Helen of the Old House
by Harold Bell Wright
HELEN OF THE OLD HOUSE
BY HAROLD BELL WRIGHT
BOOK I. THE
CHAPTER I. THE
HUT ON THE CLIFF
CHAPTER III. THE
PETER MARTIN AT
CHAPTER V. ADAM
CHAPTER VI. ON
THE OLD ROAD
CHAPTER VII. THE
WHILE THE PEOPLE
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER XII. TWO
SIDES OF A
BOOK II THE TWO
CHAPTER XIV. THE
CHAPTER XV. AT
THE OLD HOUSE
CHAPTER XVI. HER
CHAPTER XVII. IN
BOOK III. THE
ADAM WARD'S WORK
CHAPTER XX. THE
CHAPTER XXIII. A
CHAPTER XXVI. AT
THE CALL OF THE
THE MOB AND THE
BOOK IV. THE OLD
“JEST LIKE THE
BOOK I. THE INTERPRETER
“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
CHAPTER I. THE HUT ON THE CLIFF
No well informed resident of Millsburgh, when referring to the
principal industry of his little manufacturing city, ever says “the
mills”—it is always “the Mill.”
The reason for this common habit of mind is that one mill so
overshadows all others, and so dominates the industrial and civic life
of this community, that in the people's thought it stands for all.
The philosopher who keeps the cigar stand on the corner of Congress
Street and Ward Avenue explained it very clearly when he answered an
inquiring stranger, “You just can't think Millsburgh without thinkin'
mills; an' you can't think mills without thinkin' the Mill.”
As he turned from the cash register to throw his customer's change
on the scratched top of the glass show case, the philosopher added with
a grin that was a curious blend of admiration, contempt and envy, “An'
you just can't think the Mill without thinkin' Adam Ward.”
That grin was another distinguishing mark of the well informed
resident of Millsburgh. Always, in those days, when the citizens
mentioned the owner of the Mill, their faces took on that curious
half-laughing expression of mingled admiration, contempt and envy.
But it has come to pass that in these days when the people speak of
Adam Ward they do not smile. When they speak of Adam Ward's daughter,
Helen, they smile, indeed, but with quite a different meaning.
The history of Millsburgh is not essentially different from that of
a thousand other cities of its class.
Born of the natural resources of the hills and forests, the first
rude mill was located on that wide sweeping bend of the river. About
this industrial beginning a settlement gathered. As the farm lands of
the valley were developed, the railroad came, bringing more mills. And
so the town grew up around its smoky heart.
It was in those earlier days that Adam Ward, a workman then,
patented and introduced the new process. It was the new process,
together with its owner's native genius for “getting on,” that, in
time, made Adam the owner of the Mill. And, finally, it was this
combination of Adam and the new process that gave this one mill
dominion over all others.
As the Mill increased in size, importance and power, and the town
grew into the city, Adam Ward's material possessions were multiplied
Then came the year of this story.
It was midsummer. The green, wooded hills that form the southern
boundary of the valley seemed to be painted on shimmering gauze. The
grainfields on the lowlands across the river were shining gold. But the
slate-colored dust from the unpaved streets of that section of
Millsburgh known locally as the “Flats” covered the wretched houses,
the dilapidated fences, the hovels and shanties, and everything animate
or inanimate with a thick coating of dingy gray powder. Shut in as it
is between a long curving line of cliffs on the south and a row of tall
buildings on the river bank, the place was untouched by the refreshing
breeze that stirred the trees on the hillside above. The hot,
dust-filled atmosphere was vibrant with the dull, droning voice of the
Mill. From the forest of tall stacks the smoke went up in slow,
twisting columns to stain the clean blue sky with a heavy cloud of
The deep-toned whistle of the Mill had barely called the workmen
from their dinner pails and baskets when two children came along the
road that for some distance follows close to the base of that high wall
of cliffs. By their ragged, nondescript clothing which, to say the
least, was scant enough to afford them comfort and freedom of limb, and
by the dirt, that covered them from the crowns of their bare, unkempt
heads to the bottoms of their bare, unwashed feet, it was easy to
identify the children as belonging to that untidy community.
One was a sturdy boy of eight or nine neglected years. On his rather
heavy, freckled face and in his sharp blue eyes there was, already, a
look of hardness that is not good to see in the countenance of a child.
The other, his sister, was two years younger—a thin wisp of a girl,
with tiny stooping shoulders, as though, even in her babyhood, she had
found a burden too heavy. With her tired little face and grave,
questioning eyes she looked at the world as if she were wondering,
wistfully, why it should bother to be so unkind to such a helpless mite
As they came down the worn road, side by side they chose with
experienced care those wheel ruts where the black dust lay thickest
and, in solemn earnestness, plowed the hot tracks with their bare feet,
as if their one mission in life were to add the largest possible cloud
of powdered dirt to the already murky atmosphere of the vicinity.
Suddenly they stood still.
For a long, silent moment they gazed at a rickety old wooden
stairway that, at this point in the unbroken line of cliffs, climbs
zigzag up the face of the rock-buttressed wall. Then, as if moved by a
common impulse, they faced each other. The quick fire of adventure
kindled in the eyes of the boy as he met the girl's look of
“Let's go up—stump yer,” he said, with a daredevil grin.
“Huh, yer wouldn't dast.”
Womanlike, she was hoping that he would “dast” and, with the true
instinct of her sex, she chose unerringly the one way to bring about
the realization of her hope.
Her companion met the challenge like a man. With a swaggering show
of courage, he went to the stairway and climbed boldly up—six full
steps. Then he paused and looked down, “I don't dast, don't I?”
From the lower step she spurred his faltering spirit, “Dare
yer—dare yer—dare yer.”
He came reluctantly down two steps, “Will yer go up if I do?”
She nodded, “Uh-huh—but yer gotter go first.”
He looked doubtfully up at the edge of the cliff so far above them.
“Shucks,” he said, with conviction, “ain't nobody up there 'cept old
Interpreter, an' that dummy, Billy Rand. I know 'cause Skinny Davis an'
Chuck Wilson, they told me. They was up—old Interpreter, he can't do
nothin' to nobody—he ain't got no legs.”
Gravely she considered with him the possible dangers of the proposed
adventure. “Billy Rand has got legs.”
“He can't hear nothin', though—can't talk neither,” said the leader
of the expedition. “An' besides maybe he ain't there—we might catch
him out. What d'yer say? Will we chance it?”
She looked up doubtfully toward the unknown land above. “I dunno,
“Skinny an' Chuck, they said the Interpreter give 'em cookies—an'
told 'em stories too.”
“Cookies, Gee! Go ahead—I'm a-comin'.”
That tiny house high on the cliff at the head of the old, zigzag
stairway, up which the children now climbed with many doubtful stops
and questioning fears, is a landmark of interest not only to Millsburgh
but to the country people for miles around.
Perched on the perilous brink of that curving wall of rocks, with
its low, irregular, patched and weather-beaten roof, and its
rough-boarded and storm-beaten walls half hidden in a tangle of vines
and bushes, the little hut looks, from a distance, as though it might
once have been the strange habitation of some gigantic winged creature
of prehistoric ages. The place may be reached from a seldom-used road
that leads along the steep hillside, a quarter of a mile back from the
edge of the precipice, but the principal connecting link between the
queer habitation and the world is that flight of rickety wooden steps.
Taking advantage of an irregularity in the line of cliffs, the upper
landing of the stairway is placed at the side of the hut. In the rear,
a small garden is protected from the uncultivated life of the hillside
by a fence of close-set pickets. Across the front of the curious
structure, well out on the projecting point of rocks, and reached only
through the interior, a wide, strongly railed porch overhangs the sheer
wall like a balcony.
With fast-beating hearts, the two small adventurers gained the top
of the stairway. Cautiously they looked about—listening, conferring in
whispers, ready for instant, headlong retreat.
The tall grasses and flowering weeds on the hillside nodded sleepily
in the sunlight. A bird perched on a near-by bush watched them with
bright eyes for a moment, then fearlessly sought the shade of the vines
that screened the side of the hut. Save the distant, droning, moaning
voice of the Mill, there was no sound.
Calling up the last reserves of their courage, the children crept
softly along the board walk that connects the landing of the stairway
with the rude dwelling. Once again they paused to look and listen.
Then, timidly, they took the last cautious steps and stood in the open
doorway. With big, wondering eyes they stared into the room.
It was a rather large room, with a low-beamed ceiling of unfinished
pine boards and gray, rough-plastered walls, and wide windows. A
green-shaded student lamp with a pile of magazines and papers on the
table caught their curious eyes, and they gazed in awe at the long
shelves of books against the wall. Opposite the entrance where they
stood they saw a strongly made workbench. And beneath this bench and
piled in that corner of the room were baskets—dozens of them—of
several shapes and sizes; while brackets and shelves above were filled
with the materials of which the baskets were woven. There was very
little furniture. The floors were bare, the windows without hangings.
It was all so different from anything that these children of the Flats
had ever seen that they felt their adventure assuming proportions.
For what seemed a long time, the boy and the girl stood there,
hesitating, on the threshold, expecting something—anything—to happen.
Then the lad ventured a bold step or two into the room. His sister
They were facing hungrily toward an open door that led, evidently,
to the kitchen, when a deep voice from somewhere behind them said, “How
do you do?”
Startled nearly out of their small wits, the adventurers whirled to
escape, but the voice halted them with, “Don't go. You came to see me,
The voice, though so deep and strong, was unmistakably kind and
gentle—quite the gentlest voice, in fact, that these children had ever
Hesitatingly, they went again into the room, and now, turning their
backs upon the culinary end of the apartment, they saw, through the
doorway opening on to the balcony porch, a man seated in a wheel chair.
In his lap he held a half-finished basket.
For a little while the man regarded them with grave, smiling eyes as
though, understanding their fears, he would give them time to gain
courage. Then he said, gently, “Won't you come out here on the porch
and visit with me?”
The boy and the girl exchanged questioning looks.
“Come on,” said the man, encouragingly.
Perhaps the sight of that wheel chair recalled to the boy's mind the
reports of his friends, Skinny and Chuck. Perhaps it was something in
the man himself that appealed to the unerring instincts of the child.
The doubt and hesitation in the urchin's freckled face suddenly gave
way to a look of reckless daring and he marched forward with the
swaggering air of an infant bravado. Shyly the little girl followed.
Invariably one's first impression of that man in the wheel chair was
a thought of the tremendous physical strength and vitality that must
once have been his. But the great trunk, with its mighty shoulders and
massive arms, that in the years past had marked him in the multitude,
was little more than a framework now. His head with its silvery white
hair and beard—save that in his countenance there was a look of more
venerable age—reminded one of the sculptor Rodin. These details of the
man's physical appearance held one's thoughts but for a moment. One
look into the calm depths of those dark eyes that were filled with such
an indescribable mingling of pathetic courage, of patient fortitude,
and of sorrowful authority, and one so instantly felt the dominant
spiritual and mental personality of this man that all else about him
Squaring himself before his host, the boy said, aggressively, “I
know who yer are. Yer are the Interpreter. I know 'cause yer
ain't got no legs.”
“Yes,” returned the old basket maker, still smiling, “I am the
Interpreter. At least,” he continued, “that is what the people call
me.” Then, as he regarded the general appearance of the children, and
noted particularly the tired face and pathetic eyes of the little girl,
his smile was lost in a look of brooding sorrow and his deep voice was
sad and gentle, as he added, “But some things I find very hard to
The girl, with a shy smile, went a little nearer.
The boy, with his eyes fixed upon the covering that in spite of the
heat of the day hid the man in the wheel chair from his waist down,
said with the cruel insistency of childhood, “Ain't yer got no
legs—honest, now, ain't yer?”
The Interpreter laughed understandingly. Placing the unfinished
basket on a low table that held his tools and the material for his work
within reach of his hand, he threw aside the light shawl. “See!” he
For a moment the children gazed, breathlessly, at those shrunken and
twisted limbs that resembled the limbs of a strong man no more than the
empty, flapping sleeves of a scarecrow resemble the arms of a living
“They are legs all right,” said the Interpreter, still smiling, “but
they're not much good, are they? Do you think you could beat me in a
“Gee!” exclaimed the boy.
Two bright tears rolled down the thin, dirty cheeks of the little
girl's tired face, and she turned to look away over the dirty Flats,
the smoke-grimed mills, and the golden fields of grain in the sunshiny
valley, to something that she seemed to see in the far distant sky.
With a quick movement the Interpreter again hid his useless limbs.
“And now don't you think you might tell me about yourselves? What is
your name, my boy?”
“I'm Bobby Whaley,” answered the lad. “She's my sister, Maggie.”
“Oh, yes,” said the Interpreter. “Your father is Sam Whaley. He
works in the Mill.”
“Uh-huh, some of the time he works—when there ain't no strikes ner
The Interpreter, with his eyes on that dark cloud that hung above
the forest of grim stacks, appeared to attach rather more importance to
Bobby's reply than the lad's simple words would justify.
Then, looking gravely at Sam Whaley's son, he said, “And you will
work in the Mill, too, I suppose, when you grow up?”
“I dunno,” returned the boy. “I ain't much stuck on work. An' dad,
he says it don't git yer nothin', nohow.”
“I see,” mused the Interpreter, and he seemed to see much more than
lay on the surface of the child's characteristic expression.
The little girl was still gazing wistfully at the faraway line of
As if struck by a sudden thought, the Interpreter asked, “Your
father is working now, though, isn't he?”
“Uh-huh, just now he is.”
“I suppose then you are not hungry.”
At this wee Maggie turned quickly from contemplating the distant
horizon to consider the possible meaning in the man's remark.
For a moment the children looked at each other. Then, as a grin of
anticipation spread itself over his freckled face, the boy exclaimed,
“Hungry! Gosh! Mister Interpreter, we're allus hungry!”
For the first time the little girl spoke, in a thin, piping voice,
“Skinny an' Chuck, they said yer give 'em cookies. Didn't they, Bobby?”
“Uh-huh,” agreed Bobby, hopefully.
The man in the wheel chair laughed. “If you go into the house and
look in the bottom part of that cupboard near the kitchen door you will
find a big jar and—”
But Bobby and Maggie had disappeared.
The children had found the jar in the cupboard and, with their hands
and their mouths filled with cookies, were gazing at each other in
unbelieving wonder when the sound of a step on the bare floor of the
kitchen startled them. One look through the open doorway and they fled
with headlong haste back to the porch, where they unhesitatingly sought
refuge behind their friend ha the wheel chair.
The object of their fears appeared a short moment behind them.
“Oh,” said the Interpreter, reaching out to draw little Maggie
within the protecting circle of his arm, “it is Billy Rand. You don't
need to fear Billy.”
The man who stood looking kindly down upon them was fully as tall
and heavy as the Interpreter had been in those years before the
accident that condemned him to his chair. But Billy Rand lacked the
commanding presence that had once so distinguished his older friend and
guardian. His age was somewhere between twenty and thirty; but his face
was still the face of an overgrown and rather slow-witted child.
Raising his hands, Billy Rand talked to the Interpreter in the sign
language of the deaf and dumb. The Interpreter replied in the same
manner and, with a smiling nod to the children, Billy returned to the
garden in the rear of the house.
Tiny Maggie's eyes were big with wonder.
“Gee!” breathed Bobby. “He sure enough can't talk, can he?”
“No,” returned the Interpreter. “Poor Billy has never spoken a
“Gee!” said Bobby again. “An' can't he hear nothin,' neither?”
“No, Bobby, he has never heard a sound.”
Too awe-stricken even to repeat his favorite exclamation, the boy
munched his cooky in silence, while Maggie, enjoying her share of the
old basket maker's hospitality, snuggled a little closer to the wheel
of the big chair.
“Billy Rand, you see,” explained the Interpreter, “is my legs.”
Bobby laughed. “Funny legs, I'd say.”
“Yes,” agreed the Interpreter, “but very good legs just the same.
Billy runs all sorts of errands for me—goes to town to sell our
baskets and to bring home our groceries, helps about the house and does
many things that I can't do. He is hoeing the garden this afternoon. He
comes in every once in a while to ask if I want anything. He sleeps in
a little room next to mine and sometimes in the night, when I am not
resting well, I hear him come to my bedside to see if I am all right.”
“An' yer keep him an' take care of him?” asked Bobby.
“Yes,” returned the Interpreter, “I take care of Billy and Billy
takes care of me. He has fine legs but not much of a—but cannot speak
or hear. I can talk and hear and think but have no legs. So with my
reasonably good head and his very good legs we make a fairly good man,
Bobby laughed aloud and even wee Maggie chuckled at the
Interpreter's quaint explanation of himself and Billy Rand.
“Funny kind of a man,” said Bobby.
“Yes,” agreed the Interpreter, “but most of us men are funny in one
way or another—aren't we, Maggie?” He looked down into the upturned
face of that tiny wisp of humanity at his side.
Maggie smiled gravely in answer.
Very confident now in his superiority over the Interpreter, whose
deaf and dumb legs were safely out of sight in the garden back of the
house, Bobby finished the last of his cookies, and began to explore.
Accompanying his investigations with a running fire of questions, he
fingered the unfinished basket and the tools and material on the table,
examined the wheel chair, and went from end to end of the balcony
porch. Hanging over the railing, he looked down from every possible
angle upon the rocks, the stairway and the dusty road below.
Exhausting, at last, the possibilities of the immediate vicinity, he
turned his inquiring gaze upon the more distant landscape.
“Gee! Yer can see a lot from here, can't yer?”
“Yes,” returned the Interpreter, gravely, “you can certainly see a
lot. And do you know, Bobby, it is strange, but what you see depends
almost wholly on what you are?”
The boy turned his freckled face toward the Interpreter. “Huh?”
“I mean,” explained the Interpreter, “that different people see
different things. Some who come to visit me can see nothing but the
Mill over there; some see only the Flats down below; others see the
stores and offices; others look at nothing but the different houses on
the hillsides; still others can see nothing but the farms. It is funny,
but that's the way it is with people, Bobby.”
“Aw—what are yer givin' us?” returned Bobby, and, with an
unmistakably superior air, he faced again toward the scene before them.
“I can see the whole darned thing—I can.”
The Interpreter laughed. “And that,” he said, “is exactly what every
one says, Bobby. But, after all, they don't see the whole darned
thing—they only think they do.”
“Huh,” retorted the boy, scornfully, “I guess I can see the Mill,
can't I?—over there by the river—with the smoke a-rollin' out of her
chimneys? Listen, I can hear her, too.”
Faintly, on a passing breath of air, came the heavy droning, moaning
voice of the Mill.
“Yes,” agreed the Interpreter, with an odd note in his deep, kindly
voice, “I can nearly always hear it. I was sure you would see the
“An' look-ee, look-ee,” shouted the boy, forgetting, in his quick
excitement, to maintain this superior air, “look-ee, Mag! Come here,
quick.” With energetic gestures he beckoned his sister to his side.
“Look-ee, right over there by that bunch of dust, see? It's our
house—where we live. That there's Tony's old place on the corner. An'
there's the lot where us kids plays ball. Gee, yer could almost see mom
if she'd only come outside to talk to Missus Grafton er somethin'!”
From his wheel chair the Interpreter watched the children at the
porch railing. “Of course you would see your home,” he said, gravely.
“The Mill first, and then the place where you live. Nearly every one
sees those things first. Now tell what else you see.”
“I see, I see—” The boy hesitated. There was so much to be seen
from the Interpreter's balcony porch.
The little girl's thin voice piped up with shrill eagerness, “Look
at the pretty yeller fields an' the green trees away over there across
the river, Bobby. Gee, but wouldn't yer just love to be over there
an'—an'—roll 'round in the grass, an' pick flowers, an' everything?”
“Huh,” retorted Bobby. “Look-ee, that there's McIver's factory up
the river there. It's 'most as big as the Mill. An' see all the stores
an' barber shops an' things downtown—an' look-ee, there's the
courthouse where the jail is an'—”
Maggie chimed in with, “An' all the steeples of the churches—an'
“An' right down there,” continued the boy, pointing more toward the
east where, at the edge of the Flats, the ground begins to rise toward
the higher slope of the hills, “in that there bunch of trees is where
Pete Martin lives, an' Mary an' Captain Charlie. Look-ee, Mag, yer can
see the little white house a-showin' through the green leaves.”
“You know the Martins, do you?” asked the Interpreter.
“You bet we do,” returned Bobby, without taking his gaze from the
scene before him, while Maggie confirmed her brother's words by turning
to look shyly at her new-found friend. “Pete and Charlie they work in
the Mill. Charlie he was a captain in the war. He's one of the head
guys in our union now. Mary she used to give us stuff to eat when dad
was a-strikin' the last time.”
“An' look-ee,” continued the boy, “right there next to the Martins'
yer can see the old house where Adam Ward used to live before the Mill
made him rich an' he moved to his big place up on the hill. I know
'cause I heard dad an' another man talkin' 'bout it onct. Ain't nobody
lives in the old house now. She's all tumbled down with windows broke
an' everything. I wonder—” He paused to search the hillside to the
east. “Yep,” he shouted, pointing, “there she is—there's the
castle—there's where old Adam an' his folks lives now. Some place to
live I'd say. Gee, but wouldn't I like to put a chunk o' danermite er
somethin' under there! I'd blow the whole darned thing into nothin' at
all an that old devil Adam with it. I'd—”
Little Maggie caught her warlike brother's arm. “But, Bobby—Bobby,
yer wouldn't dast to do that, yer know yer wouldn't!”
“Huh,” returned the boy, scornfully. “I'd show yer if I had a
“But, Bobby, yer'd maybe kill the beautiful princess lady if yer was
to blow up the castle an' every-thin'.”
“Aw shucks,” returned the boy, shaking off his sister's hand with
manly impatience. “Couldn't I wait 'til she was away somewheres else
'fore I touched it off? An', anyway, what if yer wonderful princess
lady was to git hurt, I guess she's one of 'em, ain't she?”
Poor Maggie, almost in tears, was considering this doubtful
reassurance when Bobby suddenly pointed again toward that pretentious
estate on the hillside, and cried in quick excitement: “Look-ee, Mag,
there's a autermobile a-comin' out from the castle, right now—see?
She's a-goin' down the hill toward town. Who'll yer bet it is? Old Adam
Ward his-self, heh?”
Little Maggie's face brightened joyously. “Maybe it's the princess
“And who is this that you call the princess lady, Maggie?” asked the
Bobby answered for his sister. “Aw, she means old Adam's daughter.
She's allus a-callin' her that an' a-makin' up stories about her.”
“Oh, so you know Miss Helen Ward, too, do you?” The Interpreter was
The boy turned his back on the landscape as though it held nothing
more of interest to him. “Naw, we've just seen her, that's all.”
Stealing timidly back to the side of the wheel chair, the little
girl looked wistfully up into the Interpreter's face. “Do yer—do yer
know the princess lady what lives in the castle?” she asked.
The old basket maker, smiling down at her, answered, “Yes, dear, I
have known your princess lady ever since she was a tiny baby—much
smaller than you. And did you know, Maggie, that she was born in the
old house down there, next door to Charlie and Mary Martin?”
“An'—an' did she live there when she was—when she was as big as
Bobby interrupted with an important “Huh, I know her brother John is
a boss in the Mill. He was in the war, too, with Captain Charlie. Did
he live in the old house when he was a kid?”
“An'—an' when the princess lady was little like me, an' lived in
the old house, did yer play with her?” asked Maggie.
The Interpreter laughed softly. “Yes, indeed, often. You see I
worked in the Mill, too, in those days, Maggie, with her father and
Peter Martin and—”
“That was when yer had yer real, sure-nuff legs, wasn't it?” the boy
“Yes, Bobby. And every Sunday, almost, I used to be at the old house
where the little princess lady lived, or at the Martin home next door,
and Helen and John and Charlie and Mary and I would always have such
good times together.”
Little Maggie's face shone with appreciative interest. “An' did yer
tell them fairy stories sometimes?”
The little girl sighed and tried to get still closer to the man in
the wheel chair. “I like fairies, don't yer?”
“Indeed, I do,” he answered heartily.
“Skinny and Chuck, they said yer tol' them stories, too.”
The Interpreter laughed quietly. “I expect perhaps I did.”
“I don't suppose yer know any fairy stories right now, do yer?”
“Let me see,” said the Interpreter, seeming to think very hard.
“Why, yes, I believe I do know one. It starts out like this: Once upon
a time there was a most beautiful princess, just like your princess
lady, who lived in a most wonderful palace. Isn't that the way for a
fairy story to begin?”
“Uh-huh, that's the way. An' then what happened?”
With a great show of indifference the boy drew near and stretched
himself on the floor on the other side of the old basket maker's chair.
“Well, this beautiful princess in the story, perhaps because she was
so beautiful herself, loved more than anything else in all the world to
have lots and lots of jewels. You know what jewels are, don't you?”
“Uh-huh, the princess lady she has 'em—heaps of 'em. I seen her
onct close, when she was a-gettin' into her autermobile, in front of
one of them big stores.”
“Well,” continued the story-teller, “it was strange, but with all
her diamonds and pearls and rubies and things there was one
jewel that the princess did not have. And, of course, she wanted
that one particular gem more than all the others. That is the way it
almost always is, you know.”
“Huh,” grunted Bobby.
“What was that there jewel she wanted?” asked Maggie.
“It was called the jewel of happiness,” answered the Interpreter,
“because whoever possessed it was sure to be always as happy as happy
could be. And so, you see, because she did not have that particular
jewel the princess did not have as good times as such a beautiful
princess, living in such a wonderful palace, with so many lovely
things, really ought to have.
“But because this princess' heart was kind, a fairy appeared to her
one night, and told her that if she would go down to the shore of the
great sea that was not far from the castle, and look carefully among
the rocks and in the sand and dirt, she would find the jewel of
happiness. Then the fairy disappeared—poof! just like that.”
Little Maggie squirmed with thrills of delight. “Some story, I'd
say. An' then what happened?”
“Why, of course, the very next day the princess went to walk on the
seashore, just as the fairy had told her. And, sure enough, among the
rocks and in the sand and dirt, she found hundreds and hundreds of
bright, shiny jewels. And she picked them up, and picked them up, and
picked them up, until she just couldn't carry another one. Then she
began to throw away the smaller ones that she had picked up at first,
and to hunt for larger ones to take instead. And then, all at once,
right there beside her, was a poor, ragged and crooked old woman, and
the old woman was picking up the ugly, dirt-colored pebbles that the
princess would not touch.
“'What are you doing, mother?' asked the beautiful princess, whose
heart was kind.
“And the crooked old woman answered, 'I am gathering jewels of
happiness on the shore of the sea of life.'
“'But those ugly, dirty pebbles are not jewels, mother,' said the
lady. 'See, these are the jewels of happiness.' And she showed the
poor, ignorant old woman the bright, shiny stones that she had
“And the crooked old crone looked at the princess and laughed—a
curious, creepy, crawly, crooked laugh.
“Then the old woman offered to the princess one of the ugly,
dirt-colored pebbles that she had gathered. 'Take this, my dear,' she
croaked, 'and wear it, and you shall see that I am right—that this is
the jewel of happiness.'
“Now the beautiful princess did not want to wear that ugly,
dirt-colored stone—no princess would, you know. But, nevertheless,
because her heart was kind and she saw that the poor, crooked old woman
would feel very bad if her gift was not accepted, she took the dull,
common pebble and put it with the bright, shiny jewels that she had
“And that very night the fairy appeared to the princess again.
“'Did you do as I told you?' the fairy asked. 'Did you look for the
jewel of happiness on the shore of the sea of life?'
“'Oh, yes,' cried the princess. 'And see what a world of lovely ones
“The fairy looked at all the pretty, shiny stones that the princess
had gathered. 'And what is this?' the fairy asked, pointing to the
ugly, dirt-colored pebble.
“'Oh, that,' replied the princess, hanging her head in
embarrassment,—'that is nothing but a worthless pebble. A poor old
woman gave it to me to wear because she thinks it is beautiful.'
“'But you will not wear the ugly thing, will you?' asked the fairy.
'Think how every one would point at you, and laugh, and call you
strange and foolish.'
“'I know,' answered the princess, sadly, 'but I must wear it because
I promised, and because if I did not and the poor old lady should see
me without it, she would be so very, very unhappy.'
“And, would you believe it, no sooner had the beautiful princess
said those words than the fairy disappeared—poof! just like that! And
right there, on the identical spot where she had been, was that old
ragged and crooked woman.
“'Oh!' cried the princess.
“And the old woman laughed her curious, creepy, crawly, crooked
laugh. 'Don't be afraid, my dear,' she said, 'you shall have your jewel
of happiness. But look!' She pointed a long, skinny, crooked finger at
the shiny jewels on the table and there, right before the princess'
eyes, they were all at once nothing but lumps of worthless dirt.
“'Oh!' screamed the princess again. 'All my lovely jewels of
“'But look,' said the old woman again, and once more pointed with
her skinny finger. And would you believe it, the princess saw that
ugly, dirt-colored pebble turn into the most wonderfully splendid jewel
that ever was—the true jewel of happiness.
“And so,” concluded the Interpreter, “the beautiful princess whose
heart was kind lived happy ever after.”
Little Maggie clapped her thin hands with delight.
“Gee,” said Bobby, “wish I knowed where that there place was. I'd
get me enough of them there jewel things to swap for a autermobile an'
a—an' a flyin' machine.”
“If you keep your eyes open, Bobby,” answered the old basket maker,
“you will find the place all right. Only,” he added, looking away
toward the big house on the hill, “you must be very careful not to make
the mistake that the princess lady is making—I mean,” he corrected
himself with a smile, “you must be careful not to pick up only the
bright and shiny pebbles as the princess in the story did.”
“Huh—I guess I'd know better'n that,” retorted the boy. “Come on,
Mag, we gotter go.”
“You will come to see me again, won't you?” asked the Interpreter,
as the children stood on the threshold. “You have legs, you know, that
can easily bring you.”
“Yer bet we'll come,” said Bobby, “won't we, Mag?”
The little girl, looking back at the man in the wheel chair, smiled.
* * * * *
For some time after the children had gone the Interpreter sat very
still. His dark eyes were fixed upon the Mill with its tall, grim
stacks and the columns of smoke that twisted upward to form that
overshadowing cloud. The voices of the children, as they started down
the stairway to the dusty road and to their wretched home in the Flats,
came to him muffled and indistinct from under the cliff.
Perhaps the man in the wheel chair was thinking of the days when
Maggie's princess lady was a little girl and lived in the old house
next door to Mary and Charlie Martin. Perhaps his mind still dwelt on
the fairy story and the princess who found her jewel of happiness. It
may have been that he was listening to the droning, moaning voice of
the Mill, as one listens to the distant roar of the surf on a dangerous
With a weary movement he took the unfinished basket from the table
and began to work. But it was not his basket making that caused the
weariness of the Interpreter—it was not his work that put the light of
sorrow in his dark eyes.
* * * * *
As Bobby and Maggie went leisurely down the zigzag steps, proud of
the tremendous success of their adventure, the boy paused several times
to execute an inspirational “stunt” that would in some degree express
his triumphant emotions.
“Gee!” he exulted. “Wait 'til I see Skinny and Chuck an' the rest of
the gang! Gee, won't I tell 'em! Just yer wait. I'll knock 'em dead.
On the bottom step they deliberately seated themselves as if they
had suddenly found the duty of leaving the charmed vicinity of that hut
on the cliff above impossible.
Suddenly, from around the curve in the road followed by a whirling
cloud of dust, came an automobile. It was a big car, very imposing with
its shiny black body, its gleaming metal, and its liveried chauffeur.
The children gazed in open-mouthed wonder. The car drew nearer, and
they saw, behind the dignified personality at the wheel, a lady who
might well have been the beautiful princess of the Interpreter's fairy
Little Maggie caught her brother's arm. “Bobby! It's—it's her
—it's the princess lady herself.”
“Gee!” gasped the boy. “She's a slowin' down—what d'yer—”
The automobile stopped not thirty feet from where the children sat
on the lower step of the old stairway. Springing to the ground, the
chauffeur, with the dignity of a prime minister, opened the door.
But the princess lady sat motionless in her car. With an expression
of questioning disapproval she looked at the Interpreter's friends on
that lower step of the Interpreter's stairway.
CHAPTER II. LITTLE MAGGIE'S PRINCESS
By nine out of ten of the Millsburgh people, the Interpreter would
be described as a strange character. But the judge once said to the
cigar-store philosopher, when that worthy had so spoken of the old
basket maker, “Sir, the Interpreter is more than a character; he is a
conviction, a conscience, an institution.”
It was about the time when the patents on the new process were
issued that the Interpreter—or Wallace Gordon, as he was then
known—appeared from no one knows where, and went to work in the Mill.
Because of the stranger's distinguished appearance, his evident
culture, and his slightly foreign air, there were many who sought
curiously to learn his history. But Wallace Gordon's history remained
as it, indeed, remains still, an unopened book. Within a few months his
ability to speak several of the various languages spoken by the
immigrants who were drawn to the manufacturing city caused his fellow
workers to call him the Interpreter.
Working at the same bench in the Mill with Adam Ward and Peter
Martin, the Interpreter naturally saw much of the two families that, in
those days, lived such close neighbors. Sober, hard working, modest in
his needs, he acquired, during his first year in the Mill, that little
plot of ground on the edge of the cliff, and built the tiny hut with
its zigzag stairway. But often on a Sunday or a holiday, or for an hour
of the long evenings after work, this man who was so alone in the world
would seek companionship in the homes of his two workmen friends. The
four children, who were so much together that their mothers used to say
laughingly they could scarcely tell which were Wards and which were
Martins, claimed the Interpreter as their own. With his never-failing
fund of stories, his ultimate acquaintance with the fairies, his ready
understanding of their childish interests, and his joyous comradeship
in their sports, he won his own peculiar place in their hearts.
It was during the second year of his residence in Millsburgh that he
adopted the deaf and dumb orphan boy, Billy Rand.
That such a workman should become a leader among his fellow workers
was inevitable. More and more his advice and counsel were sought by
those who toiled under the black cloud that rolled up in
ever-increasing volumes from the roaring furnaces.
The accident which so nearly cost him his life occurred soon after
the new process had taken Adam from his bench to a desk in the office
of the Mill. Helen and John were away at school. At the hospital they
asked him about his people. He smiled grimly and shook his head. When
the surgeons were finally through with him, and it was known that he
would live but could never stand on his feet again, he was still silent
as to his family and his life before he came to the Mill. So they
carried him around by the road on the hillside to his little hut on the
top of the cliff where, with Billy Rand to help him, he made baskets
and lived with his books, which he purchased as he could from time to
time during the more profitable periods of his industry.
As the years passed and the Mill, under Adam Ward's hand, grew in
importance, Millsburgh experienced the usual trials of such industrial
centers. Periodic labor wars alternated with times of industrial peace.
Months of prosperity were followed by months of “hard times,” and want
was in turn succeeded by plenty. When the community was at work the
more intelligent and thrifty among those who toiled with their hands
and the more conservative of those who labored in business were able to
put by in store enough to tide them over the next period of idleness
and consequent business depression.
From his hut on the cliff the Interpreter watched it all with
never-failing interest and sympathy. Indeed, although he never left his
work of basket making, the Interpreter was a part of it all. For more
and more the workers from the Mill, the shops and the factories, and
the workers from the offices and stores came to counsel with this
white-haired man in the wheel chair.
The school years of John and Helen, the new home on the hill, and
all the changes brought by Adam Ward's material prosperity separated
the two families that had once been so intimate. But, in spite of the
wall that the Mill owner had built between himself and his old workmen
comrades, the children of Adam Ward and the children of Peter Martin
still held the Interpreter in their hearts. To the man condemned to his
wheel chair and his basket making, little Maggie's princess lady was
still the Helen of the old house.
Sam Whaley's children sitting on the lower step of the zigzag
stairway that afternoon had no thought for the Interpreter's Helen of
the old house. Bobby's rapt attention was held by that imposing figure
in uniform. Work in the Mill when he became a man! Not much! Not as
long as there were automobiles like that to drive and clothes like
those to wear while driving them! Little Maggie's pathetically serious
eyes saw only the beautiful princess of the Interpreter's story—the
princess who lived in a wonderful palace and who because her heart was
so kind was told by the fairy how to find the jewel of happiness. Only
this princess lady did not look as though she had found her jewel of
happiness yet. But she would find it—the fairies would be sure to help
her because her heart was kind. How could any princess lady—so
beautiful, with such lovely clothes, and such a grand automobile, and
such a wonderful servant—how could any princess lady like that help
having a kind heart!
“Tom, send those dirty, impossible children away!”
The man touched his cap and turned to obey.
Poor little Maggie could not believe. It was not what the lady said;
it was the tone of her voice, the expression of her face, that hurt so.
The princess lady must be very unhappy, indeed, to look and speak like
that. And the tiny wisp of humanity, with her thin, stooping shoulders
and her tired little face—dirty, half clothed and poorly fed—felt
very sorry because the beautiful lady in the automobile was not happy.
But Bobby's emotions were of quite a different sort. Sam Whaley
would have been proud of his son had he seen the boy at that moment.
Springing to his feet, the lad snarled with all the menacing hate he
could muster, “Drive us away, will yer! I'd just like to see yer try it
on. These here are the Interpreter's steps. If the Interpreter lets us
come to see him, an' gives us cookies, an' tells us stories, I guess
we've got a right to set on his steps if we want to.”
“Go on wid ye—git out o' here,” said the man in livery. But Bobby's
sharp eyes saw what the lady in the automobile could not see—a faint
smile accompanied the chauffeur's attempt to obey his orders.
“Go on yerself,” retorted the urchin, defiantly, “I'll go when I git
good an' ready. Ain't no darned rich folks what thinks they's so
grand—with all their autermobiles, an' swell drivers, 'n' things—can
tell me what to do. I know her—she's old Adam Ward's daughter,
she is. An' she lives by grindin' the life out of us poor workin'
folks, that's what she does; 'cause my dad and Jake Vodell they say so.
Yer touch me an' yer'll see what'll happen to yer, when I tell Jake
Unseen by his mistress, the smile on the servant's face grew more
pronounced; and the small defender of the rights of the poor saw one of
the man's blue Irish eyes close slowly in a deliberate wink of good
fellowship. In a voice too low to be heard distinctly in the automobile
behind him, he said, “Yer all right, kid, but fer the love o' God beat
it before I have to lay hands on ye.” Then, louder, he added gruffly,
“Get along wid ye or do ye want me to help ye?”
Bobby retreated in good order to a position of safety a little way
down the road where his sister was waiting for him.
With decorous gravity the imposing chauffeur went back to his place
at the door of the automobile.
“Gee!” exclaimed Bobby. “What do yer know about that! Old Adam
Ward's swell daughter a-goin' up to see the Interpreter. Gee!”
On the lower step of the zigzag stairway, with her hand on the
railing, the young woman paused suddenly and turned about. To the
watching children she must have looked very much indeed like the
beautiful princess of the Interpreter's fairy tale.
“Tom—” She hesitated and looked doubtfully toward the children.
“What was it that boy said about his rights?”
“He said, Miss, as how they had just been to visit the Interpreter
an' the old man give 'em cookies, and so they thought they was
privileged to sit on his steps.”
A puzzled frown marred the really unusual loveliness of her face.
“But that was not all he said, Tom.”
She looked upward to the top of the cliff where one corner of the
Interpreter's hut was just visible above the edge of the rock. And
then, as the quick light of a smile drove away the trouble shadows, she
said to the servant, “Tom, you will take those children for a ride in
the car. Take them wherever they wish to go, and return here for me. I
shall be ready in about an hour.”
The man gasped. “But, Miss, beggin' yer pardon,—the car—think av
the upholsterin'—an' the dirt av thim little divils—beggin' yer
pardon, but 'tis ruined the car will be—an' yer gowns! Please, Miss,
I'll give them a dollar an' 'twill do just as well—think av the car!”
“Never mind the car, Tom, do as I say, please.”
In spite of his training, a pleased smile stole over the Irish face
of the chauffeur; and there was a note of ungrudging loyalty and honest
affection in his voice as he said, touching his cap, “Yes, Miss, I will
have the car here in an hour—thank ye, Miss.”
A moment later the young woman saw her car stop beside the wondering
children. With all his high-salaried dignity the chauffeur left the
wheel and opened the door as if for royalty itself.
The children stood as if petrified with wonder, although the boy was
still a trifle belligerent and suspicious.
In his best manner the chauffeur announced, “Miss Ward's
compliments, Sir and Miss, an' she has ordered me to place her
automobile at yer disposal if ye would be so minded as to go for a bit
of a pleasure ride.”
“Oh!” gulped little Maggie.
“Aw, what are yer givin' us!” said Bobby.
The man's voice changed, but his manner was unaltered. “'Tis the
truth I'm a-tellin' ye, kids, wid the lady herself back there
a-watchin' to see that I carry out her orders. So hop in, quick, and
don't keep her a-waitin'.”
“Gee!” exclaimed the boy.
Maggie looked at her brother doubtfully. “Dast we, Bobby? Dast we?”
“Dast we!—Huh! Who's afraid? I'll say we dast.”
Another second and they were in the car. The chauffeur gravely
touched his cap. “An' where will I be drivin' ye, Sir?”
“Where is it ye would like for to go?”
The two children looked at each other questioningly. Then a grin of
wild delight spread itself over the countenance of the boy and he
fairly exploded with triumphant glee, “Gee! Mag, now's our chance.” To
the man he said, eagerly, “Just you take us all 'round the Flats,
mister, so's folks can see. An'—an', mind yer, toot that old horn good
an' loud, so as everybody'll know we're a-comin'.” As the automobile
moved away he beamed with proud satisfaction. “Some swells we are—heh?
Skinny an' Chuck an' the gang'll be plumb crazy when they see us. Some
class, I'll tell the world.”
“Well, why not?” demanded the cigar-stand philosopher, when Tom
described that triumphant drive of Sam Whaley's children through the
Flats. “Them kids was only doin' what we're all a-tryin' to do in one
way or another.”
The lawyer, who had stopped for a light, laughed. “I heard the
Interpreter say once that 'to live on some sort of an elevation was to
most people one of the prime necessities of life.'“
“Sure,” agreed the philosopher, reaching for another box for the
real-estate agent, “I'll bet old Adam Ward himself is just as human as
the rest of us if you could only catch him at it.”
For some time after her car, with Bobby and Maggie, had disappeared
in its cloud of dust, among the wretched buildings of the Flats, Helen
stood there, on the lower step of the zigzag stairway, looking after
them. She was thinking, or perhaps she was wondering a little at
herself. She might even have been living again for the moment those
old-house days when, with her brother and Mary and Charlie Martin, she
had played there on these same steps.
Those old-house days had been joyous and carefree. Her school years,
too, had been filled with delightful and satisfying activities. After
her graduation she had been content with the gayeties and triumphs of
the life to which she had been arbitrarily removed by her father and
the new process, and for which she had been educated. She had felt the
need of nothing more. Then came the war, and, in her brother's
enlistment and in her work with the various departments of the women
forces at home, she had felt herself a part of the great world
movement. But now when the victorious soldiers—brothers and
sweethearts and husbands and friends—had returned, and the days of
excited rejoicing were past, life had suddenly presented to her a
different front. It would have been hard to find in all Millsburgh, not
excepting the most wretched home in the Flats, a more unhappy and
discontented person than this young woman who was so unanimously held
to have everything in the world that any one could possibly desire.
Slowly she turned to climb the zigzag stairway to the Interpreter's
CHAPTER III. THE INTERPRETER
The young woman announced her presence at the open door of the hut
by calling, “Are you there?”
The deep voice of the Interpreter answered, “Helen! Here I am,
child—on the porch. Come!” As she passed swiftly through the house and
appeared in the porch doorway, he added, “This is a happy surprise,
indeed. I thought you were not expected home for another month. It
seems ages since you went away.”
She tried bravely to smile in response to the gladness in her old
friend's greeting. “I had planned to stay another month,” she said,
“but I—” She paused as if for some reason she found it hard to explain
why she had returned to Millsburgh so long before the end of the summer
season. Then she continued slowly, as if remembering that she must
guard her words, “Brother wrote me that they were expecting serious
labor troubles, and with father as he is—” Her voice broke and she
finished lamely, “Mother is so worried and unhappy. I—I felt
that I really ought not to be away.”
She turned quickly and went to stand at the porch railing, where she
watched the cloud of dust that marked the progress of Bobby and Maggie
through the Flats.
“I can't understand father's condition at all,” she said, presently,
without looking at the Interpreter. “He is so—so—” Again she paused
as if she could not find courage to speak the thought that so disturbed
From his wheel chair the Interpreter silently watched the young
woman who was so envied by the people. And because the white-haired old
basket maker knew many things that were hidden from the multitude, his
eyes were as the eyes of the Master when He looked upon the rich young
ruler whom He loved.
Then, as if returning to a thought that had been interrupted by the
unwelcome intrusion of a forbidden subject, Helen said, “I can't
understand how you tolerate such dirty, rude and vicious little animals
as those two children.”
The Interpreter smiled understandingly at the back of her very
becoming and very correctly fashioned hat. “You met my little friends,
“I did,” she answered, with decided emphasis, “at the foot of your
stairs, and I was forced to listen to the young ruffian's very frank
opinion of me and of all that he is taught to believe I represent. I
wonder you did not hear. But I suppose you can guess what he
“Yes,” said the man in the wheel chair, gently, “I can guess Bobby's
opinion of you, quite as accurately as Bobby guesses your opinion of
At that she turned on him with a short laugh that was rather more
bitter than mirthful. “Well, the little villain is guessing another
guess just now. I sent Tom to take them for a ride in the car.”
“And why did you do that?”
She waited a little before she answered. “I don't know exactly.
Perhaps it was your Helen of the old house that did it. She may have
been a little ashamed of me and wanted to make it up to them. I am
afraid I really wasn't very kind at first.”
“I see,” said the Interpreter, gravely.
“There might possibly have been the shade of another reason,” she
continued, after a moment, and there was a hint of bitterness in her
“Yes, it is conceivable, perhaps, that, in spite of the prevailing
opinions of such people, even I might have felt a wee bit sorry
for the poor kiddies—especially for the girl. She is such a tiny,
The old basket maker was smiling now, as he said, “I have known for
a long time that there were two Helens. Little Maggie, it seems,
has found still another.”
“Yes, Maggie has discovered, somehow, that you are really a
beautiful princess, living on most intimate terms with the fairies. She
will think so more than ever now.”
The young woman laughed at this. “And the boy—what do you suppose
he will think after his ride with Tom in the limousine?”
The Interpreter shook his head doubtfully. “Bobby will probably
reserve his judgment for a while, on the possible chance of another
ride in your car.”
“Tell me about them,” said Helen.
“Are you really interested?”
She flushed a little as she answered, “I am at least curious.”
“Perhaps because of your interest in them,” she retorted. “Who are
The Interpreter did not answer for a moment; then, with his dark
eyes fixed on the heavy cloud of smoke that hung above the Mill and
overshadowed the Flats, he said, slowly, “They are Sam Whaley's
children. Their father works—when he works—in your father's Mill. I
knew both Sam and his wife before they were married. She was a bright
girl, with fine instincts for the best things of life and a capacity
for great happiness. Sam was a good worker in those days, and their
marriage promised well. Then he became interested in the wrong sort of
what is called socialism, and began to associate with a certain element
that does not value homes and children very highly. The man is honest,
and fairly capable, up to a certain point; but there never was much
capacity there for clear thinking. He is one of those who always follow
the leader who yells the loudest and he mistakes vituperation for
argument. He is strong on loyalty to class, but is not so particular as
he might be when it comes to choosing his class. And so, for several
years now, in every little difference between the workmen and the
management, Sam has been too ready to quit his job and let his wife and
children go hungry for the good of the cause, while he vociferates
loudly against the cruelty of all who refuse to offer their families as
sacrifice on the altar of his particular and impracticable ideas.”
“And his wife—the mother of his children—the girl with fine
instincts for the best things and a capacity for great happiness—what
of her?” demanded Helen.
The Interpreter pointed toward the Flats. “She lives down there,” he
said, sadly. “You have seen her children.”
The young woman turned again to the porch railing and looked down on
the wretched dwellings of the Flats below.
“It is strange,” she said, presently, as if speaking to herself,
“but that poor woman makes me think of mother. Mother is like that,
isn't she? I mean,” she added, quickly, “in her instincts and in her
capacity for happiness.”
“Yes,” agreed the Interpreter, “your mother is like that.”
She faced him once more, to say thoughtfully, but with decisive
warmth, “It is a shame the way such children—I mean the children of
such people as this man Whaley—are being educated in lawlessness.
Those youngsters are nothing less than juvenile anarchists. They will
grow up a menace to our government, to society, to our homes, and to
everything that is decent and right. They are taught to hate work. And
they fairly revel in their hatred of every one and every thing that is
not of their own miserable class.”
There was a note of gentle authority in the Interpreter's deep
voice, and in his dark eyes there was a look of patient sorrow, as he
replied, “Yes, Helen, all that you say of our Bobbies and Maggies is
true. But have you ever considered whether it might not be equally true
of the children of wealth?”
“Is the possession of what we call wealth a crime?” the young woman
asked, bitterly. “Is poverty always such a virtue?”
The Interpreter answered, “I mean, child, that wealth which comes
unearned from the industries of life—that wealth for which no service
is rendered—for which no equivalent in human strength, mental or
physical, is returned. Are not the children of such conditions being
educated in lawlessness when the influence of their money so often
permits them to break our laws with impunity? Are they not a menace to
our government when they coerce and bribe our public servants to enact
laws and enforce measures that are for the advantage of a few favored
ones and against the welfare of our people as a whole? Are they not a
menace to society when they would limit the meaning of the very word to
their own select circles and cliques? Are they not a menace to our
homes by the standards of morals that too often govern their daily
living? For that hatred of class taught the Bobbies and Maggies of the
Flats, Helen, these other children are taught an intolerance and
contempt for everything that is not of their class—an intolerance and
contempt that breed class hatred as surely as blow flies breed
For some time the silence was broken only by the dull, droning voice
of the Mill. They listened as they would have listened to the first low
moaning of the wind that might rise later into a destructive storm.
The Interpreter spoke again. “Helen, this nation cannot tolerate one
standard of citizenship for one class and a totally different standard
for another. Whatever is right for the children of the hill, yonder, is
right for the children of the Flats, down there.”
Helen asked, abruptly, “Is there any truth in all this talk about
coming trouble with the labor unions?”
The man in the wheel chair did not answer immediately. Then he
replied, gravely, with another question, “And who is it that says there
is going to be trouble again, Helen?”
“John says everybody is expecting it. And Mr. McIver is so sure that
he is already preparing for it at his factory. He says it will
be the worst industrial war that Millsburgh has ever experienced—that
it must be a fight to the finish this time—that nothing but starvation
will bring the working classes to their senses.”
“Yes,” agreed the Interpreter, thoughtfully, “McIver would say just
that. And many of our labor agitators would declare, in exactly the
same spirit, that nothing but the final and absolute downfall of the
employer class can ever end the struggle. I wonder what little Bobby
and Maggie Whaley and their mother would say if they could have their
way about it, Helen?”
Helen Ward's face flushed as she said in a low, deliberate voice,
“Father agrees with Mr. McIver—you know how bitter he is against the
“Yes, I know.”
“But John says that Mr. McIver, with his talk of force and of
starving helpless women and children, is as bad as this man Jake Vodell
who has come to Millsburgh to organize a strike. It is really brother's
attitude toward the workmen and their unions and his disagreement with
Mr. McIver's views that make father as—as he is.”
The Interpreter's voice was gentle as he asked, “Your father is not
worse, is he, Helen? I have heard nothing.”
“Oh, no,” she returned, quickly. “That is—”
She hesitated, then continued, with careful exactness, “For a time
he even seemed much better. When I went away he was really almost like
his old self. But this labor situation and John's not seeing things
exactly as he does worries him. The doctors all agree, you know, that
father must give up everything in the nature of business and have
absolute mental rest; but he insists that in the face of this expected
trouble with the workmen he dares not trust the management of the Mill
wholly to John, because of what he calls brother's wild and
impracticable ideas. Everybody knows how father has given his life to
building up the Mill. And now, he—he—It is terrible the way he is
about things. Poor mother is almost beside herself.” The young woman's
eyes filled and her lips trembled.
The man in the wheel chair turned to the unfinished basket on the
table beside him and handled his work aimlessly, as if in sorrow that
he had no word of comfort for her.
When Adam Ward's daughter spoke again there was a curious note of
defiance in her voice, but her eyes, when the Interpreter turned to
look at her, were fixed upon her old friend with an expression of
painful anxiety and fear. “Of course his condition is all due to his
years of hard work and to the mental and nervous strain of his
business. It—it couldn't be anything else, could it?”
The Interpreter, who seemed to be watching the intricate and
constantly changing forms that the columns of smoke from the tall
stacks were shaping, apparently did not hear.
“Don't—don't you think it is all because of his worry over the
“Yes, Helen,” the Interpreter answered, at last, “I am sure your
father's trouble all comes from the Mill.”
For a while she did not speak, but sat looking wistfully toward the
clump of trees that shaded her birthplace and the white cottage where
Peter Martin lived with Charlie and Mary.
Then she said, musingly, “How happy we all were in the old house,
when father worked in the Mill with you and Uncle Pete, and you used to
come for Sunday dinner with us. Do you know, sometimes”—she hesitated
as if making a confession of which she was a little
ashamed—“sometimes—that is, since brother came home from France, I—I
almost hate it. I think I feel just as mother does, only neither of us
dares admit it—scarcely even to ourselves.”
“You almost hate what, Helen?”
“Oh, everything—the way we live, the people we know, the stupid
things I am expected to do. It all seems so useless—so
futile—so—so—such a waste of time.”
The Interpreter was studying her with kindly interest.
“I never felt this way before brother went away. And during the war
everybody was so much excited and interested, helping in every way he
or she could. But now—now that it is over and John is safely home
again, I can't seem to get back into the old ways at all. Life seems to
have flattened out into a dull, monotonous round of nothing that really
The Interpreter spoke, thoughtfully, “Many people, I find, feel that
way these days, Helen.”
“As for brother,” she continued, “he is so changed that I simply
can't understand him at all. He is like a different man—just grinds
away in that dirty old Mill day after day, as if he were nothing more
than a common laborer who had to work or starve. In fact,” she finished
with an air of triumph, “that is exactly what he says he is—simply a
laborer like—like Charlie Martin and the rest of them.”
The Interpreter smiled.
“It was all very well for John and Charlie Martin to be buddies, as
they call it, during the war,” she went on. “It was different over
there in France. But now that it is all over and they are home again,
and Captain Martin has gone back to his old work in the Mill where John
has practically become the manager, there is no sense in brother's
keeping up the intimacy. Really I don't wonder that father is worried
almost to death over it all. I suppose the next thing John will be
chumming with this Jake Vodell himself.”
“I don't suppose you see much of your old friends the Martins these
days, do you, Helen?” said the old basket maker, reflectively.
She retorted quickly with an air, “Certainly not.”
“But I remember, in the old-house days, before you went away to
school, you and Charlie Martin were—”
She interrupted him with “I was a silly child. I suppose every girl
at about that age has to have her foolish little romance.”
And the Interpreter saw that her cheeks were crimson.
“A young girl's first love is not in the least silly or foolish, my
dear,” he said.
She made an effort to speak lightly. “Well, fortunately, mine did
not last long.”
“I know,” he returned, “but I thought perhaps because of the
friendship between John and the Captain—”
“I could scarcely see much of one of the common workmen in my
father's mill, could I?” she asked, warmly. “I must admit, though,” she
added, with an odd note in her voice, “that I admire his good sense in
never accepting John's invitations to the house.”
And then, suddenly, to the consternation of her companion, her eyes
filled with tears.
The Interpreter looked away toward the beautiful country beyond the
squalid Plats, the busy city, the smoke-clouded Mill.
There was a sound of some one knocking at the front door of the hut.
Through the living room Helen saw her chauffeur.
“Yes, Tom,” she called, “I am coming.”
To the Interpreter she said, hurriedly, “I have really stayed longer
than I should. I promised mother that I would be home early. She is so
worried about father, I do not like to leave her, but I felt that I
must see you. I—I haven't said at all the things I—wanted to say.
Father—” She looked at the man in the wheel chair appealingly, as she
hesitated again with the manner of one who feels compelled to speak,
yet fears to betray a secret. “You feel sure, don't you, that father's
condition is nothing more than the natural result of his nervous
breakdown and his worry over business?”
The Interpreter thought how like the look in her eyes was to the
look in the eyes of timid little Maggie. And again he waited, before
answering, “Yes, Helen, I am sure that your father's trouble is all
caused by the Mill. Is there anything that I can do, child?”
“There is nothing that any one can do, I fear,” she returned, with a
little gesture of hopelessness. Then, avoiding the grave, kindly eyes
of the old basket maker, she forced herself to say, in a tone that was
little more than a whisper, “I sometimes think—at tines I am almost
compelled to believe that there is something more—something
that we—that no one knows about.” With sudden desperate earnestness
she went on with nervous haste as if she feared her momentary courage
would fail. “I can't explain—but it is as if he were hiding something
and dreaded every moment that it would be discovered. He is so—so
afraid. Can it be possible that there is something that we do not
know—some hidden thing?” And then, before the Interpreter could speak,
she exclaimed, with a forced laugh of embarrassment, “How silly of me
to talk like this—you will think that I am going insane.”
When he was alone, the Interpreter turned again to his basket
making. “Yes, Billy,” he said aloud as his deaf and dumb companion
appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, “yes, Billy, she will find
her jewel of happiness. But it will not be easy, Billy—it will not be
To which, of course, Billy made no reply. And that—the Interpreter
always maintained—was one of the traits that made his companion such a
delightful conversationalist. He invariably found your pet arguments
and theories unanswerable, and accepted your every assertion without
Helen Ward could not feel that her father's condition—much as it
alarmed and distressed her—was, in itself, the reason of her own
unrest and discontent. She felt, rather, in a vague, instinctive way,
that the source of her parent's trouble was somehow identical with the
cause of her own unhappiness. But what was it that caused her father's
affliction and her own dissatisfied and restless mental state? The
young woman questioned herself in vain.
Pausing at one of the turns in the stairway, she stood for some time
looking at the life that lay before her, as though wondering if the
answer to her questions might not be found somewhere in that familiar
But the Mill, with its smoking stacks and the steady song of its
industry, had no meaning for her. The dingy, dust-veiled Flats spoke a
language that she was not schooled to understand. The farms of the
valley beyond the river, so beautiful in their productiveness, were as
meaningless to her as the life on some unknown planet. To her the busy
city with its varied interests was without significance. The many homes
on the hillside held, for her, nothing. And yet as she looked she was
possessed of a curious feeling that everything in that world before her
eyes was occupied with some definite purpose—was living to some fixed
end—was a part of life—belonged to life. Below her, on the road at
the foot of the cliffs, an old negro with an ancient skeleton of a
horse and a shaky wreck of a wagon was making slow progress toward the
Flats. To Helen, even this poor creature was going somewhere—to some
definite place—on some definite mission. She felt strangely alone.
In those years of the war Adam Ward's daughter, like many thousands
of her class, had been inevitably forced into a closer touch with life
than she had ever known before. She had felt, as never before, the
great oneness of humanity. She had sensed a little the thrilling power
of a great human purpose. Now it was as though life ignored her, passed
her by. She felt left out, overlooked, forgotten.
Slowly she went on down the zigzag stairway to her waiting
As she entered her car, the chauffeur looked at her curiously. When
she gave him no instructions, he asked, quietly, “Home, Miss?”
She started. “Yes, Tom.”
The man was in his place at the wheel when she added, “Did those
children enjoy their ride, Tom?”
“That they did, Miss—it was the treat of their lives.”
Little Maggie's princess lady smiled wistfully—almost as Maggie
herself might have smiled.
As the car was moving slowly away from the foot of the old stairway,
she spoke again. “Tom!”
“You may drive around by the old house, please.”
CHAPTER IV. PETER MARTIN AT HOME
Peter Martin, with his children, Charlie and Mary, lived in the
oldest part of Millsburgh, where the quiet streets are arched with
great trees and the modest houses, if they seem to lack in modern
smartness, more than make good the loss by their air of homelike
comfort. The Martin cottage was built in the days before the success of
Adam Ward and his new process had brought to Millsburgh the two
extremes of the Flats and the hillside estates. The little home was
equally removed from the wretched dwellings of Sam Whaley and his
neighbors, on the one hand, and from the imposing residences of Adam
Ward and his circle, on the other.
The house—painted white, with old-fashioned green shutters—is only
a story and a half, with a low wing on the east, and a bit of porch in
front, with wooden seats on either side the door. The porch step is a
large uncut stone that nature shaped to the purpose, and the walk that
connects the entrance with the front gate is of the same untooled flat
rock. On the right of the walk, as one enters, a space of green lawn, a
great tree, and rustic chairs invite one to rest in the shade; while on
the left, the yard is filled with old-fashioned flowers, and a row of
flowering shrubs and bushes extends the full width of the lot along the
picket fence which parallels the board walk of the tree-bordered
street. The fence, like the house, is painted white.
The other homes in the neighborhood are of the same modest, well
The only thing that marred the quiet domestic beauty of the scene at
the time of this story was the place where Adam Ward had lived with his
little family before material prosperity removed them to their estate
on the hill. Joining the Martin home on the east, the old house,
unpainted, with broken shutters, shattered windows, and sagging porch,
in its setting of neglected, weed-grown yard and tumble-down fences,
was pathetic in its contrast.
Since the death of her mother, Mary Martin had been the housekeeper
for her father and her brother. She was a wholesome, clear-visioned
girl, with an attractive face that glowed with the good color of health
and happiness. And if at times, when the Ward automobile passed, there
was a shadow of wistfulness in Mary's eyes, it did not mar for long the
expression of her habitually contented and cheerful spirit. She worked
at her household tasks with a song, entered into the pleasures of her
friends and neighbors with hearty delight, and was known, as well, to
many poverty-stricken homes in the Flats in times of need.
More than one young workman in the Mill had wanted Pete Martin's
girl to help him realize his dreams of home building. But Mary had
always answered “No.”
Mary's brother Charlie was a strong-shouldered, athletic workman,
with a fine, clean countenance and the bearing of his military
At supper, that evening, the young woman remarked casually, “Helen
Ward went by this afternoon. I was working in the roses. I thought for
a moment she was going to stop—at the old house, I mean.”
Captain Charlie's level gaze met his sister's look. “Did she see
“She did and she didn't,” replied Mary.
“Never mind, dear,” returned the soldier workman, “it'll be all
Peter Martin—a gray-haired veteran with rather a stolid English
face—looked up at his children questioningly. Presently he said, “It's
a wonder Adam wouldn't fix up the old place a bit—for pride's sake if
for nothing else. It's a disgrace to the neighborhood.”
“I guess that's the reason he lets it go,” said Captain Charlie,
pushing his chair back from the table.
“What's the reason?” asked Peter.
“For his pride's sake. As it stands now, the old house advertises
Adam's success. When people see it in ruins like that they always speak
of the big new house on the hill. If the old house was fixed up and
occupied it wouldn't cause any comment on Adam's prosperity, you see.
John told me once that he had begged his father to let him do something
with it, but Adam ordered him never to set foot on the place.”
“Well,” said Mary, “I suppose he can afford to keep the old house as
a sort of monument if he wants to.”
Peter Martin commented, in his slow way, “If Charlie is right about
his reason for leaving it as it is, I am not so sure, daughter, that
even Adam Ward can afford to do such a thing.”
Captain Charlie's eyes twinkled as he addressed his sister. “Father
evidently believes with the Interpreter that houses have souls or
spirits or something—like human beings.”
“Of course,” she returned, “if the Interpreter believes it father is
The old workman smiled. “You children will believe it, too, some
day; at least I hope so.”
“I wonder if Helen ever goes to see the Interpreter,” said Mary.
Captain Charlie returned, quickly, “I know she does.”
“How do you know? Did you ever meet her there?”
The Captain answered grimly, “I hid out in the garden once with
Billy Rand to keep from meeting her.”
Flushed with the unparalleled adventures of the day, Bobby Whaley
asked his father, “Dad, ain't the old Interpreter one of us?—ain't
“Sure he is.”
“Well, then, what for did old Adam Ward's daughter go to see him
just like Mag an' me did?”
“I don't know nothin' about that,” growled Sam Whaley, “but I can
tell you kids one thing. You're a-goin' to stay out of that there
automobile of hers. You let me catch you takin' up with such as Adam
Ward's daughter and I'll teach you somethin' you won't fergit.”
* * * * *
The cigar-store philosopher remarked casually to the chief of
police, “This here savior of the people, Jake Vodell, that's recently
descended upon us, is gatherin' to himself a choice bunch of
disciples—I'll tell the world.”
“What do you know about it?” demanded the officer of the law.
The philosopher grinned. “Oh, they most of them smoke or chew, the
same as your cops. Vodell himself smokes your brand. Have one on me
CHAPTER V. ADAM WARD'S ESTATE
In spite of that smile of mingled admiration, contempt and envy,
with which the people always accompanied any mention of Adam Ward,
Millsburgh took no little pride in the dominant Mill owner's
achievements. In particular, was the Ward home, most pretentious of all
the imposing estates on the hillside, an object of never-failing
interest and conversational speculation. “Adam Ward's castle,” the
people called it, smiling. And no visiting stranger of any importance
whatever could escape being driven past that glaring architectural
monstrosity which stood so boldly on its most conspicuous hillside
elevation and proclaimed so defiantly to all the world its owner's
But the sight-seers always viewed the “castle” and the “palatial
grounds” (the Millsburgh Clarion, in a special Sunday article
for which Adam paid, so described the place) through a strong,
ornamental iron fence, with a more than ornamental gate guarded by
massive stone columns. Only when the visiting strangers were of
sufficient importance in the owner's eyes were they permitted to pass
the conspicuous PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO ADMITTANCE sign at the entrance.
As the cigar-stand philosopher explained, Adam Ward did not propose to
give anything away.
The chief value of his possessions, in Adam's thoughts, lay in the
fact that they were his. He always said, “My house—my
grounds—my flowers—my trees—my fountain—my
fence.” He even extended his ownership and spoke of the very birds who
dared to ignore the PRIVATE PROPERTY, No ADMITTANCE sign as my
birds. So marked, indeed, was this characteristic habit of his speech,
that no one in Millsburgh would have been surprised to hear him say, “
My sun—my moonlight.” And never did he so forget himself as
to include his wife and children in such an expression as “our home.”
Why, indeed, should he? His wife and his children were as much his
as any of the other items on the long list of the personal possessions
which he had so industriously acquired.
In perfect harmony with the principles that ordered his life, the
owner of the castle made great show of hospitality at times. But the
recipients of his effusive welcome were invariably those from whom, or
through whom, he had reason to think he might derive a definite
material gain in return for his graciousness. The chief entertainment
offered these occasional utilitarian guests was a verbal catalogue of
the estate, with an itemized statement of the cost of everything
mentioned. If the architecture of the house was noticed, Adam proudly
disclaimed any knowledge of architecture, but named the architect's
fee, and gave the building cost in detail, from the heating system to
the window screens. If one chanced to betray an interest in a flower or
shrub or tree, he boasted that he could not name a plant on the place,
and told how many thousands he had paid the landscape architect, and
what it cost him each year to maintain the lawns and gardens. If the
visitor admired the fountain or the statuary he declared—quite
unnecessarily—that he knew nothing of art, but had paid the various
artists represented various definite dollars and cents. And never was
there a guest of that house that poor Adam did not seek to discredit to
his family and to other guests, lest by any chance any one should fail
to recognize the host's superiority.
In his youth the Mill owner had received from his parents certain
exaggerated religious convictions as to the desirability of gaining
heaven and escaping, hell when one's years of material gains and losses
should be forever past. Therefore, his spiritual life, also, was wholly
a matter of personal bargain and profit. The church was an insurance
corporation, of a sort, to which he paid his dues, as he paid the
premiums on his policies in other less pretentious companies. As a
matter of additional security—which cost nothing in the way of
additional premiums—he never failed to say grace at the table.
This matter of grace, Adam found, was also a character asset of no
little value when there were guests whom he, for good material reasons,
wished to impress with the fine combination of business ability and
sterling Christian virtue that so distinguished his simple and sincere
nature. Profess yourself the disinterested friend of a man—make him
believe that you value his friendship for its own sake and, on that
ground, invite him to your home as your honored guest. And then, when
he sits at your table, ask God to bless the food, the home, and the
guest, and you have unquestionably maneuvered your friend into a
position where he will contribute liberally to your business
triumphs—if your contracts are cleverly drawn and you strike for the
necessary signature while the glow of your generous hospitality is
And thus, with his patented process and his cleverly drawn
contracts, this man had reaped from hospitality, religion and
friendship the abundant gains that made him the object of his
neighbors' admiration, contempt and envy.
But the end of Adam Ward's material harvest day was come. As Helen
had told the Interpreter, the doctors were agreed that her father must
give up everything in the nature of business and have absolute mental
rest. The Mill owner must retire.
Retire! Retire to what?
The world of literature—of history and romance, of poetry and the
lives of men—the world of art, with its magic of color and form—the
world of music, with its power to rest the weary souls of men—the
world of nature, that with its myriad interests lay about him on every
side—the world of true friendships, with their inspiring sympathies
and unselfish love—in these worlds there is no place for Adam Wards.
Retire! Retire to what?
* * * * *
One afternoon, a few days after her visit to the Interpreter, Helen
sat with a book in a little vine-covered arbor, in a secluded part of
the grounds, some distance from the house. She had been in the quiet
retreat an hour, perhaps, when her attention was attracted by the sound
of some one approaching. Through a tiny opening in the lattice and vine
wall she saw her father.
Adam Ward apparently was on his way to the very spot his daughter
had chosen, and the young woman smiled to herself as she pictured his
finding her there. But a moment before the seemingly inevitable
discovery, the man turned aside to a rustic seat in the shade of a
great tree not far away.
Helen was about to reveal her presence by calling to him when
something in her father's manner caused her to hesitate. Through the
leafy screen of the arbor wall she saw him stop beside the bench and
look carefully about on every side, as if to assure himself that he was
alone. The young woman flushed guiltily, but, as if against her will,
she remained silent. As she watched her father's face, a feeling of
pity, fear and wonder held her breathless.
Helen had often seen her father suffering under an attack of nervous
excitement. She had witnessed his spells of ungoverned rage that left
him white and trembling with exhaustion. She had known his fears that
he tried so hard to hide. She knew of his sleepless nights, of his
dreams of horror, of his hours of lonely brooding. But never had she
seen her father like this. It was as if Adam Ward, believing himself
unobserved, let fall the mask that hid his secret self from even those
who loved him most. Sinking down upon the bench, he groaned aloud,
while his daughter, looking upon that huddled figure of abject misery
and despair, knew that she was witnessing a mental anguish that could
come only from some source deep hidden beneath the surface of her
father's life. She could not move. As one under some strange spell, she
The doctors had said—diplomatically—that Adam Ward's ill health
was a nervous trouble, resulting from his lifelong devotion to his
work, with no play spell or rest, and no relief through interest in
other things. But Adam Ward knew the real reason for the medical men's
insistent advice that he retire from the stress of the Mill to the
quiet of his estate. He knew it from his wife's anxious care and
untiring watchfulness. He knew it from the manner of his business
associates when they asked how he felt. He knew when, at some trivial
incident or word, he would be caught, helpless, in the grip of an
ungovernable rage that would leave him exhausted for many weary,
brooding hours. He felt it in the haunting, unconquerable fears that
beset him—by the feeling of some dread presence watching him—by the
convictions that unknown enemies were seeking his life—by his
terrifying dreams of the hell of his inherited religion.
And the real reason for his condition Adam Ward knew. It was not the
business to which he had driven himself so relentlessly. It was not
that he had no other interests to take his mind from the Mill. It was a
thing that he had fought, in secret, almost every hour of every year of
his accumulating successes. It was a thing which his neighbors and
associates and family felt in his presence but could not name—a thing
which made him turn his eyes away from a frank, straightforward look
and forbade him to look his fellows in the face save by an exertion of
Through the vines, Helen saw her father stoop to pick from the
ground a few twigs that had escaped the eyes of the caretakers.
Deliberately he broke the twigs into tiny bits, and threw the pieces
one by one aside. His gray face, drawn and haggard, twitched and worked
with the nervous stress of his thoughts. From under his heavy brows he
glanced with the quick, furtive look of a hunted thing, as though
fearing some enemy that might be hidden in the near-by shrubbery. The
young woman, shrinking from the look in his eyes, and not daring to
make her presence known, remembered, suddenly, how the Interpreter had
been reluctant to discuss her father's illness.
Casting aside the last tiny bit of the twig which he had broken so
aimlessly, he found another and continued his senseless occupation.
With pity and love in her heart, Helen wanted to go to him—to help
him, but she could not—some invisible presence seemed to forbid.
Suddenly Adam raised his head. A moment he listened, then cautiously
he rose to his feet—listening, listening. It was no trick of his fancy
this tune. He could hear voices on the other side of a dense growth of
shrubbery near the fence. Two people were talking. He could not
distinguish the words but he could hear distinctly the low murmur of
Helen, too, heard the voices and looked in that direction. From her
position in the arbor she could see the speakers. With the shadow of a
quick smile, she turned her eyes again toward her father. He was
looking about cautiously, as if to assure himself that he was alone.
The shadow of a smile vanished from Helen's face as she watched in
Stooping low, Adam Ward crept swiftly to a clump of bushes near the
spot from which the sound of the voices came. Crouching behind the
shrubbery, he silently parted the branches and peered through. Bobby
and Maggie Whaley stood on the outer side of the fence with their
little faces thrust between the iron pickets, looking in.
Still in the glow of their wonderful experience at the Interpreter's
hut and the magnificent climax of that day's adventure, the children
had determined to go yet farther afield. It was true that their father
had threatened dire results if they should continue the acquaintance
begun at the foot of the Interpreter's zigzag stairway, but, sufficient
unto the day.—They would visit the great castle on the hill where
their beautiful princess lady lived. And, who could tell, perhaps they
might see her once more. Perhaps—“But that,” said tiny Maggie, “was
too wonderful ever to happen again.”
The way had been rather long for bare little feet. But excited hope
had strengthened them. And so they had climbed the hill, and had come
at last to the iron fence through which they could see the world of
bright flowers and clean grass and shady trees, and, in the midst of it
all, the big house. With their hungry little faces thrust between the
strong iron pickets, Sam Whaley's children feasted their eyes on the
beauties of Adam Ward's possessions. Even Bobby, in his rapture over
the loveliness of the scene, forgot for the moment his desire to blow
up the castle, with its owner and all.
Behind his clump of shrubbery, Adam Ward, crouching like some
stealthy creature of the jungle, watched and listened.
From the shelter of the arbor, Adam Ward's daughter looked upon the
scene with white-faced interest.
“Gee,” said Bobby, “some place, I'd say!”
“Ain't it pretty?” murmured little Maggie. “Just like them places
where the fairies live.”
“Huh,” returned the boy, “old Adam Ward, he ain't no fairy I'm
To which Maggie, hurt by this suggested break in the spell of her
enchantment, returned indignantly, “Well, I guess the fairies can live
in all them there pretty flowers an' things just the same, if old Adam
does own 'em. You can't shut fairies out with no big iron fences.”
“That's so,” admitted Bobby. “Gee, I wisht we was fairies, so's we
could sneak in! Gee, wouldn't yer like ter take a roll on that there
“Huh,” returned the little girl, “I know what I'd do if I was a
fairy. I'd hide in that there bunch of flowers over there, an' I'd
watch till the beautiful princess lady with the kind heart come along,
an' I'd tell her where she could find them there jewels of happiness
what the Interpreter told us about.”
“Do yer reckon she's in the castle there, right now?” asked Bobby.
“I wonder!” murmured Maggie.
“Betcher can't guess which winder is hern.”
“Bet I kin; it's that there one with all them vines around it.
Princess ladies allus has vines a-growin' 'roun' their castle
winders—so's when the prince comes ter rescue 'em he kin climb up.”
“Wisht she'd come out.”
Little Maggie's wish was never expressed, for at that moment, from
behind that near-by clump of shrubbery a man sprang toward them, his
face distorted with passion and his arms tossing in threatening
The children, too frightened to realize the safety of their position
on the other side of those iron bars, stood speechless. For the moment
they could neither cry out nor run.
“Get out!” Adam Ward yelled, hoarse with rage, as he would have
driven off a trespassing dog. “Get out! Go home where you belong! Don't
you know this is private property? Do you think I am keeping a circus
here for all the dirty brats in the country to look at? Get out, I tell
you, or I'll—”
With frantic speed the two children fled down the hill.
Adam Ward laughed—laughed until he was forced to hold his sides and
the tears of his ungodly mirth rolled down his cheeks.
But such laughter is a fearful thing to see. White and trembling
with the shame and the horror of it, Helen crouched in her hiding
place, not daring even to move. She felt, as never before, the presence
of that spirit which possessed her father and haunted her home. It was
as if the hidden thing of which she had forced herself to speak to the
Interpreter were suddenly about to materialize before her eyes. She
wanted to scream—to cry aloud her fear—to shriek her protest—but
sheer terror held her motionless and dumb.
The spell was broken by Mrs. Ward who, from somewhere in the
grounds, was calling, “Adam! Oh-h, Adam!”
The man heard, and Helen saw him controlling his laughter, and
looking cautiously about.
Again the call came, and there was an anxious note in the voice.
“Adam—father—Oh-h, father, where are you?”
With a cruel grin still twisting his gray face, Adam slunk behind a
clump of bushes.
Helen Ward crept from her hiding place and, keeping the little arbor
between herself and her father, stole away through the grounds. When
she was beyond his hearing, she almost ran, as if to escape from a spot
CHAPTER VI. ON THE OLD ROAD
When Bobby and Maggie Whaley fled from the immediate vicinity of
Adam Ward's estate, they were beside themselves with fear—blind,
unreasoning, instinctive fear.
There is a fear that is reasonable—that is born of an intelligent
comprehension of the danger that menaces, and there is a fear that is
born of ignorance—of inability to understand the nature of the danger.
These children of the Flats had nothing in their little lives by which
they might know the owner of the Mill, or visualize the world in which
the man for whom their father worked lived. To Bobby and Maggie the
home of Adam Ward was a place of mystery, as far removed from the world
of their actualities as any fabled castle in fairyland could possibly
Sam Whaley's distorted views of all employers in the industrial
world, and his fanatical ideas of class loyalty, were impressed with
weird exaggeration upon the fertile minds of his children. From their
father's conversation with his workmen neighbors, and from the
suggestive expressions and epithets which Sam had gleaned from the
literature upon which he fed his mind and which he used with such
gusto, Bobby and Maggie had gathered the material out of which they had
created an imaginary monster, capable of destroying them with fiendish
delight. They had seen angry men too often to be much disturbed by mere
human wrath. But, to them, this Adam Ward who had appeared so suddenly
from the shrubbery was more than a man; he was all that they had been
taught to believe—a hideous thing of more dreadful power and sinister
purpose than could be imagined.
With all their strength they ran down the old hill road toward the
world of the Flats where they belonged. They dared not even look over
their shoulders. The very ground seemed to drag at their feet to hold
them back. Then little Maggie stumbled and fell. Her frantic screams
reached Bobby, who was a few feet in advance, and the boy stopped
instantly and faced about, with terror in his eyes but with evident
determination to defend his sister at any cost.
When he had pulled Maggie to her feet, and it was certain that there
was nothing pursuing them, Bobby, boylike, laughed. “Gee, but we made
some git-away, that trip! Gee, I'll tell the world!”
The little girl clung to her protector, shaking with weariness and
fear. “I—can't run 'nother step,” she gasped. “Will he come after us
“Naw,” returned the boy, with reassuring boldness, “he won't come
this far. Yer just lay down in the grass, under this here tree, 'til
yer catch yer wind; then we'll make it on down to the Interpreter's
—'tain't far to the stairs. You just take it easy. I'll watch.”
The soft grass and the cool shade were very pleasant after their
wild run, and they were loath to go, even when little Maggie had
recovered from her exhaustion. Very soon, when no danger appeared, the
boy forgot to watch and began an animated discussion of their thrilling
But Maggie did not share her brother's boastful triumph. “Do you
suppose,” she said, wistfully, “that he is like that to the princess
Bobby shook his head doubtfully. “I don't know. Yer can't tell what
he'd do to her if he took a notion. Old Adam Ward would do anything
that's mean, to anybody, no matter who. I'll bet—”
The sound of some one approaching from the direction of the castle
interrupted Bobby's conjectures.
Maggie would have made another frantic effort to escape, but the boy
caught her roughly and drew her down beside him. “No use to run—yer
can't make it,” he whispered. “Best lay low. An' don't yer dast even
Lying prone, they wormed themselves into the tall grass, with the
trunk of the tree between them and the road, until it would have been a
keen observer, indeed, who would have noticed them in passing.
They heard the approaching danger coming nearer and nearer. Little
Maggie buried her face in the grass roots to stifle a scream. Now it
was on the other side of the tree. It was passing on. Suddenly they
almost buried themselves in the ground in their effort to lie closer to
the earth. The sound of the footsteps had ceased.
For what seemed to them hours, the frightened children lay
motionless, scarcely daring to breathe. Then another sound came to
their straining ears—a sound not unfamiliar to the children of the
Flats. A woman was weeping.
Cautiously, the more courageous Bobby raised his head until he could
peer through the tangled stems and blades of the sheltering grass. A
moment he looked, then gently shook his sister's arm. Imitating her
brother's caution, little Maggie raised her frightened face. Only a few
steps away, their princess lady was crouching in the grass, with her
face buried in her hands, crying bitterly.
“Well, what do yer know about that?” whispered Bobby.
A moment longer they kept their places, whispering in consultation.
Then they rose quietly to their feet and, hand in hand, stood waiting.
Helen had not consciously followed the children. Indeed, her mind
was so occupied with her own troubled thoughts that she had forgotten
the little victims of her father's insane cruelty. To avoid meeting her
mother, as she fled from the scene of her father's madness, she had
taken a course that led her toward the entrance to the estate. With the
one thought of escaping from the invisible presence of that hidden
thing, she had left the grounds and followed the quiet old road.
When the storm of her grief had calmed a little, the young woman
raised her head and saw Sam Whaley's dirty, ill-kept children gazing at
her with wondering sympathy. It is not too much to say that Helen Ward
was more embarrassed than she would have been had she found herself
thus suddenly in the presence of royalty. “I am sorry you were
frightened,” she said, hesitatingly. “I can't believe that he really
would have hurt you.”
“Huh,” grunted Bobby. “I'm darned glad we was outside of that there
Maggie's big eyes were eloquent with compassion. “Did—did he scare
Helen held back her tears with an effort. “Yes, dear, he frightened
With shy friendliness, little Maggie drew closer. “Is he—is he sure
'nuff, yer father?”
“Yes,” returned Helen, “he is my father.”
“Gee!” ejaculated Bobby. “An' is he always like that?”
“Oh, no, indeed,” returned Helen, quickly. “Father is really kind
and good, but he—he is sick now and not wholly himself, you see.”
“Huh,” said Bobby. “He didn't act very sick to me. What's ailin'
Helen answered slowly, “I—we don't just know what it is. The
doctors say it is a nervous trouble.”
“An' does he—does he ever whip yer?” asked Maggie.
In spite of the pain in her heart, Helen smiled. “No—never.”
“Our dad gits mad, too, sometimes,” said Bobby. “But, gee! he ain't
never like that. Dad, he wouldn't care if somebody just looked into our
yard. We wasn't a-hurtin' nothin'—just a-lookin'—that's all. Yer
can't hurt nothin' just a-lookin', can yer?”
“I am sorry,” said Helen.
“Be yer happy?” asked Maggie, suddenly, with disconcerting
“Why!” replied Helen, “I—What makes you ask such a funny question?”
Maggie was too much embarrassed at her own boldness to answer, and
Bobby came to her rescue.
“She wants to know because the Interpreter, he tole us about a
princess what lived in a castle an' wasn't happy 'til the fairy told
her how to find the jewel of happiness; an' Mag, here, she thinks it's
“And where did the princess find the jewel of happiness?” asked
Little Maggie's anxiety to help overcame her timidity and she
answered precisely, “On the shores of the sea of life which was not far
from the castle where the beautiful princess lived.”
Helen looked toward the Flats, the Mill, and the homes in the
neighborhood of the old house. “The shores of the sea of life,” she
repeated, thoughtfully. “I see.”
“Yes,” continued Maggie, with her tired little face alight, and her
eyes big with excited eagerness, “but the beautiful princess, she
didn't know that there jewel of happiness when she seen it.”
“No?” said Helen, smiling at her little teacher.
“No—an' so she picked up all the bright, shiny stones what was no
good at all, 'til the fairy showed her how the real jewel she was
a-wantin' was an old, ugly, dirt-colored thing what didn't look like
any jewel, no more 'n nothin'.”
“Oh, I see!” said Helen again. And Bobby thought that she looked at
them as though she were thinking very hard.
“Yer forgot something Mag,” said the boy, suddenly.
“I ain't neither,” returned his sister, with unusual boldness. “Yer
shut up an' see.” Then, to Helen, “Is yer heart kind, lady?”
“I—I hope so, dear,” returned the disconcerted Helen. “Why?”
“Because, if it is, then the fairies will help yer find the real
jewel of happiness, 'cause that was the reason, yer see, it all
happened—'cause the beautiful princess's heart was kind.” She turned
to Bobby triumphantly, “There, ain't that like the Interpreter said?”
“Uh-huh,” agreed the boy. “But yer needn't to worry—her heart's all
right. Didn't she give us that there grand ride in her swell
Little Maggie's embarrassment suddenly returned.
“Did you really enjoy the ride?” asked Helen.
Bobby answered, “I'll say we did. Gee! but yer ought to a seen us
puttin' it all over everybody in the Flats.”
Something in the boy's answer brought another smile to Helen's lips,
but it was not a smile of happiness.
“I really must go now,” she said, rising. “Thank you for telling me
about the happiness jewel. Don't you think that it is time for you to
be running along home? Your mother will be wondering where you are,
“Uh-huh,” agreed Bobby.
But Maggie's mind was fixed upon more important things than the time
of day. With an effort, she forced herself to say, “If the fairy comes
to yer will yer tell me about it, sometime? I ain't never seen one
“You poor little mite!” said Helen. “Yes, indeed, I will tell you
about it if the fairy comes. And I will tell the fairy about you, too.
But, who knows, perhaps the happiness fairy will visit you first, and
you can tell her about me.”
And something that shone in the beautiful face of the young woman,
or something that sang in her voice, made little Maggie sure—deep down
inside—that her princess lady would find the jewel of happiness, just
as the Interpreter had said. But neither the child of the Flats, nor
the daughter of the big house on the hill knew that the jewel of
happiness was, even at that moment, within reach of the princess lady's
When Helen had disappeared from their sight, the two children
started on their way down the hill toward the dingy Flats.
“Gee,” said Bobby, “won't we have something to tell the kids now?
Gee! We'll sure make 'em sore they wasn't along. Think of us a-talkin'
to old Adam Ward's daughter, herself. Gee! Some stunt—I'll tell the
They had reached the foot of the old stairway and were discussing
whether or not they dared prolong their absence from home by paying a
visit to the Interpreter, when a man appeared on the road from town.
Bobby caught sight of the approaching stranger first, and the boy's
freckled countenance lighted with excited interest and admiration.
“Hully Gee!” he exclaimed, catching Maggie by the arm. “Would yer
look who's a-comin'!”
The man was not, in his general appearance, one to inspire a feeling
of confidence. He was a little above medium height, with fat shoulders,
a thick neck, and dark, heavy features with coarse lips showing through
a black beard trimmed to a point, and small black eyes set close above
a large nose with flaring nostrils. His clothing was good, and he
carried himself with assurance. But altogether there was about him the
unmistakable air of a foreigner.
Bobby continued in an excited whisper, “That there's Jake Vodell
we've heard Dad an' the men talkin' so much about. He's the guy what's
a-goin' to put the fear of God into the Mill bosses and rich folks.
He's a-goin' to take away old Adam Ward's money an' Mill, an'
autermobiles, an' house an'—everything, an' divide 'em all up 'mong us
poor workin' folks. Gee, but he's a big gun, I'm tellin' yer!”
The man came on to the foot of the stairs and stopped before the
children. For a long moment he looked them over with speculative
interest. “Well,” he said, abruptly, “and who are you? That you belong
in this neighborhood it is easy to see.”
“We're Bobby and Maggie Whaley,” answered the boy.
The man's black eyebrows were lifted, and he nodded his head
reflectively. “Oh-ho, you are Sam Whaley's kids, heh?”
“Uh-huh,” returned Bobby. “An' I know who yer are, too.”
“So?” said the man.
“Uh-huh, yer Jake Vodell, the feller what's a-goin' to make all the
big bugs hunt their holes, and give us poor folks a chance. Gee, but
I'd like to be you!”
The man showed his strong white teeth in a pleased smile. “You are
all right, kid,” he returned. “I think, maybe, you will play a big part
in the cause sometime—when you grow up.”
Bobby swelled out his chest with pride at this good word from his
hero. “I'm big enough right now to put a stick o' danermite under old
Adam Ward's castle, up there on the hill.”
Little Maggie caught her brother's arm. “Bobby, yer ain't a-goin'—”
The man laughed. “That's the stuff, kid,” he said. “But you better
let jobs like that alone—until you are a bit older, heh?”
“Mag an' me has been up there to the castle all this afternoon,”
bragged the boy. “An' we talked with old Adam's daughter, too, an'—an'
The man stared at him. “What is this you tell me?”
“It's so,” returned Bobby, stoutly, “ain't it, Mag? An' the other
day Helen Ward, she give us a ride, in her autermobile—while she was
a-visitin' with the Interpreter up there.”
Jake Vodell's black brows were drawn together in a frown of
disapproval. “So this Adam Ward's daughter, too, calls on the
Interpreter, heh! Many people, it seems, go to this Interpreter.” To
Bobby he said suddenly, “Look here, it will be better if you kids stay
away from such people—it will get you nothing to work yourselves in
with those who are not of your own class!”
“Yes, sir,” returned Bobby, dutifully.
“I will tell you what you can do, though,” continued the man. “You
can tell your father that I want him at the meeting to-night. Think you
can remember, heh?”
“Yer bet I can,” replied the boy. “But where'll I tell him the
“Never you mind that,” returned the other. “You just tell him I want
him—he will know where. And now be on your way.”
To Bobby's utter amazement, Jake Vodell went quickly up the steps
that led to the Interpreter's hut.
“Gee!” exclaimed the wondering urchin. “What do yer know about that,
Mag? He's a-goin' to see our old Interpreter. Gee! I guess the
Interpreter's one of us all right. Jake Vodell wouldn't be a-goin' to
see him if he wasn't.”
As they trudged away through the black dust, the boy added, “Darn it
all, Mag, if the Interpreter is one of us what's the princess
lady goin' to see him for?”
CHAPTER VII. THE HIDDEN THING
Hiding in the shrubbery, Adam Ward chuckled and grinned with strange
glee as he listened to his wife calling for him. Here and there about
the grounds she searched anxiously; but the man kept himself hidden and
enjoyed her distress. At last, when she had come so near that discovery
was certain, he suddenly stepped out from the bushes and, facing her,
And now, by some miracle, Adam Ward's countenance was
transformed—his eyes were gentle, his gray face calm and kindly. His
smile became the affectionate greeting of a man who, past the middle
years of life, is steadfast in his love for the mother of his grown-up
Mrs. Ward had been, in the years of her young womanhood, as
beautiful as her daughter Helen. But her face was lined now with care
and shadowed by sadness, as though with the success of her husband
there had come, also, regrets and disappointments which she had
suffered in silence and alone.
She returned Adam's smile of greeting, when she saw him standing
there, but that note of anxiety was still in her voice as she said
gently, “Where in the world have you been? I have looked all over the
place for you.”
He laughed as he went to her—a laugh of good comradeship. “I was
just sitting over there under that tree,” he answered. “I heard you
when you called the first time, but thought I would let you hunt a
while. The exercise will do you good—keep you from getting too fat in
your old age.”
She laughed with him, and answered, “Well, you can just come and
talk to me now, while I rest.”
Arm in arm, they went to the rustic seat in the shade of the tree
where, a few minutes before, he had so aimlessly broken the twigs.
But when they were seated the man frowned with displeasure. “Alice,
I wish to goodness there was some way to make these men about the place
keep a closer watch of things.”
She glanced at him quickly. “Has something gone wrong, Adam?”
“Nothing more than usual,” he answered, harshly. “There are always a
lot of prowlers around. But they don't stay long when I get after
them.” He laughed, shortly—a mirthless, shamefaced laugh.
“I am sorry you were annoyed,” she said, gently.
“Annoyed!” he returned, with the manner of a petulant child. “I'll
annoy them. I tell you I am not going to stand for a lot of
people's coming here, sneaking and prying around to see what they can
see. If anybody wants to enjoy a place like this let him work for it as
She waited a while before she said, as if feeling her way toward a
definite point, “It has been hard work, hasn't it, Adam? Almost too
hard, I fear. Did you ever ask yourself if, after all, it is really
worth the cost?”
“Worth the cost! I am not in the habit of paying more than things
are worth. This place cost me exactly—”
She interrupted him, quietly, “I don't mean that, dear. I was not
thinking of the money. I was thinking of what it has all cost in work
and worry and—and other things.”
“It has all been for you and the children, Alice,” he answered,
wearily; and there was that in his voice and face which brought the
tears to her eyes. “You know that, so far as I am personally concerned,
it doesn't mean a thing in the world to me. I don't know anything
outside of the Mill myself.”
She put her hand on his arm with a caressing touch. “I know—I
know—and that is just what troubles me. Perhaps if you would share it
more—I mean if you could enjoy it more—I might feel different about
it. We were all so happy, Adam, in the old house.”
When he made no reply to this but sat with his eyes fixed on the
ground she said, pleadingly, “Won't you put aside all the cares and
worries of the Mill now, and just be happy with us, Adam?”
The man moved uneasily.
“You know what the doctors say,” she continued, gently. “You
He interrupted impatiently, “The doctors are a set of fools. I'll
She persisted with gentle patience. “But even if the doctors are
wrong about your health, still there is no reason why you should not
rest after all your years of hard work. I am sure we have everything in
the world that any one could possibly want. There is not the shadow of
a necessity to make you go on wearing your life out as you have been
“Much you know about what is necessary for me to do,” he retorted.
“A man isn't going to let the business that he has been all his life
building up go to smash just because he has made money enough to keep
him without work for the rest of his days.”
“There are other things that can go to smash besides business,
Adam,” she returned, sadly. “And I am sure that the Mill will be safe
enough now in John's hands.”
“John!” he exclaimed, bitterly. “It's John and his crazy ideas that
I am afraid of.”
She returned, quickly, with a mother's pride, “Why, Adam! You have
said so many times how wonderfully well John was doing, and what a
splendid head he had for business details and management. It was only
last week that you told me John was more capable now than some of the
men that have been in the office with you for several years.”
Adam Ward rose and paced uneasily up and down before her. “You don't
understand at all, Alice. It is not John's business ability or his
willingness to get into the harness that worries me. It is the fool
notions that he picked up somewhere over there in the war—there, and
from that meddlesome old socialist basket maker.”
“Just what notions do you mean, Adam? Is it John's friendship with
Charlie Martin that you fear?”
“His friendship with young Martin is only part of it. I am afraid of
his attitude toward the whole industrial situation. Haven't you heard
his wild, impracticable and dangerous theories of applying, as he says,
the ideals of patriotism, and love of country, and duty to humanity,
and sacrifice, and heroism, and God knows what other nonsense, to the
work of the world? You know as well as I do how he talks about the
comradeship of the mills and factories and workshops being like the
comradeship of the trenches and camps and battlefields. His notions of
the relation between an employer and his employees would be funny if
they were not so dangerous. Look at his sympathy with the unions! And
yet I have shown him on my books where this union business has cost me
hundreds of thousands of dollars! Comradeship! Loyalty! I tell you I
know what I'm talking about from experience. The only way to handle the
working class is to keep them where they belong. Give them the least
chance to think you are easy and they are on your neck. If I had my way
I'd hold them to their jobs at the muzzle of a machine gun. McIver has
the right idea. He is getting himself in shape right now for the
biggest fight with labor that he has ever had. Everybody knows that
agitator Jake Vodell is here to make trouble. The laboring classes have
had a long spell of good times now and they're ripe for anything. All
they need is a start and this anarchist is here to start them. And
John, instead of lining up with McIver and getting ready to fight them
to a finish, is spending his time hobnobbing with Charlie Martin and
listening to that old fool Interpreter.”
“Come, dear,” she said, soothingly. “Come and sit down here with me.
Don't let's worry about what may happen.”
He obeyed her with the manner of a fretful child. And presently, as
she talked, the cloud lifted from his gray, haggard face, and he grew
calm. Soon, when she made some smiling remark, he even smiled back at
her with the affectionate companionship of their years.
“You will try not to worry about things so much, won't you, Adam?”
she said, at last. “For my sake, won't you?”
“But I tell you, Alice, there is serious trouble ahead.”
“Perhaps that is all the more reason why you should retire now,” she
urged. He stirred uneasily, but she continued, “Just suppose the worst
that could possibly happen should happen, suppose you even had to give
up the Mill to Pete Martin and the men, suppose you lost the new
process and everything, and we were obliged to give up our home here
and go back to live in the old house—it would still be better than
losing you, dear. Don't you know that to have you well and strong would
be more to Helen and John and to me than anything else could possibly
Mrs. Ward knew, as the words left her lips, that she had said the
wrong thing. She had heard him rave about his ownership of the new
process too many times not to know—while any mention of his old
workman friend Peter Martin always threw him into a rage. But in her
anxiety the forbidden words had escaped her.
She drew back with a little gasp of fear at the swift change that
came over his face. As if she had touched a hidden spring in his being
the man's countenance was darkened by furious hatred and desperate
fear. His trembling lips were ashen; the muscles of his face twitched
and worked; his eyes blazed with a vicious anger beyond all control.
Springing to his feet, he faced her with a snarling exclamation, and in
a voice shaking with passion, cried, “Pete Martin! What is he? Who is
he? Everything he has in the world he owes to me. Haven't I kept him in
work all these years? Haven't I paid him every cent of his wages? Look
at his home. Not many working men have been able to own a place like
that. What would he have done without the money I have given him every
pay day? I could have turned him out long ago—kicked him out of a job
without a cent. He's had all that's coming to him—every penny. I
built up the Mill. That new process is mine—it's patented in my name.
I have had the best lawyers I could hire to protect it on every
possible point. If it hadn't been for my business brain there wouldn't
be any new process. What could Pete Martin have done with it—the fool
has no more business sense than a baby. I introduced it—I exploited
it—I built it up and made it worth what it is, and there isn't a court
in the world that wouldn't say I have a legal right to it.”
In vain Mrs. Ward tried to soothe him with reassuring words,
pleading with him to be calm.
“I know they're after me,” he raved. “They have tried all sorts of
tricks. There is always some sneaking spy watching for a chance to get
me, but I'll fix them. I built the business up and I can tear it down.
Let them try to take anything away from me if they dare. I'll burn the
Mill and the whole town before I'll give up one cent of my legal rights
to Pete Martin or any of his tribe.”
Forgetting his companion, the man suddenly started off across the
grounds, waving his arms and shaking his fists in wild gestures as he
continued his tirade against his old fellow workman. Mrs. Ward knew
from experience the uselessness of trying to interfere until he had
* * * * *
As Helen was returning to the house after her talk with the
children, she saw her mother coming slowly from that part of the
grounds where the young woman had watched her father. It was evident,
even at a distance, that Mrs. Ward was greatly distressed. When the
young woman reached her mother's side, Mrs. Ward said, simply, “Your
father, dear—he is terribly upset. Go to him, Helen, you can always do
more for him than any one else—he needs you.”
It was not an easy task for Helen Ward to face her father just then.
As she went in search of him she tried to put from her mind all that
she had seen and to remember only that he was ill. She found him in the
most distant and lonely part of the grounds, sitting with his face
buried in his hands—a figure of hopeless despair.
While still some distance away, she forced herself to call cheerily,
As he raised his head, she turned to pick a few flowers from a
near-by bed. When he had had a moment to regain, in a measure, his
self-control, she went toward him, arranging her blossoms with careful
Adam Ward watched his daughter as she drew near, much as a condemned
man might have watched through the grating of a prison window.
“What is it, father?” she asked, gently, when she had come close to
his side. “Another one of your dreadful nervous headaches?”
He put a shaking hand to his brow. “Yes,” he said wearily.
“I am so sorry,” she returned, sitting down beside him. “You have
been thinking too hard again, haven't you?”
“Yes, I guess I have been thinking too hard.”
“But you're going to stop all that now, aren't you?” she continued,
cheerily. “You're just going to forget the old Mill, and do nothing but
rest and play with me.”
“Could I learn to play, do you think, Helen?”
“Why, of course you could, father, with me to teach you. That's the
best thing I do, you know.”
He watched her closely. “And you don't think that I—that I am no
longer capable of managing my affairs?”
She laughed gayly. “What a silly question—you capable—
you, father, the best brain—the best business executive in
Millsburgh. You know that is what everybody says of you. You are just
tired, and need a good rest, that is all.”
The man's drooping shoulders lifted and his face brightened as he
said, slowly, “I guess perhaps you are right, daughter.”
“I am sure of it,” she returned, eagerly. Then she added brightly,
as if prompted by a sudden inspiration, “I'll tell you what you do—ask
“Ask the Interpreter!”
She nodded, smiling as if she had put a puzzling conundrum to him.
“You mean for me to ask that paralyzed old basket maker's advice?
You mean, ask him if I should retire from business?”
Again she nodded with a little laugh; but under her laughter there
was a note of earnestness.
“And don't you know,” he said, “that it is the Interpreter who is at
the bottom of all my trouble?”
“The Interpreter, I tell you, is back of the whole thing. He is the
brains of the labor organizations in Millsburgh and has been for years.
Why, it was the Interpreter who organized the first union in this
district. He has done more to build them up than all the others put
together. Pete Martin and Charlie, the ringleaders of the Mill workers'
union, are only his active lieutenants. I haven't a doubt but that he
is responsible for this agitator Jake Vodell's coming to Millsburgh.
That miserable shack on the cliff is the real headquarters of labor in
this part of the country. Your Interpreter is a fine one for me
to go to for advice. His hut is a fine place for your brother to spend
his spare time. It would be a fine thing, right now, with this man
Vodell in town, for me to resign and leave the Mill in the hands of
John, who is already in the hands of the Interpreter and the Martins
and their Mill workers' union!”
As Adam finished, the deep sonorous tones of the great Mill whistle
sounded over the community. It was the signal for the closing of the
Obedient to the habit of years, the Mill owner looked at his watch.
In his mind he saw the day force trooping from the building and the
night shift coming in. Throughout the entire city, in office and shop
and store and home, the people ordered their days by the sound of that
whistle, and Adam Ward had been very proud of this recognition accorded
Wearily, as one exhausted by a day of hard labor, this man who so
feared the power of the Interpreter looked up at his daughter. “I wish
I could rest,” he said.
CHAPTER VIII. WHILE THE PEOPLE SLEEP
The Interpreter's hands were busy with his basket weaving; his mind
seemingly was occupied more with other things. Frequently he paused to
look up from his work and, with his eyes fixed on the Mill, the Flats
and the homes on the hillside, apparently considered the life that lay
before him and of which he had been for so many years an interested
observer and student. On the opposite side of the table, silent Billy
was engaged with something that had to do with the manufacturing
interests of their strange partnership.
When Jake Vodell reached the landing at the top of the stairway, he
stopped to look about the place with curious, alert interest, noting
with quick glances every object in the immediate vicinity of the hut,
as if fixing them in his mind. Satisfied at last by the thoroughness of
his inspection, he went toward the house, but his step on the board
walk made no sound. At the outer door of the little hut the man halted
again, and again he looked quickly about the premises. Apparently there
was no one at home. Silently he entered the room and the next instant
discovered the two men on the porch.
The Interpreter's attention at the moment was fixed upon his work
and he remained unaware of the intruder's presence, while Jake Vodell,
standing in the doorway, regarded the old basket maker curiously, with
a contemptuous smile on his bearded lips.
But Billy Rand saw him. A moment he looked at the man in the doorway
inquiringly, as he would have regarded any one of the Interpreter's
many visitors; then the deaf and dumb man's expression changed.
Glancing quickly at his still unobserving companion, he caught up a
hatchet that lay among the tools on the table and, with a movement that
was not unlike the guarding action of a huge mastiff, rose to his feet.
His face was a picture of animal rage; his teeth were bared, his eyes
gleamed, his every muscle was tense.
The man in the doorway was evidently no coward, but the smile
vanished from his heavy face and his right hand went quickly inside his
vest. “What's the matter with you?” he said, sharply, as Billy started
toward him with deliberate menace in his movement.
At the sound of the man's voice the Interpreter looked up. One
glance and the old basket maker caught the wheels of his chair and with
a quick, strong movement rolled himself between the two men—so close
to Billy that he caught his defender by the arm. Facing his enraged
companion, the Interpreter talked to him rapidly in their sign language
and held out his hand for the hatchet. The silent Billy reluctantly
surrendered the weapon and drew back to his place on the other side of
the table, where he sat glaring at the stranger in angry watchfulness.
The man in the doorway laughed harshly. “They told me I would find a
helpless old cripple up here,” he said. “I think you are pretty well
protected at that.”
Regarding the stranger gravely, the Interpreter apologized for his
companion. “You can see that Billy is not wholly responsible,” he
explained. “He is little more than a child mentally; his actions are
often apparently governed wholly by that strange instinct which seems
to guide the animals. He is very devoted to me.”
“He seems to be in earnest all right,” said the stranger. “He is a
husky brute, too.”
The Interpreter, regarding the man inquiringly, almost as if he were
seeking in the personality of his visitor the reason for Billy's
startling conduct, replied, simply, “He would have killed you.”
With a shrug of his thick shoulders, the stranger uninvited came
forward and helped himself to a chair, and, with the air of one
introducing a person of some importance, said, “I am Vodell—Jake
Vodell. You have heard of me, I think, heh?”
“Oh, yes. Indeed, I should say that every one has heard of you, Mr.
Vodell. Your work has given you even more than national prominence, I
The man was at no pains to conceal his satisfaction. “I am known,
“It is odd,” said the Interpreter, “but your face seems familiar to
me, as if I had met you before.”
“You have heard me speak somewhere, maybe, heh?”
“No, it cannot be that. You have never been in Millsburgh before,
“It is strange,” mused the old basket maker.
“It is the papers,” returned Vodell with a shrug. “Many times the
papers have my picture—you must have seen.”
“Of course, that is it,” exclaimed the Interpreter. “I remember now,
distinctly. It was in connection with that terrible bomb outrage in—”
“Sir!” interrupted the other indignantly. “Outrage—what do you
“I was thinking of the innocent people who were killed or injured,”
returned the Interpreter, calmly. “I believe you were also prominent in
those western strikes where so many women and children suffered, were
The labor agitator replied with the exact manner of a scientific
lecturer. “It is unfortunate that innocent persons must sometimes be
hurt in these affairs. But that is one of the penalties that society
must pay for tolerating the conditions that make these industrial wars
“If I remember correctly, you were in the South, too, at the time
that mill was destroyed.”
“Oh, yes, they had me in jail there. But that was nothing. I have
many such experiences. They are to me very commonplace. Wherever there
are the poor laboring men who must fight for their rights, I go. The
mines, shops, mills, factories—it is all the same to me. I go wherever
I can serve the Cause. I have been in America now ten years, nearly
“You are not, then, a citizen of this country?”
Jake Vodell laughed contemptuously. “Oh, sure I am a citizen of this
country—this great America of fools and cowards that talk all the time
so big about freedom and equality, while the capitalist money hogs hold
them in slavery and rob them of the property they create. I had to
become a citizen when the war came, you see, or they would have sent me
away. But for that I would make myself a citizen of some cannibal
country first.” The old basket maker's dark eyes blazed with quick fire
and he lifted himself with sudden strength to a more erect position in
his wheel chair. But when he spoke his deep voice was calm and steady.
“You have been in our little city nearly a month, I understand.”
“Just about. I have been looking around, getting acquainted,
studying the situation. One must be very careful to know the right men,
you understand. It pays, I find, to go a little slow at first. We will
go fast enough later.” His thick lips parted in a meaning grin.
The Interpreter's hands gripped the wheels of his chair.
“Everybody tells me I should see you,” the agitator continued.
“Everywhere it is the same. They all talk of the Interpreter. 'Go to
the Interpreter,' they say. When they told me that this great
Interpreter is an old white-headed fellow without any legs, I laughed
and said, 'What can he do to help the laboring man? He is not good for
anything but to sit in a wheel chair and make baskets all the day. I
need men.' But they all answer the same thing, 'Go and see the
Interpreter.' And so I am here.”
When the Interpreter was silent, his guest demanded, harshly, “They
are all right, heh? You are a friend to the workingman? Tell me, is it
The old basket maker spoke with quiet dignity. “For twenty-five
years Millsburgh has been my home, and the Millsburgh people have been
my friends. You, sir, have been here less than a month; I have known
you but a few minutes.”
Jake Vodell laughed understandingly. “Oh-ho, so that is it? Maybe
you like to see my credentials before we talk?”
The Interpreter held up a hand in protest. “Your reputation is
sufficient, Mr. Vodell.”
The man acknowledged the compliment—as he construed it—with a
shrug and a pleased laugh. “And all that is said of you by the laboring
class in your little city is sufficient,” he returned. “Even the men in
McIver's factory tell me you are the best friend that labor has ever
had in this place.” He paused expectantly.
The man in the wheel chair bowed his head.
“And then,” continued Jake Vodell, with a frown of displeasure,
“when I come to see you, to ask some questions about things that I
should know, what do I hear? The daughter of this old slave-driver and
robber—this capitalist enemy of the laboring class—Adam Ward, she
comes also to see this Interpreter who is such a friend of the people.”
The Interpreter laughed. “And Sam Whaley's children, they come too.”
“Oh, yes, that is better. I know Sam Whaley. He is a good man who
will be a great help to me. But I do not understand this woman
“I have known Miss Ward ever since she was born; I worked in the
Mill at the same bench with her father and Peter Martin,” said the man
in the wheel chair, with quiet dignity.
“I see. It is not so bad sometimes to have a friend or two among
these millionaires when there is no danger of it being misunderstood.
But this man, who was once a workman and who deserted his class—this
traitor, her father—does he also call on you, Mr. Interpreter?”
“Once in a great while,” answered the Interpreter.
Jake Vodell laughed knowingly. “When he wants something, heh?” Then,
with an air of taking up the real business of his visit to the little
hut on the cliff, he said, “Suppose now you tell me something about
this son of Adam Ward. You have known him since he was a boy too—the
same as the girl?”
“Yes,” said the Interpreter, “I have known John Ward all his life.”
Something in the old basket maker's voice made Jake Vodell look at
him sharply and the agitator's black brows were scowling as he said,
“So—you are friends with him, too, I guess, heh?”
“I am, sir; and so is Captain Charlie Martin, who is the head of our
Mill workers' union, as you may have heard.”
“Exactly. That is why I ask. So many of the poor fools who slave for
this son of Adam Ward in the Mill say that he is such a fine man—so
kind. Oh, wonderful! Bah! When was the wolf whelped that would be kind
to a rabbit? You shall tell me now about the friendship between this
wolf cub of the capitalist Mill owner and this poor rabbit, son of the
workman Peter Martin who has all his life been a miserable slave in the
Mill. They were in the army together, heh?”
“They enlisted in the same company when the first call came and were
comrades all through the worst of the fighting in France.”
“And before that, they were friends, heh?”
“They had been chums as boys, when the family lived in the old house
next door to the Martins. But during the years that John was away in
school and college Adam moved his family to the place on the hill where
they live now. When John was graduated and came home to stay, he
naturally found his friends in another circle. His intimacy with Pete
Martin's boy was not renewed—until the war.”
“Exactly,” grunted Jake Vodell. “And how did Adam Ward like it that
his boy should go to war? Not much, I think. It was all right for the
workman's boy to go; but the Mill owner's son—that was different,
There was a note of pride in the Interpreter's voice, as he
answered, “Adam was determined that the boy should not go at all, even
if he were drafted. But John said that it was bad enough to let other
men work to feed and clothe him in ordinary times of peace without
letting them do his fighting for him as well.”
“This Adam Ward's son said that!” exclaimed the agitator. “Huh—it
was for the effect—a grand-stand play.”
“He enlisted,” retorted the Interpreter. “And when his father would
have used his influence to secure some sort of commission with an easy
berth, John was more indignant than ever. He said if he ever wore
shoulder straps they would be a recognition of his service to his
country and not, as he put it, a pretty gift from a rich father. So he
and Charlie Martin both enlisted as privates, and, as it happened, on
the same day. Under such circumstances it was quite as natural that
their old friendship should be reestablished as that they should have
drifted apart under the influence of Adam Ward's prosperity.”
Jake Vodell laughed disagreeably. “And then this wonderful son of
your millionaire Mill owner comes out of the war and the army exactly
as he went in, nothing but a private—not even a medal—heh? But this
workman from the Mill, he comes back a captain with a distinguished
service medal? I think maybe Private Ward's father and mother and
sister liked that—no?”
Disregarding these comments, the Interpreter said, “Now that I have
answered your questions about the friendship of John Ward and Charlie
Martin, may I ask just why you are so much interested in the matter?”
The agitator gazed at the man in the wheel chair with an expression
of incredulous amazement. “Is it possible you do not understand?” he
demanded. “And you such a friend to the workingman! But wait—one more
thing, then I will answer you. This daughter of Adam Ward—she is also
good friends with her old playmate who is now Captain Martin, is she?
The workman goes sometimes to the big house on the hill to see his
millionaire friends, does he?”
The Interpreter answered, coldly, “I can't discuss Miss Ward with
“Oh-ho! And now I will answer your question as to my interest. This
John Ward is already a boss in the Mill. His father, everybody tells
me, is not well. Any time now the old man may retire from the business
and the son will have his place as general manager. He will be the
owner. The friendship between these two men is not good—because
Charlie Martin is the leader of the union and there can be no such
friendship between a leader of the laboring class and one of the
employer class without great loss to our Cause. You will see. These
rich owners of the Mill, they will flatter and make much of this poor
workman captain because of his influence among the people who slave for
them, and so any movement to secure for the workmen their rights will
be defeated. Do you understand now, Mister basket maker, heh?”
The Interpreter bowed his head.
The agitator continued. “Already I find it very hard to accomplish
much with this Mill workers' union. Except for our friend, Sam Whaley,
and a few others, the fools are losing their class loyalty. Their
fighting spirit is breaking down. It will not do, I tell you. At the
McIver factory it is all very different. It will be easy there. The
workingmen show the proper spirit—they will be ready when I give the
word. But I am not pleased with the situation in this Mill of Adam
Ward's. This fine friendship between the son of the owner and the son
of the workman must stop. Friendship—bah!—it is a pretense, a sham, a
The man's manner, when he thus passed judgment upon the comradeship
of John and Charlie, was that of an absolute monarch who was
righteously annoyed at some manifestation of disloyalty among his
subjects. His voice was harsh with the authority of one whose mandates
are not to be questioned. His countenance was dark with scowling
“And you, too, my friend,” he went on, glaring from under his black
brows at the old man in the wheel chair, “you will be wise if you
accept my suggestion and be a little careful yourself. It is not so
bad, perhaps, this young woman coming to see you, but I am told that
her brother also comes to visit with the Interpreter. And this leader
of the Mill workers' union, Charlie Martin, he comes, too. Everybody
says you are the best friend of the working people. But I tell you
there cannot be friendship between the employer class and the laboring
class—it must be between them always war. So, Mr. Interpreter, you
must look out. The time is not far when the people of Millsburgh will
know for sure who is a friend to the labor class and who is a friend to
the employer class.”
The Interpreter received this warning from Jake Vodell exactly as he
had listened to Bobby Whaley's boyish talk about blowing up the castle
of Adam Ward on the hill.
Rising abruptly, the agitator, without so much as a by-your-leave,
went into the house where he proceeded to examine the books and
periodicals on the table. Billy started from his place to follow, but
the Interpreter shook his head forbiddingly, and while Jake Vodell
passed on to the farther corner of the room and stood looking over the
well filled shelves of the Interpreter's library, the old basket maker
talked to his companion in their silent language.
When this foreign defender of the rights of the American laboring
class returned to the porch he was smiling approval. “Good!” he said.
“You are all right, I think. No man could read the papers and books
that you have there, and not be the friend of freedom and a champion of
the people against their capitalist masters. We will have a great
victory for the Cause in Millsburgh, comrade. You shall see. It is too
bad that you do not have your legs so that you could take an active
part with me in the work that I will do.”
The Interpreter smiled. “If you do not mind, I would like to know
something of your plans. That is,” he added, courteously, “so far as
you are at liberty to tell me.”
“Certainly I will tell you, comrade,” returned the other, heartily.
“Who can say—it may be that you will be of some small use to me after
all.” His eyes narrowed slyly. “It may be that for these Mill owners to
come to you here in your little hut is perhaps not so bad when we think
about it a little more, heh? The daughter of Adam Ward might be led to
say many foolish little things that to a clever man like you would be
understood. Even the brother, the manager of the Mill—well, I have
known men like him to talk of themselves and their plans rather freely
at times when they thought there was no harm. And what possible harm
could there be in a poor crippled old basket maker like you, heh?” The
man laughed as though his jest were perfectly understood and
appreciated by his host—as, indeed, it was.
“But about my plans for this campaign in Millsburgh,” he went on.
“You know the great brotherhood that I represent and you are familiar
with their teachings of course.” He gestured comprehensively toward the
The man in the wheel chair silently nodded assent.
Jake Vodell continued. “I am come to Millsburgh, as I go everywhere,
in the interests of our Cause. It is my experience that I can always
work best through the unions.”
The Interpreter interrupted. “Oh, one of our Millsburgh unions sent
for you then? I did not know.”
The agitator shrugged his shoulders impatiently. “No—no—I was not
sent for. I was sent. I am here because it was reported that there was
a good opportunity to advance the Cause. No union brings me. I come to
the unions, to work with them for the freedom of the laboring class.”
“And of what union are you a member, sir?” asked the Interpreter.
“Me! Ha! I am not a member of any of your silly American unions! I
belong to that greater union, if you please, which embraces them all.
But your unions know and receive me as a leader because of the work
that I do for all. Our Cause is the cause of the working people of
America, as it is the cause of the laboring classes in England, and
France, and Russia, and Germany, and everywhere in the world.”
Again the old basket maker bowed his silent assent.
“You have, in this place,” continued the agitator, “one strong union
of the Mill workers. In the other shops and factories and in the trades
it is like McIver's factory, the men are not so well organized.”
Again the Interpreter interrupted. “The working people of
Millsburgh, generally, receive the highest wage paid anywhere in the
country, do they not?”
“Ah, but surely that is not the question, comrade. Surely you
understand that all the laboring people of America must be united in
one brotherhood with all the other countries of the world, so that
they, the producers of wealth, shall be able to take possession of, and
operate, the industries of this country, and finally take this
government away from the capitalist class who are now the real owners
of what you call your 'land of the free and the home of the brave.'
Bah! You fool Americans do not know the first meaning of the word
freedom. You are a nation of slaves. If you were as brave as you sing,
you very soon would be your own masters.”
“And your plan for Millsburgh?” asked the Interpreter, calmly.
“It is simple. But for this John Ward and his friendship with
Charlie Martin that so deceives everybody, it will be easy. The first
step in my campaign here will be to call out the employees of McIver's
factory on a strike. I start with McIver's workmen because his
well-known position against the laboring class will make it easy for me
to win the sympathy of the public for the strikers.”
“But,” said the Interpreter, “the factory union is working under an
agreement with McIver.”
The self-appointed savior of the American working people shrugged
his heavy shoulders disdainfully. “That is no matter—it is always easy
to find a grievance. When the factory men have walked out, then will
come the sympathetic strike of your strong Mill workers' union. All the
other labor organizations will be forced to join us, whether they wish
to or not. I shall have all Millsburgh so that not a wheel can turn
anywhere. The mills—the factories—the builders—the bakeries—
everything will be in our hands and then, my comrade, then!”
The man rose to his feet and stood looking out over the life that
lay within view from the Interpreter's balcony-porch, as if possessed
with the magnitude of the power that would be his when this American
community should be given into his hand.
Silent, watchful Billy stirred uneasily.
The Interpreter, touching his companion's arm, shook his head.
Jake Vodell, deep in his ambitious dream, did not notice. “The time
is coming, comrade,” he said, “and it is nearer than the fool Americans
think, when the labor class will rise in their might and take what is
theirs. My campaign here in Millsburgh, you must know, is only one of
the hundreds of little fires that we are lighting all over this
country. The American people, they are asleep. They have drugged
themselves with their own talk of how safe and strong and prosperous
they are. Bah! There is no people so easy to fool. They think we strike
for recognition of some union, or that it is for higher wages, or some
other local grievance. Bah! We use for an excuse anything that will
give us a hold on the labor class. These silly unions, they are nothing
in themselves. But we—we can use them in the Cause. And so
everywhere—North, South, East, West—we light our little fires. And
when we are ready—Boom! One big blaze will come so quick from all
points at once that it will sweep the country before the sleeping fools
wake up. And then—then, comrade, you shall see what will happen to
your capitalist vultures and your employer swine, who have so long
grown fat on the strength of the working class.”
A moment longer he stood as if lost in the contemplation of the
glory of that day, when, in the triumph of his leadership, the people
of the nation he so despised and hated would rise in bloody revolution
against their own government and accept in its stead the dictatorship
of lawless aliens who profess allegiance to no one but their own
Then he turned back to the Interpreter with a command, “You,
comrade, shall keep me informed, heh? From these people of our enemy
class who come here to your hut, you will learn the things I will want
to know. I shall come to you from time to time, but not too often. But,
you must see that your watchdog there has better manners for me, heh?”
He laughed and was gone.
At the club that evening, Jim McIver sat with a group of men
discussing the industrial situation.
“They're fixing for a fight all right,” said one. “What do you
The factory owner answered, “They can have a fight any time they
want it. Nothing but a period of starvation will ever put the laboring
class back where it belongs and the sooner we get it over the better it
will be for business conditions all around.”
In the twilight dust and grime of the Flats, a woman sat on the
doorstep of a wretched house. Her rounded shoulders slouched
wearily—her tired hands were folded in her lap. She stared with dull,
listless eyes at the squalid homes of her neighbors across the street.
The Interpreter had described the woman to Helen—“a girl with fine
instincts for the best things of life and a capacity for great
In a room back of a pool hall of ill-repute, the man Jake Vodell sat
in conference with three others of his brotherhood. A peculiar knock
sounded at the door. Vodell drew the bolt. Sam Whaley entered. “My kids
told me you wanted me,” said the workman. Long into the night, on the
balcony porch of the hut on the cliff, John Ward and Captain Charlie
Martin talked with the Interpreter. As they talked, they watched the
lights of the Mill, the Flats, the business streets, and the homes.
CHAPTER IX. THE MILL
It was pay day at the Mill.
No one, unless he, at some period in his life, has been absolutely
dependent upon the wages of his daily toil, can appreciate a pay day.
To experience properly the thrill of a pay day one must have no other
source of income. The pay check must be the only barrier between one
and actual hunger. Bobby and Maggie Whaley knew the full meaning of pay
day. Their mother measured life itself by that event.
Throughout the great industrial hive that morning there was an
electrical thrill of anticipation. Smiles were more frequent; jests
were passed with greater zest; men moved with a freer step, a more
joyous swing. The very machinery seemed in some incomprehensible way to
be animated with the spirit of the workmen, while the droning, humming,
roaring voice of the Mill was unquestionably keyed to a happier note.
In the offices among the bookkeepers, clerks, stenographers and the
department heads, the same brightening of the atmosphere was
noticeable. Nor was the spirit of the event confined to the Mill
itself; throughout the entire city—in the stores and banks, the post
office, the places of amusement, in the homes on the hillside and in
the Flats—pay day at the Mill was the day of days.
It was an hour, perhaps, after the whistle had started the big plant
for the afternoon.
John Ward was deep in the consideration of some business of moment
with the superintendent, George Parsons—a sturdy, square-jawed,
steady-eyed, middle-aged man, who had come up from the ranks by the
sheer force of his natural ability.
* * * * *
There is nothing at all unusual about John Ward. He is simply a good
specimen of the more intelligent class of our young American manhood,
with, it might be, a more than average mind for business, which he had
inherited from his father. He is, in short, a fair type of the healthy,
clean-living, straight-thinking, broad-gauged, big-hearted young
citizen such as one may find by the hundreds of thousands in the many
fields of our national activities. In our arts and industries, in our
banks and commercial houses, in our factories and newspapers, on our
farms and in our professions, in our educational institutions, among
our writers and scientists, in our great transportation organizations,
and in the business of our government, our John Wards are to be found,
ready to take the places left to them by the passing of their fathers.
Since his return from the war, the young man had devoted himself
with the enthusiasm of a great purpose to a practical study of his
father's big industrial plant. Adam still held the general management,
but his son knew that the time must come when the responsibility of
that position would fall to him.
With John's inherited executive ability and his comradeship, plus
the driving force of his fixed and determined purpose, it was not
strange that he so quickly gained the loyal support and cooperation of
his father's long-trained assistants. His even-tempered friendliness
and ready recognition of his dependence upon his fellow workers won
their love. His industry, his clear-headed, open-minded consideration
of the daily problems presented, with his quick grasp of essential
details, commanded their admiring respect. Under the circumstance of
his father's nervous trouble and the consequent enforced absence of
Adam from his office for more and more frequent periods, it was
inevitable that John, by common, if silent, consent of the executive
heads, should be advanced more and more toward the general manager's
The superintendent, gathering up his blue prints and memoranda,
arose. “And will that be all, sir?” he asked, with a smile.
Nearly every one smiled when he finished an interview with Adam
Ward's son; probably because John himself nearly always smiled when he
ended a consultation or gave an order.
“That's all from my side, George,” he said, leaning back in his
chair and looking up at the superintendent in his open, straightforward
way that so surely invited confidence and trust. “Have you anything
else on your mind?”
“Nary a thing, John,” returned the older man, and with a parting “so
long” he started toward the door that opened into the Mill.
With that smile of genuine affection still lingering on his face,
John watched the sturdy back of the old superintendent as if, for the
moment, his thoughts had swung from George Parsons' work to George
The superintendent opened the door and was about to step out when he
stopped suddenly and with a quick, decided movement drew back into the
room and closed the door again. To the young man in the other end of
the big office it looked as though the superintendent had seen
something that startled him. Another moment and George was again
bending over John's desk.
“The old man is out there, John.”
“What! Father! Why I had no idea that he was coming down to-day.” A
look of anxiety came into the frank gray eyes. “He has not been so well
lately, George. I wonder why he didn't come to the office first as
“He sometimes slips in back that way, you know,” returned the
“He really ought not to be here,” said the young man. “I wish—” He
“He's generally in a state of mind when he comes in like that,” said
George. “You're not needing a goat, are you, boy?”
John smiled. “There's not a thing wrong in the plant so far as I
“I don't know of anything either,” returned the other, “but we may
not know all the way. There's one thing sure, the old man ought not to
be wandering through the works alone. There's some of those rough-necks
would—well it's too darned easy, sometimes, for accidents to happen,
do you see? I'll rustle out there and stick around convenient like.
You'd better stay where you are as if you didn't know he was on the
job. And remember, son, if you should need a goat, I'm
qualified. If anything has happened—whether it has or he only thinks
it has—just you blame it on to old George. I'll understand.”
The work was at the height of its swing when burly Max Gardner
paused a second to straighten his back and wipe the sweat from his
sooty face. As he stooped again to his heavy task, he said to his mates
in a voice that rumbled up from the depths of his naked, hairy chest,
“Get a gate on y'—get a gate on y'—y' rough-necks. 'Tis th' boss
that's a-lookin' 'round to see who he'll be tyin' th' can to next.”
The men laughed.
“There's one thing sure,” said Bill Connley, who looked as though
his body were built of rawhide stretched over a framework of steel,
“when John Ward ties the can to a man, that man knows what 'tis for.
When he give Jim Billings his time last week, he says to him, says he,
'Jim, I'm sorry for y'. Not because I'm fir'in' y',' says he, 'but
because y're such a loafer that y're no good to yerself nor to anybody
else—y're a disgrace to the Mill,' says he, 'and to every honest
working man in it.' An' Jim, he never give a word back—just hung his
head an' got out of sight like a dog with his tail between his legs
after a good swift kick.”
“An' th' young boss was right at that,” commented sturdy Soot
Walters. “Jim was a good man when he was new on the job, but since he
got the wrinkles out of his belly, he's been killin' more time than any
three men in the works.”
“Pass me that pinch bar, Bill,” called Dick Grant from the other
side. As he reached for the tool, his glance took in the figure that
had caught the eye of big Max. “Holy Mike!” he exclaimed, “'tis the old
Every man in the group except Max turned his face toward Adam Ward,
who stood some distance away, and a very different tone marked the
voice of Bill Connley as he said, “Now what d'ye think brings that
danged old pirate here to look us over this day?”
“Who the devil cares?” growled Scot, as, with an air of sullen
indifference, they turned again to their work.
* * * * *
No one seeing the Mill owner as he viewed his possessions that day
could have believed that this was the wretched creature that Helen had
watched from the arbor. Away from the scenes of his business life Adam
Ward was like some poor, nervous, half-insane victim of the drug habit.
At the Mill, he was that same drug fiend under the influence of his
His manner was calm and steady, with no sign of nervousness or lack
of control. His gray face—which, in a way, was the face of a
student—gave no hint of the thoughts and emotions that stirred within
him. As he looked about the great industrial institution to which he
had given himself, body, mind and soul, all the best years of his life,
his countenance was as expressionless as the very machines of iron and
steel and wood among which he moved—a silent, lonely, brooding spirit.
No glow of worthy pride in the work of his manhood, no gleam of
friendly comradeship for his fellow workmen, no joy of his kinship with
the great humanity that was here personified shone in his eyes or
animated his presence. Cold and calculating, he looked upon the human
element in the Mill exactly as he looked upon the machinery. Men cost
him a certain definite sum of dollars; they must be made to return to
him a certain increase in definite dollars on that cost. The living
bodies, minds, and souls that, moving here and there in the haze of
smoke and steam and dust, vitalized the inanimate machinery and gave
life and intelligent purpose to the whole, were no more to him than one
of his adding machines in the office that, mechanically obedient to his
touch, footed up long columns of dollars and cents. It is not strange
that the humanity of the Mill should respond to the spirit of its owner
with the spirit of his adding machines and give to him his totals of
dollars and cents—with nothing more.
Quickly the feeling of Adam Ward's presence spread throughout the
busy plant. Smiling faces grew grim and sullen. In the place of
good-natured jest and cheerful laugh there were muttered curses and
contemptuous epithets. The very atmosphere seemed charged with
antagonism and rebellious hatred.
“Wad ye look at it?” said one. “And they tell me that white-faced
old devil used to work along side of Pete and the Interpreter at that
same bench where Pete's a-workin' yet.”
“He did that,” said another. “I was a kid in the Mill at the time;
'twas before he got hold of his new process.”
“Pete Martin is a better man than Adam Ward ever was or will be at
that—process or no process,” said a third, while every man within
hearing endorsed the sentiment with a hearty word, an oath or a pointed
“But the young boss is a different sort, though,” came from the
“He is that!”
“The boy's all right.”
“John's a good man.”
A workman with a weak face and shifty eyes paused in passing to say,
“You'll find out how different the boy is onct he's put to the test.
He's the same breed, an' it's just like Jake Vodell said last night,
there ain't one of the greedy capitalist class that wouldn't nail a
laboring man to the cross of their damnable system of slavery if they
A silence fell over the group.
Then a dry voice drawled, “Jake Vodell ain't never overworked
himself as anybody knows of, has he? As for you, Sam Whaley, I'm
thinkin' it would take somethin' more than a crucifyin' to get much
profit out of you, the way you mooch around.”
There was a general laugh at this and Sam Whaley went on his weak
way to do whatever it was that he was supposed to be doing.
“Sam's all right, Bob,” said one who had laughed. “His heart is in
the right place.”
“Sure he is,” agreed Bob. “But I sometimes can't help thinkin', just
the same, that if I was a-ownin' and a-workin' slaves, I'd consider him
a mighty poor piece of property.”
When Adam Ward entered the office, some time later, he walked
straight to his son's desk, without so much as a glance or a nod of
recognition toward any other soul in the big room.
“I want to talk with you, John,” he said, grimly, and passed on into
his private office.
The closing of the door of that sacred inner room behind John was
the signal for a buzz of excited comments.
“Lordy,” gasped a stenographer to her nearest neighbor, “but I'm
sorry for poor young Mr. Ward—did you see the old man's face?”
The half-whispered remark expressed, with fair accuracy, the general
sentiment of the entire force.
Adam Ward did not sit down at his desk, but going to a window he
stood looking out as though deep in thought.
“Father,” said John, at last, “what is it? Has anything happened?”
Adam turned slowly, and it was evident that he was holding his
self-control by a supreme effort of will. “I have made up my mind to
quit,” he said. “From to-day on you will take my place and assume my
responsibilities in the Mill.”
“I am glad, father,” said John, simply, “You really should be free
from all business cares. As for my taking your place in the Mill,” he
smiled, “no one could ever do that, father.”
“You have full control and absolute authority from to-day on,”
returned Adam. “I shall never put my foot inside the doors of the plant
or the office again.”
“But, father!” cried John. “There is no need for you to—”
Adam interrupted him with an imperious gesture. “There is no use
arguing about it,” he said, coldly. “But there are two or three things
that I want to tell you—that I think you ought to know. You can take
them from me or not, as you please. My ideas and policies that made
this institution what it is to-day will probably be thrown aside as so
much worthless junk, but I am going to give you a word or two of
warning just the same.”
John knew that when his father was in this mood there was nothing to
do but to keep silent. But the expression of the old Mill owner's face
filled his son's heart with pity, and the boy could not refrain from
saying, “I am sorry you feel that way about it, father, because really
you are all wrong. Can't we sit down and talk it over comfortably?”
“I prefer to stand,” returned Adam. “I can say all I have to say in
a few words. I am retiring because I know, now, after”—he
hesitated—“after the last two nights, that I must. I am turning the
Mill over to you because I would rather burn it to the ground than see
it in the hands of any one outside the family. I believe, too, that the
only way to get the wild, idiotic ideas of that old fool basket maker
out of your head is to make you personally responsible for the success
or failure of this business. I have watched you long enough to know
that you have the ability to handle it, and I am convinced that once
you realize how much money you can make, you will drop all your
sentimental nonsense and get your feet on solid ground.”
John Ward's cheeks flushed, but he made no reply to his father's
“I had those same romantic notions about work and business myself
when I was your age,” continued Adam, “but experience taught me better.
Experience will teach you.” He paused and went to stand at the window
Presently Adam faced about once more. “I suppose you have noticed
that McIver is greatly interested in your sister Helen?”
“I imagined so,” returned John, soberly. “Well, he is. He wants to
marry her. If she will only be sensible and see it right, it is a
wonderful opportunity for us. McIver made over a million out of the
war. His factory is next to this in size and importance and it is so
closely related to the Mill that a combination of the two industries,
with the control of the new process, would give you a tremendous
advantage. You could practically put all competitors out of business.
McIver has approached me several times on the proposition but I have
been holding off, hoping that Helen would accept him, so that their
marriage would tie the thing up that much tighter. You and McIver, with
the family relation established by Helen, would make a great team.” He
hesitated and his face worked with nervous emotion as he added, “There
is something about the new process that—perhaps—you should know—I—“
He stopped abruptly to pace up and down the room in nervous excitement,
as if fighting for the mastery of the emotions aroused by this mention
of his patented property.
As John Ward watched his father and felt the struggle within the
man's secret self, the room seemed suddenly filled with the invisible
presence of that hidden thing. The younger man's eyes filled with tears
and he cried in protest, “Father—father—please don't—”
For a moment Adam Ward faced his son in silence. Then, with a sigh
of relief, he muttered, “It's all right, John; just one of my nervous
attacks. It's gone now.”
Changing the subject abruptly, he said, “I must warn you, my
boy—keep away from the Interpreter. Have nothing to do with him; he is
dangerous. And watch out for Pete Martin and Charlie, too. They are all
three together. This agitator, Jake Vodell, is going to make trouble.
He is already getting a start with McIver's men. You have some radicals
right here on your pay roll, but if you stick with McIver and follow
his lead you will come through easily and put these unions where they
belong. That's all, I guess,” he finished, wearily. “Call in your
“Just a moment, father,” said John Ward, steadily. “It is not fair
to either of us for me to accept the management of the Mill without
telling you that I can't do all that you have suggested.”
Adam looked at his son sharply. “And what can't you do?” he
“I shall never work with McIver in any way,” answered John slowly.
“You know what I think of him and his business principles. Helen's
interest in him is her own affair, but I have too great a sense of
loyalty to my country and too much self-respect ever to think of McIver
as anything but a traitor and an enemy.”
“And what else?” asked Adam.
“I will not promise to keep away from the Interpreter. I reserve the
right to choose my own friends and business associates, and I will deal
with the employees of the Mill and with the unions without regard to
McIver's policies or any consideration of his interest in any way
For a long moment Adam Ward looked at his son who stood so straight
and uncompromisingly soldier-like before him. Suddenly, to John's
amazement, his father laughed. And there was not a little admiration
and pride in the old Mill owner's voice as he said, “I see! In other
words, if you are going to be the boss, you don't propose to have any
strings tied to you.”
“Would you, sir?” asked John.
“No, I wouldn't,” returned Adam and laughed again. “Well, go ahead.
Have it your own way. I am not afraid for you in the long run. You are
too much like me not to find out where your own interests lie, once you
come squarely up against the situation. I only wanted to help you, but
it looks as though you would have to go through the experience for
yourself. It's all right, son, go to it! Now call George.”
When the superintendent entered the private office, Adam Ward said,
briefly, “George, I am turning the Mill over to John here. From to-day
on he is the manager without any strings on him in any way. He has the
entire responsibility and is the only authority. He accounts to no one
but himself. That is all.”
Abruptly Adam Ward left the private office. Without even a look
toward the men in the big outer room who had served with him for years,
he passed on out to the street.
When the whistle sounded, John went out into the Mill to stand near
the window where the workmen passing in line received their envelopes.
From every part of the great main building, from the yards and the
several outer sheds and structures they came. From furnace and engine
and bench and machine they made their way toward that given point as
scattered particles of steel filings are drawn toward a magnet. The
converging paths of individuals touched, and two walked side by side.
Other individuals joined the two and as quickly trios and quartets came
together to form groups that united with other similar groups; while
from the mass thus assembled, the thin line was formed that extended
past the pay clerk's window and linked the Mill to the outer world.
In that eager throng of toilers Adam Ward's son saw men of almost
every race: Scotchmen greeted Norwegians; men from Ireland exchanged
friendly jests with men from Italy; sons of England laughed with the
sons of France; Danes touched elbows with Dutchmen; and men from Poland
stood shoulder to shoulder with men whose fathers fought with
Washington. And every man was marked alike with the emblems of a common
brotherhood—the brotherhood of work. Their faces were colored with the
good color of their toil—with the smoke of their furnaces, and the
grime of their engines, and the oil from their machines mixed with the
sweat of their own bodies. Their clothing was uniform with the insignia
of their united endeavor. And to the newly appointed manager of the
Mill, these men of every nation were comrades in a common cause,
spending the strength of their manhood for common human needs. He saw
that only in the work of the world could the brotherhood of man be
realized; only in the Mill of life's essential industries could the
nations of the earth become as one.
In that gathering of workmen the son of Adam Ward saw men of many
religions, sects and creeds: Christians and pagans; Catholics and
Protestants; men who worshiped the God of Abraham and men who worshiped
no God; followers of strange fanatical spiritualism and followers of a
stranger materialism. And he saw those many shades of human beliefs
blended and harmonized—brought into one comprehensive whole by the
power of the common necessities of human life.
He saw that the unity of the warring religions of the world would
not be accomplished in seminaries of speculative theological thought,
but that in the Mill of life the spiritual brotherhood of all mankind
would be realized. In work, he saw the true worship of a common God
whose vice-regent on earth is humanity itself.
In that pay-day assembly John saw men of middle age to whom the work
into which they daily put the strength of their lives meant nothing
less than the lives of their families. In the families dependent upon
the Mill he saw the life of the nation dependent upon the nation's
industries. As he saw in the line men old and gray and bent with the
toil of many years, he realized how the generation of this day is
indebted for every blessing of life—for life itself, indeed—to these
veterans of the Mill who have given, their years in work that the
nation might, through its industries, live and, in the building up of
its industries, grow strong.
As he watched the men of his own age, he thought how they, too, must
receive the torch from the failing hands of their passing fathers, and
in the Mill prove their manhood's right to carry the fire of their
country's industrial need.
And there were boys on the edge of manhood, who must be, by the
Mill, trained in work for the coming needs of their country; who must
indeed find their very manhood itself in work, or through all their
years remain wards of the people—a burden upon humanity—the weakness
of the nation. For as surely as work is health and strength and honor
and happiness and life, so surely is idleness disease and weakness and
shame and misery and death.
The home builder, the waster, the gambler, the loyal citizen, the
slacker, the honest and dishonest—they were all there at the pay
window of the Mill. And to each the pay envelope meant a different
thing. To big Max the envelope meant an education for his son. To Bill
Connley it meant food and clothing for his brood of children. To young
Scot it meant books for his study. To others it meant medicine or
doctors for sick ones at home. To others it meant dissipation and
dishonor. To all alike those pay envelopes meant Life.
As these men of the Mill passed the son of Adam Ward, there were
many smiling nods and hearty words of greeting. Now and then one would
speak a few words about his work. Others passed a laughing jest. Many
who were his comrades in France gave him the salute of their military
days—half in fun, but with a hint of underlying seriousness that made
the act a recognition of his rank in the industrial army.
And John returned these greetings in the same good spirit of
fellowship. To one it was, “Hello, Tony, how is that new baby at your
house?” To another, whose hand was swathed in a dirty bandage, “Take
care of that hand, Mack; don't get funny with it just because it's well
enough to use again.” To another, “How is the wife, Frank, better?
Good, that's fine.” Again it was, “You fellows on number six machine
made a record this week.” Again, “Who's the hoodoo on number seven
furnace?—four accidents in six days is going some—better look around
for your Jonah.” And again, “I heard about that stunt of yours, Bill;
the kid would have been killed sure if you hadn't kept your head and
nerve. It was great work, old man.” And to a lad farther down the line,
“You'll know better next time, won't you, son?” But there were some who
passed John Ward with averted faces or downcast eyes. Here and there
there were sneering, vicious glances and low muttered oaths and curses
and threats. Not infrequently the name of Jake Vodell was mentioned
with approved quotations from the agitator's speeches of hatred against
the employer class.
The last of the long line of workmen was approaching the window when
Pete Martin greeted the son of his old bench mate with a smile of
fatherly affection and pride.
“Hello, Uncle Pete,” returned John. “Where is Charlie?”
“I'm sure I don't know, John,” the old man answered, looking about.
“I supposed he had gone on, I was a little slow myself.”
“There he is,” said John, as the soldier workman came running from a
distant part of the building.
When Captain Charlie came up to them, his father moved on to the
window so that for a moment the two friends were alone.
“It's come, Charlie,” said John, in a low tone. “Father told me and
gave it out to the superintendent to-day.”
“Hurrah!” said Charlie Martin, and he would have said more but his
comrade interrupted him.
“Shut up, will you? We must go out to the hill to-morrow for a talk.
I'll come for you early.”
“Right!” said Charlie with a grin, “but may I be permitted to say
“Congratulations your foot!” returned the new general manager. “It's
going to be one whale of a job, old man.”
The last of the stragglers came near and Charlie Martin moved on, in
his turn, to the pay window.
When John arrived home in the late afternoon, his sister met him
with many joyful exclamations. “Is father in earnest? Are you really to
take his place, John?”
John laughed. “You would have thought he was in earnest if you had
heard him.” Then he asked, soberly, “Where is father, Helen; is he all
“He has been shut up in his room all alone ever since he told us,”
she returned, sadly. “I do hope he will be better now that he is to
have complete rest.”
As if determined to permit no cloud to mar the joy of the occasion,
she continued, with eager interest, “Do tell me about it, brother. Were
the men in the office glad? Aren't you happy and proud? And how did the
workmen take it?”
“The people in the office were very nice,” he answered, smiling back
at her. “Good old George looked a little like he wanted to laugh and
cry at the same time. The men in the plant don't know yet, except
Charlie—I told him.”
A little shadow fell over Helen's happy face and she looked away. “I
suppose of course you would tell Charlie Martin the first thing,” she
said, slowly. Then, throwing her arm suddenly about his neck, she
kissed him. “You are a dear, silly, sentimental old thing, but I am as
proud as I can be of you.”
“As for that,” returned John, “I guess it must run in the family
somehow. I notice little things now and then that make me think my
sister may not always be exactly a staid, matter-of-fact old lady owl.”
When he had laughed at her blushes, and had teased her as a brother
is in duty bound, he said, seriously, “Will you tell me something,
Helen? Something that I want very much to know—straight from you.”
“What is it, John?”
“Are you going to marry Jim McIver?”
“How do you know that he wants me?”
“Father told me to-day. Don't fence please, dear. Either tell me
straight out or tell me to mind my own business.”
She replied with straightforward honesty, “Mr. McIver has asked me,
John, but I can't tell you what my answer will be. I don't know
CHAPTER X. CONCERNING THE NEW
When the Mill whistle sounded at the close of that pay day, Mary was
sitting under the tree in the yard with her sewing basket—a gift from
the Interpreter—on the grass beside her chair. The sunlight lay warm
and bright on the garden where the ever industrious bees were filling
their golden bags with the sweet wealth of the old-fashioned flowers.
Bright-winged butterflies zigzagged here and there above the shrubbery
along the fence and over her head; in the leafy shadows of the trees
her bird friends were cheerfully busy with their small duties. Now and
then a passing neighbor paused to exchange a word or two of their
common interests. Presently workmen from the Mill went by—men of her
father's class who lived in that vicinity of well-kept cottage homes;
and each one called a greeting to the daughter of his friend.
And so, at last, Peter Martin himself and Captain Charlie turned in
at the little white gate and came to sit down on the grass at her feet.
“You are late to-day,” said Mary, smiling. “I suppose you both have
forgotten that the vegetable garden is to be hoed this afternoon and
that you, Charlie, promised to beat the rugs for me.”
Captain Charlie stretched himself lazily on the cool grass. “We
should worry about gardens and rugs and things,” he returned. “This is
the day we celebrate.”
The father laughed quietly at his daughter's look of puzzled
“The day you celebrate?” said Mary. “Celebrate what?”
Charlie answered with a fair imitation of a soapbox orator, “This,
my beloved sister, is the day of our emancipation from the iron rule of
that cruel capitalist, who has for so many years crushed the lives of
his toiling slaves in his Mill of hell, and coined our heart's blood
into dollars to fill his selfish coffers of princely luxury. Down
through the ringing ages of the future this day will be forever
celebrated as the day that signals the dawning of a new era in the
industrial world of—uh-wow! Stop it!”
Captain Charlie was ticklish and the toe of Mary's slippered foot
had found a vital spot among his ribs.
“You sound like that Jake Vodell,” she said. “Stop your nonsense
this minute and tell me what you mean or—” Her foot advanced again
Captain Charlie rolled over to a safe distance and sat up to grin at
her with teasing impudence.
“What's the matter with him, father?” she demanded.
But Pete only laughed and answered, “I guess maybe he thinks he's
going to get promoted to some higher-up position in the Mill.”
“No such luck for me!” said Charlie quickly. “John will need me too
much right where I am.”
A bright color swept into Mary's cheeks and her eyes shone with glad
excitement. “Do you mean that John—that his father has—” She looked
from her father's face to her brother and back to her father again.
Pete nodded silently.
“You've guessed it, sister,” said Charlie. “Old Adam walked out for
good to-day, turned the whole works over to John—troubles, triumphs,
opportunities, disasters and all. And it's a man's sized job the boy
has drawn, believe me—especially right now, with Jake Vodell as busy
as he is.”
“The men in the Mill were all pleased with the change, weren't
they?” asked Mary.
“They will be, when they hear of it,” answered Captain Charlie,
getting to his feet. “That is,” he added, as he met his father's look,
“most of them will be.”
“There's some in the Mill that it won't make any difference to, I'm
afraid,” said Peter Martin, soberly.
Then the two men went into the house to, as they said, “clean
up”—an operation that required a goodly supply of water with plenty of
soap and a no little physical effort in the way of vigorous rubbing.
When her father and brother were gone, Mary Martin sat very still.
So still was she that a butterfly paused in its zigzag flight about the
yard to rest on the edge of the work basket at her side. At last the
young woman rose slowly to her feet, dropping the sewing she had held
on the other things in the basket. The startled butterfly spread its
gorgeous wings and zigzagged away unnoticed. Crossing the little lawn,
Mary made her way among the flowers in the garden until she stood half
hidden in the tall bushes which grew along the fence that separated the
Martin home from the neglected grounds about the old house. When her
father and brother went to their pleasant task in the vegetable garden
she was still standing there, but the men did not notice.
* * * * *
Later, when Mary called the men to supper, the change in the
management of the Mill was again mentioned. And all during the evening
meal it was the topic of their conversation. It was natural that the
older man should recall the days when he and Adam and the Interpreter
had worked together.
“The men generally showed a different spirit toward their work in
those days,” said the veteran. “They seemed to have a feeling of pride
and a love for it that I don't see much of now. Of late years, it looks
as though everybody hates his job and is ashamed of what he is doing.
They all seem to think of nothing but their pay, and busy their minds
with scheming how they can get the most and give the least. It's the
regular thing to work with one eye on the foreman and the other on the
clock, and to count it a great joke when a job is spoiled or a
breakdown causes trouble.” All of which was a speech of unusual length
for Pete Martin. Captain Charlie asked, thoughtfully, “And don't you
think, father, that Adam looks on the work of the Mill in exactly that
spirit of 'get the most for the least' without regard to the meaning
and purpose of the work itself?”
“There's no reason to doubt it, son, that I can see,” returned the
“I have often wondered,” said Charlie, “how much the attitude of the
employees toward their work is due to the attitude of their employers
toward that same work.”
The old workman returned, heartily, “We'll be seeing a different
feeling in the Mill under John, I am thinkin'—he's different.”
“I should say he is different,” agreed Charlie, quickly. “John would
rather work at his job for nothing than do anything else for ten times
the salary he draws. But was Adam always as he is now?”
“About his work do you mean?”
Adam Ward's old comrade answered, slowly, “I've often wondered that
myself. I can't say for sure. As I look back now, I think sometimes
that he used to have an interest in the work itself at first. Takin'
his development of the new process and all—it almost seems that he
must have had. And yet, there's some things that make me think that all
the time it meant nothing to him but just what he could get out of it
“Helen will be happy over the change, won't she?” remarked Mary.
“Helen!” ejaculated Captain Charlie, with more emphasis perhaps than
the occasion demanded.
“She won't give it so much as a thought. Why should she? She can go
on with her dinners and card parties and balls and country club affairs
with the silk-hatted slackers of her set, just the same as if nothing
Mary laughed. “Seems to me I have heard something like that
before—'silk-hatted slackers'—it sounds familiar.”
Captain Charlie watched her suspiciously.
The father laughed quietly.
“Oh, yes,” she exclaimed, with an air of triumph. “It was Bobby
Whaley who said it. I remember thinking at the time that it probably
came to him from his father, who of course got it from Jake Vodell.
Silk-hatted slackers—sounds like Jake, doesn't it, father?”
Captain Charlie grinned sheepishly. “I know it was a rotten thing to
say,” he admitted. “Some of the best and bravest men in our army were
silk-hatters at home. They were in the ranks, too, a lot of them—just
like John Ward. And some of the worst cowards and shirkers and slackers
that ever lived belonged to our ancient and noble order of the
horny-handed sons of toil, that Jake Vodell orates about. But what gets
me, is the way some of those fellows who were everything but slackers
in France act, now that they are back home. Over there they were on the
job with everything they had, to the last drop of their blood. But now
that they are back in their own home country again, they have simply
thrown up their hands and quit—that is, a lot of them have. They seem
to think that the signing of the Armistice ended it all and that they
can do nothing now for the rest of their lives. Who was it said, 'Peace
hath her victories,' or something like that? Well, peace hath her
defeats, too. I'll be hanged if I can understand how a man who has it
in him to be a one hundred per cent American hero in war can be a
Simon-pure slacker in times of peace.”
As he finished, Captain Charlie pushed his chair back from the table
and, finding his pipe, proceeded to fill it with the grim determination
of an old-time minuteman ramming home a charge in his Bunker Hill
Later the two men went out to enjoy their pipes on the lawn in the
cool of the evening. They were discussing the industrial situation when
Mary, having finished her household work for the night, joined them.
“I forgot to tell you,” she said, “that Jake Vodell called to-day.”
“Again!” exclaimed Charlie.
“If Vodell wants to talk with us he'll have to come when we are at
home,” said Pete Martin, slowly, looking at his daughter.
With a laugh, the young woman returned, “But I don't think that it
was you or Charlie that he wanted to see this time, father.”
“What did he want?” demanded her brother quickly.
“He wanted me to go with him to a dance next Tuesday,” she answered
“Huh,” came in a tone of disgust from Charlie.
The father asked, quietly, “And what did you say to him, Mary?”
“I told him that I went to dances only with my friends.”
“Good!” said Captain Charlie.
“And what then?” asked Pete.
“Then,” she hesitated, “then he said something about my being
careful that I had the right sort of friends and referred to Charlie
“Yes?” said Mary's father.
“He said that the only use John Ward had for Charlie was to get a
line on the union and the plans of the men—that his friendship was
only a pretext in order that he might use Charlie as a sort of spy and
that the union men wouldn't stand for it.”
Captain Charlie muttered something under his breath that he could
not speak aloud in the presence of his sister.
Pete Martin deliberately knocked the ashes from his pipe.
“Then,” continued Mary, “he talked about how everybody knew that
John was nothing but a”—she laughed mockingly at her brother—“a
silk-hatted swell who couldn't hold his job an hour if it wasn't that
his father owned the Mill, and that Charlie was a hundred times more
competent to manage the business. He said that anybody could see how
Charlie's promotion in the army proved him superior to John, who was
never anything but a common private.”
Captain Charlie laughed aloud. “John and I understand all about that
superiority business. I was lucky, that's all—our captain just
happened to be looking in my direction. Believe me, good old John was
just as busy as I ever dared to be, only it was his luck to be busy at
some other point that the captain didn't see.”
“Is that all Jake had to say, daughter?”
“No,” answered the young woman, slowly. “I—I am afraid I was angry
at what he called John—I mean at what he said about Charlie and John's
friendship—and so I told him what I thought about him and Sam Whaley
and their crowd, and asked him to go and not come back again except to
see you or Charlie.”
“Good for you, Mary!” exclaimed her brother.
But the old workman said nothing.
“And how did Jake take his dismissal?” asked Charlie, presently.
“He went, of course,” she answered. “But he said that he would show
me what the friendship of a man of John Ward's class meant to a working
man; that the union men would find out who the loyal members were and
when the time came they would know whom to reward and whom to treat as
traitors to the Cause.”
For a little while after this the three sat in silence. At last
Peter Martin rose heavily to his feet. “Come, Charlie, it is time we
were on our way to the meeting; we mustn't be late, you know.”
When her father and brother were gone to the meeting of the Mill
workers' union, Mary Martin locked the door of the cottage and walked
It was not far to the Interpreter's hut, and presently the young
woman was climbing the old zigzag stairway to the little house on the
edge of the cliff above. There was no light but the light of the
stars—the faint breath of the night breeze scarcely stirred the leaves
of the bushes or moved the tall weeds that grew on the hillside. At the
top of the stairs Mary paused to look at the many lights of the Flats,
the Mill, the business houses, the streets and the homes, that shone in
the shadowy world below.
She was about to move toward the door of the hut when the sound of
voices coming from the balcony-porch halted her. The Interpreter was
speaking. She could not distinguish his words, but the deep tones of
the old basket maker's voice were not to be mistaken. Then the young
woman heard some one reply, and the laughing voice that answered the
Interpreter was as familiar to Mary Martin as the laugh of her own
brother. The evening visitor to the little hut on the cliff was the son
of Adam Ward.
Very softly Mary Martin stole back down the zigzag steps to the road
below. Slowly she went back through the deep shadows of the night to
her little home, with its garden of old-fashioned flowers, next door to
the deserted house where John Ward was born.
Late that night, while John was still at the Interpreter's hut, Adam
Ward crept alone like some hunted thing about the beautiful grounds of
his great estate. Like a haunted soul of wretchedness, the Mill owner
had left his bed to escape the horror of his dreams and to find, if
possible, a little rest from his torturing fears in the calm solitude
of the night.
* * * * *
When Pete Martin, with Captain Charlie and their many industrial
comrades, had returned to their homes after the meeting of their union,
five men gathered in that dirty, poorly lighted room in the rear of
Dago Bill's pool hall.
The five men had entered the place one at a time. They spoke
together in low, guarded tones of John Ward and his management of the
Mill, of Pete Martin and Captain Charlie, of the Interpreter and
And three of those five men had come to that secret place at Jake
Vodell's call, directly from the meeting of the Mill workers' union.
CHAPTER XI. COMRADES
Mary was in the flower garden that Sunday forenoon when John Ward
stopped his big roadster in front of the Martin cottage.
It was not at all unusual for the one-time private, John, to call
that way for his former superior officer. Nearly every Sunday when the
weather was fine the comrades would go for a long ride in John's car
somewhere into the country. And always they carried a lunch prepared by
Captain Charlie's sister.
Sometimes there might have been a touch of envy in Mary's generous
heart, as she watched the automobile with her brother and his friend
glide away up the green arched street. After all, Mary was young and
loved the country, and John Ward's roadster was a wonderful machine,
and the boy who had lived in the old house next door had been, in her
girlhood days, a most delightful comrade and playfellow.
The young woman could no more remember her first meeting with John
or his sister Helen than she could recall the exact beginning of her
acquaintance with Charlie. From her cradle days she had known the
neighbor children as well as she had known her own brother. Then the
inevitable separation of the playmates had come with Adam Ward's
increasing material prosperity. The school and college days of John and
Helen and the removal of the family from the old house to the new home
on the hill had brought to them new friends and new interests—friends
and interests that knew nothing of Pete Martin's son and daughter. But
in Mary's heart, because it was a woman's heart, the memories of the
old house lived. The old house itself, indeed, served to keep those
John did not see her at first, but called a cheery greeting to her
father, who with his pipe and paper was sitting under the tree on the
lawn side of the walk.
Mary drew a little back among the flowers and quietly went on with
“Is Charlie here, Uncle Pete?” asked John, as he came through the
“He's in the house, I think, John, or out in the back yard, maybe,”
answered the old workman. And, then, in his quiet kindly way, Peter
Martin spoke a few words to Adam Ward's son about the change in the
management of the Mill—wishing John success, expressing his own
gratification and confidence, and assuring him of the hearty good will
that prevailed, generally, among the employees.
Presently, as the two men talked together, Mary went to express her
pleasure in the promotion of her old playmate to a position of such
responsibility and honor in the industrial world. And John Ward, when
he saw her coming toward him with an armful of flowers, must at least
have noticed the charming picture she made against that background of
the garden, with its bright-colored blossoms in the flood of morning
Certainly the days of their childhood companionship must have
stirred in his memory, for he said, presently, “Do you know, Mary, you
make me think of mother and the way she used to go among her flowers
every Sunday morning when we lived in the old house there.” He looked
thoughtfully toward the neighboring place.
“How is your mother these days, John?” asked Mary's father.
“She is well, thank you, Uncle Pete,” returned John. “Except of
course,” he added, soberly, “she worries a good deal about father's ill
“Your father will surely be much better, now that he is relieved
from all his business care,” said Mary.
“We are all hoping so,” returned John.
There was an awkward moment of silence.
As if the mention of his father's condition had in some way
suggested the thought, or, perhaps, because he wished to change the
subject, John said, “The old house looks pretty bad, doesn't it? It is
a shame that we have permitted it to go to ruin that way.”
Neither Peter Martin nor his daughter made reply to this. There was
really nothing they could say.
John was about to speak again when Captain Charlie, coming from the
house with their lunch basket in his hand, announced that he was ready,
and the two men started on their way.
Standing at the gate, Mary waved good-by as her brother turned to
look back. Even when the automobile had finally passed from sight she
stood there, still looking in the direction it had gone.
Peter Martin watched his daughter thoughtfully.
Without speaking, Mary went slowly into the house.
Her father sat for some minutes looking toward the door through
which she had passed. At last with deliberate care he refilled his
pipe. But the old workman did not, for an hour or more, resume the
reading of his Sunday morning paper.
Beyond a few casual words, the two friends in the automobile seemed
occupied, each with his own thoughts. Neither asked, “Where shall we
go?” or offered any suggestion for the day's outing. As if it were
understood between them, John turned toward the hill country and sent
the powerful machine up the long, winding grade, as if on a very
definite mission. An hour's driving along the ridges and the hillsides,
and they turned from the main thoroughfare into a narrow lane between
two thinly wooded pastures. A mile of this seldom traveled road and
John stopped his car beside the way. Here they left the automobile,
and, taking the lunch basket, climbed the fence and made their way up
the steep side of the hill to a clump of trees that overlooked the many
miles of winding river and broad valley and shaded hills. The place was
a favorite spot to which they often came for those hours of comradeship
that are so necessary to all well-grounded and enduring friendships.
“Well, Mister Ward,” said Captain Charlie, when they were
comfortably seated and their pipes were going well, “how does it feel
to be one of the cruel capitalist class a-grindin' the faces off us
The workman spoke lightly, but there was something in his voice that
made John look at him sharply. It was a little as though Captain
Charlie were nerving himself to say good-by to his old comrade.
The new general manager smiled, but it was a rather serious smile.
“Do you remember how you felt when you received your captain's
commission?” he asked.
“I do that,” returned Charlie. “I felt that I had been handed a
mighty big job and was scared stiff for fear I wouldn't be able to make
good at it.”
“Exactly,” returned John. “And I'll never forget how I felt
when they stepped you up the first time and left me out. And when you
had climbed on up and Captain Wheeler was killed and you received your
commission, with me still stuck in the ranks—well—I never told you
before but I'll say now that I was the lonesomest, grouchiest, sorest
man in the whole A.E.F. It seemed to me about then that being a private
was the meanest, lowest, most no-account job on earth, and I was darned
near deserting and letting the Germans win the war and be hanged. I
thought it would serve the Allies right if I was to let 'em get licked
good and plenty just for failing to appreciate me.”
Captain Charlie laughed.
“Oh, yes, you can laugh,” said the new general manager of the Mill.
“It's darned funny now, but I can tell you that there wasn't
much humor in it for me then. We had lived too close together
from that first moment when we found ourselves in the same company for
me to feel comfortable as a common buck private, watchin' you strut
around in the gentleman officer class, and not daring even to tell you
to go to—”
“You poor old fool,” said Charlie, affectionately. “You knew my
promotion was all an accident.”
“Exactly,” returned John dryly. “We've settled all that a hundred
“And you ought to have known,” continued Captain Charlie, warmly,
“that my feeling toward you would have been no different if they had
made me a general.”
“Sure, I ought to have known,” retorted John, with an air of
And then it appeared that John Ward had a very definite purpose in
thus turning his comrade's mind to their army life in France. “And you
should have sense enough to understand that my promotion in the Mill is
not going to make any difference in our friendship. Your promotion was
the result of an accident, Charlie, exactly as my position in the Mill
to-day is the result of an accident. Your superior officer happened to
see you. I happen to be the son of Adam Ward. If I should have known
then that your rank would make no difference in your feeling toward
me, you have got to understand now that my position can make no
difference in my feeling toward you.”
Charlie Martin's silence revealed how accurately John had guessed
his Mill comrade's hidden thoughts.
The new manager continued, “The thing that straightened me out on
the question of our different ranks was that scrap where Captain
Charlie and Private John found themselves caught in the same shell hole
with no one else anywhere near except friend enemy, and somebody had to
do something darned quick. Do you remember our argument?”
“Do I remember!” exclaimed Charlie. “I remember how you said it was
your job to take the chance because I, being an officer, was worth more
to the cause and because the loss of a private didn't matter so much
John retorted quickly, “And you said that it was up to you to take
the chance because it was an officer's duty to take care of his men.”
“And then,” said Charlie, “you told me to go to hell, commission and
all. And I swore that I'd break you for insolence and insubordination
if we ever got out of the scrape alive.”
“And so,” grinned John, “we compromised by pulling it off together.
And from that time on I felt different and was as proud of you and your
officer's swank as if I had been the lucky guy myself.”
“Yes,” said Captain Charlie, smiling affectionately, “and I could
see the grin in your eyes every time you saluted.”
“No one else ever saw it, though,” returned Private Ward, proudly.
“Don't think for a minute that I overlooked that either,” said
Captain Martin. “If any one else had seen it, I would have disciplined
you for sure.”
“And don't you think for a minute that I didn't know that, too,”
retorted John. “I could feel you laying for me, and every man in the
company knew it just as be knew our friendship. That's what made us all
love you so. We used to say that if Captain Charlie would just take a
notion to start for Berlin and invite us to go along the war would be
over right there.”
Charlie Martin laughed appreciatively. Then he said, earnestly,
“After all, old man, it wasn't an officers' war and it wasn't a
privates' war, was it? Any more than it was the war of America, or
England, or France, or Australia, or Canada—it was our war. And
that, I guess, is the main reason why it all came out as it did.”
“Now,” said John, with hearty enthusiasm, “you are talking sense.”
“But it is all very different now, John,” said Charlie, slowly.
“Millsburgh is not France and the Mill is not the United States Army.”
“No,” returned John, “and yet there is not such a lot of difference,
when you come to think it out.”
“We can't disguise the facts,” said Captain Martin stubbornly.
“We are not going to disguise anything,” retorted John. “I had an
idea how you would feel over my promotion, and that is why I wanted you
out here to-day. You've got to get this 'it's all very different now'
stuff out of your system. So go ahead and shoot your facts.”
“All right,” said Charlie. “Let's look at things as they are. It was
all very well for us to moon over what we would do if we ever got back
home when we knew darned well our chances were a hundred to one against
our ever seeing the old U.S. again. We spilled a lot of sentiment about
comradeship and loyalty and citizenship and equality and all that,
“Can your chatter!” snapped John. “Drag out these facts that you are
so anxious to have recognized. Let's have a good look at whatever it is
that makes you rough-neck sons of toil so superior to us lily-fingered
employers. Go to the bat.”
“Well,” offered Charlie, reluctantly, “to begin with, you are a
millionaire, a university man, member of select clubs; I am nothing but
a common workman.”
John returned, quickly, “We are both citizens of the United States.
In the duties and privileges of our citizenship we stand on exactly the
same footing, just as in the army we stood on the common ground of
loyalty. And we are both equally dependent upon the industries of our
country—upon the Mill, and upon each other. Exactly as we were both
dependent upon the army and upon each other in France.”
“You are the general manager of the Mill, practically the owner,”
said Charlie. “I am only one of your employees.”
The son of Adam Ward answered scornfully, “Yes, over there it was
Captain Charlie Martin and Private John Ward of the United States Army.
I suppose it is a lot different now that it is Captain John Ward and
Private Charlie Martin of the United States Industries.”
Charlie continued, “You live in a mansion in a select district on
the hill, I live in a little cottage on the edge of the Flats!”
“Over there it was officers' quarters and barracks,” said John,
Charlie tried again, “You wear white collars and tailored clothes at
your work—I wear dirty overalls.”
“We used to call 'em uniforms,” barked John.
Captain Charlie hesitated a little before he offered his next fact,
and when he spoke it was with a little more feeling. “There are our
families to take into account too, John. Your sister—well—isn't it a
fact that your sister would no more think of calling on Mary than she
would think of putting on overalls and going to work in the Mill?”
It was John's turn now to hesitate.
“Don't you see?” continued Charlie, “we belong to different worlds,
I tell you, John.”
Deliberately Helen's brother knocked the ashes from his pipe and
refilled it with thoughtful care.
Then he said, gravely, “Helen doesn't realize, as we do, old man.
How could she? The girl has not had a chance to learn what the war
taught us. She is exactly like thousands of other good women, and men,
too, for that matter. They simply don't understand. Good Lord!” he
exploded, suddenly “when I think what a worthless snob I was before I
enlisted I want to kick my fool self to death. But we are drifting away
from the main thought,” he finished.
“Oh, I don't know,” returned the other.
“I thought we were discussing the question of rank,” said John.
“Well,” retorted Charlie, dryly, “isn't that exactly the whole
question as your sister sees it?”
“You give me a pain!” growled John. “I'll admit that Helen, right
now, attaches a great deal of importance to some things that—well,
that are not so very important after all. But she is no worse than I
was before I learned better. And you take my word she'll learn, too.
Sister visits the old Interpreter too often not to absorb a few ideas
that she failed to acquire at school. He will help her to see the
light, just as he helped me. But for him, I would have been nothing but
a gentleman slacker myself—if there is any such animal. But what under
heaven has all this to do with our relation as employer and employee in
the Mill? What effect would Mary have had on you over there if she had
gone to you with 'Oh, Charlie dear, you mustn't go out in that dreadful
No Man's Land to-night. It is so dirty and wet and cold. Remember that
you are an officer, Charlie dear, and let Private John go.'“
Captain Charlie laughed—this new general manager of the Mill was so
like the buddie he had loved in France. “Do you remember that night—“
he began, but his comrade interrupted him rudely.
“Shut up! I've got to get this thing off my chest and you've got to
hear me out. This country of ours started out all right with the
proposition that all men are created free and equal. But ninety per
cent of our troubles are caused by our crazy notions as to what that
equality really means. The rest of our grief comes from our fool claims
to superiority of one sort or another. It looks to me as though you and
Helen agreed exactly on this question of rank and I am here to tell you
that you are both wrong.”
Captain Charlie Martin sat up at this, but before he could speak
John shot a question at him. “Tell me, when Private Ward saluted
Captain Martin as the regulations provide, was the action held by
either the officer or the private to be a recognition of the
superiority of Captain Martin or the inferiority of Private Ward—was
“Not that any one could notice,” answered Charlie with a grin.
“You bet your life it wasn't,” said John. “Well, then,” he
continued, “what was it that the salute recognized?”
“Why, it was the captain's rank.”
“Exactly; and what determined that rank?”
“The number of men he commanded.”
“That's it!” cried John. “The rank of the captain represented
the—the”—he searched for a word—“the oneness of all the men
in his command. And so you see the thing that the individual private
really saluted as superior to himself was the oneness of all his
comrades, both privates and officers in the company.”
“Sure,” said Charlie, looking a little puzzled, as if he did not
quite see what the manager of the Mill was driving at. “The salute was
merely a sign of the individual's surrender of his own personal will to
the authority of the rank that represented all his fellow individuals.”
“Yes,” said John, “and when Jack Pershing stood up there with the
rest of the kings and we paraded past, were we humiliated because we
were not dressed exactly like the reviewing generals? We were not. We
stuck out our chests and pulled in our chins as if the whole show was
framed to honor us. And that is exactly what it was, Charlie, because
we were all included in Pershing's rank. The army was not honoring
Pershing the man, it was honoring itself.”
“Yes,” said Charlie, as if he still did not quite grasp his
“Here,” said John, “this is the idea. You remember how when we were
kids we used to get hold of an old magnifying glass and use it as a
“I remember we darned near set fire to Hank Webster's barn once,”
“Well,” returned John, “think of the army as a sun, and of every
loyal individual soldier, officer and private alike, as a ray of that
sun and there is your true equality. Pershing's rank was simply
the burning glass that focused our two million individual rays to a
point of such equality that they could move as one. And I noticed
another thing in that review, too,” continued John, earnestly, “even if
I was supposed to have my eyes front, I noticed that General Pershing
saluted the colors. And that meant simply this, that as each individual
soldier honored the whole army in his recognition of the general's
rank, the army itself, through its commander, honored the greater
oneness of the nation. And so Foch's rank was a burning glass that
focused the different allied nations into a still greater oneness, and drew their strength to such a point of equality that it lighted a
fire under old Kaiser Bill.”
“But what has all this to do with you and me now?” demanded Charlie.
“It looks to me as though you are the one that is getting away from the
“I am not,” returned John. “It has this to do with you and me: Our
little part as a nation in that world job in France is finished all
right, and the national job that we have to tackle now, here at home,
is a little different, but the principle of unity involved is exactly
the same. Our everyday work can no more be done by those who work with
their hands alone than the Germans could have been whipped by privates
alone. Nor can our industries be carried on by those who do the
planning and managing alone any more than the army could have carried
out a campaign with nothing but officers.”
“Oh, I see now what you are getting at,” said Charlie.
“It's about time that you woke up,” retorted John.
“You mean,” continued Charlie, carefully, “that just as the unity of
the army was in the different ranks that focused the individual soldier
rays upon one common purpose, so the true equality of our industries is
possible only through the difference in rank, such as—well, such as
yours and mine—manager and workman or employer and employee.”
“Now you're getting wise,” cried John. “Really at times you show
signs of almost human intelligence.”
Charlie returned, doubtfully, “How do you suppose Sam Whaley and a
few others I could name in our union would take to this equality stuff
“And how do you suppose McIver and others like him would take to
it?” retorted John. “All the men in your union are not Sam Whaleys by a
long shot, neither are all employers like McIver. As I remember, you
had to discipline a man now and then in Company K. And you have heard
of officers being cashiered, haven't you?”
“That's all right,” returned the captain, “but how will the rank and
file of our industrial army as a whole ever get it?”
For some time John Ward did not reply to this, but sat brooding over
the question, while his former superior officer waited expectantly.
Then the manager said, earnestly, “Charlie, what was it that drew
over four million American citizens of almost every known parentage
from every walk of life, and made them an army with one purpose? And
what was it that inspired one hundred million more to back them?
“I'll tell you what it was,” he continued, when his companion did
not answer, “it was the Big Idea.
“Oh, yes, I know there were all kinds of graft and incompetency and
jealousy and mutiny and outrages. And there were traitors and
profiteers and slackers of every sort. But the Big Idea that focused
the strength of the nation as a whole, Charlie, was so much bigger than
any individual or group that it absorbed all. It took possession of us
all—inspired us all—dominated and drove us all, into every
conceivable effort and sacrifice, until it made heroism a common thing.
And this Big Idea was so big that it not only absorbed disloyalty and
selfishness as a great living river takes in a few drops of poison, but
it assimilated, as well, every brand of class and caste. It made no
distinction between officer and private, it ruled General Pershing and
Private Jones alike. It recognized no difference between educated and
uneducated and sent university professors and bootblacks over the top
side by side. And this Big Idea that so focused the individual rays of
our nation against German imperialism was nothing more or less than
the idea of the oneness of all humanity. It may be lost in a
scramble for the spoils of victory, it is true, but it was the Big Idea
that won the victory just the same.”
John Ward was on his feet now, pacing back and forth. His face was
flushed and eager, his eyes were glowing, as he himself was possessed
of the Big Idea which he strove to put into words.
And Captain Charlie's pipe was forgotten as he watched his friend
and listened. This John Ward was a John Ward that few people in
Millsburgh knew. But Captain Charlie knew him. Captain Charlie had seen
him tested in all the ways that war tests men. In cold and hunger and
the unspeakable discomforts of mud and filth and vermin—in the waiting
darkness when an impatient whisper or a careless move to ease
overstrained nerves meant a deluge of fire and death—in the wild
frenzy of actual conflict—in the madness of victory—in the delirium
of defeat—in the dreary marking time—in the tense readiness for the
charge—in those many moments when death was near enough to strip the
outward husks from these two men and leave their naked souls face to
face—Captain Charlie had learned to know John Ward.
“Do you remember what the Interpreter said to us the first time we
went to see him after we got home?” demanded John.
Charlie nodded. “He said for us not to make the mistake of thinking
that the war was over just because the Armistice was signed and we were
at home in Millsburgh again. I'm afraid a good many people, though, are
making just that mistake.”
“I didn't understand what our old friend meant then, Charlie,”
continued John, “but I know now. He meant that the same old fight
between the spirit of imperialism that seeks the selfish dominion of an
individual or class and the spirit of democracy that upholds the
oneness of all for all, is still on, right here at home. The President
said that the war was to make the world safe for democracy, and there
are some wild enthusiasts who say that we Americans won it.”
“That 'we won the war' stuff is all bunk,” interrupted Charlie, in a
tone of disgust.
“'Bunk' is right,” agreed John. “The old A.E.F. did have a hand,
though, in putting a crimp in the Kaiser's little plan for acquiring
title to the whole human race for himself and family. But if the
American people don't wake up to the fact that the same identical
principles of human right and human liberty that sent us to France are
involved in our industrial controversies here at home, we might as well
have saved ourselves the trouble of going over there at all.”
“That is all true enough,” agreed Captain Charlie, “but what is
going to wake us up? What is going to send us as a nation against the
Kaiser Bills of capital and the Kaiser Bills of labor, or, if you like
it better, the imperialistic employers and the equally imperialistic
John Ward fairly shouted his answer, “The Big Idea, my boy—the same
Big Idea that sent us to war against imperialism over there will wake
us up to drive the spirit of imperialism out of our American industries
here at home.”
Charlie shook his head doubtfully. “It was different during the
World War, John. Then the Big Idea was held up before the people to the
exclusion of everything else. When we think of the speeches and parades
and rallies and sermons and books and newspapers and pictures and songs
that were used in the appeal to our patriotism and our common humanity,
it was no wonder that we all felt the pull of it all. But no one now is
saying anything about the Big Idea, except for an occasional paragraph
here and there. And certainly no one is making much noise about
applying it in our industries.”
“Yes, I know we can't expect any such hurrah as we had when men were
needed to die for the cause in a foreign land. You go to France and get
shot for humanity and you are a hero. Stay at home and sweat for the
same cause and you are a nobody. From the publicity point of view"
there seems to be a lot of difference between a starving baby in
Belgium and a starving kid in our Millsburgh Flats. But just the same
it is the Big Idea that will save us from the dangers that are
threatening our industries and, through our industries, menacing the
very life of out nation.”
“But how will the people get it, John?”
“I don't know how it will come; but, somehow, the appeal must be
made to the loyal citizens of this nation in behalf of the humanity
that is dependent for life itself upon our industries, exactly as the
appeal was made in behalf of the humanity that looked to us for help in
time of war. We must, as a nation, learn, somehow, to feel our work as
we felt our war. The same ideals of patriotism and sacrifice and
heroism that were so exalted in the war must be held up in our everyday
work. We must learn to see our individual jobs in the industrial
organizations of our country as we saw our places in the nation's army.
As a people we must grasp the mighty fact that humanity is the issue of
our mills and shops and factories and mines, exactly as it was the
issue of our campaigns in France. America, Charlie, has not only to
face in her industries the same spirit of imperialism that we fought in
France, but she has to contend with the same breed of disloyal
grafters, profiteers and slackers that would have betrayed us during
the war. And these traitors to our industries must be branded wherever
they are found—among the business forces or in the ranks of labor, in
our schools and churches or on our farms.
“The individual's attitude toward the industries of this nation must
be a test of his loyal citizenship just as a man's attitude toward our
army was a test. And Americans dare not continue to ignore the danger
that lies in the work of those emissaries who are seeking to weaken the
loyalty of our workmen and who by breeding class hatred and strife in
our industries are trying to bring about the downfall of our government
and replace the stars and stripes with the flag that is as foreign to
our American independence as the flag of the German Kaiser himself.”
Captain Charlie said, slowly, “That is all true, John, but at the
same time you and I know that there is no finer body of loyal citizens
anywhere in the world than the great army of our American workmen. And
we know, too, that the great army of our American business men are just
as fine and true and loyal.”
“Exactly,” cried John, “but if these loyal American citizens who
work with their hands in the Mill and these loyal citizens who work in
the office of the Mill don't hold together, in the same spirit of
comradeship that united them in the war, to defend our industries
against both the imperialism of capital and the equally dangerous
imperialism of labor, we may as well run up a new flag at Washington
and be done with it.”
“You are right, of course, John,” said Captain Charlie, “but how?”
“You and I may not know how,” retorted the other, “any more than we
knew how the war was going to be won when we enlisted. But we do know
our little parts right here in Millsburgh clear enough. As I see it, it
is up to us to carry the torch of Flanders fields into the field of our
industries right here in our own home town.”
He paced to and fro without speaking for a little while, the other
watching him, waited.
“Of course,” said John at last, “a lot of people will call us
fanatics and cranks and idealists for saying that the Big Idea, of the
war must dominate us in our industrial life. And, of course, it is
going to be a darned sight harder in some ways to stand for the
principles of our comradeship here at home than it was over there.
'Don't go out into No Man's Land to-night, Captain Charlie, it is so
dirty and dark and wet and cold and dangerous; let Private John go.'
But the darned fool, Captain Charlie, went into the cold and the wet
and the danger because he and Private John were comrades in the oneness
of the Big Idea.”
His voice grew a little bitter as he finished. “Don't go into that
awful Mill, Captain John, it is so dirty and dangerous and you will get
so tired; let Private Charlie do the work while you stay at home and
play tennis or bridge or attend to the social duties of your superior
With ringing earnestness Charlie Martin added, “But the darned fool
fanatic and idealist Captain John will go just the same because he and
Private Charlie are comrades in the oneness of the Big Idea of the Mill
here at home.”
For a few moments John stood looking into the distance as one who
sees a vision, then he said, slowly, “And the Big Idea will win again,
old man, as it has always won; and the traitors and slackers and yellow
dogs will be saved with the rest, I suppose, just as they always have
been saved from themselves.”
He turned to see his comrade standing at attention. Gravely Captain
* * * * *
Perhaps Jake Vodell was right in believing that the friendship of
John Ward and Charlie Martin was dangerous to his cause in Millsburgh.
The Vodells, who with their insidious propaganda, menace America
through her industrial troubles, will be powerless, indeed, when
American employers and employees can think in terms of industrial
CHAPTER XII. TWO SIDES OF A QUESTION
That evening the new manager of the Mill stayed for supper at the
Martin cottage. It was the first time since he had left the old house
next door for his school in a distant city that he had eaten a meal
with these friends of his boyhood.
Perhaps because their minds were so filled with things they could
not speak, their talk was a little restrained. Captain Charlie
attempted a jest or two; John did his best, and Mary helped them all
she could. The old workman, save for a kindly word now and then to make
the son of Adam Ward feel at home, was silent.
But when the supper was over and the twilight was come and they had
carried their chairs out on the lawn where, in their boy and girl days
they had romped away so many twilight hours, the weight of the present
was lifted. While Peter Martin smoked his pipe and listened, the three
made merry over the adventures of their childhood, until the old house
next door, so deserted and forlorn, must have felt that the days so
long past were come again.
It was rather late when John finally said goodnight. As he drove
homeward he told himself many times that it had been one of the
happiest evenings he had ever spent. He wondered why.
The big house on the hill, as he approached the iron gates, seemed
strangely grim and forbidding. The soft darkness of the starlit night
invited him to stay out of doors. Reluctantly, half in mind to turn
back, he drove slowly up the long driveway. The sight of McIver's big
car waiting decided him. He did not wish to meet the factory owner that
evening. He would wait a while before going indoors. Finding a
comfortable lawn chair not far from the front of the house, he filled
As he sat there, many things unbidden and apparently without purpose
passed in leisurely succession through his mind. Bits of boyhood
experiences, long forgotten and called up now, no doubt, by his evening
at the cottage that had once been as much his home as the old house
itself. How inseparable the four children had been! Fragments of his
army life—what an awakening it had all been for him! The coming
struggle with the followers of Jake Vodell—his new responsibilities.
He had feared that his comradeship with Charlie might be
weakened—well, that was settled now. He was glad they had had their
The door of the house opened and McIver came down the steps to his
automobile. For a moment Helen stood framed against the bright light of
the interior, then the car rolled away. The door was closed.
John recalled what his father had said. Would his sister finally
accept McIver? For a long time the factory owner had been pressing his
suit. Would she marry him at last? A combination of the Ward Mill and
the McIver factory would be a mighty power in the manufacturing world.
He dismissed the thought. He wished that Helen were more like Mary. His
sister was a wonderful woman in his eyes—he was proud of her; but
again his mind went back to the workman's home and to his happy evening
there. His own home was so different. His mother! What a splendid old
man Uncle Peter was!
John Ward's musings were suddenly disturbed by a faint sound.
Turning his head, he saw the form of a man, dark and shadowy in the
faint light of the stars, moving toward the house. John held his place
silently, alert and ready. Cautiously the dark form crept forward with
frequent pauses as if to look about. Then, as the figure stood for a
moment silhouetted against a lighted window of the house, John
recognized his father.
At the involuntary exclamation which escaped the younger man Adam
whirled as if to run.
John spoke, quietly, “That you, father?”
The man came quickly to his son. With an odd nervous laugh, he said,
“Lord, boy, but you startled me! What are you doing out here at this
time of the night?”
“Just enjoying a quiet smoke and looking at the stars,” John
It was evident that Adam Ward was intensely excited. His voice shook
with nervous agitation and he looked over his shoulder and peered into
the surrounding darkness as if dreading some lurking danger.
“I couldn't sleep,” he muttered, in a low cautious tone.
“Dreams—nothing in them of course—all foolishness—nerves are all
shot to pieces.”
He dropped down on the seat beside his son, then sprang to his feet
again. “Did you hear that?” he whispered, and stooping low, he tried to
see into the shadows of the shrubbery behind John.
The younger man spoke soothingly. “There is nothing here, father,
sit down and take it easy.”
“You don't know what you're talking about,” retorted Adam Ward. “I
tell you they are after me—there's no telling what they will
do—poison—a gun—infernal machines through the mail—bomb. No one has
any sympathy with me, not even my family. All these years I have worked
for what I have and now nobody cares. All they want is what they can
get out of me. And you—you'll find out! I saw your car in front of
Martin's again this evening. You'd better keep away from there. Peter
Martin is dangerous. He would take everything I have away from me if he
John tried in vain to calm his father, but in a voice harsh with
passion he continued, and as he spoke, he moved his hands and arms
constantly with excited and vehement gestures.
“That process is mine, I tell you. The best lawyers I could get have
fixed up the patents. Pete Martin is an old fool. I'll see him in his
grave before—” he checked himself as if fearing his own anger would
betray him. As he paced up and he muttered to himself, “I built up the
business and I can tear it down. I'll blow up the Mill. I—” his voice
trailed off into hoarse unintelligible sounds.
John Ward could not speak. He believed that his father's strange
fears for the loss of his property were due to nothing more than his
nervous trouble. Peter Martin's name, which Adam in his most excited
moments nearly always mentioned in this manner, meant nothing more to
John than the old workman's well-known leadership in the Mill workers'
Suddenly Adam turned again to his son, and coming close asked in a
whisper, “John—I—is there really a hell, John? I mean such as the
preachers used to tell about. Does a man go from this life to the
horrors of eternal punishment? Does he, son?”
“Why, father, I—” John started to reply, but Adam interrupted him
with, “Never mind; you wouldn't know any more than any one else about
it. The preachers ought to know, though. Seems like there must be some
way of finding out. I dreamed—”
As if he had forgotten the presence of his son, he suddenly started
away toward the house.
Not until John Ward had assured himself that his father was safely
in his room and apparently sleeping at last, did he go to his own
But the new manager of the Mill did not at once retire. He did not
even turn on the lights. For a long time he stood at the darkened
window, looking out into the night. “What was it?” he asked himself
again and again. “What was it his father feared?”
In the distance he could see a tiny spot of light shining high
against the shadowy hillside above the darkness of the Flats. It was a
lighted window in the Interpreter's hut.
* * * * *
As they sat in the night on the balcony porch, Jake Vodell said
harshly to the old basket maker, “You shall tell me about this Adam
Ward, comrade. I hear many things. From what you say of your friendship
with him in the years when he was a workman in the Mill and from your
friendship with his son and daughter you must know better than any one
else. Is it true that it was his new patented process that made him so
“The new process was undoubtedly the foundation of his success,”
answered the Interpreter, “but it was the man's peculiar genius that
enabled him to recognize the real value of the process and to foresee
how it would revolutionize the industry. And it was his ability as an
organizer and manager, together with his capacity for hard work, that
enabled him to realize his vision. It is easily probable that not one
of his fellow workmen could have developed and made use of the
discovery as he has.”
Jake Vodell's black brows were raised with quickened interest. “This
new process was a discovery then? It was not the result of research and
The Interpreter seemed to answer reluctantly. “It was an accidental
discovery, as many such things are.”
The agitator must have noticed that the old basket maker did not
wish to talk of Adam Ward's patented process, but he continued his
“Peter Martin was working in the Mill at the time of this wonderful
discovery, was he?”
“Oh! and Peter and Adam were friends, too?”
The Interpreter's guest shrugged his shoulders and scowled his
righteous indignation. “And all these years that Adam Ward has been
building up this Mill that grinds the bodies and souls of his fellow
men into riches for himself and makes from the life blood of his
employees the dollars that his son and daughter spend in wicked
luxury—all these years his old friend Peter Martin has toiled for him
exactly as the rest of his slaves have toiled. Bah! And still the
priests and preachers make the people believe there is a God of
The Interpreter replied, slowly, “It may be after all, sir, that
Peter Martin is richer than Adam Ward.”
“How richer?” demanded the other. “When he lives in a poor little
house, with no servants, no automobiles, no luxuries of any kind, and
must work every day in the Mill with his son, while his daughter Mary
slaves at the housekeeping for her father and brother! Look at Adam
Ward and his great castle of a home—look at his possessions—at the
fortune he will leave his children. Bah! Mr. Interpreter, do not talk
to me such foolishness.”
“Is it foolishness to count happiness as wealth?” asked the
“Happiness?” growled the other. “Is there such a thing? What does
the laboring man know of happiness?”
And the Interpreter answered, “Peter Martin, in the honorable peace
and contentment of his useful years, and in the love of his family and
friends, is the happiest man I have ever known. While Adam Ward—”
Jake Vodell sprang to his feet as if the Interpreter's words
exhausted his patience, while he spoke as one moved by a spirit of
contemptuous intolerance. “You talk like a sentimental old woman. How
is it possible that there should be happiness and contentment anywhere
when all is injustice and slavery under this abominable capitalist
system? First we shall have liberty—freedom—equality—then perhaps we
may begin to talk of happiness. Is Sam Whaley and his friends who live
down there in their miserable hovels—is Sam Whaley happy?”
“Sam Whaley has had exactly the same opportunity for happiness that
Peter Martin has had,” answered the Interpreter. “Opportunity, yes,”
snarled the other. “Opportunity to cringe and whine and beg his master
for a chance to live like a dog in a kennel, while he slaves to make
his owners rich. Do you know what this man McIver says? I will tell
you, Mr. Interpreter—you who prattle about a working man's happiness.
McIver says that the laboring classes should be driven to their work
with bayonets—that if his factory employees strike they will be forced
to submission by the starvation of their women and children. Happiness!
You shall see what we will do to this man McIver before we talk of
happiness. And you shall see what will happen to this castle of Adam
Ward's and to this Mill that he says is his.”
“I think I should tell you, sir,” said the Interpreter, calmly,
“that in your Millsburgh campaign, at least, you are already defeated.”
“Defeated! Hah! That is good! And who do you say has defeated me,
before I have commenced even to fight, heh?”
“You are defeated by Adam Ward's retirement from business,” came the
BOOK II THE TWO HELENS
“O Guns, fall silent till the dead men hear
Above their heads the legions pressing on:
* * * * *
Bid them be patient, and some day, anon,
They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep;
Shall greet, in wonderment, the quiet dawn,
And in content may turn them to their sleep.”
CHAPTER XIII. THE AWAKENING
Immediately following that day when she had watched her father from
the arbor and had talked with Bobby and Maggie Whaley on the old road,
Helen Ward had thrown herself into the social activities of her circle
as if determined to find, in those interests, a cure for her discontent
Several times she called for a few minutes at the little hut on the
cliff. But she did not again talk of herself or of her father to the
old basket maker as she had talked that day when she first met the
children from the Flats. Two or three times she saw the children. But
she passed them quickly by with scarcely a nod of greeting. And yet,
the daughter of Adam Ward felt with increasing certainty that she could
never be content with the busy nothingness which absorbed the lives of
so many of her friends. Her father, since his retirement, seemed a
little better. But she could not put out of her mind the memory of what
she had seen. For her, the dreadful presence of the hidden thing always
attended him. Because she could not banish the feeling and because
there was nothing she could do, she sought relief by escaping from the
house as often as possible on the plea of social duties.
There were times when the young woman thought that her mother knew.
At times she fancied that her brother half guessed the secret that so
overshadowed their home. But Mrs. Ward and her children alike shrank
from anything approaching frankness in mentioning the Mill owner's
condition. And so they went on, feeling the hidden thing, dreading they
knew not what—deceiving themselves and each other with hopes that in
their hearts they knew were false.
The mother, brave, loyal soul, seeing her daughter's unhappiness and
wishing to protect her from the thing that had so saddened her own
life, encouraged Helen to find what relief she could in the pleasures
that kept her so many hours from home. John, occupied by the exacting
duties of his new position, needed apparently nothing more. Indeed, to
Helen, her brother's attitude toward his work, his views of life and
his increasing neglect of what she called the obligations of their
position in Millsburgh, were more and more puzzling. She had thought
that with John's advancement to the general managership of the Mill his
peculiar ideas would be modified. But his promotion seemed to have made
no sign of a change in his conception of the relationship between
employer and employee, or in his attitude toward the unions or toward
the industrial situation as a whole.
Of one thing Helen was certain—her brother had found that which
she, in her own life, was somehow missing. And so the young woman
observed her brother with increasing interest and a growing feeling
that approached envy. At every opportunity she led him to talk of his
work or rather of his attitude toward his work, and encouraged him to
express the convictions that had so changed his own life and that were
so foreign to the tenets of Helen and her class. And always their talks
ended with John's advice: “Go ask the Interpreter; he knows; he will
make it so much clearer than I can.”
But with all John's absorbing interest in his work and in the
general industrial situation of Millsburgh, which under the growing
influence of Jake Vodell was becoming every day more difficult and
dangerous, the general manager could not escape the memories of that
happy evening at the Martin cottage. The atmosphere of this workman's
home was so different from the atmosphere of his own home in the big
house on the hill. There was a peace, a contentment, a feeling of
security in the little cottage that was sadly wanting in the more
pretentious residence. Following, as it did, his father's retirement
from the Mill with his own promotion to the rank of virtual ownership
and his immediate talk with Captain Charlie, that evening had
reestablished for him, as it were, the relationship and charm of his
boyhood days. It was as though, having been submitted to a final test,
he was now admitted once more, without reserve, to the innermost circle
of their friendship.
On his way to and from his office he nearly always, now, drove past
the Martin cottage. The distance was greater, it is true, but John
thought that the road was enough better to more than make up for that.
Besides, he really did enjoy the drive down the tree-arched street and
past the old house. It was all so rich in memories of his happy
boyhood, and sometimes—nearly always, in fact—he would catch a
glimpse of Mary among her flowers or on the porch or perhaps at the
Occasionally this young manager of the Mill, with his strange ideas
of industrial comradeship, found it necessary to spend an evening with
these workmen who were leaders in the union that was held by his father
and by McIver to be a menace to the employer class. It in no way
detracted from the value of these consultations with Captain Charlie
and his father that Mary was always present. In fact, Mary herself was
in a position materially to help John Ward in his study of the
industrial problems that were of such vital interest to him. No one
knew better than did Pete Martin's daughter the actual living
conditions of the class of laboring people who dwelt in the Flats.
Certainly, as he watched the progress of Jake Vodell's missionary work
among them, John could not ignore these Sam Whaleys of the industries
as an important factor in his problem.
So it happened, curiously enough, that Helen herself was led to call
at the little home next door to the old house where she had lived in
those years of her happy girlhood.
* * * * *
Helen was downtown that afternoon on an unimportant shopping errand.
She had left the store after making her purchases and was about to
enter her automobile, when McIver, who chanced to be passing, stopped
to greet her.
There was no doubting the genuineness of the man's pleasure in the
incident, nor was Helen herself at all displeased at this break in what
had been, so far, a rather dull day.
“And what brings you down here at this unreasonable hour?” he asked;
“on Saturday, too? Don't you know that there is a tennis match on at
“I didn't seem to care for the tennis to-day somehow,” she returned.
“Mother wanted some things from Harrison's, so I came downtown to get
them for her.”
He caught a note in her voice that made him ask with grave concern,
“How is your father, Helen?”
She answered, quickly, “Oh, father is doing nicely, thank you.”
Then, with a cheerfulness that was a little forced, she asked in turn,
“And why have you deserted the club yourself this afternoon?”
“Business,” he returned. “There will be no more Saturday afternoons
off for me for some time to come, I fear.” Then he added, quickly, “But
look here, Helen, there is no need of our losing the day altogether.
Send your man on, and come with me for a little spin. The roadster is
in the next block. I'll take you home in an hour and get on back to my
“The ride will do you good.”
“Sure you can spare the time?”
“Sure. It will do me good, too.”
“And you're not asking me just to be nice—you really want me?”
“Don't you know by this time whether I want you or not?” he
returned, in a tone that brought the color to her cheeks. “Please
“All right,” she agreed.
When they were seated in McIver's roadster, she added, “I really
can't deny myself the thrilling triumph of taking a business man away
from his work during office hours.”
“You take my thoughts away from my work a great many times during
office hours, Helen,” he retorted, as the car moved away. “Must I wait
much longer for my answer, dear?”
She replied, hurriedly, “Please, Jim, not that to-day. Let's not
think about it even.”
“All right,” he returned, grimly. “I just want you to know, though,
that I am waiting.”
“I know, Jim—and—and you are perfectly wonderful but—Oh, can't we
forget it just for an hour?”
As if giving himself to her mood, McIver's voice and manner changed.
“Do you mind if we stop at the factory just a second? I want to leave
some papers. Then we can go on up the river drive.”
* * * * *
An hour later they were returning, and because it was the prettiest
street in that part of Millsburgh, McIver chose the way that would take
them past the old house.
John Ward's machine was standing in front of the Martin cottage.
McIver saw it and looked quickly at his companion. There was no need
to ask if Helen had recognized her brother's car.
The factory owner considered the new manager of the Mill a
troublesome obstacle in his own plans for making war on the unions. He
felt, too, that with John now in control of the business, his chances
of bringing about the combination of the two industries were materially
lessened. He had wondered, at times, if it was not her brother's
influence that caused Helen to put off giving him her final answer to
When he saw that Helen had recognized John's car, he remarked, with
an insinuating laugh, “Evidently I am not the only business man who can
be lured from his office during working hours.”
“Jim, how can you?” she protested. “You know John is there on
business to see Charlie or his father.”
“It is a full hour yet before quitting time at the Mill,” he
She had no reply to this, and the man continued with a touch of
malicious satisfaction, “After all, Helen, John is human, you know, and
old Pete Martin's daughter is a mighty attractive girl.”
Helen Ward's cheeks were red, but she managed to control her voice,
as she said, “Just what do you mean by that, Jim?”
“Is it possible that you really do not know?” he countered.
“I know that my brother, foolish as he may be about some things,
would never think of paying serious attention to the daughter of one of
his employees,” she retorted, warmly.
“That is exactly the situation,” he returned. “No one believes for a
moment that the affair is serious on John's part.”
The color was gone from Helen's face now. “I think you have said too
much not to go on now, Jim. Do you mean that people are saying that
John is amusing himself with Mary Martin?”
“Well,” he returned, coolly, “what else can the people think when
they see him going there so often; when they see the two together,
wandering about the Flats; when they hear his car tearing down the
street late in the evening; when they see her every morning at the gate
watching for him to pass on his way to work? Your brother is not a
saint, Helen. He is no different, in some ways, from other men. I
always did feel that there was something back of all this comrade stuff
between him and Charlie Martin. As for the girl, I don't think you need
to worry about her. She probably understands it all right enough.”
“Jim, you must not say such things to me about Mary! She is not at
all that kind of girl. The whole thing is impossible.”
“What do you know about Mary Martin?” he retorted. “I'll bet you
have never even spoken to her since you moved from the old house.”
Helen did not speak after this until they were passing the great
stone columns at the entrance to the Ward estate, then she said,
quietly, “Jim, do you always believe the worst possible things about
“That's an odd thing for you to ask,” he returned, doubtfully, as
they drove slowly up the long curving driveway. “Why?”
“Because,” she answered, “it sometimes seems to me as if no one
believed the best things about people these days. I know there is a
world of wickedness among us, Jim, but are we all going wholly to the
McIver laughed. “We are all alike in one thing, Helen. No matter
what he professes, you will find that at the last every man holds to
the good old law of 'look out for number one.' Business or pleasure,
it's all the same. A man looks after his own interests first and takes
what he wants, or can get, when and where and how he can.”
“But, Jim, the war—”
He laughed cynically. “The war was pure selfishness from start to
finish. We fed the fool public a lot of patriotic bunk, of course—we
had to—we needed them. And the dear people fell for the sentimental
hero business as they always do.” With the last word he stopped the car
in front of the house.
When Helen was on the ground she turned and faced him squarely. “Jim
McIver, your words are an insult to my brother and to ninety-nine out
of every hundred men who served under our flag, and you insult my
intelligence if you expect me to accept them in earnest. If I thought
for a minute that you were capable of really believing such abominable
stuff I would never speak to you again. Good-by, Jim. Thank you so much
for the ride.”
Before the man could answer, she ran up the steps and disappeared
through the front door.
But McIver's car was no more than past the entrance when Helen
appeared again on the porch. For a moment she stood, as if debating
some question in her mind. Then apparently, she reached a decision. Ten
minutes later she was walking hurriedly down the hill road—the way
Bobby and Maggie had fled that day when Adam Ward drove them from the
iron fence that guarded his estate. It was scarcely a mile by this road
to the old house and the Martin cottage.
CHAPTER XIV. THE WAY BACK
That walk from her home to the little white cottage next door to the
old house was the most eventful journey that Helen Ward ever made. She
felt this in a way at the time, but she could not know to what end her
sudden impulse to visit again the place of her girlhood would
As she made her way down the hill toward that tree-arched street,
she realized a little how far the years had carried her from the old
house. She had many vivid and delightful memories of that world of her
childhood, it is true, but the world to which her father's material
success had removed her in the years of her ripening womanhood had come
to claim her so wholly that she had never once gone back. She had
looked back at first with troubled longing. But Adam Ward's determined
efforts to make the separation of the two families final and complete,
together with the ever-increasing bitterness of his strange hatred for
his old workman friend, had effectually prevented her from any attempt
at a continuation of the old relationship. In time, even the thought of
taking so much as a single step toward the intimacies from which she
had come so far, had ceased to occur to her. And now, suddenly, without
plan or premeditation, she was on her way actually to touch again, if
only for a few moments, the lives that had been so large a part of the
simple, joyous life which she had known once, but which was so foreign
to her now.
Nor was it at all clear to her why she was going or what she would
do. As she had observed with increasing interest the change in her
brother's attitude toward the pleasures that had claimed him so wholly
before the war, she had wondered often at his happy contentment in
contrast to her own restless and dissatisfied spirit. McIver's words
had suddenly forced one fact upon her with startling clearness: John,
through his work in the Mill, his association with Captain Charlie and
his visits to the Martin home, was actually living again in the
atmosphere of that world which she felt they had left so far behind. It
was as though her brother had already gone back.
And McIver's challenging question, “What do you know about Mary
Martin?” had raised in her mind a doubt, not of her brother and his
relationship to these old friends of their childhood, but of herself
and all the relationships that made her present life such a contrast to
her life in the old house.
With her mind and heart so full of doubts and questionings, she
turned into the familiar street and saw her brother's car still before
the Martin home.
As she went on, a feeling of strange eagerness possessed her. Her
face glowed with warm color, her eyes shone with glad anticipation, her
heart beat more quickly. As one returning to well loved home scenes
after many years in a foreign land, the daughter of Adam Ward went down
the street toward the place where she was born. In front of the old
house she stopped. The color went from her cheeks—the brightness from
In her swiftly moving automobile, nearly always with gay companions,
Helen had sometimes passed the old house and had noticed with momentary
concern its neglected appearance. But these fleeting glimpses had been
so quickly forgotten that the place was most real to her as she saw it
in her memories. But now, as she stood there alone, in the mood that
had brought her to the spot, the real significance of the ruin struck
her with appalling force.
Those rooms with their shattered windowpanes, their bare, rotting
casements and sagging, broken shutters appealed to her in the mute
eloquence of their empty loneliness for the joyous life that once had
filled them. The weed-grown yard, the tumbledown fence, the dilapidated
porch, and even the chimneys that were crumbling and ragged against the
sky, cried out to her in sorrowful reproach. A rushing flood of home
memories filled her eyes with hot tears. With the empty loneliness of
the old house in her heart, she went blindly on to the little cottage
next door. There was no thought as to how she would explain her unusual
presence there. She did not, herself, really know clearly why she had
Timidly she paused at the white gate. There was no one in the yard
to bid her welcome. As one in a dream, she passed softly into the yard.
She was trembling now as one on the threshold of a great adventure.
What was it? What did it mean—her coming there?
Wonderingly she looked about the little yard with its bit of
lawn—at the big shade tree—the flowers—it was all just as she had
always known it. Where were they?—John and Mary and Charlie? Why was
there no sound of their voices? Her cheeks were suddenly hot with
color. What if Charlie Martin should suddenly appear! As one awakened
from strange dreams to a familiar home scene, Helen Ward was all at
once back in those days of her girlhood. She had come as she had come
so many, many times from the old house next door, to find her brother
and their friends. Her heart was eager with the shy eagerness of a maid
for the expected presence of her first boyish lover.
* * * * *
Then Peter Martin, coming around the house from the garden, saw her
The old workman stopped, as if at the sight of an apparition.
Mechanically he placed the garden tool he was carrying against the
corner of the house; deliberately he knocked the ashes from his pipe
and placed it methodically in his pocket.
With a little cry, Helen ran to him, her hands outstretched, “Uncle
The old workman caught her and for a few moments she clung to him,
half laughing, half crying, while they both, in the genuineness of
their affection, forgot the years.
“Is it really you, Helen?” he said, at last, and she saw a
suspicious moisture in the kindly eyes. “Have you really come back to
see the old man after all these years?”
Then, with quick anxiety, he asked, “But what is the matter, child?
Your father—your mother—are they all right? Is there anything wrong
at your home up on the hill yonder?”
His very natural inquiry broke the spell and placed her instantly
back in the world to which she now belonged. Drawing away from him, she
returned, with characteristic calmness, “Oh, no, Uncle Pete, father and
mother are both very well indeed. But why should you think there must
be something wrong, simply because I chanced to call?”
The old workman was clearly confused at this sudden change in her
manner. He had welcomed the girl—the Helen of the old house—this
self-possessed young woman was quite a different person. She was the
princess lady of little Maggie and Bobby Whaley's acquaintance, who
sometimes condescended to recognize him with a cool little nod as her
big automobile passed him swiftly by.
Pete Martin could not know, as the Interpreter would have known, how
at that very moment the Helen of the old house and the princess lady
were struggling for supremacy.
Removing his hat and handling it awkwardly, he said, with a touch of
dignity in his tone and manner in spite of his embarrassment, “I'm glad
the folks are well, Helen. Won't you take a seat and rest yourself?”
As they went toward the chairs in the shade of the tree, he added,
“It is a long time since we have seen you in this part of
town—walking, I mean.”
The Helen of the old house wanted to answer—she longed to cry out
in the fullness of her heart some of the things that were demanding
expression, but it was the princess lady who answered, “I saw my
brother's car here and thought perhaps he would let me ride home with
The old workman was studying her now with kind but frankly
understanding eyes. “John and Mary have gone to see some of the folks
that she is looking after in the Flats,” he said, slowly. “They'll be
back any minute now, I should think.”
She did not know what to reply to this. There were so many things
she wanted to know—so many things that she felt she must know. But she
felt herself forced to answer with the mere commonplace, “You are all
well, I suppose, Uncle Pete?”
“Fine, thank you,” he answered. “Mary is always busy with her
housework and her flowers and the poor sick folks she's always
a-looking after—just like her mother, if you remember. Charlie, he's
working late to-day—some breakdown or something that's keeping him
overtime. That brother of yours is a fine manager, Miss Helen, and,” he
added, with a faint note of something in his voice that brought a touch
of color to her cheeks, “a finer man.”
Again she felt the crowding rush of those questions she wanted to
ask, but she only said, with an air of calm indifference, “John has
changed so since his return from France—in many ways he seems like a
“As for that,” he replied, “the war has changed most people in one
way or another. It was bound to. Everybody talks about getting back to
normal again, but as I see it there'll be no getting back ever to what
used to be normal before the war started.”
She looked at him with sudden, intense interest. “How has it so
changed every one, Uncle Pete? Why can't people be just as they were
before it happened? The change in business conditions and all that, I
can understand, but why should it make any difference to—well, to me,
The old workman answered, slowly, “The people are thinking deeper
and feeling deeper. They're more human, as you might say. And I've
noticed generally that the way the people think and feel is at the
bottom of everything. It's just like the Interpreter says, 'You can't
change the minds and hearts of folks without changing what they do.'
Everybody ain't changed, of course, but so many of them have that the
rest will be bound to take some notice or feel mighty lonesome from now
Helen was about to reply when the old workman interrupted her with,
“There come John and Mary now.”
The two coming along the street walk to the gate did not at first
notice those who were watching them with such interest. John was
carrying a market basket and talking earnestly to his companion, whose
face was upturned to his with eager interest. At the gate they paused a
moment while the man, with his hand on the latch, finished whatever it
was that he was saying. And Helen, with a little throb of something
very much like envy in her heart, saw the light of happiness in the
eyes of the young woman who through all the years of their girlhood had
been her inseparable playmate and loyal friend.
When John finally opened the gate for her to pass, Mary was
laughing, and the clear ringing gladness in her voice brought a faint
smile of sympathy even to the face of the now coolly conventional
daughter of Adam Ward.
Mary's laughter was suddenly checked; the happiness fled from her
face. With a little gesture of almost appealing fear she put her hand
on her companion's arm.
In the same instant John saw and stood motionless, his face blank
with amazement. Then, “Helen! What in the world are you doing here?”
John Ward never realized all that those simple words carried to the
three who heard him. Peter Martin's face was grave and thoughtful. Mary
blushed in painful embarrassment. His sister, calm and self-possessed,
came toward them, smiling graciously.
“I saw your roadster and thought I might ride home with you. Uncle
Pete and I have been having a lovely little visit. It is perfectly
charming to see you again like this, Mary. Your flowers are beautiful
as ever, aren't they?”
“But, Helen, how do you happen to be wandering about in this
neighborhood alone and without your car?” demanded the still bewildered
“Don't be silly,” she laughed. “I was out for a walk—that is all. I
do walk sometimes, you know.” She turned to Mary. “Really, to hear this
brother of mine, one would think me a helpless invalid and this part of
Millsburgh a very dangerous community.”
Mary forced a smile, but the light in her eyes was not the light of
happiness and her cheeks were still a burning red.
“Don't you think we should go now, John?” suggested Helen.
The helpless John looked from Mary to her father appealingly.
“Better sit down awhile,” Pete offered, awkwardly.
John looked at his watch. “I suppose we really ought to go.” To Mary
he added, “Will you please tell Charlie that I will see him to-morrow?”
She bowed gravely.
Then the formal parting words were spoken, and Helen and John were
seated in the car. Mary had moved aside from the gate and stood now
very still among her flowers.
* * * * *
Before John had shifted the gears of his machine to high, he heard a
sound that caused him to look quickly at his sister. Little Maggie's
princess lady was sobbing like a child.
“Why, Helen, what in the world—”
She interrupted him. “Please, John—please, don't—don't take me
home now. I—I—Let us stop here at the old house for a few minutes.
I—I can't go just yet.”
Without a word John Ward turned into the curb. Tenderly he helped
her to the ground. Reverently he lifted aside the broken-down gate and
led her through the tangle of tall grass and weeds that had almost
obliterated the walk to the front porch. Over the rotting steps and
across the trembling porch he helped her with gentle care. Very softly
he pushed open the sagging door.
CHAPTER XV. AT THE OLD HOUSE
From room to room in the empty old house the brother and sister went
silently or with low, half-whispered words. They moved softly, as if
fearing to disturb some unseen tenant of those bare and dingy rooms.
Often they paused, and, drawing close to each other, stood as if in the
very presence of some spirit that was not of their material world. At
last they came to the back porch, which was hidden from the curious
eyes of any chance observer in the neighborhood by a rank growth of
weeds and bushes and untrimmed trees.
As John Ward looked at his sister now, that expression of wondering
amazement with which he had greeted her was gone. In its place there
was gentle understanding.
With a little smile, Helen sat down on the top step of the porch and
motioned him to a seat beside her. “Won't you tell me about it, John?”
she said, softly.
“Tell you about what, Helen?”
“About everything—your life, your work, your friends.” She made a
little gesture toward the cottage next door.
They could see the white gable through the screen of tangled boughs.
“What is it that has changed you so?” she went on. “Your interests
are so different now. You are so happy and contented—so—so alive—and
I”—her voice broke—“I feel as if you were going away off somewhere
and leaving me behind. I am so miserable. John, won't you tell me about
“You poor old girl!” exclaimed John with true brotherly affection.
“I've been a blind fool. I ought to have seen. That's nearly always the
way, though, I guess,” he went on, reflectively. “A fellow gets so
darned interested trying to make things go right outside his own home
that he forgets to notice how the people that he really loves most of
all are getting along. It looks as though I have not been doing so much
better than poor old Sam Whaley, after all.”
He paused and seemed to be following his thoughts into fields where
only he could go. Helen moved a little closer, and he came back to her.
“I never dreamed that you were feeling anything like this, sister. I
knew that you were worried about father, of course, as we all are, but
aside from that you seemed to be so occupied with your various
interests and with McIver—” He paused, then finished, abruptly, “Look
here, Helen, what about you and McIver anyway; have you given him his
“Has that anything to do with it?” she answered, doubtfully. “There
is nothing that I can tell you about McIver. I don't seem to be able to
make up my mind, that is all. But McIver is only a part of the whole
trouble, John. Oh, can't you understand! How am I to know whether or
not I want to marry him or any one else until—until I have found
myself—until I know where I really belong.”
He looked at her blankly for a second, then a smile broke over his
face. “By George!” he exclaimed “that is exactly what I had to do—find
myself and find where I belonged. I never dreamed that my sister might
be compelled to go through the same experience.”
“Was it your army life that helped you to know?”
His face was serious now. “It was the things I saw and experienced
while in France.”
“Tell me,” she demanded. “I mean, tell me some of the things that
you men never talk about—the things you were forced to think and feel
and believe—that showed you your own real self—that changed you into
what you are to-day.”
And because John Ward was able that afternoon to understand his
sister's need, he did as she asked. It may have been the influence of
the old house that enabled him to lay bare for her those experiences of
his innermost self—those soul adventures about which, as she had so
truly said, men never talk. Certainly he could never have spoken in
their home on the hill as he spoke in that atmosphere from which their
father and his material prosperity had so far removed them. And Helen,
as she listened, knew that she had found at last the key to all in her
brother's life that had so puzzled her.
But after all, she reflected, when he had finished, John's
experience could not solve her problem. She could not find herself in
the things that he had thought and felt.
“If only I could have been with you over there.” she murmured.
“But, Helen,” he cried, eagerly, “it is all right here at home. The
same things are happening all about us every day—don't you understand?
The one biggest thing that came to me out of the war is the realization
that, great and terrible though it was, it was in reality only a part
of the greater war that is being fought all the time.”
She shook her head with a doubtful smile at his earnestness.
And then he tried to tell her of the Mill as he saw it in its
relation to human life—of the danger that threatened the nation
through the industrial situation—of the menace to humanity that lay in
the efforts of those who were setting class against class in a deadly
hatred that would result in revolution with all its horrors. He tried
to make her feel the call of humanity's need in the world's work, as it
was felt in the need of the world's war. He sought to apply for her the
principles of heroism and comradeship and patriotism and service to
this war that was still being waged against the imperialistic enemies
of the nation and the race.
But when he paused at last, she only smiled again, doubtfully. “You
are wonderful in your enthusiasm, John dear,” she said, “and I love you
for it. I think I understand you now, and for yourself it is right, of
course, but for me—it is all so visionary—so unreal.”
“And yet,” he returned, “you were very active during the war—you
made bandages and lint and sweaters, and raised funds for the Red
Cross. Was it all real to you?”
“Yes,” she answered, honestly, “it was very real John; it was so
real that in contrast nothing that I do now seems of any importance.”
“But you never saw a wounded soldier—you never witnessed the
horrors—you never came in actual touch with the suffering, did you?”
“And yet you say the war was real to you.”
“Very real,” she replied.
“Do you think, Helen,” he said, slowly, “that the Interpreter's
suffering would have been more real if he had lost his legs by a German
machine gun instead of by a machine in father's mill?”
“John!” she exclaimed, in a shocked tone.
“You say the suffering away over there in France was real to you,”
he continued. “Well, less than a mile from this spot, I called this
afternoon on a man who is dying by inches of consumption, contracted
while working in our office. For eight years he was absent from his
desk scarcely a day. The force nicknamed him 'Old Faithful.' When he
dropped in his tracks at last they carried him out and stopped his pay.
He has no care—nothing to eat, even, except the help that the Martins
give him. Another case: A widow and four helpless children—the man was
killed in McIver's factory last week. He died in agony too horrible to
describe. The mother is prostrated, the children are hungry. God knows
what will become of them this next winter. Another: A workman who was
terribly burned in the Mill two years ago. He is blind and crippled in
She interrupted him with a protesting cry, “John, John, for pity's
“Well, why are not these things right here at home as real to you as
you say the same things were when they happened in France?” he
She did not attempt to answer his question but instead asked,
gently, “Is that why you have been going to the Flats with Mary?”
If he noticed any special significance in her words he ignored it.
“Mary visits the people in the Flats as her mother did—as our mother
used to do. She told me about some of the cases, and I have been going
with her now and then to see for myself—that is all.”
Then they left the old house and drove back to their pretentious
home on the hill, where Adam Ward suffered his days of mental torture
and was racked by his nightly dreams of hell. And the dread shadow of
that hidden thing was over them all.
* * * * *
That night when John told the Interpreter of his afternoon with his
sister the old basket maker listened silently. His face was turned
toward the scene that, save for the twinkling lights, lay wrapped in
darkness before them. And he seemed to be listening to the voice of the
Mill. When John had finished, the man in the wheel chair said very
But when John was leaving, the Interpreter asked, as an
afterthought, “And where was Captain Charlie this afternoon, John?”
“At the Mill,” John answered. “I'm glad he wasn't at home, too; it
was bad enough as it was.”
“Perhaps it was just as well,” said the old basket maker. And John
Ward, in the darkness, could not see that the Interpreter was smiling.
CHAPTER XVI. HER OWN PEOPLE
“A lady to see you, sir.”
John did not take his eyes from the work on his desk. “All right,
Jimmy, show her in.”
The general manager read on to the bottom of the typewritten page,
signed his name to the sheet, placed it in the proper basket and turned
in his chair.
Little Maggie's princess lady was so lovely that afternoon, as she
stood there framed in the doorway of the manager's office that even her
She was laughing at his surprise, and there was a half teasing, half
serious look in her eyes that was irresistible.
“By George, you are a picture, Helen!” John exclaimed, with not a
little brotherly pride in his face and voice. “But what is the idea?
What are you down here for—all dolled up like this?”
She blushed with pleasure at his compliment. “That is very nice of
you, John; you are a dear to notice it. Are you going to ask me to sit
down, or must you put me out for interrupting?”
He was on his feet instantly. “Forgive me; I am so stunned by the
unexpected honor of your visit that I forget my manners.”
When she was seated, he continued, “And now what is it? what can I
do for you, sister?”
She looked about the office—at his desk and through the open door
into the busy outer room. “Are you quite sure that you have time for
“Surest thing in the world,” he returned, with a reassuring smile.
Then to a man who at that moment appeared in the doorway, “All right,
Tom.” And to Helen, “Excuse me just a second, dear.”
She watched him curiously as he turned sheet after sheet of the
papers the man handed him, seeming to absorb the pages at a glance,
while a running fire of quick questions, short answers, terse comments
and clear-cut instructions accompanied the examination.
Helen had never before been inside the doors of the industrial plant
to which her father had literally given his life. In those old-house
days, when Adam worked with Pete and the Interpreter, she had gone
sometimes to the outer gate to meet her father when his day's work was
done. On rare occasions her automobile had stopped in front of the
office. That was all.
In a vague, indefinite way the young woman realized that her
education, her pleasures, the dresses she wore, her home on the hill,
everything that she had, in fact, came to her somehow from those great
dingy, unsightly buildings. She knew that people who were not of her
world worked there for her father. Sometimes there were accidents—men
were killed. There had been strikes that annoyed her father. But no
part of it all had ever actually touched her. She accepted it as a
matter of course—without a thought—as she accepted all of the
established facts in nature. The Mill existed for her as the sun
existed. It never occurred to her to ask why. There was for her no
personal note in the droning, moaning voice of its industry. There was
nothing of personal significance in the forest of tall stacks with
their overhanging cloud of smoke. Indeed, there had been, rather,
something sinister and forbidding about the place. The threatening
aspect of the present industrial situation was in no way personal to
her except, perhaps, as it excited her father and disturbed John.
“You've got it all there, Tom,” said the manager, finishing his
examination of the papers. “Good work, too. Baird will have those
specifications on that Miller and Wilson job in to-morrow, will he?”
“Good, that's the stuff!”
The man was smiling as he moved toward the door.
“Oh, Tom, just a moment.”
Still smiling, the man turned back.
“I want you to meet my sister. Helen, may I present Mr. Conway? Tom
is one of our Mill family, you know, mighty important member,
too—regular shark at figuring all sorts of complicated calculations
that I couldn't work out in a month of Sundays.” He laughed with boyish
happiness and pride in Tom's superior accomplishments.
It was a simple little incident, but there was something in it
somewhere that moved Helen Ward strangely. A spirit that was new to her
seemed to fill the room. She felt it as one may feel the bigness of the
mountains or sense the vast reaches of the ocean. These two men,
employer and employee, were in no way conscious of their relationship
as she understood it. Tom did not appear to realize that he was working
for John—he seemed rather to feel that he was working with
When the man was gone, she asked again, timidly, “Are you sure,
brother, that I am not in the way?”
“Forget it!” he cried. “Tell me what I can do for you.”
“I want to see the Mill,” she answered.
John did not apparently quite understand her request. “You want to
see the Mill?” he repeated.
She nodded eagerly. “I want to see it all—not just the office but
where the men work—everything.”
She laughed at his bewildered expression as the sincerity of her
wish dawned upon him.
“But what in the world”—he began—“why this sudden interest in the
Half teasing, half laughing, she answered, “You didn't really think,
did you, John, that I would forget everything you said to me at the old
“No,” he said, doubtfully. “At least, I suppose I didn't. But,
honestly, I didn't think that I had made much of an impression.”
She made a little gesture of helpless resignation. “Here I am just
the same and so much interested already that I can't tear myself away.
Come on, let's start—that is, if you really have the time to take me.”
Time to take her! John Ward would have lost the largest contract he
had ever dreamed of securing rather than miss taking Helen through the
* * * * *
With an old linen duster, which had hung in the office closet since
Adam Ward's day, to cover her from chin to shoes, and a cap that John
himself often wore about the plant, to replace her hat, they set out.
Helen's first impression, as she stood just inside the door to the
big main room of the plant, was fear. To her gentle eyes the scene was
one of terrifying confusion and unspeakable dangers.
Those great machines were grim and threatening monsters with
ponderous jaws and arms and chains that seemed all too light to control
their sullen strength. The noise—roaring, crashing, clanking, moaning,
shrieking, hissing—was overpowering in its suggestion of the
ungoverned tumult that belonged to some strange, unearthly realm.
Everywhere, amid this fearful din and these maddening terrors, flitting
through the murky haze of steam and smoke and dust, were men with sooty
faces and grimy arms. Never had the daughter of Adam Ward seen men at
work like this. She drew closer to John's side and held to his arm as
though half expecting him to vanish suddenly and leave her alone in
this monstrous nightmare.
Looking down at her, John laughed aloud and put his arm about her
reassuringly. “Great game, old girl!” he said, with a wholesome pride
in his voice. “This is the life!”
And all at once she remembered that this was, indeed,
life—life as she had never seen it, never felt it before. And this
life game—this greatest of all games—was the game that John played
with such absorbing interest day after day.
“I can understand now why you are not so devoted to tennis and teas
as you used to be,” she returned, laughing back at him with a new
admiration in her face.
Then John led her into the very midst of the noisy scene. Carefully
he guided her steps through the seeming hurry and confusion of
machinery and men. Now they paused before one of those grim monsters to
watch its mighty work. Now they stopped to witness the terrific power
displayed by another giant that lifted, with its great arms of steel, a
weight of many tons as easily as a child would handle a toy. Again,
they stepped aside from the path of an engine on its way to some
distant part of the plant, or stood before a roaring furnace, or paused
to watch a group of men, or halted while John exchanged a few brief
words with a superintendent or foreman. And always with boyish
enthusiasm John talked to her of what they saw, explaining,
illustrating, making the purpose and meaning of every detail clear.
Gradually, as she thus went closer to this life that was at first so
terrifying to her, the young woman was conscious of a change within
herself. The grim monsters became kind and friendly as she saw how
their mighty strength was obedient always to the directing eye and hand
of the workmen who controlled them. The many noises, as she learned to
distinguish them, came to blend into one harmonious whole, like the
instruments in a great orchestra. The confusion, as she came to view it
understandingly, resolved itself into orderly movement. As she recalled
some of the things that her brother had said to her as they sat on the
back porch of the old house, her mind reached out for the larger truth,
and she thrilled to the feeling that she was standing, as it were, in
the living, beating heart of the nation. The things that she had been
schooled to hold as of the highest value she saw now for the first time
in their just relation to the mighty underlying life of the Mill. The
petty refinements that had so largely ruled her every thought and deed
were no more than frothy bubbles on the surface of the industrial
ocean's awful tidal power. The male idlers of her set were suddenly
contemptible in her eyes, as she saw them in comparison with her
brother or with his grimy, sweating comrades.
Presently John was saying, “This is where father used to
work—before the days of the new process, I mean. That bench there is
the very one he used, side by side with Uncle Pete and the
Helen stared at the old workbench that stood against the wall and at
the backs of the men, as though under a spell. Her father working
Her brain all at once was crowded with questions to which there were
no answers. What if Adam Ward were still a workman at that bench? What
if it had been the Interpreter who had discovered the new process? What
if her father had lost his legs? What if John, instead of being the
manager, were one of those men who worked with their hands? What if
they had never left the old house next door to Mary and Charlie? What
“Uncle Pete,” said John, “look here and see who's with us this
Mary's father turned from his work and they laughed at the
expression on his face when he saw her standing there.
And it was the Helen of the old house who greeted him, and who was
so interested in what he was doing and asked so many really intelligent
questions that he was proud of her.
They had left Uncle Pete at his bench, and Helen's mind was again
busy with those unanswerable questions—so busy, in fact, that she
scarcely heard John saying, “I want to show you a lathe over here,
Helen, that is really worth seeing. It is, on the whole, the finest and
most intricate piece of machinery in the whole plant.” And, he added,
as they drew near the subject of his remarks, “You may believe me, it
takes an exceptional workman to handle it. There are only three men in
our entire force who are ever permitted to touch it. They are experts
in their line and naturally are the best paid men we have.”
As he finished speaking they paused beside a huge affair of black
iron and gray steel, that to Helen seemed an incomprehensible tangle of
wheels and levers.
A workman was bending over the machine, so absorbed apparently in
the complications of his valuable charge that he was unaware of their
Helen spoke close to her brother's ear, “Is he one of your three
John nodded. “He is the chief. The other two are really
assistants—sort of understudies, you know.”
At that moment the man straightened up, stood for an instant with
his eyes still on his work, then, as he was turning to another part of
the intricate mechanism, he saw them.
“Hello, Charlie!” said the grinning manager, and to his sister,
“Surely you haven't forgotten Captain Martin, Helen?”
In the brief moments that followed Helen Ward knew that she had
reached the point toward which she had felt herself moving for several
months—impelled by strange forces beyond her comprehension.
Her brother's renewed and firmly established friendship with this
playmate of their childhood years, together with the many stirring
tales that John had told of his comrade captain's life in France, could
not but awaken her interest in the boy lover whom she had, as she
believed, so successfully forgotten. The puzzling change in her
brother's life interests, has neglect of so many of his pre-war
associates and his persistent comradeship with his fellow workman, had
kept alive that interest; while Captain Martin's repeated refusals to
accept John's invitations to the big home on the hill had curiously
touched her woman's pride and at the same time had compelled her
The clash between John's new industrial and social convictions and
the class consciousness to which she had been so carefully schooled,
with its background of her father's wretched mental condition, the
unhappiness of her home and her own repeated failures to find
contentment in the privileges of material wealth, raised in her mind
questions which she had never before faced.
Her talks with the Interpreter, the slow forming of the lines of the
approaching industrial struggle, with the sharpening of the contrast
between McIver and John, her acquaintance with Bobby and Maggie,
even—all tended to drive her on in her search for the answer to her
And so she had been carried to the Martin cottage—to her talk with
John at the old house—to the Mill—to this.
As one may intuitively sense the crisis in a great struggle between
life and death, this woman knew that in this man all her disturbing
life questions were centered. Deep beneath the many changes that her
father's material success in life had brought to her, one unalterable
life fact asserted itself with startling power: It was this man who had
first awakened in her the consciousness of her womanhood. Face to face
with this workman in her father's Mill, she fought to control the
To all outward appearances she did control it. Her brother saw only
a reserved interest in his workman comrade. Captain Martin saw only the
daughter of his employer who had so coldly preferred her newer friends
to the less pretentious companions of her girlhood.
But beneath the commonplace remarks demanded by the occasion, the
Helen of the old house was struggling for supremacy. The spirit that
she had felt in the office when John talked with his fellow workmen,
she felt now in the presence of this workman. The power, the strength,
the bigness, the meaning of the Mill, as it had come to her, were all
personified in him. A strange exultation of possession lifted her up.
She was hungry for her own; she wanted to cry out: “This work is my
work—these people are my people—this man is my man!”
It was Captain Charlie who ended the interview with the excuse that
the big machine needed his immediate attention. He had stood as they
talked with a hand on one of the controls and several times he had
turned a watchful eye on his charge. It was almost, Helen thought with
a little thrill of triumph, as though the man sought in the familiar
touch of his iron and steel a calmness and self-control that he needed.
But now, when he turned to give his attention wholly to his work, with
the effect of politely dismissing her, she felt as though he had
suddenly, if ever so politely, closed a door in her face.
John must have felt it a little, too, for he became rather quiet as
they went on and soon concluded their inspection of the plant.
At the office door, Helen paused and turned to look back, as if
reluctant to leave the scene that had now such meaning for her, while
her brother stood silently watching her. Not until they were back in
the manager's office and Helen was ready to return to the outside world
did John Ward speak.
Facing her with his straightforward soldierly manner, he said,
She returned his look with steady frankness. “I can't tell you what
I think about it all now, John dear. Sometime, perhaps, I may try. It
is too big—too vital—too close. I am glad I came. I am sorry, too.”
So he took her to her waiting car.
For a moment he stood looking thoughtfully after the departing
machine and then, with an odd little smile, went back to his work.
CHAPTER XVII. IN THE NIGHT
Helen knew, even as she told the chauffeur to drive her home, that
she did not wish to return just then to the big house on the hill. Her
mind was too crowded with thoughts she could not entertain in the
atmosphere of her home; her heart was too deeply moved by emotions that
she scarcely dared acknowledge even to herself.
She thought of the country club, but that, in her present mood, was
impossible. The Interpreter—she was about to tell Tom that she wished
to call at the hut on the cliff, but decided against it. She feared
that she might reveal to the old basket maker things that she wished to
hide. She might go for a drive in the country, but she shrank from
being alone. She wanted some one who could take her out of
herself—some one to whom she could talk without betraying herself.
Not far from the Mill a number of children were playing in the dusty
Helen did not notice the youngsters, but Tom, being a careful
driver, slowed down, even though they were already scurrying aside for
the automobile to pass. Suddenly she was startled by a shrill yell.
“Hello, there! Hello, Miss!”
Bobby Whaley, in his frantic efforts to attract her attention, was
jumping up and down, waving his cap and screeching like a wild boy,
while his companions looked on in wide-eyed wonder, half in awe at his
daring, half in fear of the possible consequence.
To the everlasting honor and glory of Sam Whaley's son, the
automobile stopped. The lady, looking back, called, “Hello, Bobby!” and
waited expectantly for him to approach.
With a look of haughty triumph at Skinny and Chuck, the lad
swaggered forward, a grin of overpowering delight at his achievement on
his dirty, freckled countenance.
“I am so glad you called to me,” Helen said, when he was close. “I
was just wishing for some one to go with me for a ride in the country.
Would you like to come?”
“Gee,” returned the urchin, “I'll say I would.”
“Do you think your mother would be willing for you to go?”
“Lord, yes—ma, she ain't a-carin' where we kids are jest so's we
ain't under her feet when she's a-workin'.”
“And could you find Maggie, do you think? Perhaps she would enjoy
the ride, too.”
Bobby lifted up his voice in a shrill yell, “Mag! Oh—oh—Mag!”
The excited cry was caught up by the watching children, and the
neighborhood echoed their calls. “Mag! Oh, Mag! Somebody wants yer,
Mag! Come a-runnin'. Hurry up!”
Their united efforts were not in vain. From the rear of a near-by
house little Maggie appeared. A dirty, faded old shawl was wrapped
about her tiny waist, hiding her bare feet and trailing behind. A sorry
wreck of a hat trimmed with three chicken feathers crowned her uncombed
hair, and the ragged remnants of a pair of black cotton gloves
completed her elegant costume. In her thin little arms she held, with
tender mother care, a doll so battered and worn by its long service
that one wondered at the imaginative power of the child who could make
of it anything but a shapeless bundle of dirty rags.
“Get a move on yer, Mag!” yelled the masterful Bobby, with frantic
gestures. “The princess lady is a-goin' t' take us fer a ride in her
swell limerseen with her driver 'n' everything.”
For one unbelieving moment, little Maggie turned to the two
miniature ladies who, in costumes that rivaled her own, had come to ask
the cause of this unseemly disturbance of their social affair. Then, at
another shout from her brother, she discarded her finery and, holding
fast to her doll with true mother instinct, hurried timidly to the
On that day when Helen had sent her servant to take them for a ride,
these children of the Flats had thought that no greater happiness was
possible to mere human beings. But now, as they sat with their
beautiful princess lady between them on the deep-cushioned seat, and
watched the familiar houses glide swiftly past, even Bobby was silent.
It was all so unreal—so like a dream. Their former experience was so
far surpassed that they would not have been surprised had the
automobile been suddenly transformed into a magic ship of the air, with
Tom a fairy pilot to carry them away up among the clouds to some
wonderful sunshine castle in the sky.
It is true that Bobby's conscience stirred uneasily when he felt an
arm steal gently about him and he was drawn a little closer to the
princess lady's side. A feller with a proper pride does not readily
permit such familiarities. It had been a long time since any one had
put an arm around Bobby—he did not quite understand.
But as for that, the princess lady herself did not quite understand
either. Perhaps the sight of little Maggie and her play lady friends so
elegantly costumed for their social function had suddenly convinced her
that these children of the Flats were of her world after all. Perhaps
the shouting children had awakened memories that banished for the
moment the sadness of her grown-up years. Or it may have been simply
the way that wee Maggie held her battered doll. It may have been that
the mother instinct of this wistful mite of humanity quickened in the
heart of the young woman something that was deeper, more vital, more
real to her womanhood than the things to which she had so far given
herself. As the Helen of the old house had longed to cry aloud in the
Mill her recognition of her man, she hungered now with a strange woman
hunger for the feel of a child in her arms.
And so, with no care for her gown, which was sure to be ruined by
this contact with the grime of the Flats, with no question as to what
people might think, with no thought for class standards or industrial
problems, the daughter of Adam Ward took the children of Sam Whaley in
her arms and carried them away from the shadow of that dark cloud that
hung always above the Mill. From the smoke and dust and filth of their
heritage, she took them into the clean, sunny air of the hillside
fields and woods. From the hovels and shanties of their familiar haunts
she took them where birds made their nests and the golden bees and
bright-winged butterflies were busy among their flowers. From the
squalid want and cruel neglect of their poverty she took them into a
fairyland that was overflowing with the riches that belong to
And then, when the sun was red above the bluff where the curving
line of cliffs end at the river's edge, she brought them back.
For some reason that has never been made satisfactorily clear by the
wise ones who lead the world's thinking, Bobby and Maggie must always
be brought back to their home in the Flats, the princess lady must
always return to her castle on the hill.
* * * * *
Charlie Martin was unusually quiet when he returned home from his
work that day. The father mentioned Helen's visit to the Mill, and Mary
had many questions to ask, but the soldier workman, usually so ready to
talk and laugh with his sister, answered only in monosyllables or
silently permitted the older man to carry the burden of the
When supper was over and it was dark, Charlie, saying that he
thought he ought to attend Jake Vodell's street meeting that evening,
left the house.
But Captain Charlie did not go to hear the agitator's soap-box
oration that night. For an hour or more, under cover of the darkness,
the workman sat on the porch of the old house next door to his home.
He had pushed aside the broken gate and made his way up the
weed-tangled walk so quietly that neither his sister nor his father,
who were on the porch of the cottage, heard a sound. So still was he
that two neighborhood lovers, who paused in their slow walk, as if
tempted by the friendly shadow of the lonely old place, did not know
that he was there. Then at something her father said, Mary's laugh rang
out, and the lovers moved on.
A little later Captain Charlie stole softly out of the yard and up
the street in the direction from which Helen had come the day of her
visit to the old house. When the sound of his feet on the walk could
not be heard at the cottage, the workman walked briskly, taking the way
that led toward the Interpreter's hut.
One who knew him would have thought that he was going for an evening
call on the old basket maker. He saw the light of the little house on
the cliff presently, and for a moment walked slowly, as if debating
whether or not he should go on as he had intended. Then he turned off
from the way to the Interpreter's and took that seldom used road that
led up the hill toward the home of Adam Ward. With a strong, easy
stride he swung up the grade until he came to the corner of the iron
fence. Slowly and quietly he moved on now in the deeper shadows of the
trees. When he could see the gloomy mass of the house unobstructed
against the sky, he stopped.
The lower floor was brightly lighted. The windows above were dark.
With his back against the trunk of a tree Captain Charlie waited.
An automobile came out between the stone columns of the big gate and
thundered away down the street with reckless speed. Adam Ward, thought
the man under the tree—even John never drove like that. And he
wondered where the old Mill owner could be going at such an hour of the
Still he waited.
Suddenly a light flashed out from the windows of an upper room. A
moment, and the watcher saw the form of a woman framed in the casement
against the bright background. For some time she stood there, her face,
shaded by her hands, pressed close to the glass, as if she were trying
to see into the darkness of the night. Then she drew back. The shade
Very slowly Captain Charlie went back down the hill.
BOOK III. THE STRIKE
“O flashing muzzles, pause, and let them see
The coming dawn that streaks the sky afar;
Then let your mighty chorus witness be
To them, and Caesar, that we still make war.”
CHAPTER XVIII. THE GATHERING STORM
In the weeks immediately following her visit to the Mill, Helen Ward
met the demands of her world apparently as usual. If any one noticed
that she failed to enter into the affairs of her associates with the
same lively interest which had made her a leader among those who do
nothing strenuously, they attributed it to her father's ill health. And
in this they were partially right. Ever since the day when she half
revealed her fears to the Interpreter, the young woman's feeling that
her father's ill health and the unhappiness of her home were the result
of some hidden thing, had gamed in strength. Since her meeting with
Captain Charlie there had been in her heart a deepening conviction
that, but for this same hidden thing, she would have known in all its
fullness a happiness of which she could now only dream.
More frequently than ever before, she went now to sit with the
Interpreter on the balcony porch of that little hut on the cliff. But
Bobby and Maggie wished in vain for their princess lady to come and
take them again into the land of trees and birds and flowers and
sunshiny hills and clean blue sky. Often, now, she went to meet her
brother when his day's work was done, and, sending Tom home with her
big car, she would go with John in his roadster. And always while he
told her of the Mill and led her deeper into the meaning of the
industry and its relation to the life of the people, she listened with
eager interest. But she did not go again to the Martin cottage or visit
the old house.
Once at the foot of the Interpreter's zigzag stairway she met
Captain Martin and greeted him in passing. Two or three times she
caught a glimpse of him among the men coming from the Mill as she
waited for John in front of the office. That was all. But always she
was conscious of him. When from the Interpreter's hut she watched the
twisting columns of smoke rising from the tall stacks, her thoughts
were with the workman who somewhere under that cloud was doing his full
share in the industrial army of his people. When John talked to her of
the Mill and its meaning, her heart was glad for her brother's loyal
comradeship with this man who had been his captain over there. The very
sound of the deep-toned whistle that carried to Adam Ward the proud
realization of his material possessions carried to his daughter
thoughts of what, but for those same material possessions, might have
For relief she turned to McIver. There was a rocklike quality in the
factory owner that had always appealed to her. His convictions were so
unwavering—his judgments so final. McIver never doubted McIver. He
never, in his own mind, questioned what he did by the standards of
right and justice. The only question he ever asked himself was, Would
McIver win or lose? Any suggestion of a difference of opinion on the
part of another was taken as a personal insult that was not to be
tolerated. Therefore, because the man was what he was, his class
convictions were deeply grounded, fixed and certain. In the turmoil of
her warring thoughts and disturbed emotions Helen felt her own balance
so shaken that she instinctively reached out to steady herself by him.
The man, feeling her turn to him, pressed his suit with all the ardor
she would permit, for he saw in his success not only possession of the
woman he wanted, but the overthrow of John's opposition to his business
plans and the consequent triumph of his personal material interests and
the interests of his class. But, in spite of the relief she gained from
the strength of McIver's convictions, some strange influence within
herself prevented her from yielding. She probably would yield at last,
she told herself drearily—because there seemed to be nothing else for
her to do.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, from his hut on the cliff, the Interpreter watched the
approach of the industrial storm.
The cloud that had appeared on the Millsburgh horizon with the
coming of Jake Vodell had steadily assumed more threatening proportions
until now it hung dark with gloomy menace above the work and the homes
of the people. To the man in the wheel chair, looking out upon the
scene that lay with all its varied human interests before him, there
was no bit of life anywhere that was not in the shadow of the gathering
storm. The mills and factories along the river, the stores and banks
and interests of the business section, the farms in the valley, the
wretched Flats, the cottage homes of the workmen and the homes on the
hillside, were all alike in the path of the swiftly approaching danger.
The people with anxious eyes watched for the storm to break and made
such hurried preparations as they could. They heard the dull, muttering
sound of its heavy voice and looked at one another in silent dread or
talked, neighbor to neighbor, in low tones. A strange hush was over
this community of American citizens. In their work, in their pleasures,
in their home life, in their love and happiness, in their very sorrows,
they felt the deadening presence of this dread thing that was sweeping
upon them from somewhere beyond the borders of their native land. And
against this death that filled the air they seemingly knew not how to
This, to the Interpreter, was the almost unbelievable tragedy—that
the people should not know what to do; that they should not have given
more thought to making the structure of their citizenship stormproof.
“The great trouble is that the people don't line up right,” said
Captain Charlie to John and the Interpreter one evening as the workman
and the general manager were sitting with the old basket maker on the
“Just what do you mean by that, Charlie?” asked John. The man in the
wheel chair was nodding his assent to the union man's remark.
“I mean,” Charlie explained, “that the people consider only capital
and labor, or workmen and business men. They put loyal American workmen
and imperialist workmen all together on one side and loyal American
business men and imperialist business men all together on the other.
They line up all employees against all employers. For
example, as the people see it, you and I are enemies and the Mill is
our battle ground. The fact is that the imperialist manual workman is
as much my enemy as he is yours. The imperialist business man is as
much your enemy as he is mine.”
“You are exactly right, Charlie,” said the Interpreter. “And that is
the first thing that the Big Idea applied to our industries will do—it
will line up the great body of loyal American workmen that you
represent with the great body of loyal American business men that John
represents against the McIvers of capital and the Jake Vodells of
labor. And that new line-up alone would practically insure victory.
Nine tenths of our industrial troubles are due to the fact that
employers and employees alike fail to recognize their real enemies and
so fight their friends as often as they fight their foes.
“The people must learn to call an industrial slacker a slacker,
whether he loafs on a park bench or loafs on the veranda of the country
club house. They have to recognize that a traitor to the industries is
a traitor to the nation and that he is a traitor whether he works at a
bench or runs a bank. They have to say to the imperialist of business
and to the imperialist of labor alike, 'The industries of this country
are not for you or your class alone, they are for all because the very
life of the nation is in them and is dependent upon them.' When the
people of this country learn to draw the lines of class where they
really belong there will be an end to our industrial wars and to all
the suffering that they cause.”
“If only the people could be lined up and made to declare themselves
openly,” said John, “Jake Vodell would have about as much chance to
make trouble among us as the German Crown Prince would have had among
the French Blue Devils.”
“Which means, I suppose,” said the Interpreter, “that there would be
a riot to see who could lay hands on him first.”
* * * * *
The storm broke at McIver's factory. It was as Jake Vodell had told
the Interpreter it would be—“easy to find a grievance.”
McIver declared that before he would yield to the demands of his
workmen, his factory should stand idle until the buildings rotted to
The agitator answered that before his men would yield they would
make Millsburgh as a city of the dead.
Two or three of the other smaller unions supported McIver's
employees with sympathetic strikes. But the success or failure of Jake
Vodell's campaign quickly turned on the action of the powerful Mill
workers' union. The commander-in-chief of the striking forces must win
John Ward's employees to his cause or suffer defeat. He bent every
effort to that end.
Sam Whaley and a few like him walked out. But that was expected by
everybody, for Sam Whaley had identified himself from the day of
Vodell's arrival in Millsburgh as the agitator's devoted follower and
right-hand man. But this unstable, whining weakling and his fellows
from the Flats carried little influence with the majority of the
sturdy, clearer-visioned workmen.
At a meeting of the Millsburgh Manufacturing Association, McIver
endeavored to pledge the organization to a concerted effort against the
various unions of their workmen.
John Ward refused to enter into any such alliance against the
workmen, and branded McIver's plan as being in spirit and purpose
identical with the schemes of Jake Vodell. John argued that while the
heads of the various related mills and factories possessed the legal
right to maintain their organization for the purpose of furthering such
business interests as were common to them all, they could not, as loyal
citizens, attempt to deprive their fellow workmen citizens of that same
right. Any such effort to array class against class, he declared, was
nothing less than sheer imperialism, and antagonistic to every
principle of American citizenship.
When McIver characterized Vodell as an anarchist and stated that the
unions were back of him and his schemes against the government, John
retorted warmly that the statement was false and an insult to many of
the most loyal citizens in Millsburgh. There were individual members of
the unions who were followers of Jake Vodell, certainly. But
comparatively few of the union men who were led by the agitator to
strike realized the larger plans of their leader, while the unions as a
whole no more endorsed anarchy than did the Manufacturing Association.
McIver then drew for his fellow manufacturers a very true picture of
the industrial troubles throughout the country, and pointed out clearly
and convincingly the national dangers that lay in the threatening
conditions. Millsburgh was in no way different from thousands of other
communities. If the employers could not defend themselves by an
organized effort against their employees, he would like Mr. Ward to
explain who would defend them.
To all of which John answered that it was not a question of
employers defending themselves against their employees. The owners had
no more at stake in the situation than did their workmen, for the lives
of all were equally dependent upon the industries that were threatened
with destruction. In the revolution that Jake Vodell's brotherhood was
fomenting the American employers could lose no more than would the
American employees. The question was, How could American industries be
protected against both the imperialistic employer and the imperialistic
employee? The answer was, By the united strength of the loyal American
employers and employees, openly arrayed against the teachings and
leadership of Jake Vodell, on the one hand, and equally against all
such principles and actions as had been proposed by Mr. McIver, on the
When the meeting closed, McIver had failed to gain the support of
Realizing that without the Mill he could never succeed in his plans,
the factory owner appealed to Adam Ward himself.
The old Mill owner, in full accord with McIver, attempted to force
John into line. But the younger man refused to enlist in any class war
against his loyal fellow workmen.
Adam stormed and threatened and predicted utter ruin. John calmly
offered to resign. The father refused to listen to this, on the ground
that his ill health did not permit him to assume again the management
of the business, and that he would never consent to the Mill's being
operated by any one outside the family.
When Helen returned to her home in the early evening, she found her
father in a state of mind bordering on insanity.
Striding here and there about the rooms with uncontrollable nervous
energy, he roared, as he always did on such occasions, about his sole
ownership of the Mill—the legality of the patents that gave him
possession of the new process—how it was his genius and hard work
alone that had built up the Mill—that no one should take his
possessions from him—waving his arms and shaking his fists in violent,
meaningless gestures. With his face twitching and working and his eyes
blazing with excitement and rage, his voice rose almost to a scream:
“Let them try to take anything away from me! I know what they are going
to do, but they can't do it. I've had the best lawyers that I could
hire and I've got it all tied up so tight that no one can touch it.
“I could have thrown Pete Martin out of the Mill any time I wanted.
He has no claim on me that any court in the world would recognize. Let
him try anything he dares. I'll starve him to death—I'll turn him into
the streets—he hasn't a thing in the world that he didn't get by
working for me. I made him—I will ruin him. You all think that I am
sick—you think that I am crazy—that I don't know what I am talking
about. I'll show you—you'll see what will happen if they start any
The piteous exhibition ended as usual. As if driven by some
invisible fiend, the man rushed from the presence of those whom he most
loved to the dreadful company of his own fearful and monstrous
And the room where the wife and children of Adam Ward sat was filled
with the presence of that hidden thing of which they dared not speak.
* * * * *
Everywhere throughout the city the people were discussing John
Ward's opposition to McIver.
The community, tense with feeling, waited for an answer to the vital
question, What would the Mill workers' union do? Upon the answer of
John Ward's employees to the demands of the agitator for a sympathetic
strike depended the success or failure of Jake Vodell's Millsburgh
CHAPTER XIX. ADAM WARD'S WORK
It was evening. The Interpreter was sitting in his wheel chair on
the balcony porch with silent Billy not far away. Beyond the hills on
the west the sky was faintly glowing in the last of the sun's light.
The Flats were deep in gloomy shadows out of which the grim stacks of
the Mill rose toward the smoky darkness of their overhanging cloud.
Here and there among the poor homes of the workers a lighted window or
a lonely street lamp shone in the murky dusk. But the lights of the
business section of the city gleamed and sparkled like clusters and
strings of jewels, while the residence districts on the hillside were
marked by hundreds of twinkling, starlike points.
The quiet was rudely broken by a voice at the outer doorway of the
hut. The tone was that of boisterous familiarity. “Hello! hello there!
“Here,” answered the Interpreter. “Come in. Or, I should say, come
out,” he added, as his visitor found his way through the darkness of
the living room. “A night like this is altogether too fine to spend
under a roof.”
“Why in thunder don't you have a light?” said the visitor, with a
loud freedom carefully calculated to give the effect of old and
privileged comradeship. But the laugh of hearty good fellowship which
followed his next remark was a trifle overdone “Ain't afraid of bombs,
are you? Don't you know that the war is over yet?”
The Interpreter obligingly laughed at the merry witticism, as he
answered, “There is light enough out here under the stars to think by.
How are you, Adam Ward?”
From where he stood in the doorway, Adam could see the dim figure of
the Interpreter's companion at the farther end of the porch. “Who is
that with you?” demanded the Mill owner suspiciously.
“Only Billy Rand,” replied the man in the wheel chair reassuringly.
“Won't you sit down?”
Before accepting the invitation to be seated, Adam advanced upon the
man in the wheel chair with outstretched hands, as if eagerly meeting a
most intimate friend whose regard he prized above all other
relationships of life. Seizing the Interpreter's hand, he clung to it
in an excess of cordiality, all the while pouring out between short
laughs of pretended gladness, a hurried volume of excuses for having so
long delayed calling upon his dear old friend. To any one at all
acquainted with the man, it would have been very clear that he wanted
“It seems ages since I saw you,” he declared, as he seated himself
at last. “It's a shame for a man to neglect an old friend as I have
The Interpreter returned, calmly, “The last time you called was just
before your son enlisted. You wanted me to help you keep him at home.”
It was too dark to see Adam's face. “So it was, I remember now.”
There was a suggestion of nervousness in the laugh which followed his
“The time before that,” said the Interpreter evenly, “was when Tom
Blair was killed in the Mill. You wanted me to persuade Tom's widow
that you were in no way liable for the accident.”
The barometer of Adam's friendliness dropped another degree. “That
affair was finally settled at five thousand,” he said, and this time he
did not laugh.
“The time before that,” said the Interpreter, “was when your old
friend Peter Martin's wife died. You wanted me to explain to the
workmen who attended the funeral how necessary it was for you to take
that hour out of their pay checks.”
“You have a good memory,” said the visitor, coldly, as he stirred
uneasily in the dusk.
“I have,” agreed the man in the wheel chair; “I find it a great
blessing at times. It is the only thing that preserves my sense of
humor. It is not always easy to preserve one's sense of humor, is it,
When the Mill owner answered, his voice, more than his words, told
how determined he was to hold his ground of pleasant, friendly
comradeship, at least until he had gained the object of his visit.
“Don't you ever get lonesome up here? Sort of gloomy, ain't
it—especially at nights?”
“Oh, no,” returned the Interpreter; “I have many interesting
callers; there are always my work and my books and always, night and
day, I have our Mill over there.”
“Heh! What! Our Mill! Where? Oh, I see—yes—our
Mill—that's good! Our Mill!”
“Surely you will admit that I have some small interest in the Mill
where we once worked side by side, will you not, Adam?”
“Oh, yes,” laughed Adam, helping on the jest. “But let me see—I
don't exactly recall the amount of your investment—what was it you put
“Two good legs, Adam Ward, two good legs,” returned the old basket
Again Adam Ward was at a loss for an answer. In the shadowy presence
of that old man in the wheel chair the Mill owner was as a wayward
child embarrassed before a kindly master.
When the Interpreter spoke again his deep voice was colored with
“Why have you come to me like this, Adam Ward? What is it that you
Adam moved uneasily. “Why—nothing particular—I just thought I
would call—happened to be going by and saw your light.”
There had been no light in the hut that evening. The Interpreter
waited. The surrounding darkness of the night seemed filled with
warring spirits from the gloomy Flats, the mighty Mill, the glittering
streets and stores and the cheerfully lighted homes.
Adam tried to make his voice sound casual, but he could not
altogether cover the nervous intensity of his interest, as he asked the
question that was so vital to the entire community. “Will the Mill
workers' union go out on a sympathetic strike?”
The Mill owner drew a long breath of relief. “I judged you would
The Interpreter did not answer.
Adam spoke with more confidence. “I suppose you know this agitator
“I know who he is,” replied the Interpreter. “He is a well-known
representative of a foreign society that is seeking, through the
working people of this country, to extend its influence and strengthen
“The unions are going too far,” said Adam. “The people won't stand
for their bringing in a man like Vodell to preach anarchy and stir up
all kinds of trouble.”
The Interpreter spoke strongly. “Jake Vodell no more represents the
great body of American union men than you, Adam Ward, represent the
great body of American employers.”
“He works with the unions, doesn't he?”
“Yes, but that does not make him a representative of the union men
as a whole, any more than the fact that your work with the great body
of American business men makes you their representative.”
“I should like to know why I am not a representative American
business man.” It was evident from the tone of his voice that the Mill
owner controlled himself with an effort.
The Interpreter answered, without a trace of personal feeling, “You
do not represent them, Adam Ward, because the spirit and purpose of
your personal business career is not the spirit and purpose of our
business men as a whole—just as the spirit and purpose of such men as
Jake Vodell is not the spirit and purpose of our union men as a whole.”
“But,” asserted the Mill owner, “it is men like me who have built up
this country. Look at our railroads, our great manufacturing plants,
our industries of all kinds! Look what I have done for Millsburgh! You
know what the town was when you first came here. Look at it now!”
“The new process has indeed wrought great changes in Millsburgh,”
suggested the Interpreter.
“The new process! You mean that I have wrought great changes
in Millsburgh. What would the new process have amounted to if it had
not been for me? Why, even the poor old fools who owned the Mill at
that time couldn't have done anything with it. I had to force it on
them. And then when I had managed to get it installed and had proved
what it would do, I made them increase their capitalization and give me
a half interest—told them if they didn't I would take my process to
their competitors and put them out of business. Later I managed to gain
the control and after that it was easy.” His voice changed to a tone of
arrogant, triumphant boasting. “I may not be a representative business
man in your estimation, but my work stands just the same. No man
who knows anything about business will deny that I built up the Mill to
what it is to-day.”
“And that,” returned the Interpreter, “is exactly what Vodell says
for the men who work with their hands in cooeperation with men like you
who work with their brains. You say that you built the Mill because you
thought and planned and directed its building. Jake Vodell says the men
whose physical strength materialized your thoughts, the men who carried
out your plans and toiled under your direction built the Mill. And you
and Jake are both right to exactly the same degree. The truth is that
you have all together built the Mill. You have no more right to
think or to say that you did it than Pete Martin has to think or to say
that he did it.”
When Adam Ward found no answer to this the Interpreter continued.
“Consider a great building: The idea of the structure has come down
through the ages from the first habitation of primitive man. The mental
strength represented in the structure in its every detail is the
composite thought of every generation of man since the days when human
beings dwelt in rocky caves and in huts of mud. But listen: The
capitalist who furnished the money says he did it; the architect says
he did it; the stone mason says he did it; the carpenter says he did
it; the mountains that gave the stone say they did it; the forests that
grew the timber say they did it; the hills that gave the metal say they
“The truth is that all did it—that each individual worker, whether
he toiled with his hands or with his brain, was dependent upon all the
others as all were dependent upon those who lived and labored in the
ages that have gone before, as all are dependent at the last upon the
forces of nature that through the ages have labored for all. And this
also is true, sir, whether you like to admit it or not; just as we—you
and I and Pete Martin and the others—all together built the Mill, so
we all together built it for all. You, Adam Ward, can no more keep for
yourself alone the fruits of your labor than you alone and
single-handed could have built the Mill.”
The Interpreter paused as if for an answer.
Adam Ward did not speak.
A flare of light from, the stacks of the Mill, where the night shift
was sweating at its work, drew their eyes. Through the darkness came
the steady song of industry—a song that was charged with the life of
millions. And they saw the lights of the business district, where Jake
Vodell was preaching to a throng of idle workmen his doctrine of class
hatred and destruction.
The Interpreter's manner was in no way aggressive when he broke the
silence. There was, indeed, in his deep voice an undertone of sorrow,
and yet he spoke as with authority. “You were driven here to-night by
your fear, Adam Ward. You recognize the menace to this community and to
our nation in the influence and teaching of men like Jake Vodell. Most
of all, you fear for yourself and your material possessions. And you
have reason to be afraid of this danger that you yourself have brought
“What!” cried the Mill owner. “You say that I am responsible?—that
I brought this anarchist agitator here?”
The Interpreter answered, solemnly, “I say that but for you and such
men as you, Adam Ward, Jake Vodell could never gain a hearing in any
Adam Ward laughed harshly.
But the old basket maker continued as if he had not heard. “Every
act of your business career, sir, has been a refusal to recognize those
who have worked with you. Your whole life has been an over assertion of
your personal independence and a denial of the greatest of all
laws—the law of dependence, which is the vital principle of
life itself. And so you have, through these years, upheld and
exemplified to the working people the very selfishness to which Jake
Vodell appeals now with such sad effectiveness. It is the class pride
and intolerance which you have fostered in yourself and family that
have begotten the class hatred which makes Vodell's plans against our
government a dangerous possibility. Your fathers fought in a great war
for independence, Adam Ward. Your son must now fight for a recognition
of that dependence without which the independence won by
your father will surely perish from the earth.”
At the mention of his son, the Mill owner moved impatiently and
spoke with bitter resentment. “A fine mess you are making of things
with your 'dependence.'“
“It is a fine mess that you have made of things, Adam Ward, with
your 'independence,'“ returned the Interpreter, sternly.
“I can tell you one thing,” said Adam. “Your unions will never
straighten anything out with the help of Jake Vodell and his gang of
“You are exactly right,” agreed the Interpreter. “And I can tell you
a thing to match the truth of your statement. Your combinations of
employers will never straighten anything out with the help of such men
as McIver and his hired gunmen and his talk about driving men to work
at the point of the bayonet. But McIver and his principles are not
endorsed by our American employers,” continued the Interpreter, “any
more than Jake Vodell and his methods are endorsed by our American
union employees. The fact is that the great body of loyal American
employers and employees, which is, indeed, the body of our nation
itself, is fast coming to recognize the truth that our industries must
somehow be saved from the destruction that is threatened by both the
McIvers of capital and the Vodells of labor. Our Mill, Adam Ward, that
you and Pete Martin and I built together and that, whether you admit it
or not, we built for all mankind, our Mill must be protected against
both employers and employees. It must be protected, not because the
ownership, under our laws, happens to be vested in you as an individual
citizen, but because of that larger ownership which, under the
universal laws of humanity, is vested in the people whose lives are
dependent upon that Mill as an essential industry. The Mill must be
saved, indeed, for the very people who would destroy it.”
“Very fine!” sneered Adam; “and perhaps you will tell me who is to
save my Mill that is not my Mill for the very people who own it and who
would destroy it?”
The voice of the Interpreter was colored with the fire of prophecy
as he answered, “In the name of humanity, the sons of the men who built
the Mill will save it for humanity. Your boy John, Adam Ward, and Pete
Martin's boy Charlie represent the united armies of American employers
and employees that stand in common loyalty against the forces that are,
through the destruction of our industries, seeking to bring about the
downfall of our nation.”
Adam Ward laughed. “Tell that to your partner Billy Rand over there;
he will hear it as quick as the American people will.”
But the man in the wheel chair was not disturbed by Adam Ward's
“The great war taught the American people some mighty lessons, Adam
Ward,” he said. “It taught us that patriotism is not of one class or
rank, but is common to every level of our national social life. It
taught us that heroism is the birthright of both office and shop. Most
of all did the war teach us the lesson of comradeship—that men of
every rank and class and occupation could stand together, live together
and die together, united in the bonds of a common, loyal citizenship
for a common, human cause. And out of that war and its lessons our own
national saviors are come. The loyal patriot employers and the loyal
patriot employees, who on the fields of war were brother members of
that great union of sacrifice and death, will together free the
industries of their own country from the two equally menacing
terrors—imperialistic capital and imperialistic labor.
“The comradeship of your son with the workman Charlie Martin, the
stand that John has taken against McIver, and the refusal of the Mill
workers' union to accept Vodell's leadership—is the answer to your
question, 'Who is to save the Mill?'“
“Rot!” exclaimed Adam Ward. “You talk as though every man who went
to that war was inspired by the highest motives. They were not all
heroes by a good deal.”
“True,” returned the Interpreter, “they were not all heroes. But
there was the leaven that leavened the lump, and so the army itself was
“What about the moral degeneracy and the crime wave that have
followed the return of your heroic army?” demanded Adam.
“True, again,” returned the Interpreter; “it is inevitable that men
whose inherited instincts and tendencies are toward crime should
acquire in the school of war a bolder spirit—a more reckless daring in
their criminal living. But again there is the saving leaven that
leavens the lump. If the war training makes criminals more bold, it as
surely makes the leaven of nobility more powerful. One splendid example
of noble heroism is ten thousand times more potent in the world than a
thousand revolting deeds of crime. No—no, Adam Ward, the world will
not forget the lessons it learned over there. The torch of Flanders
fields has not fallen. The world will carry on.”
There was such a quality of reverent conviction in the concluding
words of the man in the wheel chair that Adam Ward was silenced.
For some time they sat, looking into the night where the huge bulk
of the Mill with its towering stacks and overhanging clouds seemed to
dominate not only the neighboring shops and factories and the immediate
Flats, but in some mysterious way to extend itself over the business
district and the homes of the city, and, like a ruling spirit, to
pervade the entire valley, even unto the distant line of hills.
When the old basket maker spoke again, that note of strange and
solemn authority was in his voice. “Listen, Adam Ward! In the ideals,
the heroism, the suffering, the sacrifice of the war—in shell hole and
trench and bloody No Man's Land, the sons of men have found again the
God that you and men like you had banished from the Mill. Your boy and
Pete Martin's boy, with more thousands of their comrades than men of
your mind realize, have come back from the war fields of France to
enthrone God once more in the industrial world. And it shall come that
every forge and furnace and anvil and machine shall be an organ to His
praise—that every suit of overalls shall be a priestly robe of
ministering service. And this God that you banished from the Mill and
that is to be by your son restored to His throne and served by a
priesthood of united employers and employees, shall bear a new name,
Adam Ward, and that name shall be WORK.”
Awed by the strange majesty of the Interpreter's voice, Adam Ward
could only whisper fearfully, “Work—the name of God shall be Work!”
“Ay, Adam Ward, WORK—and why not? Does not the work of the world
express the ideals, the purpose, the needs, the life, the oneness
of the world's humanity, even as a flower expresses the plant that puts
it forth? And is not God the ultimate flowering of the human plant?”
The Mill owner spoke with timid hesitation, “Could I—do you
think—could I, perhaps, help to, as you say, put God back into the
“Your part in the building of the Mill is finished, Adam Ward,” came
the solemn answer. “You have made many contracts with men, sir; you
should now make a contract with your God.”
The owner of the new process sprang to his feet with an exclamation
of fear. As one who sees a thing of horror in the dark, he drew back,
That deep, inexorable voice of sorrowful authority went on, “Make a
contract with your God, Adam Ward; make a contract with your God.”
With a wild cry of terror Adam Ward fled into the night.
The Interpreter in his wheel chair looked up at the stars.
* * * * *
It seems scarcely possible that the old basket maker could have
foreseen the tragic effect of his words—and yet—
CHAPTER XX. THE PEOPLE'S AMERICA
At his evening meetings on the street, Jake Vodell with stirring
oratory kindled the fire of his cause. In the councils of the unions,
through individuals and groups, with clever arguments and inflaming
literature, he sought recruits. With stinging sarcasm and withering
scorn he taunted the laboring people—told them they were fools and
cowards to submit to the degrading slavery of their capitalist owners.
With biting invective and blistering epithet he pictured their employer
enemies as the brutal and ruthless destroyers of their homes. With
thrilling eloquence he fanned the flames of class hatred, inspired the
loyalty of his followers to himself and held out to them golden
promises of reward if they would prove themselves men and take that
which belonged to them.
But the Mill workers' union, as an organization, was steadfast in
its refusal to be dominated by this agitator who was so clearly
antagonistic to every principle of American citizenship. Jake Vodell
could neither lead nor drive them into a strike that was so evidently
called in the interests of his cause. And more and more the agitator
was compelled to recognize the powerful influence of the Interpreter.
It was not long before he went to the hut on the cliff with a positive
demand for the old basket maker's open support.
“I do not know why it is,” he said, “that a poor old cripple like
you should have such power among men, but I know it is so. You shall
tell this Captain Charlie and his crowd of fools that they must help me
to win for the laboring people their freedom. You shall, for me, enlist
these Mill men in the cause.”
The Interpreter asked, gravely, “And when you have accomplished this
that you call freedom—when you have gained this equality that you talk
about—how will your brotherhood be governed?”
Jake Vodell scowled as he gazed at the man in the wheel chair with
quick suspicion. “Governed?”
“Yes,” returned the Interpreter. “Without organization of some sort
nothing can be done. No industries can be carried on without the
concerted effort which is organization. Without the industry that is
necessary to human life the free people you picture cannot exist.
Without government—which means law and the enforcement of
law—organization of any kind is impossible.”
“There will have to be organization, certainly,” answered Vodell.
“Then, there will be leaders, directors, managers with authority to
whom the people must surrender themselves as individuals,” said the
Interpreter, quietly. “An organization without leadership is
The agitator's voice was triumphant, as he said, “Certainly there
will be leaders. And their authority will be unquestioned. And these
leaders will be those who have led the people out of the miserable
bondage of their present condition.”
The Interpreter's voice had a new note in it now, as he said, “In
other words, sir, what you propose is simply to substitute yourself
for McIver. You propose to the people that they overthrow their present
leaders in the industries of their nation in order that you and your
fellow agitators may become their masters. You demand that the citizens
of America abolish their national government and in its place accept
you and your fellows as their rulers? What assurance can you give the
people, sir, that under your rule they will have more freedom for
self-government, more opportunities for self-advancement and prosperity
and happiness than they have at present?”
“Assurance?” muttered the other, startled by the Interpreter's
The old basket maker continued, “Are you and your self-constituted
leaders of the American working people, gods? Are you not as human as
any McIver or Adam Ward of the very class you condemn? Would you not be
subject to the same temptations of power—the same human passions?
Would you not, given the same opportunity, be all that you say they
Jake Vodell's countenance was black with rage. He started to rise,
but a movement of Billy Rand made him hesitate. His voice was harsh
with menacing passion. “And you call yourself a friend of the laboring
“It is because I am a friend of my fellow American citizens that I
ask you what freedom your brotherhood can insure to us that we have not
now,” the Interpreter answered, solemnly. “Look there, sir.” He swept,
in a gesture, the scene that lay within view of his balcony porch. “
That is America—my America—the America of the people. From the wretched hovels of the incompetent and unfortunate Sam
Whaleys in the Flats down there to Adam Ward's castle on the hill
yonder, it is our America. From the happy little home of that
sterling workman, Peter Martin, to the homes of the business workers on
the hillside over there, it is ours. From the business district
to the beautiful farms across the river, it belongs to us all.
And the Mill there— representing as it does the industries of our
nation and standing for the very life of our people—is our
Mill. The troubles that disturb us—the problems of injustice—the
wrongs of selfishness that arise through such employers as McIver and
such employees as Sam Whaley, are our troubles, and we will
settle our own difficulties in our own way as loyal American citizens.”
The self-appointed apostle of the new freedom had by this time
regained his self-control. His only answer to the Interpreter was a
shrug of his thick shoulders and a flash of white teeth in his black
The old basket maker with his eyes still on the scene that lay
before them continued. “Because I love my countrymen, sir, I protest
the destructive teachings of your brotherhood. Your ambitious schemes
would plunge my country into a bloody revolution the horrors of which
defy the imagination. America will find a better way. The loyal
American citizens who labor in our industries and the equally loyal
American operators of these industries will never consent to the
ruthless murder by hundreds and thousands of our best brains and our
best manhood in support of your visionary theories. My countrymen will
never permit the unholy slaughter of innocent women and children, that
would result from your efforts to overthrow our government and
establish a wholly impossible Utopia upon the basis of an equality that
is contrary to every law of life. You preach freedom to the working
people in order to rob them of the freedom they already have. With
visions of impossible wealth and luxurious idleness you blind them to
the greater happiness that is within reach of their industry. In the
name of an equality, the possibility of which your own assumed
leadership denies, you incite a class hatred and breed an intolerance
and envy that destroy the good feeling of comradeship and break down
the noble spirit of that actual equality which we already have and
which is our only salvation.”
“Equality!” sneered Jake Vodell. “You have a fine equality in this
America of capitalist-ridden fools who are too cowardly to say that
their souls are their own. It is the equality of Adam Ward and Sam
Whaley, I suppose.”
“Sam Whaley is a product of your teaching, sir,” the Interpreter
answered. “The equality of which I speak is that of Adam Ward and Peter
Martin as it is evidenced in the building up of the Mill. It is the
equality that is in the comradeship of their sons, John and Charlie,
who will protect and carry on the work of their fathers. It is the
equality of a common citizenship—of mutual dependence of employer and
employee upon the industries, that alone can save our people from want
and starvation and guard our nation from the horrors you would bring
The man laughed. “Suppose you sing that pretty song to McIver, heh?
What do you think he would say?”
“He would laugh, as you are laughing,” returned the Interpreter,
“Tell it to Adam Ward then,” jeered the other. “He will recognize
his equality with Peter Martin when you explain it, heh?”
“Adam Ward is already paying a terrible price for denying it,” the
Again Jake Vodell laughed with sneering triumph. “Well, then I guess
you will have to preach your equality to the deaf and dumb man there.
Maybe you can make him understand it. The old basket maker without any
legs and the big husky who can neither hear nor talk—they are equals,
I suppose, heh?”
“Billy Rand and I perfectly illustrate the equality of dependence,
sir,” returned the Interpreter. “Billy is as much my superior
physically as I am his superior mentally. Without my thinking and
planning he would be as helpless as I would be without his good bodily
strength. We are each equally dependent upon the other, and from that
mutual dependence comes our comradeship in the industry which alone
secures for us the necessities of life. I could not make baskets
without Billy's labor—Billy could not make baskets without my planning
and directing. And yet, sir, you and McIver would set us to fighting
each other. You would have Billy deny his dependence upon me and use
his strength to destroy me, thus depriving himself of the help he must
have if he would live. McIver would have me deny my dependence upon
Billy and by antagonizing him with my assumed superiority turn his
strength to the destruction of our comradeship by which I also live.
Your teaching of class loyalty and class hatred applied to Billy and me
would result in the ruin of our basket making and in our consequent
Again the Interpreter, from his wheel chair, pointed with
outstretched arm to the scene that lay with all its varied grades of
life—social levels and individual interests—before them. “Look,” he
said, “to the inequality that is there—inequalities that are as great
as the difference between Billy Rand and myself. And yet, every
individual life is dependent upon all the other individual lives. The
Mill yonder is the basket making of the people. All alike must look to
it for life itself. The industries, without which the people cannot
exist, can be carried on only by the comradeship of those who labor
with their hands and those who work with their brains. In the common
dependence all are equal.
“The only equality that your leadership, with its progress of
destruction, can insure to American employers and employees is an
equality of indescribable suffering and death.”
The old basket maker paused a moment before he added, solemnly, “I
wonder that you dare assume the responsibility for such a catastrophe.
Have you no God, sir, to whom you must eventually account?”
The man's teeth gleamed in a grin of malicious sarcasm. “I should
know that you believed in God. Bah! An old woman myth to scare fools
and children. I suppose you believe in miracles also?”
“I believe in the miracle of life,” the Interpreter answered; “and
in the great laws of life—the law of inequality and dependence, that
in its operation insures the oneness of all things.”
The agitator rose to his feet, and with a shrug of contempt, said,
“Very pretty, Mr. Interpreter, very pretty. You watch now from your hut
here and you shall see what men who are not crippled old basket makers
will do with that little bit of your America out there. It is I who
will teach Peter Martin and his comrades in the Mill how to deal with
your friend Adam Ward and his class.”
“You are too late, sir,” said the Interpreter, as the man moved
toward the door.
Jake Vodell turned. “How, too late?” Then as he saw Billy Rand
rising to his feet, his hand went quickly inside his vest.
The old basket maker smiled as he once more held out a restraining
hand toward his companion. “I do not mean anything like that, sir. I
told you some time ago that you were defeated in your Millsburgh
campaign by Adam Ward's retirement from the Mill. You are too late
because you are forced now to deal, not with Adam Ward and Peter
Martin, but with their sons.”
“Oh, ho! and what you should say also, is that I am really forced to
deal with an old basket maker who has no legs, heh? Well, we shall see
about that, too, Mr. Interpreter, when the time comes—we shall see.”
CHAPTER XXI. PETER MARTIN'S PROBLEM
It was not long until the idle workmen began to feel the want of
their pay envelopes. The grocers and butchers were as dependent upon
those pay envelopes as were the workmen themselves.
The winter was coming on. There was a chill in the air. In the homes
of the strikers the mothers and their little ones needed not only food
but fuel and clothing as well. The crowds at the evening street
meetings became more ominous. Through the long, idle days grim,
sullen-faced men walked the streets or stood in groups on the corners
watching their fellow citizens and muttering in low, guarded tones.
Members of the Mill workers' union were openly branded as cowards and
traitors to their class. The suffering among the women and children
But Jake Vodell was a master who demanded of his disciples most
heroic loyalty, without a thought of the cost—to them.
McIver put an armed guard about his factory and boasted that he
could live without work. The strikers, he declared, could either starve
themselves and their families or accept his terms.
The agitator was not slow in making capital of McIver's statements.
The factory owner depended upon the suffering of the women and
children to force the workmen to yield to him. Jake Vodell, the
self-appointed savior of the laboring people, depended upon the
suffering of women and children to drive his followers to the desperate
measures that would further his peculiar and personal interests.
Through all this, the Mill workers' union still refused to accept
the leadership of this man whose every interest was anti-American and
foreign to the principles of the loyal citizen workman. But the fire of
Jake Vodell's oratory and argument was not without kindling power, even
among John Ward's employees. As the feeling on both sides of the
controversy grew more bitter and intolerant, the Mill men felt with
increasing force the pull of their class. The taunts and jeers of the
striking workers were felt. The cries of “traitor” hurt. The suffering
of the innocent members of the strikers' families appealed strongly to
When McIver's imperialistic declaration was known, the number who
were in favor of supporting Jake Vodell's campaign increased
Nearly every day now at some hour of the evening or night, Pete and
Captain Charlie, with others from among their union comrades, might
have been found in the hut on the cliff in earnest talk with the man in
the wheel chair. The active head of the union was Captain Charlie, as
his father had been before him, but it was no secret that the guiding
counsel that held the men of the Mill steady cane from the old basket
For John Ward the days were increasingly hard. He could not but
sense the feeling of the men. He knew that if Jake Vodell could win
them, such disaster as the people of Millsburgh had never seen would
result. The interest and sympathy of Helen, the comradeship of Captain
Charlie, and the strength of the Interpreter gave him courage and hope.
But there was nothing that he could do. He felt as he had felt
sometimes in France when he was called upon to stand and wait. It was a
relief to help Mary as he could in her work among the sufferers. But
even this activity of mercy was turned against him by both McIver and
Vodell. The factory man blamed him for prolonging the strike and thus
working injury to the general business interests of Millsburgh. The
strike leader charged him with seeking to win the favor of the working
class in order to influence his own employees against, what he called
the fight for their industrial freedom.
The situation was rapidly approaching a crisis when Peter Martin and
Captain Charlie, returning home from a meeting of their union laid one
evening, found the door of the house locked.
The way the two men stood facing each other without a word revealed
the tension of their nerves. Captain Charlie's hand shook so that his
key rattled against the lock. But when they were inside and had
switched on the light, a note which Mary had left on the table for them
The young woman had gone to the Flats in answer to a call for help.
John was with her. She had left the note so that her father and brother
would not be alarmed at her absence in case they returned home before
In their relief, the two men laughed. They were a little ashamed of
their unspoken fears.
“We might have known,” said Pete, and with the words seemed to
dismiss the incident from his mind.
But Captain Charlie did not recover so easily. While his father
found the evening paper and, settling himself in an easy-chair by the
table, cleaned his glasses and filled and lighted his pipe, the younger
man went restlessly from room to room, turning on the lights, turning
them off again—all apparently for no reason whatever. He finished his
inspection by returning to the table and again picking up Mary's note.
When he had reread the message he said, slowly, “I thought John
expected to be at the office to-night.”
Something in his son's voice caused the old workman to look at him
steadily, as he answered, “John probably came by on his way to the Mill
and dropped in for a few minutes.”
“I suppose so,” returned Charlie. Then, “Father, do you think it
wise for sister to be so much with John?”
The old workman laid aside his paper. “Why, I don't know—I hadn't
thought much about it, son. It seems natural enough, considering the
way you children was all raised together when you was youngsters.”
“It's natural enough all right,” returned Captain Charlie, and, with
a bitterness that was very unlike his usual self, he added, “That's,
the hell of it—it's too natural—too human—too right for this day and
Pete Martin's mind worked rather slowly but he was fully aroused
now—Charlie's meaning was clear. “What makes you think that Mary and
John are thinking of each other in that way, son?”
“How could they help it?” returned Captain Charlie. “Sister is
exactly the kind of woman that John would choose for a wife. Don't I
know what he thinks of the light-headed nonentities in the set that he
is supposed to belong to? Hasn't he demonstrated his ideas of class
distinctions? It would never occur to him that there was any reason why
John Ward should not love Mary Martin. As for sister—when you think of
the whole story of their childhood together, of how John and I were all
through the war, of how he has been in the Mill since we came home, of
their seeing each other here at the house so much, of the way he has
been helping her with her work among the poor in the Flats—well, how
could any woman like sister help loving him?”
While the older man was considering his son's presentation of the
case, Captain Charlie added, with characteristic loyalty, “God may have
made finer men than John Ward, but if He did they don't live around
“Well, then, son,” said Peter Martin, with his slow smile, “what
about it? Suppose they are thinking of each other as you say?”
Captain Charlie did not answer for a long minute. And the father,
watching, saw in that strong young face the shadow of a hurt which the
soldier workman could not hide.
“It is all so hopeless,” said Charlie, at last, in a tone that told
more clearly than words could have done his own hopelessness. “I—it
don't seem right for Mary to have to bear it, too.”
“I'm sorry, son,” was all that the old workman said, but Captain
Charlie knew that his father understood.
After that they did not speak until they heard an automobile stop in
front of the house.
“That must be Mary now,” said Pete, looking at his watch. “They have
never been so late before.”
They heard her step on the porch. The sound of the automobile died
away in the distance.
When Mary came in and they saw her face, they knew that Charlie was
right. She tried to return their greetings in her usual manner but
failed pitifully and hurried on to her room.
The two men looked at each other without a word.
Presently Mary returned and told them a part of her evening's
experience. Soon after her father and brother had left the house for
the meeting of their union, a boy from the Flats came with the word
that the wife of one of Jake Vodell's followers was very ill. Mary,
knowing the desperate need of the case but fearing to be alone in that
neighborhood at night, had telephoned John at the Mill and he had taken
her in his car to the place. The woman, in the agonies of childbirth,
was alone with her three little girls. The husband and father was
somewhere helping Jake Vodell in the agitator's noble effort to bring
happiness to the laboring class. While Mary was doing what she could in
the wretched home, John went for a doctor, and to bring fuel and
blankets and food and other things that were needed. But, in spite of
their efforts, the fighting methods of McIver and Vodell scored another
point, that they each might claim with equal reason as in his favor—to
God knows what end.
“I can't understand why you Mill men let them go on,” Mary cried,
with a sudden outburst of feeling, as she finished her story. “You
could fight for the women and children during the war. Whenever there
is a shipwreck the papers are always full of the heroism of the men who
cry 'women and children first!' Why can't some one think of the women
and children in these strikes? They are just as innocent as the women
and children of Belgium. Why don't you talk on the streets and hold
mass meetings and drive Jake Vodell and that beast McIver out of the
“Jake Vodell and McIver are both hoping that some one will do just
that, Mary,” returned Captain Charlie. “They would like nothing better
than for some one to start a riot. You see, dear, an open clash would
result in bloodshed—the troops would be called in by McIver, which is
exactly what he wants. Vodell would provoke an attack on the soldiers,
some one would be killed, and we would have exactly the sort of war
against the government that he and his brotherhood are working for.”
The old workman spoke. “Charlie is right, daughter; these troubles
will never be settled by McIver's way nor Vodell's way. They will be
settled by the employers like John getting together and driving the
McIvers out of business—and the employees like Charlie here and a lot
of the men in our union getting together with John and his crowd and
sending the Jake Vodells back to whatever country they came from.” When
her father spoke John's name, the young woman's face colored with a
quick blush. The next moment, unable to control her overwrought
emotions, she burst into tears and started to leave the room. But at
the door Captain Charlie caught her in his arms and held her close
until the first violence of her grief was over.
When she had a little of her usual calmness, her brother whispered,
“I know all about it, dear.”
She raised her head from his shoulder and looked at him with tearful
doubt. “You know about—about John?” she said, wonderingly.
“Yes,” he whispered, with an encouraging smile, “I know—father and
I were talking about it before you came home. I am going to leave you
with him now. You must tell father, you know. Goodnight,
Slowly Mary turned back into the room. The old workman, sitting
there in his big chair, held out his arms. With a little cry she ran to
him as she had gone to him all the years of her life.
When she had told him all—how John that very evening on their way
home from the Flats had asked her to be his wife—and how she, in spite
of her love for him, had forced herself to answer, “No,” Pete Martin
sat with his head bowed as one deep in thought.
Mary, knowing her father's slow way, waited.
When the old workman spoke at last it was almost as though,
unconscious of his daughter's presence, he talked to himself. “Your
mother and I used to think in the old days when you children were
growing up together that some time perhaps the two families would be
united. But when we watched Adam getting rich and saw what his money
was doing to him and to his home, we got to be rather glad that you
children were separated. We were so happy ourselves in our own little
home here that we envied no man. We did not want wealth even for you
and Charlie when we saw all that went with it. We did not dream that
Adam's success could ever stand in the way of our children's happiness
like this. But I guess that is the way it is, daughter. I remember the
Interpreter's saying once that no man had a right to make even himself
miserable because no man could be miserable alone.”
The old workman's voice grew still more reflective. “It was the new
process that made Adam rich. He was no better man at the bench than I.
I never considered him as my superior. He happened to be born with a
different kind of a brain, that is all. And he thought more of money,
while I cared more for other things. But there is a good reason why his
money should not be permitted to stand between his children and my
children. There is a lot of truth, after all, in Jake Vodell's talk
about the rights of men who work with their hands. The law upholds Adam
Ward in his possessions, I know. And it would uphold him Just the same
if my children were starving. But the law don't make it right. There
should be some way to make a man do what is right—law or no law. You
“Father!” cried Mary, alarmed at his words. “Surely you are not
going to hold with Jake Vodell about such things. What do you mean
about making a man do what is right—law or no law?”
“There, there, daughter,” said the old workman, smiling. “I was just
thinking out loud, I guess. It will be all right for you and John. Run
along to bed now, and don't let a worry come, even into your dreams.”
“I would rather give John up a thousand times than have you like
Jake Vodell,” she said. “You shan't even think that way.”
When she was gone, Peter Martin filled and lighted his pipe again,
and for another hour sat alone.
Whether or not his thoughts bore any relation to the doctrines of
Jake Vodell, they led the old workman, on the following day, to pay a
visit to Adam Ward at his home on the hill.
CHAPTER XXII. OLD FRIENDS
It was Sunday morning and the church bells were ringing over the
little city as the old workman climbed the hill to Adam Ward's estate.
There was a touch of frost in the air. The hillside back of the
interpreter's hut was brown. But the sun was bright and warm and in
every quarter of the city the people were going to their appointed
places of worship. The voice of the Mill was silenced.
Pete wondered if he would find Adam at home. He had not thought
about it when he left the cottage—his mind had been so filled with the
object of his visit to the man who had once been his working comrade
But Adam Ward was not at church.
The Mill owner's habits of worship were very simply regulated. If
the minister said things that pleased him, and showed a properly humble
gratification at Adam's presence in the temple of God, Adam attended
divine services. If the reverend teacher in the pulpit so far forgot
himself as to say anything that jarred Adam's peculiar spiritual
sensitiveness, or failed to greet this particular member of his flock
with proper deference, Adam stayed at home and stopped his subscription
to the cause. Nor did he ever fail to inform his pastor and the
officers of the congregation as to the reason for his nonattendance;
always, at the time, assuring them that whenever the minister would
preach the truths that he wanted to hear, his weekly offerings to the
Lord would be renewed. Thus Adam Ward was just and honest in his
religious life as he was in his business dealings. He was ready always,
to pay for that which he received, but, as a matter of principle, he
was careful always to receive exactly what he paid for.
This Sunday morning Adam Ward was at home.
When Pete reached the entrance to the estate the heavy gates were
closed. As Mary's father stood in doubt before the iron barrier a man
appeared on the inside.
“Good-morning, Uncle Pete,” he said, in hearty greeting, when he saw
who it was that sought admittance.
“Good-morning, Henry—and what are you doing in there?” returned the
workman, who had known the man from his boyhood.
The other grinned. “Oh, I'm one of the guards at this institution
Pete looked at him blankly. “Guards? What are you guarding, Henry?”
Standing close to the iron bars of the gate, Henry glanced over his
shoulder before he answered in a low, cautious tone, “Adam.”
The old workman was shocked. “What! you don't mean it!” He shook his
grizzly head sadly. “I hadn't heard that he was that bad.”
Henry laughed. “We're not keepin' the old boy in, Uncle Pete—not
yet. So far, our orders are only to keep people out. Dangerous people,
I mean—the kind that might want to run away with the castle, or steal
a look at the fountain, or sneak a smell of the flowers or
Pete smiled. “How do you like your job, Henry?”
“Oh, it's all right just now when the strike is on. But was you
wantin' to come in, Uncle Pete, or just passing' by?”
“I wanted to see Adam if I could.”
The man swung open the gate. “Help yourself, Uncle Pete, just so you
don't stick a knife into him or blow him up with a bomb or poison him
or something.” He pointed toward that part of the grounds where Helen
had watched her father from the arbor. “You'll find him over there
somewhere, I think. I saw him headed that way a few minutes ago. The
rest of the family are gone to church.”
“Is Adam's life really threatened, Henry?” asked Pete, as he stepped
inside and the gates were closed behind him.
“Search me,” returned the guard, indifferently. “I expect if the
truth were known it ought to be by rights. He sure enough thinks it is,
though. Why, Uncle Pete, there can't a butterfly flit over these
grounds that Adam ain't a yellin' how there's an aeroplane a sailin'
around lookin' fer a chance to drop a monkey wrench on his head or
“Poor Adam!” murmured the old workman. “What a way to live!”
“Live?” echoed the guard. “It ain't livin' at all—it's just bein'
in hell before your time, that's what it is—if you ask me.”
* * * * *
When Peter Martin, making his slow way through the beautiful
grounds, first caught sight of his old bench mate, Adam was pacing
slowly to and fro across a sunny open space of lawn. As he walked, the
Mill owner was talking to himself and moving his arms and hands in
those continuous gestures that seemed so necessary to any expression of
his thoughts. Once Pete heard him laugh. And something in the mirthless
sound made the old workman pause. It was then that Adam saw him.
There was no mistaking the sudden fear that for a moment seemed to
paralyze the man. His gray face turned a sickly white, his eyes were
staring, his jaw dropped, his body shook as if with a chill. He looked
about as if he would call for help, and started as if to seek safety in
“Good-morning, Adam Ward,” said Pete Martin.
And at the gentle kindliness in the workman's voice Adam's manner,
with a suddenness that was startling, changed. With an elaborate show
of friendliness he came eagerly forward. His gray face, twitching with
nervous excitement, beamed with joyous welcome. As he hurried across
the bit of lawn between them, he waved his arms and rubbed his hands
together in an apparent ecstasy of gladness at this opportunity to
receive such an honored guest. His voice trembled with high-pitched
assurance of his happiness in the occasion. He laughed as one who could
not contain himself.
“Well, well, well—to think that you have actually come to see me at
last.” He grasped the workman's hand in both his own with a grip that
was excessive in its hearty energy. With affectionate familiarity he
almost shouted, “You old scoundrel! I can't believe it is you. Where
have you been keeping yourself? How are Charlie and Mary? Lord, but
it's good to see you here in my own home like this.”
While Pete was trying to make some adequate reply to this effusive
and startling reception, Adam looked cautiously about to see if there
were any chance observers lurking near.
Satisfied that no one was watching, he said, nervously, “Come on,
let's sit over here where we can talk.” And with his hand on Pete's
arm, he led his caller to lawn chairs that were in the open, well
beyond hearing of any curious ear in the shrubbery.
Giving the workman opportunity for no more than an occasional
monosyllable in reply, he poured forth a flood of information about his
estate: The architectural features of his house—the cost; the
loveliness of his trees—the cost; the coloring of his flowers—the
cost; the magnificence of his view, And all the while he studied his
caller's face with sharp, furtive glances, trying to find some clew to
the purpose of the workman's visit.
Peter Martin's steady eyes, save for occasional glances at the
objects of Adam's interest as Adam pointed them out, were fixed on the
Mill owner with a half-wondering, half-pitying expression. Adam's
evident nervousness increased. He talked of his Mill—how he had built
it up from nothing almost, to its present magnitude—of the city and
what he had done for the people.
The old workman listened without comment.
At last, apparently unable to endure the suspense a moment longer,
Adam Ward said, nervously, “Well, Pete, out with it! What do you want?
I can guess what you are here for. We might as well get done with it.”
In his slow, thoughtful manner of speech that was so different from
the Mill owner's agitated expressions, the old workman said, “I have
wanted for nothing, Adam. We have been contented and happy in our
little home. But now,” he paused as if his thoughts were loath to form
themselves into words.
The last vestige of pretense left Adam Ward's face as suddenly as if
he had literally dropped a mask. “It's a good thing you have been
satisfied,” he said, coldly. “You had better continue to be. You know
that you owe everything you have in the world to me! You need not
expect anything more.”
“Have you not made a big profit on every hour's work that I have
done in your Mill, Adam?”
“Whatever profit I have or have not made on your work is none of
your business, sir,” retorted Adam. “I have given you a job all these
years. I could have thrown you out. You haven't a thing on earth that
you did not buy with the checks you received from me. I have worn
myself out—made an invalid of myself—building up the business that
has enabled you and the rest of my employees to make a living. Every
cent that I ever received from that new process I put back into the
Mill. You have had more out of it than I ever did.”
Peter Martin looked slowly about at the evidence of Adam Ward's
wealth. When he again faced the owner of the estate he spoke as if
doubting that he had heard him clearly. “But the Mill is yours, Adam?”
he said, at last. “And all this is yours. How—where did it come from?”
“Certainly the Mill is mine. Didn't I make it what it is? As for the
place here—it came from the profits of my business, of course. You
know I was nothing but a common workman when I started out.”
“I know,” returned Pete. “And it was the new process that enabled
you to get control of the Mill—to buy it and build it up—wasn't it?
If you hadn't happened to have had the process the Mill would have made
all this for some one else, wouldn't it? We never dreamed that the
process would grow into such a big thing for anybody when we used to
talk it over in the old days, did we, Adam?”
Adam Ward looked cautiously around at the shrubbery that encircled
the bit of lawn. There was no one to be seen within hearing distance.
When he faced his companion again the Mill owner's eyes were
blazing, but he controlled his voice by a supreme effort of will. “Look
here, Pete, I'm not going even to discuss that matter with you. I have
kept you on at the Mill and taken care of you all these years because
of our old friendship and because I was sorry for you. But if you don't
appreciate what I have done for you, if you attempt to start any talk
or anything I'll throw you and Charlie out of your jobs to-morrow. And
I'll fix it, too, so you will never either of you get another day's
work in Millsburgh. That process is my property. No one has any
interest in the patents in any way. I have it tied up so tight that all
the courts in the world couldn't take it away from me. Law is law and I
propose to keep what the law says is mine. I have thousands of dollars
to spend in defense of my legal rights where you have dimes. You
needn't whine about moral obligations either. The only obligations that
are of any force in business are legal! If you haven't brains enough to
look after your own interests you can't expect any one else to look
after them for you.”
When Adam Ward finished his countenance was distorted with hate and
fear. Before this simple, kindly old workman, in whose honest soul
there was no shadow of a wish to harm any one in any way, the Mill
owner was like a creature of evil at bay.
“I did not come to talk of the past, Adam Ward,” said Pete, sadly.
“And I didn't come to threaten you or to ask anything for myself.”
At the gentle sadness of his old friend's manner and words, Adam's
eyes gleamed with vicious triumph. “Well, out with it!” he demanded,
harshly. “What are you here for?”
“Your boy and my girl love each other, Adam.”
An ugly grin twisted the gray lips of Pete's employer.
But Mary's father went on as though he had not seen. “The children
were raised together, Adam. I have always thought of John almost as if
he were my own son. It seems exactly right that he should want Mary and
that she should want him. There is no man in the world I would rather
it would be.”
Adam listened, still grinning, as the old workman continued in his
slow, quiet speech.
“I never cared before for all that the new process made for you. You
wanted money—I didn't. But it don't seem right that what you
have—considering how you got it—should stand in the way of Mary's
happiness. I understand that there is nothing I can do about it, but I
thought that, considering everything, you might be willing to—”
Adam Ward laughed aloud—laughed until the tears of his insane glee
filled his eyes. “So that's your game,” he said, at last, when he could
speak. “You hadn't brains enough to protect yourself to start out with
and you have found out that you haven't a chance in the world against
me in the courts. So you try to make it by setting your girl up to
“You must stop that sort of talk, Adam Ward.” Peter Martin was on
his feet, and there was that in his usually stolid countenance which
made the Mill owner shrink back. “I was a fool, as you say. But my
mistake was that I trusted you. I believed in your pretended friendship
for me. I thought you were as honest and honorable as you seemed to be.
I didn't know that your religion was all such a rotten sham. I have
never cared that you grew rich while I remained poor. All these years I
have been sorry for you because I have had so much of the happiness and
contentment and peace that you have lost. But you must understand, sir,
that there are some things that I will do in defense of my children
that I would not do in defense of myself.”
Adam, white and trembling, drew still farther away. “Be careful,” he
cried, “I can call half a dozen men before you can move.”
Pete continued as if the other had not spoken. “There is no reason
in the world why John and Mary should not marry.”
Adam Ward's insane hatred for the workman and his evil joy over this
opportunity to make his old comrade suffer was stronger even than his
fear. With another snarling laugh he retorted, viciously, “There is the
best reason in the world why they will never marry. I am the
reason, Pete Martin! And I'd like to see you try to do anything about
Mary's father answered, slowly, “I do not understand your hatred for
me, Adam. All these years I have been loyal to you. I have never talked
of our affairs to any one—”
Adam interrupted him with a burst of uncontrollable rage. “Talk, you fool! Talk all you please. Tell everybody anything you like. Who
will believe you? You will only get yourself laughed at for being the
short-sighted idiot you were. That process is patented in my name. I
own it. You don't need to keep still on my account, but I tell you
again that if you do try to start anything I'll ruin you and I'll ruin
your children.” Suddenly, as if in fear that his rage would carry him
too far, his manner changed and he spoke with forced coldness. “I am
sorry that I cannot continue this interview, Pete. You have all that
you will ever get from me—children or no children. Go on about your
business as usual and you may hold your job in the Mill as long as you
are able to do your work. I had thought that I might give you some sort
of a little pension when you got too old to keep up your end with the
rest of the men.”
And then Adam Ward added the crowning insolent expression of his
insane and arrogant egotism. With a pious smirk of his gray, twitching
face, he said, “I want you to know, too, Pete, that you can approach me
any time without any feeling of humiliation.”
He turned abruptly away and a moment later the old workman,
watching, saw him disappear behind some tall bushes.
As Pete Martin went slowly back to the entrance gate he did not know
that the owner of the estate was watching him. From bush to bush Adam
crept with the stealthy care of a wild creature, following its
prey—never taking his eyes from his victim, save for quick glances
here and there to see that he himself was not observed. Not until Pete
had passed from sight down the hill road did Adam appear openly. Then,
going to the watchman at the gate, he berated him for admitting the old
workman and threatened him with the loss of his position if he so
* * * * *
When Peter Martin arrived home he found Jake Vodell and Charlie
discussing the industrial situation. The strike leader had come once
more to try to enlist the support of the old workman and his son in his
war against the employer class.
CHAPTER XXIII. A LAST CHANCE
Jake Vodell greeted the old workman cordially. “You have been to
church this fine morning, I suppose, heh?” he said, with a sneering
laugh that revealed how little his interview with Captain Charlie was
contributing to his satisfaction.
“No,” returned Pete. “I did not attend church this morning—I do go,
“Oh-ho! you worship the God of your good master Adam Ward, I
But Pete Martin was in no way disturbed by the man's sarcasm. “No,”
he said, slowly, “I do not think that Adam and I worship the same God.”
“Is it so? But when the son goes to war so bravely and fights for
his masters one would expect the father to say his prayers to his
masters' God, heh?”
Captain Charlie retorted, sharply, “The men who fought in the war
fought for this nation—for every citizen in it. We fought for McIver
just as we fought for Sam Whaley. Our loyalty in this industrial
question is exactly the same. We will save the industries of this
country for every citizen alike because our national life is at stake.
Did you ever hear of a sailor refusing to man the pumps on a sinking
ship because the vessel was not his personal property?”
“Bah!” growled Jake Vodell. “Your profession of loyalty to your
country amuses me. Your country! It is McIver's country—Adam
Ward's country, I tell you. It is my little band of live, aggressive
heroes who are the loyal ones. We are the ones who will save the
industries, but we will save them for the laboring people alone. And
you shirkers in your Mill workers' union are willing to stand aside and
let us do your fighting for you. Have you no pride for your class at
“Oh, yes,” returned Captain Charlie, “we have plenty of class pride.
Only you see, Vodell, we don't consider ourselves in your class. You
are no more loyal to the principles of our American unions than you are
to the principles of our government. You don't represent our unions.
You represent something foreign to the interests of every American
citizen. You are trying to use our unions in your business, that is
all. And because you manage to get hold of a few poor fellows like Sam
Whaley, you think you can lead the working people. If you really think
our loyalty to our country is a joke, drop in at an American Legion
meeting some evening—bring along your foreign flag and all your
foreign friends. I'll promise you a welcome that will, I think,
convince you that we have some class pride after all.”
The agitator rose heavily to his feet. “It is your friendship with
this John Ward that makes you turn from your own class. I have known
how it would be with you. But it is no matter. You shall see. We will
make a demonstration in Millsburgh that will win the men of your union
in spite of you and your crippled old basket maker. If you had a
personal grievance against Adam Ward as so many others have you would
be with me fast enough. But he and his son have made you blind with
their pretended kindness.”
Pete Martin spoke now with a dignity and pride that moved Captain
Charlie deeply. “Mr. Vodell, you are wrong. My son is too big to be
influenced in this matter by any personal consideration. Whatever there
is that is personal between Charlie and John or between Adam Ward and
myself will never be brought into this controversy.”
Jake Vodell shrugged his heavy shoulders. “Very well—I will go now.
You will see that in the end the working people will know who are for
their interests and who are against them, and we will know, too, how to
reward our friends and punish our enemies. I am sorry. I have given you
to-day your last chance. You have a pretty little place here, heh?”
There was a look in his dark face, as he gazed about appraisingly,
that made Captain Charlie go a step toward him. “You have given
us our last chance? Is this a sample of the freedom that you offer so
eloquently to the people? Instead of the imperialist McIver we are to
have the imperialist Vodell, are we? Between the two of you I prefer
McIver. He is at least sane enough to be constructive in his
imperialism. My father and I have lived here all our lives, as most of
our neighbors have. The majority of the workmen in this community own
their homes just as we do. We are a part of the life of this city. What
have you at stake? Where is your home and family? What is your
nationality? What is your record of useful industry? Before you talk
about giving a last chance to workmen like my father you will need to
produce the credentials of your authority. We have your number, Jake
Vodell. You may as well go back to the land where you belong, if you
belong anywhere on earth. You will never hang your colors in the union
Mill workers' hall. We have a flag there now that suits us. The chance
you offer, last or first, is too darned big a chance for any sane
American workman to monkey with.”
Jake Vodell answered harshly as he turned to go. “At least I know
now for sure who it is that makes the Mill workers such traitors to
their class.” He looked at Pete. “Your son has made his position very
clear. We shall see now how bravely the noble Captain will hold his
ground. As for you, well—always the old father can pray to his God for
his son. It is so, heh?”
Quickly the man passed through the white gate and disappeared down
the street toward the Flats.
“I am afraid that fellow means trouble, son,” said Pete, slowly.
“Trouble,” echoed Captain Charlie, “Jake Vodell has never meant
anything but trouble.”
* * * * *
Adam Ward did not join his family when they returned from church. A
nervous headache kept him in his room.
In the afternoon John went for a long drive into the country. He
felt that he must be alone—that he must think things out, for both
Mary and himself.
As he looked back on it all now, it seemed to him that he had always
loved this girl companion of his old-house days. In his boyhood he had
accepted her as a part of his daily life just as he had accepted his
sister. Those years of his schooling had been careless, thoughtless
years, and followed, as they were, by his war experience, they seemed
now to have had so small a part in the whole that they scarcely counted
at all. His renewed comradeship with Charlie in the army had renewed
also, through the letters that Charlie always shared with him, his
consciousness of Mary. In the months just passed his love had ripened
and become a definite thing, fixed and certain in his own mind and
heart as the fact of life itself. He had no more thought of accepting
as final Mary's answer than he had of turning the management of the
Mill over to Jake Vodell or to Sam Whaley. But still there were things
that he must think out.
On that favorite hillside spot where he and Charlie had spent so
many hours discussing their industrial problems, John faced squarely
the questions raised by Mary's “no.”
Through the chill of the fall twilight John went home to spend the
evening with his mother. But he did not speak to her of Mary. He could
not, somehow, in the house that was so under the shadow of that hidden
His father was still in his room.
On his way to his own apartment after his mother had retired, John
stopped at his father's door to knock gently and ask if there was
anything that he could do.
The answer came, “No, I will be all right—let me alone.”
Later Helen returned from somewhere with McIver. Then John heard
McIver leaving and Helen going to her mother for their usual good-night
Seeing the light under his door, as she passed, she tapped the panel
and called softly that it was tune all good little boys were fast
It was an hour, perhaps, after John had gone to bed that he was
awakened by the sound of some one stealing quietly into his room.
Against the dim night light in the hall, he caught the outline of an
arm and shoulder as the intruder carefully closed the door. Reaching
out to the lamp at the head of his bed, he snapped on the light and
sprang to his feet.
“Sh—be careful, John, they will hear you!” Adam Ward's gray face
was ghastly with nervous excitement and fear, and he was shaking as
with a chill.
“No one must know I told you,” he whispered, “but the new process is
the source of everything we have—the Mill and everything. If it wasn't
for my patent rights we would have nothing. You and I would be working
in the Mill just like Pete and his boy.”
John spoke soothingly. “Yes, father, I understand, but it will be
all right—I'll take care of it.”
Adam chuckled. “They're after it. But I've got it all sewed up so
tight they can't touch it. That old fool, Pete, was here to feel me out
Adam grinned. “While you folks were at church.”
“But what did he want, father?”
“They've got a new scheme now. They've set Mary after you. They
figure that if the girl can land you they'll get a chance at what I
have made out of the process that way. I told him you was too smart to
be caught like that. But you've got to watch them. They'll do
In spite of his pity for his father, John Ward drew from him,
overcome by a feeling of disgust and shame which he could not wholly
Adam, unconscious of his son's emotions, went on. “I've made it all
in spite of them, John, but I've had to watch them. They'll be after
you now that I have turned things over to you, just as they have been
after me. They'll never get it, though. They'll never get a penny of
it. I'll destroy the Mill and everything before I'll give up a dollar
of what I've made.”
John Ward could not speak. It was too monstrous—too horrible. As
one in a hideous dream, he listened. What was back of it all? Why did
his father in his spells of nervous excitement always rave so about the
patented process? Why did he hate Pete Martin so bitterly? What was
this secret thing that was driving Adam Ward insane?
Thinking to find an answer to these perplexing questions, if there
was any answer other than the Mill owner's mental condition, John
forced himself to the pretense of sharing his father's fears. He agreed
with Adam's arraignment of Pete, echoed his father's expression of
hatred for the old workman, thanked Adam for warning him, boasted of
his own ability to see through their tricks and schemes and to protect
the property his father had accumulated.
In this vein they talked in confidential whispers until John felt
that he could venture the question, “Just what is it about the process
that they are after, father? If I knew the exact history of the thing I
would be in a much better position to handle the situation as you want,
Adam Ward's manner changed instantly. With a look of sly cunning he
studied John's face. “There is nothing about the process, son,” he
said, steadily. “You know all there is to know about it now.”
But when John, thinking that his father had regained his
self-control, urged him to go back to his bed, Adam's painful agitation
For some moments he paced to and fro as if in nervous indecision,
then, going close to John, he said in a low, half whisper, “John, there
is something else I wanted to ask you. You have been to college and
over there in the war, you must have seen a lot of men die—” He
paused. “Yes, yes, you must have been close to death a good many times.
Tell me, John, do you believe that there is anything after—I mean
anything beyond this life? Does a man's conscious existence go on when
he is dead?”
“Yes,” said John, wondering at this apparent change in his father's
thought. “I believe in a life beyond this. You believe in it, too,
don't you, father?”
“Of course,” returned Adam. “We can't know, though, for sure, can
we? But, anyway, a man would be foolish to risk it, wouldn't he?”
“To risk what, father?”
“To risk the chance of there being no hell,” came the startling
answer. “My folks raised me to believe in hell, and the preachers all
teach it. And if there should be such a place of eternal torment a man
would be a fool not to fix up some way to get out of it, wouldn't he?”
John did not know what to say.
Adam Ward leaned closer to his son and with an air of secrecy
whispered, “That's exactly what I've done, John—I've worked out a
scheme to tie God up in a contract that will force Him to save me. The
old Interpreter gave me the idea. You see if it should turn out that
there is no hell my plan can't do any harm and if there is a hell it
makes me safe anyway.”
He chuckled with insane satisfaction. “They say that God knows
everything—that nobody can figure out a way to beat Him, but I have—I
have worked out a deal with God that is bound to give me the best of
it. I've got Him tied up so tight that He'll be bound to save me. Some
people think I'm crazy, but you wait, my boy—they'll find out how
crazy I am. They'll never get me into hell. I have been figuring on
this ever since the Interpreter told me I had better make a contract
with God. And after Pete left this morning I got it all settled. A man
can't afford to take any chances with God and so I made this deal with
Him. Hell or no hell, I'm safe. God don't get the best of me,—And you
are safe, too, son, with the new process, if you look after your own
interests, as I have done, and don't overlook any opportunities. I
wanted to tell you about this so you wouldn't worry about me. I'll go
back to bed now. Don't tell mother and Helen what we have been talking
about. No use to worry them—they couldn't understand anyway. And don't
forget, John, what Pete told me about Mary. Their scheme won't work of
course. I know you are too smart for them. But just the same you've got
to be on your guard against her all the time. Never take any
unnecessary chances. Don't talk over a deal with a man when any one can
hear. If you are careful to have no witnesses when you arrange a deal
you are absolutely safe. It is what you can slip into the written
contract that counts—once you get your man's signature. That's always
been my way. And now I have even put one over on God.”
He stole cautiously out of the room and back to his own apartment.
Outside his father's door John waited, listening, until he was
convinced that sleep had at last come to the exhausted man.
Late that same Sunday evening, when the street meeting held by Jake
Vodell was over, there was another meeting in the room back of the pool
hall. The men who sat around that table with the agitator were not
criminals—they were workmen. Sam Whaley and two others were men with
families. They were all American citizens, but they were under the
spell of their leader's power. They had been prepared for that
leadership by the industrial policies of McIver and Adam Ward.
This meeting of that inner circle was in no way authorized by the
unions. The things they said Sam Whaley would not have dared to say
openly in the Mill workers' organization. The plans they proposed to
carry out in the name of the unions they were compelled to make in
secret. In their mad, fanatical acceptance of the dreams that Vodell
wrought for them; in their blind obedience to the leadership he had so
cleverly established; in their reckless disregard of the consequences
under the spell of his promised protection, they were as insane, in
fact, as the owner of the Mill himself.
The supreme, incredible, pitiful tragedy of it all was this: That
these workmen committed themselves to the plans of Jake Vodell in the
name of their country's workmen.
CHAPTER XXIV. THE FLATS
Helen Ward knew that she could not put off much longer giving McIver
a definite answer. When she was with him, the things that so disturbed
her mind and heart were less real—she was able to see things clearly
from the point of view to which she had been trained. Her father's
mental condition was nothing more than a nervous trouble resulting from
overwork—John's ideals were highly creditable to his heart and she
loved him dearly for them, but they were wholly impossible in a world
where certain class standards must be maintained—the Mill took again
its old vague, indefinite place in her life—the workman Charlie Martin
must live only in her girlhood memories, those secretly sad memories
that can have no part in the grown-up present and must not be permitted
to enter into one's consideration of the future. In short, the presence
of McIver always banished effectually the Helen of the old house: with
him the daughter of Adam Ward was herself.
And Helen was tempted by this feeling of relief to speak the
decisive word that would finally put an end to her indecision and bring
at least the peace of certainty to her troubled mind. In the light of
her education and environment, there was every reason why she should
say, “Yes” to McIver's insistent pleadings. There was no shadow of a
reason why she should refuse him. One word and the Helen of the old
house would be banished forever—the princess lady would reign
And yet, for some reason, that word was not spoken. Helen told
herself that she would speak it. But on each occasion she put it off.
And always when the man was gone and she was alone, in spite of the
return in full force of all her disturbing thoughts and emotions, she
was glad that she had not committed herself irrevocably—that she was
She had never felt the appeal of all that McIver meant to her as she
felt it that Sunday. She had never been more disturbed and unhappy than
she was the following day when John told her a little of his midnight
experience with their father and how Adam's excitement had been caused
by Peter Martin's visit. All of which led her, early in the afternoon,
to the Interpreter.
* * * * *
She found the old basket maker working with feverish energy. Billy
Rand at the bench in the corner of the room was as busy with his part
of their joint industry.
It was the Interpreter's habit, when Helen was with him, to lay
aside his work. But of late he had continued the occupation of his
hands even as he talked with her. She had noticed this, as women always
notice such things—but that was all. On this day, when the old man in
the wheel chair failed to give her his undivided attention, something
in his manner impressed the trivial incident more sharply on her mind.
He greeted her kindly, as always, but while she was conscious of no
lack of warmth in his welcome, she felt in the deep tones of that
gentle voice a sadness that moved her to quick concern. The dark eyes
that never failed to light with pleasure at her coming were filled with
weary pain. The strong face was thin and tired. As he bent his white
head over the work in his lap he seemed to have grown suddenly very
weak and old.
With an awakened mind, the young woman looked curiously about the
She had never seen it so filled with materials and with finished
baskets. The table with the big lamp and the magazines and papers had
been moved into the far corner against the book shelves, as though he
had now neither time nor thought for reading. The floor was covered
thick with a litter of chips and shavings. Even silent Billy's face was
filled with anxiety and troubled care as he looked from Helen to his
old companion in the wheel chair and slowly turned back to his work on
“What is the matter here?” she demanded, now thoroughly aroused.
“Matter?” returned the Interpreter. “Is there anything wrong here,
“You are not well,” she insisted. “You look all worn out—as if you
had not slept for weeks—what is it?”
“Oh, that is nothing,” he answered, with a smile. “Billy and I have
been working overtime a little—that is all.”
“But why?” she demanded, “why must you wear yourself out like this?
Surely there is no need for you to work so hard, day and night.”
He answered as if he were not sure that he had heard her aright. “No
need, Helen? Surely, child, you cannot be so ignorant of the want that
exists within sight of your home?”
She returned his look wonderingly. “You mean the strike?”
Bending over his work again, the old basket maker answered,
sorrowfully, “Yes, Helen, I mean the strike.”
There was something in the Interpreter's manner—something in the
weary, drooping figure in that wheel chair—in the tired, deep-lined
face—in the pain-filled eyes and the gentle voice that went to the
deeps of Helen Ward's woman heart.
With her, as with every one in Millsburgh, the strike was a topic of
daily conversation. She sympathized with her brother in his anxiety.
She was worried over the noticeable effect of the excitement upon her
father. She was interested in McIver's talk of the situation. But in no
vital way had her life been touched by the industrial trouble. In no
way had she come in actual contact with it. The realities of the
situation were to her vague, intangible, remote from her world, as
indeed the Mill itself had been, before her visit with John that day.
To her, the Interpreter was of all men set apart from the world. In his
little hut on the cliff, with his books and his basket making, her
gentle old friend's life, it seemed to her, held not one thing in
common with the busy world that lay within sight of the balcony-porch.
The thought that the industrial trouble could in any way touch him came
to her with a distinct shock.
“Surely,” she protested, at last, “the strike cannot affect you. It
has nothing to do with your work.”
“Every strike has to do with all work everywhere, child,” returned
the man in the wheel chair, while his busy fingers wove the fabric of a
basket. “Every idle hand in the world, Helen, whatever the cause of its
idleness, compels some other's hand to do its work. The work of the
world must be done, child—somehow, by some one—the work of the world
must be done. The little Maggies and Bobbies of the Flats down there
must be fed, you know—and their mother too—yes, and Sam Whaley
himself must be cared for. And so you see, because of the strike, Billy
and I must work overtime.”
Certainly there was no hint of rebuke in the old basket maker's
kindly voice, but the daughter of Adam Ward felt her cheeks flush with
a quick sense of shame. That her old friend in the wheel chair should
so accept the responsibility of his neighbor's need and give himself
thus to help them, while she—
“Is there,” she faltered, “is there really so much suffering among
Without raising his eyes from his work, he answered, “The women and
children—they are so helpless.”
“I—I did not realize,” she murmured. “I did not know.”
“You were not ignorant of the helpless women and children who
suffered in foreign lands,” he returned. “Why should you not know of
the mothers and babies in Millsburgh?”
“But McIver says—” she hesitated.
The Interpreter caught up her words. “McIver says that by feeding
the starving families of the strikers the strike is prolonged. He
relies upon the hunger and cold and sickness of the women and children
for his victory. And Jake Vodell relies upon the suffering in the
families of his followers for that desperate frenzy of class hatred,
without which he cannot gain his end. Does McIver want for anything?
No! Is Jake Vodell in need? No! It is not the imperialistic leaders in
these industrial wars who pay the price. It is always the little
Bobbies and Maggies who pay. The people of America stood aghast with
horror when an unarmed passenger ship was torpedoed or a defenseless
village was bombed by order of a ruthless Kaiser; but we permit these
Kaisers of capital and labor to carry on their industrial wars without
a thought of the innocent ones who must suffer under their ruthless
He paused; then, with no trace of bitterness, but only sadness in
his voice, he added, “You say you do not know, child—and yet, you
could know so easily if you would. Little Bobby and Maggie do not live
in a far-off land across the seas. They live right over there in the
shadow of your father's Mill—the Mill which supplies you, Helen, with
every material need and luxury of your life.”
As if she could bear to hear no more, Helen rose quickly and went
from the room to stand on the balcony-porch.
It was not so much the Interpreter's words—it was rather the spirit
in which they were spoken that moved her so deeply. By her own heart
she was judged. “For every idle hand,” he had said. Her hands were idle
hands. Her old white-haired friend in his wheel chair was doing her
work. His crippled body drooped with weariness over his task because
she did nothing. His face was lined with care because she was careless
of the need that burdened him. His eyes were filled with sadness and
pain because she was indifferent—because she did not know—had not
cared to know.
* * * * *
The sun was almost down that afternoon when Bobby Whaley came out of
the wretched house that was his home to stand on the front doorstep.
The dingy, unpainted buildings of the Flats—the untidy hovels and
shanties—the dilapidated fences and broken sidewalks—unlovely at
best, in the long shadows of the failing day, were sinister with the
gloom of poverty.
High above the Mill the twisting columns of smoke from the tall
stacks caught the last of the sunlight and formed slow, changing
cloud-shapes—rolling hills of brightness with soft, shadowy valleys
and canons of mysterious depths between—towering domes and crags and
castled heights—grim, foreboding, beautiful.
The boy who stood on the steps, looking so listlessly about, was not
the daring adventurer who had so boldly led his sister up the zigzag
steps to the Interpreter's hut. He was not the Bobby who had ridden in
such triumph beside the princess lady so far into the unknown country.
His freckled face was thin and pinched. The skin was drawn tight over
the high cheek bones and the eyes were wide and staring. His young body
that had been so sturdy was gaunt and skeletonlike. The dirty rags that
clothed him were scarcely enough to hide his nakedness. The keen autumn
air that had put the flush of good red blood into the cheeks of the
golfers at the country club that afternoon whirled about his bare feet
and legs with stinging cruelty. His thin lips and wasted limbs were
blue with cold. Turning slowly, he seemed about to reenter the house,
but when his hand touched the latch he paused and once more uncertainly
faced toward the street. There was no help for him in his home. He knew
no other place to go for food or shelter.
As the boy again looked hopelessly about the wretched neighborhood,
he saw a woman coming down the street. He could tell, even at that
distance, that the lady was a stranger to the Flats. Her dress, simple
as it was, and her veil marked her as a resident of some district more
prosperous than that grimy community in the shadow of the Mill.
A flash of momentary interest lighted the hungry eyes of the lad.
But, no, it could not be one of the charity workers—the charity ladies
always came earlier in the day and always in automobiles.
Then he saw the stranger stop and speak to a boy in front of a house
two doors away. The neighbor boy pointed toward Bobby and the lady came
on, walking quickly as if she were a little frightened at being alone
amid such surroundings.
At the gap where once had been a gate in the dilapidated fence, she
turned in toward the house and the wondering boy on the front step. She
was within a few feet of the lad when she stopped suddenly with a low
Bobby thought that she had discovered her mistake in coming to the
wrong place. But the next moment she was coming closer, and he heard,
“Bobby, is that really you! You poor child, have you been ill?”
“I ain't been sick, if that's what yer mean,” returned the
boy. “Mag is, though. She's worse to-day.”
His manner was sullenly defiant, as if the warmly dressed stranger
had in some way revealed herself as his enemy.
“Don't you know me, Bobby?”
“Not with yer face covered up like that, I don't.”
She laughed nervously and raised her veil.
“Huh, it's you, is it? Funny—Mag's been a-talkin' about her
princess lady all afternoon. What yer doin' here?”
Before this hollow-cheeked skeleton of a boy Helen Ward felt
strangely like one who, conscious of guilt, is brought suddenly into
the presence of a stern judge.
“Why, Bobby,” she faltered, “I—I came to see you and Maggie—I was
at the Interpreter's this afternoon and he told me—I mean something he
said made me want to come.”
“The Interpreter, he's all right,” said the boy. “So's Mary Martin.”
“Aren't you just a little glad to see me, Bobby?”
The boy did not seem to hear. “Funny the way Mag talks about yer all
the time. She's purty sick all right. Peterson's baby, it died.”
“Can't we go into the house and see Maggie? You must be nearly
frozen standing out here in the cold.”
“Huh, I'm used to freezin'—I guess yer can come on in though—if
yer want to. Mebbe Mag 'd like to see yer.”
He pushed open the door, and she followed him into the ghastly
barrenness of the place that he knew as home.
Never before had the daughter of Adam Ward viewed such naked, cruel
poverty. She shuddered with the horror of it. It was so unreal—so
A small, rusty cookstove with no fire—a rude table with no cloth—a
rickety cupboard with its shelves bare save for a few dishes—two
broken-backed chairs—that was all. No, it was not all—on a window
ledge, beneath a bundle of rags that filled the opening left by a
broken pane, was a small earthen flowerpot holding a single scraggly
slip of geranium.
Helen seemed to hear again the Interpreter saying, “A girl with true
instincts for the best things of life and a capacity for great
At Bobby's call, Mrs. Whaley came from another room.
The boy did not even attempt an introduction but stood sullenly
aside, waiting developments, and the mother in her pitiful distress
evidently failed to identify their visitor when Helen introduced
“I'm pleased to meet you, ma'am,” she said, mechanically, and gazed
at the young woman with a stony indifference, as though her mind,
deadened by fearful anxiety and physical suffering, refused even to
wonder at the stranger's presence in her home.
Helen did not know what to say—in the presence of this living
tragedy of motherhood she felt so helpless, so overwhelmed with the
uselessness of mere words. What right had she, a stranger from another
world, to intrude unasked upon the privacy of this home? And yet,
something deep within her—something more potent in its authority than
the conventionalities that had so far ruled her life—assured her that
she had the right to be there.
“I—I called to see Bobby and Maggie,” she faltered. “I met them,
you know, at the Interpreter's.”
As if Helen's mention of the old basket maker awakened a spark of
life in her pain-deadened senses, the woman returned, “Yes, ma'am—take
a chair. No, not that one—it's broke. Here—this one will hold you up,
With nervous haste she dusted the chair with her apron. “You'd best
keep your things on. We don't have no fire except to cook by—when
there's anything to cook.”
She found a match and lighted a tiny lamp, for it was growing dark.
“Bobby tells me that little Maggie is ill,” offered Helen.
Mrs. Whaley looked toward the door of that other room and wrung her
thin, toil-worn hands in the agony of her mother fear. “Yes,
ma'am—she's real bad, I guess. Poor child, she's been ailin' for some
time. And since the strike—” Her voice broke, and her eyes, dry as if
they had long since exhausted their supply of tears, were filled with
“We had the doctor once before things got so bad; about the time my
man quit his work in the Mill to help Jake Vodell, it was. And the
doctor he said all she needed was plenty of good food and warm clothes
and a chance to play in the fresh country air.”
She looked grimly about the bare room. “We couldn't have the doctor
no more. I don't know as it would make any difference if we could. My
man, he's away most of the time. I ain't seen him since yesterday
mornin'. And to-day Maggie's been a lot worse. I—I'm afraid—”
Helen wanted to cry aloud. Was it possible that she had asked the
Interpreter only a few hours before if there was really much suffering
in the families of the strikers? “You can see Maggie if you want,” said
the mother. “She's in there.”
She rose as if to show her visitor to the room.
But Helen said, quickly, “In just a moment. Mrs. Whaley, won't you
tell me first—is there—is there no one to help you?” She asked the
question timidly, as if fearing to offend.
The other woman answered, hopelessly, “The charity ladies do a
little, and the Interpreter and Mary Martin do all they can. But you
see, ma'am, there's so many others just like us that there ain't near
enough to go 'round.”
The significance of the woman's colorless words went to Helen's
heart with appalling force—“so many others just like us.” This
stricken home was not then an exception. With flashing vividness her
mind pictured many rooms similar to the cold and barren apartment where
she sat. She visioned as clearly as she saw Mrs. Whaley the many other
wives and mothers with Bobbies and Maggies who were caught helplessly
in the monstrous net of the strike, as these were caught. She knew now
why the Interpreter and Billy Rand worked so hard. And again she felt
her cheeks burn with shame as when the old basket maker had said, “For
every idle hand—”
Helen Ward had been an active leader in the foreign relief work
during the war. Her portrait had even been published in the papers as
one who was devoted to the cause of the stricken women and children
abroad. But that had all been impersonal, while this—Already in her
heart she was echoing the old familiar cry of the comparative few, “If
only the people knew! If only they could be made to see as she had been
made to see! The people are not so cruel. They simply do not know. They
are ignorant, as she was ignorant.”
Aloud she was saying to Bobby, as she thrust her purse in the boy's
hand, “You must run quickly, Bobby, to the nearest store and get the
things that your mother needs first, and have some one telephone for a
doctor to come at once.”
To the mother she added, hurriedly, as if fearing a protest,
“Please, Mrs. Whaley, let me help. I am so sorry I did not know before.
Won't you forgive me and let me help you now?”
“Gee!” exclaimed Bobby, who had opened the purse. “Look-ee, mom!
As one in a dream, the mother turned from the money in the boy's
hand to Helen. “You ain't meanin', ma'am, for us to use all that?”
“Yes—yes—don't be afraid to get what you need—there will be more
when that is gone.”
The poor woman did not fill the air with loud cries of hysterical
gratitude and superlative prayers to God for His blessing upon this one
who had come so miraculously to her relief. For a moment she stood
trembling with emotion, while her tearless eyes were fixed upon Helen's
face with a look of such gratitude that the young woman was forced to
turn away lest her own feeling escape her control. Then, snatching the
money from the boy's hands, she said, “I had better go myself,
ma'am—Bobby can come along to help carry things. If you”—she
hesitated, with a look toward that other room—“if you wouldn't mind
stayin' with Maggie till we get back?”
A minute later and Helen was alone in that wretched house in the
Flats—alone save for the sick child in the next room.
The door to the street had scarcely closed when a wave of terror
swept over her. She started to her feet. She could not do it. She would
call Mrs. Whaley back. She would go herself for the needed things. But
there was a strength in Helen Ward that few of her most intimate
friends, even, realized; and before her hand touched the latch of the
door she had command of herself once more. In much the same spirit that
her brother John perhaps had faced a lonely night watch in Flanders
fields, Adam Ward's daughter forced herself to do this thing that had
so unexpectedly fallen to her.
For some minutes she walked the floor, listening to the noises of
the neighborhood. Anxiously she opened the door and looked out into the
fast, gathering darkness. No one of her own people knew where she was.
She had heard terrible things of Jake Vodell and his creed of
terrorism. McIver had pressed it upon her mind that the strikers were
all alike in their lawlessness. What if Sam Whaley should return to
find her there? She listened—listened.
A faint, moaning sound came from the next room. She went quickly to
the doorway, but in the faint light she could see only the shadowy
outline of a bed. Taking the lamp she entered fearfully.
Save for the bed, an old box that served as a table, and one chair,
this room was as bare as the other. With the lamp in her hand Helen
stood beside the bed.
The tiny form of little Maggie was lost under the ragged and dirty
coverlet. The child's face in the tangled mass of her unkempt hair was
so wasted and drawn, her eyes, closed under their dark lids, so deeply
sunken, and her teeth so exposed by the thin fleshless lips, that she
seemed scarcely human. One bony arm with its clawlike hand encircled
the rag doll that she had held that day when Helen took the two
children into the country.
As Helen looked all her fears vanished. She had no thought, now, of
where she was or how she came there. Deep within her she felt the
awakening of that mother soul which lives in every woman. She did not
shrink in horror from this hideous fruit of Jake Vodell's activity. She
did not cry out in pity or sorrow. She uttered no word of protest. As
she put the lamp down on the box, her hand did not tremble. Very
quietly she placed the chair beside the bed and sat down to watch and
wait as motherhood in all ages has watched and waited.
While poor Sam Whaley was busy on some mission assigned to him by
his leader, Jake Vodell, and his wife and boy were gone for the food
supplied by a stranger to his household, this woman, of the class that
he had been taught to hate, held alone her vigil at the bedside of the
workman's little girl.
A thin, murmuring voice came from the bed. Helen leaned closer. She
heard a few incoherent mutterings—then, “No—no—Bobby, yer wouldn't
dast blow up the castle. Yer'd maybe kill the princess lady—yer know
yer couldn't do that!”
Again the weak little voice sank into low, meaning less murmurs. The
tiny, clawlike fingers plucked at the coverlet. “Tain't so, the
princess lady will find her jewel of happiness, I tell yer,
Bobby, jest like the Interpreter told us—cause her heart is kind—yer
know her heart is—kind—kind—”
Silence again. Some one passed the house. A dog howled. A child in
the house next door cried. Across the street a man's voice was raised
Suddenly little Maggie's eyes opened wide. “An' the princess lady is
a-comin' some day to take Bobby and me away up in the sky to her
beautiful palace place where there's flowers and birds an' everythin'
all the time an'—an'—”
The big eyes were fixed on Helen's face as the' young woman stooped
over the bed, and the light of a glorious smile transformed the wasted
CHAPTER XXV. McIVER'S OPPORTUNITY
When the politician stopped at the cigar stand late that afternoon
for a box of the kind he gave his admirers, the philosopher, scratching
the revenue label, remarked, “I see by the papers that McIver is still
“Humph!” grunted the politician with careful diplomacy.
The bank clerk who was particular about his pipe tobacco chimed in,
“McIver is a stayer all right when it comes to that.”
“Natural born fighter, sir,” offered the politician tentatively.
“Game sport, McIver is,” agreed the undertaker, taking the place at
the show case vacated by the departing bank clerk.
The philosopher, handing out the newcomer's favorite smoke, echoed
his customer's admiration. “You bet he's a game sport.” He punched the
cash register with vigor. “Don't give a hang what it costs the other
The undertaker laughed.
“I remember one time,” said the philosopher, “McIver and a bunch was
goin' fishin' up the river. They stopped here early in the morning and
while they was gettin' their smokes the judge—who's always handin' out
some sort of poetry stuff, you know—he says: 'Well, Jim, we're goin'
to have a fine day anyway. No matter whether we catch anything or not
it will be worth the trip just to get out into the country.' Mac, he
looked at the judge a minute as if he wanted to bite him—you know what
I mean—then he says in that growlin' voice of his, 'That may do for
you all right, judge, but I'm here to tell you that when I go
fishin' I go for fish.'“
The cigar-store philosopher's story accurately described the
dominant trait in the factory man's character. To him business was a
sport, a game, a contest of absorbing interest. He entered into it with
all the zest and strength of his virile manhood. Mind and body, it
absorbed him. And yet, he knew nothing of that true sportsman's passion
which plays the game for the joy of the game itself. McIver played to
win; not for the sake of winning, but for the value of the winnings.
Methods were good or bad only as they won or lost. He was incapable of
experiencing those larger triumphs which come only in defeat. The
Interpreter's philosophy of the “oneness of all” was to McIver the
fanciful theory of an impracticable dreamer, who, too feeble to take a
man's part in life, contented himself by formulating creeds of weakness
that befitted his state. Men were the pieces with which he played his
game—they were of varied values, certainly, as are the pieces on a
chess table, but they were pieces on the chess table and nothing more.
All of which does not mean that Jim McIver was cruel or unkind. Indeed,
he was genuinely and generously interested in many worthy charities,
and many a man had appealed to him, and not in vain, for help. But to
have permitted these humanitarian instincts to influence his play in
the game of business would have been, to his mind, evidence of a
weakness that was contemptible. The human element, he held, must, of
necessity, be sternly disregarded if one would win.
While his fellow townsmen were discussing him at the cigar stand,
and men everywhere in Millsburgh were commenting on his determination
to break the strikers to his will at any cost, McIver, at his office,
was concluding a conference with a little company of his fellow
It was nearly dark when the conference finally ended and the men
went their several ways. McIver, with some work of special importance
waiting his attention, telephoned that he would not be home for dinner.
He would finish what he had to do and would dine at the club later in
The big factory inside the high, board fence was silent. The night
came on. Save for the armed men who guarded the place, the owner was
Absorbed in his consideration of the business before him, the man
was oblivious of everything but his game. An hour went by. He forgot
that he had had no dinner. Another hour—and another.
He was interrupted at last by the entrance of a guard.
“Well, what do you want?” he said, shortly, when the man stood
“There's a woman outside, sir. She insists that she must see you.”
“Who is she?”
“I don't know.”
“Well, what does she look like?”
“I couldn't see her face, she's got a veil on.”
The factory owner considered. How did any one outside of his home
know that he was in his office at that hour? These times were
dangerous. “Vodell is likely to try anything,” he said, aloud. “Better
send her about her business.”
“I tried to,” the guard returned, “but she won't go—says she is a
friend of yours and has got to see you to-night.”
“A friend! Huh! How did she get here?”
“In a taxi, and the taxi beat it as soon as she got out.”
Again McIver considered. Then his heavy jaw set, and he growled,
“All right, bring her in—a couple of you—and see that you stand by
while she is here. If this is a Vodell trick of some sort, I'll beat
him to it.”
Helen, escorted by two burly guards, entered the office.
McIver sprang to his feet with an exclamation of amazement, and his
tender concern was unfeigned and very comforting to the young woman
after the harrowing experience through which she had just passed.
Sending the guards back to their posts, he listened gravely while
she told him where she had been and what she had seen.
“But, Helen,” he cried, when she had finished, “it was sheer madness
for you to be alone in the Flats like that—at Whaley's place and in
the night, too! Good heavens, girl, don't you realize what a risk you
“I had to go, Jim,” she returned.
“You had to go?” he repeated. “Why?”
“I had to see for myself if—if things were as bad as the
Interpreter said. Oh, can't you understand, Jim, I could not believe
it—it all seemed so impossible. Don't you see that I had to know for
“I see that some one ought to break that meddlesome old basket
maker's head as well as his legs,” growled McIver indignantly. “The
idea of sending you, Adam Ward's daughter, of all people, alone into
that nest of murdering anarchists.”
“But the Interpreter didn't send me, Jim,” she protested. “He did
not even know that I was going. No one knew.”
“I understand all that,” said McIver. “The Interpreter didn't send
you—oh, no—he simply made you think that you ought to go. That's the
way the tricky old scoundrel does everything, from what I am told.”
She looked at him steadily. “Do you think, Jim, the Interpreter's
way is such a bad way to get people to do things?”
“Forgive me,” he begged humbly, “but it makes me wild to think what
might have happened to you. It's all right now, though. I'll take you
home, and in the future you can turn such work over to the regular
charity organizations.” He was crossing the room for his hat and
overcoat. “Jove! I can't believe yet that you have actually been in
such a mess and all by your lonesome, too.”
She was about to speak when he stopped, and, as if struck by a
sudden thought, said, quickly, “But Helen, you haven't told me—how did
you know I was here?”
She explained hurriedly, “The doctor sent a taxi for me and I
telephoned your house from a drug store. Your man told me you expected
to be late at the office and would dine at the club. I phoned the club
and when I learned that you were not there I came straight on. I—I had
to see you to-night, Jim. And I was afraid if I phoned you here at the
office you wouldn't let me come.”
McIver evidently saw from her manner that there was still something
in the amazing situation that they had not yet touched upon. Coming
back to his desk, he said, “I don't think I understand, Helen. Why were
you in such a hurry to see me? Besides, don't you know that I would
have gone to you, at once, anywhere?”
“I know, Jim,” she returned, slowly, as one approaching a difficult
subject, “but I couldn't tell you what I had seen. I couldn't talk to
you about these things at home.”
“I understand,” he said, gently, “and I am glad that you wanted to
come to me. But you are tired and nervous and all unstrung, now. Let me
take you home and to-morrow we will talk things over.”
As if he had not spoken, she said, steadily, “I wanted to tell you
about the terrible, terrible condition of those poor people, Jim. I
thought you ought to know about them exactly as they are and not in a
vague, indefinite way as I knew about them before I went to see for
The man moved uneasily. “I do know about the condition of these
people, Helen. It is exactly what I expected would happen.”
She was listening carefully. “You expected them to—to be hungry and
cold and sick like that, Jim?”
“Such conditions are always a part of every strike like this,” he
returned. “There is nothing unusual about it, and it is the only thing
that will ever drive these cattle back to their work. They simply have
to be starved to it.”
“But John says—”
He interrupted. “Please, Helen—I know all about what John says. I
know where he gets it, too—he gets it from the Interpreter who gave
you this crazy notion of going alone into the Flats to investigate
personally. And John's ideas are just about as practical.”
“But the mothers and children, Jim?”
“The men can go back to work whenever they are ready,” he retorted.
“At your terms, you mean?” she asked.
“My terms are the only terms that will ever open this plant again.
The unions will never dictate my business policies, if every family in
She waited a moment before she said, slowly, “I must be sure that I
understand, Jim—do you mean that you are actually depending upon such
pitiful conditions as I have seen to-night to give you a victory over
The man made a gesture of impatience. “It is the principle of the
thing that is at stake, Helen. If I yield in this instance it will be
only the beginning of a worse trouble. If the working class wins this
time there will be no end to their demands. We might as well turn all
our properties over to them at once and be done with it. This strike in
Millsburgh is only a small part of the general industrial situation.
The entire business interests of the country are involved.”
Again she waited a little before answering. Then she said, sadly,
“How strange! It is hard for me to realize, Jim, that the entire
business interests of this great nation are actually dependent upon the
poor little Maggie Whaleys.”
“Helen!” he protested, “you make me out a heartless brute.”
“No, Jim, I know you are not that. But when you insist that what I
saw to-night—that the suffering of these poor, helpless mothers and
their children is the only thing that will enable you employers to
break this strike and save the business of the country—it—it does
seem a good deal like the Germans' war policy of frightfulness that we
all condemned so bitterly, doesn't it?”
“These things are not matters of sentiment, Helen. Jake Vodell is
not conducting his campaign by the Golden Rule.”
“I know, Jim, but I could not go to Jake Vodell as I have come to
you—could I? And I could not talk to the poor, foolish strikers who
are so terribly deceived by him. Don't you suppose, Jim, that most of
the strikers think they are right?”
The man stirred uneasily. “I can't help what they think. I can
consider only the facts as they are.”
“That is just what I want, Jim,” she cried. “Only it seems to me
that you are leaving out some of the most important facts. I can't help
believing that if our great captains of industry and kings of finance
and teachers of economics and labor leaders would consider all
the facts they could find some way to settle these differences between
employers and employees and save the industries of the country without
starving little girls and boys and their mothers.”
“If I could have my way the government would settle the difficulty
in a hurry,” he said, grimly.
“You mean the soldiers?”
“Yes, the government should put enough troops from the regular army
in here to drive these men back to their jobs.”
“But aren't these working people just as much a part of our
government as you employers? Forgive me, Jim, but your plan sounds to
me too much like the very imperialism that our soldiers fought against
“Imperialism or not!” he retorted, “the business men of this country
will never submit to the dictatorship of Jake Vodell and his kind. It
would be chaos and utter ruin. Look what they are doing in other
“Of course it would,” she agreed, “but the Interpreter says that if
the business men and employers and the better class of employees like
Peter Martin would get together as—as John and Charlie Martin
are—that Jake Vodell and his kind would be powerless.”
He did not answer, and she continued, “As I understand brother and
the Interpreter, this man Vodell does not represent the unions at
all—he merely uses some of the unions, wherever he can, through such
men as Sam Whaley. Isn't that so, Jim?”
“Whether it is so or not, the result is the same,” he answered. “If
the unions of the laboring classes permit themselves to be used as
tools by men like Jake Vodell they must take the consequences.”
He rose to his feet as one who would end an unprofitable discussion.
“Come, Helen, it is useless for you to make yourself ill over these
questions. You are worn out now. Come, you really must let me take you
“I suppose I must,” she answered, wearily.
He went to her. “It is wonderful for you to do what you have done
to-night, and for you to come to me like this. Helen—won't you give me
my answer—won't you—?”
She put out her hands with a little gesture of protest. “Please,
Jim, let's not talk about ourselves to-night. I—I can't.”
Silently he turned away to take up his hat and coat. Silently she
But when he was ready, she said, “Jim, there is just one thing
“What is it, Helen?”
“Tell me truly: you could stop this strike, couldn't you? I
mean if you would come to some agreement with your factory men, all the
others would go back to work, too, wouldn't they?”
“Yes,” he said, “I could.”
She hesitated—then falteringly, “Jim, if I—if I promise to be your
wife will you—will you stop the strike? For the sake of the mothers
and children who are cold and hungry and sick, Jim—will you—will you
stop the strike?”
For a long minute, Jim McIver could not answer. He wanted this woman
as a man of his strength wants the woman he has chosen. At the
beginning of their acquaintance his interest in Helen had been largely
stimulated by the business possibilities of a combination of his
factory and Adam Ward's Mill. But as their friendship had grown he had
come to love her sincerely, and the more material consideration of
their union had faded into the background. Men like McIver, who are
capable of playing their games of business with such intensity and
passion, are capable of great and enduring love. They are capable, too,
of great sacrifices to principle. As he considered her words and
grasped the full force of her question his face went white and his
nerves were tense with the emotional strain.
At last he said, gently, “Helen, dear, I love you. I want you for my
wife. I want you more than I ever wanted anything. Nothing in the world
is of any value to me compared with your love. But, dear girl, don't
you see that I can't take you like this? You cannot sell yourself to
me—even for such a price. I cannot buy you.” He turned away.
“Forgive me, Jim,” she cried. “I did not realize what I was saying.
I—I was thinking of little Maggie—I—I know you would not do what you
are doing if you did not think you were right. Take me home now,
* * * * *
Silently they went out to his automobile. Tenderly he helped her
into the car and tucked the robe about her. The guards swung open the
big gates, and they swept away into the night. Past the big Mill and
the Flats, through the silent business district and up the hill they
glided swiftly—steadily. And no word passed between them.
They were nearing the gate to the Ward estate when Helen suddenly
grasped her companion's arm with a low exclamation.
At the same moment McIver instinctively checked the speed of his
They had both seen the shadowy form of a man walking slowly past the
entrance to Helen's home.
To Helen, there was something strangely familiar in the dim outlines
of the moving figure. As they drove slowly on, passing the man who was
now in the deeper shadows of the trees and bushes which, at this spot
grew close to the fence, she turned her head, keeping her eyes upon
Suddenly a flash of light stabbed the darkness. A shot rang out. And
Helen saw the man she was watching fall.
With a cry, she started from her seat; and before McIver, who had
involuntarily stopped the car, could check her, she had leaped from her
place beside him and was running toward the fallen man.
With a shout “Helen!” McIver followed.
As she knelt beside the form on the ground McIver put his hand on
her shoulder. “Helen,” he said, sharply, as if to bring her to her
senses, “you must not—here, let me—”
Without moving from her position she turned her face up to him.
“Don't you understand, Jim? It is Captain Charlie.”
Two watchmen on the Ward estate, who had heard the shots, came
McIver tried to insist that Helen go with him in his roadster to the
house for help and a larger car, but she refused.
When he returned with John, the chauffeur and one of the big Ward
machines, after telephoning the police and the doctor, Helen was
kneeling over the wounded man just as he had left her.
She did not raise her head when they stood beside her and seemed
unconscious of their presence. But when John lifted her up and she
heard her brother's voice, she cried out and clung to him like a
The doctor arrived just as they were carrying Captain Charlie into
the room to which Mrs. Ward herself led them. The police came a moment
While the physician, with John's assistance, was caring for his
patient, McIver gave the officers what information he could and went
with them to the scene of the shooting.
He returned to the house after the officers had completed their
examination of the spot and the immediate vicinity just in time to meet
John, who was going out. Helen and her mother were with the doctor at
the bedside of the assassin's victim.
McIver wondered at the anguish in John Ward's face. But Captain
Charlie's comrade only asked, steadily, “Did the police find anything,
“Not a thing,” McIver answered. “What does the doctor say, John?”
John turned away as if to hide his emotion and for a moment did not
answer. Then he spoke those words so familiar to the men of Flanders'
fields, “Charlie is going West, Jim. I must bring his father and
sister. Would you mind waiting here until I return? Something might
develop, you know.”
“Certainly, I will stay, John—anything that I can do—command me,
“Thank you, Jim—I'll not be long.”
* * * * *
While he waited there alone, Jim McIver's mind went back over the
strange incidents of the evening: Helen's visit to the Whaley home and
her coming to him. Swiftly he reviewed their conversation. What was it
that had so awakened Helen's deep concern for the laboring class? He
had before noticed her unusual interest in the strike and in the
general industrial situation—but to-night—he had never dreamed that
she would go so far. Why had she continued to refuse an answer to his
pleading? What was Charlie Martin doing in that neighborhood at that
hour? How had Helen recognized him so quickly and surely in the
darkness? The man, as these and many other unanswerable questions
crowded upon him, felt a strange foreboding. Mighty forces beyond his
understanding seemed stirring about him. As one feels the gathering of
a storm in the night, he felt the mysterious movements of elements
beyond his control.
He was disturbed suddenly by the opening of an outer door behind
him. Turning quickly, he faced Adam Ward.
Before McIver could speak, the Mill owner motioned him to be silent.
Wondering, McIver obeyed and watched with amazement as the master of
that house closed the door with cautious care and stole softly toward
him. To his family Adam Ward's manner would not have appeared so
strange, but McIver had never seen the man under one of his attacks of
“I'm glad you are here, Jim,” Adam said, in a shaking whisper. “You
understand these things. John is a fool—he don't believe when I tell
him they are after us. But you know what to do. You have the right idea
about handling these unions. Kill the leaders; and if the men won't
work, turn the soldiers loose on them. You said the right thing, 'Drive
them to their jobs with bayonets.' Pete Martin's boy was one of them,
and he got what was coming to him to-night. And John and Helen brought
him right here into my house. They've got him upstairs there now. They
think I'll stand for it, but you'll see—I'll show them! What was he
hanging around my place for in the night like this? I know what he was
after. But he got what he wasn't looking for this time and Pete will
get his too, if he—”
Unnoticed, Helen had come into the room behind them. In pacing the
open door she had seen her father and had realized instantly his
condition. But the little she had heard him say was not at all unusual
to her, and she attached no special importance to his words.
Adam Ward was like a child, abashed in her presence.
She looked at McIver appealingly. “Father is excited and nervous,
Jim. He is not at all well, you know.”
McIver spoke with gentle authority, “If you will permit me, I will
go with him to his room for a little quiet talk. And then, perhaps, he
can sleep. What do you say, Mr. Ward?”
“Yes—yes,” agreed Adam, hurriedly.
Helen looked her gratitude and McIver led the Mill owner away.
When they were in Adam's own apartment and the door was shut
McIver's manner changed with startling abruptness. With all the
masterful power of his strong-willed nature he faced his trembling
host, and his heavy voice was charged with the force of his dominating
“Listen to me, Adam Ward. You must stop this crazy nonsense. If you
act and talk like this the police will have the handcuffs on you before
you know where you are.”
Adam cringed before him. “Jim—I—I—do they think that I—”
“Shut up!” growled McIver. “I don't want to hear another word. I
have heard too much now. Charlie Martin stays right here in this house
and your family will give him every attention. His father and sister
will be here, too, and you'll not open your mouth against them. Do you
“Yes—yes,” whispered the now thoroughly frightened Adam.
“Don't you dare even to speak to Mrs. Ward or John or Helen as you
have to me. And for God's sake pull yourself together and remember—you
don't know any more than the rest of us about this business—you were
in your room when you heard the shots.”
“Yes, of course, Jim—but I—I—”
“Shut up! You are not to talk, I tell you—even to me.”
Adam Ward whimpered like a child.
For another moment McIver glared at him; then, “Don't forget that I
saw this affair and that I went over the ground with the police. I'm
going back downstairs now. You go to bed where you belong and stay
He turned abruptly and left the room.
But as he went down the stairway McIver drew his handkerchief from
his pocket and wiped the perspiration from his brow.
“What in God's name,” he asked himself, “did Adam Ward's excited
fears mean? What terrible thing gave birth to his mad words? What awful
pattern was this that the unseen forces were weaving? And what part was
he, with his love for Helen, destined to fill in it all?” That his life
was being somehow woven into the design he felt certain—but how and to
what end? And again the man in all his strength felt that dread
* * * * *
When Peter Martin and his daughter arrived with John at the big
house on the hill, Mrs. Ward met them at the door.
The old workman betrayed no consciousness of the distance the years
of Adam Ward's material prosperity had placed between these two
families that in the old-house days had lived in such intimacy.
Mary hesitated. It must have been that to the girl, who saw it
between herself and the happy fulfillment of her womanhood, the
distance seemed even greater than it actually was.
But her hesitation was only for an instant. One full look into the
gentle face that was so marked by the years of uncomplaining
disappointment and patient unhappiness and Mary knew that in the heart
of John Ward's mother the separation had brought no change. In the arms
of her own mother's dearest friend the young woman found, even as a
child, the love she needed to sustain her in that hour.
When they entered the room where Captain Charlie lay unconscious,
Helen rose from her watch beside the bed and held out her hands to her
girlhood playmate. And in her gesture there was a full surrender—a
plea for pardon. Humbly she offered—lovingly she invited—while she
held her place beside the man who was slowly passing into that shadow
where all class forms are lost, as if she claimed the right before a
court higher than the petty courts of human customs. No word was
spoken—no word was needed. The daughter of Peter Martin and the
daughter of Adam Ward knew that the bond of their sisterhood was
In that wretched home in the Flats, little Maggie Whaley smiled in
her sleep as she dreamed of her princess lady.
The armed guards at their stations around McIver's dark and silent
factory kept their watch.
The Mill, under the cloud of smoke, sang the deep-voiced song of its
industry as the night shift carried on.
In the room back of the pool hall, Jake Vodell whispered with two of
In the window of the Interpreter's hut on the cliff a lamp gleamed
starlike above the darkness below.
CHAPTER XXVI. AT THE CALL OF THE
Everywhere in Millsburgh the shooting of Captain Charlie was the one
topic of conversation. As the patrons of the cigar stand came and went
they talked with the philosopher of nothing else. The dry-goods
pessimist delivered his dark predictions to a group of his fellow
citizens and listened with grave shakes of his head to the counter
opinions of the real-estate agent. The grocer questioned the garage man
and the lawyer discussed the known details of the tragedy with the
postmaster, the hotel keeper and the politician. The barber asked the
banker for his views and reviewed the financier's opinion to the judge
while a farmer and a preacher listened. The milliner told her customers
about it and the stenographer discussed it with the bookkeeper. In the
homes, on the streets, and, later in the day, throughout the country,
the shock of the crime was felt.
Meanwhile, the efforts of the police to find the assassin were
fruitless. The most careful search revealed nothing in the nature of a
Millsburgh had been very proud of Captain Martin and the honors he
had won in France, as Millsburgh was proud of Adam Ward and his
success—only with a different pride. The people had known Charlie from
his birth, as they had known his father and mother all their years.
There had been nothing in the young workman's life—as every one
remarked—to lead to such an end.
It is doubtful if in the entire community there was a single soul
that did not secretly or openly think of the tragedy as being in some
dark way an outcome of the strike. And, gradually, as the day passed,
the conjectures, opinions and views crystallized into two opposing
theories—each with its natural advocates.
One division of the people held that the deed was committed by some
one of Jake Vodell's followers, because of the workman's known
opposition to a sympathetic strike of the Mill workers' union. Captain
Charlie's leadership of the Mill men was recognized by all, and it was
conceded generally that it was his active influence, guided by the
Interpreter's counsel, that was keeping John Ward's employees at work.
Without the assistance of the Mill men the strike leader could not hope
for victory. With Captain Charlie's personal influence no longer a
factor, it was thought that the agitator might win the majority of the
Mill workers and so force the union into line with the strikers.
This opinion was held by many of the business men and by the more
thoughtful members of the unions, who had watched with grave
apprehension the increasing bitterness of the agitator's hatred of
Captain Charlie, because of the workman's successful opposition to his
The opposing theory, which was skillfully advanced by Jake Vodell
himself and fostered by his followers, was that the mysterious assassin
was an agent of McIver's and that the deed was committed for the very
purpose of charging the strikers with the crime and thus turning public
sympathy against them.
This view, so plausible to the minds of the strikers, prepared, as
they were, by hardship and suffering, found many champions among the
Mill men themselves. Not a few of those who had stood with Charlie in
his opposition to the agitator and against their union joining the
strike now spoke openly with bitter feeling against the employer class.
The weeks of agitation—the constant pounding of Vodell's
arguments—the steady fire of his oratory and the continual appeal to
their class loyalty made it easy for them to stand with their fellow
workmen, now that the issue was being so clearly forced.
So the lines of the industrial battle were drawn closer—the
opposing forces were massed in more definite formation—the feeling was
more intense and bitter. In the gloom and hush of the impending
desperate struggle that was forced upon it by the emissary of an alien
organization, this little American city waited the coming of the dark
messenger to Captain Charlie. It was felt by all alike that the
workman's death would precipitate the crisis.
And through it all the question most often asked was this, “Why was
the workman, Charlie Martin, at the gate to Adam Ward's estate at that
hour of the night?”
To this question no one ventured even the suggestion of a
All that long day Helen kept her watch beside the wounded man.
Others were there in the room with her, but she seemed unconscious of
their presence. She made no attempt, now, to hide her love. There was
no pretense—no evasion. Openly, before them all, she silently
acknowledged him—her man—and to his claim upon her surrendered
herself without reserve.
James McIver called but she would not see him.
When they urged her to retire and rest, she answered always with the
same words: “I must be here when he awakens—I must.”
And they, loving her, understood.
It was as if the assassin's hand had torn aside the curtain of
material circumstances and revealed suddenly the realities of their
inner lives. They realized now that this man, who had in their
old-house days won the first woman love of his girl playmate, had held
that love against all the outward changes that had taken her from him.
John and his mother knew, now, why Helen had never said “Yes” to Jim
McIver. Peter Martin and Mary knew why, in Captain Charlie's heart,
there had seemed to be no place for any woman save his sister.
At intervals the man on the bed moved uneasily, muttering low words
and disconnected fragments of speech. Army words—some of them were—as
if his spirit lived for the moment again in the fields of France. At
other times the half-formed phrases were of his work—the strike—his
home. Again he spoke his sister's name or murmured, “Father,” or
“John.” But not once did Helen catch the word she longed to hear him
speak. It was as if, even in his unconscious mental wanderings, the man
still guarded the name that in secret he had held most dear.
Three times during the day he opened his eyes and looked
about—wonderingly at first—then as though he understood. As one
contented and at peace, he smiled and drifted again into the shadows.
But now at times his hand went out toward her with a little movement,
as though he were feeling for her in the dark.
About midnight he seemed to be sleeping so naturally that they
persuaded Helen to rest. At daybreak she was again at her post.
Mrs. Ward and Mary had gone, in their turn, for an hour or two of
sorely needed rest. Peter Martin was within call downstairs. John, who
was watching with his sister, had left the room for the moment and
Helen was at the bedside alone.
Suddenly through the quiet morning air came the deep-toned call of
the Mill whistle.
As a soldier awakens at the sound of the morning bugle, Captain
Charlie opened his eyes.
Instantly she was bending over him. As he looked up into her face
she called his name softly. She saw the light of recognition come into
his eyes. She saw the glory of his love.
“Helen,” he said—and again, “Helen.”
It was as if the death that claimed him had come also for her.
For the first time in many months the voice of the Mill was not
heard by the Interpreter in his little hut on the cliff. Above the
silent buildings the smoke cloud hung like a pall. From his wheel chair
the old basket maker watched the long procession moving slowly down the
There were no uniforms in that procession—no military band with
muffled drums led that solemn march—no regimental colors in honor of
the dead. There were no trappings of war—no martial ceremony. And yet,
to the Interpreter, Captain Charlie died in the service of his country
as truly as if he had been killed on the field of battle.
Long after the funeral procession had passed beyond his sight, the
Interpreter sat there at the window, motionless, absorbed in thought.
Twice silent Billy came to stand beside his chair, but he did not heed.
His head was bowed. His great shoulders stooped. His hands were idle.
There was a sound of some one knocking at the door.
The Interpreter did not hear.
The sound was repeated, and this time he raised his head
Again it came and the old basket maker called, “Come in.”
The door opened. Jim McIver entered.
CHAPTER XXVII. JAKE VODELL'S MISTAKE
Since that night of the tragedy McIver had struggled to grasp the
hidden meaning of the strange series of incidents. But the more he
tried to understand, the more he was confused and troubled. Nor had he
been able, strong-willed as he was, to shake off the feeling that he
was in the midst of unseen forces—that about him mysterious influences
were moving steadily to some fixed and certain end.
In constant touch, through his agents, with the strike situation, he
had watched the swiftly forming sentiment of the public. He knew that
the turning point of the industrial war was near. He did not deceive
himself. He knew Jake Vodell's power. He knew the temper of the
strikers. He saw clearly that if the assassin who killed Captain
Charlie was not speedily discovered the community would suffer under a
reign of terror such as the people had never conceived. And, what was
of more vital importance to McIver, perhaps, if the truth was not soon
revealed, Jake Vodell's charges that the murder was inspired by McIver
himself would become, in the minds of many, an established fact. With
the full realization of all that would result to the community and to
himself if the identity of the murderer was not soon established,
McIver was certain in his own mind that he alone knew the guilty man.
To reveal what he believed to be the truth of the tragedy would be
to save the community and himself—and to lose, for all time, the woman
he loved. McIver did not know that through the tragedy Helen was
already lost to him.
In his extremity the factory owner had come at last to the man who
was said to wield such a powerful influence over the minds of the
people. He had never before seen the interior of that hut on the cliff
nor met the man who for so many years had been confined there. Standing
just outside the door, he looked curiously about the room with the
unconscious insolence of his strength.
The man in the wheel chair did not speak. When Billy looked at him
he signaled his wishes in their silent language, and, watching his
For a long moment McIver gazed at the old basket maker as if
estimating his peculiar strength, then he said with an unintentional
touch of contempt in his heavy voice, “So you are the
“And you,” returned the man in the wheel chair, gently, “are
McIver was startled. “How did you know my name?”
“Is McIver's name a secret also?” came the strange reply.
McIver's eyes flashed with a light that those who sat opposite him
in the game of business had often seen. With perfect self-control he
said, coolly, “I have been told often that I should come to see you
but—” he paused and again looked curiously about the room.
The Interpreter, smiling, caught up the unfinished sentence. “But
you do not see how an old, poverty-stricken and crippled maker of
baskets can be of any use to you.”
McIver spoke as one measuring his words. “They tell me you help
people who are in trouble.”
“Are you then in trouble?” asked the Interpreter, kindly.
The other did not answer, and the man in the wheel chair continued,
still kindly, “What trouble can the great and powerful McIver have? You
have never been hungry—you have never felt the cold—you have no
children to starve—no son to be killed.”
“I suppose you hold me personally responsible for the strike and for
all the hardships that the strikers have brought upon themselves and
their families?” said McIver. “You fellows who teach this
brotherhood-of-man rot and never have more than one meal ahead
yourselves always blame men like me for all the suffering in the
The Interpreter replied with a dignity that impressed even McIver.
“Who am I that I should assume to blame any one? Who are you, sir, that
assume the power implied by either your acceptance or your denial of
the responsibility? You are only a part of the whole, as I am a part.
You, in your life place, are no less a creature of circumstances—an
accident—than I, here in my wheel chair—than Jake Vodell. We are
all—you and I, Jake Vodell, Adam Ward, Peter Martin, Sam Whaley—we
are all but parts of the great oneness of life. The want, the misery,
the suffering, the unhappiness of humanity is of that unity no less
than is the prosperity, peace and happiness of the people. Before we
can hope to bring order out of this industrial chaos we must recognize
our mutual dependence upon the whole and acknowledge the equality of
our guilt in the wretched conditions that now exist.”
As the Interpreter spoke, James McIver again felt the movement of
those unseen forces that were about him. His presence in that little
hut on the cliff seemed, now, a part of some plan that was not of his
making. He was awed by the sudden conviction that he had not come to
the Interpreter of his own volition, but had been led there by
something beyond his understanding.
“Why should your fellow workmen not hate you, sir?” continued the
old basket maker. “You hold yourself apart, superior, of a class
distinct and separate. Your creed of class is intolerance. Your very
business policy is a declaration of class war. Your boast that you can
live without the working people is madness. You can no more live
without them than they can live without you. You can no more deny the
mutual dependence of employer and employee with safety to yourself than
Samson of old could pull down the pillars of the temple without being
himself buried in the ruins.”
By an effort of will McIver strove to throw off the feeling that
possessed him. He spoke as one determined to assert himself. “We cannot
recognize the rights of Jake Vodell and his lawless followers to
dictate to us in our business. It would mean ruin, not only of our
industries, but of our government.”
“Exactly so,” agreed the Interpreter. “And yet, sir, you claim for
yourself the right to live by the same spirit of imperialism that
animates Vodell. You make the identical class distinction that he
makes. You appeal to the same class intolerance and hatred. You and
Jake Vodell have together brought about this industrial war in
Millsburgh. The community itself—labor unions and business men
alike—is responsible for tolerating the imperialism that you and this
alien agitator, in opposition to each other, advocate. The community is
paying the price.”
The factory owner flushed. “Of course you would say these things to
“I do,” returned the Interpreter, gently.
“Oh, you are in touch with him then?”
“He comes here sometimes. He is coming this afternoon—at four
o'clock. Will you not stay and meet him, Mr. McIver?” McIver hesitated.
He decided to ignore the invitation. With more respect in his manner
than he had so far shown, he said, courteously, “May I ask why Jake
Vodell comes to you?”
The Interpreter replied, sadly, as one who accepts the fact of his
failure, “For the same reason that McIver came.”
McIver started with surprise. “You know why I came to you?”
The man in the wheel chair looked steadily into his visitor's eyes.
“I know that you are not personally responsible for the death of the
workman, Captain Martin.”
McIver sprang to his feet. He fairly gasped as the flood of
questions raised by the Interpreter's words swept over him.
“You—you know who killed Charlie Martin?” he demanded at last.
The old basket maker did not answer.
“If you know,” cried McIver, “why in God's name do you not tell the
people? Surely, sir, you are not ignorant of the danger that threatens
this community. The death of this union man has given Vodell just the
opportunity he needed and he is using it. If you dare to shield the
guilty man—whoever he is—you will—”
“Peace, McIver! This community will not be plunged into the horrors
of a class war such as you rightly fear. There are yet enough sane and
loyal American citizens in Millsburgh to extinguish the fire that you
and Jake Vodell have started.”
* * * * *
When Jake Vodell came to the Interpreter's hut shortly after McIver
had left, he was clearly in a state of nervous excitement.
“Well,” he said, shortly, “I am here—what do you want—why did you
send for me?”
The Interpreter spoke deliberately with his eyes fixed upon the dark
face of the agitator. “Vodell, I have told you twice that your campaign
in Millsburgh was a failure. Your coming to this community was a
mistake. Your refusal to recognize the power of the thing that made
your defeat certain was a mistake. You have now made your third and
“A mistake! Hah—that is what you think. You do not know. I tell you
that I have turned a trick that will win for me the game. Already the
people are rallying to me. I have put McIver at last in a hole from
which he will not escape. The Mill workers are ready now to do
anything I say. You will see—to-morrow I will have these employers and
all their capitalist class eating out of my hand. To me they shall beg
for mercy. I—I will dictate the terms to them and they will pay. You
may take my word—they will pay.”
The man paced to and fro with the triumphant air of a conqueror, and
his voice rang with his exultation.
“No, Jake Vodell,” said the Interpreter, calmly. “You are deceiving
yourself. Your dreams are as vain as your mistake is fatal.”
The man faced the old basket maker suddenly, as if arrested by a
possible meaning in the Interpreter's words that had not at first
caught his attention.
“And what is this mistake that I have made?” he growled.
The answer came with solemn portent. “You have killed the wrong
The agitator was stunned. His mouth opened as if he would speak, but
no word came from his trembling lips. He drew back as if to escape.
The old man in the wheel chair continued, sadly, “I am the
one you should have killed—I am the cause of your failure to gain the
support of the Mill workers' union.”
The strike leader recovered himself with a shrug of his heavy
“So that is it,” he sneered; “you would accuse me of shooting your
Captain Charlie, heh?”
“You have accused yourself, sir.”
“By the use you are making of Captain Charlie's death. If you did
not know who committed the crime—if you did not feel sure that the
identity of the assassin would remain a mystery to the people—you
would not dare risk charging the employers with it.”
With an oath the other returned, “I tell you that McIver or his
hired gunmen did it so they could lay the blame on the strikers and so
turn the Mill workers' union against us. That is what the Mill men
“That is what you want them to believe. It is an old trick, Vodell.
You have used it before.”
The agitator's eyes narrowed under his scowling brows. “Look here,”
he growled, “I do not like this talk of yours. Perhaps you had better
prove what you charge, heh?”
“Please God, I will prove it,” came the calm answer.
Jake Vodell, as he looked down upon the seemingly helpless old man
in the wheel chair, was thinking, “It would be safer if this old basket
maker were not permitted to speak these things to others—his
influence, after all, is a thing to consider.”
“No, Jake Vodell,” said the Interpreter gently, “you won't do it.
Billy Rand is watching us. If you make a move to do what you are
thinking, Billy will kill you.”
The Interpreter raised his hand and his silent companion came
quickly to stand beside his chair.
With a shrug of his shoulders Vodell drew back a few steps toward
“Bah! Why should I waste my time with a crippled old basket maker—I
have work to do. If you watch from the window of your shanty you will
see to-morrow whether or not the Mill workers are with me. I will make
for you a demonstration that will be known through the country. I told
you at the first that the working people would find out who is their
friend. Now you shall see what they will do to the enemies of their
class. Who can say, Mr. Interpreter, perhaps your miserable hut so high
up here would make a good torch to signal the beginning of the show,
When the door had closed behind Jake Vodell, the Interpreter said,
aloud, “So he has set to-morrow night for his demonstration. We must
work fast, Billy—there is no time to lose.”
With his hands he asked his companion for paper and pencil. When
Billy brought them he wrote a few words and folding the message gave it
to the big man who stood waiting.
For a few minutes they talked together in their silent way. Then
Billy Rand put the Interpreter's message carefully in his pocket and
hurriedly left the hut.
* * * * *
That evening Jake Vodell addressed the largest crowd that had yet
assembled at his street meetings. With characteristic eloquence the
agitator pictured Captain Charlie as a martyr to the unprincipled
schemes of the employer class.
“McIver and his crew are charging the strikers with this crime in
order to set our union brothers against us,” he shouted. “They think
that by setting up a division among us they can win. They know that if
the working people stand together, true to their class, loyal to their
comrades, they will rule the world. Why don't the police produce the
murderer of Captain Charlie? I will tell you the answer, my brother
workmen: it is because the law and the officers of the law are under
the control of those who do not want the murderer produced—that is
why. They dare not produce him. The life of a poor working man—what is
that to these masters of crime who acknowledge no law but the laws they
make for themselves. You workers have no laws. A slave knows no justice
but the whim of his master. Think of the mothers and children in your
homes—you slaves who create the wealth of your lords and masters. And
now they have taken the life of one of your truest and most loyal union
leaders. Where will they stop? If you do not stand like men against
these cruel outrages what have you to hope for? You know as well as I
that no workman in Millsburgh would raise his hand against such a
fellow worker as Captain Charlie Martin.”
While the agitator was speaking, Billy Rand moved quickly here and
there through the crowd, as if searching for some one.
After the mass meeting on the street there was a meeting of the Mill
Later, Vodell's inner circle met in the room back of Dago Bill's
It was midnight when Billy Rand finally returned to the waiting
Evidently he had failed in the mission entrusted to him by the old
The next morning, Billy Rand again went forth with the Interpreter's
CHAPTER XXVIII. THE MOB AND THE MILL
On the morning following the day of the funeral scarcely half of the
usual force of workmen appeared at the Mill. The men who did choose to
work were forced to pass a picket line of strikers who with jeers and
threats and arguments sought to turn them from their purpose.
The death of Captain Charlie, by defining more clearly the two lines
of public sentiment, had increased Jake Vodell's strength materially,
but the Mill workers' union had not yet officially declared for the
sympathetic strike that would deliver the community wholly into the
hands of the agitator. The Mill men, who were still opposed to Jake
Vodell's leadership and coolly refused to hold the employers guilty of
the death of Captain Charlie upon the mere unsupported assertions of
the strike leader, were therefore free to continue their work. This
action of the members of the Mill workers' union who were loyal to
John, however, quite naturally increased the feeling of their comrades
who had accepted Vodell's version of the murder. Thus, the final crisis
of the industrial battle centered about the Mill.
Every hour that John Ward could keep the Mill running lessened
Vodell's chances of final victory. The strike leader knew that if these
days immediately following Captain Charlie's death passed without
closing the Mill, his cause was lost. The workmen were now aroused to
the highest pitch of excitement. The agitator realized that if they
were not committed by some action to his cause before the fever of
their madness began to abate, his followers would, day by day, in ever
increasing numbers go back to work under John. The successful operation
of the Mill was a demonstration to the public that Vodell's campaign
against the employers was not endorsed by the better and stronger
element of employees. To the mind of the strike leader a counter
demonstration was imperative. To that immediate end the man now bent
All day the members of the agitator's inner circle were active. When
evening came, a small company of men gathered in a vacant store
building not far from the Mill. There was little talk among them. When
one did speak it was to utter a mere commonplace or perhaps to greet
some newcomer. They were as men who meet at a given place by agreement
to carry out some definite and carefully laid plan. Moment by moment
the company grew in numbers until the gathering assumed such
proportions that it overflowed the building and filled the street. And
now, scattered through the steadily growing crowd, the members of that
inner circle were busy with exhortations and arguments preparing the
workmen for what was to follow.
Presently from the direction of the strike headquarters came another
company with Jake Vodell himself in their midst. These had assembled at
the strike headquarters. Without pausing they swept on down the street
toward the Mill, taking with them the crowd that was waiting at the old
store. Scarcely had they reached the front of the large main building
when they were joined by still another crowd that had been gathering in
the neighborhood of McIver's factory. Thus, with startling suddenness,
a great company of workmen was assembled at the Mill.
But a large part of that company had yet to be molded to Vodell's
purpose. Many had gone to the designated places in response to the
simple announcement that a labor meeting would be held there. Only
those of the agitator's trusted inner circle had known of the plan to
unite these smaller gatherings in one great mass meeting. Only these
chosen few knew the real purpose of that meeting. There were hundreds
of workmen in that throng who were opposed to Vodell and his methods,
but they were unorganized, with no knowledge of the strike leader's
plans. And so it had been easy for the members of that inner circle to
lead these separate smaller gatherings to the larger assembly in front
of the Mill.
To accomplish the full purpose of his demonstration against the
employer class, the strike leader must make it appear to the public as
the united action of the working people of Millsburgh. The requirements
of his profession made Jake Vodell a master of mob psychology. With the
leaven of his chosen inner circle and the temper of the many strikers
whose nerves were already strained to the breaking point by their weeks
of privation, the agitator was confident that he could bend the
assembled multitude to his will. Those who were opposed to his
leadership and to his methods—disorganized and taken by surprise as
they were—would be helpless. At the same time their presence in the
mob would appear to give their sanction and support to whatever was
Quickly word of the gathering spread throughout the community. From
every direction—from the Flats, from the neighborhood of the Martin
home—and from the more distant parts of the city—men were moving
toward the Mill. With every moment the crowd increased in size.
Everywhere among the mass of men Vodell's helpers were busy.
A block away an automobile stopped at the curb in front of a
deserted house. A man left the car, and, keeping well out of the light
from the street lamps, walked swiftly to the outskirts of the mob. With
his face hidden by the turned-up collar of his overcoat and the brim of
his hat pulled low, he moved here and there in the thin edge of the
The agitator, standing on a goods box on the street opposite the big
doors of the main Mill building, began his address. As one man, the
hundreds of assembled workmen turned toward the leader of the strike. A
hush fell over them. But there was one in that great crowd to whom the
words of Jake Vodell meant nothing. Silent Billy Rand, pushing his way
through the press of men, searched face after face with simple,
A squad of police arrived. Vodell, calling attention to them,
facetiously invited the guardians of the law to a seat of honor on the
rostrum. The crowd laughed.
At that moment Billy Rand caught sight of the face he was seeking.
When the Interpreter's messenger grasped his arm, the man, who was
standing well back in the edge of the crowd, started with fear. Billy
thrust the note into his hand. As he read the message he shook so that
the paper rattled in his fingers. Helplessly he looked about. He seemed
paralyzed with horror. Again Billy Rand grasped his arm and this time
drew him aside, out of the crowd.
Helpless and shaken, the man made no effort to resist, as the
Interpreter's deaf and dumb companion hurried him away down the street.
At the foot of the zigzag stairway Billy's charge sank down on the
lower step, as if he had no strength to go on. Without a moment's pause
Billy lifted him to his feet and almost carried him up the stairs and
into the hut to place him, cowering and whimpering, before the man in
the wheel chair.
* * * * *
John and Helen had gone to the Martin cottage that evening to spend
an hour with the old workman and his daughter. They had just arrived
when the telephone rang.
It was the watchman at the Mill. He had called John at the Ward
home, and Mrs. Ward had directed him to call the cottage.
In a few words John told the others of the crowd at the Mill. He
must go at once.
“But not alone, boy,” said Peter Martin. “This is no more your job
than 'tis mine.”
As they were leaving, John said hurriedly to Helen, “Telephone Tom
to come for you at once and take Mary home with you. Mother may need
you, and Mary must not be left here alone. I'll bring Uncle Pete home
A moment later the old workman and the general manager, in John's
roadster, were on their way to the Mill.
When Tom arrived at the cottage with Helen's car the two young women
were ready. They were entering the automobile when Billy Rand appeared.
It was evident from his labored breathing that he had been running, but
his face betrayed no excitement. With a pleased smile, as one who would
say, “Luckily I got here just in time,” he handed a folded paper to
By the light of the automobile lamp she read the Interpreter's
message aloud to Helen.”
“Telephone John to come to me at once with a big car. If you can't
get John tell Helen.”
For an instant they looked at each other questioningly. Then Helen
spoke to the chauffeur. “To the Interpreter's, Tom.” She indicated to
Billy Rand that he was to go with them.
* * * * *
It was not Jake Vodell's purpose to call openly in his address to
the assembled workmen for an attack on the Mill. Such a demonstration
against the employer class was indeed the purpose of the gathering, but
it must come as the spontaneous outburst from the men themselves. His
speech was planned merely to lay the kindling for the fire. The actual
lighting of the blaze would follow later. The conflagration, too, would
be started simultaneously from so many different points in the crowd
that no one individual could be singled out as having incited the riot.
The agitator was still speaking when John and Peter Martin arrived
on the scene. Quietly and carefully John drove through the outskirts of
the crowd to a point close to the wall and not far from the main door
of the building, nearly opposite the speaker. Stopping the motor the
two men sat in the car listening to Vodell's address.
The agitator did not call attention to the presence of the manager
of the Mill as he had to the police, nor was there any noticeable break
in his speech. But throughout the great throng there was a movement—a
ripple of excitement—as the men looked toward John and the old
workman, and turned each to his neighbor with low-spoken comments. And
then, from every part of the crowd, the agitator saw individuals moving
quietly toward the manager's car until between the two men in the
automobile and the main body of the speaker's audience a small compact
group of workmen stood shoulder to shoulder. They were the men of the
Mill workers' union who had refused to follow Jake Vodell. And every
man, as he took his place, greeted John and the old workman with a low
word, or a nod and a smile. The agitator concluded his address, and
amid the shouts and applause left his place on the goods box to move
about among his followers.
Presently, a low murmur arose like a growling undertone. Now and
then a voice was raised sharply in characteristic threat or epithet
against the employer class. The murmur swelled into a heavy menacing
roar. The crowd, shaken by some invisible inner force, swayed to and
fro. A shrill yell rang out and at the signal scores of hoarse voices
were raised in shouts of mad defiance—threats and calls for action. As
the whirling waters of a maelstrom are drawn to the central point, the
mob was massed before the doors of the Mill.
The little squad of police was struggling forward. John Ward sprang
to his feet. The loyal union men about the car stood fast.
At the sound of the manager's voice the mob hesitated. In all that
maddened crowd there was not a soul in ignorance of John Ward's
comradeship with his fellow workmen. In spite of Jake Vodell's careful
teaching—in spite of his devilish skill in using McIver as an example
in his appeals and arguments inciting their hatred against all
employers as a class, they were checked in their madness by the
presence of Captain Charlie's friend.
But it was only for the moment. The members of Vodell's inner circle
were at work among them. John had spoken but a few sentences when he
was interrupted by voices from the crowd.
“Tell us where your old man got this Mill that he says is his?”
“Where did Adam get his castle on the hill?”
“We and our families live in shanties.”
“Who paid for your automobile, John?”
“We and our children walk.”
As the manager, ignoring the voices, continued his appeal, the
interruptions came with more frequency, accompanied now by groans,
shouts, hisses and derisive laughter.
“You're all right, John, but you're in with the wrong bunch.”
“We're going to run things for a while now and give you a chance to
do some real work.”
The police pleaded with them. The mob jeered, “Go get a job with
McIver's gunmen. Go find the man who murdered Captain Charlie.”
Once more the growling undertones swelled into a roar. “Come
on—come on—we've had enough talk—let's do something.”
As the crowd surged again toward the Mill doors, there was a forward
movement of the close-packed group of workmen about the ear. John,
leaning over them, said, sharply, “No—no—not that—men, not that!”
Then suddenly the movement of the mob toward the Mill was again
checked as Peter Martin raised his voice. “If you won't listen to Mr.
Ward,” said the old man, when he had caught their attention, “perhaps
you'll not mind hearin' me.”
In the stillness of the uncertain moment, a voice answered, “Go
ahead, Uncle Pete!”
Standing on the seat of the automobile, the kindly old workman
looked down into the grim faces of his comrades. And, as they saw him
there and thought of Captain Charlie, a deep breath of feeling swept
over the throng.
In his slow, thoughtful way the veteran of the Mill spoke. “There'll
be no one among you, I'm thinkin', that'll dare say as how I don't
belong to the workin' class. An' there'll be no man that'll deny my
right to be heard in any meeting of Millsburgh working men. I helped
the Interpreter to organize the first union that was ever started in
this city—and so far we've managed to carry on our union work without
any help from outsiders who have no real right to call themselves
American citizens even—much less to dictate to us American workmen.”
There was a stir among Vodell's followers. A voice rose but was
silenced by the muttered protest which it caused. Jake Vodell, quick to
grasp the feeling of the crowd, was making his way toward his goods box
rostrum. Here and there he paused a moment to whisper to one of his
The old workman continued, “You all know the principles that my boy
Charlie stood for. You know that he was just as much against employers
like McIver as he was against men like this agitator who is leading you
into this trouble here to-night. Jake Vodell has made you believe that
my boy was killed by the employer class. But I tell you men that
Charlie had no better friend in the world than his employer, John Ward.
And I tell you that John and Charlie were working together here for the
best interests of us all—just as they were together in France. You
know what my boy would say if he was here to-night. He would say just
what I am saying. He would tell you that we workmen have got to stand
by the employers who stand by us. He would tell you that we American
union workmen must protect ourselves and our country against this
anarchy and lawlessness that has got you men here to-night so all
excited and beside yourselves that you don't know what you're doing. In
Captain Charlie's name I ask you men to break up this mob and go
quietly to your homes where you can think this thing over. We—”
From his position across the street Jake Vodell suddenly interrupted
the old workman with a rapid fire of questions and insinuations and
appeals to the mob.
Peter Martin, poorly equipped for a duel of words with such a master
of the art, was silenced.
Slowly the mob swung again to the agitator. Under the spell of his
influence they were responding once more to his call, when a big
automobile rolled swiftly up to the edge of the crowd and stopped.
John Ward was the first to recognize his sister's car. With a word
to the men near him he sprang to the ground and ran forward. The loyal
workmen went with him.
In the surprise of the moment, not knowing what was about to happen,
Jake Vodell stood silent. In breathless suspense every eye in the crowd
was fixed upon that little group about Helen's car.
Another moment and the assembled workmen witnessed a sight that they
will never forget. Down the lane that opened as if by magic through the
mass of men came the loyal members of the Mill workers' union. High on
their shoulders they carried the Interpreter.
In a silence, deep as the stillness of death, they bore him through
those close-packed walls of humanity, straight to the big doors of the
Mill. With their backs against the building they held him high—face to
face with Jake Vodell and the mob that the agitator was swaying to his
The old basket maker's head was bare and against the dark background
of the dingy walls his venerable face with its crown of silvery hair
was as the face of a prophet.
They did not cheer. In silent awe they stood with tense, upturned
A voice, low but clear and distinct, cut the stillness.
As one man, they uncovered their heads.
The Interpreter's deep voice—kindly but charged with strange
authority—swept over them.
“Workmen—what are you doing here? Are you toys that you give
yourselves as playthings into the hands of this man who chooses to use
you in his game? Are you children to be led by his idle words and moved
by his foolish dreams? Are you men or are you cattle to be stampeded by
him, without reason, to your own destruction? Would you, at this
stranger's bidding, dig a pit for your fancied enemies and fall into it
Not a man in that great crowd of workmen moved. In breathless
silence they stood awed by the majesty of the old basket maker's
presence—hushed by the sorrowful authority of his voice.
Solemnly the Interpreter continued, “The one who took the life of
your comrade workman, Captain Charlie, was not a tool in the hands of
your employers as you have been led to believe. Neither was that
dreadful act inspired by the workmen of Millsburgh. Captain Charlie was
killed by a poor, foolish weakling who was under the same spell that
to-night has so nearly led you into this blind folly of destroying that
which should be your glory and your pride. Sam Whaley has confessed to
me. He has surrendered himself to the proper authorities. But the
instigator of the crime—the one who planned, ordered and directed
it—the leader who dominated and drove his poor tool to the deed is
this man Jake Vodell.”
The sound of the Interpreter's voice ceased. For a moment longer
that dead silence held—then as the full import of the old basket
maker's words went home to them, the crowd with a roar of fury turned
toward the spot where the agitator had stood when the arrival of the
Interpreter interrupted his address.
But Jake Vodell had disappeared.
CHAPTER XXIX. CONTRACTS
They had carried the Interpreter back to his wheel chair in the hut
on the cliff.
John, Peter Martin and the two young women were bidding the old
basket maker goodnight when suddenly they were silenced by the dull,
heavy sound of a distant explosion.
A moment they stood gazing at one another, then John voiced the
thoughts that had gripped the minds of every one in that little group:
Springing to the door that opened on to the balcony porch, John
threw it open and they went out, taking the Interpreter in his chair.
In breathless silence they strained their eyes toward the dark mass of
the Mill with its forest of stacks and its many lights.
“Everything seems to be all right there,” murmured John.
But as the last word left his lips a chorus of exclamations came
from the others. Farther up the river a dull red glow flushed the sky.
The Interpreter said, quietly, “Jake Vodell.”
With every second the red glow grew brighter—reaching higher and
higher—spreading wider and wider over the midnight sky. Then they
could see the flames—threadlike streaks and flashes in the dark cloud
of smoke at first but increasing in volume, climbing and climbing in
writhing, twisting columns of red fury. The wild, long-drawn shriek of
the fire whistles, the clanging roar of the engines, the frantic rush
of speeding automobiles awoke the echoes of the cliffs and aroused the
sleeping creatures on the hillsides. The volume of the leaping,
whirling mass of flames increased until the red glare shut out the
The officers of the law who were hunting Jake Vodell heard that
explosion and telephoned their stations for orders. The business men of
the little city, awakened from their sleep, looked from their windows,
muttered drowsy conjectures and returned to their beds. Mothers and
children in their homes heard and turned uneasily in their dreams. The
dwellers in the Flats heard and wondered fearfully.
Before morning dawned the telegraph wires would carry the word
throughout the land. In every corner of our country the people would
read, as they have all too often read of similar explosions. They would
read, offer idle comments, perhaps, and straightway forget. That is the
wonder and the shame of it—that with these frequent warnings ringing
in our ears we are not warned. With these things continually forced
upon our attention we do not heed. With the demonstration before our
eyes we are not convinced. We are not aroused to the meaning of it all.
In his cell in the county jail, Sam Whaley heard that explosion and
knew what it was.
The Interpreter was right when he said, “Jake Vodell.”
It was an hour, perhaps, after the Interpreter's friends had left
the hut when the old basket maker, who was still sitting at the window
watching the burning factory, heard an automobile approaching at a
frightful pace from the direction of the fire. The noise of the
speeding machine ceased with startling suddenness at the foot of the
stairway, and the Interpreter heard some one running up the steps with
headlong haste. Without pausing to knock, Adam Ward burst into the room
and stood panting and shaking with mad excitement before the man in the
The Mill owner's condition was pitiful. By his eyes that were
glittering with wild, unnatural light, by the gray, twitching features,
the grotesque gestures, the trembling, jerking limbs, the Interpreter
knew that the last flickering gleam of reason had gone out. The hour
toward which the man himself had looked with such dread had come. Adam
Ward was insane.
With a leering grin of triumph the madman went closer to the old
basket maker. “I got away again. They were right after me but they
couldn't catch me. That roadster of mine is the fastest car in the
county—cost me four thousand dollars. I knew if I could get here I
would be safe. They wouldn't think of looking for me here in your
shanty, would they? They can't get in anyway if they should come. You
wouldn't—you wouldn't let them get me, would you?”
“Peace, Adam Ward! You are safe here.”
The insane man chuckled. “The folks at the house think I am in my
room asleep. They don't know that I never sleep. I'll tell you
something. If a man sleeps he goes to hell—hell—hell—” His voice
rose almost to a scream and he shook with terror.
“Did you see it? Did you see when hell broke out to-night over there
where McIver's factory used to be? I did—I was there and I heard them
roaring in the fibres of torment and screaming in the flames. They
called for me but I laughed and came here. They'll never get Adam Ward
into hell. They don't know it yet, but I've got a contract with God. I
fixed it up myself just like you told me to and God signed it without
reading it just as Peter Martin did. I'll show them! It'll take more
than God to get the best of Adam Ward in a deal.”
He walked about the room, waving his arms and laughing in hideous
triumph, muttering mad boasts and mumbling to himself or taunting the
phantom creatures of his disordered brain.
The helpless Interpreter could only wait silently for whatever was
At last the madman turned again to the old basket maker. Placing a
chair close in front of the Interpreter, he seated himself and in a
confidential whisper said, “Did you know that everybody thinks I am
going insane? Well, I am not. Nobody knows it, but it's not me that's
crazy—it's John. He's been that way ever since he got home from
France. The poor boy thinks the world is still at war and that he can
run the Mill just as he fought the Germans over there. There's another
thing that you ought to know, too—you are crazy yourself. Don't be
afraid, I won't tell anybody else. But you ought to know it. If a man
knows it when he is going crazy it gives him a chance to fix things up
with God so they can't get him into hell for all eternity, you see. So
I thought I had better tell you.”
The Interpreter spoke in a calm, matter-of-fact tone. “Thank you,
Adam, I appreciate your kindness.”
“I was there at the Mill tonight,” Adam continued, “and I heard you
tell them who killed Charlie Martin. And then those crazy fools went
tearing off to hunt Jake Vodell.” He chuckled and laughed. “What
difference does it make who killed Charlie Martin? I own the patented
process. I am the man they want. But they can't touch me. I hired the
best lawyers in the country and I've got it sewed up tight. I put one
over on Pete Martin in that deal and I've put one over on God, too.
I've got God sewed up tight, I tell you, just like I sewed up Peter
Martin. They can howl their heads off but they'll never get me into
He leaned back in his chair with the satisfied air of a business man
crediting himself with having closed a successful transaction.
Then, with a manner and voice that was apparently normal, he said,
“Did I ever tell you about how I got that patented process of mine,
Wallace?” The Interpreter knew by his use of that name, so seldom heard
in these later years, that Adam's mind was back in the old days when,
with Peter Martin, they had worked side by side at the same bench in
Hoping to calm him, the old basket maker returned indifferently,
“No, Adam, I don't remember that you ever told me, but don't you think
some other time would be better perhaps than to-night? It is getting
late and you—”
The other interrupted with a wave of his hand. “Oh, that's all
right. It's safe enough to talk about it now. Besides,” he added, with
a cunning leer, “nobody would believe you if you should tell them the
truth. You're nothing but a crazy old basket maker and I am Adam Ward,
don't forget that for a minute.” He glared threateningly at the man in
the wheel chair, and the Interpreter, fearing another outburst, said,
soothingly, “Certainly, Adam, I understand. I will not forget.”
With the manner of one relating an interesting story in which he
himself figured with great personal credit, Adam Ward said:
“It was Pete Martin, you see, who actually discovered the new
process. But, luckily for me, I was the first one he told about it. He
had worked it all out and I persuaded him not to say a thing to any one
else until the patents were secured. Pete didn't really know the value
of what he had. But I knew—I saw from the first that it would
revolutionize the whole business, and I knew it would make a fortune
for the man that owned the patents.
“Pete and I were pretty good friends in those days, but friendship
don't go far in business. I never had a friend in my life that I
couldn't use some way. So I had Pete over to my house every evening and
made a lot over him and talked over his new process and made
suggestions how he should handle it, until finally he offered to give
me a half interest if I would look after the business details. That, of
course, was exactly what I was playing for. And all this time, you see,
I took mighty good care that not a soul was around when Pete and I
talked things over. So we fixed it all up between us—with no one to
hear us, mind you—that we were to share equally—half and half—in
whatever the new process brought.
“After that, I went ahead and got all the patents good and tight and
then I fixed up a nice little document for Pete to sign. But I waited
and I didn't say a word to Pete until one evening when he and his wife
were studying and figuring out the plans for the house they were going
to build. I sat and planned with them a while until I saw how Pete's
mind was all on his new house, and then all at once I put my little
document down on the table in front of him and said, 'By the way, Pete,
those patents will be coming along pretty soon and I have had a little
contract fixed up just as a matter of form—you know how we planned it
all. Here's where you sign—'“
Adam Ward paused to laugh with insane glee. “Pete did just what I
knew he'd do—he signed that document without even reading a line of it
and went on with his house planning and figuring as if nothing had
happened. But something had happened—something big had happened.
Instead of the way we had planned it together when we were talking
alone with nobody to witness it, Pete signed to me outright for one
dollar all his rights and interests in that new patented process.”
Again the madman laughed triumphantly. “Pete never even found out
what he'd done until nearly a year later. And then he wouldn't believe
it until the lawyers made him. He couldn't do anything of course. I had
it sewed up too tight. That process is mine, I tell you—mine by all
the laws in the country. What if I did take advantage of him! That's
business. A man ought to have sense enough to read what he puts his
signature to. You don't catch me trusting anybody far enough to sign
anything he puts before me without reading it. Why—why—what are you
Adam Ward was not mistaken—the Interpreter's eyes were wet with
The sight of the old basket maker's grief sent the insane man off on
another tangent. “Don't you worry about me. Helen and John and their
mother worry a lot about me. They think I'm going to hell.”
He sprang to his feet with a hoarse inarticulate cry. “They'll never
get me into hell! God has got to keep His contracts and I've fixed it
all up so He'll have to save me whether He wants to or not. The papers
are all signed and everything. My lawyer has got them in his safe. God
can't help Himself. You told me I'd better do it and I have. I'm not
afraid to meet God now! I'll show Him just like I showed Pete.”
He rushed from the room as abruptly as he had entered. The
Interpreter heard him plunging down the stairs. The roar of his
automobile died away in the distance.
In an early morning extra edition, the Millsburgh Clarion
announced the death of two of the most prominent citizens.
James McIver was killed in the explosion that burned his factory.
Adam Ward's body was found in a secluded corner of his beautiful
estate. He died by his own hand.
The cigar-store philosopher put his paper down and reached into the
show case for the box that the judge wanted. “It looks like McIver
played the wrong cards in his little game with Jake Vodell,” he
remarked, as the judge made a careful selection.
“I am afraid so,” returned the judge.
The postmaster took a handful from the same box and said, as he
dropped a dollar on the top of the show case, “I see Sam Whaley has
confessed that the blowing up of the factory was all set as part of
their program. Their plan was to wreck the Mill first then McIver's
place. Where do you suppose Jake Vodell got away to?”
“Hard to guess,” said the judge.
The philosopher put the proper change before them. “There's one
thing sure—the people of these here United States had better get good
and busy findin' out where he is.”
It was significant that neither the philosopher nor his customers
mentioned the passing of Adam Ward.
BOOK IV. THE OLD HOUSE
“Tell them, O Guns, that we have heard their call,
That we have sworn, and will not turn aside, That we will onward
till we win or fall,
That we will keep the faith for which they died.”
CHAPTER XXX. “JEST LIKE THE
It is doubtful if in all Millsburgh there was a soul who felt a
personal loss in the passing of their “esteemed citizen” Adam Ward.
During the years that followed his betrayal of Peter Martin's
friendship the man had never made a friend who loved him for
himself—who believed in him or trusted him. In business circles his
reputation for deals that were always carefully legal but often
obviously dishonest had caused the men he met to accept him only so far
as their affairs made the contact necessary. Because of the power he
had through his possession of the patented process he was known. His
place in the community had been fixed by what he took from the
community. His habit of boasting of his possessions, of his power, and
of his business triumphs, and his way of considering the people as his
personal debtors had been a never-failing subject of laughing comment.
Men spoke of his death in a jocular vein—made jests about
it—wondering what he was really worth. But one and all invariably
concluded their comments with some word of sincere sympathy for his
Because of the people's estimation of the Mill owner's character,
the publication of his will created a sensation the like of which was
never before known in the community.
One half of his estate, including the Mill, Adam Ward gave to his
family. The other half he gave to his old workman friend, Peter Martin.
Millsburgh was stunned, stupefied with amazement and wonder. But no
one outside the two families, save the Interpreter, ever knew the real
reason for the bequest. The old basket maker alone understood that this
was Adam Ward's deal with God—it was the contract by which he was to
escape the hell of his religious fears—the horrors of which he had so
often suffered in his dreams and the dread of which had so preyed upon
his diseased mind.
When the necessary time for the legal processes in the settlement of
Adam Ward's estate had passed, John called the Mill workers together.
In his notice of the meeting, the manager stated simply that it was to
consider the mutual interests of the employers and employees by
safeguarding the future of the industry. When the workmen had
assembled, they wondered to see on the platform with their general
manager, Helen and her mother, Mary and Peter Martin, the city mayor,
with representative men from the labor unions and from the business
circles of the community, and, sitting in his wheel chair, the
To the employees in the Mill and to the representatives of the
people the announcement of the final disposition of Adam Ward's estate
The house on the hill with the beautiful grounds surrounding it
became in effect the property of the people—with an endowment fixed
for its maintenance. It was to be converted into a center of community
interest, one feature of which was to be an institute for the study of
“We have foundations for the promotion of the sciences, of art and
of business,” said the legal gentleman who made the announcements. “Why
not an institution for the study and promotion of patriotism—research
in the fields of social and industrial life that are peculiarly
American—lectures, classes, and literature on the true Americanization
of those who come to us from foreign countries—the promotion of true
American principles and standards of citizenship in our public schools
and educational institutions and among our people—the collection and
study of authentic data from the many industrial and social experiments
that are being carried on—these are some of the proposed activities.”
This Institute of American Patriotism would be under the leadership
of the Interpreter and would stand as a memorial to the memory of
Captain Charlie Martin.
When the mayor, in behalf of the people, had made a fitting response
to this presentation, John told the Mill men that their employer, Pete
Martin, would make an announcement.
The old workman was greeted with cheers. Some one in the crowd
called, good-naturedly, “How does it feel to be an owner, Uncle Pete?”
Everybody laughed and the veteran himself grinned.
“I guess I'm too old to change my feelings much, Bill Sewold,” he
answered. “And that's about what I was going to tell you. The lawyers
say that I own half of our Mill here and that I can do what I please
with it. But I can't some way make it seem any more mine than it always
was. Mary and I are agreed that we'd like to do what we know Charlie
would be in for if he was here, and we've talked it over with John and
his folks and they feel just like we do about it.
“The lawyers can explain the workin's of the plan to you better than
I can; but this is the main idea: The whole thing has been made over
into a company with John and his mother and sister owning one half and
me the other. What John wants me to tell you is that he and his folks
are turning one half of their interest and Mary and me are turning one
half of our interest back to you workmen. So that from now on all the
employees of the Mill will be employers—and all the employers will be
employees. With John and me and our folks owning one half, you can see
that we're figuring on keeping the management in the proper hands, John
will be in the office where he belongs and the rest of us will be where
we belong. Considering our recent demonstration, I guess you'll all
agree that a lot of us need to be protected by the rest of us from all
of us. And now all we have to do is to work. And I'd like to see Jake
Vodell or any other foreign agitator try to start another industrial
war in Millsburgh.”
It was the Interpreter who asked the assembled workmen to endorse a
petition to the governor asking clemency for Sam Whaley. The ground
upon which the petition was based was that the guilty principal in the
crime was still at liberty—that others, still unknown, were involved
with him—that Sam Whaley by his confession had saved the Mill and the
community from the full horrors planned by the agitator, and that under
the new standard of industrial citizenship the former follower of the
anarchist might in time become a useful member of society.
A solemn hush fell over the company when Peter Martin, Mary, John
and Helen were the first to sign the petition.
The old house is no longer empty, deserted and forlorn. Repaired and
repainted from the front gate to the back-yard fence—with well-kept
lawn, flowers and garden—it impresses the passer-by with its air of
modest home happiness. To Helen and her mother who live there, to John
and his wife, Mary, and to the old workman who live in the cottage next
door, the spirit of the old days has returned.
The neighbors in passing always stop for a word with the gray-haired
woman who works among her flowers just as she used to do before the
discovery of the new process, or with her sweet-faced daughter. The
workmen going to or from the Mill always have a smile or a word of
greeting for the mother and the sister of their comrade manager.
Nor is there a man or woman in all the city or in the country round
about who does not know and love this Helen of the old house, who is
giving herself so without reserve to the people's need, who has, as the
Interpreter says, “found herself in service.”
But when the deep tones of the Mill whistle sound over the city, the
valley and the hillsides, there is a look in Helen's eyes that only
those who know her best understand.
And often in these days the neighborhood of the old house rings with
the merry voices of Bobby and Maggie and their playmates. From the
Flats—from the tenement houses—from the homes of the laborers, they
come, these children, to this beautiful woman who loves them all and
who calls them, somewhat fancifully, her “jewels of happiness.”
“Yer see,” explained little Maggie, “the princess lady, she jest
couldn't help findin' them there happiness jewels—'cause her heart was
so kind—jest like the Interpreter said.”