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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Conflict - Chapter 5
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The Conflict - Chapter 5 Post by :Jigger Category :Long Stories Author :David Graham Phillips Date :May 2012 Read :2509

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The Conflict - Chapter 5


A 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 the softened light and the tranquil view out over hills and valleys.

When she had finished her article she consulted the little nickel watch she carried in her bag and discovered that it was only one o'clock. She had counted on getting through at three or half past. Two hours gained. How could she best use them. The part of the Park where she was sitting was separated from the Hastings grounds only by the winding highroad making its last reach for the top of the hill. She decided that she would go to see Jane Hastings--would try to make tactful progress in her project of helping Jane and David Hull by marrying them to each other. Once she had hit upon this project her interest in both of them had equally increased. Yes, these gained two hours was an opportunity not to be neglected.

She put her papers into her shopping bag and went straight up the steep hill. She arrived at the top, at the edge of the lawn before Jane's house, with somewhat heightened color and brightened eyes, but with no quickening of the breath. Her slim, solid little body had all the qualities of endurance of those wiry ponies that come from the regions her face and walk and the careless grace of her hair so delightfully suggested. As she advanced toward the house she saw a gay company assembled on the wide veranda. Jane was giving a farewell luncheon for her visitors, had asked almost a dozen of the most presentable girls in the town. It was a very fashionable affair, and everyone had dressed for it in the best she had to wear at that time of day.

Selma saw the company while there was still time for her to draw back and descend into the woods. But she knew little about conventionalities, and she cared not at all about them. She had come to see Jane; she conducted herself precisely as she would have expected any one to act who came to see her at any time. She marched straight across the lawn. The hostess, the fashionable visitors, the fashionable guests soon centered upon the extraordinary figure moving toward them under that blazing sun. The figure was extraordinary not for dress--the dress was plain and unconspicuous--but for that expression of the free and the untamed, the lack of self-consciousness so rarely seen except in children and animals. Jane rushed to the steps to welcome her, seized her extended hands and kissed her with as much enthusiasm as she kissed Jane. There was sincerity in this greeting of Jane's; but there was pose, also. Here was one of those chances to do the unconventional, the democratic thing.

"What a glorious surprise!" cried Jane. "You'll stop for lunch, of course?" Then to the girls nearest them: "This is Selma Gordon, who writes for the New Day."

Pronouncing of names--smiles--bows--veiled glances of curiosity--several young women exchanging whispered comments of amusement. And to be sure, Selma, in that simple costume, gloveless, with dusty shoes and blown hair, did look very much out of place. But then Selma would have looked, in a sense, out of place anywhere but in a wilderness with perhaps a few tents and a half-tamed herd as background. In another sense, she seemed in place anywhere as any natural object must.

"I don't eat lunch," said Selma. "But I'll stay if you'll put me next to you and let me talk to you."

She did not realize what an upsetting of order and precedence this request, which seemed so simple to her, involved. Jane hesitated, but only for a fraction of a second. "Why, certainly," said she. "Now that I've got you I'd not let you go in any circumstances."

Selma was gazing around at the other girls with the frank and pleased curiosity of a child. "Gracious, what pretty clothes!" she cried--she was addressing Miss Clearwater, of Cincinnati. "I've read about this sort of thing in novels and in society columns of newspapers. But I never saw it before. ISN'T it interesting!"

Miss Clearwater, whose father was a United States Senator--by purchase--had had experience of many oddities, male and female. She also was attracted by Selma's sparkling delight, and by the magnetic charm which she irradiated as a rose its perfume. "Pretty clothes are attractive, aren't they?" said she, to be saying something.

"I don't know a thing about clothes," confessed Selma. "I've never owned at the same time more than two dresses fit to wear--usually only one. And quite enough for me. I'd only be fretted by a lot of things of that kind. But I like to see them on other people. If I had my way the whole world would be well dressed."

"Except you?" said Ellen Clearwater with a smile.

"I couldn't be well dressed if I tried," replied Selma. "When I was a child I was the despair of my mother. Most of the people in the tenement where we lived were very dirty and disorderly--naturally enough, as they had no knowledge and no money and no time. But mother had ideas of neatness and cleanliness, and she used to try to keep me looking decent. But it was of no use. Ten minutes after she had smoothed me down I was flying every which way again."

"You were brought up in a tenement?" said Miss Clearwater. Several of the girls within hearing were blushing for Selma and were feeling how distressed Jane Hastings must be.

"I had a wonderfully happy childhood," replied Selma. "Until I was old enough to understand and to suffer. I've lived in tenements all my life--among very poor people. I'd not feel at home anywhere else."

"When I was born," said Miss Clearwater, "we lived in a log cabin up in the mining district of Michigan."

Selma showed the astonishment the other girls were feeling. But while their astonishment was in part at a girl of Ellen Clearwater's position making such a degrading confession, hers had none of that element in it. "You don't in the least suggest a log cabin or poverty of any kind," said she. "I supposed you had always been rich and beautifully dressed."

"No, indeed," replied Ellen. She gazed calmly round at the other girls who were listening. "I doubt if any of us here was born to what you see. Of course we--some of us--make pretenses--all sorts of silly pretenses. But as a matter of fact there isn't one of us who hasn't near relatives in the cabins or the tenements at this very moment."

There was a hasty turning away from this dangerous conversation. Jane came back from ordering the rearrangement of her luncheon table. Said Selma:

"I'd like to wash my hands, and smooth my hair a little."

"You take her up, Ellen," said Jane. "And hurry. We'll be in the dining-room when you come down."

Selma's eyes were wide and roving as she and Ellen went through the drawing-room, the hall, up stairs and into the very prettily furnished suite which Ellen was occupying. "I never saw anything like this before!" exclaimed Selma. "It's the first time I was ever in a grand house. This is a grand house, isn't it?"

"No--it's only comfortable," replied Ellen. "Mr. Hastings--and Jane, too, don't go in for grandeur."

"How beautiful everything is--and how convenient!" exclaimed Selma. "I haven't felt this way since the first time I went to the circus." She pointed to a rack from which were suspended thin silk dressing gowns of various rather gay patterns. "What are those?" she inquired.

"Dressing gowns," said Ellen. "Just to wear round while one is dressing or undressing."

Selma advanced and felt and examined them. "But why so many?" she inquired.

"Oh, foolishness," said Ellen. "Indulgence! To suit different moods."

"Lovely," murmured Selma. "Lovely!"

"I suspect you of a secret fondness for luxury," said Ellen slyly.

Selma laughed. "What would I do with such things?" she inquired. "Why, I'd have no time to wear them. I'd never dare put on anything so delicate."

She roamed through dressing-room, bedroom, bath-room, marveling, inquiring, admiring. "I'm so glad I came," said she. "This will give me a fresh point of view. I can understand the people of your class better, and be more tolerant about them. I understand now why they are so hard and so indifferent. They're quite removed from the common lot. They don't realize; they can't. How narrow it must make one to have one's life filled with these pretty little things for luxury and show. Why, if I lived this life, I'd cease to be human after a short time."

Ellen was silent.

"I didn't mean to say anything rude or offensive," said Selma, sensitive to the faintest impressions. "I was speaking my thoughts aloud.... Do you know David Hull?"

"The young reformer?" said Ellen with a queer little smile. "Yes--quite well."

"Does he live like this?"

"Rather more grandly," said Ellen.

Selma shook her head. A depressed expression settled upon her features. "It's useless," she said. "He couldn't possibly become a man."

Ellen laughed. "You must hurry," she said. "We're keeping everyone waiting."

As Selma was making a few passes at her rebellious thick hair--passes the like of which Miss Clearwater had never before seen--she explained:

"I've been somewhat interested in David Hull of late--have been hoping he could graduate from a fake reformer into a useful citizen. But--" She looked round expressively at the luxury surrounding them--"one might as well try to grow wheat in sand."

"Davy is a fine fraud," said Ellen. "Fine--because he doesn't in the least realize that he's a fraud."

"I'm afraid he is a fraud," said Selma setting on her hat again. "What a pity? He might have been a man, if he'd been brought up properly." She gazed at Ellen with sad, shining eyes. "How many men and women luxury blights!" she cried.

"It certainly has done for Davy," said Ellen lightly. "He'll never be anything but a respectable fraud."

"Why do YOU think so?" Selma inquired.

"My father is a public man," Miss Clearwater explained. "And I've seen a great deal of these reformers. They're the ordinary human variety of politician plus a more or less conscious hypocrisy. Usually they're men who fancy themselves superior to the common run in birth and breeding. My father has taught me to size them up."

They went down, and Selma, seated between Jane and Miss Clearwater, amused both with her frank comments on the scene so strange to her--the beautiful table, the costly service, the variety and profusion of elaborate food. In fact, Jane, reaching out after the effects got easily in Europe and almost as easily in the East, but overtaxed the resources of the household which she was only beginning to get into what she regarded as satisfactory order. The luncheon, therefore, was a creditable and promising attempt rather than a success, from the standpoint of fashion. Jane was a little ashamed, and at times extremely nervous--this when she saw signs of her staff falling into disorder that might end in rout. But Selma saw none of the defects. She was delighted with the dazzling spectacle--for two or three courses. Then she lapsed into quiet and could not be roused to speak.

Jane and Ellen thought she was overwhelmed and had been seized of shyness in this company so superior to any in which she had ever found herself. Ellen tried to induce her to eat, and, failing, decided that her refraining was not so much firmness in the two meals-a-day system as fear of making a "break." She felt genuinely sorry for the silent girl growing moment by moment more ill-at-ease. When the luncheon was about half over Selma said abruptly to Jane:

"I must go now. I've stayed longer than I should."

"Go?" cried Jane. "Why, we haven't begun to talk yet."

"Another time," said Selma, pushing back her chair. "No, don't rise." And up she darted, smiling gayly round at the company. "Don't anybody disturb herself," she pleaded. "It'll be useless, for I'll be gone."

And she was as good as her word. Before any one quite realized what she was about, she had escaped from the dining-room and from the house. She almost ran across the lawn and into the woods. There she drew a long breath noisily.

"Free!" she cried, flinging out her arms. "Oh--but it was DREADFUL!"

Miss Hastings and Miss Clearwater had not been so penetrating as they fancied. Embarrassment had nothing to do with the silence that had taken possession of the associate editor of the New Day.

She was never self-conscious enough to be really shy. She hastened to the office, meeting Victor Dorn in the street doorway. She cried:

"Such an experience!"

"What now?" said Victor. He was used to that phrase from the ardent and impressionable Selma. For her, with her wide-open eyes and ears, her vivid imagination and her thirsty mind, life was one closely packed series of adventures.

"I had an hour to spare," she proceeded to explain. "I thought it was a chance to further a little scheme I've got for marrying Jane Hastings and David Hull."

"Um!" said Victor with a quick change of expression--which, however, Selma happened not to observe.

"And," she went on, "I blundered into a luncheon party Jane was giving. You never saw--you never dreamed of such style--such dresses and dishes and flowers and hats! And I was sitting there with them, enjoying it all as if it were a circus or a ballet, when--Oh, Victor, what a silly, what a pitiful waste of time and money! So much to do in the world--so much that is thrillingly interesting and useful--and those intelligent young people dawdling there at nonsense a child would weary of! I had to run away. If I had stayed another minute I should have burst out crying--or denouncing them--or pleading with them to behave themselves."

"What else can they do?" said Victor. "They don't know any better. They've never been taught. How's the article?"

And he led the way up to the editorial room and held her to the subject of the article he had asked her to write. At the first opportunity she went back to the subject uppermost in her mind. Said she:

"I guess you're right--as usual. There's no hope for any people of that class. The busy ones are thinking only of making money for themselves, and the idle ones are too enfeebled by luxury to think at all. No, I'm afraid there's no hope for Hull--or for Jane either."

"I'm not sure about Miss Hastings," said Victor.

"You would have been if you'd seen her to-day," replied Selma. "Oh, she was lovely, Victor--really wonderful to look at. But so obviously the idler. And--body and soul she belongs to the upper class. She understands charity, but she doesn't understand justice, and never could understand it. I shall let her alone hereafter."

"How harsh you women are in your judgments of each other," laughed Dorn, busy at his desk.

"We are just," replied Selma. "We are not fooled by each other's pretenses."

Dorn apparently had not heard. Selma saw that to speak would be to interrupt. She sat at her own table and set to work on the editorial paragraphs. After perhaps an hour she happened to glance at Victor. He was leaning back in his chair, gazing past her out into the open; in his face was an expression she had never seen--a look in the eyes, a relaxing of the muscles round the mouth that made her think of him as a man instead of as a leader. She was saying to herself. "What a fascinating man he would have been, if he had not been an incarnate cause."

She felt that he was not thinking of his work. She longed to talk to him, but she did not venture to interrupt. Never in all the years she had known him had he spoken to her--or to any one--a severe or even an impatient word. His tolerance, his good humor were infinite. Yet--she, and all who came into contact with him, were afraid of him. There could come, and on occasion there did come--into those extraordinary blue eyes an expression beside which the fiercest flash of wrath would be easy to face.

When she glanced at him again, his normal expression had returned--the face of the leader who aroused in those he converted into fellow-workers a fanatical devotion that was the more formidable because it was not infatuated. He caught her eye and said:

"Things are in such good shape for us that it frightens me. I spend most of my time in studying the horizon in the hope that I can foresee which way the storm's coming from and what it will be."

"What a pessimist you are!" laughed Selma.

"That's why the Workingmen's League has a thick-and-thin membership of thirteen hundred and fifty," replied Victor. "That's why the New Day has twenty-two hundred paying subscribers. That's why we grow faster than the employers can weed our men out and replace them with immigrants and force them to go to other towns for work."

"Well, anyhow," said the girl, "no matter what happens we can't be weeded out."

Victor shook his head. "Our danger period has just begun," he replied. "The bosses realize our power. In the past we've been annoyed a little from time to time. But they thought us hardly worth bothering with. In the future we will have to fight."

"I hope they will prosecute us," said Selma. "Then, we'll grow the faster."

"Not if they do it intelligently," replied Victor. "An intelligent persecution--if it's relentless enough--always succeeds. You forget that this isn't a world of moral ideas but of force.... I am afraid of Dick Kelly. He is something more than a vulgar boss. He SEES. My hope is that he won't be able to make the others see. I saw him a while ago. He was extremely polite to me--more so than he ever has been before. He is up to something. I suspect----"

Victor paused, reflecting. "What?" asked Selma eagerly.

"I suspect that he thinks he has us." He rose, preparing to go out. "Well--if he has--why, he has. And we shall have to begin all over again."

"How stupid they are!" exclaimed the girl. "To fight us who are simply trying to bring about peaceably and sensibly what's bound to come about anyhow."

"Yes--the rain is bound to come," said Victor. "And we say, 'Here's an umbrella and there's the way to shelter.' And they laugh at OUR umbrella and, with the first drops plashing on their foolish faces, deny that it's going to rain."

The Workingmen's League, always first in the field with its ticket, had been unusually early that year. Although it was only the first week in August and the election would not be until the third of October, the League had nominated. It was a ticket made up entirely of skilled workers who had lived all their lives in Remsen City and who had acquired an independence--Victor Dorn was careful not to expose to the falling fire of the opposition any of his men who could be ruined by the loss of a job or could be compelled to leave town in search of work. The League always went early into campaign because it pursued a much slower and less expensive method of electioneering than either of the old parties--or than any of the "upper class" reform parties that sprang up from time to time and died away as they accomplished or failed of their purpose--securing recognition for certain personal ambitions not agreeable to the old established bosses. Besides, the League was, like the bosses and their henchmen, in politics every day in every year. The League theory was that politics was as much a part of a citizen's daily routine as his other work or his meals.

It was the night of the League's great ratification meeting. The next day the first campaign number--containing the biographical sketch of Tony Rivers, Kelly's right-hand man ... would go upon the press, and on the following day it would reach the public.

Market Square in Remsen City was on the edge of the power quarter, was surrounded by cheap hotels, boarding houses and saloons. A few years before, the most notable citizens, market basket on arm, could have been seen three mornings in the week, making the rounds of the stalls and stands, both those in the open and those within the Market House. But customs had rapidly changed in Remsen City, and with the exception of a few old fogies only the poorer classes went to market. The masters of houses were becoming gentlemen, and the housewives were elevating into ladies--and it goes without saying that no gentleman and no lady would descend to a menial task even in private, much less in public.

Market Square had even become too common for any but the inferior meetings of the two leading political parties. Only the Workingmen's League held to the old tradition that a political meeting of the first rank could be properly held nowhere but in the natural assembling place of the people--their market. So, their first great rally of the campaign was billed for Market Square. And at eight o'clock, headed by a large and vigorous drum corps, the Victor Dorn cohorts at their full strength marched into the centre of the Square, where one of the stands had been transformed with flags, bunting and torches into a speaker's platform. A crowd of many thousands accompanied and followed the procession. Workingmen's League meetings were popular, even among those who believed their interests lay elsewhere. At League meetings one heard the plain truth, sometimes extremely startling plain truth. The League had no favors to ask of anybody, had nothing to conceal, was strongly opposed to any and all political concealments. Thus, its speakers enjoyed a freedom not usual in political speaking--and Dorn and his fellow-leaders were careful that no router, no exaggerator or well intentioned wild man of any kind should open his mouth under a league banner. THAT was what made the League so dangerous--and so steadily prosperous.

The chairman, Thomas Colman, the cooper, was opening the meeting in a speech which was an instance of how well a man of no platform talent can acquit himself when he believes something and believes it is his duty to convey it to his fellow-men. Victor Dorn, to be the fourth speaker and the orator of the evening, was standing at the rear of the platform partially concealed by the crowd of men and women leaders of the party grouped behind Colman. As always at the big formal demonstrations of the League, Victor was watching every move. This evening his anxiety was deeper than ever before. His trained political sagacity warned him that, as he had suggested to Selma, the time of his party's first great crisis was at hand. No movement could become formidable with out a life and death struggle, when its aim frankly was to snatch power from the dominant class and to place it where that class could not hope to prevail either by direct means of force or by its favorite indirect means of bribery. What would Kelly do? What would be his stroke at the very life of the League?--for Victor had measured Kelly and knew he was not one to strike until he could destroy.

Like every competent man of action, Victor had measured his own abilities, and had found that they were to be relied upon. But the contest between him and Kelly--the contest in the last ditch--was so appallingly unequal. Kelly had the courts and the police, the moneyed class, the employers of labor, had the clergy and well-dressed respectability, the newspapers, all the customary arbiters of public sentiment. Also, he had the criminal and the semi-criminal classes. And what had the League?

The letter of the law, guaranteeing freedom of innocent speech and action, guaranteeing the purity of the ballot--no, not guaranteeing, but simply asserting those rights, and leaving the upholding of them to--Kelly's allies and henchmen! Also, the League had the power of between a thousand and fifteen hundred intelligent and devoted men and about the same number of women--a solid phalanx of great might, of might far beyond its numbers. Finally, it had Victor Dorn. He had no mean opinion of his value to the movement; but he far and most modestly underestimated it. The human way of rallying to an abstract principle is by way of a standard bearer--a man--personality--a real or fancied incarnation of the ideal to be struggled for. And to the Workingmen's League, to the movement for conquering Remsen City for the mass of its citizens, Victor Dorn was that incarnation.

Kelly could use violence--violence disguised as law, violence candidly and brutally lawless. Victor Dorn could only use lawful means--clearly and cautiously lawful means. He must at all costs prevent the use of force against him and his party--must give Kelly no pretext for using the law lawlessly. If Kelly used force against him, whether the perverted law of the courts or open lawlessness, he must meet it with peace. If Kelly smote him on the right cheek he must give him the left to be smitten.

When the League could outvote Kelly, then--another policy, still of calmness and peace and civilization, but not so meek. But until the League could outvote Kelly, nothing but patient endurance.

Every man in the League had been drilled in this strategy. Every man understood--and to be a member of the League meant that one was politically educated. Victor believed in his associates as he believed in himself. Still, human nature was human nature. If Kelly should suddenly offer some adroit outrageous provocation--would the League be able to resist?

Victor, on guard, studied the crowd spreading out from the platform in a gigantic fan. Nothing there to arouse suspicion; ten or twelve thousand of working class men and women. His glance pushed on out toward the edges of the crowd--toward the saloons and alleys of the disreputable south side of Market Square. His glance traveled slowly along, pausing upon each place where these loungers, too far away to hear, were gathered into larger groups. Why he did not know, but suddenly his glance wheeled to the right, and then as suddenly to the left--the west and the east ends of the square. There, on either side he recognized, in the farthest rim of the crowd, several of the men who did Kelly's lowest kinds of dirty work--the brawlers, the repeaters, the leaders of gangs, the false witnesses for petty corporation damage cases. A second glance, and he saw or, perhaps, divined--purpose in those sinister presences. He looked for the police--the detail of a dozen bluecoats always assigned to large open-air meetings. Not a policeman was to be seen.

Victor pushed through the crowd on the platform, advanced to the side of Colman. "Just a minute, Tom," he said. "I've got to say a word--at once."

Colman had fallen back; Victor Dorn was facing the crowd--HIS crowd--the men and women who loved him. In the clear, friendly, natural voice that marked him for the leader born, the honest leader of an honest cause, he said:

"My friends, if there is an attempt to disturb this meeting, remember what we of the League stand for. No violence. Draw away from every disturber, and wait for the police to act. If the police stop our meeting, let them--and be ready to go to court and testify to the exact words of the speaker on which the meeting was stopped. Remember, we must be more lawful than the law itself!"

He was turning away. A cheer was rising--a belated cheer, because his words had set them all to thinking and to observing. From the left of the crowd, a dozen yards away from the platform, came a stone heavily rather than swiftly flung, as from an impeded hand. In full view of all it curved across the front of the platform and struck Victor Dorn full in the side of the head.

He threw up his hands.

"Boys--remember!" he shouted with a terrible energy--then, he staggered forward and fell from the platform into the crowd.

The stone was a signal. As it flew, into the crowd from every direction the Beech Hollow gangs tore their way, yelling and cursing and striking out right and left--trampling children, knocking down women, pouring out the foulest insults. The street lamps all round Market Square went out, the torches on the platform were torn down and extinguished. And in a dimness almost pitch dark a riot that involved that whole mass of people raged hideously. Yells and screams and groans, the shrieks of women, the piteous appeals of children--benches torn up for weapons--mad slashing about--snarls and singings of pain-stricken groups--then police whistles, revolvers fired in the air, and the quick, regular tramp of disciplined forces. The police--strangely ready, strangely inactive until the mischief had all been done entered the square from the north and, forming a double line across it from east to west, swept it slowly clean. The fighting ended as abruptly as it had begun. Twenty minutes after the flight of that stone, the square was empty save a group of perhaps fifty men and women formed about Victor Dorn's body in the shelter of the platform.

Selma Gordon was holding his head. Jane Hastings and Ellen Clearwater were kneeling beside him, and Jane was wiping his face with a handkerchief wet with whisky from the flask of the man who had escorted them there.

"He is only stunned," said Selma. "I can feel the beat of his blood. He is only stunned."

A doctor came, got down on his knees, made a rapid examination with expert hands. As he felt, one of the relighted torches suddenly lit up Victor's face and the faces of those bending over him.

"He is only stunned, Doctor," said Selma.

"I think so," replied the doctor.

"We left our carriage in the side street just over there," said Jane Hastings. "It will take him to the hospital."

"No--home," said Selma, who was calm. "He must be taken home."

"The hospital is the place for him," said the doctor.

"No--home," repeated Selma. She glanced at the men standing round. "Tom--Henry--and you, Ed--help me lift him."

"Please, Selma," whispered Jane. "Let him be taken to the hospital."

"Among our enemies?" said Selma with a strange and terrible little laugh. "Oh, no. After this, we trust no one. They may have arranged to finish this night's work there. He goes home--doesn't he, boys?"

"That's right, Miss Gordon," replied one of them.

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. "Here's where I drop the case," said he.

"Nothing of the kind," cried Jane imperiously. "I am Jane Hastings--Martin Hastings' daughter. You will come with us, please--or I shall see to it that you are not let off easily for such a shameful neglect of duty."

"Let him go, Jane," said Selma. "There will be a doctor waiting. And he is only stunned. Come, boys--lift him up."

They laid him on a bench top, softened with the coats of his followers. At the carriage, standing in Farwell Street, they laid him across the two seats. Selma got in with him. Tom Colman climbed to the box beside the coachman. Jane and Miss Clearwater, their escorts and about a score of the Leaguers followed on foot. As the little procession turned into Warner Street it was stopped by a policeman.

"Can't go down this way," he said.

"It's Mr. Dorn. We're taking him home. He was hurt," explained Colman.

"Fire lines. Street's closed," said the policeman gruffly.

Selma thrust her head out. "We must get him home----"

"House across the street burning--and probably his house, too," cut in the policeman. "He's been raising hell--he has. But it's coming home to him at last. Take him to the hospital."

"Jane," cried Selma, "make this man pass us!"

Jane faced the policeman, explained who she was. He became humbly civil at once. "I've just told her, ma'am," said he, "that his house is burning. The mob's gutting the New Day office and setting fire to everything."

"My house is in the next street," said Colman. "Drive there. Some of you people get Dr. Charlton--and everything. Get busy. Whip up, driver. Here, give me the lines!"

Thus, within five minutes, Victor was lying upon a couch in the parlor of Colman's cottage, and within ten minutes Dr. Charlton was beside him and was at work. Selma and Jane and Mrs. Colman were in the room. The others--a steadily increasing crowd--were on the steps outside, in the front yard, were filling the narrow street. Colman had organized fifty Leaguers into a guard, to be ready for any emergencies. Over the tops of the low houses could be seen the vast cloud of smoke from the fire; the air was heavy with the odors of burning wood; faintly came sounds of engines, of jubilant drunken shouts.

"A fracture of the skull and of the jaw-bone. Not necessarily serious," was Dr. Charlton's verdict.

The young man, unconscious, ghastly pale, with his thick hair mussed about his brow and on the right side clotted with blood, lay breathing heavily. Ellen Clearwater came in and Mrs. Colman whispered to her the doctor's cheering statement. She went to Jane and said in an undertone:

"We can go now, Jane. Come on."

Jane seemed not to hear. She was regarding the face of the young man on the couch.

Ellen touched her arm. "We're intruding on these people," she whispered. "Let's go. We've done all we can."

Selma did not hear, but she saw and understood.

"Yes--you'd better go, Jane," she said. "Mrs. Colman and I will do everything that's necessary."

Jane did not heed. She advanced a step nearer the couch. "You are sure, doctor?" she said, and her voice sounded unnatural.

"Yes, miss----" He glanced at her face. "Yes, Miss Hastings. He'll be out in less than ten days, as good as ever. It's a very simple affair."

Jane glanced round. "Is there a telephone? I wish to send for Dr. Alban."

"I'd be glad to see him," said Dr. Charlton. "But I assure you it's unnecessary."

"We don't want Dr. Alban," said Selma curtly. "Go home, Jane, and let us alone."

"I shall go bring Dr. Alban," said Jane.

Selma took her by the arm and compelled her into the hall, and closed the door into the room where Victor lay. "You must go home, Jane," she said quietly. "We know what to do with our leader. And we could not allow Dr. Alban here."

"Victor must have the best," said Jane.

She and Selma looked at each other, and Selma understood.

"He HAS the best," said she, gentle with an effort.

"Dr. Alban is the best," said Jane.

"The most fashionable," said Selma. "Not the best." With restraint, "Go home. Let us alone. This is no place for you--for Martin Hastings' daughter."

Jane, looking and acting like one in a trance, tried to push past her and reenter the room. Selma stood firm. She said: "If you do not go I shall have these men take you to your carriage. You do not know what you are doing."

Jane looked at her. "I love him," she said.

"So do we," said Selma. "And he belongs to US. You must go. Come!" She seized her by the arm, and beckoning one of the waiting Leaguers to her assistance she pushed her quietly but relentlessly along the hall, out of the house, out of the yard and into the carriage. Then she closed the door, while Jane sank back against the cushions.

"Yes, he belongs to you," said Jane; "but I love him. Oh, Selma!"

Selma suddenly burst into tears. "Go, Jane, dear. You MUST go," she cried.

"At least I'll wait here until--until they are sure," said Jane. "You can't refuse me that, Selma."

"But they are sure," said Selma. "You must go with your friends. Here they come."

When Ellen Clearwater and Joe Wetherbe--the second son of the chief owner of the First National--reached the curb, Selma said to Wetherbe:

"Please stand aside. I've something to say to this lady."

When Wetherbe had withdrawn, she said: "Miss Hastings is--not quite herself. You had better take her home alone."

Jane leaned from the open carriage window. "Ellen," said she, "I am going to stay here until Victor recovers consciousness, and I am SURE."

"He has just come around," said Ellen. "He is certain to get well. His mind is clear."

"I must see for myself," cried Jane.

Selma was preventing her leaving the carriage when Ellen quietly interfered with a significant look for Selma. "Jane," she said, "you can't go in. The doctor has just put every one out but his assistant and a nurse that has come."

Jane hesitated, drew back into the corner of the carriage. "Tell Mr. Wetherbe to go his own way," said Ellen aside to Selma, and she got in beside Jane.

"To Mr. Hastings'," said Selma to the driver. The carriage drove away.

She gave Ellen's message to Wetherbe and returned to the house. Victor was still unconscious; he did not come to himself until toward daylight. And then it was clear to them all that Dr. Charlton's encouraging diagnosis was correct.

Public opinion in Remsen City was publicly articulate by means of three daily newspapers--the Pioneer, the Star, and the Free Press. The Star and the Free Press were owned by the same group of capitalists who controlled the gas company and the water works. The Pioneer was owned by the traction interests. Both groups of capitalists were jointly interested in the railways, the banks and in the principal factories. The Pioneer was Republican, was regarded as the organ of Dick Kelly. The Star was Democratic, spoke less cordially of Kelly and always called for House, Mr. House, or Joseph House, Esquire. The Free Press posed as independent with Democratic leanings. It indulged in admirable essays against corruption, gang rule and bossism. But it was never specific and during campaigns was meek and mild. For nearly a dozen years there had not been a word of truth upon any subject important to the people of Remsen City in the columns of any of the three. During wars between rival groups of capitalists a half-truth was now and then timidly uttered, but never a word of "loose talk," of "anarchy," of anything but the entirely "safe, sane and conservative."

Thus, any one who might have witnessed the scenes in Market Square on Thursday evening would have been not a little astonished to read the accounts presented the next day by the three newspapers. According to all three the Workingmen's League, long a menace to the public peace, had at last brought upon Remsen City the shame of a riot in which two men, a woman and four children had lost their lives and more than a hundred, "including the notorious Victor Dorn," had been injured. And after the riot the part of the mob that was hostile to "the Dorn gang" had swept down upon the office of the New Day, had wrecked it, and had set fire to the building, with the result that five houses were burned before the flames could be put out. The Free Press published, as a mere rumor, that the immediate cause of the outbreak had been an impending "scurrilous attack" in the New Day upon one of the political gangs of the slums and its leader. The Associated Press, sending forth an account of the riot to the entire country, represented it as a fight between rival gangs of workmen precipitated by the insults and menaces of a "socialistic party led by a young operator named Dorn." Dorn's faction had aroused in the mass of the workingmen a fear that this spread of "socialistic and anarchistic ideas" would cause a general shut down of factories and a flight of the capital that was "giving employment to labor."

A version of the causes and the events, somewhat nearer the truth, was talked about Remsen City. But all the respectable classes were well content with what their newspapers printed. And, while some broad-minded respectabilities spoke of the affair as an outrage, none of them was disposed to think that any real wrong had been done. Victor Dorn and his crowd of revolutionists had got, after all, only their deserts.

After forty-eight hours of careful study of public opinion, Dick Kelly decided that Remsen City was taking the dose as he had anticipated. He felt emboldened to proceed to his final move in the campaign against "anarchy" in his beloved city. On the second morning after the riot, all three newspapers published double-headed editorials calling upon the authorities to safeguard the community against another such degrading and dangerous upheaval. "It is time that the distinction between liberty and license be sharply drawn." After editorials in this vein had been repeated for several days, after sundry bodies of eminently respectable citizens--the Merchants' Association, the Taxpayers' League, the Chamber of Commerce--had passed indignant and appealing resolutions, after two priests, a clergyman and four preachers had sermonized against "the leniency of constituted authority with criminal anarchy," Mr. Kelly had the City Attorney go before Judge Lansing and ask for an injunction.

Judge Lansing promptly granted the injunction. The New Day was enjoined from appearing. The Workingmen's League was enjoined from holding meetings.

Then the County Prosecutor, also a henchman of Kelly's, secured from the Grand Jury--composed of farmers, merchants and owners of factories--indictments against Thomas Colman and Victor Dorn for inciting a riot.

Meanwhile Victor Dorn was rapidly recovering. With rare restraint young Dr. Charlton did not fuss and fret and meddle, did not hamper nature with his blundering efforts to assist, did not stuff "nourishment" into his patient to decay and to produce poisonous blood. He let the young man's superb vitality work the inevitable and speedy cure. Thus, wounds and shocks, that have often been mistreated by doctors into mortal, passed so quickly that only Selma Gordon and the doctor himself realized how grave Victor's case had been. The day he was indicted--just a week from the riot--he was sitting up and was talking freely.

"Won't it set him back if I tell him all that has occurred?" said Selma.

"Talk to him as you would to me," replied Charlton. "He is a sensible man. I've already told him pretty much everything. It has kept him from fretting, to be able to lie there quietly and make his plans."

Had you looked in upon Victor and Selma, in Colman's little transformed parlor, you would rather have thought Selma the invalid. The man in the bed was pale and thin of face, but his eyes had the expression of health and of hope. Selma had great circles under her eyes and her expression was despair struggling to conceal itself. Those indictments, those injunctions--how powerful the enemy were! How could such an enemy, aroused new and inflexibly resolved, be combatted?--especially when one had no money, no way of reaching the people, no chance to organize.

"Dr. Charlton has told you?" said Selma.

"Day before yesterday," replied Victor. "Why do you look so down-in-the-mouth, Selma?"

"It isn't easy to be cheerful, with you ill and the paper destroyed," replied she.

"But I'm not ill, and the paper isn't destroyed," said Victor. "Never were either I or it doing such good work as now." His eyes were dancing. "What more could one ask than to have such stupid enemies as we've got?"

Selma did not lift her eyes. To her those enemies seemed anything but stupid. Had they not ruined the League?

"I see you don't understand," pursued Victor. "No matter. You'll wear a very different face two weeks from now."

"But," said Selma, "exactly what you said you were afraid of has occurred. And now you say you're glad of it."

"I told you I was afraid Dick Kelly would make the one move that could destroy us."

"But he has!" cried Selma.

Victor smiled. "No, indeed!" replied he.

"What worse could he have done?"

"I'll not tell you," said Victor. "I'd not venture to say aloud such a dangerous thing as what I'd have done if I had been in his place. Instead of doing that, he made us. We shall win this fall's election."

Selma lifted her head with a sudden gesture of hope. She had unbounded confidence in Victor Dorn, and his tone was the tone of absolute confidence.

"I had calculated on winning in five years. I had left the brutal stupidity of our friend Kelly out of account."

"Then you see how you can hold meetings and start up the paper?"

"I don't want to do either," said Victor. "I want those injunctions to stand. Those fools have done at a stroke what we couldn't have done in years. They have united the working class. They--the few--have forbidden us, the many, to unite or to speak. If those injunctions hold for a month, nothing could stop our winning this fall.... I can't understand how Dick Kelly could be so stupid. Five years ago these moves of his would have been bad for us--yes, even three years ago. But we've got too strong--and he doesn't realize! Selma, when you want to win, always pray that your opponent will underestimate you."

"I still don't understand," said Selma. "None of us does. You must explain to me, so that I'll know what to do."

"Do nothing," said Victor. "I shall be out a week from to-day. I shall not go into the streets until I not only am well but look well."

"They arrested Tom Colman to-day," said Selma. "But they put the case over until you'd be able to plead at the same time."

"That's right," said Victor. "They are playing into our hands!" And he laughed as heartily as his bandages would permit.

"Oh, I don't understand--I don't understand at all!" cried Selma. "Maybe you are all wrong about it."

"I was never more certain in my life," replied Victor. "Stop worrying about it, my dear." And he patted her hands gently as they lay folded in her lap. "I want you--all our people--to go round looking sad these next few days. I want Dick Kelly to feel that he is on the right track."

There came a knock at the door, and Mrs. Colman entered. She had been a school teacher, and of all the occupations there is no other that leaves such plain, such indelible traces upon manner, mind and soul. Said she:

"Miss Jane Hastings is outside in her carriage--and wants to know if she can see you."

Selma frowned. Victor said with alacrity: "Certainly. Bring her in, Mrs. Colman."

Selma rose. "Wait until I can get out of the way," she cried.

"Sit down, and sit still," commanded Victor.

Selma continued to move toward the door. "No--I don't wish to see her," she said.

Victor chagrined her by acquiescing without another word. "You'll look in after supper?" he asked.

"If you want me," said the girl.

"Come back here," said Victor. "Wait, Mrs. Colman." When Selma was standing by the bed he took her hand. "Selma," he said, "don't let these things upset you. Believe me, I'm right. Can't you trust me?"

Selma had the look of a wild creature detained against its will. "I'm not worried about the party--and the paper," she burst out. "I'm worried about you."

"But I'm all right. Can't you see I'm almost well?"

Selma drew her hand away. "I'll be back about half-past seven," she said, and bolted from the room.

Victor's good-natured, merry smile followed her to the door. When the sound of her retreat by way of the rear of the house was dying away he said to Mrs. Colman:

"Now--bring in the young lady. And please warn her that she must stay at most only half an hour by that clock over there on the mantel."

Every day Jane had been coming to inquire, had been bringing or sending flowers and fruit--which, by Dr. Charlton's orders, were not supposed to enter the invalid's presence. Latterly she had been asking to see Victor; she was surprised when Mrs. Colman returned with leave for her to enter. Said Mrs. Colman:

"He's alone. Miss Gordon has just gone. You will see a clock on the mantel in his room. You must not stay longer than half an hour."

"I shall be very careful what I say," said Jane.

"Oh, you needn't bother," said the ex-school teacher. "Dr. Charlton doesn't believe in sick-room atmosphere. You must treat Mr. Dorn exactly as you would a well person. If you're going to take on, or put on, you'd better not go in at all."

"I'll do my best," said Jane, rather haughtily, for she did not like Mrs. Colman's simple and direct manner. She was used to being treated with deference, especially by the women of Mrs. Colman's class; and while she disapproved of deference in theory, in practice she craved it, and expected it, and was irritated if she did not get it. But, as she realized how unattractive this weakness was, she usually took perhaps more pains than does the average person to conceal it. That day her nerves were too tense for petty precautions. However, Mrs. Colman was too busy inspecting the details of Miss Hastings' toilet to note Miss Hastings' manners.

Jane's nervousness vanished the instant she was in the doorway of the parlor with Victor Dorn looking at her in that splendidly simple and natural way of his. "So glad to see you," he said. "What a delightful perfume you bring with you. I've noticed it before. I know it isn't flowers, but it smells like flowers. With most perfumes you can smell through the perfume to something that's the very reverse of sweet."

They were shaking hands. She said: "That nice woman who let me in cautioned me not to put on a sick-room manner or indulge in sick-room talk. It was quite unnecessary. You're looking fine."

"Ain't I, though?" exclaimed Victor. "I've never been so comfortable. Just weak enough to like being waited on. You were very good to me the night that stone knocked me over. I want to thank you, but I don't know how. And the flowers, and the fruit--You have been so kind."

"I could do very little," said Jane, blushing and faltering. "And I wanted to do--everything." Suddenly all energy, "Oh, Mr. Dorn, I heard and saw it all. It was--INFAMOUS! And the lying newspapers--and all the people I meet socially. They keep me in a constant rage."

Victor was smiling gayly. "The fortunes of war," said he. "I expect nothing else. If they fought fair they couldn't fight at all. We, on this side of the struggle, can afford to be generous and tolerant. They are fighting the losing battle; they're trying to hold on to the past, and of course it's slipping from them inch by inch. But we--we are in step with the march of events."

When she was with him Jane felt that his cause was hers, also--was the only cause. "When do you begin publishing your paper again?" she asked. "As soon as you are sitting up?"

"Not for a month or so," replied he. "Not until after the election."

"Oh, I forgot about that injunction. You think that as soon as Davy Hull's crowd is in they will let you begin again?"

He hesitated. "Not exactly that," he said. "But after the election there will be a change."

Her eyes flashed. "And they have indicted you! I heard the newsboys crying it and stopped and bought a paper. But I shall do something about that. I am going straight from here to father. Ellen Clearwater and I and Joe Wetherbe SAW. And Ellen and I will testify if it's necessary--and will make Joe tell the truth. Do you know, he actually had the impudence to try to persuade Ellen and me the next day that we saw what the papers reported?"

"I believe it," said Victor. "So I believe that Joe convinced himself."

"You are too charitable," replied Jane. "He's afraid of his father."

"Miss Hastings," said Victor, "you suggested a moment ago that you would influence your father to interfere in this matter of the indictment."

"I'll promise you now that he will have it stopped," said Jane.

"You want to help the cause, don't you?"

Jane's eyes shifted, a little color came into her cheeks. "The cause--and you," she said.

"Very well," said Victor. "Then you will not interfere. And if your father talks of helping me you will discourage him all you can."

"You are saying that out of consideration for me. You're afraid I will quarrel with my father."

"I hadn't thought of that," said Victor. "I can't tell you what I have in mind. But I'll have to say this much--that if you did anything to hinder those fellows from carrying out their plans against me and against the League to the uttermost you'd be doing harm instead of good."

"But they may send you to jail.... No, I forgot. You can give bail."

Victor's eyes had a quizzical expression. "Yes, I could give bail. But even if I don't give bail, Miss Hastings--even if I am sent to jail--Colman and I--still you must not interfere. You promise me?"

Jane hesitated. "I can't promise," she finally said.

"You must," said Victor. "You'll make a mess of my plans, if you don't."

"You mean that?"

"I mean that. Your intentions are good. But you would only do mischief--serious mischief."

They looked at each other. Said Jane: "I promise--on one condition."


"That if you should change your mind and should want my help, you'd promptly and freely ask for it."

"I agree to that," said Victor. "Now, let's get it clearly in mind. No matter what is done about me or the League, you promise not to interfere in any way, unless I ask you to."

Again Jane hesitated. "No matter what they do?" she pleaded.

"No matter what they do," insisted he.

Something in his expression gave her a great thrill of confidence in him, of enthusiasm. "I promise," she said. "You know best."

"Indeed I do," said he. "Thank you."

A moment's silence, then she exclaimed: "That was why you let me in to-day--because you wanted to get that promise from me."

"That was one of the reasons," confessed he. "In fact, it was the chief reason." He smiled at her. "There's nothing I'm so afraid of as of enthusiasm. I'm going to be still more cautious and exact another promise from you. You must not tell any one that you have promised not to interfere."

"I can easily promise that," said Jane.

"Be careful," warned Victor. "A promise easily made is a promise easily forgotten."

"I begin to understand," said Jane. "You want them to attack you as savagely as possible. And you don't want them to get the slightest hint of your plan."

"A good guess," admitted Victor. He looked at her gravely. "Circumstances have let you farther into my confidence than any one else is. I hope you will not abuse it."

"You can rely upon me," said Jane. "I want your friendship and your respect as I never wanted anything in my life before. I'm not afraid to say these things to you, for I know I'll not be misunderstood."

Victor's smile thrilled her again. "You were born one of us," he said. "I felt it the first time we talked together."

"Yes. I do want to be somebody," replied the girl. "I can't content myself in a life of silly routine ... can't do things that have no purpose, no result. And if it wasn't for my father I'd come out openly for the things I believe in. But I've got to think of him. It may be a weakness, but I couldn't overcome it. As long as my father lives I'll do nothing that would grieve him. Do you despise me for that?"

"I don't despise anybody for anything," said Victor. "In your place I should put my father first." He laughed. "In your place I'd probably be a Davy Hull or worse. I try never to forget that I owe everything to the circumstances in which I was born and brought up. I've simply got the ideas of my class, and it's an accident that I am of the class to which the future belongs--the working class that will possess the earth as soon as it has intelligence enough to enter into its kingdom."

"But," pursued Jane, returning to herself, "I don't intend to be altogether useless. I can do something and he--my father, I mean--needn't know. Do you think that is dreadful?"

"I don't like it," said Victor. But he said it in such a way that she did not feel rebuked or even judged.

"Nor do I," said she. "I'd rather lead the life I wish to lead--say the things I believe--do the things I believe in--all openly. But I can't. And all I can do is to spend the income of my money my mother left me--spend it as I please." With a quick embarrassed gesture she took an envelope from a small bag in which she was carrying it. "There's some of it," she said. "I want to give that to your campaign fund. You are free to use it in any way you please--any way, for everything you are and do is your cause."

Victor was lying motionless, his eyes closed.

"Don't refuse," she begged. "You've no right to refuse."

A long silence, she watching him uneasily. At last he said, "No--I've no right to refuse. If I did, it would be from a personal motive. You understand that when you give the League this money you are doing what your father would regard as an act of personal treachery to him?"

"You don't think so, do you?" cried she.

"Yes, I do," said he deliberately.

Her face became deathly pale, then crimson. She thrust the envelope into the bag, closed it hastily. "Then I can't give it," she murmured. "Oh--but you are hard!"

"If you broke with your father and came with us--and it killed him, as it probably would," Victor Dorn went on, "I should respect you--should regard you as a wonderful, terrible woman. I should envy you having a heart strong enough to do a thing so supremely right and so supremely relentless. And I should be glad you were not of my blood--should think you hardly human. Yet that is what you ought to do."

"I am not up to it," said Jane.

"Then you mustn't do the other," said Victor. "We need the money. I am false to the cause in urging you not to give it. But--I'm human."

He was looking away, an expression in his eyes and about his mouth that made him handsomer than she would have believed a man could be. She was looking at him longingly, her beautiful eyes swimming. Her lips were saying inaudibly, "I love you--I love you."

"What did you say?" he asked, his thoughts returning from their far journey.

"My time is up," she exclaimed, rising.

"There are better ways of helping than money," said he, taking her hand. "And already you've helped in those ways."

"May I come again?"

"Whenever you like. But--what would your father say?"

"Then you don't want me to come again?"

"It's best not," said he. "I wish fate had thrown us on the same side. But it has put us in opposite camps--and we owe it to ourselves to submit."

Their hands were still clasped. "You are content to have it so?" she said sadly.

"No, I'm not," cried he, dropping her hand. "But we are helpless."

"We can always hope," said she softly.

On impulse she laid her hand in light caress upon his brow, then swiftly departed. As she stood in Mrs. Colman's flowery little front yard and looked dazedly about, it seemed to her that she had been away from the world--away from herself--and was reluctantly but inevitably returning.

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The Conflict - Chapter 6 The Conflict - Chapter 6

The Conflict - Chapter 6
CHAPTER VIAs Jane drove into the grounds of the house on the hilltop she saw her father and David Hull in an obviously intimate and agitated conversation on the front veranda. She made all haste to join them; nor was she deterred by the reception she got--the reception given to the unwelcome interrupter. Said she: "You are talking about those indictments, aren't you? Everyone else is. There's a group on every corner down town, and people are calling their views to each other from windows across the streets." Davy glanced triumphantly at her father. "I told

The Conflict - Chapter 2 The Conflict - Chapter 2

The Conflict - Chapter 2
CHAPTER IIThe 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