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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Conflict - Chapter 2
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The Conflict - Chapter 2 Post by :Jigger Category :Long Stories Author :David Graham Phillips Date :May 2012 Read :1371

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The Conflict - Chapter 2

CHAPTER II

The dance was even more tiresome than Jane had anticipated. There had been little pleasure in outshining the easily outshone belles of Remsen City. She had felt humiliated by having to divide the honors with a brilliantly beautiful and scandalously audacious Chicago girl, a Yvonne Hereford--whose style, in looks, in dress and in wit, was more comfortable to the standard of the best young men of Remsen City--a standard which Miss Hastings, cultivated by foreign travel and social adventure, regarded as distinctly poor, not to say low. Miss Hereford's audacities were especially offensive to Jane. Jane was audacious herself, but she flattered herself that she had a delicate sense of that baffling distinction between the audacity that is the hall mark of the lady and the audacity that proclaims the not-lady. For example, in such apparently trifling matters as the way of smoking a cigarette, the way of crossing the legs or putting the elbows on the table or using slang, Jane found a difference, abysmal though narrow, between herself and Yvonne Hereford. "But then, her very name gives her away," reflected Jane. "There'd surely be a frightfully cheap streak in a mother who in this country would name her daughter Yvonne--or in a girl who would name herself that."

However, Jane Hastings was not deeply annoyed either by the shortcomings of Remsen City young men or by the rivalry of Miss Hereford. Her dissatisfaction was personal--the feeling of futility, of cheapness, in having dressed herself in her best and spent a whole evening at such unworthy business. "Whatever I am or am not fit for," said she to herself, "I'm not for society--any kind of society. At least I'm too much grown-up mentally for that." Her disdainful thoughts about others were, on this occasion as almost always, merely a mode of expressing her self-scorn.

As she was undressing she found in her party bag the dodger Hull had got for her from Victor Dorn. She, sitting at her dressing table, started to read it at once. But her attention soon wandered. "I'm not in the mood," she said. "To-morrow." And she tossed it into the top drawer. The fact was, the subject of politics interested her only when some man in whom she was interested was talking it to her. In a general way she understood things political, but like almost all women and all but a few men she could fasten her attention only on things directly and clearly and nearly related to her own interests. Politics seemed to her to be not at all related to her--or, indeed, to anybody but the men running for office. This dodger was politics, pure and simple. A plea to workingmen to awaken to the fact that their STRIKES were stupid and wasteful, that the way to get better pay and decent hours of labor was by uniting, taking possession of the power that was rightfully theirs and regulating their own affairs.

She resumed fixing her hair for the night. Her glance bent steadily downward at one stage of this performance, rested unseeingly upon the handbill folded printed side out and on top of the contents of the open drawer. She happened to see two capital letters--S.G.--in a line by themselves at the end of the print. She repeated them mechanically several times--"S.G.--S.G.--S.G."--then her hands fell from her hair upon the handbill. She settled herself to read in earnest.

"Selma Gordon," she said. "That's different."

She would have had some difficulty in explaining to herself why it was "different." She read closely, concentratedly now. She tried to read in an attitude of unfriendly criticism, but she could not. A dozen lines, and the clear, earnest, honest sentences had taken hold of her. How sensible the statements were, and how obviously true. Why, it wasn't the writing of an "anarchistic crank" at all--on the contrary, the writer was if anything more excusing toward the men who were giving the drivers and motormen a dollar and ten cents a day for fourteen hours' work--"fourteen hours!" cried Jane, her cheeks burning--yes, Selma Gordon was more tolerant of the owners of the street car line than Jane herself would have been.

When Jane had read, she gazed at the print with sad envy in her eyes. "Selma Gordon can think--and she can write, too," said she half aloud. "I want to know her--too."

That "too" was the first admission to herself of a curiously intense desire to meet Victor Dorn.

"Oh, to be in earnest about something! To have a real interest! To find something to do besides the nursery games disguised under new forms for the grown-up yet never to be grown-up infants of the world. And THAT kind of politics doesn't sound shallow and dull. There's heart in it--and brains--real brains--not merely nasty little self-seeking cunning." She took up the handbill again and read a paragraph set in bolder type:

"The reason we of the working class are slaves is because we haven't intelligence enough to be our own masters, let alone masters of anybody else. The talk of equality, workingmen, is nonsense to flatter your silly, ignorant vanity. We are not the equals of our masters. They know more than we do, and naturally they use that knowledge to make us work for them. So, even if you win in this strike or in all your strikes, you will not much better yourselves. Because you are ignorant and foolish, your masters will scheme around and take from you in some other way what you have wrenched from them in the strike.

"Organize! Think! Learn! Then you will rise out of the dirt where you wallow with your wives and your children. Don't blame your masters; they don't enslave you. They don't keep you in slavery. Your chains are of your own forging and only you can strike them off!"

Certainly no tenement house woman could be lazier, emptier of head, more inane of life than her sister Martha. "She wouldn't even keep clean if it wasn't the easiest thing in the world for her to do, and a help at filling in her long idle day." Yet--Martha Galland had every comfort and most of the luxuries, was as sheltered from all the hardships as a hot-house flower. Then there was Hugo--to go no further afield than the family. Had he ever done an honest hour's work in his life? Could anyone have less brains than he? Yet Hugo was rich and respected, was a director in big corporations, was a member of a first-class law firm. "It isn't fair," thought the girl. "I've always felt it. I see now why. It's a bad system of taking from the many for the benefit of us few. And it's kept going by a few clever, strong men like father. They work for themselves and their families and relatives and for their class--and the rest of the people have to suffer."

She did not fall asleep for several hours, such was the tumult in her aroused brain. The first thing the next morning she went down town, bought copies of the New Day--for that week and for a few preceding weeks--and retreated to her favorite nook in her father's grounds to read and to think--and to plan. She searched the New Day in vain for any of the wild, wandering things Davy and her father had told her Victor Dorn was putting forth. The four pages of each number were given over either to philosophical articles no more "anarchistic" than Emerson's essays, not so much so as Carlyle's, or to plain accounts of the current stealing by the politicians of Remsen City, of the squalor and disease--danger in the tenements, of the outrages by the gas and water and street car companies. There was much that was terrible, much that was sad, much that was calculated to make an honest heart burn with indignation against those who were cheerily sacrificing the whole community to their desire for profits and dividends and graft, public and private. But there was also a great deal of humor--of rather a sardonic kind, but still seeing the fantastic side of this grand game of swindle.

Two paragraphs made an especial impression on her:

"Remsen City is no worse--and no better--than other American cities. It's typical. But we who live here needn't worry about the rest of the country. The thing for us to do is to CLEAN UP AT HOME."

"We are more careful than any paper in this town about verifying every statement we make, before we make it. If we should publish a single statement about anyone that was false even in part we would be suppressed. The judges, the bosses, the owners of the big blood-sucking public service corporations, the whole ruling class, are eager to put us out of existence. Don't forget this fact when you hear the New Day called a lying, demagogical sheet."

With the paper beside her on the rustic bench, she fell to dreaming--not of a brighter and better world, of a wiser and freer race, but of Victor Dorn, the personality that had unaided become such a power in Remsen City, the personality that sparkled and glowed in the interesting pages of the New Day, that made its sentences read as if they were spoken into your very ears by an earnest, honest voice issuing from a fascinating, humor-loving, intensely human and natural person before your very eyes. But it was not round Victor Dorn's brain that her imagination played.

"After all," thought she, "Napoleon wasn't much over five feet. Most of the big men have been little men. Of course, there were Alexander--and Washington--and Lincoln, but--how silly to bother about a few inches of height, more or less! And he wasn't really SHORT. Let me see--how high did he come on Davy when Davy was standing near him? Above his shoulder--and Davy's six feet two or three. He's at least as tall as I am--anyhow, in my ordinary heels."

She was attracted by both the personalities she discovered in the little journal. She believed she could tell them apart. About some of the articles, the shorter ones, she was doubtful. But in those of any length she could feel that difference which enables one to distinguish the piano touch of a player in another room--whether it is male or female. Presently she was searching for an excuse for scraping acquaintance with this pair of pariahs--pariahs so far as her world was concerned. And soon she found it. The New Day was taking subscriptions for a fund to send sick children and their mothers to the country for a vacation from the dirt and heat of the tenements--for Remsen City, proud though it was and boastful of its prosperity, housed most of its inhabitants in slums--though of course that low sort of people oughtn't really to be counted--except for purposes of swelling census figures--and to do all the rough and dirty work necessary to keep civilization going.

She would subscribe to this worthy charity--and would take her subscription, herself. Settled--easily and well settled. She did not involve herself, or commit herself in any way. Besides, those who might find out and might think she had overstepped the bounds would excuse her on the ground that she had not been back at home long and did not realize what she was doing.

What should she wear?

Her instinct was for an elaborate toilet--a descent in state--or such state as the extremely limited resources of Martin Hastings' stables would permit. The traps he had ordered for her had not yet come; she had been glad to accept David Hull's offer of a lift the night before. Still, without a carriage or a motor she could make quite an impression with a Paris walking dress and hat, properly supported by fashionable accessories of the toilet.

Good sense and good taste forbade these promptings of nature. No, she would dress most simply--in her very plainest things--taking care to maintain all her advantages of face and figure. If she overwhelmed Dorn and Miss Gordon, she would defeat her own purpose--would not become acquainted with them.

In the end she rejected both courses and decided for the riding costume. The reason she gave for this decision--the reason she gave herself--was that the riding costume would invest the call with an air of accident, of impulse. The real reason.

It may be that some feminine reader can guess why she chose the most startling, the most gracefully becoming, the most artlessly physical apparel in her wardrobe.

She said nothing to her father at lunch about her plans. Why should she speak of them? He might oppose; also, she might change her mind. After lunch she set out on her usual ride, galloping away into the hills--but she had put twenty-five dollars in bills in her trousers pocket. She rode until she felt that her color was at its best, and then she made for town--a swift, direct ride, her heart beating high as if she were upon a most daring and fateful adventure. And, as a matter of fact, never in her life had she done anything that so intensely interested her. She felt that she was for the first time slackening rein upon those unconventional instincts, of unknown strength and purpose, which had been making her restless with their vague stirrings.

"How silly of me!" she thought. "I'm doing a commonplace, rather common thing--and I'm trying to make it seem a daring, romantic adventure. I MUST be hard up for excitement!"

Toward the middle of the afternoon she dropped from her horse before the office of the New Day and gave a boy the bridle. "I'll be back in a minute," she explained. It was a two-story frame building, dingy and in disrepair. On the street floor was a grocery. Access to the New Day was by a rickety stairway. As she ascended this, making a great noise on its unsteady boards with her boots, she began to feel cheap and foolish. She recalled what Hull had said in the carriage. "No doubt," replied she, "I'd feel much the same way if I were going to see Jesus Christ--a carpenter's son, sitting in some hovel, talking with his friends the fishermen and camel drivers--not to speak of the women."

The New Day occupied two small rooms--an editorial work room, and a printing work room behind it. Jane Hastings, in the doorway at the head of the stairs, was seeing all there was to see. In the editorial room were two tables--kitchen tables, littered with papers and journals, as was the floor, also. At the table directly opposite the door no one was sitting--"Victor Dorn's desk," Jane decided. At the table by the open window sat a girl, bent over her writing. Jane saw that the figure was below, probably much below, the medium height for woman, that it was slight and strong, that it was clad in a simple, clean gray linen dress. The girl's black hair, drawn into a plain but distinctly graceful knot, was of that dense and wavy thickness which is a characteristic and a beauty of the Hebrew race. The skin at the nape of her neck, on her hands, on her arms bare to the elbows was of a beautiful dead-white--the skin that so admirably compliments dead-black hair.

Before disturbing this busy writer Jane glanced round. There was nothing to detain her in the view of the busy printing plant in the room beyond. But on the walls of the room before her were four pictures--lithographs, cheap, not framed, held in place by a tack at each corner. There was Washington--then Lincoln--then a copy of Leonardo's Jesus in the Last Supper fresco--and a fourth face, bearded, powerful, imperious, yet wonderfully kind and good humored--a face she did not know. Pointing her riding stick at it she said:

"And who is that?"

With a quick but not in the least a startled movement the girl at the table straightened her form, turned in her chair, saying, as she did so, without having seen the pointing stick:

"That is Marx--Karl Marx."

Jane was so astonished by the face she was now seeing--the face of the girl--that she did not hear the reply. The girl's hair and skin had reminded her of what Martha had told her about the Jewish, or half-Jewish, origin of Selma Gordon. Thus, she assumed that she would see a frankly Jewish face. Instead, the face looking at her from beneath the wealth of thick black hair, carelessly parted near the centre, was Russian--was Cossack--strange and primeval, intense, dark, as superbly alive as one of those exuberant tropical flowers that seem to cry out the mad joy of life. Only, those flowers suggest the evanescent, the flame burning so fiercely that it must soon burn out, while this Russian girl declared that life was eternal. You could not think of her as sick, as old, as anything but young and vigorous and vivid, as full of energy as a healthy baby that kicks its dresses into rags and wears out the strength of its strapping nurse. Her nose was as straight as Jane's own particularly fine example of nose. Her dark gray eyes, beneath long, slender, coal black lines of brow, were brimming with life and with fun. She had a wide, frank, scarlet mouth; her teeth were small and sharp and regular, and of the strong and healthy shade of white. She had a very small, but a very resolute chin. With another quick, free movement she stood up. She was indeed small, but formed in proportion. She seemed out of harmony with her linen dress. She looked as if she ought to be careening on the steppes in some romantic, half-savage costume. Jane's first and instant thought was, "There's not another like her in the whole world. She's the only living specimen of her kind."

"Gracious!" exclaimed Jane. "But you ARE healthy."

The smile took full advantage of the opportunity to broaden into a laugh. A most flattering expression of frank, childlike admiration came into the dark gray eyes. "You're not sickly, yourself," replied Selma. Jane was disappointed that the voice was not untamed Cossack, but was musically civilized.

"Yes, but I don't flaunt it as you do," rejoined Jane. "You'd make anyone who was the least bit off, furious."

Selma, still with the child-like expression, but now one of curiosity, was examining Jane's masculine riding dress. "What a sensible suit!" she cried, delightedly. "I'd wear something like that all the time, if I dared."

"Dared?" said Jane. "You don't look like the frightened sort."

"Not on account of myself," explained Selma. "On account of the cause. You see, we are fighting for a new idea. So, we have to be careful not to offend people's prejudices about ideas not so important. If we went in for everything that's sensible, we'd be regarded as cranks. One thing at a time."

Jane's glance shifted to the fourth picture. "Didn't you say that was--Karl Marx?"

"Yes."

"He wrote a book on political economy. I tried to read it at college. But I couldn't. It was too heavy for me. He was a Socialist--wasn't he?--the founder of Socialism?"

"A great deal more than that," replied Selma. "He was the most important man for human liberty that ever lived--except perhaps one." And she looked at Leonardo's "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."

"Marx was a--a Hebrew--wasn't he?"

Selma's eyes danced, and Jane felt that she was laughing at her hesitation and choice of the softer word. Selma said:

"Yes--he was a Jew. Both were Jews."

"Both?" inquired Jane, puzzled.

"Marx and Jesus," explained Selma.

Jane was startled. "So HE was a Jew--wasn't He?"

"And they were both labor leaders--labor agitators. The first one proclaimed the brotherhood of man. But he regarded this world as hopeless and called on the weary and heavy laden masses to look to the next world for the righting of their wrongs. Then--eighteen centuries after--came that second Jew"--Selma looked passionate, reverent admiration at the powerful, bearded face, so masterful, yet so kind--"and he said: 'No! not in the hereafter, but in the here. Here and now, my brothers. Let us make this world a heaven. Let us redeem ourselves and destroy the devil of ignorance who is holding us in this hell.' It was three hundred years before that first Jew began to triumph. It won't be so long before there are monuments to Marx in clean and beautiful and free cities all over the earth."

Jane listened intensely. There was admiring envy in her eyes as she cried: "How splendid!--to believe in something--and work for it and live for it--as you do!"

Selma laughed, with a charming little gesture of the shoulders and the hands that reminded Jane of her foreign parentage. "Nothing else seems worth while," said she. "Nothing else is worth while. There are only two entirely great careers--to be a teacher of the right kind and work to ease men's minds--as those four did--or to be a doctor of the right kind and work to make mankind healthy. All the suffering, all the crime, all the wickedness, comes from ignorance or bad health--or both. Usually it's simply bad health."

Jane felt as if she were devoured of thirst and drinking at a fresh, sparkling spring. "I never thought of that before," said she.

"If you find out all about any criminal, big or little, you'll discover that he had bad health--poisons in his blood that goaded him on."

Jane nodded. "Whenever I'm difficult to get on with, I'm always not quite well."

"I can see that your disposition is perfect, when you are well," said Selma.

"And yours," said Jane.

"Oh, I'm never out of humor," said Selma. "You see, I'm never sick--not the least bit."

"You are Miss Gordon, aren't you?"

"Yes--I'm Selma Gordon."

"My name is Jane Hastings." Then as this seemed to convey nothing to Selma, Jane added: "I'm not like you. I haven't an individuality of my own--that anybody knows about. So, I'll have to identify myself by saying that I'm Martin Hastings' daughter."

Jane confidently expected that this announcement would cause some sort of emotion--perhaps of awe, perhaps of horror, certainly of interest. She was disappointed. If Selma felt anything she did not show it--and Jane was of the opinion that it would be well nigh impossible for so direct and natural a person to conceal. Jane went on:

"I read in your paper about your fund for sick children. I was riding past your office--saw the sign--and I've come in to give what I happen to have about me." She drew out the small roll of bills and handed it to Selma.

The Russian girl--if it is fair thus to characterize one so intensely American in manner, in accent and in speech--took the money and said:

"We'll acknowledge it in the paper next week."

Jane flushed and a thrill of alarm ran through her. "Oh--please--no," she urged. "I'd not like to have my name mentioned. That would look as if I had done it to seem charitable. Besides, it's such a trifle."

Selma was calm and apparently unsuspicious. "Very well," said she. "We'll write, telling what we did with the money, so that you can investigate."

"But I trust you entirely," cried Jane.

Selma shook her head. "But we don't wish to be trusted," said she. "Only dishonest people wish to be trusted when it's possible to avoid trusting. And we all need watching. It helps us to keep straight."

"Oh, I don't agree with you," protested Miss Hastings. "Lots of the time I'd hate to be watched. I don't want everybody to know all I do."

Selma's eyes opened. "Why not?" she said.

Jane cast about for a way to explain what seemed to her a self-evident truth. "I mean--privacy," she said. "For instance, if you were in love, you'd not want everybody to know about it?"

"Yes, indeed," declared Selma. "I'd be tremendously proud of it. It must be wonderful to be in love."

In one of those curious twists of feminine nature, Miss Hastings suddenly felt the glow of a strong, unreserved liking for this strange, candid girl.

Selma went on: "But I'm afraid I never shall be. I get no time to think about myself. From rising till bed time my work pushes at me." She glanced uneasily at her desk, apologetically at Miss Hastings. "I ought to be writing this minute. The strike is occupying Victor, and I'm helping out with his work."

"I'm interrupting," said Jane. "I'll go." She put out her hand with her best, her sweetest smile. "We're going to be friends--aren't we?"

Selma clasped her hand heartily and said: "We ARE friends. I like everybody. There's always something to like in everyone--and the bad part isn't their fault. But it isn't often that I like anyone so much as I do you. You are so direct and honest--quite different from the other women of your class that I've met."

Jane felt unaccountably grateful and humble. "I'm afraid you're too generous. I guess you're not a very good judge of people," she said.

"So Victor--Victor Dorn--says," laughed Selma. "He says I'm too confiding. Well--why not? And really, he trusts everybody, too--except with the cause. Then he's--he's"--she glanced from face to face of the four pictures--"he's like those men."

Jane's glance followed Selma's. She said: "Yes--I should imagine so--from what I've heard." She startled, flushed, hid behind a somewhat constrained manner. "Will you come up to my house to lunch?"

"If I can find time," said Selma. "But I'd rather come and take you for a walk. I have to walk two hours every day. It's the only thing that'll keep my head clear."

"When will you come?--to-morrow?"

"Is nine o'clock too early?"

Jane reflected that her father left for business at half-past eight. "Nine to-morrow," she said. "Good-by again."

As she was mounting her horse, she saw "the Cossack girl," as she was calling her, writing away at the window hardly three feet above the level of Jane's head when she was mounted, so low was the first story of the battered old frame house. But Selma did not see her; she was all intent upon the writing. "She's forgotten me already," thought Jane with a pang of jealous vanity. She added: "But SHE has SOMETHING to think about--she and Victor Dorn."

She was so preoccupied that she rode away with only an absent thank you for the small boy, in an older and much larger and wider brother's cast-off shirt, suspenders and trousers. At the corner of the avenue she remembered and turned her horse. There stood the boy gazing after her with a hypnotic intensity that made her smile. She rode back fumbling in her pockets. "I beg your pardon," said she to the boy. Then she called up to Selma Gordon:

"Miss Gordon--please--will you lend me a quarter until to-morrow?"

Selma looked up, stared dazedly at her, smiled absently at Miss Hastings--and Miss Hastings had the strongest confirmation of her suspicion that Selma had forgotten her and her visit the instant she vanished from the threshold of the office. Said Selma: "A quarter?--oh, yes--certainly." She seemed to be searching a drawer or a purse out of sight. "I haven't anything but a five dollar bill. I'm so sorry"--this in an absent manner, with most of her thoughts evidently still upon her work. She rose, leaned from the window, glanced up the street, then down. She went on:

"There comes Victor Dorn. He'll lend it to you."

Along the ragged brick walk at a quick pace the man who had in such abrupt fashion stormed Jane Hasting's fancy and taken possession of her curiosity was advancing with a basket on his arm. He was indeed a man of small stature--about the medium height for a woman--about the height of Jane Hastings. But his figure was so well put together and his walk so easy and free from self-consciousness that the question of stature no sooner arose than it was dismissed. His head commanded all the attention--its poise and the remarkable face that fronted it. The features were bold, the skin was clear and healthy and rather fair. His eyes--gray or green blue and set neither prominently nor retreatedly--seemed to be seeing and understanding all that was going on about him. He had a strong, rather relentless mouth--the mouth of men who make and compel sacrifices for their ambitions.

"Victor," cried Selma as soon as he was within easy range of her voice, "please lend Miss Hastings a quarter." And she immediately sat down and went to work again, with the incident dismissed from mind.

The young man--for he was plainly not far beyond thirty--halted and regarded the young woman on the horse.

"I wish to give this young gentleman here a quarter," said Jane. "He was very good about holding my horse."

The words were not spoken before the young gentleman darted across the narrow street and into a yard hidden by masses of clematis, morning glory and sweet peas. And Jane realized that she had wholly mistaken the meaning of that hypnotic stare.

Victor laughed--the small figure, the vast clothes, the bare feet with voluminous trousers about them made a ludicrous sight. "He doesn't want it," said Victor. "Thank you just the same."

"But I want him to have it," said Jane.

With a significant unconscious glance at her costume Dorn said: "Those costumes haven't reached our town yet."

"He did some work for me. I owe it to him."

"He's my sister's little boy," said Dorn, with his amiable, friendly smile. "We mustn't start him in the bad way of expecting pay for politeness."

Jane colored as if she had been rebuked, when in fact his tone forbade the suggestion of rebuke. There was an unpleasant sparkle in her eyes as she regarded the young man in the baggy suit, with the basket on his arm. "I beg your pardon," said she coldly. "I naturally didn't know your peculiar point of view."

"That's all right," said Dorn carelessly. "Thank you, and good day." And with a polite raising of the hat and a manner of good humored friendliness that showed how utterly unconscious he was of her being offended at him, he hastened across the street and went in at the gate where the boy had vanished. And Jane had the sense that he had forgotten her. She glanced nervously up at the window to see whether Selma Gordon was witnessing her humiliation--for so she regarded it. But Selma was evidently lost in a world of her own. "She doesn't love him," Jane decided. "For, even though she is a strange kind of person, she's a woman--and if she had loved him she couldn't have helped watching while he talked with another woman--especially with one of my appearance and class."

Jane rode slowly away. At the corner--it was a long block--she glanced toward the scene she had just quitted. Involuntarily she drew rein. Victor and the boy had come out into the street and were playing catches. The game did not last long. Dorn let the boy corner him and seize him, then gave him a great toss into the air, catching him as he came down and giving him a hug and a kiss. The boy ran shouting merrily into the yard; Victor disappeared in the entrance to the offices of the New Day.

That evening, as she pretended to listen to Hull on national politics, and while dressing the following morning Jane reflected upon her adventure. She decided that Dorn and the "wild girl" were a low, ill-mannered pair with whom she had nothing in common, that her fantastic, impulsive interest in them had been killed, that for the future she would avoid "all that sort of cattle." She would receive Selma Gordon politely, of course--would plead headache as an excuse for not walking, would get rid of her as soon as possible. "No doubt," thought Jane, with the familiar, though indignantly denied, complacence of her class, "as soon as she gets in here she'll want to hang on. She played it very well, but she must have been crazy with delight at my noticing her and offering to take her up."

The postman came as Jane was finishing breakfast. He brought a note from Selma--a hasty pencil scrawl on a sheet of printer's copy paper:


"Dear Miss Hastings: For the present I'm too busy to take my walks. So, I'll not be there to-morrow. With best regards, S.G."


Such a fury rose up in Jane that the undigested breakfast went wrong and put her in condition to give such exhibition as chance might tempt of that ugliness of disposition which appears from time to time in all of us not of the meek and worm-like class, and which we usually attribute to any cause under the sun but the vulgar right one. "The impertinence!" muttered Jane, with a second glance at the note which conveyed; among other humiliating things, an impression of her own absolute lack of importance to Selma Gordon. "Serves me right for lowering myself to such people. If I wanted to try to do anything for the working class I'd have to keep away from them. They're so unattractive to look at and to associate with--not like those shrewd, respectful, interesting peasants one finds on the other side. They're better in the East. They know their place in a way. But out here they're insufferable."

And she spent the morning quarrelling with her maid and the other servants, issuing orders right and left, working herself into a horrible mood dominated by a headache that was anything but a pretense. As she wandered about the house and gardens, she trailed a beautiful negligee with that carelessness which in a woman of clean and orderly habits invariably indicates the possession of many clothes and of a maid who can be counted on to freshen things up before they shall be used again. Her father came home to lunch in high good humor.

"I'll not go down town again for a few days," said he. "I reckon I'd best keep out of the way. That scoundrelly Victor Dorn has done so much lying and inciting these last four or five years that it ain't safe for a man like me to go about when there's trouble with the hands."

"Isn't it outrageous!" exclaimed Jane. "He ought to be stopped."

Hastings chuckled and nodded. "And he will be," said he. "Wait till this strike's over."

"When will that be?" asked Jane.

"Mighty soon," replied her father. "I was ready for 'em this time--good and ready. I've sent word to the governor that I want the militia down here tomorrow----"

"Has there been a riot?" cried Jane anxiously.

"Not yet," said Hastings. He was laughing to himself. "But there will be to-night. Then the governor'll send the troops in to-morrow afternoon."

"But maybe the men'll be quiet, and then----" began Jane, sick inside and trembling.

"When I say a thing'll happen, it'll happen," interrupted her father. "We've made up our minds it's time to give these fellows a lesson. It's got to be done. A milder lesson'll serve now, where later on it'd have to be hard. I tell you these things because I want you to remember 'em. They'll come in handy--when you'll have to look after your own property."

She knew how her father hated the thought of his own death; this was the nearest he had ever come to speaking of it. "Of course, there's your brother William," he went on. "William's a good boy--and a mighty good business man--though he does take risks I'd never 'a took--not even when I was young and had nothing to lose. Yes--and Billy's honest. BUT"--the big head shook impressively--"William's human, Jenny--don't ever forget that. The love of money's an awful thing." A lustful glitter like the shine of an inextinguishable fire made his eyes fascinating and terrible. "It takes hold of a man and never lets go. To see the money pile up--and up--and up."

The girl turned away her gaze. She did not wish to see so far into her father's soul. It seemed a hideous indecency.

"So, Jenny--don't trust William, but look after your own property."

"Oh, I don't care anything about it, popsy," she cried, fighting to think of him and to speak to him as simply the living father she had always insisted on seeing.

"Yes--you do care," said Hastings sharply. "You've got to have your money, because that's your foundation--what you're built on. And I'm going to train you. This here strike's a good time to begin."

After a long silence she said: "Yes, money's what I'm built on. I might as well recognize the truth and act accordingly. I want you to teach me, father."

"I've got to educate you so as, when you get control, you won't go and do fool sentimental things like some women--and some men that warn't trained practically--men like that Davy Hull you think so well of. Things that'd do no good and 'd make you smaller and weaker."

"I understand," said the girl. "About this strike--WHY won't you give the men shorter hours and better pay?"

"Because the company can't afford it. As things are now, there's only enough left for a three per cent dividend after the interest on the bonds is paid."

She had read in the New Day that by a series of tricks the "traction ring" had quadrupled the bonded indebtedness of the roads and multiplied the stock by six, and had pocketed the proceeds of the steal; that three per cent on the enormously inflated capital was in fact eighteen per cent on the actual stock value; that seven per cent on the bonds was in fact twenty-eight per cent on the actual bonded indebtedness; that this traction steal was a fair illustration of how in a score of ways in Remsen City, in a thousand and one ways in all parts of the country, the upper class was draining away the substance of the masses, was swindling them out of their just wages, was forcing them to pay many times the just prices for every article of civilized use. She had read these things--she had thought about them--she had realized that they were true.

She did not put to her father the question that was on her lips--the next logical question after his answer that the company could not afford to cut the hours lower than fourteen or to raise wages to what was necessary for a man to have if he and his family were to live, not in decency and comfort, but in something less than squalor. She did not put the question because she wished to spare her father--to spare herself the shame of hearing his tricky answer--to spare herself the discomfort of squarely facing a nasty truth.

Instead she said: "I understand. And you have got to look out for the rights of the people who have invested their money."

"If I didn't I'd be cheating them," said Hastings. "And if the men don't like their jobs, why, they can quit and get jobs they do like." He added, in absolute unconsciousness of his inconsistency, in absolute belief in his own honesty and goodness, "The truth is our company pays as high wages as can be got anywhere. As for them hours--when _I was working my way up, _I used to put in sixteen and eighteen hours a day, and was mighty glad to do it. This lazy talk of cutting down hours makes me sick. And these fellows that're always kicking on their jobs, I'd like to know what'd become of them and their families if I and men like me didn't provide work for 'em."

"Yes, indeed!" cried Jane, eagerly seizing upon this attractive view of the situation--and resolutely accepting it without question.

In came one of the maids, saying: "There's a man wants to see you, Mr. Hastings."

"What's his name? What does he want?" inquired Hastings, while Jane made a mental note that she must try to inject at least a little order and form into the manners of announcing visitors.

"He didn't give a name. He just said, 'Tell the old man I want to see him.' I ain't sure, but I think it's Dick Kelly."

As Lizzie was an ardent Democrat, she spoke the name contemptuously--for Dick Kelly was the Republican boss. If it had been House, the Democratic boss and Kelly's secret dependent and henchman, she would have said "Mr. Joseph House" in a tone of deep respect.

"Kelly," said Hastings. "Must be something important or he'd 'a telephoned or asked me to see him at my office or at the Lincoln Club. He never came out here before. Bring him in, Lizzie."

A moment and there appeared in the doorway a man of perhaps forty years who looked like a prosperous contractor who had risen from the ranks. His figure was notable for its solidity and for the power of the shoulders; but already there were indications that the solidity, come of hard manual labor in early life, was soon to soften into fat under the melting influence of prosperity and the dissipation it put within too easy reach. The striking features of his face were a pair of keen, hard, greenish eyes and a jaw that protruded uglily--the jaw of aggressiveness, not the too prominent jaw of weakness. At sight of Jane he halted awkwardly.

"How're you, Mr. Hastings?" said he.

"Hello, Dick," said the old man. "This is my daughter Jane."

Jane smiled a pleasant recognition of the introduction. Kelly said stiffly, "How're you, ma'am?"

"Want to see me alone, I suppose?" Hastings went on. "You go out on the porch, Jenny."

As soon as Jane disappeared Kelly's stiffness and clumsiness vanished. To head off Hastings' coming offer of a cigar, he drew one from his pocket and lighted it. "There's hell to pay, Mr. Hastings," he began, seating himself near the old man, tilting back in his chair and crossing his legs.

"Well, I reckon you can take care of it," said Hastings calmly.

"Oh, yes, we kin take care of it, all right. Only, I don't want to do nothing without consulting you."

In these two statements Mr. Kelly summed up the whole of politics in Remsen City, in any city anywhere, in the country at large.

Kelly had started life as a blacksmith. But he soon tired of the dullness and toil and started forth to find some path up to where men live by making others work for them instead of plodding along at the hand-to-mouth existence that is the lot of those who live by their own labors alone. He was a safe blower for a while, but wisely soon abandoned that fascinating but precarious and unremunerative career. From card sharp following the circus and sheet-writer to a bookmaker he graduated into bartender, into proprietor of a doggery. As every saloon is a political club, every saloon-keeper is of necessity a politician. Kelly's woodbox happened to be a convenient place for directing the floaters and the repeaters. Kelly's political importance grew apace. His respectability grew more slowly. But it had grown and was growing.

If you had asked Lizzie, the maid, why she was a Democrat, she would have given no such foolish reason as the average man gives.

She would not have twaddled about principles--when everyone with eyeteeth cut ought to know that principles have departed from politics, now that both parties have been harmonized and organized into agencies of the plutocracy. She would not have said she was a Democrat because her father was, or because all her friends and associates were. She would have replied--in pleasantly Americanized Irish:

"I'm a Democrat because when my father got too old to work, Mr. House, the Democrat leader, gave him a job on the elevator at the Court House--though that dirty thief and scoundrel, Kelly, the Republican boss, owned all the judges and county officers. And when my brother lost his place as porter because he took a drink too many, Mr. House gave him a card to the foreman of the gas company, and he went to work at eight a week and is there yet."

Mr. Kelly and Mr. House belong to a maligned and much misunderstood class. Whenever you find anywhere in nature an activity of any kind, however pestiferous its activity may seem to you--or however good--you may be sure that if you look deep enough you will find that that activity has a use, arises from a need. The "robber trusts" and the political bosses are interesting examples of this basic truth. They have arisen because science, revolutionizing human society, has compelled it to organize. The organization is crude and clumsy and stupid, as yet, because men are ignorant, are experimenting, are working in the dark. So, the organizing forces are necessarily crude and clumsy and stupid.

Mr. Hastings was--all unconsciously--organizing society industrially. Mr. Kelly--equally unconscious of the true nature of his activities--was organizing society politically. And as industry and politics are--and ever have been--at bottom two names for identically the same thing, Mr. Hastings and Mr. Kelly were bound sooner or later to get together.

Remsen City was organized like every other large or largish community. There were two clubs--the Lincoln and the Jefferson--which well enough represented the "respectable elements"--that is, those citizens who were of the upper class. There were two other clubs--the Blaine and the Tilden--which were similarly representative of the "rank and file" and, rather, of the petty officers who managed the rank and file and voted it and told it what to think and what not to think, in exchange taking care of the needy sick, of the aged, of those out of work and so on. Martin Hastings--the leading Republican citizen of Remsen City, though for obvious reasons his political activities were wholly secret and stealthy--was the leading spirit in the Lincoln Club. Jared Olds--Remsen City's richest and most influential Democrat, the head of the gas company and the water company--was foremost in the Jefferson Club. At the Lincoln and the Jefferson you rarely saw any but "gentlemen"--men of established position and fortune, deacons and vestrymen, judges, corporation lawyers and the like. The Blaine and the Tilden housed a livelier and a far less select class--the "boys"--the active politicians, the big saloon keepers, the criminal lawyers, the gamblers, the chaps who knew how to round up floaters and to handle gangs of repeaters, the active young sports working for political position, by pitching and carrying for the political leaders, by doing their errands of charity or crookedness or what not. Joe House was the "big shout" at the Tilden; Dick Kelly could be found every evening on the third--or "wine," or plotting--floor of the Blaine--found holding court. And very respectful indeed were even the most eminent of Lincoln, or Jefferson, respectabilities who sought him out there to ask favors of him.

The bosses tend more and more to become mere flunkeys of the plutocrats. Kelly belonged to the old school of boss, dating from the days when social organization was in the early stages, when the political organizer was feared and even served by the industrial organizer, the embryo plutocrats. He realized how necessary he was to his plutocratic master, and he made that master treat him almost as an equal. He was exacting ever larger pay for taking care of the voters and keeping them fooled; he was getting rich, and had as yet vague aspirations to respectability and fashion. He had stopped drinking, had "cut out the women," had made a beginning toward a less inelegant way of speaking the language. His view of life was what is called cynical. That is, he regarded himself as morally the equal of the respectable rulers of society--or of the preachers who attended to the religious part of the grand industry of "keeping the cow quiet while it was being milked."

But Mr. Kelly was explaining to Martin Hastings what he meant when he said that there was "hell to pay":

"That infernal little cuss, Victor Dorn," said he "made a speech in the Court House Square to-day. Of course, none of the decent papers--and they're all decent except his'n--will publish any of it. Still, there was about a thousand people there before he got through--and the thing'll spread."

"Speech?--what about?" said Hastings. "He's always shooting off his mouth. He'd better stop talking and go to work at some honest business."

"He's got on to the fact that this strike is a put-up job--that the company hired labor detectives in Chicago last winter to come down here and get hold of the union. He gave names--amounts paid--the whole damn thing."

"Um," said Hastings, rubbing his skinny hands along the shiny pantaloons over his meagre legs. "Um."

"But that ain't all," pursued Kelly. "He read out a list of the men told off to pretend to set fire to the car barns and start the riot--those Chicago chaps, you know."

"I don't know anything about it," said Hastings sharply.

Kelly smiled slightly--amused scorn. It seemed absurd to him for the old man to keep up the pretense of ignorance. In fact, Hastings was ignorant--of the details. He was not quite the aloof plutocrat of the modern school, who permits himself to know nothing of details beyond the dividend rate and similar innocent looking results of causes at which sometimes hell itself would shudder. But, while he was more active than the conscience-easing devices now working smoothly made necessary, he never permitted himself to know any unnecessary criminal or wicked fact about his enterprises.

"I don't know," he repeated. "And I don't want to know."

"Anyhow, Dorn gave away the whole thing. He even read a copy of your letter of introduction to the governor--the one you--according to Dorn--gave Fillmore when you sent him up to the Capitol to arrange for the invitation to come after the riot."

Hastings knew that the boss was deliberately "rubbing it in" because Hastings--that is, Hastings' agents had not invited Kelly to assist in the project for "teaching the labor element a much needed lesson." But knowledge of Kelly's motive did not make the truth he was telling any less true--the absurd mismanagement of the whole affair, with the result that Dorn seemed in the way to change it from a lesson to labor on the folly of revolt against their kind and generous but firm employers into a provoker of fresh and fiercer revolt--effective revolt--political revolt. So, as Kelly "rubbed," Hastings visibly winced and writhed.

Kelly ended his recital with: "The speech created a hell of a sensation, Mr. Hastings. That young chap can talk."

"Yes," snapped Hastings. "But he can't do anything else."

"I'm not so sure of that," replied Kelly, who was wise enough to realize the value of a bogey like Dorn--its usefulness for purposes of "throwing a scare into the silk-stocking crowd." "Dorn's getting mighty strong with the people."

"Stuff and nonsense!" retorted Hastings. "They'll listen to any slick tongued rascal that roasts those that are more prosperous than they are. But when it comes to doing anything, they know better. They envy and hate those that give them jobs, but they need the jobs."

"There's a good deal of truth in that, Mr. Hastings," said Kelly, who was nothing if not judicial. "But Dorn's mighty plausible. I hear sensible men saying there's something more'n hot air in his facts and figgures." Kelly paused, and made the pause significant.

"About that last block of traction stock, Mr. Hastings. I thought you were going to let me in on the ground floor. But I ain't heard nothing."

"You ARE in," said Hastings, who knew when to yield. "Hasn't Barker been to see you? I'll attend to it, myself."

"Thank you, Mr. Hastings," said Kelly--dry and brief as always when receipting with a polite phrase for pay for services rendered. "I've been a good friend to your people."

"Yes, you have, Dick," said the old man heartily. "And I want you to jump in and take charge."

Hastings more than suspected that Kelly, to bring him to terms and to force him to employ directly the high-priced Kelly or Republico-Democratic machine as well as the State Republico-Democratic machine, which was cheaper, had got together the inside information and had ordered one of his henchmen to convey it to Dorn. But of what use to quarrel with Kelly? Of course, he could depose him; but that would simply mean putting another boss in his place--perhaps one more expensive and less efficient. The time had been when he--and the plutocracy generally--were compelled to come to the political bosses almost hat in hand. That time was past, never to return. But still a competent political agent was even harder to find than a competent business manager--and was far more necessary; for, while a big business might stagger along under poor financial or organizing management within, it could not live at all without political favors, immunities, and licenses. A band of pickpockets might as well try to work a town without having first "squared" the police. Not that Mr. Hastings and his friends THEMSELVES compared themselves to a band of pickpockets. No, indeed. It was simply legitimate business to blackjack your competitors, corner a supply, create a monopoly and fix prices and wages to suit your own notions of what was your due for taking the "hazardous risks of business enterprise."

"Leave everything to me," said Kelly briskly. "I can put the thing through. Just tell your lawyer to apply late this afternoon to Judge Lansing for an injunction forbidding the strikers to assemble anywhere within the county. We don't want no more of this speechifying. This is a peaceable community, and it won't stand for no agitators."

"Hadn't the lawyers better go to Judge Freilig?" said Hastings.

"He's shown himself to be a man of sound ideas."

"No--Lansing," said Kelly. "He don't come up for re-election for five years. Freilig comes up next fall, and we'll have hard work to pull him through, though House is going to put him on the ticket, too. Dorn's going to make a hot campaign--concentrate on judges."

"There's nothing in that Dorn talk," said Hastings. "You can't scare me again, Dick, as you did with that Populist mare's nest ten years ago."

That had been Kelly's first "big killing" by working on the fears of the plutocracy. Its success had put him in a position to buy a carriage and a diamond necklace for Mrs. Kelly and to make first payments on a large block of real estate. "It was no mare's nest, Mr. Hastings," gravely declared the boss. "If I hadn't 'a knowed just how to use the money we collected, there'd 'a been a crowd in office for four years that wouldn't 'a been easy to manage, I can tell you. But they was nothing to this here Dorn crowd. Dorn is----"

"We must get rid of him, Dick," interrupted Hastings.

The two men looked at each other--a curious glance--telegraphy. No method was suggested, no price was offered or accepted. But in the circumstances those matters became details that would settle themselves; the bargain was struck.

"He certainly ought to be stopped," said Kelly carelessly. "He's the worst enemy the labor element has had in my time." He rose. "Well, Mr. Hastings, I must be going." He extended his heavy, strong hand, which Hastings rose to grasp. "I'm glad we're working together again without any hitches. You won't forget about that there stock?"

"I'll telephone about it right away, Dick--and about Judge Lansing. You're sure Lansing's all right? I didn't like those decisions of his last year--the railway cases, I mean."

"That was all right, Mr. Hastings," said Kelly with a wave of the hand. "I had to have 'em in the interests of the party. I knowed the upper court'd reverse. No, Lansing's a good party man--a good, sound man in every way."

"I'm glad to hear it," said Hastings.

Before going into his private room to think and plan and telephone, he looked out on the west veranda. There sat his daughter; and a few feet away was David Hull, his long form stretched in a hammock while he discoursed of his projects for a career as a political reformer. The sight immensely pleased the old man. When he was a boy David Hull's grandfather, Brainerd Hull, had been the great man of that region; and Martin Hastings, a farm hand and the son of a farm hand, had looked up at him as the embodiment of all that was grand and aristocratic. As Hastings had never travelled, his notions of rank and position all centred about Remsen City. Had he realized the extent of the world, he would have regarded his ambition for a match between the daughter and granddaughter of a farm hand and the son and grandson of a Remsen City aristocrat as small and ridiculous. But he did not realize.

Davy saw him and sprang to his feet.

"No--no--don't disturb yourselves," cried the old man. "I've got some things to 'tend to. You and Jenny go right ahead."

And he was off to his own little room where he conducted his own business in his own primitive but highly efficacious way. A corps of expert accountants could not have disentangled those crabbed, criss-crossed figures; no solver of puzzles could have unravelled the mystery of those strange hieroglyphics. But to the old man there wasn't a difficult--or a dull--mark in that entire set of dirty, dog-eared little account books. He spent hours in poring over them. Just to turn the pages gave him keen pleasure; to read, and to reconstruct from those hints the whole story of some agitating and profitable operation, made in comparison the delight of an imaginative boy in Monte Cristo or Crusoe seem a cold and tame emotion.

David talked on and on, fancying that Jane was listening and admiring, when in fact she was busy with her own entirely different train of thought. She kept the young man going because she did not wish to be bored with her own solitude, because a man about always made life at least a little more interesting than if she were alone or with a woman, and because Davy was good to look at and had an agreeable voice.

"Why, who's that?" she suddenly exclaimed, gazing off to the right.

Davy turned and looked. "I don't know her," he said. "Isn't she queer looking--yet I don't know just why."

"It's Selma Gordon," said Jane, who had recognized Selma the instant her eyes caught a figure moving across the lawn.

"The girl that helps Victor Dorn?" said Davy, astonished. "What's SHE coming HERE for? You don't know her--do you?"

"Don't you?" evaded Jane. "I thought you and Mr. Dorn were such pals."

"Pals?" laughed Hull. "Hardly that. We meet now and then at a workingman's club I'm interested in--and at a cafe' where I go to get in touch with the people occasionally--and in the street. But I never go to his office. I couldn't afford to do that. And I've never seen Miss Gordon."

"Well, she's worth seeing," said Jane. "You'll never see another like her."

They rose and watched her advancing. To the usual person, acutely conscious of self, walking is not easy in such circumstances. But Selma, who never bothered about herself, came on with that matchless steady grace which peasant girls often get through carrying burdens on the head. Jane called out:

"So, you've come, after all."

Selma smiled gravely. Not until she was within a few feet of the steps did she answer: "Yes--but on business." She was wearing the same linen dress. On her head was a sailor hat, beneath the brim of which her amazingly thick hair stood out in a kind of defiance. This hat, this further article of Western civilization's dress, added to the suggestion of the absurdity of such a person in such clothing. But in her strange Cossack way she certainly was beautiful--and as healthy and hardy as if she had never before been away from the high, wind-swept plateaus where disease is unknown and where nothing is thought of living to be a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five. Both before and after the introduction Davy Hull gazed at her with fascinated curiosity too plainly written upon his long, sallow, serious face. She, intent upon her mission, ignored him as the arrow ignores the other birds of the flock in its flight to the one at which it is aimed.

"You'll give me a minute or two alone?" she said to Jane. "We can walk on the lawn here."

Hull caught up his hat. "I was just going," said he. Then he hesitated, looked at Selma, stammered: "I'll go to the edge of the lawn and inspect the view."

Neither girl noted this abrupt and absurd change of plan. He departed. As soon as he had gone half a dozen steps, Selma said in her quick, direct fashion:

"I've come to see you about the strike."

Jane tried to look cool and reserved. But that sort of expression seemed foolish in face of the simplicity and candor of Selma Gordon. Also, Jane was not now so well pleased with her father's ideas and those of her own interest as she had been while she was talking with him. The most exasperating thing about the truth is that, once one has begun to see it--has begun to see what is for him the truth--the honest truth--he can not hide from it ever again. So, instead of looking cold and repellant, Jane looked uneasy and guilty. "Oh, yes--the strike," she murmured.

"It is over," said Selma. "The union met a half hour ago and revoked its action--on Victor Dorn's advice. He showed the men that they had been trapped into striking by the company--that a riot was to be started and blamed upon them--that the militia was to be called in and they were to be shot down."

"Oh, no--not that!" cried Jane eagerly. "It wouldn't have gone as far as that."

"Yes--as far as that," said Selma calmly. "That sort of thing is an old story. It's been done so often--and worse. You see, the respectable gentlemen who run things hire disreputable creatures. They don't tell them what to do. They don't need to. The poor wretches understand what's expected of them--and they do it. So, the respectable gentlemen can hold up white hands and say quite truthfully, 'No blood-no filth on these--see!"' Selma was laughing drearily. Her superb, primitive eyes, set ever so little aslant, were flashing with an intensity of emotion that gave Jane Hastings a sensation of terror-much as if a man who has always lived where there were no storms, but such gentle little rains with restrained and refined thunder as usually visit the British Isles, were to find himself in the midst of one of those awful convulsions that come crashing down the gorges of the Rockies. She marveled that one so small of body could contain such big emotions.

"You mustn't be unjust," she pleaded. "WE aren't THAT wicked, my dear."

Selma looked at her. "No matter," she said. "I am not trying to convert you--or to denounce your friends to you. I'll explain what I've come for. In his speech to-day and in inducing the union to change, Victor has shown how much power he has. The men whose plans he has upset will be hating him as men hate only those whom they fear."

"Yes--I believe that," said Jane. "So, you see, I'm not blindly prejudiced."

"For a long time there have been rumors that they might kill him----"

"Absurd!" cried Jane angrily. "Miss Gordon, no matter how prejudiced you may be--and I'll admit there are many things to justify you in feeling strongly--but no matter how you may feel, your good sense must tell you that men like my father don't commit murder."

"I understand perfectly," replied Selma. "They don't commit murder, and they don't order murder. I'll even say that I don't think they would tolerate murder, even for their benefit. But you don't know how things are done in business nowadays. The men like your father have to use men of the Kelly and the House sort--you know who they are?"

"Yes," said Jane.

"The Kellys and the Houses give general orders to their lieutenants. The lieutenants pass the orders along--and down. And so on, until all sorts of men are engaged in doing all sorts of work. Dirty, clean, criminal--all sorts. Some of these men, baffled in what they are trying to do to earn their pay--baffled by Victor Dorn--plot against him." Again that sad, bitter laugh. "My dear Miss Hastings, to kill a cat there are a thousand ways besides skinning it alive."

"You are prejudiced," said Jane, in the manner of one who could not be convinced.

Selma made an impatient gesture. "Again I say, no matter. Victor laughs at our fears----"

"I knew it," said Jane triumphantly. "He is less foolish than his followers."

"He simply does not think about himself," replied Selma. "And he is right. But it is our business to think about him, because we need him. Where could we find another like him?"

"Yes, I suppose your movement WOULD die out, if he were not behind it."

Selma smiled peculiarly. "I think you don't quite understand what we are about," said she. "You've accepted the ignorant notion of your class that we are a lot of silly roosters trying to crow one sun out of the heavens and another into it. The facts are somewhat different. Your class is saying, 'To-day will last forever,' while we are saying, 'No, to-day will run its course--will be succeeded by to-morrow. Let us not live like the fool who thinks only of the day. Let us be sensible, intelligent, let us realize that there will be to-morrow and that it, too, must be lived. Let us get ready to live it sensibly. Let us build our social system so that it will stand the wear and tear of another day and will not fall in ruins about our heads.'"

"I am terribly ignorant about all these things," said Jane. "What a ridiculous thing my education has been!"

"But it hasn't spoiled your heart," cried Selma. And all at once her eyes were wonderfully soft and tender, and into her voice came a tone so sweet that Jane's eyes filled with tears. "It was to your heart that I came to appeal," she went on. "Oh, Miss Hastings--we will do all we can to protect Victor Dorn--and we guard him day and night without his knowing it. But I am afraid--afraid! And I want you to help. Will you?"

"I'll do anything I can," said Jane--a Jane very different from the various Janes Miss Hastings knew--a Jane who seemed to be conjuring of Selma Gordon's enchantments.

"I want you to ask your father to give him a fair show. We don't ask any favors--for ourselves--for him. But we don't want to see him--" Selma shuddered and covered her eyes with her hands "--lying dead in some alley, shot or stabbed by some unknown thug!"

Selma made it so vivid that Jane saw the whole tragedy before her very eyes.

"The real reason why they hate him," Selma went on, "is because he preaches up education and preaches down violence--and is building his party on intelligence instead of on force. The masters want the workingman who burns and kills and riots. They can shoot him down. They can make people accept any tyranny in preference to the danger of fire and murder let loose. But Victor is teaching the workingmen to stop playing the masters' game for them. No wonder they hate him! He makes them afraid of the day when the united workingmen will have their way by organizing and voting. And they know that if Victor Dorn lives, that day will come in this city very, very soon." Selma saw Davy Hull, impatient at his long wait, advancing toward them. She said: "You will talk to your father?"

"Yes," said Jane. "And I assure you he will do what he can. You don't know him, Miss Gordon."

"I know he loves you--I know he MUST love you," said Selma. "Now, I must go. Good-by. I knew you would be glad of the chance to do something worth while."

Jane had been rather expecting to be thanked for her generosity and goodness. Selma's remark seemed at first blush an irritating attempt to shift a favor asked into a favor given. But it was impossible for her to fail to see Selma's sensible statement of the actual truth. So, she said honestly:

"Thank you for coming, Miss Gordon. I am glad of the chance."

They shook hands. Selma, holding her hand, looked up at her, suddenly kissed her. Jane returned the kiss. David Hull, advancing with his gaze upon them, stopped short. Selma, without a glance--because without a thought--in his direction, hastened away.

When David rejoined Jane, she was gazing tenderly after the small, graceful figure moving toward the distant entrance gates. Said David:

"I think that girl has got you hypnotized."

Jane laughed and sent him home. "I'm busy," she said. "I've got something to do, at last."

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CHAPTER VA few days later, after she had taken her daily two hours' walk, Selma went into the secluded part of Washington Park and spent the rest of the morning writing. Her walk was her habitual time for thinking out her plans for the day. And when it was writing that she had to do, and the weather was fine, that particular hillside with its splendid shade so restful for the eyes and so stimulating to the mind became her work-shop. She thought that she was helped as much by the colors of grass and foliage as by
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The Conflict - Chapter 1 The Conflict - Chapter 1

The Conflict - Chapter 1
CHAPTER IFour years at Wellesley; two years about equally divided among Paris, Dresden and Florence. And now Jane Hastings was at home again. At home in the unchanged house--spacious, old-fashioned--looking down from its steeply sloping lawns and terraced gardens upon the sooty, smoky activities of Remsen City, looking out upon a charming panorama of hills and valleys in the heart of South Central Indiana. Six years of striving in the East and abroad to satisfy the restless energy she inherited from her father; and here she was, as restless as ever--yet with everything done that a woman could
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