Helen of the Old House
Harold Bell Wright
Part 5 out of 6
loyal ones. We are the ones who will save the industries, but we will
save them for the laboring people alone. And you shirkers in your Mill
workers' union are willing to stand aside and let us do your fighting
for you. Have you no pride for your class at all?"
"Oh, yes," returned Captain Charlie, "we have plenty of class pride.
Only you see, Vodell, we don't consider ourselves in your class. You
are no more loyal to the principles of our American unions than you are
to the principles of our government. You don't represent our unions.
You represent something foreign to the interests of every American
citizen. You are trying to use our unions in your business, that is
all. And because you manage to get hold of a few poor fellows like Sam
Whaley, you think you can lead the working people. If you really think
our loyalty to our country is a joke, drop in at an American Legion
meeting some evening--bring along your foreign flag and all your
foreign friends. I'll promise you a welcome that will, I think,
convince you that we have some class pride after all."
The agitator rose heavily to his feet. "It is your friendship with this
John Ward that makes you turn from your own class. I have known how it
would be with you. But it is no matter. You shall see. We will make a
demonstration in Millsburgh that will win the men of your union in
spite of you and your crippled old basket maker. If you had a personal
grievance against Adam Ward as so many others have you would be with me
fast enough. But he and his son have made you blind with their
Pete Martin spoke now with a dignity and pride that moved Captain
Charlie deeply. "Mr. Vodell, you are wrong. My son is too big to be
influenced in this matter by any personal consideration. Whatever there
is that is personal between Charlie and John or between Adam Ward and
myself will never be brought into this controversy."
Jake Vodell shrugged his heavy shoulders. "Very well--I will go now.
You will see that in the end the working people will know who are for
their interests and who are against them, and we will know, too, how to
reward our friends and punish our enemies. I am sorry. I have given you
to-day your last chance. You have a pretty little place here, heh?"
There was a look in his dark face, as he gazed about appraisingly, that
made Captain Charlie go a step toward him. "_You_ have given us our
last chance? Is this a sample of the freedom that you offer so
eloquently to the people? Instead of the imperialist McIver we are to
have the imperialist Vodell, are we? Between the two of you I prefer
McIver. He is at least sane enough to be constructive in his
imperialism. My father and I have lived here all our lives, as most of
our neighbors have. The majority of the workmen in this community own
their homes just as we do. We are a part of the life of this city. What
have you at stake? Where is your home and family? What is your
nationality? What is your record of useful industry? Before you talk
about giving a last chance to workmen like my father you will need to
produce the credentials of your authority. We have your number, Jake
Vodell. You may as well go back to the land where you belong, if you
belong anywhere on earth. You will never hang your colors in the union
Mill workers' hall. We have a flag there now that suits us. The chance
you offer, last or first, is too darned big a chance for any sane
American workman to monkey with."
Jake Vodell answered harshly as he turned to go. "At least I know now
for sure who it is that makes the Mill workers such traitors to their
class." He looked at Pete. "Your son has made his position very clear.
We shall see now how bravely the noble Captain will hold his ground. As
for you, well--always the old father can pray to his God for his son.
It is so, heh?"
Quickly the man passed through the white gate and disappeared down the
street toward the Flats.
"I am afraid that fellow means trouble, son," said Pete, slowly.
"Trouble," echoed Captain Charlie, "Jake Vodell has never meant
anything but trouble."
* * * * *
Adam Ward did not join his family when they returned from church. A
nervous headache kept him in his room.
In the afternoon John went for a long drive into the country. He felt
that he must be alone--that he must think things out, for both Mary and
As he looked back on it all now, it seemed to him that he had always
loved this girl companion of his old-house days. In his boyhood he had
accepted her as a part of his daily life just as he had accepted his
sister. Those years of his schooling had been careless, thoughtless
years, and followed, as they were, by his war experience, they seemed
now to have had so small a part in the whole that they scarcely counted
at all. His renewed comradeship with Charlie in the army had renewed
also, through the letters that Charlie always shared with him, his
consciousness of Mary. In the months just passed his love had ripened
and become a definite thing, fixed and certain in his own mind and
heart as the fact of life itself. He had no more thought of accepting
as final Mary's answer than he had of turning the management of the
Mill over to Jake Vodell or to Sam Whaley. But still there were things
that he must think out.
On that favorite hillside spot where he and Charlie had spent so many
hours discussing their industrial problems, John faced squarely the
questions raised by Mary's "no."
Through the chill of the fall twilight John went home to spend the
evening with his mother. But he did not speak to her of Mary. He could
not, somehow, in the house that was so under the shadow of that hidden
His father was still in his room.
On his way to his own apartment after his mother had retired, John
stopped at his father's door to knock gently and ask if there was
anything that he could do.
The answer came, "No, I will be all right--let me alone."
Later Helen returned from somewhere with McIver. Then John heard McIver
leaving and Helen going to her mother for their usual good-night visit.
Seeing the light under his door, as she passed, she tapped the panel
and called softly that it was tune all good little boys were fast
It was an hour, perhaps, after John had gone to bed that he was
awakened by the sound of some one stealing quietly into his room.
Against the dim night light in the hall, he caught the outline of an
arm and shoulder as the intruder carefully closed the door. Reaching
out to the lamp at the head of his bed, he snapped on the light and
sprang to his feet.
"Sh--be careful, John, they will hear you!" Adam Ward's gray face was
ghastly with nervous excitement and fear, and he was shaking as with a
"No one must know I told you," he whispered, "but the new process is
the source of everything we have--the Mill and everything. If it wasn't
for my patent rights we would have nothing. You and I would be working
in the Mill just like Pete and his boy."
John spoke soothingly. "Yes, father, I understand, but it will be all
right--I'll take care of it."
Adam chuckled. "They're after it. But I've got it all sewed up so tight
they can't touch it. That old fool, Pete, was here to feel me out
Adam grinned. "While you folks were at church."
"But what did he want, father?"
"They've got a new scheme now. They've set Mary after you. They figure
that if the girl can land you they'll get a chance at what I have made
out of the process that way. I told him you was too smart to be caught
like that. But you've got to watch them. They'll do anything."
In spite of his pity for his father, John Ward drew from him, overcome
by a feeling of disgust and shame which he could not wholly control.
Adam, unconscious of his son's emotions, went on. "I've made it all in
spite of them, John, but I've had to watch them. They'll be after you
now that I have turned things over to you, just as they have been after
me. They'll never get it, though. They'll never get a penny of it. I'll
destroy the Mill and everything before I'll give up a dollar of what
John Ward could not speak. It was too monstrous--too horrible. As one
in a hideous dream, he listened. What was back of it all? Why did his
father in his spells of nervous excitement always rave so about the
patented process? Why did he hate Pete Martin so bitterly? What was
this secret thing that was driving Adam Ward insane?
Thinking to find an answer to these perplexing questions, if there was
any answer other than the Mill owner's mental condition, John forced
himself to the pretense of sharing his father's fears. He agreed with
Adam's arraignment of Pete, echoed his father's expression of hatred
for the old workman, thanked Adam for warning him, boasted of his own
ability to see through their tricks and schemes and to protect the
property his father had accumulated.
In this vein they talked in confidential whispers until John felt that
he could venture the question, "Just what is it about the process that
they are after, father? If I knew the exact history of the thing I
would be in a much better position to handle the situation as you want,
Adam Ward's manner changed instantly. With a look of sly cunning he
studied John's face. "There is nothing about the process, son," he
said, steadily. "You know all there is to know about it now."
But when John, thinking that his father had regained his self-control,
urged him to go back to his bed, Adam's painful agitation returned.
For some moments he paced to and fro as if in nervous indecision, then,
going close to John, he said in a low, half whisper, "John, there is
something else I wanted to ask you. You have been to college and over
there in the war, you must have seen a lot of men die--" He paused.
"Yes, yes, you must have been close to death a good many times. Tell
me, John, do you believe that there is anything after--I mean anything
beyond this life? Does a man's conscious existence go on when he is
"Yes," said John, wondering at this apparent change in his father's
thought. "I believe in a life beyond this. You believe in it, too,
don't you, father?"
"Of course," returned Adam. "We can't know, though, for sure, can we?
But, anyway, a man would be foolish to risk it, wouldn't he?"
"To risk what, father?"
"To risk the chance of there being no hell," came the startling answer.
"My folks raised me to believe in hell, and the preachers all teach it.
And if there should be such a place of eternal torment a man would be a
fool not to fix up some way to get out of it, wouldn't he?"
John did not know what to say.
Adam Ward leaned closer to his son and with an air of secrecy
whispered, "That's exactly what I've done, John--I've worked out a
scheme to tie God up in a contract that will force Him to save me. The
old Interpreter gave me the idea. You see if it should turn out that
there is no hell my plan can't do any harm and if there is a hell it
makes me safe anyway."
He chuckled with insane satisfaction. "They say that God knows
everything--that nobody can figure out a way to beat Him, but I have--I
have worked out a deal with God that is bound to give me the best of
it. I've got Him tied up so tight that He'll be bound to save me. Some
people think I'm crazy, but you wait, my boy--they'll find out how
crazy I am. They'll never get me into hell. I have been figuring on
this ever since the Interpreter told me I had better make a contract
with God. And after Pete left this morning I got it all settled. A man
can't afford to take any chances with God and so I made this deal with
Him. Hell or no hell, I'm safe. God don't get the best of me,--And you
are safe, too, son, with the new process, if you look after your own
interests, as I have done, and don't overlook any opportunities. I
wanted to tell you about this so you wouldn't worry about me. I'll go
back to bed now. Don't tell mother and Helen what we have been talking
about. No use to worry them--they couldn't understand anyway. And don't
forget, John, what Pete told me about Mary. Their scheme won't work of
course. I know you are too smart for them. But just the same you've got
to be on your guard against her all the time. Never take any
unnecessary chances. Don't talk over a deal with a man when any one can
hear. If you are careful to have no witnesses when you arrange a deal
you are absolutely safe. It is what you can slip into the written
contract that counts--once you get your man's signature. That's always
been my way. And now I have even put one over on God."
He stole cautiously out of the room and back to his own apartment.
Outside his father's door John waited, listening, until he was
convinced that sleep had at last come to the exhausted man.
Late that same Sunday evening, when the street meeting held by Jake
Vodell was over, there was another meeting in the room back of the pool
hall. The men who sat around that table with the agitator were not
criminals--they were workmen. Sam Whaley and two others were men with
families. They were all American citizens, but they were under the
spell of their leader's power. They had been prepared for that
leadership by the industrial policies of McIver and Adam Ward.
This meeting of that inner circle was in no way authorized by the
unions. The things they said Sam Whaley would not have dared to say
openly in the Mill workers' organization. The plans they proposed to
carry out in the name of the unions they were compelled to make in
secret. In their mad, fanatical acceptance of the dreams that Vodell
wrought for them; in their blind obedience to the leadership he had so
cleverly established; in their reckless disregard of the consequences
under the spell of his promised protection, they were as insane, in
fact, as the owner of the Mill himself.
The supreme, incredible, pitiful tragedy of it all was this: That these
workmen committed themselves to the plans of Jake Vodell in the name of
their country's workmen.
Helen Ward knew that she could not put off much longer giving McIver a
definite answer. When she was with him, the things that so disturbed
her mind and heart were less real--she was able to see things clearly
from the point of view to which she had been trained. Her father's
mental condition was nothing more than a nervous trouble resulting from
overwork--John's ideals were highly creditable to his heart and she
loved him dearly for them, but they were wholly impossible in a world
where certain class standards must be maintained--the Mill took again
its old vague, indefinite place in her life--the workman Charlie Martin
must live only in her girlhood memories, those secretly sad memories
that can have no part in the grown-up present and must not be permitted
to enter into one's consideration of the future. In short, the presence
of McIver always banished effectually the Helen of the old house: with
him the daughter of Adam Ward was herself.
And Helen was tempted by this feeling of relief to speak the decisive
word that would finally put an end to her indecision and bring at least
the peace of certainty to her troubled mind. In the light of her
education and environment, there was every reason why she should say,
"Yes" to McIver's insistent pleadings. There was no shadow of a reason
why she should refuse him. One word and the Helen of the old house
would be banished forever--the princess lady would reign undisturbed.
And yet, for some reason, that word was not spoken. Helen told herself
that she would speak it. But on each occasion she put it off. And
always when the man was gone and she was alone, in spite of the return
in full force of all her disturbing thoughts and emotions, she was glad
that she had not committed herself irrevocably--that she was still
She had never felt the appeal of all that McIver meant to her as she
felt it that Sunday. She had never been more disturbed and unhappy than
she was the following day when John told her a little of his midnight
experience with their father and how Adam's excitement had been caused
by Peter Martin's visit. All of which led her, early in the afternoon,
to the Interpreter.
* * * * *
She found the old basket maker working with feverish energy. Billy Rand
at the bench in the corner of the room was as busy with his part of
their joint industry.
It was the Interpreter's habit, when Helen was with him, to lay aside
his work. But of late he had continued the occupation of his hands even
as he talked with her. She had noticed this, as women always notice
such things--but that was all. On this day, when the old man in the
wheel chair failed to give her his undivided attention, something in
his manner impressed the trivial incident more sharply on her mind.
He greeted her kindly, as always, but while she was conscious of no
lack of warmth in his welcome, she felt in the deep tones of that
gentle voice a sadness that moved her to quick concern. The dark eyes
that never failed to light with pleasure at her coming were filled with
weary pain. The strong face was thin and tired. As he bent his white
head over the work in his lap he seemed to have grown suddenly very
weak and old.
With an awakened mind, the young woman looked curiously about the room.
She had never seen it so filled with materials and with finished
baskets. The table with the big lamp and the magazines and papers had
been moved into the far corner against the book shelves, as though he
had now neither time nor thought for reading. The floor was covered
thick with a litter of chips and shavings. Even silent Billy's face was
filled with anxiety and troubled care as he looked from Helen to his
old companion in the wheel chair and slowly turned back to his work on
"What is the matter here?" she demanded, now thoroughly aroused.
"Matter?" returned the Interpreter. "Is there anything wrong here,
"You are not well," she insisted. "You look all worn out--as if you had
not slept for weeks--what is it?"
"Oh, that is nothing," he answered, with a smile. "Billy and I have
been working overtime a little--that is all."
"But why?" she demanded, "why must you wear yourself out like this?
Surely there is no need for you to work so hard, day and night."
He answered as if he were not sure that he had heard her aright. "No
need, Helen? Surely, child, you cannot be so ignorant of the want that
exists within sight of your home?"
She returned his look wonderingly. "You mean the strike?"
Bending over his work again, the old basket maker answered,
sorrowfully, "Yes, Helen, I mean the strike."
There was something in the Interpreter's manner--something in the
weary, drooping figure in that wheel chair--in the tired, deep-lined
face--in the pain-filled eyes and the gentle voice that went to the
deeps of Helen Ward's woman heart.
With her, as with every one in Millsburgh, the strike was a topic of
daily conversation. She sympathized with her brother in his anxiety.
She was worried over the noticeable effect of the excitement upon her
father. She was interested in McIver's talk of the situation. But in no
vital way had her life been touched by the industrial trouble. In no
way had she come in actual contact with it. The realities of the
situation were to her vague, intangible, remote from her world, as
indeed the Mill itself had been, before her visit with John that day.
To her, the Interpreter was of all men set apart from the world. In his
little hut on the cliff, with his books and his basket making, her
gentle old friend's life, it seemed to her, held not one thing in
common with the busy world that lay within sight of the balcony-porch.
The thought that the industrial trouble could in any way touch him came
to her with a distinct shock.
"Surely," she protested, at last, "the strike cannot affect you. It has
nothing to do with your work."
"Every strike has to do with all work everywhere, child," returned the
man in the wheel chair, while his busy fingers wove the fabric of a
basket. "Every idle hand in the world, Helen, whatever the cause of its
idleness, compels some other's hand to do its work. The work of the
world must be done, child--somehow, by some one--the work of the world
must be done. The little Maggies and Bobbies of the Flats down there
must be fed, you know--and their mother too--yes, and Sam Whaley
himself must be cared for. And so you see, because of the strike, Billy
and I must work overtime."
Certainly there was no hint of rebuke in the old basket maker's kindly
voice, but the daughter of Adam Ward felt her cheeks flush with a quick
sense of shame. That her old friend in the wheel chair should so accept
the responsibility of his neighbor's need and give himself thus to help
them, while she--
"Is there," she faltered, "is there really so much suffering among the
Without raising his eyes from his work, he answered, "The women and
children--they are so helpless."
"I--I did not realize," she murmured. "I did not know."
"You were not ignorant of the helpless women and children who suffered
in foreign lands," he returned. "Why should you not know of the mothers
and babies in Millsburgh?"
"But McIver says--" she hesitated.
The Interpreter caught up her words. "McIver says that by feeding the
starving families of the strikers the strike is prolonged. He relies
upon the hunger and cold and sickness of the women and children for his
victory. And Jake Vodell relies upon the suffering in the families of
his followers for that desperate frenzy of class hatred, without which
he cannot gain his end. Does McIver want for anything? No! Is Jake
Vodell in need? No! It is not the imperialistic leaders in these
industrial wars who pay the price. It is always the little Bobbies and
Maggies who pay. The people of America stood aghast with horror when an
unarmed passenger ship was torpedoed or a defenseless village was
bombed by order of a ruthless Kaiser; but we permit these Kaisers of
capital and labor to carry on their industrial wars without a thought
of the innocent ones who must suffer under their ruthless policies."
He paused; then, with no trace of bitterness, but only sadness in his
voice, he added, "You say you do not know, child--and yet, you could
know so easily if you would. Little Bobby and Maggie do not live in a
far-off land across the seas. They live right over there in the shadow
of your father's Mill--the Mill which supplies you, Helen, with every
material need and luxury of your life."
As if she could bear to hear no more, Helen rose quickly and went from
the room to stand on the balcony-porch.
It was not so much the Interpreter's words--it was rather the spirit in
which they were spoken that moved her so deeply. By her own heart she
was judged. "For every idle hand," he had said. Her hands were idle
hands. Her old white-haired friend in his wheel chair was doing her
work. His crippled body drooped with weariness over his task because
she did nothing. His face was lined with care because she was careless
of the need that burdened him. His eyes were filled with sadness and
pain because she was indifferent--because she did not know--had not
cared to know.
* * * * *
The sun was almost down that afternoon when Bobby Whaley came out of
the wretched house that was his home to stand on the front doorstep.
The dingy, unpainted buildings of the Flats--the untidy hovels and
shanties--the dilapidated fences and broken sidewalks--unlovely at
best, in the long shadows of the failing day, were sinister with the
gloom of poverty.
High above the Mill the twisting columns of smoke from the tall stacks
caught the last of the sunlight and formed slow, changing
cloud-shapes--rolling hills of brightness with soft, shadowy valleys
and canons of mysterious depths between--towering domes and crags and
castled heights--grim, foreboding, beautiful.
The boy who stood on the steps, looking so listlessly about, was not
the daring adventurer who had so boldly led his sister up the zigzag
steps to the Interpreter's hut. He was not the Bobby who had ridden in
such triumph beside the princess lady so far into the unknown country.
His freckled face was thin and pinched. The skin was drawn tight over
the high cheek bones and the eyes were wide and staring. His young body
that had been so sturdy was gaunt and skeletonlike. The dirty rags that
clothed him were scarcely enough to hide his nakedness. The keen autumn
air that had put the flush of good red blood into the cheeks of the
golfers at the country club that afternoon whirled about his bare feet
and legs with stinging cruelty. His thin lips and wasted limbs were
blue with cold. Turning slowly, he seemed about to reenter the house,
but when his hand touched the latch he paused and once more uncertainly
faced toward the street. There was no help for him in his home. He knew
no other place to go for food or shelter.
As the boy again looked hopelessly about the wretched neighborhood, he
saw a woman coming down the street. He could tell, even at that
distance, that the lady was a stranger to the Flats. Her dress, simple
as it was, and her veil marked her as a resident of some district more
prosperous than that grimy community in the shadow of the Mill.
A flash of momentary interest lighted the hungry eyes of the lad. But,
no, it could not be one of the charity workers--the charity ladies
always came earlier in the day and always in automobiles.
Then he saw the stranger stop and speak to a boy in front of a house
two doors away. The neighbor boy pointed toward Bobby and the lady came
on, walking quickly as if she were a little frightened at being alone
amid such surroundings.
At the gap where once had been a gate in the dilapidated fence, she
turned in toward the house and the wondering boy on the front step. She
was within a few feet of the lad when she stopped suddenly with a low
Bobby thought that she had discovered her mistake in coming to the
wrong place. But the next moment she was coming closer, and he heard,
"Bobby, is that really you! You poor child, have you been ill?"
"_I_ ain't been sick, if that's what yer mean," returned the boy. "Mag
is, though. She's worse to-day."
His manner was sullenly defiant, as if the warmly dressed stranger had
in some way revealed herself as his enemy.
"Don't you know me, Bobby?"
"Not with yer face covered up like that, I don't."
She laughed nervously and raised her veil.
"Huh, it's you, is it? Funny--Mag's been a-talkin' about her princess
lady all afternoon. What yer doin' here?"
Before this hollow-cheeked skeleton of a boy Helen Ward felt strangely
like one who, conscious of guilt, is brought suddenly into the presence
of a stern judge.
"Why, Bobby," she faltered, "I--I came to see you and Maggie--I was at
the Interpreter's this afternoon and he told me--I mean something he
said made me want to come."
"The Interpreter, he's all right," said the boy. "So's Mary Martin."
"Aren't you just a little glad to see me, Bobby?"
The boy did not seem to hear. "Funny the way Mag talks about yer all
the time. She's purty sick all right. Peterson's baby, it died."
"Can't we go into the house and see Maggie? You must be nearly frozen
standing out here in the cold."
"Huh, I'm used to freezin'--I guess yer can come on in though--if yer
want to. Mebbe Mag 'd like to see yer."
He pushed open the door, and she followed him into the ghastly
barrenness of the place that he knew as home.
Never before had the daughter of Adam Ward viewed such naked, cruel
poverty. She shuddered with the horror of it. It was so unreal--so
A small, rusty cookstove with no fire--a rude table with no cloth--a
rickety cupboard with its shelves bare save for a few dishes--two
broken-backed chairs--that was all. No, it was not all--on a window
ledge, beneath a bundle of rags that filled the opening left by a
broken pane, was a small earthen flowerpot holding a single scraggly
slip of geranium.
Helen seemed to hear again the Interpreter saying, "A girl with true
instincts for the best things of life and a capacity for great
At Bobby's call, Mrs. Whaley came from another room.
The boy did not even attempt an introduction but stood sullenly aside,
waiting developments, and the mother in her pitiful distress evidently
failed to identify their visitor when Helen introduced herself.
"I'm pleased to meet you, ma'am," she said, mechanically, and gazed at
the young woman with a stony indifference, as though her mind, deadened
by fearful anxiety and physical suffering, refused even to wonder at
the stranger's presence in her home.
Helen did not know what to say--in the presence of this living tragedy
of motherhood she felt so helpless, so overwhelmed with the uselessness
of mere words. What right had she, a stranger from another world, to
intrude unasked upon the privacy of this home? And yet, something deep
within her--something more potent in its authority than the
conventionalities that had so far ruled her life--assured her that she
had the right to be there.
"I--I called to see Bobby and Maggie," she faltered. "I met them, you
know, at the Interpreter's."
As if Helen's mention of the old basket maker awakened a spark of life
in her pain-deadened senses, the woman returned, "Yes, ma'am--take a
chair. No, not that one--it's broke. Here--this one will hold you up, I
With nervous haste she dusted the chair with her apron. "You'd best
keep your things on. We don't have no fire except to cook by--when
there's anything to cook."
She found a match and lighted a tiny lamp, for it was growing dark.
"Bobby tells me that little Maggie is ill," offered Helen.
Mrs. Whaley looked toward the door of that other room and wrung her
thin, toil-worn hands in the agony of her mother fear. "Yes,
ma'am--she's real bad, I guess. Poor child, she's been ailin' for some
time. And since the strike--" Her voice broke, and her eyes, dry as if
they had long since exhausted their supply of tears, were filled with
"We had the doctor once before things got so bad; about the time my man
quit his work in the Mill to help Jake Vodell, it was. And the doctor
he said all she needed was plenty of good food and warm clothes and a
chance to play in the fresh country air."
She looked grimly about the bare room. "We couldn't have the doctor no
more. I don't know as it would make any difference if we could. My man,
he's away most of the time. I ain't seen him since yesterday mornin'.
And to-day Maggie's been a lot worse. I--I'm afraid--"
Helen wanted to cry aloud. Was it possible that she had asked the
Interpreter only a few hours before if there was really much suffering
in the families of the strikers? "You can see Maggie if you want,"
said the mother. "She's in there."
She rose as if to show her visitor to the room.
But Helen said, quickly, "In just a moment. Mrs. Whaley, won't you tell
me first--is there--is there no one to help you?" She asked the
question timidly, as if fearing to offend.
The other woman answered, hopelessly, "The charity ladies do a little,
and the Interpreter and Mary Martin do all they can. But you see,
ma'am, there's so many others just like us that there ain't near enough
to go 'round."
The significance of the woman's colorless words went to Helen's heart
with appalling force--"so many others just like us." This stricken home
was not then an exception. With flashing vividness her mind pictured
many rooms similar to the cold and barren apartment where she sat. She
visioned as clearly as she saw Mrs. Whaley the many other wives and
mothers with Bobbies and Maggies who were caught helplessly in the
monstrous net of the strike, as these were caught. She knew now why the
Interpreter and Billy Rand worked so hard. And again she felt her
cheeks burn with shame as when the old basket maker had said, "For
every idle hand--"
Helen Ward had been an active leader in the foreign relief work during
the war. Her portrait had even been published in the papers as one who
was devoted to the cause of the stricken women and children abroad. But
that had all been impersonal, while this--Already in her heart she was
echoing the old familiar cry of the comparative few, "If only the
people knew! If only they could be made to see as she had been made to
see! The people are not so cruel. They simply do not know. They are
ignorant, as she was ignorant."
Aloud she was saying to Bobby, as she thrust her purse in the boy's
hand, "You must run quickly, Bobby, to the nearest store and get the
things that your mother needs first, and have some one telephone for a
doctor to come at once."
To the mother she added, hurriedly, as if fearing a protest, "Please,
Mrs. Whaley, let me help. I am so sorry I did not know before. Won't
you forgive me and let me help you now?"
"Gee!" exclaimed Bobby, who had opened the purse. "Look-ee, mom! Gee!"
As one in a dream, the mother turned from the money in the boy's hand
to Helen. "You ain't meanin', ma'am, for us to use all that?"
"Yes--yes--don't be afraid to get what you need--there will be more
when that is gone."
The poor woman did not fill the air with loud cries of hysterical
gratitude and superlative prayers to God for His blessing upon this one
who had come so miraculously to her relief. For a moment she stood
trembling with emotion, while her tearless eyes were fixed upon Helen's
face with a look of such gratitude that the young woman was forced to
turn away lest her own feeling escape her control. Then, snatching the
money from the boy's hands, she said, "I had better go myself,
ma'am--Bobby can come along to help carry things. If you"--she
hesitated, with a look toward that other room--"if you wouldn't mind
stayin' with Maggie till we get back?"
A minute later and Helen was alone in that wretched house in the
Flats--alone save for the sick child in the next room.
The door to the street had scarcely closed when a wave of terror swept
over her. She started to her feet. She could not do it. She would call
Mrs. Whaley back. She would go herself for the needed things. But there
was a strength in Helen Ward that few of her most intimate friends,
even, realized; and before her hand touched the latch of the door she
had command of herself once more. In much the same spirit that her
brother John perhaps had faced a lonely night watch in Flanders fields,
Adam Ward's daughter forced herself to do this thing that had so
unexpectedly fallen to her.
For some minutes she walked the floor, listening to the noises of the
neighborhood. Anxiously she opened the door and looked out into the
fast, gathering darkness. No one of her own people knew where she was.
She had heard terrible things of Jake Vodell and his creed of
terrorism. McIver had pressed it upon her mind that the strikers were
all alike in their lawlessness. What if Sam Whaley should return to
find her there? She listened--listened.
A faint, moaning sound came from the next room. She went quickly to the
doorway, but in the faint light she could see only the shadowy outline
of a bed. Taking the lamp she entered fearfully.
Save for the bed, an old box that served as a table, and one chair,
this room was as bare as the other. With the lamp in her hand Helen
stood beside the bed.
The tiny form of little Maggie was lost under the ragged and dirty
coverlet. The child's face in the tangled mass of her unkempt hair was
so wasted and drawn, her eyes, closed under their dark lids, so deeply
sunken, and her teeth so exposed by the thin fleshless lips, that she
seemed scarcely human. One bony arm with its clawlike hand encircled
the rag doll that she had held that day when Helen took the two
children into the country.
As Helen looked all her fears vanished. She had no thought, now, of
where she was or how she came there. Deep within her she felt the
awakening of that mother soul which lives in every woman. She did not
shrink in horror from this hideous fruit of Jake Vodell's activity. She
did not cry out in pity or sorrow. She uttered no word of protest. As
she put the lamp down on the box, her hand did not tremble. Very
quietly she placed the chair beside the bed and sat down to watch and
wait as motherhood in all ages has watched and waited.
While poor Sam Whaley was busy on some mission assigned to him by his
leader, Jake Vodell, and his wife and boy were gone for the food
supplied by a stranger to his household, this woman, of the class that
he had been taught to hate, held alone her vigil at the bedside of the
workman's little girl.
A thin, murmuring voice came from the bed. Helen leaned closer. She
heard a few incoherent mutterings--then, "No--no--Bobby, yer wouldn't
dast blow up the castle. Yer'd maybe kill the princess lady--yer know
yer couldn't do that!"
Again the weak little voice sank into low, meaning less murmurs. The
tiny, clawlike fingers plucked at the coverlet. "Tain't so, the
princess lady _will_ find her jewel of happiness, I tell yer, Bobby,
jest like the Interpreter told us--cause her heart is kind--yer know
her heart is--kind--kind--"
Silence again. Some one passed the house. A dog howled. A child in the
house next door cried. Across the street a man's voice was raised in
Suddenly little Maggie's eyes opened wide. "An' the princess lady is
a-comin' some day to take Bobby and me away up in the sky to her
beautiful palace place where there's flowers and birds an' everythin'
all the time an'--an'--"
The big eyes were fixed on Helen's face as the' young woman stooped
over the bed, and the light of a glorious smile transformed the wasted
When the politician stopped at the cigar stand late that afternoon for
a box of the kind he gave his admirers, the philosopher, scratching the
revenue label, remarked, "I see by the papers that McIver is still
"Humph!" grunted the politician with careful diplomacy.
The bank clerk who was particular about his pipe tobacco chimed in,
"McIver is a stayer all right when it comes to that."
"Natural born fighter, sir," offered the politician tentatively.
"Game sport, McIver is," agreed the undertaker, taking the place at the
show case vacated by the departing bank clerk.
The philosopher, handing out the newcomer's favorite smoke, echoed his
customer's admiration. "You bet he's a game sport." He punched the cash
register with vigor. "Don't give a hang what it costs the other
The undertaker laughed.
"I remember one time," said the philosopher, "McIver and a bunch was
goin' fishin' up the river. They stopped here early in the morning and
while they was gettin' their smokes the judge--who's always handin' out
some sort of poetry stuff, you know--he says: 'Well, Jim, we're goin'
to have a fine day anyway. No matter whether we catch anything or not
it will be worth the trip just to get out into the country.' Mac, he
looked at the judge a minute as if he wanted to bite him--you know what
I mean--then he says in that growlin' voice of his, 'That may do for
you all right, judge, but I'm here to tell you that when _I_ go fishin'
_I go for fish_.'"
The cigar-store philosopher's story accurately described the dominant
trait in the factory man's character. To him business was a sport, a
game, a contest of absorbing interest. He entered into it with all the
zest and strength of his virile manhood. Mind and body, it absorbed
him. And yet, he knew nothing of that true sportsman's passion which
plays the game for the joy of the game itself. McIver played to win;
not for the sake of winning, but for the value of the winnings. Methods
were good or bad only as they won or lost. He was incapable of
experiencing those larger triumphs which come only in defeat. The
Interpreter's philosophy of the "oneness of all" was to McIver the
fanciful theory of an impracticable dreamer, who, too feeble to take a
man's part in life, contented himself by formulating creeds of weakness
that befitted his state. Men were the pieces with which he played his
game--they were of varied values, certainly, as are the pieces on a
chess table, but they were pieces on the chess table and nothing more.
All of which does not mean that Jim McIver was cruel or unkind. Indeed,
he was genuinely and generously interested in many worthy charities,
and many a man had appealed to him, and not in vain, for help. But to
have permitted these humanitarian instincts to influence his play in
the game of business would have been, to his mind, evidence of a
weakness that was contemptible. The human element, he held, must, of
necessity, be sternly disregarded if one would win.
While his fellow townsmen were discussing him at the cigar stand, and
men everywhere in Millsburgh were commenting on his determination to
break the strikers to his will at any cost, McIver, at his office, was
concluding a conference with a little company of his fellow employers.
It was nearly dark when the conference finally ended and the men went
their several ways. McIver, with some work of special importance
waiting his attention, telephoned that he would not be home for dinner.
He would finish what he had to do and would dine at the club later in
The big factory inside the high, board fence was silent. The night came
on. Save for the armed men who guarded the place, the owner was alone.
Absorbed in his consideration of the business before him, the man was
oblivious of everything but his game. An hour went by. He forgot that
he had had no dinner. Another hour--and another.
He was interrupted at last by the entrance of a guard.
"Well, what do you want?" he said, shortly, when the man stood before
"There's a woman outside, sir. She insists that she must see you."
"Who is she?"
"I don't know."
"Well, what does she look like?"
"I couldn't see her face, she's got a veil on."
The factory owner considered. How did any one outside of his home know
that he was in his office at that hour? These times were dangerous.
"Vodell is likely to try anything," he said, aloud. "Better send her
about her business."
"I tried to," the guard returned, "but she won't go--says she is a
friend of yours and has got to see you to-night."
"A friend! Huh! How did she get here?"
"In a taxi, and the taxi beat it as soon as she got out."
Again McIver considered. Then his heavy jaw set, and he growled, "All
right, bring her in--a couple of you--and see that you stand by while
she is here. If this is a Vodell trick of some sort, I'll beat him to
Helen, escorted by two burly guards, entered the office.
McIver sprang to his feet with an exclamation of amazement, and his
tender concern was unfeigned and very comforting to the young woman
after the harrowing experience through which she had just passed.
Sending the guards back to their posts, he listened gravely while she
told him where she had been and what she had seen.
"But, Helen," he cried, when she had finished, "it was sheer madness
for you to be alone in the Flats like that--at Whaley's place and in
the night, too! Good heavens, girl, don't you realize what a risk you
"I had to go, Jim," she returned.
"You had to go?" he repeated. "Why?"
"I had to see for myself if--if things were as bad as the Interpreter
said. Oh, can't you understand, Jim, I could not believe it--it all
seemed so impossible. Don't you see that I had to know for sure?"
"I see that some one ought to break that meddlesome old basket maker's
head as well as his legs," growled McIver indignantly. "The idea of
sending you, Adam Ward's daughter, of all people, alone into that nest
of murdering anarchists."
"But the Interpreter didn't send me, Jim," she protested. "He did not
even know that I was going. No one knew."
"I understand all that," said McIver. "The Interpreter didn't send
you--oh, no--he simply made you think that you ought to go. That's the
way the tricky old scoundrel does everything, from what I am told."
She looked at him steadily. "Do you think, Jim, the Interpreter's way
is such a bad way to get people to do things?"
"Forgive me," he begged humbly, "but it makes me wild to think what
might have happened to you. It's all right now, though. I'll take you
home, and in the future you can turn such work over to the regular
charity organizations." He was crossing the room for his hat and
overcoat. "Jove! I can't believe yet that you have actually been in
such a mess and all by your lonesome, too."
She was about to speak when he stopped, and, as if struck by a sudden
thought, said, quickly, "But Helen, you haven't told me--how did you
know I was here?"
She explained hurriedly, "The doctor sent a taxi for me and I
telephoned your house from a drug store. Your man told me you expected
to be late at the office and would dine at the club. I phoned the club
and when I learned that you were not there I came straight on. I--I had
to see you to-night, Jim. And I was afraid if I phoned you here at the
office you wouldn't let me come."
McIver evidently saw from her manner that there was still something in
the amazing situation that they had not yet touched upon. Coming back
to his desk, he said, "I don't think I understand, Helen. Why were you
in such a hurry to see me? Besides, don't you know that I would have
gone to you, at once, anywhere?"
"I know, Jim," she returned, slowly, as one approaching a difficult
subject, "but I couldn't tell you what I had seen. I couldn't talk to
you about these things at home."
"I understand," he said, gently, "and I am glad that you wanted to come
to me. But you are tired and nervous and all unstrung, now. Let me take
you home and to-morrow we will talk things over."
As if he had not spoken, she said, steadily, "I wanted to tell you
about the terrible, terrible condition of those poor people, Jim. I
thought you ought to know about them exactly as they are and not in a
vague, indefinite way as I knew about them before I went to see for
The man moved uneasily. "I do know about the condition of these people,
Helen. It is exactly what I expected would happen."
She was listening carefully. "You expected them to--to be hungry and
cold and sick like that, Jim?"
"Such conditions are always a part of every strike like this," he
returned. "There is nothing unusual about it, and it is the only thing
that will ever drive these cattle back to their work. They simply have
to be starved to it."
"But John says--"
He interrupted. "Please, Helen--I know all about what John says. I know
where he gets it, too--he gets it from the Interpreter who gave you
this crazy notion of going alone into the Flats to investigate
personally. And John's ideas are just about as practical."
"But the mothers and children, Jim?"
"The men can go back to work whenever they are ready," he retorted.
"At your terms, you mean?" she asked.
"My terms are the only terms that will ever open this plant again. The
unions will never dictate my business policies, if every family in
She waited a moment before she said, slowly, "I must be sure that I
understand, Jim--do you mean that you are actually depending upon such
pitiful conditions as I have seen to-night to give you a victory over
The man made a gesture of impatience. "It is the principle of the thing
that is at stake, Helen. If I yield in this instance it will be only
the beginning of a worse trouble. If the working class wins this time
there will be no end to their demands. We might as well turn all our
properties over to them at once and be done with it. This strike in
Millsburgh is only a small part of the general industrial situation.
The entire business interests of the country are involved."
Again she waited a little before answering. Then she said, sadly, "How
strange! It is hard for me to realize, Jim, that the entire business
interests of this great nation are actually dependent upon the poor
little Maggie Whaleys."
"Helen!" he protested, "you make me out a heartless brute."
"No, Jim, I know you are not that. But when you insist that what I saw
to-night--that the suffering of these poor, helpless mothers and their
children is the only thing that will enable you employers to break this
strike and save the business of the country--it--it does seem a good
deal like the Germans' war policy of frightfulness that we all
condemned so bitterly, doesn't it?"
"These things are not matters of sentiment, Helen. Jake Vodell is not
conducting his campaign by the Golden Rule."
"I know, Jim, but I could not go to Jake Vodell as I have come to
you--could I? And I could not talk to the poor, foolish strikers who
are so terribly deceived by him. Don't you suppose, Jim, that most of
the strikers think they are right?"
The man stirred uneasily. "I can't help what they think. I can consider
only the facts as they are."
"That is just what I want, Jim," she cried. "Only it seems to me that
you are leaving out some of the most important facts. I can't help
believing that if our great captains of industry and kings of finance
and teachers of economics and labor leaders would consider _all_ the
facts they could find some way to settle these differences between
employers and employees and save the industries of the country without
starving little girls and boys and their mothers."
"If I could have my way the government would settle the difficulty in a
hurry," he said, grimly.
"You mean the soldiers?"
"Yes, the government should put enough troops from the regular army in
here to drive these men back to their jobs."
"But aren't these working people just as much a part of our government
as you employers? Forgive me, Jim, but your plan sounds to me too much
like the very imperialism that our soldiers fought against in France."
"Imperialism or not!" he retorted, "the business men of this country
will never submit to the dictatorship of Jake Vodell and his kind. It
would be chaos and utter ruin. Look what they are doing in other
"Of course it would," she agreed, "but the Interpreter says that if the
business men and employers and the better class of employees like Peter
Martin would get together as--as John and Charlie Martin are--that Jake
Vodell and his kind would be powerless."
He did not answer, and she continued, "As I understand brother and the
Interpreter, this man Vodell does not represent the unions at all--he
merely uses some of the unions, wherever he can, through such men as
Sam Whaley. Isn't that so, Jim?"
"Whether it is so or not, the result is the same," he answered. "If the
unions of the laboring classes permit themselves to be used as tools by
men like Jake Vodell they must take the consequences."
He rose to his feet as one who would end an unprofitable discussion.
"Come, Helen, it is useless for you to make yourself ill over these
questions. You are worn out now. Come, you really must let me take you
"I suppose I must," she answered, wearily.
He went to her. "It is wonderful for you to do what you have done
to-night, and for you to come to me like this. Helen--won't you give me
my answer--won't you--?"
She put out her hands with a little gesture of protest. "Please, Jim,
let's not talk about ourselves to-night. I--I can't."
Silently he turned away to take up his hat and coat. Silently she stood
But when he was ready, she said, "Jim, there is just one thing more."
"What is it, Helen?"
"Tell me truly: you _could_ stop this strike, couldn't you? I mean if
you would come to some agreement with your factory men, all the others
would go back to work, too, wouldn't they?"
"Yes," he said, "I could."
She hesitated--then falteringly, "Jim, if I--if I promise to be your
wife will you--will you stop the strike? For the sake of the mothers
and children who are cold and hungry and sick, Jim--will you--will you
stop the strike?"
For a long minute, Jim McIver could not answer. He wanted this woman as
a man of his strength wants the woman he has chosen. At the beginning
of their acquaintance his interest in Helen had been largely stimulated
by the business possibilities of a combination of his factory and Adam
Ward's Mill. But as their friendship had grown he had come to love her
sincerely, and the more material consideration of their union had faded
into the background. Men like McIver, who are capable of playing their
games of business with such intensity and passion, are capable of great
and enduring love. They are capable, too, of great sacrifices to
principle. As he considered her words and grasped the full force of her
question his face went white and his nerves were tense with the
At last he said, gently, "Helen, dear, I love you. I want you for my
wife. I want you more than I ever wanted anything. Nothing in the world
is of any value to me compared with your love. But, dear girl, don't
you see that I can't take you like this? You cannot sell yourself to
me--even for such a price. I cannot buy you." He turned away.
"Forgive me, Jim," she cried. "I did not realize what I was saying.
I--I was thinking of little Maggie--I--I know you would not do what you
are doing if you did not think you were right. Take me home now,
* * * * *
Silently they went out to his automobile. Tenderly he helped her into
the car and tucked the robe about her. The guards swung open the big
gates, and they swept away into the night. Past the big Mill and the
Flats, through the silent business district and up the hill they glided
swiftly--steadily. And no word passed between them.
They were nearing the gate to the Ward estate when Helen suddenly
grasped her companion's arm with a low exclamation.
At the same moment McIver instinctively checked the speed of his car.
They had both seen the shadowy form of a man walking slowly past the
entrance to Helen's home.
To Helen, there was something strangely familiar in the dim outlines of
the moving figure. As they drove slowly on, passing the man who was now
in the deeper shadows of the trees and bushes which, at this spot grew
close to the fence, she turned her head, keeping her eyes upon him.
Suddenly a flash of light stabbed the darkness. A shot rang out. And
Helen saw the man she was watching fall.
With a cry, she started from her seat; and before McIver, who had
involuntarily stopped the car, could check her, she had leaped from her
place beside him and was running toward the fallen man.
With a shout "Helen!" McIver followed.
As she knelt beside the form on the ground McIver put his hand on her
shoulder. "Helen," he said, sharply, as if to bring her to her senses,
"you must not--here, let me--"
Without moving from her position she turned her face up to him. "Don't
you understand, Jim? It is Captain Charlie."
Two watchmen on the Ward estate, who had heard the shots, came running
McIver tried to insist that Helen go with him in his roadster to the
house for help and a larger car, but she refused.
When he returned with John, the chauffeur and one of the big Ward
machines, after telephoning the police and the doctor, Helen was
kneeling over the wounded man just as he had left her.
She did not raise her head when they stood beside her and seemed
unconscious of their presence. But when John lifted her up and she
heard her brother's voice, she cried out and clung to him like a
The doctor arrived just as they were carrying Captain Charlie into the
room to which Mrs. Ward herself led them. The police came a moment
While the physician, with John's assistance, was caring for his
patient, McIver gave the officers what information he could and went
with them to the scene of the shooting.
He returned to the house after the officers had completed their
examination of the spot and the immediate vicinity just in time to meet
John, who was going out. Helen and her mother were with the doctor at
the bedside of the assassin's victim.
McIver wondered at the anguish in John Ward's face. But Captain
Charlie's comrade only asked, steadily, "Did the police find anything,
"Not a thing," McIver answered. "What does the doctor say, John?"
John turned away as if to hide his emotion and for a moment did not
answer. Then he spoke those words so familiar to the men of Flanders'
fields, "Charlie is going West, Jim. I must bring his father and
sister. Would you mind waiting here until I return? Something might
develop, you know."
"Certainly, I will stay, John--anything that I can do--command me,
"Thank you, Jim--I'll not be long."
* * * * *
While he waited there alone, Jim McIver's mind went back over the
strange incidents of the evening: Helen's visit to the Whaley home and
her coming to him. Swiftly he reviewed their conversation. What was it
that had so awakened Helen's deep concern for the laboring class? He
had before noticed her unusual interest in the strike and in the
general industrial situation--but to-night--he had never dreamed that
she would go so far. Why had she continued to refuse an answer to his
pleading? What was Charlie Martin doing in that neighborhood at that
hour? How had Helen recognized him so quickly and surely in the
darkness? The man, as these and many other unanswerable questions
crowded upon him, felt a strange foreboding. Mighty forces beyond his
understanding seemed stirring about him. As one feels the gathering of
a storm in the night, he felt the mysterious movements of elements
beyond his control.
He was disturbed suddenly by the opening of an outer door behind him.
Turning quickly, he faced Adam Ward.
Before McIver could speak, the Mill owner motioned him to be silent.
Wondering, McIver obeyed and watched with amazement as the master of
that house closed the door with cautious care and stole softly toward
him. To his family Adam Ward's manner would not have appeared so
strange, but McIver had never seen the man under one of his attacks of
"I'm glad you are here, Jim," Adam said, in a shaking whisper. "You
understand these things. John is a fool--he don't believe when I tell
him they are after us. But you know what to do. You have the right idea
about handling these unions. Kill the leaders; and if the men won't
work, turn the soldiers loose on them. You said the right thing, 'Drive
them to their jobs with bayonets.' Pete Martin's boy was one of them,
and he got what was coming to him to-night. And John and Helen brought
him right here into my house. They've got him upstairs there now. They
think I'll stand for it, but you'll see--I'll show them! What was he
hanging around my place for in the night like this? I know what he was
after. But he got what he wasn't looking for this time and Pete will
get his too, if he--"
Unnoticed, Helen had come into the room behind them. In pacing the open
door she had seen her father and had realized instantly his condition.
But the little she had heard him say was not at all unusual to her, and
she attached no special importance to his words.
Adam Ward was like a child, abashed in her presence.
She looked at McIver appealingly. "Father is excited and nervous, Jim.
He is not at all well, you know."
McIver spoke with gentle authority, "If you will permit me, I will go
with him to his room for a little quiet talk. And then, perhaps, he can
sleep. What do you say, Mr. Ward?"
"Yes--yes," agreed Adam, hurriedly.
Helen looked her gratitude and McIver led the Mill owner away.
When they were in Adam's own apartment and the door was shut McIver's
manner changed with startling abruptness. With all the masterful power
of his strong-willed nature he faced his trembling host, and his heavy
voice was charged with the force of his dominating personality.
"Listen to me, Adam Ward. You must stop this crazy nonsense. If you act
and talk like this the police will have the handcuffs on you before you
know where you are."
Adam cringed before him. "Jim--I--I--do they think that I--"
"Shut up!" growled McIver. "I don't want to hear another word. I have
heard too much now. Charlie Martin stays right here in this house and
your family will give him every attention. His father and sister will
be here, too, and you'll not open your mouth against them. Do you
"Yes--yes," whispered the now thoroughly frightened Adam.
"Don't you dare even to speak to Mrs. Ward or John or Helen as you have
to me. And for God's sake pull yourself together and remember--you
don't know any more than the rest of us about this business--you were
in your room when you heard the shots."
"Yes, of course, Jim--but I--I--"
"Shut up! You are not to talk, I tell you--even to me."
Adam Ward whimpered like a child.
For another moment McIver glared at him; then, "Don't forget that I saw
this affair and that I went over the ground with the police. I'm going
back downstairs now. You go to bed where you belong and stay there."
He turned abruptly and left the room.
But as he went down the stairway McIver drew his handkerchief from his
pocket and wiped the perspiration from his brow.
"What in God's name," he asked himself, "did Adam Ward's excited fears
mean? What terrible thing gave birth to his mad words? What awful
pattern was this that the unseen forces were weaving? And what part was
he, with his love for Helen, destined to fill in it all?" That his life
was being somehow woven into the design he felt certain--but how and to
what end? And again the man in all his strength felt that dread
* * * * *
When Peter Martin and his daughter arrived with John at the big house
on the hill, Mrs. Ward met them at the door.
The old workman betrayed no consciousness of the distance the years of
Adam Ward's material prosperity had placed between these two families
that in the old-house days had lived in such intimacy.
Mary hesitated. It must have been that to the girl, who saw it between
herself and the happy fulfillment of her womanhood, the distance seemed
even greater than it actually was.
But her hesitation was only for an instant. One full look into the
gentle face that was so marked by the years of uncomplaining
disappointment and patient unhappiness and Mary knew that in the heart
of John Ward's mother the separation had brought no change. In the arms
of her own mother's dearest friend the young woman found, even as a
child, the love she needed to sustain her in that hour.
When they entered the room where Captain Charlie lay unconscious, Helen
rose from her watch beside the bed and held out her hands to her
girlhood playmate. And in her gesture there was a full surrender--a
plea for pardon. Humbly she offered--lovingly she invited--while she
held her place beside the man who was slowly passing into that shadow
where all class forms are lost, as if she claimed the right before a
court higher than the petty courts of human customs. No word was
spoken--no word was needed. The daughter of Peter Martin and the
daughter of Adam Ward knew that the bond of their sisterhood was
In that wretched home in the Flats, little Maggie Whaley smiled in her
sleep as she dreamed of her princess lady.
The armed guards at their stations around McIver's dark and silent
factory kept their watch.
The Mill, under the cloud of smoke, sang the deep-voiced song of its
industry as the night shift carried on.
In the room back of the pool hall, Jake Vodell whispered with two of
In the window of the Interpreter's hut on the cliff a lamp gleamed
starlike above the darkness below.
AT THE CALL OF THE WHISTLE
Everywhere in Millsburgh the shooting of Captain Charlie was the one
topic of conversation. As the patrons of the cigar stand came and went
they talked with the philosopher of nothing else. The dry-goods
pessimist delivered his dark predictions to a group of his fellow
citizens and listened with grave shakes of his head to the counter
opinions of the real-estate agent. The grocer questioned the garage man
and the lawyer discussed the known details of the tragedy with the
postmaster, the hotel keeper and the politician. The barber asked the
banker for his views and reviewed the financier's opinion to the judge
while a farmer and a preacher listened. The milliner told her customers
about it and the stenographer discussed it with the bookkeeper. In the
homes, on the streets, and, later in the day, throughout the country,
the shock of the crime was felt.
Meanwhile, the efforts of the police to find the assassin were
fruitless. The most careful search revealed nothing in the nature of a
Millsburgh had been very proud of Captain Martin and the honors he had
won in France, as Millsburgh was proud of Adam Ward and his
success--only with a different pride. The people had known Charlie from
his birth, as they had known his father and mother all their years.
There had been nothing in the young workman's life--as every one
remarked--to lead to such an end.
It is doubtful if in the entire community there was a single soul that
did not secretly or openly think of the tragedy as being in some dark
way an outcome of the strike. And, gradually, as the day passed, the
conjectures, opinions and views crystallized into two opposing
theories--each with its natural advocates.
One division of the people held that the deed was committed by some one
of Jake Vodell's followers, because of the workman's known opposition
to a sympathetic strike of the Mill workers' union. Captain Charlie's
leadership of the Mill men was recognized by all, and it was conceded
generally that it was his active influence, guided by the Interpreter's
counsel, that was keeping John Ward's employees at work. Without the
assistance of the Mill men the strike leader could not hope for
victory. With Captain Charlie's personal influence no longer a factor,
it was thought that the agitator might win the majority of the Mill
workers and so force the union into line with the strikers.
This opinion was held by many of the business men and by the more
thoughtful members of the unions, who had watched with grave
apprehension the increasing bitterness of the agitator's hatred of
Captain Charlie, because of the workman's successful opposition to his
The opposing theory, which was skillfully advanced by Jake Vodell
himself and fostered by his followers, was that the mysterious assassin
was an agent of McIver's and that the deed was committed for the very
purpose of charging the strikers with the crime and thus turning public
sympathy against them.
This view, so plausible to the minds of the strikers, prepared, as they
were, by hardship and suffering, found many champions among the Mill
men themselves. Not a few of those who had stood with Charlie in his
opposition to the agitator and against their union joining the strike
now spoke openly with bitter feeling against the employer class. The
weeks of agitation--the constant pounding of Vodell's arguments--the
steady fire of his oratory and the continual appeal to their class
loyalty made it easy for them to stand with their fellow workmen, now
that the issue was being so clearly forced.
So the lines of the industrial battle were drawn closer--the opposing
forces were massed in more definite formation--the feeling was more
intense and bitter. In the gloom and hush of the impending desperate
struggle that was forced upon it by the emissary of an alien
organization, this little American city waited the coming of the dark
messenger to Captain Charlie. It was felt by all alike that the
workman's death would precipitate the crisis.
And through it all the question most often asked was this, "Why was the
workman, Charlie Martin, at the gate to Adam Ward's estate at that hour
of the night?"
To this question no one ventured even the suggestion of a satisfactory
All that long day Helen kept her watch beside the wounded man. Others
were there in the room with her, but she seemed unconscious of their
presence. She made no attempt, now, to hide her love. There was no
pretense--no evasion. Openly, before them all, she silently
acknowledged him--her man--and to his claim upon her surrendered
herself without reserve.
James McIver called but she would not see him.
When they urged her to retire and rest, she answered always with the
same words: "I must be here when he awakens--I must."
And they, loving her, understood.
It was as if the assassin's hand had torn aside the curtain of material
circumstances and revealed suddenly the realities of their inner lives.
They realized now that this man, who had in their old-house days won
the first woman love of his girl playmate, had held that love against
all the outward changes that had taken her from him. John and his
mother knew, now, why Helen had never said "Yes" to Jim McIver. Peter
Martin and Mary knew why, in Captain Charlie's heart, there had seemed
to be no place for any woman save his sister.
At intervals the man on the bed moved uneasily, muttering low words and
disconnected fragments of speech. Army words--some of them were--as if
his spirit lived for the moment again in the fields of France. At other
times the half-formed phrases were of his work--the strike--his home.
Again he spoke his sister's name or murmured, "Father," or "John." But
not once did Helen catch the word she longed to hear him speak. It was
as if, even in his unconscious mental wanderings, the man still guarded
the name that in secret he had held most dear.
Three times during the day he opened his eyes and looked
about--wonderingly at first--then as though he understood. As one
contented and at peace, he smiled and drifted again into the shadows.
But now at times his hand went out toward her with a little movement,
as though he were feeling for her in the dark.
About midnight he seemed to be sleeping so naturally that they
persuaded Helen to rest. At daybreak she was again at her post.
Mrs. Ward and Mary had gone, in their turn, for an hour or two of
sorely needed rest. Peter Martin was within call downstairs. John, who
was watching with his sister, had left the room for the moment and
Helen was at the bedside alone.
Suddenly through the quiet morning air came the deep-toned call of the
As a soldier awakens at the sound of the morning bugle, Captain Charlie
opened his eyes.
Instantly she was bending over him. As he looked up into her face she
called his name softly. She saw the light of recognition come into his
eyes. She saw the glory of his love.
"Helen," he said--and again, "Helen."
It was as if the death that claimed him had come also for her.
For the first time in many months the voice of the Mill was not heard
by the Interpreter in his little hut on the cliff. Above the silent
buildings the smoke cloud hung like a pall. From his wheel chair the
old basket maker watched the long procession moving slowly down the
There were no uniforms in that procession--no military band with
muffled drums led that solemn march--no regimental colors in honor of
the dead. There were no trappings of war--no martial ceremony. And yet,
to the Interpreter, Captain Charlie died in the service of his country
as truly as if he had been killed on the field of battle.
Long after the funeral procession had passed beyond his sight, the
Interpreter sat there at the window, motionless, absorbed in thought.
Twice silent Billy came to stand beside his chair, but he did not heed.
His head was bowed. His great shoulders stooped. His hands were idle.
There was a sound of some one knocking at the door.
The Interpreter did not hear.
The sound was repeated, and this time he raised his head questioningly.
Again it came and the old basket maker called, "Come in."
The door opened. Jim McIver entered.
JAKE VODELL'S MISTAKE
Since that night of the tragedy McIver had struggled to grasp the
hidden meaning of the strange series of incidents. But the more he
tried to understand, the more he was confused and troubled. Nor had he
been able, strong-willed as he was, to shake off the feeling that he
was in the midst of unseen forces--that about him mysterious influences
were moving steadily to some fixed and certain end.
In constant touch, through his agents, with the strike situation, he
had watched the swiftly forming sentiment of the public. He knew that
the turning point of the industrial war was near. He did not deceive
himself. He knew Jake Vodell's power. He knew the temper of the
strikers. He saw clearly that if the assassin who killed Captain
Charlie was not speedily discovered the community would suffer under a
reign of terror such as the people had never conceived. And, what was
of more vital importance to McIver, perhaps, if the truth was not soon
revealed, Jake Vodell's charges that the murder was inspired by McIver
himself would become, in the minds of many, an established fact. With
the full realization of all that would result to the community and to
himself if the identity of the murderer was not soon established,
McIver was certain in his own mind that he alone knew the guilty man.
To reveal what he believed to be the truth of the tragedy would be to
save the community and himself--and to lose, for all time, the woman he
loved. McIver did not know that through the tragedy Helen was already
lost to him.
In his extremity the factory owner had come at last to the man who was
said to wield such a powerful influence over the minds of the people.
He had never before seen the interior of that hut on the cliff nor met
the man who for so many years had been confined there. Standing just
outside the door, he looked curiously about the room with the
unconscious insolence of his strength.
The man in the wheel chair did not speak. When Billy looked at him he
signaled his wishes in their silent language, and, watching his
For a long moment McIver gazed at the old basket maker as if estimating
his peculiar strength, then he said with an unintentional touch of
contempt in his heavy voice, "So _you_ are the Interpreter."
"And you," returned the man in the wheel chair, gently, "are McIver."
McIver was startled. "How did you know my name?"
"Is McIver's name a secret also?" came the strange reply.
McIver's eyes flashed with a light that those who sat opposite him in
the game of business had often seen. With perfect self-control he said,
coolly, "I have been told often that I should come to see you but--" he
paused and again looked curiously about the room.
The Interpreter, smiling, caught up the unfinished sentence. "But you
do not see how an old, poverty-stricken and crippled maker of baskets
can be of any use to you."
McIver spoke as one measuring his words. "They tell me you help people
who are in trouble."
"Are you then in trouble?" asked the Interpreter, kindly.
The other did not answer, and the man in the wheel chair continued,
still kindly, "What trouble can the great and powerful McIver have? You
have never been hungry--you have never felt the cold--you have no
children to starve--no son to be killed."
"I suppose you hold me personally responsible for the strike and for
all the hardships that the strikers have brought upon themselves and
their families?" said McIver. "You fellows who teach this
brotherhood-of-man rot and never have more than one meal ahead
yourselves always blame men like me for all the suffering in the
The Interpreter replied with a dignity that impressed even McIver. "Who
am I that I should assume to blame any one? Who are you, sir, that
assume the power implied by either your acceptance or your denial of
the responsibility? You are only a part of the whole, as I am a part.
You, in your life place, are no less a creature of circumstances--an
accident--than I, here in my wheel chair--than Jake Vodell. We are
all--you and I, Jake Vodell, Adam Ward, Peter Martin, Sam Whaley--we
are all but parts of the great oneness of life. The want, the misery,
the suffering, the unhappiness of humanity is of that unity no less
than is the prosperity, peace and happiness of the people. Before we
can hope to bring order out of this industrial chaos we must recognize
our mutual dependence upon the whole and acknowledge the equality of
our guilt in the wretched conditions that now exist."
As the Interpreter spoke, James McIver again felt the movement of those
unseen forces that were about him. His presence in that little hut on
the cliff seemed, now, a part of some plan that was not of his making.
He was awed by the sudden conviction that he had not come to the
Interpreter of his own volition, but had been led there by something
beyond his understanding.
"Why should your fellow workmen not hate you, sir?" continued the old
basket maker. "You hold yourself apart, superior, of a class distinct
and separate. Your creed of class is intolerance. Your very business
policy is a declaration of class war. Your boast that you can live
without the working people is madness. You can no more live without
them than they can live without you. You can no more deny the mutual
dependence of employer and employee with safety to yourself than Samson
of old could pull down the pillars of the temple without being himself
buried in the ruins."
By an effort of will McIver strove to throw off the feeling that
possessed him. He spoke as one determined to assert himself. "We cannot
recognize the rights of Jake Vodell and his lawless followers to
dictate to us in our business. It would mean ruin, not only of our
industries, but of our government."
"Exactly so," agreed the Interpreter. "And yet, sir, you claim for
yourself the right to live by the same spirit of imperialism that
animates Vodell. You make the identical class distinction that he
makes. You appeal to the same class intolerance and hatred. You and
Jake Vodell have together brought about this industrial war in
Millsburgh. The community itself--labor unions and business men
alike--is responsible for tolerating the imperialism that you and this
alien agitator, in opposition to each other, advocate. The community is
paying the price."
The factory owner flushed. "Of course you would say these things to
"I do," returned the Interpreter, gently.
"Oh, you _are_ in touch with him then?"
"He comes here sometimes. He is coming this afternoon--at four o'clock.
Will you not stay and meet him, Mr. McIver?" McIver hesitated. He
decided to ignore the invitation. With more respect in his manner than
he had so far shown, he said, courteously, "May I ask why Jake Vodell
comes to you?"
The Interpreter replied, sadly, as one who accepts the fact of his
failure, "For the same reason that McIver came."
McIver started with surprise. "You know why I came to you?"
The man in the wheel chair looked steadily into his visitor's eyes. "I
know that you are not personally responsible for the death of the
workman, Captain Martin."
McIver sprang to his feet. He fairly gasped as the flood of questions
raised by the Interpreter's words swept over him.
"You--you know who killed Charlie Martin?" he demanded at last.
The old basket maker did not answer.
"If you know," cried McIver, "why in God's name do you not tell the
people? Surely, sir, you are not ignorant of the danger that threatens
this community. The death of this union man has given Vodell just the
opportunity he needed and he is using it. If you dare to shield the
guilty man--whoever he is--you will--"
"Peace, McIver! This community will not be plunged into the horrors of
a class war such as you rightly fear. There are yet enough sane and
loyal American citizens in Millsburgh to extinguish the fire that you
and Jake Vodell have started."
* * * * *
When Jake Vodell came to the Interpreter's hut shortly after McIver had
left, he was clearly in a state of nervous excitement.
"Well," he said, shortly, "I am here--what do you want--why did you
send for me?"
The Interpreter spoke deliberately with his eyes fixed upon the dark
face of the agitator. "Vodell, I have told you twice that your campaign
in Millsburgh was a failure. Your coming to this community was a
mistake. Your refusal to recognize the power of the thing that made
your defeat certain was a mistake. You have now made your third and
"A mistake! Hah--that is what you think. You do not know. I tell you
that I have turned a trick that will win for me the game. Already the
people are rallying to me. I have put McIver at last in a hole from
which he will not escape. The Mill workers are ready _now_ to do
anything I say. You will see--to-morrow I will have these employers and
all their capitalist class eating out of my hand. To me they shall beg
for mercy. I--I will dictate the terms to them and they will pay. You
may take my word--they will pay."
The man paced to and fro with the triumphant air of a conqueror, and
his voice rang with his exultation.
"No, Jake Vodell," said the Interpreter, calmly. "You are deceiving
yourself. Your dreams are as vain as your mistake is fatal."
The man faced the old basket maker suddenly, as if arrested by a
possible meaning in the Interpreter's words that had not at first
caught his attention.
"And what is this mistake that I have made?" he growled.
The answer came with solemn portent. "You have killed the wrong man."
The agitator was stunned. His mouth opened as if he would speak, but no
word came from his trembling lips. He drew back as if to escape.
The old man in the wheel chair continued, sadly, "_I_ am the one you
should have killed--I am the cause of your failure to gain the support
of the Mill workers' union."
The strike leader recovered himself with a shrug of his heavy
"So that is it," he sneered; "you would accuse me of shooting your
Captain Charlie, heh?"
"You have accused yourself, sir."
"By the use you are making of Captain Charlie's death. If you did not
know who committed the crime--if you did not feel sure that the
identity of the assassin would remain a mystery to the people--you
would not dare risk charging the employers with it."
With an oath the other returned, "I tell you that McIver or his hired
gunmen did it so they could lay the blame on the strikers and so turn
the Mill workers' union against us. That is what the Mill men believe."
"That is what you want them to believe. It is an old trick, Vodell. You
have used it before."
The agitator's eyes narrowed under his scowling brows. "Look here," he
growled, "I do not like this talk of yours. Perhaps you had better
prove what you charge, heh?"
"Please God, I will prove it," came the calm answer.
Jake Vodell, as he looked down upon the seemingly helpless old man in
the wheel chair, was thinking, "It would be safer if this old basket
maker were not permitted to speak these things to others--his
influence, after all, is a thing to consider."
"No, Jake Vodell," said the Interpreter gently, "you won't do it. Billy
Rand is watching us. If you make a move to do what you are thinking,
Billy will kill you."
The Interpreter raised his hand and his silent companion came quickly
to stand beside his chair.
With a shrug of his shoulders Vodell drew back a few steps toward the
"Bah! Why should I waste my time with a crippled old basket maker--I
have work to do. If you watch from the window of your shanty you will
see to-morrow whether or not the Mill workers are with me. I will make
for you a demonstration that will be known through the country. I told
you at the first that the working people would find out who is their
friend. Now you shall see what they will do to the enemies of their
class. Who can say, Mr. Interpreter, perhaps your miserable hut so high
up here would make a good torch to signal the beginning of the show,
When the door had closed behind Jake Vodell, the Interpreter said,
aloud, "So he has set to-morrow night for his demonstration. We must
work fast, Billy--there is no time to lose."
With his hands he asked his companion for paper and pencil. When Billy
brought them he wrote a few words and folding the message gave it to
the big man who stood waiting.
For a few minutes they talked together in their silent way. Then Billy
Rand put the Interpreter's message carefully in his pocket and
hurriedly left the hut.
* * * * *
That evening Jake Vodell addressed the largest crowd that had yet
assembled at his street meetings. With characteristic eloquence the
agitator pictured Captain Charlie as a martyr to the unprincipled
schemes of the employer class.
"McIver and his crew are charging the strikers with this crime in order
to set our union brothers against us," he shouted. "They think that by
setting up a division among us they can win. They know that if the
working people stand together, true to their class, loyal to their
comrades, they will rule the world. Why don't the police produce the
murderer of Captain Charlie? I will tell you the answer, my brother
workmen: it is because the law and the officers of the law are under
the control of those who do not want the murderer produced--that is
why. They dare not produce him. The life of a poor working man--what is
that to these masters of crime who acknowledge no law but the laws they
make for themselves. You workers have no laws. A slave knows no justice
but the whim of his master. Think of the mothers and children in your
homes--you slaves who create the wealth of your lords and masters. And
now they have taken the life of one of your truest and most loyal union
leaders. Where will they stop? If you do not stand like men against
these cruel outrages what have you to hope for? You know as well as I
that no workman in Millsburgh would raise his hand against such a
fellow worker as Captain Charlie Martin."
While the agitator was speaking, Billy Rand moved quickly here and
there through the crowd, as if searching for some one.
After the mass meeting on the street there was a meeting of the Mill
Later, Vodell's inner circle met in the room back of Dago Bill's pool
It was midnight when Billy Rand finally returned to the waiting
Evidently he had failed in the mission entrusted to him by the old
The next morning, Billy Rand again went forth with the Interpreter's
THE MOB AND THE MILL
On the morning following the day of the funeral scarcely half of the
usual force of workmen appeared at the Mill. The men who did choose to
work were forced to pass a picket line of strikers who with jeers and
threats and arguments sought to turn them from their purpose.
The death of Captain Charlie, by defining more clearly the two lines of
public sentiment, had increased Jake Vodell's strength materially, but
the Mill workers' union had not yet officially declared for the
sympathetic strike that would deliver the community wholly into the
hands of the agitator. The Mill men, who were still opposed to Jake
Vodell's leadership and coolly refused to hold the employers guilty of
the death of Captain Charlie upon the mere unsupported assertions of
the strike leader, were therefore free to continue their work. This
action of the members of the Mill workers' union who were loyal to
John, however, quite naturally increased the feeling of their comrades
who had accepted Vodell's version of the murder. Thus, the final crisis
of the industrial battle centered about the Mill.
Every hour that John Ward could keep the Mill running lessened Vodell's
chances of final victory. The strike leader knew that if these days
immediately following Captain Charlie's death passed without closing
the Mill, his cause was lost. The workmen were now aroused to the
highest pitch of excitement. The agitator realized that if they were
not committed by some action to his cause before the fever of their
madness began to abate, his followers would, day by day, in ever
increasing numbers go back to work under John. The successful operation
of the Mill was a demonstration to the public that Vodell's campaign
against the employers was not endorsed by the better and stronger
element of employees. To the mind of the strike leader a counter
demonstration was imperative. To that immediate end the man now bent
All day the members of the agitator's inner circle were active. When
evening came, a small company of men gathered in a vacant store
building not far from the Mill. There was little talk among them. When
one did speak it was to utter a mere commonplace or perhaps to greet
some newcomer. They were as men who meet at a given place by agreement
to carry out some definite and carefully laid plan. Moment by moment
the company grew in numbers until the gathering assumed such
proportions that it overflowed the building and filled the street. And
now, scattered through the steadily growing crowd, the members of that
inner circle were busy with exhortations and arguments preparing the
workmen for what was to follow.
Presently from the direction of the strike headquarters came another
company with Jake Vodell himself in their midst. These had assembled at
the strike headquarters. Without pausing they swept on down the street
toward the Mill, taking with them the crowd that was waiting at the old
store. Scarcely had they reached the front of the large main building
when they were joined by still another crowd that had been gathering in
the neighborhood of McIver's factory. Thus, with startling suddenness,
a great company of workmen was assembled at the Mill.
But a large part of that company had yet to be molded to Vodell's
purpose. Many had gone to the designated places in response to the
simple announcement that a labor meeting would be held there. Only
those of the agitator's trusted inner circle had known of the plan to
unite these smaller gatherings in one great mass meeting. Only these
chosen few knew the real purpose of that meeting. There were hundreds
of workmen in that throng who were opposed to Vodell and his methods,
but they were unorganized, with no knowledge of the strike leader's
plans. And so it had been easy for the members of that inner circle to
lead these separate smaller gatherings to the larger assembly in front
of the Mill.
To accomplish the full purpose of his demonstration against the
employer class, the strike leader must make it appear to the public as
the united action of the working people of Millsburgh. The requirements
of his profession made Jake Vodell a master of mob psychology. With the
leaven of his chosen inner circle and the temper of the many strikers
whose nerves were already strained to the breaking point by their weeks
of privation, the agitator was confident that he could bend the
assembled multitude to his will. Those who were opposed to his
leadership and to his methods--disorganized and taken by surprise as
they were--would be helpless. At the same time their presence in the
mob would appear to give their sanction and support to whatever was
Quickly word of the gathering spread throughout the community. From
every direction--from the Flats, from the neighborhood of the Martin
home--and from the more distant parts of the city--men were moving
toward the Mill. With every moment the crowd increased in size.
Everywhere among the mass of men Vodell's helpers were busy.
A block away an automobile stopped at the curb in front of a deserted
house. A man left the car, and, keeping well out of the light from the
street lamps, walked swiftly to the outskirts of the mob. With his face
hidden by the turned-up collar of his overcoat and the brim of his hat
pulled low, he moved here and there in the thin edge of the multitude.
The agitator, standing on a goods box on the street opposite the big
doors of the main Mill building, began his address. As one man, the
hundreds of assembled workmen turned toward the leader of the strike. A
hush fell over them. But there was one in that great crowd to whom the
words of Jake Vodell meant nothing. Silent Billy Rand, pushing his way
through the press of men, searched face after face with simple,
A squad of police arrived. Vodell, calling attention to them,
facetiously invited the guardians of the law to a seat of honor on the
rostrum. The crowd laughed.
At that moment Billy Rand caught sight of the face he was seeking. When
the Interpreter's messenger grasped his arm, the man, who was standing
well back in the edge of the crowd, started with fear. Billy thrust the
note into his hand. As he read the message he shook so that the paper
rattled in his fingers. Helplessly he looked about. He seemed paralyzed
with horror. Again Billy Rand grasped his arm and this time drew him
aside, out of the crowd.
Helpless and shaken, the man made no effort to resist, as the
Interpreter's deaf and dumb companion hurried him away down the street.
At the foot of the zigzag stairway Billy's charge sank down on the
lower step, as if he had no strength to go on. Without a moment's pause
Billy lifted him to his feet and almost carried him up the stairs and
into the hut to place him, cowering and whimpering, before the man in
the wheel chair.
* * * * *
John and Helen had gone to the Martin cottage that evening to spend an
hour with the old workman and his daughter. They had just arrived when
the telephone rang.
It was the watchman at the Mill. He had called John at the Ward home,
and Mrs. Ward had directed him to call the cottage.
In a few words John told the others of the crowd at the Mill. He must
go at once.
"But not alone, boy," said Peter Martin. "This is no more your job than
As they were leaving, John said hurriedly to Helen, "Telephone Tom to
come for you at once and take Mary home with you. Mother may need you,
and Mary must not be left here alone. I'll bring Uncle Pete home with
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