The Iron Heel
by Jack London
"At first, this Earth, a stage so gloomed with woe
You almost sicken at the shifting of the scenes.
And yet be patient. Our Playwright may show
In some fifth act what this Wild Drama means."
It cannot be said that the Everhard Manuscript is an important
historical document. To the historian it bristles with errors--not
errors of fact, but errors of interpretation. Looking back across
the seven centuries that have lapsed since Avis Everhard completed
her manuscript, events, and the bearings of events, that were
confused and veiled to her, are clear to us. She lacked
perspective. She was too close to the events she writes about.
Nay, she was merged in the events she has described.
Nevertheless, as a personal document, the Everhard Manuscript is of
inestimable value. But here again enter error of perspective, and
vitiation due to the bias of love. Yet we smile, indeed, and
forgive Avis Everhard for the heroic lines upon which she modelled
her husband. We know to-day that he was not so colossal, and that
he loomed among the events of his times less largely than the
Manuscript would lead us to believe.
We know that Ernest Everhard was an exceptionally strong man, but
not so exceptional as his wife thought him to be. He was, after
all, but one of a large number of heroes who, throughout the world,
devoted their lives to the Revolution; though it must be conceded
that he did unusual work, especially in his elaboration and
interpretation of working-class philosophy. "Proletarian science"
and "proletarian philosophy" were his phrases for it, and therein
he shows the provincialism of his mind--a defect, however, that was
due to the times and that none in that day could escape.
But to return to the Manuscript. Especially valuable is it in
communicating to us the FEEL of those terrible times. Nowhere do
we find more vividly portrayed the psychology of the persons that
lived in that turbulent period embraced between the years 1912 and
1932--their mistakes and ignorance, their doubts and fears and
misapprehensions, their ethical delusions, their violent passions,
their inconceivable sordidness and selfishness. These are the
things that are so hard for us of this enlightened age to
understand. History tells us that these things were, and biology
and psychology tell us why they were; but history and biology and
psychology do not make these things alive. We accept them as
facts, but we are left without sympathetic comprehension of them.
This sympathy comes to us, however, as we peruse the Everhard
Manuscript. We enter into the minds of the actors in that long-ago
world-drama, and for the time being their mental processes are our
mental processes. Not alone do we understand Avis Everhard's love
for her hero-husband, but we feel, as he felt, in those first days,
the vague and terrible loom of the Oligarchy. The Iron Heel (well
named) we feel descending upon and crushing mankind.
And in passing we note that that historic phrase, the Iron Heel,
originated in Ernest Everhard's mind. This, we may say, is the one
moot question that this new-found document clears up. Previous to
this, the earliest-known use of the phrase occurred in the
pamphlet, "Ye Slaves," written by George Milford and published in
December, 1912. This George Milford was an obscure agitator about
whom nothing is known, save the one additional bit of information
gained from the Manuscript, which mentions that he was shot in the
Chicago Commune. Evidently he had heard Ernest Everhard make use
of the phrase in some public speech, most probably when he was
running for Congress in the fall of 1912. From the Manuscript we
learn that Everhard used the phrase at a private dinner in the
spring of 1912. This is, without discussion, the earliest-known
occasion on which the Oligarchy was so designated.
The rise of the Oligarchy will always remain a cause of secret
wonder to the historian and the philosopher. Other great
historical events have their place in social evolution. They were
inevitable. Their coming could have been predicted with the same
certitude that astronomers to-day predict the outcome of the
movements of stars. Without these other great historical events,
social evolution could not have proceeded. Primitive communism,
chattel slavery, serf slavery, and wage slavery were necessary
stepping-stones in the evolution of society. But it were
ridiculous to assert that the Iron Heel was a necessary stepping-
stone. Rather, to-day, is it adjudged a step aside, or a step
backward, to the social tyrannies that made the early world a hell,
but that were as necessary as the Iron Heel was unnecessary.
Black as Feudalism was, yet the coming of it was inevitable. What
else than Feudalism could have followed upon the breakdown of that
great centralized governmental machine known as the Roman Empire?
Not so, however, with the Iron Heel. In the orderly procedure of
social evolution there was no place for it. It was not necessary,
and it was not inevitable. It must always remain the great
curiosity of history--a whim, a fantasy, an apparition, a thing
unexpected and undreamed; and it should serve as a warning to those
rash political theorists of to-day who speak with certitude of
Capitalism was adjudged by the sociologists of the time to be the
culmination of bourgeois rule, the ripened fruit of the bourgeois
revolution. And we of to-day can but applaud that judgment.
Following upon Capitalism, it was held, even by such intellectual
and antagonistic giants as Herbert Spencer, that Socialism would
come. Out of the decay of self-seeking capitalism, it was held,
would arise that flower of the ages, the Brotherhood of Man.
Instead of which, appalling alike to us who look back and to those
that lived at the time, capitalism, rotten-ripe, sent forth that
monstrous offshoot, the Oligarchy.
Too late did the socialist movement of the early twentieth century
divine the coming of the Oligarchy. Even as it was divined, the
Oligarchy was there--a fact established in blood, a stupendous and
awful reality. Nor even then, as the Everhard Manuscript well
shows, was any permanence attributed to the Iron Heel. Its
overthrow was a matter of a few short years, was the judgment of
the revolutionists. It is true, they realized that the Peasant
Revolt was unplanned, and that the First Revolt was premature; but
they little realized that the Second Revolt, planned and mature,
was doomed to equal futility and more terrible punishment.
It is apparent that Avis Everhard completed the Manuscript during
the last days of preparation for the Second Revolt; hence the fact
that there is no mention of the disastrous outcome of the Second
Revolt. It is quite clear that she intended the Manuscript for
immediate publication, as soon as the Iron Heel was overthrown, so
that her husband, so recently dead, should receive full credit for
all that he had ventured and accomplished. Then came the frightful
crushing of the Second Revolt, and it is probable that in the
moment of danger, ere she fled or was captured by the Mercenaries,
she hid the Manuscript in the hollow oak at Wake Robin Lodge.
Of Avis Everhard there is no further record. Undoubtedly she was
executed by the Mercenaries; and, as is well known, no record of
such executions was kept by the Iron Heel. But little did she
realize, even then, as she hid the Manuscript and prepared to flee,
how terrible had been the breakdown of the Second Revolt. Little
did she realize that the tortuous and distorted evolution of the
next three centuries would compel a Third Revolt and a Fourth
Revolt, and many Revolts, all drowned in seas of blood, ere the
world-movement of labor should come into its own. And little did
she dream that for seven long centuries the tribute of her love to
Ernest Everhard would repose undisturbed in the heart of the
ancient oak of Wake Robin Lodge.
November 27, 419 B.O.M.
THE IRON HEEL
CHAPTER I. MY EAGLE
The soft summer wind stirs the redwoods, and Wild-Water ripples
sweet cadences over its mossy stones. There are butterflies in the
sunshine, and from everywhere arises the drowsy hum of bees. It is
so quiet and peaceful, and I sit here, and ponder, and am restless.
It is the quiet that makes me restless. It seems unreal. All the
world is quiet, but it is the quiet before the storm. I strain my
ears, and all my senses, for some betrayal of that impending storm.
Oh, that it may not be premature! That it may not be premature!*
* The Second Revolt was largely the work of Ernest Everhard, though
he cooperated, of course, with the European leaders. The capture
and secret execution of Everhard was the great event of the spring
of 1932 A.D. Yet so thoroughly had he prepared for the revolt,
that his fellow-conspirators were able, with little confusion or
delay, to carry out his plans. It was after Everhard's execution
that his wife went to Wake Robin Lodge, a small bungalow in the
Sonoma Hills of California.
Small wonder that I am restless. I think, and think, and I cannot
cease from thinking. I have been in the thick of life so long that
I am oppressed by the peace and quiet, and I cannot forbear from
dwelling upon that mad maelstrom of death and destruction so soon
to burst forth. In my ears are the cries of the stricken; and I
can see, as I have seen in the past,* all the marring and mangling
of the sweet, beautiful flesh, and the souls torn with violence
from proud bodies and hurled to God. Thus do we poor humans attain
our ends, striving through carnage and destruction to bring lasting
peace and happiness upon the earth.
* Without doubt she here refers to the Chicago Commune.
And then I am lonely. When I do not think of what is to come, I
think of what has been and is no more--my Eagle, beating with
tireless wings the void, soaring toward what was ever his sun, the
flaming ideal of human freedom. I cannot sit idly by and wait the
great event that is his making, though he is not here to see. He
devoted all the years of his manhood to it, and for it he gave his
life. It is his handiwork. He made it.*
* With all respect to Avis Everhard, it must be pointed out that
Everhard was but one of many able leaders who planned the Second
Revolt. And we to-day, looking back across the centuries, can
safely say that even had he lived, the Second Revolt would not have
been less calamitous in its outcome than it was.
And so it is, in this anxious time of waiting, that I shall write
of my husband. There is much light that I alone of all persons
living can throw upon his character, and so noble a character
cannot be blazoned forth too brightly. His was a great soul, and,
when my love grows unselfish, my chiefest regret is that he is not
here to witness to-morrow's dawn. We cannot fail. He has built
too stoutly and too surely for that. Woe to the Iron Heel! Soon
shall it be thrust back from off prostrate humanity. When the word
goes forth, the labor hosts of all the world shall rise. There has
been nothing like it in the history of the world. The solidarity
of labor is assured, and for the first time will there be an
international revolution wide as the world is wide.*
* The Second Revolt was truly international. It was a colossal
plan--too colossal to be wrought by the genius of one man alone.
Labor, in all the oligarchies of the world, was prepared to rise at
the signal. Germany, Italy, France, and all Australasia were labor
countries--socialist states. They were ready to lend aid to the
revolution. Gallantly they did; and it was for this reason, when
the Second Revolt was crushed, that they, too, were crushed by the
united oligarchies of the world, their socialist governments being
replaced by oligarchical governments.
You see, I am full of what is impending. I have lived it day and
night utterly and for so long that it is ever present in my mind.
For that matter, I cannot think of my husband without thinking of
it. He was the soul of it, and how can I possibly separate the two
As I have said, there is much light that I alone can throw upon his
character. It is well known that he toiled hard for liberty and
suffered sore. How hard he toiled and how greatly he suffered, I
well know; for I have been with him during these twenty anxious
years and I know his patience, his untiring effort, his infinite
devotion to the Cause for which, only two months gone, he laid down
I shall try to write simply and to tell here how Ernest Everhard
entered my life--how I first met him, how he grew until I became a
part of him, and the tremendous changes he wrought in my life. In
this way may you look at him through my eyes and learn him as I
learned him--in all save the things too secret and sweet for me to
It was in February, 1912, that I first met him, when, as a guest of
my father's* at dinner, he came to our house in Berkeley. I cannot
say that my very first impression of him was favorable. He was one
of many at dinner, and in the drawing-room where we gathered and
waited for all to arrive, he made a rather incongruous appearance.
It was "preacher's night," as my father privately called it, and
Ernest was certainly out of place in the midst of the churchmen.
* John Cunningham, Avis Everhard's father, was a professor at the
State University at Berkeley, California. His chosen field was
physics, and in addition he did much original research and was
greatly distinguished as a scientist. His chief contribution to
science was his studies of the electron and his monumental work on
the "Identification of Matter and Energy," wherein he established,
beyond cavil and for all time, that the ultimate unit of matter and
the ultimate unit of force were identical. This idea had been
earlier advanced, but not demonstrated, by Sir Oliver Lodge and
other students in the new field of radio-activity.
In the first place, his clothes did not fit him. He wore a ready-
made suit of dark cloth that was ill adjusted to his body. In
fact, no ready-made suit of clothes ever could fit his body. And
on this night, as always, the cloth bulged with his muscles, while
the coat between the shoulders, what of the heavy shoulder-
development, was a maze of wrinkles. His neck was the neck of a
prize-fighter,* thick and strong. So this was the social
philosopher and ex-horseshoer my father had discovered, was my
thought. And he certainly looked it with those bulging muscles and
that bull-throat. Immediately I classified him--a sort of prodigy,
I thought, a Blind Tom** of the working class.
* In that day it was the custom of men to compete for purses of
money. They fought with their hands. When one was beaten into
insensibility or killed, the survivor took the money.
** This obscure reference applies to a blind negro musician who
took the world by storm in the latter half of the nineteenth
century of the Christian Era.
And then, when he shook hands with me! His handshake was firm and
strong, but he looked at me boldly with his black eyes--too boldly,
I thought. You see, I was a creature of environment, and at that
time had strong class instincts. Such boldness on the part of a
man of my own class would have been almost unforgivable. I know
that I could not avoid dropping my eyes, and I was quite relieved
when I passed him on and turned to greet Bishop Morehouse--a
favorite of mine, a sweet and serious man of middle age, Christ-
like in appearance and goodness, and a scholar as well.
But this boldness that I took to be presumption was a vital clew to
the nature of Ernest Everhard. He was simple, direct, afraid of
nothing, and he refused to waste time on conventional mannerisms.
"You pleased me," he explained long afterward; "and why should I
not fill my eyes with that which pleases me?" I have said that he
was afraid of nothing. He was a natural aristocrat--and this in
spite of the fact that he was in the camp of the non-aristocrats.
He was a superman, a blond beast such as Nietzsche* has described,
and in addition he was aflame with democracy.
* Friederich Nietzsche, the mad philosopher of the nineteenth
century of the Christian Era, who caught wild glimpses of truth,
but who, before he was done, reasoned himself around the great
circle of human thought and off into madness.
In the interest of meeting the other guests, and what of my
unfavorable impression, I forgot all about the working-class
philosopher, though once or twice at table I noticed him--
especially the twinkle in his eye as he listened to the talk first
of one minister and then of another. He has humor, I thought, and
I almost forgave him his clothes. But the time went by, and the
dinner went by, and he never opened his mouth to speak, while the
ministers talked interminably about the working class and its
relation to the church, and what the church had done and was doing
for it. I noticed that my father was annoyed because Ernest did
not talk. Once father took advantage of a lull and asked him to
say something; but Ernest shrugged his shoulders and with an "I
have nothing to say" went on eating salted almonds.
But father was not to be denied. After a while he said:
"We have with us a member of the working class. I am sure that he
can present things from a new point of view that will be
interesting and refreshing. I refer to Mr. Everhard."
The others betrayed a well-mannered interest, and urged Ernest for
a statement of his views. Their attitude toward him was so broadly
tolerant and kindly that it was really patronizing. And I saw that
Ernest noted it and was amused. He looked slowly about him, and I
saw the glint of laughter in his eyes.
"I am not versed in the courtesies of ecclesiastical controversy,"
he began, and then hesitated with modesty and indecision.
"Go on," they urged, and Dr. Hammerfield said: "We do not mind the
truth that is in any man. If it is sincere," he amended.
"Then you separate sincerity from truth?" Ernest laughed quickly.
Dr. Hammerfield gasped, and managed to answer, "The best of us may
be mistaken, young man, the best of us."
Ernest's manner changed on the instant. He became another man.
"All right, then," he answered; "and let me begin by saying that
you are all mistaken. You know nothing, and worse than nothing,
about the working class. Your sociology is as vicious and
worthless as is your method of thinking."
It was not so much what he said as how he said it. I roused at the
first sound of his voice. It was as bold as his eyes. It was a
clarion-call that thrilled me. And the whole table was aroused,
shaken alive from monotony and drowsiness.
"What is so dreadfully vicious and worthless in our method of
thinking, young man?" Dr. Hammerfield demanded, and already there
was something unpleasant in his voice and manner of utterance.
"You are metaphysicians. You can prove anything by metaphysics;
and having done so, every metaphysician can prove every other
metaphysician wrong--to his own satisfaction. You are anarchists
in the realm of thought. And you are mad cosmos-makers. Each of
you dwells in a cosmos of his own making, created out of his own
fancies and desires. You do not know the real world in which you
live, and your thinking has no place in the real world except in so
far as it is phenomena of mental aberration.
"Do you know what I was reminded of as I sat at table and listened
to you talk and talk? You reminded me for all the world of the
scholastics of the Middle Ages who gravely and learnedly debated
the absorbing question of how many angels could dance on the point
of a needle. Why, my dear sirs, you are as remote from the
intellectual life of the twentieth century as an Indian medicine-
man making incantation in the primeval forest ten thousand years
As Ernest talked he seemed in a fine passion; his face glowed, his
eyes snapped and flashed, and his chin and jaw were eloquent with
aggressiveness. But it was only a way he had. It always aroused
people. His smashing, sledge-hammer manner of attack invariably
made them forget themselves. And they were forgetting themselves
now. Bishop Morehouse was leaning forward and listening intently.
Exasperation and anger were flushing the face of Dr. Hammerfield.
And others were exasperated, too, and some were smiling in an
amused and superior way. As for myself, I found it most enjoyable.
I glanced at father, and I was afraid he was going to giggle at the
effect of this human bombshell he had been guilty of launching
"Your terms are rather vague," Dr. Hammerfield interrupted. "Just
precisely what do you mean when you call us metaphysicians?"
"I call you metaphysicians because you reason metaphysically,"
Ernest went on. "Your method of reasoning is the opposite to that
of science. There is no validity to your conclusions. You can
prove everything and nothing, and no two of you can agree upon
anything. Each of you goes into his own consciousness to explain
himself and the universe. As well may you lift yourselves by your
own bootstraps as to explain consciousness by consciousness."
"I do not understand," Bishop Morehouse said. "It seems to me that
all things of the mind are metaphysical. That most exact and
convincing of all sciences, mathematics, is sheerly metaphysical.
Each and every thought-process of the scientific reasoner is
metaphysical. Surely you will agree with me?"
"As you say, you do not understand," Ernest replied. "The
metaphysician reasons deductively out of his own subjectivity. The
scientist reasons inductively from the facts of experience. The
metaphysician reasons from theory to facts, the scientist reasons
from facts to theory. The metaphysician explains the universe by
himself, the scientist explains himself by the universe."
"Thank God we are not scientists," Dr. Hammerfield murmured
"What are you then?" Ernest demanded.
"There you go," Ernest laughed. "You have left the real and solid
earth and are up in the air with a word for a flying machine. Pray
come down to earth and tell me precisely what you do mean by
"Philosophy is--" (Dr. Hammerfield paused and cleared his throat)--
"something that cannot be defined comprehensively except to such
minds and temperaments as are philosophical. The narrow scientist
with his nose in a test-tube cannot understand philosophy."
Ernest ignored the thrust. It was always his way to turn the point
back upon an opponent, and he did it now, with a beaming
brotherliness of face and utterance.
"Then you will undoubtedly understand the definition I shall now
make of philosophy. But before I make it, I shall challenge you to
point out error in it or to remain a silent metaphysician.
Philosophy is merely the widest science of all. Its reasoning
method is the same as that of any particular science and of all
particular sciences. And by that same method of reasoning, the
inductive method, philosophy fuses all particular sciences into one
great science. As Spencer says, the data of any particular science
are partially unified knowledge. Philosophy unifies the knowledge
that is contributed by all the sciences. Philosophy is the science
of science, the master science, if you please. How do you like my
"Very creditable, very creditable," Dr. Hammerfield muttered
But Ernest was merciless.
"Remember," he warned, "my definition is fatal to metaphysics. If
you do not now point out a flaw in my definition, you are
disqualified later on from advancing metaphysical arguments. You
must go through life seeking that flaw and remaining metaphysically
silent until you have found it."
Ernest waited. The silence was painful. Dr. Hammerfield was
pained. He was also puzzled. Ernest's sledge-hammer attack
disconcerted him. He was not used to the simple and direct method
of controversy. He looked appealingly around the table, but no one
answered for him. I caught father grinning into his napkin.
"There is another way of disqualifying the metaphysicians," Ernest
said, when he had rendered Dr. Hammerfield's discomfiture complete.
"Judge them by their works. What have they done for mankind beyond
the spinning of airy fancies and the mistaking of their own shadows
for gods? They have added to the gayety of mankind, I grant; but
what tangible good have they wrought for mankind? They
philosophized, if you will pardon my misuse of the word, about the
heart as the seat of the emotions, while the scientists were
formulating the circulation of the blood. They declaimed about
famine and pestilence as being scourges of God, while the
scientists were building granaries and draining cities. They
builded gods in their own shapes and out of their own desires,
while the scientists were building roads and bridges. They were
describing the earth as the centre of the universe, while the
scientists were discovering America and probing space for the stars
and the laws of the stars. In short, the metaphysicians have done
nothing, absolutely nothing, for mankind. Step by step, before the
advance of science, they have been driven back. As fast as the
ascertained facts of science have overthrown their subjective
explanations of things, they have made new subjective explanations
of things, including explanations of the latest ascertained facts.
And this, I doubt not, they will go on doing to the end of time.
Gentlemen, a metaphysician is a medicine man. The difference
between you and the Eskimo who makes a fur-clad blubber-eating god
is merely a difference of several thousand years of ascertained
facts. That is all."
"Yet the thought of Aristotle ruled Europe for twelve centuries,"
Dr. Ballingford announced pompously. "And Aristotle was a
Dr. Ballingford glanced around the table and was rewarded by nods
and smiles of approval.
"Your illustration is most unfortunate," Ernest replied. "You
refer to a very dark period in human history. In fact, we call
that period the Dark Ages. A period wherein science was raped by
the metaphysicians, wherein physics became a search for the
Philosopher's Stone, wherein chemistry became alchemy, and
astronomy became astrology. Sorry the domination of Aristotle's
Dr. Ballingford looked pained, then he brightened up and said:
"Granted this horrible picture you have drawn, yet you must confess
that metaphysics was inherently potent in so far as it drew
humanity out of this dark period and on into the illumination of
the succeeding centuries."
"Metaphysics had nothing to do with it," Ernest retorted.
"What?" Dr. Hammerfield cried. "It was not the thinking and the
speculation that led to the voyages of discovery?"
"Ah, my dear sir," Ernest smiled, "I thought you were disqualified.
You have not yet picked out the flaw in my definition of
philosophy. You are now on an unsubstantial basis. But it is the
way of the metaphysicians, and I forgive you. No, I repeat,
metaphysics had nothing to do with it. Bread and butter, silks and
jewels, dollars and cents, and, incidentally, the closing up of the
overland trade-routes to India, were the things that caused the
voyages of discovery. With the fall of Constantinople, in 1453,
the Turks blocked the way of the caravans to India. The traders of
Europe had to find another route. Here was the original cause for
the voyages of discovery. Columbus sailed to find a new route to
the Indies. It is so stated in all the history books.
Incidentally, new facts were learned about the nature, size, and
form of the earth, and the Ptolemaic system went glimmering."
Dr. Hammerfield snorted.
"You do not agree with me?" Ernest queried. "Then wherein am I
"I can only reaffirm my position," Dr. Hammerfield retorted tartly.
"It is too long a story to enter into now."
"No story is too long for the scientist," Ernest said sweetly.
"That is why the scientist gets to places. That is why he got to
I shall not describe the whole evening, though it is a joy to me to
recall every moment, every detail, of those first hours of my
coming to know Ernest Everhard.
Battle royal raged, and the ministers grew red-faced and excited,
especially at the moments when Ernest called them romantic
philosophers, shadow-projectors, and similar things. And always he
checked them back to facts. "The fact, man, the irrefragable
fact!" he would proclaim triumphantly, when he had brought one of
them a cropper. He bristled with facts. He tripped them up with
facts, ambuscaded them with facts, bombarded them with broadsides
"You seem to worship at the shrine of fact," Dr. Hammerfield
"There is no God but Fact, and Mr. Everhard is its prophet," Dr.
Ernest smilingly acquiesced.
"I'm like the man from Texas," he said. And, on being solicited,
he explained. "You see, the man from Missouri always says, "You've
got to show me." But the man from Texas says, "You've got to put
it in my hand." From which it is apparent that he is no
Another time, when Ernest had just said that the metaphysical
philosophers could never stand the test of truth, Dr. Hammerfield
"What is the test of truth, young man? Will you kindly explain
what has so long puzzled wiser heads than yours?"
"Certainly," Ernest answered. His cocksureness irritated them.
"The wise heads have puzzled so sorely over truth because they went
up into the air after it. Had they remained on the solid earth,
they would have found it easily enough--ay, they would have found
that they themselves were precisely testing truth with every
practical act and thought of their lives."
"The test, the test," Dr. Hammerfield repeated impatiently. "Never
mind the preamble. Give us that which we have sought so long--the
test of truth. Give it us, and we will be as gods."
There was an impolite and sneering scepticism in his words and
manner that secretly pleased most of them at the table, though it
seemed to bother Bishop Morehouse.
"Dr. Jordan* has stated it very clearly," Ernest said. "His test
of truth is: 'Will it work? Will you trust your life to it?'"
* A noted educator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries of the Christian Era. He was president of the Stanford
University, a private benefaction of the times.
"Pish!" Dr. Hammerfield sneered. "You have not taken Bishop
Berkeley* into account. He has never been answered."
* An idealistic monist who long puzzled the philosophers of that
time with his denial of the existence of matter, but whose clever
argument was finally demolished when the new empiric facts of
science were philosophically generalized.
"The noblest metaphysician of them all," Ernest laughed. "But your
example is unfortunate. As Berkeley himself attested, his
metaphysics didn't work."
Dr. Hammerfield was angry, righteously angry. It was as though he
had caught Ernest in a theft or a lie.
"Young man," he trumpeted, "that statement is on a par with all you
have uttered to-night. It is a base and unwarranted assumption."
"I am quite crushed," Ernest murmured meekly. "Only I don't know
what hit me. You'll have to put it in my hand, Doctor."
"I will, I will," Dr. Hammerfield spluttered. "How do you know?
You do not know that Bishop Berkeley attested that his metaphysics
did not work. You have no proof. Young man, they have always
"I take it as proof that Berkeley's metaphysics did not work,
because--" Ernest paused calmly for a moment. "Because Berkeley
made an invariable practice of going through doors instead of
walls. Because he trusted his life to solid bread and butter and
roast beef. Because he shaved himself with a razor that worked
when it removed the hair from his face."
"But those are actual things!" Dr. Hammerfield cried. "Metaphysics
is of the mind."
"And they work--in the mind?" Ernest queried softly.
The other nodded.
"And even a multitude of angels can dance on the point of a needle-
-in the mind," Ernest went on reflectively. "And a blubber-eating,
fur-clad god can exist and work--in the mind; and there are no
proofs to the contrary--in the mind. I suppose, Doctor, you live
in the mind?"
"My mind to me a kingdom is," was the answer.
"That's another way of saying that you live up in the air. But you
come back to earth at meal-time, I am sure, or when an earthquake
happens along. Or, tell me, Doctor, do you have no apprehension in
an earthquake that that incorporeal body of yours will be hit by an
Instantly, and quite unconsciously, Dr. Hammerfield's hand shot up
to his head, where a scar disappeared under the hair. It happened
that Ernest had blundered on an apposite illustration. Dr.
Hammerfield had been nearly killed in the Great Earthquake* by a
falling chimney. Everybody broke out into roars of laughter.
* The Great Earthquake of 1906 A.D. that destroyed San Francisco.
"Well?" Ernest asked, when the merriment had subsided. "Proofs to
And in the silence he asked again, "Well?" Then he added, "Still
well, but not so well, that argument of yours."
But Dr. Hammerfield was temporarily crushed, and the battle raged
on in new directions. On point after point, Ernest challenged the
ministers. When they affirmed that they knew the working class, he
told them fundamental truths about the working class that they did
not know, and challenged them for disproofs. He gave them facts,
always facts, checked their excursions into the air, and brought
them back to the solid earth and its facts.
How the scene comes back to me! I can hear him now, with that war-
note in his voice, flaying them with his facts, each fact a lash
that stung and stung again. And he was merciless. He took no
quarter,* and gave none. I can never forget the flaying he gave
them at the end:
* This figure arises from the customs of the times. When, among
men fighting to the death in their wild-animal way, a beaten man
threw down his weapons, it was at the option of the victor to slay
him or spare him.
"You have repeatedly confessed to-night, by direct avowal or
ignorant statement, that you do not know the working class. But
you are not to be blamed for this. How can you know anything about
the working class? You do not live in the same locality with the
working class. You herd with the capitalist class in another
locality. And why not? It is the capitalist class that pays you,
that feeds you, that puts the very clothes on your backs that you
are wearing to-night. And in return you preach to your employers
the brands of metaphysics that are especially acceptable to them;
and the especially acceptable brands are acceptable because they do
not menace the established order of society."
Here there was a stir of dissent around the table.
"Oh, I am not challenging your sincerity," Ernest continued. "You
are sincere. You preach what you believe. There lies your
strength and your value--to the capitalist class. But should you
change your belief to something that menaces the established order,
your preaching would be unacceptable to your employers, and you
would be discharged. Every little while some one or another of you
is so discharged.* Am I not right?"
* During this period there were many ministers cast out of the
church for preaching unacceptable doctrine. Especially were they
cast out when their preaching became tainted with socialism.
This time there was no dissent. They sat dumbly acquiescent, with
the exception of Dr. Hammerfield, who said:
"It is when their thinking is wrong that they are asked to resign."
"Which is another way of saying when their thinking is
unacceptable," Ernest answered, and then went on. "So I say to
you, go ahead and preach and earn your pay, but for goodness' sake
leave the working class alone. You belong in the enemy's camp.
You have nothing in common with the working class. Your hands are
soft with the work others have performed for you. Your stomachs
are round with the plenitude of eating." (Here Dr. Ballingford
winced, and every eye glanced at his prodigious girth. It was said
he had not seen his own feet in years.) "And your minds are filled
with doctrines that are buttresses of the established order. You
are as much mercenaries (sincere mercenaries, I grant) as were the
men of the Swiss Guard.* Be true to your salt and your hire;
guard, with your preaching, the interests of your employers; but do
not come down to the working class and serve as false leaders. You
cannot honestly be in the two camps at once. The working class has
done without you. Believe me, the working class will continue to
do without you. And, furthermore, the working class can do better
without you than with you."
* The hired foreign palace guards of Louis XVI, a king of France
that was beheaded by his people.
CHAPTER II. CHALLENGES.
After the guests had gone, father threw himself into a chair and
gave vent to roars of Gargantuan laughter. Not since the death of
my mother had I known him to laugh so heartily.
I'll wager Dr. Hammerfield was never up against anything like it in
his life," he laughed. "'The courtesies of ecclesiastical
controversy!' Did you notice how he began like a lamb--Everhard, I
mean, and how quickly he became a roaring lion? He has a
splendidly disciplined mind. He would have made a good scientist
if his energies had been directed that way."
I need scarcely say that I was deeply interested in Ernest
Everhard. It was not alone what he had said and how he had said
it, but it was the man himself. I had never met a man like him. I
suppose that was why, in spite of my twenty-four years, I had not
married. I liked him; I had to confess it to myself. And my like
for him was founded on things beyond intellect and argument.
Regardless of his bulging muscles and prize-fighter's throat, he
impressed me as an ingenuous boy. I felt that under the guise of
an intellectual swashbuckler was a delicate and sensitive spirit.
I sensed this, in ways I knew not, save that they were my woman's
There was something in that clarion-call of his that went to my
heart. It still rang in my ears, and I felt that I should like to
hear it again--and to see again that glint of laughter in his eyes
that belied the impassioned seriousness of his face. And there
were further reaches of vague and indeterminate feelings that
stirred in me. I almost loved him then, though I am confident, had
I never seen him again, that the vague feelings would have passed
away and that I should easily have forgotten him.
But I was not destined never to see him again. My father's new-
born interest in sociology and the dinner parties he gave would not
permit. Father was not a sociologist. His marriage with my mother
had been very happy, and in the researches of his own science,
physics, he had been very happy. But when mother died, his own
work could not fill the emptiness. At first, in a mild way, he had
dabbled in philosophy; then, becoming interested, he had drifted on
into economics and sociology. He had a strong sense of justice,
and he soon became fired with a passion to redress wrong. It was
with gratitude that I hailed these signs of a new interest in life,
though I little dreamed what the outcome would be. With the
enthusiasm of a boy he plunged excitedly into these new pursuits,
regardless of whither they led him.
He had been used always to the laboratory, and so it was that he
turned the dining room into a sociological laboratory. Here came
to dinner all sorts and conditions of men,--scientists,
politicians, bankers, merchants, professors, labor leaders,
socialists, and anarchists. He stirred them to discussion, and
analyzed their thoughts of life and society.
He had met Ernest shortly prior to the "preacher's night." And
after the guests were gone, I learned how he had met him, passing
down a street at night and stopping to listen to a man on a soap-
box who was addressing a crowd of workingmen. The man on the box
was Ernest. Not that he was a mere soap-box orator. He stood high
in the councils of the socialist party, was one of the leaders, and
was the acknowledged leader in the philosophy of socialism. But he
had a certain clear way of stating the abstruse in simple language,
was a born expositor and teacher, and was not above the soap-box as
a means of interpreting economics to the workingmen.
My father stopped to listen, became interested, effected a meeting,
and, after quite an acquaintance, invited him to the ministers'
dinner. It was after the dinner that father told me what little he
knew about him. He had been born in the working class, though he
was a descendant of the old line of Everhards that for over two
hundred years had lived in America.* At ten years of age he had
gone to work in the mills, and later he served his apprenticeship
and became a horseshoer. He was self-educated, had taught himself
German and French, and at that time was earning a meagre living by
translating scientific and philosophical works for a struggling
socialist publishing house in Chicago. Also, his earnings were
added to by the royalties from the small sales of his own economic
and philosophic works.
* The distinction between being native born and foreign born was
sharp and invidious in those days.
This much I learned of him before I went to bed, and I lay long
awake, listening in memory to the sound of his voice. I grew
frightened at my thoughts. He was so unlike the men of my own
class, so alien and so strong. His masterfulness delighted me and
terrified me, for my fancies wantonly roved until I found myself
considering him as a lover, as a husband. I had always heard that
the strength of men was an irresistible attraction to women; but he
was too strong. "No! no!" I cried out. "It is impossible,
absurd!" And on the morrow I awoke to find in myself a longing to
see him again. I wanted to see him mastering men in discussion,
the war-note in his voice; to see him, in all his certitude and
strength, shattering their complacency, shaking them out of their
ruts of thinking. What if he did swashbuckle? To use his own
phrase, "it worked," it produced effects. And, besides, his
swashbuckling was a fine thing to see. It stirred one like the
onset of battle.
Several days passed during which I read Ernest's books, borrowed
from my father. His written word was as his spoken word, clear and
convincing. It was its absolute simplicity that convinced even
while one continued to doubt. He had the gift of lucidity. He was
the perfect expositor. Yet, in spite of his style, there was much
that I did not like. He laid too great stress on what he called
the class struggle, the antagonism between labor and capital, the
conflict of interest.
Father reported with glee Dr. Hammerfield's judgment of Ernest,
which was to the effect that he was "an insolent young puppy, made
bumptious by a little and very inadequate learning." Also, Dr.
Hammerfield declined to meet Ernest again.
But Bishop Morehouse turned out to have become interested in
Ernest, and was anxious for another meeting. "A strong young man,"
he said; "and very much alive, very much alive. But he is too
sure, too sure."
Ernest came one afternoon with father. The Bishop had already
arrived, and we were having tea on the veranda. Ernest's continued
presence in Berkeley, by the way, was accounted for by the fact
that he was taking special courses in biology at the university,
and also that he was hard at work on a new book entitled
"Philosophy and Revolution."*
* This book continued to be secretly printed throughout the three
centuries of the Iron Heel. There are several copies of various
editions in the National Library of Ardis.
The veranda seemed suddenly to have become small when Ernest
arrived. Not that he was so very large--he stood only five feet
nine inches; but that he seemed to radiate an atmosphere of
largeness. As he stopped to meet me, he betrayed a certain slight
awkwardness that was strangely at variance with his bold-looking
eyes and his firm, sure hand that clasped for a moment in greeting.
And in that moment his eyes were just as steady and sure. There
seemed a question in them this time, and as before he looked at me
"I have been reading your 'Working-class Philosophy,'" I said, and
his eyes lighted in a pleased way.
"Of course," he answered, "you took into consideration the audience
to which it was addressed."
"I did, and it is because I did that I have a quarrel with you," I
"I, too, have a quarrel with you, Mr. Everhard," Bishop Morehouse
Ernest shrugged his shoulders whimsically and accepted a cup of
The Bishop bowed and gave me precedence.
"You foment class hatred," I said. "I consider it wrong and
criminal to appeal to all that is narrow and brutal in the working
class. Class hatred is anti-social, and, it seems to me, anti-
"Not guilty," he answered. "Class hatred is neither in the text
nor in the spirit of anything I have every written."
"Oh!" I cried reproachfully, and reached for his book and opened
He sipped his tea and smiled at me while I ran over the pages.
"Page one hundred and thirty-two," I read aloud: "'The class
struggle, therefore, presents itself in the present stage of social
development between the wage-paying and the wage-paid classes.'"
I looked at him triumphantly.
"No mention there of class hatred," he smiled back.
"But," I answered, "you say 'class struggle.'"
"A different thing from class hatred," he replied. "And, believe
me, we foment no hatred. We say that the class struggle is a law
of social development. We are not responsible for it. We do not
make the class struggle. We merely explain it, as Newton explained
gravitation. We explain the nature of the conflict of interest
that produces the class struggle."
"But there should be no conflict of interest!" I cried.
"I agree with you heartily," he answered. "That is what we
socialists are trying to bring about,--the abolition of the
conflict of interest. Pardon me. Let me read an extract." He
took his book and turned back several pages. "Page one hundred and
twenty-six: 'The cycle of class struggles which began with the
dissolution of rude, tribal communism and the rise of private
property will end with the passing of private property in the means
of social existence.'"
"But I disagree with you," the Bishop interposed, his pale, ascetic
face betraying by a faint glow the intensity of his feelings.
"Your premise is wrong. There is no such thing as a conflict of
interest between labor and capital--or, rather, there ought not to
"Thank you," Ernest said gravely. "By that last statement you have
given me back my premise."
"But why should there be a conflict?" the Bishop demanded warmly.
Ernest shrugged his shoulders. "Because we are so made, I guess."
"But we are not so made!" cried the other.
"Are you discussing the ideal man?" Ernest asked, "--unselfish and
godlike, and so few in numbers as to be practically non-existent,
or are you discussing the common and ordinary average man?"
"The common and ordinary man," was the answer.
"Who is weak and fallible, prone to error?"
Bishop Morehouse nodded.
"And petty and selfish?"
Again he nodded.
"Watch out!" Ernest warned. "I said 'selfish.'"
"The average man IS selfish," the Bishop affirmed valiantly.
"Wants all he can get?"
"Wants all he can get--true but deplorable."
"Then I've got you." Ernest's jaw snapped like a trap. "Let me
show you. Here is a man who works on the street railways."
"He couldn't work if it weren't for capital," the Bishop
"True, and you will grant that capital would perish if there were
no labor to earn the dividends."
The Bishop was silent.
"Won't you?" Ernest insisted.
The Bishop nodded.
"Then our statements cancel each other," Ernest said in a matter-
of-fact tone, "and we are where we were. Now to begin again. The
workingmen on the street railway furnish the labor. The
stockholders furnish the capital. By the joint effort of the
workingmen and the capital, money is earned.* They divide between
them this money that is earned. Capital's share is called
'dividends.' Labor's share is called 'wages.'"
* In those days, groups of predatory individuals controlled all the
means of transportation, and for the use of same levied toll upon
"Very good," the Bishop interposed. "And there is no reason that
the division should not be amicable."
"You have already forgotten what we had agreed upon," Ernest
replied. "We agreed that the average man is selfish. He is the
man that is. You have gone up in the air and are arranging a
division between the kind of men that ought to be but are not. But
to return to the earth, the workingman, being selfish, wants all he
can get in the division. The capitalist, being selfish, wants all
he can get in the division. When there is only so much of the same
thing, and when two men want all they can get of the same thing,
there is a conflict of interest between labor and capital. And it
is an irreconcilable conflict. As long as workingmen and
capitalists exist, they will continue to quarrel over the division.
If you were in San Francisco this afternoon, you'd have to walk.
There isn't a street car running."
"Another strike?"* the Bishop queried with alarm.
* These quarrels were very common in those irrational and anarchic
times. Sometimes the laborers refused to work. Sometimes the
capitalists refused to let the laborers work. In the violence and
turbulence of such disagreements much property was destroyed and
many lives lost. All this is inconceivable to us--as inconceivable
as another custom of that time, namely, the habit the men of the
lower classes had of breaking the furniture when they quarrelled
with their wives.
"Yes, they're quarrelling over the division of the earnings of the
Bishop Morehouse became excited.
"It is wrong!" he cried. "It is so short-sighted on the part of
the workingmen. How can they hope to keep our sympathy--"
"When we are compelled to walk," Ernest said slyly.
But Bishop Morehouse ignored him and went on:
"Their outlook is too narrow. Men should be men, not brutes.
There will be violence and murder now, and sorrowing widows and
orphans. Capital and labor should be friends. They should work
hand in hand and to their mutual benefit."
"Ah, now you are up in the air again," Ernest remarked dryly.
"Come back to earth. Remember, we agreed that the average man is
"But he ought not to be!" the Bishop cried.
"And there I agree with you," was Ernest's rejoinder. "He ought
not to be selfish, but he will continue to be selfish as long as he
lives in a social system that is based on pig-ethics."
The Bishop was aghast, and my father chuckled.
"Yes, pig-ethics," Ernest went on remorselessly. "That is the
meaning of the capitalist system. And that is what your church is
standing for, what you are preaching for every time you get up in
the pulpit. Pig-ethics! There is no other name for it."
Bishop Morehouse turned appealingly to my father, but he laughed
and nodded his head.
"I'm afraid Mr. Everhard is right," he said. "LAISSEZ-FAIRE, the
let-alone policy of each for himself and devil take the hindmost.
As Mr. Everhard said the other night, the function you churchmen
perform is to maintain the established order of society, and
society is established on that foundation."
"But that is not the teaching of Christ!" cried the Bishop.
"The Church is not teaching Christ these days," Ernest put in
quickly. "That is why the workingmen will have nothing to do with
the Church. The Church condones the frightful brutality and
savagery with which the capitalist class treats the working class."
"The Church does not condone it," the Bishop objected.
"The Church does not protest against it," Ernest replied. "And in
so far as the Church does not protest, it condones, for remember
the Church is supported by the capitalist class."
"I had not looked at it in that light," the Bishop said naively.
"You must be wrong. I know that there is much that is sad and
wicked in this world. I know that the Church has lost the--what
you call the proletariat."*
* Proletariat: Derived originally from the Latin PROLETARII, the
name given in the census of Servius Tullius to those who were of
value to the state only as the rearers of offspring (PROLES); in
other words, they were of no importance either for wealth, or
position, or exceptional ability.
"You never had the proletariat," Ernest cried. "The proletariat
has grown up outside the Church and without the Church."
"I do not follow you," the Bishop said faintly.
"Then let me explain. With the introduction of machinery and the
factory system in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the
great mass of the working people was separated from the land. The
old system of labor was broken down. The working people were
driven from their villages and herded in factory towns. The
mothers and children were put to work at the new machines. Family
life ceased. The conditions were frightful. It is a tale of
"I know, I know," Bishop Morehouse interrupted with an agonized
expression on his face. "It was terrible. But it occurred a
century and a half ago."
"And there, a century and a half ago, originated the modern
proletariat," Ernest continued. "And the Church ignored it. While
a slaughter-house was made of the nation by the capitalist, the
Church was dumb. It did not protest, as to-day it does not
protest. As Austin Lewis* says, speaking of that time, those to
whom the command 'Feed my lambs' had been given, saw those lambs
sold into slavery and worked to death without a protest.** The
Church was dumb, then, and before I go on I want you either flatly
to agree with me or flatly to disagree with me. Was the Church
* Candidate for Governor of California on the Socialist ticket in
the fall election of 1906 Christian Era. An Englishman by birth, a
writer of many books on political economy and philosophy, and one
of the Socialist leaders of the times.
** There is no more horrible page in history than the treatment of
the child and women slaves in the English factories in the latter
half of the eighteenth century of the Christian Era. In such
industrial hells arose some of the proudest fortunes of that day.
Bishop Morehouse hesitated. Like Dr. Hammerfield, he was unused to
this fierce "infighting," as Ernest called it.
"The history of the eighteenth century is written," Ernest
prompted. "If the Church was not dumb, it will be found not dumb
in the books."
"I am afraid the Church was dumb," the Bishop confessed.
"And the Church is dumb to-day."
"There I disagree," said the Bishop.
Ernest paused, looked at him searchingly, and accepted the
"All right," he said. "Let us see. In Chicago there are women who
toil all the week for ninety cents. Has the Church protested?"
"This is news to me," was the answer. "Ninety cents per week! It
"Has the Church protested?" Ernest insisted.
"The Church does not know." The Bishop was struggling hard.
"Yet the command to the Church was, 'Feed my lambs,'" Ernest
sneered. And then, the next moment, "Pardon my sneer, Bishop. But
can you wonder that we lose patience with you? When have you
protested to your capitalistic congregations at the working of
children in the Southern cotton mills?* Children, six and seven
years of age, working every night at twelve-hour shifts? They
never see the blessed sunshine. They die like flies. The
dividends are paid out of their blood. And out of the dividends
magnificent churches are builded in New England, wherein your kind
preaches pleasant platitudes to the sleek, full-bellied recipients
of those dividends."
* Everhard might have drawn a better illustration from the Southern
Church's outspoken defence of chattel slavery prior to what is
known as the "War of the Rebellion." Several such illustrations,
culled from the documents of the times, are here appended. In 1835
A.D., the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church resolved
that: "slavery is recognized in both the Old and the New
Testaments, and is not condemned by the authority of God." The
Charleston Baptist Association issued the following, in an address,
in 1835 A.D.: "The right of masters to dispose of the time of their
slaves has been distinctly recognized by the Creator of all things,
who is surely at liberty to vest the right of property over any
object whomsoever He pleases." The Rev. E. D. Simon, Doctor of
Divinity and professor in the Randolph-Macon Methodist College of
Virginia, wrote: "Extracts from Holy Writ unequivocally assert the
right of property in slaves, together with the usual incidents to
that right. The right to buy and sell is clearly stated. Upon the
whole, then, whether we consult the Jewish policy instituted by God
himself, or the uniform opinion and practice of mankind in all
ages, or the injunctions of the New Testament and the moral law, we
are brought to the conclusion that slavery is not immoral. Having
established the point that the first African slaves were legally
brought into bondage, the right to detain their children in bondage
follows as an indispensable consequence. Thus we see that the
slavery that exists in America was founded in right."
It is not at all remarkable that this same note should have been
struck by the Church a generation or so later in relation to the
defence of capitalistic property. In the great museum at Asgard
there is a book entitled "Essays in Application," written by Henry
van Dyke. The book was published in 1905 of the Christian Era.
From what we can make out, Van Dyke must have been a churchman.
The book is a good example of what Everhard would have called
bourgeois thinking. Note the similarity between the utterance of
the Charleston Baptist Association quoted above, and the following
utterance of Van Dyke seventy years later: "The Bible teaches that
God owns the world. He distributes to every man according to His
own good pleasure, conformably to general laws."
"I did not know," the Bishop murmured faintly. His face was pale,
and he seemed suffering from nausea.
"Then you have not protested?"
The Bishop shook his head.
"Then the Church is dumb to-day, as it was in the eighteenth
The Bishop was silent, and for once Ernest forbore to press the
"And do not forget, whenever a churchman does protest, that he is
"I hardly think that is fair," was the objection.
"Will you protest?" Ernest demanded.
"Show me evils, such as you mention, in our own community, and I
"I'll show you," Ernest said quietly. "I am at your disposal. I
will take you on a journey through hell."
"And I shall protest." The Bishop straightened himself in his
chair, and over his gentle face spread the harshness of the
warrior. "The Church shall not be dumb!"
"You will be discharged," was the warning.
"I shall prove the contrary," was the retort. "I shall prove, if
what you say is so, that the Church has erred through ignorance.
And, furthermore, I hold that whatever is horrible in industrial
society is due to the ignorance of the capitalist class. It will
mend all that is wrong as soon as it receives the message. And
this message it shall be the duty of the Church to deliver."
Ernest laughed. He laughed brutally, and I was driven to the
"Remember," I said, "you see but one side of the shield. There is
much good in us, though you give us credit for no good at all.
Bishop Morehouse is right. The industrial wrong, terrible as you
say it is, is due to ignorance. The divisions of society have
become too widely separated."
"The wild Indian is not so brutal and savage as the capitalist
class," he answered; and in that moment I hated him.
"You do not know us," I answered. "We are not brutal and savage."
"Prove it," he challenged.
"How can I prove it . . . to you?" I was growing angry.
He shook his head. "I do not ask you to prove it to me. I ask you
to prove it to yourself."
"I know," I said.
"You know nothing," was his rude reply.
"There, there, children," father said soothingly.
"I don't care--" I began indignantly, but Ernest interrupted.
"I understand you have money, or your father has, which is the same
thing--money invested in the Sierra Mills."
"What has that to do with it?" I cried.
"Nothing much," he began slowly, "except that the gown you wear is
stained with blood. The food you eat is a bloody stew. The blood
of little children and of strong men is dripping from your very
roof-beams. I can close my eyes, now, and hear it drip, drop,
drip, drop, all about me."
And suiting the action to the words, he closed his eyes and leaned
back in his chair. I burst into tears of mortification and hurt
vanity. I had never been so brutally treated in my life. Both the
Bishop and my father were embarrassed and perturbed. They tried to
lead the conversation away into easier channels; but Ernest opened
his eyes, looked at me, and waved them aside. His mouth was stern,
and his eyes too; and in the latter there was no glint of laughter.
What he was about to say, what terrible castigation he was going to
give me, I never knew; for at that moment a man, passing along the
sidewalk, stopped and glanced in at us. He was a large man, poorly
dressed, and on his back was a great load of rattan and bamboo
stands, chairs, and screens. He looked at the house as if debating
whether or not he should come in and try to sell some of his wares.
"That man's name is Jackson," Ernest said.
"With that strong body of his he should be at work, and not
peddling,"* I answered curtly.
* In that day there were many thousands of these poor merchants
called PEDLERS. They carried their whole stock in trade from door
to door. It was a most wasteful expenditure of energy.
Distribution was as confused and irrational as the whole general
system of society.
"Notice the sleeve of his left arm," Ernest said gently.
I looked, and saw that the sleeve was empty.
"It was some of the blood from that arm that I heard dripping from
your roof-beams," Ernest said with continued gentleness. "He lost
his arm in the Sierra Mills, and like a broken-down horse you
turned him out on the highway to die. When I say 'you,' I mean the
superintendent and the officials that you and the other
stockholders pay to manage the mills for you. It was an accident.
It was caused by his trying to save the company a few dollars. The
toothed drum of the picker caught his arm. He might have let the
small flint that he saw in the teeth go through. It would have
smashed out a double row of spikes. But he reached for the flint,
and his arm was picked and clawed to shreds from the finger tips to
the shoulder. It was at night. The mills were working overtime.
They paid a fat dividend that quarter. Jackson had been working
many hours, and his muscles had lost their resiliency and snap.
They made his movements a bit slow. That was why the machine
caught him. He had a wife and three children."
"And what did the company do for him?" I asked.
"Nothing. Oh, yes, they did do something. They successfully
fought the damage suit he brought when he came out of hospital.
The company employs very efficient lawyers, you know."
"You have not told the whole story," I said with conviction. "Or
else you do not know the whole story. Maybe the man was insolent."
"Insolent! Ha! ha!" His laughter was Mephistophelian. "Great
God! Insolent! And with his arm chewed off! Nevertheless he was
a meek and lowly servant, and there is no record of his having been
"But the courts," I urged. "The case would not have been decided
against him had there been no more to the affair than you have
"Colonel Ingram is leading counsel for the company. He is a shrewd
lawyer." Ernest looked at me intently for a moment, then went on.
"I'll tell you what you do, Miss Cunningham. You investigate
"I had already determined to," I said coldly.
"All right," he beamed good-naturedly, "and I'll tell you where to
find him. But I tremble for you when I think of all you are to
prove by Jackson's arm."
And so it came about that both the Bishop and I accepted Ernest's
challenges. They went away together, leaving me smarting with a
sense of injustice that had been done me and my class. The man was
a beast. I hated him, then, and consoled myself with the thought
that his behavior was what was to be expected from a man of the
CHAPTER III. JACKSON'S ARM.
Little did I dream the fateful part Jackson's arm was to play in my
life. Jackson himself did not impress me when I hunted him out. I
found him in a crazy, ramshackle* house down near the bay on the
edge of the marsh. Pools of stagnant water stood around the house,
their surfaces covered with a green and putrid-looking scum, while
the stench that arose from them was intolerable.
* An adjective descriptive of ruined and dilapidated houses in
which great numbers of the working people found shelter in those
days. They invariably paid rent, and, considering the value of
such houses, enormous rent, to the landlords.
I found Jackson the meek and lowly man he had been described. He
was making some sort of rattan-work, and he toiled on stolidly
while I talked with him. But in spite of his meekness and
lowliness, I fancied I caught the first note of a nascent
bitterness in him when he said:
"They might a-given me a job as watchman,* anyway."
* In those days thievery was incredibly prevalent. Everybody stole
property from everybody else. The lords of society stole legally
or else legalized their stealing, while the poorer classes stole
illegally. Nothing was safe unless guarded. Enormous numbers of
men were employed as watchmen to protect property. The houses of
the well-to-do were a combination of safe deposit vault and
fortress. The appropriation of the personal belongings of others
by our own children of to-day is looked upon as a rudimentary
survival of the theft-characteristic that in those early times was
I got little out of him. He struck me as stupid, and yet the
deftness with which he worked with his one hand seemed to belie his
stupidity. This suggested an idea to me.
"How did you happen to get your arm caught in the machine?" I
He looked at me in a slow and pondering way, and shook his head.
"I don't know. It just happened."
"Carelessness?" I prompted.
"No," he answered, "I ain't for callin' it that. I was workin'
overtime, an' I guess I was tired out some. I worked seventeen
years in them mills, an' I've took notice that most of the
accidents happens just before whistle-blow.* I'm willin' to bet
that more accidents happens in the hour before whistle-blow than in
all the rest of the day. A man ain't so quick after workin' steady
for hours. I've seen too many of 'em cut up an' gouged an' chawed
not to know."
* The laborers were called to work and dismissed by savage,
screaming, nerve-racking steam-whistles.
"Many of them?" I queried.
"Hundreds an' hundreds, an' children, too."
With the exception of the terrible details, Jackson's story of his
accident was the same as that I had already heard. When I asked
him if he had broken some rule of working the machinery, he shook
"I chucked off the belt with my right hand," he said, "an' made a
reach for the flint with my left. I didn't stop to see if the belt
was off. I thought my right hand had done it--only it didn't. I
reached quick, and the belt wasn't all the way off. And then my
arm was chewed off."
"It must have been painful," I said sympathetically.
"The crunchin' of the bones wasn't nice," was his answer.
His mind was rather hazy concerning the damage suit. Only one
thing was clear to him, and that was that he had not got any
damages. He had a feeling that the testimony of the foremen and
the superintendent had brought about the adverse decision of the
court. Their testimony, as he put it, "wasn't what it ought to
have ben." And to them I resolved to go.
One thing was plain, Jackson's situation was wretched. His wife
was in ill health, and he was unable to earn, by his rattan-work
and peddling, sufficient food for the family. He was back in his
rent, and the oldest boy, a lad of eleven, had started to work in
"They might a-given me that watchman's job," were his last words as
I went away.
By the time I had seen the lawyer who had handled Jackson's case,
and the two foremen and the superintendent at the mills who had
testified, I began to feel that there was something after all in
He was a weak and inefficient-looking man, the lawyer, and at sight
of him I did not wonder that Jackson's case had been lost. My
first thought was that it had served Jackson right for getting such
a lawyer. But the next moment two of Ernest's statements came
flashing into my consciousness: "The company employs very efficient
lawyers" and "Colonel Ingram is a shrewd lawyer." I did some rapid
thinking. It dawned upon me that of course the company could
afford finer legal talent than could a workingman like Jackson.
But this was merely a minor detail. There was some very good
reason, I was sure, why Jackson's case had gone against him.
"Why did you lose the case?" I asked.
The lawyer was perplexed and worried for a moment, and I found it
in my heart to pity the wretched little creature. Then he began to
whine. I do believe his whine was congenital. He was a man beaten
at birth. He whined about the testimony. The witnesses had given
only the evidence that helped the other side. Not one word could
he get out of them that would have helped Jackson. They knew which
side their bread was buttered on. Jackson was a fool. He had been
brow-beaten and confused by Colonel Ingram. Colonel Ingram was
brilliant at cross-examination. He had made Jackson answer
"How could his answers be damaging if he had the right on his
side?" I demanded.
"What's right got to do with it?" he demanded back. "You see all
those books." He moved his hand over the array of volumes on the
walls of his tiny office. "All my reading and studying of them has
taught me that law is one thing and right is another thing. Ask
any lawyer. You go to Sunday-school to learn what is right. But
you go to those books to learn . . . law."
"Do you mean to tell me that Jackson had the right on his side and
yet was beaten?" I queried tentatively. "Do you mean to tell me
that there is no justice in Judge Caldwell's court?"
The little lawyer glared at me a moment, and then the belligerence
faded out of his face.
"I hadn't a fair chance," he began whining again. "They made a
fool out of Jackson and out of me, too. What chance had I?
Colonel Ingram is a great lawyer. If he wasn't great, would he
have charge of the law business of the Sierra Mills, of the Erston
Land Syndicate, of the Berkeley Consolidated, of the Oakland, San
Leandro, and Pleasanton Electric? He's a corporation lawyer, and
corporation lawyers are not paid for being fools.* What do you
think the Sierra Mills alone give him twenty thousand dollars a
year for? Because he's worth twenty thousand dollars a year to
them, that's what for. I'm not worth that much. If I was, I
wouldn't be on the outside, starving and taking cases like
Jackson's. What do you think I'd have got if I'd won Jackson's
* The function of the corporation lawyer was to serve, by corrupt
methods, the money-grabbing propensities of the corporations. It
is on record that Theodore Roosevelt, at that time President of the
United States, said in 1905 A.D., in his address at Harvard
Commencement: "We all know that, as things actually are, many of
the most influential and most highly remunerated members of the Bar
in every centre of wealth, make it their special task to work out
bold and ingenious schemes by which their wealthy clients,
individual or corporate, can evade the laws which were made to
regulate, in the interests of the public, the uses of great
"You'd have robbed him, most probably," I answered.
"Of course I would," he cried angrily. "I've got to live, haven't
* A typical illustration of the internecine strife that permeated
all society. Men preyed upon one another like ravening wolves.
The big wolves ate the little wolves, and in the social pack
Jackson was one of the least of the little wolves.
"He has a wife and children," I chided.
"So have I a wife and children," he retorted. "And there's not a
soul in this world except myself that cares whether they starve or
His face suddenly softened, and he opened his watch and showed me a
small photograph of a woman and two little girls pasted inside the
"There they are. Look at them. We've had a hard time, a hard
time. I had hoped to send them away to the country if I'd won
Jackson's case. They're not healthy here, but I can't afford to
send them away."
When I started to leave, he dropped back into his whine.
"I hadn't the ghost of a chance. Colonel Ingram and Judge Caldwell
are pretty friendly. I'm not saying that if I'd got the right kind
of testimony out of their witnesses on cross-examination, that
friendship would have decided the case. And yet I must say that
Judge Caldwell did a whole lot to prevent my getting that very
testimony. Why, Judge Caldwell and Colonel Ingram belong to the
same lodge and the same club. They live in the same neighborhood--
one I can't afford. And their wives are always in and out of each
other's houses. They're always having whist parties and such
things back and forth."
"And yet you think Jackson had the right of it?" I asked, pausing
for the moment on the threshold.
"I don't think; I know it," was his answer. "And at first I
thought he had some show, too. But I didn't tell my wife. I
didn't want to disappoint her. She had her heart set on a trip to
the country hard enough as it was."
"Why did you not call attention to the fact that Jackson was trying
to save the machinery from being injured?" I asked Peter Donnelly,
one of the foremen who had testified at the trial.
He pondered a long time before replying. Then he cast an anxious
look about him and said:
"Because I've a good wife an' three of the sweetest children ye
ever laid eyes on, that's why."
"I do not understand," I said.
"In other words, because it wouldn't a-ben healthy," he answered.
"You mean--" I began.
But he interrupted passionately.
"I mean what I said. It's long years I've worked in the mills.
I began as a little lad on the spindles. I worked up ever since.
It's by hard work I got to my present exalted position. I'm a
foreman, if you please. An' I doubt me if there's a man in the
mills that'd put out a hand to drag me from drownin'. I used to
belong to the union. But I've stayed by the company through two
strikes. They called me 'scab.' There's not a man among 'em to-
day to take a drink with me if I asked him. D'ye see the scars on
me head where I was struck with flying bricks? There ain't a child
at the spindles but what would curse me name. Me only friend is
the company. It's not me duty, but me bread an' butter an' the
life of me children to stand by the mills. That's why."
"Was Jackson to blame?" I asked.
"He should a-got the damages. He was a good worker an' never made
"Then you were not at liberty to tell the whole truth, as you had
sworn to do?"
He shook his head.
"The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" I said
Again his face became impassioned, and he lifted it, not to me, but
"I'd let me soul an' body burn in everlastin' hell for them
children of mine," was his answer.
Henry Dallas, the superintendent, was a vulpine-faced creature who
regarded me insolently and refused to talk. Not a word could I get
from him concerning the trial and his testimony. But with the
other foreman I had better luck. James Smith was a hard-faced man,
and my heart sank as I encountered him. He, too, gave me the
impression that he was not a free agent, as we talked I began to
see that he was mentally superior to the average of his kind. He
agreed with Peter Donnelly that Jackson should have got damages,
and he went farther and called the action heartless and cold-
blooded that had turned the worker adrift after he had been made
helpless by the accident. Also, he explained that there were many
accidents in the mills, and that the company's policy was to fight
to the bitter end all consequent damage suits.
"It means hundreds of thousands a year to the stockholders," he
said; and as he spoke I remembered the last dividend that had been
paid my father, and the pretty gown for me and the books for him
that had been bought out of that dividend. I remembered Ernest's
charge that my gown was stained with blood, and my flesh began to
crawl underneath my garments.
"When you testified at the trial, you didn't point out that Jackson
received his accident through trying to save the machinery from
damage?" I said.
"No, I did not," was the answer, and his mouth set bitterly. "I
testified to the effect that Jackson injured himself by neglect and
carelessness, and that the company was not in any way to blame or
"Was it carelessness?" I asked.
"Call it that, or anything you want to call it. The fact is, a man
gets tired after he's been working for hours."
I was becoming interested in the man. He certainly was of a
"You are better educated than most workingmen," I said.
"I went through high school," he replied. "I worked my way through
doing janitor-work. I wanted to go through the university. But my
father died, and I came to work in the mills.
"I wanted to become a naturalist," he explained shyly, as though
confessing a weakness. "I love animals. But I came to work in the
mills. When I was promoted to foreman I got married, then the
family came, and . . . well, I wasn't my own boss any more."
"What do you mean by that?" I asked.
"I was explaining why I testified at the trial the way I did--why I
"Colonel Ingram. He outlined the evidence I was to give."
"And it lost Jackson's case for him."
He nodded, and the blood began to rise darkly in his face.
"And Jackson had a wife and two children dependent on him."
"I know," he said quietly, though his face was growing darker.
"Tell me," I went on, "was it easy to make yourself over from what
you were, say in high school, to the man you must have become to do
such a thing at the trial?"
The suddenness of his outburst startled and frightened me. He
ripped* out a savage oath, and clenched his fist as though about to
* It is interesting to note the virilities of language that were
common speech in that day, as indicative of the life, 'red of claw
and fang,' that was then lived. Reference is here made, of course,
not to the oath of Smith, but to the verb ripped used by Avis
"I beg your pardon," he said the next moment. "No, it was not
easy. And now I guess you can go away. You've got all you wanted
out of me. But let me tell you this before you go. It won't do
you any good to repeat anything I've said. I'll deny it, and there
are no witnesses. I'll deny every word of it; and if I have to,
I'll do it under oath on the witness stand."
After my interview with Smith I went to my father's office in the
Chemistry Building and there encountered Ernest. It was quite
unexpected, but he met me with his bold eyes and firm hand-clasp,
and with that curious blend of his awkwardness and ease. It was as
though our last stormy meeting was forgotten; but I was not in the
mood to have it forgotten.
"I have been looking up Jackson's case," I said abruptly.
He was all interested attention, and waited for me to go on, though
I could see in his eyes the certitude that my convictions had been
"He seems to have been badly treated," I confessed. "I--I--think
some of his blood is dripping from our roof-beams."
"Of course," he answered. "If Jackson and all his fellows were
treated mercifully, the dividends would not be so large."
"I shall never be able to take pleasure in pretty gowns again," I
I felt humble and contrite, and was aware of a sweet feeling that
Ernest was a sort of father confessor. Then, as ever after, his
strength appealed to me. It seemed to radiate a promise of peace
"Nor will you be able to take pleasure in sackcloth," he said
gravely. "There are the jute mills, you know, and the same thing
goes on there. It goes on everywhere. Our boasted civilization is
based upon blood, soaked in blood, and neither you nor I nor any of
us can escape the scarlet stain. The men you talked with--who were
I told him all that had taken place.
"And not one of them was a free agent," he said. "They were all
tied to the merciless industrial machine. And the pathos of it and
the tragedy is that they are tied by their heartstrings. Their
children--always the young life that it is their instinct to
protect. This instinct is stronger than any ethic they possess.
My father! He lied, he stole, he did all sorts of dishonorable
things to put bread into my mouth and into the mouths of my
brothers and sisters. He was a slave to the industrial machine,
and it stamped his life out, worked him to death."
"But you," I interjected. "You are surely a free agent."
"Not wholly," he replied. "I am not tied by my heartstrings. I am
often thankful that I have no children, and I dearly love children.
Yet if I married I should not dare to have any."
"That surely is bad doctrine," I cried.
"I know it is," he said sadly. "But it is expedient doctrine. I
am a revolutionist, and it is a perilous vocation."
I laughed incredulously.
"If I tried to enter your father's house at night to steal his
dividends from the Sierra Mills, what would he do?"
"He sleeps with a revolver on the stand by the bed," I answered.
"He would most probably shoot you."
"And if I and a few others should lead a million and a half of men*
into the houses of all the well-to-do, there would be a great deal
of shooting, wouldn't there?"
* This reference is to the socialist vote cast in the United States
in 1910. The rise of this vote clearly indicates the swift growth
of the party of revolution. Its voting strength in the United
States in 1888 was 2068; in 1902, 127,713; in 1904, 435,040; in
1908, 1,108,427; and in 1910, 1,688,211.
"Yes, but you are not doing that," I objected.
"It is precisely what I am doing. And we intend to take, not the
mere wealth in the houses, but all the sources of that wealth, all
the mines, and railroads, and factories, and banks, and stores.
That is the revolution. It is truly perilous. There will be more
shooting, I am afraid, than even I dream of. But as I was saying,
no one to-day is a free agent. We are all caught up in the wheels
and cogs of the industrial machine. You found that you were, and
that the men you talked with were. Talk with more of them. Go and
see Colonel Ingram. Look up the reporters that kept Jackson's case
out of the papers, and the editors that run the papers. You will
find them all slaves of the machine."
A little later in our conversation I asked him a simple little
question about the liability of workingmen to accidents, and
received a statistical lecture in return.
"It is all in the books," he said. "The figures have been
gathered, and it has been proved conclusively that accidents rarely
occur in the first hours of the morning work, but that they
increase rapidly in the succeeding hours as the workers grow tired
and slower in both their muscular and mental processes.
"Why, do you know that your father has three times as many chances
for safety of life and limb than has a working-man? He has. The
insurance* companies know. They will charge him four dollars and
twenty cents a year on a thousand-dollar accident policy, and for
the same policy they will charge a laborer fifteen dollars."
* In the terrible wolf-struggle of those centuries, no man was
permanently safe, no matter how much wealth he amassed. Out of
fear for the welfare of their families, men devised the scheme of
insurance. To us, in this intelligent age, such a device is
laughably absurd and primitive. But in that age insurance was a
very serious matter. The amusing part of it is that the funds of
the insurance companies were frequently plundered and wasted by the
very officials who were intrusted with the management of them.
"And you?" I asked; and in the moment of asking I was aware of a
solicitude that was something more than slight.
"Oh, as a revolutionist, I have about eight chances to the
workingman's one of being injured or killed," he answered
carelessly. "The insurance companies charge the highly trained
chemists that handle explosives eight times what they charge the
workingmen. I don't think they'd insure me at all. Why did you
My eyes fluttered, and I could feel the blood warm in my face. It
was not that he had caught me in my solicitude, but that I had
caught myself, and in his presence.
Just then my father came in and began making preparations to depart
with me. Ernest returned some books he had borrowed, and went away
first. But just as he was going, he turned and said:
"Oh, by the way, while you are ruining your own peace of mind and I
am ruining the Bishop's, you'd better look up Mrs. Wickson and Mrs.
Pertonwaithe. Their husbands, you know, are the two principal
stockholders in the Mills. Like all the rest of humanity, those
two women are tied to the machine, but they are so tied that they
sit on top of it."
CHAPTER IV. SLAVES OF THE MACHINE
The more I thought of Jackson's arm, the more shaken I was. I was
confronted by the concrete. For the first time I was seeing life.
My university life, and study and culture, had not been real. I
had learned nothing but theories of life and society that looked
all very well on the printed page, but now I had seen life itself.
Jackson's arm was a fact of life. "The fact, man, the irrefragable
fact!" of Ernest's was ringing in my consciousness.
It seemed monstrous, impossible, that our whole society was based
upon blood. And yet there was Jackson. I could not get away from
him. Constantly my thought swung back to him as the compass to the
Pole. He had been monstrously treated. His blood had not been
paid for in order that a larger dividend might be paid. And I knew
a score of happy complacent families that had received those
dividends and by that much had profited by Jackson's blood. If one
man could be so monstrously treated and society move on its way
unheeding, might not many men be so monstrously treated? I
remembered Ernest's women of Chicago who toiled for ninety cents a
week, and the child slaves of the Southern cotton mills he had
described. And I could see their wan white hands, from which the
blood had been pressed, at work upon the cloth out of which had
been made my gown. And then I thought of the Sierra Mills and the
dividends that had been paid, and I saw the blood of Jackson upon
my gown as well. Jackson I could not escape. Always my
meditations led me back to him.
Down in the depths of me I had a feeling that I stood on the edge
of a precipice. It was as though I were about to see a new and
awful revelation of life. And not I alone. My whole world was
turning over. There was my father. I could see the effect Ernest
was beginning to have on him. And then there was the Bishop. When
I had last seen him he had looked a sick man. He was at high
nervous tension, and in his eyes there was unspeakable horror.
From the little I learned I knew that Ernest had been keeping his
promise of taking him through hell. But what scenes of hell the
Bishop's eyes had seen, I knew not, for he seemed too stunned to
speak about them.
Once, the feeling strong upon me that my little world and all the
world was turning over, I thought of Ernest as the cause of it; and
also I thought, "We were so happy and peaceful before he came!"
And the next moment I was aware that the thought was a treason
against truth, and Ernest rose before me transfigured, the apostle
of truth, with shining brows and the fearlessness of one of Gods
own angels, battling for the truth and the right, and battling for
the succor of the poor and lonely and oppressed. And then there
arose before me another figure, the Christ! He, too, had taken the
part of the lowly and oppressed, and against all the established
power of priest and pharisee. And I remembered his end upon the
cross, and my heart contracted with a pang as I thought of Ernest.
Was he, too, destined for a cross?--he, with his clarion call and
war-noted voice, and all the fine man's vigor of him!
And in that moment I knew that I loved him, and that I was melting
with desire to comfort him. I thought of his life. A sordid,
harsh, and meagre life it must have been. And I thought of his
father, who had lied and stolen for him and been worked to death.
And he himself had gone into the mills when he was ten! All my
heart seemed bursting with desire to fold my arms around him, and
to rest his head on my breast--his head that must be weary with so
many thoughts; and to give him rest--just rest--and easement and
forgetfulness for a tender space.
I met Colonel Ingram at a church reception. Him I knew well and
had known well for many years. I trapped him behind large palms
and rubber plants, though he did not know he was trapped. He met
me with the conventional gayety and gallantry. He was ever a
graceful man, diplomatic, tactful, and considerate. And as for
appearance, he was the most distinguished-looking man in our
society. Beside him even the venerable head of the university
looked tawdry and small.
And yet I found Colonel Ingram situated the same as the unlettered
mechanics. He was not a free agent. He, too, was bound upon the
wheel. I shall never forget the change in him when I mentioned
Jackson's case. His smiling good nature vanished like a ghost. A
sudden, frightful expression distorted his well-bred face. I felt
the same alarm that I had felt when James Smith broke out. But
Colonel Ingram did not curse. That was the slight difference that
was left between the workingman and him. He was famed as a wit,
but he had no wit now. And, unconsciously, this way and that he
glanced for avenues of escape. But he was trapped amid the palms
and rubber trees.
Oh, he was sick of the sound of Jackson's name. Why had I brought
the matter up? He did not relish my joke. It was poor taste on my
part, and very inconsiderate. Did I not know that in his
profession personal feelings did not count? He left his personal
feelings at home when he went down to the office. At the office he
had only professional feelings.
"Should Jackson have received damages?" I asked.
"Certainly," he answered. "That is, personally, I have a feeling
that he should. But that has nothing to do with the legal aspects
of the case."
He was getting his scattered wits slightly in hand.
"Tell me, has right anything to do with the law?" I asked.
"You have used the wrong initial consonant," he smiled in answer.
"Might?" I queried; and he nodded his head. "And yet we are
supposed to get justice by means of the law?"
"That is the paradox of it," he countered. "We do get justice."
"You are speaking professionally now, are you not?" I asked.
Colonel Ingram blushed, actually blushed, and again he looked
anxiously about him for a way of escape. But I blocked his path
and did not offer to move.
"Tell me," I said, "when one surrenders his personal feelings to
his professional feelings, may not the action be defined as a sort
of spiritual mayhem?"
I did not get an answer. Colonel Ingram had ingloriously bolted,
overturning a palm in his flight.
Next I tried the newspapers. I wrote a quiet, restrained,
dispassionate account of Jackson's case. I made no charges against
the men with whom I had talked, nor, for that matter, did I even
mention them. I gave the actual facts of the case, the long years
Jackson had worked in the mills, his effort to save the machinery
from damage and the consequent accident, and his own present
wretched and starving condition. The three local newspapers
rejected my communication, likewise did the two weeklies.
I got hold of Percy Layton. He was a graduate of the university,
had gone in for journalism, and was then serving his apprenticeship
as reporter on the most influential of the three newspapers. He
smiled when I asked him the reason the newspapers suppressed all
mention of Jackson or his case.
"Editorial policy," he said. "We have nothing to do with that.
It's up to the editors."
"But why is it policy?" I asked.
"We're all solid with the corporations," he answered. "If you paid
advertising rates, you couldn't get any such matter into the
papers. A man who tried to smuggle it in would lose his job. You
couldn't get it in if you paid ten times the regular advertising
"How about your own policy?" I questioned. "It would seem your
function is to twist truth at the command of your employers, who,
in turn, obey the behests of the corporations."
"I haven't anything to do with that." He looked uncomfortable for
the moment, then brightened as he saw his way out. "I, myself, do
not write untruthful things. I keep square all right with my own
conscience. Of course, there's lots that's repugnant in the course
of the day's work. But then, you see, that's all part of the day's
work," he wound up boyishly.
"Yet you expect to sit at an editor's desk some day and conduct a
"I'll be case-hardened by that time," was his reply.
"Since you are not yet case-hardened, tell me what you think right
now about the general editorial policy."
"I don't think," he answered quickly. "One can't kick over the
ropes if he's going to succeed in journalism. I've learned that
much, at any rate."
And he nodded his young head sagely.
"But the right?" I persisted.
"You don't understand the game. Of course it's all right, because
it comes out all right, don't you see?"
"Delightfully vague," I murmured; but my heart was aching for the
youth of him, and I felt that I must either scream or burst into
I was beginning to see through the appearances of the society in
which I had always lived, and to find the frightful realities that
were beneath. There seemed a tacit conspiracy against Jackson, and
I was aware of a thrill of sympathy for the whining lawyer who had
ingloriously fought his case. But this tacit conspiracy grew
large. Not alone was it aimed against Jackson. It was aimed
against every workingman who was maimed in the mills. And if
against every man in the mills, why not against every man in all
the other mills and factories? In fact, was it not true of all the
And if this was so, then society was a lie. I shrank back from my
own conclusions. It was too terrible and awful to be true. But
there was Jackson, and Jackson's arm, and the blood that stained my
gown and dripped from my own roof-beams. And there were many
Jacksons--hundreds of them in the mills alone, as Jackson himself
had said. Jackson I could not escape.
I saw Mr. Wickson and Mr. Pertonwaithe, the two men who held most
of the stock in the Sierra Mills. But I could not shake them as I
had shaken the mechanics in their employ. I discovered that they
had an ethic superior to that of the rest of society. It was what
I may call the aristocratic ethic or the master ethic.* They
talked in large ways of policy, and they identified policy and
right. And to me they talked in fatherly ways, patronizing my
youth and inexperience. They were the most hopeless of all I had
encountered in my quest. They believed absolutely that their
conduct was right. There was no question about it, no discussion.
They were convinced that they were the saviours of society, and
that it was they who made happiness for the many. And they drew
pathetic pictures of what would be the sufferings of the working
class were it not for the employment that they, and they alone, by
their wisdom, provided for it.
* Before Avis Everhard was born, John Stuart Mill, in his essay, ON
LIBERTY, wrote: "Wherever there is an ascendant class, a large
portion of the morality emanates from its class interests and its
class feelings of superiority."
Fresh from these two masters, I met Ernest and related my
experience. He looked at me with a pleased expression, and said:
"Really, this is fine. You are beginning to dig truth for
yourself. It is your own empirical generalization, and it is
correct. No man in the industrial machine is a free-will agent,
except the large capitalist, and he isn't, if you'll pardon the
Irishism.* You see, the masters are quite sure that they are right
in what they are doing. That is the crowning absurdity of the
whole situation. They are so tied by their human nature that they
can't do a thing unless they think it is right. They must have a
sanction for their acts.
* Verbal contradictions, called BULLS, were long an amiable
weakness of the ancient Irish.
"When they want to do a thing, in business of course, they must
wait till there arises in their brains, somehow, a religious, or
ethical, or scientific, or philosophic, concept that the thing is
right. And then they go ahead and do it, unwitting that one of the
weaknesses of the human mind is that the wish is parent to the
thought. No matter what they want to do, the sanction always
comes. They are superficial casuists. They are Jesuitical. They
even see their way to doing wrong that right may come of it. One
of the pleasant and axiomatic fictions they have created is that
they are superior to the rest of mankind in wisdom and efficiency.
Therefrom comes their sanction to manage the bread and butter of
the rest of mankind. They have even resurrected the theory of the
divine right of kings--commercial kings in their case.*
* The newspapers, in 1902 of that era, credited the president of
the Anthracite Coal Trust, George F. Baer, with the enunciation of
the following principle: "The rights and interests of the laboring
man will be protected by the Christian men to whom God in His
infinite wisdom has given the property interests of the country."
"The weakness in their position lies in that they are merely
business men. They are not philosophers. They are not biologists
nor sociologists. If they were, of course all would be well. A
business man who was also a biologist and a sociologist would know,
approximately, the right thing to do for humanity. But, outside
the realm of business, these men are stupid. They know only
business. They do not know mankind nor society, and yet they set
themselves up as arbiters of the fates of the hungry millions and
all the other millions thrown in. History, some day, will have an
excruciating laugh at their expense."
I was not surprised when I had my talk out with Mrs. Wickson and
Mrs. Pertonwaithe. They were society women.* Their homes were
palaces. They had many homes scattered over the country, in the
mountains, on lakes, and by the sea. They were tended by armies of
servants, and their social activities were bewildering. They
patronized the university and the churches, and the pastors
especially bowed at their knees in meek subservience.** They were
powers, these two women, what of the money that was theirs. The
power of subsidization of thought was theirs to a remarkable
degree, as I was soon to learn under Ernest's tuition.
* SOCIETY is here used in a restricted sense, a common usage of the
times to denote the gilded drones that did no labor, but only
glutted themselves at the honey-vats of the workers. Neither the
business men nor the laborers had time or opportunity for SOCIETY.
SOCIETY was the creation of the idle rich who toiled not and who in
this way played.
** "Bring on your tainted money," was the expressed sentiment of
the Church during this period.
They aped their husbands, and talked in the same large ways about
policy, and the duties and responsibilities of the rich. They were
swayed by the same ethic that dominated their husbands--the ethic
of their class; and they uttered glib phrases that their own ears
did not understand.
Also, they grew irritated when I told them of the deplorable
condition of Jackson's family, and when I wondered that they had
made no voluntary provision for the man. I was told that they
thanked no one for instructing them in their social duties. When I
asked them flatly to assist Jackson, they as flatly refused. The
astounding thing about it was that they refused in almost
identically the same language, and this in face of the fact that I
interviewed them separately and that one did not know that I had
seen or was going to see the other. Their common reply was that
they were glad of the opportunity to make it perfectly plain that
no premium would ever be put on carelessness by them; nor would
they, by paying for accident, tempt the poor to hurt themselves in
* In the files of the OUTLOOK, a critical weekly of the period, in
the number dated August 18, 1906, is related the circumstance of a
workingman losing his arm, the details of which are quite similar
to those of Jackson's case as related by Avis Everhard.
And they were sincere, these two women. They were drunk with
conviction of the superiority of their class and of themselves.
They had a sanction, in their own class-ethic, for every act they
performed. As I drove away from Mrs. Pertonwaithe's great house, I
looked back at it, and I remembered Ernest's expression that they
were bound to the machine, but that they were so bound that they
sat on top of it.
CHAPTER V. THE PHILOMATHS
Ernest was often at the house. Nor was it my father, merely, nor
the controversial dinners, that drew him there. Even at that time
I flattered myself that I played some part in causing his visits,
and it was not long before I learned the correctness of my surmise.
For never was there such a lover as Ernest Everhard. His gaze and
his hand-clasp grew firmer and steadier, if that were possible; and
the question that had grown from the first in his eyes, grew only
the more imperative.
My impression of him, the first time I saw him, had been
unfavorable. Then I had found myself attracted toward him. Next
came my repulsion, when he so savagely attacked my class and me.
After that, as I saw that he had not maligned my class, and that
the harsh and bitter things he said about it were justified, I had
drawn closer to him again. He became my oracle. For me he tore
the sham from the face of society and gave me glimpses of reality
that were as unpleasant as they were undeniably true.
As I have said, there was never such a lover as he. No girl could
live in a university town till she was twenty-four and not have
love experiences. I had been made love to by beardless sophomores
and gray professors, and by the athletes and the football giants.
But not one of them made love to me as Ernest did. His arms were
around me before I knew. His lips were on mine before I could
protest or resist. Before his earnestness conventional maiden
dignity was ridiculous. He swept me off my feet by the splendid
invincible rush of him. He did not propose. He put his arms
around me and kissed me and took it for granted that we should be
married. There was no discussion about it. The only discussion--
and that arose afterward--was when we should be married.
It was unprecedented. It was unreal. Yet, in accordance with
Ernest's test of truth, it worked. I trusted my life to it. And
fortunate was the trust. Yet during those first days of our love,
fear of the future came often to me when I thought of the violence
and impetuosity of his love-making. Yet such fears were
groundless. No woman was ever blessed with a gentler, tenderer
husband. This gentleness and violence on his part was a curious
blend similar to the one in his carriage of awkwardness and ease.
That slight awkwardness! He never got over it, and it was
delicious. His behavior in our drawing-room reminded me of a
careful bull in a china shop.*
* In those days it was still the custom to fill the living rooms
with bric-a-brac. They had not discovered simplicity of living.
Such rooms were museums, entailing endless labor to keep clean.
The dust-demon was the lord of the household. There were a myriad
devices for catching dust, and only a few devices for getting rid
It was at this time that vanished my last doubt of the completeness
of my love for him (a subconscious doubt, at most). It was at the
Philomath Club--a wonderful night of battle, wherein Ernest bearded
the masters in their lair. Now the Philomath Club was the most
select on the Pacific Coast. It was the creation of Miss
Brentwood, an enormously wealthy old maid; and it was her husband,
and family, and toy. Its members were the wealthiest in the
community, and the strongest-minded of the wealthy, with, of
course, a sprinkling of scholars to give it intellectual tone.
The Philomath had no club house. It was not that kind of a club.
Once a month its members gathered at some one of their private
houses to listen to a lecture. The lecturers were usually, though
not always, hired. If a chemist in New York made a new discovery
in say radium, all his expenses across the continent were paid, and
as well he received a princely fee for his time. The same with a
returning explorer from the polar regions, or the latest literary
or artistic success. No visitors were allowed, while it was the
Philomath's policy to permit none of its discussions to get into
the papers. Thus great statesmen--and there had been such
occasions--were able fully to speak their minds.
I spread before me a wrinkled letter, written to me by Ernest
twenty years ago, and from it I copy the following:
"Your father is a member of the Philomath, so you are able to come.
Therefore come next Tuesday night. I promise you that you will
have the time of your life. In your recent encounters, you failed
to shake the masters. If you come, I'll shake them for you. I'll
make them snarl like wolves. You merely questioned their morality.
When their morality is questioned, they grow only the more
complacent and superior. But I shall menace their money-bags.
That will shake them to the roots of their primitive natures. If
you can come, you will see the cave-man, in evening dress, snarling
and snapping over a bone. I promise you a great caterwauling and
an illuminating insight into the nature of the beast.
"They've invited me in order to tear me to pieces. This is the
idea of Miss Brentwood. She clumsily hinted as much when she
invited me. She's given them that kind of fun before. They
delight in getting trustful-souled gentle reformers before them.
Miss Brentwood thinks I am as mild as a kitten and as good-natured
and stolid as the family cow. I'll not deny that I helped to give
her that impression. She was very tentative at first, until she
divined my harmlessness. I am to receive a handsome fee--two
hundred and fifty dollars--as befits the man who, though a radical,
once ran for governor. Also, I am to wear evening dress. This is
compulsory. I never was so apparelled in my life. I suppose I'll
have to hire one somewhere. But I'd do more than that to get a
chance at the Philomaths."
Of all places, the Club gathered that night at the Pertonwaithe
house. Extra chairs had been brought into the great drawing-room,
and in all there must have been two hundred Philomaths that sat
down to hear Ernest. They were truly lords of society. I amused
myself with running over in my mind the sum of the fortunes
represented, and it ran well into the hundreds of millions. And
the possessors were not of the idle rich. They were men of affairs
who took most active parts in industrial and political life.
We were all seated when Miss Brentwood brought Ernest in. They
moved at once to the head of the room, from where he was to speak.
He was in evening dress, and, what of his broad shoulders and
kingly head, he looked magnificent. And then there was that faint
and unmistakable touch of awkwardness in his movements. I almost
think I could have loved him for that alone. And as I looked at
him I was aware of a great joy. I felt again the pulse of his palm
on mine, the touch of his lips; and such pride was mine that I felt
I must rise up and cry out to the assembled company: "He is mine!
He has held me in his arms, and I, mere I, have filled that mind of
his to the exclusion of all his multitudinous and kingly thoughts!"
At the head of the room, Miss Brentwood introduced him to Colonel
Van Gilbert, and I knew that the latter was to preside. Colonel
Van Gilbert was a great corporation lawyer. In addition, he was
immensely wealthy. The smallest fee he would deign to notice was a
hundred thousand dollars. He was a master of law. The law was a
puppet with which he played. He moulded it like clay, twisted and
distorted it like a Chinese puzzle into any design he chose. In
appearance and rhetoric he was old-fashioned, but in imagination
and knowledge and resource he was as young as the latest statute.
His first prominence had come when he broke the Shardwell will.*
His fee for this one act was five hundred thousand dollars. From
then on he had risen like a rocket. He was often called the
greatest lawyer in the country--corporation lawyer, of course; and
no classification of the three greatest lawyers in the United
States could have excluded him.
* This breaking of wills was a peculiar feature of the period.
With the accumulation of vast fortunes, the problem of disposing of
these fortunes after death was a vexing one to the accumulators.
Will-making and will-breaking became complementary trades, like
armor-making and gun-making. The shrewdest will-making lawyers
were called in to make wills that could not be broken. But these
wills were always broken, and very often by the very lawyers that
had drawn them up. Nevertheless the delusion persisted in the
wealthy class that an absolutely unbreakable will could be cast;
and so, through the generations, clients and lawyers pursued the
illusion. It was a pursuit like unto that of the Universal Solvent
of the mediaeval alchemists.
He arose and began, in a few well-chosen phrases that carried an
undertone of faint irony, to introduce Ernest. Colonel Van Gilbert
was subtly facetious in his introduction of the social reformer and
member of the working class, and the audience smiled. It made me
angry, and I glanced at Ernest. The sight of him made me doubly
angry. He did not seem to resent the delicate slurs. Worse than
that, he did not seem to be aware of them. There he sat, gentle,
and stolid, and somnolent. He really looked stupid. And for a
moment the thought rose in my mind, What if he were overawed by
this imposing array of power and brains? Then I smiled. He
couldn't fool me. But he fooled the others, just as he had fooled
Miss Brentwood. She occupied a chair right up to the front, and
several times she turned her head toward one or another of her
CONFRERES and smiled her appreciation of the remarks.
Colonel Van Gilbert done, Ernest arose and began to speak. He
began in a low voice, haltingly and modestly, and with an air of
evident embarrassment. He spoke of his birth in the working class,
and of the sordidness and wretchedness of his environment, where
flesh and spirit were alike starved and tormented. He described
his ambitions and ideals, and his conception of the paradise
wherein lived the people of the upper classes. As he said:
"Up above me, I knew, were unselfishnesses of the spirit, clean and
noble thinking, keen intellectual living. I knew all this because
I read 'Seaside Library'* novels, in which, with the exception of
the villains and adventuresses, all men and women thought beautiful
thoughts, spoke a beautiful tongue, and performed glorious deeds.
In short, as I accepted the rising of the sun, I accepted that up
above me was all that was fine and noble and gracious, all that
gave decency and dignity to life, all that made life worth living
and that remunerated one for his travail and misery."
* A curious and amazing literature that served to make the working
class utterly misapprehend the nature of the leisure class.
He went on and traced his life in the mills, the learning of the
horseshoeing trade, and his meeting with the socialists. Among
them, he said, he had found keen intellects and brilliant wits,
ministers of the Gospel who had been broken because their
Christianity was too wide for any congregation of mammon-
worshippers, and professors who had been broken on the wheel of
university subservience to the ruling class. The socialists were
revolutionists, he said, struggling to overthrow the irrational
society of the present and out of the material to build the
rational society of the future. Much more he said that would take
too long to write, but I shall never forget how he described the
life among the revolutionists. All halting utterance vanished.
His voice grew strong and confident, and it glowed as he glowed,
and as the thoughts glowed that poured out from him. He said:
"Amongst the revolutionists I found, also, warm faith in the human,
ardent idealism, sweetnesses of unselfishness, renunciation, and
martyrdom--all the splendid, stinging things of the spirit. Here
life was clean, noble, and alive. I was in touch with great souls
who exalted flesh and spirit over dollars and cents, and to whom
the thin wail of the starved slum child meant more than all the
pomp and circumstance of commercial expansion and world empire.
All about me were nobleness of purpose and heroism of effort, and
my days and nights were sunshine and starshine, all fire and dew,
with before my eyes, ever burning and blazing, the Holy Grail,
Christ's own Grail, the warm human, long-suffering and maltreated
but to be rescued and saved at the last."
As before I had seen him transfigured, so now he stood transfigured
before me. His brows were bright with the divine that was in him,
and brighter yet shone his eyes from the midst of the radiance that
seemed to envelop him as a mantle. But the others did not see this
radiance, and I assumed that it was due to the tears of joy and
love that dimmed my vision. At any rate, Mr. Wickson, who sat
behind me, was unaffected, for I heard him sneer aloud, "Utopian."*
* The people of that age were phrase slaves. The abjectness of
their servitude is incomprehensible to us. There was a magic in
words greater than the conjurer's art. So befuddled and chaotic
were their minds that the utterance of a single word could negative
the generalizations of a lifetime of serious research and thought.
Such a word was the adjective UTOPIAN. The mere utterance of it
could damn any scheme, no matter how sanely conceived, of economic
amelioration or regeneration. Vast populations grew frenzied over
such phrases as "an honest dollar" and "a full dinner pail." The
coinage of such phrases was considered strokes of genius.
Ernest went on to his rise in society, till at last he came in
touch with members of the upper classes, and rubbed shoulders with
the men who sat in the high places. Then came his disillusionment,
and this disillusionment he described in terms that did not flatter
his audience. He was surprised at the commonness of the clay.
Life proved not to be fine and gracious. He was appalled by the
selfishness he encountered, and what had surprised him even more
than that was the absence of intellectual life. Fresh from his
revolutionists, he was shocked by the intellectual stupidity of the
master class. And then, in spite of their magnificent churches and
well-paid preachers, he had found the masters, men and women,
grossly material. It was true that they prattled sweet little
ideals and dear little moralities, but in spite of their prattle
the dominant key of the life they lived was materialistic. And
they were without real morality--for instance, that which Christ
had preached but which was no longer preached.
"I met men," he said, "who invoked the name of the Prince of Peace
in their diatribes against war, and who put rifles in the hands of
Pinkertons* with which to shoot down strikers in their own
factories. I met men incoherent with indignation at the brutality
of prize-fighting, and who, at the same time, were parties to the
adulteration of food that killed each year more babes than even
red-handed Herod had killed.
* Originally, they were private detectives; but they quickly became
hired fighting men of the capitalists, and ultimately developed
into the Mercenaries of the Oligarchy.
"This delicate, aristocratic-featured gentleman was a dummy
director and a tool of corporations that secretly robbed widows and
orphans. This gentleman, who collected fine editions and was a
patron of literature, paid blackmail to a heavy-jowled, black-
browed boss of a municipal machine. This editor, who published
patent medicine advertisements, called me a scoundrelly demagogue
because I dared him to print in his paper the truth about patent
medicines.* This man, talking soberly and earnestly about the
beauties of idealism and the goodness of God, had just betrayed his
comrades in a business deal. This man, a pillar of the church and
heavy contributor to foreign missions, worked his shop girls ten
hours a day on a starvation wage and thereby directly encouraged
prostitution. This man, who endowed chairs in universities and
erected magnificent chapels, perjured himself in courts of law over
dollars and cents. This railroad magnate broke his word as a
citizen, as a gentleman, and as a Christian, when he granted a
secret rebate, and he granted many secret rebates. This senator
was the tool and the slave, the little puppet, of a brutal
uneducated machine boss;** so was this governor and this supreme
court judge; and all three rode on railroad passes; and, also, this
sleek capitalist owned the machine, the machine boss, and the
railroads that issued the passes.
* PATENT MEDICINES were patent lies, but, like the charms and
indulgences of the Middle Ages, they deceived the people. The only
difference lay in that the patent medicines were more harmful and
** Even as late as 1912, A.D., the great mass of the people still
persisted in the belief that they ruled the country by virtue of
their ballots. In reality, the country was ruled by what were
called POLITICAL MACHINES. At first the machine bosses charged the
master capitalists extortionate tolls for legislation; but in a
short time the master capitalists found it cheaper to own the
political machines themselves and to hire the machine bosses.
"And so it was, instead of in paradise, that I found myself in the
arid desert of commercialism. I found nothing but stupidity,
except for business. I found none clean, noble, and alive, though
I found many who were alive--with rottenness. What I did find was
monstrous selfishness and heartlessness, and a gross, gluttonous,
practised, and practical materialism."
Much more Ernest told them of themselves and of his
disillusionment. Intellectually they had bored him; morally and
spiritually they had sickened him; so that he was glad to go back
to his revolutionists, who were clean, noble, and alive, and all
that the capitalists were not.
"And now," he said, "let me tell you about that revolution."
But first I must say that his terrible diatribe had not touched
them. I looked about me at their faces and saw that they remained
complacently superior to what he had charged. And I remembered
what he had told me: that no indictment of their morality could
shake them. However, I could see that the boldness of his language
had affected Miss Brentwood. She was looking worried and
Ernest began by describing the army of revolution, and as he gave
the figures of its strength (the votes cast in the various
countries), the assemblage began to grow restless. Concern showed
in their faces, and I noticed a tightening of lips. At last the
gage of battle had been thrown down. He described the
international organization of the socialists that united the
million and a half in the United States with the twenty-three
millions and a half in the rest of the world.
"Such an army of revolution," he said, "twenty-five millions
strong, is a thing to make rulers and ruling classes pause and
consider. The cry of this army is: 'No quarter! We want all that
you possess. We will be content with nothing less than all that
you possess. We want in our hands the reins of power and the
destiny of mankind. Here are our hands. They are strong hands.
We are going to take your governments, your palaces, and all your
purpled ease away from you, and in that day you shall work for your
bread even as the peasant in the field or the starved and runty
clerk in your metropolises. Here are our hands. They are strong
And as he spoke he extended from his splendid shoulders his two
great arms, and the horseshoer's hands were clutching the air like
eagle's talons. He was the spirit of regnant labor as he stood
there, his hands outreaching to rend and crush his audience. I was
aware of a faintly perceptible shrinking on the part of the
listeners before this figure of revolution, concrete, potential,
and menacing. That is, the women shrank, and fear was in their
faces. Not so with the men. They were of the active rich, and not
the idle, and they were fighters. A low, throaty rumble arose,
lingered on the air a moment, and ceased. It was the forerunner of
the snarl, and I was to hear it many times that night--the token of
the brute in man, the earnest of his primitive passions. And they
were unconscious that they had made this sound. It was the growl
of the pack, mouthed by the pack, and mouthed in all
unconsciousness. And in that moment, as I saw the harshness form
in their faces and saw the fight-light flashing in their eyes, I
realized that not easily would they let their lordship of the world
be wrested from them.
Ernest proceeded with his attack. He accounted for the existence
of the million and a half of revolutionists in the United States by
charging the capitalist class with having mismanaged society. He
sketched the economic condition of the cave-man and of the savage
peoples of to-day, pointing out that they possessed neither tools
nor machines, and possessed only a natural efficiency of one in
producing power. Then he traced the development of machinery and
social organization so that to-day the producing power of civilized
man was a thousand times greater than that of the savage.
"Five men," he said, "can produce bread for a thousand. One man
can produce cotton cloth for two hundred and fifty people, woollens
for three hundred, and boots and shoes for a thousand. One would
conclude from this that under a capable management of society
modern civilized man would be a great deal better off than the
cave-man. But is he? Let us see. In the United States to-day
there are fifteen million* people living in poverty; and by poverty
is meant that condition in life in which, through lack of food and
adequate shelter, the mere standard of working efficiency cannot be
maintained. In the United States to-day, in spite of all your so-
called labor legislation, there are three millions of child
laborers.** In twelve years their numbers have been doubled. And
in passing I will ask you managers of society why you did not make
public the census figures of 1910? And I will answer for you, that
you were afraid. The figures of misery would have precipitated the
revolution that even now is gathering.
* Robert Hunter, in 1906, in a book entitled "Poverty," pointed out
that at that time there were ten millions in the United States
living in poverty.
** In the United States Census of 1900 (the last census the figures
of which were made public), the number of child laborers was placed
"But to return to my indictment. If modern man's producing power
is a thousand times greater than that of the cave-man, why then, in
the United States to-day, are there fifteen million people who are
not properly sheltered and properly fed? Why then, in the United
States to-day, are there three million child laborers? It is a
true indictment. The capitalist class has mismanaged. In face of
the facts that modern man lives more wretchedly than the cave-man,
and that his producing power is a thousand times greater than that
of the cave-man, no other conclusion is possible than that the
capitalist class has mismanaged, that you have mismanaged, my
masters, that you have criminally and selfishly mismanaged. And on
this count you cannot answer me here to-night, face to face, any
more than can your whole class answer the million and a half of
revolutionists in the United States. You cannot answer. I
challenge you to answer. And furthermore, I dare to say to you now
that when I have finished you will not answer. On that point you
will be tongue-tied, though you will talk wordily enough about
"You have failed in your management. You have made a shambles of
civilization. You have been blind and greedy. You have risen up
(as you to-day rise up), shamelessly, in our legislative halls, and
declared that profits were impossible without the toil of children
and babes. Don't take my word for it. It is all in the records
against you. You have lulled your conscience to sleep with prattle
of sweet ideals and dear moralities. You are fat with power and
possession, drunken with success; and you have no more hope against
us than have the drones, clustered about the honey-vats, when the
worker-bees spring upon them to end their rotund existence. You
have failed in your management of society, and your management is
to be taken away from you. A million and a half of the men of the
working class say that they are going to get the rest of the
working class to join with them and take the management away from
you. This is the revolution, my masters. Stop it if you can."
For an appreciable lapse of time Ernest's voice continued to ring
through the great room. Then arose the throaty rumble I had heard
before, and a dozen men were on their feet clamoring for
recognition from Colonel Van Gilbert. I noticed Miss Brentwood's
shoulders moving convulsively, and for the moment I was angry, for
I thought that she was laughing at Ernest. And then I discovered
that it was not laughter, but hysteria. She was appalled by what
she had done in bringing this firebrand before her blessed
Colonel Van Gilbert did not notice the dozen men, with passion-
wrought faces, who strove to get permission from him to speak. His
own face was passion-wrought. He sprang to his feet, waving his
arms, and for a moment could utter only incoherent sounds. Then
speech poured from him. But it was not the speech of a one-
hundred-thousand-dollar lawyer, nor was the rhetoric old-fashioned.
"Fallacy upon fallacy!" he cried. "Never in all my life have I
heard so many fallacies uttered in one short hour. And besides,
young man, I must tell you that you have said nothing new. I
learned all that at college before you were born. Jean Jacques
Rousseau enunciated your socialistic theory nearly two centuries
ago. A return to the soil, forsooth! Reversion! Our biology
teaches the absurdity of it. It has been truly said that a little
learning is a dangerous thing, and you have exemplified it to-night
with your madcap theories. Fallacy upon fallacy! I was never so
nauseated in my life with overplus of fallacy. That for your
immature generalizations and childish reasonings!"
He snapped his fingers contemptuously and proceeded to sit down.
There were lip-exclamations of approval on the part of the women,
and hoarser notes of confirmation came from the men. As for the
dozen men who were clamoring for the floor, half of them began
speaking at once. The confusion and babel was indescribable.
Never had Mrs. Pertonwaithe's spacious walls beheld such a
spectacle. These, then, were the cool captains of industry and
lords of society, these snarling, growling savages in evening
clothes. Truly Ernest had shaken them when he stretched out his
hands for their moneybags, his hands that had appeared in their
eyes as the hands of the fifteen hundred thousand revolutionists.
But Ernest never lost his head in a situation. Before Colonel Van
Gilbert had succeeded in sitting down, Ernest was on his feet and
had sprung forward.
"One at a time!" he roared at them.
The sound arose from his great lungs and dominated the human
tempest. By sheer compulsion of personality he commanded silence.
"One at a time," he repeated softly. "Let me answer Colonel Van
Gilbert. After that the rest of you can come at me--but one at a
time, remember. No mass-plays here. This is not a football field.
"As for you," he went on, turning toward Colonel Van Gilbert, "you
have replied to nothing I have said. You have merely made a few
excited and dogmatic assertions about my mental caliber. That may
serve you in your business, but you can't talk to me like that. I
am not a workingman, cap in hand, asking you to increase my wages
or to protect me from the machine at which I work. You cannot be
dogmatic with truth when you deal with me. Save that for dealing
with your wage-slaves. They will not dare reply to you because you
hold their bread and butter, their lives, in your hands.
"As for this return to nature that you say you learned at college
before I was born, permit me to point out that on the face of it
you cannot have learned anything since. Socialism has no more to
do with the state of nature than has differential calculus with a
Bible class. I have called your class stupid when outside the
realm of business. You, sir, have brilliantly exemplified my
This terrible castigation of her hundred-thousand-dollar lawyer was
too much for Miss Brentwood's nerves. Her hysteria became violent,
and she was helped, weeping and laughing, out of the room. It was
just as well, for there was worse to follow.
"Don't take my word for it," Ernest continued, when the
interruption had been led away. "Your own authorities with one
unanimous voice will prove you stupid. Your own hired purveyors of
knowledge will tell you that you are wrong. Go to your meekest
little assistant instructor of sociology and ask him what is the
difference between Rousseau's theory of the return to nature and
the theory of socialism; ask your greatest orthodox bourgeois
political economists and sociologists; question through the pages
of every text-book written on the subject and stored on the shelves
of your subsidized libraries; and from one and all the answer will
be that there is nothing congruous between the return to nature and
socialism. On the other hand, the unanimous affirmative answer
will be that the return to nature and socialism are diametrically
opposed to each other. As I say, don't take my word for it. The
record of your stupidity is there in the books, your own books that
you never read. And so far as your stupidity is concerned, you are
but the exemplar of your class.
"You know law and business, Colonel Van Gilbert. You know how to
serve corporations and increase dividends by twisting the law.
Very good. Stick to it. You are quite a figure. You are a very
good lawyer, but you are a poor historian, you know nothing of
sociology, and your biology is contemporaneous with Pliny."
Here Colonel Van Gilbert writhed in his chair. There was perfect
quiet in the room. Everybody sat fascinated--paralyzed, I may say.
Such fearful treatment of the great Colonel Van Gilbert was unheard
of, undreamed of, impossible to believe--the great Colonel Van
Gilbert before whom judges trembled when he arose in court. But
Ernest never gave quarter to an enemy.
"This is, of course, no reflection on you," Ernest said. "Every
man to his trade. Only you stick to your trade, and I'll stick to
mine. You have specialized. When it comes to a knowledge of the
law, of how best to evade the law or make new law for the benefit
of thieving corporations, I am down in the dirt at your feet. But
when it comes to sociology--my trade--you are down in the dirt at
my feet. Remember that. Remember, also, that your law is the
stuff of a day, and that you are not versatile in the stuff of more
than a day. Therefore your dogmatic assertions and rash
generalizations on things historical and sociological are not worth
the breath you waste on them."
Ernest paused for a moment and regarded him thoughtfully, noting
his face dark and twisted with anger, his panting chest, his
writhing body, and his slim white hands nervously clenching and
"But it seems you have breath to use, and I'll give you a chance to
use it. I indicted your class. Show me that my indictment is
wrong. I pointed out to you the wretchedness of modern man--three
million child slaves in the United States, without whose labor
profits would not be possible, and fifteen million under-fed, ill-
clothed, and worse-housed people. I pointed out that modern man's
producing power through social organization and the use of
machinery was a thousand times greater than that of the cave-man.
And I stated that from these two facts no other conclusion was
possible than that the capitalist class had mismanaged. This was
my indictment, and I specifically and at length challenged you to
answer it. Nay, I did more. I prophesied that you would not
answer. It remains for your breath to smash my prophecy. You
called my speech fallacy. Show the fallacy, Colonel Van Gilbert.
Answer the indictment that I and my fifteen hundred thousand
comrades have brought against your class and you."
Colonel Van Gilbert quite forgot that he was presiding, and that in
courtesy he should permit the other clamorers to speak. He was on
his feet, flinging his arms, his rhetoric, and his control to the
winds, alternately abusing Ernest for his youth and demagoguery,
and savagely attacking the working class, elaborating its
inefficiency and worthlessness.
"For a lawyer, you are the hardest man to keep to a point I ever
saw," Ernest began his answer to the tirade. "My youth has nothing
to do with what I have enunciated. Nor has the worthlessness of
the working class. I charged the capitalist class with having
mismanaged society. You have not answered. You have made no
attempt to answer. Why? Is it because you have no answer? You
are the champion of this whole audience. Every one here, except
me, is hanging on your lips for that answer. They are hanging on
your lips for that answer because they have no answer themselves.
As for me, as I said before, I know that you not only cannot
answer, but that you will not attempt an answer."
"This is intolerable!" Colonel Van Gilbert cried out. "This is
"That you should not answer is intolerable," Ernest replied
gravely. "No man can be intellectually insulted. Insult, in its
very nature, is emotional. Recover yourself. Give me an
intellectual answer to my intellectual charge that the capitalist
class has mismanaged society."
Colonel Van Gilbert remained silent, a sullen, superior expression
on his face, such as will appear on the face of a man who will not
bandy words with a ruffian.
"Do not be downcast," Ernest said. "Take consolation in the fact
that no member of your class has ever yet answered that charge."
He turned to the other men who were anxious to speak. "And now
it's your chance. Fire away, and do not forget that I here
challenge you to give the answer that Colonel Van Gilbert has
failed to give."
It would be impossible for me to write all that was said in the
discussion. I never realized before how many words could be spoken
in three short hours. At any rate, it was glorious. The more his
opponents grew excited, the more Ernest deliberately excited them.
He had an encyclopaedic command of the field of knowledge, and by a
word or a phrase, by delicate rapier thrusts, he punctured them.
He named the points of their illogic. This was a false syllogism,
that conclusion had no connection with the premise, while that next
premise was an impostor because it had cunningly hidden in it the
conclusion that was being attempted to be proved. This was an
error, that was an assumption, and the next was an assertion
contrary to ascertained truth as printed in all the text-books.
And so it went. Sometimes he exchanged the rapier for the club and
went smashing amongst their thoughts right and left. And always he
demanded facts and refused to discuss theories. And his facts made
for them a Waterloo. When they attacked the working class, he
always retorted, "The pot calling the kettle black; that is no
answer to the charge that your own face is dirty." And to one and
all he said: "Why have you not answered the charge that your class
has mismanaged? You have talked about other things and things
concerning other things, but you have not answered. Is it because
you have no answer?"
It was at the end of the discussion that Mr. Wickson spoke. He was
the only one that was cool, and Ernest treated him with a respect
he had not accorded the others.
"No answer is necessary," Mr. Wickson said with slow deliberation.
"I have followed the whole discussion with amazement and disgust.
I am disgusted with you gentlemen, members of my class. You have
behaved like foolish little schoolboys, what with intruding ethics
and the thunder of the common politician into such a discussion.
You have been outgeneralled and outclassed. You have been very
wordy, and all you have done is buzz. You have buzzed like gnats
about a bear. Gentlemen, there stands the bear" (he pointed at
Ernest), "and your buzzing has only tickled his ears.
"Believe me, the situation is serious. That bear reached out his
paws tonight to crush us. He has said there are a million and a
half of revolutionists in the United States. That is a fact. He
has said that it is their intention to take away from us our
governments, our palaces, and all our purpled ease. That, also, is
a fact. A change, a great change, is coming in society; but,
haply, it may not be the change the bear anticipates. The bear has
said that he will crush us. What if we crush the bear?"
The throat-rumble arose in the great room, and man nodded to man
with indorsement and certitude. Their faces were set hard. They
were fighters, that was certain.
"But not by buzzing will we crush the bear," Mr. Wickson went on
coldly and dispassionately. "We will hunt the bear. We will not
reply to the bear in words. Our reply shall be couched in terms of
lead. We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that
power we shall remain in power."
He turned suddenly upon Ernest. The moment was dramatic.
"This, then, is our answer. We have no words to waste on you.
When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and
purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell
and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be
couched.* We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel,
and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its
lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has
been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright.
And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those
that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the
king of words--Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it
over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power."
* To show the tenor of thought, the following definition is quoted
from "The Cynic's Word Book" (1906 A.D.), written by one Ambrose
Bierce, an avowed and confirmed misanthrope of the period:
"Grapeshot, n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer
to the demands of American Socialism."
"I am answered," Ernest said quietly. "It is the only answer that
could be given. Power. It is what we of the working class preach.
We know, and well we know by bitter experience, that no appeal for
the right, for justice, for humanity, can ever touch you. Your
hearts are hard as your heels with which you tread upon the faces
of the poor. So we have preached power. By the power of our
ballots on election day will we take your government away from you--"
"What if you do get a majority, a sweeping majority, on election
day?" Mr. Wickson broke in to demand. "Suppose we refuse to turn
the government over to you after you have captured it at the
"That, also, have we considered," Ernest replied. "And we shall
give you an answer in terms of lead. Power you have proclaimed the
king of words. Very good. Power it shall be. And in the day that
we sweep to victory at the ballot-box, and you refuse to turn over
to us the government we have constitutionally and peacefully
captured, and you demand what we are going to do about it--in that
day, I say, we shall answer you; and in roar of shell and shrapnel
and in whine of machine-guns shall our answer be couched.
"You cannot escape us. It is true that you have read history
aright. It is true that labor has from the beginning of history
been in the dirt. And it is equally true that so long as you and
yours and those that come after you have power, that labor shall
remain in the dirt. I agree with you. I agree with all that you
have said. Power will be the arbiter, as it always has been the
arbiter. It is a struggle of classes. Just as your class dragged
down the old feudal nobility, so shall it be dragged down by my
class, the working class. If you will read your biology and your
sociology as clearly as you do your history, you will see that this
end I have described is inevitable. It does not matter whether it
is in one year, ten, or a thousand--your class shall be dragged
down. And it shall be done by power. We of the labor hosts have
conned that word over till our minds are all a-tingle with it.
Power. It is a kingly word."
And so ended the night with the Philomaths.
CHAPTER VI. ADUMBRATIONS
It was about this time that the warnings of coming events began to
fall about us thick and fast. Ernest had already questioned
father's policy of having socialists and labor leaders at his
house, and of openly attending socialist meetings; and father had
only laughed at him for his pains. As for myself, I was learning
much from this contact with the working-class leaders and thinkers.
I was seeing the other side of the shield. I was delighted with
the unselfishness and high idealism I encountered, though I was
appalled by the vast philosophic and scientific literature of
socialism that was opened up to me. I was learning fast, but I
learned not fast enough to realize then the peril of our position.
There were warnings, but I did not heed them. For instance, Mrs.
Pertonwaithe and Mrs. Wickson exercised tremendous social power in
the university town, and from them emanated the sentiment that I
was a too-forward and self-assertive young woman with a mischievous
penchant for officiousness and interference in other persons'
affairs. This I thought no more than natural, considering the part
I had played in investigating the case of Jackson's arm. But the
effect of such a sentiment, enunciated by two such powerful social
arbiters, I underestimated.
True, I noticed a certain aloofness on the part of my general
friends, but this I ascribed to the disapproval that was prevalent
in my circles of my intended marriage with Ernest. It was not till
some time afterward that Ernest pointed out to me clearly that this
general attitude of my class was something more than spontaneous,
that behind it were the hidden springs of an organized conduct.
"You have given shelter to an enemy of your class," he said. "And
not alone shelter, for you have given your love, yourself. This is
treason to your class. Think not that you will escape being
But it was before this that father returned one afternoon. Ernest
was with me, and we could see that father was angry--
philosophically angry. He was rarely really angry; but a certain
measure of controlled anger he allowed himself. He called it a
tonic. And we could see that he was tonic-angry when he entered
"What do you think?" he demanded. "I had luncheon with Wilcox."
Wilcox was the superannuated president of the university, whose
withered mind was stored with generalizations that were young in
1870, and which he had since failed to revise.
"I was invited," father announced. "I was sent for."
He paused, and we waited.
"Oh, it was done very nicely, I'll allow; but I was reprimanded.
I! And by that old fossil!"
"I'll wager I know what you were reprimanded for," Ernest said.
"Not in three guesses," father laughed.
"One guess will do," Ernest retorted. "And it won't be a guess.
It will be a deduction. You were reprimanded for your private
"The very thing!" father cried. "How did you guess?"
"I knew it was coming. I warned you before about it."
"Yes, you did," father meditated. "But I couldn't believe it. At
any rate, it is only so much more clinching evidence for my book."
"It is nothing to what will come," Ernest went on, "if you persist
in your policy of having these socialists and radicals of all sorts
at your house, myself included."
"Just what old Wilcox said. And of all unwarranted things! He
said it was in poor taste, utterly profitless, anyway, and not in
harmony with university traditions and policy. He said much more
of the same vague sort, and I couldn't pin him down to anything
specific. I made it pretty awkward for him, and he could only go
on repeating himself and telling me how much he honored me, and all
the world honored me, as a scientist. It wasn't an agreeable task
for him. I could see he didn't like it."
"He was not a free agent," Ernest said. "The leg-bar* is not
always worn graciously."
* LEG-BAR--the African slaves were so manacled; also criminals. It
was not until the coming of the Brotherhood of Man that the leg-bar
passed out of use.
"Yes. I got that much out of him. He said the university needed
ever so much more money this year than the state was willing to
furnish; and that it must come from wealthy personages who could
not but be offended by the swerving of the university from its high
ideal of the passionless pursuit of passionless intelligence. When
I tried to pin him down to what my home life had to do with
swerving the university from its high ideal, he offered me a two
years' vacation, on full pay, in Europe, for recreation and
research. Of course I couldn't accept it under the circumstances."
"It would have been far better if you had," Ernest said gravely.
"It was a bribe," father protested; and Ernest nodded.
"Also, the beggar said that there was talk, tea-table gossip and so
forth, about my daughter being seen in public with so notorious a
character as you, and that it was not in keeping with university
tone and dignity. Not that he personally objected--oh, no; but
that there was talk and that I would understand."
Ernest considered this announcement for a moment, and then said,
and his face was very grave, withal there was a sombre wrath in it:
"There is more behind this than a mere university ideal. Somebody
has put pressure on President Wilcox."
"Do you think so?" father asked, and his face showed that he was
interested rather than frightened.
"I wish I could convey to you the conception that is dimly forming
in my own mind," Ernest said. "Never in the history of the world
was society in so terrific flux as it is right now. The swift
changes in our industrial system are causing equally swift changes
in our religious, political, and social structures. An unseen and
fearful revolution is taking place in the fibre and structure of
society. One can only dimly feel these things. But they are in
the air, now, to-day. One can feel the loom of them--things vast,
vague, and terrible. My mind recoils from contemplation of what
they may crystallize into. You heard Wickson talk the other night.
Behind what he said were the same nameless, formless things that I
feel. He spoke out of a superconscious apprehension of them."
"You mean . . . ?" father began, then paused.
"I mean that there is a shadow of something colossal and menacing
that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the
shadow of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare
approximate it. What its nature may be I refuse to imagine.* But
what I wanted to say was this: You are in a perilous position--a
peril that my own fear enhances because I am not able even to
measure it. Take my advice and accept the vacation."
* Though, like Everhard, they did not dream of the nature of it,
there were men, even before his time, who caught glimpses of the
shadow. John C. Calhoun said: "A power has risen up in the
government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many
and various and powerful interests, combined into one mass, and
held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the
banks." And that great humanist, Abraham Lincoln, said, just
before his assassination: "I see in the near future a crisis
approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the
safety of my country. . . . Corporations have been enthroned, an
era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power
of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon
the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a
few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
"But it would be cowardly," was the protest.
"Not at all. You are an old man. You have done your work in the
world, and a great work. Leave the present battle to youth and
strength. We young fellows have our work yet to do. Avis will
stand by my side in what is to come. She will be your
representative in the battle-front."
"But they can't hurt me," father objected. "Thank God I am
independent. Oh, I assure you, I know the frightful persecution
they can wage on a professor who is economically dependent on his
university. But I am independent. I have not been a professor for
the sake of my salary. I can get along very comfortably on my own
income, and the salary is all they can take away from me."
"But you do not realize," Ernest answered. "If all that I fear be
so, your private income, your principal itself, can be taken from
you just as easily as your salary."
Father was silent for a few minutes. He was thinking deeply, and I
could see the lines of decision forming in his face. At last he
"I shall not take the vacation." He paused again. "I shall go on
with my book.* You may be wrong, but whether you are wrong or
right, I shall stand by my guns."
* This book, "Economics and Education," was published in that year.
Three copies of it are extant; two at Ardis, and one at Asgard. It
dealt, in elaborate detail, with one factor in the persistence of
the established, namely, the capitalistic bias of the universities
and common schools. It was a logical and crushing indictment of
the whole system of education that developed in the minds of the
students only such ideas as were favorable to the capitalistic
regime, to the exclusion of all ideas that were inimical and
subversive. The book created a furor, and was promptly suppressed
by the Oligarchy.
"All right," Ernest said. "You are travelling the same path that
Bishop Morehouse is, and toward a similar smash-up. You'll both be
proletarians before you're done with it."
The conversation turned upon the Bishop, and we got Ernest to
explain what he had been doing with him.
"He is soul-sick from the journey through hell I have given him. I
took him through the homes of a few of our factory workers. I
showed him the human wrecks cast aside by the industrial machine,
and he listened to their life stories. I took him through the
slums of San Francisco, and in drunkenness, prostitution, and
criminality he learned a deeper cause than innate depravity. He is
very sick, and, worse than that, he has got out of hand. He is too
ethical. He has been too severely touched. And, as usual, he is
unpractical. He is up in the air with all kinds of ethical
delusions and plans for mission work among the cultured. He feels
it is his bounden duty to resurrect the ancient spirit of the
Church and to deliver its message to the masters. He is
overwrought. Sooner or later he is going to break out, and then
there's going to be a smash-up. What form it will take I can't
even guess. He is a pure, exalted soul, but he is so unpractical.
He's beyond me. I can't keep his feet on the earth. And through
the air he is rushing on to his Gethsemane. And after this his
crucifixion. Such high souls are made for crucifixion."
"And you?" I asked; and beneath my smile was the seriousness of the
anxiety of love.
"Not I," he laughed back. "I may be executed, or assassinated, but
I shall never be crucified. I am planted too solidly and stolidly
upon the earth."
"But why should you bring about the crucifixion of the Bishop?" I
asked. "You will not deny that you are the cause of it."
"Why should I leave one comfortable soul in comfort when there are
millions in travail and misery?" he demanded back.
"Then why did you advise father to accept the vacation?"
"Because I am not a pure, exalted soul," was the answer. "Because
I am solid and stolid and selfish. Because I love you and, like
Ruth of old, thy people are my people. As for the Bishop, he has
no daughter. Besides, no matter how small the good, nevertheless
his little inadequate wail will be productive of some good in the
revolution, and every little bit counts."
I could not agree with Ernest. I knew well the noble nature of
Bishop Morehouse, and I could not conceive that his voice raised
for righteousness would be no more than a little inadequate wail.
But I did not yet have the harsh facts of life at my fingers' ends
as Ernest had. He saw clearly the futility of the Bishop's great
soul, as coming events were soon to show as clearly to me.
It was shortly after this day that Ernest told me, as a good story,
the offer he had received from the government, namely, an
appointment as United States Commissioner of Labor. I was
overjoyed. The salary was comparatively large, and would make safe
our marriage. And then it surely was congenial work for Ernest,
and, furthermore, my jealous pride in him made me hail the
proffered appointment as a recognition of his abilities.
Then I noticed the twinkle in his eyes. He was laughing at me.
"You are not going to . . . to decline?" I quavered.
"It is a bribe," he said. "Behind it is the fine hand of Wickson,
and behind him the hands of greater men than he. It is an old
trick, old as the class struggle is old--stealing the captains from
the army of labor. Poor betrayed labor! If you but knew how many
of its leaders have been bought out in similar ways in the past.
It is cheaper, so much cheaper, to buy a general than to fight him
and his whole army. There was--but I'll not call any names. I'm
bitter enough over it as it is. Dear heart, I am a captain of
labor. I could not sell out. If for no other reason, the memory
of my poor old father and the way he was worked to death would
The tears were in his eyes, this great, strong hero of mine. He
never could forgive the way his father had been malformed--the
sordid lies and the petty thefts he had been compelled to, in order
to put food in his children's mouths.
"My father was a good man," Ernest once said to me. "The soul of
him was good, and yet it was twisted, and maimed, and blunted by
the savagery of his life. He was made into a broken-down beast by
his masters, the arch-beasts. He should be alive to-day, like your
father. He had a strong constitution. But he was caught in the
machine and worked to death--for profit. Think of it. For profit-
-his life blood transmuted into a wine-supper, or a jewelled
gewgaw, or some similar sense-orgy of the parasitic and idle rich,
his masters, the arch-beasts."
CHAPTER VII. THE BISHOP'S VISION
"The Bishop is out of hand," Ernest wrote me. "He is clear up in
the air. Tonight he is going to begin putting to rights this very
miserable world of ours. He is going to deliver his message. He
has told me so, and I cannot dissuade him. To-night he is chairman
of the I.P.H.,* and he will embody his message in his
* There is no clew to the name of the organization for which these
"May I bring you to hear him? Of course, he is foredoomed to
futility. It will break your heart--it will break his; but for you
it will be an excellent object lesson. You know, dear heart, how
proud I am because you love me. And because of that I want you to
know my fullest value, I want to redeem, in your eyes, some small
measure of my unworthiness. And so it is that my pride desires
that you shall know my thinking is correct and right. My views are
harsh; the futility of so noble a soul as the Bishop will show you
the compulsion for such harshness. So come to-night. Sad though
this night's happening will be, I feel that it will but draw you
more closely to me."
The I.P.H. held its convention that night in San Francisco.*
This convention had been called to consider public immorality and
the remedy for it. Bishop Morehouse presided. He was very nervous
as he sat on the platform, and I could see the high tension he was
under. By his side were Bishop Dickinson; H. H. Jones, the head of
the ethical department in the University of California; Mrs. W. W.
Hurd, the great charity organizer; Philip Ward, the equally great
philanthropist; and several lesser luminaries in the field of
morality and charity. Bishop Morehouse arose and abruptly began:
* It took but a few minutes to cross by ferry from Berkeley to San
Francisco. These, and the other bay cities, practically composed
"I was in my brougham, driving through the streets. It was night-
time. Now and then I looked through the carriage windows, and
suddenly my eyes seemed to be opened, and I saw things as they
really are. At first I covered my eyes with my hands to shut out
the awful sight, and then, in the darkness, the question came to
me: What is to be done? What is to be done? A little later the
question came to me in another way: What would the Master do? And
with the question a great light seemed to fill the place, and I saw
my duty sun-clear, as Saul saw his on the way to Damascus.
"I stopped the carriage, got out, and, after a few minutes'
conversation, persuaded two of the public women to get into the
brougham with me. If Jesus was right, then these two unfortunates
were my sisters, and the only hope of their purification was in my
affection and tenderness.
"I live in one of the loveliest localities of San Francisco. The
house in which I live cost a hundred thousand dollars, and its
furnishings, books, and works of art cost as much more. The house
is a mansion. No, it is a palace, wherein there are many servants.
I never knew what palaces were good for. I had thought they were
to live in. But now I know. I took the two women of the street to
my palace, and they are going to stay with me. I hope to fill
every room in my palace with such sisters as they."
The audience had been growing more and more restless and unsettled,
and the faces of those that sat on the platform had been betraying
greater and greater dismay and consternation. And at this point
Bishop Dickinson arose, and with an expression of disgust on his
face, fled from the platform and the hall. But Bishop Morehouse,
oblivious to all, his eyes filled with his vision, continued:
"Oh, sisters and brothers, in this act of mine I find the solution
of all my difficulties. I didn't know what broughams were made
for, but now I know. They are made to carry the weak, the sick,
and the aged; they are made to show honor to those who have lost
the sense even of shame.
"I did not know what palaces were made for, but now I have found a
use for them. The palaces of the Church should be hospitals and
nurseries for those who have fallen by the wayside and are
He made a long pause, plainly overcome by the thought that was in
him, and nervous how best to express it.
"I am not fit, dear brethren, to tell you anything about morality.
I have lived in shame and hypocrisies too long to be able to help
others; but my action with those women, sisters of mine, shows me
that the better way is easy to find. To those who believe in Jesus
and his gospel there can be no other relation between man and man
than the relation of affection. Love alone is stronger than sin--
stronger than death. I therefore say to the rich among you that it
is their duty to do what I have done and am doing. Let each one of
you who is prosperous take into his house some thief and treat him
as his brother, some unfortunate and treat her as his sister, and
San Francisco will need no police force and no magistrates; the
prisons will be turned into hospitals, and the criminal will
disappear with his crime.
"We must give ourselves and not our money alone. We must do as
Christ did; that is the message of the Church today. We have
wandered far from the Master's teaching. We are consumed in our
own flesh-pots. We have put mammon in the place of Christ. I have
here a poem that tells the whole story. I should like to read it
to you. It was written by an erring soul who yet saw clearly.* It
must not be mistaken for an attack upon the Catholic Church. It is
an attack upon all churches, upon the pomp and splendor of all
churches that have wandered from the Master's path and hedged
themselves in from his lambs. Here it is:
"The silver trumpets rang across the Dome;
The people knelt upon the ground with awe;
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
"Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head;
In splendor and in light the Pope passed home.
"My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea;
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
'Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears.'"
* Oscar Wilde, one of the lords of language of the nineteenth
century of the Christian Era.
The audience was agitated, but unresponsive. Yet Bishop Morehouse
was not aware of it. He held steadily on his way.
"And so I say to the rich among you, and to all the rich, that
bitterly you oppress the Master’s lambs. You have hardened your
hearts. You have closed your ears to the voices that are crying in
the land--the voices of pain and sorrow that you will not hear but
that some day will be heard. And so I say--"
But at this point H. H. Jones and Philip Ward, who had already
risen from their chairs, led the Bishop off the platform, while the
audience sat breathless and shocked.
Ernest laughed harshly and savagely when he had gained the street.
His laughter jarred upon me. My heart seemed ready to burst with
"He has delivered his message," Ernest cried. "The manhood and the
deep-hidden, tender nature of their Bishop burst out, and his
Christian audience, that loved him, concluded that he was crazy!
Did you see them leading him so solicitously from the platform?
There must have been laughter in hell at the spectacle."
"Nevertheless, it will make a great impression, what the Bishop did
and said to-night," I said.
"Think so?" Ernest queried mockingly.
"It will make a sensation," I asserted. "Didn't you see the
reporters scribbling like mad while he was speaking?"
"Not a line of which will appear in to-morrow's papers."
"I can't believe it," I cried.
"Just wait and see," was the answer. "Not a line, not a thought
that he uttered. The daily press? The daily suppressage!"
"But the reporters," I objected. "I saw them."
"Not a word that he uttered will see print. You have forgotten the
editors. They draw their salaries for the policy they maintain.
Their policy is to print nothing that is a vital menace to the
established. The Bishop's utterance was a violent assault upon the
established morality. It was heresy. They led him from the
platform to prevent him from uttering more heresy. The newspapers
will purge his heresy in the oblivion of silence. The press of the
United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the
capitalist class. Its function is to serve the established by
moulding public opinion, and right well it serves it.
"Let me prophesy. To-morrow's papers will merely mention that the
Bishop is in poor health, that he has been working too hard, and
that he broke down last night. The next mention, some days hence,
will be to the effect that he is suffering from nervous prostration
and has been given a vacation by his grateful flock. After that,
one of two things will happen: either the Bishop will see the error
of his way and return from his vacation a well man in whose eyes
there are no more visions, or else he will persist in his madness,
and then you may expect to see in the papers, couched pathetically
and tenderly, the announcement of his insanity. After that he will
be left to gibber his visions to padded walls."
"Now there you go too far!" I cried out.
"In the eyes of society it will truly be insanity," he replied.
"What honest man, who is not insane, would take lost women and
thieves into his house to dwell with him sisterly and brotherly?
True, Christ died between two thieves, but that is another story.
Insanity? The mental processes of the man with whom one disagrees,
are always wrong. Therefore the mind of the man is wrong. Where
is the line between wrong mind and insane mind? It is
inconceivable that any sane man can radically disagree with one's
most sane conclusions.
"There is a good example of it in this evening's paper. Mary
McKenna lives south of Market Street. She is a poor but honest
woman. She is also patriotic. But she has erroneous ideas
concerning the American flag and the protection it is supposed to
symbolize. And here's what happened to her. Her husband had an
accident and was laid up in hospital three months. In spite of
taking in washing, she got behind in her rent. Yesterday they
evicted her. But first, she hoisted an American flag, and from
under its folds she announced that by virtue of its protection they
could not turn her out on to the cold street. What was done? She
was arrested and arraigned for insanity. To-day she was examined
by the regular insanity experts. She was found insane. She was
consigned to the Napa Asylum."
"But that is far-fetched," I objected. "Suppose I should disagree
with everybody about the literary style of a book. They wouldn't
send me to an asylum for that."
"Very true," he replied. "But such divergence of opinion would
constitute no menace to society. Therein lies the difference. The
divergence of opinion on the parts of Mary McKenna and the Bishop
do menace society. What if all the poor people should refuse to
pay rent and shelter themselves under the American flag?
Landlordism would go crumbling. The Bishop's views are just as
perilous to society. Ergo, to the asylum with him."
But still I refused to believe.
"Wait and see," Ernest said, and I waited.
Next morning I sent out for all the papers. So far Ernest was
right. Not a word that Bishop Morehouse had uttered was in print.
Mention was made in one or two of the papers that he had been
overcome by his feelings. Yet the platitudes of the speakers that
followed him were reported at length.
Several days later the brief announcement was made that he had gone
away on a vacation to recover from the effects of overwork. So far
so good, but there had been no hint of insanity, nor even of
nervous collapse. Little did I dream the terrible road the Bishop
was destined to travel--the Gethsemane and crucifixion that Ernest
had pondered about.
CHAPTER VIII. THE MACHINE BREAKERS
It was just before Ernest ran for Congress, on the socialist
ticket, that father gave what he privately called his "Profit and
Loss" dinner. Ernest called it the dinner of the Machine Breakers.
In point of fact, it was merely a dinner for business men--small
business men, of course. I doubt if one of them was interested in
any business the total capitalization of which exceeded a couple of
hundred thousand dollars. They were truly representative middle-
class business men.
There was Owen, of Silverberg, Owen & Company--a large grocery firm
with several branch stores. We bought our groceries from them.
There were both partners of the big drug firm of Kowalt & Washburn,
and Mr. Asmunsen, the owner of a large granite quarry in Contra
Costa County. And there were many similar men, owners or part-
owners in small factories, small businesses and small industries--
small capitalists, in short.
They were shrewd-faced, interesting men, and they talked with
simplicity and clearness. Their unanimous complaint was against
the corporations and trusts. Their creed was, "Bust the Trusts."
All oppression originated in the trusts, and one and all told the
same tale of woe. They advocated government ownership of such
trusts as the railroads and telegraphs, and excessive income taxes,
graduated with ferocity, to destroy large accumulations. Likewise
they advocated, as a cure for local ills, municipal ownership of
such public utilities as water, gas, telephones, and street
Especially interesting was Mr. Asmunsen's narrative of his
tribulations as a quarry owner. He confessed that he never made
any profits out of his quarry, and this, in spite of the enormous
volume of business that had been caused by the destruction of San
Francisco by the big earthquake. For six years the rebuilding of
San Francisco had been going on, and his business had quadrupled
and octupled, and yet he was no better off.
"The railroad knows my business just a little bit better than I
do," he said. "It knows my operating expenses to a cent, and it
knows the terms of my contracts. How it knows these things I can
only guess. It must have spies in my employ, and it must have
access to the parties to all my contracts. For look you, when I
place a big contract, the terms of which favor me a goodly profit,
the freight rate from my quarry to market is promptly raised. No
explanation is made. The railroad gets my profit. Under such
circumstances I have never succeeded in getting the railroad to
reconsider its raise. On the other hand, when there have been
accidents, increased expenses of operating, or contracts with less
profitable terms, I have always succeeded in getting the railroad
to lower its rate. What is the result? Large or small, the
railroad always gets my profits."
"What remains to you over and above," Ernest interrupted to ask,
"would roughly be the equivalent of your salary as a manager did
the railroad own the quarry."
"The very thing," Mr. Asmunsen replied. "Only a short time ago I
had my books gone through for the past ten years. I discovered
that for those ten years my gain was just equivalent to a manager's
salary. The railroad might just as well have owned my quarry and
hired me to run it."
"But with this difference," Ernest laughed; "the railroad would
have had to assume all the risk which you so obligingly assumed for
"Very true," Mr. Asmunsen answered sadly.
Having let them have they say, Ernest began asking questions right
and left. He began with Mr. Owen.
"You started a branch store here in Berkeley about six months ago?"
"Yes," Mr. Owen answered.
"And since then I've noticed that three little corner groceries
have gone out of business. Was your branch store the cause of it?"
Mr. Owen affirmed with a complacent smile. "They had no chance
"We had greater capital. With a large business there is always
less waste and greater efficiency."
"And your branch store absorbed the profits of the three small
ones. I see. But tell me, what became of the owners of the three
"One is driving a delivery wagon for us. I don't know what
happened to the other two."
Ernest turned abruptly on Mr. Kowalt.
"You sell a great deal at cut-rates.* What have become of the
owners of the small drug stores that you forced to the wall?"
* A lowering of selling price to cost, and even to less than cost.
Thus, a large company could sell at a loss for a longer period than
a small company, and so drive the small company out of business. A
common device of competition.
"One of them, Mr. Haasfurther, has charge now of our prescription
department," was the answer.
"And you absorbed the profits they had been making?"
"Surely. That is what we are in business for."
"And you?" Ernest said suddenly to Mr. Asmunsen. "You are
disgusted because the railroad has absorbed your profits?"
Mr. Asmunsen nodded.
"What you want is to make profits yourself?"
Again Mr. Asmunsen nodded.
"Out of others?"
There was no answer.
"Out of others?" Ernest insisted.
"That is the way profits are made," Mr. Asmunsen replied curtly.
"Then the business game is to make profits out of others, and to
prevent others from making profits out of you. That's it, isn't
Ernest had to repeat his question before Mr. Asmunsen gave an
answer, and then he said:
"Yes, that's it, except that we do not object to the others making
profits so long as they are not extortionate."
"By extortionate you mean large; yet you do not object to making
large profits yourself? . . . Surely not?"
And Mr. Asmunsen amiably confessed to the weakness. There was one
other man who was quizzed by Ernest at this juncture, a Mr. Calvin,
who had once been a great dairy-owner.
"Some time ago you were fighting the Milk Trust," Ernest said to
him; "and now you are in Grange politics.* How did it happen?"
* Many efforts were made during this period to organize the
perishing farmer class into a political party, the aim of which was
destroy the trusts and corporations by drastic legislation. All
such attempts ended in failure.
"Oh, I haven't quit the fight," Mr. Calvin answered, and he looked
belligerent enough. "I'm fighting the Trust on the only field
where it is possible to fight--the political field. Let me show
you. A few years ago we dairymen had everything our own way."
"But you competed among yourselves?" Ernest interrupted.
"Yes, that was what kept the profits down. We did try to organize,
but independent dairymen always broke through us. Then came the
"Financed by surplus capital from Standard Oil,* Ernest said.
* The first successful great trust--almost a generation in advance
of the rest.
"Yes," Mr. Calvin acknowledged. "But we did not know it at the
time. Its agents approached us with a club. "Come in and be fat,"
was their proposition, "or stay out and starve." Most of us came
in. Those that didn't, starved. Oh, it paid us . . . at first.
Milk was raised a cent a quart. One-quarter of this cent came to
us. Three-quarters of it went to the Trust. Then milk was raised
another cent, only we didn't get any of that cent. Our complaints
were useless. The Trust was in control. We discovered that we
were pawns. Finally, the additional quarter of a cent was denied
us. Then the Trust began to squeeze us out. What could we do? We
were squeezed out. There were no dairymen, only a Milk Trust."
"But with milk two cents higher, I should think you could have
competed," Ernest suggested slyly.
"So we thought. We tried it." Mr. Calvin paused a moment. "It
broke us. The Trust could put milk upon the market more cheaply
than we. It could sell still at a slight profit when we were
selling at actual loss. I dropped fifty thousand dollars in that
venture. Most of us went bankrupt.* The dairymen were wiped out
* Bankruptcy--a peculiar institution that enabled an individual,
who had failed in competitive industry, to forego paying his debts.
The effect was to ameliorate the too savage conditions of the fang-
and-claw social struggle.
"So the Trust took your profits away from you," Ernest said, "and
you’ve gone into politics in order to legislate the Trust out of
existence and get the profits back?"
Mr. Calvin’s face lighted up. "That is precisely what I say in my
speeches to the farmers. That's our whole idea in a nutshell."
"And yet the Trust produces milk more cheaply than could the
independent dairymen?" Ernest queried.
"Why shouldn't it, with the splendid organization and new machinery
its large capital makes possible?"
"There is no discussion," Ernest answered. "It certainly should,
and, furthermore, it does."
Mr. Calvin here launched out into a political speech in exposition
of his views. He was warmly followed by a number of the others,
and the cry of all was to destroy the trusts.
"Poor simple folk," Ernest said to me in an undertone. "They see
clearly as far as they see, but they see only to the ends of their
A little later he got the floor again, and in his characteristic
way controlled it for the rest of the evening.
"I have listened carefully to all of you," he began, "and I see
plainly that you play the business game in the orthodox fashion.
Life sums itself up to you in profits. You have a firm and abiding
belief that you were created for the sole purpose of making
profits. Only there is a hitch. In the midst of your own profit-
making along comes the trust and takes your profits away from you.
This is a dilemma that interferes somehow with the aim of creation,
and the only way out, as it seems to you, is to destroy that which
takes from you your profits.
"I have listened carefully, and there is only one name that will
epitomize you. I shall call you that name. You are machine-
breakers. Do you know what a machine-breaker is? Let me tell you.
In the eighteenth century, in England, men and women wove cloth on
hand-looms in their own cottages. It was a slow, clumsy, and
costly way of weaving cloth, this cottage system of manufacture.
Along came the steam-engine and labor-saving machinery. A thousand
looms assembled in a large factory, and driven by a central engine
wove cloth vastly more cheaply than could the cottage weavers on
their hand-looms. Here in the factory was combination, and before
it competition faded away. The men and women who had worked the
hand-looms for themselves now went into the factories and worked
the machine-looms, not for themselves, but for the capitalist
owners. Furthermore, little children went to work on the machine-
looms, at lower wages, and displaced the men. This made hard times
for the men. Their standard of living fell. They starved. And
they said it was all the fault of the machines. Therefore, they
proceeded to break the machines. They did not succeed, and they
were very stupid.
"Yet you have not learned their lesson. Here are you, a century
and a half later, trying to break machines. By your own confession
the trust machines do the work more efficiently and more cheaply
than you can. That is why you cannot compete with them. And yet
you would break those machines. You are even more stupid than the
stupid workmen of England. And while you maunder about restoring
competition, the trusts go on destroying you.
"One and all you tell the same story,--the passing away of
competition and the coming on of combination. You, Mr. Owen,
destroyed competition here in Berkeley when your branch store drove
the three small groceries out of business. Your combination was
more effective. Yet you feel the pressure of other combinations on
you, the trust combinations, and you cry out. It is because you
are not a trust. If you were a grocery trust for the whole United
States, you would be singing another song. And the song would be,
"Blessed are the trusts." And yet again, not only is your small
combination not a trust, but you are aware yourself of its lack of
strength. You are beginning to divine your own end. You feel
yourself and your branch stores a pawn in the game. You see the
powerful interests rising and growing more powerful day by day; you
feel their mailed hands descending upon your profits and taking a
pinch here and a pinch there--the railroad trust, the oil trust,
the steel trust, the coal trust; and you know that in the end they
will destroy you, take away from you the last per cent of your
"You, sir, are a poor gamester. When you squeezed out the three
small groceries here in Berkeley by virtue of your superior
combination, you swelled out your chest, talked about efficiency
and enterprise, and sent your wife to Europe on the profits you had
gained by eating up the three small groceries. It is dog eat dog,
and you ate them up. But, on the other hand, you are being eaten
up in turn by the bigger dogs, wherefore you squeal. And what I
say to you is true of all of you at this table. You are all
squealing. You are all playing the losing game, and you are all
squealing about it.
"But when you squeal you don't state the situation flatly, as I
have stated it. You don't say that you like to squeeze profits out
of others, and that you are making all the row because others are
squeezing your profits out of you. No, you are too cunning for
that. You say something else. You make small-capitalist political
speeches such as Mr. Calvin made. What did he say? Here are a few
of his phrases I caught: "Our original principles are all right,"
"What this country requires is a return to fundamental American
methods--free opportunity for all," "The spirit of liberty in which
this nation was born," "Let us return to the principles of our
"When he says "free opportunity for all," he means free opportunity
to squeeze profits, which freedom of opportunity is now denied him
by the great trusts. And the absurd thing about it is that you
have repeated these phrases so often that you believe them. You
want opportunity to plunder your fellow-men in your own small way,
but you hypnotize yourselves into thinking you want freedom. You
are piggish and acquisitive, but the magic of your phrases leads
you to believe that you are patriotic. Your desire for profits,
which is sheer selfishness, you metamorphose into altruistic
solicitude for suffering humanity. Come on now, right here amongst
ourselves, and be honest for once. Look the matter in the face and
state it in direct terms."
There were flushed and angry faces at the table, and withal a
measure of awe. They were a little frightened at this smooth-faced
young fellow, and the swing and smash of his words, and his
dreadful trait of calling a spade a spade. Mr. Calvin promptly
"And why not?" he demanded. "Why can we not return to ways of our
fathers when this republic was founded? You have spoken much
truth, Mr. Everhard, unpalatable though it has been. But here
amongst ourselves let us speak out. Let us throw off all disguise
and accept the truth as Mr. Everhard has flatly stated it. It is
true that we smaller capitalists are after profits, and that the
trusts are taking our profits away from us. It is true that we
want to destroy the trusts in order that our profits may remain to
us. And why can we not do it? Why not? I say, why not?"
"Ah, now we come to the gist of the matter," Ernest said with a
pleased expression. "I'll try to tell you why not, though the
telling will be rather hard. You see, you fellows have studied
business, in a small way, but you have not studied social evolution
at all. You are in the midst of a transition stage now in economic
evolution, but you do not understand it, and that's what causes all
the confusion. Why cannot you return? Because you can't. You can
no more make water run up hill than can you cause the tide of
economic evolution to flow back in its channel along the way it
came. Joshua made the sun stand still upon Gibeon, but you would
outdo Joshua. You would make the sun go backward in the sky. You
would have time retrace its steps from noon to morning.
"In the face of labor-saving machinery, of organized production, of
the increased efficiency of combination, you would set the economic
sun back a whole generation or so to the time when there were no
great capitalists, no great machinery, no railroads--a time when a
host of little capitalists warred with each other in economic
anarchy, and when production was primitive, wasteful, unorganized,
and costly. Believe me, Joshua's task was easier, and he had
Jehovah to help him. But God has forsaken you small capitalists.
The sun of the small capitalists is setting. It will never rise
again. Nor is it in your power even to make it stand still. You
are perishing, and you are doomed to perish utterly from the face
"This is the fiat of evolution. It is the word of God.
Combination is stronger than competition. Primitive man was a puny
creature hiding in the crevices of the rocks. He combined and made
war upon his carnivorous enemies. They were competitive beasts.
Primitive man was a combinative beast, and because of it he rose to
primacy over all the animals. And man has been achieving greater
and greater combinations ever since. It is combination versus
competition, a thousand centuries long struggle, in which
competition has always been worsted. Whoso enlists on the side of
"But the trusts themselves arose out of competition," Mr. Calvin
Very true," Ernest answered. "And the trusts themselves destroyed
competition. That, by your own word, is why you are no longer in
the dairy business."
The first laughter of the evening went around the table, and even
Mr. Calvin joined in the laugh against himself.
"And now, while we are on the trusts," Ernest went on, "let us
settle a few things. I shall make certain statements, and if you
disagree with them, speak up. Silence will mean agreement. Is it
not true that a machine-loom will weave more cloth and weave more
cheaply than a hand-loom?" He paused, but nobody spoke up. "Is it
not then highly irrational to break the machine-loom and go back to
the clumsy and more costly hand-loom method of weaving?" Heads
nodded in acquiescence. "Is it not true that that known as a trust
produces more efficiently and cheaply than can a thousand competing
small concerns?" Still no one objected. "Then is it not
irrational to destroy that cheap and efficient combination?"
No one answered for a long time. Then Mr. Kowalt spoke.
"What are we to do, then?" he demanded. "To destroy the trusts is
the only way we can see to escape their domination."
Ernest was all fire and aliveness on the instant.
"I'll show you another way!" he cried. "Let us not destroy those
wonderful machines that produce efficiently and cheaply. Let us
control them. Let us profit by their efficiency and cheapness.
Let us run them for ourselves. Let us oust the present owners of
the wonderful machines, and let us own the wonderful machines
ourselves. That, gentlemen, is socialism, a greater combination
than the trusts, a greater economic and social combination than any
that has as yet appeared on the planet. It is in line with
evolution. We meet combination with greater combination. It is
the winning side. Come on over with us socialists and play on the
Here arose dissent. There was a shaking of heads, and mutterings
"All right, then, you prefer to be anachronisms," Ernest laughed.
"You prefer to play atavistic roles. You are doomed to perish as
all atavisms perish. Have you ever asked what will happen to you
when greater combinations than even the present trusts arise? Have
you ever considered where you will stand when the great trusts
themselves combine into the combination of combinations--into the
social, economic, and political trust?"
He turned abruptly and irrelevantly upon Mr. Calvin.
"Tell me," Ernest said, "if this is not true. You are compelled to
form a new political party because the old parties are in the hands
of the trusts. The chief obstacle to your Grange propaganda is the
trusts. Behind every obstacle you encounter, every blow that
smites you, every defeat that you receive, is the hand of the
trusts. Is this not so? Tell me."
Mr. Calvin sat in uncomfortable silence.
"Go ahead," Ernest encouraged.
"It is true," Mr. Calvin confessed. "We captured the state
legislature of Oregon and put through splendid protective
legislation, and it was vetoed by the governor, who was a creature
of the trusts. We elected a governor of Colorado, and the
legislature refused to permit him to take office. Twice we have
passed a national income tax, and each time the supreme court
smashed it as unconstitutional. The courts are in the hands of the
trusts. We, the people, do not pay our judges sufficiently. But
there will come a time--"
"When the combination of the trusts will control all legislation,
when the combination of the trusts will itself be the government,"
"Never! never!" were the cries that arose. Everybody was excited
"Tell me," Ernest demanded, "what will you do when such a time
"We will rise in our strength!" Mr. Asmunsen cried, and many voices
backed his decision.
"That will be civil war," Ernest warned them.
"So be it, civil war," was Mr. Asmunsen's answer, with the cries of
all the men at the table behind him. "We have not forgotten the
deeds of our forefathers. For our liberties we are ready to fight
"Do not forget," he said, "that we had tacitly agreed that liberty
in your case, gentlemen, means liberty to squeeze profits out of
The table was angry, now, fighting angry; but Ernest controlled the
tumult and made himself heard.
"One more question. When you rise in your strength, remember, the
reason for your rising will be that the government is in the hands
of the trusts. Therefore, against your strength the government
will turn the regular army, the navy, the militia, the police--in
short, the whole organized war machinery of the United States.
Where will your strength be then?"
Dismay sat on their faces, and before they could recover, Ernest
"Do you remember, not so long ago, when our regular army was only
fifty thousand? Year by year it has been increased until to-day it
is three hundred thousand."
Again he struck.
"Nor is that all. While you diligently pursued that favorite
phantom of yours, called profits, and moralized about that favorite
fetich of yours, called competition, even greater and more direful
things have been accomplished by combination. There is the
"It is our strength!" cried Mr. Kowalt. "With it we would repel
the invasion of the regular army."
"You would go into the militia yourself," was Ernest's retort, "and
be sent to Maine, or Florida, or the Philippines, or anywhere else,
to drown in blood your own comrades civil-warring for their
liberties. While from Kansas, or Wisconsin, or any other state,
your own comrades would go into the militia and come here to
California to drown in blood your own civil-warring."
Now they were really shocked, and they sat wordless, until Mr. Owen
"We would not go into the militia. That would settle it. We would
not be so foolish."
Ernest laughed outright.
"You do not understand the combination that has been effected. You
could not help yourself. You would be drafted into the militia."
"There is such a thing as civil law," Mr. Owen insisted.
"Not when the government suspends civil law. In that day when you
speak of rising in your strength, your strength would be turned
against yourself. Into the militia you would go, willy-nilly.
Habeas corpus, I heard some one mutter just now. Instead of habeas
corpus you would get post mortems. If you refused to go into the
militia, or to obey after you were in, you would be tried by
drumhead court martial and shot down like dogs. It is the law."
"It is not the law!" Mr. Calvin asserted positively. "There is no
such law. Young man, you have dreamed all this. Why, you spoke of
sending the militia to the Philippines. That is unconstitutional.
The Constitution especially states that the militia cannot be sent
out of the country."
"What's the Constitution got to do with it?" Ernest demanded. "The
courts interpret the Constitution, and the courts, as Mr. Asmunsen
agreed, are the creatures of the trusts. Besides, it is as I have
said, the law. It has been the law for years, for nine years,
"That we can be drafted into the militia?" Mr. Calvin asked
incredulously. "That they can shoot us by drumhead court martial
if we refuse?"
"Yes," Ernest answered, "precisely that."
"How is it that we have never heard of this law?" my father asked,
and I could see that it was likewise new to him.
"For two reasons," Ernest said. "First, there has been no need to
enforce it. If there had, you'd have heard of it soon enough. And
secondly, the law was rushed through Congress and the Senate
secretly, with practically no discussion. Of course, the
newspapers made no mention of it. But we socialists knew about it.
We published it in our papers. But you never read our papers."
"I still insist you are dreaming," Mr. Calvin said stubbornly.
"The country would never have permitted it."
"But the country did permit it," Ernest replied. "And as for my
dreaming--" he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a small
pamphlet--"tell me if this looks like dream-stuff."
He opened it and began to read:
"'Section One, be it enacted, and so forth and so forth, that the
militia shall consist of every able-bodied male citizen of the
respective states, territories, and District of Columbia, who is
more than eighteen and less than forty-five years of age.'
"'Section Seven, that any officer or enlisted man'--remember
Section One, gentlemen, you are all enlisted men--"that any
enlisted man of the militia who shall refuse or neglect to present
himself to such mustering officer upon being called forth as herein
prescribed, shall be subject to trial by court martial, and shall
be punished as such court martial shall direct.'
"'Section Eight, that courts martial, for the trial of officers or
men of the militia, shall be composed of militia officers only.'
"'Section Nine, that the militia, when called into the actual
service of the United States, shall be subject to the same rules
and articles of war as the regular troops of the United States.'
"There you are gentlemen, American citizens, and fellow-militiamen.
Nine years ago we socialists thought that law was aimed against
labor. But it would seem that it was aimed against you, too.
Congressman Wiley, in the brief discussion that was permitted, said
that the bill 'provided for a reserve force to take the mob by the
throat'--you're the mob, gentlemen--'and protect at all hazards
life, liberty, and property.' And in the time to come, when you
rise in your strength, remember that you will be rising against the
property of the trusts, and the liberty of the trusts, according to
the law, to squeeze you. Your teeth are pulled, gentlemen. Your
claws are trimmed. In the day you rise in your strength, toothless
and clawless, you will be as harmless as any army of clams."
"I don't believe it!" Kowalt cried. "There is no such law. It is
a canard got up by you socialists."
"This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on July
30, 1902," was the reply. "It was introduced by Representative
Dick of Ohio. It was rushed through. It was passed unanimously by
the Senate on January 14, 1903. And just seven days afterward was
approved by the President of the United States."*
* Everhard was right in the essential particulars, though his date
of the introduction of the bill is in error. The bill was
introduced on June 30, and not on July 30. The Congressional
Record is here in Ardis, and a reference to it shows mention of the
bill on the following dates: June 30, December 9, 15, 16, and 17,
1902, and January 7 and 14, 1903. The ignorance evidenced by the
business men at the dinner was nothing unusual. Very few people
knew of the existence of this law. E. Untermann, a revolutionist,
in July, 1903, published a pamphlet at Girard, Kansas, on the
"Militia Bill." This pamphlet had a small circulation among
workingmen; but already had the segregation of classes proceeded so
far, that the members of the middle class never heard of the
pamphlet at all, and so remained in ignorance of the law.
CHAPTER IX. THE MATHEMATICS OF A DREAM
In the midst of the consternation his revelation had produced,
Ernest began again to speak.
"You have said, a dozen of you to-night, that socialism is
impossible. You have asserted the impossible, now let me
demonstrate the inevitable. Not only is it inevitable that you
small capitalists shall pass away, but it is inevitable that the
large capitalists, and the trusts also, shall pass away. Remember,
the tide of evolution never flows backward. It flows on and on,
and it flows from competition to combination, and from little
combination to large combination, and from large combination to
colossal combination, and it flows on to socialism, which is the
most colossal combination of all.
"You tell me that I dream. Very good. I'll give you the
mathematics of my dream; and here, in advance, I challenge you to
show that my mathematics are wrong. I shall develop the
inevitability of the breakdown of the capitalist system, and I
shall demonstrate mathematically why it must break down. Here
goes, and bear with me if at first I seem irrelevant.
"Let us, first of all, investigate a particular industrial process,
and whenever I state something with which you disagree, please
interrupt me. Here is a shoe factory. This factory takes leather
and makes it into shoes. Here is one hundred dollars' worth of
leather. It goes through the factory and comes out in the form of
shoes, worth, let us say, two hundred dollars. What has happened?
One hundred dollars has been added to the value of the leather.
How was it added? Let us see.
"Capital and labor added this value of one hundred dollars.
Capital furnished the factory, the machines, and paid all the
expenses. Labor furnished labor. By the joint effort of capital
and labor one hundred dollars of value was added. Are you all
agreed so far?"
Heads nodded around the table in affirmation.
"Labor and capital having produced this one hundred dollars, now
proceed to divide it. The statistics of this division are
fractional; so let us, for the sake of convenience, make them
roughly approximate. Capital takes fifty dollars as its share, and
labor gets in wages fifty dollars as its share. We will not enter
into the squabbling over the division.* No matter how much
squabbling takes place, in one percentage or another the division
is arranged. And take notice here, that what is true of this
particular industrial process is true of all industrial processes.
Am I right?"
* Everhard here clearly develops the cause of all the labor
troubles of that time. In the division of the joint-product,
capital wanted all it could get, and labor wanted all it could get.
This quarrel over the division was irreconcilable. So long as the
system of capitalistic production existed, labor and capital
continued to quarrel over the division of the joint-product. It is
a ludicrous spectacle to us, but we must not forget that we have
seven centuries' advantage over those that lived in that time.
Again the whole table agreed with Ernest.
"Now, suppose labor, having received its fifty dollars, wanted to
buy back shoes. It could only buy back fifty dollars' worth.
That's clear, isn't it?
"And now we shift from this particular process to the sum total of
all industrial processes in the United States, which includes the
leather itself, raw material, transportation, selling, everything.
We will say, for the sake of round figures, that the total
production of wealth in the United States is one year is four
billion dollars. Then labor has received in wages, during the same
period, two billion dollars. Four billion dollars has been
produced. How much of this can labor buy back? Two billions.
There is no discussion of this, I am sure. For that matter, my
percentages are mild. Because of a thousand capitalistic devices,
labor cannot buy back even half of the total product.
"But to return. We will say labor buys back two billions. Then it
stands to reason that labor can consume only two billions. There
are still two billions to be accounted for, which labor cannot buy
back and consume."
"Labor does not consume its two billions, even," Mr. Kowalt spoke
up. "If it did, it would not have any deposits in the savings
"Labor's deposits in the savings banks are only a sort of reserve
fund that is consumed as fast as it accumulates. These deposits
are saved for old age, for sickness and accident, and for funeral
expenses. The savings bank deposit is simply a piece of the loaf
put back on the shelf to be eaten next day. No, labor consumes all
of the total product that its wages will buy back.
"Two billions are left to capital. After it has paid its expenses,
does it consume the remainder? Does capital consume all of its two
Ernest stopped and put the question point blank to a number of the
men. They shook their heads.
"I don't know," one of them frankly said.
"Of course you do," Ernest went on. "Stop and think a moment. If
capital consumed its share, the sum total of capital could not
increase. It would remain constant. If you will look at the
economic history of the United States, you will see that the sum
total of capital has continually increased. Therefore capital does
not consume its share. Do you remember when England owned so much
of our railroad bonds? As the years went by, we bought back those
bonds. What does that mean? That part of capital's unconsumed
share bought back the bonds. What is the meaning of the fact that
to-day the capitalists of the United States own hundreds and
hundreds of millions of dollars of Mexican bonds, Russian bonds,
Italian bonds, Grecian bonds? The meaning is that those hundreds
and hundreds of millions were part of capital's share which capital
did not consume. Furthermore, from the very beginning of the
capitalist system, capital has never consumed all of its share.
"And now we come to the point. Four billion dollars of wealth is
produced in one year in the United States. Labor buys back and
consumes two billions. Capital does not consume the remaining two
billions. There is a large balance left over unconsumed. What is
done with this balance? What can be done with it? Labor cannot
consume any of it, for labor has already spent all its wages.
Capital will not consume this balance, because, already, according
to its nature, it has consumed all it can. And still remains the
balance. What can be done with it? What is done with it?"
"It is sold abroad," Mr. Kowalt volunteered.
"The very thing," Ernest agreed. "Because of this balance arises
our need for a foreign market. This is sold abroad. It has to be
sold abroad. There is no other way of getting rid of it. And that
unconsumed surplus, sold abroad, becomes what we call our favorable
balance of trade. Are we all agreed so far?"
"Surely it is a waste of time to elaborate these A B C's of
commerce," Mr. Calvin said tartly. "We all understand them."
"And it is by these A B C's I have so carefully elaborated that I
shall confound you," Ernest retorted. "There's the beauty of it.
And I'm going to confound you with them right now. Here goes.
"The United States is a capitalist country that has developed its
resources. According to its capitalist system of industry, it has
an unconsumed surplus that must be got rid of, and that must be got
rid of abroad.* What is true of the United States is true of every
other capitalist country with developed resources. Every one of
such countries has an unconsumed surplus. Don't forget that they
have already traded with one another, and that these surpluses yet
remain. Labor in all these countries has spent it wages, and
cannot buy any of the surpluses. Capital in all these countries
has already consumed all it is able according to its nature. And
still remain the surpluses. They cannot dispose of these surpluses
to one another. How are they going to get rid of them?"
* Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States a few years
prior to this time, made the following public declaration: "A more
liberal and extensive reciprocity in the purchase and sale of
commodities is necessary, so that the overproduction of the United
States can be satisfactorily disposed of to foreign countries." Of
course, this overproduction he mentions was the profits of the
capitalist system over and beyond the consuming power of the
capitalists. It was at this time that Senator Mark Hanna said:
"The production of wealth in the United States is one-third larger
annually than its consumption." Also a fellow-Senator, Chauncey
Depew, said: "The American people produce annually two billions
more wealth than they consume."
"Sell them to countries with undeveloped resources," Mr. Kowalt
"The very thing. You see, my argument is so clear and simple that
in your own minds you carry it on for me. And now for the next
step. Suppose the United States disposes of its surplus to a
country with undeveloped resources like, say, Brazil. Remember
this surplus is over and above trade, which articles of trade have
been consumed. What, then, does the United States get in return
"Gold," said Mr. Kowalt.
"But there is only so much gold, and not much of it, in the world,"
"Gold in the form of securities and bonds and so forth," Mr. Kowalt
"Now you've struck it," Ernest said. "From Brazil the United
States, in return for her surplus, gets bonds and securities. And
what does that mean? It means that the United States is coming to
own railroads in Brazil, factories, mines, and lands in Brazil.
And what is the meaning of that in turn?"
Mr. Kowalt pondered and shook his head.
"I'll tell you," Ernest continued. "It means that the resources of
Brazil are being developed. And now, the next point. When Brazil,
under the capitalist system, has developed her resources, she will
herself have an unconsumed surplus. Can she get rid of this
surplus to the United States? No, because the United States has
herself a surplus. Can the United States do what she previously
did--get rid of her surplus to Brazil? No, for Brazil now has a
"What happens? The United States and Brazil must both seek out
other countries with undeveloped resources, in order to unload the
surpluses on them. But by the very process of unloading the
surpluses, the resources of those countries are in turn developed.
Soon they have surpluses, and are seeking other countries on which
to unload. Now, gentlemen, follow me. The planet is only so
large. There are only so many countries in the world. What will
happen when every country in the world, down to the smallest and
last, with a surplus in its hands, stands confronting every other
country with surpluses in their hands?"
He paused and regarded his listeners. The bepuzzlement in their
faces was delicious. Also, there was awe in their faces. Out of
abstractions Ernest had conjured a vision and made them see it.
They were seeing it then, as they sat there, and they were
frightened by it.
"We started with A B C, Mr. Calvin," Ernest said slyly. "I have
now given you the rest of the alphabet. It is very simple. That
is the beauty of it. You surely have the answer forthcoming.
What, then, when every country in the world has an unconsumed
surplus? Where will your capitalist system be then?"
But Mr. Calvin shook a troubled head. He was obviously questing
back through Ernest's reasoning in search of an error.
"Let me briefly go over the ground with you again," Ernest said.
"We began with a particular industrial process, the shoe factory.
We found that the division of the joint product that took place
there was similar to the division that took place in the sum total
of all industrial processes. We found that labor could buy back
with its wages only so much of the product, and that capital did
not consume all of the remainder of the product. We found that
when labor had consumed to the full extent of its wages, and when
capital had consumed all it wanted, there was still left an
unconsumed surplus. We agreed that this surplus could only be
disposed of abroad. We agreed, also, that the effect of unloading
this surplus on another country would be to develop the resources
of that country, and that in a short time that country would have
an unconsumed surplus. We extended this process to all the
countries on the planet, till every country was producing every
year, and every day, an unconsumed surplus, which it could dispose
of to no other country. And now I ask you again, what are we going
to do with those surpluses?"
Still no one answered.
"Mr. Calvin?" Ernest queried.
"It beats me," Mr. Calvin confessed.
"I never dreamed of such a thing," Mr. Asmunsen said. "And yet it
does seem clear as print."
It was the first time I had ever heard Karl Marx's* doctrine of
surplus value elaborated, and Ernest had done it so simply that I,
too, sat puzzled and dumbfounded.
* Karl Marx--the great intellectual hero of Socialism. A German
Jew of the nineteenth century. A contemporary of John Stuart Mill.
It seems incredible to us that whole generations should have
elapsed after the enunciation of Marx's economic discoveries, in
which time he was sneered at by the world's accepted thinkers and
scholars. Because of his discoveries he was banished from his
native country, and he died an exile in England.
"I'll tell you a way to get rid of the surplus," Ernest said.
"Throw it into the sea. Throw every year hundreds of millions of
dollars' worth of shoes and wheat and clothing and all the
commodities of commerce into the sea. Won't that fix it?"
"It will certainly fix it," Mr. Calvin answered. "But it is absurd
for you to talk that way."
Ernest was upon him like a flash.
"Is it a bit more absurd than what you advocate, you machine-
breaker, returning to the antediluvian ways of your forefathers?
What do you propose in order to get rid of the surplus? You would
escape the problem of the surplus by not producing any surplus.
And how do you propose to avoid producing a surplus? By returning
to a primitive method of production, so confused and disorderly and
irrational, so wasteful and costly, that it will be impossible to
produce a surplus."
Mr. Calvin swallowed. The point had been driven home. He
swallowed again and cleared his throat.
"You are right," he said. "I stand convicted. It is absurd. But
we've got to do something. It is a case of life and death for us
of the middle class. We refuse to perish. We elect to be absurd
and to return to the truly crude and wasteful methods of our
forefathers. We will put back industry to its pre-trust stage. We
will break the machines. And what are you going to do about it?"
"But you can't break the machines," Ernest replied. "You cannot
make the tide of evolution flow backward. Opposed to you are two
great forces, each of which is more powerful than you of the middle
class. The large capitalists, the trusts, in short, will not let
you turn back. They don't want the machines destroyed. And
greater than the trusts, and more powerful, is labor. It will not
let you destroy the machines. The ownership of the world, along
with the machines, lies between the trusts and labor. That is the
battle alignment. Neither side wants the destruction of the
machines. But each side wants to possess the machines. In this
battle the middle class has no place. The middle class is a pygmy
between two giants. Don't you see, you poor perishing middle
class, you are caught between the upper and nether millstones, and
even now has the grinding begun.
"I have demonstrated to you mathematically the inevitable breakdown
of the capitalist system. When every country stands with an
unconsumed and unsalable surplus on its hands, the capitalist
system will break down under the terrific structure of profits that
it itself has reared. And in that day there won't be any
destruction of the machines. The struggle then will be for the
ownership of the machines. If labor wins, your way will be easy.
The United States, and the whole world for that matter, will enter
upon a new and tremendous era. Instead of being crushed by the
machines, life will be made fairer, and happier, and nobler by
them. You of the destroyed middle class, along with labor--there
will be nothing but labor then; so you, and all the rest of labor,
will participate in the equitable distribution of the products of
the wonderful machines. And we, all of us, will make new and more
wonderful machines. And there won't be any unconsumed surplus,
because there won't be any profits."
"But suppose the trusts win in this battle over the ownership of
the machines and the world?" Mr. Kowalt asked.
"Then," Ernest answered, "you, and labor, and all of us, will be
crushed under the iron heel of a despotism as relentless and
terrible as any despotism that has blackened the pages of the
history of man. That will be a good name for that despotism, the
* The earliest known use of that name to designate the Oligarchy.
There was a long pause, and every man at the table meditated in
ways unwonted and profound.
"But this socialism of yours is a dream," Mr. Calvin said; and
repeated, "a dream."
"I'll show you something that isn't a dream, then," Ernest
answered. "And that something I shall call the Oligarchy. You
call it the Plutocracy. We both mean the same thing, the large
capitalists or the trusts. Let us see where the power lies today.
And in order to do so, let us apportion society into its class
"There are three big classes in society. First comes the
Plutocracy, which is composed of wealthy bankers, railway magnates,
corporation directors, and trust magnates. Second, is the middle
class, your class, gentlemen, which is composed of farmers,
merchants, small manufacturers, and professional men. And third
and last comes my class, the proletariat, which is composed of the
* This division of society made by Everhard is in accordance with
that made by Lucien Sanial, one of the statistical authorities of
that time. His calculation of the membership of these divisions by
occupation, from the United States Census of 1900, is as follows:
Plutocratic class, 250,251; Middle class, 8,429,845; and
Proletariat class, 20,393,137.
"You cannot but grant that the ownership of wealth constitutes
essential power in the United States to-day. How is this wealth
owned by these three classes? Here are the figures. The
Plutocracy owns sixty-seven billions of wealth. Of the total
number of persons engaged in occupations in the United States, only
nine-tenths of one per cent are from the Plutocracy, yet the
Plutocracy owns seventy per cent of the total wealth. The middle
class owns twenty-four billions. Twenty-nine per cent of those in
occupations are from the middle class, and they own twenty-five per
cent of the total wealth. Remains the proletariat. It owns four
billions. Of all persons in occupations, seventy per cent come
from the proletariat; and the proletariat owns four per cent of the
total wealth. Where does the power lie, gentlemen?"
"From your own figures, we of the middle class are more powerful
than labor," Mr. Asmunsen remarked.
"Calling us weak does not make you stronger in the face of the
strength of the Plutocracy," Ernest retorted. "And furthermore,
I'm not done with you. There is a greater strength than wealth,
and it is greater because it cannot be taken away. Our strength,
the strength of the proletariat, is in our muscles, in our hands to
cast ballots, in our fingers to pull triggers. This strength we
cannot be stripped of. It is the primitive strength, it is the
strength that is to life germane, it is the strength that is
stronger than wealth, and that wealth cannot take away.
"But your strength is detachable. It can be taken away from you.
Even now the Plutocracy is taking it away from you. In the end it
will take it all away from you. And then you will cease to be the
middle class. You will descend to us. You will become
proletarians. And the beauty of it is that you will then add to
our strength. We will hail you brothers, and we will fight
shoulder to shoulder in the cause of humanity.
"You see, labor has nothing concrete of which to be despoiled. Its
share of the wealth of the country consists of clothes and
household furniture, with here and there, in very rare cases, an
unencumbered home. But you have the concrete wealth, twenty-four
billions of it, and the Plutocracy will take it away from you. Of
course, there is the large likelihood that the proletariat will
take it away first. Don't you see your position, gentlemen? The
middle class is a wobbly little lamb between a lion and a tiger.
If one doesn't get you, the other will. And if the Plutocracy gets
you first, why it's only a matter of time when the Proletariat gets
"Even your present wealth is not a true measure of your power. The
strength of your wealth at this moment is only an empty shell.
That is why you are crying out your feeble little battle-cry,
"Return to the ways of our fathers." You are aware of your
impotency. You know that your strength is an empty shell. And
I'll show you the emptiness of it.
"What power have the farmers? Over fifty per cent are thralls by
virtue of the fact that they are merely tenants or are mortgaged.
And all of them are thralls by virtue of the fact that the trusts
already own or control (which is the same thing only better)--own
and control all the means of marketing the crops, such as cold
storage, railroads, elevators, and steamship lines. And,
furthermore, the trusts control the markets. In all this the
farmers are without power. As regards their political and
governmental power, I'll take that up later, along with the
political and governmental power of the whole middle class.
"Day by day the trusts squeeze out the farmers as they squeezed out
Mr. Calvin and the rest of the dairymen. And day by day are the
merchants squeezed out in the same way. Do you remember how, in
six months, the Tobacco Trust squeezed out over four hundred cigar
stores in New York City alone? Where are the old-time owners of
the coal fields? You know today, without my telling you, that the
Railroad Trust owns or controls the entire anthracite and
bituminous coal fields. Doesn't the Standard Oil Trust* own a
score of the ocean lines? And does it not also control copper, to
say nothing of running a smelter trust as a little side enterprise?
There are ten thousand cities in the United States to-night lighted
by the companies owned or controlled by Standard Oil, and in as
many cities all the electric transportation,--urban, suburban, and
interurban,--is in the hands of Standard Oil. The small
capitalists who were in these thousands of enterprises are gone.
You know that. It's the same way that you are going.
* Standard Oil and Rockefeller--see upcoming footnote: "Rockefeller
began as a member . . ."
"The small manufacturer is like the farmer; and small manufacturers
and farmers to-day are reduced, to all intents and purposes, to
feudal tenure. For that matter, the professional men and the
artists are at this present moment villeins in everything but name,
while the politicians are henchmen. Why do you, Mr. Calvin, work
all your nights and days to organize the farmers, along with the
rest of the middle class, into a new political party? Because the
politicians of the old parties will have nothing to do with your
atavistic ideas; and with your atavistic ideas, they will have
nothing to do because they are what I said they are, henchmen,
retainers of the Plutocracy.
"I spoke of the professional men and the artists as villeins. What
else are they? One and all, the professors, the preachers, and the
editors, hold their jobs by serving the Plutocracy, and their
service consists of propagating only such ideas as are either
harmless to or commendatory of the Plutocracy. Whenever they
propagate ideas that menace the Plutocracy, they lose their jobs,
in which case, if they have not provided for the rainy day, they
descend into the proletariat and either perish or become working-
class agitators. And don't forget that it is the press, the
pulpit, and the university that mould public opinion, set the
thought-pace of the nation. As for the artists, they merely pander
to the little less than ignoble tastes of the Plutocracy.
"But after all, wealth in itself is not the real power; it is the
means to power, and power is governmental. Who controls the
government to-day? The proletariat with its twenty millions
engaged in occupations? Even you laugh at the idea. Does the
middle class, with its eight million occupied members? No more
than the proletariat. Who, then, controls the government? The
Plutocracy, with its paltry quarter of a million of occupied
members. But this quarter of a million does not control the
government, though it renders yeoman service. It is the brain of
the Plutocracy that controls the government, and this brain
consists of seven* small and powerful groups of men. And do not
forget that these groups are working to-day practically in unison.
* Even as late as 1907, it was considered that eleven groups
dominated the country, but this number was reduced by the
amalgamation of the five railroad groups into a supreme combination
of all the railroads. These five groups so amalgamated, along with
their financial and political allies, were (1) James J. Hill with
his control of the Northwest; (2) the Pennsylvania railway group,
Schiff financial manager, with big banking firms of Philadelphia
and New York; (3) Harriman, with Frick for counsel and Odell as
political lieutenant, controlling the central continental,
Southwestern and Southern Pacific Coast lines of transportation;
(4) the Gould family railway interests; and (5) Moore, Reid, and
Leeds, known as the "Rock Island crowd." These strong oligarchs
arose out of the conflict of competition and travelled the
inevitable road toward combination.
"Let me point out the power of but one of them, the railroad group.
It employs forty thousand lawyers to defeat the people in the
courts. It issues countless thousands of free passes to judges,
bankers, editors, ministers, university men, members of state
legislatures, and of Congress. It maintains luxurious lobbies* at
every state capital, and at the national capital; and in all the
cities and towns of the land it employs an immense army of
pettifoggers and small politicians whose business is to attend
primaries, pack conventions, get on juries, bribe judges, and in
every way to work for its interests.**
* Lobby--a peculiar institution for bribing, bulldozing, and
corrupting the legislators who were supposed to represent the
** A decade before this speech of Everhard's, the New York Board of
Trade issued a report from which the following is quoted: "The
railroads control absolutely the legislatures of a majority of the
states of the Union; they make and unmake United States Senators,
congressmen, and governors, and are practically dictators of the
governmental policy of the United States."
"Gentlemen, I have merely sketched the power of one of the seven
groups that constitute the brain of the Plutocracy.* Your twenty-
four billions of wealth does not give you twenty-five cents' worth
of governmental power. It is an empty shell, and soon even the
empty shell will be taken away from you. The Plutocracy has all
power in its hands to-day. It to-day makes the laws, for it owns
the Senate, Congress, the courts, and the state legislatures. And
not only that. Behind law must be force to execute the law. To-
day the Plutocracy makes the law, and to enforce the law it has at
its beck and call the, police, the army, the navy, and, lastly, the
militia, which is you, and me, and all of us."
* Rockefeller began as a member of the proletariat, and through
thrift and cunning succeeded in developing the first perfect trust,
namely that known as Standard Oil. We cannot forbear giving the
following remarkable page from the history of the times, to show
how the need for reinvestment of the Standard Oil surplus crushed
out small capitalists and hastened the breakdown of the capitalist
system. David Graham Phillips was a radical writer of the period,
and the quotation, by him, is taken from a copy of the Saturday
Evening Post, dated October 4, 1902 A.D. This is the only copy of
this publication that has come down to us, and yet, from its
appearance and content, we cannot but conclude that it was one of
the popular periodicals with a large circulation. The quotation
"About ten years ago Rockefeller's income was given as thirty
millions by an excellent authority. He had reached the limit of
profitable investment of profits in the oil industry. Here, then,
were these enormous sums in cash pouring in--more than $2,000,000 a
month for John Davison Rockefeller alone. The problem of
reinvestment became more serious. It became a nightmare. The oil
income was swelling, swelling, and the number of sound investments
limited, even more limited than it is now. It was through no
special eagerness for more gains that the Rockefellers began to
branch out from oil into other things. They were forced, swept on
by this inrolling tide of wealth which their monopoly magnet
irresistibly attracted. They developed a staff of investment
seekers and investigators. It is said that the chief of this staff
has a salary of $125,000 a year.
"The first conspicuous excursion and incursion of the Rockefellers
was into the railway field. By 1895 they controlled one-fifth of
the railway mileage of the country. What do they own or, through
dominant ownership, control to-day? They are powerful in all the
great railways of New York, north, east, and west, except one,
where their share is only a few millions. They are in most of the
great railways radiating from Chicago. They dominate in several of
the systems that extend to the Pacific. It is their votes that
make Mr. Morgan so potent, though, it may be added, they need his
brains more than he needs their votes--at present, and the
combination of the two constitutes in large measure the 'community
"But railways could not alone absorb rapidly enough those mighty
floods of gold. Presently John D. Rockefeller's $2,500,000 a
month had increased to four, to five, to six millions a month, to
$75,000,000 a year. Illuminating oil was becoming all profit. The
reinvestments of income were adding their mite of many annual
"The Rockefellers went into gas and electricity when those
industries had developed to the safe investment stage. And now a
large part of the American people must begin to enrich the
Rockefellers as soon as the sun goes down, no matter what form of
illuminant they use. They went into farm mortgages. It is said
that when prosperity a few years ago enabled the farmers to rid
themselves of their mortgages, John D. Rockefeller was moved
almost to tears; eight millions which he had thought taken care of
for years to come at a good interest were suddenly dumped upon his
doorstep and there set up a-squawking for a new home. This
unexpected addition to his worriments in finding places for the
progeny of his petroleum and their progeny and their progeny's
progeny was too much for the equanimity of a man without a
digestion. . . .
"The Rockefellers went into mines--iron and coal and copper and
lead; into other industrial companies; into street railways, into
national, state, and municipal bonds; into steamships and
steamboats and telegraphy; into real estate, into skyscrapers and
residences and hotels and business blocks; into life insurance,
into banking. There was soon literally no field of industry where
their millions were not at work. . . .
"The Rockefeller bank--the National City Bank--is by itself far and
away the biggest bank in the United States. It is exceeded in the
world only by the Bank of England and the Bank of France. The
deposits average more than one hundred millions a day; and it
dominates the call loan market on Wall Street and the stock market.
But it is not alone; it is the head of the Rockefeller chain of
banks, which includes fourteen banks and trust companies in New
York City, and banks of great strength and influence in every large
money center in the country.
"John D. Rockefeller owns Standard Oil stock worth between four
and five hundred millions at the market quotations. He has a
hundred millions in the steel trust, almost as much in a single
western railway system, half as much in a second, and so on and on
and on until the mind wearies of the cataloguing. His income last
year was about $100,000,000--it is doubtful if the incomes of all
the Rothschilds together make a greater sum. And it is going up by
leaps and bounds."
Little discussion took place after this, and the dinner soon broke
up. All were quiet and subdued, and leave-taking was done with low
voices. It seemed almost that they were scared by the vision of
the times they had seen.
"The situation is, indeed, serious," Mr. Calvin said to Ernest. "I
have little quarrel with the way you have depicted it. Only I
disagree with you about the doom of the middle class. We shall
survive, and we shall overthrow the trusts."
"And return to the ways of your fathers," Ernest finished for him.
"Even so," Mr. Calvin answered gravely. "I know it's a sort of
machine-breaking, and that it is absurd. But then life seems
absurd to-day, what of the machinations of the Plutocracy. And at
any rate, our sort of machine-breaking is at least practical and
possible, which your dream is not. Your socialistic dream is . . .
well, a dream. We cannot follow you."
"I only wish you fellows knew a little something about evolution
and sociology," Ernest said wistfully, as they shook hands. "We
would be saved so much trouble if you did."
CHAPTER X. THE VORTEX
Following like thunder claps upon the Business Men's dinner,
occurred event after event of terrifying moment; and I, little I,
who had lived so placidly all my days in the quiet university town,
found myself and my personal affairs drawn into the vortex of the
great world-affairs. Whether it was my love for Ernest, or the
clear sight he had given me of the society in which I lived, that
made me a revolutionist, I know not; but a revolutionist I became,
and I was plunged into a whirl of happenings that would have been
inconceivable three short months before.
The crisis in my own fortunes came simultaneously with great crises
in society. First of all, father was discharged from the
university. Oh, he was not technically discharged. His
resignation was demanded, that was all. This, in itself, did not
amount to much. Father, in fact, was delighted. He was especially
delighted because his discharge had been precipitated by the
publication of his book, "Economics and Education." It clinched
his argument, he contended. What better evidence could be advanced
to prove that education was dominated by the capitalist class?
But this proof never got anywhere. Nobody knew he had been forced
to resign from the university. He was so eminent a scientist that
such an announcement, coupled with the reason for his enforced
resignation, would have created somewhat of a furor all over the
world. The newspapers showered him with praise and honor, and
commended him for having given up the drudgery of the lecture room
in order to devote his whole time to scientific research.
At first father laughed. Then he became angry--tonic angry. Then
came the suppression of his book. This suppression was performed
secretly, so secretly that at first we could not comprehend. The
publication of the book had immediately caused a bit of excitement
in the country. Father had been politely abused in the capitalist
press, the tone of the abuse being to the effect that it was a pity
so great a scientist should leave his field and invade the realm of
sociology, about which he knew nothing and wherein he had promptly
become lost. This lasted for a week, while father chuckled and
said the book had touched a sore spot on capitalism. And then,
abruptly, the newspapers and the critical magazines ceased saying
anything about the book at all. Also, and with equal suddenness,
the book disappeared from the market. Not a copy was obtainable
from any bookseller. Father wrote to the publishers and was
informed that the plates had been accidentally injured. An
unsatisfactory correspondence followed. Driven finally to an
unequivocal stand, the publishers stated that they could not see
their way to putting the book into type again, but that they were
willing to relinquish their rights in it.
"And you won't find another publishing house in the country to
touch it," Ernest said. "And if I were you, I'd hunt cover right
now. You've merely got a foretaste of the Iron Heel."
But father was nothing if not a scientist. He never believed in
jumping to conclusions. A laboratory experiment was no experiment
if it were not carried through in all its details. So he patiently
went the round of the publishing houses. They gave a multitude of
excuses, but not one house would consider the book.
When father became convinced that the book had actually been
suppressed, he tried to get the fact into the newspapers; but his
communications were ignored. At a political meeting of the
socialists, where many reporters were present, father saw his
chance. He arose and related the history of the suppression of the
book. He laughed next day when he read the newspapers, and then he
grew angry to a degree that eliminated all tonic qualities. The
papers made no mention of the book, but they misreported him
beautifully. They twisted his words and phrases away from the
context, and turned his subdued and controlled remarks into a
howling anarchistic speech. It was done artfully. One instance,
in particular, I remember. He had used the phrase "social
revolution." The reporter merely dropped out "social." This was
sent out all over the country in an Associated Press despatch, and
from all over the country arose a cry of alarm. Father was branded
as a nihilist and an anarchist, and in one cartoon that was copied
widely he was portrayed waving a red flag at the head of a mob of
long-haired, wild-eyed men who bore in their hands torches, knives,
and dynamite bombs.
He was assailed terribly in the press, in long and abusive
editorials, for his anarchy, and hints were made of mental
breakdown on his part. This behavior, on the part of the
capitalist press, was nothing new, Ernest told us. It was the
custom, he said, to send reporters to all the socialist meetings
for the express purpose of misreporting and distorting what was
said, in order to frighten the middle class away from any possible
affiliation with the proletariat. And repeatedly Ernest warned
father to cease fighting and to take to cover.
The socialist press of the country took up the fight, however, and
throughout the reading portion of the working class it was known
that the book had been suppressed. But this knowledge stopped with
the working class. Next, the "Appeal to Reason," a big socialist
publishing house, arranged with father to bring out the book.
Father was jubilant, but Ernest was alarmed.
"I tell you we are on the verge of the unknown," he insisted. "Big
things are happening secretly all around us. We can feel them. We
do not know what they are, but they are there. The whole fabric of
society is a-tremble with them. Don't ask me. I don't know
myself. But out of this flux of society something is about to
crystallize. It is crystallizing now. The suppression of the book
is a precipitation. How many books have been suppressed? We
haven't the least idea. We are in the dark. We have no way of
learning. Watch out next for the suppression of the socialist
press and socialist publishing houses. I'm afraid it's coming. We
are going to be throttled."
Ernest had his hand on the pulse of events even more closely than
the rest of the socialists, and within two days the first blow was
struck. The Appeal to Reason was a weekly, and its regular
circulation amongst the proletariat was seven hundred and fifty
thousand. Also, it very frequently got out special editions of
from two to five millions. These great editions were paid for and
distributed by the small army of voluntary workers who had
marshalled around the Appeal. The first blow was aimed at these
special editions, and it was a crushing one. By an arbitrary
ruling of the Post Office, these editions were decided to be not
the regular circulation of the paper, and for that reason were
denied admission to the mails.
A week later the Post Office Department ruled that the paper was
seditious, and barred it entirely from the mails. This was a
fearful blow to the socialist propaganda. The Appeal was
desperate. It devised a plan of reaching its subscribers through
the express companies, but they declined to handle it. This was
the end of the Appeal. But not quite. It prepared to go on with
its book publishing. Twenty thousand copies of father's book were
in the bindery, and the presses were turning off more. And then,
without warning, a mob arose one night, and, under a waving
American flag, singing patriotic songs, set fire to the great plant
of the Appeal and totally destroyed it.
Now Girard, Kansas, was a quiet, peaceable town. There had never
been any labor troubles there. The Appeal paid union wages; and,
in fact, was the backbone of the town, giving employment to
hundreds of men and women. It was not the citizens of Girard that
composed the mob. This mob had risen up out of the earth
apparently, and to all intents and purposes, its work done, it had
gone back into the earth. Ernest saw in the affair the most
"The Black Hundreds* are being organized in the United States," he
said. "This is the beginning. There will be more of it. The Iron
Heel is getting bold."
* The Black Hundreds were reactionary mobs organized by the
perishing Autocracy in the Russian Revolution. These reactionary
groups attacked the revolutionary groups, and also, at needed
moments, rioted and destroyed property so as to afford the
Autocracy the pretext of calling out the Cossacks.
And so perished father's book. We were to see much of the Black
Hundreds as the days went by. Week by week more of the socialist
papers were barred from the mails, and in a number of instances the
Black Hundreds destroyed the socialist presses. Of course, the
newspapers of the land lived up to the reactionary policy of the
ruling class, and the destroyed socialist press was misrepresented
and vilified, while the Black Hundreds were represented as true
patriots and saviours of society. So convincing was all this
misrepresentation that even sincere ministers in the pulpit praised
the Black Hundreds while regretting the necessity of violence.
History was making fast. The fall elections were soon to occur,
and Ernest was nominated by the socialist party to run for
Congress. His chance for election was most favorable. The street-
car strike in San Francisco had been broken. And following upon it
the teamsters' strike had been broken. These two defeats had been
very disastrous to organized labor. The whole Water Front
Federation, along with its allies in the structural trades, had
backed up the teamsters, and all had smashed down ingloriously. It
had been a bloody strike. The police had broken countless heads
with their riot clubs; and the death list had been augmented by the
turning loose of a machine-gun on the strikers from the barns of
the Marsden Special Delivery Company.
In consequence, the men were sullen and vindictive. They wanted
blood, and revenge. Beaten on their chosen field, they were ripe
to seek revenge by means of political action. They still
maintained their labor organization, and this gave them strength in
the political struggle that was on. Ernest's chance for election
grew stronger and stronger. Day by day unions and more unions
voted their support to the socialists, until even Ernest laughed
when the Undertakers' Assistants and the Chicken Pickers fell into
line. Labor became mulish. While it packed the socialist meetings
with mad enthusiasm, it was impervious to the wiles of the old-
party politicians. The old-party orators were usually greeted with
empty halls, though occasionally they encountered full halls where
they were so roughly handled that more than once it was necessary
to call out the police reserves.
History was making fast. The air was vibrant with things happening
and impending. The country was on the verge of hard times,* caused
by a series of prosperous years wherein the difficulty of disposing
abroad of the unconsumed surplus had become increasingly difficult.
Industries were working short time; many great factories were
standing idle against the time when the surplus should be gone; and
wages were being cut right and left.
* Under the capitalist regime these periods of hard times were as
inevitable as they were absurd. Prosperity always brought
calamity. This, of course, was due to the excess of unconsumed
profits that was piled up.
Also, the great machinist strike had been broken. Two hundred
thousand machinists, along with their five hundred thousand allies
in the metalworking trades, had been defeated in as bloody a strike
as had ever marred the United States. Pitched battles had been
fought with the small armies of armed strike-breakers* put in the
field by the employers' associations; the Black Hundreds, appearing
in scores of wide-scattered places, had destroyed property; and, in
consequence, a hundred thousand regular soldiers of the United
States has been called out to put a frightful end to the whole
affair. A number of the labor leaders had been executed; many
others had been sentenced to prison, while thousands of the rank
and file of the strikers had been herded into bull-pens** and
abominably treated by the soldiers.
* Strike-breakers--these were, in purpose and practice and
everything except name, the private soldiers of the capitalists.
They were thoroughly organized and well armed, and they were held
in readiness to be hurled in special trains to any part of the
country where labor went on strike or was locked out by the
employers. Only those curious times could have given rise to the
amazing spectacle of one, Farley, a notorious commander of strike-
breakers, who, in 1906, swept across the United States in special
trains from New York to San Francisco with an army of twenty-five
hundred men, fully armed and equipped, to break a strike of the San
Francisco street-car men. Such an act was in direct violation of
the laws of the land. The fact that this act, and thousands of
similar acts, went unpunished, goes to show how completely the
judiciary was the creature of the Plutocracy.
** Bull-pen--in a miners' strike in Idaho, in the latter part of
the nineteenth century, it happened that many of the strikers were
confined in a bull-pen by the troops. The practice and the name
continued in the twentieth century.
The years of prosperity were now to be paid for. All markets were
glutted; all markets were falling; and amidst the general crumble
of prices the price of labor crumbled fastest of all. The land was
convulsed with industrial dissensions. Labor was striking here,
there, and everywhere; and where it was not striking, it was being
turned out by the capitalists. The papers were filled with tales
of violence and blood. And through it all the Black Hundreds
played their part. Riot, arson, and wanton destruction of property
was their function, and well they performed it. The whole regular
army was in the field, called there by the actions of the Black
Hundreds.* All cities and towns were like armed camps, and
laborers were shot down like dogs. Out of the vast army of the
unemployed the strike-breakers were recruited; and when the strike-
breakers were worsted by the labor unions, the troops always
appeared and crushed the unions. Then there was the militia. As
yet, it was not necessary to have recourse to the secret militia
law. Only the regularly organized militia was out, and it was out
everywhere. And in this time of terror, the regular army was
increased an additional hundred thousand by the government.
* The name only, and not the idea, was imported from Russia. The
Black Hundreds were a development out of the secret agents of the
capitalists, and their use arose in the labor struggles of the
nineteenth century. There is no discussion of this. No less an
authority of the times than Carroll D. Wright, United States
Commissioner of Labor, is responsible for the statement. From his
book, entitled "The Battles of Labor," is quoted the declaration
that "in some of the great historic strikes the employers
themselves have instigated acts of violence;" that manufacturers
have deliberately provoked strikes in order to get rid of surplus
stock; and that freight cars have been burned by employers' agents
during railroad strikes in order to increase disorder. It was out
of these secret agents of the employers that the Black Hundreds
arose; and it was they, in turn, that later became that terrible
weapon of the Oligarchy, the agents-provocateurs.
Never had labor received such an all-around beating. The great
captains of industry, the oligarchs, had for the first time thrown
their full weight into the breach the struggling employers'
associations had made. These associations were practically middle-
class affairs, and now, compelled by hard times and crashing
markets, and aided by the great captains of industry, they gave
organized labor an awful and decisive defeat. It was an all-
powerful alliance, but it was an alliance of the lion and the lamb,
as the middle class was soon to learn.
Labor was bloody and sullen, but crushed. Yet its defeat did not
put an end to the hard times. The banks, themselves constituting
one of the most important forces of the Oligarchy, continued to
call in credits. The Wall Street* group turned the stock market
into a maelstrom where the values of all the land crumbled away
almost to nothingness. And out of all the rack and ruin rose the
form of the nascent Oligarchy, imperturbable, indifferent, and
sure. Its serenity and certitude was terrifying. Not only did it
use its own vast power, but it used all the power of the United
States Treasury to carry out its plans.
* Wall Street--so named from a street in ancient New York, where
was situated the stock exchange, and where the irrational
organization of society permitted underhanded manipulation of all
the industries of the country.
The captains of industry had turned upon the middle class. The
employers' associations, that had helped the captains of industry
to tear and rend labor, were now torn and rent by their quondam
allies. Amidst the crashing of the middle men, the small business
men and manufacturers, the trusts stood firm. Nay, the trusts did
more than stand firm. They were active. They sowed wind, and
wind, and ever more wind; for they alone knew how to reap the
whirlwind and make a profit out of it. And such profits! Colossal
profits! Strong enough themselves to weather the storm that was
largely their own brewing, they turned loose and plundered the
wrecks that floated about them. Values were pitifully and
inconceivably shrunken, and the trusts added hugely to their
holdings, even extending their enterprises into many new fields--
and always at the expense of the middle class.
Thus the summer of 1912 witnessed the virtual death-thrust to the
middle class. Even Ernest was astounded at the quickness with
which it had been done. He shook his head ominously and looked
forward without hope to the fall elections.
"It's no use," he said. "We are beaten. The Iron Heel is here.
I had hoped for a peaceable victory at the ballot-box. I was wrong.
Wickson was right. We shall be robbed of our few remaining
liberties; the Iron Heel will walk upon our faces; nothing remains
but a bloody revolution of the working class. Of course we will
win, but I shudder to think of it."
And from then on Ernest pinned his faith in revolution. In this he
was in advance of his party. His fellow-socialists could not agree
with him. They still insisted that victory could be gained through
the elections. It was not that they were stunned. They were too
cool-headed and courageous for that. They were merely incredulous,
that was all. Ernest could not get them seriously to fear the
coming of the Oligarchy. They were stirred by him, but they were
too sure of their own strength. There was no room in their
theoretical social evolution for an oligarchy, therefore the
Oligarchy could not be.
"We'll send you to Congress and it will be all right," they told
him at one of our secret meetings.
"And when they take me out of Congress," Ernest replied coldly,
"and put me against a wall, and blow my brains out--what then?"
"Then we'll rise in our might," a dozen voices answered at once.
"Then you'll welter in your gore," was his retort. "I've heard
that song sung by the middle class, and where is it now in its
CHAPTER XI. THE GREAT ADVENTURE
Mr. Wickson did not send for father. They met by chance on the
ferry-boat to San Francisco, so that the warning he gave father was
not premeditated. Had they not met accidentally, there would not
have been any warning. Not that the outcome would have been
different, however. Father came of stout old Mayflower* stock, and
the blood was imperative in him.
* One of the first ships that carried colonies to America, after
the discovery of the New World. Descendants of these original
colonists were for a while inordinately proud of their genealogy;
but in time the blood became so widely diffused that it ran in the
veins practically of all Americans.
"Ernest was right," he told me, as soon as he had returned home.
"Ernest is a very remarkable young man, and I'd rather see you his
wife than the wife of Rockefeller himself or the King of England."
"What's the matter?" I asked in alarm.
"The Oligarchy is about to tread upon our faces--yours and mine.
Wickson as much as told me so. He was very kind--for an oligarch.
He offered to reinstate me in the university. What do you think of
that? He, Wickson, a sordid money-grabber, has the power to
determine whether I shall or shall not teach in the university of
the state. But he offered me even better than that--offered to
make me president of some great college of physical sciences that
is being planned--the Oligarchy must get rid of its surplus
somehow, you see.
"'Do you remember what I told that socialist lover of your
daughter's?' he said. 'I told him that we would walk upon the
faces of the working class. And so we shall. As for you, I have
for you a deep respect as a scientist; but if you throw your
fortunes in with the working class--well, watch out for your face,
that is all.' And then he turned and left me."
"It means we'll have to marry earlier than you planned," was
Ernest's comment when we told him.
I could not follow his reasoning, but I was soon to learn it. It
was at this time that the quarterly dividend of the Sierra Mills
was paid--or, rather, should have been paid, for father did not
receive his. After waiting several days, father wrote to the
secretary. Promptly came the reply that there was no record on the
books of father's owning any stock, and a polite request for more
"I'll make it explicit enough, confound him," father declared, and
departed for the bank to get the stock in question from his safe-
"Ernest is a very remarkable man," he said when he got back and
while I was helping him off with his overcoat. "I repeat, my
daughter, that young man of yours is a very remarkable young man."
I had learned, whenever he praised Ernest in such fashion, to
"They have already walked upon my face," father explained. "There
was no stock. The box was empty. You and Ernest will have to get
married pretty quickly."
Father insisted on laboratory methods. He brought the Sierra Mills
into court, but he could not bring the books of the Sierra Mills
into court. He did not control the courts, and the Sierra Mills
did. That explained it all. He was thoroughly beaten by the law,
and the bare-faced robbery held good.
It is almost laughable now, when I look back on it, the way father
was beaten. He met Wickson accidentally on the street in San
Francisco, and he told Wickson that he was a damned scoundrel. And
then father was arrested for attempted assault, fined in the police
court, and bound over to keep the peace. It was all so ridiculous
that when he got home he had to laugh himself. But what a furor
was raised in the local papers! There was grave talk about the
bacillus of violence that infected all men who embraced socialism;
and father, with his long and peaceful life, was instanced as a
shining example of how the bacillus of violence worked. Also, it
was asserted by more than one paper that father's mind had weakened
under the strain of scientific study, and confinement in a state
asylum for the insane was suggested. Nor was this merely talk. It
was an imminent peril. But father was wise enough to see it. He
had the Bishop's experience to lesson from, and he lessoned well.
He kept quiet no matter what injustice was perpetrated on him, and
really, I think, surprised his enemies.
There was the matter of the house--our home. A mortgage was
foreclosed on it, and we had to give up possession. Of course
there wasn't any mortgage, and never had been any mortgage. The
ground had been bought outright, and the house had been paid for
when it was built. And house and lot had always been free and
unencumbered. Nevertheless there was the mortgage, properly and
legally drawn up and signed, with a record of the payments of
interest through a number of years. Father made no outcry. As he
had been robbed of his money, so was he now robbed of his home.
And he had no recourse. The machinery of society was in the hands
of those who were bent on breaking him. He was a philosopher at
heart, and he was no longer even angry.
"I am doomed to be broken," he said to me; "but that is no reason
that I should not try to be shattered as little as possible. These
old bones of mine are fragile, and I've learned my lesson. God
knows I don't want to spend my last days in an insane asylum."
Which reminds me of Bishop Morehouse, whom I have neglected for
many pages. But first let me tell of my marriage. In the play of
events, my marriage sinks into insignificance, I know, so I shall
barely mention it.
"Now we shall become real proletarians," father said, when we were
driven from our home. "I have often envied that young man of yours
for his actual knowledge of the proletariat. Now I shall see and
learn for myself."
Father must have had strong in him the blood of adventure. He
looked upon our catastrophe in the light of an adventure. No anger
nor bitterness possessed him. He was too philosophic and simple to
be vindictive, and he lived too much in the world of mind to miss
the creature comforts we were giving up. So it was, when we moved
to San Francisco into four wretched rooms in the slum south of
Market Street, that he embarked upon the adventure with the joy and
enthusiasm of a child--combined with the clear sight and mental
grasp of an extraordinary intellect. He really never crystallized
mentally. He had no false sense of values. Conventional or
habitual values meant nothing to him. The only values he
recognized were mathematical and scientific facts. My father was a
great man. He had the mind and the soul that only great men have.
In ways he was even greater than Ernest, than whom I have known
Even I found some relief in our change of living. If nothing else,
I was escaping from the organized ostracism that had been our
increasing portion in the university town ever since the enmity of
the nascent Oligarchy had been incurred. And the change was to me
likewise adventure, and the greatest of all, for it was love-
adventure. The change in our fortunes had hastened my marriage,
and it was as a wife that I came to live in the four rooms on Pell
Street, in the San Francisco slum.
And this out of all remains: I made Ernest happy. I came into his
stormy life, not as a new perturbing force, but as one that made
toward peace and repose. I gave him rest. It was the guerdon of
my love for him. It was the one infallible token that I had not
failed. To bring forgetfulness, or the light of gladness, into
those poor tired eyes of his--what greater joy could have blessed
me than that?
Those dear tired eyes. He toiled as few men ever toiled, and all
his lifetime he toiled for others. That was the measure of his
manhood. He was a humanist and a lover. And he, with his
incarnate spirit of battle, his gladiator body and his eagle
spirit--he was as gentle and tender to me as a poet. He was a
poet. A singer in deeds. And all his life he sang the song of
man. And he did it out of sheer love of man, and for man he gave
his life and was crucified.
And all this he did with no hope of future reward. In his
conception of things there was no future life. He, who fairly
burnt with immortality, denied himself immortality--such was the
paradox of him. He, so warm in spirit, was dominated by that cold
and forbidding philosophy, materialistic monism. I used to refute
him by telling him that I measured his immortality by the wings of
his soul, and that I should have to live endless aeons in order to
achieve the full measurement. Whereat he would laugh, and his arms
would leap out to me, and he would call me his sweet metaphysician;
and the tiredness would pass out of his eyes, and into them would
flood the happy love-light that was in itself a new and sufficient
advertisement of his immortality.
Also, he used to call me his dualist, and he would explain how
Kant, by means of pure reason, had abolished reason, in order to
worship God. And he drew the parallel and included me guilty of a
similar act. And when I pleaded guilty, but defended the act as
highly rational, he but pressed me closer and laughed as only one
of God's own lovers could laugh. I was wont to deny that heredity
and environment could explain his own originality and genius, any
more than could the cold groping finger of science catch and
analyze and classify that elusive essence that lurked in the
constitution of life itself.
I held that space was an apparition of God, and that soul was a
projection of the character of God; and when he called me his sweet
metaphysician, I called him my immortal materialist. And so we
loved and were happy; and I forgave him his materialism because of
his tremendous work in the world, performed without thought of
soul-gain thereby, and because of his so exceeding modesty of
spirit that prevented him from having pride and regal consciousness
of himself and his soul.
But he had pride. How could he have been an eagle and not have
pride? His contention was that it was finer for a finite mortal
speck of life to feel Godlike, than for a god to feel godlike; and
so it was that he exalted what he deemed his mortality. He was
fond of quoting a fragment from a certain poem. He had never seen
the whole poem, and he had tried vainly to learn its authorship. I
here give the fragment, not alone because he loved it, but because
it epitomized the paradox that he was in the spirit of him, and his
conception of his spirit. For how can a man, with thrilling, and
burning, and exaltation, recite the following and still be mere
mortal earth, a bit of fugitive force, an evanescent form? Here it
"Joy upon joy and gain upon gain
Are the destined rights of my birth,
And I shout the praise of my endless days
To the echoing edge of the earth.
Though I suffer all deaths that a man can die
To the uttermost end of time,
I have deep-drained this, my cup of bliss,
In every age and clime--
"The froth of Pride, the tang of Power,
The sweet of Womanhood!
I drain the lees upon my knees,
For oh, the draught is good;
I drink to Life, I drink to Death,
And smack my lips with song,
For when I die, another 'I' shall pass the cup along.
"The man you drove from Eden's grove
Was I, my Lord, was I,
And I shall be there when the earth and the air
Are rent from sea to sky;
For it is my world, my gorgeous world,
The world of my dearest woes,
From the first faint cry of the newborn
To the rack of the woman's throes.
"Packed with the pulse of an unborn race,
Torn with a world's desire,
The surging flood of my wild young blood
Would quench the judgment fire.
I am Man, Man, Man, from the tingling flesh
To the dust of my earthly goal,
From the nestling gloom of the pregnant womb
To the sheen of my naked soul.
Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh
The whole world leaps to my will,
And the unslaked thirst of an Eden cursed
Shall harrow the earth for its fill.
Almighty God, when I drain life's glass
Of all its rainbow gleams,
The hapless plight of eternal night
Shall be none too long for my dreams.
"The man you drove from Eden's grove
Was I, my Lord, was I,
And I shall be there when the earth and the air
Are rent from sea to sky;
For it is my world, my gorgeous world,
The world of my dear delight,
From the brightest gleam of the Arctic stream
To the dusk of my own love-night."
Ernest always overworked. His wonderful constitution kept him up;
but even that constitution could not keep the tired look out of his
eyes. His dear, tired eyes! He never slept more than four and
one-half hours a night; yet he never found time to do all the work
he wanted to do. He never ceased from his activities as a
propagandist, and was always scheduled long in advance for lectures
to workingmen's organizations. Then there was the campaign. He
did a man's full work in that alone. With the suppression of the
socialist publishing houses, his meagre royalties ceased, and he
was hard-put to make a living; for he had to make a living in
addition to all his other labor. He did a great deal of
translating for the magazines on scientific and philosophic
subjects; and, coming home late at night, worn out from the strain
of the campaign, he would plunge into his translating and toil on
well into the morning hours. And in addition to everything, there
was his studying. To the day of his death he kept up his studies,
and he studied prodigiously.
And yet he found time in which to love me and make me happy. But
this was accomplished only through my merging my life completely
into his. I learned shorthand and typewriting, and became his
secretary. He insisted that I succeeded in cutting his work in
half; and so it was that I schooled myself to understand his work.
Our interests became mutual, and we worked together and played
And then there were our sweet stolen moments in the midst of our
work--just a word, or caress, or flash of love-light; and our
moments were sweeter for being stolen. For we lived on the
heights, where the air was keen and sparkling, where the toil was
for humanity, and where sordidness and selfishness never entered.
We loved love, and our love was never smirched by anything less
than the best. And this out of all remains: I did not fail. I
gave him rest--he who worked so hard for others, my dear, tired-
CHAPTER XII. THE BISHOP
It was after my marriage that I chanced upon Bishop Morehouse. But
I must give the events in their proper sequence. After his
outbreak at the I. P. H. Convention, the Bishop, being a gentle
soul, had yielded to the friendly pressure brought to bear upon
him, and had gone away on a vacation. But he returned more fixed
than ever in his determination to preach the message of the Church.
To the consternation of his congregation, his first sermon was
quite similar to the address he had given before the Convention.
Again he said, and at length and with distressing detail, that the
Church had wandered away from the Master's teaching, and that
Mammon had been instated in the place of Christ.
And the result was, willy-nilly, that he was led away to a private
sanitarium for mental disease, while in the newspapers appeared
pathetic accounts of his mental breakdown and of the saintliness of
his character. He was held a prisoner in the sanitarium. I called
repeatedly, but was denied access to him; and I was terribly
impressed by the tragedy of a sane, normal, saintly man being
crushed by the brutal will of society. For the Bishop was sane,
and pure, and noble. As Ernest said, all that was the matter with
him was that he had incorrect notions of biology and sociology, and
because of his incorrect notions he had not gone about it in the
right way to rectify matters.
What terrified me was the Bishop's helplessness. If he persisted
in the truth as he saw it, he was doomed to an insane ward. And he
could do nothing. His money, his position, his culture, could not
save him. His views were perilous to society, and society could
not conceive that such perilous views could be the product of a
sane mind. Or, at least, it seems to me that such was society's
But the Bishop, in spite of the gentleness and purity of his
spirit, was possessed of guile. He apprehended clearly his danger.
He saw himself caught in the web, and he tried to escape from it.
Denied help from his friends, such as father and Ernest and I could
have given, he was left to battle for himself alone. And in the
enforced solitude of the sanitarium he recovered. He became again
sane. His eyes ceased to see visions; his brain was purged of the
fancy that it was the duty of society to feed the Master's lambs.
As I say, he became well, quite well, and the newspapers and the
church people hailed his return with joy. I went once to his
church. The sermon was of the same order as the ones he had
preached long before his eyes had seen visions. I was
disappointed, shocked. Had society then beaten him into
submission? Was he a coward? Had he been bulldozed into
recanting? Or had the strain been too great for him, and had he
meekly surrendered to the juggernaut of the established?
I called upon him in his beautiful home. He was woefully changed.
He was thinner, and there were lines on his face which I had never
seen before. He was manifestly distressed by my coming. He
plucked nervously at his sleeve as we talked; and his eyes were
restless, fluttering here, there, and everywhere, and refusing to
meet mine. His mind seemed preoccupied, and there were strange
pauses in his conversation, abrupt changes of topic, and an
inconsecutiveness that was bewildering. Could this, then, be the
firm-poised, Christ-like man I had known, with pure, limpid eyes
and a gaze steady and unfaltering as his soul? He had been man-
handled; he had been cowed into subjection. His spirit was too
gentle. It had not been mighty enough to face the organized wolf-
pack of society.
I felt sad, unutterably sad. He talked ambiguously, and was so
apprehensive of what I might say that I had not the heart to
catechise him. He spoke in a far-away manner of his illness, and
we talked disjointedly about the church, the alterations in the
organ, and about petty charities; and he saw me depart with such
evident relief that I should have laughed had not my heart been so
full of tears.
The poor little hero! If I had only known! He was battling like a
giant, and I did not guess it. Alone, all alone, in the midst of
millions of his fellow-men, he was fighting his fight. Torn by his
horror of the asylum and his fidelity to truth and the right, he
clung steadfastly to truth and the right; but so alone was he that
he did not dare to trust even me. He had learned his lesson well--
But I was soon to know. One day the Bishop disappeared. He had
told nobody that he was going away; and as the days went by and he
did not reappear, there was much gossip to the effect that he had
committed suicide while temporarily deranged. But this idea was
dispelled when it was learned that he had sold all his
possessions,--his city mansion, his country house at Menlo Park,
his paintings, and collections, and even his cherished library. It
was patent that he had made a clean and secret sweep of everything
before he disappeared.
This happened during the time when calamity had overtaken us in our
own affairs; and it was not till we were well settled in our new
home that we had opportunity really to wonder and speculate about
the Bishop's doings. And then, everything was suddenly made clear.
Early one evening, while it was yet twilight, I had run across the
street and into the butcher-shop to get some chops for Ernest's
supper. We called the last meal of the day "supper" in our new
Just at the moment I came out of the butcher-shop, a man emerged
from the corner grocery that stood alongside. A queer sense
familiarity made me look again. But the man had turned and was
walking rapidly away. There was something about the slope of the
shoulders and the fringe of silver hair between coat collar and
slouch hat that aroused vague memories. Instead of crossing the
street, I hurried after the man. I quickened my pace, trying not
to think the thoughts that formed unbidden in my brain. No, it was
impossible. It could not be--not in those faded overalls, too long
in the legs and frayed at the bottoms.
I paused, laughed at myself, and almost abandoned the chase. But
the haunting familiarity of those shoulders and that silver hair!
Again I hurried on. As I passed him, I shot a keen look at his
face; then I whirled around abruptly and confronted--the Bishop.
He halted with equal abruptness, and gasped. A large paper bag in
his right hand fell to the sidewalk. It burst, and about his feet
and mine bounced and rolled a flood of potatoes. He looked at me
with surprise and alarm, then he seemed to wilt away; the shoulders
drooped with dejection, and he uttered a deep sigh.
I held out my hand. He shook it, but his hand felt clammy. He
cleared his throat in embarrassment, and I could see the sweat
starting out on his forehead. It was evident that he was badly
"The potatoes," he murmured faintly. "They are precious."
Between us we picked them up and replaced them in the broken bag,
which he now held carefully in the hollow of his arm. I tried to
tell him my gladness at meeting him and that he must come right
home with me.
"Father will be rejoiced to see you," I said. "We live only a
stone's throw away.
"I can't," he said, "I must be going. Good-by."
He looked apprehensively about him, as though dreading discovery,
and made an attempt to walk on.
"Tell me where you live, and I shall call later," he said, when he
saw that I walked beside him and that it was my intention to stick
to him now that he was found.
"No," I answered firmly. "You must come now."
He looked at the potatoes spilling on his arm, and at the small
parcels on his other arm.
"Really, it is impossible," he said. "Forgive me for my rudeness.
If you only knew."
He looked as if he were going to break down, but the next moment he
had himself in control.
"Besides, this food," he went on. "It is a sad case. It is
terrible. She is an old woman. I must take it to her at once.
She is suffering from want of it. I must go at once. You
understand. Then I will return. I promise you."
"Let me go with you," I volunteered. "Is it far?"
He sighed again, and surrendered.
"Only two blocks," he said. "Let us hasten."
Under the Bishop's guidance I learned something of my own
neighborhood. I had not dreamed such wretchedness and misery
existed in it. Of course, this was because I did not concern
myself with charity. I had become convinced that Ernest was right
when he sneered at charity as a poulticing of an ulcer. Remove the
ulcer, was his remedy; give to the worker his product; pension as
soldiers those who grow honorably old in their toil, and there will
be no need for charity. Convinced of this, I toiled with him at
the revolution, and did not exhaust my energy in alleviating the
social ills that continuously arose from the injustice of the
I followed the Bishop into a small room, ten by twelve, in a rear
tenement. And there we found a little old German woman--sixty-four
years old, the Bishop said. She was surprised at seeing me, but
she nodded a pleasant greeting and went on sewing on the pair of
men's trousers in her lap. Beside her, on the floor, was a pile of
trousers. The Bishop discovered there was neither coal nor
kindling, and went out to buy some.
I took up a pair of trousers and examined her work.
"Six cents, lady," she said, nodding her head gently while she went
on stitching. She stitched slowly, but never did she cease from
stitching. She seemed mastered by the verb "to stitch."
"For all that work?" I asked. "Is that what they pay? How long
does it take you?"
"Yes," she answered, "that is what they pay. Six cents for
finishing. Two hours' sewing on each pair."
But the boss doesn't know that," she added quickly, betraying a
fear of getting him into trouble. "I'm slow. I've got the
rheumatism in my hands. Girls work much faster. They finish in
half that time. The boss is kind. He lets me take the work home,
now that I am old and the noise of the machine bothers my head. If
it wasn't for his kindness, I'd starve.
"Yes, those who work in the shop get eight cents. But what can you
do? There is not enough work for the young. The old have no
chance. Often one pair is all I can get. Sometimes, like to-day,
I am given eight pair to finish before night."
I asked her the hours she worked, and she said it depended on the
"In the summer, when there is a rush order, I work from five in the
morning to nine at night. But in the winter it is too cold. The
hands do not early get over the stiffness. Then you must work
later--till after midnight sometimes.
"Yes, it has been a bad summer. The hard times. God must be
angry. This is the first work the boss has given me in a week. It
is true, one cannot eat much when there is no work. I am used to
it. I have sewed all my life, in the old country and here in San
"If you are sure of the rent, it is all right. The houseman is
very kind, but he must have his rent. It is fair. He only charges
three dollars for this room. That is cheap. But it is not easy
for you to find all of three dollars every month."
She ceased talking, and, nodding her head, went on stitching.
"You have to be very careful as to how you spend your earnings," I
She nodded emphatically.
"After the rent it's not so bad. Of course you can't buy meat.
And there is no milk for the coffee. But always there is one meal
a day, and often two."
She said this last proudly. There was a smack of success in her
words. But as she stitched on in silence, I noticed the sadness in
her pleasant eyes and the droop of her mouth. The look in her eyes
became far away. She rubbed the dimness hastily out of them; it
interfered with her stitching.
No, it is not the hunger that makes the heart ache," she explained.
"You get used to being hungry. It is for my child that I cry. It
was the machine that killed her. It is true she worked hard, but I
cannot understand. She was strong. And she was young--only forty;
and she worked only thirty years. She began young, it is true; but
my man died. The boiler exploded down at the works. And what were
we to do? She was ten, but she was very strong. But the machine
killed her. Yes, it did. It killed her, and she was the fastest
worker in the shop. I have thought about it often, and I know.
That is why I cannot work in the shop. The machine bothers my
head. Always I hear it saying, "I did it, I did it." And it says
that all day long. And then I think of my daughter, and I cannot
The moistness was in her old eyes again, and she had to wipe it
away before she could go on stitching.
I heard the Bishop stumbling up the stairs, and I opened the door.
What a spectacle he was. On his back he carried half a sack of
coal, with kindling on top. Some of the coal dust had coated his
face, and the sweat from his exertions was running in streaks. He
dropped his burden in the corner by the stove and wiped his face on
a coarse bandana handkerchief. I could scarcely accept the verdict
of my senses. The Bishop, black as a coal-heaver, in a
workingman's cheap cotton shirt (one button was missing from the
throat), and in overalls! That was the most incongruous of all--
the overalls, frayed at the bottoms, dragged down at the heels, and
held up by a narrow leather belt around the hips such as laborers
Though the Bishop was warm, the poor swollen hands of the old woman
were already cramping with the cold; and before we left her, the
Bishop had built the fire, while I had peeled the potatoes and put
them on to boil. I was to learn, as time went by, that there were
many cases similar to hers, and many worse, hidden away in the
monstrous depths of the tenements in my neighborhood.
We got back to find Ernest alarmed by my absence. After the first
surprise of greeting was over, the Bishop leaned back in his chair,
stretched out his overall-covered legs, and actually sighed a
comfortable sigh. We were the first of his old friends he had met
since his disappearance, he told us; and during the intervening
weeks he must have suffered greatly from loneliness. He told us
much, though he told us more of the joy he had experienced in doing
the Master's bidding.
"For truly now," he said, "I am feeding his lambs. And I have
learned a great lesson. The soul cannot be ministered to till the
stomach is appeased. His lambs must be fed bread and butter and
potatoes and meat; after that, and only after that, are their
spirits ready for more refined nourishment."
He ate heartily of the supper I cooked. Never had he had such an
appetite at our table in the old days. We spoke of it, and he said
that he had never been so healthy in his life.
"I walk always now," he said, and a blush was on his cheek at the
thought of the time when he rode in his carriage, as though it were
a sin not lightly to be laid.
"My health is better for it," he added hastily. "And I am very
happy--indeed, most happy. At last I am a consecrated spirit."
And yet there was in his face a permanent pain, the pain of the
world that he was now taking to himself. He was seeing life in the
raw, and it was a different life from what he had known within the
printed books of his library.
"And you are responsible for all this, young man," he said directly
Ernest was embarrassed and awkward.
"I--I warned you," he faltered.
"No, you misunderstand," the Bishop answered. "I speak not in
reproach, but in gratitude. I have you to thank for showing me my
path. You led me from theories about life to life itself. You
pulled aside the veils from the social shams. You were light in my
darkness, but now I, too, see the light. And I am very happy,
only . . ." he hesitated painfully, and in his eyes fear leaped large.
"Only the persecution. I harm no one. Why will they not let me
alone? But it is not that. It is the nature of the persecution.
I shouldn't mind if they cut my flesh with stripes, or burned me at
the stake, or crucified me head--downward. But it is the asylum
that frightens me. Think of it! Of me--in an asylum for the
insane! It is revolting. I saw some of the cases at the
sanitarium. They were violent. My blood chills when I think of
it. And to be imprisoned for the rest of my life amid scenes of
screaming madness! No! no! Not that! Not that!"
It was pitiful. His hands shook, his whole body quivered and
shrank away from the picture he had conjured. But the next moment
he was calm.
"Forgive me," he said simply. "It is my wretched nerves. And if
the Master's work leads there, so be it. Who am I to complain?"
I felt like crying aloud as I looked at him: "Great Bishop! O
hero! God's hero!"
As the evening wore on we learned more of his doings.
"I sold my house--my houses, rather," he said, all my other
possessions. I knew I must do it secretly, else they would have
taken everything away from me. That would have been terrible. I
often marvel these days at the immense quantity of potatoes two or
three hundred thousand dollars will buy, or bread, or meat, or coal
and kindling." He turned to Ernest. "You are right, young man.
Labor is dreadfully underpaid. I never did a bit of work in my
life, except to appeal aesthetically to Pharisees--I thought I was
preaching the message--and yet I was worth half a million dollars.
I never knew what half a million dollars meant until I realized how
much potatoes and bread and butter and meat it could buy. And then
I realized something more. I realized that all those potatoes and
that bread and butter and meat were mine, and that I had not worked
to make them. Then it was clear to me, some one else had worked
and made them and been robbed of them. And when I came down
amongst the poor I found those who had been robbed and who were
hungry and wretched because they had been robbed."
We drew him back to his narrative.
"The money? I have it deposited in many different banks under
different names. It can never be taken away from me, because it
can never be found. And it is so good, that money. It buys so
much food. I never knew before what money was good for."
"I wish we could get some of it for the propaganda," Ernest said
wistfully. "It would do immense good."
"Do you think so?" the Bishop said. "I do not have much faith in
politics. In fact, I am afraid I do not understand politics."
Ernest was delicate in such matters. He did not repeat his
suggestion, though he knew only too well the sore straits the
Socialist Party was in through lack of money.
"I sleep in cheap lodging houses," the Bishop went on. "But I am
afraid, and never stay long in one place. Also, I rent two rooms
in workingmen's houses in different quarters of the city. It is a
great extravagance, I know, but it is necessary. I make up for it
in part by doing my own cooking, though sometimes I get something
to eat in cheap coffee-houses. And I have made a discovery.
Tamales* are very good when the air grows chilly late at night.
Only they are so expensive. But I have discovered a place where I
can get three for ten cents. They are not so good as the others,
but they are very warming.
* A Mexican dish, referred to occasionally in the literature of the
times. It is supposed that it was warmly seasoned. No recipe of
it has come down to us.
"And so I have at last found my work in the world, thanks to you,
young man. It is the Master's work." He looked at me, and his
eyes twinkled. "You caught me feeding his lambs, you know. And of
course you will all keep my secret."
He spoke carelessly enough, but there was real fear behind the
speech. He promised to call upon us again. But a week later we
read in the newspaper of the sad case of Bishop Morehouse, who had
been committed to the Napa Asylum and for whom there were still
hopes held out. In vain we tried to see him, to have his case
reconsidered or investigated. Nor could we learn anything about
him except the reiterated statements that slight hopes were still
held for his recovery.
"Christ told the rich young man to sell all he had," Ernest said
bitterly. "The Bishop obeyed Christ's injunction and got locked up
in a madhouse. Times have changed since Christ's day. A rich man
to-day who gives all he has to the poor is crazy. There is no
discussion. Society has spoken."
CHAPTER XIII. THE GENERAL STRIKE
Of course Ernest was elected to Congress in the great socialist
landslide that took place in the fall of 1912. One great factor
that helped to swell the socialist vote was the destruction of
Hearst.* This the Plutocracy found an easy task. It cost Hearst
eighteen million dollars a year to run his various papers, and this
sum, and more, he got back from the middle class in payment for
advertising. The source of his financial strength lay wholly in
the middle class. The trusts did not advertise.** To destroy
Hearst, all that was necessary was to take away from him his
* William Randolph Hearst--a young California millionaire who
became the most powerful newspaper owner in the country. His
newspapers were published in all the large cities, and they
appealed to the perishing middle class and to the proletariat. So
large was his following that he managed to take possession of the
empty shell of the old Democratic Party. He occupied an anomalous
position, preaching an emasculated socialism combined with a
nondescript sort of petty bourgeois capitalism. It was oil and
water, and there was no hope for him, though for a short period he
was a source of serious apprehension to the Plutocrats.
** The cost of advertising was amazing in those helter-skelter
times. Only the small capitalists competed, and therefore they did
the advertising. There being no competition where there was a
trust, there was no need for the trusts to advertise.
The whole middle class had not yet been exterminated. The sturdy
skeleton of it remained; but it was without power. The small
manufacturers and small business men who still survived were at the
complete mercy of the Plutocracy. They had no economic nor
political souls of their own. When the fiat of the Plutocracy went
forth, they withdrew their advertisements from the Hearst papers.
Hearst made a gallant fight. He brought his papers out at a loss
of a million and a half each month. He continued to publish the
advertisements for which he no longer received pay. Again the fiat
of the Plutocracy went forth, and the small business men and
manufacturers swamped him with a flood of notices that he must
discontinue running their old advertisements. Hearst persisted.
Injunctions were served on him. Still he persisted. He received
six months' imprisonment for contempt of court in disobeying the
injunctions, while he was bankrupted by countless damage suits. He
had no chance. The Plutocracy had passed sentence on him. The
courts were in the hands of the Plutocracy to carry the sentence
out. And with Hearst crashed also to destruction the Democratic
Party that he had so recently captured.
With the destruction of Hearst and the Democratic Party, there were
only two paths for his following to take. One was into the
Socialist Party; the other was into the Republican Party. Then it
was that we socialists reaped the fruit of Hearst's pseudo-
socialistic preaching; for the great Majority of his followers came
over to us.
The expropriation of the farmers that took place at this time would
also have swelled our vote had it not been for the brief and futile
rise of the Grange Party. Ernest and the socialist leaders fought
fiercely to capture the farmers; but the destruction of the
socialist press and publishing houses constituted too great a
handicap, while the mouth-to-mouth propaganda had not yet been
perfected. So it was that politicians like Mr. Calvin, who were
themselves farmers long since expropriated, captured the farmers
and threw their political strength away in a vain campaign.
"The poor farmers," Ernest once laughed savagely; "the trusts have
them both coming and going."
And that was really the situation. The seven great trusts, working
together, had pooled their enormous surpluses and made a farm
trust. The railroads, controlling rates, and the bankers and stock
exchange gamesters, controlling prices, had long since bled the
farmers into indebtedness. The bankers, and all the trusts for
that matter, had likewise long since loaned colossal amounts of
money to the farmers. The farmers were in the net. All that
remained to be done was the drawing in of the net. This the farm
trust proceeded to do.
The hard times of 1912 had already caused a frightful slump in the
farm markets. Prices were now deliberately pressed down to
bankruptcy, while the railroads, with extortionate rates, broke the
back of the farmer-camel. Thus the farmers were compelled to
borrow more and more, while they were prevented from paying back
old loans. Then ensued the great foreclosing of mortgages and
enforced collection of notes. The farmers simply surrendered the
land to the farm trust. There was nothing else for them to do.
And having surrendered the land, the farmers next went to work for
the farm trust, becoming managers, superintendents, foremen, and
common laborers. They worked for wages. They became villeins, in
short--serfs bound to the soil by a living wage. They could not
leave their masters, for their masters composed the Plutocracy.
They could not go to the cities, for there, also, the Plutocracy
was in control. They had but one alternative,--to leave the soil
and become vagrants, in brief, to starve. And even there they were
frustrated, for stringent vagrancy laws were passed and rigidly
Of course, here and there, farmers, and even whole communities of
farmers, escaped expropriation by virtue of exceptional conditions.
But they were merely strays and did not count, and they were
gathered in anyway during the following year.*
* The destruction of the Roman yeomanry proceeded far less rapidly
than the destruction of the American farmers and small capitalists.
There was momentum in the twentieth century, while there was
practically none in ancient Rome.
Numbers of the farmers, impelled by an insane lust for the soil,
and willing to show what beasts they could become, tried to escape
expropriation by withdrawing from any and all market-dealing. They
sold nothing. They bought nothing. Among themselves a primitive
barter began to spring up. Their privation and hardships were
terrible, but they persisted. It became quite a movement, in fact.
The manner in which they were beaten was unique and logical and
simple. The Plutocracy, by virtue of its possession of the
government, raised their taxes. It was the weak joint in their
armor. Neither buying nor selling, they had no money, and in the
end their land was sold to pay the taxes.
Thus it was that in the fall of 1912 the socialist leaders, with
the exception of Ernest, decided that the end of capitalism had
come. What of the hard times and the consequent vast army of the
unemployed; what of the destruction of the farmers and the middle
class; and what of the decisive defeat administered all along the
line to the labor unions; the socialists were really justified in
believing that the end of capitalism had come and in themselves
throwing down the gauntlet to the Plutocracy.
Alas, how we underestimated the strength of the enemy! Everywhere
the socialists proclaimed their coming victory at the ballot-box,
while, in unmistakable terms, they stated the situation. The
Plutocracy accepted the challenge. It was the Plutocracy, weighing
and balancing, that defeated us by dividing our strength. It was
the Plutocracy, through its secret agents, that raised the cry that
socialism was sacrilegious and atheistic; it was the Plutocracy
that whipped the churches, and especially the Catholic Church, into
line, and robbed us of a portion of the labor vote. And it was the
Plutocracy, through its secret agents of course, that encouraged
the Grange Party and even spread it to the cities into the ranks of
the dying middle class.
Nevertheless the socialist landslide occurred. But, instead of a
sweeping victory with chief executive officers and majorities in
all legislative bodies, we found ourselves in the minority. It is
true, we elected fifty Congressmen; but when they took their seats
in the spring of 1913, they found themselves without power of any
sort. Yet they were more fortunate than the Grangers, who captured
a dozen state governments, and who, in the spring, were not
permitted to take possession of the captured offices. The
incumbents refused to retire, and the courts were in the hands of
the Oligarchy. But this is too far in advance of events. I have
yet to tell of the stirring times of the winter of 1912.
The hard times at home had caused an immense decrease in
consumption. Labor, out of work, had no wages with which to buy.
The result was that the Plutocracy found a greater surplus than
ever on its hands. This surplus it was compelled to dispose of
abroad, and, what of its colossal plans, it needed money. Because
of its strenuous efforts to dispose of the surplus in the world
market, the Plutocracy clashed with Germany. Economic clashes were
usually succeeded by wars, and this particular clash was no
exception. The great German war-lord prepared, and so did the
United States prepare.
The war-cloud hovered dark and ominous. The stage was set for a
world-catastrophe, for in all the world were hard times, labor
troubles, perishing middle classes, armies of unemployed, clashes
of economic interests in the world-market, and mutterings and
rumblings of the socialist revolution.*
* For a long time these mutterings and rumblings had been heard.
As far back as 1906 A.D., Lord Avebury, an Englishman, uttered the
following in the House of Lords: "The unrest in Europe, the spread
of socialism, and the ominous rise of Anarchism, are warnings to
the governments and the ruling classes that the condition of the
working classes in Europe is becoming intolerable, and that if a
revolution is to be avoided some steps must be taken to increase
wages, reduce the hours of labor, and lower the prices of the
necessaries of life." The Wall Street Journal, a stock gamesters'
publication, in commenting upon Lord Avebury's speech, said: "These
words were spoken by an aristocrat and a member of the most
conservative body in all Europe. That gives them all the more
significance. They contain more valuable political economy than is
to be found in most of the books. They sound a note of warning.
Take heed, gentlemen of the war and navy departments!"
At the same time, Sydney Brooks, writing in America, in Harper's
Weekly, said: "You will not hear the socialists mentioned in
Washington. Why should you? The politicians are always the last
people in this country to see what is going on under their noses.
They will jeer at me when I prophesy, and prophesy with the utmost
confidence, that at the next presidential election the socialists
will poll over a million votes."
The Oligarchy wanted the war with Germany. And it wanted the war
for a dozen reasons. In the juggling of events such a war would
cause, in the reshuffling of the international cards and the making
of new treaties and alliances, the Oligarchy had much to gain.
And, furthermore, the war would consume many national surpluses,
reduce the armies of unemployed that menaced all countries, and
give the Oligarchy a breathing space in which to perfect its plans
and carry them out. Such a war would virtually put the Oligarchy
in possession of the world-market. Also, such a war would create a
large standing army that need never be disbanded, while in the
minds of the people would be substituted the issue, "America versus
Germany," in place of "Socialism versus Oligarchy."
And truly the war would have done all these things had it not been
for the socialists. A secret meeting of the Western leaders was
held in our four tiny rooms in Pell Street. Here was first
considered the stand the socialists were to take. It was not the
first time we had put our foot down upon war,* but it was the first
time we had done so in the United States. After our secret meeting
we got in touch with the national organization, and soon our code
cables were passing back and forth across the Atlantic between us
and the International Bureau.
* It was at the very beginning of the twentieth century A.D., that
the international organization of the socialists finally formulated
their long-maturing policy on war. Epitomized their doctrine was:
"Why should the workingmen of one country fight with the workingmen
of another country for the benefit of their capitalist masters?"
On May 21, 1905 A.D., when war threatened between Austria and
Italy, the socialists of Italy, Austria, and Hungary held a
conference at Trieste, and threatened a general strike of the
workingmen of both countries in case war was declared. This was
repeated the following year, when the "Morocco Affair" threatened
to involve France, Germany, and England.
The German socialists were ready to act with us. There were over
five million of them, many of them in the standing army, and, in
addition, they were on friendly terms with the labor unions. In
both countries the socialists came out in bold declaration against
the war and threatened the general strike. And in the meantime
they made preparation for the general strike. Furthermore, the
revolutionary parties in all countries gave public utterance to the
socialist principle of international peace that must be preserved
at all hazards, even to the extent of revolt and revolution at
The general strike was the one great victory we American socialists
won. On the 4th of December the American minister was withdrawn
from the German capital. That night a German fleet made a dash on
Honolulu, sinking three American cruisers and a revenue cutter, and
bombarding the city. Next day both Germany and the United States
declared war, and within an hour the socialists called the general
strike in both countries.
For the first time the German war-lord faced the men of his empire
who made his empire go. Without them he could not run his empire.
The novelty of the situation lay in that their revolt was passive.
They did not fight. They did nothing. And by doing nothing they
tied their war-lord's hands. He would have asked for nothing
better than an opportunity to loose his war-dogs on his rebellious
proletariat. But this was denied him. He could not loose his war-
dogs. Neither could he mobilize his army to go forth to war, nor
could he punish his recalcitrant subjects. Not a wheel moved in
his empire. Not a train ran, not a telegraphic message went over
the wires, for the telegraphers and railroad men had ceased work
along with the rest of the population.
And as it was in Germany, so it was in the United States. At last
organized labor had learned its lesson. Beaten decisively on its
own chosen field, it had abandoned that field and come over to the
political field of the socialists; for the general strike was a
political strike. Besides, organized labor had been so badly
beaten that it did not care. It joined in the general strike out
of sheer desperation. The workers threw down their tools and left
their tasks by the millions. Especially notable were the
machinists. Their heads were bloody, their organization had
apparently been destroyed, yet out they came, along with their
allies in the metal-working trades.
Even the common laborers and all unorganized labor ceased work.
The strike had tied everything up so that nobody could work.
Besides, the women proved to be the strongest promoters of the
strike. They set their faces against the war. They did not want
their men to go forth to die. Then, also, the idea of the general
strike caught the mood of the people. It struck their sense of
humor. The idea was infectious. The children struck in all the
schools, and such teachers as came, went home again from deserted
class rooms. The general strike took the form of a great national
picnic. And the idea of the solidarity of labor, so evidenced,
appealed to the imagination of all. And, finally, there was no
danger to be incurred by the colossal frolic. When everybody was
guilty, how was anybody to be punished?
The United States was paralyzed. No one knew what was happening.
There were no newspapers, no letters, no despatches. Every
community was as completely isolated as though ten thousand miles
of primeval wilderness stretched between it and the rest of the
world. For that matter, the world had ceased to exist. And for a
week this state of affairs was maintained.
In San Francisco we did not know what was happening even across the
bay in Oakland or Berkeley. The effect on one's sensibilities was
weird, depressing. It seemed as though some great cosmic thing lay
dead. The pulse of the land had ceased to beat. Of a truth the
nation had died. There were no wagons rumbling on the streets, no
factory whistles, no hum of electricity in the air, no passing of
street cars, no cries of news-boys--nothing but persons who at rare
intervals went by like furtive ghosts, themselves oppressed and
made unreal by the silence.
And during that week of silence the Oligarchy was taught its
lesson. And well it learned the lesson. The general strike was a
warning. It should never occur again. The Oligarchy would see to
At the end of the week, as had been prearranged, the telegraphers
of Germany and the United States returned to their posts. Through
them the socialist leaders of both countries presented their
ultimatum to the rulers. The war should be called off, or the
general strike would continue. It did not take long to come to an
understanding. The war was declared off, and the populations of
both countries returned to their tasks.
It was this renewal of peace that brought about the alliance
between Germany and the United States. In reality, this was an
alliance between the Emperor and the Oligarchy, for the purpose of
meeting their common foe, the revolutionary proletariat of both
countries. And it was this alliance that the Oligarchy afterward
so treacherously broke when the German socialists rose and drove
the war-lord from his throne. It was the very thing the Oligarchy
had played for--the destruction of its great rival in the world-
market. With the German Emperor out of the way, Germany would have
no surplus to sell abroad. By the very nature of the socialist
state, the German population would consume all that it produced.
Of course, it would trade abroad certain things it produced for
things it did not produce; but this would be quite different from
an unconsumable surplus.
"I'll wager the Oligarchy finds justification," Ernest said, when
its treachery to the German Emperor became known. "As usual, the
Oligarchy will believe it has done right."
And sure enough. The Oligarchy's public defence for the act was
that it had done it for the sake of the American people whose
interests it was looking out for. It had flung its hated rival out
of the world-market and enabled us to dispose of our surplus in
"And the howling folly of it is that we are so helpless that such
idiots really are managing our interests," was Ernest's comment.
"They have enabled us to sell more abroad, which means that we'll
be compelled to consume less at home."
CHAPTER XIV. THE BEGINNING OF THE END
As early as January, 1913, Ernest saw the true trend of affairs,
but he could not get his brother leaders to see the vision of the
Iron Heel that had arisen in his brain. They were too confident.
Events were rushing too rapidly to culmination. A crisis had come
in world affairs. The American Oligarchy was practically in
possession of the world-market, and scores of countries were flung
out of that market with unconsumable and unsalable surpluses on
their hands. For such countries nothing remained but
reorganization. They could not continue their method of producing
surpluses. The capitalistic system, so far as they were concerned,
had hopelessly broken down.
The reorganization of these countries took the form of revolution.
It was a time of confusion and violence. Everywhere institutions
and governments were crashing. Everywhere, with the exception of
two or three countries, the erstwhile capitalist masters fought
bitterly for their possessions. But the governments were taken
away from them by the militant proletariat. At last was being
realized Karl Marx's classic: "The knell of private capitalist
property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated." And as fast
as capitalistic governments crashed, cooperative commonwealths
arose in their place.
"Why does the United States lag behind?"; "Get busy, you American
revolutionists!"; "What's the matter with America?"--were the
messages sent to us by our successful comrades in other lands. But
we could not keep up. The Oligarchy stood in the way. Its bulk,
like that of some huge monster, blocked our path.
"Wait till we take office in the spring," we answered. "Then
Behind this lay our secret. We had won over the Grangers, and in
the spring a dozen states would pass into their hands by virtue of
the elections of the preceding fall. At once would be instituted a
dozen cooperative commonwealth states. After that, the rest would
"But what if the Grangers fail to get possession?" Ernest demanded.
And his comrades called him a calamity howler.
But this failure to get possession was not the chief danger that
Ernest had in mind. What he foresaw was the defection of the great
labor unions and the rise of the castes.
"Ghent has taught the oligarchs how to do it," Ernest said. "I'll
wager they've made a text-book out of his 'Benevolent Feudalism.'"*
* "Our Benevolent Feudalism," a book published in 1902 A.D., by W.
J. Ghent. It has always been insisted that Ghent put the idea of
the Oligarchy into the minds of the great capitalists. This belief
persists throughout the literature of the three centuries of the
Iron Heel, and even in the literature of the first century of the
Brotherhood of Man. To-day we know better, but our knowledge does
not overcome the fact that Ghent remains the most abused innocent
man in all history.
Never shall I forget the night when, after a hot discussion with
half a dozen labor leaders, Ernest turned to me and said quietly:
"That settles it. The Iron Heel has won. The end is in sight."
This little conference in our home was unofficial; but Ernest, like
the rest of his comrades, was working for assurances from the labor
leaders that they would call out their men in the next general
strike. O'Connor, the president of the Association of Machinists,
had been foremost of the six leaders present in refusing to give
"You have seen that you were beaten soundly at your old tactics of
strike and boycott," Ernest urged.
O'Connor and the others nodded their heads.
"And you saw what a general strike would do," Ernest went on. "We
stopped the war with Germany. Never was there so fine a display of
the solidarity and the power of labor. Labor can and will rule the
world. If you continue to stand with us, we'll put an end to the
reign of capitalism. It is your only hope. And what is more, you
know it. There is no other way out. No matter what you do under
your old tactics, you are doomed to defeat, if for no other reason
because the masters control the courts."*
* As a sample of the decisions of the courts adverse to labor, the
following instances are given. In the coal-mining regions the
employment of children was notorious. In 1905 A.D., labor
succeeded in getting a law passed in Pennsylvania providing that
proof of the age of the child and of certain educational
qualifications must accompany the oath of the parent. This was
promptly declared unconstitutional by the Luzerne County Court, on
the ground that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment in that it
discriminated between individuals of the same class--namely,
children above fourteen years of age and children below. The state
court sustained the decision. The New York Court of Special
Sessions, in 1905 A.D., declared unconstitutional the law
prohibiting minors and women from working in factories after nine
o'clock at night, the ground taken being that such a law was "class
legislation." Again, the bakers of that time were terribly
overworked. The New York Legislature passed a law restricting work
in bakeries to ten hours a day. In 1906 A.D., the Supreme Court of
the United States declared this law to be unconstitutional. In
part the decision read: "There is no reasonable ground for
interfering with the liberty of persons or the right of free
contract by determining the hours of labor in the occupation of a
"You run ahead too fast," O'Connor answered. "You don't know all
the ways out. There is another way out. We know what we're about.
We're sick of strikes. They've got us beaten that way to a
frazzle. But I don't think we'll ever need to call our men out
"What is your way out?" Ernest demanded bluntly.
O'Connor laughed and shook his head. "I can tell you this much:
We've not been asleep. And we're not dreaming now."
"There's nothing to be afraid of, or ashamed of, I hope," Ernest
"I guess we know our business best," was the retort.
"It's a dark business, from the way you hide it," Ernest said with
"We've paid for our experience in sweat and blood, and we've earned
all that's coming to us," was the reply. "Charity begins at home."
"If you're afraid to tell me your way out, I'll tell it to you."
Ernest's blood was up. "You're going in for grab-sharing. You've
made terms with the enemy, that's what you've done. You've sold
out the cause of labor, of all labor. You are leaving the battle-
field like cowards."
"I'm not saying anything," O'Connor answered sullenly. "Only I
guess we know what's best for us a little bit better than you do."
"And you don't care a cent for what is best for the rest of labor.
You kick it into the ditch."
"I'm not saying anything," O'Connor replied, "except that I'm
president of the Machinists' Association, and it's my business to
consider the interests of the men I represent, that's all."
And then, when the labor leaders had left, Ernest, with the
calmness of defeat, outlined to me the course of events to come.
"The socialists used to foretell with joy," he said, "the coming of
the day when organized labor, defeated on the industrial field,
would come over on to the political field. Well, the Iron Heel has
defeated the labor unions on the industrial field and driven them
over to the political field; and instead of this being joyful for
us, it will be a source of grief. The Iron Heel learned its
lesson. We showed it our power in the general strike. It has
taken steps to prevent another general strike."
"But how?" I asked.
"Simply by subsidizing the great unions. They won't join in the
next general strike. Therefore it won't be a general strike."
"But the Iron Heel can't maintain so costly a programme forever," I
"Oh, it hasn't subsidized all of the unions. That's not necessary.
Here is what is going to happen. Wages are going to be advanced
and hours shortened in the railroad unions, the iron and steel
workers unions, and the engineer and machinist unions. In these
unions more favorable conditions will continue to prevail.
Membership in these unions will become like seats in Paradise."
"Still I don't see," I objected. "What is to become of the other
unions? There are far more unions outside of this combination than
"The other unions will be ground out of existence--all of them.
For, don't you see, the railway men, machinists and engineers, iron
and steel workers, do all of the vitally essential work in our
machine civilization. Assured of their faithfulness, the Iron Heel
can snap its fingers at all the rest of labor. Iron, steel, coal,
machinery, and transportation constitute the backbone of the whole
"But coal?" I queried. "There are nearly a million coal miners."
They are practically unskilled labor. They will not count. Their
wages will go down and their hours will increase. They will be
slaves like all the rest of us, and they will become about the most
bestial of all of us. They will be compelled to work, just as the
farmers are compelled to work now for the masters who robbed them
of their land. And the same with all the other unions outside the
combination. Watch them wobble and go to pieces, and their members
become slaves driven to toil by empty stomachs and the law of the
"Do you know what will happen to Farley* and his strike-breakers?
I'll tell you. Strike-breaking as an occupation will cease. There
won't be any more strikes. In place of strikes will be slave
revolts. Farley and his gang will be promoted to slave-driving.
Oh, it won't be called that; it will be called enforcing the law of
the land that compels the laborers to work. It simply prolongs the
fight, this treachery of the big unions. Heaven only knows now
where and when the Revolution will triumph."
* James Farley--a notorious strike-breaker of the period. A man
more courageous than ethical, and of undeniable ability. He rose
high under the rule of the Iron Heel and finally was translated
into the oligarch class. He was assassinated in 1932 by Sarah
Jenkins, whose husband, thirty years before, had been killed by
"But with such a powerful combination as the Oligarchy and the big
unions, is there any reason to believe that the Revolution will
ever triumph?" I queried. "May not the combination endure
He shook his head. "One of our generalizations is that every
system founded upon class and caste contains within itself the
germs of its own decay. When a system is founded upon class, how
can caste be prevented? The Iron Heel will not be able to prevent
it, and in the end caste will destroy the Iron Heel. The oligarchs
have already developed caste among themselves; but wait until the
favored unions develop caste. The Iron Heel will use all its power
to prevent it, but it will fail.
"In the favored unions are the flower of the American workingmen.
They are strong, efficient men. They have become members of those
unions through competition for place. Every fit workman in the
United States will be possessed by the ambition to become a member
of the favored unions. The Oligarchy will encourage such ambition
and the consequent competition. Thus will the strong men, who
might else be revolutionists, be won away and their strength used
to bolster the Oligarchy.
"On the other hand, the labor castes, the members of the favored
unions, will strive to make their organizations into close
corporations. And they will succeed. Membership in the labor
castes will become hereditary. Sons will succeed fathers, and
there will be no inflow of new strength from that eternal reservoir
of strength, the common people. This will mean deterioration of
the labor castes, and in the end they will become weaker and
weaker. At the same time, as an institution, they will become
temporarily all-powerful. They will be like the guards of the
palace in old Rome, and there will be palace revolutions whereby
the labor castes will seize the reins of power. And there will be
counter-palace revolutions of the oligarchs, and sometimes the one,
and sometimes the other, will be in power. And through it all the
inevitable caste-weakening will go on, so that in the end the
common people will come into their own."
This foreshadowing of a slow social evolution was made when Ernest
was first depressed by the defection of the great unions. I never
agreed with him in it, and I disagree now, as I write these lines,
more heartily than ever; for even now, though Ernest is gone, we
are on the verge of the revolt that will sweep all oligarchies
away. Yet I have here given Ernest's prophecy because it was his
prophecy. In spite of his belief in it, he worked like a giant
against it, and he, more than any man, has made possible the revolt
that even now waits the signal to burst forth.*
* Everhard's social foresight was remarkable. As clearly as in the
light of past events, he saw the defection of the favored unions,
the rise and the slow decay of the labor castes, and the struggle
between the decaying oligarchs and labor castes for control of the
great governmental machine.
"But if the Oligarchy persists," I asked him that evening, "what
will become of the great surpluses that will fall to its share
"The surpluses will have to be expended somehow," he answered; "and
trust the oligarchs to find a way. Magnificent roads will be
built. There will be great achievements in science, and especially
in art. When the oligarchs have completely mastered the people,
they will have time to spare for other things. They will become
worshippers of beauty. They will become art-lovers. And under
their direction and generously rewarded, will toil the artists.
The result will be great art; for no longer, as up to yesterday,
will the artists pander to the bourgeois taste of the middle class.
It will be great art, I tell you, and wonder cities will arise that
will make tawdry and cheap the cities of old time. And in these
cities will the oligarchs dwell and worship beauty.*
* We cannot but marvel at Everhard's foresight. Before ever the
thought of wonder cities like Ardis and Asgard entered the minds of
the oligarchs, Everhard saw those cities and the inevitable
necessity for their creation.
"Thus will the surplus be constantly expended while labor does the
work. The building of these great works and cities will give a
starvation ration to millions of common laborers, for the enormous
bulk of the surplus will compel an equally enormous expenditure,
and the oligarchs will build for a thousand years--ay, for ten
thousand years. They will build as the Egyptians and the
Babylonians never dreamed of building; and when the oligarchs have
passed away, their great roads and their wonder cities will remain
for the brotherhood of labor to tread upon and dwell within.*
* And since that day of prophecy, have passed away the three
centuries of the Iron Heel and the four centuries of the
Brotherhood of Man, and to-day we tread the roads and dwell in the
cities that the oligarchs built. It is true, we are even now
building still more wonderful wonder cities, but the wonder cities
of the oligarchs endure, and I write these lines in Ardis, one of
the most wonderful of them all.
"These things the oligarchs will do because they cannot help doing
them. These great works will be the form their expenditure of the
surplus will take, and in the same way that the ruling classes of
Egypt of long ago expended the surplus they robbed from the people
by the building of temples and pyramids. Under the oligarchs will
flourish, not a priest class, but an artist class. And in place of
the merchant class of bourgeoisie will be the labor castes. And
beneath will be the abyss, wherein will fester and starve and rot,
and ever renew itself, the common people, the great bulk of the
population. And in the end, who knows in what day, the common
people will rise up out of the abyss; the labor castes and the
Oligarchy will crumble away; and then, at last, after the travail
of the centuries, will it be the day of the common man. I had
thought to see that day; but now I know that I shall never see it."
He paused and looked at me, and added:
"Social evolution is exasperatingly slow, isn't it, sweetheart?"
My arms were about him, and his head was on my breast.
"Sing me to sleep," he murmured whimsically. "I have had a
visioning, and I wish to forget."
CHAPTER XV. LAST DAYS
It was near the end of January, 1913, that the changed attitude of
the Oligarchy toward the favored unions was made public. The
newspapers published information of an unprecedented rise in wages
and shortening of hours for the railroad employees, the iron and
steel workers, and the engineers and machinists. But the whole
truth was not told. The oligarchs did not dare permit the telling
of the whole truth. In reality, the wages had been raised much
higher, and the privileges were correspondingly greater. All this
was secret, but secrets will out. Members of the favored unions
told their wives, and the wives gossiped, and soon all the labor
world knew what had happened.
It was merely the logical development of what in the nineteenth
century had been known as grab-sharing. In the industrial warfare
of that time, profit-sharing had been tried. That is, the
capitalists had striven to placate the workers by interesting them
financially in their work. But profit-sharing, as a system, was
ridiculous and impossible. Profit-sharing could be successful only
in isolated cases in the midst of a system of industrial strife;
for if all labor and all capital shared profits, the same
conditions would obtain as did obtain when there was no profit-
So, out of the unpractical idea of profit-sharing, arose the
practical idea of grab-sharing. "Give us more pay and charge it to
the public," was the slogan of the strong unions.* And here and
there this selfish policy worked successfully. In charging it to
the public, it was charged to the great mass of unorganized labor
and of weakly organized labor. These workers actually paid the
increased wages of their stronger brothers who were members of
unions that were labor monopolies. This idea, as I say, was merely
carried to its logical conclusion, on a large scale, by the
combination of the oligarchs and the favored unions.
* All the railroad unions entered into this combination with the
oligarchs, and it is of interest to note that the first definite
application of the policy of profit-grabbing was made by a railroad
union in the nineteenth century A.D., namely, the Brotherhood of
Locomotive Engineers. P. M. Arthur was for twenty years Grand
Chief of the Brotherhood. After the strike on the Pennsylvania
Railroad in 1877, he broached a scheme to have the Locomotive
Engineers make terms with the railroads and to "go it alone" so far
as the rest of the labor unions were concerned. This scheme was
eminently successful. It was as successful as it was selfish, and
out of it was coined the word "arthurization," to denote grab-
sharing on the part of labor unions. This word "arthurization" has
long puzzled the etymologists, but its derivation, I hope, is now
As soon as the secret of the defection of the favored unions leaked
out, there were rumblings and mutterings in the labor world. Next,
the favored unions withdrew from the international organizations
and broke off all affiliations. Then came trouble and violence.
The members of the favored unions were branded as traitors, and in
saloons and brothels, on the streets and at work, and, in fact,
everywhere, they were assaulted by the comrades they had so
Countless heads were broken, and there were many killed. No member
of the favored unions was safe. They gathered together in bands in
order to go to work or to return from work. They walked always in
the middle of the street. On the sidewalk they were liable to have
their skulls crushed by bricks and cobblestones thrown from windows
and house-tops. They were permitted to carry weapons, and the
authorities aided them in every way. Their persecutors were
sentenced to long terms in prison, where they were harshly treated;
while no man, not a member of the favored unions, was permitted to
carry weapons. Violation of this law was made a high misdemeanor
and punished accordingly.
Outraged labor continued to wreak vengeance on the traitors. Caste
lines formed automatically. The children of the traitors were
persecuted by the children of the workers who had been betrayed,
until it was impossible for the former to play on the streets or to
attend the public schools. Also, the wives and families of the
traitors were ostracized, while the corner groceryman who sold
provisions to them was boycotted.
As a result, driven back upon themselves from every side, the
traitors and their families became clannish. Finding it impossible
to dwell in safety in the midst of the betrayed proletariat, they
moved into new localities inhabited by themselves alone. In this
they were favored by the oligarchs. Good dwellings, modern and
sanitary, were built for them, surrounded by spacious yards, and
separated here and there by parks and playgrounds. Their children
attended schools especially built for them, and in these schools
manual training and applied science were specialized upon. Thus,
and unavoidably, at the very beginning, out of this segregation
arose caste. The members of the favored unions became the
aristocracy of labor. They were set apart from the rest of labor.
They were better housed, better clothed, better fed, better
treated. They were grab-sharing with a vengeance.
In the meantime, the rest of the working class was more harshly
treated. Many little privileges were taken away from it, while its
wages and its standard of living steadily sank down. Incidentally,
its public schools deteriorated, and education slowly ceased to be
compulsory. The increase in the younger generation of children who
could not read nor write was perilous.
The capture of the world-market by the United States had disrupted
the rest of the world. Institutions and governments were
everywhere crashing or transforming. Germany, Italy, France,
Australia, and New Zealand were busy forming cooperative
commonwealths. The British Empire was falling apart. England's
hands were full. In India revolt was in full swing. The cry in
all Asia was, "Asia for the Asiatics!" And behind this cry was
Japan, ever urging and aiding the yellow and brown races against
the white. And while Japan dreamed of continental empire and
strove to realize the dream, she suppressed her own proletarian
revolution. It was a simple war of the castes, Coolie versus
Samurai, and the coolie socialists were executed by tens of
thousands. Forty thousand were killed in the street-fighting of
Tokio and in the futile assault on the Mikado's palace. Kobe was a
shambles; the slaughter of the cotton operatives by machine-guns
became classic as the most terrific execution ever achieved by
modern war machines. Most savage of all was the Japanese Oligarchy
that arose. Japan dominated the East, and took to herself the
whole Asiatic portion of the world-market, with the exception of
England managed to crush her own proletarian revolution and to hold
on to India, though she was brought to the verge of exhaustion.
Also, she was compelled to let her great colonies slip away from
her. So it was that the socialists succeeded in making Australia
and New Zealand into cooperative commonwealths. And it was for the
same reason that Canada was lost to the mother country. But Canada
crushed her own socialist revolution, being aided in this by the
Iron Heel. At the same time, the Iron Heel helped Mexico and Cuba
to put down revolt. The result was that the Iron Heel was firmly
established in the New World. It had welded into one compact
political mass the whole of North America from the Panama Canal to
the Arctic Ocean.
And England, at the sacrifice of her great colonies, had succeeded
only in retaining India. But this was no more than temporary. The
struggle with Japan and the rest of Asia for India was merely
delayed. England was destined shortly to lose India, while behind
that event loomed the struggle between a united Asia and the world.
And while all the world was torn with conflict, we of the United
States were not placid and peaceful. The defection of the great
unions had prevented our proletarian revolt, but violence was
everywhere. In addition to the labor troubles, and the discontent
of the farmers and of the remnant of the middle class, a religious
revival had blazed up. An offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists
sprang into sudden prominence, proclaiming the end of the world.
"Confusion thrice confounded!" Ernest cried. "How can we hope for
solidarity with all these cross purposes and conflicts?"
And truly the religious revival assumed formidable proportions.
The people, what of their wretchedness, and of their disappointment
in all things earthly, were ripe and eager for a heaven where
industrial tyrants entered no more than camels passed through
needle-eyes. Wild-eyed itinerant preachers swarmed over the land;
and despite the prohibition of the civil authorities, and the
persecution for disobedience, the flames of religious frenzy were
fanned by countless camp-meetings.
It was the last days, they claimed, the beginning of the end of the
world. The four winds had been loosed. God had stirred the
nations to strife. It was a time of visions and miracles, while
seers and prophetesses were legion. The people ceased work by
hundreds of thousands and fled to the mountains, there to await the
imminent coming of God and the rising of the hundred and forty and
four thousand to heaven. But in the meantime God did not come, and
they starved to death in great numbers. In their desperation they
ravaged the farms for food, and the consequent tumult and anarchy
in the country districts but increased the woes of the poor
Also, the farms and warehouses were the property of the Iron Heel.
Armies of troops were put into the field, and the fanatics were
herded back at the bayonet point to their tasks in the cities.
There they broke out in ever recurring mobs and riots. Their
leaders were executed for sedition or confined in madhouses. Those
who were executed went to their deaths with all the gladness of
martyrs. It was a time of madness. The unrest spread. In the
swamps and deserts and waste places, from Florida to Alaska, the
small groups of Indians that survived were dancing ghost dances and
waiting the coming of a Messiah of their own.
And through it all, with a serenity and certitude that was
terrifying, continued to rise the form of that monster of the ages,
the Oligarchy. With iron hand and iron heel it mastered the
surging millions, out of confusion brought order, out of the very
chaos wrought its own foundation and structure.
"Just wait till we get in," the Grangers said--Calvin said it to us
in our Pell Street quarters. "Look at the states we've captured.
With you socialists to back us, we'll make them sing another song
when we take office."
"The millions of the discontented and the impoverished are ours,"
the socialists said. "The Grangers have come over to us, the
farmers, the middle class, and the laborers. The capitalist system
will fall to pieces. In another month we send fifty men to
Congress. Two years hence every office will be ours, from the
President down to the local dog-catcher."
To all of which Ernest would shake his head and say:
"How many rifles have you got? Do you know where you can get
plenty of lead? When it comes to powder, chemical mixtures are
better than mechanical mixtures, you take my word."
CHAPTER XVI. THE END
When it came time for Ernest and me to go to Washington, father did
not accompany us. He had become enamoured of proletarian life. He
looked upon our slum neighborhood as a great sociological
laboratory, and he had embarked upon an apparently endless orgy of
investigation. He chummed with the laborers, and was an intimate
in scores of homes. Also, he worked at odd jobs, and the work was
play as well as learned investigation, for he delighted in it and
was always returning home with copious notes and bubbling over with
new adventures. He was the perfect scientist.
There was no need for his working at all, because Ernest managed to
earn enough from his translating to take care of the three of us.
But father insisted on pursuing his favorite phantom, and a protean
phantom it was, judging from the jobs he worked at. I shall never
forget the evening he brought home his street pedler's outfit of
shoe-laces and suspenders, nor the time I went into the little
corner grocery to make some purchase and had him wait on me. After
that I was not surprised when he tended bar for a week in the
saloon across the street. He worked as a night watchman, hawked
potatoes on the street, pasted labels in a cannery warehouse, was
utility man in a paper-box factory, and water-carrier for a street
railway construction gang, and even joined the Dishwashers' Union
just before it fell to pieces.
I think the Bishop's example, so far as wearing apparel was
concerned, must have fascinated father, for he wore the cheap
cotton shirt of the laborer and the overalls with the narrow strap
about the hips. Yet one habit remained to him from the old life;
he always dressed for dinner, or supper, rather.
I could be happy anywhere with Ernest; and father's happiness in
our changed circumstances rounded out my own happiness.
"When I was a boy," father said, "I was very curious. I wanted to
know why things were and how they came to pass. That was why I
became a physicist. The life in me to-day is just as curious as it
was in my boyhood, and it's the being curious that makes life worth
Sometimes he ventured north of Market Street into the shopping and
theatre district, where he sold papers, ran errands, and opened
cabs. There, one day, closing a cab, he encountered Mr. Wickson.
In high glee father described the incident to us that evening.
"Wickson looked at me sharply when I closed the door on him, and
muttered, "Well, I'll be damned." Just like that he said it,
"Well, I'll be damned." His face turned red and he was so confused
that he forgot to tip me. But he must have recovered himself
quickly, for the cab hadn't gone fifty feet before it turned around
and came back. He leaned out of the door.
"'Look here, Professor,' he said, 'this is too much. What can I do
"'I closed the cab door for you,' I answered. 'According to common
custom you might give me a dime.'
"'Bother that!' he snorted. 'I mean something substantial.'
"He was certainly serious--a twinge of ossified conscience or
something; and so I considered with grave deliberation for a
"His face was quite expectant when I began my answer, but you
should have seen it when I finished.
"'You might give me back my home,' I said, 'and my stock in the
"What did he say?" I questioned eagerly.
"What could he say? He said nothing. But I said. 'I hope you are
happy.' He looked at me curiously. 'Tell me, are you happy?'" I
"He ordered the cabman to drive on, and went away swearing
horribly. And he didn't give me the dime, much less the home and
stock; so you see, my dear, your father's street-arab career is
beset with disappointments."
And so it was that father kept on at our Pell Street quarters,
while Ernest and I went to Washington. Except for the final
consummation, the old order had passed away, and the final
consummation was nearer than I dreamed. Contrary to our
expectation, no obstacles were raised to prevent the socialist
Congressmen from taking their seats. Everything went smoothly, and
I laughed at Ernest when he looked upon the very smoothness as
We found our socialist comrades confident, optimistic of their
strength and of the things they would accomplish. A few Grangers
who had been elected to Congress increased our strength, and an
elaborate programme of what was to be done was prepared by the
united forces. In all of which Ernest joined loyally and
energetically, though he could not forbear, now and again, from
saying, apropos of nothing in particular, "When it comes to powder,
chemical mixtures are better than mechanical mixtures, you take my
The trouble arose first with the Grangers in the various states
they had captured at the last election. There were a dozen of
these states, but the Grangers who had been elected were not
permitted to take office. The incumbents refused to get out. It
was very simple. They merely charged illegality in the elections
and wrapped up the whole situation in the interminable red tape of
the law. The Grangers were powerless. The courts were in the
hands of their enemies.
This was the moment of danger. If the cheated Grangers became
violent, all was lost. How we socialists worked to hold them back!
There were days and nights when Ernest never closed his eyes in
sleep. The big leaders of the Grangers saw the peril and were with
us to a man. But it was all of no avail. The Oligarchy wanted
violence, and it set its agents-provocateurs to work. Without
discussion, it was the agents-provocateurs who caused the Peasant
In a dozen states the revolt flared up. The expropriated farmers
took forcible possession of the state governments. Of course this
was unconstitutional, and of course the United States put its
soldiers into the field. Everywhere the agents-provocateurs urged
the people on. These emissaries of the Iron Heel disguised
themselves as artisans, farmers, and farm laborers. In Sacramento,
the capital of California, the Grangers had succeeded in
maintaining order. Thousands of secret agents were rushed to the
devoted city. In mobs composed wholly of themselves, they fired
and looted buildings and factories. They worked the people up
until they joined them in the pillage. Liquor in large quantities
was distributed among the slum classes further to inflame their
minds. And then, when all was ready, appeared upon the scene the
soldiers of the United States, who were, in reality, the soldiers
of the Iron Heel. Eleven thousand men, women, and children were
shot down on the streets of Sacramento or murdered in their houses.
The national government took possession of the state government,
and all was over for California.
And as with California, so elsewhere. Every Granger state was
ravaged with violence and washed in blood. First, disorder was
precipitated by the secret agents and the Black Hundreds, then the
troops were called out. Rioting and mob-rule reigned throughout
the rural districts. Day and night the smoke of burning farms,
warehouses, villages, and cities filled the sky. Dynamite
appeared. Railroad bridges and tunnels were blown up and trains
were wrecked. The poor farmers were shot and hanged in great
numbers. Reprisals were bitter, and many plutocrats and army
officers were murdered. Blood and vengeance were in men's hearts.
The regular troops fought the farmers as savagely as had they been
Indians. And the regular troops had cause. Twenty-eight hundred
of them had been annihilated in a tremendous series of dynamite
explosions in Oregon, and in a similar manner, a number of train
loads, at different times and places, had been destroyed. So it
was that the regular troops fought for their lives as well as did
As for the militia, the militia law of 1903 was put into effect,
and the workers of one state were compelled, under pain of death,
to shoot down their comrade-workers in other states. Of course,
the militia law did not work smoothly at first. Many militia
officers were murdered, and many militiamen were executed by
drumhead court martial. Ernest's prophecy was strikingly fulfilled
in the cases of Mr. Kowalt and Mr. Asmunsen. Both were eligible
for the militia, and both were drafted to serve in the punitive
expedition that was despatched from California against the farmers
of Missouri. Mr. Kowalt and Mr. Asmunsen refused to serve. They
were given short shrift. Drumhead court martial was their portion,
and military execution their end. They were shot with their backs
to the firing squad.
Many young men fled into the mountains to escape serving in the
militia. There they became outlaws, and it was not until more
peaceful times that they received their punishment. It was
drastic. The government issued a proclamation for all law-abiding
citizens to come in from the mountains for a period of three
months. When the proclaimed date arrived, half a million soldiers
were sent into the mountainous districts everywhere. There was no
investigation, no trial. Wherever a man was encountered, he was
shot down on the spot. The troops operated on the basis that no
man not an outlaw remained in the mountains. Some bands, in strong
positions, fought gallantly, but in the end every deserter from the
militia met death.
A more immediate lesson, however, was impressed on the minds of the
people by the punishment meted out to the Kansas militia. The
great Kansas Mutiny occurred at the very beginning of military
operations against the Grangers. Six thousand of the militia
mutinied. They had been for several weeks very turbulent and
sullen, and for that reason had been kept in camp. Their open
mutiny, however, was without doubt precipitated by the agents-
On the night of the 22d of April they arose and murdered their
officers, only a small remnant of the latter escaping. This was
beyond the scheme of the Iron Heel, for the agents-provocateurs had
done their work too well. But everything was grist to the Iron
Heel. It had prepared for the outbreak, and the killing of so many
officers gave it justification for what followed. As by magic,
forty thousand soldiers of the regular army surrounded the
malcontents. It was a trap. The wretched militiamen found that
their machine-guns had been tampered with, and that the cartridges
from the captured magazines did not fit their rifles. They hoisted
the white flag of surrender, but it was ignored. There were no
survivors. The entire six thousand were annihilated. Common shell
and shrapnel were thrown in upon them from a distance, and, when,
in their desperation, they charged the encircling lines, they were
mowed down by the machine-guns. I talked with an eye-witness, and
he said that the nearest any militiaman approached the machine-guns
was a hundred and fifty yards. The earth was carpeted with the
slain, and a final charge of cavalry, with trampling of horses'
hoofs, revolvers, and sabres, crushed the wounded into the ground.
Simultaneously with the destruction of the Grangers came the revolt
of the coal miners. It was the expiring effort of organized labor.
Three-quarters of a million of miners went out on strike. But they
were too widely scattered over the country to advantage from their
own strength. They were segregated in their own districts and
beaten into submission. This was the first great slave-drive.
Pocock* won his spurs as a slave-driver and earned the undying
hatred of the proletariat. Countless attempts were made upon his
life, but he seemed to bear a charmed existence. It was he who was
responsible for the introduction of the Russian passport system
among the miners, and the denial of their right of removal from one
part of the country to another.
* Albert Pocock, another of the notorious strike-breakers of
earlier years, who, to the day of his death, successfully held all
the coal-miners of the country to their task. He was succeeded by
his son, Lewis Pocock, and for five generations this remarkable
line of slave-drivers handled the coal mines. The elder Pocock,
known as Pocock I., has been described as follows: "A long, lean
head, semicircled by a fringe of brown and gray hair, with big
cheek-bones and a heavy chin, . . . a pale face, lustreless gray
eyes, a metallic voice, and a languid manner." He was born of
humble parents, and began his career as a bartender. He next
became a private detective for a street railway corporation, and by
successive steps developed into a professional strikebreaker.
Pocock V., the last of the line, was blown up in a pump-house by a
bomb during a petty revolt of the miners in the Indian Territory.
This occurred in 2073 A.D.
In the meantime, the socialists held firm. While the Grangers
expired in flame and blood, and organized labor was disrupted, the
socialists held their peace and perfected their secret
organization. In vain the Grangers pleaded with us. We rightly
contended that any revolt on our part was virtually suicide for the
whole Revolution. The Iron Heel, at first dubious about dealing
with the entire proletariat at one time, had found the work easier
than it had expected, and would have asked nothing better than an
uprising on our part. But we avoided the issue, in spite of the
fact that agents-provocateurs swarmed in our midst. In those early
days, the agents of the Iron Heel were clumsy in their methods.
They had much to learn and in the meantime our Fighting Groups
weeded them out. It was bitter, bloody work, but we were fighting
for life and for the Revolution, and we had to fight the enemy with
its own weapons. Yet we were fair. No agent of the Iron Heel was
executed without a trial. We may have made mistakes, but if so,
very rarely. The bravest, and the most combative and self-
sacrificing of our comrades went into the Fighting Groups. Once,
after ten years had passed, Ernest made a calculation from figures
furnished by the chiefs of the Fighting Groups, and his conclusion
was that the average life of a man or woman after becoming a member
was five years. The comrades of the Fighting Groups were heroes
all, and the peculiar thing about it was that they were opposed to
the taking of life. They violated their own natures, yet they
loved liberty and knew of no sacrifice too great to make for the
* These Fighting groups were modelled somewhat after the Fighting
Organization of the Russian Revolution, and, despite the unceasing
efforts of the Iron Heel, these groups persisted throughout the
three centuries of its existence. Composed of men and women
actuated by lofty purpose and unafraid to die, the Fighting Groups
exercised tremendous influence and tempered the savage brutality of
the rulers. Not alone was their work confined to unseen warfare
with the secret agents of the Oligarchy. The oligarchs themselves
were compelled to listen to the decrees of the Groups, and often,
when they disobeyed, were punished by death--and likewise with the
subordinates of the oligarchs, with the officers of the army and
the leaders of the labor castes.
Stern justice was meted out by these organized avengers, but most
remarkable was their passionless and judicial procedure. There
were no snap judgments. When a man was captured he was given fair
trial and opportunity for defence. Of necessity, many men were
tried and condemned by proxy, as in the case of General Lampton.
This occurred in 2138 A.D. Possibly the most bloodthirsty and
malignant of all the mercenaries that ever served the Iron Heel, he
was informed by the Fighting Groups that they had tried him, found
him guilty, and condemned him to death--and this, after three
warnings for him to cease from his ferocious treatment of the
proletariat. After his condemnation he surrounded himself with a
myriad protective devices. Years passed, and in vain the Fighting
Groups strove to execute their decree. Comrade after comrade, men
and women, failed in their attempts, and were cruelly executed by
the Oligarchy. It was the case of General Lampton that revived
crucifixion as a legal method of execution. But in the end the
condemned man found his executioner in the form of a slender girl
of seventeen, Madeline Provence, who, to accomplish her purpose,
served two years in his palace as a seamstress to the household.
She died in solitary confinement after horrible and prolonged
torture; but to-day she stands in imperishable bronze in the
Pantheon of Brotherhood in the wonder city of Serles.
We, who by personal experience know nothing of bloodshed, must not
judge harshly the heroes of the Fighting Groups. They gave up
their lives for humanity, no sacrifice was too great for them to
accomplish, while inexorable necessity compelled them to bloody
expression in an age of blood. The Fighting Groups constituted the
one thorn in the side of the Iron Heel that the Iron Heel could
never remove. Everhard was the father of this curious army, and
its accomplishments and successful persistence for three hundred
years bear witness to the wisdom with which he organized and the
solid foundation he laid for the succeeding generations to build
upon. In some respects, despite his great economic and
sociological contributions, and his work as a general leader in the
Revolution, his organization of the Fighting Groups must be
regarded as his greatest achievement.
The task we set ourselves was threefold. First, the weeding out
from our circles of the secret agents of the Oligarchy. Second,
the organizing of the Fighting Groups, and outside of them, of the
general secret organization of the Revolution. And third, the
introduction of our own secret agents into every branch of the
Oligarchy--into the labor castes and especially among the
telegraphers and secretaries and clerks, into the army, the agents-
provocateurs, and the slave-drivers. It was slow work, and
perilous, and often were our efforts rewarded with costly failures.
The Iron Heel had triumphed in open warfare, but we held our own in
the new warfare, strange and awful and subterranean, that we
instituted. All was unseen, much was unguessed; the blind fought
the blind; and yet through it all was order, purpose, control. We
permeated the entire organization of the Iron Heel with our agents,
while our own organization was permeated with the agents of the
Iron Heel. It was warfare dark and devious, replete with intrigue
and conspiracy, plot and counterplot. And behind all, ever
menacing, was death, violent and terrible. Men and women
disappeared, our nearest and dearest comrades. We saw them to-day.
To-morrow they were gone; we never saw them again, and we knew that
they had died.
There was no trust, no confidence anywhere. The man who plotted
beside us, for all we knew, might be an agent of the Iron Heel. We
mined the organization of the Iron Heel with our secret agents, and
the Iron Heel countermined with its secret agents inside its own
organization. And it was the same with our organization. And
despite the absence of confidence and trust we were compelled to
base our every effort on confidence and trust. Often were we
betrayed. Men were weak. The Iron Heel could offer money,
leisure, the joys and pleasures that waited in the repose of the
wonder cities. We could offer nothing but the satisfaction of
being faithful to a noble ideal. As for the rest, the wages of
those who were loyal were unceasing peril, torture, and death.
Men were weak, I say, and because of their weakness we were
compelled to make the only other reward that was within our power.
It was the reward of death. Out of necessity we had to punish our
traitors. For every man who betrayed us, from one to a dozen
faithful avengers were loosed upon his heels. We might fail to
carry out our decrees against our enemies, such as the Pococks, for
instance; but the one thing we could not afford to fail in was the
punishment of our own traitors. Comrades turned traitor by
permission, in order to win to the wonder cities and there execute
our sentences on the real traitors. In fact, so terrible did we
make ourselves, that it became a greater peril to betray us than to
remain loyal to us.
The Revolution took on largely the character of religion. We
worshipped at the shrine of the Revolution, which was the shrine of
liberty. It was the divine flashing through us. Men and women
devoted their lives to the Cause, and new-born babes were sealed to
it as of old they had been sealed to the service of God. We were
lovers of Humanity.
CHAPTER XVII. THE SCARLET LIVERY
With the destruction of the Granger states, the Grangers in
Congress disappeared. They were being tried for high treason, and
their places were taken by the creatures of the Iron Heel. The
socialists were in a pitiful minority, and they knew that their end
was near. Congress and the Senate were empty pretences, farces.
Public questions were gravely debated and passed upon according to
the old forms, while in reality all that was done was to give the
stamp of constitutional procedure to the mandates of the Oligarchy.
Ernest was in the thick of the fight when the end came. It was in
the debate on the bill to assist the unemployed. The hard times of
the preceding year had thrust great masses of the proletariat
beneath the starvation line, and the continued and wide-reaching
disorder had but sunk them deeper. Millions of people were
starving, while the oligarchs and their supporters were surfeiting
on the surplus.* We called these wretched people the people of the
abyss,** and it was to alleviate their awful suffering that the
socialists had introduced the unemployed bill. But this was not to
the fancy of the Iron Heel. In its own way it was preparing to set
these millions to work, but the way was not our way, wherefore it
had issued its orders that our bill should be voted down. Ernest
and his fellows knew that their effort was futile, but they were
tired of the suspense. They wanted something to happen. They were
accomplishing nothing, and the best they hoped for was the putting
of an end to the legislative farce in which they were unwilling
players. They knew not what end would come, but they never
anticipated a more disastrous end than the one that did come.
* The same conditions obtained in the nineteenth century A.D.
under British rule in India. The natives died of starvation by the
million, while their rulers robbed them of the fruits of their toil
and expended it on magnificent pageants and mumbo-jumbo fooleries.
Perforce, in this enlightened age, we have much to blush for in the
acts of our ancestors. Our only consolation is philosophic. We
must accept the capitalistic stage in social evolution as about on
a par with the earlier monkey stage. The human had to pass through
those stages in its rise from the mire and slime of low organic
life. It was inevitable that much of the mire and slime should
cling and be not easily shaken off.
** The people of the abyss--this phrase was struck out by the
genius of H. G. Wells in the late nineteenth century A.D. Wells
was a sociological seer, sane and normal as well as warm human.
Many fragments of his work have come down to us, while two of his
greatest achievements, "Anticipations" and "Mankind in the Making,"
have come down intact. Before the oligarchs, and before Everhard,
Wells speculated upon the building of the wonder cities, though in
his writings they are referred to as "pleasure cities."
I sat in the gallery that day. We all knew that something terrible
was imminent. It was in the air, and its presence was made visible
by the armed soldiers drawn up in lines in the corridors, and by
the officers grouped in the entrances to the House itself. The
Oligarchy was about to strike. Ernest was speaking. He was
describing the sufferings of the unemployed, as if with the wild
idea of in some way touching their hearts and consciences; but the
Republican and Democratic members sneered and jeered at him, and
there was uproar and confusion. Ernest abruptly changed front.
"I know nothing that I may say can influence you," he said. "You
have no souls to be influenced. You are spineless, flaccid things.
You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. There is
no Republican Party. There is no Democratic Party. There are no
Republicans nor Democrats in this House. You are lick-spittlers
and panderers, the creatures of the Plutocracy. You talk verbosely
in antiquated terminology of your love of liberty, and all the
while you wear the scarlet livery of the Iron Heel."
Here the shouting and the cries of "Order! order!" drowned his
voice, and he stood disdainfully till the din had somewhat
subsided. He waved his hand to include all of them, turned to his
own comrades, and said:
"Listen to the bellowing of the well-fed beasts."
Pandemonium broke out again. The Speaker rapped for order and
glanced expectantly at the officers in the doorways. There were
cries of "Sedition!" and a great, rotund New York member began
shouting "Anarchist!" at Ernest. And Ernest was not pleasant to
look at. Every fighting fibre of him was quivering, and his face
was the face of a fighting animal, withal he was cool and
"Remember," he said, in a voice that made itself heard above the
din, "that as you show mercy now to the proletariat, some day will
that same proletariat show mercy to you."
The cries of "Sedition!" and "Anarchist!" redoubled.
"I know that you will not vote for this bill," Ernest went on.
"You have received the command from your masters to vote against
it. And yet you call me anarchist. You, who have destroyed the
government of the people, and who shamelessly flaunt your scarlet
shame in public places, call me anarchist. I do not believe in
hell-fire and brimstone; but in moments like this I regret my
unbelief. Nay, in moments like this I almost do believe. Surely
there must be a hell, for in no less place could it be possible for
you to receive punishment adequate to your crimes. So long as you
exist, there is a vital need for hell-fire in the Cosmos."
There was movement in the doorways. Ernest, the Speaker, all the
members turned to see.
"Why do you not call your soldiers in, Mr. Speaker, and bid them do
their work?" Ernest demanded. "They should carry out your plan
"There are other plans afoot," was the retort. "That is why the
soldiers are present."
"Our plans, I suppose," Ernest sneered. "Assassination or
But at the word "assassination" the uproar broke out again. Ernest
could not make himself heard, but he remained on his feet waiting
for a lull. And then it happened. From my place in the gallery I
saw nothing except the flash of the explosion. The roar of it
filled my ears and I saw Ernest reeling and falling in a swirl of
smoke, and the soldiers rushing up all the aisles. His comrades
were on their feet, wild with anger, capable of any violence. But
Ernest steadied himself for a moment, and waved his arms for
"It is a plot!" his voice rang out in warning to his comrades. "Do
nothing, or you will be destroyed."
Then he slowly sank down, and the soldiers reached him. The next
moment soldiers were clearing the galleries and I saw no more.
Though he was my husband, I was not permitted to get to him. When
I announced who I was, I was promptly placed under arrest. And at
the same time were arrested all socialist Congressmen in
Washington, including the unfortunate Simpson, who lay ill with
typhoid fever in his hotel.
The trial was prompt and brief. The men were foredoomed. The
wonder was that Ernest was not executed. This was a blunder on the
part of the Oligarchy, and a costly one. But the Oligarchy was too
confident in those days. It was drunk with success, and little did
it dream that that small handful of heroes had within them the
power to rock it to its foundations. To-morrow, when the Great
Revolt breaks out and all the world resounds with the tramp, tramp
of the millions, the Oligarchy, will realize, and too late, how
mightily that band of heroes has grown.*
* Avis Everhard took for granted that her narrative would be read
in her own day, and so omits to mention the outcome of the trial
for high treason. Many other similar disconcerting omissions will
be noticed in the Manuscript. Fifty-two socialist Congressmen were
tried, and all were found guilty. Strange to relate, not one
received the death sentence. Everhard and eleven others, among
whom were Theodore Donnelson and Matthew Kent, received life
imprisonment. The remaining forty received sentences varying from
thirty to forty-five years; while Arthur Simpson, referred to in
the Manuscript as being ill of typhoid fever at the time of the
explosion, received only fifteen years. It is the tradition that
he died of starvation in solitary confinement, and this harsh
treatment is explained as having been caused by his uncompromising
stubbornness and his fiery and tactless hatred for all men that
served the despotism. He died in Cabanas in Cuba, where three of
his comrades were also confined. The fifty-two socialist
Congressmen were confined in military fortresses scattered all over
the United States. Thus, Du Bois and Woods were held in Porto
Rico, while Everhard and Merryweather were placed in Alcatraz, an
island in San Francisco Bay that had already seen long service as a
As a revolutionist myself, as one on the inside who knew the hopes
and fears and secret plans of the revolutionists, I am fitted to
answer, as very few are, the charge that they were guilty of
exploding the bomb in Congress. And I can say flatly, without
qualification or doubt of any sort, that the socialists, in
Congress and out, had no hand in the affair. Who threw the bomb we
do not know, but the one thing we are absolutely sure of is that we
did not throw it.
On the other hand, there is evidence to show that the Iron Heel was
responsible for the act. Of course, we cannot prove this. Our
conclusion is merely presumptive. But here are such facts as we do
know. It had been reported to the Speaker of the House, by secret-
service agents of the government, that the Socialist Congressmen
were about to resort to terroristic tactics, and that they had
decided upon the day when their tactics would go into effect. This
day was the very day of the explosion. Wherefore the Capitol had
been packed with troops in anticipation. Since we knew nothing
about the bomb, and since a bomb actually was exploded, and since
the authorities had prepared in advance for the explosion, it is
only fair to conclude that the Iron Heel did know. Furthermore, we
charge that the Iron Heel was guilty of the outrage, and that the
Iron Heel planned and perpetrated the outrage for the purpose of
foisting the guilt on our shoulders and so bringing about our
From the Speaker the warning leaked out to all the creatures in the
House that wore the scarlet livery. They knew, while Ernest was
speaking, that some violent act was to be committed. And to do
them justice, they honestly believed that the act was to be
committed by the socialists. At the trial, and still with honest
belief, several testified to having seen Ernest prepare to throw
the bomb, and that it exploded prematurely. Of course they saw
nothing of the sort. In the fevered imagination of fear they
thought they saw, that was all.
As Ernest said at the trial: "Does it stand to reason, if I were
going to throw a bomb, that I should elect to throw a feeble little
squib like the one that was thrown? There wasn't enough powder in
it. It made a lot of smoke, but hurt no one except me. It
exploded right at my feet, and yet it did not kill me. Believe me,
when I get to throwing bombs, I'll do damage. There'll be more
than smoke in my petards."
In return it was argued by the prosecution that the weakness of the
bomb was a blunder on the part of the socialists, just as its
premature explosion, caused by Ernest's losing his nerve and
dropping it, was a blunder. And to clinch the argument, there were
the several Congressmen who testified to having seen Ernest fumble
and drop the bomb.
As for ourselves, not one of us knew how the bomb was thrown.
Ernest told me that the fraction of an instant before it exploded
he both heard and saw it strike at his feet. He testified to this
at the trial, but no one believed him. Besides, the whole thing,
in popular slang, was "cooked up." The Iron Heel had made up its
mind to destroy us, and there was no withstanding it.
There is a saying that truth will out. I have come to doubt that
saying. Nineteen years have elapsed, and despite our untiring
efforts, we have failed to find the man who really did throw the
bomb. Undoubtedly he was some emissary of the Iron Heel, but he
has escaped detection. We have never got the slightest clew to his
identity. And now, at this late date, nothing remains but for the
affair to take its place among the mysteries of history.*
* Avis Everhard would have had to live for many generations ere she
could have seen the clearing up of this particular mystery. A
little less than a hundred years ago, and a little more than six
hundred years after the death, the confession of Pervaise was
discovered in the secret archives of the Vatican. It is perhaps
well to tell a little something about this obscure document, which,
in the main, is of interest to the historian only.
Pervaise was an American, of French descent, who in 1913 A.D., was
lying in the Tombs Prison, New York City, awaiting trial for
murder. From his confession we learn that he was not a criminal.
He was warm-blooded, passionate, emotional. In an insane fit of
jealousy he killed his wife--a very common act in those times.
Pervaise was mastered by the fear of death, all of which is
recounted at length in his confession. To escape death he would
have done anything, and the police agents prepared him by assuring
him that he could not possibly escape conviction of murder in the
first degree when his trial came off. In those days, murder in the
first degree was a capital offense. The guilty man or woman was
placed in a specially constructed death-chair, and, under the
supervision of competent physicians, was destroyed by a current of
electricity. This was called electrocution, and it was very
popular during that period. Anaesthesia, as a mode of compulsory
death, was not introduced until later.
This man, good at heart but with a ferocious animalism close at the
surface of his being, lying in jail and expectant of nothing less
than death, was prevailed upon by the agents of the Iron Heel to
throw the bomb in the House of Representatives. In his confession
he states explicitly that he was informed that the bomb was to be a
feeble thing and that no lives would be lost. This is directly in
line with the fact that the bomb was lightly charged, and that its
explosion at Everhard's feet was not deadly.
Pervaise was smuggled into one of the galleries ostensibly closed
for repairs. He was to select the moment for the throwing of the
bomb, and he naively confesses that in his interest in Everhard's
tirade and the general commotion raised thereby, he nearly forgot
Not only was he released from prison in reward for his deed, but he
was granted an income for life. This he did not long enjoy. In
1914 A.D., in September, he was stricken with rheumatism of the
heart and lived for three days. It was then that he sent for the
Catholic priest, Father Peter Durban, and to him made confession.
So important did it seem to the priest, that he had the confession
taken down in writing and sworn to. What happened after this we
can only surmise. The document was certainly important enough to
find its way to Rome. Powerful influences must have been brought
to bear, hence its suppression. For centuries no hint of its
existence reached the world. It was not until in the last century
that Lorbia, the brilliant Italian scholar, stumbled upon it quite
by chance during his researches in the Vatican.
There is to-day no doubt whatever that the Iron Heel was
responsible for the bomb that exploded in the House of
Representatives in 1913 A.D. Even though the Pervaise confession
had never come to light, no reasonable doubt could obtain; for the
act in question, that sent fifty-two Congressmen to prison, was on
a par with countless other acts committed by the oligarchs, and,
before them, by the capitalists.
There is the classic instance of the ferocious and wanton judicial
murder of the innocent and so-called Haymarket Anarchists in
Chicago in the penultimate decade of the nineteenth century A.D.
In a category by itself is the deliberate burning and destruction
of capitalist property by the capitalists themselves. For such
destruction of property innocent men were frequently punished--
"railroaded" in the parlance of the times.
In the labor troubles of the first decade of the twentieth century
A.D., between the capitalists and the Western Federation of Miners,
similar but more bloody tactics were employed. The railroad
station at Independence was blown up by the agents of the
capitalists. Thirteen men were killed, and many more were wounded.
And then the capitalists, controlling the legislative and judicial
machinery of the state of Colorado, charged the miners with the
crime and came very near to convicting them. Romaines, one of the
tools in this affair, like Pervaise, was lying in jail in another
state, Kansas, awaiting trial, when he was approached by the agents
of the capitalists. But, unlike Pervaise the confession of
Romaines was made public in his own time.
Then, during this same period, there was the case of Moyer and
Haywood, two strong, fearless leaders of labor. One was president
and the other was secretary of the Western Federation of Miners.
The ex-governor of Idaho had been mysteriously murdered. The
crime, at the time, was openly charged to the mine owners by the
socialists and miners. Nevertheless, in violation of the national
and state constitutions, and by means of conspiracy on the parts of
the governors of Idaho and Colorado, Moyer and Haywood were
kidnapped, thrown into jail, and charged with the murder. It was
this instance that provoked from Eugene V. Debs, national leader of
the American socialists at the time, the following words: "The
labor leaders that cannot be bribed nor bullied, must be ambushed
and murdered. The only crime of Moyer and Haywood is that they
have been unswervingly true to the working class. The capitalists
have stolen our country, debauched our politics, defiled our
judiciary, and ridden over us rough-shod, and now they propose to
murder those who will not abjectly surrender to their brutal
dominion. The governors of Colorado and Idaho are but executing
the mandates of their masters, the Plutocracy. The issue is the
Workers versus the Plutocracy. If they strike the first violent
blow, we will strike the last."
CHAPTER XVIII. IN THE SHADOW OF SONOMA
Of myself, during this period, there is not much to say. For six
months I was kept in prison, though charged with no crime. I was a
suspect--a word of fear that all revolutionists were soon to come
to know. But our own nascent secret service was beginning to work.
By the end of my second month in prison, one of the jailers made
himself known as a revolutionist in touch with the organization.
Several weeks later, Joseph Parkhurst, the prison doctor who had
just been appointed, proved himself to be a member of one of the
Thus, throughout the organization of the Oligarchy, our own
organization, weblike and spidery, was insinuating itself. And so
I was kept in touch with all that was happening in the world
without. And furthermore, every one of our imprisoned leaders was
in contact with brave comrades who masqueraded in the livery of the
Iron Heel. Though Ernest lay in prison three thousand miles away,
on the Pacific Coast, I was in unbroken communication with him, and
our letters passed regularly back and forth.
The leaders, in prison and out, were able to discuss and direct the
campaign. It would have been possible, within a few months, to
have effected the escape of some of them; but since imprisonment
proved no bar to our activities, it was decided to avoid anything
premature. Fifty-two Congressmen were in prison, and fully three
hundred more of our leaders. It was planned that they should be
delivered simultaneously. If part of them escaped, the vigilance
of the oligarchs might be aroused so as to prevent the escape of
the remainder. On the other hand, it was held that a simultaneous
jail-delivery all over the land would have immense psychological
influence on the proletariat. It would show our strength and give
So it was arranged, when I was released at the end of six months,
that I was to disappear and prepare a secure hiding-place for
Ernest. To disappear was in itself no easy thing. No sooner did I
get my freedom than my footsteps began to be dogged by the spies of
the Iron Heel. It was necessary that they should be thrown off the
track, and that I should win to California. It is laughable, the
way this was accomplished.
Already the passport system, modelled on the Russian, was
developing. I dared not cross the continent in my own character.
It was necessary that I should be completely lost if ever I was to
see Ernest again, for by trailing me after he escaped, he would be
caught once more. Again, I could not disguise myself as a
proletarian and travel. There remained the disguise of a member of
the Oligarchy. While the arch-oligarchs were no more than a
handful, there were myriads of lesser ones of the type, say, of Mr.
Wickson--men, worth a few millions, who were adherents of the arch-
oligarchs. The wives and daughters of these lesser oligarchs were
legion, and it was decided that I should assume the disguise of
such a one. A few years later this would have been impossible,
because the passport system was to become so perfect that no man,
woman, nor child in all the land was unregistered and unaccounted
for in his or her movements.
When the time was ripe, the spies were thrown off my track. An
hour later Avis Everhard was no more. At that time one Felice Van
Verdighan, accompanied by two maids and a lap-dog, with another
maid for the lap-dog,* entered a drawing-room on a Pullman,** and a
few minutes later was speeding west.
* This ridiculous picture well illustrates the heartless conduct of
the masters. While people starved, lap-dogs were waited upon by
maids. This was a serious masquerade on the part of Avis Everhard.
Life and death and the Cause were in the issue; therefore the
picture must be accepted as a true picture. It affords a striking
commentary of the times.
** Pullman--the designation of the more luxurious railway cars of
the period and so named from the inventor.
The three maids who accompanied me were revolutionists. Two were
members of the Fighting Groups, and the third, Grace Holbrook,
entered a group the following year, and six months later was
executed by the Iron Heel. She it was who waited upon the dog. Of
the other two, Bertha Stole disappeared twelve years later, while
Anna Roylston still lives and plays an increasingly important part
in the Revolution.*
* Despite continual and almost inconceivable hazards, Anna Roylston
lived to the royal age of ninety-one. As the Pococks defied the
executioners of the Fighting Groups, so she defied the executioners
of the Iron Heel. She bore a charmed life and prospered amid
dangers and alarms. She herself was an executioner for the
Fighting Groups, and, known as the Red Virgin, she became one of
the inspired figures of the Revolution. When she was an old woman
of sixty-nine she shot "Bloody" Halcliffe down in the midst of his
armed escort and got away unscathed. In the end she died peaceably
of old age in a secret refuge of the revolutionists in the Ozark
Without adventure we crossed the United States to California. When
the train stopped at Sixteenth Street Station, in Oakland, we
alighted, and there Felice Van Verdighan, with her two maids, her
lap-dog, and her lap-dog's maid, disappeared forever. The maids,
guided by trusty comrades, were led away. Other comrades took
charge of me. Within half an hour after leaving the train I was on
board a small fishing boat and out on the waters of San Francisco
Bay. The winds baffled, and we drifted aimlessly the greater part
of the night. But I saw the lights of Alcatraz where Ernest lay,
and found comfort in the thought of nearness to him. By dawn, what
with the rowing of the fishermen, we made the Marin Islands. Here
we lay in hiding all day, and on the following night, swept on by a
flood tide and a fresh wind, we crossed San Pablo Bay in two hours
and ran up Petaluma Creek.
Here horses were ready and another comrade, and without delay we
were away through the starlight. To the north I could see the loom
of Sonoma Mountain, toward which we rode. We left the old town of
Sonoma to the right and rode up a canyon that lay between outlying
buttresses of the mountain. The wagon-road became a wood-road, the
wood-road became a cow-path, and the cow-path dwindled away and
ceased among the upland pastures. Straight over Sonoma Mountain we
rode. It was the safest route. There was no one to mark our
Dawn caught us on the northern brow, and in the gray light we
dropped down through chaparral into redwood canyons deep and warm
with the breath of passing summer. It was old country to me that I
knew and loved, and soon I became the guide. The hiding-place was
mine. I had selected it. We let down the bars and crossed an
upland meadow. Next, we went over a low, oak-covered ridge and
descended into a smaller meadow. Again we climbed a ridge, this
time riding under red-limbed madronos and manzanitas of deeper red.
The first rays of the sun streamed upon our backs as we climbed. A
flight of quail thrummed off through the thickets. A big
jackrabbit crossed our path, leaping swiftly and silently like a
deer. And then a deer, a many-pronged buck, the sun flashing red-
gold from neck and shoulders, cleared the crest of the ridge before
us and was gone.
We followed in his wake a space, then dropped down a zigzag trail
that he disdained into a group of noble redwoods that stood about a
pool of water murky with minerals from the mountain side. I knew
every inch of the way. Once a writer friend of mine had owned the
ranch; but he, too, had become a revolutionist, though more
disastrously than I, for he was already dead and gone, and none
knew where nor how. He alone, in the days he had lived, knew the
secret of the hiding-place for which I was bound. He had bought
the ranch for beauty, and paid a round price for it, much to the
disgust of the local farmers. He used to tell with great glee how
they were wont to shake their heads mournfully at the price, to
accomplish ponderously a bit of mental arithmetic, and then to say,
"But you can't make six per cent on it."
But he was dead now, nor did the ranch descend to his children. Of
all men, it was now the property of Mr. Wickson, who owned the
whole eastern and northern slopes of Sonoma Mountain, running from
the Spreckels estate to the divide of Bennett Valley. Out of it he
had made a magnificent deer-park, where, over thousands of acres of
sweet slopes and glades and canyons, the deer ran almost in
primitive wildness. The people who had owned the soil had been
driven away. A state home for the feeble-minded had also been
demolished to make room for the deer.
To cap it all, Wickson's hunting lodge was a quarter of a mile from
my hiding-place. This, instead of being a danger, was an added
security. We were sheltered under the very aegis of one of the
minor oligarchs. Suspicion, by the nature of the situation, was
turned aside. The last place in the world the spies of the Iron
Heel would dream of looking for me, and for Ernest when he joined
me, was Wickson's deer-park.
We tied our horses among the redwoods at the pool. From a cache
behind a hollow rotting log my companion brought out a variety of
things,--a fifty-pound sack of flour, tinned foods of all sorts,
cooking utensils, blankets, a canvas tarpaulin, books and writing
material, a great bundle of letters, a five-gallon can of kerosene,
an oil stove, and, last and most important, a large coil of stout
rope. So large was the supply of things that a number of trips
would be necessary to carry them to the refuge.
But the refuge was very near. Taking the rope and leading the way,
I passed through a glade of tangled vines and bushes that ran
between two wooded knolls. The glade ended abruptly at the steep
bank of a stream. It was a little stream, rising from springs, and
the hottest summer never dried it up. On every hand were tall
wooded knolls, a group of them, with all the seeming of having been
flung there from some careless Titan's hand. There was no bed-rock
in them. They rose from their bases hundreds of feet, and they
were composed of red volcanic earth, the famous wine-soil of
Sonoma. Through these the tiny stream had cut its deep and
It was quite a scramble down to the stream bed, and, once on the
bed, we went down stream perhaps for a hundred feet. And then we
came to the great hole. There was no warning of the existence of
the hole, nor was it a hole in the common sense of the word. One
crawled through tight-locked briers and branches, and found oneself
on the very edge, peering out and down through a green screen. A
couple of hundred feet in length and width, it was half of that in
depth. Possibly because of some fault that had occurred when the
knolls were flung together, and certainly helped by freakish
erosion, the hole had been scooped out in the course of centuries
by the wash of water. Nowhere did the raw earth appear. All was
garmented by vegetation, from tiny maiden-hair and gold-back ferns
to mighty redwood and Douglas spruces. These great trees even
sprang out from the walls of the hole. Some leaned over at angles
as great as forty-five degrees, though the majority towered
straight up from the soft and almost perpendicular earth walls.
It was a perfect hiding-place. No one ever came there, not even
the village boys of Glen Ellen. Had this hole existed in the bed
of a canyon a mile long, or several miles long, it would have been
well known. But this was no canyon. From beginning to end the
length of the stream was no more than five hundred yards. Three
hundred yards above the hole the stream took its rise in a spring
at the foot of a flat meadow. A hundred yards below the hole the
stream ran out into open country, joining the main stream and
flowing across rolling and grass-covered land.
My companion took a turn of the rope around a tree, and with me
fast on the other end lowered away. In no time I was on the
bottom. And in but a short while he had carried all the articles
from the cache and lowered them down to me. He hauled the rope up
and hid it, and before he went away called down to me a cheerful
Before I go on I want to say a word for this comrade, John Carlson,
a humble figure of the Revolution, one of the countless faithful
ones in the ranks. He worked for Wickson, in the stables near the
hunting lodge. In fact, it was on Wickson's horses that we had
ridden over Sonoma Mountain. For nearly twenty years now John
Carlson has been custodian of the refuge. No thought of
disloyalty, I am sure, has ever entered his mind during all that
time. To betray his trust would have been in his mind a thing
undreamed. He was phlegmatic, stolid to such a degree that one
could not but wonder how the Revolution had any meaning to him at
all. And yet love of freedom glowed sombrely and steadily in his
dim soul. In ways it was indeed good that he was not flighty and
imaginative. He never lost his head. He could obey orders, and he
was neither curious nor garrulous. Once I asked how it was that he
was a revolutionist.
"When I was a young man I was a soldier," was his answer. "It was
in Germany. There all young men must be in the army. So I was in
the army. There was another soldier there, a young man, too. His
father was what you call an agitator, and his father was in jail
for lese majesty--what you call speaking the truth about the
Emperor. And the young man, the son, talked with me much about
people, and work, and the robbery of the people by the capitalists.
He made me see things in new ways, and I became a socialist. His
talk was very true and good, and I have never forgotten. When I
came to the United States I hunted up the socialists. I became a
member of a section--that was in the day of the S. L. P. Then
later, when the split came, I joined the local of the S. P. I was
working in a livery stable in San Francisco then. That was before
the Earthquake. I have paid my dues for twenty-two years. I am
yet a member, and I yet pay my dues, though it is very secret now.
I will always pay my dues, and when the cooperative commonwealth
comes, I will be glad."
Left to myself, I proceeded to cook breakfast on the oil stove and
to prepare my home. Often, in the early morning, or in the evening
after dark, Carlson would steal down to the refuge and work for a
couple of hours. At first my home was the tarpaulin. Later, a
small tent was put up. And still later, when we became assured of
the perfect security of the place, a small house was erected. This
house was completely hidden from any chance eye that might peer
down from the edge of the hole. The lush vegetation of that
sheltered spot make a natural shield. Also, the house was built
against the perpendicular wall; and in the wall itself, shored by
strong timbers, well drained and ventilated, we excavated two small
rooms. Oh, believe me, we had many comforts. When Biedenbach, the
German terrorist, hid with us some time later, he installed a
smoke-consuming device that enabled us to sit by crackling wood
fires on winter nights.
And here I must say a word for that gentle-souled terrorist, than
whom there is no comrade in the Revolution more fearfully
misunderstood. Comrade Biedenbach did not betray the Cause. Nor
was he executed by the comrades as is commonly supposed. This
canard was circulated by the creatures of the Oligarchy. Comrade
Biedenbach was absent-minded, forgetful. He was shot by one of our
lookouts at the cave-refuge at Carmel, through failure on his part
to remember the secret signals. It was all a sad mistake. And
that he betrayed his Fighting Group is an absolute lie. No truer,
more loyal man ever labored for the Cause.*
* Search as we may through all the material of those times that has
come down to us, we can find no clew to the Biedenbach here
referred to. No mention is made of him anywhere save in the
For nineteen years now the refuge that I selected had been almost
continuously occupied, and in all that time, with one exception, it
has never been discovered by an outsider. And yet it was only a
quarter of a mile from Wickson's hunting-lodge, and a short mile
from the village of Glen Ellen. I was able, always, to hear the
morning and evening trains arrive and depart, and I used to set my
watch by the whistle at the brickyards.*
* If the curious traveller will turn south from Glen Ellen, he will
find himself on a boulevard that is identical with the old country
road seven centuries ago. A quarter of a mile from Glen Ellen,
after the second bridge is passed, to the right will be noticed a
barranca that runs like a scar across the rolling land toward a
group of wooded knolls. The barranca is the site of the ancient
right of way that in the time of private property in land ran
across the holding of one Chauvet, a French pioneer of California
who came from his native country in the fabled days of gold. The
wooded knolls are the same knolls referred to by Avis Everhard.
The Great Earthquake of 2368 A.D. broke off the side of one of
these knolls and toppled it into the hole where the Everhards made
their refuge. Since the finding of the Manuscript excavations have
been made, and the house, the two cave rooms, and all the
accumulated rubbish of long occupancy have been brought to light.
Many valuable relics have been found, among which, curious to
relate, is the smoke-consuming device of Biedenbach's mentioned in
the narrative. Students interested in such matters should read the
brochure of Arnold Bentham soon to be published.
A mile northwest from the wooded knolls brings one to the site of
Wake Robin Lodge at the junction of Wild-Water and Sonoma Creeks.
It may be noticed, in passing, that Wild-Water was originally
called Graham Creek and was so named on the early local maps. But
the later name sticks. It was at Wake Robin Lodge that Avis
Everhard later lived for short periods, when, disguised as an
agent-provocateur of the Iron Heel, she was enabled to play with
impunity her part among men and events. The official permission to
occupy Wake Robin Lodge is still on the records, signed by no less
a man than Wickson, the minor oligarch of the Manuscript.
CHAPTER XIX. TRANSFORMATION
"You must make yourself over again," Ernest wrote to me. "You must
cease to be. You must become another woman--and not merely in the
clothes you wear, but inside your skin under the clothes. You must
make yourself over again so that even I would not know you--your
voice, your gestures, your mannerisms, your carriage, your walk,
This command I obeyed. Every day I practised for hours in burying
forever the old Avis Everhard beneath the skin of another woman
whom I may call my other self. It was only by long practice that
such results could be obtained. In the mere detail of voice
intonation I practised almost perpetually till the voice of my new
self became fixed, automatic. It was this automatic assumption of
a role that was considered imperative. One must become so adept as
to deceive oneself. It was like learning a new language, say the
French. At first speech in French is self-conscious, a matter of
the will. The student thinks in English and then transmutes into
French, or reads in French but transmutes into English before he
can understand. Then later, becoming firmly grounded, automatic,
the student reads, writes, and THINKS in French, without any
recourse to English at all.
And so with our disguises. It was necessary for us to practise
until our assumed roles became real; until to be our original
selves would require a watchful and strong exercise of will. Of
course, at first, much was mere blundering experiment. We were
creating a new art, and we had much to discover. But the work was
going on everywhere; masters in the art were developing, and a fund
of tricks and expedients was being accumulated. This fund became a
sort of text-book that was passed on, a part of the curriculum, as
it were, of the school of Revolution.*
* Disguise did become a veritable art during that period. The
revolutionists maintained schools of acting in all their refuges.
They scorned accessories, such as wigs and beards, false eyebrows,
and such aids of the theatrical actors. The game of revolution was
a game of life and death, and mere accessories were traps.
Disguise had to be fundamental, intrinsic, part and parcel of one's
being, second nature. The Red Virgin is reported to have been one
of the most adept in the art, to which must be ascribed her long
and successful career.
It was at this time that my father disappeared. His letters, which
had come to me regularly, ceased. He no longer appeared at our
Pell Street quarters. Our comrades sought him everywhere. Through
our secret service we ransacked every prison in the land. But he
was lost as completely as if the earth had swallowed him up, and to
this day no clew to his end has been discovered.*
* Disappearance was one of the horrors of the time. As a motif, in
song and story, it constantly crops up. It was an inevitable
concomitant of the subterranean warfare that raged through those
three centuries. This phenomenon was almost as common in the
oligarch class and the labor castes, as it was in the ranks of the
revolutionists. Without warning, without trace, men and women, and
even children, disappeared and were seen no more, their end
shrouded in mystery.
Six lonely months I spent in the refuge, but they were not idle
months. Our organization went on apace, and there were mountains
of work always waiting to be done. Ernest and his fellow-leaders,
from their prisons, decided what should be done; and it remained
for us on the outside to do it. There was the organization of the
mouth-to-mouth propaganda; the organization, with all its
ramifications, of our spy system; the establishment of our secret
printing-presses; and the establishment of our underground
railways, which meant the knitting together of all our myriads of
places of refuge, and the formation of new refuges where links were
missing in the chains we ran over all the land.
So I say, the work was never done. At the end of six months my
loneliness was broken by the arrival of two comrades. They were
young girls, brave souls and passionate lovers of liberty: Lora
Peterson, who disappeared in 1922, and Kate Bierce, who later
married Du Bois,* and who is still with us with eyes lifted to to-
morrow's sun, that heralds in the new age.
* Du Bois, the present librarian of Ardis, is a lineal descendant
of this revolutionary pair.
The two girls arrived in a flurry of excitement, danger, and sudden
death. In the crew of the fishing boat that conveyed them across
San Pablo Bay was a spy. A creature of the Iron Heel, he had
successfully masqueraded as a revolutionist and penetrated deep
into the secrets of our organization. Without doubt he was on my
trail, for we had long since learned that my disappearance had been
cause of deep concern to the secret service of the Oligarchy.
Luckily, as the outcome proved, he had not divulged his discoveries
to any one. He had evidently delayed reporting, preferring to wait
until he had brought things to a successful conclusion by
discovering my hiding-place and capturing me. His information died
with him. Under some pretext, after the girls had landed at
Petaluma Creek and taken to the horses, he managed to get away from
Part way up Sonoma Mountain, John Carlson let the girls go on,
leading his horse, while he went back on foot. His suspicions had
been aroused. He captured the spy, and as to what then happened,
Carlson gave us a fair idea.
"I fixed him," was Carlson's unimaginative way of describing the
affair. "I fixed him," he repeated, while a sombre light burnt in
his eyes, and his huge, toil-distorted hands opened and closed
eloquently. "He made no noise. I hid him, and tonight I will go
back and bury him deep."
During that period I used to marvel at my own metamorphosis. At
times it seemed impossible, either that I had ever lived a placid,
peaceful life in a college town, or else that I had become a
revolutionist inured to scenes of violence and death. One or the
other could not be. One was real, the other was a dream, but which
was which? Was this present life of a revolutionist, hiding in a
hole, a nightmare? or was I a revolutionist who had somewhere,
somehow, dreamed that in some former existence I have lived in
Berkeley and never known of life more violent than teas and dances,
debating societies, and lectures rooms? But then I suppose this
was a common experience of all of us who had rallied under the red
banner of the brotherhood of man.
I often remembered figures from that other life, and, curiously
enough, they appeared and disappeared, now and again, in my new
life. There was Bishop Morehouse. In vain we searched for him
after our organization had developed. He had been transferred from
asylum to asylum. We traced him from the state hospital for the
insane at Napa to the one in Stockton, and from there to the one in
the Santa Clara Valley called Agnews, and there the trail ceased.
There was no record of his death. In some way he must have
escaped. Little did I dream of the awful manner in which I was to
see him once again--the fleeting glimpse of him in the whirlwind
carnage of the Chicago Commune.
Jackson, who had lost his arm in the Sierra Mills and who had been
the cause of my own conversion into a revolutionist, I never saw
again; but we all knew what he did before he died. He never joined
the revolutionists. Embittered by his fate, brooding over his
wrongs, he became an anarchist--not a philosophic anarchist, but a
mere animal, mad with hate and lust for revenge. And well he
revenged himself. Evading the guards, in the nighttime while all
were asleep, he blew the Pertonwaithe palace into atoms. Not a
soul escaped, not even the guards. And in prison, while awaiting
trial, he suffocated himself under his blankets.
Dr. Hammerfield and Dr. Ballingford achieved quite different fates
from that of Jackson. They have been faithful to their salt, and
they have been correspondingly rewarded with ecclesiastical palaces
wherein they dwell at peace with the world. Both are apologists
for the Oligarchy. Both have grown very fat. "Dr. Hammerfield,"
as Ernest once said, "has succeeded in modifying his metaphysics so
as to give God's sanction to the Iron Heel, and also to include
much worship of beauty and to reduce to an invisible wraith the
gaseous vertebrate described by Haeckel--the difference between Dr.
Hammerfield and Dr. Ballingford being that the latter has made the
God of the oligarchs a little more gaseous and a little less
Peter Donnelly, the scab foreman at the Sierra Mills whom I
encountered while investigating the case of Jackson, was a surprise
to all of us. In 1918 I was present at a meeting of the 'Frisco
Reds. Of all our Fighting Groups this one was the most formidable,
ferocious, and merciless. It was really not a part of our
organization. Its members were fanatics, madmen. We dared not
encourage such a spirit. On the other hand, though they did not
belong to us, we remained on friendly terms with them. It was a
matter of vital importance that brought me there that night. I,
alone in the midst of a score of men, was the only person unmasked.
After the business that brought me there was transacted, I was led
away by one of them. In a dark passage this guide struck a match,
and, holding it close to his face, slipped back his mask. For a
moment I gazed upon the passion-wrought features of Peter Donnelly.
Then the match went out.
"I just wanted you to know it was me," he said in the darkness.
"D'you remember Dallas, the superintendent?"
I nodded at recollection of the vulpine-face superintendent of the
"Well, I got him first," Donnelly said with pride. "'Twas after
that I joined the Reds."
"But how comes it that you are here?" I queried. "Your wife and
"Dead," he answered. "That's why. No," he went on hastily, "'tis
not revenge for them. They died easily in their beds--sickness,
you see, one time and another. They tied my arms while they lived.
And now that they're gone, "'tis revenge for my blasted manhood I'm
after. I was once Peter Donnelly, the scab foreman. But to-night
I'm Number 27 of the 'Frisco Reds. Come on now, and I'll get you
out of this."
More I heard of him afterward. In his own way he had told the
truth when he said all were dead. But one lived, Timothy, and him
his father considered dead because he had taken service with the
Iron Heel in the Mercenaries.* A member of the 'Frisco Reds
pledged himself to twelve annual executions. The penalty for
failure was death. A member who failed to complete his number
committed suicide. These executions were not haphazard. This
group of madmen met frequently and passed wholesale judgments upon
offending members and servitors of the Oligarchy. The executions
were afterward apportioned by lot.
* In addition to the labor castes, there arose another caste, the
military. A standing army of professional soldiers was created,
officered by members of the Oligarchy and known as the Mercenaries.
This institution took the place of the militia, which had proved
impracticable under the new regime. Outside the regular secret
service of the Iron Heel, there was further established a secret
service of the Mercenaries, this latter forming a connecting link
between the police and the military.
In fact, the business that brought me there the night of my visit
was such a trial. One of our own comrades, who for years had
successfully maintained himself in a clerical position in the local
bureau of the secret service of the Iron Heel, had fallen under the
ban of the 'Frisco Reds and was being tried. Of course he was not
present, and of course his judges did not know that he was one of
our men. My mission had been to testify to his identity and
loyalty. It may be wondered how we came to know of the affair at
all. The explanation is simple. One of our secret agents was a
member of the 'Frisco Reds. It was necessary for us to keep an eye
on friend as well as foe, and this group of madmen was not too
unimportant to escape our surveillance.
But to return to Peter Donnelly and his son. All went well with
Donnelly until, in the following year, he found among the sheaf of
executions that fell to him the name of Timothy Donnelly. Then it
was that that clannishness, which was his to so extraordinary a
degree, asserted itself. To save his son, he betrayed his
comrades. In this he was partially blocked, but a dozen of the
'Frisco Reds were executed, and the group was well-nigh destroyed.
In retaliation, the survivors meted out to Donnelly the death he
had earned by his treason.
Nor did Timothy Donnelly long survive. The 'Frisco Reds pledged
themselves to his execution. Every effort was made by the
Oligarchy to save him. He was transferred from one part of the
country to another. Three of the Reds lost their lives in vain
efforts to get him. The Group was composed only of men. In the
end they fell back on a woman, one of our comrades, and none other
than Anna Roylston. Our Inner Circle forbade her, but she had ever
a will of her own and disdained discipline. Furthermore, she was a
genius and lovable, and we could never discipline her anyway. She
is in a class by herself and not amenable to the ordinary standards
of the revolutionists.
Despite our refusal to grant permission to do the deed, she went on
with it. Now Anna Roylston was a fascinating woman. All she had
to do was to beckon a man to her. She broke the hearts of scores
of our young comrades, and scores of others she captured, and by
their heart-strings led into our organization. Yet she steadfastly
refused to marry. She dearly loved children, but she held that a
child of her own would claim her from the Cause, and that it was
the Cause to which her life was devoted.
It was an easy task for Anna Roylston to win Timothy Donnelly. Her
conscience did not trouble her, for at that very time occurred the
Nashville Massacre, when the Mercenaries, Donnelly in command,
literally murdered eight hundred weavers of that city. But she did
not kill Donnelly. She turned him over, a prisoner, to the 'Frisco
Reds. This happened only last year, and now she had been renamed.
The revolutionists everywhere are calling her the "Red Virgin."*
* It was not until the Second Revolt was crushed, that the 'Frisco
Reds flourished again. And for two generations the Group
flourished. Then an agent of the Iron Heel managed to become a
member, penetrated all its secrets, and brought about its total
annihilation. This occurred in 2002 A.D. The members were
executed one at a time, at intervals of three weeks, and their
bodies exposed in the labor-ghetto of San Francisco.
Colonel Ingram and Colonel Van Gilbert are two more familiar
figures that I was later to encounter. Colonel Ingram rose high in
the Oligarchy and became Minister to Germany. He was cordially
detested by the proletariat of both countries. It was in Berlin
that I met him, where, as an accredited international spy of the
Iron Heel, I was received by him and afforded much assistance.
Incidentally, I may state that in my dual role I managed a few
important things for the Revolution.
Colonel Van Gilbert became known as "Snarling" Van Gilbert. His
important part was played in drafting the new code after the
Chicago Commune. But before that, as trial judge, he had earned
sentence of death by his fiendish malignancy. I was one of those
that tried him and passed sentence upon him. Anna Roylston carried
out the execution.
Still another figure arises out of the old life--Jackson's lawyer.
Least of all would I have expected again to meet this man, Joseph
Hurd. It was a strange meeting. Late at night, two years after
the Chicago Commune, Ernest and I arrived together at the Benton
Harbor refuge. This was in Michigan, across the lake from Chicago.
We arrived just at the conclusion of the trial of a spy. Sentence
of death had been passed, and he was being led away. Such was the
scene as we came upon it. The next moment the wretched man had
wrenched free from his captors and flung himself at my feet, his
arms clutching me about the knees in a vicelike grip as he prayed
in a frenzy for mercy. As he turned his agonized face up to me, I
recognized him as Joseph Hurd. Of all the terrible things I have
witnessed, never have I been so unnerved as by this frantic
creature's pleading for life. He was mad for life. It was
pitiable. He refused to let go of me, despite the hands of a dozen
comrades. And when at last he was dragged shrieking away, I sank
down fainting upon the floor. It is far easier to see brave men
die than to hear a coward beg for life.*
* The Benton Harbor refuge was a catacomb, the entrance of which
was cunningly contrived by way of a well. It has been maintained
in a fair state of preservation, and the curious visitor may to-day
tread its labyrinths to the assembly hall, where, without doubt,
occurred the scene described by Avis Everhard. Farther on are the
cells where the prisoners were confined, and the death chamber
where the executions took place. Beyond is the cemetery--long,
winding galleries hewn out of the solid rock, with recesses on
either hand, wherein, tier above tier, lie the revolutionists just
as they were laid away by their comrades long years agone.
CHAPTER XX. A LOST OLIGARCH
But in remembering the old life I have run ahead of my story into
the new life. The wholesale jail delivery did not occur until well
along into 1915. Complicated as it was, it was carried through
without a hitch, and as a very creditable achievement it cheered us
on in our work. From Cuba to California, out of scores of jails,
military prisons, and fortresses, in a single night, we delivered
fifty-one of our fifty-two Congressmen, and in addition over three
hundred other leaders. There was not a single instance of
miscarriage. Not only did they escape, but every one of them won
to the refuges as planned. The one comrade Congressman we did not
get was Arthur Simpson, and he had already died in Cabanas after
The eighteen months that followed was perhaps the happiest of my
life with Ernest. During that time we were never apart. Later,
when we went back into the world, we were separated much. Not more
impatiently do I await the flame of to-morrow's revolt than did I
that night await the coming of Ernest. I had not seen him for so
long, and the thought of a possible hitch or error in our plans
that would keep him still in his island prison almost drove me mad.
The hours passed like ages. I was all alone. Biedenbach, and
three young men who had been living in the refuge, were out and
over the mountain, heavily armed and prepared for anything. The
refuges all over the land were quite empty, I imagine, of comrades
Just as the sky paled with the first warning of dawn, I heard the
signal from above and gave the answer. In the darkness I almost
embraced Biedenbach, who came down first; but the next moment I was
in Ernest's arms. And in that moment, so complete had been my
transformation, I discovered it was only by an effort of will that
I could be the old Avis Everhard, with the old mannerisms and
smiles, phrases and intonations of voice. It was by strong effort
only that I was able to maintain my old identity; I could not allow
myself to forget for an instant, so automatically imperative had
become the new personality I had created.
Once inside the little cabin, I saw Ernest's face in the light.
With the exception of the prison pallor, there was no change in
him--at least, not much. He was my same lover-husband and hero.
And yet there was a certain ascetic lengthening of the lines of his
face. But he could well stand it, for it seemed to add a certain
nobility of refinement to the riotous excess of life that had
always marked his features. He might have been a trifle graver
than of yore, but the glint of laughter still was in his eyes. He
was twenty pounds lighter, but in splendid physical condition. He
had kept up exercise during the whole period of confinement, and
his muscles were like iron. In truth, he was in better condition
than when he had entered prison. Hours passed before his head
touched pillow and I had soothed him off to sleep. But there was
no sleep for me. I was too happy, and the fatigue of jail-breaking
and riding horseback had not been mine.
While Ernest slept, I changed my dress, arranged my hair
differently, and came back to my new automatic self. Then, when
Biedenbach and the other comrades awoke, with their aid I concocted
a little conspiracy. All was ready, and we were in the cave-room
that served for kitchen and dining room when Ernest opened the door
and entered. At that moment Biedenbach addressed me as Mary, and I
turned and answered him. Then I glanced at Ernest with curious
interest, such as any young comrade might betray on seeing for the
first time so noted a hero of the Revolution. But Ernest's glance
took me in and questioned impatiently past and around the room.
The next moment I was being introduced to him as Mary Holmes.
To complete the deception, an extra plate was laid, and when we sat
down to table one chair was not occupied. I could have cried with
joy as I noted Ernest's increasing uneasiness and impatience.
Finally he could stand it no longer.
"Where's my wife?" he demanded bluntly.
"She is still asleep," I answered.
It was the crucial moment. But my voice was a strange voice, and
in it he recognized nothing familiar. The meal went on. I talked
a great deal, and enthusiastically, as a hero-worshipper might
talk, and it was obvious that he was my hero. I rose to a climax
of enthusiasm and worship, and, before he could guess my intention,
threw my arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips. He held
me from him at arm's length and stared about in annoyance and
perplexity. The four men greeted him with roars of laughter, and
explanations were made. At first he was sceptical. He scrutinized
me keenly and was half convinced, then shook his head and would not
believe. It was not until I became the old Avis Everhard and
whispered secrets in his ear that none knew but he and Avis
Everhard, that he accepted me as his really, truly wife.
It was later in the day that he took me in his arms, manifesting
great embarrassment and claiming polygamous emotions.
"You are my Avis," he said, and you are also some one else. You
are two women, and therefore you are my harem. At any rate, we are
safe now. If the United States becomes too hot for us, why I have
qualified for citizenship in Turkey."*
* At that time polygamy was still practised in Turkey.
Life became for me very happy in the refuge. It is true, we worked
hard and for long hours; but we worked together. We had each other
for eighteen precious months, and we were not lonely, for there was
always a coming and going of leaders and comrades--strange voices
from the under-world of intrigue and revolution, bringing stranger
tales of strife and war from all our battle-line. And there was
much fun and delight. We were not mere gloomy conspirators. We
toiled hard and suffered greatly, filled the gaps in our ranks and
went on, and through all the labour and the play and interplay of
life and death we found time to laugh and love. There were
artists, scientists, scholars, musicians, and poets among us; and
in that hole in the ground culture was higher and finer than in the
palaces of wonder-cities of the oligarchs. In truth, many of our
comrades toiled at making beautiful those same palaces and wonder-
* This is not braggadocio on the part of Avis Everhard. The flower
of the artistic and intellectual world were revolutionists. With
the exception of a few of the musicians and singers, and of a few
of the oligarchs, all the great creators of the period whose names
have come down to us, were revolutionists.
Nor were we confined to the refuge itself. Often at night we rode
over the mountains for exercise, and we rode on Wickson's horses.
If only he knew how many revolutionists his horses have carried!
We even went on picnics to isolated spots we knew, where we
remained all day, going before daylight and returning after dark.
Also, we used Wickson's cream and butter,* and Ernest was not above
shooting Wickson's quail and rabbits, and, on occasion, his young
* Even as late as that period, cream and butter were still crudely
extracted from cow's milk. The laboratory preparation of foods had
not yet begun.
Indeed, it was a safe refuge. I have said that it was discovered
only once, and this brings me to the clearing up of the mystery of
the disappearance of young Wickson. Now that he is dead, I am free
to speak. There was a nook on the bottom of the great hole where
the sun shone for several hours and which was hidden from above.
Here we had carried many loads of gravel from the creek-bed, so
that it was dry and warm, a pleasant basking place; and here, one
afternoon, I was drowsing, half asleep, over a volume of
Mendenhall.* I was so comfortable and secure that even his flaming
lyrics failed to stir me.
* In all the extant literature and documents of that period,
continual reference is made to the poems of Rudolph Mendenhall. By
his comrades he was called "The Flame." He was undoubtedly a great
genius; yet, beyond weird and haunting fragments of his verse,
quoted in the writings of others, nothing of his has come down to
us. He was executed by the Iron Heel in 1928 A.D.
I was aroused by a clod of earth striking at my feet. Then from
above, I heard a sound of scrambling. The next moment a young man,
with a final slide down the crumbling wall, alighted at my feet.
It was Philip Wickson, though I did not know him at the time. He
looked at me coolly and uttered a low whistle of surprise.
"Well," he said; and the next moment, cap in hand, he was saying,
"I beg your pardon. I did not expect to find any one here."
I was not so cool. I was still a tyro so far as concerned knowing
how to behave in desperate circumstances. Later on, when I was an
international spy, I should have been less clumsy, I am sure. As
it was, I scrambled to my feet and cried out the danger call.
"Why did you do that?" he asked, looking at me searchingly.
It was evident that he had no suspicion of our presence when making
the descent. I recognized this with relief.
"For what purpose do you think I did it?" I countered. I was
indeed clumsy in those days.
"I don't know," he answered, shaking his head. "Unless you've got
friends about. Anyway, you've got some explanations to make. I
don't like the look of it. You are trespassing. This is my
father's land, and--"
But at that moment, Biedenbach, every polite and gentle, said from
behind him in a low voice, "Hands up, my young sir."
Young Wickson put his hands up first, then turned to confront
Biedenbach, who held a thirty-thirty automatic rifle on him.
Wickson was imperturbable.
"Oh, ho," he said, "a nest of revolutionists--and quite a hornet's
nest it would seem. Well, you won't abide here long, I can tell
"Maybe you'll abide here long enough to reconsider that statement,"
Biedenbach said quietly. "And in the meanwhile I must ask you to
come inside with me"
"Inside?" The young man was genuinely astonished. "Have you a
catacomb here? I have heard of such things."
"Come and see," Biedenbach answered with his adorable accent.
"But it is unlawful," was the protest.
"Yes, by your law," the terrorist replied significantly. "But by
our law, believe me, it is quite lawful. You must accustom
yourself to the fact that you are in another world than the one of
oppression and brutality in which you have lived."
"There is room for argument there," Wickson muttered.
"Then stay with us and discuss it."
The young fellow laughed and followed his captor into the house.
He was led into the inner cave-room, and one of the young comrades
left to guard him, while we discussed the situation in the kitchen.
Biedenbach, with tears in his eyes, held that Wickson must die, and
was quite relieved when we outvoted him and his horrible
proposition. On the other hand, we could not dream of allowing the
young oligarch to depart.
"I'll tell you what to do," Ernest said. "We'll keep him and give
him an education."
"I bespeak the privilege, then, of enlightening him in
jurisprudence, Biedenbach cried.
And so a decision was laughingly reached. We would keep Philip
Wickson a prisoner and educate him in our ethics and sociology.
But in the meantime there was work to be done. All trace of the
young oligarch must be obliterated. There were the marks he had
left when descending the crumbling wall of the hole. This task
fell to Biedenbach, and, slung on a rope from above, he toiled
cunningly for the rest of the day till no sign remained. Back up
the canyon from the lip of the hole all marks were likewise
removed. Then, at twilight, came John Carlson, who demanded
The young man did not want to give up his shoes, and even offered
to fight for them, till he felt the horseshoer's strength in
Ernest's hands. Carlson afterward reported several blisters and
much grievous loss of skin due to the smallness of the shoes, but
he succeeded in doing gallant work with them. Back from the lip of
the hole, where ended the young man's obliterated trial, Carlson
put on the shoes and walked away to the left. He walked for miles,
around knolls, over ridges and through canyons, and finally covered
the trail in the running water of a creek-bed. Here he removed the
shoes, and, still hiding trail for a distance, at last put on his
own shoes. A week later Wickson got back his shoes.
That night the hounds were out, and there was little sleep in the
refuge. Next day, time and again, the baying hounds came down the
canyon, plunged off to the left on the trail Carlson had made for
them, and were lost to ear in the farther canyons high up the
mountain. And all the time our men waited in the refuge, weapons
in hand--automatic revolvers and rifles, to say nothing of half a
dozen infernal machines of Biedenbach's manufacture. A more
surprised party of rescuers could not be imagined, had they
ventured down into our hiding-place.
I have now given the true disappearance of Philip Wickson, one-time
oligarch, and, later, comrade in the Revolution. For we converted
him in the end. His mind was fresh and plastic, and by nature he
was very ethical. Several months later we rode him, on one of his
father's horses, over Sonoma Mountains to Petaluma Creek and
embarked him in a small fishing-launch. By easy stages we smuggled
him along our underground railway to the Carmel refuge.
There he remained eight months, at the end of which time, for two
reasons, he was loath to leave us. One reason was that he had
fallen in love with Anna Roylston, and the other was that he had
become one of us. It was not until he became convinced of the
hopelessness of his love affair that he acceded to our wishes and
went back to his father. Ostensibly an oligarch until his death,
he was in reality one of the most valuable of our agents. Often
and often has the Iron Heel been dumbfounded by the miscarriage of
its plans and operations against us. If it but knew the number of
its own members who are our agents, it would understand. Young
Wickson never wavered in his loyalty to the Cause. In truth, his
very death was incurred by his devotion to duty. In the great
storm of 1927, while attending a meeting of our leaders, he
contracted the pneumonia of which he died.*
* The case of this young man was not unusual. Many young men of
the Oligarchy, impelled by sense of right conduct, or their
imaginations captured by the glory of the Revolution, ethically or
romantically devoted their lives to it. In similar way, many sons
of the Russian nobility played their parts in the earlier and
protracted revolution in that country.
CHAPTER XXI. THE ROARING ABYSMAL BEAST
During the long period of our stay in the refuge, we were kept
closely in touch with what was happening in the world without, and
we were learning thoroughly the strength of the Oligarchy with
which we were at war. Out of the flux of transition the new
institutions were forming more definitely and taking on the
appearance and attributes of permanence. The oligarchs had
succeeded in devising a governmental machine, as intricate as it
was vast, that worked--and this despite all our efforts to clog and
This was a surprise to many of the revolutionists. They had not
conceived it possible. Nevertheless the work of the country went
on. The men toiled in the mines and fields--perforce they were no
more than slaves. As for the vital industries, everything
prospered. The members of the great labor castes were contented
and worked on merrily. For the first time in their lives they knew
industrial peace. No more were they worried by slack times, strike
and lockout, and the union label. They lived in more comfortable
homes and in delightful cities of their own--delightful compared
with the slums and ghettos in which they had formerly dwelt. They
had better food to eat, less hours of labor, more holidays, and a
greater amount and variety of interests and pleasures. And for
their less fortunate brothers and sisters, the unfavored laborers,
the driven people of the abyss, they cared nothing. An age of
selfishness was dawning upon mankind. And yet this is not
altogether true. The labor castes were honeycombed by our agents--
men whose eyes saw, beyond the belly-need, the radiant figure of
liberty and brotherhood.
Another great institution that had taken form and was working
smoothly was the Mercenaries. This body of soldiers had been
evolved out of the old regular army and was now a million strong,
to say nothing of the colonial forces. The Mercenaries constituted
a race apart. They dwelt in cities of their own which were
practically self-governed, and they were granted many privileges.
By them a large portion of the perplexing surplus was consumed.
They were losing all touch and sympathy with the rest of the
people, and, in fact, were developing their own class morality and
consciousness. And yet we had thousands of our agents among them.*
* The Mercenaries, in the last days of the Iron Heel, played an
important role. They constituted the balance of power in the
struggles between the labor castes and the oligarchs, and now to
one side and now to the other, threw their strength according to
the play of intrigue and conspiracy.
The oligarchs themselves were going through a remarkable and, it
must be confessed, unexpected development. As a class, they
disciplined themselves. Every member had his work to do in the
world, and this work he was compelled to do. There were no more
idle-rich young men. Their strength was used to give united
strength to the Oligarchy. They served as leaders of troops and as
lieutenants and captains of industry. They found careers in
applied science, and many of them became great engineers. They
went into the multitudinous divisions of the government, took
service in the colonial possessions, and by tens of thousands went
into the various secret services. They were, I may say,
apprenticed to education, to art, to the church, to science, to
literature; and in those fields they served the important function
of moulding the thought-processes of the nation in the direction of
the perpetuity of the Oligarchy.
They were taught, and later they in turn taught, that what they
were doing was right. They assimilated the aristocratic idea from
the moment they began, as children, to receive impressions of the
world. The aristocratic idea was woven into the making of them
until it became bone of them and flesh of them. They looked upon
themselves as wild-animal trainers, rulers of beasts. From beneath
their feet rose always the subterranean rumbles of revolt. Violent
death ever stalked in their midst; bomb and knife and bullet were
looked upon as so many fangs of the roaring abysmal beast they must
dominate if humanity were to persist. They were the saviours of
humanity, and they regarded themselves as heroic and sacrificing
laborers for the highest good.
They, as a class, believed that they alone maintained civilization.
It was their belief that if ever they weakened, the great beast
would ingulf them and everything of beauty and wonder and joy and
good in its cavernous and slime-dripping maw. Without them,
anarchy would reign and humanity would drop backward into the
primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged. The
horrid picture of anarchy was held always before their child's eyes
until they, in turn, obsessed by this cultivated fear, held the
picture of anarchy before the eyes of the children that followed
them. This was the beast to be stamped upon, and the highest duty
of the aristocrat was to stamp upon it. In short, they alone, by
their unremitting toil and sacrifice, stood between weak humanity
and the all-devouring beast; and they believed it, firmly believed
I cannot lay too great stress upon this high ethical righteousness
of the whole oligarch class. This has been the strength of the
Iron Heel, and too many of the comrades have been slow or loath to
realize it. Many of them have ascribed the strength of the Iron
Heel to its system of reward and punishment. This is a mistake.
Heaven and hell may be the prime factors of zeal in the religion of
a fanatic; but for the great majority of the religious, heaven and
hell are incidental to right and wrong. Love of the right, desire
for the right, unhappiness with anything less than the right--in
short, right conduct, is the prime factor of religion. And so with
the Oligarchy. Prisons, banishment and degradation, honors and
palaces and wonder-cities, are all incidental. The great driving
force of the oligarchs is the belief that they are doing right.
Never mind the exceptions, and never mind the oppression and
injustice in which the Iron Heel was conceived. All is granted.
The point is that the strength of the Oligarchy today lies in its
satisfied conception of its own righteousness.*
* Out of the ethical incoherency and inconsistency of capitalism,
the oligarchs emerged with a new ethics, coherent and definite,
sharp and severe as steel, the most absurd and unscientific and at
the same time the most potent ever possessed by any tyrant class.
The oligarchs believed their ethics, in spite of the fact that
biology and evolution gave them the lie; and, because of their
faith, for three centuries they were able to hold back the mighty
tide of human progress--a spectacle, profound, tremendous, puzzling
to the metaphysical moralist, and one that to the materialist is
the cause of many doubts and reconsiderations.
For that matter, the strength of the Revolution, during these
frightful twenty years, has resided in nothing else than the sense
of righteousness. In no other way can be explained our sacrifices
and martyrdoms. For no other reason did Rudolph Mendenhall flame
out his soul for the Cause and sing his wild swan-song that last
night of life. For no other reason did Hurlbert die under torture,
refusing to the last to betray his comrades. For no other reason
has Anna Roylston refused blessed motherhood. For no other reason
has John Carlson been the faithful and unrewarded custodian of the
Glen Ellen Refuge. It does not matter, young or old, man or woman,
high or low, genius or clod, go where one will among the comrades
of the Revolution, the motor-force will be found to be a great and
abiding desire for the right.
But I have run away from my narrative. Ernest and I well
understood, before we left the refuge, how the strength of the Iron
Heel was developing. The labor castes, the Mercenaries, and the
great hordes of secret agents and police of various sorts were all
pledged to the Oligarchy. In the main, and ignoring the loss of
liberty, they were better off than they had been. On the other
hand, the great helpless mass of the population, the people of the
abyss, was sinking into a brutish apathy of content with misery.
Whenever strong proletarians asserted their strength in the midst
of the mass, they were drawn away from the mass by the oligarchs
and given better conditions by being made members of the labor
castes or of the Mercenaries. Thus discontent was lulled and the
proletariat robbed of its natural leaders.
The condition of the people of the abyss was pitiable. Common
school education, so far as they were concerned, had ceased. They
lived like beasts in great squalid labor-ghettos, festering in
misery and degradation. All their old liberties were gone. They
were labor-slaves. Choice of work was denied them. Likewise was
denied them the right to move from place to place, or the right to
bear or possess arms. They were not land serfs like the farmers.
They were machine-serfs and labor-serfs. When unusual needs arose
for them, such as the building of the great highways and air-lines,
of canals, tunnels, subways, and fortifications, levies were made
on the labor-ghettos, and tens of thousands of serfs, willy-nilly,
were transported to the scene of operations. Great armies of them
are toiling now at the building of Ardis, housed in wretched
barracks where family life cannot exist, and where decency is
displaced by dull bestiality. In all truth, there in the labor-
ghettos is the roaring abysmal beast the oligarchs fear so
dreadfully--but it is the beast of their own making. In it they
will not let the ape and tiger die.
And just now the word has gone forth that new levies are being
imposed for the building of Asgard, the projected wonder-city that
will far exceed Ardis when the latter is completed.* We of the
Revolution will go on with that great work, but it will not be done
by the miserable serfs. The walls and towers and shafts of that
fair city will arise to the sound of singing, and into its beauty
and wonder will be woven, not sighs and groans, but music and
* Ardis was completed in 1942 A.D., Asgard was not completed until
1984 A.D. It was fifty-two years in the building, during which
time a permanent army of half a million serfs was employed. At
times these numbers swelled to over a million--without any account
being taken of the hundreds of thousands of the labor castes and
Ernest was madly impatient to be out in the world and doing, for
our ill-fated First Revolt, that had miscarried in the Chicago
Commune, was ripening fast. Yet he possessed his soul with
patience, and during this time of his torment, when Hadly, who had
been brought for the purpose from Illinois, made him over into
another man* he revolved great plans in his head for the
organization of the learned proletariat, and for the maintenance of
at least the rudiments of education amongst the people of the
abyss--all this of course in the event of the First Revolt being a
* Among the Revolutionists were many surgeons, and in vivisection
they attained marvellous proficiency. In Avis Everhard's words,
they could literally make a man over. To them the elimination of
scars and disfigurements was a trivial detail. They changed the
features with such microscopic care that no traces were left of
their handiwork. The nose was a favorite organ to work upon.
Skin-grafting and hair-transplanting were among their commonest
devices. The changes in expression they accomplished were wizard-
like. Eyes and eyebrows, lips, mouths, and ears, were radically
altered. By cunning operations on tongue, throat, larynx, and
nasal cavities a man's whole enunciation and manner of speech could
be changed. Desperate times give need for desperate remedies, and
the surgeons of the Revolution rose to the need. Among other
things, they could increase an adult's stature by as much as four
or five inches and decrease it by one or two inches. What they did
is to-day a lost art. We have no need for it.
It was not until January, 1917, that we left the refuge. All had
been arranged. We took our place at once as agents-provocateurs in
the scheme of the Iron Heel. I was supposed to be Ernest's sister.
By oligarchs and comrades on the inside who were high in authority,
place had been made for us, we were in possession of all necessary
documents, and our pasts were accounted for. With help on the
inside, this was not difficult, for in that shadow-world of secret
service identity was nebulous. Like ghosts the agents came and
went, obeying commands, fulfilling duties, following clews, making
their reports often to officers they never saw or cooperating with
other agents they had never seen before and would never see again.
CHAPTER XXII. THE CHICAGO COMMUNE
As agents-provocateurs, not alone were we able to travel a great
deal, but our very work threw us in contact with the proletariat
and with our comrades, the revolutionists. Thus we were in both
camps at the same time, ostensibly serving the Iron Heel and
secretly working with all our might for the Cause. There were many
of us in the various secret services of the Oligarchy, and despite
the shakings-up and reorganizations the secret services have
undergone, they have never been able to weed all of us out.
Ernest had largely planned the First Revolt, and the date set had
been somewhere early in the spring of 1918. In the fall of 1917 we
were not ready; much remained to be done, and when the Revolt was
precipitated, of course it was doomed to failure. The plot of
necessity was frightfully intricate, and anything premature was
sure to destroy it. This the Iron Heel foresaw and laid its
We had planned to strike our first blow at the nervous system of
the Oligarchy. The latter had remembered the general strike, and
had guarded against the defection of the telegraphers by installing
wireless stations, in the control of the Mercenaries. We, in turn,
had countered this move. When the signal was given, from every
refuge, all over the land, and from the cities, and towns, and
barracks, devoted comrades were to go forth and blow up the
wireless stations. Thus at the first shock would the Iron Heel be
brought to earth and lie practically dismembered.
At the same moment, other comrades were to blow up the bridges and
tunnels and disrupt the whole network of railroads. Still further,
other groups of comrades, at the signal, were to seize the officers
of the Mercenaries and the police, as well as all Oligarchs of
unusual ability or who held executive positions. Thus would the
leaders of the enemy be removed from the field of the local battles
that would inevitably be fought all over the land.
Many things were to occur simultaneously when the signal went
forth. The Canadian and Mexican patriots, who were far stronger
than the Iron Heel dreamed, were to duplicate our tactics. Then
there were comrades (these were the women, for the men would be
busy elsewhere) who were to post the proclamations from our secret
presses. Those of us in the higher employ of the Iron Heel were to
proceed immediately to make confusion and anarchy in all our
departments. Inside the Mercenaries were thousands of our
comrades. Their work was to blow up the magazines and to destroy
the delicate mechanism of all the war machinery. In the cities of
the Mercenaries and of the labor castes similar programmes of
disruption were to be carried out.
In short, a sudden, colossal, stunning blow was to be struck.
Before the paralyzed Oligarchy could recover itself, its end would
have come. It would have meant terrible times and great loss of
life, but no revolutionist hesitates at such things. Why, we even
depended much, in our plan, on the unorganized people of the abyss.
They were to be loosed on the palaces and cities of the masters.
Never mind the destruction of life and property. Let the abysmal
brute roar and the police and Mercenaries slay. The abysmal brute
would roar anyway, and the police and Mercenaries would slay
anyway. It would merely mean that various dangers to us were
harmlessly destroying one another. In the meantime we would be
doing our own work, largely unhampered, and gaining control of all
the machinery of society.
Such was our plan, every detail of which had to be worked out in
secret, and, as the day drew near, communicated to more and more
comrades. This was the danger point, the stretching of the
conspiracy. But that danger-point was never reached. Through its
spy-system the Iron Heel got wind of the Revolt and prepared to
teach us another of its bloody lessons. Chicago was the devoted
city selected for the instruction, and well were we instructed.
Chicago* was the ripest of all--Chicago which of old time was the
city of blood and which was to earn anew its name. There the
revolutionary spirit was strong. Too many bitter strikes had been
curbed there in the days of capitalism for the workers to forget
and forgive. Even the labor castes of the city were alive with
revolt. Too many heads had been broken in the early strikes.
Despite their changed and favorable conditions, their hatred for
the master class had not died. This spirit had infected the
Mercenaries, of which three regiments in particular were ready to
come over to us en masse.
* Chicago was the industrial inferno of the nineteenth century A.D.
A curious anecdote has come down to us of John Burns, a great
English labor leader and one time member of the British Cabinet.
In Chicago, while on a visit to the United States, he was asked by
a newspaper reporter for his opinion of that city. "Chicago," he
answered, "is a pocket edition of hell." Some time later, as he
was going aboard his steamer to sail to England, he was approached
by another reporter, who wanted to know if he had changed his
opinion of Chicago. "Yes, I have," was his reply. "My present
opinion is that hell is a pocket edition of Chicago."
Chicago had always been the storm-centre of the conflict between
labor and capital, a city of street-battles and violent death, with
a class-conscious capitalist organization and a class-conscious
workman organization, where, in the old days, the very school-
teachers were formed into labor unions and affiliated with the hod-
carriers and brick-layers in the American Federation of Labor. And
Chicago became the storm-centre of the premature First Revolt.
The trouble was precipitated by the Iron Heel. It was cleverly
done. The whole population, including the favored labor castes,
was given a course of outrageous treatment. Promises and
agreements were broken, and most drastic punishments visited upon
even petty offenders. The people of the abyss were tormented out
of their apathy. In fact, the Iron Heel was preparing to make the
abysmal beast roar. And hand in hand with this, in all
precautionary measures in Chicago, the Iron Heel was inconceivably
careless. Discipline was relaxed among the Mercenaries that
remained, while many regiments had been withdrawn and sent to
various parts of the country.
It did not take long to carry out this programme--only several
weeks. We of the Revolution caught vague rumors of the state of
affairs, but had nothing definite enough for an understanding. In
fact, we thought it was a spontaneous spirit of revolt that would
require careful curbing on our part, and never dreamed that it was
deliberately manufactured--and it had been manufactured so
secretly, from the very innermost circle of the Iron Heel, that we
had got no inkling. The counter-plot was an able achievement, and
ably carried out.
I was in New York when I received the order to proceed immediately
to Chicago. The man who gave me the order was one of the
oligarchs, I could tell that by his speech, though I did not know
his name nor see his face. His instructions were too clear for me
to make a mistake. Plainly I read between the lines that our plot
had been discovered, that we had been countermined. The explosion
was ready for the flash of powder, and countless agents of the Iron
Heel, including me, either on the ground or being sent there, were
to supply that flash. I flatter myself that I maintained my
composure under the keen eye of the oligarch, but my heart was
beating madly. I could almost have shrieked and flown at his
throat with my naked hands before his final, cold-blooded
instructions were given.
Once out of his presence, I calculated the time. I had just the
moments to spare, if I were lucky, to get in touch with some local
leader before catching my train. Guarding against being trailed, I
made a rush of it for the Emergency Hospital. Luck was with me,
and I gained access at once to comrade Galvin, the surgeon-in-
chief. I started to gasp out my information, but he stopped me.
"I already know," he said quietly, though his Irish eyes were
flashing. "I knew what you had come for. I got the word fifteen
minutes ago, and I have already passed it along. Everything shall
be done here to keep the comrades quiet. Chicago is to be
sacrificed, but it shall be Chicago alone."
"Have you tried to get word to Chicago?" I asked.
He shook his head. "No telegraphic communication. Chicago is shut
off. It's going to be hell there."
He paused a moment, and I saw his white hands clinch. Then he
"By God! I wish I were going to be there!"
"There is yet a chance to stop it," I said, "if nothing happens to
the train and I can get there in time. Or if some of the other
secret-service comrades who have learned the truth can get there in
"You on the inside were caught napping this time," he said.
I nodded my head humbly.
"It was very secret," I answered. "Only the inner chiefs could
have known up to to-day. We haven't yet penetrated that far, so we
couldn't escape being kept in the dark. If only Ernest were here.
Maybe he is in Chicago now, and all is well."
Dr. Galvin shook his head. "The last news I heard of him was that
he had been sent to Boston or New Haven. This secret service for
the enemy must hamper him a lot, but it's better than lying in a
I started to go, and Galvin wrung my hand.
"Keep a stout heart," were his parting words. "What if the First
Revolt is lost? There will be a second, and we will be wiser then.
Good-by and good luck. I don't know whether I'll ever see you
again. It's going to be hell there, but I'd give ten years of my
life for your chance to be in it."
The Twentieth Century* left New York at six in the evening, and was
supposed to arrive at Chicago at seven next morning. But it lost
time that night. We were running behind another train. Among the
travellers in my Pullman was comrade Hartman, like myself in the
secret service of the Iron Heel. He it was who told me of the
train that immediately preceded us. It was an exact duplicate of
our train, though it contained no passengers. The idea was that
the empty train should receive the disaster were an attempt made to
blow up the Twentieth Century. For that matter there were very few
people on the train--only a baker's dozen in our car.
* This was reputed to be the fastest train in the world then. It
was quite a famous train.
"There must be some big men on board," Hartman concluded. "I
noticed a private car on the rear."
Night had fallen when we made our first change of engine, and I
walked down the platform for a breath of fresh air and to see what
I could see. Through the windows of the private car I caught a
glimpse of three men whom I recognized. Hartman was right. One of
the men was General Altendorff; and the other two were Mason and
Vanderbold, the brains of the inner circle of the Oligarchy's
It was a quiet moonlight night, but I tossed restlessly and could
not sleep. At five in the morning I dressed and abandoned my bed.
I asked the maid in the dressing-room how late the train was, and
she told me two hours. She was a mulatto woman, and I noticed that
her face was haggard, with great circles under the eyes, while the
eyes themselves were wide with some haunting fear.
"What is the matter?" I asked.
"Nothing, miss; I didn't sleep well, I guess," was her reply.
I looked at her closely, and tried her with one of our signals.
She responded, and I made sure of her.
"Something terrible is going to happen in Chicago," she said.
"There's that fake* train in front of us. That and the troop-
trains have made us late."
"Troop-trains?" I queried.
She nodded her head. "The line is thick with them. We've been
passing them all night. And they're all heading for Chicago. And
bringing them over the air-line--that means business.
"I've a lover in Chicago," she added apologetically. "He's one of
us, and he's in the Mercenaries, and I'm afraid for him."
Poor girl. Her lover was in one of the three disloyal regiments.
Hartman and I had breakfast together in the dining car, and I
forced myself to eat. The sky had clouded, and the train rushed on
like a sullen thunderbolt through the gray pall of advancing day.
The very negroes that waited on us knew that something terrible was
impending. Oppression sat heavily upon them; the lightness of
their natures had ebbed out of them; they were slack and absent-
minded in their service, and they whispered gloomily to one another
in the far end of the car next to the kitchen. Hartman was
hopeless over the situation.
"What can we do?" he demanded for the twentieth time, with a
helpless shrug of the shoulders.
He pointed out of the window. "See, all is ready. You can depend
upon it that they're holding them like this, thirty or forty miles
outside the city, on every road."
He had reference to troop-trains on the side-track. The soldiers
were cooking their breakfasts over fires built on the ground beside
the track, and they looked up curiously at us as we thundered past
without slackening our terrific speed.
All was quiet as we entered Chicago. It was evident nothing had
happened yet. In the suburbs the morning papers came on board the
train. There was nothing in them, and yet there was much in them
for those skilled in reading between the lines that it was intended
the ordinary reader should read into the text. The fine hand of
the Iron Heel was apparent in every column. Glimmerings of
weakness in the armor of the Oligarchy were given. Of course,
there was nothing definite. It was intended that the reader should
feel his way to these glimmerings. It was cleverly done. As
fiction, those morning papers of October 27th were masterpieces.
The local news was missing. This in itself was a masterstroke. It
shrouded Chicago in mystery, and it suggested to the average
Chicago reader that the Oligarchy did not dare give the local news.
Hints that were untrue, of course, were given of insubordination
all over the land, crudely disguised with complacent references to
punitive measures to be taken. There were reports of numerous
wireless stations that had been blown up, with heavy rewards
offered for the detection of the perpetrators. Of course no
wireless stations had been blown up. Many similar outrages, that
dovetailed with the plot of the revolutionists, were given. The
impression to be made on the minds of the Chicago comrades was that
the general Revolt was beginning, albeit with a confusing
miscarriage in many details. It was impossible for one uninformed
to escape the vague yet certain feeling that all the land was ripe
for the revolt that had already begun to break out.
It was reported that the defection of the Mercenaries in California
had become so serious that half a dozen regiments had been
disbanded and broken, and that their members with their families
had been driven from their own city and on into the labor-ghettos.
And the California Mercenaries were in reality the most faithful of
all to their salt! But how was Chicago, shut off from the rest of
the world, to know? Then there was a ragged telegram describing an
outbreak of the populace in New York City, in which the labor
castes were joining, concluding with the statement (intended to be
accepted as a bluff*) that the troops had the situation in hand.
* A lie.
And as the oligarchs had done with the morning papers, so had they
done in a thousand other ways. These we learned afterward, as, for
example, the secret messages of the oligarchs, sent with the
express purpose of leaking to the ears of the revolutionists, that
had come over the wires, now and again, during the first part of
"I guess the Iron Heel won't need our services," Hartman remarked,
putting down the paper he had been reading, when the train pulled
into the central depot. "They wasted their time sending us here.
Their plans have evidently prospered better than they expected.
Hell will break loose any second now."
He turned and looked down the train as we alighted.
"I thought so," he muttered. "They dropped that private car when
the papers came aboard."
Hartman was hopelessly depressed. I tried to cheer him up, but he
ignored my effort and suddenly began talking very hurriedly, in a
low voice, as we passed through the station. At first I could not
"I have not been sure," he was saying, "and I have told no one. I
have been working on it for weeks, and I cannot make sure. Watch
out for Knowlton. I suspect him. He knows the secrets of a score
of our refuges. He carries the lives of hundreds of us in his
hands, and I think he is a traitor. It's more a feeling on my part
than anything else. But I thought I marked a change in him a short
while back. There is the danger that he has sold us out, or is
going to sell us out. I am almost sure of it. I wouldn't whisper
my suspicions to a soul, but, somehow, I don't think I'll leave
Chicago alive. Keep your eye on Knowlton. Trap him. Find out. I
don't know anything more. It is only an intuition, and so far I
have failed to find the slightest clew." We were just stepping out
upon the sidewalk. "Remember," Hartman concluded earnestly. "Keep
your eyes upon Knowlton."
And Hartman was right. Before a month went by Knowlton paid for
his treason with his life. He was formally executed by the
comrades in Milwaukee.
All was quiet on the streets--too quiet. Chicago lay dead. There
was no roar and rumble of traffic. There were not even cabs on the
streets. The surface cars and the elevated were not running. Only
occasionally, on the sidewalks, were there stray pedestrians, and
these pedestrians did not loiter. They went their ways with great
haste and definiteness, withal there was a curious indecision in
their movements, as though they expected the buildings to topple
over on them or the sidewalks to sink under their feet or fly up in
the air. A few gamins, however, were around, in their eyes a
suppressed eagerness in anticipation of wonderful and exciting
things to happen.
From somewhere, far to the south, the dull sound of an explosion
came to our ears. That was all. Then quiet again, though the
gamins had startled and listened, like young deer, at the sound.
The doorways to all the buildings were closed; the shutters to the
shops were up. But there were many police and watchmen in
evidence, and now and again automobile patrols of the Mercenaries
slipped swiftly past.
Hartman and I agreed that it was useless to report ourselves to the
local chiefs of the secret service. Our failure so to report would
be excused, we knew, in the light of subsequent events. So we
headed for the great labor-ghetto on the South Side in the hope of
getting in contact with some of the comrades. Too late! We knew
it. But we could not stand still and do nothing in those ghastly,
silent streets. Where was Ernest? I was wondering. What was
happening in the cities of the labor castes and Mercenaries? In
As if in answer, a great screaming roar went up, dim with distance,
punctuated with detonation after detonation.
"It's the fortresses," Hartman said. "God pity those three
At a crossing we noticed, in the direction of the stockyards, a
gigantic pillar of smoke. At the next crossing several similar
smoke pillars were rising skyward in the direction of the West
Side. Over the city of the Mercenaries we saw a great captive war-
balloon that burst even as we looked at it, and fell in flaming
wreckage toward the earth. There was no clew to that tragedy of
the air. We could not determine whether the balloon had been
manned by comrades or enemies. A vague sound came to our ears,
like the bubbling of a gigantic caldron a long way off, and Hartman
said it was machine-guns and automatic rifles.
And still we walked in immediate quietude. Nothing was happening
where we were. The police and the automobile patrols went by, and
once half a dozen fire-engines, returning evidently from some
conflagration. A question was called to the fireman by an officer
in an automobile, and we heard one shout in reply: "No water!
They've blown up the mains!"
"We've smashed the water supply," Hartman cried excitedly to me.
"If we can do all this in a premature, isolated, abortive attempt,
what can't we do in a concerted, ripened effort all over the land?"
The automobile containing the officer who had asked the question
darted on. Suddenly there was a deafening roar. The machine, with
its human freight, lifted in an upburst of smoke, and sank down a
mass of wreckage and death.
Hartman was jubilant. "Well done! well done!" he was repeating,
over and over, in a whisper. "The proletariat gets its lesson to-
day, but it gives one, too."
Police were running for the spot. Also, another patrol machine had
halted. As for myself, I was in a daze. The suddenness of it was
stunning. How had it happened? I knew not how, and yet I had been
looking directly at it. So dazed was I for the moment that I was
scarcely aware of the fact that we were being held up by the
police. I abruptly saw that a policeman was in the act of shooting
Hartman. But Hartman was cool and was giving the proper passwords.
I saw the levelled revolver hesitate, then sink down, and heard the
disgusted grunt of the policeman. He was very angry, and was
cursing the whole secret service. It was always in the way, he was
averring, while Hartman was talking back to him and with fitting
secret-service pride explaining to him the clumsiness of the
The next moment I knew how it had happened. There was quite a
group about the wreck, and two men were just lifting up the wounded
officer to carry him to the other machine. A panic seized all of
them, and they scattered in every direction, running in blind
terror, the wounded officer, roughly dropped, being left behind.
The cursing policeman alongside of me also ran, and Hartman and I
ran, too, we knew not why, obsessed with the same blind terror to
get away from that particular spot.
Nothing really happened then, but everything was explained. The
flying men were sheepishly coming back, but all the while their
eyes were raised apprehensively to the many-windowed, lofty
buildings that towered like the sheer walls of a canyon on each
side of the street. From one of those countless windows the bomb
had been thrown, but which window? There had been no second bomb,
only a fear of one.
Thereafter we looked with speculative comprehension at the windows.
Any of them contained possible death. Each building was a possible
ambuscade. This was warfare in that modern jungle, a great city.
Every street was a canyon, every building a mountain. We had not
changed much from primitive man, despite the war automobiles that
were sliding by.
Turning a corner, we came upon a woman. She was lying on the
pavement, in a pool of blood. Hartman bent over and examined her.
As for myself, I turned deathly sick. I was to see many dead that
day, but the total carnage was not to affect me as did this first
forlorn body lying there at my feet abandoned on the pavement.
"Shot in the breast," was Hartman's report. Clasped in the hollow
of her arm, as a child might be clasped, was a bundle of printed
matter. Even in death she seemed loath to part with that which had
caused her death; for when Hartman had succeeded in withdrawing the
bundle, we found that it consisted of large printed sheets, the
proclamations of the revolutionists.
"A comrade," I said.
But Hartman only cursed the Iron Heel, and we passed on. Often we
were halted by the police and patrols, but our passwords enabled us
to proceed. No more bombs fell from the windows, the last
pedestrians seemed to have vanished from the streets, and our
immediate quietude grew more profound; though the gigantic caldron
continued to bubble in the distance, dull roars of explosions came
to us from all directions, and the smoke-pillars were towering more
ominously in the heavens.
CHAPTER XXIII. THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS
Suddenly a change came over the face of things. A tingle of
excitement ran along the air. Automobiles fled past, two, three, a
dozen, and from them warnings were shouted to us. One of the
machines swerved wildly at high speed half a block down, and the
next moment, already left well behind it, the pavement was torn
into a great hole by a bursting bomb. We saw the police
disappearing down the cross-streets on the run, and knew that
something terrible was coming. We could hear the rising roar of
"Our brave comrades are coming," Hartman said.
We could see the front of their column filling the street from
gutter to gutter, as the last war-automobile fled past. The
machine stopped for a moment just abreast of us. A soldier leaped
from it, carrying something carefully in his hands. This, with the
same care, he deposited in the gutter. Then he leaped back to his
seat and the machine dashed on, took the turn at the corner, and
was gone from sight. Hartman ran to the gutter and stooped over
"Keep back," he warned me.
I could see he was working rapidly with his hands. When he
returned to me the sweat was heavy on his forehead.
"I disconnected it," he said, "and just in the nick of time. The
soldier was clumsy. He intended it for our comrades, but he didn't
give it enough time. It would have exploded prematurely. Now it
won't explode at all."
Everything was happening rapidly now. Across the street and half a
block down, high up in a building, I could see heads peering out.
I had just pointed them out to Hartman, when a sheet of flame and
smoke ran along that portion of the face of the building where the
heads had appeared, and the air was shaken by the explosion. In
places the stone facing of the building was torn away, exposing the
iron construction beneath. The next moment similar sheets of flame
and smoke smote the front of the building across the street
opposite it. Between the explosions we could hear the rattle of
the automatic pistols and rifles. For several minutes this mid-air
battle continued, then died out. It was patent that our comrades
were in one building, that Mercenaries were in the other, and that
they were fighting across the street. But we could not tell which
was which--which building contained our comrades and which the
By this time the column on the street was almost on us. As the
front of it passed under the warring buildings, both went into
action again--one building dropping bombs into the street, being
attacked from across the street, and in return replying to that
attack. Thus we learned which building was held by our comrades,
and they did good work, saving those in the street from the bombs
of the enemy.
Hartman gripped my arm and dragged me into a wide entrance.
"They're not our comrades," he shouted in my ear.
The inner doors to the entrance were locked and bolted. We could
not escape. The next moment the front of the column went by. It
was not a column, but a mob, an awful river that filled the street,
the people of the abyss, mad with drink and wrong, up at last and
roaring for the blood of their masters. I had seen the people of
the abyss before, gone through its ghettos, and thought I knew it;
but I found that I was now looking on it for the first time. Dumb
apathy had vanished. It was now dynamic--a fascinating spectacle
of dread. It surged past my vision in concrete waves of wrath,
snarling and growling, carnivorous, drunk with whiskey from
pillaged warehouses, drunk with hatred, drunk with lust for blood--
men, women, and children, in rags and tatters, dim ferocious
intelligences with all the godlike blotted from their features and
all the fiendlike stamped in, apes and tigers, anaemic consumptives
and great hairy beasts of burden, wan faces from which vampire
society had sucked the juice of life, bloated forms swollen with
physical grossness and corruption, withered hags and death's-heads
bearded like patriarchs, festering youth and festering age, faces
of fiends, crooked, twisted, misshapen monsters blasted with the
ravages of disease and all the horrors of chronic innutrition--the
refuse and the scum of life, a raging, screaming, screeching,
And why not? The people of the abyss had nothing to lose but the
misery and pain of living. And to gain?--nothing, save one final,
awful glut of vengeance. And as I looked the thought came to me
that in that rushing stream of human lava were men, comrades and
heroes, whose mission had been to rouse the abysmal beast and to
keep the enemy occupied in coping with it.
And now a strange thing happened to me. A transformation came over
me. The fear of death, for myself and for others, left me. I was
strangely exalted, another being in another life. Nothing
mattered. The Cause for this one time was lost, but the Cause
would be here to-morrow, the same Cause, ever fresh and ever
burning. And thereafter, in the orgy of horror that raged through
the succeeding hours, I was able to take a calm interest. Death
meant nothing, life meant nothing. I was an interested spectator
of events, and, sometimes swept on by the rush, was myself a
curious participant. For my mind had leaped to a star-cool
altitude and grasped a passionless transvaluation of values. Had
it not done this, I know that I should have died.
Half a mile of the mob had swept by when we were discovered. A
woman in fantastic rags, with cheeks cavernously hollow and with
narrow black eyes like burning gimlets, caught a glimpse of Hartman
and me. She let out a shrill shriek and bore in upon us. A
section of the mob tore itself loose and surged in after her. I
can see her now, as I write these lines, a leap in advance, her
gray hair flying in thin tangled strings, the blood dripping down
her forehead from some wound in the scalp, in her right hand a
hatchet, her left hand, lean and wrinkled, a yellow talon, gripping
the air convulsively. Hartman sprang in front of me. This was no
time for explanations. We were well dressed, and that was enough.
His fist shot out, striking the woman between her burning eyes.
The impact of the blow drove her backward, but she struck the wall
of her on-coming fellows and bounced forward again, dazed and
helpless, the brandished hatchet falling feebly on Hartman's
The next moment I knew not what was happening. I was overborne by
the crowd. The confined space was filled with shrieks and yells
and curses. Blows were falling on me. Hands were ripping and
tearing at my flesh and garments. I felt that I was being torn to
pieces. I was being borne down, suffocated. Some strong hand
gripped my shoulder in the thick of the press and was dragging
fiercely at me. Between pain and pressure I fainted. Hartman
never came out of that entrance. He had shielded me and received
the first brunt of the attack. This had saved me, for the jam had
quickly become too dense for anything more than the mad gripping
and tearing of hands.
I came to in the midst of wild movement. All about me was the same
movement. I had been caught up in a monstrous flood that was
sweeping me I knew not whither. Fresh air was on my cheek and
biting sweetly in my lungs. Faint and dizzy, I was vaguely aware
of a strong arm around my body under the arms, and half-lifting me
and dragging me along. Feebly my own limbs were helping me. In
front of me I could see the moving back of a man's coat. It had
been slit from top to bottom along the centre seam, and it pulsed
rhythmically, the slit opening and closing regularly with every
leap of the wearer. This phenomenon fascinated me for a time,
while my senses were coming back to me. Next I became aware of
stinging cheeks and nose, and could feel blood dripping on my face.
My hat was gone. My hair was down and flying, and from the
stinging of the scalp I managed to recollect a hand in the press of
the entrance that had torn at my hair. My chest and arms were
bruised and aching in a score of places.
My brain grew clearer, and I turned as I ran and looked at the man
who was holding me up. He it was who had dragged me out and saved
me. He noticed my movement.
"It's all right!" he shouted hoarsely. "I knew you on the
I failed to recognize him, but before I could speak I trod upon
something that was alive and that squirmed under my foot. I was
swept on by those behind and could not look down and see, and yet I
knew that it was a woman who had fallen and who was being trampled
into the pavement by thousands of successive feet.
"It's all right," he repeated. "I'm Garthwaite."
He was bearded and gaunt and dirty, but I succeeded in remembering
him as the stalwart youth that had spent several months in our Glen
Ellen refuge three years before. He passed me the signals of the
Iron Heel's secret service, in token that he, too, was in its
"I'll get you out of this as soon as I can get a chance," he
assured me. "But watch your footing. On your life don't stumble
and go down."
All things happened abruptly on that day, and with an abruptness
that was sickening the mob checked itself. I came in violent
collision with a large woman in front of me (the man with the split
coat had vanished), while those behind collided against me. A
devilish pandemonium reigned,--shrieks, curses, and cries of death,
while above all rose the churning rattle of machine-guns and the
put-a-put, put-a-put of rifles. At first I could make out nothing.
People were falling about me right and left. The woman in front
doubled up and went down, her hands on her abdomen in a frenzied
clutch. A man was quivering against my legs in a death-struggle.
It came to me that we were at the head of the column. Half a mile
of it had disappeared--where or how I never learned. To this day I
do not know what became of that half-mile of humanity--whether it
was blotted out by some frightful bolt of war, whether it was
scattered and destroyed piecemeal, or whether it escaped. But
there we were, at the head of the column instead of in its middle,
and we were being swept out of life by a torrent of shrieking lead.
As soon as death had thinned the jam, Garthwaite, still grasping my
arm, led a rush of survivors into the wide entrance of an office
building. Here, at the rear, against the doors, we were pressed by
a panting, gasping mass of creatures. For some time we remained in
this position without a change in the situation.
"I did it beautifully," Garthwaite was lamenting to me. "Ran you
right into a trap. We had a gambler's chance in the street, but in
here there is no chance at all. It's all over but the shouting.
Vive la Revolution!"
Then, what he expected, began. The Mercenaries were killing
without quarter. At first, the surge back upon us was crushing,
but as the killing continued the pressure was eased. The dead and
dying went down and made room. Garthwaite put his mouth to my ear
and shouted, but in the frightful din I could not catch what he
said. He did not wait. He seized me and threw me down. Next he
dragged a dying woman over on top of me, and, with much squeezing
and shoving, crawled in beside me and partly over me. A mound of
dead and dying began to pile up over us, and over this mound,
pawing and moaning, crept those that still survived. But these,
too, soon ceased, and a semi-silence settled down, broken by groans
and sobs and sounds of strangulation.
I should have been crushed had it not been for Garthwaite. As it
was, it seemed inconceivable that I could bear the weight I did and
live. And yet, outside of pain, the only feeling I possessed was
one of curiosity. How was it going to end? What would death be
like? Thus did I receive my red baptism in that Chicago shambles.
Prior to that, death to me had been a theory; but ever afterward
death has been a simple fact that does not matter, it is so easy.
But the Mercenaries were not content with what they had done. They
invaded the entrance, killing the wounded and searching out the
unhurt that, like ourselves, were playing dead. I remember one man
they dragged out of a heap, who pleaded abjectly until a revolver
shot cut him short. Then there was a woman who charged from a
heap, snarling and shooting. She fired six shots before they got
her, though what damage she did we could not know. We could follow
these tragedies only by the sound. Every little while flurries
like this occurred, each flurry culminating in the revolver shot
that put an end to it. In the intervals we could hear the soldiers
talking and swearing as they rummaged among the carcasses, urged on
by their officers to hurry up.
At last they went to work on our heap, and we could feel the
pressure diminish as they dragged away the dead and wounded.
Garthwaite began uttering aloud the signals. At first he was not
heard. Then he raised his voice.
"Listen to that," we heard a soldier say. And next the sharp voice
of an officer. "Hold on there! Careful as you go!"
Oh, that first breath of air as we were dragged out! Garthwaite
did the talking at first, but I was compelled to undergo a brief
examination to prove service with the Iron Heel.
"Agents-provocateurs all right," was the officer's conclusion. He
was a beardless young fellow, a cadet, evidently, of some great
"It's a hell of a job," Garthwaite grumbled. "I'm going to try and
resign and get into the army. You fellows have a snap."
"You've earned it," was the young officer's answer. "I've got some
pull, and I'll see if it can be managed. I can tell them how I
He took Garthwaite's name and number, then turned to me.
"Oh, I'm going to be married," I answered lightly, "and then I'll
be out of it all."
And so we talked, while the killing of the wounded went on. It is
all a dream, now, as I look back on it; but at the time it was the
most natural thing in the world. Garthwaite and the young officer
fell into an animated conversation over the difference between so-
called modern warfare and the present street-fighting and sky-
scraper fighting that was taking place all over the city. I
followed them intently, fixing up my hair at the same time and
pinning together my torn skirts. And all the time the killing of
the wounded went on. Sometimes the revolver shots drowned the
voices of Garthwaite and the officer, and they were compelled to
repeat what they had been saying.
I lived through three days of the Chicago Commune, and the vastness
of it and of the slaughter may be imagined when I say that in all
that time I saw practically nothing outside the killing of the
people of the abyss and the mid-air fighting between sky-scrapers.
I really saw nothing of the heroic work done by the comrades. I
could hear the explosions of their mines and bombs, and see the
smoke of their conflagrations, and that was all. The mid-air part
of one great deed I saw, however, and that was the balloon attacks
made by our comrades on the fortresses. That was on the second
day. The three disloyal regiments had been destroyed in the
fortresses to the last man. The fortresses were crowded with
Mercenaries, the wind blew in the right direction, and up went our
balloons from one of the office buildings in the city.
Now Biedenbach, after he left Glen Ellen, had invented a most
powerful explosive--"expedite" he called it. This was the weapon
the balloons used. They were only hot-air balloons, clumsily and
hastily made, but they did the work. I saw it all from the top of
an office building. The first balloon missed the fortresses
completely and disappeared into the country; but we learned about
it afterward. Burton and O'Sullivan were in it. As they were
descending they swept across a railroad directly over a troop-train
that was heading at full speed for Chicago. They dropped their
whole supply of expedite upon the locomotive. The resulting wreck
tied the line up for days. And the best of it was that, released
from the weight of expedite, the balloon shot up into the air and
did not come down for half a dozen miles, both heroes escaping
The second balloon was a failure. Its flight was lame. It floated
too low and was shot full of holes before it could reach the
fortresses. Herford and Guinness were in it, and they were blown
to pieces along with the field into which they fell. Biedenbach
was in despair--we heard all about it afterward--and he went up
alone in the third balloon. He, too, made a low flight, but he was
in luck, for they failed seriously to puncture his balloon. I can
see it now as I did then, from the lofty top of the building--that
inflated bag drifting along the air, and that tiny speck of a man
clinging on beneath. I could not see the fortress, but those on
the roof with me said he was directly over it. I did not see the
expedite fall when he cut it loose. But I did see the balloon
suddenly leap up into the sky. An appreciable time after that the
great column of the explosion towered in the air, and after that,
in turn, I heard the roar of it. Biedenbach the gentle had
destroyed a fortress. Two other balloons followed at the same
time. One was blown to pieces in the air, the expedite exploding,
and the shock of it disrupted the second balloon, which fell
prettily into the remaining fortress. It couldn't have been better
planned, though the two comrades in it sacrificed their lives.
But to return to the people of the abyss. My experiences were
confined to them. They raged and slaughtered and destroyed all
over the city proper, and were in turn destroyed; but never once
did they succeed in reaching the city of the oligarchs over on the
west side. The oligarchs had protected themselves well. No matter
what destruction was wreaked in the heart of the city, they, and
their womenkind and children, were to escape hurt. I am told that
their children played in the parks during those terrible days and
that their favorite game was an imitation of their elders stamping
upon the proletariat.
But the Mercenaries found it no easy task to cope with the people
of the abyss and at the same time fight with the comrades. Chicago
was true to her traditions, and though a generation of
revolutionists was wiped out, it took along with it pretty close to
a generation of its enemies. Of course, the Iron Heel kept the
figures secret, but, at a very conservative estimate, at least one
hundred and thirty thousand Mercenaries were slain. But the
comrades had no chance. Instead of the whole country being hand in
hand in revolt, they were all alone, and the total strength of the
Oligarchy could have been directed against them if necessary. As
it was, hour after hour, day after day, in endless train-loads, by
hundreds of thousands, the Mercenaries were hurled into Chicago.
And there were so many of the people of the abyss! Tiring of the
slaughter, a great herding movement was begun by the soldiers, the
intent of which was to drive the street mobs, like cattle, into
Lake Michigan. It was at the beginning of this movement that
Garthwaite and I had encountered the young officer. This herding
movement was practically a failure, thanks to the splendid work of
the comrades. Instead of the great host the Mercenaries had hoped
to gather together, they succeeded in driving no more than forty
thousand of the wretches into the lake. Time and again, when a mob
of them was well in hand and being driven along the streets to the
water, the comrades would create a diversion, and the mob would
escape through the consequent hole torn in the encircling net.
Garthwaite and I saw an example of this shortly after meeting with
the young officer. The mob of which we had been a part, and which
had been put in retreat, was prevented from escaping to the south
and east by strong bodies of troops. The troops we had fallen in
with had held it back on the west. The only outlet was north, and
north it went toward the lake, driven on from east and west and
south by machine-gun fire and automatics. Whether it divined that
it was being driven toward the lake, or whether it was merely a
blind squirm of the monster, I do not know; but at any rate the mob
took a cross street to the west, turned down the next street, and
came back upon its track, heading south toward the great ghetto.
Garthwaite and I at that time were trying to make our way westward
to get out of the territory of street-fighting, and we were caught
right in the thick of it again. As we came to the corner we saw
the howling mob bearing down upon us. Garthwaite seized my arm and
we were just starting to run, when he dragged me back from in front
of the wheels of half a dozen war automobiles, equipped with
machine-guns, that were rushing for the spot. Behind them came the
soldiers with their automatic rifles. By the time they took
position, the mob was upon them, and it looked as though they would
be overwhelmed before they could get into action.
Here and there a soldier was discharging his rifle, but this
scattered fire had no effect in checking the mob. On it came,
bellowing with brute rage. It seemed the machine-guns could not
get started. The automobiles on which they were mounted blocked
the street, compelling the soldiers to find positions in, between,
and on the sidewalks. More and more soldiers were arriving, and in
the jam we were unable to get away. Garthwaite held me by the arm,
and we pressed close against the front of a building.
The mob was no more than twenty-five feet away when the machine-
guns opened up; but before that flaming sheet of death nothing
could live. The mob came on, but it could not advance. It piled
up in a heap, a mound, a huge and growing wave of dead and dying.
Those behind urged on, and the column, from gutter to gutter,
telescoped upon itself. Wounded creatures, men and women, were
vomited over the top of that awful wave and fell squirming down the
face of it till they threshed about under the automobiles and
against the legs of the soldiers. The latter bayoneted the
struggling wretches, though one I saw who gained his feet and flew
at a soldier's throat with his teeth. Together they went down,
soldier and slave, into the welter.
The firing ceased. The work was done. The mob had been stopped in
its wild attempt to break through. Orders were being given to
clear the wheels of the war-machines. They could not advance over
that wave of dead, and the idea was to run them down the cross
street. The soldiers were dragging the bodies away from the wheels
when it happened. We learned afterward how it happened. A block
distant a hundred of our comrades had been holding a building.
Across roofs and through buildings they made their way, till they
found themselves looking down upon the close-packed soldiers. Then
it was counter-massacre.
Without warning, a shower of bombs fell from the top of the
building. The automobiles were blown to fragments, along with many
soldiers. We, with the survivors, swept back in mad retreat. Half
a block down another building opened fire on us. As the soldiers
had carpeted the street with dead slaves, so, in turn, did they
themselves become carpet. Garthwaite and I bore charmed lives. As
we had done before, so again we sought shelter in an entrance. But
he was not to be caught napping this time. As the roar of the
bombs died away, he began peering out.
"The mob's coming back!" he called to me. "We've got to get out of
We fled, hand in hand, down the bloody pavement, slipping and
sliding, and making for the corner. Down the cross street we could
see a few soldiers still running. Nothing was happening to them.
The way was clear. So we paused a moment and looked back. The mob
came on slowly. It was busy arming itself with the rifles of the
slain and killing the wounded. We saw the end of the young officer
who had rescued us. He painfully lifted himself on his elbow and
turned loose with his automatic pistol.
"There goes my chance of promotion," Garthwaite laughed, as a woman
bore down on the wounded man, brandishing a butcher's cleaver.
"Come on. It's the wrong direction, but we'll get out somehow."
And we fled eastward through the quiet streets, prepared at every
cross street for anything to happen. To the south a monster
conflagration was filling the sky, and we knew that the great
ghetto was burning. At last I sank down on the sidewalk. I was
exhausted and could go no farther. I was bruised and sore and
aching in every limb; yet I could not escape smiling at Garthwaite,
who was rolling a cigarette and saying:
"I know I'm making a mess of rescuing you, but I can't get head nor
tail of the situation. It's all a mess. Every time we try to
break out, something happens and we're turned back. We're only a
couple of blocks now from where I got you out of that entrance.
Friend and foe are all mixed up. It's chaos. You can't tell who
is in those darned buildings. Try to find out, and you get a bomb
on your head. Try to go peaceably on your way, and you run into a
mob and are killed by machine-guns, or you run into the Mercenaries
and are killed by your own comrades from a roof. And on the top of
it all the mob comes along and kills you, too."
He shook his head dolefully, lighted his cigarette, and sat down
"And I'm that hungry," he added, "I could eat cobblestones."
The next moment he was on his feet again and out in the street
prying up a cobblestone. He came back with it and assaulted the
window of a store behind us.
"It's ground floor and no good," he explained as he helped me
through the hole he had made; "but it's the best we can do. You
get a nap and I'll reconnoitre. I'll finish this rescue all right,
but I want time, time, lots of it--and something to eat."
It was a harness store we found ourselves in, and he fixed me up a
couch of horse blankets in the private office well to the rear. To
add to my wretchedness a splitting headache was coming on, and I
was only too glad to close my eyes and try to sleep.
"I'll be back," were his parting words. "I don't hope to get an
auto, but I'll surely bring some grub,* anyway."
And that was the last I saw of Garthwaite for three years. Instead
of coming back, he was carried away to a hospital with a bullet
through his lungs and another through the fleshy part of his neck.
CHAPTER XXIV. NIGHTMARE
I had not closed my eyes the night before on the Twentieth Century,
and what of that and of my exhaustion I slept soundly. When I
first awoke, it was night. Garthwaite had not returned. I had
lost my watch and had no idea of the time. As I lay with my eyes
closed, I heard the same dull sound of distant explosions. The
inferno was still raging. I crept through the store to the front.
The reflection from the sky of vast conflagrations made the street
almost as light as day. One could have read the finest print with
ease. From several blocks away came the crackle of small hand-
bombs and the churning of machine-guns, and from a long way off
came a long series of heavy explosions. I crept back to my horse
blankets and slept again.
When next I awoke, a sickly yellow light was filtering in on me.
It was dawn of the second day. I crept to the front of the store.
A smoke pall, shot through with lurid gleams, filled the sky. Down
the opposite side of the street tottered a wretched slave. One
hand he held tightly against his side, and behind him he left a
bloody trail. His eyes roved everywhere, and they were filled with
apprehension and dread. Once he looked straight across at me, and
in his face was all the dumb pathos of the wounded and hunted
animal. He saw me, but there was no kinship between us, and with
him, at least, no sympathy of understanding; for he cowered
perceptibly and dragged himself on. He could expect no aid in all
God's world. He was a helot in the great hunt of helots that the
masters were making. All he could hope for, all he sought, was
some hole to crawl away in and hide like any animal. The sharp
clang of a passing ambulance at the corner gave him a start.
Ambulances were not for such as he. With a groan of pain he threw
himself into a doorway. A minute later he was out again and
desperately hobbling on.
I went back to my horse blankets and waited an hour for Garthwaite.
My headache had not gone away. On the contrary, it was increasing.
It was by an effort of will only that I was able to open my eyes
and look at objects. And with the opening of my eyes and the
looking came intolerable torment. Also, a great pulse was beating
in my brain. Weak and reeling, I went out through the broken
window and down the street, seeking to escape, instinctively and
gropingly, from the awful shambles. And thereafter I lived
nightmare. My memory of what happened in the succeeding hours is
the memory one would have of nightmare. Many events are focussed
sharply on my brain, but between these indelible pictures I retain
are intervals of unconsciousness. What occurred in those intervals
I know not, and never shall know.
I remember stumbling at the corner over the legs of a man. It was
the poor hunted wretch that had dragged himself past my hiding-
place. How distinctly do I remember his poor, pitiful, gnarled
hands as he lay there on the pavement--hands that were more hoof
and claw than hands, all twisted and distorted by the toil of all
his days, with on the palms a horny growth of callous a half inch
thick. And as I picked myself up and started on, I looked into the
face of the thing and saw that it still lived; for the eyes, dimly
intelligent, were looking at me and seeing me.
After that came a kindly blank. I knew nothing, saw nothing,
merely tottered on in my quest for safety. My next nightmare
vision was a quiet street of the dead. I came upon it abruptly, as
a wanderer in the country would come upon a flowing stream. Only
this stream I gazed upon did not flow. It was congealed in death.
From pavement to pavement, and covering the sidewalks, it lay
there, spread out quite evenly, with only here and there a lump or
mound of bodies to break the surface. Poor driven people of the
abyss, hunted helots--they lay there as the rabbits in California
after a drive.* Up the street and down I looked. There was no
movement, no sound. The quiet buildings looked down upon the scene
from their many windows. And once, and once only, I saw an arm
that moved in that dead stream. I swear I saw it move, with a
strange writhing gesture of agony, and with it lifted a head, gory
with nameless horror, that gibbered at me and then lay down again
and moved no more.
* In those days, so sparsely populated was the land that wild
animals often became pests. In California the custom of rabbit-
driving obtained. On a given day all the farmers in a locality
would assemble and sweep across the country in converging lines,
driving the rabbits by scores of thousands into a prepared
enclosure, where they were clubbed to death by men and boys.
I remember another street, with quiet buildings on either side, and
the panic that smote me into consciousness as again I saw the
people of the abyss, but this time in a stream that flowed and came
on. And then I saw there was nothing to fear. The stream moved
slowly, while from it arose groans and lamentations, cursings,
babblings of senility, hysteria, and insanity; for these were the
very young and the very old, the feeble and the sick, the helpless
and the hopeless, all the wreckage of the ghetto. The burning of
the great ghetto on the South Side had driven them forth into the
inferno of the street-fighting, and whither they wended and
whatever became of them I did not know and never learned.*
* It was long a question of debate, whether the burning of the
South Side ghetto was accidental, or whether it was done by the
Mercenaries; but it is definitely settled now that the ghetto was
fired by the Mercenaries under orders from their chiefs.
I have faint memories of breaking a window and hiding in some shop
to escape a street mob that was pursued by soldiers. Also, a bomb
burst near me, once, in some still street, where, look as I would,
up and down, I could see no human being. But my next sharp
recollection begins with the crack of a rifle and an abrupt
becoming aware that I am being fired at by a soldier in an
automobile. The shot missed, and the next moment I was screaming
and motioning the signals. My memory of riding in the automobile
is very hazy, though this ride, in turn, is broken by one vivid
picture. The crack of the rifle of the soldier sitting beside me
made me open my eyes, and I saw George Milford, whom I had known in
the Pell Street days, sinking slowly down to the sidewalk. Even as
he sank the soldier fired again, and Milford doubled in, then flung
his body out, and fell sprawling. The soldier chuckled, and the
automobile sped on.
The next I knew after that I was awakened out of a sound sleep by a
man who walked up and down close beside me. His face was drawn and
strained, and the sweat rolled down his nose from his forehead.
One hand was clutched tightly against his chest by the other hand,
and blood dripped down upon the floor as he walked. He wore the
uniform of the Mercenaries. From without, as through thick walls,
came the muffled roar of bursting bombs. I was in some building
that was locked in combat with some other building.
A surgeon came in to dress the wounded soldier, and I learned that
it was two in the afternoon. My headache was no better, and the
surgeon paused from his work long enough to give me a powerful drug
that would depress the heart and bring relief. I slept again, and
the next I knew I was on top of the building. The immediate
fighting had ceased, and I was watching the balloon attack on the
fortresses. Some one had an arm around me and I was leaning close
against him. It came to me quite as a matter of course that this
was Ernest, and I found myself wondering how he had got his hair
and eyebrows so badly singed.
It was by the merest chance that we had found each other in that
terrible city. He had had no idea that I had left New York, and,
coming through the room where I lay asleep, could not at first
believe that it was I. Little more I saw of the Chicago Commune.
After watching the balloon attack, Ernest took me down into the
heart of the building, where I slept the afternoon out and the
night. The third day we spent in the building, and on the fourth,
Ernest having got permission and an automobile from the
authorities, we left Chicago.
My headache was gone, but, body and soul, I was very tired. I lay
back against Ernest in the automobile, and with apathetic eyes
watched the soldiers trying to get the machine out of the city.
Fighting was still going on, but only in isolated localities. Here
and there whole districts were still in possession of the comrades,
but such districts were surrounded and guarded by heavy bodies of
troops. In a hundred segregated traps were the comrades thus held
while the work of subjugating them went on. Subjugation meant
death, for no quarter was given, and they fought heroically to the
* Numbers of the buildings held out over a week, while one held out
eleven days. Each building had to be stormed like a fort, and the
Mercenaries fought their way upward floor by floor. It was deadly
fighting. Quarter was neither given nor taken, and in the fighting
the revolutionists had the advantage of being above. While the
revolutionists were wiped out, the loss was not one-sided. The
proud Chicago proletariat lived up to its ancient boast. For as
many of itself as were killed, it killed that many of the enemy.
Whenever we approached such localities, the guards turned us back
and sent us around. Once, the only way past two strong positions
of the comrades was through a burnt section that lay between. From
either side we could hear the rattle and roar of war, while the
automobile picked its way through smoking ruins and tottering
walls. Often the streets were blocked by mountains of debris that
compelled us to go around. We were in a labyrinth of ruin, and our
progress was slow.
The stockyards (ghetto, plant, and everything) were smouldering
ruins. Far off to the right a wide smoke haze dimmed the sky,--the
town of Pullman, the soldier chauffeur told us, or what had been
the town of Pullman, for it was utterly destroyed. He had driven
the machine out there, with despatches, on the afternoon of the
third day. Some of the heaviest fighting had occurred there, he
said, many of the streets being rendered impassable by the heaps of
Swinging around the shattered walls of a building, in the
stockyards district, the automobile was stopped by a wave of dead.
It was for all the world like a wave tossed up by the sea. It was
patent to us what had happened. As the mob charged past the
corner, it had been swept, at right angles and point-blank range,
by the machine-guns drawn up on the cross street. But disaster had
come to the soldiers. A chance bomb must have exploded among them,
for the mob, checked until its dead and dying formed the wave, had
white-capped and flung forward its foam of living, fighting slaves.
Soldiers and slaves lay together, torn and mangled, around and over
the wreckage of the automobiles and guns.
Ernest sprang out. A familiar pair of shoulders in a cotton shirt
and a familiar fringe of white hair had caught his eye. I did not
watch him, and it was not until he was back beside me and we were
speeding on that he said:
"It was Bishop Morehouse."
Soon we were in the green country, and I took one last glance back
at the smoke-filled sky. Faint and far came the low thud of an
explosion. Then I turned my face against Ernest's breast and wept
softly for the Cause that was lost. Ernest's arm about me was
eloquent with love.
"For this time lost, dear heart," he said, "but not forever. We
have learned. To-morrow the Cause will rise again, strong with
wisdom and discipline."
The automobile drew up at a railroad station. Here we would catch
a train to New York. As we waited on the platform, three trains
thundered past, bound west to Chicago. They were crowded with
ragged, unskilled laborers, people of the abyss.
"Slave-levies for the rebuilding of Chicago," Ernest said. "You
see, the Chicago slaves are all killed."
CHAPTER XXV. THE TERRORISTS
It was not until Ernest and I were back in New York, and after
weeks had elapsed, that we were able to comprehend thoroughly the
full sweep of the disaster that had befallen the Cause. The
situation was bitter and bloody. In many places, scattered over
the country, slave revolts and massacres had occurred. The roll of
the martyrs increased mightily. Countless executions took place
everywhere. The mountains and waste regions were filled with
outlaws and refugees who were being hunted down mercilessly. Our
own refuges were packed with comrades who had prices on their
heads. Through information furnished by its spies, scores of our
refuges were raided by the soldiers of the Iron Heel.
Many of the comrades were disheartened, and they retaliated with
terroristic tactics. The set-back to their hopes made them
despairing and desperate. Many terrorist organizations
unaffiliated with us sprang into existence and caused us much
trouble.* These misguided people sacrificed their own lives
wantonly, very often made our own plans go astray, and retarded our
* The annals of this short-lived era of despair make bloody
reading. Revenge was the ruling motive, and the members of the
terroristic organizations were careless of their own lives and
hopeless about the future. The Danites, taking their name from the
avenging angels of the Mormon mythology, sprang up in the mountains
of the Great West and spread over the Pacific Coast from Panama to
Alaska. The Valkyries were women. They were the most terrible of
all. No woman was eligible for membership who had not lost near
relatives at the hands of the Oligarchy. They were guilty of
torturing their prisoners to death. Another famous organization of
women was The Widows of War. A companion organization to the
Valkyries was the Berserkers. These men placed no value whatever
upon their own lives, and it was they who totally destroyed the
great Mercenary city of Bellona along with its population of over a
hundred thousand souls. The Bedlamites and the Helldamites were
twin slave organizations, while a new religious sect that did not
flourish long was called The Wrath of God. Among others, to show
the whimsicality of their deadly seriousness, may be mentioned the
following: The Bleeding Hearts, Sons of the Morning, the Morning
Stars, The Flamingoes, The Triple Triangles, The Three Bars, The
Rubonics, The Vindicators, The Comanches, and the Erebusites.
And through it all moved the Iron Heel, impassive and deliberate,
shaking up the whole fabric of the social structure in its search
for the comrades, combing out the Mercenaries, the labor castes,
and all its secret services, punishing without mercy and without
malice, suffering in silence all retaliations that were made upon
it, and filling the gaps in its fighting line as fast as they
appeared. And hand in hand with this, Ernest and the other leaders
were hard at work reorganizing the forces of the Revolution. The
magnitude of the task may be understood when it is taken into*
* This is the end of the Everhard Manuscript. It breaks off
abruptly in the middle of a sentence. She must have received
warning of the coming of the Mercenaries, for she had time safely
to hide the Manuscript before she fled or was captured. It is to
be regretted that she did not live to complete her narrative, for
then, undoubtedly, would have been cleared away the mystery that
has shrouded for seven centuries the execution of Ernest Everhard.