Helen of the Old House
Harold Bell Wright
Part 2 out of 6
Still in the glow of their wonderful experience at the Interpreter's
hut and the magnificent climax of that day's adventure, the children
had determined to go yet farther afield. It was true that their father
had threatened dire results if they should continue the acquaintance
begun at the foot of the Interpreter's zigzag stairway, but, sufficient
unto the day.--They would visit the great castle on the hill where
their beautiful princess lady lived. And, who could tell, perhaps they
might see her once more. Perhaps--"But that," said tiny Maggie, "was
too wonderful ever to happen again."
The way had been rather long for bare little feet. But excited hope had
strengthened them. And so they had climbed the hill, and had come at
last to the iron fence through which they could see the world of bright
flowers and clean grass and shady trees, and, in the midst of it all,
the big house. With their hungry little faces thrust between the strong
iron pickets, Sam Whaley's children feasted their eyes on the beauties
of Adam Ward's possessions. Even Bobby, in his rapture over the
loveliness of the scene, forgot for the moment his desire to blow up
the castle, with its owner and all.
Behind his clump of shrubbery, Adam Ward, crouching like some stealthy
creature of the jungle, watched and listened.
From the shelter of the arbor, Adam Ward's daughter looked upon the
scene with white-faced interest.
"Gee," said Bobby, "some place, I'd say!"
"Ain't it pretty?" murmured little Maggie. "Just like them places where
the fairies live."
"Huh," returned the boy, "old Adam Ward, he ain't no fairy I'm
To which Maggie, hurt by this suggested break in the spell of her
enchantment, returned indignantly, "Well, I guess the fairies can live
in all them there pretty flowers an' things just the same, if old Adam
does own 'em. You can't shut fairies out with no big iron fences."
"That's so," admitted Bobby. "Gee, I wisht we was fairies, so's we
could sneak in! Gee, wouldn't yer like ter take a roll on that there
"Huh," returned the little girl, "I know what I'd do if I was a fairy.
I'd hide in that there bunch of flowers over there, an' I'd watch till
the beautiful princess lady with the kind heart come along, an' I'd
tell her where she could find them there jewels of happiness what the
Interpreter told us about."
"Do yer reckon she's in the castle there, right now?" asked Bobby.
"I wonder!" murmured Maggie.
"Betcher can't guess which winder is hern."
"Bet I kin; it's that there one with all them vines around it. Princess
ladies allus has vines a-growin' 'roun' their castle winders--so's when
the prince comes ter rescue 'em he kin climb up."
"Wisht she'd come out."
Little Maggie's wish was never expressed, for at that moment, from
behind that near-by clump of shrubbery a man sprang toward them, his
face distorted with passion and his arms tossing in threatening
The children, too frightened to realize the safety of their position on
the other side of those iron bars, stood speechless. For the moment
they could neither cry out nor run.
"Get out!" Adam Ward yelled, hoarse with rage, as he would have driven
off a trespassing dog. "Get out! Go home where you belong! Don't you
know this is private property? Do you think I am keeping a circus here
for all the dirty brats in the country to look at? Get out, I tell you,
With frantic speed the two children fled down the hill.
Adam Ward laughed--laughed until he was forced to hold his sides and
the tears of his ungodly mirth rolled down his cheeks.
But such laughter is a fearful thing to see. White and trembling with
the shame and the horror of it, Helen crouched in her hiding place, not
daring even to move. She felt, as never before, the presence of that
spirit which possessed her father and haunted her home. It was as if
the hidden thing of which she had forced herself to speak to the
Interpreter were suddenly about to materialize before her eyes. She
wanted to scream--to cry aloud her fear--to shriek her protest--but
sheer terror held her motionless and dumb.
The spell was broken by Mrs. Ward who, from somewhere in the grounds,
was calling, "Adam! Oh-h, Adam!"
The man heard, and Helen saw him controlling his laughter, and looking
Again the call came, and there was an anxious note in the voice.
"Adam--father--Oh-h, father, where are you?"
With a cruel grin still twisting his gray face, Adam slunk behind a
clump of bushes.
Helen Ward crept from her hiding place and, keeping the little arbor
between herself and her father, stole away through the grounds. When
she was beyond his hearing, she almost ran, as if to escape from a spot
ON THE OLD ROAD
When Bobby and Maggie Whaley fled from the immediate vicinity of Adam
Ward's estate, they were beside themselves with fear--blind,
unreasoning, instinctive fear.
There is a fear that is reasonable--that is born of an intelligent
comprehension of the danger that menaces, and there is a fear that is
born of ignorance--of inability to understand the nature of the danger.
These children of the Flats had nothing in their little lives by which
they might know the owner of the Mill, or visualize the world in which
the man for whom their father worked lived. To Bobby and Maggie the
home of Adam Ward was a place of mystery, as far removed from the world
of their actualities as any fabled castle in fairyland could possibly
Sam Whaley's distorted views of all employers in the industrial world,
and his fanatical ideas of class loyalty, were impressed with weird
exaggeration upon the fertile minds of his children. From their
father's conversation with his workmen neighbors, and from the
suggestive expressions and epithets which Sam had gleaned from the
literature upon which he fed his mind and which he used with such
gusto, Bobby and Maggie had gathered the material out of which they had
created an imaginary monster, capable of destroying them with fiendish
delight. They had seen angry men too often to be much disturbed by mere
human wrath. But, to them, this Adam Ward who had appeared so suddenly
from the shrubbery was more than a man; he was all that they had been
taught to believe--a hideous thing of more dreadful power and sinister
purpose than could be imagined.
With all their strength they ran down the old hill road toward the
world of the Flats where they belonged. They dared not even look over
their shoulders. The very ground seemed to drag at their feet to hold
them back. Then little Maggie stumbled and fell. Her frantic screams
reached Bobby, who was a few feet in advance, and the boy stopped
instantly and faced about, with terror in his eyes but with evident
determination to defend his sister at any cost.
When he had pulled Maggie to her feet, and it was certain that there
was nothing pursuing them, Bobby, boylike, laughed. "Gee, but we made
some git-away, that trip! Gee, I'll tell the world!"
The little girl clung to her protector, shaking with weariness and
fear. "I--can't run 'nother step," she gasped. "Will he come after us
"Naw," returned the boy, with reassuring boldness, "he won't come this
far. Yer just lay down in the grass, under this here tree, 'til yer
catch yer wind; then we'll make it on down to the Interpreter's
--'tain't far to the stairs. You just take it easy. I'll watch."
The soft grass and the cool shade were very pleasant after their wild
run, and they were loath to go, even when little Maggie had recovered
from her exhaustion. Very soon, when no danger appeared, the boy forgot
to watch and began an animated discussion of their thrilling
But Maggie did not share her brother's boastful triumph. "Do you
suppose," she said, wistfully, "that he is like that to the princess
Bobby shook his head doubtfully. "I don't know. Yer can't tell what
he'd do to her if he took a notion. Old Adam Ward would do anything
that's mean, to anybody, no matter who. I'll bet--"
The sound of some one approaching from the direction of the castle
interrupted Bobby's conjectures.
Maggie would have made another frantic effort to escape, but the boy
caught her roughly and drew her down beside him. "No use to run--yer
can't make it," he whispered. "Best lay low. An' don't yer dast even
Lying prone, they wormed themselves into the tall grass, with the trunk
of the tree between them and the road, until it would have been a keen
observer, indeed, who would have noticed them in passing.
They heard the approaching danger coming nearer and nearer. Little
Maggie buried her face in the grass roots to stifle a scream. Now it
was on the other side of the tree. It was passing on. Suddenly they
almost buried themselves in the ground in their effort to lie closer to
the earth. The sound of the footsteps had ceased.
For what seemed to them hours, the frightened children lay motionless,
scarcely daring to breathe. Then another sound came to their straining
ears--a sound not unfamiliar to the children of the Flats. A woman was
Cautiously, the more courageous Bobby raised his head until he could
peer through the tangled stems and blades of the sheltering grass. A
moment he looked, then gently shook his sister's arm. Imitating her
brother's caution, little Maggie raised her frightened face. Only a few
steps away, their princess lady was crouching in the grass, with her
face buried in her hands, crying bitterly.
"Well, what do yer know about that?" whispered Bobby.
A moment longer they kept their places, whispering in consultation.
Then they rose quietly to their feet and, hand in hand, stood waiting.
Helen had not consciously followed the children. Indeed, her mind was
so occupied with her own troubled thoughts that she had forgotten the
little victims of her father's insane cruelty. To avoid meeting her
mother, as she fled from the scene of her father's madness, she had
taken a course that led her toward the entrance to the estate. With the
one thought of escaping from the invisible presence of that hidden
thing, she had left the grounds and followed the quiet old road.
When the storm of her grief had calmed a little, the young woman raised
her head and saw Sam Whaley's dirty, ill-kept children gazing at her
with wondering sympathy. It is not too much to say that Helen Ward was
more embarrassed than she would have been had she found herself thus
suddenly in the presence of royalty. "I am sorry you were frightened,"
she said, hesitatingly. "I can't believe that he really would have hurt
"Huh," grunted Bobby. "I'm darned glad we was outside of that there
Maggie's big eyes were eloquent with compassion. "Did--did he scare
Helen held back her tears with an effort. "Yes, dear, he frightened me,
With shy friendliness, little Maggie drew closer. "Is he--is he sure
'nuff, yer father?"
"Yes," returned Helen, "he is my father."
"Gee!" ejaculated Bobby. "An' is he always like that?"
"Oh, no, indeed," returned Helen, quickly. "Father is really kind and
good, but he--he is sick now and not wholly himself, you see."
"Huh," said Bobby. "He didn't act very sick to me. What's ailin' him?"
Helen answered slowly, "I--we don't just know what it is. The doctors
say it is a nervous trouble."
"An' does he--does he ever whip yer?" asked Maggie.
In spite of the pain in her heart, Helen smiled. "No--never."
"Our dad gits mad, too, sometimes," said Bobby. "But, gee! he ain't
never like that. Dad, he wouldn't care if somebody just looked into our
yard. We wasn't a-hurtin' nothin'--just a-lookin'--that's all. Yer
can't hurt nothin' just a-lookin', can yer?"
"I am sorry," said Helen.
"Be yer happy?" asked Maggie, suddenly, with disconcerting directness.
"Why!" replied Helen, "I--What makes you ask such a funny question?"
Maggie was too much embarrassed at her own boldness to answer, and
Bobby came to her rescue.
"She wants to know because the Interpreter, he tole us about a princess
what lived in a castle an' wasn't happy 'til the fairy told her how to
find the jewel of happiness; an' Mag, here, she thinks it's you."
"And where did the princess find the jewel of happiness?" asked Helen.
Little Maggie's anxiety to help overcame her timidity and she answered
precisely, "On the shores of the sea of life which was not far from the
castle where the beautiful princess lived."
Helen looked toward the Flats, the Mill, and the homes in the
neighborhood of the old house. "The shores of the sea of life," she
repeated, thoughtfully. "I see."
"Yes," continued Maggie, with her tired little face alight, and her
eyes big with excited eagerness, "but the beautiful princess, she
didn't know that there jewel of happiness when she seen it."
"No?" said Helen, smiling at her little teacher.
"No--an' so she picked up all the bright, shiny stones what was no good
at all, 'til the fairy showed her how the real jewel she was a-wantin'
was an old, ugly, dirt-colored thing what didn't look like any jewel,
no more 'n nothin'."
"Oh, I see!" said Helen again. And Bobby thought that she looked at
them as though she were thinking very hard.
"Yer forgot something Mag," said the boy, suddenly.
"I ain't neither," returned his sister, with unusual boldness. "Yer
shut up an' see." Then, to Helen, "Is yer heart kind, lady?"
"I--I hope so, dear," returned the disconcerted Helen. "Why?"
"Because, if it is, then the fairies will help yer find the real jewel
of happiness, 'cause that was the reason, yer see, it all
happened--'cause the beautiful princess's heart was kind." She turned
to Bobby triumphantly, "There, ain't that like the Interpreter said?"
"Uh-huh," agreed the boy. "But yer needn't to worry--her heart's all
right. Didn't she give us that there grand ride in her swell
Little Maggie's embarrassment suddenly returned.
"Did you really enjoy the ride?" asked Helen.
Bobby answered, "I'll say we did. Gee! but yer ought to a seen us
puttin' it all over everybody in the Flats."
Something in the boy's answer brought another smile to Helen's lips,
but it was not a smile of happiness.
"I really must go now," she said, rising. "Thank you for telling me
about the happiness jewel. Don't you think that it is time for you to
be running along home? Your mother will be wondering where you are,
"Uh-huh," agreed Bobby.
But Maggie's mind was fixed upon more important things than the time of
day. With an effort, she forced herself to say, "If the fairy comes to
yer will yer tell me about it, sometime? I ain't never seen one myself
"You poor little mite!" said Helen. "Yes, indeed, I will tell you about
it if the fairy comes. And I will tell the fairy about you, too. But,
who knows, perhaps the happiness fairy will visit you first, and you
can tell her about me."
And something that shone in the beautiful face of the young woman, or
something that sang in her voice, made little Maggie sure--deep down
inside--that her princess lady would find the jewel of happiness, just
as the Interpreter had said. But neither the child of the Flats, nor
the daughter of the big house on the hill knew that the jewel of
happiness was, even at that moment, within reach of the princess lady's
When Helen had disappeared from their sight, the two children started
on their way down the hill toward the dingy Flats.
"Gee," said Bobby, "won't we have something to tell the kids now? Gee!
We'll sure make 'em sore they wasn't along. Think of us a-talkin' to
old Adam Ward's daughter, herself. Gee! Some stunt--I'll tell the
They had reached the foot of the old stairway and were discussing
whether or not they dared prolong their absence from home by paying a
visit to the Interpreter, when a man appeared on the road from town.
Bobby caught sight of the approaching stranger first, and the boy's
freckled countenance lighted with excited interest and admiration.
"Hully Gee!" he exclaimed, catching Maggie by the arm. "Would yer look
The man was not, in his general appearance, one to inspire a feeling of
confidence. He was a little above medium height, with fat shoulders, a
thick neck, and dark, heavy features with coarse lips showing through a
black beard trimmed to a point, and small black eyes set close above a
large nose with flaring nostrils. His clothing was good, and he carried
himself with assurance. But altogether there was about him the
unmistakable air of a foreigner.
Bobby continued in an excited whisper, "That there's Jake Vodell we've
heard Dad an' the men talkin' so much about. He's the guy what's
a-goin' to put the fear of God into the Mill bosses and rich folks.
He's a-goin' to take away old Adam Ward's money an' Mill, an'
autermobiles, an' house an'--everything, an' divide 'em all up 'mong us
poor workin' folks. Gee, but he's a big gun, I'm tellin' yer!"
The man came on to the foot of the stairs and stopped before the
children. For a long moment he looked them over with speculative
interest. "Well," he said, abruptly, "and who are you? That you belong
in this neighborhood it is easy to see."
"We're Bobby and Maggie Whaley," answered the boy.
The man's black eyebrows were lifted, and he nodded his head
reflectively. "Oh-ho, you are Sam Whaley's kids, heh?"
"Uh-huh," returned Bobby. "An' I know who yer are, too."
"So?" said the man.
"Uh-huh, yer Jake Vodell, the feller what's a-goin' to make all the big
bugs hunt their holes, and give us poor folks a chance. Gee, but I'd
like to be you!"
The man showed his strong white teeth in a pleased smile. "You are all
right, kid," he returned. "I think, maybe, you will play a big part in
the cause sometime--when you grow up."
Bobby swelled out his chest with pride at this good word from his hero.
"I'm big enough right now to put a stick o' danermite under old Adam
Ward's castle, up there on the hill."
Little Maggie caught her brother's arm. "Bobby, yer ain't a-goin'--"
The man laughed. "That's the stuff, kid," he said. "But you better let
jobs like that alone--until you are a bit older, heh?"
"Mag an' me has been up there to the castle all this afternoon,"
bragged the boy. "An' we talked with old Adam's daughter, too, an'--an'
The man stared at him. "What is this you tell me?"
"It's so," returned Bobby, stoutly, "ain't it, Mag? An' the other day
Helen Ward, she give us a ride, in her autermobile--while she was
a-visitin' with the Interpreter up there."
Jake Vodell's black brows were drawn together in a frown of
disapproval. "So this Adam Ward's daughter, too, calls on the
Interpreter, heh! Many people, it seems, go to this Interpreter." To
Bobby he said suddenly, "Look here, it will be better if you kids stay
away from such people--it will get you nothing to work yourselves in
with those who are not of your own class!"
"Yes, sir," returned Bobby, dutifully.
"I will tell you what you can do, though," continued the man. "You can
tell your father that I want him at the meeting to-night. Think you can
"Yer bet I can," replied the boy. "But where'll I tell him the meetin'
"Never you mind that," returned the other. "You just tell him I want
him--he will know where. And now be on your way."
To Bobby's utter amazement, Jake Vodell went quickly up the steps that
led to the Interpreter's hut.
"Gee!" exclaimed the wondering urchin. "What do yer know about that,
Mag? He's a-goin' to see our old Interpreter. Gee! I guess the
Interpreter's one of us all right. Jake Vodell wouldn't be a-goin' to
see him if he wasn't."
As they trudged away through the black dust, the boy added, "Darn it
all, Mag, if the Interpreter _is_ one of us what's the princess lady
goin' to see him for?"
THE HIDDEN THING
Hiding in the shrubbery, Adam Ward chuckled and grinned with strange
glee as he listened to his wife calling for him. Here and there about
the grounds she searched anxiously; but the man kept himself hidden and
enjoyed her distress. At last, when she had come so near that discovery
was certain, he suddenly stepped out from the bushes and, facing her,
And now, by some miracle, Adam Ward's countenance was transformed--his
eyes were gentle, his gray face calm and kindly. His smile became the
affectionate greeting of a man who, past the middle years of life, is
steadfast in his love for the mother of his grown-up children.
Mrs. Ward had been, in the years of her young womanhood, as beautiful
as her daughter Helen. But her face was lined now with care and
shadowed by sadness, as though with the success of her husband there
had come, also, regrets and disappointments which she had suffered in
silence and alone.
She returned Adam's smile of greeting, when she saw him standing there,
but that note of anxiety was still in her voice as she said gently,
"Where in the world have you been? I have looked all over the place for
He laughed as he went to her--a laugh of good comradeship. "I was just
sitting over there under that tree," he answered. "I heard you when you
called the first time, but thought I would let you hunt a while. The
exercise will do you good--keep you from getting too fat in your old
She laughed with him, and answered, "Well, you can just come and talk
to me now, while I rest."
Arm in arm, they went to the rustic seat in the shade of the tree
where, a few minutes before, he had so aimlessly broken the twigs.
But when they were seated the man frowned with displeasure. "Alice, I
wish to goodness there was some way to make these men about the place
keep a closer watch of things."
She glanced at him quickly. "Has something gone wrong, Adam?"
"Nothing more than usual," he answered, harshly. "There are always a
lot of prowlers around. But they don't stay long when I get after
them." He laughed, shortly--a mirthless, shamefaced laugh.
"I am sorry you were annoyed," she said, gently.
"Annoyed!" he returned, with the manner of a petulant child. "I'll
annoy _them_. I tell you I am not going to stand for a lot of people's
coming here, sneaking and prying around to see what they can see. If
anybody wants to enjoy a place like this let him work for it as I
She waited a while before she said, as if feeling her way toward a
definite point, "It has been hard work, hasn't it, Adam? Almost too
hard, I fear. Did you ever ask yourself if, after all, it is really
worth the cost?"
"Worth the cost! I am not in the habit of paying more than things are
worth. This place cost me exactly--"
She interrupted him, quietly, "I don't mean that, dear. I was not
thinking of the money. I was thinking of what it has all cost in work
and worry and--and other things."
"It has all been for you and the children, Alice," he answered,
wearily; and there was that in his voice and face which brought the
tears to her eyes. "You know that, so far as I am personally concerned,
it doesn't mean a thing in the world to me. I don't know anything
outside of the Mill myself."
She put her hand on his arm with a caressing touch. "I know--I
know--and that is just what troubles me. Perhaps if you would share it
more--I mean if you could enjoy it more--I might feel different about
it. We were all so happy, Adam, in the old house."
When he made no reply to this but sat with his eyes fixed on the ground
she said, pleadingly, "Won't you put aside all the cares and worries of
the Mill now, and just be happy with us, Adam?"
The man moved uneasily.
"You know what the doctors say," she continued, gently. "You really--"
He interrupted impatiently, "The doctors are a set of fools. I'll show
She persisted with gentle patience. "But even if the doctors are wrong
about your health, still there is no reason why you should not rest
after all your years of hard work. I am sure we have everything in the
world that any one could possibly want. There is not the shadow of a
necessity to make you go on wearing your life out as you have been
"Much you know about what is necessary for me to do," he retorted. "A
man isn't going to let the business that he has been all his life
building up go to smash just because he has made money enough to keep
him without work for the rest of his days."
"There are other things that can go to smash besides business, Adam,"
she returned, sadly. "And I am sure that the Mill will be safe enough
now in John's hands."
"John!" he exclaimed, bitterly. "It's John and his crazy ideas that I
am afraid of."
She returned, quickly, with a mother's pride, "Why, Adam! You have said
so many times how wonderfully well John was doing, and what a splendid
head he had for business details and management. It was only last week
that you told me John was more capable now than some of the men that
have been in the office with you for several years."
Adam Ward rose and paced uneasily up and down before her. "You don't
understand at all, Alice. It is not John's business ability or his
willingness to get into the harness that worries me. It is the fool
notions that he picked up somewhere over there in the war--there, and
from that meddlesome old socialist basket maker."
"Just what notions do you mean, Adam? Is it John's friendship with
Charlie Martin that you fear?"
"His friendship with young Martin is only part of it. I am afraid of
his attitude toward the whole industrial situation. Haven't you heard
his wild, impracticable and dangerous theories of applying, as he says,
the ideals of patriotism, and love of country, and duty to humanity,
and sacrifice, and heroism, and God knows what other nonsense, to the
work of the world? You know as well as I do how he talks about the
comradeship of the mills and factories and workshops being like the
comradeship of the trenches and camps and battlefields. His notions of
the relation between an employer and his employees would be funny if
they were not so dangerous. Look at his sympathy with the unions! And
yet I have shown him on my books where this union business has cost me
hundreds of thousands of dollars! Comradeship! Loyalty! I tell you I
know what I'm talking about from experience. The only way to handle the
working class is to keep them where they belong. Give them the least
chance to think you are easy and they are on your neck. If I had my way
I'd hold them to their jobs at the muzzle of a machine gun. McIver has
the right idea. He is getting himself in shape right now for the
biggest fight with labor that he has ever had. Everybody knows that
agitator Jake Vodell is here to make trouble. The laboring classes have
had a long spell of good times now and they're ripe for anything. All
they need is a start and this anarchist is here to start them. And
John, instead of lining up with McIver and getting ready to fight them
to a finish, is spending his time hobnobbing with Charlie Martin and
listening to that old fool Interpreter."
"Come, dear," she said, soothingly. "Come and sit down here with me.
Don't let's worry about what may happen."
He obeyed her with the manner of a fretful child. And presently, as she
talked, the cloud lifted from his gray, haggard face, and he grew calm.
Soon, when she made some smiling remark, he even smiled back at her
with the affectionate companionship of their years.
"You will try not to worry about things so much, won't you, Adam?" she
said, at last. "For my sake, won't you?"
"But I tell you, Alice, there is serious trouble ahead."
"Perhaps that is all the more reason why you should retire now," she
urged. He stirred uneasily, but she continued, "Just suppose the worst
that could possibly happen should happen, suppose you even had to give
up the Mill to Pete Martin and the men, suppose you lost the new
process and everything, and we were obliged to give up our home here
and go back to live in the old house--it would still be better than
losing you, dear. Don't you know that to have you well and strong would
be more to Helen and John and to me than anything else could possibly
Mrs. Ward knew, as the words left her lips, that she had said the wrong
thing. She had heard him rave about his ownership of the new process
too many times not to know--while any mention of his old workman friend
Peter Martin always threw him into a rage. But in her anxiety the
forbidden words had escaped her.
She drew back with a little gasp of fear at the swift change that came
over his face. As if she had touched a hidden spring in his being the
man's countenance was darkened by furious hatred and desperate fear.
His trembling lips were ashen; the muscles of his face twitched and
worked; his eyes blazed with a vicious anger beyond all control.
Springing to his feet, he faced her with a snarling exclamation, and in
a voice shaking with passion, cried, "Pete Martin! What is he? Who is
he? Everything he has in the world he owes to me. Haven't I kept him in
work all these years? Haven't I paid him every cent of his wages? Look
at his home. Not many working men have been able to own a place like
that. What would he have done without the money I have given him every
pay day? I could have turned him out long ago--kicked him out of a job
without a cent. He's had all that's coming to him--every penny. _I_
built up the Mill. That new process is mine--it's patented in my name.
I have had the best lawyers I could hire to protect it on every
possible point. If it hadn't been for my business brain there wouldn't
be any new process. What could Pete Martin have done with it--the fool
has no more business sense than a baby. I introduced it--I exploited
it--I built it up and made it worth what it is, and there isn't a court
in the world that wouldn't say I have a legal right to it."
In vain Mrs. Ward tried to soothe him with reassuring words, pleading
with him to be calm.
"I know they're after me," he raved. "They have tried all sorts of
tricks. There is always some sneaking spy watching for a chance to get
me, but I'll fix them. I built the business up and I can tear it down.
Let them try to take anything away from me if they dare. I'll burn the
Mill and the whole town before I'll give up one cent of my legal rights
to Pete Martin or any of his tribe."
Forgetting his companion, the man suddenly started off across the
grounds, waving his arms and shaking his fists in wild gestures as he
continued his tirade against his old fellow workman. Mrs. Ward knew
from experience the uselessness of trying to interfere until he had
* * * * *
As Helen was returning to the house after her talk with the children,
she saw her mother coming slowly from that part of the grounds where
the young woman had watched her father. It was evident, even at a
distance, that Mrs. Ward was greatly distressed. When the young woman
reached her mother's side, Mrs. Ward said, simply, "Your father,
dear--he is terribly upset. Go to him, Helen, you can always do more
for him than any one else--he needs you."
It was not an easy task for Helen Ward to face her father just then. As
she went in search of him she tried to put from her mind all that she
had seen and to remember only that he was ill. She found him in the
most distant and lonely part of the grounds, sitting with his face
buried in his hands--a figure of hopeless despair.
While still some distance away, she forced herself to call cheerily,
As he raised his head, she turned to pick a few flowers from a near-by
bed. When he had had a moment to regain, in a measure, his
self-control, she went toward him, arranging her blossoms with careful
Adam Ward watched his daughter as she drew near, much as a condemned
man might have watched through the grating of a prison window.
"What is it, father?" she asked, gently, when she had come close to his
side. "Another one of your dreadful nervous headaches?"
He put a shaking hand to his brow. "Yes," he said wearily.
"I am so sorry," she returned, sitting down beside him. "You have been
thinking too hard again, haven't you?"
"Yes, I guess I have been thinking too hard."
"But you're going to stop all that now, aren't you?" she continued,
cheerily. "You're just going to forget the old Mill, and do nothing but
rest and play with me."
"Could I learn to play, do you think, Helen?"
"Why, of course you could, father, with me to teach you. That's the
best thing I do, you know."
He watched her closely. "And you don't think that I--that I am no
longer capable of managing my affairs?"
She laughed gayly. "What a silly question--_you_ capable--_you_,
father, the best brain--the best business executive in Millsburgh. You
know that is what everybody says of you. You are just tired, and need a
good rest, that is all."
The man's drooping shoulders lifted and his face brightened as he said,
slowly, "I guess perhaps you are right, daughter."
"I am sure of it," she returned, eagerly. Then she added brightly, as
if prompted by a sudden inspiration, "I'll tell you what you do--ask
"Ask the Interpreter!"
She nodded, smiling as if she had put a puzzling conundrum to him.
"You mean for me to ask that paralyzed old basket maker's advice? You
mean, ask him if I should retire from business?"
Again she nodded with a little laugh; but under her laughter there was
a note of earnestness.
"And don't you know," he said, "that it is the Interpreter who is at
the bottom of all my trouble?"
"The Interpreter, I tell you, is back of the whole thing. He is the
brains of the labor organizations in Millsburgh and has been for years.
Why, it was the Interpreter who organized the first union in this
district. He has done more to build them up than all the others put
together. Pete Martin and Charlie, the ringleaders of the Mill workers'
union, are only his active lieutenants. I haven't a doubt but that he
is responsible for this agitator Jake Vodell's coming to Millsburgh.
That miserable shack on the cliff is the real headquarters of labor in
this part of the country. Your Interpreter is a fine one for _me_ to go
to for advice. His hut is a fine place for your brother to spend his
spare time. It would be a fine thing, right now, with this man Vodell
in town, for me to resign and leave the Mill in the hands of John, who
is already in the hands of the Interpreter and the Martins and their
Mill workers' union!"
As Adam finished, the deep sonorous tones of the great Mill whistle
sounded over the community. It was the signal for the closing of the
Obedient to the habit of years, the Mill owner looked at his watch. In
his mind he saw the day force trooping from the building and the night
shift coming in. Throughout the entire city, in office and shop and
store and home, the people ordered their days by the sound of that
whistle, and Adam Ward had been very proud of this recognition accorded
Wearily, as one exhausted by a day of hard labor, this man who so
feared the power of the Interpreter looked up at his daughter. "I wish
I could rest," he said.
WHILE THE PEOPLE SLEEP
The Interpreter's hands were busy with his basket weaving; his mind
seemingly was occupied more with other things. Frequently he paused to
look up from his work and, with his eyes fixed on the Mill, the Flats
and the homes on the hillside, apparently considered the life that lay
before him and of which he had been for so many years an interested
observer and student. On the opposite side of the table, silent Billy
was engaged with something that had to do with the manufacturing
interests of their strange partnership.
When Jake Vodell reached the landing at the top of the stairway, he
stopped to look about the place with curious, alert interest, noting
with quick glances every object in the immediate vicinity of the hut,
as if fixing them in his mind. Satisfied at last by the thoroughness of
his inspection, he went toward the house, but his step on the board
walk made no sound. At the outer door of the little hut the man halted
again, and again he looked quickly about the premises. Apparently there
was no one at home. Silently he entered the room and the next instant
discovered the two men on the porch.
The Interpreter's attention at the moment was fixed upon his work and
he remained unaware of the intruder's presence, while Jake Vodell,
standing in the doorway, regarded the old basket maker curiously, with
a contemptuous smile on his bearded lips.
But Billy Rand saw him. A moment he looked at the man in the doorway
inquiringly, as he would have regarded any one of the Interpreter's
many visitors; then the deaf and dumb man's expression changed.
Glancing quickly at his still unobserving companion, he caught up a
hatchet that lay among the tools on the table and, with a movement that
was not unlike the guarding action of a huge mastiff, rose to his feet.
His face was a picture of animal rage; his teeth were bared, his eyes
gleamed, his every muscle was tense.
The man in the doorway was evidently no coward, but the smile vanished
from his heavy face and his right hand went quickly inside his vest.
"What's the matter with you?" he said, sharply, as Billy started toward
him with deliberate menace in his movement.
At the sound of the man's voice the Interpreter looked up. One glance
and the old basket maker caught the wheels of his chair and with a
quick, strong movement rolled himself between the two men--so close to
Billy that he caught his defender by the arm. Facing his enraged
companion, the Interpreter talked to him rapidly in their sign language
and held out his hand for the hatchet. The silent Billy reluctantly
surrendered the weapon and drew back to his place on the other side of
the table, where he sat glaring at the stranger in angry watchfulness.
The man in the doorway laughed harshly. "They told me I would find a
helpless old cripple up here," he said. "I think you are pretty well
protected at that."
Regarding the stranger gravely, the Interpreter apologized for his
companion. "You can see that Billy is not wholly responsible," he
explained. "He is little more than a child mentally; his actions are
often apparently governed wholly by that strange instinct which seems
to guide the animals. He is very devoted to me."
"He seems to be in earnest all right," said the stranger. "He is a
husky brute, too."
The Interpreter, regarding the man inquiringly, almost as if he were
seeking in the personality of his visitor the reason for Billy's
startling conduct, replied, simply, "He would have killed you."
With a shrug of his thick shoulders, the stranger uninvited came
forward and helped himself to a chair, and, with the air of one
introducing a person of some importance, said, "I am Vodell--Jake
Vodell. You have heard of me, I think, heh?"
"Oh, yes. Indeed, I should say that every one has heard of you, Mr.
Vodell. Your work has given you even more than national prominence, I
The man was at no pains to conceal his satisfaction. "I am known, yes."
"It is odd," said the Interpreter, "but your face seems familiar to me,
as if I had met you before."
"You have heard me speak somewhere, maybe, heh?"
"No, it cannot be that. You have never been in Millsburgh before, have
"It is strange," mused the old basket maker.
"It is the papers," returned Vodell with a shrug. "Many times the
papers have my picture--you must have seen."
"Of course, that is it," exclaimed the Interpreter. "I remember now,
distinctly. It was in connection with that terrible bomb outrage in--"
"Sir!" interrupted the other indignantly. "Outrage--what do you mean,
"I was thinking of the innocent people who were killed or injured,"
returned the Interpreter, calmly. "I believe you were also prominent in
those western strikes where so many women and children suffered, were
The labor agitator replied with the exact manner of a scientific
lecturer. "It is unfortunate that innocent persons must sometimes be
hurt in these affairs. But that is one of the penalties that society
must pay for tolerating the conditions that make these industrial wars
"If I remember correctly, you were in the South, too, at the time that
mill was destroyed."
"Oh, yes, they had me in jail there. But that was nothing. I have many
such experiences. They are to me very commonplace. Wherever there are
the poor laboring men who must fight for their rights, I go. The mines,
shops, mills, factories--it is all the same to me. I go wherever I can
serve the Cause. I have been in America now ten years, nearly eleven."
"You are not, then, a citizen of this country?"
Jake Vodell laughed contemptuously. "Oh, sure I am a citizen of this
country--this great America of fools and cowards that talk all the time
so big about freedom and equality, while the capitalist money hogs hold
them in slavery and rob them of the property they create. I had to
become a citizen when the war came, you see, or they would have sent me
away. But for that I would make myself a citizen of some cannibal
country first." The old basket maker's dark eyes blazed with quick
fire and he lifted himself with sudden strength to a more erect
position in his wheel chair. But when he spoke his deep voice was calm
and steady. "You have been in our little city nearly a month, I
"Just about. I have been looking around, getting acquainted, studying
the situation. One must be very careful to know the right men, you
understand. It pays, I find, to go a little slow at first. We will go
fast enough later." His thick lips parted in a meaning grin.
The Interpreter's hands gripped the wheels of his chair.
"Everybody tells me I should see you," the agitator continued.
"Everywhere it is the same. They all talk of the Interpreter. 'Go to
the Interpreter,' they say. When they told me that this great
Interpreter is an old white-headed fellow without any legs, I laughed
and said, 'What can he do to help the laboring man? He is not good for
anything but to sit in a wheel chair and make baskets all the day. I
need _men_.' But they all answer the same thing, 'Go and see the
Interpreter.' And so I am here."
When the Interpreter was silent, his guest demanded, harshly, "They are
all right, heh? You are a friend to the workingman? Tell me, is it so?"
The old basket maker spoke with quiet dignity. "For twenty-five years
Millsburgh has been my home, and the Millsburgh people have been my
friends. You, sir, have been here less than a month; I have known you
but a few minutes."
Jake Vodell laughed understandingly. "Oh-ho, so that is it? Maybe you
like to see my credentials before we talk?"
The Interpreter held up a hand in protest. "Your reputation is
sufficient, Mr. Vodell."
The man acknowledged the compliment--as he construed it--with a shrug
and a pleased laugh. "And all that is said of you by the laboring class
in your little city is sufficient," he returned. "Even the men in
McIver's factory tell me you are the best friend that labor has ever
had in this place." He paused expectantly.
The man in the wheel chair bowed his head.
"And then," continued Jake Vodell, with a frown of displeasure, "when I
come to see you, to ask some questions about things that I should know,
what do I hear? The daughter of this old slave-driver and robber--this
capitalist enemy of the laboring class--Adam Ward, she comes also to
see this Interpreter who is such a friend of the people."
The Interpreter laughed. "And Sam Whaley's children, they come too."
"Oh, yes, that is better. I know Sam Whaley. He is a good man who will
be a great help to me. But I do not understand this woman business."
"I have known Miss Ward ever since she was born; I worked in the Mill
at the same bench with her father and Peter Martin," said the man in
the wheel chair, with quiet dignity.
"I see. It is not so bad sometimes to have a friend or two among these
millionaires when there is no danger of it being misunderstood. But
this man, who was once a workman and who deserted his class--this
traitor, her father--does he also call on you, Mr. Interpreter?"
"Once in a great while," answered the Interpreter.
Jake Vodell laughed knowingly. "When he wants something, heh?" Then,
with an air of taking up the real business of his visit to the little
hut on the cliff, he said, "Suppose now you tell me something about
this son of Adam Ward. You have known him since he was a boy too--the
same as the girl?"
"Yes," said the Interpreter, "I have known John Ward all his life."
Something in the old basket maker's voice made Jake Vodell look at him
sharply and the agitator's black brows were scowling as he said,
"So--you are friends with him, too, I guess, heh?"
"I am, sir; and so is Captain Charlie Martin, who is the head of our
Mill workers' union, as you may have heard."
"Exactly. That is why I ask. So many of the poor fools who slave for
this son of Adam Ward in the Mill say that he is such a fine man--so
kind. Oh, wonderful! Bah! When was the wolf whelped that would be kind
to a rabbit? You shall tell me now about the friendship between this
wolf cub of the capitalist Mill owner and this poor rabbit, son of the
workman Peter Martin who has all his life been a miserable slave in the
Mill. They were in the army together, heh?"
"They enlisted in the same company when the first call came and were
comrades all through the worst of the fighting in France."
"And before that, they were friends, heh?"
"They had been chums as boys, when the family lived in the old house
next door to the Martins. But during the years that John was away in
school and college Adam moved his family to the place on the hill where
they live now. When John was graduated and came home to stay, he
naturally found his friends in another circle. His intimacy with Pete
Martin's boy was not renewed--until the war."
"Exactly," grunted Jake Vodell. "And how did Adam Ward like it that his
boy should go to war? Not much, I think. It was all right for the
workman's boy to go; but the Mill owner's son--that was different,
There was a note of pride in the Interpreter's voice, as he answered,
"Adam was determined that the boy should not go at all, even if he were
drafted. But John said that it was bad enough to let other men work to
feed and clothe him in ordinary times of peace without letting them do
his fighting for him as well."
"This Adam Ward's son said that!" exclaimed the agitator. "Huh--it was
for the effect--a grand-stand play."
"He enlisted," retorted the Interpreter. "And when his father would
have used his influence to secure some sort of commission with an easy
berth, John was more indignant than ever. He said if he ever wore
shoulder straps they would be a recognition of his service to his
country and not, as he put it, a pretty gift from a rich father. So he
and Charlie Martin both enlisted as privates, and, as it happened, on
the same day. Under such circumstances it was quite as natural that
their old friendship should be reestablished as that they should have
drifted apart under the influence of Adam Ward's prosperity."
Jake Vodell laughed disagreeably. "And then this wonderful son of your
millionaire Mill owner comes out of the war and the army exactly as he
went in, nothing but a private--not even a medal--heh? But this workman
from the Mill, he comes back a captain with a distinguished service
medal? I think maybe Private Ward's father and mother and sister liked
Disregarding these comments, the Interpreter said, "Now that I have
answered your questions about the friendship of John Ward and Charlie
Martin, may I ask just why you are so much interested in the matter?"
The agitator gazed at the man in the wheel chair with an expression of
incredulous amazement. "Is it possible you do not understand?" he
demanded. "And you such a friend to the workingman! But wait--one more
thing, then I will answer you. This daughter of Adam Ward--she is also
good friends with her old playmate who is now Captain Martin, is she?
The workman goes sometimes to the big house on the hill to see his
millionaire friends, does he?"
The Interpreter answered, coldly, "I can't discuss Miss Ward with you,
"Oh-ho! And now I will answer your question as to my interest. This
John Ward is already a boss in the Mill. His father, everybody tells
me, is not well. Any time now the old man may retire from the business
and the son will have his place as general manager. He will be the
owner. The friendship between these two men is not good--because
Charlie Martin is the leader of the union and there can be no such
friendship between a leader of the laboring class and one of the
employer class without great loss to our Cause. You will see. These
rich owners of the Mill, they will flatter and make much of this poor
workman captain because of his influence among the people who slave for
them, and so any movement to secure for the workmen their rights will
be defeated. Do you understand now, Mister basket maker, heh?"
The Interpreter bowed his head.
The agitator continued. "Already I find it very hard to accomplish much
with this Mill workers' union. Except for our friend, Sam Whaley, and a
few others, the fools are losing their class loyalty. Their fighting
spirit is breaking down. It will not do, I tell you. At the McIver
factory it is all very different. It will be easy there. The workingmen
show the proper spirit--they will be ready when I give the word. But I
am not pleased with the situation in this Mill of Adam Ward's. This
fine friendship between the son of the owner and the son of the workman
must stop. Friendship--bah!--it is a pretense, a sham, a trick."
The man's manner, when he thus passed judgment upon the comradeship of
John and Charlie, was that of an absolute monarch who was righteously
annoyed at some manifestation of disloyalty among his subjects. His
voice was harsh with the authority of one whose mandates are not to be
questioned. His countenance was dark with scowling displeasure.
"And you, too, my friend," he went on, glaring from under his black
brows at the old man in the wheel chair, "you will be wise if you
accept my suggestion and be a little careful yourself. It is not so
bad, perhaps, this young woman coming to see you, but I am told that
her brother also comes to visit with the Interpreter. And this leader
of the Mill workers' union, Charlie Martin, he comes, too. Everybody
says you are the best friend of the working people. But I tell you
there cannot be friendship between the employer class and the laboring
class--it must be between them always war. So, Mr. Interpreter, you
must look out. The time is not far when the people of Millsburgh will
know for sure who is a friend to the labor class and who is a friend to
the employer class."
The Interpreter received this warning from Jake Vodell exactly as he
had listened to Bobby Whaley's boyish talk about blowing up the castle
of Adam Ward on the hill.
Rising abruptly, the agitator, without so much as a by-your-leave, went
into the house where he proceeded to examine the books and periodicals
on the table. Billy started from his place to follow, but the
Interpreter shook his head forbiddingly, and while Jake Vodell passed
on to the farther corner of the room and stood looking over the well
filled shelves of the Interpreter's library, the old basket maker
talked to his companion in their silent language.
When this foreign defender of the rights of the American laboring class
returned to the porch he was smiling approval. "Good!" he said. "You
are all right, I think. No man could read the papers and books that you
have there, and not be the friend of freedom and a champion of the
people against their capitalist masters. We will have a great victory
for the Cause in Millsburgh, comrade. You shall see. It is too bad that
you do not have your legs so that you could take an active part with me
in the work that I will do."
The Interpreter smiled. "If you do not mind, I would like to know
something of your plans. That is," he added, courteously, "so far as
you are at liberty to tell me."
"Certainly I will tell you, comrade," returned the other, heartily.
"Who can say--it may be that you will be of some small use to me after
all." His eyes narrowed slyly. "It may be that for these Mill owners to
come to you here in your little hut is perhaps not so bad when we think
about it a little more, heh? The daughter of Adam Ward might be led to
say many foolish little things that to a clever man like you would be
understood. Even the brother, the manager of the Mill--well, I have
known men like him to talk of themselves and their plans rather freely
at times when they thought there was no harm. And what possible harm
could there be in a poor crippled old basket maker like you, heh?" The
man laughed as though his jest were perfectly understood and
appreciated by his host--as, indeed, it was.
"But about my plans for this campaign in Millsburgh," he went on. "You
know the great brotherhood that I represent and you are familiar with
their teachings of course." He gestured comprehensively toward the
The man in the wheel chair silently nodded assent.
Jake Vodell continued. "I am come to Millsburgh, as I go everywhere, in
the interests of our Cause. It is my experience that I can always work
best through the unions."
The Interpreter interrupted. "Oh, one of our Millsburgh unions sent for
you then? I did not know."
The agitator shrugged his shoulders impatiently. "No--no--I was not
sent for. I was sent. I am here because it was reported that there was
a good opportunity to advance the Cause. No union brings me. I come to
the unions, to work with them for the freedom of the laboring class."
"And of what union are you a member, sir?" asked the Interpreter.
"Me! Ha! I am not a member of any of your silly American unions! I
belong to that greater union, if you please, which embraces them all.
But your unions know and receive me as a leader because of the work
that I do for all. Our Cause is the cause of the working people of
America, as it is the cause of the laboring classes in England, and
France, and Russia, and Germany, and everywhere in the world."
Again the old basket maker bowed his silent assent.
"You have, in this place," continued the agitator, "one strong union of
the Mill workers. In the other shops and factories and in the trades it
is like McIver's factory, the men are not so well organized."
Again the Interpreter interrupted. "The working people of Millsburgh,
generally, receive the highest wage paid anywhere in the country, do
"Ah, but surely that is not the question, comrade. Surely you
understand that all the laboring people of America must be united in
one brotherhood with all the other countries of the world, so that
they, the producers of wealth, shall be able to take possession of, and
operate, the industries of this country, and finally take this
government away from the capitalist class who are now the real owners
of what you call your 'land of the free and the home of the brave.'
Bah! You fool Americans do not know the first meaning of the word
freedom. You are a nation of slaves. If you were as brave as you sing,
you very soon would be your own masters."
"And your plan for Millsburgh?" asked the Interpreter, calmly.
"It is simple. But for this John Ward and his friendship with Charlie
Martin that so deceives everybody, it will be easy. The first step in
my campaign here will be to call out the employees of McIver's factory
on a strike. I start with McIver's workmen because his well-known
position against the laboring class will make it easy for me to win the
sympathy of the public for the strikers."
"But," said the Interpreter, "the factory union is working under an
agreement with McIver."
The self-appointed savior of the American working people shrugged his
heavy shoulders disdainfully. "That is no matter--it is always easy to
find a grievance. When the factory men have walked out, then will come
the sympathetic strike of your strong Mill workers' union. All the
other labor organizations will be forced to join us, whether they wish
to or not. I shall have all Millsburgh so that not a wheel can turn
anywhere. The mills--the factories--the builders--the bakeries--
everything will be in our hands and then, my comrade, then!"
The man rose to his feet and stood looking out over the life that lay
within view from the Interpreter's balcony-porch, as if possessed with
the magnitude of the power that would be his when this American
community should be given into his hand.
Silent, watchful Billy stirred uneasily.
The Interpreter, touching his companion's arm, shook his head.
Jake Vodell, deep in his ambitious dream, did not notice. "The time is
coming, comrade," he said, "and it is nearer than the fool Americans
think, when the labor class will rise in their might and take what is
theirs. My campaign here in Millsburgh, you must know, is only one of
the hundreds of little fires that we are lighting all over this
country. The American people, they are asleep. They have drugged
themselves with their own talk of how safe and strong and prosperous
they are. Bah! There is no people so easy to fool. They think we strike
for recognition of some union, or that it is for higher wages, or some
other local grievance. Bah! We use for an excuse anything that will
give us a hold on the labor class. These silly unions, they are nothing
in themselves. But we--_we_ can use them in the Cause. And so
everywhere--North, South, East, West--we light our little fires. And
when we are ready--Boom! One big blaze will come so quick from all
points at once that it will sweep the country before the sleeping fools
wake up. And then--then, comrade, you shall see what will happen to
your capitalist vultures and your employer swine, who have so long
grown fat on the strength of the working class."
A moment longer he stood as if lost in the contemplation of the glory
of that day, when, in the triumph of his leadership, the people of the
nation he so despised and hated would rise in bloody revolution against
their own government and accept in its stead the dictatorship of
lawless aliens who profess allegiance to no one but their own godless
Then he turned back to the Interpreter with a command, "You, comrade,
shall keep me informed, heh? From these people of our enemy class who
come here to your hut, you will learn the things I will want to know. I
shall come to you from time to time, but not too often. But, you must
see that your watchdog there has better manners for me, heh?" He
laughed and was gone.
At the club that evening, Jim McIver sat with a group of men discussing
the industrial situation.
"They're fixing for a fight all right," said one. "What do you think,
The factory owner answered, "They can have a fight any time they want
it. Nothing but a period of starvation will ever put the laboring class
back where it belongs and the sooner we get it over the better it will
be for business conditions all around."
In the twilight dust and grime of the Flats, a woman sat on the
doorstep of a wretched house. Her rounded shoulders slouched
wearily--her tired hands were folded in her lap. She stared with dull,
listless eyes at the squalid homes of her neighbors across the street.
The Interpreter had described the woman to Helen--"a girl with fine
instincts for the best things of life and a capacity for great
In a room back of a pool hall of ill-repute, the man Jake Vodell sat in
conference with three others of his brotherhood. A peculiar knock
sounded at the door. Vodell drew the bolt. Sam Whaley entered. "My kids
told me you wanted me," said the workman. Long into the night, on the
balcony porch of the hut on the cliff, John Ward and Captain Charlie
Martin talked with the Interpreter. As they talked, they watched the
lights of the Mill, the Flats, the business streets, and the homes.
It was pay day at the Mill.
No one, unless he, at some period in his life, has been absolutely
dependent upon the wages of his daily toil, can appreciate a pay day.
To experience properly the thrill of a pay day one must have no other
source of income. The pay check must be the only barrier between one
and actual hunger. Bobby and Maggie Whaley knew the full meaning of pay
day. Their mother measured life itself by that event.
Throughout the great industrial hive that morning there was an
electrical thrill of anticipation. Smiles were more frequent; jests
were passed with greater zest; men moved with a freer step, a more
joyous swing. The very machinery seemed in some incomprehensible way to
be animated with the spirit of the workmen, while the droning, humming,
roaring voice of the Mill was unquestionably keyed to a happier note.
In the offices among the bookkeepers, clerks, stenographers and the
department heads, the same brightening of the atmosphere was
noticeable. Nor was the spirit of the event confined to the Mill
itself; throughout the entire city--in the stores and banks, the post
office, the places of amusement, in the homes on the hillside and in
the Flats--pay day at the Mill was the day of days.
It was an hour, perhaps, after the whistle had started the big plant
for the afternoon.
John Ward was deep in the consideration of some business of moment with
the superintendent, George Parsons--a sturdy, square-jawed,
steady-eyed, middle-aged man, who had come up from the ranks by the
sheer force of his natural ability.
* * * * *
There is nothing at all unusual about John Ward. He is simply a good
specimen of the more intelligent class of our young American manhood,
with, it might be, a more than average mind for business, which he had
inherited from his father. He is, in short, a fair type of the healthy,
clean-living, straight-thinking, broad-gauged, big-hearted young
citizen such as one may find by the hundreds of thousands in the many
fields of our national activities. In our arts and industries, in our
banks and commercial houses, in our factories and newspapers, on our
farms and in our professions, in our educational institutions, among
our writers and scientists, in our great transportation organizations,
and in the business of our government, our John Wards are to be found,
ready to take the places left to them by the passing of their fathers.
Since his return from the war, the young man had devoted himself with
the enthusiasm of a great purpose to a practical study of his father's
big industrial plant. Adam still held the general management, but his
son knew that the time must come when the responsibility of that
position would fall to him.
With John's inherited executive ability and his comradeship, plus the
driving force of his fixed and determined purpose, it was not strange
that he so quickly gained the loyal support and cooperation of his
father's long-trained assistants. His even-tempered friendliness and
ready recognition of his dependence upon his fellow workers won their
love. His industry, his clear-headed, open-minded consideration of the
daily problems presented, with his quick grasp of essential details,
commanded their admiring respect. Under the circumstance of his
father's nervous trouble and the consequent enforced absence of Adam
from his office for more and more frequent periods, it was inevitable
that John, by common, if silent, consent of the executive heads, should
be advanced more and more toward the general manager's desk.
The superintendent, gathering up his blue prints and memoranda, arose.
"And will that be all, sir?" he asked, with a smile.
Nearly every one smiled when he finished an interview with Adam Ward's
son; probably because John himself nearly always smiled when he ended a
consultation or gave an order.
"That's all from my side, George," he said, leaning back in his chair
and looking up at the superintendent in his open, straightforward way
that so surely invited confidence and trust. "Have you anything else on
"Nary a thing, John," returned the older man, and with a parting "so
long" he started toward the door that opened into the Mill.
With that smile of genuine affection still lingering on his face, John
watched the sturdy back of the old superintendent as if, for the
moment, his thoughts had swung from George Parsons' work to George
The superintendent opened the door and was about to step out when he
stopped suddenly and with a quick, decided movement drew back into the
room and closed the door again. To the young man in the other end of
the big office it looked as though the superintendent had seen
something that startled him. Another moment and George was again
bending over John's desk.
"The old man is out there, John."
"What! Father! Why I had no idea that he was coming down to-day." A
look of anxiety came into the frank gray eyes. "He has not been so well
lately, George. I wonder why he didn't come to the office first as
"He sometimes slips in back that way, you know," returned the
"He really ought not to be here," said the young man. "I wish--" He
"He's generally in a state of mind when he comes in like that," said
George. "You're not needing a goat, are you, boy?"
John smiled. "There's not a thing wrong in the plant so far as I know,
"I don't know of anything either," returned the other, "but we may not
know all the way. There's one thing sure, the old man ought not to be
wandering through the works alone. There's some of those rough-necks
would--well it's too darned easy, sometimes, for accidents to happen,
do you see? I'll rustle out there and stick around convenient like.
You'd better stay where you are as if you didn't know he was on the
job. And remember, son, if you _should_ need a goat, I'm qualified. If
anything has happened--whether it has or he only thinks it has--just
you blame it on to old George. I'll understand."
The work was at the height of its swing when burly Max Gardner paused a
second to straighten his back and wipe the sweat from his sooty face.
As he stooped again to his heavy task, he said to his mates in a voice
that rumbled up from the depths of his naked, hairy chest, "Get a gate
on y'--get a gate on y'--y' rough-necks. 'Tis th' boss that's a-lookin'
'round to see who he'll be tyin' th' can to next."
The men laughed.
"There's one thing sure," said Bill Connley, who looked as though his
body were built of rawhide stretched over a framework of steel, "when
John Ward ties the can to a man, that man knows what 'tis for. When he
give Jim Billings his time last week, he says to him, says he, 'Jim,
I'm sorry for y'. Not because I'm fir'in' y',' says he, 'but because
y're such a loafer that y're no good to yerself nor to anybody
else--y're a disgrace to the Mill,' says he, 'and to every honest
working man in it.' An' Jim, he never give a word back--just hung his
head an' got out of sight like a dog with his tail between his legs
after a good swift kick."
"An' th' young boss was right at that," commented sturdy Soot Walters.
"Jim was a good man when he was new on the job, but since he got the
wrinkles out of his belly, he's been killin' more time than any three
men in the works."
"Pass me that pinch bar, Bill," called Dick Grant from the other side.
As he reached for the tool, his glance took in the figure that had
caught the eye of big Max. "Holy Mike!" he exclaimed, "'tis the old man
Every man in the group except Max turned his face toward Adam Ward, who
stood some distance away, and a very different tone marked the voice of
Bill Connley as he said, "Now what d'ye think brings that danged old
pirate here to look us over this day?"
"Who the devil cares?" growled Scot, as, with an air of sullen
indifference, they turned again to their work.
* * * * *
No one seeing the Mill owner as he viewed his possessions that day
could have believed that this was the wretched creature that Helen had
watched from the arbor. Away from the scenes of his business life Adam
Ward was like some poor, nervous, half-insane victim of the drug habit.
At the Mill, he was that same drug fiend under the influence of his
His manner was calm and steady, with no sign of nervousness or lack of
control. His gray face--which, in a way, was the face of a
student--gave no hint of the thoughts and emotions that stirred within
him. As he looked about the great industrial institution to which he
had given himself, body, mind and soul, all the best years of his life,
his countenance was as expressionless as the very machines of iron and
steel and wood among which he moved--a silent, lonely, brooding spirit.
No glow of worthy pride in the work of his manhood, no gleam of
friendly comradeship for his fellow workmen, no joy of his kinship with
the great humanity that was here personified shone in his eyes or
animated his presence. Cold and calculating, he looked upon the human
element in the Mill exactly as he looked upon the machinery. Men cost
him a certain definite sum of dollars; they must be made to return to
him a certain increase in definite dollars on that cost. The living
bodies, minds, and souls that, moving here and there in the haze of
smoke and steam and dust, vitalized the inanimate machinery and gave
life and intelligent purpose to the whole, were no more to him than one
of his adding machines in the office that, mechanically obedient to his
touch, footed up long columns of dollars and cents. It is not strange
that the humanity of the Mill should respond to the spirit of its owner
with the spirit of his adding machines and give to him his totals of
dollars and cents--with nothing more.
Quickly the feeling of Adam Ward's presence spread throughout the busy
plant. Smiling faces grew grim and sullen. In the place of good-natured
jest and cheerful laugh there were muttered curses and contemptuous
epithets. The very atmosphere seemed charged with antagonism and
"Wad ye look at it?" said one. "And they tell me that white-faced old
devil used to work along side of Pete and the Interpreter at that same
bench where Pete's a-workin' yet."
"He did that," said another. "I was a kid in the Mill at the time;
'twas before he got hold of his new process."
"Pete Martin is a better man than Adam Ward ever was or will be at
that--process or no process," said a third, while every man within
hearing endorsed the sentiment with a hearty word, an oath or a pointed
"But the young boss is a different sort, though," came from the first
"He is that!"
"The boy's all right."
"John's a good man."
A workman with a weak face and shifty eyes paused in passing to say,
"You'll find out how different the boy is onct he's put to the test.
He's the same breed, an' it's just like Jake Vodell said last night,
there ain't one of the greedy capitalist class that wouldn't nail a
laboring man to the cross of their damnable system of slavery if they
A silence fell over the group.
Then a dry voice drawled, "Jake Vodell ain't never overworked himself
as anybody knows of, has he? As for you, Sam Whaley, I'm thinkin' it
would take somethin' more than a crucifyin' to get much profit out of
you, the way you mooch around."
There was a general laugh at this and Sam Whaley went on his weak way
to do whatever it was that he was supposed to be doing.
"Sam's all right, Bob," said one who had laughed. "His heart is in the
"Sure he is," agreed Bob. "But I sometimes can't help thinkin', just
the same, that if I was a-ownin' and a-workin' slaves, I'd consider him
a mighty poor piece of property."
When Adam Ward entered the office, some time later, he walked straight
to his son's desk, without so much as a glance or a nod of recognition
toward any other soul in the big room.
"I want to talk with you, John," he said, grimly, and passed on into
his private office.
The closing of the door of that sacred inner room behind John was the
signal for a buzz of excited comments.
"Lordy," gasped a stenographer to her nearest neighbor, "but I'm sorry
for poor young Mr. Ward--did you see the old man's face?"
The half-whispered remark expressed, with fair accuracy, the general
sentiment of the entire force.
Adam Ward did not sit down at his desk, but going to a window he stood
looking out as though deep in thought.
"Father," said John, at last, "what is it? Has anything happened?"
Adam turned slowly, and it was evident that he was holding his
self-control by a supreme effort of will. "I have made up my mind to
quit," he said. "From to-day on you will take my place and assume my
responsibilities in the Mill."
"I am glad, father," said John, simply, "You really should be free from
all business cares. As for my taking your place in the Mill," he
smiled, "no one could ever do that, father."
"You have full control and absolute authority from to-day on," returned
Adam. "I shall never put my foot inside the doors of the plant or the
"But, father!" cried John. "There is no need for you to--"
Adam interrupted him with an imperious gesture. "There is no use
arguing about it," he said, coldly. "But there are two or three things
that I want to tell you--that I think you ought to know. You can take
them from me or not, as you please. My ideas and policies that made
this institution what it is to-day will probably be thrown aside as so
much worthless junk, but I am going to give you a word or two of
warning just the same."
John knew that when his father was in this mood there was nothing to do
but to keep silent. But the expression of the old Mill owner's face
filled his son's heart with pity, and the boy could not refrain from
saying, "I am sorry you feel that way about it, father, because really
you are all wrong. Can't we sit down and talk it over comfortably?"
"I prefer to stand," returned Adam. "I can say all I have to say in a
few words. I am retiring because I know, now, after"--he
hesitated--"after the last two nights, that I must. I am turning the
Mill over to you because I would rather burn it to the ground than see
it in the hands of any one outside the family. I believe, too, that the
only way to get the wild, idiotic ideas of that old fool basket maker
out of your head is to make you personally responsible for the success
or failure of this business. I have watched you long enough to know
that you have the ability to handle it, and I am convinced that once
you realize how much money you can make, you will drop all your
sentimental nonsense and get your feet on solid ground."
John Ward's cheeks flushed, but he made no reply to his father's
"I had those same romantic notions about work and business myself when
I was your age," continued Adam, "but experience taught me better.
Experience will teach you." He paused and went to stand at the window
Presently Adam faced about once more. "I suppose you have noticed that
McIver is greatly interested in your sister Helen?"
"I imagined so," returned John, soberly. "Well, he is. He wants to
marry her. If she will only be sensible and see it right, it is a
wonderful opportunity for us. McIver made over a million out of the
war. His factory is next to this in size and importance and it is so
closely related to the Mill that a combination of the two industries,
with the control of the new process, would give you a tremendous
advantage. You could practically put all competitors out of business.
McIver has approached me several times on the proposition but I have
been holding off, hoping that Helen would accept him, so that their
marriage would tie the thing up that much tighter. You and McIver, with
the family relation established by Helen, would make a great team." He
hesitated and his face worked with nervous emotion as he added, "There
is something about the new process that--perhaps--you should know--I--"
He stopped abruptly to pace up and down the room in nervous excitement,
as if fighting for the mastery of the emotions aroused by this mention
of his patented property.
As John Ward watched his father and felt the struggle within the man's
secret self, the room seemed suddenly filled with the invisible
presence of that hidden thing. The younger man's eyes filled with tears
and he cried in protest, "Father--father--please don't--"
For a moment Adam Ward faced his son in silence. Then, with a sigh of
relief, he muttered, "It's all right, John; just one of my nervous
attacks. It's gone now."
Changing the subject abruptly, he said, "I must warn you, my boy--keep
away from the Interpreter. Have nothing to do with him; he is
dangerous. And watch out for Pete Martin and Charlie, too. They are all
three together. This agitator, Jake Vodell, is going to make trouble.
He is already getting a start with McIver's men. You have some radicals
right here on your pay roll, but if you stick with McIver and follow
his lead you will come through easily and put these unions where they
belong. That's all, I guess," he finished, wearily. "Call in your
"Just a moment, father," said John Ward, steadily. "It is not fair to
either of us for me to accept the management of the Mill without
telling you that I can't do all that you have suggested."
Adam looked at his son sharply. "And what can't you do?" he demanded.
"I shall never work with McIver in any way," answered John slowly. "You
know what I think of him and his business principles. Helen's interest
in him is her own affair, but I have too great a sense of loyalty to my
country and too much self-respect ever to think of McIver as anything
but a traitor and an enemy."
"And what else?" asked Adam.
"I will not promise to keep away from the Interpreter. I reserve the
right to choose my own friends and business associates, and I will deal
with the employees of the Mill and with the unions without regard to
McIver's policies or any consideration of his interest in any way
For a long moment Adam Ward looked at his son who stood so straight and
uncompromisingly soldier-like before him. Suddenly, to John's
amazement, his father laughed. And there was not a little admiration
and pride in the old Mill owner's voice as he said, "I see! In other
words, if you are going to be the boss, you don't propose to have any
strings tied to you."
"Would you, sir?" asked John.
"No, I wouldn't," returned Adam and laughed again. "Well, go ahead.
Have it your own way. I am not afraid for you in the long run. You are
too much like me not to find out where your own interests lie, once you
come squarely up against the situation. I only wanted to help you, but
it looks as though you would have to go through the experience for
yourself. It's all right, son, go to it! Now call George."
When the superintendent entered the private office, Adam Ward said,
briefly, "George, I am turning the Mill over to John here. From to-day
on he is the manager without any strings on him in any way. He has the
entire responsibility and is the only authority. He accounts to no one
but himself. That is all."
Abruptly Adam Ward left the private office. Without even a look toward
the men in the big outer room who had served with him for years, he
passed on out to the street.
When the whistle sounded, John went out into the Mill to stand near the
window where the workmen passing in line received their envelopes.
From every part of the great main building, from the yards and the
several outer sheds and structures they came. From furnace and engine
and bench and machine they made their way toward that given point as
scattered particles of steel filings are drawn toward a magnet. The
converging paths of individuals touched, and two walked side by side.
Other individuals joined the two and as quickly trios and quartets came
together to form groups that united with other similar groups; while
from the mass thus assembled, the thin line was formed that extended
past the pay clerk's window and linked the Mill to the outer world.
In that eager throng of toilers Adam Ward's son saw men of almost every
race: Scotchmen greeted Norwegians; men from Ireland exchanged friendly
jests with men from Italy; sons of England laughed with the sons of
France; Danes touched elbows with Dutchmen; and men from Poland stood
shoulder to shoulder with men whose fathers fought with Washington. And
every man was marked alike with the emblems of a common
brotherhood--the brotherhood of work. Their faces were colored with the
good color of their toil--with the smoke of their furnaces, and the
grime of their engines, and the oil from their machines mixed with the
sweat of their own bodies. Their clothing was uniform with the insignia
of their united endeavor. And to the newly appointed manager of the
Mill, these men of every nation were comrades in a common cause,
spending the strength of their manhood for common human needs. He saw
that only in the work of the world could the brotherhood of man be
realized; only in the Mill of life's essential industries could the
nations of the earth become as one.
In that gathering of workmen the son of Adam Ward saw men of many
religions, sects and creeds: Christians and pagans; Catholics and
Protestants; men who worshiped the God of Abraham and men who worshiped
no God; followers of strange fanatical spiritualism and followers of a
stranger materialism. And he saw those many shades of human beliefs
blended and harmonized--brought into one comprehensive whole by the
power of the common necessities of human life.
He saw that the unity of the warring religions of the world would not
be accomplished in seminaries of speculative theological thought, but
that in the Mill of life the spiritual brotherhood of all mankind would
be realized. In work, he saw the true worship of a common God whose
vice-regent on earth is humanity itself.
In that pay-day assembly John saw men of middle age to whom the work
into which they daily put the strength of their lives meant nothing
less than the lives of their families. In the families dependent upon
the Mill he saw the life of the nation dependent upon the nation's
industries. As he saw in the line men old and gray and bent with the
toil of many years, he realized how the generation of this day is
indebted for every blessing of life--for life itself, indeed--to these
veterans of the Mill who have given, their years in work that the
nation might, through its industries, live and, in the building up of
its industries, grow strong.
As he watched the men of his own age, he thought how they, too, must
receive the torch from the failing hands of their passing fathers, and
in the Mill prove their manhood's right to carry the fire of their
country's industrial need.
And there were boys on the edge of manhood, who must be, by the Mill,
trained in work for the coming needs of their country; who must indeed
find their very manhood itself in work, or through all their years
remain wards of the people--a burden upon humanity--the weakness of the
nation. For as surely as work is health and strength and honor and
happiness and life, so surely is idleness disease and weakness and
shame and misery and death.
The home builder, the waster, the gambler, the loyal citizen, the
slacker, the honest and dishonest--they were all there at the pay
window of the Mill. And to each the pay envelope meant a different
thing. To big Max the envelope meant an education for his son. To Bill
Connley it meant food and clothing for his brood of children. To young
Scot it meant books for his study. To others it meant medicine or
doctors for sick ones at home. To others it meant dissipation and
dishonor. To all alike those pay envelopes meant Life.
As these men of the Mill passed the son of Adam Ward, there were many
smiling nods and hearty words of greeting. Now and then one would speak
a few words about his work. Others passed a laughing jest. Many who
were his comrades in France gave him the salute of their military
days--half in fun, but with a hint of underlying seriousness that made
the act a recognition of his rank in the industrial army.
And John returned these greetings in the same good spirit of
fellowship. To one it was, "Hello, Tony, how is that new baby at your
house?" To another, whose hand was swathed in a dirty bandage, "Take
care of that hand, Mack; don't get funny with it just because it's well
enough to use again." To another, "How is the wife, Frank, better?
Good, that's fine." Again it was, "You fellows on number six machine
made a record this week." Again, "Who's the hoodoo on number seven
furnace?--four accidents in six days is going some--better look around
for your Jonah." And again, "I heard about that stunt of yours, Bill;
the kid would have been killed sure if you hadn't kept your head and
nerve. It was great work, old man." And to a lad farther down the line,
"You'll know better next time, won't you, son?" But there were some who
passed John Ward with averted faces or downcast eyes. Here and there
there were sneering, vicious glances and low muttered oaths and curses
and threats. Not infrequently the name of Jake Vodell was mentioned
with approved quotations from the agitator's speeches of hatred against
the employer class.
The last of the long line of workmen was approaching the window when
Pete Martin greeted the son of his old bench mate with a smile of
fatherly affection and pride.
"Hello, Uncle Pete," returned John. "Where is Charlie?"
"I'm sure I don't know, John," the old man answered, looking about. "I
supposed he had gone on, I was a little slow myself."
"There he is," said John, as the soldier workman came running from a
distant part of the building.
When Captain Charlie came up to them, his father moved on to the window
so that for a moment the two friends were alone.
"It's come, Charlie," said John, in a low tone. "Father told me and
gave it out to the superintendent to-day."
"Hurrah!" said Charlie Martin, and he would have said more but his
comrade interrupted him.
"Shut up, will you? We must go out to the hill to-morrow for a talk.
I'll come for you early."
"Right!" said Charlie with a grin, "but may I be permitted to say
"Congratulations your foot!" returned the new general manager. "It's
going to be one whale of a job, old man."
The last of the stragglers came near and Charlie Martin moved on, in
his turn, to the pay window.
When John arrived home in the late afternoon, his sister met him with
many joyful exclamations. "Is father in earnest? Are you really to take
his place, John?"
John laughed. "You would have thought he was in earnest if you had
heard him." Then he asked, soberly, "Where is father, Helen; is he all
"He has been shut up in his room all alone ever since he told us," she
returned, sadly. "I do hope he will be better now that he is to have
As if determined to permit no cloud to mar the joy of the occasion, she
continued, with eager interest, "Do tell me about it, brother. Were the
men in the office glad? Aren't you happy and proud? And how did the
workmen take it?"
"The people in the office were very nice," he answered, smiling back at
her. "Good old George looked a little like he wanted to laugh and cry
at the same time. The men in the plant don't know yet, except
Charlie--I told him."
A little shadow fell over Helen's happy face and she looked away. "I
suppose of course you would tell Charlie Martin the first thing," she
said, slowly. Then, throwing her arm suddenly about his neck, she
kissed him. "You are a dear, silly, sentimental old thing, but I am as
proud as I can be of you."
"As for that," returned John, "I guess it must run in the family
somehow. I notice little things now and then that make me think my
sister may not always be exactly a staid, matter-of-fact old lady owl."
When he had laughed at her blushes, and had teased her as a brother is
in duty bound, he said, seriously, "Will you tell me something, Helen?
Something that I want very much to know--straight from you."
"What is it, John?"
"Are you going to marry Jim McIver?"
"How do you know that he wants me?"
"Father told me to-day. Don't fence please, dear. Either tell me
straight out or tell me to mind my own business."
She replied with straightforward honesty, "Mr. McIver has asked me,
John, but I can't tell you what my answer will be. I don't know
CONCERNING THE NEW MANAGER
When the Mill whistle sounded at the close of that pay day, Mary was
sitting under the tree in the yard with her sewing basket--a gift from
the Interpreter--on the grass beside her chair. The sunlight lay warm
and bright on the garden where the ever industrious bees were filling
their golden bags with the sweet wealth of the old-fashioned flowers.
Bright-winged butterflies zigzagged here and there above the shrubbery
along the fence and over her head; in the leafy shadows of the trees
her bird friends were cheerfully busy with their small duties. Now and
then a passing neighbor paused to exchange a word or two of their
common interests. Presently workmen from the Mill went by--men of her
father's class who lived in that vicinity of well-kept cottage homes;
and each one called a greeting to the daughter of his friend.
And so, at last, Peter Martin himself and Captain Charlie turned in at
the little white gate and came to sit down on the grass at her feet.
"You are late to-day," said Mary, smiling. "I suppose you both have
forgotten that the vegetable garden is to be hoed this afternoon and
that you, Charlie, promised to beat the rugs for me."
Captain Charlie stretched himself lazily on the cool grass. "We should
worry about gardens and rugs and things," he returned. "This is the day
The father laughed quietly at his daughter's look of puzzled inquiry.
"The day you celebrate?" said Mary. "Celebrate what?"
Charlie answered with a fair imitation of a soapbox orator, "This, my
beloved sister, is the day of our emancipation from the iron rule of
that cruel capitalist, who has for so many years crushed the lives of
his toiling slaves in his Mill of hell, and coined our heart's blood
into dollars to fill his selfish coffers of princely luxury. Down
through the ringing ages of the future this day will be forever
celebrated as the day that signals the dawning of a new era in the
industrial world of--uh-wow! Stop it!"
Captain Charlie was ticklish and the toe of Mary's slippered foot had
found a vital spot among his ribs.
"You sound like that Jake Vodell," she said. "Stop your nonsense this
minute and tell me what you mean or--" Her foot advanced again
Captain Charlie rolled over to a safe distance and sat up to grin at
her with teasing impudence.
"What's the matter with him, father?" she demanded.
But Pete only laughed and answered, "I guess maybe he thinks he's going
to get promoted to some higher-up position in the Mill."
"No such luck for me!" said Charlie quickly. "John will need me too
much right where I am."
A bright color swept into Mary's cheeks and her eyes shone with glad
excitement. "Do you mean that John--that his father has--" She looked
from her father's face to her brother and back to her father again.
Pete nodded silently.
"You've guessed it, sister," said Charlie. "Old Adam walked out for
good to-day, turned the whole works over to John--troubles, triumphs,
opportunities, disasters and all. And it's a man's sized job the boy
has drawn, believe me--especially right now, with Jake Vodell as busy
as he is."
"The men in the Mill were all pleased with the change, weren't they?"
"They will be, when they hear of it," answered Captain Charlie, getting
to his feet. "That is," he added, as he met his father's look, "most of
them will be."
"There's some in the Mill that it won't make any difference to, I'm
afraid," said Peter Martin, soberly.
Then the two men went into the house to, as they said, "clean up"--an
operation that required a goodly supply of water with plenty of soap
and a no little physical effort in the way of vigorous rubbing.
When her father and brother were gone, Mary Martin sat very still. So
still was she that a butterfly paused in its zigzag flight about the
yard to rest on the edge of the work basket at her side. At last the
young woman rose slowly to her feet, dropping the sewing she had held
on the other things in the basket. The startled butterfly spread its
gorgeous wings and zigzagged away unnoticed. Crossing the little lawn,
Mary made her way among the flowers in the garden until she stood half
hidden in the tall bushes which grew along the fence that separated the
Martin home from the neglected grounds about the old house. When her
father and brother went to their pleasant task in the vegetable garden
she was still standing there, but the men did not notice.
* * * * *
Later, when Mary called the men to supper, the change in the management
of the Mill was again mentioned. And all during the evening meal it was
the topic of their conversation. It was natural that the older man
should recall the days when he and Adam and the Interpreter had worked
"The men generally showed a different spirit toward their work in those
days," said the veteran. "They seemed to have a feeling of pride and a
love for it that I don't see much of now. Of late years, it looks as
though everybody hates his job and is ashamed of what he is doing. They
all seem to think of nothing but their pay, and busy their minds with
scheming how they can get the most and give the least. It's the regular
thing to work with one eye on the foreman and the other on the clock,
and to count it a great joke when a job is spoiled or a breakdown
causes trouble." All of which was a speech of unusual length for Pete
Martin. Captain Charlie asked, thoughtfully, "And don't you think,
father, that Adam looks on the work of the Mill in exactly that spirit
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