The Air Trust
George Allan England
Part 4 out of 6
_Rotten Affair Unearthed by Police!_
_Gabriel Armstrong, Socialist Leader, Caught With the Goods!!!_
Rochester, July 4.
"In one of the most sensational raids ever made in this city, by
the vice squad, under the auspices of the Purity League, what is
believed to be a well-organized white-slave business was unearthed
last night. The leader and brains of the association, Gabriel
Armstrong, a Socialist speaker and worker of national prominence,
was arrested, and is now lodged in Police Headquarters, with
serious charges pending.
"The arrest was made as a result of the keen work of Officer
Michael P. Duffey, sergeant of the vice squad. Hearing screams in
the assignation house at 42A Belding street, he made his way up
stairs, accompanied by two or three citizens. The screams were
coming from a room on the second floor. Duffey promptly battered
the door down only to be met by a furious assault from Armstrong,
who was intoxicated and extremely violent.
"A savage hand-to-hand struggle took place, in which furniture was
broken, the policeman badly injured and two of the volunteers
knocked out. Armstrong was finally subdued, however, by the
jiu-jitsu method, in which Duffey is an expert, and was lodged in
the Central Station, together with the woman.
"According to her statement, the man, Armstrong, had not only been
guilty of grossly immoral practices with her, but had also been
trying to force her to share with him the proceeds of her life of
shame, thus making out against him a clear case under the Mann
White-Slave Traffic law. She has material evidence of this
fact--money which he had given her, to finance her till she could
begin bringing in revenue to him, and also his name and address,
written by his own hand. A significant fact is that the address
given by this white slaver is Socialist headquarters, in Chicago.
The police are now working on the theory that the entire Socialist
organization is honeycombed with this traffic, and that the
Socialist movement is only a blind to cover a wholesale
distribution of women for immoral purposes. Drastic Federal action
against the Socialist Party is now being considered.
"Still further and more sensational facts are expected to develop
at the preliminary hearing, which will take place tomorrow morning.
In case Armstrong is bound over to the Grand Jury, and convicted,
he may get a heavy fine and as much as five years in a Federal
penitentiary. He is described as being a surly, low type, reticent
and vindictive, of vicious characteristics and mentally defective.
The local Socialists have already taken up arms in his defense, as
was to be expected.
"Interest is added to the case by the fact that Armstrong is known
to be the man who, at the time of the recent automobile accident to
Miss Catherine Flint--daughter of Isaac Flint, of Englewood,
N. J.--gave the alarm. A theory is now being formed that he
was, in some way, involved in a plot with Miss Flint's chauffeur to
wreck the machine and share a big reward for rescuing the girl. The
plot, however, evidently miscarried, for the chauffeur was killed,
and Armstrong, after giving the alarm, feared to divulge his
identity but fled in disguise.
"Public interest is greatly aroused in this matter. And if, as now
seems positively certain, this arrest and forthcoming conviction
break up the vicious white-slave gang for some time operating in
Rochester and Ontario Beach, the public will have a still greater
debt of gratitude toward the Purity League, the Vice Squad and the
untiring efforts and bravery of Sergeant Duffey."
"That, ah that," remarked old Flint, as he finished his last reading,
"is what I call literature! It may not be Scott or Shelley or Dickens,
but it's got far more than _they_ ever had--tremendous value to--er--to
the rightful masters of society. I dare say that this article and also
others like it that are bound to be printed during the trial and after,
will do more to secure our position in society than a whole army with
machine guns. Socialism, eh? After this campaign gets through, by God,
we'll sweep up the leavings in a dustpan and throw them out the window!"
Again he surveyed the article, smiling thinly.
"Literature, yes," he repeated. "The writer of those lines, and the
master-minds who engineered the whole affair, must and shall be
liberally rewarded. Editors, preachers, writers, they're all on our
side. All safe and sane--that is, nearly all--enough, at any event, to
assure our safety. I rejoice that I have lived to see this day!"
He turned the sheets of the paper, to see if any other notice of the
affair was printed; and as he looked, he pondered.
"Imagine the effect of this, on Kate!" thought he. "It will be just as I
planned it. Nothing will be left in her mind now, but loathing, hate and
rage against this man. In two days, she and Waldron will have patched up
their little difference, and all will be well. A master-stroke on my
part, eh? Yes, yes indeed, a master-stroke!"
His eye caught another blue-pencilling.
"Editorial, eh?" said he, adjusting his glasses. "Better and better!
This affair will sweep those troublemakers off the map, or I'm a
Then, with the keenest of satisfaction, he focussed his attention on the
The arrest and impending conviction of Gabriel Armstrong, the noted
Socialist leader, on a white-slave traffic charge, will do much to
set all sane thinkers right in regard to this whole matter of
Socialist ethics. Socialists, as we have all heard, contend that
their system of thought teaches a high and pure form of morality.
How will they square this assertion with the hard, cold facts, as
brought to light in this most revolting case?
Much more seems to lie beneath the surface than at first sight
appears. Though we desire to suspend judgment until all the data
are known, it appears conclusively proved that Armstrong is but one
of a band of white-slavers operating through the organization of,
and with the consent of the Socialist party, or at least of its
If this prove to be the case, it will substantiate the suspicion
long felt in many quarters that this whole movement, ostensibly
political, is really a menace to the moral and social welfare of
the nation. A foreign importation, openly standing against the
home, the family and religion, may well be expected to foster such
crimes and to be a "culture-medium" for the growth of such vile
microbes as this man Armstrong, and others of his kind.
Turn on the light! Bring the social antiseptics! Let all the facts
be established; and when known, if--as we anticipate--they prove
this nasty conspiracy, let us make an end, now and forever, to this
un-American, immoral and filthy thing, Socialism! To this object
this paper now and henceforth pledges its policy; and all decent
publications, all citizens who love their country, their God, their
homes, their flag, will join with it in a nation-wide crusade to
choke this slimy monster of Anarchy and Free-love, and fling it
back into the Pit where it belongs.
Long live religion, purity and the flag! Down with Socialism!
Flint regarded this masterpiece with an approving eye. Then, chuckling
to himself, he arose and with slow steps advanced toward the dining-room
where already Catherine was awaiting him.
"Now," he murmured to himself, and smiled thinly, "now for a little
scene with Kate!"
CATHERINE'S SUPREME DECISION.
The meal was almost at an end--silently, like all their hours spent
together, now--before the old man sprang his _coup_. It was
characteristic of him to wait thus, to hold his fire till what he
conceived to be the opportune moment; never to act prematurely, under
any circumstances whatever.
"By the way, Kate," he remarked, casually, when coffee had been served
and he had motioned the butlers out of the room, "by the way, I've been
rather badly disappointed, today. Did you know that?"
"No, father," she answered. She never called him "daddy," now. "No, I'm
sorry to hear it. What's gone wrong?"
He looked at her a moment before replying, as though to gauge her mind
and the effect his announcement might have. Very charming she looked,
that evening, in a crepe de Chine gown with three-quarter lace sleeves
and an Oriental girdle--a wonderful Nile-green creation, very simple
(she had told herself) yet of staggering cost. A single white rose
graced her hair. The low-cut neck of the gown revealed a full, strong
bosom. Around her throat she wore a fine gold chain, with a French
20-franc piece and her Vassar Phi Beta Kappa key attached--the only
pendants she cared for. The gold coin spoke to her of the land of her
far ancestry, a land oft visited by her and greatly loved; the gold key
reminded her of college, and high rank taken in studies there.
Old Flint noted some of these details as he sat looking at her across
the white and gleaming table, where silver and gold plate, cut glass and
flowers and fine Sevres china all combined to make a picture of splendor
such as the average workingman or his wife has never even dreamed of or
imagined; a picture the merest commonplace, however, to Flint and
"A devilish fine-looking girl!" thought he, eyeing his daughter with
approval. "She'd grace any board in the world, whether billionaire's or
prince's! Waldron, old man, you'll never be able to thank me
sufficiently for what I'm going to do for you tonight--never, that is,
unless you help me make the Air Trust the staggering success I think you
can, and give me the boost I need to land the whole damned world as my
own private property!"
He chuckled dryly to himself, then drew the paper from his pocket.
"Well, father, what's gone wrong?" asked Kale, again. "Your
disappointment--what was it?"
She spoke without animation, tonelessly, in a flat, even voice. Since
that night when her father had tried to force Waldron upon her, and had
taunted her with loving the vagabond (as he said) who had rescued her,
something seemed to have been broken, in her manner; some spring of
action had snapped; some force was lacking now.
"What's wrong with me?" asked Flint, trying to veil the secret malice
and keen satisfaction that underlay his speech. "Oh, just this. You
remember about a week ago, when we--ah--had that little talk in the
"Don't, father, please!" she begged, raising one strong, brown hand.
"Don't bring that up again. It's all over and done with, that matter is.
I beg you, don't re-open it!"
"I--you misunderstand me, my dear child," said Flint, trying to smile,
but only flashing his gold tooth. "At that time I told you I was looking
for, and would reward, if found, the--er--man who had been so brave and
quick-witted as to rescue you. You remember?"
"Really, father, I beg you not to--"
"Why not, pray?" requested Flint, gazing at her through his pince-nez.
"My intentions, I assure you, were most honest and philanthropic. If I
had found him--_then_--I'd have given him--"
"Oh, but he wouldn't have taken anything, you see!" the girl
interrupted, with some spirit. "I told you that, at the time. It's just
as true, now. So please, father, let's drop the question altogether."
"I'm sorry not to be able to grant your request, my dear," said the old
man, with hidden malice. "But really, this time, you must hear me. My
disappointment arises from the fact that I've just discovered the young
man's identity, and--"
"You--you have?" Kate exclaimed, grasping the edge of the table with a
nervous hand. Her father smiled again, bitterly.
"Yes, I have," said he, with slow emphasis, "and I regret to say, my
dear child, that my diagnosis of his character is precisely what I first
thought. Any interest you may feel in that quarter is being applied to a
very unworthy object. The man is one of my discharged employees, a
thorough rascal and hard ticket in every way--one of the lowest-bred and
most villainous persons yet unhung, I grieve to state. The fact that he
carried you in his arms, and that I owe your preservation to him, is one
of the bitterest facts in my life. Had it been any other man, no matter
of what humble birth--"
"Father!" she cried, bending forward and gazing at him with strange
eyes. "Father! By what right and on what authority do you make these
accusations? That man, I know, was all that innate gentleness and
upright manhood could make any man. His nobility was not of wealth or
title, but of--"
"Nonsense!" Flint interrupted. "Nobility, eh? Read _that_, will you?"
Leering, despite himself, he handed the paper across the table to his
"Those marked passages," said he. "And remember, this is only the
beginning. Wait till all the facts are known, the whole conspiracy laid
bare and everything exposed to public view! _Then_ tell me, if you can,
that he is poor but noble! Bah! Sunday-school dope, that! Noble, yes!"
Catherine sat there staring at the paper, a minute, as though quite
unable to decipher a word. Through a kind of wavering mist that seemed
to swim before her eyes, she vaguely saw the words: "Socialist White
Slaver!" but that these bore any relation to the man she remembered,
back there at the sugar-house, had not yet occurred to her mind. She
simply could not grasp the significance of the glaring headlines. And,
turning a blank gaze on her father's face, she stammered:
"Why--why do you give me this? What has this got to do with--_me_? With
"Everything!" snarled the Billionaire, violently irritated by his
daughter's seeming obtuseness. "Everything, I tell you! That man, that
strong and noble hero of yours, is this man! This white slaver! This
wild beast--this Socialist--this Anarchist! Do you understand now, or
don't you? Do you grasp the truth at last, or is your mind incapable of
He had risen, and now was standing there at his side of the table,
shaking with violent emotion, his glasses awry, face wrinkled and drawn,
hands twitching. His daughter, making no answer to his taunts, sat with
the paper spread before her on the table. A wine glass, overset, had
spilled a red stain--for all the world like the workers' blood, spilled
in war and industry for the greater wealth and glory of the masters--out
across the costly damask, but neither she nor Flint paid any heed.
For he was staring only at her; and she, now having mastered herself a
little, though her full breast still rose and fell too quickly, was
struggling to read the slanderous lies and foul libels of the
Silently she read, paling a little but otherwise giving no sign to show
her father how the tide of her thought was setting. Twice over she read
the article; then, pushing the paper back, looked at old Flint with eyes
that seemed to question his very soul--eyes that saw the living truth,
"It is a lie!" said she, at last, in a grave, quiet voice.
"What?" blurted the old man. "A--a lie?"
"Yes," said she. "A lie."
Furious, he ripped open the paper, and once more shoved it at her.
"Fool!" cried he. "Read _that_!" And his shaking, big-knuckled finger
tapped the editorial on "Socialism Unveiled."
"No," she answered, "I need read no more. I know; I understand!"
"You--you know _what_?" choked Flint. "This is an editorial, I tell you!
It represents the best thought and the most careful opinion of the
paper. And it condemns this man, absolutely, as a criminal and a menace
to society. It denounces him and his whole gang of Socialists or
Anarchists or White-slavers--they're all the same thing--as a plague to
the world. That's the editor's opinion; and remember, he's on the
ground, there. He has all the facts. You--_you_ are at a distance, and
have none! Yet you set up your futile, childish opinion--"
"No more, father! No more!" cried Catherine, also standing up. She faced
him calmly, coldly, magnificently. "You can't talk to me this way, any
more. Cannot, and must not! As I see this thing--and my woman's
intuition tells me more in a minute than you can explain away in an
hour--this fabrication here has all, or nearly all, been invented and
carried out by you. For what reason? This--to discredit this man! To
make me hate and loathe him! To force me back to Waldron. To--"
"Stop!" shouted the old man, in a well-assumed passion. "No daughter of
mine shall talk to me this way! Silence! It is monstrous and
unthinkable. It--it is horrible beyond belief! Silence, I tell
"No, father, not silence," she replied, with perfect poise. "Not
silence now, but speech. Either this thing is true or it is false. In
either case, I must know the facts. The papers? No truth in _those_! The
finding of the courts? today, they are a by-word and a mockery! All I
can trust is the evidence of my own senses; what I hear, and feel, and
see. So then--"
"Then?" gulped the Billionaire, holding the back of his chair in a
"Just this, father. I'm going to Rochester, myself, to investigate this
thing, to see this man, to hear his side of the story, to know--"
"Do that," cried Flint in a terrible voice, "and you never enter these
doors again! From the minute you leave Idle Hour on that fool's errand,
my daughter is dead to me, forever!"
Swept clean off his feet by rage, as well as by the deadly fear of what
might happen if his daughter really were to learn the truth, he had lost
his head completely.
With quiet attention, the girl regarded him, then smiled inscrutably.
"So it be," she replied. "Even though you disinherit me or turn me off
with a penny, my mind is made up, and my duty's clear.
"While things like these are going on in the world, outside, I have no
right to linger and to idle here. I am no child, now; I have been
thinking of late, reading, learning. Though I can't see it all clearly,
yet, I know that every bite we eat, means deprivation to some other
people, somewhere. This light and luxury mean poverty and darkness
elsewhere. This fruit, this wine, this very bread is ours because some
obscure and unknown men have toiled and sweat and given them to us. Even
this cut glass on our table--see! What tragedies it could reveal, could
it but speak! What tales of coughing, consumptive glass-cutters, bending
over wheels, their lungs cut to pieces by the myriad spicules of sharp
glass, so that we, we of our class, may enjoy beauty of design and
coloring! And the silken gown I wear--that too has cost--"
"No more! No more of this!" gurgled old Flint, now nearly in apoplexy.
"I deny you! I repudiate you, Anarchist that you are! Go! Never come
Stumbling blindly, he turned and staggered out of the room. She watched
him go, nor tried to steady his uncertain steps. In the hallway,
outside, she heard him ring for Slawson, heard the valet come, and both
of them ascend the stairs.
"Father," she whispered to herself, a look of great and pure spiritual
beauty on her noble face, "father, this had to come. Sooner or later, it
was inevitable. Whatever you have done, I forgive you, for you _are_ my
father, and have surely acted for what you think my interest.
"But none the less, the end is here and now. Between you and me, a great
gulf is fixed. And from tonight I face the world, to battle with it,
learn from it, and know the truth in every way. Enough of this false,
easy, unnatural life. I cannot live it any longer; it would crush and
stifle me! Enough! I must be free, I shall be free, to know, and dare,
That night, having had no further speech with old Flint, Kate left Idle
Hour, taking just a few necessities in a suit-case, and a few dollars
for her immediate needs.
Giving no explanation to maid, valet or anyone, she let herself out,
walked through the great estate and down Englewood Avenue, to the
station, where she caught a train for Jersey City.
The midnight special for Chicago bore her swiftly westward. No sleeping
car she took, but passed the night in a seat of an ordinary coach. Her
ticket read "Rochester."
The old page of her Book of Life was closed forever. A new and better
page was open wide.
THROUGH STEEL BARS.
True to her plan, Catherine ended her journey at Rochester. She engaged
a room at a second-rate hotel--marvelling greatly at the meanness of the
accommodations, the like of which she had never seen--and, at ten
o'clock of the morning, appeared at the Central Police Station. The
bundle of papers in her hand indicated that she had read the latest lies
and venom poured out on Gabriel's defenseless head.
The haughty, full-fed sergeant in charge of the station made some
objections, at first, to letting her see Gabriel; but the tone of her
voice and the level look of her gray eye presently convinced him he was
playing with fire, and he gave in. Summoning an officer, he bade the man
conduct her. Iron doors opened and closed for her. She was conscious of
long, ill-smelling, concrete-floored corridors, with little steel cages
at either side--cages where hopeless, sodden wrecks of men were
standing, or sitting in attitudes of brutal despair, or lying on foul
bunks, motionless and inert as logs.
For a moment her heart failed her.
"Good Lord! Can such things be?" she whispered to herself. "So
this--this is a police station? And real jails and penitentiaries are
worse? Oh, horrible! I never dreamed of anything like this, or any men
The officer, stopping at a cell-door and banging thereon with some
keys, startled her.
"Here, youse," he addressed the man within, "lady to see youse!"
Catherine was conscious that her heart was pounding hard and her breath
coming fast, as she peered in through those cold, harsh metal bars. For
a minute she could find no thought, no word. Within, her eyes--still
unaccustomed to the gloom--vaguely perceived a man's figure, big and
powerful, and different in its bearing from those other cringing
wretches she had glimpsed.
Then the man came toward her, stopped, peered and for a second drew
back. And then--then she heard his voice, in a kind of startled joy:
"Oh--is it--is it _you_?"
"Yes," she answered. "I must see you! I must talk with you, again, and
know the truth!"
The officer edged nearer.
"Youse can talk all y' want to," he dictated, hoarsely, "but don't you
pass nothin' in. No dope, nor nothin', see? I'll stick around an' watch,
anyhow; but don't try to slip him no dream powders or no 'snow.' 'Cause
if you do--"
"What--what _on_ earth are you talking about?" the girl demanded,
turning on the officer with absolute astonishment. But he, only winking
"You heard me, didn't you? No dope. I'm wise to this whole game."
At a loss for his meaning, yet without any real desire to fathom it,
Kate turned back toward Gabriel.
A moment they two looked at each other, each noting any change that
might have taken place since that wonderful hour in the sugar-house,
each hungering and thirsting for a sight of the other's face. In her
heart, already Kate knew as well as she knew she was alive, that this
man was totally innocent of the foul charges heaped upon him. And so she
looked at him with eyes wherein lay no reproach, no doubt and no
suspicion. And, as she looked, tears started, and her heart swelled
hotly in her breast; for he was bruised and battered and a helpless
"He, caged like a trapped animal!" her thought was. "He, so strong, and
free, and brave! Oh, horrible, horrible!"
He must have read something of this feeling, in her face; for now,
coming close to the bars, he said in a low tone:
"Girl--your name I don't know, even yet--girl, you mustn't pity me!
That's _one_ thing I can't have. I'm here because the master class is
stronger than my class, the working class. Here, because I'm dangerous
to that master class. This isn't said to make myself out a martyr. It's
only to make you see things right. I'm not complaining at this plight.
I've richly earned it--under Capitalism. So, then, _that's_ settled.
"And now, what's more important, tell me how _you_ are! And did your
wound cause you much trouble? I confess I've passed many an anxious
hour, thinking of your narrow escape and of your injury. It wasn't too
bad, was it? Tell me!"
"No," she answered, still holding to the bars, for she somehow felt
quite unaccountably weak. "It wasn't very bad. There's hardly any scar
at all--or won't be, when it's fully healed. But all this is trifling,
compared to what _you've_ suffered and are suffering. Oh, what a
horrible affair! What frightful accusations! Tell me the truth,
Boy--how, why could--?"
He looked at her a moment, in silence, noting her splendid hair and eyes
and mouth, the firm, well-moulded chin, the confident and self-reliant
poise of the shapely head; and as he looked, he knew he loved this
woman. He understood, at last, how dear she was to him--dearer than
anything else in all the world save just his principles and stern life
work. He comprehended the meaning of all, his dreams and visions and
long thoughts. And, caring nothing for consequences, unskilled in the
finesse of dealing with women, acting wholly on the irresistible
impulses of a heart that overflowed, he looked deep into those gray eyes
and said in a tone that set her heart-strings vibrating:
"Listen! The truth? How could I tell you anything else? I know not who
you are, and care not. That you are rich and powerful and free, while I
am poor and in captivity, means nothing. Love cares not for such
trifles. It dares all, hopes all, trusts all, believes all--and is
patient in adversity."
"Love?" she whispered, her face paling. "How do you dare to--?"
"Dare? Because my heart bids me. And where it bids, I care not for
conventions or consequences!" He flung his hand out with a splendid
gesture, his head high, his eyes lustrous in the half-light of the cell.
"Where it leads, I have to follow. That is why I am a Socialist! That is
why I am here, today, outcast and execrated, a prisoner, in danger of
long years of living death in the pestilential tomb of some foul
"You're here because--because you are a Socialist?" she asked.
"Yes," said he. "I tried to help a suffering, outcast woman--or one who
posed as such. And she betrayed me to my enemies. And so--"
"There _was_ a woman in this affair, then?" Catherine queried with
sudden pain. "The newspapers haven't made the story _all_ up out of
"No. There _was_ a woman. A Delilah, who delivered me into the hands of
the Philistines, when I tried to help her in what she lied in telling me
was her need. Will you hear the story?"
Still very pale, she formed a half-inarticulate "Yes!" with her full
lips. Then, seeming to brace herself by a tighter clasp on the hard
steel grating, she listened while he spoke.
Earnestly, honestly and with perfect straightforwardness, omitting
nothing, adding nothing, he gave her the narrative of that fatal night's
events, from the first moment he had laid eyes on the
wonderfully-disguised woman, till her cudgel-blow had laid him senseless
on the floor.
He told her the part that every actor therein had played; how the whole
drama had been staged, to dishonor and convict him, to railroad him to
the Pen for a long term, perhaps to kill him. He spoke in a low voice,
to prevent the watching officer from overhearing; and as he talked, he
thanked his stars that in all this network of conspiracy and crime
against the Party and against himself, his captors had not yet placed
him incommunicado. For some reason--perhaps because they thought their
case against him absolutely secure and wanted to avoid any appearance of
unfairness or of martyrizing him--this restriction had not yet been laid
upon him. So now his message of the truth could reach the ears of her
who, more than all the world beside, had grown dear to him and precious
He told her, then, not only the story of that night, but also all that
had since happened--the newspaper attacks on him and on the Party; the
deliberate attempt to poison the community and the nation against him;
the struggle to fix a foul and lasting blot upon his name, and ruin him
"And why, all this?" he added, while she--listening so intently that she
hardly breathed--knew that he spoke the living, vital truth. "Why this
persecution, this plotting, this labor and expense to 'get' me. Do you
want to know?"
"Yes, tell me!" she whispered. "I don't understand. I can't! It--it all
seems so horrible, so unreal, so--so different from what I've always
believed about the majesty and purity of the law! Can these things be,
He laughed bitterly.
"Can they?" he repeated. "When you see that they _are_, isn't that
answer enough? And the reason of it all is that I'm a Socialist and know
certain secrets of certain men, which--if I should tell the
world--might, nay, surely would precipitate a revolution. So, these men,
and the System behind them, have tried to discredit me by this foul
charge. After this, if the charge sticks, I may shout my head off,
exposing what I know; and who will listen? You know the answer as well
as I! Do I complain? No, not once! What I must suffer, for this
wondrous Cause, is not a tenth what thousands suffer every day, in
silence and high courage. What has happened to me, personally, is but
the merest trifle beside what has already happened to thousands,
fighting for life and liberty, for wife and home and children; for the
right to work and live like men, not beasts!"
"You mean the--the working class?" she ventured, wonderingly. "Is this
outrage really a minor one, compared with what they, who feed and warm
and carry the whole world, have to suffer? Tell me, for I--God help me,
I am ignorant! I am beginning to see, to half-see, awful, dim, ghostly
shapes of huge, unspeakable wrongs. Tell me the truth about all this, as
you have told it about yourself--and let me know!"
Then Gabriel talked as never he had talked before. To this, his audience
of one, there in the dirty and ill-smelling police station, he unfolded
the sad tale of the disinherited, the enslaved, the wretched, as never
to a huge, and spell-bound audience in hall or park or city street. His
eloquence, always convincing, now became sublime.
With master strokes he painted vast outlines of the whole sad
picture--the System based on robbery and fraud and exploitation; its
natural results in millionaire and tramp and harlot and degenerate; the
crime of armies of unemployed and starving men, of millions of women
forced into the factories and shops, there to compete with men and lower
wages and lose their finest feminine attributes in the sordid and
heartless drudging for a pittance.
He told her of child slavery, and brought before her eyes the pictures
he himself had seen, of the pale, stunted little victims of Mammon's
greed, toiling by day and night in stifling, dangerous mines; in the
Hell-glare of the glass-factories; in the hand-bruising,
soul-obliterating Inferno of the coal-breakers; in the hot, linty,
sickening atmosphere of the southern cotton-mills. And as he talked, she
saw for the first time the figures of these bowed and bloodless little
boys and girls, giving their lives drop by drop, and cough by cough,
that _she_ might have purple and fine linen and the rich, soft, easy
paths of life.
* * * * *
Then, pausing not, he spoke to her of white slavery, of girls and women
by the uncounted thousand forced to barter their own bodies for a
mockery of life; and, stinging as a nagaika, he laid the lash of blame
on Capitalism, evil cause of an evil and rotten fruit, of disease and
crime, and misery, and death. He told her of political corruption beyond
belief; of cheating, lying, trickery and greed, for power. Of war, he
told her, and made all its inner, hideous motives clear. She seemed
verily to see the trenches, the "red rampart's slippery edge," the
spattered blood and brains and all the horror of Hell's nethermost
infamy--and then the blasted, wrecked and wasted homes, the long trail
of mourning and of hopeless ruin--the horror of this crime of crimes,
all for profit, all for gold and markets, all for Capitalism!
And then, while the girl stood there listening, spell-bound by her first
insight, her first understanding of the true character of this, our
striving, slaving world, held by a few for their own inordinate pride
and power, the man's voice changed.
With new intonations and a deeper tone, he launched into some outlines
of the great hope, the splendid vision, the Wondrous Ideal--Socialism,
Sentence by sentence, imagery of this vast, noble thought flowed from
his inspired lips. Clearly he showed this woman all the causes of the
world's travail and pain; and clearly made her see that only in one way,
only through the ownership of the world by the world's children as a
whole, could peace and justice, life and joy and plenty and the New Time
come to pass, dreamed of and yearned for by many sages and prophets, and
now close at hand on the very threshold of reality!
Socialism! It leaped from his spirit like a living flame, consuming
dross and waste and evil, lighting up the future with its shining
beacon, its message of hope to the hopeless, of rest and cheer and peace
to all who labored and were heavy laden.
Socialism! The glory of the vision seemed to blind and dazzle Catherine.
In its supernal light, things grievous to be understood and borne were
now made clear. For the first time in all her life, the woman saw, and
knew, and grasped the truths of this strange nexus of conflict, pain and
sorrow, that we know as our existence.
"Socialism! The Hope of the World!" Gabriel finished. "And for this, and
for what I know about its enemies, I stand here in this cell and may yet
go to a living death. This is my crime, and nothing else--this battle
for the freedom and the joy of the world--this struggle against the
powers of ignorance and darkness, priestcraft and greed, lust, treachery
and foulness, cruelty and hate and war! This, and this only. You have
heard me. I have spoken!"
He fell silent, crossed his arms upon the bars of the cage that pent
him, and laid his head upon them with a motion of weariness.
Something strangely stirred the heart of the woman. Her hand went out
and touched his thick, black hair.
"Be of good cheer," she whispered. "Though I am ignorant and do not
fully understand, as yet, some glimmer of the light has reached my eyes.
I can learn, and I _will_ learn, and dare, and do! All my life I have
eaten the bread of this bitter slavery, taken the thing I had no right
to take, unknowingly wielded the lash on bleeding backs of men and women
"All my life have I, in ignorance and idleness, done these things. But
never shall I do them again. That is all past and gone, an evil dream
that is no more. From now, if you will be patient and forgive and teach
me, I will stand with you and yours, and glory in the new-found strength
and majesty of this supreme ideal!"
He made no answer, save to reach one hand to her, through the bars.
Their hands met in a long, clinging tension. The policeman, somewhat
down the corridor, moved officiously in their direction.
"Here, now, none o' that!" he blurted. "Break away! An' say, time's up.
Yuh stayed too long, miss, as it is!"
Their hands parted. Still Gabriel did not look up.
"Are--are you coming back again?" he asked.
"Yes, Gabriel. Tomorrow."
"And will you tell me then who you are?"
"I'll tell you now, if you want to know."
"I do," he answered, and raised his head. Their eyes met, steadily. "I
do, now that you too have seen the light, and that you understand. Tell
me, who are you?"
A moment's pause.
Then, facing him, she answered:
"I am Catherine Flint, only daughter of Isaac Flint, the Billionaire!"
Speechless and dazed, Gabriel stared at her as though at some strange
"Daughter of--of Isaac Flint?" he stammered, clinging to the bars.
"Come, come, lady, yuh can't stay no longer!" the officer again
insisted, tapping her on the shoulder. "Yuh'd oughta been out o' here
ten minutes ago! No, nuthin' doin'!" he concluded, as she turned to him
appealingly. "Not today! Time's up an' more than up!"
Catherine stretched out her hand to Gabriel, in farewell. He took it,
"Good-bye!" said she. "Until I come again, good-bye. Keep up a stout
heart, for I am with you. We--we _can't_ lose. We shall win--we _must_
win! Don't condemn me for being what I am and who I am, Gabriel. Only
think what--with your help--I may yet be! And now again, good-bye!"
Their hands parted. Gabriel, still silent, stood there in his cell,
watching her till she vanished from his sight down the long corridor of
grief and tears. The officer, winking wisely to himself, thrust his
tongue into his cheek.
"Daughter of Isaac Flint, th' Billionaire!" he was thinking, with
derision. "Oh, yes, billionaires' daughters would be visitin' Socialists
an' bums an' red-light con-workers like this geezer. Oh yes, sure, sure
they would--I should worry!"
Which mental attitude was fortunate, indeed; for it, and it alone,
preserved the girl from a wild blare of newspaper notoriety. Had the
truth been known, who could have imagined the results?
For a long time after the girl had departed, Gabriel sat there in his
cell, motionless and sunk in deepest thought. His emotions passed
recording. That this woman, his ideal, his best-beloved, the cherished,
inmost treasure of his heart and soul--she whom he had rescued, she who
had lain in his arms and shared with him that unforgettable hour in the
old sugar-house--should now prove to be the daughter of his bitterest
enemy, surpassed belief and stunned all clear understanding.
Flint! The very name connoted, for Gabriel, all that was cruel and
rapacious, hateful, vicious and greedy; all that meant pain and woe and
death to him and his class. Visions of West Virginia and Colorado rose
before his mind. He heard again the whistle of the "Bull Moose Death
Special" as it sped on its swift errand of barbarism up Cabin Creek,
hurling its sprays of leaden death among the slaves of this man and his
Flint! He whispered the name; and now he seemed to see the burning tents
at Ludlow; the fleeing women and children, shot down by barbarous thugs
and gunmen, ghouls in human form! He saw the pits of death, where the
charred bodies of innocent victims of greed and heartless rapacity lay
in mute protest under the far Colorado sky. And more he saw, east and
west, north and south, of this man's inhuman work; and his thoughts,
projected into the future, dwelt bitterly on the Air Trust now already
under way--the terrible, coming slavery which he, Gabriel, had struggled
to checkmate, only to find himself locked like a rat in a steel trap!
"And this woman," he groaned in agony of soul, "this woman, all in all
to me, is--is _his_ daughter!"
Flinging himself upon his hard and narrow bunk, he buried his head in
his powerful arms, and tried to blot out thought from his fevered brain;
but still the current ran on and on and on, endlessly, maddeningly. And
to the problem, no answer seemed to come.
"She must know who I am," he pondered. "Even if her father has not told
her, the papers have. True, she doesn't believe the infamous charge
against me; but what then? Can she, on the other hand, believe the
truth, that her father has conspired with Slade and those Cosmos thugs,
and with the press and courts and the whole damnable prostituted system,
to suppress and kill me?
"Can she believe her father guilty of all that? And of all the horrors
of this capitalist Hell, that I have told her about? No! Human nature is
incapable of such vast turnings from all the habits and environments of
a lifetime. In her veins flows the blood of that arch-criminal, Flint.
Her thoughts must be, to some extent, his thoughts. She must share his
viewpoint, and be loyal to him. After this first flush of reaction
against her father, she will go back to him. It is inevitable. Betwixt
her and me is fixed a boundless space, wider than Heaven and earth. She
is one pole, and I the other. If I have any strength or resolution or
philosophy, now is the hour for its trial.
"This woman must be, shall be put away from every thought and wish and
hope. And the word FINIS must be written at the end of the one brief
chapter where our life-stories seem to have run along together in a
false harmony and a fictitious peace!"
Thus pondered Gabriel, in the gloom of his harsh cell, branded with
crime and writhing in the agony of soul that only those who love
hopelessly can ever know.
And Catherine, what of her? What were her thoughts, emotions,
inspirations as--seeming to live in a dream, with Gabriel's eloquence
and the new vision of a better, saner, kindlier world shining through
her soul--she made her way back to the dingy hotel where now, shabby as
it was, she felt she had no right to stay, while others, homeless,
walked the brutal streets?
Who shall know them? Who shall tell? A blind man, suddenly made to see,
can find no words to express the wonder and bright glory of that sudden
sight. A deaf man, regaining his lost sense, cannot describe the sudden
burst of sound that fills the new, strange world wherein he finds
himself. So, now, this cultured, gently bred woman, for the first time
in her life understanding the facts, glimpsing the tragedy and grasping
the answer to it all, felt that no words could compass her strange
exultation and enlargement.
"It--it's like a chrysalis emerging into the form of a light, swift
butterfly!" she pondered, as, back in her room once more, she prepared
to write two letters. "Just for the present, I can't understand it all.
I don't know, yet, whether I'm worthy to be a Socialist, to be one of
that company of earnest, noble men and women striving for life and
liberty and joy for all the world. But with the help of the man I trust
and honor and believe in, and--and love--perhaps I may yet be. God
grant it may be so!"
She thought, a few minutes more, her face lighted by an inner radiance
that made its beauty spiritual and pure and calm. Then, having somewhat
composed her thoughts, she wrote this letter to Maxim Waldron:
My Dear Wally:
I am writing you without date or place, just as I shall write my
father, because whatever happens, I insist that you two let me go
my way in peace, without trying to find, or hamper, or importune
me. My mind is fully made up. Nothing can change it. We have come
to the parting of the ways, forever.
Though I may feel bitterly toward you for what I now understand as
your harsh and cruel attitude toward the world, and the role you
play as an exploiter of human labor, I shall not reproach you. You
simply cannot see these things as I have come to see them since my
feet have been set upon the road toward Socialism. Don't start,
Wally--that's the truth. Perhaps I'm not much of a Socialist yet,
because I don't know much about it. But I am learning, and shall
learn. My teacher is the best one in the world, I'm sure; and added
to this, all my natural energy and innate radicalism have flamed
into activity with this new thought. So, you see, the past is even
more effectively buried than ever. How could anything ever be
possible, now, between you and me?
Cease to think of me, Wally. I am gone out of your life, for all
time, as out of that whole circle of false, insincere, wicked and
parasitic existence that we call "society." That other world, where
you still are, shall see me no more. I have found a better and a
nobler kind of life; and to this, and to all it implies, I mean to
be forever faithful. I beg you, never try to find me or to answer
Good-bye, then, forever.
After having read this over and sealed it, she wrote still another:
It is hard to write these words to you. I owe you a debt of
gratitude and love, in many ways; yet, after all, your will and
mine conflict. You have tried to force me to a union abhorrent and
impossible to me. My only course is this--independence to think,
and act, and live as I, no longer a child but a grown woman, now
I shall never return to you, father. Life means one thing to you,
another to me. You cannot change; I would not, now, for all the
world. I must go my way, thinking my own thoughts, doing my own
work, living up to my own ideals, whatever these may be. Your money
cannot lure me back to you, back to that old, false, sheltered,
horrible life of ease and idleness and veiled robbery! The skill
you have given me as a musician will open out a way for me to earn
my own living and be free. For this I thank you, and for much else,
even as I say good-bye to you for all time.
I have written Wally. He will tell you more about me, and about
the change in my views and ambitions, which has taken place. Do not
think harshly of me, father, and I will try to forgive you for the
burden I now know you have laid upon the aching shoulders of this
sad, old world.
And now, good-bye. Though you have lost a daughter, you may still
rejoice to know that that daughter has found peace and joy and vast
outlets for the energies of her whole heart and soul and being, in
working for Socialism, the noblest ideal ever conceived by the mind
Farewell, father; and think sometimes, not too unkindly, of
One week after these letters were mailed, "Tiger" Waldron, fanning the
fires of the old man's terrible rage, had decided Flint to disinherit
Catherine and to name him, Waldron, as his executor. Gabriel's fervent
wish that she might be penniless, was granted.
On the very day this business was put through, practically delivering
the Flint interests into Waldron's hands in the case of the old man's
death, a verdict was reached in Gabriel's case, at Rochester.
This case, crammed through the calendar, ahead of a large jam of other
business, proved how well unlimited funds can grease the wheels of Law.
It proved, also, that in the face of infinitely-subsidized witnesses,
lawyers, judge and jurymen, black becomes white, and a good deed is
written down a crime.
Catherine, working incognito, co-operated with the Socialist defense,
and did all that could be humanely done to have the truth made known, to
overset the mass of perjury and fraud enmeshing Gabriel, and to force
As easily might she have bidden the sea rise from its bed and flood the
dry and arid wastes of old Sahara. Her voice and that of the Socialists,
their lawyers and their press, sounded in vain. A solid battery of
capitalist papers, legal lights, private detectives and other
means--particularly including the majority of the priests and
clergy--swamped the man and damned him and doomed him from the first
word of the trial.
Money flowed in floods. Perjury overran the banks of the River of
Corruption. Herzog branded the man a thief and fire-eater. Dope-fiends
and harlots from the Red-Light district, "madames" and pimps and
hangers-on, swore to the white-slave activities of this man, who never
yet in all his four and twenty years had so much as entered a brothel.
Forged papers fixed past crimes and sentences on him. By innuendo and
direct statement, dynamitings, arsons, violence and rioting in many
strikes were laid at his door. His Socialist activities were dragged in
the slime of every gutter; and his Party made to suffer for evil deeds
existing only in the foul imagination of the prosecuting attorneys. The
finest "kept" brains in the legal profession conducted the case from
start to finish; and not a juryman was drawn on the panel who was not,
from the first, sworn to convict, and bought and paid for in hard cash.
After three days--days in which Gabriel plumbed the bitterest depths of
Hell and drank full draughts of gall and wormwood--the verdict came.
Came, and was flashed from sea to sea by an exulting press; and preached
on, and editorialized on, and gloated over by Flint and Waldron and
many, many others of that ilk--while Catherine wept tears that seemed to
drain her very heart of its last drops of blood.
At last she knew the meaning of the Class Struggle and her terrible
father's part in it all. At last she understood what Gabriel had so long
understood and now was paying for--the fact that Hell hath no fury like
Capitalism when endangered or opposed.
The Price! Gabriel now must pay it, to the full. For that foul verdict,
bought with gold wrung from the very blood and marrow of countless
toilers, opened the way to the sentence which Judge Harpies regretted
only that he could not make more severe--the sentence which the
detectives and the prison authorities, well "fixed," counted on making a
"Gabriel Armstrong, stand up!"
He arose and faced the court. A deathlike stillness hushed the room,
crowded with Socialists, reporters, emissaries of Flint, private
detectives and hangers-on of the System. Heavily veiled, lest some of
her father's people recognize her, Catherine herself sat in a back seat,
very pale yet calm.
"Prisoner at the bar, have you anything to say, why sentence should not
be pronounced upon you?"
Gabriel, also a little pale, but with a steadfast and fearless gaze,
looked at the legal prostitute upon the bench, and shook his head in
negation. He deigned not, even, to answer this kept puppet of the ruling
Judge Harpies frowned a trifle, cleared his throat, glanced about him
with pompous dignity; and then, in a sonorous and impressive tone--his
best asset on the bench, for legal knowledge and probity were not
"_It is the judgment of this court that you do stand committed to pay a
fine of three thousand dollars into the treasury of the United States,
and to serve five years at hard labor in the Federal Penitentiary at
BACK IN THE SUNLIGHT.
Four years and two months from the day when this iniquitous verdict fell
from the lips of the "bought and paid for" judge, a sturdily built and
square jawed man stood on the steps of the Atlanta Penitentiary and, for
the first time in all these weary months and years, faced the sun.
Pale with the prison-pallor that never fails to set its seal on the
victims of a diseased society, which that society retaliates upon by
shutting away from God's own light and air, this man stood there on the
steps, a moment, then advanced to meet a woman who was coming toward him
in the August glare. As he removed his cheap, convict-made cap, one saw
his finely shaped head, close cropped with the infamous prison badge of
servitude. Despite the shoddy miserable prison-suit that the prostituted
government had given him--a suit that would have made Apollo grotesque
and would have marked any man as an ex-convict, thus heavily
handicapping him from the start--Gabriel Armstrong's poise and strength
still made themselves manifest.
And the smile as they two, the woman and he, came together and their
hands clasped, lighted his pale features with a ray brighter than that
of the blistering Southern sunshine flooding down upon them both.
"I knew you'd come, Catherine," said he, simply, his voice still the
same deep, vibrant, earnest voice which, all that time ago, had thrilled
and inspired her at the hour of her great conversion. Still were his
eyes clear, level and commanding; and through his splendid body, despite
all his jailers had been able to do, coursed an abundant life and strong
Gabriel had served his time with consummate skill, courage and
intelligence. Like all wise men, he had recognized _force majeure_, and
had submitted. He had made practically no infractions of the prison
rules, during his whole "bit." He had been quiet, obedient and
industrious. His work, in the brush factory, had always been well done;
and though he had consistently refused to bear tales, to spy, to inform
or be a stool-pigeon--the quickest means of winning favor in any
prison--yet he had given no opportunity for savagery and violence to be
applied to him. Not even Flint's eager wish to have his jailers force
him into rebellion had succeeded. Realizing to the full the sort of
tactics that would be used to break, and if possible to kill him,
Gabriel had met them all with calm self-reliance and with a generalship
that showed his brain and nerves were still unshaken. On their own
ground he had met these brutes, and he had beaten them at their own
Their attempt to make a "dope" out of him had ignominiously failed. He
had detected the morphine they had cleverly mixed with his water; and,
after his drowsiness and weird dreams had convinced him of the plot, had
turned the trick on it by secretly emptying this water out and by
drinking only while in the shop, where he could draw water from the
faucet. The cell guards' intelligence had been too limited to make them
inquire of the brush shop guards about his habits. Also, Gabriel, had
feigned stupefaction while in the cell. Thus he had simulated the
effects of the drug, and had really thrown his tormentors off the track.
For months and months they were convinced that they were weakening his
will and destroying his mentality, while as a matter of fact his
reasoning powers and determination never had been more keen.
By bathing as often as possible, by taking regular and carefully planned
calisthenics, by reading the best books in the prison library, by
attention to every rule of health within his means, and by allowing
himself no vices, not even his pipe, Gabriel now was emerging from the
Bastile of Capitalism in a condition of mind and body so little impaired
that he knew a few weeks would entirely restore him. The good conduct
allowance, or "copper," which they had been forced to allow him for
exemplary conduct, had cut ten months off his sentence. And now in
mid-August of 1925, there he stood, a free man again, with purpose still
unshaken and with a woman by his side who shared his high ambition and
asked no better lot than to work with him toward the one great
Now, as these two walked side by side along the sunbaked street of the
sweltering Southern town, Gabriel was saying:
"So I haven't changed as much as you expected? I'm glad of that, Kate.
Only superficial changes, at most. Just give me a little time to pull
together and get my legs under me again, and--forward march! Charge the
forts! Eh, Catherine?"
She nodded, smiling. Smiles were rare with her, now. She had grown
sober and serious, in these years of work and battle and stern endeavor.
The Catherine Flint of the old times had vanished--the Catherine of
country club days, and golf and tennis, and the opera--the Catherine of
Newport, of the horse show, of Paris, of "society." In her place now
lived another and a nobler woman, a woman known and loved the length and
breadth of the land, a woman exalted and strengthened by new, high and
splendid race-aspirations; by a vision of supernal beauty--the vision of
the world for the workers, each for all and all for each!
She had grown more mature and beautiful, with the passing years. No mark
of time had yet laid its hand upon her face or figure. Young, still--she
was now but five-and-twenty, and Gabriel only twenty-eight--she walked
like a goddess, lithe, strong and filled with overflowing vigor. Her
eyes glowed with noble enthusiasms; and every thought, every impulse and
endeavor now was upward, onward, filled with stimulus and hope and
Thus, a braver, broader and more splendid woman than Gabriel had known
in the other days of his first love for her--the days when he had wished
her penniless, the days when her prospective millions stood between
them--she walked beside him now. And they two, comrades, understood each
other; spoke the same language, shared the same aspirations, dreamed the
same wondrous dreams. Their smile, as their eyes met, was in itself a
benediction and a warm caress.
"Charge the forts!" Gabriel repeated. "Yes, Kate, the battle still goes
on, no matter what happens. Here and there, soldiers fall and die. Even
battalions perish; but the war continues. When I think of all the
fights you've been in, since I was put away, I'm unspeakably envious.
You've been through the Tawana Valley strike, the big Consolidated
Western lockout and the Imperial Mills massacre. You were a delegate to
the 1923 Revolution Congress, in Berlin, and saw the slaughter in Unter
den Linden--helped nurse the wounded comrades, inside the Treptow Park
barricades. Then, out in California--"
She checked him, with a hand on his arm.
"Please don't, Gabriel," she entreated. "What I have done has been so
little, so terribly, pitiably little, compared to what _needs_ to be
done! And then remember, too, that in and through all, this thought has
run, like the red thread through every cable of the British navy--the
thought that in my every activity, I am working against my own father,
combatting him, being as it were a traitor and--"
"Traitor?" exclaimed the man. "Never! The bond between you two is
forever broken. You recognize in him, now, an enemy of all mankind.
Waldron is another. So is every one of the Air Trust group--that is to
say, the small handful of men who today own the whole world and
everything in it.
"Your father, as President of that world-corporation which potentially
controls two thousand millions of human beings--and which will,
tomorrow, absolutely control them, is no longer any father of yours.
"He is a world-emperor, and his few associates are princes of the royal
house. Your life and thought have forever broken with him. No more can
bonds and ties of blood hold you. Your larger duty calls to battle
against this man. Treachery? A thousand times, no! Treason to tyrants
is obedience to God! Or, if not God, then to mankind!"
He paused and looked at her. They had now reached a little park, some
half mile from the grim and dour old walls of the Federal Pen. Trees and
grass and playing children seemed to invite them to stop and rest.
Though strong, moreover, Gabriel had for so long been unused to walking,
that even this short distance had tired him a little. And the oppressive
heat had them both by the throat.
"Shall we sit down here and wait a little?" asked he. "Plan a little,
see where we are and what's to be done next?"
She nodded assent.
"Of course," she said, "even if I could have got word in to you, I
wouldn't have given you our real plans."
"Hardly!" he exclaimed. Then, coming to a fountain, they sat down on a
bench close by. Nobody, they made sure, was within ear-shot.
"Thank God," he breathed, "that you, Kate, and only you, met me as I
came out! It was a grand good idea, wasn't it, to keep my time of
liberation a secret from the comrades? Otherwise there might have been a
crowd on hand, and various kinds of foolishness; and time and energy
would have been used that might have been better spent in working for
She looked at him a trifle curiously.
"You forget," said she, "that all public meetings have been prohibited,
ever since last April. Federal statute--the new Penfield Bill--'The
Muzzler' as we call it."
"That's so!" he murmured. "I forgot. Fact is, Kate, I _am_ out of touch
with things. While you've been fighting, I've been buried alive. Now, I
must learn much, before I can jump back into the war again. And above
all, I must lose my identity. That's the first and most essential thing
"Of course," she assented. "They--the Air Trust World-corporation--will
trail you, everywhere you go. All this, as you know, has been provided
for. You must vanish a while."
"Indeed I must. If they 'jobbed' me like that, in 1921, what won't they
do now in 1925?"
"They won't ever get you, again, Gabriel," she answered, "if your wits
and ours combined, can beat them. True, the Movement has been badly shot
to pieces. That is, its visible organization has suffered, and it's
outlawed. But under the surface, Gabriel, you haven't an idea of its
spread and power. It's tremendous--it's a volcano waiting to burst! Let
the moment come, the leader rise, the fire burst forth, and God knows
what may not happen!"
"Splendid!" exclaimed Gabriel. "The battle calls me, like a
clarion-call! But we must act with circumspection. The Plutes, powerful
as they now are, won't need even the shadow of an excuse to plant me for
life, or slug or shoot me. Things were rotten enough, then; but today
they're worse. The hand of this Air Trust monopoly, grasping every line
of work and product in the world, has got the lid nailed fast. We're all
slaves, every man and woman of us. Even our Socialists in Congress can
do nothing, with all these muzzling and sedition and treason bills, and
with this conscription law just through. Now that the government--the
Air Trust, that is to say--is running the railways and telegraphs and
telephones, a strike is treason--and treason is death! Kate, this year
of grace, 1925, is worse than ever I dreamed it would be. Oh, infinitely
worse! No wonder our movement has been driven largely underground. No
wonder that the war of mass and class is drawing near--the actual,
physical war between the Air Trust few and the vast, toiling, suffering,
"Yes," said she, "it's coming, and soon. Things are as you say, and even
worse than you say, Gabriel. I know more of them, now, than you can
know. Remember London's 'Iron Heel?' When I first read it I thought it
fanciful and wild. God knows I was mistaken! London didn't put it half
strongly enough. The beginning was made when the National Mounted Police
came in. All the rest has swiftly followed. If you and I live five years
longer, Gabriel, we'll see a harsher, sterner and more murderous
trampling of that Heel than ever Comrade Jack imagined!"
"Right!" said he. "And for that very reason, Kate, I've got to go into
hiding till my beard and hair grow and I can reappear as a different
man. Don't look, just now, but in a minute take a peek. Over on that
third bench, on the other side of the park, see that man? Well, he's a
'shadow.' There were three waiting for me, at the prison gates. You
couldn't spot them, but I could. One was that Italian banana-seller that
stood at the curb, on the first corner. Another was a taxi driver. And
this one, over there, is the third. From now till they 'get' me again,
they'll follow me like bloodhounds. I can't go free, to do my work and
take part in the impending war, till I shake them. Look, now, do you
see the one I mean?"
Cautiously the girl looked round, with casual glance as though to see a
little boy playing by the fountain.
"Yes," she murmured. "Who is he? Do you know his name?"
"No," answered Gabriel. "His name, no. But I remember him, well enough.
He's the larger of the two detectives I knocked out, in that room in
Rochester. Beside his pay, he's got a personal motive in landing me back
in 'stir,' or sending me 'up the escape,' as prison slang names a
penitentiary and a death. So then," he added, "what's the first thing?
Where shall I go, and how, to hide and metamorphose? I'm in your hands,
now, Kate. More than four years out of the world, remember, makes a
fellow want a little lift when he comes back!"
She smiled and nodded comprehension.
"Don't explain, Gabriel," said she. "I understand. And I've got just the
place in mind for you. Also, the way to get there. You see, comrade,
we've been planning on this release. When can you go?"
"When? Right now!" exclaimed Gabriel, standing up. "The quicker, the
better. Every minute I lose in getting myself ready to jump back into
the fight, is a precious treasure that can never be regained!"
"Go, then," said she, with pride in her eyes. "I will wait here. Don't
think of me; leave me here; I am self-reliant in every way. Go to the
Cuthbert House, on Desplaines Street. Everything has been arranged for
your escape. Every link in the chain is complete. Remember, we are
working more underground, now, than when you were sentenced. And our
machinery is almost perfect. Register at the hotel and take a room for a
"Register, under my own name?" asked he.
"Under your own name. Stay there two days. You won't be molested so
soon, and things won't be ready for you till the third day. On that
"Well, what then?"
"A message will come for you, that's all. Obey it. You have nothing more
"I understand," said he. "But, Kate--who's paying for all this? Not
_you_? I--I can't have _you_ paying, now that every dollar you have must
be earned by your own labor!"
She smiled a smile of wonderful beauty.
"Foolish, rebellious boy!" said she. "Have no fear! All expense will be
borne by the Party, just as the Party paid your fine. It needs you and
must have you; and were the cost ten times as great, would bear it to
get you back! Remember, Gabriel, the Party is far larger than when you
were buried alive in a cell. Even though in some ways outlawed and
suppressed, its potential power is tremendous. All it needs is the
electric spark to cause the world-shaking explosion. All that keeps us
from power now is the Iron Heel--that, and the clutch of the Air Trust
already crushing and mangling us!
"Go, now," she concluded. "Go, and rest a while, and wait. All shall be
well. But first, you must get back your strength completely, and find
yourself, and take your place again in the ranks of the great,
"And shall I see you soon, again?" he asked, his voice trembling just a
little as their hands clasped once more, and once more parted.
"You will see me soon," she answered.
"In a safe place, where we can plan, and work, and organize for the
final blow! Now, you shall know no more. Good-bye!"
One last look each gave the other. Their eyes met, more caressingly than
many a kiss; and, turning, Gabriel took his way, alone, toward
At the exit of the park, he looked around.
There Catherine sat, on the bench. But, seemingly quite oblivious to
everything, she was now reading a little book. Though he lingered a
moment, hoping to get some signal from her, she never stirred or looked
up from the page.
Sighing, with a strange feeling of sudden loneliness and a vast, empty
yearning in his heart, Gabriel continued on his way, toward what? He
The detective on the other side of the park, no longer sat there.
Somehow, somewhere, he had disappeared.
IN THE REFUGE.
Far on the western slopes of Clingman Dome in the great Smoky Mountains
of North Carolina, a broad, low-built bungalow stood facing the setting
sun. Vast stretches of pine forest shut it off from civilization and the
prying activities of Plutocracy. The nearest settlement was Ravens,
twenty miles away to eastward, across inaccessible ridges and ravines.
Running far to southward, the railway left this wilderness untouched.
High overhead, an eagle soared among the "thunder-heads" that presaged a
storm up Sevier Pass. And, red through the haze to westward, the great
huge sunball slid down the heavens toward the tumbled, jagged mass of
peaks that rimmed the far horizon.
Within the bungalow, a murmur of voices sounded; and from the huge stone
chimney a curl of smoke, arising, told of the evening meal, within, now
being made ready. On the wide piazza sat a man, writing at a table of
plain boards roughly pegged together. Still a trifle pale, yet with a
look of health and vigor, he sat there hard at work, writing as fast as
pen could travel. Hardly a word he changed. Sheet by sheet he wrote, and
pushed them aside and still worked on. Some of the pages slid to the
porch-floor, but he gave no heed. His brow was wrinkled with the
intensity of his thought; and over his face, where now a disguising
beard was beginning to be visible, the light of the sinking sun cast as
it were a kind of glowing radiance.
At last the man looked up, and smiled, and eyed the golden mountain-tops
far off across the valley.
"Wonderful aerie in the hills!" he murmured. "Wonderful retreat and
hiding-place--wonderful care and forethought to have made this possible
for me! How shall I ever repay all this? How, save by giving my last
drop of blood, if need be, for the final victory?"
He pondered a moment, still half-thinking of the poem he had just
finished, half-reflecting on the strange events of the past week--the
secret ways, by swift auto, by boat, by monoplane which had brought him
hither to this still undiscovered refuge. How had it all been arranged,
he wondered; and who had made it possible? He could not tell, as yet. No
information was forthcoming. But in his heart he understood, and his
lips, murmuring the name of Catherine, blessed that name and tenderly
At last Gabriel bent, picked up the pages that had fallen, and arranged
them all in order.
"Tomorrow this shall go out to the world," said he, "and to our
press--such of it as still remains. It may inspire some fainting heart
and thrill some lagging mind. Now, that the final struggle is at hand,
more than guns we need inspiration. More than force, to meet the force
that has ravished our every right and crushed Constitution and Law,
alike, we need spiritual insight and integrity. Only through these, and
by these, come what may, can a true, lasting victory be attained!"
In the doorway of the bungalow a woman appeared, her smile illumined by
the sunset warmth.
"Come, Gabriel," said she. "We're waiting--the Granthams, Craig, and
Brevard. Supper's ready. Not one of them will sit down, till you come."
"Have I been delaying you?" asked Gabriel, turning toward the woman,
with a smile that matched her own.
"I'm afraid so, just a little," she answered. "But no matter; I'm glad.
When you get to writing, you know, nothing else matters. One line of
your verse is worth all the suppers in the world."
"Nonsense!" he retorted. "I'm a mere scribbler!"
"We won't argue that point," she answered. "But at any rate, you're
done, now. So come along, boy--or the comrades will begin 'dividing up'
without us; for this mountain air won't brook delay."
Gabriel took a long breath, stretched his powerful arms out toward the
mountains, and raised his face to the last light of day.
"Nature!" he whispered. "Ever beautiful and ever young! Ah, could man
but learn thy lessons and live close to thy great heart!"
Then, turning, he followed Catherine into the bungalow.
Beautiful and restful though the outside was, the interior was more
restful and more charming still.
In the vast fireplace, to left, a fire of pine roots was crackling. The
room was filled with their pitchy, wholesome perfume, with the dancing
light of their blaze and with the warmth made grateful by that mountain
Simple and comfortable all the furnishings were, hand-wrought for use
and pleasure. Big chairs invited. Broad couches offered rest. No
hunting-trophies, no heads of slaughtered wild things disfigured the
walls, as in most bungalows; but the flickering firelight showed
pictures that inspired thought and carried lessons home--pictures of
toil and of repose, pictures of life, and love, and simple joy--pictures
of tragedy, of reality and deep significance. Here one saw Millet's
"Sower," and "Gleaners" and "The Man with the Hoe." There, Fritel's "The
Conquerors," and Stuck's "War." A large copy of Bernard's "Labor,"--the
sensation of the 1922 Paris Salon--hung above the mantelpiece, on which
stood Rodin's "Miner" in bronze. Portraits of Marx, Engels, LaSalle and
Debs, with others loved and honored in the Movement, showed between
original sketches by Walter Crane, Balfour Kerr, Art Young and Ryan
Walker. And in the well-filled bookshelves at the right, Socialist books
in abundance all told the same tale to the observer--that this was a
Socialist nest high up there among the mountains, and that every thought
and word and deed was inspired by one great ideal and one alone--the
At a plain but well-covered table near the western windows, where fading
sunlight helped firelight to illumine the little company, sat three
men--two of them armed with heavy automatics--and a woman. Another
woman, Catherine, was standing by her chair and beckoning Gabriel to
"Come, Comrade!" she exclaimed. "If you delay much longer, everything
will be stone cold, and _then_ beg forgiveness if you dare!"
"Your own fault, if you wait for me," he answered, seating himself. "You
know how it is when you get to scribbling--you never know when to stop.
And the scenery, up here, won't let you go. Positively fascinating,
that view is! If the Plutes knew of it, they'd put a summer resort
here, and coin millions!"
"Yes," answered Craig, once Congressman Craig, but now hiding from the
Air Trust spies. "And what's more, they'd mighty soon confiscate this
resting-up place of the Comrades, and have us back behind bars, or
worse. But they _don't_ know about it, and aren't likely to. Thank
Heaven for at least one place the Party can maintain as an asylum for
our people when too hard-pressed! Not a road within ten miles of here.
No way to reach this place, masked here in the cliffs and mountains,
except by aeroplane. Not one chance in a thousand, fellows, that they'll
ever find it. Confusion take them all!"
The meal progressed, with plenty of serious and earnest discussion of
the pressing problems now close at hand. Brevard, a short, spare man,
editor of the recently-suppressed "San Francisco Revolutionist" and now
in hiding, made a few trenchant remarks, from time to time. Grantham and
his wife, both active speakers on the "Underground Circuit" and both
under sentence of long imprisonment, said little. Most of the
conversation was between Catherine, Craig and Gabriel. Long before the
supper was done, lamps had to be brought and curtains lowered. At last
the meal was over.
"Dessert, now, Gabriel!" exclaimed Grantham. "Your turn!"
"Eh? What?" asked Armstrong. "My turn for what?"
"Your turn to do your part! Don't think that you're going to write a
poem and then put it in your pocket, that way. Come, out with it!"
Gabriel's protests availed nothing. The others overbore him. And at
last, unwillingly, he drew out the manuscript and spread it open on his
"You really want to hear this?" he demanded. "If you can possibly spare
me, I wish you would!"
For all answer, Craig pushed a lamp over toward him. The warm light on
Gabriel's face, now slightly bearded, and on his strong, corded throat,
made a striking picture as he cast his eyes on the manuscript and in
vibrant and harmonious voice, read:
_I SAW THE SOCIALIST_
I saw the Socialist sitting at a great Banquet of Men,
Sitting with honored leaders of the blind, unwitting Multitude;
I saw him there with the writers, editors, painters, men of letters,
Legislators and judges, the Leaders of the People,
Leaders flushed with the wines of price, eating costly and rare
Making loud talk, and boastful, of that marvel, American Liberty!
Thinking were they no thought of hunger and pinching cold;
Of the blue-lipped, skinny children, the thin-chested, coughing men,
The dry-breasted mothers, the dirt, disease and ignorance,
The mangled workmen, the tramps, drunkards, pickpockets,
The mad-houses, jails, asylums and hospitals, the sores, the blood
And all the other wondrous blessings that attend our civilization--
That civilization through which the wines and foods were given them.
I saw the Socialist there, calm, unmoved, unsmiling, thoughtful,
Sober, serious, full of dispassionate and prophetic vision,
Not like the other men, the all-wise Leaders of the People.
The political economists, the professors, the militarists, heroes
Not like the kings and presidents and emperors, the nobles and
But mindful, more than they, of the cellars under the House of Life
Where blind things crawl in the dark, things men and yet not human,
Things whose toil makes possible the Banquets of the Leaders of Men,
Things that live and yet are not alive; things that never taste of
Things that make the rich foods, themselves snatching filthy crumbs;
Things that produce the wines of price, and must be content with
Things that shiver and cringe and whine, that snarl sometimes,
That are men and women and children, and yet that know not Life!
I saw the Socialist there; I sat at the banquet; beside him,
Listened to the surging music, saw all the lights and flowers,
Flowers and lights and crystal cups, whereof the price for each
Might have brought back from Potter's Field some bloodless,
I heard the Leaders' speeches, the turgid oratory,
The well-turned phrases of the Captains, the rotund babble of
(Prosperity for whom? Nay, ask not troublesome questions!)
The Captains' vaunting I heard, their boasts of glory and victory,
While red, red, red their hands dripped red with the blood of the
I heard the Judges' self-glorification, Quixotic fighting of
Heard also the unclean jests that those respected Leaders told.
And as I looked and listened, I still observed the Socialist,
Unmoved and patient and serious, calm, full of sober reflections.
Then there spake (among many others) an honored and full-paunched
Rubicund he was, and of portly habit of body,
Shepherd of a well-pastured flock, mightily content with God,
Out of whose omnipotent Hand (no doubt) the blessings of his life
I heard this exponent of Christ the Crucified, Christ the Carpenter,
Christ the Leader of Workingmen, the Agitator, the Disturber,
Christ the Labor-organizer, Christ the Archetypal Socialist,
Friend of the dwellers in the pits of Life, Consoler of earth's
Who once with the lash scourged from the Temple the unclean
graft-brood of usurers.
And the rotund Bishop's words were as the crackling of dry thorns
Under a pot, bubbling without use in the desert of dreary
The story he told was spiced and garnished with profane words,
Whereat the Leaders laughed in their cups, making great show of
So that the banquet-hall rang, and wine was spilt on the linen.
Wine as red as blood--the blood of the shattered miner,
Blood of the boy in the rifle-pits, blood of the coughing
Blood of the mangled trainman, blood that the Carpenter shed.
And still I watched the Socialist. Sober, judicial, observant
And full of greater wisdom he was than to laugh with the tipsy
His eyes were fixed on the Bishop, vice-regent of God upon earth.
And as I watched the Socialist, the unmoved, the contemplative one,
He thoughtfully took his pencil, he took the fine and large card
Whereon the names of the rich foods and all the costly wines were
And made a few notes of the feast, notes of the Bishop's speech,
Notes to remind him to search the slums for the great, God-given
Which all the Judges, Lawmakers, Captains and Leaders knew to be
Notes of the flowers, the wine, the lights, the music, the splendor,
Notes of the Leaders' oratory, notes of the Bishop's deep-voiced
Notes he made; and as I looked at the notes he was carefully
The words ran red like wine and blood, they blazed like the blazing
Words they were of blood and fire, that spread, that filled the
Words of old, I read them--"MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSHIN!--
Weighed in the Balance you are, ye Leaders respected of men,
You Statesmen, Lawmakers, Judges, Captains, Bishops, vice-regents of
Weighed and tried and found wanting. Give way, now, to what shall
Make ye way for the Men who shall do what ye have but neglected and
Make ye way for a Time which hath more than Power and Greed for its
Soon your day shall decline forever, your sun shall sink and shall
Then from the Cellars of Life the darkness-dwellers shall issue,
Greeting another daunt which shall have more than pain for its
Then no more shall the humble, the lowly, the friends of the
Be starved, be mangled for gold, be crucified, slaughtered, bled.
Make ye way!...Make ye way!..."
Such was the message I read, the words of that fire-writ warning.
Then peace came back to my spirit, calm peace, and hope and
Then, through my anger and heat, I thought of the Retribution.
But even more clearly I saw the New Birth of this weary world,
This world now groaning in chains, with the bloody sweat of
These things and many more, such as were hard to write of,
I read in the words of the Socialist, patient, peaceful and sober,
Full of prophetic vision, above all things hopeful and patient,
Written in living flame at the Feast of the Leaders of Men....
"APRES NOUS LE DELUGE!"
As Gabriel's voice fell to silence, after the last words, a stillness
came upon the lamp-lit room, a hush broken only by the snapping of the
pine-root fire on the hearth and by the busy ticking of the clock upon
the chimneypiece. Then, after a minute's pause, Craig reached over and
took Gabriel by the hand.
"I salute you, O poet of the Revolution now impending!" he cried, while
Catherine's eyes gleamed bright with tears. "Would God that _I_ could
write like that, old man!"
"And would God that my paper was still being issued!" Brevard added,
making a gesture with the pipe that, in his eagerness to hear, he had
allowed to die. "If it were I'd give that poem my front page, and fling
its message full in the faces of Plutocracy!"
Gabriel smiled a bit nervously.
"Don't, please don't," he begged. "If you really do like it help me
spread it. Don't waste words on praise, but plan with me, tonight, how
we can get this to the people--how we can perfect our final
arrangements--what we must do, now, at once, to meet the Air Trust and
defeat it before its terrible and unrelenting grip closes on the throat
of the world!"
"Right!" said Craig. "We must act at once, while there's yet time.
today, all seems safe. The Air Trust spies haven't ferreted this place
out. A week from now, they may have, and one of the most secure and
useful Socialist refuges in the country may be only a heap of
ashes--like the ones at Kenwyck, Hampden, Mount Desert and Loftiss.
Every day is precious. Every one helps to perfect Gabriel's disguise and
adds materially to his strength."
"True," assented Gabriel. "We mustn't wait too long, now. That last
report we got yesterday, by our wireless, ought to stimulate us.
Brainard says, in it, that the Air Trust people are now putting the
finishing touches on the Niagara plant. That will give them condensing
machinery for over 90,000,000 horsepower, all told. As I see the thing,
it looks absolutely as though, when _that_ is done, the whole Capitalist
system of the world will center right there--focus there, as at a point.
Let kings and emperors continue to strut and mouth vain phrases; let our
own President and Congress make the motions of governing; even let Wall
Street play at finance and power. All, all are empty and meaningless!
"Power has been sucked dry, out of them all, comrades. You know as well
as I know--better, perhaps--that all real power in the world, today,
whether economic or political--nay, even the power of life and death,
the power of breath or strangulation, has clotted at Niagara, in the
central offices of the Air Trust; nay, right in Flint and Waldron's own
Gabriel had stood up, while speaking; and now, pacing the floor of the
big living-room, glanced first at one eager and familiar face, then at
"Comrades," said he, "we should not sleep, tonight. We should get out
all our plans and data, all the dispatches that have come to us here,
all the information at hand about our organization, whether open or
subterranean. We should make this room and this time, in fact, the place
and the hour for the planning of the last great blow on which hangs the
fate of the world. If it succeed, the human race goes free again. If it
fail--and God forbid!--then the whole world will lie in the grip of
Flint and Waldron! With our other centers broken up and under espionage,
our press forced into impotence--save our underground press--and
political action now rendered farcical as ever it was in Mexico, when
Diaz ruled, we have but one recourse!"
"And that is?" asked Catherine. "The general strike?"
"A final, general, paralyzing strike; and with it, the actual, physical
destruction of the colossal crime of crimes, the Air Trust works at
A little silence followed. They all drew round the reading-table, now,
near the fireplace. Mrs. Grantham brought a lamp; and Brevard, opening a
chest near the book-case, fetched a portfolio of papers, dispatches,
plans, reports and data of all kinds.
"Gabriel's right," said he. "The time is ripe, now, or will be in a week
or so. Nothing can be gained by delaying any longer. Every day adds to
their power and may weaken ours. Our organization, for the strike and
the attack on the works, is as complete as we can make it. We must come
to extreme measures, at once, or world-strangulation will set in, and we
shall be eternally too late!"
"Extreme measures, yes," said Gabriel, while Brevard spread the papers
out and sorted them, and Craig drew contemplatively at his pipe. "The
masters would have it so. Our one-time academic discussion about ways
and means has become absurd, in the face of plutocratic savagery. We're
up against facts, now, not theories. God knows it's against the dictates
of my heart to do what must be done; but it's that or stand back and see
the world be murdered, together with our own selves! And in a case of
self-defense, no measures are unjustifiable.
"Whatever happens our hands are clean. The plutocrats are the attacking
force. They have chosen, and must take the consequences; they have sown,
and must reap. One by one, they have limited and withdrawn every
political right. They have taken away free speech and free assemblage,
free press and universal suffrage. They have limited the right to vote,
by property qualifications that have deprived the proletariat of every
chance to make their will felt. They have put through this National
Censorship outrage and--still worse--the National Mounted Police Bill,
making Cossack rule supreme in the United States of America, as they
have made it in the United States of Europe.
"Before they elected that tool of tools, President Supple, in 1920, on
the Anti-Socialist ticket, we still had some constitutional rights
left--a few. But now, all are gone. With the absorption and annexation
of Canada, Mexico and Central America, slavery full and absolute settled
down upon us. The unions simply crumbled to dust as you know, in face of
all those millions of Mexican peons swamping the labor-market with
starvation-wage labor. Then, as we all remember, came the terrible
series of strikes in 1921 and 1922, and the massacres at Hopedale and
Boulder, at Los Angeles and Pittsburg, and, worst of all, Gary. That
finished what few rights were left, that killing did. And then came the
army of spies, and the proscriptions, and the electrocution of those
hundred and eleven editors, speakers and organizers--why bring up all
these things that we all know so well? _We_ were willing to play the
game fair and square, and _they_ refused. Say that, and you say all.
"No need to dwell on details, comrades. The Air Trust has had its will
with the world, so far. It has crushed all opposition as relentlessly as
the car of Juggernaut used to crush its blind, fanatical devotees. True,
our Party still exists and has some standing and some representatives;
but we all know what _power_ it has--in the open! Not _that_ much!" And
he snapped his fingers in the air.
"In the open, none!" said Craig, blowing a cloud of smoke. "I admit
that, Gabriel. But, underground--ah!"
"Underground," Gabriel took up the word, "forces are now at work that
can shatter the whole infernal slavery to dust! This way of working is
not our choice; it is theirs. They would have it so--now let them take
"Yes, yes," eagerly exclaimed Catherine, her face flushed and intense.
"I'm with you, Gabriel. To work!"
"To work, yes," put in Craig, "but with system, order and method. My
experience in Congress has taught me some valuable lessons. The
universal, all-embracing Trust made marionettes of us, every one. Our
strength was, to them, no more than that of a mouse to a lion. Their
system is perfect, their lines of supply and communication are without a
flaw. The Prussian army machine of other days was but a bungling
experiment by comparison with the efficiency of this new mechanism. I
tell you, Gabriel, we've got to give these tyrants credit for being
infernally efficient tyrants! All that science has been able to devise,
or press and church and university teach, or political subservience make
possible, is theirs. And back of that, military power, and the courts
and the prisons and the electric chair! And back of all _those_, the
power to choke the whole world to submission, in a week!"
Gabriel thought, a moment, before replying. Then said he:
"I know it, Craig. All the more reason why we must hit them at once, and
hit hard! These reports here," and he gestured at the papers that
Brevard had spread out under the lamp-light, "prove that, at the proper
signal, every chance indicates that we can paralyze transportation--the
keynote of the whole situation.
"True, the government--that is to say, the Air Trust, and _that_ is to
say, Flint and Waldron--can keep men in every engine-cab in the country.
They can keep them at every switch and junction. But this isn't France,
remember, nor is it any small, compact European country. Conditions are
wholly different here. Everywhere, vast stretches of track exist. No
power on earth--not even Flint and Waldron's--can guard all those
hundreds of thousands of miles. And so I tell you, taking our data
simply from these reports and not counting on any more organized
strength than they show, we have today got the means of cutting and
crippling, for a week at least, the movements of troops to Niagara. And
that, just that, is all we need!"
A little silence. Then said Catherine:
"You mean, Gabriel, that if we can keep the troops back for a little
while, and annihilate the Air Trust plant itself, the great revolution
He nodded, with a smouldering fire in his eyes.
"Yes," said he. "If we can loosen the grip of this monster for only
forty-eight hours, and flash the news to this bleeding, sweating,
choking land that the grip _is_ loosened--after that we need do no more.
_Apres nous, le deluge_; only not now in the sense of wreck and ruin,
but meaning that this deluge shall forever wash away the tyranny and
crime of Capitalism! Forever and a day, to leave us free once more, free
men and women, standing erect and facing God's own sunlight, our
heritage and birthplace in this world!"
Catherine made no answer, but her hand clasped his. The light on her
magnificent masses of copper-golden hair, braided about her head,
enhanced her beauty. And so for a moment, the little group sat there
about the table--the group on which now so infinitely much depended; and
the lamp-glow shone upon their precious plans, reports and diagrams.
Into each others' eyes they looked, and knew the moment of final
conflict was drawn very near, at last. The moment which, in failure or
success, should for long years, for decades, for centuries perhaps,
determine whether the world and all its teeming millions were to be
slave or free.
They spoke no word and took no oath of life-and-death fidelity, those
men and women who now had been entrusted with the fate of the world. But
in their eyes one read unshakable devotion to the Cause of Man,
unswerving loyalty to the Great Ideal, and a calm, holy faith that would
make light of death itself, could death but pave the way to victory!
Brevard was the first to speak. "Gabriel," said he, "we have agreed that
you must be the leader in this whole affair. The actual, personal
leader. To begin with, you're younger and physically stronger than any
of us men. Your executive ability is, without any question whatever, far
and away ahead of ours--for we are more in the analytical, compiling,
organizing, preparing line. To cap all, your personality carries more,
far more, with the mass of the comrades than any of ours. Your career,
in the past, your conflict with Flint and Waldron, and your long
imprisonment, have given you the necessary following. You, and you
alone, must issue the final call, lead the last, supreme attack, and
carry the old flag, the Crimson Banner of Brotherhood, to the topmost
battlement of an annihilated Capitalism!"
Gabriel demurred, but they overruled him. So, presently, he consented;
and pledged his life to it; and thrilled with pride and joy at thought
of what now lay written in the Book of Fate, for him to read.
Catherine's eyes shone with a strange light, as she looked upon him
there, so modest yet so strong. And he, smiling a little as his gaze met
hers, foresaw other things than war, and was glad. His heart sang within
him, that memorable and wondrous night, up there in the hiding-place
among the Great Smokies--there with Catherine and the other
comrades--there planning the last great blow to strike away forever the
shackles from the bleeding limbs of all the human race!
But serious and urgent things were to be thought of, and at once, for on
the morrow Brevard was going down, disguised, to Louisville, in one of
the two monoplanes, to attend a final secret meeting of the North-middle
Section Committee. From this he would proceed to the refuge near Port
"Let us make that our meeting-place, one week from tonight," said
Gabriel, "in case anything happens. Should we be detected, or should any
accident befall, we must have some time and place to rally by. Is my
They all agreed, after some discussion.
"But," added Mrs. Grantham, "let's hope we're still secure here, for a
while. It doesn't seem possible they could find us _here_, in this broad
Brevard, meanwhile, was spreading out diagrams and plans.
"The plant at Niagara," said he. "Gabriel, study this, now, as you never
yet have studied anything! For on your intimate knowledge of these
plans--which, by the way, have been obtained only at the cost of eight
lives of our comrades, and through adventures which alone would make a
wonderful book--depends everything. With all communications cut, and
troops kept away, and our own people storming the works, you will yet
fail, Gabriel, unless you know every building, every courtyard, wall and
passage, every door and window, almost, I might say. For the place is
more than a manufacturing plant. It's a fortress, a city in itself, a
wonderful, gigantic center to the whole web of world-domination!
"So now, to the plans!"
For hours, while Gabriel took notes and listened keenly, asked questions
and made minute memoranda, Brevard explained the situation at the great
Air Trust works. The others looked on, listened, and from time to time
made suggestions; but for the most part they kept silent, unwilling to
disturb this most important work.
Carefully and with painstaking accuracy he showed Gabriel how the plant
now embraced more than two square miles of territory around the Falls,
all guarded by tremendous barricades mounting machine-guns and
search-lights. On both sides of the river this huge monster had
squatted, effectually shutting out all sight of the Falls and depriving
the people of their birthright of beauty, at the same time that it had
harnessed the vast waterpower to the task of enslaving the world.
"From the Grand Trunk steel arch bridge up to and including the former
plant of the Niagara Falls Power Company," said Brevard, "you see the
plant extends. And, on the Canadian side--or what was the Canadian,
before 'we' absorbed Canada--it stretches from the Ontario Power
Company's works to those of the Toronto-Niagara Power Company, including
both. In addition to having absorbed these, it has taken over the
Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company, the Canadian
Power Company and half a dozen others, and has, as you see, established
its central offices and plant on Goat Island.
"Here Flint and Waldron have what may be called a citadel within a
citadel--twelve acres of administration buildings, laboratories (in
charge of your old friend Herzog, by the way!) and experimental works,
including also the big steel chambers, vacuum-lined, where they are
already storing their liquid oxygen to be turned into their pipe-lines
and tank-cars. This Goat Island central plant will be the real kernel in
the nut, Gabriel. Once _that_ is gone, you'll have ripped the heart out
of the beast, smashed the vital ganglia, and given the world the
respite, the breathing-space it must have, to free itself!"
"And if I don't?" asked Gabriel. "If anything happens to upset our
blockading tactics, or if our attacking forces are defeated or our
aeroplanes shot down, what then?"
"Then," said Brevard, slowly, "then the world had better die than
survive under the abominable slavery now impending. Already the
pipe-lines have been laid to Buffalo, Cleveland, Albany and Scranton.
Already they're under way to New York City itself, and to Cincinnati.
Already other plants have been projected for Chicago, Denver, San
Francisco and New Orleans, to say nothing of half a dozen in the Old
World. At this present moment, as we all sit here in this quiet room on
this remote mountain-slope, the world's air is being cornered! All the
atmospheric nitrogen is planned for, by Flint and Waldron, to pass under
their control--and with it, every crop that grows. All the oxygen will
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