Communists and Capitalists,
Sketch from Life
by Octave Thanet
The Countess von Arno was Mr. Seleigman's confidential clerk. Not that
M—— smiled over any such paradox: the countess called herself simply
Mrs. von Arno.
M—— is a picturesque town on the Mississippi, devoted in general to the
manufacture of agricultural implements. The largest plough-factory is
Seleigman's: he does business all over the world. A clerk who wrote
French, German and Italian fluently was a godsend. This clerk, moreover,
had an eminently concise and effective style, and displayed a business
capacity which the old German admired immensely. As much because of her
usefulness as the modest sum she was able to invest in the business, he
offered her a small share in it four years after she first came to M——.
She had come to M—— because Mrs. Greymer lived there. Therese Greymer
had known the countess from her school-days. When her husband died she
came back to her father's house, but spent her summers in Germany. Then
old Mr. Dare died suddenly, leaving Therese with her little brother to
care for, and only a few thousand dollars in the world. About this time
the countess separated from her husband. "So I am poor," said she, "but it
will go hard if I can't take care of you, Therese." Thus she became Mr.
Seleigman's clerk. M—— forgave her the clerkship, forgave her even her
undoubted success in making money, on account of Mrs. Greymer. It had
watched Therese grow from a slim girl, with black braids hanging down her
white neck as she sat in the "minister's pew" of the old brick church,
into a beautiful pale woman in a widow's bonnet. Therese went now every
Sunday to the same church where her father used to preach. The countess
accompanied her most decorously. She was a pagan at heart, but it pleased
Therese. In church she spent her time looking at her friend's profile and
calculating the week's sales.
The countess had a day-dream: the dreams which most women have had long
ago been rudely broken for her, and the hopes which she cherished now had
little romance about them. She knew her own powers and how necessary she
was to Seleigman: some day she saw the firm becoming Seleigman & Von Arno,
the business widening, and the ploughs, with the yellow eagle on them, in
every great city of Europe. "Then," said the countess to herself, standing
one March morning, four years after she had first come to M——, by the
little dining-room window—"then we can perhaps persuade the workmen to
buy stock in the concern and have a few gleams of sense about profits and
She lifted one arm above her head and rested her cheek against it. Otto
von Arno during his brief period of fondness had been used to call his
wife "his Scandinavian goddess." She was of the goddess type, tall,
fair-faced and stately, with thick, pale gold hair, and brown lashes
lifted in level lines from steady, deep gray eyes. "Pretty" seemed too
small a word for such a woman, yet "beautiful" conveys a hint of
tenderness; and Mrs. von Arno's face—it might be because of those steady
eyes—was rather a hard face, notwithstanding the soft pink and white of
her skin, and even the dimples that dented her cheek when she smiled.
Now she was not smiling. The air was heavy with the damp chill of early
spring; and as the countess absently surveyed a gravel-walk bordered by
limp brown grasses and a line of trees dripping last night's frost through
the fog, she saw a woman's figure emerge from the shadows and come slowly
up the walk. She was poorly dressed, and walked to the kitchen-door, where
the countess could see her carefully wipe her feet before rapping.
"That must be Bailey's wife," she thought: "I saw her waiting for him
yesterday when he came round to the shops for work.—William, my friend,
you are a nuisance."
With this comment she went to the kitchen. Lettice, the maid-of-all-work,
was frying cakes in solitude. "Mrs. Greymer had taken Mrs. Bailey into the
library," she told the countess with significant inflections.
The latter went to the library. It was a tiny, red-frescoed room fitted up
in black walnut. There were plants in the bay-window: Mrs. Greymer stood
among them, her soft gray wrapper falling in straight and ample folds
about her slender figure. Her face was turned toward the countess; a
loosened lock of black hair brushed the blue vein on her cheek; she held
some lilies-of-the-valley in her hand, and the gold of her wedding-ring
shone against the dark green leaves.
"She looks like one of Fra Angelico's saints," thought the countess: "the
crimson lights are good too."
She stood unnoticed in the doorway, leisurely admiring the picture. Mrs.
Bailey sat in the writing-chair on her right. Once, probably, she had been
a pretty woman, and she still had abundant wavy brown hair and large
dark-blue eyes with curling lashes; but she was too thin and faded and
narrow-chested for any prettiness now. Her calico gown was unstarched,
though scrupulously clean: she wore a thin blue-and-white summer shawl,
and her old straw bonnet was trimmed with a narrow blue ribbon pieced in
two places. Her voice was slightly monotonous, but low-keyed: as she spoke
her hands clasped and unclasped each other. The veins stood out and the
knuckles were enlarged, but they were rather white than otherwise.
She went on with her story: "The children are so good, Mrs. Greymer; but
six of them, and me not over strong—it makes it hard. We hain't had
anything but corn meal in the house all this week, and the second-hand
woman says our things ain't worth the carting. The children have got so
shabby they hate to go to school, and the boys laugh at Willie 'cause his
hat's his pa's old one and ain't got no brim, though I bound it with the
best of the old braid, for I thought maybe they'd think it was a cap. And
the worst was this morning, when there was nothin' but just mush: we
hadn't even 'lasses, and the children cried. Oh, I didn't go to tell you
all this: you know I ain't a beggar. I've tried to live decent. Oh dear!
oh dear!" She tried to wipe away the tears which were running down her
thin cheeks with the tips of her fingers, but they came too fast.
Mechanically, she put her hand in her pocket, only to take it out empty.
Mrs. Greymer slipped her own dainty handkerchief, which the countess had
embroidered, into the other's hand. "You ought to have come to me before,
Martha," she said reproachfully—"such an old friend as I am!"
"'Tain't easy to have them as has known you when you were like folks see
you without even a handkerchief to cry on," said Mrs. Bailey. "If I'd
known where to turn for a loaf of bread, I'd not ha' come now; but I can't
see my children starve. And I ain't come to beg now. All we want is honest
work. William has been everywhere since they sent him away from Dorsey's
just because the men talked about striking, though they didn't strike.
He's been to all the machine-shops, but they won't take him: they say he
has too long a tongue for them, though he's as sober and steady a man as
lives, and there ain't a better workman in M——, or D—— either. William
is willing to do anything: he tried to get work on the streets, but the
street commissioner said he'd more men he'd employed for years asking work
than he knew what to do with. And I thought—I thought, Mrs. Greymer, if
you would only speak to Mrs. von Arno—"
"Good-morning, Mrs. Bailey," said the countess, advancing. She had a
musical voice, clear and full, with a vibrating quality like the notes of
a violin—a very pleasant voice to hear, yet it hardly seemed reassuring
to the visitor. Unconsciously, she sat up straighter in her chair, her
nervous fingers plaiting the fringe of her shawl.
"I heard you mention my name," the countess continued: "is there anything
you wish of me?"
Therese came to Mrs. Bailey's assistance: "Her husband is out of work:
can't you do something with Mr. Seleigman, Helen? Bailey is a good
"He is indeed, ma'am," added Bailey's wife eagerly, "and as sober and
faithful to his work: he never slights one bit."
"I don't doubt it," said the countess gravely; "but, Mrs. Bailey, if we
were to take your husband on, and the union were to order a strike, even
though he were perfectly satisfied with his own wages, wouldn't he strike
himself, and do all he could to make the others strike?" Mrs. Bailey was
"A strike might cost us thousands of dollars. Naturally, we don't want to
risk one; so we have no union-men. If Bailey will leave the union he may
go to hammering ploughshares for us to-morrow, and earn, with his skill,
twenty dollars a week."
Mrs. Bailey's face worked. "'Tain't no use ma'am," she said desperately:
"he won't go back on his principles. He says it's the cause of Labor, and
he'll stick to it till he dies. You can't blame him, ma'am, for doing what
he thinks is right."
"Perhaps not. But you see that it is impossible for us to employ your
husband. Isn't there something I can do for you yourself, though? Mrs.
Greymer tells me you sew very neatly."
"Yes, I sew," said Mrs. Bailey in a dull tone, "but I'd be obliged to you,
ma'am, if you'd give me the work soon: I've a machine now, and I'll likely
not have it next week. There's ten dollars due on it, and the agent says
he'll have to take it back. I've paid fifty dollars on it, but this month
and lost times was so hard I couldn't pay."
The countess put a ten-dollar bill in her hand. "Let me lend you this,
then," she said, unheeding the half shrinking of Mrs. Bailey's face and
attitude; and then she avoided all thanks by answering Lettice's summons
at the door.
"Poor little woman!" she said to Mrs. Greymer at breakfast—"she didn't
half like to take it. She looked nearly starved too, though she ate so
little breakfast. How did you manage to persuade her to take that huge
"She is a very brave little woman, Helen. I should like to tell you about
her," said Mrs. Greymer.
"Until a quarter of eight my time is yours, and my sympathy, as usual, is
Mrs. Greymer smiled slightly. "I have known her for a great many years,"
she said, disregarding the countess's last speech: "she went to school
with me, in fact. She was such a pretty girl then! Somehow, she took a
fancy to me, and used to help me with my Practical Arithmetic—"
"So called because it is written in the most unpractical and
incomprehensible style: yes, I know it," interrupted the countess.
"Martha was much brighter than I at it, anyhow, and used to do my
examples. She used to bring me the loveliest violets: she would walk all
the way over to the island for them. I remember I cried when her people
moved to Chicago and she left school. I didn't see her for almost ten
years: then I met her accidentally on Randolph street in Chicago. She knew
me, and insisted on my going out with her to see her home. It was in the
suburbs, and was a very pretty, tidy little place, with a garden in front,
where Martha raised vegetables, and a little plot for flowers. She was so
proud of it all and of her two pretty babies, and showed me her chickens
and her furniture and a picture of her husband. They had bought the house,
and were to pay for it in six years, but William was getting high wages,
and she had no fears. Poor Martha!"
"Their Arcadia didn't last?"
"No. William got interested in trades-unions: there was a strike, and he
was very prominent. He was out of work a long time, and Martha supported
the family by taking in sewing and selling the vegetables. Then her third
child was born, and she was sick for a long time afterward: she had been
working too hard, poor thing! His old employers took William on with the
rest of the men when the strike ended, but very soon found a pretext for
discharging him; and, in short, they used up all their little savings, and
the house went. William thought he had been ill-used, and became more
violent in his opinions."
"A Communist, isn't he?"
"I believe so. Martha with her three children couldn't go out to work, but
she is a model housekeeper, and she opened a little laundry with the money
she got from the sale of some of their furniture. William got work, but
lost it again, but Martha managed in a humble way to support the family
until William had an offer to come here; so they sold out the laundry to
get money to move."
"Very idiotic of them."
"After they came here they at first lived on Front street, which is near
the river, and Martha caught the chills and fever. William soon lost his
place, and they moved across the river to D——. He became known as a
speaker, and things have been going from bad to worse; the children have
come fast, and Martha has never really recovered from her fever; and they
have had simply an awfully hard time. I haven't seen Martha for three
months, and have tried in vain to find out where she lived. Poor Martha!
she has never complained, but it has been a hard life for her."
"Yes, a hard life," repeated the countess, rising and putting on her
jacket; "but it seems to me she has chiefly her own husband to thank for
it. And six children! I have my opinion of Mr. William Bailey."
"You are hardly just to Bailey, Helen: he has sacrificed his own interests
to his principles. He is as honest—as honest as the Christian martyrs,
though he is an infidel."
"The Christian martyrs always struck me as a singularly unpractical set of
people," said the countess.
"Maybe: nevertheless, they founded a religion and changed the world. And,
Helen, you and the people like you laugh at Communism and the complaints
of the laboring classes, but it's like Samson and the Philistines; and
this Samson, blind though he is, will one day, unless we do something
besides laugh, pull the pillars down on his head—and on ours."
"He will try" said the countess: "if we are wise, we shall be ready and
shoot him dead." She kissed Mrs. Greymer smilingly, and went away. Her
friend, watching her from the window, saw her stop to pat a great dog on
the head and give a little boy a nickel piece.
One Sunday afternoon, two weeks later, the two friends crossed the bridge
to D—— to visit the Baileys. When they reached the end of the bridge
they paused a moment to rest. The day was one of those warm, bright spring
days which deceitfully presage an immediate summer. On the river-shore
crawfishes were lazily creeping over the gravel. The air rang with the
blue jay's chatter, a robin showed his tawny breast among the withered
grasses, and a flicker on a dead stump bobbed his little red-barred head
and fluttered his yellow wings. Beneath the bridge the swift current
sparkled in the sun. Over the river, on each side, rose the hills. The
gray stone of the government works was visible to the right through the
leafless trees: nearer, square, yellow and ugly, stood the old arsenal. A
soldier, musket on shoulder, marched along the river-edge: the cape of his
coat fluttered in the breeze and his slanting bayonet shone like silver.
Before them lay D——, the smoke from its mills and houses curling into
the pale blue air.
The countess drew a long breath: she had a keen feeling for beauty. "Yes,
it is a lovely place," she said. "The hills are not high enough, but the
river makes amends for everything. But what are those hideous shanties,
"Are they not hideous?" said Mrs. Greymer. "They are all pine, and it gets
such an ugly dirt-black when it isn't painted. The glass is broken out of
the windows and the shingles have peeled off the roofs. When it rains the
water drips through. In spring, when the river rises, it comes up to their
very doors: one spring it came in. It is not a nice place to live in."
"Not exactly: still, I suppose people do live there."
"Yes, the Baileys live there. You see, the rent is low."
The countess lifted her eyebrows and followed Mrs. Greymer without
answering. Some sulky-looking men were smoking pipes on the doorsteps, and
a few women, whose only Sunday adorning seemed to have been plastering
their hair down over their cheeks with a great deal of water, gossiped at
the corner. Half a dozen children were playing on the river-bank.
"They fall in every little while," Therese explained, "they are so small,
and most of the mothers here go out washing. This is the Baileys'."
William Bailey answered the knock. He was a tall man, who carried his
large frame with a kind of muscular ease. He had a square, gray-whiskered
face with firm jaws and mild light-blue eyes. The hair being worn away
from his forehead made it seem higher than it really was. He wore his
working clothes and a pair of very old boots cut down into slippers. The
only stocking he had was in his hand, and he appeared to have been darning
it. Close behind him came his wife, holding the baby. The bright look of
recognition on her face at the sight of Mrs. Greymer faded when she
perceived the countess. Rather stiffly she invited them to enter.
The room was small and most meanly furnished, but it was clean. The walls
were dingy beyond the power of soap and water to change, but the floor had
been scrubbed, and what glass there was in the windows had been washed.
There were occasional holes in the ceiling and walls where the plaster had
given way: out of one of these peered the pointed nose and gleaming eyes
of a great rat. Judging from sundry noises she heard, the countess
concluded there were many of these animals under the house, though what
they found to live on was a puzzle; but they ate a little of the children
now and then, and perhaps the hope of more sustained them. A pale little
boy was lying on a mattress in the corner covered with a faded
Therese had mysteriously managed to dispose of the basket she had brought
before she went up to him and kissed him, saying, "I am sorry to see
Willie is still sick."
"Yes," said Bailey, smiling bitterly. "The doctor says he needs dry air
and exercise: it's damp here."
"Tommy More has promised to lend us his cart, and Susie will take him on
the island," Mrs. Bailey said hastily; "it's real country there."
"But you have to have a pass," answered Bailey in a low tone.
"Any one can get a pass," said the countess; "but if you prefer I will ask
the colonel to-day, and he will send you one to-morrow."
For the first time Bailey fairly looked the countess in the face: his
brows contracted, he opened his lips to speak.
"Oh, papa," cried the boy in a weak voice trembling with eagerness, "the
island is splendid! Tommy's father works there, and they's cannon and a
foundry and a live eagle!"
"Yes, Willie dear," said his father as he laid his brown hand gently on
the boy's curls. He inclined his head toward the countess. "I'll thank
you," he said gravely.
The countess picked up a pamphlet from the table, more to break the
uncomfortable pause which followed than for any other reason. "Do you like
this?" she said, hardly reading the title.
"I believe it," said Bailey: "I am a Communist myself." He drew himself up
to his full height as he spoke: there was a certain suppressed defiance in
his attitude and expression.
"Are you?" said the countess. "Why?"
"Why?" cried Bailey. "Look at me! I'm a strong man, and willing to do any
kind of work. I've worked hard for sixteen year: I've been sober and
steady and saving. Look what all that work and saving has brought me! This
is a nice place for a decent man and his family to live in, ain't it?
Them walls ain't clean? No, because scrubbing can't make 'em. The grime's
in the plaster: yes, and worse than grime—vermin and disease sech as
'tain't right for me to mention even to ladies like you, but it's right
enough for sech as us to live in. Yes, by G—-! to die in!" He was a man
who spoke habitually in a low voice, and it had not grown louder, but the
veins on his forehead swelled and his eyes began to glow.
"It is hard, truly," said the countess. "Whose fault is it?"
"Whose fault?" Bailey repeated her words vehemently, yet with something of
bewilderment. "Society's fault, which grinds a poor man to powder, so as
to make a rich man richer. But the people won't stand this sort of thing
"You would have a general division of property, then?"
"Indirectly, yes. Power must be taken from bloated corporations and given
to the people; the railroads must be taken by government; accumulation of
capital over a limited amount must be forbidden; men must work for
Humanity, and not for their selfish interests."
"Do you know any men who are working so?"
"I know a few."
"Don't you think a general division of property would be for their
"I don't call it selfish to ask for just a decent living."
"I fancy the chiefs of your party would demand a great deal more than a
bare decent living. Mr. Bailey, the rights of property rest on just this
fact in human nature: A man will work better for himself than he will for
somebody else. And you can't get him to work unless he is guaranteed the
fruits of his labor. Capital is brain, and Labor is muscle, but the brain
has as much to do with the creation of wealth as muscle: more, for it can
invent machines and do without muscle, while muscle cannot do without
brain. You can't alter human nature, Mr. Bailey. If you had a Commune,
every man would be for himself there as he is here: the weak would have
less protection than even now, for all the restraints of morality, which
are bound up inseparably with rights of property, would have been thrown
aside. Marx and Lasallis and Bradlaugh, clever as they are, can't prevent
the survival of the fittest. You knock your head against a stone wall, Mr.
Bailey, when you fight society. You have been knocking it all your life,
and now you are angry because your head is hurt. If you had never tried to
strip other men of their earnings because you fancied you ought to have
more, as skilful a blacksmith as you would have saved money and been a
capitalist himself. Supposing you give it up? Our firm will give you a
chance to make ploughshares and earn twenty dollars a week if you will
only promise not to strike us in return the first chance you get."
The workingman had listened with a curling lip. "Do you mean that for an
offer?" he said in a smothered voice.
"I mean it for an offer, certainly."
"Oh, William!" cried his wife, turning appealing eyes up to his face.
He grew suddenly white, and brought his clenched hand heavily down on the
table. The dishes rattled with the jar, and the baby, scared at the noise,
began to scream. "Then," said Bailey, "you may just understand that a man
ain't always a sneak if he is poor; and you can be glad you ain't a man
that's tempting me to turn traitor."
"I am sure my friend didn't mean to hurt your feelings," Mrs. Greymer
explained quickly, giving the countess that expressive side-glance which
much more plainly than words says, "Now you have done it!" Mrs. Bailey
was walking up and down soothing the baby: the little boy looked on
"I am sorry if I have said anything which has seemed like an insult," said
the countess: "I certainly didn't intend one. Perhaps after you have
thought it all over you will feel differently. You know where to find me.
She held out her hand, which Bailey did not seem to see, smiled on the
little boy and went out, leaving Mrs. Greymer behind.
A little girl with pretty brown curls and deep-blue eyes was making
sand-caves on the shore. The countess spoke to her in passing, and left
her staring at her two hands, which were full of silver coin. At the
bridge the countess paused to wait for her friend. She saw her come out,
attended by Mrs. Bailey: she saw Mrs. Bailey watch her, saw the little
girl give her mother the money, and then she saw the woman, still carrying
her baby in her arms, walk slowly down the river-bank to where a boat lay
keel uppermost like a great black arrowhead on the sand. Here she sat
down, and, clasping the child closer, hid her face in its white hair.
"And, upon my soul, I believe she is crying," said the spectator, who
stopped at the commandant's house and obtained the pass before she went
On Monday, Mrs. Greymer proposed asking little Willie Bailey to spend a
week with them. The countess assented, merely saying, "You must take the
little skeleton to drive every day, and send the livery-bills to me."
"Then I shall drive over this afternoon if Freddy's sore throat is
better," said Mrs. Greymer.
But she did not go: Freddy's sore throat was worse instead of better, and
his sister had enough to do for some days fighting off diphtheria. So it
happened that it was a week before she was able to go to D——. She found
the Baileys' door swinging on its hinges, and a high-stepping hen of
inquisitive disposition investigating the front room: the Baileys had
"They went to Chicago four days ago," an amiable neighbor explained: "they
didn't say what fur. The little boy he cried 'cause he wanted to go on the
island fust. Guess he ain't like to live long: he's a weak, pinin'
Only once did Therese hear from Mrs. Bailey. The letter came a few days
after her useless drive to D——. It was dated Chicago, and expressed
simply but fervently her gratitude for all Mrs. Greymer's kindness.
Enclosed were three one-dollar bills, part payment, the writer said, "of
my debt to Mrs. von Arno, and I hope she won't think I meant to run away
from it because I can't just now send more." There was no allusion to her
present condition or her prospects for the future. Mrs. Greymer read the
letter aloud, then held out the bills to the countess.
She pushed them aside as if they stung her. "What does the woman think I
am made of?" she exclaimed. "Why, it's hideous, Therese! Write and tell
her I never meant her to pay me."
"I am afraid the letter won't reach her," said Mrs. Greymer.
Nor did it: in due course of time Therese received her own letter back
from the Dead-Letter Office. The words of interest and sympathy, the plans
and encouragement, sounded very oddly to her then, for, as far as they
were concerned, Martha Bailey's history was ended. It was in July the
countess had met them again. She was in Chicago. Otto was dead. He had
given back to his wife by his will the property which had come to him
through her: whether because of a late sense of justice or a dislike to
his heir, a distant cousin who wrote theological works and ate with his
knife, the countess never ventured to decide. The condition of part of
this property, which was in Chicago, had obliged her to go there. She
arrived on the evening of the fifteenth of July—a day Chicago people
remember because the great railroad strike of 1877 reached the city that
The countess found the air full of wild rumors. Stories of shops closed by
armed men, of vast gatherings of Communists on the North Side, of robbery,
bloodshed and—to a Chicago ear most blood-curdling whisper of all—of a
contemplated second burning of the city, flew like prairie-fire through
The countess's lawyer, whom she had visited very early on Thursday
morning, insisted on accompanying her from his office to her friend's
house on the North Side. On Halstead street their carriage suddenly
stopped. Putting her head out of the window, the countess perceived that
the coachman had drawn up close to the curbstone to avoid the onset of a
yelling mob of boys and men armed with every description of weapon, from
laths and brickbats to old muskets. The boys appeared to regard the whole
affair as merely a gigantic "spree," and shouted "Bread or Blood!" with
the heartiest enthusiasm; but the men marched closer, in silence and with
set faces. The gleaming black eyes, sharp features and tangled black hair
of half of them showed their Polish or Bohemian blood. The others were
Norwegians and Germans, with a sprinkling of Irish and Americans. Their
leader was a tall man whom the countess knew. He had turned to give an
order when she saw him. At that same instant a shabby woman ran swiftly
from a side street and tried to throw her arms about the man's neck. He
pushed her aside, and the crowd swept them both out of sight.
"I think I have seen a woman I know," said the countess composedly; "and
do you know, Mr. Wilder, that our horses have gone? Our Communist friends
prefer riding to walking, it seems." They were obliged to get out of the
carriage. The countess looked up and down the street, but saw no trace of
the woman. Apparently, she had followed the mob.
By this time some small boys, inspired by the occasion, had begun to show
their sympathy with oppressed labor by pelting the two well-dressed
strangers with potatoes and radishes, which they confiscated from a
bloated capitalist of a grocer on the corner. The shower was so thick that
Mr. Wilder was relieved when they reached the Halstead street
police-station, where they sought refuge. Here they passed a sufficiently
exciting hour. They could hear plainly the sharp crack of revolvers and
the yells and shouts of the angry mob blending in one indistinguishable
roar. Once a barefooted boy ran by, screaming that the police were driven
back and the Communists were coming. Then a troop of cavalry rode up the
street on a sharp trot, their bridles jingling and horses' hoofs
clattering. The roar grew louder, ebbed, swelled again, then broke into a
multitude of sounds—screams, shouts and the tumultuous rush of many feet.
A polite sergeant opened the door of the little room where the countess
was sitting to inform her the riot was over. They were just bringing in
some prisoners: he was very sorry, but one of them would have to come in
there. He was a prominent rioter whom they had captured trying to bring
off the body of his wife, who had been killed by a chance shot. It would
be only for a short time: the gentleman had gone for a carriage. He hoped
the lady wouldn't mind.
The lady, who had changed color slightly, said she should not mind. The
sergeant held the door back, and some men brought in something over which
had been flung an old blue-and-white shawl. They carried it on a shutter,
and the folds of a calico dress, torn and trampled, hung down over the
Then came two policemen, pushing after the official manner a man covered
with dust and blood.
"Bailey!" exclaimed the countess. Their eyes met.
Bailey bent his head toward the table where the men had laid their burden.
"Lift that," he said hoarsely.
The countess lifted the shawl with a steady hand. There was an old white
straw bonnet flattened down over the forehead; a wisp of blue ribbon
string was blown across the face and over the red smear between the
eyebrow and the hair; the eyes stared wide and glassy. But it was the same
soft brown hair. The countess knew Martha Bailey.
"There was women and children on the sidewalk, but they fired right into
us," said Bailey. He spoke in a monotonous, dragging voice, as though
every word were an effort. "They killed her. I asked you to give me work
in your shop, and you wouldn't do it. Here's the end of it. Now you can go
home and say your prayers."
"I don't say prayers," answered the countess, "and you know I offered you
work. But don't let us reproach each other here. Where are your children?"
"Ain't you satisfied with what you have done already?" said Bailey. "Leave
me alone: you'd better."
"Gently now!" said one of the policemen.
"Whatever you may think of me," said the countess quietly, "you know Mrs.
Greymer was always your wife's friend. We only wanted to help her."
Bailey shook off the grasp of the policemen as though it had been a
feather: with one great stride he reached the countess and caught her
roughly by the wrist. "Look at her, will you?" he cried: "you and the
likes of you, with your smooth cant, have killed her! You crush us and
starve us till we turn, and then you shoot us down like dogs. Leave my
"None of that, my man!" said the sergeant.
The two policemen would have pulled Bailey away, but the countess stopped
them. She had turned pale even to her lips, but she did not wince.
"Curse you!" groaned the Communist, flinging his arms above his head;
"curse a society which lets such things be! curse a religion—"
The policemen dragged him back. "You'd better go, I think, ma'am," said
the sergeant: "the man's half crazy with the sun and fighting and grief."
"You are right," said the countess. She stopped at the station-door to put
a bill in the policeman's hands: "You will find out about the children and
let me know, please."
Mr. Wilder, who had been standing in the doorway, an amazed witness of the
whole scene, led her out to the carriage. "He's a bad fellow, that
rioter," he said as they drove along.
The countess pulled her cuff over a black mark on her wrist. "No, he is
not half a bad fellow," she answered, "but for all that he has murdered
Nor has she ever changed her opinion on that point; neither, so far as is
known, has William Bailey changed his.