THE IRON HEEL
"At firstthis Eartha stage so gloomed with woe
You almost sicken at the shifting of the scenes.
And yet be patient. Our Playwright may show
In some fifth act what this Wild Drama means."
I. MY EAGLE
III. JOHNSON'S ARM
IV. SLAVES OF THE MACHINE
V. THE PHILOMATHS
VII. THE BISHOP'S VISION
VIII. THE MACHINE BREAKERS
IX. THE MATHEMATICS OF A DREAM
X. THE VORTEX
XI. THE GREAT ADVENTURE
XII. THE BISHOP
XIII. THE GENERAL STRIKE
XIV. THE BEGINNING OF THE END
XV. LAST DAYS
XVI. THE END
XVII. THE SCARLET LIVERY
XVIII. IN THE SHADOW OF SONOMA
XX. THE LAST OLIGARCH
XXI. THE ROARING ABYSMAL BEAST
XXII. THE CHICAGO COMMUNE
XXIII. THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS
XXV. THE TERRORISTS
It cannot be said that the Everhard Manuscript is an important historical document. To the historian it bristles with errors--not errors of factbut errors of interpretation. Looking back across the seven centuries that have lapsed since Avis Everhard completed her manuscripteventsand the bearings of eventsthat were confused and veiled to herare clear to us. She lacked perspective. She was too close to the events she writes about. Nayshe was merged in the events she has described.
Neverthelessas a personal documentthe Everhard Manuscript is of inestimable value. But here again enter error of perspectiveand vitiation due to the bias of love. Yet we smileindeedand forgive Avis Everhard for the heroic lines upon which she modelled her husband. We know to-day that he was not so colossaland that he loomed among the events of his times less largely than the Manuscript would lead us to believe.
We know that Ernest Everhard was an exceptionally strong manbut not so exceptional as his wife thought him to be. He wasafter allbut one of a large number of heroes whothroughout the worlddevoted their lives to the Revolution; though it must be conceded that he did unusual workespecially in his elaboration and interpretation of working-class philosophy. "Proletarian science" and "proletarian philosophy" were his phrases for itand therein he shows the provincialism of his mind--a defecthoweverthat was due to the times and that none in that day could escape.
But to return to the Manuscript. Especially valuable is it in communicating to us the FEEL of those terrible times. Nowhere do we find more vividly portrayed the psychology of the persons that lived in that turbulent period embraced between the years 1912 and 1932--their mistakes and ignorancetheir doubts and fears and misapprehensionstheir ethical delusionstheir violent passionstheir inconceivable sordidness and selfishness. These are the things that are so hard for us of this enlightened age to understand. History tells us that these things wereand biology and psychology tell us why they were; but history and biology and psychology do not make these things alive. We accept them as factsbut we are left without sympathetic comprehension of them.
This sympathy comes to ushoweveras we peruse the Everhard Manuscript. We enter into the minds of the actors in that long-ago world-dramaand for the time being their mental processes are our mental processes. Not alone do we understand Avis Everhard's love for her hero-husbandbut we feelas he feltin those first daysthe vague and terrible loom of the Oligarchy. The Iron Heel (well named) we feel descending upon and crushing mankind.
And in passing we note that that historic phrasethe Iron Heeloriginated in Ernest Everhard's mind. Thiswe may sayis the one moot question that this new-found document clears up. Previous to thisthe earliest-known use of the phrase occurred in the pamphletYe Slaves,written by George Milford and published in December1912. This George Milford was an obscure agitator about whom nothing is knownsave the one additional bit of information gained from the Manuscriptwhich mentions that he was shot in the Chicago Commune. Evidently he had heard Ernest Everhard make use of the phrase in some public speechmost probably when he was running for Congress in the fall of 1912. From the Manuscript we learn that Everhard used the phrase at a private dinner in the spring of 1912. This iswithout discussionthe earliest-known occasion on which the Oligarchy was so designated.
The rise of the Oligarchy will always remain a cause of secret wonder to the historian and the philosopher. Other great historical events have their place in social evolution. They were inevitable. Their coming could have been predicted with the same certitude that astronomers to-day predict the outcome of the movements of stars. Without these other great historical eventssocial evolution could not have proceeded. Primitive communismchattel slaveryserf slaveryand wage slavery were necessary stepping-stones in the evolution of society. But it were ridiculous to assert that the Iron Heel was a necessary stepping- stone. Ratherto-dayis it adjudged a step asideor a step backwardto the social tyrannies that made the early world a hellbut that were as necessary as the Iron Heel was unnecessary.
Black as Feudalism wasyet the coming of it was inevitable. What else than Feudalism could have followed upon the breakdown of that great centralized governmental machine known as the Roman Empire? Not sohoweverwith the Iron Heel. In the orderly procedure of social evolution there was no place for it. It was not necessaryand it was not inevitable. It must always remain the great curiosity of history--a whima fantasyan apparitiona thing unexpected and undreamed; and it should serve as a warning to those rash political theorists of to-day who speak with certitude of social processes.
Capitalism was adjudged by the sociologists of the time to be the culmination of bourgeois rulethe ripened fruit of the bourgeois revolution. And we of to-day can but applaud that judgment. Following upon Capitalismit was heldeven by such intellectual and antagonistic giants as Herbert Spencerthat Socialism would come. Out of the decay of self-seeking capitalismit was heldwould arise that flower of the agesthe Brotherhood of Man. Instead of whichappalling alike to us who look back and to those that lived at the timecapitalismrotten-ripesent forth that monstrous offshootthe Oligarchy.
Too late did the socialist movement of the early twentieth century divine the coming of the Oligarchy. Even as it was divinedthe Oligarchy was there--a fact established in blooda stupendous and awful reality. Nor even thenas the Everhard Manuscript well showswas any permanence attributed to the Iron Heel. Its overthrow was a matter of a few short yearswas the judgment of the revolutionists. It is truethey realized that the Peasant Revolt was unplannedand that the First Revolt was premature; but they little realized that the Second Revoltplanned and maturewas doomed to equal futility and more terrible punishment.
It is apparent that Avis Everhard completed the Manuscript during the last days of preparation for the Second Revolt; hence the fact that there is no mention of the disastrous outcome of the Second Revolt. It is quite clear that she intended the Manuscript for immediate publicationas soon as the Iron Heel was overthrownso that her husbandso recently deadshould receive full credit for all that he had ventured and accomplished. Then came the frightful crushing of the Second Revoltand it is probable that in the moment of dangerere she fled or was captured by the Mercenariesshe hid the Manuscript in the hollow oak at Wake Robin Lodge.
Of Avis Everhard there is no further record. Undoubtedly she was executed by the Mercenaries; andas is well knownno record of such executions was kept by the Iron Heel. But little did she realizeeven thenas she hid the Manuscript and prepared to fleehow terrible had been the breakdown of the Second Revolt. Little did she realize that the tortuous and distorted evolution of the next three centuries would compel a Third Revolt and a Fourth Revoltand many Revoltsall drowned in seas of bloodere the world-movement of labor should come into its own. And little did she dream that for seven long centuries the tribute of her love to Ernest Everhard would repose undisturbed in the heart of the ancient oak of Wake Robin Lodge.
ArdisNovember 27419 B.O.M.
THE IRON HEEL
The soft summer wind stirs the redwoodsand Wild-Water ripples sweet cadences over its mossy stones. There are butterflies in the sunshineand from everywhere arises the drowsy hum of bees. It is so quiet and peacefuland I sit hereand ponderand am restless. It is the quiet that makes me restless. It seems unreal. All the world is quietbut it is the quiet before the storm. I strain my earsand all my sensesfor some betrayal of that impending storm. Ohthat it may not be premature! That it may not be premature!*
* The Second Revolt was largely the work of Ernest Everhardthough he cooperatedof coursewith the European leaders. The capture and secret execution of Everhard was the great event of the spring of 1932 A.D. Yet so thoroughly had he prepared for the revoltthat his fellow-conspirators were ablewith little confusion or delayto carry out his plans. It was after Everhard's execution that his wife went to Wake Robin Lodgea small bungalow in the Sonoma Hills of California.
Small wonder that I am restless. I thinkand thinkand I cannot cease from thinking. I have been in the thick of life so long that I am oppressed by the peace and quietand I cannot forbear from dwelling upon that mad maelstrom of death and destruction so soon to burst forth. In my ears are the cries of the stricken; and I can seeas I have seen in the past* all the marring and mangling of the sweetbeautiful fleshand the souls torn with violence from proud bodies and hurled to God. Thus do we poor humans attain our endsstriving through carnage and destruction to bring lasting peace and happiness upon the earth.
* Without doubt she here refers to the Chicago Commune.
And then I am lonely. When I do not think of what is to comeI think of what has been and is no more--my Eaglebeating with tireless wings the voidsoaring toward what was ever his sunthe flaming ideal of human freedom. I cannot sit idly by and wait the great event that is his makingthough he is not here to see. He devoted all the years of his manhood to itand for it he gave his life. It is his handiwork. He made it.*
* With all respect to Avis Everhardit must be pointed out that Everhard was but one of many able leaders who planned the Second Revolt. And we to-daylooking back across the centuriescan safely say that even had he livedthe Second Revolt would not have been less calamitous in its outcome than it was.
And so it isin this anxious time of waitingthat I shall write of my husband. There is much light that I alone of all persons living can throw upon his characterand so noble a character cannot be blazoned forth too brightly. His was a great soulandwhen my love grows unselfishmy chiefest regret is that he is not here to witness to-morrow's dawn. We cannot fail. He has built too stoutly and too surely for that. Woe to the Iron Heel! Soon shall it be thrust back from off prostrate humanity. When the word goes forththe labor hosts of all the world shall rise. There has been nothing like it in the history of the world. The solidarity of labor is assuredand for the first time will there be an international revolution wide as the world is wide.*
* The Second Revolt was truly international. It was a colossal plan--too colossal to be wrought by the genius of one man alone. Laborin all the oligarchies of the worldwas prepared to rise at the signal. GermanyItalyFranceand all Australasia were labor countries--socialist states. They were ready to lend aid to the revolution. Gallantly they did; and it was for this reasonwhen the Second Revolt was crushedthat theytoowere crushed by the united oligarchies of the worldtheir socialist governments being replaced by oligarchical governments.
You seeI am full of what is impending. I have lived it day and night utterly and for so long that it is ever present in my mind. For that matterI cannot think of my husband without thinking of it. He was the soul of itand how can I possibly separate the two in thought?
As I have saidthere is much light that I alone can throw upon his character. It is well known that he toiled hard for liberty and suffered sore. How hard he toiled and how greatly he sufferedI well know; for I have been with him during these twenty anxious years and I know his patiencehis untiring efforthis infinite devotion to the Cause for whichonly two months gonehe laid down his life.
I shall try to write simply and to tell here how Ernest Everhard entered my life--how I first met himhow he grew until I became a part of himand the tremendous changes he wrought in my life. In this way may you look at him through my eyes and learn him as I learned him--in all save the things too secret and sweet for me to tell.
It was in February1912that I first met himwhenas a guest of my father's* at dinnerhe came to our house in Berkeley. I cannot say that my very first impression of him was favorable. He was one of many at dinnerand in the drawing-room where we gathered and waited for all to arrivehe made a rather incongruous appearance. It was "preacher's night as my father privately called it, and Ernest was certainly out of place in the midst of the churchmen.
* John Cunningham, Avis Everhard's father, was a professor at the State University at Berkeley, California. His chosen field was physics, and in addition he did much original research and was greatly distinguished as a scientist. His chief contribution to science was his studies of the electron and his monumental work on the Identification of Matter and Energy wherein he established, beyond cavil and for all time, that the ultimate unit of matter and the ultimate unit of force were identical. This idea had been earlier advanced, but not demonstrated, by Sir Oliver Lodge and other students in the new field of radio-activity.
In the first place, his clothes did not fit him. He wore a ready- made suit of dark cloth that was ill adjusted to his body. In fact, no ready-made suit of clothes ever could fit his body. And on this night, as always, the cloth bulged with his muscles, while the coat between the shoulders, what of the heavy shoulder- development, was a maze of wrinkles. His neck was the neck of a prize-fighter,* thick and strong. So this was the social philosopher and ex-horseshoer my father had discovered, was my thought. And he certainly looked it with those bulging muscles and that bull-throat. Immediately I classified him--a sort of prodigy, I thought, a Blind Tom** of the working class.
* In that day it was the custom of men to compete for purses of money. They fought with their hands. When one was beaten into insensibility or killed, the survivor took the money.
** This obscure reference applies to a blind negro musician who took the world by storm in the latter half of the nineteenth century of the Christian Era.
And then, when he shook hands with me! His handshake was firm and strong, but he looked at me boldly with his black eyes--too boldly, I thought. You see, I was a creature of environment, and at that time had strong class instincts. Such boldness on the part of a man of my own class would have been almost unforgivable. I know that I could not avoid dropping my eyes, and I was quite relieved when I passed him on and turned to greet Bishop Morehouse--a favorite of mine, a sweet and serious man of middle age, Christ- like in appearance and goodness, and a scholar as well.
But this boldness that I took to be presumption was a vital clew to the nature of Ernest Everhard. He was simple, direct, afraid of nothing, and he refused to waste time on conventional mannerisms. You pleased me he explained long afterward; and why should I not fill my eyes with that which pleases me?" I have said that he was afraid of nothing. He was a natural aristocrat--and this in spite of the fact that he was in the camp of the non-aristocrats. He was a supermana blond beast such as Nietzsche* has describedand in addition he was aflame with democracy.
* Friederich Nietzschethe mad philosopher of the nineteenth century of the Christian Erawho caught wild glimpses of truthbut whobefore he was donereasoned himself around the great circle of human thought and off into madness.
In the interest of meeting the other guestsand what of my unfavorable impressionI forgot all about the working-class philosopherthough once or twice at table I noticed him-- especially the twinkle in his eye as he listened to the talk first of one minister and then of another. He has humorI thoughtand I almost forgave him his clothes. But the time went byand the dinner went byand he never opened his mouth to speakwhile the ministers talked interminably about the working class and its relation to the churchand what the church had done and was doing for it. I noticed that my father was annoyed because Ernest did not talk. Once father took advantage of a lull and asked him to say something; but Ernest shrugged his shoulders and with an "I have nothing to say" went on eating salted almonds.
But father was not to be denied. After a while he said:
"We have with us a member of the working class. I am sure that he can present things from a new point of view that will be interesting and refreshing. I refer to Mr. Everhard."
The others betrayed a well-mannered interestand urged Ernest for a statement of his views. Their attitude toward him was so broadly tolerant and kindly that it was really patronizing. And I saw that Ernest noted it and was amused. He looked slowly about himand I saw the glint of laughter in his eyes.
"I am not versed in the courtesies of ecclesiastical controversy he began, and then hesitated with modesty and indecision.
Go on they urged, and Dr. Hammerfield said: We do not mind the truth that is in any man. If it is sincere he amended.
Then you separate sincerity from truth?" Ernest laughed quickly.
Dr. Hammerfield gaspedand managed to answerThe best of us may be mistaken, young man, the best of us.
Ernest's manner changed on the instant. He became another man.
"All rightthen he answered; and let me begin by saying that you are all mistaken. You know nothingand worse than nothingabout the working class. Your sociology is as vicious and worthless as is your method of thinking."
It was not so much what he said as how he said it. I roused at the first sound of his voice. It was as bold as his eyes. It was a clarion-call that thrilled me. And the whole table was arousedshaken alive from monotony and drowsiness.
"What is so dreadfully vicious and worthless in our method of thinkingyoung man?" Dr. Hammerfield demandedand already there was something unpleasant in his voice and manner of utterance.
"You are metaphysicians. You can prove anything by metaphysics; and having done soevery metaphysician can prove every other metaphysician wrong--to his own satisfaction. You are anarchists in the realm of thought. And you are mad cosmos-makers. Each of you dwells in a cosmos of his own makingcreated out of his own fancies and desires. You do not know the real world in which you liveand your thinking has no place in the real world except in so far as it is phenomena of mental aberration.
"Do you know what I was reminded of as I sat at table and listened to you talk and talk? You reminded me for all the world of the scholastics of the Middle Ages who gravely and learnedly debated the absorbing question of how many angels could dance on the point of a needle. Whymy dear sirsyou are as remote from the intellectual life of the twentieth century as an Indian medicine- man making incantation in the primeval forest ten thousand years ago."
As Ernest talked he seemed in a fine passion; his face glowedhis eyes snapped and flashedand his chin and jaw were eloquent with aggressiveness. But it was only a way he had. It always aroused people. His smashingsledge-hammer manner of attack invariably made them forget themselves. And they were forgetting themselves now. Bishop Morehouse was leaning forward and listening intently. Exasperation and anger were flushing the face of Dr. Hammerfield. And others were exasperatedtooand some were smiling in an amused and superior way. As for myselfI found it most enjoyable. I glanced at fatherand I was afraid he was going to giggle at the effect of this human bombshell he had been guilty of launching amongst us.
"Your terms are rather vague Dr. Hammerfield interrupted. Just precisely what do you mean when you call us metaphysicians?"
"I call you metaphysicians because you reason metaphysically Ernest went on. Your method of reasoning is the opposite to that of science. There is no validity to your conclusions. You can prove everything and nothingand no two of you can agree upon anything. Each of you goes into his own consciousness to explain himself and the universe. As well may you lift yourselves by your own bootstraps as to explain consciousness by consciousness."
"I do not understand Bishop Morehouse said. It seems to me that all things of the mind are metaphysical. That most exact and convincing of all sciencesmathematicsis sheerly metaphysical. Each and every thought-process of the scientific reasoner is metaphysical. Surely you will agree with me?"
"As you sayyou do not understand Ernest replied. The metaphysician reasons deductively out of his own subjectivity. The scientist reasons inductively from the facts of experience. The metaphysician reasons from theory to factsthe scientist reasons from facts to theory. The metaphysician explains the universe by himselfthe scientist explains himself by the universe."
"Thank God we are not scientists Dr. Hammerfield murmured complacently.
What are you then?" Ernest demanded.
"There you go Ernest laughed. You have left the real and solid earth and are up in the air with a word for a flying machine. Pray come down to earth and tell me precisely what you do mean by philosophy."
"Philosophy is--" (Dr. Hammerfield paused and cleared his throat)-- "something that cannot be defined comprehensively except to such minds and temperaments as are philosophical. The narrow scientist with his nose in a test-tube cannot understand philosophy."
Ernest ignored the thrust. It was always his way to turn the point back upon an opponentand he did it nowwith a beaming brotherliness of face and utterance.
"Then you will undoubtedly understand the definition I shall now make of philosophy. But before I make itI shall challenge you to point out error in it or to remain a silent metaphysician. Philosophy is merely the widest science of all. Its reasoning method is the same as that of any particular science and of all particular sciences. And by that same method of reasoningthe inductive methodphilosophy fuses all particular sciences into one great science. As Spencer saysthe data of any particular science are partially unified knowledge. Philosophy unifies the knowledge that is contributed by all the sciences. Philosophy is the science of sciencethe master scienceif you please. How do you like my definition?"
"Very creditablevery creditable Dr. Hammerfield muttered lamely.
But Ernest was merciless.
Remember he warned, my definition is fatal to metaphysics. If you do not now point out a flaw in my definitionyou are disqualified later on from advancing metaphysical arguments. You must go through life seeking that flaw and remaining metaphysically silent until you have found it."
Ernest waited. The silence was painful. Dr. Hammerfield was pained. He was also puzzled. Ernest's sledge-hammer attack disconcerted him. He was not used to the simple and direct method of controversy. He looked appealingly around the tablebut no one answered for him. I caught father grinning into his napkin.
"There is another way of disqualifying the metaphysicians Ernest said, when he had rendered Dr. Hammerfield's discomfiture complete. Judge them by their works. What have they done for mankind beyond the spinning of airy fancies and the mistaking of their own shadows for gods? They have added to the gayety of mankindI grant; but what tangible good have they wrought for mankind? They philosophizedif you will pardon my misuse of the wordabout the heart as the seat of the emotionswhile the scientists were formulating the circulation of the blood. They declaimed about famine and pestilence as being scourges of Godwhile the scientists were building granaries and draining cities. They builded gods in their own shapes and out of their own desireswhile the scientists were building roads and bridges. They were describing the earth as the centre of the universewhile the scientists were discovering America and probing space for the stars and the laws of the stars. In shortthe metaphysicians have done nothingabsolutely nothingfor mankind. Step by stepbefore the advance of sciencethey have been driven back. As fast as the ascertained facts of science have overthrown their subjective explanations of thingsthey have made new subjective explanations of thingsincluding explanations of the latest ascertained facts. And thisI doubt notthey will go on doing to the end of time. Gentlemena metaphysician is a medicine man. The difference between you and the Eskimo who makes a fur-clad blubber-eating god is merely a difference of several thousand years of ascertained facts. That is all."
"Yet the thought of Aristotle ruled Europe for twelve centuries Dr. Ballingford announced pompously. And Aristotle was a metaphysician."
Dr. Ballingford glanced around the table and was rewarded by nods and smiles of approval.
"Your illustration is most unfortunate Ernest replied. You refer to a very dark period in human history. In factwe call that period the Dark Ages. A period wherein science was raped by the metaphysicianswherein physics became a search for the Philosopher's Stonewherein chemistry became alchemyand astronomy became astrology. Sorry the domination of Aristotle's thought!"
Dr. Ballingford looked painedthen he brightened up and said:
"Granted this horrible picture you have drawnyet you must confess that metaphysics was inherently potent in so far as it drew humanity out of this dark period and on into the illumination of the succeeding centuries."
"Metaphysics had nothing to do with it Ernest retorted.
What?" Dr. Hammerfield cried. "It was not the thinking and the speculation that led to the voyages of discovery?"
"Ahmy dear sir Ernest smiled, I thought you were disqualified. You have not yet picked out the flaw in my definition of philosophy. You are now on an unsubstantial basis. But it is the way of the metaphysiciansand I forgive you. NoI repeatmetaphysics had nothing to do with it. Bread and buttersilks and jewelsdollars and centsandincidentallythe closing up of the overland trade-routes to Indiawere the things that caused the voyages of discovery. With the fall of Constantinoplein 1453the Turks blocked the way of the caravans to India. The traders of Europe had to find another route. Here was the original cause for the voyages of discovery. Columbus sailed to find a new route to the Indies. It is so stated in all the history books. Incidentallynew facts were learned about the naturesizeand form of the earthand the Ptolemaic system went glimmering."
Dr. Hammerfield snorted.
"You do not agree with me?" Ernest queried. "Then wherein am I wrong?"
"I can only reaffirm my position Dr. Hammerfield retorted tartly. It is too long a story to enter into now."
"No story is too long for the scientist Ernest said sweetly. That is why the scientist gets to places. That is why he got to America."
I shall not describe the whole eveningthough it is a joy to me to recall every momentevery detailof those first hours of my coming to know Ernest Everhard.
Battle royal ragedand the ministers grew red-faced and excitedespecially at the moments when Ernest called them romantic philosophersshadow-projectorsand similar things. And always he checked them back to facts. "The factmanthe irrefragable fact!" he would proclaim triumphantlywhen he had brought one of them a cropper. He bristled with facts. He tripped them up with factsambuscaded them with factsbombarded them with broadsides of facts.
"You seem to worship at the shrine of fact Dr. Hammerfield taunted him.
There is no God but Factand Mr. Everhard is its prophet Dr. Ballingford paraphrased.
Ernest smilingly acquiesced.
I'm like the man from Texas he said. And, on being solicited, he explained. You seethe man from Missouri always saysYou've got to show me.But the man from Texas saysYou've got to put it in my hand.From which it is apparent that he is no metaphysician."
Another timewhen Ernest had just said that the metaphysical philosophers could never stand the test of truthDr. Hammerfield suddenly demanded:
"What is the test of truthyoung man? Will you kindly explain what has so long puzzled wiser heads than yours?"
"Certainly Ernest answered. His cocksureness irritated them. The wise heads have puzzled so sorely over truth because they went up into the air after it. Had they remained on the solid earththey would have found it easily enough--aythey would have found that they themselves were precisely testing truth with every practical act and thought of their lives."
"The testthe test Dr. Hammerfield repeated impatiently. Never mind the preamble. Give us that which we have sought so long--the test of truth. Give it usand we will be as gods."
There was an impolite and sneering scepticism in his words and manner that secretly pleased most of them at the tablethough it seemed to bother Bishop Morehouse.
"Dr. Jordan* has stated it very clearly Ernest said. His test of truth is: 'Will it work? Will you trust your life to it?'"
* A noted educator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries of the Christian Era. He was president of the Stanford Universitya private benefaction of the times.
"Pish!" Dr. Hammerfield sneered. "You have not taken Bishop Berkeley* into account. He has never been answered."
* An idealistic monist who long puzzled the philosophers of that time with his denial of the existence of matterbut whose clever argument was finally demolished when the new empiric facts of science were philosophically generalized.
"The noblest metaphysician of them all Ernest laughed. But your example is unfortunate. As Berkeley himself attestedhis metaphysics didn't work."
Dr. Hammerfield was angryrighteously angry. It was as though he had caught Ernest in a theft or a lie.
"Young man he trumpeted, that statement is on a par with all you have uttered to-night. It is a base and unwarranted assumption."
"I am quite crushed Ernest murmured meekly. Only I don't know what hit me. You'll have to put it in my handDoctor."
"I willI will Dr. Hammerfield spluttered. How do you know? You do not know that Bishop Berkeley attested that his metaphysics did not work. You have no proof. Young manthey have always worked."
"I take it as proof that Berkeley's metaphysics did not workbecause--" Ernest paused calmly for a moment. "Because Berkeley made an invariable practice of going through doors instead of walls. Because he trusted his life to solid bread and butter and roast beef. Because he shaved himself with a razor that worked when it removed the hair from his face."
"But those are actual things!" Dr. Hammerfield cried. "Metaphysics is of the mind."
"And they work--in the mind?" Ernest queried softly.
The other nodded.
"And even a multitude of angels can dance on the point of a needle- -in the mind Ernest went on reflectively. And a blubber-eatingfur-clad god can exist and work--in the mind; and there are no proofs to the contrary--in the mind. I supposeDoctoryou live in the mind?"
"My mind to me a kingdom is was the answer.
That's another way of saying that you live up in the air. But you come back to earth at meal-timeI am sureor when an earthquake happens along. Ortell meDoctordo you have no apprehension in an earthquake that that incorporeal body of yours will be hit by an immaterial brick?"
Instantlyand quite unconsciouslyDr. Hammerfield's hand shot up to his headwhere a scar disappeared under the hair. It happened that Ernest had blundered on an apposite illustration. Dr. Hammerfield had been nearly killed in the Great Earthquake* by a falling chimney. Everybody broke out into roars of laughter.
* The Great Earthquake of 1906 A.D. that destroyed San Francisco.
"Well?" Ernest askedwhen the merriment had subsided. "Proofs to the contrary?"
And in the silence he asked againWell?Then he addedStill well, but not so well, that argument of yours.
But Dr. Hammerfield was temporarily crushedand the battle raged on in new directions. On point after pointErnest challenged the ministers. When they affirmed that they knew the working classhe told them fundamental truths about the working class that they did not knowand challenged them for disproofs. He gave them factsalways factschecked their excursions into the airand brought them back to the solid earth and its facts.
How the scene comes back to me! I can hear him nowwith that war- note in his voiceflaying them with his factseach fact a lash that stung and stung again. And he was merciless. He took no quarter* and gave none. I can never forget the flaying he gave them at the end:
* This figure arises from the customs of the times. Whenamong men fighting to the death in their wild-animal waya beaten man threw down his weaponsit was at the option of the victor to slay him or spare him.
"You have repeatedly confessed to-nightby direct avowal or ignorant statementthat you do not know the working class. But you are not to be blamed for this. How can you know anything about the working class? You do not live in the same locality with the working class. You herd with the capitalist class in another locality. And why not? It is the capitalist class that pays youthat feeds youthat puts the very clothes on your backs that you are wearing to-night. And in return you preach to your employers the brands of metaphysics that are especially acceptable to them; and the especially acceptable brands are acceptable because they do not menace the established order of society."
Here there was a stir of dissent around the table.
"OhI am not challenging your sincerity Ernest continued. You are sincere. You preach what you believe. There lies your strength and your value--to the capitalist class. But should you change your belief to something that menaces the established orderyour preaching would be unacceptable to your employersand you would be discharged. Every little while some one or another of you is so discharged.* Am I not right?"
* During this period there were many ministers cast out of the church for preaching unacceptable doctrine. Especially were they cast out when their preaching became tainted with socialism.
This time there was no dissent. They sat dumbly acquiescentwith the exception of Dr. Hammerfieldwho said:
"It is when their thinking is wrong that they are asked to resign."
"Which is another way of saying when their thinking is unacceptable Ernest answered, and then went on. So I say to yougo ahead and preach and earn your paybut for goodness' sake leave the working class alone. You belong in the enemy's camp. You have nothing in common with the working class. Your hands are soft with the work others have performed for you. Your stomachs are round with the plenitude of eating." (Here Dr. Ballingford wincedand every eye glanced at his prodigious girth. It was said he had not seen his own feet in years.) "And your minds are filled with doctrines that are buttresses of the established order. You are as much mercenaries (sincere mercenariesI grant) as were the men of the Swiss Guard.* Be true to your salt and your hire; guardwith your preachingthe interests of your employers; but do not come down to the working class and serve as false leaders. You cannot honestly be in the two camps at once. The working class has done without you. Believe methe working class will continue to do without you. Andfurthermorethe working class can do better without you than with you."
* The hired foreign palace guards of Louis XVIa king of France that was beheaded by his people.
After the guests had gonefather threw himself into a chair and gave vent to roars of Gargantuan laughter. Not since the death of my mother had I known him to laugh so heartily.
I'll wager Dr. Hammerfield was never up against anything like it in his life he laughed. 'The courtesies of ecclesiastical controversy!' Did you notice how he began like a lamb--EverhardI meanand how quickly he became a roaring lion? He has a splendidly disciplined mind. He would have made a good scientist if his energies had been directed that way."
I need scarcely say that I was deeply interested in Ernest Everhard. It was not alone what he had said and how he had said itbut it was the man himself. I had never met a man like him. I suppose that was whyin spite of my twenty-four yearsI had not married. I liked him; I had to confess it to myself. And my like for him was founded on things beyond intellect and argument. Regardless of his bulging muscles and prize-fighter's throathe impressed me as an ingenuous boy. I felt that under the guise of an intellectual swashbuckler was a delicate and sensitive spirit. I sensed thisin ways I knew notsave that they were my woman's intuitions.
There was something in that clarion-call of his that went to my heart. It still rang in my earsand I felt that I should like to hear it again--and to see again that glint of laughter in his eyes that belied the impassioned seriousness of his face. And there were further reaches of vague and indeterminate feelings that stirred in me. I almost loved him thenthough I am confidenthad I never seen him againthat the vague feelings would have passed away and that I should easily have forgotten him.
But I was not destined never to see him again. My father's new- born interest in sociology and the dinner parties he gave would not permit. Father was not a sociologist. His marriage with my mother had been very happyand in the researches of his own sciencephysicshe had been very happy. But when mother diedhis own work could not fill the emptiness. At firstin a mild wayhe had dabbled in philosophy; thenbecoming interestedhe had drifted on into economics and sociology. He had a strong sense of justiceand he soon became fired with a passion to redress wrong. It was with gratitude that I hailed these signs of a new interest in lifethough I little dreamed what the outcome would be. With the enthusiasm of a boy he plunged excitedly into these new pursuitsregardless of whither they led him.
He had been used always to the laboratoryand so it was that he turned the dining room into a sociological laboratory. Here came to dinner all sorts and conditions of men--scientistspoliticiansbankersmerchantsprofessorslabor leaderssocialistsand anarchists. He stirred them to discussionand analyzed their thoughts of life and society.
He had met Ernest shortly prior to the "preacher's night." And after the guests were goneI learned how he had met himpassing down a street at night and stopping to listen to a man on a soap- box who was addressing a crowd of workingmen. The man on the box was Ernest. Not that he was a mere soap-box orator. He stood high in the councils of the socialist partywas one of the leadersand was the acknowledged leader in the philosophy of socialism. But he had a certain clear way of stating the abstruse in simple languagewas a born expositor and teacherand was not above the soap-box as a means of interpreting economics to the workingmen.
My father stopped to listenbecame interestedeffected a meetingandafter quite an acquaintanceinvited him to the ministers' dinner. It was after the dinner that father told me what little he knew about him. He had been born in the working classthough he was a descendant of the old line of Everhards that for over two hundred years had lived in America.* At ten years of age he had gone to work in the millsand later he served his apprenticeship and became a horseshoer. He was self-educatedhad taught himself German and Frenchand at that time was earning a meagre living by translating scientific and philosophical works for a struggling socialist publishing house in Chicago. Alsohis earnings were added to by the royalties from the small sales of his own economic and philosophic works.
* The distinction between being native born and foreign born was sharp and invidious in those days.
This much I learned of him before I went to bedand I lay long awakelistening in memory to the sound of his voice. I grew frightened at my thoughts. He was so unlike the men of my own classso alien and so strong. His masterfulness delighted me and terrified mefor my fancies wantonly roved until I found myself considering him as a loveras a husband. I had always heard that the strength of men was an irresistible attraction to women; but he was too strong. "No! no!" I cried out. "It is impossibleabsurd!" And on the morrow I awoke to find in myself a longing to see him again. I wanted to see him mastering men in discussionthe war-note in his voice; to see himin all his certitude and strengthshattering their complacencyshaking them out of their ruts of thinking. What if he did swashbuckle? To use his own phraseit worked,it produced effects. Andbesideshis swashbuckling was a fine thing to see. It stirred one like the onset of battle.
Several days passed during which I read Ernest's booksborrowed from my father. His written word was as his spoken wordclear and convincing. It was its absolute simplicity that convinced even while one continued to doubt. He had the gift of lucidity. He was the perfect expositor. Yetin spite of his stylethere was much that I did not like. He laid too great stress on what he called the class strugglethe antagonism between labor and capitalthe conflict of interest.
Father reported with glee Dr. Hammerfield's judgment of Ernestwhich was to the effect that he was "an insolent young puppymade bumptious by a little and very inadequate learning." AlsoDr. Hammerfield declined to meet Ernest again.
But Bishop Morehouse turned out to have become interested in Ernestand was anxious for another meeting. "A strong young man he said; and very much alivevery much alive. But he is too suretoo sure."
Ernest came one afternoon with father. The Bishop had already arrivedand we were having tea on the veranda. Ernest's continued presence in Berkeleyby the waywas accounted for by the fact that he was taking special courses in biology at the universityand also that he was hard at work on a new book entitled "Philosophy and Revolution."*
* This book continued to be secretly printed throughout the three centuries of the Iron Heel. There are several copies of various editions in the National Library of Ardis.
The veranda seemed suddenly to have become small when Ernest arrived. Not that he was so very large--he stood only five feet nine inches; but that he seemed to radiate an atmosphere of largeness. As he stopped to meet mehe betrayed a certain slight awkwardness that was strangely at variance with his bold-looking eyes and his firmsure hand that clasped for a moment in greeting. And in that moment his eyes were just as steady and sure. There seemed a question in them this timeand as before he looked at me over long.
"I have been reading your 'Working-class Philosophy'" I saidand his eyes lighted in a pleased way.
"Of course he answered, you took into consideration the audience to which it was addressed."
"I didand it is because I did that I have a quarrel with you I challenged.
Itoohave a quarrel with youMr. Everhard Bishop Morehouse said.
Ernest shrugged his shoulders whimsically and accepted a cup of tea.
The Bishop bowed and gave me precedence.
You foment class hatred I said. I consider it wrong and criminal to appeal to all that is narrow and brutal in the working class. Class hatred is anti-socialandit seems to meanti- socialistic."
"Not guilty he answered. Class hatred is neither in the text nor in the spirit of anything I have every written."
"Oh!" I cried reproachfullyand reached for his book and opened it.
He sipped his tea and smiled at me while I ran over the pages.
"Page one hundred and thirty-two I read aloud: 'The class strugglethereforepresents itself in the present stage of social development between the wage-paying and the wage-paid classes.'"
I looked at him triumphantly.
"No mention there of class hatred he smiled back.
But I answered, you say 'class struggle.'"
"A different thing from class hatred he replied. Andbelieve mewe foment no hatred. We say that the class struggle is a law of social development. We are not responsible for it. We do not make the class struggle. We merely explain itas Newton explained gravitation. We explain the nature of the conflict of interest that produces the class struggle."
"But there should be no conflict of interest!" I cried.
"I agree with you heartily he answered. That is what we socialists are trying to bring about--the abolition of the conflict of interest. Pardon me. Let me read an extract." He took his book and turned back several pages. "Page one hundred and twenty-six: 'The cycle of class struggles which began with the dissolution of rudetribal communism and the rise of private property will end with the passing of private property in the means of social existence.'"
"But I disagree with you the Bishop interposed, his pale, ascetic face betraying by a faint glow the intensity of his feelings. Your premise is wrong. There is no such thing as a conflict of interest between labor and capital--orratherthere ought not to be."
"Thank you Ernest said gravely. By that last statement you have given me back my premise."
"But why should there be a conflict?" the Bishop demanded warmly.
Ernest shrugged his shoulders. "Because we are so madeI guess."
"But we are not so made!" cried the other.
"Are you discussing the ideal man?" Ernest asked--unselfish and godlike, and so few in numbers as to be practically non-existent, or are you discussing the common and ordinary average man?
"The common and ordinary man was the answer.
Who is weak and fallibleprone to error?"
Bishop Morehouse nodded.
"And petty and selfish?"
Again he nodded.
"Watch out!" Ernest warned. "I said 'selfish.'"
"The average man IS selfish the Bishop affirmed valiantly.
Wants all he can get?"
"Wants all he can get--true but deplorable."
"Then I've got you." Ernest's jaw snapped like a trap. "Let me show you. Here is a man who works on the street railways."
"He couldn't work if it weren't for capital the Bishop interrupted.
Trueand you will grant that capital would perish if there were no labor to earn the dividends."
The Bishop was silent.
"Won't you?" Ernest insisted.
The Bishop nodded.
"Then our statements cancel each other Ernest said in a matter- of-fact tone, and we are where we were. Now to begin again. The workingmen on the street railway furnish the labor. The stockholders furnish the capital. By the joint effort of the workingmen and the capitalmoney is earned.* They divide between them this money that is earned. Capital's share is called 'dividends.' Labor's share is called 'wages.'"
* In those daysgroups of predatory individuals controlled all the means of transportationand for the use of same levied toll upon the public.
"Very good the Bishop interposed. And there is no reason that the division should not be amicable."
"You have already forgotten what we had agreed upon Ernest replied. We agreed that the average man is selfish. He is the man that is. You have gone up in the air and are arranging a division between the kind of men that ought to be but are not. But to return to the earththe workingmanbeing selfishwants all he can get in the division. The capitalistbeing selfishwants all he can get in the division. When there is only so much of the same thingand when two men want all they can get of the same thingthere is a conflict of interest between labor and capital. And it is an irreconcilable conflict. As long as workingmen and capitalists existthey will continue to quarrel over the division. If you were in San Francisco this afternoonyou'd have to walk. There isn't a street car running."
"Another strike?"* the Bishop queried with alarm.
* These quarrels were very common in those irrational and anarchic times. Sometimes the laborers refused to work. Sometimes the capitalists refused to let the laborers work. In the violence and turbulence of such disagreements much property was destroyed and many lives lost. All this is inconceivable to us--as inconceivable as another custom of that timenamelythe habit the men of the lower classes had of breaking the furniture when they quarrelled with their wives.
"Yesthey're quarrelling over the division of the earnings of the street railways."
Bishop Morehouse became excited.
"It is wrong!" he cried. "It is so short-sighted on the part of the workingmen. How can they hope to keep our sympathy--"
"When we are compelled to walk Ernest said slyly.
But Bishop Morehouse ignored him and went on:
Their outlook is too narrow. Men should be mennot brutes. There will be violence and murder nowand sorrowing widows and orphans. Capital and labor should be friends. They should work hand in hand and to their mutual benefit."
"Ahnow you are up in the air again Ernest remarked dryly. Come back to earth. Rememberwe agreed that the average man is selfish."
"But he ought not to be!" the Bishop cried.
"And there I agree with you was Ernest's rejoinder. He ought not to be selfishbut he will continue to be selfish as long as he lives in a social system that is based on pig-ethics."
The Bishop was aghastand my father chuckled.
"Yespig-ethics Ernest went on remorselessly. That is the meaning of the capitalist system. And that is what your church is standing forwhat you are preaching for every time you get up in the pulpit. Pig-ethics! There is no other name for it."
Bishop Morehouse turned appealingly to my fatherbut he laughed and nodded his head.
"I'm afraid Mr. Everhard is right he said. LAISSEZ-FAIREthe let-alone policy of each for himself and devil take the hindmost. As Mr. Everhard said the other nightthe function you churchmen perform is to maintain the established order of societyand society is established on that foundation."
"But that is not the teaching of Christ!" cried the Bishop.
"The Church is not teaching Christ these days Ernest put in quickly. That is why the workingmen will have nothing to do with the Church. The Church condones the frightful brutality and savagery with which the capitalist class treats the working class."
"The Church does not condone it the Bishop objected.
The Church does not protest against it Ernest replied. And in so far as the Church does not protestit condonesfor remember the Church is supported by the capitalist class."
"I had not looked at it in that light the Bishop said naively. You must be wrong. I know that there is much that is sad and wicked in this world. I know that the Church has lost the--what you call the proletariat."*
* Proletariat: Derived originally from the Latin PROLETARIIthe name given in the census of Servius Tullius to those who were of value to the state only as the rearers of offspring (PROLES); in other wordsthey were of no importance either for wealthor positionor exceptional ability.
"You never had the proletariat Ernest cried. The proletariat has grown up outside the Church and without the Church."
"I do not follow you the Bishop said faintly.
Then let me explain. With the introduction of machinery and the factory system in the latter part of the eighteenth centurythe great mass of the working people was separated from the land. The old system of labor was broken down. The working people were driven from their villages and herded in factory towns. The mothers and children were put to work at the new machines. Family life ceased. The conditions were frightful. It is a tale of blood."
"I knowI know Bishop Morehouse interrupted with an agonized expression on his face. It was terrible. But it occurred a century and a half ago."
"And therea century and a half agooriginated the modern proletariat Ernest continued. And the Church ignored it. While a slaughter-house was made of the nation by the capitalistthe Church was dumb. It did not protestas to-day it does not protest. As Austin Lewis* saysspeaking of that timethose to whom the command 'Feed my lambs' had been givensaw those lambs sold into slavery and worked to death without a protest.** The Church was dumbthenand before I go on I want you either flatly to agree with me or flatly to disagree with me. Was the Church dumb then?"
* Candidate for Governor of California on the Socialist ticket in the fall election of 1906 Christian Era. An Englishman by birtha writer of many books on political economy and philosophyand one of the Socialist leaders of the times.
** There is no more horrible page in history than the treatment of the child and women slaves in the English factories in the latter half of the eighteenth century of the Christian Era. In such industrial hells arose some of the proudest fortunes of that day.
Bishop Morehouse hesitated. Like Dr. Hammerfieldhe was unused to this fierce "infighting as Ernest called it.
The history of the eighteenth century is written Ernest prompted. If the Church was not dumbit will be found not dumb in the books."
"I am afraid the Church was dumb the Bishop confessed.
And the Church is dumb to-day."
"There I disagree said the Bishop.
Ernest paused, looked at him searchingly, and accepted the challenge.
All right he said. Let us see. In Chicago there are women who toil all the week for ninety cents. Has the Church protested?"
"This is news to me was the answer. Ninety cents per week! It is horrible!"
"Has the Church protested?" Ernest insisted.
"The Church does not know." The Bishop was struggling hard.
"Yet the command to the Church was'Feed my lambs'" Ernest sneered. And thenthe next momentPardon my sneer, Bishop. But can you wonder that we lose patience with you? When have you protested to your capitalistic congregations at the working of children in the Southern cotton mills?* Children, six and seven years of age, working every night at twelve-hour shifts? They never see the blessed sunshine. They die like flies. The dividends are paid out of their blood. And out of the dividends magnificent churches are builded in New England, wherein your kind preaches pleasant platitudes to the sleek, full-bellied recipients of those dividends.
* Everhard might have drawn a better illustration from the Southern Church's outspoken defence of chattel slavery prior to what is known as the "War of the Rebellion." Several such illustrationsculled from the documents of the timesare here appended. In 1835 A.D.the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church resolved that: "slavery is recognized in both the Old and the New Testamentsand is not condemned by the authority of God." The Charleston Baptist Association issued the followingin an addressin 1835 A.D.: "The right of masters to dispose of the time of their slaves has been distinctly recognized by the Creator of all thingswho is surely at liberty to vest the right of property over any object whomsoever He pleases." The Rev. E. D. SimonDoctor of Divinity and professor in the Randolph-Macon Methodist College of Virginiawrote: "Extracts from Holy Writ unequivocally assert the right of property in slavestogether with the usual incidents to that right. The right to buy and sell is clearly stated. Upon the wholethenwhether we consult the Jewish policy instituted by God himselfor the uniform opinion and practice of mankind in all agesor the injunctions of the New Testament and the moral lawwe are brought to the conclusion that slavery is not immoral. Having established the point that the first African slaves were legally brought into bondagethe right to detain their children in bondage follows as an indispensable consequence. Thus we see that the slavery that exists in America was founded in right."
It is not at all remarkable that this same note should have been struck by the Church a generation or so later in relation to the defence of capitalistic property. In the great museum at Asgard there is a book entitled "Essays in Application written by Henry van Dyke. The book was published in 1905 of the Christian Era. From what we can make out, Van Dyke must have been a churchman. The book is a good example of what Everhard would have called bourgeois thinking. Note the similarity between the utterance of the Charleston Baptist Association quoted above, and the following utterance of Van Dyke seventy years later: The Bible teaches that God owns the world. He distributes to every man according to His own good pleasureconformably to general laws."
"I did not know the Bishop murmured faintly. His face was pale, and he seemed suffering from nausea.
Then you have not protested?"
The Bishop shook his head.
"Then the Church is dumb to-dayas it was in the eighteenth century?"
The Bishop was silentand for once Ernest forbore to press the point.
"And do not forgetwhenever a churchman does protestthat he is discharged."
"I hardly think that is fair was the objection.
Will you protest?" Ernest demanded.
"Show me evilssuch as you mentionin our own communityand I will protest."
"I'll show you Ernest said quietly. I am at your disposal. I will take you on a journey through hell."
"And I shall protest." The Bishop straightened himself in his chairand over his gentle face spread the harshness of the warrior. "The Church shall not be dumb!"
"You will be discharged was the warning.
I shall prove the contrary was the retort. I shall proveif what you say is sothat the Church has erred through ignorance. AndfurthermoreI hold that whatever is horrible in industrial society is due to the ignorance of the capitalist class. It will mend all that is wrong as soon as it receives the message. And this message it shall be the duty of the Church to deliver."
Ernest laughed. He laughed brutallyand I was driven to the Bishop's defence.
"Remember I said, you see but one side of the shield. There is much good in usthough you give us credit for no good at all. Bishop Morehouse is right. The industrial wrongterrible as you say it isis due to ignorance. The divisions of society have become too widely separated."
"The wild Indian is not so brutal and savage as the capitalist class he answered; and in that moment I hated him.
You do not know us I answered. We are not brutal and savage."
"Prove it he challenged.
How can I prove it . . . to you?" I was growing angry.
He shook his head. "I do not ask you to prove it to me. I ask you to prove it to yourself."
"I know I said.
You know nothing was his rude reply.
Theretherechildren father said soothingly.
I don't care--" I began indignantlybut Ernest interrupted.
"I understand you have moneyor your father haswhich is the same thing--money invested in the Sierra Mills."
"What has that to do with it?" I cried.
"Nothing much he began slowly, except that the gown you wear is stained with blood. The food you eat is a bloody stew. The blood of little children and of strong men is dripping from your very roof-beams. I can close my eyesnowand hear it dripdropdripdropall about me."
And suiting the action to the wordshe closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. I burst into tears of mortification and hurt vanity. I had never been so brutally treated in my life. Both the Bishop and my father were embarrassed and perturbed. They tried to lead the conversation away into easier channels; but Ernest opened his eyeslooked at meand waved them aside. His mouth was sternand his eyes too; and in the latter there was no glint of laughter. What he was about to saywhat terrible castigation he was going to give meI never knew; for at that moment a manpassing along the sidewalkstopped and glanced in at us. He was a large manpoorly dressedand on his back was a great load of rattan and bamboo standschairsand screens. He looked at the house as if debating whether or not he should come in and try to sell some of his wares.
"That man's name is Jackson Ernest said.
With that strong body of his he should be at workand not peddling* I answered curtly.
* In that day there were many thousands of these poor merchants called PEDLERS. They carried their whole stock in trade from door to door. It was a most wasteful expenditure of energy. Distribution was as confused and irrational as the whole general system of society.
Notice the sleeve of his left arm Ernest said gently.
I looked, and saw that the sleeve was empty.
It was some of the blood from that arm that I heard dripping from your roof-beams Ernest said with continued gentleness. He lost his arm in the Sierra Millsand like a broken-down horse you turned him out on the highway to die. When I say 'you' I mean the superintendent and the officials that you and the other stockholders pay to manage the mills for you. It was an accident. It was caused by his trying to save the company a few dollars. The toothed drum of the picker caught his arm. He might have let the small flint that he saw in the teeth go through. It would have smashed out a double row of spikes. But he reached for the flintand his arm was picked and clawed to shreds from the finger tips to the shoulder. It was at night. The mills were working overtime. They paid a fat dividend that quarter. Jackson had been working many hoursand his muscles had lost their resiliency and snap. They made his movements a bit slow. That was why the machine caught him. He had a wife and three children."
"And what did the company do for him?" I asked.
"Nothing. Ohyesthey did do something. They successfully fought the damage suit he brought when he came out of hospital. The company employs very efficient lawyersyou know."
"You have not told the whole story I said with conviction. Or else you do not know the whole story. Maybe the man was insolent."
"Insolent! Ha! ha!" His laughter was Mephistophelian. "Great God! Insolent! And with his arm chewed off! Nevertheless he was a meek and lowly servantand there is no record of his having been insolent."
"But the courts I urged. The case would not have been decided against him had there been no more to the affair than you have mentioned."
"Colonel Ingram is leading counsel for the company. He is a shrewd lawyer." Ernest looked at me intently for a momentthen went on. "I'll tell you what you doMiss Cunningham. You investigate Jackson's case."
"I had already determined to I said coldly.
All right he beamed good-naturedly, and I'll tell you where to find him. But I tremble for you when I think of all you are to prove by Jackson's arm."
And so it came about that both the Bishop and I accepted Ernest's challenges. They went away togetherleaving me smarting with a sense of injustice that had been done me and my class. The man was a beast. I hated himthenand consoled myself with the thought that his behavior was what was to be expected from a man of the working class.
Little did I dream the fateful part Jackson's arm was to play in my life. Jackson himself did not impress me when I hunted him out. I found him in a crazyramshackle* house down near the bay on the edge of the marsh. Pools of stagnant water stood around the housetheir surfaces covered with a green and putrid-looking scumwhile the stench that arose from them was intolerable.
* An adjective descriptive of ruined and dilapidated houses in which great numbers of the working people found shelter in those days. They invariably paid rentandconsidering the value of such housesenormous rentto the landlords.
I found Jackson the meek and lowly man he had been described. He was making some sort of rattan-workand he toiled on stolidly while I talked with him. But in spite of his meekness and lowlinessI fancied I caught the first note of a nascent bitterness in him when he said:
"They might a-given me a job as watchman* anyway."
* In those days thievery was incredibly prevalent. Everybody stole property from everybody else. The lords of society stole legally or else legalized their stealingwhile the poorer classes stole illegally. Nothing was safe unless guarded. Enormous numbers of men were employed as watchmen to protect property. The houses of the well-to-do were a combination of safe deposit vault and fortress. The appropriation of the personal belongings of others by our own children of to-day is looked upon as a rudimentary survival of the theft-characteristic that in those early times was universal.
I got little out of him. He struck me as stupidand yet the deftness with which he worked with his one hand seemed to belie his stupidity. This suggested an idea to me.
"How did you happen to get your arm caught in the machine?" I asked.
He looked at me in a slow and pondering wayand shook his head. "I don't know. It just happened."
"Carelessness?" I prompted.
"No he answered, I ain't for callin' it that. I was workin' overtimean' I guess I was tired out some. I worked seventeen years in them millsan' I've took notice that most of the accidents happens just before whistle-blow.* I'm willin' to bet that more accidents happens in the hour before whistle-blow than in all the rest of the day. A man ain't so quick after workin' steady for hours. I've seen too many of 'em cut up an' gouged an' chawed not to know."
* The laborers were called to work and dismissed by savagescreamingnerve-racking steam-whistles.
"Many of them?" I queried.
"Hundreds an' hundredsan' childrentoo."
With the exception of the terrible detailsJackson's story of his accident was the same as that I had already heard. When I asked him if he had broken some rule of working the machineryhe shook his head.
"I chucked off the belt with my right hand he said, an' made a reach for the flint with my left. I didn't stop to see if the belt was off. I thought my right hand had done it--only it didn't. I reached quickand the belt wasn't all the way off. And then my arm was chewed off."
"It must have been painful I said sympathetically.
The crunchin' of the bones wasn't nice was his answer.
His mind was rather hazy concerning the damage suit. Only one thing was clear to him, and that was that he had not got any damages. He had a feeling that the testimony of the foremen and the superintendent had brought about the adverse decision of the court. Their testimony, as he put it, wasn't what it ought to have ben." And to them I resolved to go.
One thing was plainJackson's situation was wretched. His wife was in ill healthand he was unable to earnby his rattan-work and peddlingsufficient food for the family. He was back in his rentand the oldest boya lad of elevenhad started to work in the mills.
"They might a-given me that watchman's job were his last words as I went away.
By the time I had seen the lawyer who had handled Jackson's case, and the two foremen and the superintendent at the mills who had testified, I began to feel that there was something after all in Ernest's contention.
He was a weak and inefficient-looking man, the lawyer, and at sight of him I did not wonder that Jackson's case had been lost. My first thought was that it had served Jackson right for getting such a lawyer. But the next moment two of Ernest's statements came flashing into my consciousness: The company employs very efficient lawyers" and "Colonel Ingram is a shrewd lawyer." I did some rapid thinking. It dawned upon me that of course the company could afford finer legal talent than could a workingman like Jackson. But this was merely a minor detail. There was some very good reasonI was surewhy Jackson's case had gone against him.
"Why did you lose the case?" I asked.
The lawyer was perplexed and worried for a momentand I found it in my heart to pity the wretched little creature. Then he began to whine. I do believe his whine was congenital. He was a man beaten at birth. He whined about the testimony. The witnesses had given only the evidence that helped the other side. Not one word could he get out of them that would have helped Jackson. They knew which side their bread was buttered on. Jackson was a fool. He had been brow-beaten and confused by Colonel Ingram. Colonel Ingram was brilliant at cross-examination. He had made Jackson answer damaging questions.
"How could his answers be damaging if he had the right on his side?" I demanded.
"What's right got to do with it?" he demanded back. "You see all those books." He moved his hand over the array of volumes on the walls of his tiny office. "All my reading and studying of them has taught me that law is one thing and right is another thing. Ask any lawyer. You go to Sunday-school to learn what is right. But you go to those books to learn . . . law."
"Do you mean to tell me that Jackson had the right on his side and yet was beaten?" I queried tentatively. "Do you mean to tell me that there is no justice in Judge Caldwell's court?"
The little lawyer glared at me a momentand then the belligerence faded out of his face.
"I hadn't a fair chance he began whining again. They made a fool out of Jackson and out of metoo. What chance had I? Colonel Ingram is a great lawyer. If he wasn't greatwould he have charge of the law business of the Sierra Millsof the Erston Land Syndicateof the Berkeley Consolidatedof the OaklandSan Leandroand Pleasanton Electric? He's a corporation lawyerand corporation lawyers are not paid for being fools.* What do you think the Sierra Mills alone give him twenty thousand dollars a year for? Because he's worth twenty thousand dollars a year to themthat's what for. I'm not worth that much. If I wasI wouldn't be on the outsidestarving and taking cases like Jackson's. What do you think I'd have got if I'd won Jackson's case?"
* The function of the corporation lawyer was to serveby corrupt methodsthe money-grabbing propensities of the corporations. It is on record that Theodore Rooseveltat that time President of the United Statessaid in 1905 A.D.in his address at Harvard Commencement: "We all know thatas things actually aremany of the most influential and most highly remunerated members of the Bar in every centre of wealthmake it their special task to work out bold and ingenious schemes by which their wealthy clientsindividual or corporatecan evade the laws which were made to regulatein the interests of the publicthe uses of great wealth."
"You'd have robbed himmost probably I answered.
Of course I would he cried angrily. I've got to livehaven't I?"*
* A typical illustration of the internecine strife that permeated all society. Men preyed upon one another like ravening wolves. The big wolves ate the little wolvesand in the social pack Jackson was one of the least of the little wolves.
"He has a wife and children I chided.
So have I a wife and children he retorted. And there's not a soul in this world except myself that cares whether they starve or not."
His face suddenly softenedand he opened his watch and showed me a small photograph of a woman and two little girls pasted inside the case.
"There they are. Look at them. We've had a hard timea hard time. I had hoped to send them away to the country if I'd won Jackson's case. They're not healthy herebut I can't afford to send them away."
When I started to leavehe dropped back into his whine.
"I hadn't the ghost of a chance. Colonel Ingram and Judge Caldwell are pretty friendly. I'm not saying that if I'd got the right kind of testimony out of their witnesses on cross-examinationthat friendship would have decided the case. And yet I must say that Judge Caldwell did a whole lot to prevent my getting that very testimony. WhyJudge Caldwell and Colonel Ingram belong to the same lodge and the same club. They live in the same neighborhood-- one I can't afford. And their wives are always in and out of each other's houses. They're always having whist parties and such things back and forth."
"And yet you think Jackson had the right of it?" I askedpausing for the moment on the threshold.
"I don't think; I know it was his answer. And at first I thought he had some showtoo. But I didn't tell my wife. I didn't want to disappoint her. She had her heart set on a trip to the country hard enough as it was."
"Why did you not call attention to the fact that Jackson was trying to save the machinery from being injured?" I asked Peter Donnellyone of the foremen who had testified at the trial.
He pondered a long time before replying. Then he cast an anxious look about him and said:
"Because I've a good wife an' three of the sweetest children ye ever laid eyes onthat's why."
"I do not understand I said.
In other wordsbecause it wouldn't a-ben healthy he answered.
You mean--" I began.
But he interrupted passionately.
"I mean what I said. It's long years I've worked in the mills. I began as a little lad on the spindles. I worked up ever since. It's by hard work I got to my present exalted position. I'm a foremanif you please. An' I doubt me if there's a man in the mills that'd put out a hand to drag me from drownin'. I used to belong to the union. But I've stayed by the company through two strikes. They called me 'scab.' There's not a man among 'em to- day to take a drink with me if I asked him. D'ye see the scars on me head where I was struck with flying bricks? There ain't a child at the spindles but what would curse me name. Me only friend is the company. It's not me dutybut me bread an' butter an' the life of me children to stand by the mills. That's why."
"Was Jackson to blame?" I asked.
"He should a-got the damages. He was a good worker an' never made trouble."
"Then you were not at liberty to tell the whole truthas you had sworn to do?"
He shook his head.
"The truththe whole truthand nothing but the truth?" I said solemnly.
Again his face became impassionedand he lifted itnot to mebut to heaven.
"I'd let me soul an' body burn in everlastin' hell for them children of mine was his answer.
Henry Dallas, the superintendent, was a vulpine-faced creature who regarded me insolently and refused to talk. Not a word could I get from him concerning the trial and his testimony. But with the other foreman I had better luck. James Smith was a hard-faced man, and my heart sank as I encountered him. He, too, gave me the impression that he was not a free agent, as we talked I began to see that he was mentally superior to the average of his kind. He agreed with Peter Donnelly that Jackson should have got damages, and he went farther and called the action heartless and cold- blooded that had turned the worker adrift after he had been made helpless by the accident. Also, he explained that there were many accidents in the mills, and that the company's policy was to fight to the bitter end all consequent damage suits.
It means hundreds of thousands a year to the stockholders he said; and as he spoke I remembered the last dividend that had been paid my father, and the pretty gown for me and the books for him that had been bought out of that dividend. I remembered Ernest's charge that my gown was stained with blood, and my flesh began to crawl underneath my garments.
When you testified at the trialyou didn't point out that Jackson received his accident through trying to save the machinery from damage?" I said.
"NoI did not was the answer, and his mouth set bitterly. I testified to the effect that Jackson injured himself by neglect and carelessnessand that the company was not in any way to blame or liable."
"Was it carelessness?" I asked.
"Call it thator anything you want to call it. The fact isa man gets tired after he's been working for hours."
I was becoming interested in the man. He certainly was of a superior kind.
"You are better educated than most workingmen I said.
I went through high school he replied. I worked my way through doing janitor-work. I wanted to go through the university. But my father diedand I came to work in the mills.
"I wanted to become a naturalist he explained shyly, as though confessing a weakness. I love animals. But I came to work in the mills. When I was promoted to foreman I got marriedthen the family cameand . . . wellI wasn't my own boss any more."
"What do you mean by that?" I asked.
"I was explaining why I testified at the trial the way I did--why I followed instructions."
"Colonel Ingram. He outlined the evidence I was to give."
"And it lost Jackson's case for him."
He noddedand the blood began to rise darkly in his face.
"And Jackson had a wife and two children dependent on him."
"I know he said quietly, though his face was growing darker.
Tell me I went on, was it easy to make yourself over from what you weresay in high schoolto the man you must have become to do such a thing at the trial?"
The suddenness of his outburst startled and frightened me. He ripped* out a savage oathand clenched his fist as though about to strike me.
* It is interesting to note the virilities of language that were common speech in that dayas indicative of the life'red of claw and fang' that was then lived. Reference is here madeof coursenot to the oath of Smithbut to the verb ripped used by Avis Everhard.
"I beg your pardon he said the next moment. Noit was not easy. And now I guess you can go away. You've got all you wanted out of me. But let me tell you this before you go. It won't do you any good to repeat anything I've said. I'll deny itand there are no witnesses. I'll deny every word of it; and if I have toI'll do it under oath on the witness stand."
After my interview with Smith I went to my father's office in the Chemistry Building and there encountered Ernest. It was quite unexpectedbut he met me with his bold eyes and firm hand-claspand with that curious blend of his awkwardness and ease. It was as though our last stormy meeting was forgotten; but I was not in the mood to have it forgotten.
"I have been looking up Jackson's case I said abruptly.
He was all interested attention, and waited for me to go on, though I could see in his eyes the certitude that my convictions had been shaken.
He seems to have been badly treated I confessed. I--I--think some of his blood is dripping from our roof-beams."
"Of course he answered. If Jackson and all his fellows were treated mercifullythe dividends would not be so large."
"I shall never be able to take pleasure in pretty gowns again I added.
I felt humble and contrite, and was aware of a sweet feeling that Ernest was a sort of father confessor. Then, as ever after, his strength appealed to me. It seemed to radiate a promise of peace and protection.
Nor will you be able to take pleasure in sackcloth he said gravely. There are the jute millsyou knowand the same thing goes on there. It goes on everywhere. Our boasted civilization is based upon bloodsoaked in bloodand neither you nor I nor any of us can escape the scarlet stain. The men you talked with--who were they?"
I told him all that had taken place.
"And not one of them was a free agent he said. They were all tied to the merciless industrial machine. And the pathos of it and the tragedy is that they are tied by their heartstrings. Their children--always the young life that it is their instinct to protect. This instinct is stronger than any ethic they possess. My father! He liedhe stolehe did all sorts of dishonorable things to put bread into my mouth and into the mouths of my brothers and sisters. He was a slave to the industrial machineand it stamped his life outworked him to death."
"But you I interjected. You are surely a free agent."
"Not wholly he replied. I am not tied by my heartstrings. I am often thankful that I have no childrenand I dearly love children. Yet if I married I should not dare to have any."
"That surely is bad doctrine I cried.
I know it is he said sadly. But it is expedient doctrine. I am a revolutionistand it is a perilous vocation."
I laughed incredulously.
"If I tried to enter your father's house at night to steal his dividends from the Sierra Millswhat would he do?"
"He sleeps with a revolver on the stand by the bed I answered. He would most probably shoot you."
"And if I and a few others should lead a million and a half of men* into the houses of all the well-to-dothere would be a great deal of shootingwouldn't there?"
* This reference is to the socialist vote cast in the United States in 1910. The rise of this vote clearly indicates the swift growth of the party of revolution. Its voting strength in the United States in 1888 was 2068; in 1902127713; in 1904435040; in 19081108427; and in 19101688211.
"Yesbut you are not doing that I objected.
It is precisely what I am doing. And we intend to takenot the mere wealth in the housesbut all the sources of that wealthall the minesand railroadsand factoriesand banksand stores. That is the revolution. It is truly perilous. There will be more shootingI am afraidthan even I dream of. But as I was sayingno one to-day is a free agent. We are all caught up in the wheels and cogs of the industrial machine. You found that you wereand that the men you talked with were. Talk with more of them. Go and see Colonel Ingram. Look up the reporters that kept Jackson's case out of the papersand the editors that run the papers. You will find them all slaves of the machine."
A little later in our conversation I asked him a simple little question about the liability of workingmen to accidentsand received a statistical lecture in return.
"It is all in the books he said. The figures have been gatheredand it has been proved conclusively that accidents rarely occur in the first hours of the morning workbut that they increase rapidly in the succeeding hours as the workers grow tired and slower in both their muscular and mental processes.
"Whydo you know that your father has three times as many chances for safety of life and limb than has a working-man? He has. The insurance* companies know. They will charge him four dollars and twenty cents a year on a thousand-dollar accident policyand for the same policy they will charge a laborer fifteen dollars."
* In the terrible wolf-struggle of those centuriesno man was permanently safeno matter how much wealth he amassed. Out of fear for the welfare of their familiesmen devised the scheme of insurance. To usin this intelligent agesuch a device is laughably absurd and primitive. But in that age insurance was a very serious matter. The amusing part of it is that the funds of the insurance companies were frequently plundered and wasted by the very officials who were intrusted with the management of them.
"And you?" I asked; and in the moment of asking I was aware of a solicitude that was something more than slight.
"Ohas a revolutionistI have about eight chances to the workingman's one of being injured or killed he answered carelessly. The insurance companies charge the highly trained chemists that handle explosives eight times what they charge the workingmen. I don't think they'd insure me at all. Why did you ask?"
My eyes flutteredand I could feel the blood warm in my face. It was not that he had caught me in my solicitudebut that I had caught myselfand in his presence.
Just then my father came in and began making preparations to depart with me. Ernest returned some books he had borrowedand went away first. But just as he was goinghe turned and said:
"Ohby the waywhile you are ruining your own peace of mind and I am ruining the Bishop'syou'd better look up Mrs. Wickson and Mrs. Pertonwaithe. Their husbandsyou knoware the two principal stockholders in the Mills. Like all the rest of humanitythose two women are tied to the machinebut they are so tied that they sit on top of it."
The more I thought of Jackson's armthe more shaken I was. I was confronted by the concrete. For the first time I was seeing life. My university lifeand study and culturehad not been real. I had learned nothing but theories of life and society that looked all very well on the printed pagebut now I had seen life itself. Jackson's arm was a fact of life. "The factmanthe irrefragable fact!" of Ernest's was ringing in my consciousness.
It seemed monstrousimpossiblethat our whole society was based upon blood. And yet there was Jackson. I could not get away from him. Constantly my thought swung back to him as the compass to the Pole. He had been monstrously treated. His blood had not been paid for in order that a larger dividend might be paid. And I knew a score of happy complacent families that had received those dividends and by that much had profited by Jackson's blood. If one man could be so monstrously treated and society move on its way unheedingmight not many men be so monstrously treated? I remembered Ernest's women of Chicago who toiled for ninety cents a weekand the child slaves of the Southern cotton mills he had described. And I could see their wan white handsfrom which the blood had been pressedat work upon the cloth out of which had been made my gown. And then I thought of the Sierra Mills and the dividends that had been paidand I saw the blood of Jackson upon my gown as well. Jackson I could not escape. Always my meditations led me back to him.
Down in the depths of me I had a feeling that I stood on the edge of a precipice. It was as though I were about to see a new and awful revelation of life. And not I alone. My whole world was turning over. There was my father. I could see the effect Ernest was beginning to have on him. And then there was the Bishop. When I had last seen him he had looked a sick man. He was at high nervous tensionand in his eyes there was unspeakable horror. From the little I learned I knew that Ernest had been keeping his promise of taking him through hell. But what scenes of hell the Bishop's eyes had seenI knew notfor he seemed too stunned to speak about them.
Oncethe feeling strong upon me that my little world and all the world was turning overI thought of Ernest as the cause of it; and also I thoughtWe were so happy and peaceful before he came!And the next moment I was aware that the thought was a treason against truthand Ernest rose before me transfiguredthe apostle of truthwith shining brows and the fearlessness of one of Gods own angelsbattling for the truth and the rightand battling for the succor of the poor and lonely and oppressed. And then there arose before me another figurethe Christ! Hetoohad taken the part of the lowly and oppressedand against all the established power of priest and pharisee. And I remembered his end upon the crossand my heart contracted with a pang as I thought of Ernest. Was hetoodestined for a cross?--hewith his clarion call and war-noted voiceand all the fine man's vigor of him!
And in that moment I knew that I loved himand that I was melting with desire to comfort him. I thought of his life. A sordidharshand meagre life it must have been. And I thought of his fatherwho had lied and stolen for him and been worked to death. And he himself had gone into the mills when he was ten! All my heart seemed bursting with desire to fold my arms around himand to rest his head on my breast--his head that must be weary with so many thoughts; and to give him rest--just rest--and easement and forgetfulness for a tender space.
I met Colonel Ingram at a church reception. Him I knew well and had known well for many years. I trapped him behind large palms and rubber plantsthough he did not know he was trapped. He met me with the conventional gayety and gallantry. He was ever a graceful mandiplomatictactfuland considerate. And as for appearancehe was the most distinguished-looking man in our society. Beside him even the venerable head of the university looked tawdry and small.
And yet I found Colonel Ingram situated the same as the unlettered mechanics. He was not a free agent. Hetoowas bound upon the wheel. I shall never forget the change in him when I mentioned Jackson's case. His smiling good nature vanished like a ghost. A suddenfrightful expression distorted his well-bred face. I felt the same alarm that I had felt when James Smith broke out. But Colonel Ingram did not curse. That was the slight difference that was left between the workingman and him. He was famed as a witbut he had no wit now. Andunconsciouslythis way and that he glanced for avenues of escape. But he was trapped amid the palms and rubber trees.
Ohhe was sick of the sound of Jackson's name. Why had I brought the matter up? He did not relish my joke. It was poor taste on my partand very inconsiderate. Did I not know that in his profession personal feelings did not count? He left his personal feelings at home when he went down to the office. At the office he had only professional feelings.
"Should Jackson have received damages?" I asked.
"Certainly he answered. That ispersonallyI have a feeling that he should. But that has nothing to do with the legal aspects of the case."
He was getting his scattered wits slightly in hand.
"Tell mehas right anything to do with the law?" I asked.
"You have used the wrong initial consonant he smiled in answer.
Might?" I queried; and he nodded his head. "And yet we are supposed to get justice by means of the law?"
"That is the paradox of it he countered. We do get justice."
"You are speaking professionally noware you not?" I asked.
Colonel Ingram blushedactually blushedand again he looked anxiously about him for a way of escape. But I blocked his path and did not offer to move.
"Tell me I said, when one surrenders his personal feelings to his professional feelingsmay not the action be defined as a sort of spiritual mayhem?"
I did not get an answer. Colonel Ingram had ingloriously boltedoverturning a palm in his flight.
Next I tried the newspapers. I wrote a quietrestraineddispassionate account of Jackson's case. I made no charges against the men with whom I had talkednorfor that matterdid I even mention them. I gave the actual facts of the casethe long years Jackson had worked in the millshis effort to save the machinery from damage and the consequent accidentand his own present wretched and starving condition. The three local newspapers rejected my communicationlikewise did the two weeklies.
I got hold of Percy Layton. He was a graduate of the universityhad gone in for journalismand was then serving his apprenticeship as reporter on the most influential of the three newspapers. He smiled when I asked him the reason the newspapers suppressed all mention of Jackson or his case.
"Editorial policy he said. We have nothing to do with that. It's up to the editors."
"But why is it policy?" I asked.
"We're all solid with the corporations he answered. If you paid advertising ratesyou couldn't get any such matter into the papers. A man who tried to smuggle it in would lose his job. You couldn't get it in if you paid ten times the regular advertising rates."
"How about your own policy?" I questioned. "It would seem your function is to twist truth at the command of your employerswhoin turnobey the behests of the corporations."
"I haven't anything to do with that." He looked uncomfortable for the momentthen brightened as he saw his way out. "Imyselfdo not write untruthful things. I keep square all right with my own conscience. Of coursethere's lots that's repugnant in the course of the day's work. But thenyou seethat's all part of the day's work he wound up boyishly.
Yet you expect to sit at an editor's desk some day and conduct a policy."
"I'll be case-hardened by that time was his reply.
Since you are not yet case-hardenedtell me what you think right now about the general editorial policy."
"I don't think he answered quickly. One can't kick over the ropes if he's going to succeed in journalism. I've learned that muchat any rate."
And he nodded his young head sagely.
"But the right?" I persisted.
"You don't understand the game. Of course it's all rightbecause it comes out all rightdon't you see?"
"Delightfully vague I murmured; but my heart was aching for the youth of him, and I felt that I must either scream or burst into tears.
I was beginning to see through the appearances of the society in which I had always lived, and to find the frightful realities that were beneath. There seemed a tacit conspiracy against Jackson, and I was aware of a thrill of sympathy for the whining lawyer who had ingloriously fought his case. But this tacit conspiracy grew large. Not alone was it aimed against Jackson. It was aimed against every workingman who was maimed in the mills. And if against every man in the mills, why not against every man in all the other mills and factories? In fact, was it not true of all the industries?
And if this was so, then society was a lie. I shrank back from my own conclusions. It was too terrible and awful to be true. But there was Jackson, and Jackson's arm, and the blood that stained my gown and dripped from my own roof-beams. And there were many Jacksons--hundreds of them in the mills alone, as Jackson himself had said. Jackson I could not escape.
I saw Mr. Wickson and Mr. Pertonwaithe, the two men who held most of the stock in the Sierra Mills. But I could not shake them as I had shaken the mechanics in their employ. I discovered that they had an ethic superior to that of the rest of society. It was what I may call the aristocratic ethic or the master ethic.* They talked in large ways of policy, and they identified policy and right. And to me they talked in fatherly ways, patronizing my youth and inexperience. They were the most hopeless of all I had encountered in my quest. They believed absolutely that their conduct was right. There was no question about it, no discussion. They were convinced that they were the saviours of society, and that it was they who made happiness for the many. And they drew pathetic pictures of what would be the sufferings of the working class were it not for the employment that they, and they alone, by their wisdom, provided for it.
* Before Avis Everhard was born, John Stuart Mill, in his essay, ON LIBERTY, wrote: Wherever there is an ascendant classa large portion of the morality emanates from its class interests and its class feelings of superiority."
Fresh from these two mastersI met Ernest and related my experience. He looked at me with a pleased expressionand said:
"Reallythis is fine. You are beginning to dig truth for yourself. It is your own empirical generalizationand it is correct. No man in the industrial machine is a free-will agentexcept the large capitalistand he isn'tif you'll pardon the Irishism.* You seethe masters are quite sure that they are right in what they are doing. That is the crowning absurdity of the whole situation. They are so tied by their human nature that they can't do a thing unless they think it is right. They must have a sanction for their acts.
* Verbal contradictionscalled BULLSwere long an amiable weakness of the ancient Irish.
"When they want to do a thingin business of coursethey must wait till there arises in their brainssomehowa religiousor ethicalor scientificor philosophicconcept that the thing is right. And then they go ahead and do itunwitting that one of the weaknesses of the human mind is that the wish is parent to the thought. No matter what they want to dothe sanction always comes. They are superficial casuists. They are Jesuitical. They even see their way to doing wrong that right may come of it. One of the pleasant and axiomatic fictions they have created is that they are superior to the rest of mankind in wisdom and efficiency. Therefrom comes their sanction to manage the bread and butter of the rest of mankind. They have even resurrected the theory of the divine right of kings--commercial kings in their case.*
* The newspapersin 1902 of that eracredited the president of the Anthracite Coal TrustGeorge F. Baerwith the enunciation of the following principle: "The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the property interests of the country."
"The weakness in their position lies in that they are merely business men. They are not philosophers. They are not biologists nor sociologists. If they wereof course all would be well. A business man who was also a biologist and a sociologist would knowapproximatelythe right thing to do for humanity. Butoutside the realm of businessthese men are stupid. They know only business. They do not know mankind nor societyand yet they set themselves up as arbiters of the fates of the hungry millions and all the other millions thrown in. Historysome daywill have an excruciating laugh at their expense."
I was not surprised when I had my talk out with Mrs. Wickson and Mrs. Pertonwaithe. They were society women.* Their homes were palaces. They had many homes scattered over the countryin the mountainson lakesand by the sea. They were tended by armies of servantsand their social activities were bewildering. They patronized the university and the churchesand the pastors especially bowed at their knees in meek subservience.** They were powersthese two womenwhat of the money that was theirs. The power of subsidization of thought was theirs to a remarkable degreeas I was soon to learn under Ernest's tuition.
* SOCIETY is here used in a restricted sensea common usage of the times to denote the gilded drones that did no laborbut only glutted themselves at the honey-vats of the workers. Neither the business men nor the laborers had time or opportunity for SOCIETY. SOCIETY was the creation of the idle rich who toiled not and who in this way played.
** "Bring on your tainted money was the expressed sentiment of the Church during this period.
They aped their husbands, and talked in the same large ways about policy, and the duties and responsibilities of the rich. They were swayed by the same ethic that dominated their husbands--the ethic of their class; and they uttered glib phrases that their own ears did not understand.
Also, they grew irritated when I told them of the deplorable condition of Jackson's family, and when I wondered that they had made no voluntary provision for the man. I was told that they thanked no one for instructing them in their social duties. When I asked them flatly to assist Jackson, they as flatly refused. The astounding thing about it was that they refused in almost identically the same language, and this in face of the fact that I interviewed them separately and that one did not know that I had seen or was going to see the other. Their common reply was that they were glad of the opportunity to make it perfectly plain that no premium would ever be put on carelessness by them; nor would they, by paying for accident, tempt the poor to hurt themselves in the machinery.*
* In the files of the OUTLOOK, a critical weekly of the period, in the number dated August 18, 1906, is related the circumstance of a workingman losing his arm, the details of which are quite similar to those of Jackson's case as related by Avis Everhard.
And they were sincere, these two women. They were drunk with conviction of the superiority of their class and of themselves. They had a sanction, in their own class-ethic, for every act they performed. As I drove away from Mrs. Pertonwaithe's great house, I looked back at it, and I remembered Ernest's expression that they were bound to the machine, but that they were so bound that they sat on top of it.
Ernest was often at the house. Nor was it my fathermerelynor the controversial dinnersthat drew him there. Even at that time I flattered myself that I played some part in causing his visitsand it was not long before I learned the correctness of my surmise. For never was there such a lover as Ernest Everhard. His gaze and his hand-clasp grew firmer and steadierif that were possible; and the question that had grown from the first in his eyesgrew only the more imperative.
My impression of himthe first time I saw himhad been unfavorable. Then I had found myself attracted toward him. Next came my repulsionwhen he so savagely attacked my class and me. After thatas I saw that he had not maligned my classand that the harsh and bitter things he said about it were justifiedI had drawn closer to him again. He became my oracle. For me he tore the sham from the face of society and gave me glimpses of reality that were as unpleasant as they were undeniably true.
As I have saidthere was never such a lover as he. No girl could live in a university town till she was twenty-four and not have love experiences. I had been made love to by beardless sophomores and gray professorsand by the athletes and the football giants. But not one of them made love to me as Ernest did. His arms were around me before I knew. His lips were on mine before I could protest or resist. Before his earnestness conventional maiden dignity was ridiculous. He swept me off my feet by the splendid invincible rush of him. He did not propose. He put his arms around me and kissed me and took it for granted that we should be married. There was no discussion about it. The only discussion-- and that arose afterward--was when we should be married.
It was unprecedented. It was unreal. Yetin accordance with Ernest's test of truthit worked. I trusted my life to it. And fortunate was the trust. Yet during those first days of our lovefear of the future came often to me when I thought of the violence and impetuosity of his love-making. Yet such fears were groundless. No woman was ever blessed with a gentlertenderer husband. This gentleness and violence on his part was a curious blend similar to the one in his carriage of awkwardness and ease. That slight awkwardness! He never got over itand it was delicious. His behavior in our drawing-room reminded me of a careful bull in a china shop.*
* In those days it was still the custom to fill the living rooms with bric-a-brac. They had not discovered simplicity of living. Such rooms were museumsentailing endless labor to keep clean. The dust-demon was the lord of the household. There were a myriad devices for catching dustand only a few devices for getting rid of it.
It was at this time that vanished my last doubt of the completeness of my love for him (a subconscious doubtat most). It was at the Philomath Club--a wonderful night of battlewherein Ernest bearded the masters in their lair. Now the Philomath Club was the most select on the Pacific Coast. It was the creation of Miss Brentwoodan enormously wealthy old maid; and it was her husbandand familyand toy. Its members were the wealthiest in the communityand the strongest-minded of the wealthywithof coursea sprinkling of scholars to give it intellectual tone.
The Philomath had no club house. It was not that kind of a club. Once a month its members gathered at some one of their private houses to listen to a lecture. The lecturers were usuallythough not alwayshired. If a chemist in New York made a new discovery in say radiumall his expenses across the continent were paidand as well he received a princely fee for his time. The same with a returning explorer from the polar regionsor the latest literary or artistic success. No visitors were allowedwhile it was the Philomath's policy to permit none of its discussions to get into the papers. Thus great statesmen--and there had been such occasions--were able fully to speak their minds.
I spread before me a wrinkled letterwritten to me by Ernest twenty years agoand from it I copy the following:
"Your father is a member of the Philomathso you are able to come. Therefore come next Tuesday night. I promise you that you will have the time of your life. In your recent encountersyou failed to shake the masters. If you comeI'll shake them for you. I'll make them snarl like wolves. You merely questioned their morality. When their morality is questionedthey grow only the more complacent and superior. But I shall menace their money-bags. That will shake them to the roots of their primitive natures. If you can comeyou will see the cave-manin evening dresssnarling and snapping over a bone. I promise you a great caterwauling and an illuminating insight into the nature of the beast.
"They've invited me in order to tear me to pieces. This is the idea of Miss Brentwood. She clumsily hinted as much when she invited me. She's given them that kind of fun before. They delight in getting trustful-souled gentle reformers before them. Miss Brentwood thinks I am as mild as a kitten and as good-natured and stolid as the family cow. I'll not deny that I helped to give her that impression. She was very tentative at firstuntil she divined my harmlessness. I am to receive a handsome fee--two hundred and fifty dollars--as befits the man whothough a radicalonce ran for governor. AlsoI am to wear evening dress. This is compulsory. I never was so apparelled in my life. I suppose I'll have to hire one somewhere. But I'd do more than that to get a chance at the Philomaths."
Of all placesthe Club gathered that night at the Pertonwaithe house. Extra chairs had been brought into the great drawing-roomand in all there must have been two hundred Philomaths that sat down to hear Ernest. They were truly lords of society. I amused myself with running over in my mind the sum of the fortunes representedand it ran well into the hundreds of millions. And the possessors were not of the idle rich. They were men of affairs who took most active parts in industrial and political life.
We were all seated when Miss Brentwood brought Ernest in. They moved at once to the head of the roomfrom where he was to speak. He was in evening dressandwhat of his broad shoulders and kingly headhe looked magnificent. And then there was that faint and unmistakable touch of awkwardness in his movements. I almost think I could have loved him for that alone. And as I looked at him I was aware of a great joy. I felt again the pulse of his palm on minethe touch of his lips; and such pride was mine that I felt I must rise up and cry out to the assembled company: "He is mine! He has held me in his armsand Imere Ihave filled that mind of his to the exclusion of all his multitudinous and kingly thoughts!"
At the head of the roomMiss Brentwood introduced him to Colonel Van Gilbertand I knew that the latter was to preside. Colonel Van Gilbert was a great corporation lawyer. In additionhe was immensely wealthy. The smallest fee he would deign to notice was a hundred thousand dollars. He was a master of law. The law was a puppet with which he played. He moulded it like claytwisted and distorted it like a Chinese puzzle into any design he chose. In appearance and rhetoric he was old-fashionedbut in imagination and knowledge and resource he was as young as the latest statute. His first prominence had come when he broke the Shardwell will.* His fee for this one act was five hundred thousand dollars. From then on he had risen like a rocket. He was often called the greatest lawyer in the country--corporation lawyerof course; and no classification of the three greatest lawyers in the United States could have excluded him.
* This breaking of wills was a peculiar feature of the period. With the accumulation of vast fortunesthe problem of disposing of these fortunes after death was a vexing one to the accumulators. Will-making and will-breaking became complementary tradeslike armor-making and gun-making. The shrewdest will-making lawyers were called in to make wills that could not be broken. But these wills were always brokenand very often by the very lawyers that had drawn them up. Nevertheless the delusion persisted in the wealthy class that an absolutely unbreakable will could be cast; and sothrough the generationsclients and lawyers pursued the illusion. It was a pursuit like unto that of the Universal Solvent of the mediaeval alchemists.
He arose and beganin a few well-chosen phrases that carried an undertone of faint ironyto introduce Ernest. Colonel Van Gilbert was subtly facetious in his introduction of the social reformer and member of the working classand the audience smiled. It made me angryand I glanced at Ernest. The sight of him made me doubly angry. He did not seem to resent the delicate slurs. Worse than thathe did not seem to be aware of them. There he satgentleand stolidand somnolent. He really looked stupid. And for a moment the thought rose in my mindWhat if he were overawed by this imposing array of power and brains? Then I smiled. He couldn't fool me. But he fooled the othersjust as he had fooled Miss Brentwood. She occupied a chair right up to the frontand several times she turned her head toward one or another of her CONFRERES and smiled her appreciation of the remarks.
Colonel Van Gilbert doneErnest arose and began to speak. He began in a low voicehaltingly and modestlyand with an air of evident embarrassment. He spoke of his birth in the working classand of the sordidness and wretchedness of his environmentwhere flesh and spirit were alike starved and tormented. He described his ambitions and idealsand his conception of the paradise wherein lived the people of the upper classes. As he said:
"Up above meI knewwere unselfishnesses of the spiritclean and noble thinkingkeen intellectual living. I knew all this because I read 'Seaside Library'* novelsin whichwith the exception of the villains and adventuressesall men and women thought beautiful thoughtsspoke a beautiful tongueand performed glorious deeds. In shortas I accepted the rising of the sunI accepted that up above me was all that was fine and noble and graciousall that gave decency and dignity to lifeall that made life worth living and that remunerated one for his travail and misery."
* A curious and amazing literature that served to make the working class utterly misapprehend the nature of the leisure class.
He went on and traced his life in the millsthe learning of the horses hoeing tradeand his meeting with the socialists. Among themhe saidhe had found keen intellects and brilliant witsministers of the Gospel who had been broken because their Christianity was too wide for any congregation of mammon- worshippersand professors who had been broken on the wheel of university subservience to the ruling class. The socialists were revolutionistshe saidstruggling to overthrow the irrational society of the present and out of the material to build the rational society of the future. Much more he said that would take too long to writebut I shall never forget how he described the life among the revolutionists. All halting utterance vanished. His voice grew strong and confidentand it glowed as he glowedand as the thoughts glowed that poured out from him. He said:
"Amongst the revolutionists I foundalsowarm faith in the humanardent idealismsweetnesses of unselfishnessrenunciationand martyrdom--all the splendidstinging things of the spirit. Here life was cleannobleand alive. I was in touch with great souls who exalted flesh and spirit over dollars and centsand to whom the thin wail of the starved slum child meant more than all the pomp and circumstance of commercial expansion and world empire. All about me were nobleness of purpose and heroism of effortand my days and nights were sunshine and starshineall fire and dewwith before my eyesever burning and blazingthe Holy GrailChrist's own Grailthe warm humanlong-suffering and maltreated but to be rescued and saved at the last."
As before I had seen him transfiguredso now he stood transfigured before me. His brows were bright with the divine that was in himand brighter yet shone his eyes from the midst of the radiance that seemed to envelop him as a mantle. But the others did not see this radianceand I assumed that it was due to the tears of joy and love that dimmed my vision. At any rateMr. Wicksonwho sat behind mewas unaffectedfor I heard him sneer aloudUtopian.*
* The people of that age were phrase slaves. The abjectness of their servitude is incomprehensible to us. There was a magic in words greater than the conjurer's art. So befuddled and chaotic were their minds that the utterance of a single word could negative the generalizations of a lifetime of serious research and thought. Such a word was the adjective UTOPIAN. The mere utterance of it could damn any schemeno matter how sanely conceivedof economic amelioration or regeneration. Vast populations grew frenzied over such phrases as "an honest dollar" and "a full dinner pail." The coinage of such phrases was considered strokes of genius.
Ernest went on to his rise in societytill at last he came in touch with members of the upper classesand rubbed shoulders with the men who sat in the high places. Then came his disillusionmentand this disillusionment he described in terms that did not flatter his audience. He was surprised at the commonness of the clay. Life proved not to be fine and gracious. He was appalled by the selfishness he encounteredand what had surprised him even more than that was the absence of intellectual life. Fresh from his revolutionistshe was shocked by the intellectual stupidity of the master class. And thenin spite of their magnificent churches and well-paid preachershe had found the mastersmen and womengrossly material. It was true that they prattled sweet little ideals and dear little moralitiesbut in spite of their prattle the dominant key of the life they lived was materialistic. And they were without real morality--for instancethat which Christ had preached but which was no longer preached.
"I met men he said, who invoked the name of the Prince of Peace in their diatribes against warand who put rifles in the hands of Pinkertons* with which to shoot down strikers in their own factories. I met men incoherent with indignation at the brutality of prize-fightingand whoat the same timewere parties to the adulteration of food that killed each year more babes than even red-handed Herod had killed.
* Originallythey were private detectives; but they quickly became hired fighting men of the capitalistsand ultimately developed into the Mercenaries of the Oligarchy.
"This delicatearistocratic-featured gentleman was a dummy director and a tool of corporations that secretly robbed widows and orphans. This gentlemanwho collected fine editions and was a patron of literaturepaid blackmail to a heavy-jowledblack- browed boss of a municipal machine. This editorwho published patent medicine advertisementscalled me a scoundrelly demagogue because I dared him to print in his paper the truth about patent medicines.* This mantalking soberly and earnestly about the beauties of idealism and the goodness of Godhad just betrayed his comrades in a business deal. This mana pillar of the church and heavy contributor to foreign missionsworked his shop girls ten hours a day on a starvation wage and thereby directly encouraged prostitution. This manwho endowed chairs in universities and erected magnificent chapelsperjured himself in courts of law over dollars and cents. This railroad magnate broke his word as a citizenas a gentlemanand as a Christianwhen he granted a secret rebateand he granted many secret rebates. This senator was the tool and the slavethe little puppetof a brutal uneducated machine boss;** so was this governor and this supreme court judge; and all three rode on railroad passes; andalsothis sleek capitalist owned the machinethe machine bossand the railroads that issued the passes.
* PATENT MEDICINES were patent liesbutlike the charms and indulgences of the Middle Agesthey deceived the people. The only difference lay in that the patent medicines were more harmful and more costly.
** Even as late as 1912A.D.the great mass of the people still persisted in the belief that they ruled the country by virtue of their ballots. In realitythe country was ruled by what were called POLITICAL MACHINES. At first the machine bosses charged the master capitalists extortionate tolls for legislation; but in a short time the master capitalists found it cheaper to own the political machines themselves and to hire the machine bosses.
"And so it wasinstead of in paradisethat I found myself in the arid desert of commercialism. I found nothing but stupidityexcept for business. I found none cleannobleand alivethough I found many who were alive--with rottenness. What I did find was monstrous selfishness and heartlessnessand a grossgluttonouspractisedand practical materialism."
Much more Ernest told them of themselves and of his disillusionment. Intellectually they had bored him; morally and spiritually they had sickened him; so that he was glad to go back to his revolutionistswho were cleannobleand aliveand all that the capitalists were not.
"And now he said, let me tell you about that revolution."
But first I must say that his terrible diatribe had not touched them. I looked about me at their faces and saw that they remained complacently superior to what he had charged. And I remembered what he had told me: that no indictment of their morality could shake them. HoweverI could see that the boldness of his language had affected Miss Brentwood. She was looking worried and apprehensive.
Ernest began by describing the army of revolutionand as he gave the figures of its strength (the votes cast in the various countries)the assemblage began to grow restless. Concern showed in their facesand I noticed a tightening of lips. At last the gage of battle had been thrown down. He described the international organization of the socialists that united the million and a half in the United States with the twenty-three millions and a half in the rest of the world.
"Such an army of revolution he said, twenty-five millions strongis a thing to make rulers and ruling classes pause and consider. The cry of this army is: 'No quarter! We want all that you possess. We will be content with nothing less than all that you possess. We want in our hands the reins of power and the destiny of mankind. Here are our hands. They are strong hands. We are going to take your governmentsyour palacesand all your purpled ease away from youand in that day you shall work for your bread even as the peasant in the field or the starved and runty clerk in your metropolises. Here are our hands. They are strong hands!'"
And as he spoke he extended from his splendid shoulders his two great armsand the horseshoer's hands were clutching the air like eagle's talons. He was the spirit of regnant labor as he stood therehis hands outreaching to rend and crush his audience. I was aware of a faintly perceptible shrinking on the part of the listeners before this figure of revolutionconcretepotentialand menacing. That isthe women shrankand fear was in their faces. Not so with the men. They were of the active richand not the idleand they were fighters. A lowthroaty rumble aroselingered on the air a momentand ceased. It was the forerunner of the snarland I was to hear it many times that night--the token of the brute in manthe earnest of his primitive passions. And they were unconscious that they had made this sound. It was the growl of the packmouthed by the packand mouthed in all unconsciousness. And in that momentas I saw the harshness form in their faces and saw the fight-light flashing in their eyesI realized that not easily would they let their lordship of the world be wrested from them.
Ernest proceeded with his attack. He accounted for the existence of the million and a half of revolutionists in the United States by charging the capitalist class with having mismanaged society. He sketched the economic condition of the cave-man and of the savage peoples of to-daypointing out that they possessed neither tools nor machinesand possessed only a natural efficiency of one in producing power. Then he traced the development of machinery and social organization so that to-day the producing power of civilized man was a thousand times greater than that of the savage.
"Five men he said, can produce bread for a thousand. One man can produce cotton cloth for two hundred and fifty peoplewoollens for three hundredand boots and shoes for a thousand. One would conclude from this that under a capable management of society modern civilized man would be a great deal better off than the cave-man. But is he? Let us see. In the United States to-day there are fifteen million* people living in poverty; and by poverty is meant that condition in life in whichthrough lack of food and adequate shelterthe mere standard of working efficiency cannot be maintained. In the United States to-dayin spite of all your so- called labor legislationthere are three millions of child laborers.** In twelve years their numbers have been doubled. And in passing I will ask you managers of society why you did not make public the census figures of 1910? And I will answer for youthat you were afraid. The figures of misery would have precipitated the revolution that even now is gathering.
* Robert Hunterin 1906in a book entitled "Poverty pointed out that at that time there were ten millions in the United States living in poverty.
** In the United States Census of 1900 (the last census the figures of which were made public), the number of child laborers was placed at 1,752,187.
But to return to my indictment. If modern man's producing power is a thousand times greater than that of the cave-manwhy thenin the United States to-dayare there fifteen million people who are not properly sheltered and properly fed? Why thenin the United States to-dayare there three million child laborers? It is a true indictment. The capitalist class has mismanaged. In face of the facts that modern man lives more wretchedly than the cave-manand that his producing power is a thousand times greater than that of the cave-manno other conclusion is possible than that the capitalist class has mismanagedthat you have mismanagedmy mastersthat you have criminally and selfishly mismanaged. And on this count you cannot answer me here to-nightface to faceany more than can your whole class answer the million and a half of revolutionists in the United States. You cannot answer. I challenge you to answer. And furthermoreI dare to say to you now that when I have finished you will not answer. On that point you will be tongue-tiedthough you will talk wordily enough about other things.
"You have failed in your management. You have made a shambles of civilization. You have been blind and greedy. You have risen up (as you to-day rise up)shamelesslyin our legislative hallsand declared that profits were impossible without the toil of children and babes. Don't take my word for it. It is all in the records against you. You have lulled your conscience to sleep with prattle of sweet ideals and dear moralities. You are fat with power and possessiondrunken with success; and you have no more hope against us than have the dronesclustered about the honey-vatswhen the worker-bees spring upon them to end their rotund existence. You have failed in your management of societyand your management is to be taken away from you. A million and a half of the men of the working class say that they are going to get the rest of the working class to join with them and take the management away from you. This is the revolutionmy masters. Stop it if you can."
For an appreciable lapse of time Ernest's voice continued to ring through the great room. Then arose the throaty rumble I had heard beforeand a dozen men were on their feet clamoring for recognition from Colonel Van Gilbert. I noticed Miss Brentwood's shoulders moving convulsivelyand for the moment I was angryfor I thought that she was laughing at Ernest. And then I discovered that it was not laughterbut hysteria. She was appalled by what she had done in bringing this firebrand before her blessed Philomath Club.
Colonel Van Gilbert did not notice the dozen menwith passion- wrought faceswho strove to get permission from him to speak. His own face was passion-wrought. He sprang to his feetwaving his armsand for a moment could utter only incoherent sounds. Then speech poured from him. But it was not the speech of a one- hundred-thousand-dollar lawyernor was the rhetoric old-fashioned.
"Fallacy upon fallacy!" he cried. "Never in all my life have I heard so many fallacies uttered in one short hour. And besidesyoung manI must tell you that you have said nothing new. I learned all that at college before you were born. Jean Jacques Rousseau enunciated your socialistic theory nearly two centuries ago. A return to the soilforsooth! Reversion! Our biology teaches the absurdity of it. It has been truly said that a little learning is a dangerous thingand you have exemplified it to-night with your madcap theories. Fallacy upon fallacy! I was never so nauseated in my life with overplus of fallacy. That for your immature generalizations and childish reasonings!"
He snapped his fingers contemptuously and proceeded to sit down. There were lip-exclamations of approval on the part of the womenand hoarser notes of confirmation came from the men. As for the dozen men who were clamoring for the floorhalf of them began speaking at once. The confusion and babel was indescribable. Never had Mrs. Pertonwaithe's spacious walls beheld such a spectacle. Thesethenwere the cool captains of industry and lords of societythese snarlinggrowling savages in evening clothes. Truly Ernest had shaken them when he stretched out his hands for their moneybagshis hands that had appeared in their eyes as the hands of the fifteen hundred thousand revolutionists.
But Ernest never lost his head in a situation. Before Colonel Van Gilbert had succeeded in sitting downErnest was on his feet and had sprung forward.
"One at a time!" he roared at them.
The sound arose from his great lungs and dominated the human tempest. By sheer compulsion of personality he commanded silence.
"One at a time he repeated softly. Let me answer Colonel Van Gilbert. After that the rest of you can come at me--but one at a timeremember. No mass-plays here. This is not a football field.
"As for you he went on, turning toward Colonel Van Gilbert, you have replied to nothing I have said. You have merely made a few excited and dogmatic assertions about my mental caliber. That may serve you in your businessbut you can't talk to me like that. I am not a workingmancap in handasking you to increase my wages or to protect me from the machine at which I work. You cannot be dogmatic with truth when you deal with me. Save that for dealing with your wage-slaves. They will not dare reply to you because you hold their bread and buttertheir livesin your hands.
"As for this return to nature that you say you learned at college before I was bornpermit me to point out that on the face of it you cannot have learned anything since. Socialism has no more to do with the state of nature than has differential calculus with a Bible class. I have called your class stupid when outside the realm of business. Yousirhave brilliantly exemplified my statement."
This terrible castigation of her hundred-thousand-dollar lawyer was too much for Miss Brentwood's nerves. Her hysteria became violentand she was helpedweeping and laughingout of the room. It was just as wellfor there was worse to follow.
"Don't take my word for it Ernest continued, when the interruption had been led away. Your own authorities with one unanimous voice will prove you stupid. Your own hired purveyors of knowledge will tell you that you are wrong. Go to your meekest little assistant instructor of sociology and ask him what is the difference between Rousseau's theory of the return to nature and the theory of socialism; ask your greatest orthodox bourgeois political economists and sociologists; question through the pages of every text-book written on the subject and stored on the shelves of your subsidized libraries; and from one and all the answer will be that there is nothing congruous between the return to nature and socialism. On the other handthe unanimous affirmative answer will be that the return to nature and socialism are diametrically opposed to each other. As I saydon't take my word for it. The record of your stupidity is there in the booksyour own books that you never read. And so far as your stupidity is concernedyou are but the exemplar of your class.
"You know law and businessColonel Van Gilbert. You know how to serve corporations and increase dividends by twisting the law. Very good. Stick to it. You are quite a figure. You are a very good lawyerbut you are a poor historianyou know nothing of sociologyand your biology is contemporaneous with Pliny."
Here Colonel Van Gilbert writhed in his chair. There was perfect quiet in the room. Everybody sat fascinated--paralyzedI may say. Such fearful treatment of the great Colonel Van Gilbert was unheard ofundreamed ofimpossible to believe--the great Colonel Van Gilbert before whom judges trembled when he arose in court. But Ernest never gave quarter to an enemy.
"This isof courseno reflection on you Ernest said. Every man to his trade. Only you stick to your tradeand I'll stick to mine. You have specialized. When it comes to a knowledge of the lawof how best to evade the law or make new law for the benefit of thieving corporationsI am down in the dirt at your feet. But when it comes to sociology--my trade--you are down in the dirt at my feet. Remember that. Rememberalsothat your law is the stuff of a dayand that you are not versatile in the stuff of more than a day. Therefore your dogmatic assertions and rash generalizations on things historical and sociological are not worth the breath you waste on them."
Ernest paused for a moment and regarded him thoughtfullynoting his face dark and twisted with angerhis panting chesthis writhing bodyand his slim white hands nervously clenching and unclenching.
"But it seems you have breath to useand I'll give you a chance to use it. I indicted your class. Show me that my indictment is wrong. I pointed out to you the wretchedness of modern man--three million child slaves in the United Stateswithout whose labor profits would not be possibleand fifteen million under-fedill- clothedand worse-housed people. I pointed out that modern man's producing power through social organization and the use of machinery was a thousand times greater than that of the cave-man. And I stated that from these two facts no other conclusion was possible than that the capitalist class had mismanaged. This was my indictmentand I specifically and at length challenged you to answer it. NayI did more. I prophesied that you would not answer. It remains for your breath to smash my prophecy. You called my speech fallacy. Show the fallacyColonel Van Gilbert. Answer the indictment that I and my fifteen hundred thousand comrades have brought against your class and you."
Colonel Van Gilbert quite forgot that he was presidingand that in courtesy he should permit the other clamorers to speak. He was on his feetflinging his armshis rhetoricand his control to the windsalternately abusing Ernest for his youth and demagogueryand savagely attacking the working classelaborating its inefficiency and worthlessness.
"For a lawyeryou are the hardest man to keep to a point I ever saw Ernest began his answer to the tirade. My youth has nothing to do with what I have enunciated. Nor has the worthlessness of the working class. I charged the capitalist class with having mismanaged society. You have not answered. You have made no attempt to answer. Why? Is it because you have no answer? You are the champion of this whole audience. Every one hereexcept meis hanging on your lips for that answer. They are hanging on your lips for that answer because they have no answer themselves. As for meas I said beforeI know that you not only cannot answerbut that you will not attempt an answer."
"This is intolerable!" Colonel Van Gilbert cried out. "This is insult!"
"That you should not answer is intolerable Ernest replied gravely. No man can be intellectually insulted. Insultin its very natureis emotional. Recover yourself. Give me an intellectual answer to my intellectual charge that the capitalist class has mismanaged society."
Colonel Van Gilbert remained silenta sullensuperior expression on his facesuch as will appear on the face of a man who will not bandy words with a ruffian.
"Do not be downcast Ernest said. Take consolation in the fact that no member of your class has ever yet answered that charge." He turned to the other men who were anxious to speak. "And now it's your chance. Fire awayand do not forget that I here challenge you to give the answer that Colonel Van Gilbert has failed to give."
It would be impossible for me to write all that was said in the discussion. I never realized before how many words could be spoken in three short hours. At any rateit was glorious. The more his opponents grew excitedthe more Ernest deliberately excited them. He had an encyclopaedic command of the field of knowledgeand by a word or a phraseby delicate rapier thrustshe punctured them. He named the points of their illogic. This was a false syllogismthat conclusion had no connection with the premisewhile that next premise was an impostor because it had cunningly hidden in it the conclusion that was being attempted to be proved. This was an errorthat was an assumptionand the next was an assertion contrary to ascertained truth as printed in all the text-books.
And so it went. Sometimes he exchanged the rapier for the club and went smashing amongst their thoughts right and left. And always he demanded facts and refused to discuss theories. And his facts made for them a Waterloo. When they attacked the working classhe always retortedThe pot calling the kettle black; that is no answer to the charge that your own face is dirty.And to one and all he said: "Why have you not answered the charge that your class has mismanaged? You have talked about other things and things concerning other thingsbut you have not answered. Is it because you have no answer?"
It was at the end of the discussion that Mr. Wickson spoke. He was the only one that was cooland Ernest treated him with a respect he had not accorded the others.
"No answer is necessary Mr. Wickson said with slow deliberation. I have followed the whole discussion with amazement and disgust. I am disgusted with you gentlemenmembers of my class. You have behaved like foolish little schoolboyswhat with intruding ethics and the thunder of the common politician into such a discussion. You have been outgeneralled and outclassed. You have been very wordyand all you have done is buzz. You have buzzed like gnats about a bear. Gentlementhere stands the bear" (he pointed at Ernest)and your buzzing has only tickled his ears.
Believe methe situation is serious. That bear reached out his paws tonight to crush us. He has said there are a million and a half of revolutionists in the United States. That is a fact. He has said that it is their intention to take away from us our governmentsour palacesand all our purpled ease. Thatalsois a fact. A changea great changeis coming in society; buthaplyit may not be the change the bear anticipates. The bear has said that he will crush us. What if we crush the bear?"
The throat-rumble arose in the great roomand man nodded to man with indorsement and certitude. Their faces were set hard. They were fightersthat was certain.
"But not by buzzing will we crush the bear Mr. Wickson went on coldly and dispassionately. We will hunt the bear. We will not reply to the bear in words. Our reply shall be couched in terms of lead. We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that power we shall remain in power."
He turned suddenly upon Ernest. The moment was dramatic.
"Thisthenis our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled easewe will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched.* We will grind you revolutionists down under our heeland we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ourswe are its lordsand ours it shall remain. As for the host of laborit has been in the dirt since history beganand I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words--Power. Not Godnot Mammonbut Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power."
* To show the tenor of thoughtthe following definition is quoted from "The Cynic's Word Book" (1906 A.D.)written by one Ambrose Biercean avowed and confirmed misanthrope of the period: "Grapeshotn. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism."
"I am answered Ernest said quietly. It is the only answer that could be given. Power. It is what we of the working class preach. We knowand well we know by bitter experiencethat no appeal for the rightfor justicefor humanitycan ever touch you. Your hearts are hard as your heels with which you tread upon the faces of the poor. So we have preached power. By the power of our ballots on election day will we take your government away from you--"
"What if you do get a majoritya sweeping majorityon election day?" Mr. Wickson broke in to demand. "Suppose we refuse to turn the government over to you after you have captured it at the ballot-box?"
"Thatalsohave we considered Ernest replied. And we shall give you an answer in terms of lead. Power you have proclaimed the king of words. Very good. Power it shall be. And in the day that we sweep to victory at the ballot-boxand you refuse to turn over to us the government we have constitutionally and peacefully capturedand you demand what we are going to do about it--in that dayI saywe shall answer you; and in roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns shall our answer be couched.
"You cannot escape us. It is true that you have read history aright. It is true that labor has from the beginning of history been in the dirt. And it is equally true that so long as you and yours and those that come after you have powerthat labor shall remain in the dirt. I agree with you. I agree with all that you have said. Power will be the arbiteras it always has been the arbiter. It is a struggle of classes. Just as your class dragged down the old feudal nobilityso shall it be dragged down by my classthe working class. If you will read your biology and your sociology as clearly as you do your historyyou will see that this end I have described is inevitable. It does not matter whether it is in one yeartenor a thousand--your class shall be dragged down. And it shall be done by power. We of the labor hosts have conned that word over till our minds are all a-tingle with it. Power. It is a kingly word."
And so ended the night with the Philomaths.
It was about this time that the warnings of coming events began to fall about us thick and fast. Ernest had already questioned father's policy of having socialists and labor leaders at his houseand of openly attending socialist meetings; and father had only laughed at him for his pains. As for myselfI was learning much from this contact with the working-class leaders and thinkers. I was seeing the other side of the shield. I was delighted with the unselfishness and high idealism I encounteredthough I was appalled by the vast philosophic and scientific literature of socialism that was opened up to me. I was learning fastbut I learned not fast enough to realize then the peril of our position.
There were warningsbut I did not heed them. For instanceMrs. Pertonwaithe and Mrs. Wickson exercised tremendous social power in the university townand from them emanated the sentiment that I was a too-forward and self-assertive young woman with a mischievous penchant for officiousness and interference in other persons' affairs. This I thought no more than naturalconsidering the part I had played in investigating the case of Jackson's arm. But the effect of such a sentimentenunciated by two such powerful social arbitersI underestimated.
TrueI noticed a certain aloofness on the part of my general friendsbut this I ascribed to the disapproval that was prevalent in my circles of my intended marriage with Ernest. It was not till some time afterward that Ernest pointed out to me clearly that this general attitude of my class was something more than spontaneousthat behind it were the hidden springs of an organized conduct. "You have given shelter to an enemy of your class he said. And not alone shelterfor you have given your loveyourself. This is treason to your class. Think not that you will escape being penalized."
But it was before this that father returned one afternoon. Ernest was with meand we could see that father was angry-- philosophically angry. He was rarely really angry; but a certain measure of controlled anger he allowed himself. He called it a tonic. And we could see that he was tonic-angry when he entered the room.
"What do you think?" he demanded. "I had luncheon with Wilcox."
Wilcox was the superannuated president of the universitywhose withered mind was stored with generalizations that were young in 1870and which he had since failed to revise.
"I was invited father announced. I was sent for."
He pausedand we waited.
"Ohit was done very nicelyI'll allow; but I was reprimanded. I! And by that old fossil!"
"I'll wager I know what you were reprimanded for Ernest said.
Not in three guesses father laughed.
One guess will do Ernest retorted. And it won't be a guess. It will be a deduction. You were reprimanded for your private life."
"The very thing!" father cried. "How did you guess?"
"I knew it was coming. I warned you before about it."
"Yesyou did father meditated. But I couldn't believe it. At any rateit is only so much more clinching evidence for my book."
"It is nothing to what will come Ernest went on, if you persist in your policy of having these socialists and radicals of all sorts at your housemyself included."
"Just what old Wilcox said. And of all unwarranted things! He said it was in poor tasteutterly profitlessanywayand not in harmony with university traditions and policy. He said much more of the same vague sortand I couldn't pin him down to anything specific. I made it pretty awkward for himand he could only go on repeating himself and telling me how much he honored meand all the world honored meas a scientist. It wasn't an agreeable task for him. I could see he didn't like it."
"He was not a free agent Ernest said. The leg-bar* is not always worn graciously."
* LEG-BAR--the African slaves were so manacled; also criminals. It was not until the coming of the Brotherhood of Man that the leg-bar passed out of use.
"Yes. I got that much out of him. He said the university needed ever so much more money this year than the state was willing to furnish; and that it must come from wealthy personages who could not but be offended by the swerving of the university from its high ideal of the passionless pursuit of passionless intelligence. When I tried to pin him down to what my home life had to do with swerving the university from its high idealhe offered me a two years' vacationon full payin Europefor recreation and research. Of course I couldn't accept it under the circumstances."
"It would have been far better if you had Ernest said gravely.
It was a bribe father protested; and Ernest nodded.
Alsothe beggar said that there was talktea-table gossip and so forthabout my daughter being seen in public with so notorious a character as youand that it was not in keeping with university tone and dignity. Not that he personally objected--ohno; but that there was talk and that I would understand."
Ernest considered this announcement for a momentand then saidand his face was very gravewithal there was a sombre wrath in it:
"There is more behind this than a mere university ideal. Somebody has put pressure on President Wilcox."
"Do you think so?" father askedand his face showed that he was interested rather than frightened.
"I wish I could convey to you the conception that is dimly forming in my own mind Ernest said. Never in the history of the world was society in so terrific flux as it is right now. The swift changes in our industrial system are causing equally swift changes in our religiouspoliticaland social structures. An unseen and fearful revolution is taking place in the fibre and structure of society. One can only dimly feel these things. But they are in the airnowto-day. One can feel the loom of them--things vastvagueand terrible. My mind recoils from contemplation of what they may crystallize into. You heard Wickson talk the other night. Behind what he said were the same namelessformless things that I feel. He spoke out of a superconscious apprehension of them."
"You mean . . . ?" father beganthen paused.
"I mean that there is a shadow of something colossal and menacing that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow of an oligarchyif you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it. What its nature may be I refuse to imagine.* But what I wanted to say was this: You are in a perilous position--a peril that my own fear enhances because I am not able even to measure it. Take my advice and accept the vacation."
* Thoughlike Everhardthey did not dream of the nature of itthere were meneven before his timewho caught glimpses of the shadow. John C. Calhoun said: "A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselvesconsisting of many and various and powerful interestscombined into one massand held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the banks." And that great humanistAbraham Lincolnsaidjust before his assassination: "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . Corporations have been enthronedan era of corruption in high places will followand the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
"But it would be cowardly was the protest.
Not at all. You are an old man. You have done your work in the worldand a great work. Leave the present battle to youth and strength. We young fellows have our work yet to do. Avis will stand by my side in what is to come. She will be your representative in the battle-front."
"But they can't hurt me father objected. Thank God I am independent. OhI assure youI know the frightful persecution they can wage on a professor who is economically dependent on his university. But I am independent. I have not been a professor for the sake of my salary. I can get along very comfortably on my own incomeand the salary is all they can take away from me."
"But you do not realize Ernest answered. If all that I fear be soyour private incomeyour principal itselfcan be taken from you just as easily as your salary."
Father was silent for a few minutes. He was thinking deeplyand I could see the lines of decision forming in his face. At last he spoke.
"I shall not take the vacation." He paused again. "I shall go on with my book.* You may be wrongbut whether you are wrong or rightI shall stand by my guns."
* This bookEconomics and Education,was published in that year. Three copies of it are extant; two at Ardisand one at Asgard. It dealtin elaborate detailwith one factor in the persistence of the establishednamelythe capitalistic bias of the universities and common schools. It was a logical and crushing indictment of the whole system of education that developed in the minds of the students only such ideas as were favorable to the capitalistic regimeto the exclusion of all ideas that were inimical and subversive. The book created a furorand was promptly suppressed by the Oligarchy.
"All right Ernest said. You are travelling the same path that Bishop Morehouse isand toward a similar smash-up. You'll both be proletarians before you're done with it."
The conversation turned upon the Bishopand we got Ernest to explain what he had been doing with him.
"He is soul-sick from the journey through hell I have given him. I took him through the homes of a few of our factory workers. I showed him the human wrecks cast aside by the industrial machineand he listened to their life stories. I took him through the slums of San Franciscoand in drunkennessprostitutionand criminality he learned a deeper cause than innate depravity. He is very sickandworse than thathe has got out of hand. He is too ethical. He has been too severely touched. Andas usualhe is unpractical. He is up in the air with all kinds of ethical delusions and plans for mission work among the cultured. He feels it is his bounden duty to resurrect the ancient spirit of the Church and to deliver its message to the masters. He is overwrought. Sooner or later he is going to break outand then there's going to be a smash-up. What form it will take I can't even guess. He is a pureexalted soulbut he is so unpractical. He's beyond me. I can't keep his feet on the earth. And through the air he is rushing on to his Gethsemane. And after this his crucifixion. Such high souls are made for crucifixion."
"And you?" I asked; and beneath my smile was the seriousness of the anxiety of love.
"Not I he laughed back. I may be executedor assassinatedbut I shall never be crucified. I am planted too solidly and stolidly upon the earth."
"But why should you bring about the crucifixion of the Bishop?" I asked. "You will not deny that you are the cause of it."
"Why should I leave one comfortable soul in comfort when there are millions in travail and misery?" he demanded back.
"Then why did you advise father to accept the vacation?"
"Because I am not a pureexalted soul was the answer. Because I am solid and stolid and selfish. Because I love you andlike Ruth of oldthy people are my people. As for the Bishophe has no daughter. Besidesno matter how small the goodnevertheless his little inadequate wail will be productive of some good in the revolutionand every little bit counts."
I could not agree with Ernest. I knew well the noble nature of Bishop Morehouseand I could not conceive that his voice raised for righteousness would be no more than a little inadequate wail. But I did not yet have the harsh facts of life at my fingers' ends as Ernest had. He saw clearly the futility of the Bishop's great soulas coming events were soon to show as clearly to me.
It was shortly after this day that Ernest told meas a good storythe offer he had received from the governmentnamelyan appointment as United States Commissioner of Labor. I was overjoyed. The salary was comparatively largeand would make safe our marriage. And then it surely was congenial work for Ernestandfurthermoremy jealous pride in him made me hail the proffered appointment as a recognition of his abilities.
Then I noticed the twinkle in his eyes. He was laughing at me.
"You are not going to . . . to decline?" I quavered.
"It is a bribe he said. Behind it is the fine hand of Wicksonand behind him the hands of greater men than he. It is an old trickold as the class struggle is old--stealing the captains from the army of labor. Poor betrayed labor! If you but knew how many of its leaders have been bought out in similar ways in the past. It is cheaperso much cheaperto buy a general than to fight him and his whole army. There was--but I'll not call any names. I'm bitter enough over it as it is. Dear heartI am a captain of labor. I could not sell out. If for no other reasonthe memory of my poor old father and the way he was worked to death would prevent."
The tears were in his eyesthis greatstrong hero of mine. He never could forgive the way his father had been malformed--the sordid lies and the petty thefts he had been compelled toin order to put food in his children's mouths.
"My father was a good man Ernest once said to me. The soul of him was goodand yet it was twistedand maimedand blunted by the savagery of his life. He was made into a broken-down beast by his mastersthe arch-beasts. He should be alive to-daylike your father. He had a strong constitution. But he was caught in the machine and worked to death--for profit. Think of it. For profit- -his life blood transmuted into a wine-supperor a jewelled gewgawor some similar sense-orgy of the parasitic and idle richhis mastersthe arch-beasts."
"The Bishop is out of hand Ernest wrote me. He is clear up in the air. Tonight he is going to begin putting to rights this very miserable world of ours. He is going to deliver his message. He has told me soand I cannot dissuade him. To-night he is chairman of the I.P.H.* and he will embody his message in his introductory remarks.
* There is no clew to the name of the organization for which these initials stand.
"May I bring you to hear him? Of coursehe is foredoomed to futility. It will break your heart--it will break his; but for you it will be an excellent object lesson. You knowdear hearthow proud I am because you love me. And because of that I want you to know my fullest valueI want to redeemin your eyessome small measure of my unworthiness. And so it is that my pride desires that you shall know my thinking is correct and right. My views are harsh; the futility of so noble a soul as the Bishop will show you the compulsion for such harshness. So come to-night. Sad though this night's happening will beI feel that it will but draw you more closely to me."
The I.P.H. held its convention that night in San Francisco.* This convention had been called to consider public immorality and the remedy for it. Bishop Morehouse presided. He was very nervous as he sat on the platformand I could see the high tension he was under. By his side were Bishop Dickinson; H. H. Jonesthe head of the ethical department in the University of California; Mrs. W. W. Hurdthe great charity organizer; Philip Wardthe equally great philanthropist; and several lesser luminaries in the field of morality and charity. Bishop Morehouse arose and abruptly began:
* It took but a few minutes to cross by ferry from Berkeley to San Francisco. Theseand the other bay citiespractically composed one community.
"I was in my broughamdriving through the streets. It was night- time. Now and then I looked through the carriage windowsand suddenly my eyes seemed to be openedand I saw things as they really are. At first I covered my eyes with my hands to shut out the awful sightand thenin the darknessthe question came to me: What is to be done? What is to be done? A little later the question came to me in another way: What would the Master do? And with the question a great light seemed to fill the placeand I saw my duty sun-clearas Saul saw his on the way to Damascus.
"I stopped the carriagegot outandafter a few minutes' conversationpersuaded two of the public women to get into the brougham with me. If Jesus was rightthen these two unfortunates were my sistersand the only hope of their purification was in my affection and tenderness.
"I live in one of the loveliest localities of San Francisco. The house in which I live cost a hundred thousand dollarsand its furnishingsbooksand works of art cost as much more. The house is a mansion. Noit is a palacewherein there are many servants. I never knew what palaces were good for. I had thought they were to live in. But now I know. I took the two women of the street to my palaceand they are going to stay with me. I hope to fill every room in my palace with such sisters as they."
The audience had been growing more and more restless and unsettledand the faces of those that sat on the platform had been betraying greater and greater dismay and consternation. And at this point Bishop Dickinson aroseand with an expression of disgust on his facefled from the platform and the hall. But Bishop Morehouseoblivious to allhis eyes filled with his visioncontinued:
"Ohsisters and brothersin this act of mine I find the solution of all my difficulties. I didn't know what broughams were made forbut now I know. They are made to carry the weakthe sickand the aged; they are made to show honor to those who have lost the sense even of shame.
"I did not know what palaces were made forbut now I have found a use for them. The palaces of the Church should be hospitals and nurseries for those who have fallen by the wayside and are perishing."
He made a long pauseplainly overcome by the thought that was in himand nervous how best to express it.
"I am not fitdear brethrento tell you anything about morality. I have lived in shame and hypocrisies too long to be able to help others; but my action with those womensisters of mineshows me that the better way is easy to find. To those who believe in Jesus and his gospel there can be no other relation between man and man than the relation of affection. Love alone is stronger than sin-- stronger than death. I therefore say to the rich among you that it is their duty to do what I have done and am doing. Let each one of you who is prosperous take into his house some thief and treat him as his brothersome unfortunate and treat her as his sisterand San Francisco will need no police force and no magistrates; the prisons will be turned into hospitalsand the criminal will disappear with his crime.
"We must give ourselves and not our money alone. We must do as Christ did; that is the message of the Church today. We have wandered far from the Master's teaching. We are consumed in our own flesh-pots. We have put mammon in the place of Christ. I have here a poem that tells the whole story. I should like to read it to you. It was written by an erring soul who yet saw clearly.* It must not be mistaken for an attack upon the Catholic Church. It is an attack upon all churchesupon the pomp and splendor of all churches that have wandered from the Master's path and hedged themselves in from his lambs. Here it is:
"The silver trumpets rang across the Dome; The people knelt upon the ground with awe; And borne upon the necks of men I sawLike some great Godthe Holy Lord of Rome.
"Priest-likehe wore a robe more white than foamAndking-likeswathed himself in royal redThree crowns of gold rose high upon his head; In splendor and in light the Pope passed home.
"My heart stole back across wide wastes of years To One who wandered by a lonely sea; And sought in vain for any place of rest: 'Foxes have holesand every bird its nestIonly Imust wander wearilyAnd bruise my feetand drink wine salt with tears.'"
* Oscar Wildeone of the lords of language of the nineteenth century of the Christian Era.
The audience was agitatedbut unresponsive. Yet Bishop Morehouse was not aware of it. He held steadily on his way.
"And so I say to the rich among youand to all the richthat bitterly you oppress the Masterís lambs. You have hardened your hearts. You have closed your ears to the voices that are crying in the land--the voices of pain and sorrow that you will not hear but that some day will be heard. And so I say--"
But at this point H. H. Jones and Philip Wardwho had already risen from their chairsled the Bishop off the platformwhile the audience sat breathless and shocked.
Ernest laughed harshly and savagely when he had gained the street. His laughter jarred upon me. My heart seemed ready to burst with suppressed tears.
"He has delivered his message Ernest cried. The manhood and the deep-hiddentender nature of their Bishop burst outand his Christian audiencethat loved himconcluded that he was crazy! Did you see them leading him so solicitously from the platform? There must have been laughter in hell at the spectacle."
"Neverthelessit will make a great impressionwhat the Bishop did and said to-night I said.
Think so?" Ernest queried mockingly.
"It will make a sensation I asserted. Didn't you see the reporters scribbling like mad while he was speaking?"
"Not a line of which will appear in to-morrow's papers."
"I can't believe it I cried.
Just wait and see was the answer. Not a linenot a thought that he uttered. The daily press? The daily suppressage!"
"But the reporters I objected. I saw them."
"Not a word that he uttered will see print. You have forgotten the editors. They draw their salaries for the policy they maintain. Their policy is to print nothing that is a vital menace to the established. The Bishop's utterance was a violent assault upon the established morality. It was heresy. They led him from the platform to prevent him from uttering more heresy. The newspapers will purge his heresy in the oblivion of silence. The press of the United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. Its function is to serve the established by moulding public opinionand right well it serves it.
"Let me prophesy. To-morrow's papers will merely mention that the Bishop is in poor healththat he has been working too hardand that he broke down last night. The next mentionsome days hencewill be to the effect that he is suffering from nervous prostration and has been given a vacation by his grateful flock. After thatone of two things will happen: either the Bishop will see the error of his way and return from his vacation a well man in whose eyes there are no more visionsor else he will persist in his madnessand then you may expect to see in the paperscouched pathetically and tenderlythe announcement of his insanity. After that he will be left to gibber his visions to padded walls."
"Now there you go too far!" I cried out.
"In the eyes of society it will truly be insanity he replied. What honest manwho is not insanewould take lost women and thieves into his house to dwell with him sisterly and brotherly? TrueChrist died between two thievesbut that is another story. Insanity? The mental processes of the man with whom one disagreesare always wrong. Therefore the mind of the man is wrong. Where is the line between wrong mind and insane mind? It is inconceivable that any sane man can radically disagree with one's most sane conclusions.
"There is a good example of it in this evening's paper. Mary McKenna lives south of Market Street. She is a poor but honest woman. She is also patriotic. But she has erroneous ideas concerning the American flag and the protection it is supposed to symbolize. And here's what happened to her. Her husband had an accident and was laid up in hospital three months. In spite of taking in washingshe got behind in her rent. Yesterday they evicted her. But firstshe hoisted an American flagand from under its folds she announced that by virtue of its protection they could not turn her out on to the cold street. What was done? She was arrested and arraigned for insanity. To-day she was examined by the regular insanity experts. She was found insane. She was consigned to the Napa Asylum."
"But that is far-fetched I objected. Suppose I should disagree with everybody about the literary style of a book. They wouldn't send me to an asylum for that."
"Very true he replied. But such divergence of opinion would constitute no menace to society. Therein lies the difference. The divergence of opinion on the parts of Mary McKenna and the Bishop do menace society. What if all the poor people should refuse to pay rent and shelter themselves under the American flag? Landlordism would go crumbling. The Bishop's views are just as perilous to society. Ergoto the asylum with him."
But still I refused to believe.
"Wait and see Ernest said, and I waited.
Next morning I sent out for all the papers. So far Ernest was right. Not a word that Bishop Morehouse had uttered was in print. Mention was made in one or two of the papers that he had been overcome by his feelings. Yet the platitudes of the speakers that followed him were reported at length.
Several days later the brief announcement was made that he had gone away on a vacation to recover from the effects of overwork. So far so good, but there had been no hint of insanity, nor even of nervous collapse. Little did I dream the terrible road the Bishop was destined to travel--the Gethsemane and crucifixion that Ernest had pondered about.
It was just before Ernest ran for Congresson the socialist ticketthat father gave what he privately called his "Profit and Loss" dinner. Ernest called it the dinner of the Machine Breakers. In point of factit was merely a dinner for business men--small business menof course. I doubt if one of them was interested in any business the total capitalization of which exceeded a couple of hundred thousand dollars. They were truly representative middle- class business men.
There was Owenof SilverbergOwen & Company--a large grocery firm with several branch stores. We bought our groceries from them. There were both partners of the big drug firm of Kowalt & Washburnand Mr. Asmunsenthe owner of a large granite quarry in Contra Costa County. And there were many similar menowners or part- owners in small factoriessmall businesses and small industries-- small capitalistsin short.
They were shrewd-facedinteresting menand they talked with simplicity and clearness. Their unanimous complaint was against the corporations and trusts. Their creed wasBust the Trusts.All oppression originated in the trustsand one and all told the same tale of woe. They advocated government ownership of such trusts as the railroads and telegraphsand excessive income taxesgraduated with ferocityto destroy large accumulations. Likewise they advocatedas a cure for local illsmunicipal ownership of such public utilities as watergastelephonesand street railways.
Especially interesting was Mr. Asmunsen's narrative of his tribulations as a quarry owner. He confessed that he never made any profits out of his quarryand thisin spite of the enormous volume of business that had been caused by the destruction of San Francisco by the big earthquake. For six years the rebuilding of San Francisco had been going onand his business had quadrupled and octupledand yet he was no better off.
"The railroad knows my business just a little bit better than I do he said. It knows my operating expenses to a centand it knows the terms of my contracts. How it knows these things I can only guess. It must have spies in my employand it must have access to the parties to all my contracts. For look youwhen I place a big contractthe terms of which favor me a goodly profitthe freight rate from my quarry to market is promptly raised. No explanation is made. The railroad gets my profit. Under such circumstances I have never succeeded in getting the railroad to reconsider its raise. On the other handwhen there have been accidentsincreased expenses of operatingor contracts with less profitable termsI have always succeeded in getting the railroad to lower its rate. What is the result? Large or smallthe railroad always gets my profits."
"What remains to you over and above Ernest interrupted to ask, would roughly be the equivalent of your salary as a manager did the railroad own the quarry."
"The very thing Mr. Asmunsen replied. Only a short time ago I had my books gone through for the past ten years. I discovered that for those ten years my gain was just equivalent to a manager's salary. The railroad might just as well have owned my quarry and hired me to run it."
"But with this difference Ernest laughed; the railroad would have had to assume all the risk which you so obligingly assumed for it."
"Very true Mr. Asmunsen answered sadly.
Having let them have they say, Ernest began asking questions right and left. He began with Mr. Owen.
You started a branch store here in Berkeley about six months ago?"
"Yes Mr. Owen answered.
And since then I've noticed that three little corner groceries have gone out of business. Was your branch store the cause of it?"
Mr. Owen affirmed with a complacent smile. "They had no chance against us."
"We had greater capital. With a large business there is always less waste and greater efficiency."
"And your branch store absorbed the profits of the three small ones. I see. But tell mewhat became of the owners of the three stores?"
"One is driving a delivery wagon for us. I don't know what happened to the other two."
Ernest turned abruptly on Mr. Kowalt.
"You sell a great deal at cut-rates.* What have become of the owners of the small drug stores that you forced to the wall?"
* A lowering of selling price to costand even to less than cost. Thusa large company could sell at a loss for a longer period than a small companyand so drive the small company out of business. A common device of competition.
"One of themMr. Haasfurtherhas charge now of our prescription department was the answer.
And you absorbed the profits they had been making?"
"Surely. That is what we are in business for."
"And you?" Ernest said suddenly to Mr. Asmunsen. "You are disgusted because the railroad has absorbed your profits?"
Mr. Asmunsen nodded.
"What you want is to make profits yourself?"
Again Mr. Asmunsen nodded.
"Out of others?"
There was no answer.
"Out of others?" Ernest insisted.
"That is the way profits are made Mr. Asmunsen replied curtly.
Then the business game is to make profits out of othersand to prevent others from making profits out of you. That's itisn't it?"
Ernest had to repeat his question before Mr. Asmunsen gave an answerand then he said:
"Yesthat's itexcept that we do not object to the others making profits so long as they are not extortionate."
"By extortionate you mean large; yet you do not object to making large profits yourself? . . . Surely not?"
And Mr. Asmunsen amiably confessed to the weakness. There was one other man who was quizzed by Ernest at this juncturea Mr. Calvinwho had once been a great dairy-owner.
"Some time ago you were fighting the Milk Trust Ernest said to him; and now you are in Grange politics.* How did it happen?"
* Many efforts were made during this period to organize the perishing farmer class into a political partythe aim of which was destroy the trusts and corporations by drastic legislation. All such attempts ended in failure.
"OhI haven't quit the fight Mr. Calvin answered, and he looked belligerent enough. I'm fighting the Trust on the only field where it is possible to fight--the political field. Let me show you. A few years ago we dairymen had everything our own way."
"But you competed among yourselves?" Ernest interrupted.
"Yesthat was what kept the profits down. We did try to organizebut independent dairymen always broke through us. Then came the Milk Trust."
"Financed by surplus capital from Standard Oil* Ernest said.
* The first successful great trust--almost a generation in advance of the rest.
"Yes Mr. Calvin acknowledged. But we did not know it at the time. Its agents approached us with a club. "Come in and be fat was their proposition, or stay out and starve." Most of us came in. Those that didn'tstarved. Ohit paid us . . . at first. Milk was raised a cent a quart. One-quarter of this cent came to us. Three-quarters of it went to the Trust. Then milk was raised another centonly we didn't get any of that cent. Our complaints were useless. The Trust was in control. We discovered that we were pawns. Finallythe additional quarter of a cent was denied us. Then the Trust began to squeeze us out. What could we do? We were squeezed out. There were no dairymenonly a Milk Trust."
"But with milk two cents higherI should think you could have competed Ernest suggested slyly.
So we thought. We tried it." Mr. Calvin paused a moment. "It broke us. The Trust could put milk upon the market more cheaply than we. It could sell still at a slight profit when we were selling at actual loss. I dropped fifty thousand dollars in that venture. Most of us went bankrupt.* The dairymen were wiped out of existence."
* Bankruptcy--a peculiar institution that enabled an individualwho had failed in competitive industryto forego paying his debts. The effect was to ameliorate the too savage conditions of the fang- and-claw social struggle.
"So the Trust took your profits away from you Ernest said, and youíve gone into politics in order to legislate the Trust out of existence and get the profits back?"
Mr. Calvinís face lighted up. "That is precisely what I say in my speeches to the farmers. That's our whole idea in a nutshell."
"And yet the Trust produces milk more cheaply than could the independent dairymen?" Ernest queried.
"Why shouldn't itwith the splendid organization and new machinery its large capital makes possible?"
"There is no discussion Ernest answered. It certainly shouldandfurthermoreit does."
Mr. Calvin here launched out into a political speech in exposition of his views. He was warmly followed by a number of the othersand the cry of all was to destroy the trusts.
"Poor simple folk Ernest said to me in an undertone. They see clearly as far as they seebut they see only to the ends of their noses."
A little later he got the floor againand in his characteristic way controlled it for the rest of the evening.
"I have listened carefully to all of you he began, and I see plainly that you play the business game in the orthodox fashion. Life sums itself up to you in profits. You have a firm and abiding belief that you were created for the sole purpose of making profits. Only there is a hitch. In the midst of your own profit- making along comes the trust and takes your profits away from you. This is a dilemma that interferes somehow with the aim of creationand the only way outas it seems to youis to destroy that which takes from you your profits.
"I have listened carefullyand there is only one name that will epitomize you. I shall call you that name. You are machine- breakers. Do you know what a machine-breaker is? Let me tell you. In the eighteenth centuryin Englandmen and women wove cloth on hand-looms in their own cottages. It was a slowclumsyand costly way of weaving cloththis cottage system of manufacture. Along came the steam-engine and labor-saving machinery. A thousand looms assembled in a large factoryand driven by a central engine wove cloth vastly more cheaply than could the cottage weavers on their hand-looms. Here in the factory was combinationand before it competition faded away. The men and women who had worked the hand-looms for themselves now went into the factories and worked the machine-loomsnot for themselvesbut for the capitalist owners. Furthermorelittle children went to work on the machine- loomsat lower wagesand displaced the men. This made hard times for the men. Their standard of living fell. They starved. And they said it was all the fault of the machines. Thereforethey proceeded to break the machines. They did not succeedand they were very stupid.
"Yet you have not learned their lesson. Here are youa century and a half latertrying to break machines. By your own confession the trust machines do the work more efficiently and more cheaply than you can. That is why you cannot compete with them. And yet you would break those machines. You are even more stupid than the stupid workmen of England. And while you maunder about restoring competitionthe trusts go on destroying you.
"One and all you tell the same story--the passing away of competition and the coming on of combination. YouMr. Owendestroyed competition here in Berkeley when your branch store drove the three small groceries out of business. Your combination was more effective. Yet you feel the pressure of other combinations on youthe trust combinationsand you cry out. It is because you are not a trust. If you were a grocery trust for the whole United Statesyou would be singing another song. And the song would beBlessed are the trusts.And yet againnot only is your small combination not a trustbut you are aware yourself of its lack of strength. You are beginning to divine your own end. You feel yourself and your branch stores a pawn in the game. You see the powerful interests rising and growing more powerful day by day; you feel their mailed hands descending upon your profits and taking a pinch here and a pinch there--the railroad trustthe oil trustthe steel trustthe coal trust; and you know that in the end they will destroy youtake away from you the last per cent of your little profits.
"Yousirare a poor gamester. When you squeezed out the three small groceries here in Berkeley by virtue of your superior combinationyou swelled out your chesttalked about efficiency and enterpriseand sent your wife to Europe on the profits you had gained by eating up the three small groceries. It is dog eat dogand you ate them up. Buton the other handyou are being eaten up in turn by the bigger dogswherefore you squeal. And what I say to you is true of all of you at this table. You are all squealing. You are all playing the losing gameand you are all squealing about it.
"But when you squeal you don't state the situation flatlyas I have stated it. You don't say that you like to squeeze profits out of othersand that you are making all the row because others are squeezing your profits out of you. Noyou are too cunning for that. You say something else. You make small-capitalist political speeches such as Mr. Calvin made. What did he say? Here are a few of his phrases I caught: "Our original principles are all right What this country requires is a return to fundamental American methods--free opportunity for all The spirit of liberty in which this nation was born Let us return to the principles of our forefathers."
"When he says "free opportunity for all he means free opportunity to squeeze profits, which freedom of opportunity is now denied him by the great trusts. And the absurd thing about it is that you have repeated these phrases so often that you believe them. You want opportunity to plunder your fellow-men in your own small way, but you hypnotize yourselves into thinking you want freedom. You are piggish and acquisitive, but the magic of your phrases leads you to believe that you are patriotic. Your desire for profits, which is sheer selfishness, you metamorphose into altruistic solicitude for suffering humanity. Come on now, right here amongst ourselves, and be honest for once. Look the matter in the face and state it in direct terms.
There were flushed and angry faces at the tableand withal a measure of awe. They were a little frightened at this smooth-faced young fellowand the swing and smash of his wordsand his dreadful trait of calling a spade a spade. Mr. Calvin promptly replied.
"And why not?" he demanded. "Why can we not return to ways of our fathers when this republic was founded? You have spoken much truthMr. Everhardunpalatable though it has been. But here amongst ourselves let us speak out. Let us throw off all disguise and accept the truth as Mr. Everhard has flatly stated it. It is true that we smaller capitalists are after profitsand that the trusts are taking our profits away from us. It is true that we want to destroy the trusts in order that our profits may remain to us. And why can we not do it? Why not? I saywhy not?"
"Ahnow we come to the gist of the matter Ernest said with a pleased expression. I'll try to tell you why notthough the telling will be rather hard. You seeyou fellows have studied businessin a small waybut you have not studied social evolution at all. You are in the midst of a transition stage now in economic evolutionbut you do not understand itand that's what causes all the confusion. Why cannot you return? Because you can't. You can no more make water run up hill than can you cause the tide of economic evolution to flow back in its channel along the way it came. Joshua made the sun stand still upon Gibeonbut you would outdo Joshua. You would make the sun go backward in the sky. You would have time retrace its steps from noon to morning.
"In the face of labor-saving machineryof organized productionof the increased efficiency of combinationyou would set the economic sun back a whole generation or so to the time when there were no great capitalistsno great machineryno railroads--a time when a host of little capitalists warred with each other in economic anarchyand when production was primitivewastefulunorganizedand costly. Believe meJoshua's task was easierand he had Jehovah to help him. But God has forsaken you small capitalists. The sun of the small capitalists is setting. It will never rise again. Nor is it in your power even to make it stand still. You are perishingand you are doomed to perish utterly from the face of society.
"This is the fiat of evolution. It is the word of God. Combination is stronger than competition. Primitive man was a puny creature hiding in the crevices of the rocks. He combined and made war upon his carnivorous enemies. They were competitive beasts. Primitive man was a combinative beastand because of it he rose to primacy over all the animals. And man has been achieving greater and greater combinations ever since. It is combination versus competitiona thousand centuries long strugglein which competition has always been worsted. Whoso enlists on the side of competition perishes."
"But the trusts themselves arose out of competition Mr. Calvin interrupted.
Very true,Ernest answered. "And the trusts themselves destroyed competition. Thatby your own wordis why you are no longer in the dairy business."
The first laughter of the evening went around the tableand even Mr. Calvin joined in the laugh against himself.
"And nowwhile we are on the trusts Ernest went on, let us settle a few things. I shall make certain statementsand if you disagree with themspeak up. Silence will mean agreement. Is it not true that a machine-loom will weave more cloth and weave more cheaply than a hand-loom?" He pausedbut nobody spoke up. "Is it not then highly irrational to break the machine-loom and go back to the clumsy and more costly hand-loom method of weaving?" Heads nodded in acquiescence. "Is it not true that that known as a trust produces more efficiently and cheaply than can a thousand competing small concerns?" Still no one objected. "Then is it not irrational to destroy that cheap and efficient combination?"
No one answered for a long time. Then Mr. Kowalt spoke.
"What are we to dothen?" he demanded. "To destroy the trusts is the only way we can see to escape their domination."
Ernest was all fire and aliveness on the instant.
"I'll show you another way!" he cried. "Let us not destroy those wonderful machines that produce efficiently and cheaply. Let us control them. Let us profit by their efficiency and cheapness. Let us run them for ourselves. Let us oust the present owners of the wonderful machinesand let us own the wonderful machines ourselves. Thatgentlemenis socialisma greater combination than the trustsa greater economic and social combination than any that has as yet appeared on the planet. It is in line with evolution. We meet combination with greater combination. It is the winning side. Come on over with us socialists and play on the winning side."
Here arose dissent. There was a shaking of headsand mutterings arose.
"All rightthenyou prefer to be anachronisms Ernest laughed. You prefer to play atavistic roles. You are doomed to perish as all atavisms perish. Have you ever asked what will happen to you when greater combinations than even the present trusts arise? Have you ever considered where you will stand when the great trusts themselves combine into the combination of combinations--into the socialeconomicand political trust?"
He turned abruptly and irrelevantly upon Mr. Calvin.
"Tell me Ernest said, if this is not true. You are compelled to form a new political party because the old parties are in the hands of the trusts. The chief obstacle to your Grange propaganda is the trusts. Behind every obstacle you encounterevery blow that smites youevery defeat that you receiveis the hand of the trusts. Is this not so? Tell me."
Mr. Calvin sat in uncomfortable silence.
"Go ahead Ernest encouraged.
It is true Mr. Calvin confessed. We captured the state legislature of Oregon and put through splendid protective legislationand it was vetoed by the governorwho was a creature of the trusts. We elected a governor of Coloradoand the legislature refused to permit him to take office. Twice we have passed a national income taxand each time the supreme court smashed it as unconstitutional. The courts are in the hands of the trusts. Wethe peopledo not pay our judges sufficiently. But there will come a time--"
"When the combination of the trusts will control all legislationwhen the combination of the trusts will itself be the government Ernest interrupted.
Never! never!" were the cries that arose. Everybody was excited and belligerent.
"Tell me Ernest demanded, what will you do when such a time comes?"
"We will rise in our strength!" Mr. Asmunsen criedand many voices backed his decision.
"That will be civil war Ernest warned them.
So be itcivil war was Mr. Asmunsen's answer, with the cries of all the men at the table behind him. We have not forgotten the deeds of our forefathers. For our liberties we are ready to fight and die."
"Do not forget he said, that we had tacitly agreed that liberty in your casegentlemenmeans liberty to squeeze profits out of others."
The table was angrynowfighting angry; but Ernest controlled the tumult and made himself heard.
"One more question. When you rise in your strengthrememberthe reason for your rising will be that the government is in the hands of the trusts. Thereforeagainst your strength the government will turn the regular armythe navythe militiathe police--in shortthe whole organized war machinery of the United States. Where will your strength be then?"
Dismay sat on their facesand before they could recoverErnest struck again.
"Do you remembernot so long agowhen our regular army was only fifty thousand? Year by year it has been increased until to-day it is three hundred thousand."
Again he struck.
"Nor is that all. While you diligently pursued that favorite phantom of yourscalled profitsand moralized about that favorite fetich of yourscalled competitioneven greater and more direful things have been accomplished by combination. There is the militia."
"It is our strength!" cried Mr. Kowalt. "With it we would repel the invasion of the regular army."
"You would go into the militia yourself was Ernest's retort, and be sent to Maineor Floridaor the Philippinesor anywhere elseto drown in blood your own comrades civil-warring for their liberties. While from Kansasor Wisconsinor any other stateyour own comrades would go into the militia and come here to California to drown in blood your own civil-warring."
Now they were really shockedand they sat wordlessuntil Mr. Owen murmured:
"We would not go into the militia. That would settle it. We would not be so foolish."
Ernest laughed outright.
"You do not understand the combination that has been effected. You could not help yourself. You would be drafted into the militia."
"There is such a thing as civil law Mr. Owen insisted.
Not when the government suspends civil law. In that day when you speak of rising in your strengthyour strength would be turned against yourself. Into the militia you would gowilly-nilly. Habeas corpusI heard some one mutter just now. Instead of habeas corpus you would get post mortems. If you refused to go into the militiaor to obey after you were inyou would be tried by drumhead court martial and shot down like dogs. It is the law."
"It is not the law!" Mr. Calvin asserted positively. "There is no such law. Young manyou have dreamed all this. Whyyou spoke of sending the militia to the Philippines. That is unconstitutional. The Constitution especially states that the militia cannot be sent out of the country."
"What's the Constitution got to do with it?" Ernest demanded. "The courts interpret the Constitutionand the courtsas Mr. Asmunsen agreedare the creatures of the trusts. Besidesit is as I have saidthe law. It has been the law for yearsfor nine yearsgentlemen."
"That we can be drafted into the militia?" Mr. Calvin asked incredulously. "That they can shoot us by drumhead court martial if we refuse?"
"Yes Ernest answered, precisely that."
"How is it that we have never heard of this law?" my father askedand I could see that it was likewise new to him.
"For two reasons Ernest said. Firstthere has been no need to enforce it. If there hadyou'd have heard of it soon enough. And secondlythe law was rushed through Congress and the Senate secretlywith practically no discussion. Of coursethe newspapers made no mention of it. But we socialists knew about it. We published it in our papers. But you never read our papers."
"I still insist you are dreaming Mr. Calvin said stubbornly. The country would never have permitted it."
"But the country did permit it Ernest replied. And as for my dreaming--" he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a small pamphlet--"tell me if this looks like dream-stuff."
He opened it and began to read:
"'Section Onebe it enactedand so forth and so forththat the militia shall consist of every able-bodied male citizen of the respective statesterritoriesand District of Columbiawho is more than eighteen and less than forty-five years of age.'
"'Section Seventhat any officer or enlisted man'--remember Section Onegentlemenyou are all enlisted men--"that any enlisted man of the militia who shall refuse or neglect to present himself to such mustering officer upon being called forth as herein prescribedshall be subject to trial by court martialand shall be punished as such court martial shall direct.'
"'Section Eightthat courts martialfor the trial of officers or men of the militiashall be composed of militia officers only.'
"'Section Ninethat the militiawhen called into the actual service of the United Statesshall be subject to the same rules and articles of war as the regular troops of the United States.'
"There you are gentlemenAmerican citizensand fellow-militiamen. Nine years ago we socialists thought that law was aimed against labor. But it would seem that it was aimed against youtoo. Congressman Wileyin the brief discussion that was permittedsaid that the bill 'provided for a reserve force to take the mob by the throat'--you're the mobgentlemen--'and protect at all hazards lifelibertyand property.' And in the time to comewhen you rise in your strengthremember that you will be rising against the property of the trustsand the liberty of the trustsaccording to the lawto squeeze you. Your teeth are pulledgentlemen. Your claws are trimmed. In the day you rise in your strengthtoothless and clawlessyou will be as harmless as any army of clams."
"I don't believe it!" Kowalt cried. "There is no such law. It is a canard got up by you socialists."
"This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 301902 was the reply. It was introduced by Representative Dick of Ohio. It was rushed through. It was passed unanimously by the Senate on January 141903. And just seven days afterward was approved by the President of the United States."*
* Everhard was right in the essential particularsthough his date of the introduction of the bill is in error. The bill was introduced on June 30and not on July 30. The Congressional Record is here in Ardisand a reference to it shows mention of the bill on the following dates: June 30December 91516and 171902and January 7 and 141903. The ignorance evidenced by the business men at the dinner was nothing unusual. Very few people knew of the existence of this law. E. Untermanna revolutionistin July1903published a pamphlet at GirardKansason the "Militia Bill." This pamphlet had a small circulation among workingmen; but already had the segregation of classes proceeded so farthat the members of the middle class never heard of the pamphlet at alland so remained in ignorance of the law.
In the midst of the consternation his revelation had producedErnest began again to speak.
"You have saida dozen of you to-nightthat socialism is impossible. You have asserted the impossiblenow let me demonstrate the inevitable. Not only is it inevitable that you small capitalists shall pass awaybut it is inevitable that the large capitalistsand the trusts alsoshall pass away. Rememberthe tide of evolution never flows backward. It flows on and onand it flows from competition to combinationand from little combination to large combinationand from large combination to colossal combinationand it flows on to socialismwhich is the most colossal combination of all.
"You tell me that I dream. Very good. I'll give you the mathematics of my dream; and herein advanceI challenge you to show that my mathematics are wrong. I shall develop the inevitability of the breakdown of the capitalist systemand I shall demonstrate mathematically why it must break down. Here goesand bear with me if at first I seem irrelevant.
"Let usfirst of allinvestigate a particular industrial processand whenever I state something with which you disagreeplease interrupt me. Here is a shoe factory. This factory takes leather and makes it into shoes. Here is one hundred dollars' worth of leather. It goes through the factory and comes out in the form of shoesworthlet us saytwo hundred dollars. What has happened? One hundred dollars has been added to the value of the leather. How was it added? Let us see.
"Capital and labor added this value of one hundred dollars. Capital furnished the factorythe machinesand paid all the expenses. Labor furnished labor. By the joint effort of capital and labor one hundred dollars of value was added. Are you all agreed so far?"
Heads nodded around the table in affirmation.
"Labor and capital having produced this one hundred dollarsnow proceed to divide it. The statistics of this division are fractional; so let usfor the sake of conveniencemake them roughly approximate. Capital takes fifty dollars as its shareand labor gets in wages fifty dollars as its share. We will not enter into the squabbling over the division.* No matter how much squabbling takes placein one percentage or another the division is arranged. And take notice herethat what is true of this particular industrial process is true of all industrial processes. Am I right?"
* Everhard here clearly develops the cause of all the labor troubles of that time. In the division of the joint-productcapital wanted all it could getand labor wanted all it could get. This quarrel over the division was irreconcilable. So long as the system of capitalistic production existedlabor and capital continued to quarrel over the division of the joint-product. It is a ludicrous spectacle to usbut we must not forget that we have seven centuries' advantage over those that lived in that time.
Again the whole table agreed with Ernest.
"Nowsuppose laborhaving received its fifty dollarswanted to buy back shoes. It could only buy back fifty dollars' worth. That's clearisn't it?
"And now we shift from this particular process to the sum total of all industrial processes in the United Stateswhich includes the leather itselfraw materialtransportationsellingeverything. We will sayfor the sake of round figuresthat the total production of wealth in the United States is one year is four billion dollars. Then labor has received in wagesduring the same periodtwo billion dollars. Four billion dollars has been produced. How much of this can labor buy back? Two billions. There is no discussion of thisI am sure. For that mattermy percentages are mild. Because of a thousand capitalistic deviceslabor cannot buy back even half of the total product.
"But to return. We will say labor buys back two billions. Then it stands to reason that labor can consume only two billions. There are still two billions to be accounted forwhich labor cannot buy back and consume."
"Labor does not consume its two billionseven Mr. Kowalt spoke up. If it didit would not have any deposits in the savings banks."
"Labor's deposits in the savings banks are only a sort of reserve fund that is consumed as fast as it accumulates. These deposits are saved for old agefor sickness and accidentand for funeral expenses. The savings bank deposit is simply a piece of the loaf put back on the shelf to be eaten next day. Nolabor consumes all of the total product that its wages will buy back.
"Two billions are left to capital. After it has paid its expensesdoes it consume the remainder? Does capital consume all of its two billions?"
Ernest stopped and put the question point blank to a number of the men. They shook their heads.
"I don't know one of them frankly said.
Of course you do Ernest went on. Stop and think a moment. If capital consumed its sharethe sum total of capital could not increase. It would remain constant. If you will look at the economic history of the United Statesyou will see that the sum total of capital has continually increased. Therefore capital does not consume its share. Do you remember when England owned so much of our railroad bonds? As the years went bywe bought back those bonds. What does that mean? That part of capital's unconsumed share bought back the bonds. What is the meaning of the fact that to-day the capitalists of the United States own hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of Mexican bondsRussian bondsItalian bondsGrecian bonds? The meaning is that those hundreds and hundreds of millions were part of capital's share which capital did not consume. Furthermorefrom the very beginning of the capitalist systemcapital has never consumed all of its share.
"And now we come to the point. Four billion dollars of wealth is produced in one year in the United States. Labor buys back and consumes two billions. Capital does not consume the remaining two billions. There is a large balance left over unconsumed. What is done with this balance? What can be done with it? Labor cannot consume any of itfor labor has already spent all its wages. Capital will not consume this balancebecausealreadyaccording to its natureit has consumed all it can. And still remains the balance. What can be done with it? What is done with it?"
"It is sold abroad Mr. Kowalt volunteered.
The very thing Ernest agreed. Because of this balance arises our need for a foreign market. This is sold abroad. It has to be sold abroad. There is no other way of getting rid of it. And that unconsumed surplussold abroadbecomes what we call our favorable balance of trade. Are we all agreed so far?"
"Surely it is a waste of time to elaborate these A B C's of commerce Mr. Calvin said tartly. We all understand them."
"And it is by these A B C's I have so carefully elaborated that I shall confound you Ernest retorted. There's the beauty of it. And I'm going to confound you with them right now. Here goes.
"The United States is a capitalist country that has developed its resources. According to its capitalist system of industryit has an unconsumed surplus that must be got rid ofand that must be got rid of abroad.* What is true of the United States is true of every other capitalist country with developed resources. Every one of such countries has an unconsumed surplus. Don't forget that they have already traded with one anotherand that these surpluses yet remain. Labor in all these countries has spent it wagesand cannot buy any of the surpluses. Capital in all these countries has already consumed all it is able according to its nature. And still remain the surpluses. They cannot dispose of these surpluses to one another. How are they going to get rid of them?"
* Theodore RooseveltPresident of the United States a few years prior to this timemade the following public declaration: "A more liberal and extensive reciprocity in the purchase and sale of commodities is necessaryso that the overproduction of the United States can be satisfactorily disposed of to foreign countries." Of coursethis overproduction he mentions was the profits of the capitalist system over and beyond the consuming power of the capitalists. It was at this time that Senator Mark Hanna said: "The production of wealth in the United States is one-third larger annually than its consumption." Also a fellow-SenatorChauncey Depewsaid: "The American people produce annually two billions more wealth than they consume."
"Sell them to countries with undeveloped resources Mr. Kowalt suggested.
The very thing. You seemy argument is so clear and simple that in your own minds you carry it on for me. And now for the next step. Suppose the United States disposes of its surplus to a country with undeveloped resources likesayBrazil. Remember this surplus is over and above tradewhich articles of trade have been consumed. Whatthendoes the United States get in return from Brazil?"
"Gold said Mr. Kowalt.
But there is only so much goldand not much of itin the world Ernest objected.
Gold in the form of securities and bonds and so forth Mr. Kowalt amended.
Now you've struck it Ernest said. From Brazil the United Statesin return for her surplusgets bonds and securities. And what does that mean? It means that the United States is coming to own railroads in Brazilfactoriesminesand lands in Brazil. And what is the meaning of that in turn?"
Mr. Kowalt pondered and shook his head.
"I'll tell you Ernest continued. It means that the resources of Brazil are being developed. And nowthe next point. When Brazilunder the capitalist systemhas developed her resourcesshe will herself have an unconsumed surplus. Can she get rid of this surplus to the United States? Nobecause the United States has herself a surplus. Can the United States do what she previously did--get rid of her surplus to Brazil? Nofor Brazil now has a surplustoo.
"What happens? The United States and Brazil must both seek out other countries with undeveloped resourcesin order to unload the surpluses on them. But by the very process of unloading the surplusesthe resources of those countries are in turn developed. Soon they have surplusesand are seeking other countries on which to unload. Nowgentlemenfollow me. The planet is only so large. There are only so many countries in the world. What will happen when every country in the worlddown to the smallest and lastwith a surplus in its handsstands confronting every other country with surpluses in their hands?"
He paused and regarded his listeners. The bepuzzlement in their faces was delicious. Alsothere was awe in their faces. Out of abstractions Ernest had conjured a vision and made them see it. They were seeing it thenas they sat thereand they were frightened by it.
"We started with A B CMr. Calvin Ernest said slyly. I have now given you the rest of the alphabet. It is very simple. That is the beauty of it. You surely have the answer forthcoming. Whatthenwhen every country in the world has an unconsumed surplus? Where will your capitalist system be then?"
But Mr. Calvin shook a troubled head. He was obviously questing back through Ernest's reasoning in search of an error.
"Let me briefly go over the ground with you again Ernest said. We began with a particular industrial processthe shoe factory. We found that the division of the joint product that took place there was similar to the division that took place in the sum total of all industrial processes. We found that labor could buy back with its wages only so much of the productand that capital did not consume all of the remainder of the product. We found that when labor had consumed to the full extent of its wagesand when capital had consumed all it wantedthere was still left an unconsumed surplus. We agreed that this surplus could only be disposed of abroad. We agreedalsothat the effect of unloading this surplus on another country would be to develop the resources of that countryand that in a short time that country would have an unconsumed surplus. We extended this process to all the countries on the planettill every country was producing every yearand every dayan unconsumed surpluswhich it could dispose of to no other country. And now I ask you againwhat are we going to do with those surpluses?"
Still no one answered.
"Mr. Calvin?" Ernest queried.
"It beats me Mr. Calvin confessed.
I never dreamed of such a thing Mr. Asmunsen said. And yet it does seem clear as print."
It was the first time I had ever heard Karl Marx's* doctrine of surplus value elaboratedand Ernest had done it so simply that Itoosat puzzled and dumbfounded.
* Karl Marx--the great intellectual hero of Socialism. A German Jew of the nineteenth century. A contemporary of John Stuart Mill. It seems incredible to us that whole generations should have elapsed after the enunciation of Marx's economic discoveriesin which time he was sneered at by the world's accepted thinkers and scholars. Because of his discoveries he was banished from his native countryand he died an exile in England.
"I'll tell you a way to get rid of the surplus Ernest said. Throw it into the sea. Throw every year hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of shoes and wheat and clothing and all the commodities of commerce into the sea. Won't that fix it?"
"It will certainly fix it Mr. Calvin answered. But it is absurd for you to talk that way."
Ernest was upon him like a flash.
"Is it a bit more absurd than what you advocateyou machine- breakerreturning to the antediluvian ways of your forefathers? What do you propose in order to get rid of the surplus? You would escape the problem of the surplus by not producing any surplus. And how do you propose to avoid producing a surplus? By returning to a primitive method of productionso confused and disorderly and irrationalso wasteful and costlythat it will be impossible to produce a surplus."
Mr. Calvin swallowed. The point had been driven home. He swallowed again and cleared his throat.
"You are right he said. I stand convicted. It is absurd. But we've got to do something. It is a case of life and death for us of the middle class. We refuse to perish. We elect to be absurd and to return to the truly crude and wasteful methods of our forefathers. We will put back industry to its pre-trust stage. We will break the machines. And what are you going to do about it?"
"But you can't break the machines Ernest replied. You cannot make the tide of evolution flow backward. Opposed to you are two great forceseach of which is more powerful than you of the middle class. The large capitaliststhe trustsin shortwill not let you turn back. They don't want the machines destroyed. And greater than the trustsand more powerfulis labor. It will not let you destroy the machines. The ownership of the worldalong with the machineslies between the trusts and labor. That is the battle alignment. Neither side wants the destruction of the machines. But each side wants to possess the machines. In this battle the middle class has no place. The middle class is a pygmy between two giants. Don't you seeyou poor perishing middle classyou are caught between the upper and nether millstonesand even now has the grinding begun.
"I have demonstrated to you mathematically the inevitable breakdown of the capitalist system. When every country stands with an unconsumed and unsalable surplus on its handsthe capitalist system will break down under the terrific structure of profits that it itself has reared. And in that day there won't be any destruction of the machines. The struggle then will be for the ownership of the machines. If labor winsyour way will be easy. The United Statesand the whole world for that matterwill enter upon a new and tremendous era. Instead of being crushed by the machineslife will be made fairerand happierand nobler by them. You of the destroyed middle classalong with labor--there will be nothing but labor then; so youand all the rest of laborwill participate in the equitable distribution of the products of the wonderful machines. And weall of uswill make new and more wonderful machines. And there won't be any unconsumed surplusbecause there won't be any profits."
"But suppose the trusts win in this battle over the ownership of the machines and the world?" Mr. Kowalt asked.
"Then Ernest answered, youand laborand all of uswill be crushed under the iron heel of a despotism as relentless and terrible as any despotism that has blackened the pages of the history of man. That will be a good name for that despotismthe Iron Heel."*
* The earliest known use of that name to designate the Oligarchy.
There was a long pauseand every man at the table meditated in ways unwonted and profound.
"But this socialism of yours is a dream Mr. Calvin said; and repeated, a dream."
"I'll show you something that isn't a dreamthen Ernest answered. And that something I shall call the Oligarchy. You call it the Plutocracy. We both mean the same thingthe large capitalists or the trusts. Let us see where the power lies today. And in order to do solet us apportion society into its class divisions.
"There are three big classes in society. First comes the Plutocracywhich is composed of wealthy bankersrailway magnatescorporation directorsand trust magnates. Secondis the middle classyour classgentlemenwhich is composed of farmersmerchantssmall manufacturersand professional men. And third and last comes my classthe proletariatwhich is composed of the wage-workers.*
* This division of society made by Everhard is in accordance with that made by Lucien Sanialone of the statistical authorities of that time. His calculation of the membership of these divisions by occupationfrom the United States Census of 1900is as follows: Plutocratic class250251; Middle class8429845; and Proletariat class20393137.
"You cannot but grant that the ownership of wealth constitutes essential power in the United States to-day. How is this wealth owned by these three classes? Here are the figures. The Plutocracy owns sixty-seven billions of wealth. Of the total number of persons engaged in occupations in the United Statesonly nine-tenths of one per cent are from the Plutocracyyet the Plutocracy owns seventy per cent of the total wealth. The middle class owns twenty-four billions. Twenty-nine per cent of those in occupations are from the middle classand they own twenty-five per cent of the total wealth. Remains the proletariat. It owns four billions. Of all persons in occupationsseventy per cent come from the proletariat; and the proletariat owns four per cent of the total wealth. Where does the power liegentlemen?"
"From your own figureswe of the middle class are more powerful than labor Mr. Asmunsen remarked.
Calling us weak does not make you stronger in the face of the strength of the Plutocracy Ernest retorted. And furthermoreI'm not done with you. There is a greater strength than wealthand it is greater because it cannot be taken away. Our strengththe strength of the proletariatis in our musclesin our hands to cast ballotsin our fingers to pull triggers. This strength we cannot be stripped of. It is the primitive strengthit is the strength that is to life germaneit is the strength that is stronger than wealthand that wealth cannot take away.
"But your strength is detachable. It can be taken away from you. Even now the Plutocracy is taking it away from you. In the end it will take it all away from you. And then you will cease to be the middle class. You will descend to us. You will become proletarians. And the beauty of it is that you will then add to our strength. We will hail you brothersand we will fight shoulder to shoulder in the cause of humanity.
"You seelabor has nothing concrete of which to be despoiled. Its share of the wealth of the country consists of clothes and household furniturewith here and therein very rare casesan unencumbered home. But you have the concrete wealthtwenty-four billions of itand the Plutocracy will take it away from you. Of coursethere is the large likelihood that the proletariat will take it away first. Don't you see your positiongentlemen? The middle class is a wobbly little lamb between a lion and a tiger. If one doesn't get youthe other will. And if the Plutocracy gets you firstwhy it's only a matter of time when the Proletariat gets the Plutocracy.
"Even your present wealth is not a true measure of your power. The strength of your wealth at this moment is only an empty shell. That is why you are crying out your feeble little battle-cryReturn to the ways of our fathers.You are aware of your impotency. You know that your strength is an empty shell. And I'll show you the emptiness of it.
"What power have the farmers? Over fifty per cent are thralls by virtue of the fact that they are merely tenants or are mortgaged. And all of them are thralls by virtue of the fact that the trusts already own or control (which is the same thing only better)--own and control all the means of marketing the cropssuch as cold storagerailroadselevatorsand steamship lines. Andfurthermorethe trusts control the markets. In all this the farmers are without power. As regards their political and governmental powerI'll take that up lateralong with the political and governmental power of the whole middle class.
"Day by day the trusts squeeze out the farmers as they squeezed out Mr. Calvin and the rest of the dairymen. And day by day are the merchants squeezed out in the same way. Do you remember howin six monthsthe Tobacco Trust squeezed out over four hundred cigar stores in New York City alone? Where are the old-time owners of the coal fields? You know todaywithout my telling youthat the Railroad Trust owns or controls the entire anthracite and bituminous coal fields. Doesn't the Standard Oil Trust* own a score of the ocean lines? And does it not also control copperto say nothing of running a smelter trust as a little side enterprise? There are ten thousand cities in the United States to-night lighted by the companies owned or controlled by Standard Oiland in as many cities all the electric transportation--urbansuburbanand interurban--is in the hands of Standard Oil. The small capitalists who were in these thousands of enterprises are gone. You know that. It's the same way that you are going.
* Standard Oil and Rockefeller--see upcoming footnote: "Rockefeller began as a member . . ."
"The small manufacturer is like the farmer; and small manufacturers and farmers to-day are reducedto all intents and purposesto feudal tenure. For that matterthe professional men and the artists are at this present moment villeins in everything but namewhile the politicians are henchmen. Why do youMr. Calvinwork all your nights and days to organize the farmersalong with the rest of the middle classinto a new political party? Because the politicians of the old parties will have nothing to do with your atavistic ideas; and with your atavistic ideasthey will have nothing to do because they are what I said they arehenchmenretainers of the Plutocracy.
"I spoke of the professional men and the artists as villeins. What else are they? One and allthe professorsthe preachersand the editorshold their jobs by serving the Plutocracyand their service consists of propagating only such ideas as are either harmless to or commendatory of the Plutocracy. Whenever they propagate ideas that menace the Plutocracythey lose their jobsin which caseif they have not provided for the rainy daythey descend into the proletariat and either perish or become working- class agitators. And don't forget that it is the pressthe pulpitand the university that mould public opinionset the thought-pace of the nation. As for the artiststhey merely pander to the little less than ignoble tastes of the Plutocracy.
"But after allwealth in itself is not the real power; it is the means to powerand power is governmental. Who controls the government to-day? The proletariat with its twenty millions engaged in occupations? Even you laugh at the idea. Does the middle classwith its eight million occupied members? No more than the proletariat. Whothencontrols the government? The Plutocracywith its paltry quarter of a million of occupied members. But this quarter of a million does not control the governmentthough it renders yeoman service. It is the brain of the Plutocracy that controls the governmentand this brain consists of seven* small and powerful groups of men. And do not forget that these groups are working to-day practically in unison.
* Even as late as 1907it was considered that eleven groups dominated the countrybut this number was reduced by the amalgamation of the five railroad groups into a supreme combination of all the railroads. These five groups so amalgamatedalong with their financial and political allieswere (1) James J. Hill with his control of the Northwest; (2) the Pennsylvania railway groupSchiff financial managerwith big banking firms of Philadelphia and New York; (3) Harrimanwith Frick for counsel and Odell as political lieutenantcontrolling the central continentalSouthwestern and Southern Pacific Coast lines of transportation; (4) the Gould family railway interests; and (5) MooreReidand Leedsknown as the "Rock Island crowd." These strong oligarchs arose out of the conflict of competition and travelled the inevitable road toward combination.
"Let me point out the power of but one of themthe railroad group. It employs forty thousand lawyers to defeat the people in the courts. It issues countless thousands of free passes to judgesbankerseditorsministersuniversity menmembers of state legislaturesand of Congress. It maintains luxurious lobbies* at every state capitaland at the national capital; and in all the cities and towns of the land it employs an immense army of pettifoggers and small politicians whose business is to attend primariespack conventionsget on juriesbribe judgesand in every way to work for its interests.**
* Lobby--a peculiar institution for bribingbulldozingand corrupting the legislators who were supposed to represent the people's interests.
** A decade before this speech of Everhard'sthe New York Board of Trade issued a report from which the following is quoted: "The railroads control absolutely the legislatures of a majority of the states of the Union; they make and unmake United States Senatorscongressmenand governorsand are practically dictators of the governmental policy of the United States."
"GentlemenI have merely sketched the power of one of the seven groups that constitute the brain of the Plutocracy.* Your twenty- four billions of wealth does not give you twenty-five cents' worth of governmental power. It is an empty shelland soon even the empty shell will be taken away from you. The Plutocracy has all power in its hands to-day. It to-day makes the lawsfor it owns the SenateCongressthe courtsand the state legislatures. And not only that. Behind law must be force to execute the law. To- day the Plutocracy makes the lawand to enforce the law it has at its beck and call thepolicethe armythe navyandlastlythe militiawhich is youand meand all of us."
* Rockefeller began as a member of the proletariatand through thrift and cunning succeeded in developing the first perfect trustnamely that known as Standard Oil. We cannot forbear giving the following remarkable page from the history of the timesto show how the need for reinvestment of the Standard Oil surplus crushed out small capitalists and hastened the breakdown of the capitalist system. David Graham Phillips was a radical writer of the periodand the quotationby himis taken from a copy of the Saturday Evening Postdated October 41902 A.D. This is the only copy of this publication that has come down to usand yetfrom its appearance and contentwe cannot but conclude that it was one of the popular periodicals with a large circulation. The quotation here follows:
"About ten years ago Rockefeller's income was given as thirty millions by an excellent authority. He had reached the limit of profitable investment of profits in the oil industry. Herethenwere these enormous sums in cash pouring in--more than $2000000 a month for John Davison Rockefeller alone. The problem of reinvestment became more serious. It became a nightmare. The oil income was swellingswellingand the number of sound investments limitedeven more limited than it is now. It was through no special eagerness for more gains that the Rockefellers began to branch out from oil into other things. They were forcedswept on by this inrolling tide of wealth which their monopoly magnet irresistibly attracted. They developed a staff of investment seekers and investigators. It is said that the chief of this staff has a salary of $125000 a year.
"The first conspicuous excursion and incursion of the Rockefellers was into the railway field. By 1895 they controlled one-fifth of the railway mileage of the country. What do they own orthrough dominant ownershipcontrol to-day? They are powerful in all the great railways of New Yorknortheastand westexcept onewhere their share is only a few millions. They are in most of the great railways radiating from Chicago. They dominate in several of the systems that extend to the Pacific. It is their votes that make Mr. Morgan so potentthoughit may be addedthey need his brains more than he needs their votes--at presentand the combination of the two constitutes in large measure the 'community of interest.'
"But railways could not alone absorb rapidly enough those mighty floods of gold. Presently John D. Rockefeller's $2500000 a month had increased to fourto fiveto six millions a monthto $75000000 a year. Illuminating oil was becoming all profit. The reinvestments of income were adding their mite of many annual millions.
"The Rockefellers went into gas and electricity when those industries had developed to the safe investment stage. And now a large part of the American people must begin to enrich the Rockefellers as soon as the sun goes downno matter what form of illuminant they use. They went into farm mortgages. It is said that when prosperity a few years ago enabled the farmers to rid themselves of their mortgagesJohn D. Rockefeller was moved almost to tears; eight millions which he had thought taken care of for years to come at a good interest were suddenly dumped upon his doorstep and there set up a-squawking for a new home. This unexpected addition to his worriments in finding places for the progeny of his petroleum and their progeny and their progeny's progeny was too much for the equanimity of a man without a digestion. . . .
"The Rockefellers went into mines--iron and coal and copper and lead; into other industrial companies; into street railwaysinto nationalstateand municipal bonds; into steamships and steamboats and telegraphy; into real estateinto skyscrapers and residences and hotels and business blocks; into life insuranceinto banking. There was soon literally no field of industry where their millions were not at work. . . .
"The Rockefeller bank--the National City Bank--is by itself far and away the biggest bank in the United States. It is exceeded in the world only by the Bank of England and the Bank of France. The deposits average more than one hundred millions a day; and it dominates the call loan market on Wall Street and the stock market. But it is not alone; it is the head of the Rockefeller chain of bankswhich includes fourteen banks and trust companies in New York Cityand banks of great strength and influence in every large money center in the country.
"John D. Rockefeller owns Standard Oil stock worth between four and five hundred millions at the market quotations. He has a hundred millions in the steel trustalmost as much in a single western railway systemhalf as much in a secondand so on and on and on until the mind wearies of the cataloguing. His income last year was about $100000000--it is doubtful if the incomes of all the Rothschilds together make a greater sum. And it is going up by leaps and bounds."
Little discussion took place after thisand the dinner soon broke up. All were quiet and subduedand leave-taking was done with low voices. It seemed almost that they were scared by the vision of the times they had seen.
"The situation isindeedserious Mr. Calvin said to Ernest. I have little quarrel with the way you have depicted it. Only I disagree with you about the doom of the middle class. We shall surviveand we shall overthrow the trusts."
"And return to the ways of your fathers Ernest finished for him.
Even so Mr. Calvin answered gravely. I know it's a sort of machine-breakingand that it is absurd. But then life seems absurd to-daywhat of the machinations of the Plutocracy. And at any rateour sort of machine-breaking is at least practical and possiblewhich your dream is not. Your socialistic dream is . . . wella dream. We cannot follow you."
"I only wish you fellows knew a little something about evolution and sociology Ernest said wistfully, as they shook hands. We would be saved so much trouble if you did."
Following like thunder claps upon the Business Men's dinneroccurred event after event of terrifying moment; and Ilittle Iwho had lived so placidly all my days in the quiet university townfound myself and my personal affairs drawn into the vortex of the great world-affairs. Whether it was my love for Ernestor the clear sight he had given me of the society in which I livedthat made me a revolutionistI know not; but a revolutionist I becameand I was plunged into a whirl of happenings that would have been inconceivable three short months before.
The crisis in my own fortunes came simultaneously with great crises in society. First of allfather was discharged from the university. Ohhe was not technically discharged. His resignation was demandedthat was all. Thisin itselfdid not amount to much. Fatherin factwas delighted. He was especially delighted because his discharge had been precipitated by the publication of his bookEconomics and Education.It clinched his argumenthe contended. What better evidence could be advanced to prove that education was dominated by the capitalist class?
But this proof never got anywhere. Nobody knew he had been forced to resign from the university. He was so eminent a scientist that such an announcementcoupled with the reason for his enforced resignationwould have created somewhat of a furor all over the world. The newspapers showered him with praise and honorand commended him for having given up the drudgery of the lecture room in order to devote his whole time to scientific research.
At first father laughed. Then he became angry--tonic angry. Then came the suppression of his book. This suppression was performed secretlyso secretly that at first we could not comprehend. The publication of the book had immediately caused a bit of excitement in the country. Father had been politely abused in the capitalist pressthe tone of the abuse being to the effect that it was a pity so great a scientist should leave his field and invade the realm of sociologyabout which he knew nothing and wherein he had promptly become lost. This lasted for a weekwhile father chuckled and said the book had touched a sore spot on capitalism. And thenabruptlythe newspapers and the critical magazines ceased saying anything about the book at all. Alsoand with equal suddennessthe book disappeared from the market. Not a copy was obtainable from any bookseller. Father wrote to the publishers and was informed that the plates had been accidentally injured. An unsatisfactory correspondence followed. Driven finally to an unequivocal standthe publishers stated that they could not see their way to putting the book into type againbut that they were willing to relinquish their rights in it.
"And you won't find another publishing house in the country to touch it Ernest said. And if I were youI'd hunt cover right now. You've merely got a foretaste of the Iron Heel."
But father was nothing if not a scientist. He never believed in jumping to conclusions. A laboratory experiment was no experiment if it were not carried through in all its details. So he patiently went the round of the publishing houses. They gave a multitude of excusesbut not one house would consider the book.
When father became convinced that the book had actually been suppressedhe tried to get the fact into the newspapers; but his communications were ignored. At a political meeting of the socialistswhere many reporters were presentfather saw his chance. He arose and related the history of the suppression of the book. He laughed next day when he read the newspapersand then he grew angry to a degree that eliminated all tonic qualities. The papers made no mention of the bookbut they misreported him beautifully. They twisted his words and phrases away from the contextand turned his subdued and controlled remarks into a howling anarchistic speech. It was done artfully. One instancein particularI remember. He had used the phrase "social revolution." The reporter merely dropped out "social." This was sent out all over the country in an Associated Press despatchand from all over the country arose a cry of alarm. Father was branded as a nihilist and an anarchistand in one cartoon that was copied widely he was portrayed waving a red flag at the head of a mob of long-hairedwild-eyed men who bore in their hands torchesknivesand dynamite bombs.
He was assailed terribly in the pressin long and abusive editorialsfor his anarchyand hints were made of mental breakdown on his part. This behavioron the part of the capitalist presswas nothing newErnest told us. It was the customhe saidto send reporters to all the socialist meetings for the express purpose of misreporting and distorting what was saidin order to frighten the middle class away from any possible affiliation with the proletariat. And repeatedly Ernest warned father to cease fighting and to take to cover.
The socialist press of the country took up the fighthoweverand throughout the reading portion of the working class it was known that the book had been suppressed. But this knowledge stopped with the working class. Nextthe "Appeal to Reason a big socialist publishing house, arranged with father to bring out the book. Father was jubilant, but Ernest was alarmed.
I tell you we are on the verge of the unknown he insisted. Big things are happening secretly all around us. We can feel them. We do not know what they arebut they are there. The whole fabric of society is a-tremble with them. Don't ask me. I don't know myself. But out of this flux of society something is about to crystallize. It is crystallizing now. The suppression of the book is a precipitation. How many books have been suppressed? We haven't the least idea. We are in the dark. We have no way of learning. Watch out next for the suppression of the socialist press and socialist publishing houses. I'm afraid it's coming. We are going to be throttled."
Ernest had his hand on the pulse of events even more closely than the rest of the socialistsand within two days the first blow was struck. The Appeal to Reason was a weeklyand its regular circulation amongst the proletariat was seven hundred and fifty thousand. Alsoit very frequently got out special editions of from two to five millions. These great editions were paid for and distributed by the small army of voluntary workers who had marshalled around the Appeal. The first blow was aimed at these special editionsand it was a crushing one. By an arbitrary ruling of the Post Officethese editions were decided to be not the regular circulation of the paperand for that reason were denied admission to the mails.
A week later the Post Office Department ruled that the paper was seditiousand barred it entirely from the mails. This was a fearful blow to the socialist propaganda. The Appeal was desperate. It devised a plan of reaching its subscribers through the express companiesbut they declined to handle it. This was the end of the Appeal. But not quite. It prepared to go on with its book publishing. Twenty thousand copies of father's book were in the binderyand the presses were turning off more. And thenwithout warninga mob arose one nightandunder a waving American flagsinging patriotic songsset fire to the great plant of the Appeal and totally destroyed it.
Now GirardKansaswas a quietpeaceable town. There had never been any labor troubles there. The Appeal paid union wages; andin factwas the backbone of the towngiving employment to hundreds of men and women. It was not the citizens of Girard that composed the mob. This mob had risen up out of the earth apparentlyand to all intents and purposesits work doneit had gone back into the earth. Ernest saw in the affair the most sinister import.
"The Black Hundreds* are being organized in the United States he said. This is the beginning. There will be more of it. The Iron Heel is getting bold."
* The Black Hundreds were reactionary mobs organized by the perishing Autocracy in the Russian Revolution. These reactionary groups attacked the revolutionary groupsand alsoat needed momentsrioted and destroyed property so as to afford the Autocracy the pretext of calling out the Cossacks.
And so perished father's book. We were to see much of the Black Hundreds as the days went by. Week by week more of the socialist papers were barred from the mailsand in a number of instances the Black Hundreds destroyed the socialist presses. Of coursethe newspapers of the land lived up to the reactionary policy of the ruling classand the destroyed socialist press was misrepresented and vilifiedwhile the Black Hundreds were represented as true patriots and saviours of society. So convincing was all this misrepresentation that even sincere ministers in the pulpit praised the Black Hundreds while regretting the necessity of violence.
History was making fast. The fall elections were soon to occurand Ernest was nominated by the socialist party to run for Congress. His chance for election was most favorable. The street- car strike in San Francisco had been broken. And following upon it the teamsters' strike had been broken. These two defeats had been very disastrous to organized labor. The whole Water Front Federationalong with its allies in the structural tradeshad backed up the teamstersand all had smashed down ingloriously. It had been a bloody strike. The police had broken countless heads with their riot clubs; and the death list had been augmented by the turning loose of a machine-gun on the strikers from the barns of the Marsden Special Delivery Company.
In consequencethe men were sullen and vindictive. They wanted bloodand revenge. Beaten on their chosen fieldthey were ripe to seek revenge by means of political action. They still maintained their labor organizationand this gave them strength in the political struggle that was on. Ernest's chance for election grew stronger and stronger. Day by day unions and more unions voted their support to the socialistsuntil even Ernest laughed when the Undertakers' Assistants and the Chicken Pickers fell into line. Labor became mulish. While it packed the socialist meetings with mad enthusiasmit was impervious to the wiles of the old- party politicians. The old-party orators were usually greeted with empty hallsthough occasionally they encountered full halls where they were so roughly handled that more than once it was necessary to call out the police reserves.
History was making fast. The air was vibrant with things happening and impending. The country was on the verge of hard times* caused by a series of prosperous years wherein the difficulty of disposing abroad of the unconsumed surplus had become increasingly difficult. Industries were working short time; many great factories were standing idle against the time when the surplus should be gone; and wages were being cut right and left.
* Under the capitalist regime these periods of hard times were as inevitable as they were absurd. Prosperity always brought calamity. Thisof coursewas due to the excess of unconsumed profits that was piled up.
Alsothe great machinist strike had been broken. Two hundred thousand machinistsalong with their five hundred thousand allies in the metalworking tradeshad been defeated in as bloody a strike as had ever marred the United States. Pitched battles had been fought with the small armies of armed strike-breakers* put in the field by the employers' associations; the Black Hundredsappearing in scores of wide-scattered placeshad destroyed property; andin consequencea hundred thousand regular soldiers of the United States has been called out to put a frightful end to the whole affair. A number of the labor leaders had been executed; many others had been sentenced to prisonwhile thousands of the rank and file of the strikers had been herded into bull-pens** and abominably treated by the soldiers.
* Strike-breakers--these werein purpose and practice and everything except namethe private soldiers of the capitalists. They were thoroughly organized and well armedand they were held in readiness to be hurled in special trains to any part of the country where labor went on strike or was locked out by the employers. Only those curious times could have given rise to the amazing spectacle of oneFarleya notorious commander of strike- breakerswhoin 1906swept across the United States in special trains from New York to San Francisco with an army of twenty-five hundred menfully armed and equippedto break a strike of the San Francisco street-car men. Such an act was in direct violation of the laws of the land. The fact that this actand thousands of similar actswent unpunishedgoes to show how completely the judiciary was the creature of the Plutocracy.
** Bull-pen--in a miners' strike in Idahoin the latter part of the nineteenth centuryit happened that many of the strikers were confined in a bull-pen by the troops. The practice and the name continued in the twentieth century.
The years of prosperity were now to be paid for. All markets were glutted; all markets were falling; and amidst the general crumble of prices the price of labor crumbled fastest of all. The land was convulsed with industrial dissensions. Labor was striking herethereand everywhere; and where it was not strikingit was being turned out by the capitalists. The papers were filled with tales of violence and blood. And through it all the Black Hundreds played their part. Riotarsonand wanton destruction of property was their functionand well they performed it. The whole regular army was in the fieldcalled there by the actions of the Black Hundreds.* All cities and towns were like armed campsand laborers were shot down like dogs. Out of the vast army of the unemployed the strike-breakers were recruited; and when the strike- breakers were worsted by the labor unionsthe troops always appeared and crushed the unions. Then there was the militia. As yetit was not necessary to have recourse to the secret militia law. Only the regularly organized militia was outand it was out everywhere. And in this time of terrorthe regular army was increased an additional hundred thousand by the government.
* The name onlyand not the ideawas imported from Russia. The Black Hundreds were a development out of the secret agents of the capitalistsand their use arose in the labor struggles of the nineteenth century. There is no discussion of this. No less an authority of the times than Carroll D. WrightUnited States Commissioner of Laboris responsible for the statement. From his bookentitled "The Battles of Labor is quoted the declaration that in some of the great historic strikes the employers themselves have instigated acts of violence;" that manufacturers have deliberately provoked strikes in order to get rid of surplus stock; and that freight cars have been burned by employers' agents during railroad strikes in order to increase disorder. It was out of these secret agents of the employers that the Black Hundreds arose; and it was theyin turnthat later became that terrible weapon of the Oligarchythe agents-provocateurs.
Never had labor received such an all-around beating. The great captains of industrythe oligarchshad for the first time thrown their full weight into the breach the struggling employers' associations had made. These associations were practically middle- class affairsand nowcompelled by hard times and crashing marketsand aided by the great captains of industrythey gave organized labor an awful and decisive defeat. It was an all- powerful alliancebut it was an alliance of the lion and the lambas the middle class was soon to learn.
Labor was bloody and sullenbut crushed. Yet its defeat did not put an end to the hard times. The banksthemselves constituting one of the most important forces of the Oligarchycontinued to call in credits. The Wall Street* group turned the stock market into a maelstrom where the values of all the land crumbled away almost to nothingness. And out of all the rack and ruin rose the form of the nascent Oligarchyimperturbableindifferentand sure. Its serenity and certitude was terrifying. Not only did it use its own vast powerbut it used all the power of the United States Treasury to carry out its plans.
* Wall Street--so named from a street in ancient New Yorkwhere was situated the stock exchangeand where the irrational organization of society permitted underhanded manipulation of all the industries of the country.
The captains of industry had turned upon the middle class. The employers' associationsthat had helped the captains of industry to tear and rend laborwere now torn and rent by their quondam allies. Amidst the crashing of the middle menthe small business men and manufacturersthe trusts stood firm. Naythe trusts did more than stand firm. They were active. They sowed windand windand ever more wind; for they alone knew how to reap the whirlwind and make a profit out of it. And such profits! Colossal profits! Strong enough themselves to weather the storm that was largely their own brewingthey turned loose and plundered the wrecks that floated about them. Values were pitifully and inconceivably shrunkenand the trusts added hugely to their holdingseven extending their enterprises into many new fields-- and always at the expense of the middle class.
Thus the summer of 1912 witnessed the virtual death-thrust to the middle class. Even Ernest was astounded at the quickness with which it had been done. He shook his head ominously and looked forward without hope to the fall elections.
"It's no use he said. We are beaten. The Iron Heel is here. I had hoped for a peaceable victory at the ballot-box. I was wrong. Wickson was right. We shall be robbed of our few remaining liberties; the Iron Heel will walk upon our faces; nothing remains but a bloody revolution of the working class. Of course we will winbut I shudder to think of it."
And from then on Ernest pinned his faith in revolution. In this he was in advance of his party. His fellow-socialists could not agree with him. They still insisted that victory could be gained through the elections. It was not that they were stunned. They were too cool-headed and courageous for that. They were merely incredulousthat was all. Ernest could not get them seriously to fear the coming of the Oligarchy. They were stirred by himbut they were too sure of their own strength. There was no room in their theoretical social evolution for an oligarchytherefore the Oligarchy could not be.
"We'll send you to Congress and it will be all right they told him at one of our secret meetings.
And when they take me out of Congress Ernest replied coldly, and put me against a walland blow my brains out--what then?"
"Then we'll rise in our might a dozen voices answered at once.
Then you'll welter in your gore was his retort. I've heard that song sung by the middle classand where is it now in its might?"
Mr. Wickson did not send for father. They met by chance on the ferry-boat to San Franciscoso that the warning he gave father was not premeditated. Had they not met accidentallythere would not have been any warning. Not that the outcome would have been differenthowever. Father came of stout old Mayflower* stockand the blood was imperative in him.
* One of the first ships that carried colonies to Americaafter the discovery of the New World. Descendants of these original colonists were for a while inordinately proud of their genealogy; but in time the blood became so widely diffused that it ran in the veins practically of all Americans.
"Ernest was right he told me, as soon as he had returned home. Ernest is a very remarkable young manand I'd rather see you his wife than the wife of Rockefeller himself or the King of England."
"What's the matter?" I asked in alarm.
"The Oligarchy is about to tread upon our faces--yours and mine. Wickson as much as told me so. He was very kind--for an oligarch. He offered to reinstate me in the university. What do you think of that? HeWicksona sordid money-grabberhas the power to determine whether I shall or shall not teach in the university of the state. But he offered me even better than that--offered to make me president of some great college of physical sciences that is being planned--the Oligarchy must get rid of its surplus somehowyou see.
"'Do you remember what I told that socialist lover of your daughter's?' he said. 'I told him that we would walk upon the faces of the working class. And so we shall. As for youI have for you a deep respect as a scientist; but if you throw your fortunes in with the working class--wellwatch out for your facethat is all.' And then he turned and left me."
"It means we'll have to marry earlier than you planned was Ernest's comment when we told him.
I could not follow his reasoning, but I was soon to learn it. It was at this time that the quarterly dividend of the Sierra Mills was paid--or, rather, should have been paid, for father did not receive his. After waiting several days, father wrote to the secretary. Promptly came the reply that there was no record on the books of father's owning any stock, and a polite request for more explicit information.
I'll make it explicit enoughconfound him father declared, and departed for the bank to get the stock in question from his safe- deposit box.
Ernest is a very remarkable man he said when he got back and while I was helping him off with his overcoat. I repeatmy daughterthat young man of yours is a very remarkable young man."
I had learnedwhenever he praised Ernest in such fashionto expect disaster.
"They have already walked upon my face father explained. There was no stock. The box was empty. You and Ernest will have to get married pretty quickly."
Father insisted on laboratory methods. He brought the Sierra Mills into courtbut he could not bring the books of the Sierra Mills into court. He did not control the courtsand the Sierra Mills did. That explained it all. He was thoroughly beaten by the lawand the bare-faced robbery held good.
It is almost laughable nowwhen I look back on itthe way father was beaten. He met Wickson accidentally on the street in San Franciscoand he told Wickson that he was a damned scoundrel. And then father was arrested for attempted assaultfined in the police courtand bound over to keep the peace. It was all so ridiculous that when he got home he had to laugh himself. But what a furor was raised in the local papers! There was grave talk about the bacillus of violence that infected all men who embraced socialism; and fatherwith his long and peaceful lifewas instanced as a shining example of how the bacillus of violence worked. Alsoit was asserted by more than one paper that father's mind had weakened under the strain of scientific studyand confinement in a state asylum for the insane was suggested. Nor was this merely talk. It was an imminent peril. But father was wise enough to see it. He had the Bishop's experience to lesson fromand he lessoned well. He kept quiet no matter what injustice was perpetrated on himand reallyI thinksurprised his enemies.
There was the matter of the house--our home. A mortgage was foreclosed on itand we had to give up possession. Of course there wasn't any mortgageand never had been any mortgage. The ground had been bought outrightand the house had been paid for when it was built. And house and lot had always been free and unencumbered. Nevertheless there was the mortgageproperly and legally drawn up and signedwith a record of the payments of interest through a number of years. Father made no outcry. As he had been robbed of his moneyso was he now robbed of his home. And he had no recourse. The machinery of society was in the hands of those who were bent on breaking him. He was a philosopher at heartand he was no longer even angry.
"I am doomed to be broken he said to me; but that is no reason that I should not try to be shattered as little as possible. These old bones of mine are fragileand I've learned my lesson. God knows I don't want to spend my last days in an insane asylum."
Which reminds me of Bishop Morehousewhom I have neglected for many pages. But first let me tell of my marriage. In the play of eventsmy marriage sinks into insignificanceI knowso I shall barely mention it.
"Now we shall become real proletarians father said, when we were driven from our home. I have often envied that young man of yours for his actual knowledge of the proletariat. Now I shall see and learn for myself."
Father must have had strong in him the blood of adventure. He looked upon our catastrophe in the light of an adventure. No anger nor bitterness possessed him. He was too philosophic and simple to be vindictiveand he lived too much in the world of mind to miss the creature comforts we were giving up. So it waswhen we moved to San Francisco into four wretched rooms in the slum south of Market Streetthat he embarked upon the adventure with the joy and enthusiasm of a child--combined with the clear sight and mental grasp of an extraordinary intellect. He really never crystallized mentally. He had no false sense of values. Conventional or habitual values meant nothing to him. The only values he recognized were mathematical and scientific facts. My father was a great man. He had the mind and the soul that only great men have. In ways he was even greater than Ernestthan whom I have known none greater.
Even I found some relief in our change of living. If nothing elseI was escaping from the organized ostracism that had been our increasing portion in the university town ever since the enmity of the nascent Oligarchy had been incurred. And the change was to me likewise adventureand the greatest of allfor it was love- adventure. The change in our fortunes had hastened my marriageand it was as a wife that I came to live in the four rooms on Pell Streetin the San Francisco slum.
And this out of all remains: I made Ernest happy. I came into his stormy lifenot as a new perturbing forcebut as one that made toward peace and repose. I gave him rest. It was the guerdon of my love for him. It was the one infallible token that I had not failed. To bring forgetfulnessor the light of gladnessinto those poor tired eyes of his--what greater joy could have blessed me than that?
Those dear tired eyes. He toiled as few men ever toiledand all his lifetime he toiled for others. That was the measure of his manhood. He was a humanist and a lover. And hewith his incarnate spirit of battlehis gladiator body and his eagle spirit--he was as gentle and tender to me as a poet. He was a poet. A singer in deeds. And all his life he sang the song of man. And he did it out of sheer love of manand for man he gave his life and was crucified.
And all this he did with no hope of future reward. In his conception of things there was no future life. Hewho fairly burnt with immortalitydenied himself immortality--such was the paradox of him. Heso warm in spiritwas dominated by that cold and forbidding philosophymaterialistic monism. I used to refute him by telling him that I measured his immortality by the wings of his souland that I should have to live endless aeons in order to achieve the full measurement. Whereat he would laughand his arms would leap out to meand he would call me his sweet metaphysician; and the tiredness would pass out of his eyesand into them would flood the happy love-light that was in itself a new and sufficient advertisement of his immortality.
Alsohe used to call me his dualistand he would explain how Kantby means of pure reasonhad abolished reasonin order to worship God. And he drew the parallel and included me guilty of a similar act. And when I pleaded guiltybut defended the act as highly rationalhe but pressed me closer and laughed as only one of God's own lovers could laugh. I was wont to deny that heredity and environment could explain his own originality and geniusany more than could the cold groping finger of science catch and analyze and classify that elusive essence that lurked in the constitution of life itself.
I held that space was an apparition of Godand that soul was a projection of the character of God; and when he called me his sweet metaphysicianI called him my immortal materialist. And so we loved and were happy; and I forgave him his materialism because of his tremendous work in the worldperformed without thought of soul-gain therebyand because of his so exceeding modesty of spirit that prevented him from having pride and regal consciousness of himself and his soul.
But he had pride. How could he have been an eagle and not have pride? His contention was that it was finer for a finite mortal speck of life to feel Godlikethan for a god to feel godlike; and so it was that he exalted what he deemed his mortality. He was fond of quoting a fragment from a certain poem. He had never seen the whole poemand he had tried vainly to learn its authorship. I here give the fragmentnot alone because he loved itbut because it epitomized the paradox that he was in the spirit of himand his conception of his spirit. For how can a manwith thrillingand burningand exaltationrecite the following and still be mere mortal eartha bit of fugitive forcean evanescent form? Here it is:
"Joy upon joy and gain upon gain Are the destined rights of my birthAnd I shout the praise of my endless days To the echoing edge of the earth. Though I suffer all deaths that a man can die To the uttermost end of timeI have deep-drained thismy cup of blissIn every age and clime--
"The froth of Pridethe tang of PowerThe sweet of Womanhood! I drain the lees upon my kneesFor ohthe draught is good; I drink to LifeI drink to DeathAnd smack my lips with songFor when I dieanother 'I' shall pass the cup along.
"The man you drove from Eden's grove Was Imy Lordwas IAnd I shall be there when the earth and the air Are rent from sea to sky; For it is my worldmy gorgeous worldThe world of my dearest woesFrom the first faint cry of the newborn To the rack of the woman's throes.
"Packed with the pulse of an unborn raceTorn with a world's desireThe surging flood of my wild young blood Would quench the judgment fire. I am ManManManfrom the tingling flesh To the dust of my earthly goalFrom the nestling gloom of the pregnant womb To the sheen of my naked soul. Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh The whole world leaps to my willAnd the unslaked thirst of an Eden cursed Shall harrow the earth for its fill. Almighty Godwhen I drain life's glass Of all its rainbow gleamsThe hapless plight of eternal night Shall be none too long for my dreams.
"The man you drove from Eden's grove Was Imy Lordwas IAnd I shall be there when the earth and the air Are rent from sea to sky; For it is my worldmy gorgeous worldThe world of my dear delightFrom the brightest gleam of the Arctic stream To the dusk of my own love-night."
Ernest always overworked. His wonderful constitution kept him up; but even that constitution could not keep the tired look out of his eyes. His deartired eyes! He never slept more than four and one-half hours a night; yet he never found time to do all the work he wanted to do. He never ceased from his activities as a propagandistand was always scheduled long in advance for lectures to workingmen's organizations. Then there was the campaign. He did a man's full work in that alone. With the suppression of the socialist publishing houseshis meagre royalties ceasedand he was hard-put to make a living; for he had to make a living in addition to all his other labor. He did a great deal of translating for the magazines on scientific and philosophic subjects; andcoming home late at nightworn out from the strain of the campaignhe would plunge into his translating and toil on well into the morning hours. And in addition to everythingthere was his studying. To the day of his death he kept up his studiesand he studied prodigiously.
And yet he found time in which to love me and make me happy. But this was accomplished only through my merging my life completely into his. I learned shorthand and typewritingand became his secretary. He insisted that I succeeded in cutting his work in half; and so it was that I schooled myself to understand his work. Our interests became mutualand we worked together and played together.
And then there were our sweet stolen moments in the midst of our work--just a wordor caressor flash of love-light; and our moments were sweeter for being stolen. For we lived on the heightswhere the air was keen and sparklingwhere the toil was for humanityand where sordidness and selfishness never entered. We loved loveand our love was never smirched by anything less than the best. And this out of all remains: I did not fail. I gave him rest--he who worked so hard for othersmy deartired- eyed mortalist.
It was after my marriage that I chanced upon Bishop Morehouse. But I must give the events in their proper sequence. After his outbreak at the I. P. H. Conventionthe Bishopbeing a gentle soulhad yielded to the friendly pressure brought to bear upon himand had gone away on a vacation. But he returned more fixed than ever in his determination to preach the message of the Church. To the consternation of his congregationhis first sermon was quite similar to the address he had given before the Convention. Again he saidand at length and with distressing detailthat the Church had wandered away from the Master's teachingand that Mammon had been instated in the place of Christ.
And the result waswilly-nillythat he was led away to a private sanitarium for mental diseasewhile in the newspapers appeared pathetic accounts of his mental breakdown and of the saintliness of his character. He was held a prisoner in the sanitarium. I called repeatedlybut was denied access to him; and I was terribly impressed by the tragedy of a sanenormalsaintly man being crushed by the brutal will of society. For the Bishop was saneand pureand noble. As Ernest saidall that was the matter with him was that he had incorrect notions of biology and sociologyand because of his incorrect notions he had not gone about it in the right way to rectify matters.
What terrified me was the Bishop's helplessness. If he persisted in the truth as he saw ithe was doomed to an insane ward. And he could do nothing. His moneyhis positionhis culturecould not save him. His views were perilous to societyand society could not conceive that such perilous views could be the product of a sane mind. Orat leastit seems to me that such was society's attitude.
But the Bishopin spite of the gentleness and purity of his spiritwas possessed of guile. He apprehended clearly his danger. He saw himself caught in the weband he tried to escape from it. Denied help from his friendssuch as father and Ernest and I could have givenhe was left to battle for himself alone. And in the enforced solitude of the sanitarium he recovered. He became again sane. His eyes ceased to see visions; his brain was purged of the fancy that it was the duty of society to feed the Master's lambs.
As I sayhe became wellquite welland the newspapers and the church people hailed his return with joy. I went once to his church. The sermon was of the same order as the ones he had preached long before his eyes had seen visions. I was disappointedshocked. Had society then beaten him into submission? Was he a coward? Had he been bulldozed into recanting? Or had the strain been too great for himand had he meekly surrendered to the juggernaut of the established?
I called upon him in his beautiful home. He was woefully changed. He was thinnerand there were lines on his face which I had never seen before. He was manifestly distressed by my coming. He plucked nervously at his sleeve as we talked; and his eyes were restlessfluttering herethereand everywhereand refusing to meet mine. His mind seemed preoccupiedand there were strange pauses in his conversationabrupt changes of topicand an inconsecutiveness that was bewildering. Could thisthenbe the firm-poisedChrist-like man I had knownwith purelimpid eyes and a gaze steady and unfaltering as his soul? He had been man- handled; he had been cowed into subjection. His spirit was too gentle. It had not been mighty enough to face the organized wolf- pack of society.
I felt sadunutterably sad. He talked ambiguouslyand was so apprehensive of what I might say that I had not the heart to catechise him. He spoke in a far-away manner of his illnessand we talked disjointedly about the churchthe alterations in the organand about petty charities; and he saw me depart with such evident relief that I should have laughed had not my heart been so full of tears.
The poor little hero! If I had only known! He was battling like a giantand I did not guess it. Aloneall alonein the midst of millions of his fellow-menhe was fighting his fight. Torn by his horror of the asylum and his fidelity to truth and the righthe clung steadfastly to truth and the right; but so alone was he that he did not dare to trust even me. He had learned his lesson well-- too well.
But I was soon to know. One day the Bishop disappeared. He had told nobody that he was going away; and as the days went by and he did not reappearthere was much gossip to the effect that he had committed suicide while temporarily deranged. But this idea was dispelled when it was learned that he had sold all his possessions--his city mansionhis country house at Menlo Parkhis paintingsand collectionsand even his cherished library. It was patent that he had made a clean and secret sweep of everything before he disappeared.
This happened during the time when calamity had overtaken us in our own affairs; and it was not till we were well settled in our new home that we had opportunity really to wonder and speculate about the Bishop's doings. And theneverything was suddenly made clear. Early one eveningwhile it was yet twilightI had run across the street and into the butcher-shop to get some chops for Ernest's supper. We called the last meal of the day "supper" in our new environment.
Just at the moment I came out of the butcher-shopa man emerged from the corner grocery that stood alongside. A queer sense familiarity made me look again. But the man had turned and was walking rapidly away. There was something about the slope of the shoulders and the fringe of silver hair between coat collar and slouch hat that aroused vague memories. Instead of crossing the streetI hurried after the man. I quickened my pacetrying not to think the thoughts that formed unbidden in my brain. Noit was impossible. It could not be--not in those faded overallstoo long in the legs and frayed at the bottoms.
I pausedlaughed at myselfand almost abandoned the chase. But the haunting familiarity of those shoulders and that silver hair! Again I hurried on. As I passed himI shot a keen look at his face; then I whirled around abruptly and confronted--the Bishop.
He halted with equal abruptnessand gasped. A large paper bag in his right hand fell to the sidewalk. It burstand about his feet and mine bounced and rolled a flood of potatoes. He looked at me with surprise and alarmthen he seemed to wilt away; the shoulders drooped with dejectionand he uttered a deep sigh.
I held out my hand. He shook itbut his hand felt clammy. He cleared his throat in embarrassmentand I could see the sweat starting out on his forehead. It was evident that he was badly frightened.
"The potatoes he murmured faintly. They are precious."
Between us we picked them up and replaced them in the broken bagwhich he now held carefully in the hollow of his arm. I tried to tell him my gladness at meeting him and that he must come right home with me.
"Father will be rejoiced to see you I said. We live only a stone's throw away.
"I can't he said, I must be going. Good-by."
He looked apprehensively about himas though dreading discoveryand made an attempt to walk on.
"Tell me where you liveand I shall call later he said, when he saw that I walked beside him and that it was my intention to stick to him now that he was found.
No I answered firmly. You must come now."
He looked at the potatoes spilling on his armand at the small parcels on his other arm.
"Reallyit is impossible he said. Forgive me for my rudeness. If you only knew."
He looked as if he were going to break downbut the next moment he had himself in control.
"Besidesthis food he went on. It is a sad case. It is terrible. She is an old woman. I must take it to her at once. She is suffering from want of it. I must go at once. You understand. Then I will return. I promise you."
"Let me go with you I volunteered. Is it far?"
He sighed againand surrendered.
"Only two blocks he said. Let us hasten."
Under the Bishop's guidance I learned something of my own neighborhood. I had not dreamed such wretchedness and misery existed in it. Of coursethis was because I did not concern myself with charity. I had become convinced that Ernest was right when he sneered at charity as a poulticing of an ulcer. Remove the ulcerwas his remedy; give to the worker his product; pension as soldiers those who grow honorably old in their toiland there will be no need for charity. Convinced of thisI toiled with him at the revolutionand did not exhaust my energy in alleviating the social ills that continuously arose from the injustice of the system.
I followed the Bishop into a small roomten by twelvein a rear tenement. And there we found a little old German woman--sixty-four years oldthe Bishop said. She was surprised at seeing mebut she nodded a pleasant greeting and went on sewing on the pair of men's trousers in her lap. Beside heron the floorwas a pile of trousers. The Bishop discovered there was neither coal nor kindlingand went out to buy some.
I took up a pair of trousers and examined her work.
"Six centslady she said, nodding her head gently while she went on stitching. She stitched slowly, but never did she cease from stitching. She seemed mastered by the verb to stitch."
"For all that work?" I asked. "Is that what they pay? How long does it take you?"
"Yes she answered, that is what they pay. Six cents for finishing. Two hours' sewing on each pair."
But the boss doesn't know that she added quickly, betraying a fear of getting him into trouble. I'm slow. I've got the rheumatism in my hands. Girls work much faster. They finish in half that time. The boss is kind. He lets me take the work homenow that I am old and the noise of the machine bothers my head. If it wasn't for his kindnessI'd starve.
"Yesthose who work in the shop get eight cents. But what can you do? There is not enough work for the young. The old have no chance. Often one pair is all I can get. Sometimeslike to-dayI am given eight pair to finish before night."
I asked her the hours she workedand she said it depended on the season.
"In the summerwhen there is a rush orderI work from five in the morning to nine at night. But in the winter it is too cold. The hands do not early get over the stiffness. Then you must work later--till after midnight sometimes.
"Yesit has been a bad summer. The hard times. God must be angry. This is the first work the boss has given me in a week. It is trueone cannot eat much when there is no work. I am used to it. I have sewed all my lifein the old country and here in San Francisco--thirty-three years.
"If you are sure of the rentit is all right. The houseman is very kindbut he must have his rent. It is fair. He only charges three dollars for this room. That is cheap. But it is not easy for you to find all of three dollars every month."
She ceased talkingandnodding her headwent on stitching.
"You have to be very careful as to how you spend your earnings I suggested.
She nodded emphatically.
After the rent it's not so bad. Of course you can't buy meat. And there is no milk for the coffee. But always there is one meal a dayand often two."
She said this last proudly. There was a smack of success in her words. But as she stitched on in silenceI noticed the sadness in her pleasant eyes and the droop of her mouth. The look in her eyes became far away. She rubbed the dimness hastily out of them; it interfered with her stitching.
Noit is not the hunger that makes the heart ache she explained. You get used to being hungry. It is for my child that I cry. It was the machine that killed her. It is true she worked hardbut I cannot understand. She was strong. And she was young--only forty; and she worked only thirty years. She began youngit is true; but my man died. The boiler exploded down at the works. And what were we to do? She was tenbut she was very strong. But the machine killed her. Yesit did. It killed herand she was the fastest worker in the shop. I have thought about it oftenand I know. That is why I cannot work in the shop. The machine bothers my head. Always I hear it sayingI did it, I did it.And it says that all day long. And then I think of my daughterand I cannot work."
The moistness was in her old eyes againand she had to wipe it away before she could go on stitching.
I heard the Bishop stumbling up the stairsand I opened the door. What a spectacle he was. On his back he carried half a sack of coalwith kindling on top. Some of the coal dust had coated his faceand the sweat from his exertions was running in streaks. He dropped his burden in the corner by the stove and wiped his face on a coarse bandana handkerchief. I could scarcely accept the verdict of my senses. The Bishopblack as a coal-heaverin a workingman's cheap cotton shirt (one button was missing from the throat)and in overalls! That was the most incongruous of all-- the overallsfrayed at the bottomsdragged down at the heelsand held up by a narrow leather belt around the hips such as laborers wear.
Though the Bishop was warmthe poor swollen hands of the old woman were already cramping with the cold; and before we left herthe Bishop had built the firewhile I had peeled the potatoes and put them on to boil. I was to learnas time went bythat there were many cases similar to hersand many worsehidden away in the monstrous depths of the tenements in my neighborhood.
We got back to find Ernest alarmed by my absence. After the first surprise of greeting was overthe Bishop leaned back in his chairstretched out his overall-covered legsand actually sighed a comfortable sigh. We were the first of his old friends he had met since his disappearancehe told us; and during the intervening weeks he must have suffered greatly from loneliness. He told us muchthough he told us more of the joy he had experienced in doing the Master's bidding.
"For truly now he said, I am feeding his lambs. And I have learned a great lesson. The soul cannot be ministered to till the stomach is appeased. His lambs must be fed bread and butter and potatoes and meat; after thatand only after thatare their spirits ready for more refined nourishment."
He ate heartily of the supper I cooked. Never had he had such an appetite at our table in the old days. We spoke of itand he said that he had never been so healthy in his life.
"I walk always now he said, and a blush was on his cheek at the thought of the time when he rode in his carriage, as though it were a sin not lightly to be laid.
My health is better for it he added hastily. And I am very happy--indeedmost happy. At last I am a consecrated spirit."
And yet there was in his face a permanent painthe pain of the world that he was now taking to himself. He was seeing life in the rawand it was a different life from what he had known within the printed books of his library.
"And you are responsible for all thisyoung man he said directly to Ernest.
Ernest was embarrassed and awkward.
I--I warned you he faltered.
Noyou misunderstand the Bishop answered. I speak not in reproachbut in gratitude. I have you to thank for showing me my path. You led me from theories about life to life itself. You pulled aside the veils from the social shams. You were light in my darknessbut now Itoosee the light. And I am very happyonly . . ." he hesitated painfullyand in his eyes fear leaped large. "Only the persecution. I harm no one. Why will they not let me alone? But it is not that. It is the nature of the persecution. I shouldn't mind if they cut my flesh with stripesor burned me at the stakeor crucified me head--downward. But it is the asylum that frightens me. Think of it! Of me--in an asylum for the insane! It is revolting. I saw some of the cases at the sanitarium. They were violent. My blood chills when I think of it. And to be imprisoned for the rest of my life amid scenes of screaming madness! No! no! Not that! Not that!"
It was pitiful. His hands shookhis whole body quivered and shrank away from the picture he had conjured. But the next moment he was calm.
"Forgive me he said simply. It is my wretched nerves. And if the Master's work leads thereso be it. Who am I to complain?"
I felt like crying aloud as I looked at him: "Great Bishop! O hero! God's hero!"
As the evening wore on we learned more of his doings.
"I sold my house--my housesrather he said, all my other possessions. I knew I must do it secretly, else they would have taken everything away from me. That would have been terrible. I often marvel these days at the immense quantity of potatoes two or three hundred thousand dollars will buy, or bread, or meat, or coal and kindling.He turned to Ernest. "You are rightyoung man. Labor is dreadfully underpaid. I never did a bit of work in my lifeexcept to appeal aesthetically to Pharisees--I thought I was preaching the message--and yet I was worth half a million dollars. I never knew what half a million dollars meant until I realized how much potatoes and bread and butter and meat it could buy. And then I realized something more. I realized that all those potatoes and that bread and butter and meat were mineand that I had not worked to make them. Then it was clear to mesome one else had worked and made them and been robbed of them. And when I came down amongst the poor I found those who had been robbed and who were hungry and wretched because they had been robbed."
We drew him back to his narrative.
"The money? I have it deposited in many different banks under different names. It can never be taken away from mebecause it can never be found. And it is so goodthat money. It buys so much food. I never knew before what money was good for."
"I wish we could get some of it for the propaganda Ernest said wistfully. It would do immense good."
"Do you think so?" the Bishop said. "I do not have much faith in politics. In factI am afraid I do not understand politics."
Ernest was delicate in such matters. He did not repeat his suggestionthough he knew only too well the sore straits the Socialist Party was in through lack of money.
"I sleep in cheap lodging houses the Bishop went on. But I am afraidand never stay long in one place. AlsoI rent two rooms in workingmen's houses in different quarters of the city. It is a great extravaganceI knowbut it is necessary. I make up for it in part by doing my own cookingthough sometimes I get something to eat in cheap coffee-houses. And I have made a discovery. Tamales* are very good when the air grows chilly late at night. Only they are so expensive. But I have discovered a place where I can get three for ten cents. They are not so good as the othersbut they are very warming.
* A Mexican dishreferred to occasionally in the literature of the times. It is supposed that it was warmly seasoned. No recipe of it has come down to us.
"And so I have at last found my work in the worldthanks to youyoung man. It is the Master's work." He looked at meand his eyes twinkled. "You caught me feeding his lambsyou know. And of course you will all keep my secret."
He spoke carelessly enoughbut there was real fear behind the speech. He promised to call upon us again. But a week later we read in the newspaper of the sad case of Bishop Morehousewho had been committed to the Napa Asylum and for whom there were still hopes held out. In vain we tried to see himto have his case reconsidered or investigated. Nor could we learn anything about him except the reiterated statements that slight hopes were still held for his recovery.
"Christ told the rich young man to sell all he had Ernest said bitterly. The Bishop obeyed Christ's injunction and got locked up in a madhouse. Times have changed since Christ's day. A rich man to-day who gives all he has to the poor is crazy. There is no discussion. Society has spoken."
Of course Ernest was elected to Congress in the great socialist landslide that took place in the fall of 1912. One great factor that helped to swell the socialist vote was the destruction of Hearst.* This the Plutocracy found an easy task. It cost Hearst eighteen million dollars a year to run his various papersand this sumand morehe got back from the middle class in payment for advertising. The source of his financial strength lay wholly in the middle class. The trusts did not advertise.** To destroy Hearstall that was necessary was to take away from him his advertising.
* William Randolph Hearst--a young California millionaire who became the most powerful newspaper owner in the country. His newspapers were published in all the large citiesand they appealed to the perishing middle class and to the proletariat. So large was his following that he managed to take possession of the empty shell of the old Democratic Party. He occupied an anomalous positionpreaching an emasculated socialism combined with a nondescript sort of petty bourgeois capitalism. It was oil and waterand there was no hope for himthough for a short period he was a source of serious apprehension to the Plutocrats.
** The cost of advertising was amazing in those helter-skelter times. Only the small capitalists competedand therefore they did the advertising. There being no competition where there was a trustthere was no need for the trusts to advertise.
The whole middle class had not yet been exterminated. The sturdy skeleton of it remained; but it was without power. The small manufacturers and small business men who still survived were at the complete mercy of the Plutocracy. They had no economic nor political souls of their own. When the fiat of the Plutocracy went forththey withdrew their advertisements from the Hearst papers.
Hearst made a gallant fight. He brought his papers out at a loss of a million and a half each month. He continued to publish the advertisements for which he no longer received pay. Again the fiat of the Plutocracy went forthand the small business men and manufacturers swamped him with a flood of notices that he must discontinue running their old advertisements. Hearst persisted. Injunctions were served on him. Still he persisted. He received six months' imprisonment for contempt of court in disobeying the injunctionswhile he was bankrupted by countless damage suits. He had no chance. The Plutocracy had passed sentence on him. The courts were in the hands of the Plutocracy to carry the sentence out. And with Hearst crashed also to destruction the Democratic Party that he had so recently captured.
With the destruction of Hearst and the Democratic Partythere were only two paths for his following to take. One was into the Socialist Party; the other was into the Republican Party. Then it was that we socialists reaped the fruit of Hearst's pseudo- socialistic preaching; for the great Majority of his followers came over to us.
The expropriation of the farmers that took place at this time would also have swelled our vote had it not been for the brief and futile rise of the Grange Party. Ernest and the socialist leaders fought fiercely to capture the farmers; but the destruction of the socialist press and publishing houses constituted too great a handicapwhile the mouth-to-mouth propaganda had not yet been perfected. So it was that politicians like Mr. Calvinwho were themselves farmers long since expropriatedcaptured the farmers and threw their political strength away in a vain campaign.
"The poor farmers Ernest once laughed savagely; the trusts have them both coming and going."
And that was really the situation. The seven great trustsworking togetherhad pooled their enormous surpluses and made a farm trust. The railroadscontrolling ratesand the bankers and stock exchange gamesterscontrolling priceshad long since bled the farmers into indebtedness. The bankersand all the trusts for that matterhad likewise long since loaned colossal amounts of money to the farmers. The farmers were in the net. All that remained to be done was the drawing in of the net. This the farm trust proceeded to do.
The hard times of 1912 had already caused a frightful slump in the farm markets. Prices were now deliberately pressed down to bankruptcywhile the railroadswith extortionate ratesbroke the back of the farmer-camel. Thus the farmers were compelled to borrow more and morewhile they were prevented from paying back old loans. Then ensued the great foreclosing of mortgages and enforced collection of notes. The farmers simply surrendered the land to the farm trust. There was nothing else for them to do. And having surrendered the landthe farmers next went to work for the farm trustbecoming managerssuperintendentsforemenand common laborers. They worked for wages. They became villeinsin short--serfs bound to the soil by a living wage. They could not leave their mastersfor their masters composed the Plutocracy. They could not go to the citiesfor therealsothe Plutocracy was in control. They had but one alternative--to leave the soil and become vagrantsin briefto starve. And even there they were frustratedfor stringent vagrancy laws were passed and rigidly enforced.
Of coursehere and therefarmersand even whole communities of farmersescaped expropriation by virtue of exceptional conditions. But they were merely strays and did not countand they were gathered in anyway during the following year.*
* The destruction of the Roman yeomanry proceeded far less rapidly than the destruction of the American farmers and small capitalists. There was momentum in the twentieth centurywhile there was practically none in ancient Rome.
Numbers of the farmersimpelled by an insane lust for the soiland willing to show what beasts they could becometried to escape expropriation by withdrawing from any and all market-dealing. They sold nothing. They bought nothing. Among themselves a primitive barter began to spring up. Their privation and hardships were terriblebut they persisted. It became quite a movementin fact. The manner in which they were beaten was unique and logical and simple. The Plutocracyby virtue of its possession of the governmentraised their taxes. It was the weak joint in their armor. Neither buying nor sellingthey had no moneyand in the end their land was sold to pay the taxes.
Thus it was that in the fall of 1912 the socialist leaderswith the exception of Ernestdecided that the end of capitalism had come. What of the hard times and the consequent vast army of the unemployed; what of the destruction of the farmers and the middle class; and what of the decisive defeat administered all along the line to the labor unions; the socialists were really justified in believing that the end of capitalism had come and in themselves throwing down the gauntlet to the Plutocracy.
Alashow we underestimated the strength of the enemy! Everywhere the socialists proclaimed their coming victory at the ballot-boxwhilein unmistakable termsthey stated the situation. The Plutocracy accepted the challenge. It was the Plutocracyweighing and balancingthat defeated us by dividing our strength. It was the Plutocracythrough its secret agentsthat raised the cry that socialism was sacrilegious and atheistic; it was the Plutocracy that whipped the churchesand especially the Catholic Churchinto lineand robbed us of a portion of the labor vote. And it was the Plutocracythrough its secret agents of coursethat encouraged the Grange Party and even spread it to the cities into the ranks of the dying middle class.
Nevertheless the socialist landslide occurred. Butinstead of a sweeping victory with chief executive officers and majorities in all legislative bodieswe found ourselves in the minority. It is truewe elected fifty Congressmen; but when they took their seats in the spring of 1913they found themselves without power of any sort. Yet they were more fortunate than the Grangerswho captured a dozen state governmentsand whoin the springwere not permitted to take possession of the captured offices. The incumbents refused to retireand the courts were in the hands of the Oligarchy. But this is too far in advance of events. I have yet to tell of the stirring times of the winter of 1912.
The hard times at home had caused an immense decrease in consumption. Laborout of workhad no wages with which to buy. The result was that the Plutocracy found a greater surplus than ever on its hands. This surplus it was compelled to dispose of abroadandwhat of its colossal plansit needed money. Because of its strenuous efforts to dispose of the surplus in the world marketthe Plutocracy clashed with Germany. Economic clashes were usually succeeded by warsand this particular clash was no exception. The great German war-lord preparedand so did the United States prepare.
The war-cloud hovered dark and ominous. The stage was set for a world-catastrophefor in all the world were hard timeslabor troublesperishing middle classesarmies of unemployedclashes of economic interests in the world-marketand mutterings and rumblings of the socialist revolution.*
* For a long time these mutterings and rumblings had been heard. As far back as 1906 A.D.Lord Aveburyan Englishmanuttered the following in the House of Lords: "The unrest in Europethe spread of socialismand the ominous rise of Anarchismare warnings to the governments and the ruling classes that the condition of the working classes in Europe is becoming intolerableand that if a revolution is to be avoided some steps must be taken to increase wagesreduce the hours of laborand lower the prices of the necessaries of life." The Wall Street Journala stock gamesters' publicationin commenting upon Lord Avebury's speechsaid: "These words were spoken by an aristocrat and a member of the most conservative body in all Europe. That gives them all the more significance. They contain more valuable political economy than is to be found in most of the books. They sound a note of warning. Take heedgentlemen of the war and navy departments!"
At the same timeSydney Brookswriting in Americain Harper's Weeklysaid: "You will not hear the socialists mentioned in Washington. Why should you? The politicians are always the last people in this country to see what is going on under their noses. They will jeer at me when I prophesyand prophesy with the utmost confidencethat at the next presidential election the socialists will poll over a million votes."
The Oligarchy wanted the war with Germany. And it wanted the war for a dozen reasons. In the juggling of events such a war would causein the reshuffling of the international cards and the making of new treaties and alliancesthe Oligarchy had much to gain. Andfurthermorethe war would consume many national surplusesreduce the armies of unemployed that menaced all countriesand give the Oligarchy a breathing space in which to perfect its plans and carry them out. Such a war would virtually put the Oligarchy in possession of the world-market. Alsosuch a war would create a large standing army that need never be disbandedwhile in the minds of the people would be substituted the issueAmerica versus Germany,in place of "Socialism versus Oligarchy."
And truly the war would have done all these things had it not been for the socialists. A secret meeting of the Western leaders was held in our four tiny rooms in Pell Street. Here was first considered the stand the socialists were to take. It was not the first time we had put our foot down upon war* but it was the first time we had done so in the United States. After our secret meeting we got in touch with the national organizationand soon our code cables were passing back and forth across the Atlantic between us and the International Bureau.
* It was at the very beginning of the twentieth century A.D.that the international organization of the socialists finally formulated their long-maturing policy on war. Epitomized their doctrine was: "Why should the workingmen of one country fight with the workingmen of another country for the benefit of their capitalist masters?"
On May 211905 A.D.when war threatened between Austria and Italythe socialists of ItalyAustriaand Hungary held a conference at Triesteand threatened a general strike of the workingmen of both countries in case war was declared. This was repeated the following yearwhen the "Morocco Affair" threatened to involve FranceGermanyand England.
The German socialists were ready to act with us. There were over five million of themmany of them in the standing armyandin additionthey were on friendly terms with the labor unions. In both countries the socialists came out in bold declaration against the war and threatened the general strike. And in the meantime they made preparation for the general strike. Furthermorethe revolutionary parties in all countries gave public utterance to the socialist principle of international peace that must be preserved at all hazardseven to the extent of revolt and revolution at home.
The general strike was the one great victory we American socialists won. On the 4th of December the American minister was withdrawn from the German capital. That night a German fleet made a dash on Honolulusinking three American cruisers and a revenue cutterand bombarding the city. Next day both Germany and the United States declared warand within an hour the socialists called the general strike in both countries.
For the first time the German war-lord faced the men of his empire who made his empire go. Without them he could not run his empire. The novelty of the situation lay in that their revolt was passive. They did not fight. They did nothing. And by doing nothing they tied their war-lord's hands. He would have asked for nothing better than an opportunity to loose his war-dogs on his rebellious proletariat. But this was denied him. He could not loose his war- dogs. Neither could he mobilize his army to go forth to warnor could he punish his recalcitrant subjects. Not a wheel moved in his empire. Not a train rannot a telegraphic message went over the wiresfor the telegraphers and railroad men had ceased work along with the rest of the population.
And as it was in Germanyso it was in the United States. At last organized labor had learned its lesson. Beaten decisively on its own chosen fieldit had abandoned that field and come over to the political field of the socialists; for the general strike was a political strike. Besidesorganized labor had been so badly beaten that it did not care. It joined in the general strike out of sheer desperation. The workers threw down their tools and left their tasks by the millions. Especially notable were the machinists. Their heads were bloodytheir organization had apparently been destroyedyet out they camealong with their allies in the metal-working trades.
Even the common laborers and all unorganized labor ceased work. The strike had tied everything up so that nobody could work. Besidesthe women proved to be the strongest promoters of the strike. They set their faces against the war. They did not want their men to go forth to die. Thenalsothe idea of the general strike caught the mood of the people. It struck their sense of humor. The idea was infectious. The children struck in all the schoolsand such teachers as camewent home again from deserted class rooms. The general strike took the form of a great national picnic. And the idea of the solidarity of laborso evidencedappealed to the imagination of all. Andfinallythere was no danger to be incurred by the colossal frolic. When everybody was guiltyhow was anybody to be punished?
The United States was paralyzed. No one knew what was happening. There were no newspapersno lettersno despatches. Every community was as completely isolated as though ten thousand miles of primeval wilderness stretched between it and the rest of the world. For that matterthe world had ceased to exist. And for a week this state of affairs was maintained.
In San Francisco we did not know what was happening even across the bay in Oakland or Berkeley. The effect on one's sensibilities was weirddepressing. It seemed as though some great cosmic thing lay dead. The pulse of the land had ceased to beat. Of a truth the nation had died. There were no wagons rumbling on the streetsno factory whistlesno hum of electricity in the airno passing of street carsno cries of news-boys--nothing but persons who at rare intervals went by like furtive ghoststhemselves oppressed and made unreal by the silence.
And during that week of silence the Oligarchy was taught its lesson. And well it learned the lesson. The general strike was a warning. It should never occur again. The Oligarchy would see to that.
At the end of the weekas had been prearrangedthe telegraphers of Germany and the United States returned to their posts. Through them the socialist leaders of both countries presented their ultimatum to the rulers. The war should be called offor the general strike would continue. It did not take long to come to an understanding. The war was declared offand the populations of both countries returned to their tasks.
It was this renewal of peace that brought about the alliance between Germany and the United States. In realitythis was an alliance between the Emperor and the Oligarchyfor the purpose of meeting their common foethe revolutionary proletariat of both countries. And it was this alliance that the Oligarchy afterward so treacherously broke when the German socialists rose and drove the war-lord from his throne. It was the very thing the Oligarchy had played for--the destruction of its great rival in the world- market. With the German Emperor out of the wayGermany would have no surplus to sell abroad. By the very nature of the socialist statethe German population would consume all that it produced. Of courseit would trade abroad certain things it produced for things it did not produce; but this would be quite different from an unconsumable surplus.
"I'll wager the Oligarchy finds justification Ernest said, when its treachery to the German Emperor became known. As usualthe Oligarchy will believe it has done right."
And sure enough. The Oligarchy's public defence for the act was that it had done it for the sake of the American people whose interests it was looking out for. It had flung its hated rival out of the world-market and enabled us to dispose of our surplus in that market.
"And the howling folly of it is that we are so helpless that such idiots really are managing our interests was Ernest's comment. They have enabled us to sell more abroadwhich means that we'll be compelled to consume less at home."
As early as January1913Ernest saw the true trend of affairsbut he could not get his brother leaders to see the vision of the Iron Heel that had arisen in his brain. They were too confident. Events were rushing too rapidly to culmination. A crisis had come in world affairs. The American Oligarchy was practically in possession of the world-marketand scores of countries were flung out of that market with unconsumable and unsalable surpluses on their hands. For such countries nothing remained but reorganization. They could not continue their method of producing surpluses. The capitalistic systemso far as they were concernedhad hopelessly broken down.
The reorganization of these countries took the form of revolution. It was a time of confusion and violence. Everywhere institutions and governments were crashing. Everywherewith the exception of two or three countriesthe erstwhile capitalist masters fought bitterly for their possessions. But the governments were taken away from them by the militant proletariat. At last was being realized Karl Marx's classic: "The knell of private capitalist property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated." And as fast as capitalistic governments crashedcooperative commonwealths arose in their place.
"Why does the United States lag behind?"; "Get busyyou American revolutionists!"; "What's the matter with America?"--were the messages sent to us by our successful comrades in other lands. But we could not keep up. The Oligarchy stood in the way. Its bulklike that of some huge monsterblocked our path.
"Wait till we take office in the spring we answered. Then you'll see."
Behind this lay our secret. We had won over the Grangersand in the spring a dozen states would pass into their hands by virtue of the elections of the preceding fall. At once would be instituted a dozen cooperative commonwealth states. After thatthe rest would be easy.
"But what if the Grangers fail to get possession?" Ernest demanded. And his comrades called him a calamity howler.
But this failure to get possession was not the chief danger that Ernest had in mind. What he foresaw was the defection of the great labor unions and the rise of the castes.
"Ghent has taught the oligarchs how to do it Ernest said. I'll wager they've made a text-book out of his 'Benevolent Feudalism.'"*
* "Our Benevolent Feudalism a book published in 1902 A.D., by W. J. Ghent. It has always been insisted that Ghent put the idea of the Oligarchy into the minds of the great capitalists. This belief persists throughout the literature of the three centuries of the Iron Heel, and even in the literature of the first century of the Brotherhood of Man. To-day we know better, but our knowledge does not overcome the fact that Ghent remains the most abused innocent man in all history.
Never shall I forget the night when, after a hot discussion with half a dozen labor leaders, Ernest turned to me and said quietly: That settles it. The Iron Heel has won. The end is in sight."
This little conference in our home was unofficial; but Ernestlike the rest of his comradeswas working for assurances from the labor leaders that they would call out their men in the next general strike. O'Connorthe president of the Association of Machinistshad been foremost of the six leaders present in refusing to give such assurance.
"You have seen that you were beaten soundly at your old tactics of strike and boycott Ernest urged.
O'Connor and the others nodded their heads.
And you saw what a general strike would do Ernest went on. We stopped the war with Germany. Never was there so fine a display of the solidarity and the power of labor. Labor can and will rule the world. If you continue to stand with uswe'll put an end to the reign of capitalism. It is your only hope. And what is moreyou know it. There is no other way out. No matter what you do under your old tacticsyou are doomed to defeatif for no other reason because the masters control the courts."*
* As a sample of the decisions of the courts adverse to laborthe following instances are given. In the coal-mining regions the employment of children was notorious. In 1905 A.D.labor succeeded in getting a law passed in Pennsylvania providing that proof of the age of the child and of certain educational qualifications must accompany the oath of the parent. This was promptly declared unconstitutional by the Luzerne County Courton the ground that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment in that it discriminated between individuals of the same class--namelychildren above fourteen years of age and children below. The state court sustained the decision. The New York Court of Special Sessionsin 1905 A.D.declared unconstitutional the law prohibiting minors and women from working in factories after nine o'clock at nightthe ground taken being that such a law was "class legislation." Againthe bakers of that time were terribly overworked. The New York Legislature passed a law restricting work in bakeries to ten hours a day. In 1906 A.D.the Supreme Court of the United States declared this law to be unconstitutional. In part the decision read: "There is no reasonable ground for interfering with the liberty of persons or the right of free contract by determining the hours of labor in the occupation of a baker."
"You run ahead too fast O'Connor answered. You don't know all the ways out. There is another way out. We know what we're about. We're sick of strikes. They've got us beaten that way to a frazzle. But I don't think we'll ever need to call our men out again."
"What is your way out?" Ernest demanded bluntly.
O'Connor laughed and shook his head. "I can tell you this much: We've not been asleep. And we're not dreaming now."
"There's nothing to be afraid ofor ashamed ofI hope Ernest challenged.
I guess we know our business best was the retort.
It's a dark businessfrom the way you hide it Ernest said with growing anger.
We've paid for our experience in sweat and bloodand we've earned all that's coming to us was the reply. Charity begins at home."
"If you're afraid to tell me your way outI'll tell it to you." Ernest's blood was up. "You're going in for grab-sharing. You've made terms with the enemythat's what you've done. You've sold out the cause of laborof all labor. You are leaving the battle- field like cowards."
"I'm not saying anything O'Connor answered sullenly. Only I guess we know what's best for us a little bit better than you do."
"And you don't care a cent for what is best for the rest of labor. You kick it into the ditch."
"I'm not saying anything O'Connor replied, except that I'm president of the Machinists' Associationand it's my business to consider the interests of the men I representthat's all."
And thenwhen the labor leaders had leftErnestwith the calmness of defeatoutlined to me the course of events to come.
"The socialists used to foretell with joy he said, the coming of the day when organized labordefeated on the industrial fieldwould come over on to the political field. Wellthe Iron Heel has defeated the labor unions on the industrial field and driven them over to the political field; and instead of this being joyful for usit will be a source of grief. The Iron Heel learned its lesson. We showed it our power in the general strike. It has taken steps to prevent another general strike."
"But how?" I asked.
"Simply by subsidizing the great unions. They won't join in the next general strike. Therefore it won't be a general strike."
"But the Iron Heel can't maintain so costly a programme forever I objected.
Ohit hasn't subsidized all of the unions. That's not necessary. Here is what is going to happen. Wages are going to be advanced and hours shortened in the railroad unionsthe iron and steel workers unionsand the engineer and machinist unions. In these unions more favorable conditions will continue to prevail. Membership in these unions will become like seats in Paradise."
"Still I don't see I objected. What is to become of the other unions? There are far more unions outside of this combination than in it."
"The other unions will be ground out of existence--all of them. Fordon't you seethe railway menmachinists and engineersiron and steel workersdo all of the vitally essential work in our machine civilization. Assured of their faithfulnessthe Iron Heel can snap its fingers at all the rest of labor. Ironsteelcoalmachineryand transportation constitute the backbone of the whole industrial fabric."
"But coal?" I queried. "There are nearly a million coal miners."
They are practically unskilled labor. They will not count. Their wages will go down and their hours will increase. They will be slaves like all the rest of usand they will become about the most bestial of all of us. They will be compelled to workjust as the farmers are compelled to work now for the masters who robbed them of their land. And the same with all the other unions outside the combination. Watch them wobble and go to piecesand their members become slaves driven to toil by empty stomachs and the law of the land.
"Do you know what will happen to Farley* and his strike-breakers? I'll tell you. Strike-breaking as an occupation will cease. There won't be any more strikes. In place of strikes will be slave revolts. Farley and his gang will be promoted to slave-driving. Ohit won't be called that; it will be called enforcing the law of the land that compels the laborers to work. It simply prolongs the fightthis treachery of the big unions. Heaven only knows now where and when the Revolution will triumph."
* James Farley--a notorious strike-breaker of the period. A man more courageous than ethicaland of undeniable ability. He rose high under the rule of the Iron Heel and finally was translated into the oligarch class. He was assassinated in 1932 by Sarah Jenkinswhose husbandthirty years beforehad been killed by Farley's strike-breakers.
"But with such a powerful combination as the Oligarchy and the big unionsis there any reason to believe that the Revolution will ever triumph?" I queried. "May not the combination endure forever?"
He shook his head. "One of our generalizations is that every system founded upon class and caste contains within itself the germs of its own decay. When a system is founded upon classhow can caste be prevented? The Iron Heel will not be able to prevent itand in the end caste will destroy the Iron Heel. The oligarchs have already developed caste among themselves; but wait until the favored unions develop caste. The Iron Heel will use all its power to prevent itbut it will fail.
"In the favored unions are the flower of the American workingmen. They are strongefficient men. They have become members of those unions through competition for place. Every fit workman in the United States will be possessed by the ambition to become a member of the favored unions. The Oligarchy will encourage such ambition and the consequent competition. Thus will the strong menwho might else be revolutionistsbe won away and their strength used to bolster the Oligarchy.
"On the other handthe labor castesthe members of the favored unionswill strive to make their organizations into close corporations. And they will succeed. Membership in the labor castes will become hereditary. Sons will succeed fathersand there will be no inflow of new strength from that eternal reservoir of strengththe common people. This will mean deterioration of the labor castesand in the end they will become weaker and weaker. At the same timeas an institutionthey will become temporarily all-powerful. They will be like the guards of the palace in old Romeand there will be palace revolutions whereby the labor castes will seize the reins of power. And there will be counter-palace revolutions of the oligarchsand sometimes the oneand sometimes the otherwill be in power. And through it all the inevitable caste-weakening will go onso that in the end the common people will come into their own."
This foreshadowing of a slow social evolution was made when Ernest was first depressed by the defection of the great unions. I never agreed with him in itand I disagree nowas I write these linesmore heartily than ever; for even nowthough Ernest is gonewe are on the verge of the revolt that will sweep all oligarchies away. Yet I have here given Ernest's prophecy because it was his prophecy. In spite of his belief in ithe worked like a giant against itand hemore than any manhas made possible the revolt that even now waits the signal to burst forth.*
* Everhard's social foresight was remarkable. As clearly as in the light of past eventshe saw the defection of the favored unionsthe rise and the slow decay of the labor castesand the struggle between the decaying oligarchs and labor castes for control of the great governmental machine.
"But if the Oligarchy persists I asked him that evening, what will become of the great surpluses that will fall to its share every year?"
"The surpluses will have to be expended somehow he answered; and trust the oligarchs to find a way. Magnificent roads will be built. There will be great achievements in scienceand especially in art. When the oligarchs have completely mastered the peoplethey will have time to spare for other things. They will become worshippers of beauty. They will become art-lovers. And under their direction and generously rewardedwill toil the artists. The result will be great art; for no longeras up to yesterdaywill the artists pander to the bourgeois taste of the middle class. It will be great artI tell youand wonder cities will arise that will make tawdry and cheap the cities of old time. And in these cities will the oligarchs dwell and worship beauty.*
* We cannot but marvel at Everhard's foresight. Before ever the thought of wonder cities like Ardis and Asgard entered the minds of the oligarchsEverhard saw those cities and the inevitable necessity for their creation.
"Thus will the surplus be constantly expended while labor does the work. The building of these great works and cities will give a starvation ration to millions of common laborersfor the enormous bulk of the surplus will compel an equally enormous expenditureand the oligarchs will build for a thousand years--ayfor ten thousand years. They will build as the Egyptians and the Babylonians never dreamed of building; and when the oligarchs have passed awaytheir great roads and their wonder cities will remain for the brotherhood of labor to tread upon and dwell within.*
* And since that day of prophecyhave passed away the three centuries of the Iron Heel and the four centuries of the Brotherhood of Manand to-day we tread the roads and dwell in the cities that the oligarchs built. It is truewe are even now building still more wonderful wonder citiesbut the wonder cities of the oligarchs endureand I write these lines in Ardisone of the most wonderful of them all.
"These things the oligarchs will do because they cannot help doing them. These great works will be the form their expenditure of the surplus will takeand in the same way that the ruling classes of Egypt of long ago expended the surplus they robbed from the people by the building of temples and pyramids. Under the oligarchs will flourishnot a priest classbut an artist class. And in place of the merchant class of bourgeoisie will be the labor castes. And beneath will be the abysswherein will fester and starve and rotand ever renew itselfthe common peoplethe great bulk of the population. And in the endwho knows in what daythe common people will rise up out of the abyss; the labor castes and the Oligarchy will crumble away; and thenat lastafter the travail of the centurieswill it be the day of the common man. I had thought to see that day; but now I know that I shall never see it."
He paused and looked at meand added:
"Social evolution is exasperatingly slowisn't itsweetheart?"
My arms were about himand his head was on my breast.
"Sing me to sleep he murmured whimsically. I have had a visioningand I wish to forget."
It was near the end of January1913that the changed attitude of the Oligarchy toward the favored unions was made public. The newspapers published information of an unprecedented rise in wages and shortening of hours for the railroad employeesthe iron and steel workersand the engineers and machinists. But the whole truth was not told. The oligarchs did not dare permit the telling of the whole truth. In realitythe wages had been raised much higherand the privileges were correspondingly greater. All this was secretbut secrets will out. Members of the favored unions told their wivesand the wives gossipedand soon all the labor world knew what had happened.
It was merely the logical development of what in the nineteenth century had been known as grab-sharing. In the industrial warfare of that timeprofit-sharing had been tried. That isthe capitalists had striven to placate the workers by interesting them financially in their work. But profit-sharingas a systemwas ridiculous and impossible. Profit-sharing could be successful only in isolated cases in the midst of a system of industrial strife; for if all labor and all capital shared profitsthe same conditions would obtain as did obtain when there was no profit- sharing.
Soout of the unpractical idea of profit-sharingarose the practical idea of grab-sharing. "Give us more pay and charge it to the public was the slogan of the strong unions.* And here and there this selfish policy worked successfully. In charging it to the public, it was charged to the great mass of unorganized labor and of weakly organized labor. These workers actually paid the increased wages of their stronger brothers who were members of unions that were labor monopolies. This idea, as I say, was merely carried to its logical conclusion, on a large scale, by the combination of the oligarchs and the favored unions.
* All the railroad unions entered into this combination with the oligarchs, and it is of interest to note that the first definite application of the policy of profit-grabbing was made by a railroad union in the nineteenth century A.D., namely, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. P. M. Arthur was for twenty years Grand Chief of the Brotherhood. After the strike on the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1877, he broached a scheme to have the Locomotive Engineers make terms with the railroads and to go it alone" so far as the rest of the labor unions were concerned. This scheme was eminently successful. It was as successful as it was selfishand out of it was coined the word "arthurization to denote grab- sharing on the part of labor unions. This word arthurization" has long puzzled the etymologistsbut its derivationI hopeis now made clear.
As soon as the secret of the defection of the favored unions leaked outthere were rumblings and mutterings in the labor world. Nextthe favored unions withdrew from the international organizations and broke off all affiliations. Then came trouble and violence. The members of the favored unions were branded as traitorsand in saloons and brothelson the streets and at workandin facteverywherethey were assaulted by the comrades they had so treacherously deserted.
Countless heads were brokenand there were many killed. No member of the favored unions was safe. They gathered together in bands in order to go to work or to return from work. They walked always in the middle of the street. On the sidewalk they were liable to have their skulls crushed by bricks and cobblestones thrown from windows and house-tops. They were permitted to carry weaponsand the authorities aided them in every way. Their persecutors were sentenced to long terms in prisonwhere they were harshly treated; while no mannot a member of the favored unionswas permitted to carry weapons. Violation of this law was made a high misdemeanor and punished accordingly.
Outraged labor continued to wreak vengeance on the traitors. Caste lines formed automatically. The children of the traitors were persecuted by the children of the workers who had been betrayeduntil it was impossible for the former to play on the streets or to attend the public schools. Alsothe wives and families of the traitors were ostracizedwhile the corner groceryman who sold provisions to them was boycotted.
As a resultdriven back upon themselves from every sidethe traitors and their families became clannish. Finding it impossible to dwell in safety in the midst of the betrayed proletariatthey moved into new localities inhabited by themselves alone. In this they were favored by the oligarchs. Good dwellingsmodern and sanitarywere built for themsurrounded by spacious yardsand separated here and there by parks and playgrounds. Their children attended schools especially built for themand in these schools manual training and applied science were specialized upon. Thusand unavoidablyat the very beginningout of this segregation arose caste. The members of the favored unions became the aristocracy of labor. They were set apart from the rest of labor. They were better housedbetter clothedbetter fedbetter treated. They were grab-sharing with a vengeance.
In the meantimethe rest of the working class was more harshly treated. Many little privileges were taken away from itwhile its wages and its standard of living steadily sank down. Incidentallyits public schools deterioratedand education slowly ceased to be compulsory. The increase in the younger generation of children who could not read nor write was perilous.
The capture of the world-market by the United States had disrupted the rest of the world. Institutions and governments were everywhere crashing or transforming. GermanyItalyFranceAustraliaand New Zealand were busy forming cooperative commonwealths. The British Empire was falling apart. England's hands were full. In India revolt was in full swing. The cry in all Asia wasAsia for the Asiatics!And behind this cry was Japanever urging and aiding the yellow and brown races against the white. And while Japan dreamed of continental empire and strove to realize the dreamshe suppressed her own proletarian revolution. It was a simple war of the castesCoolie versus Samuraiand the coolie socialists were executed by tens of thousands. Forty thousand were killed in the street-fighting of Tokio and in the futile assault on the Mikado's palace. Kobe was a shambles; the slaughter of the cotton operatives by machine-guns became classic as the most terrific execution ever achieved by modern war machines. Most savage of all was the Japanese Oligarchy that arose. Japan dominated the Eastand took to herself the whole Asiatic portion of the world-marketwith the exception of India.
England managed to crush her own proletarian revolution and to hold on to Indiathough she was brought to the verge of exhaustion. Alsoshe was compelled to let her great colonies slip away from her. So it was that the socialists succeeded in making Australia and New Zealand into cooperative commonwealths. And it was for the same reason that Canada was lost to the mother country. But Canada crushed her own socialist revolutionbeing aided in this by the Iron Heel. At the same timethe Iron Heel helped Mexico and Cuba to put down revolt. The result was that the Iron Heel was firmly established in the New World. It had welded into one compact political mass the whole of North America from the Panama Canal to the Arctic Ocean.
And Englandat the sacrifice of her great colonieshad succeeded only in retaining India. But this was no more than temporary. The struggle with Japan and the rest of Asia for India was merely delayed. England was destined shortly to lose Indiawhile behind that event loomed the struggle between a united Asia and the world.
And while all the world was torn with conflictwe of the United States were not placid and peaceful. The defection of the great unions had prevented our proletarian revoltbut violence was everywhere. In addition to the labor troublesand the discontent of the farmers and of the remnant of the middle classa religious revival had blazed up. An offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists sprang into sudden prominenceproclaiming the end of the world.
"Confusion thrice confounded!" Ernest cried. "How can we hope for solidarity with all these cross purposes and conflicts?"
And truly the religious revival assumed formidable proportions. The peoplewhat of their wretchednessand of their disappointment in all things earthlywere ripe and eager for a heaven where industrial tyrants entered no more than camels passed through needle-eyes. Wild-eyed itinerant preachers swarmed over the land; and despite the prohibition of the civil authoritiesand the persecution for disobediencethe flames of religious frenzy were fanned by countless camp-meetings.
It was the last daysthey claimedthe beginning of the end of the world. The four winds had been loosed. God had stirred the nations to strife. It was a time of visions and miracleswhile seers and prophetesses were legion. The people ceased work by hundreds of thousands and fled to the mountainsthere to await the imminent coming of God and the rising of the hundred and forty and four thousand to heaven. But in the meantime God did not comeand they starved to death in great numbers. In their desperation they ravaged the farms for foodand the consequent tumult and anarchy in the country districts but increased the woes of the poor expropriated farmers.
Alsothe farms and warehouses were the property of the Iron Heel. Armies of troops were put into the fieldand the fanatics were herded back at the bayonet point to their tasks in the cities. There they broke out in ever recurring mobs and riots. Their leaders were executed for sedition or confined in madhouses. Those who were executed went to their deaths with all the gladness of martyrs. It was a time of madness. The unrest spread. In the swamps and deserts and waste placesfrom Florida to Alaskathe small groups of Indians that survived were dancing ghost dances and waiting the coming of a Messiah of their own.
And through it allwith a serenity and certitude that was terrifyingcontinued to rise the form of that monster of the agesthe Oligarchy. With iron hand and iron heel it mastered the surging millionsout of confusion brought orderout of the very chaos wrought its own foundation and structure.
"Just wait till we get in the Grangers said--Calvin said it to us in our Pell Street quarters. Look at the states we've captured. With you socialists to back uswe'll make them sing another song when we take office."
"The millions of the discontented and the impoverished are ours the socialists said. The Grangers have come over to usthe farmersthe middle classand the laborers. The capitalist system will fall to pieces. In another month we send fifty men to Congress. Two years hence every office will be oursfrom the President down to the local dog-catcher."
To all of which Ernest would shake his head and say:
"How many rifles have you got? Do you know where you can get plenty of lead? When it comes to powderchemical mixtures are better than mechanical mixturesyou take my word."
When it came time for Ernest and me to go to Washingtonfather did not accompany us. He had become enamoured of proletarian life. He looked upon our slum neighborhood as a great sociological laboratoryand he had embarked upon an apparently endless orgy of investigation. He chummed with the laborersand was an intimate in scores of homes. Alsohe worked at odd jobsand the work was play as well as learned investigationfor he delighted in it and was always returning home with copious notes and bubbling over with new adventures. He was the perfect scientist.
There was no need for his working at allbecause Ernest managed to earn enough from his translating to take care of the three of us. But father insisted on pursuing his favorite phantomand a protean phantom it wasjudging from the jobs he worked at. I shall never forget the evening he brought home his street pedler's outfit of shoe-laces and suspendersnor the time I went into the little corner grocery to make some purchase and had him wait on me. After that I was not surprised when he tended bar for a week in the saloon across the street. He worked as a night watchmanhawked potatoes on the streetpasted labels in a cannery warehousewas utility man in a paper-box factoryand water-carrier for a street railway construction gangand even joined the Dishwashers' Union just before it fell to pieces.
I think the Bishop's exampleso far as wearing apparel was concernedmust have fascinated fatherfor he wore the cheap cotton shirt of the laborer and the overalls with the narrow strap about the hips. Yet one habit remained to him from the old life; he always dressed for dinneror supperrather.
I could be happy anywhere with Ernest; and father's happiness in our changed circumstances rounded out my own happiness.
"When I was a boy father said, I was very curious. I wanted to know why things were and how they came to pass. That was why I became a physicist. The life in me to-day is just as curious as it was in my boyhoodand it's the being curious that makes life worth living."
Sometimes he ventured north of Market Street into the shopping and theatre districtwhere he sold papersran errandsand opened cabs. Thereone dayclosing a cabhe encountered Mr. Wickson. In high glee father described the incident to us that evening.
"Wickson looked at me sharply when I closed the door on himand mutteredWell, I'll be damned.Just like that he said itWell, I'll be damned.His face turned red and he was so confused that he forgot to tip me. But he must have recovered himself quicklyfor the cab hadn't gone fifty feet before it turned around and came back. He leaned out of the door.
"'Look hereProfessor' he said'this is too much. What can I do for you?'
"'I closed the cab door for you' I answered. 'According to common custom you might give me a dime.'
"'Bother that!' he snorted. 'I mean something substantial.'
"He was certainly serious--a twinge of ossified conscience or something; and so I considered with grave deliberation for a moment.
"His face was quite expectant when I began my answerbut you should have seen it when I finished.
"'You might give me back my home' I said'and my stock in the Sierra Mills.'"
"What did he say?" I questioned eagerly.
"What could he say? He said nothing. But I said. 'I hope you are happy.' He looked at me curiously. 'Tell meare you happy?'" I asked.
"He ordered the cabman to drive onand went away swearing horribly. And he didn't give me the dimemuch less the home and stock; so you seemy dearyour father's street-arab career is beset with disappointments."
And so it was that father kept on at our Pell Street quarterswhile Ernest and I went to Washington. Except for the final consummationthe old order had passed awayand the final consummation was nearer than I dreamed. Contrary to our expectationno obstacles were raised to prevent the socialist Congressmen from taking their seats. Everything went smoothlyand I laughed at Ernest when he looked upon the very smoothness as something ominous.
We found our socialist comrades confidentoptimistic of their strength and of the things they would accomplish. A few Grangers who had been elected to Congress increased our strengthand an elaborate programme of what was to be done was prepared by the united forces. In all of which Ernest joined loyally and energeticallythough he could not forbearnow and againfrom sayingapropos of nothing in particularWhen it comes to powder, chemical mixtures are better than mechanical mixtures, you take my word.
The trouble arose first with the Grangers in the various states they had captured at the last election. There were a dozen of these statesbut the Grangers who had been elected were not permitted to take office. The incumbents refused to get out. It was very simple. They merely charged illegality in the elections and wrapped up the whole situation in the interminable red tape of the law. The Grangers were powerless. The courts were in the hands of their enemies.
This was the moment of danger. If the cheated Grangers became violentall was lost. How we socialists worked to hold them back! There were days and nights when Ernest never closed his eyes in sleep. The big leaders of the Grangers saw the peril and were with us to a man. But it was all of no avail. The Oligarchy wanted violenceand it set its agents-provocateurs to work. Without discussionit was the agents-provocateurs who caused the Peasant Revolt.
In a dozen states the revolt flared up. The expropriated farmers took forcible possession of the state governments. Of course this was unconstitutionaland of course the United States put its soldiers into the field. Everywhere the agents-provocateurs urged the people on. These emissaries of the Iron Heel disguised themselves as artisansfarmersand farm laborers. In Sacramentothe capital of Californiathe Grangers had succeeded in maintaining order. Thousands of secret agents were rushed to the devoted city. In mobs composed wholly of themselvesthey fired and looted buildings and factories. They worked the people up until they joined them in the pillage. Liquor in large quantities was distributed among the slum classes further to inflame their minds. And thenwhen all was readyappeared upon the scene the soldiers of the United Stateswho werein realitythe soldiers of the Iron Heel. Eleven thousand menwomenand children were shot down on the streets of Sacramento or murdered in their houses. The national government took possession of the state governmentand all was over for California.
And as with Californiaso elsewhere. Every Granger state was ravaged with violence and washed in blood. Firstdisorder was precipitated by the secret agents and the Black Hundredsthen the troops were called out. Rioting and mob-rule reigned throughout the rural districts. Day and night the smoke of burning farmswarehousesvillagesand cities filled the sky. Dynamite appeared. Railroad bridges and tunnels were blown up and trains were wrecked. The poor farmers were shot and hanged in great numbers. Reprisals were bitterand many plutocrats and army officers were murdered. Blood and vengeance were in men's hearts. The regular troops fought the farmers as savagely as had they been Indians. And the regular troops had cause. Twenty-eight hundred of them had been annihilated in a tremendous series of dynamite explosions in Oregonand in a similar mannera number of train loadsat different times and placeshad been destroyed. So it was that the regular troops fought for their lives as well as did the farmers.
As for the militiathe militia law of 1903 was put into effectand the workers of one state were compelledunder pain of deathto shoot down their comrade-workers in other states. Of coursethe militia law did not work smoothly at first. Many militia officers were murderedand many militiamen were executed by drumhead court martial. Ernest's prophecy was strikingly fulfilled in the cases of Mr. Kowalt and Mr. Asmunsen. Both were eligible for the militiaand both were drafted to serve in the punitive expedition that was despatched from California against the farmers of Missouri. Mr. Kowalt and Mr. Asmunsen refused to serve. They were given short shrift. Drumhead court martial was their portionand military execution their end. They were shot with their backs to the firing squad.
Many young men fled into the mountains to escape serving in the militia. There they became outlawsand it was not until more peaceful times that they received their punishment. It was drastic. The government issued a proclamation for all law-abiding citizens to come in from the mountains for a period of three months. When the proclaimed date arrivedhalf a million soldiers were sent into the mountainous districts everywhere. There was no investigationno trial. Wherever a man was encounteredhe was shot down on the spot. The troops operated on the basis that no man not an outlaw remained in the mountains. Some bandsin strong positionsfought gallantlybut in the end every deserter from the militia met death.
A more immediate lessonhoweverwas impressed on the minds of the people by the punishment meted out to the Kansas militia. The great Kansas Mutiny occurred at the very beginning of military operations against the Grangers. Six thousand of the militia mutinied. They had been for several weeks very turbulent and sullenand for that reason had been kept in camp. Their open mutinyhoweverwas without doubt precipitated by the agents- provocateurs.
On the night of the 22d of April they arose and murdered their officersonly a small remnant of the latter escaping. This was beyond the scheme of the Iron Heelfor the agents-provocateurs had done their work too well. But everything was grist to the Iron Heel. It had prepared for the outbreakand the killing of so many officers gave it justification for what followed. As by magicforty thousand soldiers of the regular army surrounded the malcontents. It was a trap. The wretched militiamen found that their machine-guns had been tampered withand that the cartridges from the captured magazines did not fit their rifles. They hoisted the white flag of surrenderbut it was ignored. There were no survivors. The entire six thousand were annihilated. Common shell and shrapnel were thrown in upon them from a distanceandwhenin their desperationthey charged the encircling linesthey were mowed down by the machine-guns. I talked with an eye-witnessand he said that the nearest any militiaman approached the machine-guns was a hundred and fifty yards. The earth was carpeted with the slainand a final charge of cavalrywith trampling of horses' hoofsrevolversand sabrescrushed the wounded into the ground.
Simultaneously with the destruction of the Grangers came the revolt of the coal miners. It was the expiring effort of organized labor. Three-quarters of a million of miners went out on strike. But they were too widely scattered over the country to advantage from their own strength. They were segregated in their own districts and beaten into submission. This was the first great slave-drive. Pocock* won his spurs as a slave-driver and earned the undying hatred of the proletariat. Countless attempts were made upon his lifebut he seemed to bear a charmed existence. It was he who was responsible for the introduction of the Russian passport system among the minersand the denial of their right of removal from one part of the country to another.
* Albert Pocockanother of the notorious strike-breakers of earlier yearswhoto the day of his deathsuccessfully held all the coal-miners of the country to their task. He was succeeded by his sonLewis Pocockand for five generations this remarkable line of slave-drivers handled the coal mines. The elder Pocockknown as Pocock I.has been described as follows: "A longlean headsemicircled by a fringe of brown and gray hairwith big cheek-bones and a heavy chin. . . a pale facelustreless gray eyesa metallic voiceand a languid manner." He was born of humble parentsand began his career as a bartender. He next became a private detective for a street railway corporationand by successive steps developed into a professional strikebreaker. Pocock V.the last of the linewas blown up in a pump-house by a bomb during a petty revolt of the miners in the Indian Territory. This occurred in 2073 A.D.
In the meantimethe socialists held firm. While the Grangers expired in flame and bloodand organized labor was disruptedthe socialists held their peace and perfected their secret organization. In vain the Grangers pleaded with us. We rightly contended that any revolt on our part was virtually suicide for the whole Revolution. The Iron Heelat first dubious about dealing with the entire proletariat at one timehad found the work easier than it had expectedand would have asked nothing better than an uprising on our part. But we avoided the issuein spite of the fact that agents-provocateurs swarmed in our midst. In those early daysthe agents of the Iron Heel were clumsy in their methods. They had much to learn and in the meantime our Fighting Groups weeded them out. It was bitterbloody workbut we were fighting for life and for the Revolutionand we had to fight the enemy with its own weapons. Yet we were fair. No agent of the Iron Heel was executed without a trial. We may have made mistakesbut if sovery rarely. The bravestand the most combative and self- sacrificing of our comrades went into the Fighting Groups. Onceafter ten years had passedErnest made a calculation from figures furnished by the chiefs of the Fighting Groupsand his conclusion was that the average life of a man or woman after becoming a member was five years. The comrades of the Fighting Groups were heroes alland the peculiar thing about it was that they were opposed to the taking of life. They violated their own naturesyet they loved liberty and knew of no sacrifice too great to make for the Cause.*
* These Fighting groups were modelled somewhat after the Fighting Organization of the Russian Revolutionanddespite the unceasing efforts of the Iron Heelthese groups persisted throughout the three centuries of its existence. Composed of men and women actuated by lofty purpose and unafraid to diethe Fighting Groups exercised tremendous influence and tempered the savage brutality of the rulers. Not alone was their work confined to unseen warfare with the secret agents of the Oligarchy. The oligarchs themselves were compelled to listen to the decrees of the Groupsand oftenwhen they disobeyedwere punished by death--and likewise with the subordinates of the oligarchswith the officers of the army and the leaders of the labor castes.
Stern justice was meted out by these organized avengersbut most remarkable was their passionless and judicial procedure. There were no snap judgments. When a man was captured he was given fair trial and opportunity for defence. Of necessitymany men were tried and condemned by proxyas in the case of General Lampton. This occurred in 2138 A.D. Possibly the most bloodthirsty and malignant of all the mercenaries that ever served the Iron Heelhe was informed by the Fighting Groups that they had tried himfound him guiltyand condemned him to death--and thisafter three warnings for him to cease from his ferocious treatment of the proletariat. After his condemnation he surrounded himself with a myriad protective devices. Years passedand in vain the Fighting Groups strove to execute their decree. Comrade after comrademen and womenfailed in their attemptsand were cruelly executed by the Oligarchy. It was the case of General Lampton that revived crucifixion as a legal method of execution. But in the end the condemned man found his executioner in the form of a slender girl of seventeenMadeline Provencewhoto accomplish her purposeserved two years in his palace as a seamstress to the household. She died in solitary confinement after horrible and prolonged torture; but to-day she stands in imperishable bronze in the Pantheon of Brotherhood in the wonder city of Serles.
Wewho by personal experience know nothing of bloodshedmust not judge harshly the heroes of the Fighting Groups. They gave up their lives for humanityno sacrifice was too great for them to accomplishwhile inexorable necessity compelled them to bloody expression in an age of blood. The Fighting Groups constituted the one thorn in the side of the Iron Heel that the Iron Heel could never remove. Everhard was the father of this curious armyand its accomplishments and successful persistence for three hundred years bear witness to the wisdom with which he organized and the solid foundation he laid for the succeeding generations to build upon. In some respectsdespite his great economic and sociological contributionsand his work as a general leader in the Revolutionhis organization of the Fighting Groups must be regarded as his greatest achievement.
The task we set ourselves was threefold. Firstthe weeding out from our circles of the secret agents of the Oligarchy. Secondthe organizing of the Fighting Groupsand outside of themof the general secret organization of the Revolution. And thirdthe introduction of our own secret agents into every branch of the Oligarchy--into the labor castes and especially among the telegraphers and secretaries and clerksinto the armythe agents- provocateursand the slave-drivers. It was slow workand perilousand often were our efforts rewarded with costly failures.
The Iron Heel had triumphed in open warfarebut we held our own in the new warfarestrange and awful and subterraneanthat we instituted. All was unseenmuch was unguessed; the blind fought the blind; and yet through it all was orderpurposecontrol. We permeated the entire organization of the Iron Heel with our agentswhile our own organization was permeated with the agents of the Iron Heel. It was warfare dark and deviousreplete with intrigue and conspiracyplot and counterplot. And behind allever menacingwas deathviolent and terrible. Men and women disappearedour nearest and dearest comrades. We saw them to-day. To-morrow they were gone; we never saw them againand we knew that they had died.
There was no trustno confidence anywhere. The man who plotted beside usfor all we knewmight be an agent of the Iron Heel. We mined the organization of the Iron Heel with our secret agentsand the Iron Heel countermined with its secret agents inside its own organization. And it was the same with our organization. And despite the absence of confidence and trust we were compelled to base our every effort on confidence and trust. Often were we betrayed. Men were weak. The Iron Heel could offer moneyleisurethe joys and pleasures that waited in the repose of the wonder cities. We could offer nothing but the satisfaction of being faithful to a noble ideal. As for the restthe wages of those who were loyal were unceasing periltortureand death.
Men were weakI sayand because of their weakness we were compelled to make the only other reward that was within our power. It was the reward of death. Out of necessity we had to punish our traitors. For every man who betrayed usfrom one to a dozen faithful avengers were loosed upon his heels. We might fail to carry out our decrees against our enemiessuch as the Pococksfor instance; but the one thing we could not afford to fail in was the punishment of our own traitors. Comrades turned traitor by permissionin order to win to the wonder cities and there execute our sentences on the real traitors. In factso terrible did we make ourselvesthat it became a greater peril to betray us than to remain loyal to us.
The Revolution took on largely the character of religion. We worshipped at the shrine of the Revolutionwhich was the shrine of liberty. It was the divine flashing through us. Men and women devoted their lives to the Causeand new-born babes were sealed to it as of old they had been sealed to the service of God. We were lovers of Humanity.
With the destruction of the Granger statesthe Grangers in Congress disappeared. They were being tried for high treasonand their places were taken by the creatures of the Iron Heel. The socialists were in a pitiful minorityand they knew that their end was near. Congress and the Senate were empty pretencesfarces. Public questions were gravely debated and passed upon according to the old formswhile in reality all that was done was to give the stamp of constitutional procedure to the mandates of the Oligarchy.
Ernest was in the thick of the fight when the end came. It was in the debate on the bill to assist the unemployed. The hard times of the preceding year had thrust great masses of the proletariat beneath the starvation lineand the continued and wide-reaching disorder had but sunk them deeper. Millions of people were starvingwhile the oligarchs and their supporters were surfeiting on the surplus.* We called these wretched people the people of the abyss** and it was to alleviate their awful suffering that the socialists had introduced the unemployed bill. But this was not to the fancy of the Iron Heel. In its own way it was preparing to set these millions to workbut the way was not our waywherefore it had issued its orders that our bill should be voted down. Ernest and his fellows knew that their effort was futilebut they were tired of the suspense. They wanted something to happen. They were accomplishing nothingand the best they hoped for was the putting of an end to the legislative farce in which they were unwilling players. They knew not what end would comebut they never anticipated a more disastrous end than the one that did come.
* The same conditions obtained in the nineteenth century A.D. under British rule in India. The natives died of starvation by the millionwhile their rulers robbed them of the fruits of their toil and expended it on magnificent pageants and mumbo-jumbo fooleries. Perforcein this enlightened agewe have much to blush for in the acts of our ancestors. Our only consolation is philosophic. We must accept the capitalistic stage in social evolution as about on a par with the earlier monkey stage. The human had to pass through those stages in its rise from the mire and slime of low organic life. It was inevitable that much of the mire and slime should cling and be not easily shaken off.
** The people of the abyss--this phrase was struck out by the genius of H. G. Wells in the late nineteenth century A.D. Wells was a sociological seersane and normal as well as warm human. Many fragments of his work have come down to uswhile two of his greatest achievementsAnticipationsand "Mankind in the Making have come down intact. Before the oligarchs, and before Everhard, Wells speculated upon the building of the wonder cities, though in his writings they are referred to as pleasure cities."
I sat in the gallery that day. We all knew that something terrible was imminent. It was in the airand its presence was made visible by the armed soldiers drawn up in lines in the corridorsand by the officers grouped in the entrances to the House itself. The Oligarchy was about to strike. Ernest was speaking. He was describing the sufferings of the unemployedas if with the wild idea of in some way touching their hearts and consciences; but the Republican and Democratic members sneered and jeered at himand there was uproar and confusion. Ernest abruptly changed front.
"I know nothing that I may say can influence you he said. You have no souls to be influenced. You are spinelessflaccid things. You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. There is no Republican Party. There is no Democratic Party. There are no Republicans nor Democrats in this House. You are lick-spittlers and panderersthe creatures of the Plutocracy. You talk verbosely in antiquated terminology of your love of libertyand all the while you wear the scarlet livery of the Iron Heel."
Here the shouting and the cries of "Order! order!" drowned his voiceand he stood disdainfully till the din had somewhat subsided. He waved his hand to include all of themturned to his own comradesand said:
"Listen to the bellowing of the well-fed beasts."
Pandemonium broke out again. The Speaker rapped for order and glanced expectantly at the officers in the doorways. There were cries of "Sedition!" and a greatrotund New York member began shouting "Anarchist!" at Ernest. And Ernest was not pleasant to look at. Every fighting fibre of him was quiveringand his face was the face of a fighting animalwithal he was cool and collected.
"Remember he said, in a voice that made itself heard above the din, that as you show mercy now to the proletariatsome day will that same proletariat show mercy to you."
The cries of "Sedition!" and "Anarchist!" redoubled.
"I know that you will not vote for this bill Ernest went on. You have received the command from your masters to vote against it. And yet you call me anarchist. Youwho have destroyed the government of the peopleand who shamelessly flaunt your scarlet shame in public placescall me anarchist. I do not believe in hell-fire and brimstone; but in moments like this I regret my unbelief. Nayin moments like this I almost do believe. Surely there must be a hellfor in no less place could it be possible for you to receive punishment adequate to your crimes. So long as you existthere is a vital need for hell-fire in the Cosmos."
There was movement in the doorways. Ernestthe Speakerall the members turned to see.
"Why do you not call your soldiers inMr. Speakerand bid them do their work?" Ernest demanded. "They should carry out your plan with expedition."
"There are other plans afoot was the retort. That is why the soldiers are present."
"Our plansI suppose Ernest sneered. Assassination or something kindred."
But at the word "assassination" the uproar broke out again. Ernest could not make himself heardbut he remained on his feet waiting for a lull. And then it happened. From my place in the gallery I saw nothing except the flash of the explosion. The roar of it filled my ears and I saw Ernest reeling and falling in a swirl of smokeand the soldiers rushing up all the aisles. His comrades were on their feetwild with angercapable of any violence. But Ernest steadied himself for a momentand waved his arms for silence.
"It is a plot!" his voice rang out in warning to his comrades. "Do nothingor you will be destroyed."
Then he slowly sank downand the soldiers reached him. The next moment soldiers were clearing the galleries and I saw no more.
Though he was my husbandI was not permitted to get to him. When I announced who I wasI was promptly placed under arrest. And at the same time were arrested all socialist Congressmen in Washingtonincluding the unfortunate Simpsonwho lay ill with typhoid fever in his hotel.
The trial was prompt and brief. The men were foredoomed. The wonder was that Ernest was not executed. This was a blunder on the part of the Oligarchyand a costly one. But the Oligarchy was too confident in those days. It was drunk with successand little did it dream that that small handful of heroes had within them the power to rock it to its foundations. To-morrowwhen the Great Revolt breaks out and all the world resounds with the tramptramp of the millionsthe Oligarchywill realizeand too latehow mightily that band of heroes has grown.*
* Avis Everhard took for granted that her narrative would be read in her own dayand so omits to mention the outcome of the trial for high treason. Many other similar disconcerting omissions will be noticed in the Manuscript. Fifty-two socialist Congressmen were triedand all were found guilty. Strange to relatenot one received the death sentence. Everhard and eleven othersamong whom were Theodore Donnelson and Matthew Kentreceived life imprisonment. The remaining forty received sentences varying from thirty to forty-five years; while Arthur Simpsonreferred to in the Manuscript as being ill of typhoid fever at the time of the explosionreceived only fifteen years. It is the tradition that he died of starvation in solitary confinementand this harsh treatment is explained as having been caused by his uncompromising stubbornness and his fiery and tactless hatred for all men that served the despotism. He died in Cabanas in Cubawhere three of his comrades were also confined. The fifty-two socialist Congressmen were confined in military fortresses scattered all over the United States. ThusDu Bois and Woods were held in Porto Ricowhile Everhard and Merry weather were placed in Alcatrazan island in San Francisco Bay that had already seen long service as a military prison.
As a revolutionist myselfas one on the inside who knew the hopes and fears and secret plans of the revolutionistsI am fitted to answeras very few arethe charge that they were guilty of exploding the bomb in Congress. And I can say flatlywithout qualification or doubt of any sortthat the socialistsin Congress and outhad no hand in the affair. Who threw the bomb we do not knowbut the one thing we are absolutely sure of is that we did not throw it.
On the other handthere is evidence to show that the Iron Heel was responsible for the act. Of coursewe cannot prove this. Our conclusion is merely presumptive. But here are such facts as we do know. It had been reported to the Speaker of the Houseby secret- service agents of the governmentthat the Socialist Congressmen were about to resort to terroristic tacticsand that they had decided upon the day when their tactics would go into effect. This day was the very day of the explosion. Wherefore the Capitol had been packed with troops in anticipation. Since we knew nothing about the bomband since a bomb actually was explodedand since the authorities had prepared in advance for the explosionit is only fair to conclude that the Iron Heel did know. Furthermorewe charge that the Iron Heel was guilty of the outrageand that the Iron Heel planned and perpetrated the outrage for the purpose of foisting the guilt on our shoulders and so bringing about our destruction.
From the Speaker the warning leaked out to all the creatures in the House that wore the scarlet livery. They knewwhile Ernest was speakingthat some violent act was to be committed. And to do them justicethey honestly believed that the act was to be committed by the socialists. At the trialand still with honest beliefseveral testified to having seen Ernest prepare to throw the bomband that it exploded prematurely. Of course they saw nothing of the sort. In the fevered imagination of fear they thought they sawthat was all.
As Ernest said at the trial: "Does it stand to reasonif I were going to throw a bombthat I should elect to throw a feeble little squib like the one that was thrown? There wasn't enough powder in it. It made a lot of smokebut hurt no one except me. It exploded right at my feetand yet it did not kill me. Believe mewhen I get to throwing bombsI'll do damage. There'll be more than smoke in my petards."
In return it was argued by the prosecution that the weakness of the bomb was a blunder on the part of the socialistsjust as its premature explosioncaused by Ernest's losing his nerve and dropping itwas a blunder. And to clinch the argumentthere were the several Congressmen who testified to having seen Ernest fumble and drop the bomb.
As for ourselvesnot one of us knew how the bomb was thrown. Ernest told me that the fraction of an instant before it exploded he both heard and saw it strike at his feet. He testified to this at the trialbut no one believed him. Besidesthe whole thingin popular slangwas "cooked up." The Iron Heel had made up its mind to destroy usand there was no withstanding it.
There is a saying that truth will out. I have come to doubt that saying. Nineteen years have elapsedand despite our untiring effortswe have failed to find the man who really did throw the bomb. Undoubtedly he was some emissary of the Iron Heelbut he has escaped detection. We have never got the slightest clew to his identity. And nowat this late datenothing remains but for the affair to take its place among the mysteries of history.*
* Avis Everhard would have had to live for many generations ere she could have seen the clearing up of this particular mystery. A little less than a hundred years agoand a little more than six hundred years after the deaththe confession of Pervaise was discovered in the secret archives of the Vatican. It is perhaps well to tell a little something about this obscure documentwhichin the mainis of interest to the historian only.
Pervaise was an Americanof French descentwho in 1913 A.D.was lying in the Tombs PrisonNew York Cityawaiting trial for murder. From his confession we learn that he was not a criminal. He was warm-bloodedpassionateemotional. In an insane fit of jealousy he killed his wife--a very common act in those times. Pervaise was mastered by the fear of deathall of which is recounted at length in his confession. To escape death he would have done anythingand the police agents prepared him by assuring him that he could not possibly escape conviction of murder in the first degree when his trial came off. In those daysmurder in the first degree was a capital offense. The guilty man or woman was placed in a specially constructed death-chairandunder the supervision of competent physicianswas destroyed by a current of electricity. This was called electrocutionand it was very popular during that period. Anaesthesiaas a mode of compulsory deathwas not introduced until later.
This mangood at heart but with a ferocious animalism close at the surface of his beinglying in jail and expectant of nothing less than deathwas prevailed upon by the agents of the Iron Heel to throw the bomb in the House of Representatives. In his confession he states explicitly that he was informed that the bomb was to be a feeble thing and that no lives would be lost. This is directly in line with the fact that the bomb was lightly chargedand that its explosion at Everhard's feet was not deadly.
Pervaise was smuggled into one of the galleries ostensibly closed for repairs. He was to select the moment for the throwing of the bomband he naively confesses that in his interest in Everhard's tirade and the general commotion raised therebyhe nearly forgot his mission.
Not only was he released from prison in reward for his deedbut he was granted an income for life. This he did not long enjoy. In 1914 A.D.in Septemberhe was stricken with rheumatism of the heart and lived for three days. It was then that he sent for the Catholic priestFather Peter Durbanand to him made confession. So important did it seem to the priestthat he had the confession taken down in writing and sworn to. What happened after this we can only surmise. The document was certainly important enough to find its way to Rome. Powerful influences must have been brought to bearhence its suppression. For centuries no hint of its existence reached the world. It was not until in the last century that Lorbiathe brilliant Italian scholarstumbled upon it quite by chance during his researches in the Vatican.
There is to-day no doubt whatever that the Iron Heel was responsible for the bomb that exploded in the House of Representatives in 1913 A.D. Even though the Pervaise confession had never come to lightno reasonable doubt could obtain; for the act in questionthat sent fifty-two Congressmen to prisonwas on a par with countless other acts committed by the oligarchsandbefore themby the capitalists.
There is the classic instance of the ferocious and wanton judicial murder of the innocent and so-called Haymarket Anarchists in Chicago in the penultimate decade of the nineteenth century A.D. In a category by itself is the deliberate burning and destruction of capitalist property by the capitalists themselves. For such destruction of property innocent men were frequently punished-- "railroaded" in the parlance of the times.
In the labor troubles of the first decade of the twentieth century A.D.between the capitalists and the Western Federation of Minerssimilar but more bloody tactics were employed. The railroad station at Independence was blown up by the agents of the capitalists. Thirteen men were killedand many more were wounded. And then the capitalistscontrolling the legislative and judicial machinery of the state of Coloradocharged the miners with the crime and came very near to convicting them. Romainesone of the tools in this affairlike Pervaisewas lying in jail in another stateKansasawaiting trialwhen he was approached by the agents of the capitalists. Butunlike Pervaise the confession of Romaines was made public in his own time.
Thenduring this same periodthere was the case of Moyer and Haywoodtwo strongfearless leaders of labor. One was president and the other was secretary of the Western Federation of Miners. The ex-governor of Idaho had been mysteriously murdered. The crimeat the timewas openly charged to the mine owners by the socialists and miners. Neverthelessin violation of the national and state constitutionsand by means of conspiracy on the parts of the governors of Idaho and ColoradoMoyer and Haywood were kidnappedthrown into jailand charged with the murder. It was this instance that provoked from Eugene V. Debsnational leader of the American socialists at the timethe following words: "The labor leaders that cannot be bribed nor bulliedmust be ambushed and murdered. The only crime of Moyer and Haywood is that they have been unswervingly true to the working class. The capitalists have stolen our countrydebauched our politicsdefiled our judiciaryand ridden over us rough-shodand now they propose to murder those who will not abjectly surrender to their brutal dominion. The governors of Colorado and Idaho are but executing the mandates of their mastersthe Plutocracy. The issue is the Workers versus the Plutocracy. If they strike the first violent blowwe will strike the last."
Of myselfduring this periodthere is not much to say. For six months I was kept in prisonthough charged with no crime. I was a suspect--a word of fear that all revolutionists were soon to come to know. But our own nascent secret service was beginning to work. By the end of my second month in prisonone of the jailers made himself known as a revolutionist in touch with the organization. Several weeks laterJoseph Parkhurstthe prison doctor who had just been appointedproved himself to be a member of one of the Fighting Groups.
Thusthroughout the organization of the Oligarchyour own organizationweblike and spiderywas insinuating itself. And so I was kept in touch with all that was happening in the world without. And furthermoreevery one of our imprisoned leaders was in contact with brave comrades who masqueraded in the livery of the Iron Heel. Though Ernest lay in prison three thousand miles awayon the Pacific CoastI was in unbroken communication with himand our letters passed regularly back and forth.
The leadersin prison and outwere able to discuss and direct the campaign. It would have been possiblewithin a few monthsto have effected the escape of some of them; but since imprisonment proved no bar to our activitiesit was decided to avoid anything premature. Fifty-two Congressmen were in prisonand fully three hundred more of our leaders. It was planned that they should be delivered simultaneously. If part of them escapedthe vigilance of the oligarchs might be aroused so as to prevent the escape of the remainder. On the other handit was held that a simultaneous jail-delivery all over the land would have immense psychological influence on the proletariat. It would show our strength and give confidence.
So it was arrangedwhen I was released at the end of six monthsthat I was to disappear and prepare a secure hiding-place for Ernest. To disappear was in itself no easy thing. No sooner did I get my freedom than my footsteps began to be dogged by the spies of the Iron Heel. It was necessary that they should be thrown off the trackand that I should win to California. It is laughablethe way this was accomplished.
Already the passport systemmodelled on the Russianwas developing. I dared not cross the continent in my own character. It was necessary that I should be completely lost if ever I was to see Ernest againfor by trailing me after he escapedhe would be caught once more. AgainI could not disguise myself as a proletarian and travel. There remained the disguise of a member of the Oligarchy. While the arch-oligarchs were no more than a handfulthere were myriads of lesser ones of the typesayof Mr. Wickson--menworth a few millionswho were adherents of the arch- oligarchs. The wives and daughters of these lesser oligarchs were legionand it was decided that I should assume the disguise of such a one. A few years later this would have been impossiblebecause the passport system was to become so perfect that no manwomannor child in all the land was unregistered and unaccounted for in his or her movements.
When the time was ripethe spies were thrown off my track. An hour later Avis Everhard was no more. At that time one Felice Van Verdighanaccompanied by two maids and a lap-dogwith another maid for the lap-dog* entered a drawing-room on a Pullman** and a few minutes later was speeding west.
* This ridiculous picture well illustrates the heartless conduct of the masters. While people starvedlap-dogs were waited upon by maids. This was a serious masquerade on the part of Avis Everhard. Life and death and the Cause were in the issue; therefore the picture must be accepted as a true picture. It affords a striking commentary of the times.
** Pullman--the designation of the more luxurious railway cars of the period and so named from the inventor.
The three maids who accompanied me were revolutionists. Two were members of the Fighting Groupsand the thirdGrace Holbrookentered a group the following yearand six months later was executed by the Iron Heel. She it was who waited upon the dog. Of the other twoBertha Stole disappeared twelve years laterwhile Anna Roylston still lives and plays an increasingly important part in the Revolution.*
* Despite continual and almost inconceivable hazardsAnna Roylston lived to the royal age of ninety-one. As the Pococks defied the executioners of the Fighting Groupsso she defied the executioners of the Iron Heel. She bore a charmed life and prospered amid dangers and alarms. She herself was an executioner for the Fighting Groupsandknown as the Red Virginshe became one of the inspired figures of the Revolution. When she was an old woman of sixty-nine she shot "Bloody" Halcliffe down in the midst of his armed escort and got away unscathed. In the end she died peaceably of old age in a secret refuge of the revolutionists in the Ozark mountains.
Without adventure we crossed the United States to California. When the train stopped at Sixteenth Street Stationin Oaklandwe alightedand there Felice Van Verdighanwith her two maidsher lap-dogand her lap-dog's maiddisappeared forever. The maidsguided by trusty comradeswere led away. Other comrades took charge of me. Within half an hour after leaving the train I was on board a small fishing boat and out on the waters of San Francisco Bay. The winds baffledand we drifted aimlessly the greater part of the night. But I saw the lights of Alcatraz where Ernest layand found comfort in the thought of nearness to him. By dawnwhat with the rowing of the fishermenwe made the Marin Islands. Here we lay in hiding all dayand on the following nightswept on by a flood tide and a fresh windwe crossed San Pablo Bay in two hours and ran up Petaluma Creek.
Here horses were ready and another comradeand without delay we were away through the starlight. To the north I could see the loom of Sonoma Mountaintoward which we rode. We left the old town of Sonoma to the right and rode up a canyon that lay between outlying buttresses of the mountain. The wagon-road became a wood-roadthe wood-road became a cow-pathand the cow-path dwindled away and ceased among the upland pastures. Straight over Sonoma Mountain we rode. It was the safest route. There was no one to mark our passing.
Dawn caught us on the northern browand in the gray light we dropped down through chaparral into redwood canyons deep and warm with the breath of passing summer. It was old country to me that I knew and lovedand soon I became the guide. The hiding-place was mine. I had selected it. We let down the bars and crossed an upland meadow. Nextwe went over a lowoak-covered ridge and descended into a smaller meadow. Again we climbed a ridgethis time riding under red-limbed madronos and manzanitas of deeper red. The first rays of the sun streamed upon our backs as we climbed. A flight of quail thrummed off through the thickets. A big jackrabbit crossed our pathleaping swiftly and silently like a deer. And then a deera many-pronged buckthe sun flashing red- gold from neck and shoulderscleared the crest of the ridge before us and was gone.
We followed in his wake a spacethen dropped down a zigzag trail that he disdained into a group of noble redwoods that stood about a pool of water murky with minerals from the mountain side. I knew every inch of the way. Once a writer friend of mine had owned the ranch; but hetoohad become a revolutionistthough more disastrously than Ifor he was already dead and goneand none knew where nor how. He alonein the days he had livedknew the secret of the hiding-place for which I was bound. He had bought the ranch for beautyand paid a round price for itmuch to the disgust of the local farmers. He used to tell with great glee how they were wont to shake their heads mournfully at the priceto accomplish ponderously a bit of mental arithmeticand then to sayBut you can't make six per cent on it.
But he was dead nownor did the ranch descend to his children. Of all menit was now the property of Mr. Wicksonwho owned the whole eastern and northern slopes of Sonoma Mountainrunning from the Spreckels estate to the divide of Bennett Valley. Out of it he had made a magnificent deer-parkwhereover thousands of acres of sweet slopes and glades and canyonsthe deer ran almost in primitive wildness. The people who had owned the soil had been driven away. A state home for the feeble-minded had also been demolished to make room for the deer.
To cap it allWickson's hunting lodge was a quarter of a mile from my hiding-place. Thisinstead of being a dangerwas an added security. We were sheltered under the very aegis of one of the minor oligarchs. Suspicionby the nature of the situationwas turned aside. The last place in the world the spies of the Iron Heel would dream of looking for meand for Ernest when he joined mewas Wickson's deer-park.
We tied our horses among the redwoods at the pool. From a cache behind a hollow rotting log my companion brought out a variety of things--a fifty-pound sack of flourtinned foods of all sortscooking utensilsblanketsa canvas tarpaulinbooks and writing materiala great bundle of lettersa five-gallon can of kerosenean oil stoveandlast and most importanta large coil of stout rope. So large was the supply of things that a number of trips would be necessary to carry them to the refuge.
But the refuge was very near. Taking the rope and leading the wayI passed through a glade of tangled vines and bushes that ran between two wooded knolls. The glade ended abruptly at the steep bank of a stream. It was a little streamrising from springsand the hottest summer never dried it up. On every hand were tall wooded knollsa group of themwith all the seeming of having been flung there from some careless Titan's hand. There was no bed-rock in them. They rose from their bases hundreds of feetand they were composed of red volcanic earththe famous wine-soil of Sonoma. Through these the tiny stream had cut its deep and precipitous channel.
It was quite a scramble down to the stream bedandonce on the bedwe went down stream perhaps for a hundred feet. And then we came to the great hole. There was no warning of the existence of the holenor was it a hole in the common sense of the word. One crawled through tight-locked briers and branchesand found oneself on the very edgepeering out and down through a green screen. A couple of hundred feet in length and widthit was half of that in depth. Possibly because of some fault that had occurred when the knolls were flung togetherand certainly helped by freakish erosionthe hole had been scooped out in the course of centuries by the wash of water. Nowhere did the raw earth appear. All was garmented by vegetationfrom tiny maiden-hair and gold-back ferns to mighty redwood and Douglas spruces. These great trees even sprang out from the walls of the hole. Some leaned over at angles as great as forty-five degreesthough the majority towered straight up from the soft and almost perpendicular earth walls.
It was a perfect hiding-place. No one ever came therenot even the village boys of Glen Ellen. Had this hole existed in the bed of a canyon a mile longor several miles longit would have been well known. But this was no canyon. From beginning to end the length of the stream was no more than five hundred yards. Three hundred yards above the hole the stream took its rise in a spring at the foot of a flat meadow. A hundred yards below the hole the stream ran out into open countryjoining the main stream and flowing across rolling and grass-covered land.
My companion took a turn of the rope around a treeand with me fast on the other end lowered away. In no time I was on the bottom. And in but a short while he had carried all the articles from the cache and lowered them down to me. He hauled the rope up and hid itand before he went away called down to me a cheerful parting.
Before I go on I want to say a word for this comradeJohn Carlsona humble figure of the Revolutionone of the countless faithful ones in the ranks. He worked for Wicksonin the stables near the hunting lodge. In factit was on Wickson's horses that we had ridden over Sonoma Mountain. For nearly twenty years now John Carlson has been custodian of the refuge. No thought of disloyaltyI am surehas ever entered his mind during all that time. To betray his trust would have been in his mind a thing undreamed. He was phlegmaticstolid to such a degree that one could not but wonder how the Revolution had any meaning to him at all. And yet love of freedom glowed sombrely and steadily in his dim soul. In ways it was indeed good that he was not flighty and imaginative. He never lost his head. He could obey ordersand he was neither curious nor garrulous. Once I asked how it was that he was a revolutionist.
"When I was a young man I was a soldier was his answer. It was in Germany. There all young men must be in the army. So I was in the army. There was another soldier therea young mantoo. His father was what you call an agitatorand his father was in jail for lese majesty--what you call speaking the truth about the Emperor. And the young manthe sontalked with me much about peopleand workand the robbery of the people by the capitalists. He made me see things in new waysand I became a socialist. His talk was very true and goodand I have never forgotten. When I came to the United States I hunted up the socialists. I became a member of a section--that was in the day of the S. L. P. Then laterwhen the split cameI joined the local of the S. P. I was working in a livery stable in San Francisco then. That was before the Earthquake. I have paid my dues for twenty-two years. I am yet a memberand I yet pay my duesthough it is very secret now. I will always pay my duesand when the cooperative commonwealth comesI will be glad."
Left to myselfI proceeded to cook breakfast on the oil stove and to prepare my home. Oftenin the early morningor in the evening after darkCarlson would steal down to the refuge and work for a couple of hours. At first my home was the tarpaulin. Latera small tent was put up. And still laterwhen we became assured of the perfect security of the placea small house was erected. This house was completely hidden from any chance eye that might peer down from the edge of the hole. The lush vegetation of that sheltered spot make a natural shield. Alsothe house was built against the perpendicular wall; and in the wall itselfshored by strong timberswell drained and ventilatedwe excavated two small rooms. Ohbelieve mewe had many comforts. When Biedenbachthe German terroristhid with us some time laterhe installed a smoke-consuming device that enabled us to sit by crackling wood fires on winter nights.
And here I must say a word for that gentle-souled terroristthan whom there is no comrade in the Revolution more fearfully misunderstood. Comrade Biedenbach did not betray the Cause. Nor was he executed by the comrades as is commonly supposed. This canard was circulated by the creatures of the Oligarchy. Comrade Biedenbach was absent-mindedforgetful. He was shot by one of our lookouts at the cave-refuge at Carmelthrough failure on his part to remember the secret signals. It was all a sad mistake. And that he betrayed his Fighting Group is an absolute lie. No truermore loyal man ever labored for the Cause.*
* Search as we may through all the material of those times that has come down to uswe can find no clew to the Biedenbach here referred to. No mention is made of him anywhere save in the Everhard Manuscript.
For nineteen years now the refuge that I selected had been almost continuously occupiedand in all that timewith one exceptionit has never been discovered by an outsider. And yet it was only a quarter of a mile from Wickson's hunting-lodgeand a short mile from the village of Glen Ellen. I was ablealwaysto hear the morning and evening trains arrive and departand I used to set my watch by the whistle at the brickyards.*
* If the curious traveller will turn south from Glen Ellenhe will find himself on a boulevard that is identical with the old country road seven centuries ago. A quarter of a mile from Glen Ellenafter the second bridge is passedto the right will be noticed a barranca that runs like a scar across the rolling land toward a group of wooded knolls. The barranca is the site of the ancient right of way that in the time of private property in land ran across the holding of one Chauveta French pioneer of California who came from his native country in the fabled days of gold. The wooded knolls are the same knolls referred to by Avis Everhard.
The Great Earthquake of 2368 A.D. broke off the side of one of these knolls and toppled it into the hole where the Everhards made their refuge. Since the finding of the Manuscript excavations have been madeand the housethe two cave roomsand all the accumulated rubbish of long occupancy have been brought to light. Many valuable relics have been foundamong whichcurious to relateis the smoke-consuming device of Biedenbach's mentioned in the narrative. Students interested in such matters should read the brochure of Arnold Bentham soon to be published.
A mile northwest from the wooded knolls brings one to the site of Wake Robin Lodge at the junction of Wild-Water and Sonoma Creeks. It may be noticedin passingthat Wild-Water was originally called Graham Creek and was so named on the early local maps. But the later name sticks. It was at Wake Robin Lodge that Avis Everhard later lived for short periodswhendisguised as an agent-provocateur of the Iron Heelshe was enabled to play with impunity her part among men and events. The official permission to occupy Wake Robin Lodge is still on the recordssigned by no less a man than Wicksonthe minor oligarch of the Manuscript.
"You must make yourself over again Ernest wrote to me. You must cease to be. You must become another woman--and not merely in the clothes you wearbut inside your skin under the clothes. You must make yourself over again so that even I would not know you--your voiceyour gesturesyour mannerismsyour carriageyour walkeverything."
This command I obeyed. Every day I practised for hours in burying forever the old Avis Everhard beneath the skin of another woman whom I may call my other self. It was only by long practice that such results could be obtained. In the mere detail of voice intonation I practised almost perpetually till the voice of my new self became fixedautomatic. It was this automatic assumption of a role that was considered imperative. One must become so adept as to deceive oneself. It was like learning a new languagesay the French. At first speech in French is self-consciousa matter of the will. The student thinks in English and then transmutes into Frenchor reads in French but transmutes into English before he can understand. Then laterbecoming firmly groundedautomaticthe student readswritesand THINKS in Frenchwithout any recourse to English at all.
And so with our disguises. It was necessary for us to practise until our assumed roles became real; until to be our original selves would require a watchful and strong exercise of will. Of courseat firstmuch was mere blundering experiment. We were creating a new artand we had much to discover. But the work was going on everywhere; masters in the art were developingand a fund of tricks and expedients was being accumulated. This fund became a sort of text-book that was passed ona part of the curriculumas it wereof the school of Revolution.*
* Disguise did become a veritable art during that period. The revolutionists maintained schools of acting in all their refuges. They scorned accessoriessuch as wigs and beardsfalse eyebrowsand such aids of the theatrical actors. The game of revolution was a game of life and deathand mere accessories were traps. Disguise had to be fundamentalintrinsicpart and parcel of one's beingsecond nature. The Red Virgin is reported to have been one of the most adept in the artto which must be ascribed her long and successful career.
It was at this time that my father disappeared. His letterswhich had come to me regularlyceased. He no longer appeared at our Pell Street quarters. Our comrades sought him everywhere. Through our secret service we ransacked every prison in the land. But he was lost as completely as if the earth had swallowed him upand to this day no clew to his end has been discovered.*
* Disappearance was one of the horrors of the time. As a motifin song and storyit constantly crops up. It was an inevitable concomitant of the subterranean warfare that raged through those three centuries. This phenomenon was almost as common in the oligarch class and the labor castesas it was in the ranks of the revolutionists. Without warningwithout tracemen and womenand even childrendisappeared and were seen no moretheir end shrouded in mystery.
Six lonely months I spent in the refugebut they were not idle months. Our organization went on apaceand there were mountains of work always waiting to be done. Ernest and his fellow-leadersfrom their prisonsdecided what should be done; and it remained for us on the outside to do it. There was the organization of the mouth-to-mouth propaganda; the organizationwith all its ramificationsof our spy system; the establishment of our secret printing-presses; and the establishment of our underground railwayswhich meant the knitting together of all our myriads of places of refugeand the formation of new refuges where links were missing in the chains we ran over all the land.
So I saythe work was never done. At the end of six months my loneliness was broken by the arrival of two comrades. They were young girlsbrave souls and passionate lovers of liberty: Lora Petersonwho disappeared in 1922and Kate Biercewho later married Du Bois* and who is still with us with eyes lifted to to- morrow's sunthat heralds in the new age.
* Du Boisthe present librarian of Ardisis a lineal descendant of this revolutionary pair.
The two girls arrived in a flurry of excitementdangerand sudden death. In the crew of the fishing boat that conveyed them across San Pablo Bay was a spy. A creature of the Iron Heelhe had successfully masqueraded as a revolutionist and penetrated deep into the secrets of our organization. Without doubt he was on my trailfor we had long since learned that my disappearance had been cause of deep concern to the secret service of the Oligarchy. Luckilyas the outcome provedhe had not divulged his discoveries to any one. He had evidently delayed reportingpreferring to wait until he had brought things to a successful conclusion by discovering my hiding-place and capturing me. His information died with him. Under some pretextafter the girls had landed at Petaluma Creek and taken to the horseshe managed to get away from the boat.
Part way up Sonoma MountainJohn Carlson let the girls go onleading his horsewhile he went back on foot. His suspicions had been aroused. He captured the spyand as to what then happenedCarlson gave us a fair idea.
"I fixed him was Carlson's unimaginative way of describing the affair. I fixed him he repeated, while a sombre light burnt in his eyes, and his huge, toil-distorted hands opened and closed eloquently. He made no noise. I hid himand tonight I will go back and bury him deep."
During that period I used to marvel at my own metamorphosis. At times it seemed impossibleeither that I had ever lived a placidpeaceful life in a college townor else that I had become a revolutionist inured to scenes of violence and death. One or the other could not be. One was realthe other was a dreambut which was which? Was this present life of a revolutionisthiding in a holea nightmare? or was I a revolutionist who had somewheresomehowdreamed that in some former existence I have lived in Berkeley and never known of life more violent than teas and dancesdebating societiesand lectures rooms? But then I suppose this was a common experience of all of us who had rallied under the red banner of the brotherhood of man.
I often remembered figures from that other lifeandcuriously enoughthey appeared and disappearednow and againin my new life. There was Bishop Morehouse. In vain we searched for him after our organization had developed. He had been transferred from asylum to asylum. We traced him from the state hospital for the insane at Napa to the one in Stocktonand from there to the one in the Santa Clara Valley called Agnewsand there the trail ceased. There was no record of his death. In some way he must have escaped. Little did I dream of the awful manner in which I was to see him once again--the fleeting glimpse of him in the whirlwind carnage of the Chicago Commune.
Jacksonwho had lost his arm in the Sierra Mills and who had been the cause of my own conversion into a revolutionistI never saw again; but we all knew what he did before he died. He never joined the revolutionists. Embittered by his fatebrooding over his wrongshe became an anarchist--not a philosophic anarchistbut a mere animalmad with hate and lust for revenge. And well he revenged himself. Evading the guardsin the nighttime while all were asleephe blew the Pertonwaithe palace into atoms. Not a soul escapednot even the guards. And in prisonwhile awaiting trialhe suffocated himself under his blankets.
Dr. Hammerfield and Dr. Ballingford achieved quite different fates from that of Jackson. They have been faithful to their saltand they have been correspondingly rewarded with ecclesiastical palaces wherein they dwell at peace with the world. Both are apologists for the Oligarchy. Both have grown very fat. "Dr. Hammerfield as Ernest once said, has succeeded in modifying his metaphysics so as to give God's sanction to the Iron Heeland also to include much worship of beauty and to reduce to an invisible wraith the gaseous vertebrate described by Haeckel--the difference between Dr. Hammerfield and Dr. Ballingford being that the latter has made the God of the oligarchs a little more gaseous and a little less vertebrate."
Peter Donnellythe scab foreman at the Sierra Mills whom I encountered while investigating the case of Jacksonwas a surprise to all of us. In 1918 I was present at a meeting of the 'Frisco Reds. Of all our Fighting Groups this one was the most formidableferociousand merciless. It was really not a part of our organization. Its members were fanaticsmadmen. We dared not encourage such a spirit. On the other handthough they did not belong to uswe remained on friendly terms with them. It was a matter of vital importance that brought me there that night. Ialone in the midst of a score of menwas the only person unmasked. After the business that brought me there was transactedI was led away by one of them. In a dark passage this guide struck a matchandholding it close to his faceslipped back his mask. For a moment I gazed upon the passion-wrought features of Peter Donnelly. Then the match went out.
"I just wanted you to know it was me he said in the darkness. D'you remember Dallasthe superintendent?"
I nodded at recollection of the vulpine-face superintendent of the Sierra Mills.
"WellI got him first Donnelly said with pride. 'Twas after that I joined the Reds."
"But how comes it that you are here?" I queried. "Your wife and children?"
"Dead he answered. That's why. No he went on hastily, 'tis not revenge for them. They died easily in their beds--sicknessyou seeone time and another. They tied my arms while they lived. And now that they're gone'tis revenge for my blasted manhood I'm after. I was once Peter Donnelly, the scab foreman. But to-night I'm Number 27 of the 'Frisco Reds. Come on now, and I'll get you out of this.
More I heard of him afterward. In his own way he had told the truth when he said all were dead. But one livedTimothyand him his father considered dead because he had taken service with the Iron Heel in the Mercenaries.* A member of the 'Frisco Reds pledged himself to twelve annual executions. The penalty for failure was death. A member who failed to complete his number committed suicide. These executions were not haphazard. This group of madmen met frequently and passed wholesale judgments upon offending members and servitors of the Oligarchy. The executions were afterward apportioned by lot.
* In addition to the labor castesthere arose another castethe military. A standing army of professional soldiers was createdofficered by members of the Oligarchy and known as the Mercenaries. This institution took the place of the militiawhich had proved impracticable under the new regime. Outside the regular secret service of the Iron Heelthere was further established a secret service of the Mercenariesthis latter forming a connecting link between the police and the military.
In factthe business that brought me there the night of my visit was such a trial. One of our own comradeswho for years had successfully maintained himself in a clerical position in the local bureau of the secret service of the Iron Heelhad fallen under the ban of the 'Frisco Reds and was being tried. Of course he was not presentand of course his judges did not know that he was one of our men. My mission had been to testify to his identity and loyalty. It may be wondered how we came to know of the affair at all. The explanation is simple. One of our secret agents was a member of the 'Frisco Reds. It was necessary for us to keep an eye on friend as well as foeand this group of madmen was not too unimportant to escape our surveillance.
But to return to Peter Donnelly and his son. All went well with Donnelly untilin the following yearhe found among the sheaf of executions that fell to him the name of Timothy Donnelly. Then it was that that clannishnesswhich was his to so extraordinary a degreeasserted itself. To save his sonhe betrayed his comrades. In this he was partially blockedbut a dozen of the 'Frisco Reds were executedand the group was well-nigh destroyed. In retaliationthe survivors meted out to Donnelly the death he had earned by his treason.
Nor did Timothy Donnelly long survive. The 'Frisco Reds pledged themselves to his execution. Every effort was made by the Oligarchy to save him. He was transferred from one part of the country to another. Three of the Reds lost their lives in vain efforts to get him. The Group was composed only of men. In the end they fell back on a womanone of our comradesand none other than Anna Roylston. Our Inner Circle forbade herbut she had ever a will of her own and disdained discipline. Furthermoreshe was a genius and lovableand we could never discipline her anyway. She is in a class by herself and not amenable to the ordinary standards of the revolutionists.
Despite our refusal to grant permission to do the deedshe went on with it. Now Anna Roylston was a fascinating woman. All she had to do was to beckon a man to her. She broke the hearts of scores of our young comradesand scores of others she capturedand by their heart-strings led into our organization. Yet she steadfastly refused to marry. She dearly loved childrenbut she held that a child of her own would claim her from the Causeand that it was the Cause to which her life was devoted.
It was an easy task for Anna Roylston to win Timothy Donnelly. Her conscience did not trouble herfor at that very time occurred the Nashville Massacrewhen the MercenariesDonnelly in commandliterally murdered eight hundred weavers of that city. But she did not kill Donnelly. She turned him overa prisonerto the 'Frisco Reds. This happened only last yearand now she had been renamed. The revolutionists everywhere are calling her the "Red Virgin."*
* It was not until the Second Revolt was crushedthat the 'Frisco Reds flourished again. And for two generations the Group flourished. Then an agent of the Iron Heel managed to become a memberpenetrated all its secretsand brought about its total annihilation. This occurred in 2002 A.D. The members were executed one at a timeat intervals of three weeksand their bodies exposed in the labor-ghetto of San Francisco.
Colonel Ingram and Colonel Van Gilbert are two more familiar figures that I was later to encounter. Colonel Ingram rose high in the Oligarchy and became Minister to Germany. He was cordially detested by the proletariat of both countries. It was in Berlin that I met himwhereas an accredited international spy of the Iron HeelI was received by him and afforded much assistance. IncidentallyI may state that in my dual role I managed a few important things for the Revolution.
Colonel Van Gilbert became known as "Snarling" Van Gilbert. His important part was played in drafting the new code after the Chicago Commune. But before thatas trial judgehe had earned sentence of death by his fiendish malignancy. I was one of those that tried him and passed sentence upon him. Anna Roylston carried out the execution.
Still another figure arises out of the old life--Jackson's lawyer. Least of all would I have expected again to meet this manJoseph Hurd. It was a strange meeting. Late at nighttwo years after the Chicago CommuneErnest and I arrived together at the Benton Harbor refuge. This was in Michiganacross the lake from Chicago. We arrived just at the conclusion of the trial of a spy. Sentence of death had been passedand he was being led away. Such was the scene as we came upon it. The next moment the wretched man had wrenched free from his captors and flung himself at my feethis arms clutching me about the knees in a vicelike grip as he prayed in a frenzy for mercy. As he turned his agonized face up to meI recognized him as Joseph Hurd. Of all the terrible things I have witnessednever have I been so unnerved as by this frantic creature's pleading for life. He was mad for life. It was pitiable. He refused to let go of medespite the hands of a dozen comrades. And when at last he was dragged shrieking awayI sank down fainting upon the floor. It is far easier to see brave men die than to hear a coward beg for life.*
* The Benton Harbor refuge was a catacombthe entrance of which was cunningly contrived by way of a well. It has been maintained in a fair state of preservationand the curious visitor may to-day tread its labyrinths to the assembly hallwherewithout doubtoccurred the scene described by Avis Everhard. Farther on are the cells where the prisoners were confinedand the death chamber where the executions took place. Beyond is the cemetery--longwinding galleries hewn out of the solid rockwith recesses on either handwhereintier above tierlie the revolutionists just as they were laid away by their comrades long years agone.
But in remembering the old life I have run ahead of my story into the new life. The wholesale jail delivery did not occur until well along into 1915. Complicated as it wasit was carried through without a hitchand as a very creditable achievement it cheered us on in our work. From Cuba to Californiaout of scores of jailsmilitary prisonsand fortressesin a single nightwe delivered fifty-one of our fifty-two Congressmenand in addition over three hundred other leaders. There was not a single instance of miscarriage. Not only did they escapebut every one of them won to the refuges as planned. The one comrade Congressman we did not get was Arthur Simpsonand he had already died in Cabanas after cruel tortures.
The eighteen months that followed was perhaps the happiest of my life with Ernest. During that time we were never apart. Laterwhen we went back into the worldwe were separated much. Not more impatiently do I await the flame of to-morrow's revolt than did I that night await the coming of Ernest. I had not seen him for so longand the thought of a possible hitch or error in our plans that would keep him still in his island prison almost drove me mad. The hours passed like ages. I was all alone. Biedenbachand three young men who had been living in the refugewere out and over the mountainheavily armed and prepared for anything. The refuges all over the land were quite emptyI imagineof comrades that night.
Just as the sky paled with the first warning of dawnI heard the signal from above and gave the answer. In the darkness I almost embraced Biedenbachwho came down first; but the next moment I was in Ernest's arms. And in that momentso complete had been my transformationI discovered it was only by an effort of will that I could be the old Avis Everhardwith the old mannerisms and smilesphrases and intonations of voice. It was by strong effort only that I was able to maintain my old identity; I could not allow myself to forget for an instantso automatically imperative had become the new personality I had created.
Once inside the little cabinI saw Ernest's face in the light. With the exception of the prison pallorthere was no change in him--at leastnot much. He was my same lover-husband and hero. And yet there was a certain ascetic lengthening of the lines of his face. But he could well stand itfor it seemed to add a certain nobility of refinement to the riotous excess of life that had always marked his features. He might have been a trifle graver than of yorebut the glint of laughter still was in his eyes. He was twenty pounds lighterbut in splendid physical condition. He had kept up exercise during the whole period of confinementand his muscles were like iron. In truthhe was in better condition than when he had entered prison. Hours passed before his head touched pillow and I had soothed him off to sleep. But there was no sleep for me. I was too happyand the fatigue of jail-breaking and riding horseback had not been mine.
While Ernest sleptI changed my dressarranged my hair differentlyand came back to my new automatic self. Thenwhen Biedenbach and the other comrades awokewith their aid I concocted a little conspiracy. All was readyand we were in the cave-room that served for kitchen and dining room when Ernest opened the door and entered. At that moment Biedenbach addressed me as Maryand I turned and answered him. Then I glanced at Ernest with curious interestsuch as any young comrade might betray on seeing for the first time so noted a hero of the Revolution. But Ernest's glance took me in and questioned impatiently past and around the room. The next moment I was being introduced to him as Mary Holmes.
To complete the deceptionan extra plate was laidand when we sat down to table one chair was not occupied. I could have cried with joy as I noted Ernest's increasing uneasiness and impatience. Finally he could stand it no longer.
"Where's my wife?" he demanded bluntly.
"She is still asleep I answered.
It was the crucial moment. But my voice was a strange voice, and in it he recognized nothing familiar. The meal went on. I talked a great deal, and enthusiastically, as a hero-worshipper might talk, and it was obvious that he was my hero. I rose to a climax of enthusiasm and worship, and, before he could guess my intention, threw my arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips. He held me from him at arm's length and stared about in annoyance and perplexity. The four men greeted him with roars of laughter, and explanations were made. At first he was sceptical. He scrutinized me keenly and was half convinced, then shook his head and would not believe. It was not until I became the old Avis Everhard and whispered secrets in his ear that none knew but he and Avis Everhard, that he accepted me as his really, truly wife.
It was later in the day that he took me in his arms, manifesting great embarrassment and claiming polygamous emotions.
You are my Avis he said, and you are also some one else. You are two women, and therefore you are my harem. At any rate, we are safe now. If the United States becomes too hot for us, why I have qualified for citizenship in Turkey.*
* At that time polygamy was still practised in Turkey.
Life became for me very happy in the refuge. It is truewe worked hard and for long hours; but we worked together. We had each other for eighteen precious monthsand we were not lonelyfor there was always a coming and going of leaders and comrades--strange voices from the under-world of intrigue and revolutionbringing stranger tales of strife and war from all our battle-line. And there was much fun and delight. We were not mere gloomy conspirators. We toiled hard and suffered greatlyfilled the gaps in our ranks and went onand through all the labour and the play and interplay of life and death we found time to laugh and love. There were artistsscientistsscholarsmusiciansand poets among us; and in that hole in the ground culture was higher and finer than in the palaces of wonder-cities of the oligarchs. In truthmany of our comrades toiled at making beautiful those same palaces and wonder- cities.*
* This is not braggadocio on the part of Avis Everhard. The flower of the artistic and intellectual world were revolutionists. With the exception of a few of the musicians and singersand of a few of the oligarchsall the great creators of the period whose names have come down to uswere revolutionists.
Nor were we confined to the refuge itself. Often at night we rode over the mountains for exerciseand we rode on Wickson's horses. If only he knew how many revolutionists his horses have carried! We even went on picnics to isolated spots we knewwhere we remained all daygoing before daylight and returning after dark. Alsowe used Wickson's cream and butter* and Ernest was not above shooting Wickson's quail and rabbitsandon occasionhis young bucks.
* Even as late as that periodcream and butter were still crudely extracted from cow's milk. The laboratory preparation of foods had not yet begun.
Indeedit was a safe refuge. I have said that it was discovered only onceand this brings me to the clearing up of the mystery of the disappearance of young Wickson. Now that he is deadI am free to speak. There was a nook on the bottom of the great hole where the sun shone for several hours and which was hidden from above. Here we had carried many loads of gravel from the creek-bedso that it was dry and warma pleasant basking place; and hereone afternoonI was drowsinghalf asleepover a volume of Mendenhall.* I was so comfortable and secure that even his flaming lyrics failed to stir me.
* In all the extant literature and documents of that periodcontinual reference is made to the poems of Rudolph Mendenhall. By his comrades he was called "The Flame." He was undoubtedly a great genius; yetbeyond weird and haunting fragments of his versequoted in the writings of othersnothing of his has come down to us. He was executed by the Iron Heel in 1928 A.D.
I was aroused by a clod of earth striking at my feet. Then from aboveI heard a sound of scrambling. The next moment a young manwith a final slide down the crumbling wallalighted at my feet. It was Philip Wicksonthough I did not know him at the time. He looked at me coolly and uttered a low whistle of surprise.
"Well he said; and the next moment, cap in hand, he was saying, I beg your pardon. I did not expect to find any one here."
I was not so cool. I was still a tyro so far as concerned knowing how to behave in desperate circumstances. Later onwhen I was an international spyI should have been less clumsyI am sure. As it wasI scrambled to my feet and cried out the danger call.
"Why did you do that?" he askedlooking at me searchingly.
It was evident that he had no suspicion of our presence when making the descent. I recognized this with relief.
"For what purpose do you think I did it?" I countered. I was indeed clumsy in those days.
"I don't know he answered, shaking his head. Unless you've got friends about. Anywayyou've got some explanations to make. I don't like the look of it. You are trespassing. This is my father's landand--"
But at that momentBiedenbachevery polite and gentlesaid from behind him in a low voiceHands up, my young sir.
Young Wickson put his hands up firstthen turned to confront Biedenbachwho held a thirty-thirty automatic rifle on him. Wickson was imperturbable.
"Ohho he said, a nest of revolutionists--and quite a hornet's nest it would seem. Wellyou won't abide here longI can tell you."
"Maybe you'll abide here long enough to reconsider that statement Biedenbach said quietly. And in the meanwhile I must ask you to come inside with me"
"Inside?" The young man was genuinely astonished. "Have you a catacomb here? I have heard of such things."
"Come and see Biedenbach answered with his adorable accent.
But it is unlawful was the protest.
Yesby your law the terrorist replied significantly. But by our lawbelieve meit is quite lawful. You must accustom yourself to the fact that you are in another world than the one of oppression and brutality in which you have lived."
"There is room for argument there Wickson muttered.
Then stay with us and discuss it."
The young fellow laughed and followed his captor into the house. He was led into the inner cave-roomand one of the young comrades left to guard himwhile we discussed the situation in the kitchen.
Biedenbachwith tears in his eyesheld that Wickson must dieand was quite relieved when we outvoted him and his horrible proposition. On the other handwe could not dream of allowing the young oligarch to depart.
"I'll tell you what to do Ernest said. We'll keep him and give him an education."
"I bespeak the privilegethenof enlightening him in jurisprudenceBiedenbach cried.
And so a decision was laughingly reached. We would keep Philip Wickson a prisoner and educate him in our ethics and sociology. But in the meantime there was work to be done. All trace of the young oligarch must be obliterated. There were the marks he had left when descending the crumbling wall of the hole. This task fell to Biedenbachandslung on a rope from abovehe toiled cunningly for the rest of the day till no sign remained. Back up the canyon from the lip of the hole all marks were likewise removed. Thenat twilightcame John Carlsonwho demanded Wickson's shoes.
The young man did not want to give up his shoesand even offered to fight for themtill he felt the horseshoer's strength in Ernest's hands. Carlson afterward reported several blisters and much grievous loss of skin due to the smallness of the shoesbut he succeeded in doing gallant work with them. Back from the lip of the holewhere ended the young man's obliterated trialCarlson put on the shoes and walked away to the left. He walked for milesaround knollsover ridges and through canyonsand finally covered the trail in the running water of a creek-bed. Here he removed the shoesandstill hiding trail for a distanceat last put on his own shoes. A week later Wickson got back his shoes.
That night the hounds were outand there was little sleep in the refuge. Next daytime and againthe baying hounds came down the canyonplunged off to the left on the trail Carlson had made for themand were lost to ear in the farther canyons high up the mountain. And all the time our men waited in the refugeweapons in hand--automatic revolvers and riflesto say nothing of half a dozen infernal machines of Biedenbach's manufacture. A more surprised party of rescuers could not be imaginedhad they ventured down into our hiding-place.
I have now given the true disappearance of Philip Wicksonone-time oligarchandlatercomrade in the Revolution. For we converted him in the end. His mind was fresh and plasticand by nature he was very ethical. Several months later we rode himon one of his father's horsesover Sonoma Mountains to Petaluma Creek and embarked him in a small fishing-launch. By easy stages we smuggled him along our underground railway to the Carmel refuge.
There he remained eight monthsat the end of which timefor two reasonshe was loath to leave us. One reason was that he had fallen in love with Anna Roylstonand the other was that he had become one of us. It was not until he became convinced of the hopelessness of his love affair that he acceded to our wishes and went back to his father. Ostensibly an oligarch until his deathhe was in reality one of the most valuable of our agents. Often and often has the Iron Heel been dumbfounded by the miscarriage of its plans and operations against us. If it but knew the number of its own members who are our agentsit would understand. Young Wickson never wavered in his loyalty to the Cause. In truthhis very death was incurred by his devotion to duty. In the great storm of 1927while attending a meeting of our leadershe contracted the pneumonia of which he died.*
* The case of this young man was not unusual. Many young men of the Oligarchyimpelled by sense of right conductor their imaginations captured by the glory of the Revolutionethically or romantically devoted their lives to it. In similar waymany sons of the Russian nobility played their parts in the earlier and protracted revolution in that country.
During the long period of our stay in the refugewe were kept closely in touch with what was happening in the world withoutand we were learning thoroughly the strength of the Oligarchy with which we were at war. Out of the flux of transition the new institutions were forming more definitely and taking on the appearance and attributes of permanence. The oligarchs had succeeded in devising a governmental machineas intricate as it was vastthat worked--and this despite all our efforts to clog and hamper.
This was a surprise to many of the revolutionists. They had not conceived it possible. Nevertheless the work of the country went on. The men toiled in the mines and fields--perforce they were no more than slaves. As for the vital industrieseverything prospered. The members of the great labor castes were contented and worked on merrily. For the first time in their lives they knew industrial peace. No more were they worried by slack timesstrike and lockoutand the union label. They lived in more comfortable homes and in delightful cities of their own--delightful compared with the slums and ghettos in which they had formerly dwelt. They had better food to eatless hours of labormore holidaysand a greater amount and variety of interests and pleasures. And for their less fortunate brothers and sistersthe unfavored laborersthe driven people of the abyssthey cared nothing. An age of selfishness was dawning upon mankind. And yet this is not altogether true. The labor castes were honeycombed by our agents-- men whose eyes sawbeyond the belly-needthe radiant figure of liberty and brotherhood.
Another great institution that had taken form and was working smoothly was the Mercenaries. This body of soldiers had been evolved out of the old regular army and was now a million strongto say nothing of the colonial forces. The Mercenaries constituted a race apart. They dwelt in cities of their own which were practically self-governedand they were granted many privileges. By them a large portion of the perplexing surplus was consumed. They were losing all touch and sympathy with the rest of the peopleandin factwere developing their own class morality and consciousness. And yet we had thousands of our agents among them.*
* The Mercenariesin the last days of the Iron Heelplayed an important role. They constituted the balance of power in the struggles between the labor castes and the oligarchsand now to one side and now to the otherthrew their strength according to the play of intrigue and conspiracy.
The oligarchs themselves were going through a remarkable andit must be confessedunexpected development. As a classthey disciplined themselves. Every member had his work to do in the worldand this work he was compelled to do. There were no more idle-rich young men. Their strength was used to give united strength to the Oligarchy. They served as leaders of troops and as lieutenants and captains of industry. They found careers in applied scienceand many of them became great engineers. They went into the multitudinous divisions of the governmenttook service in the colonial possessionsand by tens of thousands went into the various secret services. They wereI may sayapprenticed to educationto artto the churchto scienceto literature; and in those fields they served the important function of moulding the thought-processes of the nation in the direction of the perpetuity of the Oligarchy.
They were taughtand later they in turn taughtthat what they were doing was right. They assimilated the aristocratic idea from the moment they beganas childrento receive impressions of the world. The aristocratic idea was woven into the making of them until it became bone of them and flesh of them. They looked upon themselves as wild-animal trainersrulers of beasts. From beneath their feet rose always the subterranean rumbles of revolt. Violent death ever stalked in their midst; bomb and knife and bullet were looked upon as so many fangs of the roaring abysmal beast they must dominate if humanity were to persist. They were the saviours of humanityand they regarded themselves as heroic and sacrificing laborers for the highest good.
Theyas a classbelieved that they alone maintained civilization. It was their belief that if ever they weakenedthe great beast would ingulf them and everything of beauty and wonder and joy and good in its cavernous and slime-dripping maw. Without themanarchy would reign and humanity would drop backward into the primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged. The horrid picture of anarchy was held always before their child's eyes until theyin turnobsessed by this cultivated fearheld the picture of anarchy before the eyes of the children that followed them. This was the beast to be stamped uponand the highest duty of the aristocrat was to stamp upon it. In shortthey aloneby their unremitting toil and sacrificestood between weak humanity and the all-devouring beast; and they believed itfirmly believed it.
I cannot lay too great stress upon this high ethical righteousness of the whole oligarch class. This has been the strength of the Iron Heeland too many of the comrades have been slow or loath to realize it. Many of them have ascribed the strength of the Iron Heel to its system of reward and punishment. This is a mistake. Heaven and hell may be the prime factors of zeal in the religion of a fanatic; but for the great majority of the religiousheaven and hell are incidental to right and wrong. Love of the rightdesire for the rightunhappiness with anything less than the right--in shortright conductis the prime factor of religion. And so with the Oligarchy. Prisonsbanishment and degradationhonors and palaces and wonder-citiesare all incidental. The great driving force of the oligarchs is the belief that they are doing right. Never mind the exceptionsand never mind the oppression and injustice in which the Iron Heel was conceived. All is granted. The point is that the strength of the Oligarchy today lies in its satisfied conception of its own righteousness.*
* Out of the ethical incoherency and inconsistency of capitalismthe oligarchs emerged with a new ethicscoherent and definitesharp and severe as steelthe most absurd and unscientific and at the same time the most potent ever possessed by any tyrant class. The oligarchs believed their ethicsin spite of the fact that biology and evolution gave them the lie; andbecause of their faithfor three centuries they were able to hold back the mighty tide of human progress--a spectacleprofoundtremendouspuzzling to the metaphysical moralistand one that to the materialist is the cause of many doubts and reconsiderations.
For that matterthe strength of the Revolutionduring these frightful twenty yearshas resided in nothing else than the sense of righteousness. In no other way can be explained our sacrifices and martyrdoms. For no other reason did Rudolph Mendenhall flame out his soul for the Cause and sing his wild swan-song that last night of life. For no other reason did Hurlbert die under torturerefusing to the last to betray his comrades. For no other reason has Anna Roylston refused blessed motherhood. For no other reason has John Carlson been the faithful and unrewarded custodian of the Glen Ellen Refuge. It does not matteryoung or oldman or womanhigh or lowgenius or clodgo where one will among the comrades of the Revolutionthe motor-force will be found to be a great and abiding desire for the right.
But I have run away from my narrative. Ernest and I well understoodbefore we left the refugehow the strength of the Iron Heel was developing. The labor castesthe Mercenariesand the great hordes of secret agents and police of various sorts were all pledged to the Oligarchy. In the mainand ignoring the loss of libertythey were better off than they had been. On the other handthe great helpless mass of the populationthe people of the abysswas sinking into a brutish apathy of content with misery. Whenever strong proletarians asserted their strength in the midst of the massthey were drawn away from the mass by the oligarchs and given better conditions by being made members of the labor castes or of the Mercenaries. Thus discontent was lulled and the proletariat robbed of its natural leaders.
The condition of the people of the abyss was pitiable. Common school educationso far as they were concernedhad ceased. They lived like beasts in great squalid labor-ghettosfestering in misery and degradation. All their old liberties were gone. They were labor-slaves. Choice of work was denied them. Likewise was denied them the right to move from place to placeor the right to bear or possess arms. They were not land serfs like the farmers. They were machine-serfs and labor-serfs. When unusual needs arose for themsuch as the building of the great highways and air-linesof canalstunnelssubwaysand fortificationslevies were made on the labor-ghettosand tens of thousands of serfswilly-nillywere transported to the scene of operations. Great armies of them are toiling now at the building of Ardishoused in wretched barracks where family life cannot existand where decency is displaced by dull bestiality. In all truththere in the labor- ghettos is the roaring abysmal beast the oligarchs fear so dreadfully--but it is the beast of their own making. In it they will not let the ape and tiger die.
And just now the word has gone forth that new levies are being imposed for the building of Asgardthe projected wonder-city that will far exceed Ardis when the latter is completed.* We of the Revolution will go on with that great workbut it will not be done by the miserable serfs. The walls and towers and shafts of that fair city will arise to the sound of singingand into its beauty and wonder will be wovennot sighs and groansbut music and laughter.
* Ardis was completed in 1942 A.D.Asgard was not completed until 1984 A.D. It was fifty-two years in the buildingduring which time a permanent army of half a million serfs was employed. At times these numbers swelled to over a million--without any account being taken of the hundreds of thousands of the labor castes and the artists.
Ernest was madly impatient to be out in the world and doingfor our ill-fated First Revoltthat had miscarried in the Chicago Communewas ripening fast. Yet he possessed his soul with patienceand during this time of his tormentwhen Hadlywho had been brought for the purpose from Illinoismade him over into another man* he revolved great plans in his head for the organization of the learned proletariatand for the maintenance of at least the rudiments of education amongst the people of the abyss--all this of course in the event of the First Revolt being a failure.
* Among the Revolutionists were many surgeonsand in vivisection they attained marvellous proficiency. In Avis Everhard's wordsthey could literally make a man over. To them the elimination of scars and disfigurements was a trivial detail. They changed the features with such microscopic care that no traces were left of their handiwork. The nose was a favorite organ to work upon. Skin-grafting and hair-transplanting were among their commonest devices. The changes in expression they accomplished were wizard- like. Eyes and eyebrowslipsmouthsand earswere radically altered. By cunning operations on tonguethroatlarynxand nasal cavities a man's whole enunciation and manner of speech could be changed. Desperate times give need for desperate remediesand the surgeons of the Revolution rose to the need. Among other thingsthey could increase an adult's stature by as much as four or five inches and decrease it by one or two inches. What they did is to-day a lost art. We have no need for it.
It was not until January1917that we left the refuge. All had been arranged. We took our place at once as agents-provocateurs in the scheme of the Iron Heel. I was supposed to be Ernest's sister. By oligarchs and comrades on the inside who were high in authorityplace had been made for uswe were in possession of all necessary documentsand our pasts were accounted for. With help on the insidethis was not difficultfor in that shadow-world of secret service identity was nebulous. Like ghosts the agents came and wentobeying commandsfulfilling dutiesfollowing clewsmaking their reports often to officers they never saw or cooperating with other agents they had never seen before and would never see again.
As agents-provocateursnot alone were we able to travel a great dealbut our very work threw us in contact with the proletariat and with our comradesthe revolutionists. Thus we were in both camps at the same timeostensibly serving the Iron Heel and secretly working with all our might for the Cause. There were many of us in the various secret services of the Oligarchyand despite the shakings-up and reorganizations the secret services have undergonethey have never been able to weed all of us out.
Ernest had largely planned the First Revoltand the date set had been somewhere early in the spring of 1918. In the fall of 1917 we were not ready; much remained to be doneand when the Revolt was precipitatedof course it was doomed to failure. The plot of necessity was frightfully intricateand anything premature was sure to destroy it. This the Iron Heel foresaw and laid its schemes accordingly.
We had planned to strike our first blow at the nervous system of the Oligarchy. The latter had remembered the general strikeand had guarded against the defection of the telegraphers by installing wireless stationsin the control of the Mercenaries. Wein turnhad countered this move. When the signal was givenfrom every refugeall over the landand from the citiesand townsand barracksdevoted comrades were to go forth and blow up the wireless stations. Thus at the first shock would the Iron Heel be brought to earth and lie practically dismembered.
At the same momentother comrades were to blow up the bridges and tunnels and disrupt the whole network of railroads. Still furtherother groups of comradesat the signalwere to seize the officers of the Mercenaries and the policeas well as all Oligarchs of unusual ability or who held executive positions. Thus would the leaders of the enemy be removed from the field of the local battles that would inevitably be fought all over the land.
Many things were to occur simultaneously when the signal went forth. The Canadian and Mexican patriotswho were far stronger than the Iron Heel dreamedwere to duplicate our tactics. Then there were comrades (these were the womenfor the men would be busy elsewhere) who were to post the proclamations from our secret presses. Those of us in the higher employ of the Iron Heel were to proceed immediately to make confusion and anarchy in all our departments. Inside the Mercenaries were thousands of our comrades. Their work was to blow up the magazines and to destroy the delicate mechanism of all the war machinery. In the cities of the Mercenaries and of the labor castes similar programmes of disruption were to be carried out.
In shorta suddencolossalstunning blow was to be struck. Before the paralyzed Oligarchy could recover itselfits end would have come. It would have meant terrible times and great loss of lifebut no revolutionist hesitates at such things. Whywe even depended muchin our planon the unorganized people of the abyss. They were to be loosed on the palaces and cities of the masters. Never mind the destruction of life and property. Let the abysmal brute roar and the police and Mercenaries slay. The abysmal brute would roar anywayand the police and Mercenaries would slay anyway. It would merely mean that various dangers to us were harmlessly destroying one another. In the meantime we would be doing our own worklargely unhamperedand gaining control of all the machinery of society.
Such was our planevery detail of which had to be worked out in secretandas the day drew nearcommunicated to more and more comrades. This was the danger pointthe stretching of the conspiracy. But that danger-point was never reached. Through its spy-system the Iron Heel got wind of the Revolt and prepared to teach us another of its bloody lessons. Chicago was the devoted city selected for the instructionand well were we instructed.
Chicago* was the ripest of all--Chicago which of old time was the city of blood and which was to earn anew its name. There the revolutionary spirit was strong. Too many bitter strikes had been curbed there in the days of capitalism for the workers to forget and forgive. Even the labor castes of the city were alive with revolt. Too many heads had been broken in the early strikes. Despite their changed and favorable conditionstheir hatred for the master class had not died. This spirit had infected the Mercenariesof which three regiments in particular were ready to come over to us en masse.
* Chicago was the industrial inferno of the nineteenth century A.D. A curious anecdote has come down to us of John Burnsa great English labor leader and one time member of the British Cabinet. In Chicagowhile on a visit to the United Stateshe was asked by a newspaper reporter for his opinion of that city. "Chicago he answered, is a pocket edition of hell." Some time lateras he was going aboard his steamer to sail to Englandhe was approached by another reporterwho wanted to know if he had changed his opinion of Chicago. "YesI have was his reply. My present opinion is that hell is a pocket edition of Chicago."
Chicago had always been the storm-centre of the conflict between labor and capitala city of street-battles and violent deathwith a class-conscious capitalist organization and a class-conscious workman organizationwherein the old daysthe very school- teachers were formed into labor unions and affiliated with the hod- carriers and brick-layers in the American Federation of Labor. And Chicago became the storm-centre of the premature First Revolt.
The trouble was precipitated by the Iron Heel. It was cleverly done. The whole populationincluding the favored labor casteswas given a course of outrageous treatment. Promises and agreements were brokenand most drastic punishments visited upon even petty offenders. The people of the abyss were tormented out of their apathy. In factthe Iron Heel was preparing to make the abysmal beast roar. And hand in hand with thisin all precautionary measures in Chicagothe Iron Heel was inconceivably careless. Discipline was relaxed among the Mercenaries that remainedwhile many regiments had been withdrawn and sent to various parts of the country.
It did not take long to carry out this programme--only several weeks. We of the Revolution caught vague rumors of the state of affairsbut had nothing definite enough for an understanding. In factwe thought it was a spontaneous spirit of revolt that would require careful curbing on our partand never dreamed that it was deliberately manufactured--and it had been manufactured so secretlyfrom the very innermost circle of the Iron Heelthat we had got no inkling. The counter-plot was an able achievementand ably carried out.
I was in New York when I received the order to proceed immediately to Chicago. The man who gave me the order was one of the oligarchsI could tell that by his speechthough I did not know his name nor see his face. His instructions were too clear for me to make a mistake. Plainly I read between the lines that our plot had been discoveredthat we had been countermined. The explosion was ready for the flash of powderand countless agents of the Iron Heelincluding meeither on the ground or being sent therewere to supply that flash. I flatter myself that I maintained my composure under the keen eye of the oligarchbut my heart was beating madly. I could almost have shrieked and flown at his throat with my naked hands before his finalcold-blooded instructions were given.
Once out of his presenceI calculated the time. I had just the moments to spareif I were luckyto get in touch with some local leader before catching my train. Guarding against being trailedI made a rush of it for the Emergency Hospital. Luck was with meand I gained access at once to comrade Galvinthe surgeon-in- chief. I started to gasp out my informationbut he stopped me.
"I already know he said quietly, though his Irish eyes were flashing. I knew what you had come for. I got the word fifteen minutes agoand I have already passed it along. Everything shall be done here to keep the comrades quiet. Chicago is to be sacrificedbut it shall be Chicago alone."
"Have you tried to get word to Chicago?" I asked.
He shook his head. "No telegraphic communication. Chicago is shut off. It's going to be hell there."
He paused a momentand I saw his white hands clinch. Then he burst out:
"By God! I wish I were going to be there!"
"There is yet a chance to stop it I said, if nothing happens to the train and I can get there in time. Or if some of the other secret-service comrades who have learned the truth can get there in time."
"You on the inside were caught napping this time he said.
I nodded my head humbly.
It was very secret I answered. Only the inner chiefs could have known up to to-day. We haven't yet penetrated that farso we couldn't escape being kept in the dark. If only Ernest were here. Maybe he is in Chicago nowand all is well."
Dr. Galvin shook his head. "The last news I heard of him was that he had been sent to Boston or New Haven. This secret service for the enemy must hamper him a lotbut it's better than lying in a refuge."
I started to goand Galvin wrung my hand.
"Keep a stout heart were his parting words. What if the First Revolt is lost? There will be a secondand we will be wiser then. Good-by and good luck. I don't know whether I'll ever see you again. It's going to be hell therebut I'd give ten years of my life for your chance to be in it."
The Twentieth Century* left New York at six in the eveningand was supposed to arrive at Chicago at seven next morning. But it lost time that night. We were running behind another train. Among the travellers in my Pullman was comrade Hartmanlike myself in the secret service of the Iron Heel. He it was who told me of the train that immediately preceded us. It was an exact duplicate of our trainthough it contained no passengers. The idea was that the empty train should receive the disaster were an attempt made to blow up the Twentieth Century. For that matter there were very few people on the train--only a baker's dozen in our car.
* This was reputed to be the fastest train in the world then. It was quite a famous train.
"There must be some big men on board Hartman concluded. I noticed a private car on the rear."
Night had fallen when we made our first change of engineand I walked down the platform for a breath of fresh air and to see what I could see. Through the windows of the private car I caught a glimpse of three men whom I recognized. Hartman was right. One of the men was General Altendorff; and the other two were Mason and Vanderboldthe brains of the inner circle of the Oligarchy's secret service.
It was a quiet moonlight nightbut I tossed restlessly and could not sleep. At five in the morning I dressed and abandoned my bed.
I asked the maid in the dressing-room how late the train wasand she told me two hours. She was a mulatto womanand I noticed that her face was haggardwith great circles under the eyeswhile the eyes themselves were wide with some haunting fear.
"What is the matter?" I asked.
"Nothingmiss; I didn't sleep wellI guess was her reply.
I looked at her closely, and tried her with one of our signals. She responded, and I made sure of her.
Something terrible is going to happen in Chicago she said. There's that fake* train in front of us. That and the troop- trains have made us late."
"Troop-trains?" I queried.
She nodded her head. "The line is thick with them. We've been passing them all night. And they're all heading for Chicago. And bringing them over the air-line--that means business.
"I've a lover in Chicago she added apologetically. He's one of usand he's in the Mercenariesand I'm afraid for him."
Poor girl. Her lover was in one of the three disloyal regiments.
Hartman and I had breakfast together in the dining carand I forced myself to eat. The sky had cloudedand the train rushed on like a sullen thunderbolt through the gray pall of advancing day. The very negroes that waited on us knew that something terrible was impending. Oppression sat heavily upon them; the lightness of their natures had ebbed out of them; they were slack and absent- minded in their serviceand they whispered gloomily to one another in the far end of the car next to the kitchen. Hartman was hopeless over the situation.
"What can we do?" he demanded for the twentieth timewith a helpless shrug of the shoulders.
He pointed out of the window. "Seeall is ready. You can depend upon it that they're holding them like thisthirty or forty miles outside the cityon every road."
He had reference to troop-trains on the side-track. The soldiers were cooking their breakfasts over fires built on the ground beside the trackand they looked up curiously at us as we thundered past without slackening our terrific speed.
All was quiet as we entered Chicago. It was evident nothing had happened yet. In the suburbs the morning papers came on board the train. There was nothing in themand yet there was much in them for those skilled in reading between the lines that it was intended the ordinary reader should read into the text. The fine hand of the Iron Heel was apparent in every column. Glimmerings of weakness in the armor of the Oligarchy were given. Of coursethere was nothing definite. It was intended that the reader should feel his way to these glimmerings. It was cleverly done. As fictionthose morning papers of October 27th were masterpieces.
The local news was missing. This in itself was a masterstroke. It shrouded Chicago in mysteryand it suggested to the average Chicago reader that the Oligarchy did not dare give the local news. Hints that were untrueof coursewere given of insubordination all over the landcrudely disguised with complacent references to punitive measures to be taken. There were reports of numerous wireless stations that had been blown upwith heavy rewards offered for the detection of the perpetrators. Of course no wireless stations had been blown up. Many similar outragesthat dovetailed with the plot of the revolutionistswere given. The impression to be made on the minds of the Chicago comrades was that the general Revolt was beginningalbeit with a confusing miscarriage in many details. It was impossible for one uninformed to escape the vague yet certain feeling that all the land was ripe for the revolt that had already begun to break out.
It was reported that the defection of the Mercenaries in California had become so serious that half a dozen regiments had been disbanded and brokenand that their members with their families had been driven from their own city and on into the labor-ghettos. And the California Mercenaries were in reality the most faithful of all to their salt! But how was Chicagoshut off from the rest of the worldto know? Then there was a ragged telegram describing an outbreak of the populace in New York Cityin which the labor castes were joiningconcluding with the statement (intended to be accepted as a bluff*) that the troops had the situation in hand.
* A lie.
And as the oligarchs had done with the morning papersso had they done in a thousand other ways. These we learned afterwardasfor examplethe secret messages of the oligarchssent with the express purpose of leaking to the ears of the revolutioniststhat had come over the wiresnow and againduring the first part of the night.
"I guess the Iron Heel won't need our services Hartman remarked, putting down the paper he had been reading, when the train pulled into the central depot. They wasted their time sending us here. Their plans have evidently prospered better than they expected. Hell will break loose any second now."
He turned and looked down the train as we alighted.
"I thought so he muttered. They dropped that private car when the papers came aboard."
Hartman was hopelessly depressed. I tried to cheer him upbut he ignored my effort and suddenly began talking very hurriedlyin a low voiceas we passed through the station. At first I could not understand.
"I have not been sure he was saying, and I have told no one. I have been working on it for weeksand I cannot make sure. Watch out for Knowlton. I suspect him. He knows the secrets of a score of our refuges. He carries the lives of hundreds of us in his handsand I think he is a traitor. It's more a feeling on my part than anything else. But I thought I marked a change in him a short while back. There is the danger that he has sold us outor is going to sell us out. I am almost sure of it. I wouldn't whisper my suspicions to a soulbutsomehowI don't think I'll leave Chicago alive. Keep your eye on Knowlton. Trap him. Find out. I don't know anything more. It is only an intuitionand so far I have failed to find the slightest clew." We were just stepping out upon the sidewalk. "Remember Hartman concluded earnestly. Keep your eyes upon Knowlton."
And Hartman was right. Before a month went by Knowlton paid for his treason with his life. He was formally executed by the comrades in Milwaukee.
All was quiet on the streets--too quiet. Chicago lay dead. There was no roar and rumble of traffic. There were not even cabs on the streets. The surface cars and the elevated were not running. Only occasionallyon the sidewalkswere there stray pedestriansand these pedestrians did not loiter. They went their ways with great haste and definitenesswithal there was a curious indecision in their movementsas though they expected the buildings to topple over on them or the sidewalks to sink under their feet or fly up in the air. A few gaminshoweverwere aroundin their eyes a suppressed eagerness in anticipation of wonderful and exciting things to happen.
From somewherefar to the souththe dull sound of an explosion came to our ears. That was all. Then quiet againthough the gamins had startled and listenedlike young deerat the sound. The doorways to all the buildings were closed; the shutters to the shops were up. But there were many police and watchmen in evidenceand now and again automobile patrols of the Mercenaries slipped swiftly past.
Hartman and I agreed that it was useless to report ourselves to the local chiefs of the secret service. Our failure so to report would be excusedwe knewin the light of subsequent events. So we headed for the great labor-ghetto on the South Side in the hope of getting in contact with some of the comrades. Too late! We knew it. But we could not stand still and do nothing in those ghastlysilent streets. Where was Ernest? I was wondering. What was happening in the cities of the labor castes and Mercenaries? In the fortresses?
As if in answera great screaming roar went updim with distancepunctuated with detonation after detonation.
"It's the fortresses Hartman said. God pity those three regiments!"
At a crossing we noticedin the direction of the stockyardsa gigantic pillar of smoke. At the next crossing several similar smoke pillars were rising skyward in the direction of the West Side. Over the city of the Mercenaries we saw a great captive war- balloon that burst even as we looked at itand fell in flaming wreckage toward the earth. There was no clew to that tragedy of the air. We could not determine whether the balloon had been manned by comrades or enemies. A vague sound came to our earslike the bubbling of a gigantic caldron a long way offand Hartman said it was machine-guns and automatic rifles.
And still we walked in immediate quietude. Nothing was happening where we were. The police and the automobile patrols went byand once half a dozen fire-enginesreturning evidently from some conflagration. A question was called to the fireman by an officer in an automobileand we heard one shout in reply: "No water! They've blown up the mains!"
"We've smashed the water supply Hartman cried excitedly to me. If we can do all this in a prematureisolatedabortive attemptwhat can't we do in a concertedripened effort all over the land?"
The automobile containing the officer who had asked the question darted on. Suddenly there was a deafening roar. The machinewith its human freightlifted in an upburst of smokeand sank down a mass of wreckage and death.
Hartman was jubilant. "Well done! well done!" he was repeatingover and overin a whisper. "The proletariat gets its lesson to- daybut it gives onetoo."
Police were running for the spot. Alsoanother patrol machine had halted. As for myselfI was in a daze. The suddenness of it was stunning. How had it happened? I knew not howand yet I had been looking directly at it. So dazed was I for the moment that I was scarcely aware of the fact that we were being held up by the police. I abruptly saw that a policeman was in the act of shooting Hartman. But Hartman was cool and was giving the proper passwords. I saw the levelled revolver hesitatethen sink downand heard the disgusted grunt of the policeman. He was very angryand was cursing the whole secret service. It was always in the wayhe was averringwhile Hartman was talking back to him and with fitting secret-service pride explaining to him the clumsiness of the police.
The next moment I knew how it had happened. There was quite a group about the wreckand two men were just lifting up the wounded officer to carry him to the other machine. A panic seized all of themand they scattered in every directionrunning in blind terrorthe wounded officerroughly droppedbeing left behind. The cursing policeman alongside of me also ranand Hartman and I rantoowe knew not whyobsessed with the same blind terror to get away from that particular spot.
Nothing really happened thenbut everything was explained. The flying men were sheepishly coming backbut all the while their eyes were raised apprehensively to the many-windowedlofty buildings that towered like the sheer walls of a canyon on each side of the street. From one of those countless windows the bomb had been thrownbut which window? There had been no second bombonly a fear of one.
Thereafter we looked with speculative comprehension at the windows. Any of them contained possible death. Each building was a possible ambuscade. This was warfare in that modern junglea great city. Every street was a canyonevery building a mountain. We had not changed much from primitive mandespite the war automobiles that were sliding by.
Turning a cornerwe came upon a woman. She was lying on the pavementin a pool of blood. Hartman bent over and examined her. As for myselfI turned deathly sick. I was to see many dead that daybut the total carnage was not to affect me as did this first forlorn body lying there at my feet abandoned on the pavement. "Shot in the breast was Hartman's report. Clasped in the hollow of her arm, as a child might be clasped, was a bundle of printed matter. Even in death she seemed loath to part with that which had caused her death; for when Hartman had succeeded in withdrawing the bundle, we found that it consisted of large printed sheets, the proclamations of the revolutionists.
A comrade I said.
But Hartman only cursed the Iron Heel, and we passed on. Often we were halted by the police and patrols, but our passwords enabled us to proceed. No more bombs fell from the windows, the last pedestrians seemed to have vanished from the streets, and our immediate quietude grew more profound; though the gigantic caldron continued to bubble in the distance, dull roars of explosions came to us from all directions, and the smoke-pillars were towering more ominously in the heavens.
Suddenly a change came over the face of things. A tingle of excitement ran along the air. Automobiles fled pasttwothreea dozenand from them warnings were shouted to us. One of the machines swerved wildly at high speed half a block downand the next momentalready left well behind itthe pavement was torn into a great hole by a bursting bomb. We saw the police disappearing down the cross-streets on the runand knew that something terrible was coming. We could hear the rising roar of it.
"Our brave comrades are coming Hartman said.
We could see the front of their column filling the street from gutter to gutter, as the last war-automobile fled past. The machine stopped for a moment just abreast of us. A soldier leaped from it, carrying something carefully in his hands. This, with the same care, he deposited in the gutter. Then he leaped back to his seat and the machine dashed on, took the turn at the corner, and was gone from sight. Hartman ran to the gutter and stooped over the object.
Keep back he warned me.
I could see he was working rapidly with his hands. When he returned to me the sweat was heavy on his forehead.
I disconnected it he said, and just in the nick of time. The soldier was clumsy. He intended it for our comradesbut he didn't give it enough time. It would have exploded prematurely. Now it won't explode at all."
Everything was happening rapidly now. Across the street and half a block downhigh up in a buildingI could see heads peering out. I had just pointed them out to Hartmanwhen a sheet of flame and smoke ran along that portion of the face of the building where the heads had appearedand the air was shaken by the explosion. In places the stone facing of the building was torn awayexposing the iron construction beneath. The next moment similar sheets of flame and smoke smote the front of the building across the street opposite it. Between the explosions we could hear the rattle of the automatic pistols and rifles. For several minutes this mid-air battle continuedthen died out. It was patent that our comrades were in one buildingthat Mercenaries were in the otherand that they were fighting across the street. But we could not tell which was which--which building contained our comrades and which the Mercenaries.
By this time the column on the street was almost on us. As the front of it passed under the warring buildingsboth went into action again--one building dropping bombs into the streetbeing attacked from across the streetand in return replying to that attack. Thus we learned which building was held by our comradesand they did good worksaving those in the street from the bombs of the enemy.
Hartman gripped my arm and dragged me into a wide entrance.
"They're not our comrades he shouted in my ear.
The inner doors to the entrance were locked and bolted. We could not escape. The next moment the front of the column went by. It was not a column, but a mob, an awful river that filled the street, the people of the abyss, mad with drink and wrong, up at last and roaring for the blood of their masters. I had seen the people of the abyss before, gone through its ghettos, and thought I knew it; but I found that I was now looking on it for the first time. Dumb apathy had vanished. It was now dynamic--a fascinating spectacle of dread. It surged past my vision in concrete waves of wrath, snarling and growling, carnivorous, drunk with whiskey from pillaged warehouses, drunk with hatred, drunk with lust for blood-- men, women, and children, in rags and tatters, dim ferocious intelligences with all the godlike blotted from their features and all the fiendlike stamped in, apes and tigers, anaemic consumptives and great hairy beasts of burden, wan faces from which vampire society had sucked the juice of life, bloated forms swollen with physical grossness and corruption, withered hags and death's-heads bearded like patriarchs, festering youth and festering age, faces of fiends, crooked, twisted, misshapen monsters blasted with the ravages of disease and all the horrors of chronic innutrition--the refuse and the scum of life, a raging, screaming, screeching, demoniacal horde.
And why not? The people of the abyss had nothing to lose but the misery and pain of living. And to gain?--nothing, save one final, awful glut of vengeance. And as I looked the thought came to me that in that rushing stream of human lava were men, comrades and heroes, whose mission had been to rouse the abysmal beast and to keep the enemy occupied in coping with it.
And now a strange thing happened to me. A transformation came over me. The fear of death, for myself and for others, left me. I was strangely exalted, another being in another life. Nothing mattered. The Cause for this one time was lost, but the Cause would be here to-morrow, the same Cause, ever fresh and ever burning. And thereafter, in the orgy of horror that raged through the succeeding hours, I was able to take a calm interest. Death meant nothing, life meant nothing. I was an interested spectator of events, and, sometimes swept on by the rush, was myself a curious participant. For my mind had leaped to a star-cool altitude and grasped a passionless transvaluation of values. Had it not done this, I know that I should have died.
Half a mile of the mob had swept by when we were discovered. A woman in fantastic rags, with cheeks cavernously hollow and with narrow black eyes like burning gimlets, caught a glimpse of Hartman and me. She let out a shrill shriek and bore in upon us. A section of the mob tore itself loose and surged in after her. I can see her now, as I write these lines, a leap in advance, her gray hair flying in thin tangled strings, the blood dripping down her forehead from some wound in the scalp, in her right hand a hatchet, her left hand, lean and wrinkled, a yellow talon, gripping the air convulsively. Hartman sprang in front of me. This was no time for explanations. We were well dressed, and that was enough. His fist shot out, striking the woman between her burning eyes. The impact of the blow drove her backward, but she struck the wall of her on-coming fellows and bounced forward again, dazed and helpless, the brandished hatchet falling feebly on Hartman's shoulder.
The next moment I knew not what was happening. I was overborne by the crowd. The confined space was filled with shrieks and yells and curses. Blows were falling on me. Hands were ripping and tearing at my flesh and garments. I felt that I was being torn to pieces. I was being borne down, suffocated. Some strong hand gripped my shoulder in the thick of the press and was dragging fiercely at me. Between pain and pressure I fainted. Hartman never came out of that entrance. He had shielded me and received the first brunt of the attack. This had saved me, for the jam had quickly become too dense for anything more than the mad gripping and tearing of hands.
I came to in the midst of wild movement. All about me was the same movement. I had been caught up in a monstrous flood that was sweeping me I knew not whither. Fresh air was on my cheek and biting sweetly in my lungs. Faint and dizzy, I was vaguely aware of a strong arm around my body under the arms, and half-lifting me and dragging me along. Feebly my own limbs were helping me. In front of me I could see the moving back of a man's coat. It had been slit from top to bottom along the centre seam, and it pulsed rhythmically, the slit opening and closing regularly with every leap of the wearer. This phenomenon fascinated me for a time, while my senses were coming back to me. Next I became aware of stinging cheeks and nose, and could feel blood dripping on my face. My hat was gone. My hair was down and flying, and from the stinging of the scalp I managed to recollect a hand in the press of the entrance that had torn at my hair. My chest and arms were bruised and aching in a score of places.
My brain grew clearer, and I turned as I ran and looked at the man who was holding me up. He it was who had dragged me out and saved me. He noticed my movement.
It's all right!" he shouted hoarsely. "I knew you on the instant."
I failed to recognize himbut before I could speak I trod upon something that was alive and that squirmed under my foot. I was swept on by those behind and could not look down and seeand yet I knew that it was a woman who had fallen and who was being trampled into the pavement by thousands of successive feet.
"It's all right he repeated. I'm Garthwaite."
He was bearded and gaunt and dirtybut I succeeded in remembering him as the stalwart youth that had spent several months in our Glen Ellen refuge three years before. He passed me the signals of the Iron Heel's secret servicein token that hetoowas in its employ.
"I'll get you out of this as soon as I can get a chance he assured me. But watch your footing. On your life don't stumble and go down."
All things happened abruptly on that dayand with an abruptness that was sickening the mob checked itself. I came in violent collision with a large woman in front of me (the man with the split coat had vanished)while those behind collided against me. A devilish pandemonium reigned--shriekscursesand cries of deathwhile above all rose the churning rattle of machine-guns and the put-a-putput-a-put of rifles. At first I could make out nothing. People were falling about me right and left. The woman in front doubled up and went downher hands on her abdomen in a frenzied clutch. A man was quivering against my legs in a death-struggle.
It came to me that we were at the head of the column. Half a mile of it had disappeared--where or how I never learned. To this day I do not know what became of that half-mile of humanity--whether it was blotted out by some frightful bolt of warwhether it was scattered and destroyed piecemealor whether it escaped. But there we wereat the head of the column instead of in its middleand we were being swept out of life by a torrent of shrieking lead.
As soon as death had thinned the jamGarthwaitestill grasping my armled a rush of survivors into the wide entrance of an office building. Hereat the rearagainst the doorswe were pressed by a pantinggasping mass of creatures. For some time we remained in this position without a change in the situation.
"I did it beautifully Garthwaite was lamenting to me. Ran you right into a trap. We had a gambler's chance in the streetbut in here there is no chance at all. It's all over but the shouting. Vive la Revolution!"
Thenwhat he expectedbegan. The Mercenaries were killing without quarter. At firstthe surge back upon us was crushingbut as the killing continued the pressure was eased. The dead and dying went down and made room. Garthwaite put his mouth to my ear and shoutedbut in the frightful din I could not catch what he said. He did not wait. He seized me and threw me down. Next he dragged a dying woman over on top of meandwith much squeezing and shovingcrawled in beside me and partly over me. A mound of dead and dying began to pile up over usand over this moundpawing and moaningcrept those that still survived. But thesetoosoon ceasedand a semi-silence settled downbroken by groans and sobs and sounds of strangulation.
I should have been crushed had it not been for Garthwaite. As it wasit seemed inconceivable that I could bear the weight I did and live. And yetoutside of painthe only feeling I possessed was one of curiosity. How was it going to end? What would death be like? Thus did I receive my red baptism in that Chicago shambles. Prior to thatdeath to me had been a theory; but ever afterward death has been a simple fact that does not matterit is so easy.
But the Mercenaries were not content with what they had done. They invaded the entrancekilling the wounded and searching out the unhurt thatlike ourselveswere playing dead. I remember one man they dragged out of a heapwho pleaded abjectly until a revolver shot cut him short. Then there was a woman who charged from a heapsnarling and shooting. She fired six shots before they got herthough what damage she did we could not know. We could follow these tragedies only by the sound. Every little while flurries like this occurredeach flurry culminating in the revolver shot that put an end to it. In the intervals we could hear the soldiers talking and swearing as they rummaged among the carcassesurged on by their officers to hurry up.
At last they went to work on our heapand we could feel the pressure diminish as they dragged away the dead and wounded. Garthwaite began uttering aloud the signals. At first he was not heard. Then he raised his voice.
"Listen to that we heard a soldier say. And next the sharp voice of an officer. Hold on there! Careful as you go!"
Ohthat first breath of air as we were dragged out! Garthwaite did the talking at firstbut I was compelled to undergo a brief examination to prove service with the Iron Heel.
"Agents-provocateurs all right was the officer's conclusion. He was a beardless young fellow, a cadet, evidently, of some great oligarch family.
It's a hell of a job Garthwaite grumbled. I'm going to try and resign and get into the army. You fellows have a snap."
"You've earned it was the young officer's answer. I've got some pulland I'll see if it can be managed. I can tell them how I found you."
He took Garthwaite's name and numberthen turned to me.
"OhI'm going to be married I answered lightly, and then I'll be out of it all."
And so we talkedwhile the killing of the wounded went on. It is all a dreamnowas I look back on it; but at the time it was the most natural thing in the world. Garthwaite and the young officer fell into an animated conversation over the difference between so- called modern warfare and the present street-fighting and sky- scraper fighting that was taking place all over the city. I followed them intentlyfixing up my hair at the same time and pinning together my torn skirts. And all the time the killing of the wounded went on. Sometimes the revolver shots drowned the voices of Garthwaite and the officerand they were compelled to repeat what they had been saying.
I lived through three days of the Chicago Communeand the vastness of it and of the slaughter may be imagined when I say that in all that time I saw practically nothing outside the killing of the people of the abyss and the mid-air fighting between sky-scrapers. I really saw nothing of the heroic work done by the comrades. I could hear the explosions of their mines and bombsand see the smoke of their conflagrationsand that was all. The mid-air part of one great deed I sawhoweverand that was the balloon attacks made by our comrades on the fortresses. That was on the second day. The three disloyal regiments had been destroyed in the fortresses to the last man. The fortresses were crowded with Mercenariesthe wind blew in the right directionand up went our balloons from one of the office buildings in the city.
Now Biedenbachafter he left Glen Ellenhad invented a most powerful explosive--"expedite" he called it. This was the weapon the balloons used. They were only hot-air balloonsclumsily and hastily madebut they did the work. I saw it all from the top of an office building. The first balloon missed the fortresses completely and disappeared into the country; but we learned about it afterward. Burton and O'Sullivan were in it. As they were descending they swept across a railroad directly over a troop-train that was heading at full speed for Chicago. They dropped their whole supply of expedite upon the locomotive. The resulting wreck tied the line up for days. And the best of it was thatreleased from the weight of expeditethe balloon shot up into the air and did not come down for half a dozen milesboth heroes escaping unharmed.
The second balloon was a failure. Its flight was lame. It floated too low and was shot full of holes before it could reach the fortresses. Herford and Guinness were in itand they were blown to pieces along with the field into which they fell. Biedenbach was in despair--we heard all about it afterward--and he went up alone in the third balloon. Hetoomade a low flightbut he was in luckfor they failed seriously to puncture his balloon. I can see it now as I did thenfrom the lofty top of the building--that inflated bag drifting along the airand that tiny speck of a man clinging on beneath. I could not see the fortressbut those on the roof with me said he was directly over it. I did not see the expedite fall when he cut it loose. But I did see the balloon suddenly leap up into the sky. An appreciable time after that the great column of the explosion towered in the airand after thatin turnI heard the roar of it. Biedenbach the gentle had destroyed a fortress. Two other balloons followed at the same time. One was blown to pieces in the airthe expedite explodingand the shock of it disrupted the second balloonwhich fell prettily into the remaining fortress. It couldn't have been better plannedthough the two comrades in it sacrificed their lives.
But to return to the people of the abyss. My experiences were confined to them. They raged and slaughtered and destroyed all over the city properand were in turn destroyed; but never once did they succeed in reaching the city of the oligarchs over on the west side. The oligarchs had protected themselves well. No matter what destruction was wreaked in the heart of the citytheyand their womenkind and childrenwere to escape hurt. I am told that their children played in the parks during those terrible days and that their favorite game was an imitation of their elders stamping upon the proletariat.
But the Mercenaries found it no easy task to cope with the people of the abyss and at the same time fight with the comrades. Chicago was true to her traditionsand though a generation of revolutionists was wiped outit took along with it pretty close to a generation of its enemies. Of coursethe Iron Heel kept the figures secretbutat a very conservative estimateat least one hundred and thirty thousand Mercenaries were slain. But the comrades had no chance. Instead of the whole country being hand in hand in revoltthey were all aloneand the total strength of the Oligarchy could have been directed against them if necessary. As it washour after hourday after dayin endless train-loadsby hundreds of thousandsthe Mercenaries were hurled into Chicago.
And there were so many of the people of the abyss! Tiring of the slaughtera great herding movement was begun by the soldiersthe intent of which was to drive the street mobslike cattleinto Lake Michigan. It was at the beginning of this movement that Garthwaite and I had encountered the young officer. This herding movement was practically a failurethanks to the splendid work of the comrades. Instead of the great host the Mercenaries had hoped to gather togetherthey succeeded in driving no more than forty thousand of the wretches into the lake. Time and againwhen a mob of them was well in hand and being driven along the streets to the waterthe comrades would create a diversionand the mob would escape through the consequent hole torn in the encircling net.
Garthwaite and I saw an example of this shortly after meeting with the young officer. The mob of which we had been a partand which had been put in retreatwas prevented from escaping to the south and east by strong bodies of troops. The troops we had fallen in with had held it back on the west. The only outlet was northand north it went toward the lakedriven on from east and west and south by machine-gun fire and automatics. Whether it divined that it was being driven toward the lakeor whether it was merely a blind squirm of the monsterI do not know; but at any rate the mob took a cross street to the westturned down the next streetand came back upon its trackheading south toward the great ghetto.
Garthwaite and I at that time were trying to make our way westward to get out of the territory of street-fightingand we were caught right in the thick of it again. As we came to the corner we saw the howling mob bearing down upon us. Garthwaite seized my arm and we were just starting to runwhen he dragged me back from in front of the wheels of half a dozen war automobilesequipped with machine-gunsthat were rushing for the spot. Behind them came the soldiers with their automatic rifles. By the time they took positionthe mob was upon themand it looked as though they would be overwhelmed before they could get into action.
Here and there a soldier was discharging his riflebut this scattered fire had no effect in checking the mob. On it camebellowing with brute rage. It seemed the machine-guns could not get started. The automobiles on which they were mounted blocked the streetcompelling the soldiers to find positions inbetweenand on the sidewalks. More and more soldiers were arrivingand in the jam we were unable to get away. Garthwaite held me by the armand we pressed close against the front of a building.
The mob was no more than twenty-five feet away when the machine- guns opened up; but before that flaming sheet of death nothing could live. The mob came onbut it could not advance. It piled up in a heapa mounda huge and growing wave of dead and dying. Those behind urged onand the columnfrom gutter to guttertelescoped upon itself. Wounded creaturesmen and womenwere vomited over the top of that awful wave and fell squirming down the face of it till they threshed about under the automobiles and against the legs of the soldiers. The latter bayoneted the struggling wretchesthough one I saw who gained his feet and flew at a soldier's throat with his teeth. Together they went downsoldier and slaveinto the welter.
The firing ceased. The work was done. The mob had been stopped in its wild attempt to break through. Orders were being given to clear the wheels of the war-machines. They could not advance over that wave of deadand the idea was to run them down the cross street. The soldiers were dragging the bodies away from the wheels when it happened. We learned afterward how it happened. A block distant a hundred of our comrades had been holding a building. Across roofs and through buildings they made their waytill they found themselves looking down upon the close-packed soldiers. Then it was counter-massacre.
Without warninga shower of bombs fell from the top of the building. The automobiles were blown to fragmentsalong with many soldiers. Wewith the survivorsswept back in mad retreat. Half a block down another building opened fire on us. As the soldiers had carpeted the street with dead slavessoin turndid they themselves become carpet. Garthwaite and I bore charmed lives. As we had done beforeso again we sought shelter in an entrance. But he was not to be caught napping this time. As the roar of the bombs died awayhe began peering out.
"The mob's coming back!" he called to me. "We've got to get out of this!"
We fledhand in handdown the bloody pavementslipping and slidingand making for the corner. Down the cross street we could see a few soldiers still running. Nothing was happening to them. The way was clear. So we paused a moment and looked back. The mob came on slowly. It was busy arming itself with the rifles of the slain and killing the wounded. We saw the end of the young officer who had rescued us. He painfully lifted himself on his elbow and turned loose with his automatic pistol.
"There goes my chance of promotion Garthwaite laughed, as a woman bore down on the wounded man, brandishing a butcher's cleaver. Come on. It's the wrong directionbut we'll get out somehow."
And we fled eastward through the quiet streetsprepared at every cross street for anything to happen. To the south a monster conflagration was filling the skyand we knew that the great ghetto was burning. At last I sank down on the sidewalk. I was exhausted and could go no farther. I was bruised and sore and aching in every limb; yet I could not escape smiling at Garthwaitewho was rolling a cigarette and saying:
"I know I'm making a mess of rescuing youbut I can't get head nor tail of the situation. It's all a mess. Every time we try to break outsomething happens and we're turned back. We're only a couple of blocks now from where I got you out of that entrance. Friend and foe are all mixed up. It's chaos. You can't tell who is in those darned buildings. Try to find outand you get a bomb on your head. Try to go peaceably on your wayand you run into a mob and are killed by machine-gunsor you run into the Mercenaries and are killed by your own comrades from a roof. And on the top of it all the mob comes along and kills youtoo."
He shook his head dolefullylighted his cigaretteand sat down beside me.
"And I'm that hungry he added, I could eat cobblestones."
The next moment he was on his feet again and out in the street prying up a cobblestone. He came back with it and assaulted the window of a store behind us.
"It's ground floor and no good he explained as he helped me through the hole he had made; but it's the best we can do. You get a nap and I'll reconnoitre. I'll finish this rescue all rightbut I want timetimelots of it--and something to eat."
It was a harness store we found ourselves inand he fixed me up a couch of horse blankets in the private office well to the rear. To add to my wretchedness a splitting headache was coming onand I was only too glad to close my eyes and try to sleep.
"I'll be back were his parting words. I don't hope to get an autobut I'll surely bring some grub* anyway."
And that was the last I saw of Garthwaite for three years. Instead of coming backhe was carried away to a hospital with a bullet through his lungs and another through the fleshy part of his neck.
I had not closed my eyes the night before on the Twentieth Centuryand what of that and of my exhaustion I slept soundly. When I first awokeit was night. Garthwaite had not returned. I had lost my watch and had no idea of the time. As I lay with my eyes closedI heard the same dull sound of distant explosions. The inferno was still raging. I crept through the store to the front. The reflection from the sky of vast conflagrations made the street almost as light as day. One could have read the finest print with ease. From several blocks away came the crackle of small hand- bombs and the churning of machine-gunsand from a long way off came a long series of heavy explosions. I crept back to my horse blankets and slept again.
When next I awokea sickly yellow light was filtering in on me. It was dawn of the second day. I crept to the front of the store. A smoke pallshot through with lurid gleamsfilled the sky. Down the opposite side of the street tottered a wretched slave. One hand he held tightly against his sideand behind him he left a bloody trail. His eyes roved everywhereand they were filled with apprehension and dread. Once he looked straight across at meand in his face was all the dumb pathos of the wounded and hunted animal. He saw mebut there was no kinship between usand with himat leastno sympathy of understanding; for he cowered perceptibly and dragged himself on. He could expect no aid in all God's world. He was a helot in the great hunt of helots that the masters were making. All he could hope forall he soughtwas some hole to crawl away in and hide like any animal. The sharp clang of a passing ambulance at the corner gave him a start. Ambulances were not for such as he. With a groan of pain he threw himself into a doorway. A minute later he was out again and desperately hobbling on.
I went back to my horse blankets and waited an hour for Garthwaite. My headache had not gone away. On the contraryit was increasing. It was by an effort of will only that I was able to open my eyes and look at objects. And with the opening of my eyes and the looking came intolerable torment. Alsoa great pulse was beating in my brain. Weak and reelingI went out through the broken window and down the streetseeking to escapeinstinctively and gropinglyfrom the awful shambles. And thereafter I lived nightmare. My memory of what happened in the succeeding hours is the memory one would have of nightmare. Many events are focussed sharply on my brainbut between these indelible pictures I retain are intervals of unconsciousness. What occurred in those intervals I know notand never shall know.
I remember stumbling at the corner over the legs of a man. It was the poor hunted wretch that had dragged himself past my hiding- place. How distinctly do I remember his poorpitifulgnarled hands as he lay there on the pavement--hands that were more hoof and claw than handsall twisted and distorted by the toil of all his dayswith on the palms a horny growth of callous a half inch thick. And as I picked myself up and started onI looked into the face of the thing and saw that it still lived; for the eyesdimly intelligentwere looking at me and seeing me.
After that came a kindly blank. I knew nothingsaw nothingmerely tottered on in my quest for safety. My next nightmare vision was a quiet street of the dead. I came upon it abruptlyas a wanderer in the country would come upon a flowing stream. Only this stream I gazed upon did not flow. It was congealed in death. From pavement to pavementand covering the sidewalksit lay therespread out quite evenlywith only here and there a lump or mound of bodies to break the surface. Poor driven people of the abysshunted helots--they lay there as the rabbits in California after a drive.* Up the street and down I looked. There was no movementno sound. The quiet buildings looked down upon the scene from their many windows. And onceand once onlyI saw an arm that moved in that dead stream. I swear I saw it movewith a strange writhing gesture of agonyand with it lifted a headgory with nameless horrorthat gibbered at me and then lay down again and moved no more.
* In those daysso sparsely populated was the land that wild animals often became pests. In California the custom of rabbit- driving obtained. On a given day all the farmers in a locality would assemble and sweep across the country in converging linesdriving the rabbits by scores of thousands into a prepared enclosurewhere they were clubbed to death by men and boys.
I remember another streetwith quiet buildings on either sideand the panic that smote me into consciousness as again I saw the people of the abyssbut this time in a stream that flowed and came on. And then I saw there was nothing to fear. The stream moved slowlywhile from it arose groans and lamentationscursingsbabblings of senilityhysteriaand insanity; for these were the very young and the very oldthe feeble and the sickthe helpless and the hopelessall the wreckage of the ghetto. The burning of the great ghetto on the South Side had driven them forth into the inferno of the street-fightingand whither they wended and whatever became of them I did not know and never learned.*
* It was long a question of debatewhether the burning of the South Side ghetto was accidentalor whether it was done by the Mercenaries; but it is definitely settled now that the ghetto was fired by the Mercenaries under orders from their chiefs.
I have faint memories of breaking a window and hiding in some shop to escape a street mob that was pursued by soldiers. Alsoa bomb burst near meoncein some still streetwherelook as I wouldup and downI could see no human being. But my next sharp recollection begins with the crack of a rifle and an abrupt becoming aware that I am being fired at by a soldier in an automobile. The shot missedand the next moment I was screaming and motioning the signals. My memory of riding in the automobile is very hazythough this ridein turnis broken by one vivid picture. The crack of the rifle of the soldier sitting beside me made me open my eyesand I saw George Milfordwhom I had known in the Pell Street dayssinking slowly down to the sidewalk. Even as he sank the soldier fired againand Milford doubled inthen flung his body outand fell sprawling. The soldier chuckledand the automobile sped on.
The next I knew after that I was awakened out of a sound sleep by a man who walked up and down close beside me. His face was drawn and strainedand the sweat rolled down his nose from his forehead. One hand was clutched tightly against his chest by the other handand blood dripped down upon the floor as he walked. He wore the uniform of the Mercenaries. From withoutas through thick wallscame the muffled roar of bursting bombs. I was in some building that was locked in combat with some other building.
A surgeon came in to dress the wounded soldierand I learned that it was two in the afternoon. My headache was no betterand the surgeon paused from his work long enough to give me a powerful drug that would depress the heart and bring relief. I slept againand the next I knew I was on top of the building. The immediate fighting had ceasedand I was watching the balloon attack on the fortresses. Some one had an arm around me and I was leaning close against him. It came to me quite as a matter of course that this was Ernestand I found myself wondering how he had got his hair and eyebrows so badly singed.
It was by the merest chance that we had found each other in that terrible city. He had had no idea that I had left New Yorkandcoming through the room where I lay asleepcould not at first believe that it was I. Little more I saw of the Chicago Commune. After watching the balloon attackErnest took me down into the heart of the buildingwhere I slept the afternoon out and the night. The third day we spent in the buildingand on the fourthErnest having got permission and an automobile from the authoritieswe left Chicago.
My headache was gonebutbody and soulI was very tired. I lay back against Ernest in the automobileand with apathetic eyes watched the soldiers trying to get the machine out of the city. Fighting was still going onbut only in isolated localities. Here and there whole districts were still in possession of the comradesbut such districts were surrounded and guarded by heavy bodies of troops. In a hundred segregated traps were the comrades thus held while the work of subjugating them went on. Subjugation meant deathfor no quarter was givenand they fought heroically to the last man.*
* Numbers of the buildings held out over a weekwhile one held out eleven days. Each building had to be stormed like a fortand the Mercenaries fought their way upward floor by floor. It was deadly fighting. Quarter was neither given nor takenand in the fighting the revolutionists had the advantage of being above. While the revolutionists were wiped outthe loss was not one-sided. The proud Chicago proletariat lived up to its ancient boast. For as many of itself as were killedit killed that many of the enemy.
Whenever we approached such localitiesthe guards turned us back and sent us around. Oncethe only way past two strong positions of the comrades was through a burnt section that lay between. From either side we could hear the rattle and roar of warwhile the automobile picked its way through smoking ruins and tottering walls. Often the streets were blocked by mountains of debris that compelled us to go around. We were in a labyrinth of ruinand our progress was slow.
The stockyards (ghettoplantand everything) were smouldering ruins. Far off to the right a wide smoke haze dimmed the sky--the town of Pullmanthe soldier chauffeur told usor what had been the town of Pullmanfor it was utterly destroyed. He had driven the machine out therewith despatcheson the afternoon of the third day. Some of the heaviest fighting had occurred therehe saidmany of the streets being rendered impassable by the heaps of the dead.
Swinging around the shattered walls of a buildingin the stockyards districtthe automobile was stopped by a wave of dead. It was for all the world like a wave tossed up by the sea. It was patent to us what had happened. As the mob charged past the cornerit had been sweptat right angles and point-blank rangeby the machine-guns drawn up on the cross street. But disaster had come to the soldiers. A chance bomb must have exploded among themfor the mobchecked until its dead and dying formed the wavehad white-capped and flung forward its foam of livingfighting slaves. Soldiers and slaves lay togethertorn and mangledaround and over the wreckage of the automobiles and guns.
Ernest sprang out. A familiar pair of shoulders in a cotton shirt and a familiar fringe of white hair had caught his eye. I did not watch himand it was not until he was back beside me and we were speeding on that he said:
"It was Bishop Morehouse."
Soon we were in the green countryand I took one last glance back at the smoke-filled sky. Faint and far came the low thud of an explosion. Then I turned my face against Ernest's breast and wept softly for the Cause that was lost. Ernest's arm about me was eloquent with love.
"For this time lostdear heart he said, but not forever. We have learned. To-morrow the Cause will rise againstrong with wisdom and discipline."
The automobile drew up at a railroad station. Here we would catch a train to New York. As we waited on the platformthree trains thundered pastbound west to Chicago. They were crowded with raggedunskilled laborerspeople of the abyss.
"Slave-levies for the rebuilding of Chicago Ernest said. You seethe Chicago slaves are all killed."
It was not until Ernest and I were back in New Yorkand after weeks had elapsedthat we were able to comprehend thoroughly the full sweep of the disaster that had befallen the Cause. The situation was bitter and bloody. In many placesscattered over the countryslave revolts and massacres had occurred. The roll of the martyrs increased mightily. Countless executions took place everywhere. The mountains and waste regions were filled with outlaws and refugees who were being hunted down mercilessly. Our own refuges were packed with comrades who had prices on their heads. Through information furnished by its spiesscores of our refuges were raided by the soldiers of the Iron Heel.
Many of the comrades were disheartenedand they retaliated with terroristic tactics. The set-back to their hopes made them despairing and desperate. Many terrorist organizations unaffiliated with us sprang into existence and caused us much trouble.* These misguided people sacrificed their own lives wantonlyvery often made our own plans go astrayand retarded our organization.
* The annals of this short-lived era of despair make bloody reading. Revenge was the ruling motiveand the members of the terroristic organizations were careless of their own lives and hopeless about the future. The Danitestaking their name from the avenging angels of the Mormon mythologysprang up in the mountains of the Great West and spread over the Pacific Coast from Panama to Alaska. The Valkyries were women. They were the most terrible of all. No woman was eligible for membership who had not lost near relatives at the hands of the Oligarchy. They were guilty of torturing their prisoners to death. Another famous organization of women was The Widows of War. A companion organization to the Valkyries was the Berserkers. These men placed no value whatever upon their own livesand it was they who totally destroyed the great Mercenary city of Bellona along with its population of over a hundred thousand souls. The Bedlamites and the Helldamites were twin slave organizationswhile a new religious sect that did not flourish long was called The Wrath of God. Among othersto show the whimsicality of their deadly seriousnessmay be mentioned the following: The Bleeding HeartsSons of the Morningthe Morning StarsThe FlamingoesThe Triple TrianglesThe Three BarsThe RubonicsThe VindicatorsThe Comanchesand the Erebusites.
And through it all moved the Iron Heelimpassive and deliberateshaking up the whole fabric of the social structure in its search for the comradescombing out the Mercenariesthe labor castesand all its secret servicespunishing without mercy and without malicesuffering in silence all retaliations that were made upon itand filling the gaps in its fighting line as fast as they appeared. And hand in hand with thisErnest and the other leaders were hard at work reorganizing the forces of the Revolution. The magnitude of the task may be understood when it is taken into*
* This is the end of the Everhard Manuscript. It breaks off abruptly in the middle of a sentence. She must have received warning of the coming of the Mercenariesfor she had time safely to hide the Manuscript before she fled or was captured. It is to be regretted that she did not live to complete her narrativefor thenundoubtedlywould have been cleared away the mystery that has shrouded for seven centuries the execution of Ernest Everhard.