
for practical purposes the following may be taken as the coal companies'
own account of their domain: "Round the shaft of each mine are clustered
the tipple, the mine office, the shops, sheds and outbuildings; and
huddled close by, within a stone's throw, cottages of the miners built
on the land of, and owned by, the mining company. All the dwellers in
the camp are employes of the mine. There is no other industry. This is
'the camp.' Of the eight 'closed camps' it appears that practically the
same conditions existed in all of them, and those conditions were in
general that members of the United Mine Workers of America, their
organisers or agitators, were prevented from coming into the camps, so
far as it was possible to keep them out, and to this end guards were
stationed about them. Of the eight 'closed camps' one of them, 'Walsen,'
was, and at the time of the trial still was, enclosed by a fence erected
at the beginning of the strike in October, 1913: Rouse and Cameron were
partly, but never entirely, enclosed by fences. It is admitted that all
persons entering these camps and precincts were required by the
companies to have passes, and it is contended that this was an
'industrial necessity.'"

The Court then goes on as follows:

"The Federal troops entered the district in May of 1914, and the
testimony is in agreement that no serious acts of violence occurred
thereafter, and that order was preserved up to and subsequent to the
election, and to the time of this trial.

"It was under this condition that in July, 1914, the Board of County
Commissioners changed certain of the election precincts so as to
constitute each of such camps an election precinct, and with but one
exception where a few ranches were included, these precincts were made
to conform to the fences and lines around each camp, protected by fences
in some instances and with armed guards in all cases. Thus each election
precinct by this unparalleled act of the commissioners was placed
exclusively within and upon the private grounds and under the private
control of a coal corporation, which autocratically declared who should
and who should not enter upon the territory of this political entity of
the state, so purposely bounded by the county commissioners.

"With but one exception all the lands and buildings within each of these
election precincts as so created, were owned or controlled by the coal
corporations; every person resident within such precincts was an employe
of these private corporations or their allied companies, with the single
exception: every judge, clerk or officer of election with the exception
of a saloon keeper, and partner of Farr, was an employe of the
coal-companies.

"The polling places were upon the grounds, and in the buildings of these
companies; the registration lists were kept within the private offices
or buildings of such companies, and used and treated as their private
property.

"Thus were the public election districts and the public election
machinery turned over to the absolute domination and imperial control of
private coal corporations, and used by them as absolutely and privately
as were their mines, to and for their own private purposes, and upon
which public territory no man might enter for either public or private
purpose, save and except by the express permission of these private
corporations.

"This right to determine who should enter such so called election
precincts, appears from the record to have been exercised as against all
classes; merchants, tradesmen or what not, and whether the business of
such person was public or private. Indeed, it appears that in one
instance the governor and adjutant general of the state while on
official business, were denied admission to one of these closed camps.
And that on the day of election, the Democratic watchers and challengers
for Walsen Mine precinct, one of which was Neelley, the Democratic
candidate for sheriff, were forced to seek and secure a detail of
Federal soldiers to escort them into the precinct and to the polls, and
that such soldiers remained as such guard during the day and a part of
the night....

"But if there was any doubt concerning the condition of the closed camps
and precincts, and the exclusion of representatives of the Democratic
party from discussing the issues of the campaign within the precincts
comprising the closed camps, it is entirely removed by the testimony of
the witness Weitzel, for contestee (Farr). He testified that he was a
resident of Pueblo, and was manager of the Colorado Fuel and Iron
Company; that Rouse, Lester, Ideal, Cameron, Walsen, Pictou and McNally
are camps under his jurisdiction. That he had general charge of the
camps and that there was no company official in Colorado superior to him
in this respect except the president; that the superintendent and other
employes are under his supervision; that the Federal troops came about
the 1st of May, 1914, and continued until January, 1915. That in all
those camps he tried to keep out the people who were antagonistic to the
company's interests; that it was private property and so treated by his
company; that through him the company and its officials assumed to
exercise authority as to who might or who might not enter; that if
persons could assure or satisfy the man at the gate, or the
superintendent that they were not connected with the United Mine
Workers, or in their employ as agitators, they were let into the camp.
That 'no one we were fighting against got in for social intercourse or
any other'; that he and officials under him assumed to pass upon the
question of whether or not any person coming there came for the purpose
of agitation. That Mr. Mitchell, the chairman of the Democratic
committee, as he recalled it, was identified with the agitators, ran a
newspaper and was connected either directly or indirectly with the
United Mine Workers; that Mr. Neelley, Democratic candidate for sheriff,
was identified with the strikers, and that he would be considered as an
objectionable character. That when the Federal troops came, they
restored peace and normal conditions; there was no rioting after that,
there was no fear on the part of the company when the Federal soldiers
were here, except fear of agitation. Asked if he guarded the camp
against discussion, against the espousal of the cause of the company, he
replied, 'We didn't encourage it.' The company would not encourage
organisers to come into the camp, no matter how peacefully they
conducted themselves; that the company did not permit men to come into
the camp to discuss with the employes certain principles, or to carry on
arguments with them or to appeal to their reason, or to discuss with
them things along reasonable lines, because it was known from experience
that if they were allowed to come in they would resort to threats of
violence. They might not resort to any violence at the time, but it
might result in the people becoming frightened and leaving, and they
were anxious to hold their employes. He was asked whether or not one had
business there depended upon the decision of the official in charge; he
replied that the superintendent probably would inquire of him what his
business was. That any one that Farr asked for a permit to enter the
camp would likely get it....

"There was but one attempt to hold a political meeting in the closed
precincts. Joseph Patterson, who attempted to hold this meeting,
testifies concerning it as follows:

"Was at a political meeting at Oakview. Had been a warm, personal friend
of Mr. Jones, the assistant superintendent of the Oakview mine, and had
written him a letter asking the courtesy of holding a political meeting.
On Saturday evening received a letter that he could hold such meeting.
On the day previous to the meeting witness received a 'phone message
from the assistant superintendent, in which the latter inquired whether
witness was coming up there to cause any trouble, and witness replied,
certainly not, and if the superintendent felt that way they would not
come. Had advised the superintendent that he and others were going to
hold a political meeting for the Democratic party. Jones, the
superintendent, stated that witness should come to the office that night
before he went to the school house for the purpose of the meeting; when
witness arrived at the meeting there were about six or eight English
speaking people and a dozen to fourteen Mexicans. The superintendent,
Mr. Morgan, and Mr. Price, were outside of the door most of the time.
Witness noticed that the first few fellows that came toward the school
house, the superintendent stopped and talked with them and they turned
back to the camp. This happened several times: as soon as they talked
with Morgan they turned back. After he saw that, witness went into the
school house and said that it was no use to hold any meeting; that it
seemed that nobody was allowed to come. This meeting was supposed to be
in a public school house on the company property. Had to get permission
from the superintendent of the Oakview mining Company to hold said
political meeting."....

"It appears that the number of registered voters in the closed precincts
was very largely in excess of the number of votes cast, and this of
itself was sufficient to demand an open and fair investigation as to the
qualifications of the alleged voters.

"It appears from the testimony that in these closed precincts many of
those who voted were unable to speak or read the English language, and
that in numerous instances, the election judges assisted such, by
marking the ballots for them in violation of the law. Again, it appears
that the ballots were printed so that.... (The decision here goes on to
explain in detail a device whereby the ballot was so printed that voting
could be controlled with the help of a card device.) Thus such voters
were not choosing candidates, but, under the direction of the companies,
were simply placing the cross where they found the particular letter R
on the ballot, so that the ballot was not an expression of opinion or
judgment, not an intelligent exercise of suffrage, but plainly a
dictated coal company vote, as much so as if the agents of these
companies had marked the ballots without the intervention of the voter.
No more fraudulent and infamous prostitution of the ballot is
conceivable....

"Counsel contend that the closed precincts were an 'industrial
necessity,' and for such reason the conduct of the coal companies during
the campaign was justified. However such conduct may be viewed when
confined to the private property of such corporations in their private
operation, the fact remains that there is no justification when they
were dealing with such territory after it had been dedicated to a public
use, and particularly involving the right of the people to exercise
their duties and powers as electors in a popular government.

"The fact appears that the members of the board of county commissioners
and all other county officers were Republicans, and as stated by counsel
for the contestees, the success of the Republican candidates was
considered by the coal companies, vital to their interests. The close
relationship of the coal companies and the Republican officials and
candidates appears to have been so marked both before and during the
campaign, as to justify the conclusion that such officers regarded their
duty to the coal companies as paramount to their duty to the public
service. To say that the closed precincts were not so created to suit
the convenience and interests of these corporations, or that they were
not so formed with the advice and consent of these corporations, is to
discredit human intelligence, and to deny human experience. The plain
purpose of the formation of the new precincts was that the coal
companies might have opportunity to conduct and control the elections
therein, just as such elections were conducted. The irresistible
conclusion is that these close precincts were so formed by the county
commissioners with the connivance of the representatives of the coal
companies, if not by their express command.

"There can be no free, open and fair election as contemplated by the
constitution, where private industrial corporations so throttle public
opinion, deny the free exercise of choice by sovereign electors, dictate
and control all election officers, prohibit public discussion of public
questions, and imperially command what citizens may and what citizens
may not, peacefully and for lawful purposes, enter upon election or
public territory....

"We find no such example of fraud within the books, and must seek the
letter and spirit of the law in a free government, as a scale in which
to weigh such conduct....

"The denial of the right of peaceful assemblage, can have been for no
other purpose than to influence the election. There was no disturbance
in any of these precincts after they were created, up to the time of the
election, and up to the time of this trial. The Federal troops were
present at all times to preserve the peace and to protect life and
property. There was no reason to anticipate any disturbance. Therefore
this bold denial was an inexcusable and corrupt violation of the natural
and inalienable rights of the citizens.

"The defence relies not upon conflicting evidence, but upon the
contention that the conduct of the election was justified as an
'industrial necessity.'

"We have heard much in this state in recent years as to the denial of
inherent and constitutional rights of citizens being justified by
'military necessity,' but this we believe is the first time in our
experience when the violation of the fundamental rights of freemen has
been attempted to be justified by the plea of 'industrial necessity.'

"Even if we were to concede that there may be some palliation in the
plea of military necessity on the theory that such acts purport to be
acts of the government itself, through its military arm and with the
purpose of preserving the public peace and safety: yet that a private
corporation, with its privately armed forces, may violate the most
sacred right of the citizenship of the state and find lawful excuse in
the plea of private 'industrial necessity' savours too much of anarchy
to find approval by courts of justice.

"This case clearly comes within another exception to the rule, in that
it is plain that the findings were influenced by the bias and prejudice
of the trial judge.

"A careful reading of the record discloses the rejection by the court of
so much palpably pertinent and competent testimony offered by the
contestors, as to force the conclusion that the trial judge was
influenced by bias and prejudice, to the extent at least, charged in the
application for a change of venue, and sufficient in itself to justify a
reversal of judgment....

"For the foregoing reasons the judgment of the court in each case before
us, is reversed, and the entire poll in the said precincts of
Niggerhead, Ravenwood, Walsen Mine, Oakview, Pryor, Rouse and Cameron is
annulled, and held for naught, and the election in each of said
precincts is hereby set aside. This leaves a substantial and
unquestioned majority for each of the contestors in the county, and
which entitles each contestor to be declared elected to the office for
which he was a candidate.

"We find further, that J. B. Farr, the defendant in error, was not and
is not the duly elected sheriff of Huerfano county, and that E. L.
Neelley, the plaintiff in error, was and is the duly elected sheriff of
said county. It is therefore ordered that the said county, and that the
said E. L. Neelley, immediately and upon qualification as required by
law, enter and discharge the duties of the said office of sheriff of
Huerfano county...."

So much for the court opinion upon coal-camp politics. In relation
thereto, the writer has only one comment to offer. Let the reader not
drop the matter with the idea that because one set of corrupt officials
have been turned out of office in one American county, therefore justice
has been vindicated, and there is no longer need to be concerned about
the conditions portrayed in "King Coal." The defeat of the "King of
Huerfano County" is but one step in a long road which the miners of
Colorado have to travel if ever they are to be free men. The industrial
power of the great corporations remains untouched by this decision; and
this power is greater than any political power ever wielded by the
government of Huerfano County, or even of the state of Colorado. This
industrial power is a deep, far-spreading root; and so long as it is
allowed to thrive, it will send up again and again the poisonous plant
of political "malconduct, fraud and corruption." The citizens and
workers of such industrial communities, whether in Colorado, in West
Virginia, Alabama, Michigan or Minnesota, in the Chicago stock-yards,
the steel-mills of Pittsburg, the woollen-mills of Lawrence or the
silk-mills of Paterson, will find that they have neither peace nor
freedom, until they have abolished the system of production for profit,
and established in the field of industry what they are supposed to have
already in the field of politics--a government of the people, by the
people, for the people.

NOTE: On the day that the author finished the reading of the proofs of
"King Coal," the following item appeared in his daily newspaper:

COLORADO MINE WORKERS ASK LEAVE TO STRIKE

[BY A. P. NIGHT WIRE]

DENVER (Colo.), June 14.--Officers of the United Mine Workers
representing members of that organisation employed by the Colorado Fuel
and Iron Company, have telegraphed their national officers asking
permission to strike.

At the morning session a resolution was adopted expressing
disapprobation of the action of J. F. Welborn, president of the fuel
company, for failure to attend the meeting, which was a part of the
"peace programme" to prevent industrial differences in the State during
the war.

The grievances of the men, according to John McLennan, spokesman for
them, centre about the operation of the so-called "Rockefeller plan" at
the mines. McLennan said the failure of Mr. Welborn to attend the
meeting and discuss these grievances with the men precipitated the
strike agitation.

THE END





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