"Jack, you may be right," said his father, with a touch of impatience, "but I don't want to be worried just now. It is easy enough for your friend, Matheson, and other academic industrial directors, to suggest experiments with other people's money. If we could only get production, I would not mind very much what wages we had to pay. But I confess when industrial strife is added to my other burdens, it is almost more than I can bear."
"I am awfully sorry, Dad," replied his son. "I have no wish to worry you, but how are you going to get production? Everybody says it has fallen off terribly during and since the war. How are you going to bring it up? Not by the pay envelope, I venture to say, and that is why I suggested team play. And I am not thinking about co-operative schemes of management, either. Some way must be found to interest the fellows in their job, in the work itself, as distinct from the financial returns. Unless the chaps are interested in the game, they won't get the goals."
"My boy," said his father wearily, "that old interest in work is gone. That old pride in work which we used to feel when I was at the job myself, is gone. We have a different kind of workman nowadays."
"Dad, don't believe that," said Jack. "Remember the same thing was said before the war. We used to hear all about that decadent race stuff. The war proved it to be all rot. The race is as fine as ever it was. Our history never produced finer fighting men."
"You may be right," said his father. "If we could only get rid of these cursed agitators."
"There again, Dad, if you will excuse me, I believe you are mistaken. I have been working with these men for the last nine months, I have attended very regularly the meetings of their unions and I have studied the whole situation with great care. The union is a great institution. I am for it heart and soul. It is soundly and solidly democratic, and the agitators cut very little figure. I size up the whole lot about this way: Fifty per cent of the men are steady-going fellows with ambition to climb; twenty-five per cent are content to grub along for the day's pay and with no great ambition worrying them. Of the remainder, ten per cent are sincere and convinced reformers, more or less half-baked intellectuals; ten per cent love the sound of their own voices, hate work and want to live by their jaw, five per cent only are unscrupulous and selfish agitators. But, Dad, believe me, fire-brands may light fires, but solid fagots only can keep fires going. You cannot make conflagrations out of torches alone."
"That is Matheson, I suppose," said his father, smiling at him.
"Well, I own up. I have got a lot of stuff from Matheson. All the same I believe I have fairly sized up the labour situation."
"Boy, boy," said his father, "I am tired of it all. I believe with some team play you and I could make it go. Alone, I am not so sure. Will you take the job?"
There was silence between them for a few minutes. Then Jack answered slowly: "I am not sure of myself at all, Dad, but I can see you must have someone and I am willing to try the planing mill."
"Thank you, boy," said his father, stretching his hand quickly across the table, "I will back you up and won't worry you. Within reasonable limits I will give you a free hand."
"I know you will, Dad," said Jack, "and of course I have been in the army long enough to know the difference between the O. C. and the sergeant-major."
"Now, what about Tony?" inquired Maitland, reverting suddenly to what both felt to be a painful and perplexing problem. "What are we to do with him?"
"I will take him on," said Jack. "I suppose I must."
"He will be a heavy handicap to you, boy. Is there no other way?"
"I see no other way," Jack replied. "I will give him a trial. Shall I bring him in?"
"Bring him in."
In a minute or two Jack returned with Tony. As Maitland's eyes fell upon him, he could not prevent a start of shocked surprise.
"Why, Tony!" he exclaimed. "What in all the world is wrong with you? You are ill." Trembling, pale, obviously unstrung, Tony stood before him, his shifty eyes darting now at one face, then at the other, his hands restless, his whole appearance suggesting an imminent nervous collapse. "Why, Tony, boy, what is wrong with you?" repeated Maitland. The kindly tone proved too much for Tony's self-control. He gulped, choked, and stood speechless, his eyes cast down to the floor.
"Sit down, Tony," said Maitland. "Give him a chair, Jack."
But Jack said, "He doesn't need a chair. He is not here for a visit. You wanted to say something to him, did you not?" Jack's dry, matter-of-fact and slightly contemptuous tone had an instant and extraordinary effect upon the wretched man beside him.
Instantly, Tony stiffened up. His head went back, he cast a swift glance at Jack's face, whose smile, slightly quizzical, slightly contemptuous, appeared to bite into his vitals. A hot flame of colour swept his pale and pasty face.
"I want a job, sir," he said, in a tone low and fierce, looking straight at Mr. Maitland.
Maitland, taking his cue from his son, replied in a quiet voice: "Can you hold a job?"
"God knows," said Tony.
"He does," replied Maitland, "but what about you?"
Tony stood for a few moments saying nothing, darting uncertain glances now and then at Jack, on whose face still lingered the smile which Tony found so disturbing.
"If you want work," continued Mr. Maitland, "and want to make it go, Tony, you can go with Jack. He will give it to you."
"Jack!" exclaimed Tony. His face was a study. Uncertainty, fear, hope, disappointment were all there.
"Yes, Jack," said Mr. Maitland. "He is manager in these works now."
Tony threw back his head and laughed. "I guess I will have to work, then," he said.
"You just bet you will, Tony," replied Jack. "Come along, we will go."
"I am taking you home. See you to-night, sir," Jack added, nodding to his father.
The two young men passed out together to the car.
"Yes, Tony," said Jack, "I have taken over your job."
"My job? What do you mean by that?" asked Tony, bitter and sullen in face and tone.
"I am the new manager of the planing mill. Dad had you slated for that position, but you hadn't manager-timber in you."
Tony's answer was an oath, deep and heartfelt.
"Yes," continued Jack, "manager-timber is rare and slow-growing stuff, Tony."
Again Tony swore but kept silence, and so remained till they had reached his home. Together they walked into the living room. There they found Annette, and with her McNish. Both rose upon their entrance, McNish showing some slight confusion, and assuming the attitude of a bulldog on guard, Annette vividly eager, expectant, anxious.
"Well," she cried, her hands going fluttering to her bosom.
"I have got a job, Annette," said Tony, with a short laugh. "Here is my boss."
For a moment the others stood looking at Jack, surprised into motionless silence.
"I tell you, he is the new manager," repeated Tony, "and he is my boss."
"What does he mean, Jack?" cried the girl, coming forward to Maitland with a quick, impulsive movement.
"Just what he says, Annette. I am the new manager of the planing mill and I have given Tony a job."
Again there fell a silence. Into the eyes of the bulldog McNish there shot a strange gleam of something that seemed almost like pleasure. In those brief moments of silence life was readjusting itself with them all. Maitland had passed from the rank and file of the workers into the class of those who direct and control their work. Bred as they were and trained as they were in the democratic atmosphere of Canada, they were immediately conscious of the shifting of values.
Annette was the first to break silence. "I wish I could thank you," she said, "but I cannot. I cannot." The girl's face had changed. The eager light had faded from her dark eyes, her hands dropped quietly to her side. "But I am sure you know," she added after a pause, "how very, very grateful I am, how grateful we all are, Mr. Maitland."
"Annette," said Jack severely, "drop that 'Mr.' stuff. I was your friend yesterday. Am I any less your friend to-day? True enough, I am Tony's boss, but Tony is my friend—that is, if he wants to have it so. You must believe this, Annette."
He offered her his hand. With a sudden impulse she took it in both of hers and held it hard against her breast, her eyes meanwhile burning into his with a look of adoration, open and unashamed. She apparently forgot the others in the room.
"Jack," she cried, her voice thrilling with passion, "I don't care what you are. I don't care what you think. I will never, never forget what you have done for me."
Maitland flung a swift glance at McNish and was startled at the look of rage, of agonised rage, that convulsed his face.
"My dear Annette," he said, with a light laugh, "don't make too much of it. I was glad to help Tony and you. Why shouldn't I help old friends?"
As he was speaking they heard the sound of a door closing and looking about, Jack found that McNish had gone, to be followed by Tony a moment or two later.
"Oh, never mind him," cried Annette, answering Jack's look of surprise. "He has to go to work. And it doesn't matter in the least."
Jack was vaguely disturbed by McNish's sudden disappearance.
"But, Annette," he said, "I don't want McNish to think that I—that you—"
"What?" She leaned toward him, her face all glowing with warm and eager light, her eyes aflame, her bosom heaving. "What, Jack?" she whispered. "What does it matter what he thinks?"
He put out his hands. With a quick, light step she was close to him, her face lifted up in passionate surrender. Swiftly Jack's arms went around her and he drew her toward him.
"Annette, dear," he said, and his voice was quiet and kind, too kind. "You are a dear girl and a good girl, and I am glad to have helped you and shall always be glad to help you."
The door opened and Tony slipped into the room. With passionate violence, Annette threw away the encircling arms.
"Ah!" she cried, a sob catching her voice. "You—you shame me. No—I shame myself." Rigid, with head flung back, she stood before him, her eyes ablaze with passionate anger, her hands clenched tight. She had flung herself at him and had been rejected.
"What the devil is this?" cried Tony, striding toward them. "What is he doing to you, Annette?"
"He?" cried Annette, her breath coming in sobs. "To me? Nothing! Keep out of it, Tony." She pushed him fiercely aside. "He has done nothing! No! No! Nothing but what is good and kind. Ah! kind. Yes, kind." Her voice rose shrill in scorn of herself and of him. "Oh, yes, he is kind." She laughed wildly, then broke into passionate tears. She turned from them and fled to her room, leaving the two men looking at each other.
"Poor child," said Jack, the first to recover speech. "She is quite all in. She has had two hard weeks of it."
"Two hard weeks," repeated Tony, his eyes glaring. "What is the matter with my sister? What have you done to her?" His voice was like the growl of a savage dog.
"Don't be a confounded fool, Tony," replied Jack. "You ought to know what is the matter with your sister. You have had something to do with it. And now your job is to see if you can make it up to her. To-morrow morning, at seven o'clock, remember," he said curtly, and, turning on his heel, he passed out.
It seemed to Jack as he drove home that life had suddenly become a tangle of perplexities and complications. First there was Annette. He was genuinely distressed as he thought of the scene through which they had just passed. That he himself had anything to do with her state of mind did not occur to him.
"Poor little girl," he said to himself, "she really needs a change of some sort, a complete rest. We must find some way of helping her. She will be all right in a day or two." With which he dismissed the subject.
Then there was McNish. McNish was a sore puzzle to him. He had come to regard the Scotchman with a feeling of sincere friendliness. He remembered gratefully his ready and efficient help against the attacks of the radical element among his fellow workmen. On several occasions he, with the Reverend Murdo Matheson, had foregathered in the McNish home to discuss economic problems over a quiet pipe. He was always conscious of a reserve deepening at times to a sullenness in McNish's manner, the cause of which he could not certainly discover. That McNish was possessed of a mentality of more than ordinary power there was no manner of doubt. Jack had often listened with amazement to his argumentation with the Reverend Murdo, against whom he proved over and over again his ability to hold his own, the minister's superiority as a trained logician being more than counterbalanced by his antagonist's practical experience.
As he thought of these evenings, he was ready to believe that his suspicion of the Scotchman's ill-will toward himself was due largely to imagination, and yet he could not rid himself of the unpleasant memory of McNish's convulsed face that afternoon.
"What the deuce is the matter with the beggar, anyway?" he said to himself.
Suddenly a new suggestion came to him.
"It can't be," he added, "surely the idiot is not jealous." Then he remembered Annette's attitude at the moment, her hands pressing his hard to her breast, her face lifted up in something more than appeal. "By Jove! I believe that may be it," he mused. "And Annette? Had she observed it? What was in her heart? Was there a reason for the Scotchman's jealousy on that side?"
This thought disturbed him greatly. He was not possessed of a larger measure of self-conceit than falls to the lot of the average young man, but the thought that possibly Annette had come to regard him other than as a friend released a new tide of emotion within him. Rapidly he passed in review many incidents in their association during the months since he returned from the war, and gradually the conviction forced itself upon him that possibly McNish was not without some cause for jealousy. It was rotten luck and was bound to interfere with their present happy relations. Yet none the less was he conscious that it was not altogether an unpleasant thought to him that in some subtle way a new bond had been established between this charming young girl and himself.
But he must straighten things out with McNish at the very first opportunity. He was a decent chap and would make Annette a first-rate husband. Indeed, it pleased Jack not a little to feel that he would be able to further the fortunes of both. McNish had good foreman timber in him and would make a capable assistant. As to this silly prejudice of his, Jack resolved that he would take steps immediately to have that removed. That he could accomplish this he had little doubt.
But the most acutely pressing of the problems that engaged his mind were those that arose out of his new position as manager. The mere organizing and directing of men in their work gave him little anxiety. He was sure of himself as far as that was concerned. He was sure of his ability to introduce among the men a system of team play that would result in increased production and would induce altogether better results. He thought he knew where the weak spots were. He counted greatly upon the support of the men who had been associated with him in the Maitland Mills Athletic Association. With their backing, he was certain that he could eliminate most of that very considerable wastage in time that even a cursory observation had revealed to him in the shops, due to such causes as dilatory workers, idle machines, lack of co-ordination, improper routing of work, and the like. He had the suspicion that a little investigation would reveal other causes of wastage as well.
There was one feature in the situation that gave him concern and that was the radical element in the unions. Simmons and his gang had from the very first assumed an attitude of hostility to himself, had sought to undermine his influence and had fought his plans for the promotion of clean sport among the Mill men. None knew better than Simmons that an active interest in clean and vigorous outdoor sports tended to produce contentment of mind, and a contented body of men offered unfertile soil for radical and socialistic doctrines. Hence, Simmons had from the first openly and vociferously opposed with contemptuous and bitter indignation all Jack's schemes and plans for the promotion of athletic sports. But Jack had been able to carry the men with him and the recent splendid victory over a famous team had done much to discredit brother Simmons and his propaganda.
Already Jack was planning a new schedule of games for the summer. Baseball, football, cricket, would give occupation and interest to all classes of Mill workers. And in his new position he felt he might be able, to an even greater degree, to carry out the plans which he had in mind. On the other hand, he knew full well that men were apt to be suspicious of welfare schemes "promoted from above." His own hockey men he felt sure he could carry with him. If he could only win McNish to be his sergeant-major, success would be assured. This must be his first care.
He well knew that McNish had no love for Simmons, whom the Scotchman despised first, because he was no craftsman, and chiefly because he had no soundly-based system of economics but was governed by the sheerest opportunism in all his activities. A combination between McNish and Simmons might create a situation not easy to deal with. Jack resolved that that combination should be prevented. He would see McNish at once, after the meeting of his local, which he remembered was set for that very night.
This matter being settled, he determined to proceed immediately to the office for an interview with Wickes. He must get to know as speedily as possible something of the shop organization and of its effect upon production. He found Mr. Wickes awaiting him with tremulous and exultant delight, eager to put himself, his experience, his knowledge and all that he possessed at the disposal of the new manager. The whole afternoon was given to this work, and before the day was done, Jack had in his mind a complete picture of the planing mill, with every machine in place and an estimate, more or less exact, of the capacity of every machine. In the course of this investigation, he was surprised to discover that there was no detailed record of the actual production of each machine, nor, indeed, anything in the way of an accurate cost system in any department of the whole business.
"How do you keep track of your men and their work, Wickes?" he inquired.
"Oh!" said the old man, "the foremen know all about that, Mr. Jack."
"But how can they know? What check have they?"
"Well, they are always about, Mr. Jack, and keep their eyes on things generally."
"I see," said Jack. "And do you find that works quite satisfactorily?"
"Well, sir, we have never gone into details, you know, Mr. Jack, but if you wish—"
"Oh, no, Wickes, I am just trying to get the hang of things, you know." Jack was unwilling to even suggest a criticism of method at so early a stage in his managerial career. "I want to know how you run things, Wickes, and at any time I shall be glad of assistance from you."
The old bookkeeper hastened to give him almost tearful assurance of his desire to assist to the utmost of his power.
The meeting of Local 197 of the Woodworkers' Union was largely attended, a special whip having been sent out asking for a full meeting on the ground that a matter of vital importance to unionised labour was to be considered.
The matter of importance turned out to be nothing less than a proposition that the Woodworkers' Union should join with all other unions in the town to make a united demand upon their respective employers for an increase in wages and better conditions all around, in connection with their various industries. The question was brought up in the form of a resolution from their executive, which strongly urged that this demand should be approved and that a joint committee should be appointed to take steps for the enforcement of the demand. The executive had matters thoroughly in hand. Brother Simmons and the more radical element were kept to the background, the speakers chosen to present the case being all moderates. There was no suggestion of extreme measures. Their demands were reasonable, and it was believed that the employers were prepared to give fair consideration—indeed, members had had assurance from an authoritative quarter on the other side that such was the case.
Notwithstanding the moderate tone adopted in presenting it, the resolution met with strenuous opposition. The great majority of those present were quiet, steady-going men who wanted chiefly to be let alone at their work and who were hostile to the suggested action, which might finally land them in "trouble." The old-time workers in the Maitland Mills had no grievances against their employer. They, of course, would gladly accept an increase in wages, for the cost of living was steadily climbing, but they disliked intensely the proposed method of making a general demand for an increase in wages and for better conditions.
The sporting element in the meeting were frankly and fiercely antagonistic to anything that would disturb the present friendly relation with their employers in the Maitland Mills. "The old man" had always done the square thing. He had shown himself a "regular fellow" in backing them up in all their games during the past year. He had always given them a fair hearing and a square deal. They would not stand for any hold-up game of this sort. It was a low-down game, anyway.
The promoters of the resolution began to be anxious for their cause. They had not anticipated any such a strong opposition and were rather nonplussed as to the next move. Brother Simmons was in a fury and was on the point of breaking forth into a passionate denunciation of scabs and traitors generally when, to the amazement of all and the intense delight of the supporters of the administration, McNish arose and gave unqualified support to the resolution.
His speech was a masterpiece of diplomacy, and revealed his long practice in the art of oratory in that best of all training schools, the labour union of the Old Land. He began by expressing entire sympathy with the spirit of the opposition. The opposition, however, had completely misunderstood the intent and purport of the resolution. None of them desired trouble. There need not be, indeed, he hoped there would not be trouble, but there were certain very ugly facts that must be faced. He then, in terse, forceful language, presented the facts in connection with the cost of living, quoting statistics from the Department of Labour to show the steady rise in the price of articles of food, fuel and clothing since the beginning of the war, a truly appalling array. He had secured price lists from dealers in these commodities, both wholesale and retail, to show the enormous profits made during the war. There were returned soldiers present. They had not hesitated at the call of duty to give all they had for their country. They had been promised great things when they had left their homes, their families, their business and their jobs. How had they found things upon their return? He illustrated his argument from the cases of men present. It was a sore spot with many of them and he pressed hard upon it. They were suffering to-day; worse, their wives and children were suffering. Had anyone heard of their employers suffering? Here again he offered illustrations of men who had made a good thing out of the war. True, there were many examples of the other kind of employer, but they must deal with classes and not individuals in a case like this. This was part of a much bigger thing than any mere local issue. He drew upon his experience in the homeland with overwhelming effect. His voice rose and rolled in his richest Doric as he passionately denounced the tyranny of the masters in the coal and iron industries in the homeland. He was not an extremist; he had never been one. Indeed, all who knew him would bear him out when he said that he had been an opponent of Brother Simmons and those who thought with him on economic questions. This sudden change in attitude would doubtless surprise his brothers. He had been forced to change by the stern logic of facts. There was nothing in this resolution which any reasonable worker might object to. There was nothing in the resolution that every worker with any sympathy with his fellow workers should not support. Moreover, he warned them that if they presented a united front, there would be little fear of trouble. If they were divided in their ranks, or if they were halfhearted in their demands, they would invite opposition and, therefore, trouble. He asked them all to stand together in supporting a reasonable demand, which he felt sure reasonable men would consider favorably.
The effect of his speech was overwhelming. The administration supporters were exuberant in their enthusiastic applause and in their vociferous demands for a vote. The opposition were paralysed by the desertion of one whom they had regarded and trusted as a leader against the radical element and were left without answer to the masterly array of facts and arguments which he had presented.
At this point, the door opened and Maitland walked in. A few moments of tense silence, and then something seemed to snap. The opposition, led by the hockey men and their supporters, burst into a demonstration of welcome. The violence of the demonstration was not solely upon Maitland's account. The leaders of the opposition were quick to realise that his entrance had created a diversion for them which might save them from disastrous defeat. They made the most of this opportunity, prolonging the demonstration and joining in a "chair procession" which carried Maitland shoulder-high about the room, in the teeth of the violent protest of Brother Simmons and his following.
Order being restored, business was again resumed, when Brother Macnamara rose to his feet and, in a speech incoherent at times, but always forceful, proposed that the usual order be suspended and that here and now a motion be carried expressing their gratification at the recent great hockey victory and referring in highly laudatory terms to the splendid work of Brother Captain Maitland, to whose splendid efforts victory was largely due.
It was in vain that Brother Simmons and those of his way of thinking sought to stem the tide of disorder. The motion was carried with acclaim.
No sooner had this matter been disposed of than Maitland rose to his feet and said:
"Mr. President, I wish to thank you all for this very kind reference to my team and myself. I take very little credit for the victory which we won. We had a good team, indeed, quite a remarkable team. I have played in a good many athletic teams of various kinds, but in two particulars the Maitland Mills Hockey Team is the most remarkable of any I have known—first, in their splendid loyalty in taking their training and sticking together; that was beyond all praise; and, secondly, in the splendid grit which they showed in playing a losing game. Now, Mr. President, I am going to do something which gives me more regret than any of you can understand. I have to offer my resignation as a member of this union. I have accepted the position of manager of the planing mill and I understand that this makes it necessary that I resign as a member of this union. I don't really see why this should be necessary. I don't believe myself that it should, and, brothers, I expect to live long enough to belong to a union that will allow a fellow like me to be a member with chaps like you. But meantime, for the present I must resign. You have treated me like a brother and a chum. I have learned a lot from you all, but one thing especially, which I shall never forget: that there is no real difference in men that is due to their position in life; that a man's job doesn't change his heart."
He paused for a few moments as if to gather command of his voice, which had become suddenly husky.
"I am sorry to leave you, boys, and I want to say to you from my heart that though I cannot remain a member of this union, I can be and I will be a brother to you all the same. And I promise you that, as far as I can, I will work for the good of the union in the future as I have done in the past."
McNish alone was prepared for this dramatic announcement, although they all knew that Maitland sooner or later would assume a position which would link him up with the management of the business. But the suddenness of the change and the dramatic setting of the announcement created an impression so profound as to neutralise completely the effect of McNish's masterly speech.
Disappointed and enraged at the sudden turn of events, he was too good a general to allow himself to be routed in disorder. He set about to gather his disordered forces for a fresh attack, when once more the hockey men took command of the field. This time it was Snoopy Sykes, the most voiceless member of the union.
After a few moments of dazed silence that followed Maitland's announcement of his resignation, Snoopy rose and, encouraged by the cheers of his astonished comrades, began the maiden speech of his life.
"Mr. President," he shouted.
"Go to it, Snoopy, old boy."
"I never made a speech in my life, never—"
"Good, old scout, never begin younger! Cheerio, old son!"
"And I want to say that he don't need to. I once heard of a feller who didn't. He kept on and he didn't do no harm to nobody. And the Captain here wouldn't neither. So what I say is he don't need to," and Snoopy sat down with the whole brotherhood gazing at him in silence and amazed perplexity, not one of them being able to attach the faintest meaning to Snoopy's amazing oration.
At length Fatty Findlay, another of the voiceless ones, but the very special pal of Snoopy Sykes, broke forth in a puzzled voice:
"Say it again, Snoopy."
There was a roar of laughter, which only grew in volume as Snoopy turned toward his brothers a wrathful and bewildered countenance.
"No," said another voice. "Say something else, Snoopy. Shoot a goal this time."
Again Snoopy rose. "What I said was this," he began indignantly. Again there was a roar of laughter.
"Say, you fellers, shut up and give a feller a chance. The Captain wants to resign. I say 'No.' He is a darned good scout. We want him and we won't let him go. Let him keep his card."
"By the powers," roared Macnamara, "it is a goal, Snoopy. It's a humdinger. I second the motion."
It was utterly in vain that Brother Simmons and his whole following pointed out unitedly and successively the utter impossibility and absurdity of the proposal which was unconstitutional and without precedent. The hockey team had the company with them and with the bit in their teeth swept all before them.
At this point, McNish displayed the master-hand that comes from long experience. He saw his opportunity and seized it.
"Mr. President," he said, and at once he received the most complete attention. "A confess this is a most extraordinary proposal, but A'm goin' tae support it." The roar that answered told him that he had regained control of the meeting. "Brother Simmons says it is unconstitutional and without precedent. He is no correct in this. A have known baith maisters and managers who retained their union cards. A grant ye it is unusual, but may I point oot that the circumstances are unusual?"—Wild yells of approval—"And Captain Maitland is an unusual man"—louder yells of approval—"It may that there is something in the constitution o' this union that stands in the way—Cries of "No! No!" and consignment of the constitution to a nameless locality.—"A venture to suggest that a committee be appointed, consisting of Brothers Sykes, Macnamara and the chairman, wi' poors tae add, tae go into this maitter with Captain Maitland and report."
It was a master-stroke. A true union man regards with veneration the constitution and hesitates to tamper with it except in a perfectly constitutional manner. The opposition to the administration's original resolution had gained what they sought, a temporary stay. The committee was appointed and the danger to both the resolution and the constitution for the present averted.
Again Mr. McNish took command. "And noo, Mr. President," he said, "the oor is late. We are all tired and we all wish to give mair thocht to the main maitter before us. A move, therefore, that we adjourn to the call o' the Executive."
Once more Brother Simmons found himself in a protesting minority, and the meeting broke up, the opposition jubilant over their victory, the supporters of the administration determined to await a more convenient time.
LIGHT THAT IS DARKNESS
At the next monthly meeting of Local 197 of the Woodworkers' Union, the executive had little difficulty in finally shelving the report of its committee appointed to deal with the resignation of Captain Maitland, and as little difficulty in passing by unanimous vote their resolution held up at the last meeting. The allied unions had meantime been extended to include the building trades. Their organization had been perfected and their discipline immensely strengthened. Many causes contributed to this result. A month's time had elapsed and the high emotional tides due to athletic enthusiasm, especially the hockey victory, had had space to subside. The dead season for all outdoor games was upon them and the men, losing touch with each other and with their captain, who was engrossed in studying his new duties, began to spend their leisure hours in loafing about the streets or lounging in the pool rooms.
All over the country the groundswell of unrest was steadily and rapidly rising. The returned soldiers who had failed to readjust themselves to the changed conditions of life and to the changes wrought in themselves by the war, embittered, disillusioned and disappointed, fell an easy prey to unscrupulous leaders and were being exploited in the interests of all sorts of fads and foolish movements. Their government bonuses were long since spent and many of them, through no fault of their own, found themselves facing a situation full of difficulty, hardship, and often of humiliation.
Under the influence of financial inflation and deceived by the abundant flow of currency in every department of business, industries by the score started up all over the land. Few could foresee the approach of dark and stern days. It was in vain that financial leaders began to sound a note of warning, calling for retrenchment and thrift. And now the inevitable results were beginning to appear. The great steel and coal industries began to curtail their operations, while desperately striving to maintain war prices for their products. Other industries followed their example. All the time the cost of living continued to mount. Foodstuffs reached unheard-of prices, which, under the manipulations of unscrupulous dealers, continued to climb.
Small wonder that working men with high wages and plenty of money in their hands cherished exaggerated ideas of their wealth and developed extravagant tastes in dress, amusements and in standard of living. With the rest of the world, they failed to recognise the fact that money was a mere counter in wealth and not wealth itself. To a large extent, thrift was abandoned and while deposits in the savings banks grew in volume, the depositors failed to recognise the fact that the value of the dollar had decreased fifty per cent. Already the reaction from all this had begun to set in. Nervousness paralysed the great financial institutions. The fiat went forth "No more money for industrial enterprises. No more advances on wholesale stocks." The order was issued "Retrench. Take your losses, unload your stocks." This men were slow to do, and while all agreed upon the soundness of the policy, each waited for the other to begin.
Through the month of April anxiety, fear and discontent began to haunt the minds of business men. In the labour world the High Command was quick to sense the approach of a crisis and began to make preparations for the coming storm. The whole industrial and commercial world gradually crystallised into its two opposing classes. A subsidised press began earnestly to demand lower cost in productions retrenchment in expenditure, a cut in labour costs, a general and united effort to meet the inevitable burden of deflation.
On the other hand, an inspired press began to raise an outcry against the increasing cost of living, to point out the effect of the house famine upon the income of the working man, and to sound a warning as to the danger and folly of any sudden reduction in the wage scale.
Increased activity in the ranks of organised labour began to be apparent. Everywhere the wild and radical element was gaining in influence and in numbers, and the spirit of faction and internecine strife became rampant.
It was due to the dominating forcefulness of McNish, the leader of the moderates, that the two factions in the allied unions had been consolidated, and a single policy agreed upon. His whole past had been a preparation for just a crisis as the present. His wide reading, his shrewd practical judgment, his large experience in labour movements in the Old Land, gave him a position of commanding influence which enabled him to dominate the executives and direct their activities. His sudden and unexplained acceptance of the more radical program won for him an enthusiastic following of the element which had hitherto recognised the leadership of Brother Simmons. Day and night, with a zeal that never tired, he laboured at the work of organising and disciplining the various factions and parties in the ranks of labour into a single compact body of fighting men under a single command. McNish was in the grip of one of the mightiest of human passions. Since that day in the Perrotte home, when he had seen the girl that he loved practically offer herself, as he thought, to another man, he had resolutely kept himself away from her. He had done with her forever and he had torn out of his heart the genuine friendship which he had begun to hold toward the man who had deprived him of her love. But deep in his heart he nourished a passion for vengeance that became an obsession, a madness with him. He merely waited the opportunity to gratify his passion.
He learned that the Maitland Mills were in deep water, financially. His keen economic instinct and his deep study of economic movements told him that a serious financial crisis, continent-wide, was inevitable and imminent. It only needed a successful labour war to give the final touch that would bring the whole industrial fabric tumbling into ruin. The desire for immediate revenge upon the man toward whom he had come to cherish an implacable hatred would not suffer him to await the onset of a nation-wide industrial crisis. He fancied that he saw the opportunity for striking an immediate blow here in Blackwater.
He steadily thwarted Maitland's attempts to get into touch with him, whether at the works or in his own home, where Maitland had become a frequent visitor. He was able only partially to allay his mother's anxiety and her suspicion that all was not well with him. That shrewd old lady knew her son well enough to suspect that some untoward circumstance had befallen him, but she knew also that she could do no more than bide her time.
With the workers of the Maitland Mills circumstances favoured the plans of McNish and the Executive of the allied unions. The new manager was beginning to make his hand felt upon the wheel. Checks upon wastage in labour time and in machine time were being instituted; everywhere there was a tightening up of loose screws and a knitting up of loose ends, with the inevitable consequent irritation. This was especially true in the case of Tony Perrotte, to whom discipline was ever an external force and never an inward compulsion. Inexact in everything he did, irregular in his habits, irresponsible in his undertakings, he met at every turn the pressure of the firm, resolute hand of the new manager. Deep down in his heart there was an abiding admiration and affection for Jack Maitland, but he loathed discipline and kicked against it.
The first of May is ever a day of uncertainty and unrest in the world of labour. It is a time for readjustment, for the fixing of wage scales, for the assertion of labour rights and the ventilating of labour wrongs. It is a time favourable to upheaval, and is therefore awaited by all employers of labour with considerable anxiety.
On the surface there was not a ripple to indicate that as far as the Maitland Mills were concerned there was beneath a surging tide of unrest. So undisturbed indeed was the surface that the inexperienced young manager was inclined to make light of the anxieties of his father, and was confident in his assurance that the danger of a labour crisis had, for the present at least, been averted.
Out of the blue heaven fell the bolt. The mails on May Day morning brought to the desk of every manager of every industry in Blackwater, and to every building contractor, a formal document setting forth in terms courteous but firm the demands of the executives of the allied unions of Blackwater.
"Well, it has come, boy," was Maitland's greeting to his son, who came into the office for the usual morning consultation.
"What?" said Jack.
"War," replied his father, tossing him the letter and watching his face as he read it.
Jack handed him the letter without a word.
"Well, what do you think of it?" said his father.
"It might be worse."
"Worse?" roared his father. "Worse? How can it be worse?"
"Well, it is really a demand for an increase in wages. The others, I believe, are mere frills. And between ourselves, sir, though I haven't gone into it very carefully, I am not sure but that an increase in wages is about due."
Maitland glowered at his son in a hurt and hopeless rage.
"An increase in wages due?" he said. "After the increase of six months ago? The thing is preposterous. The ungrateful scoundrels!"
At this point the telephone upon his desk rang. Jack took up the receiver.
"Good morning, Mr. McGinnis. . . . Yes, he is here. Yes. . . . At least, I suppose so. . . . Oh, I don't know. . . . It is rather peremptory. . . . All right, sir, I shall tell him."
"Let me talk to him," said his father, impatiently.
"Never mind just now, Dad," said Jack, with his hand over the receiver. Then through the telephone he said: "All right, sir; he will await you here. Good morning."
". . . The old boy is wild," said Jack with a slight laugh. "The wires are quite hot."
"This is no joke, Jack, I can tell you. McGinnis is coming over, is he?"
"Yes," replied Jack, "but we won't get much help from him."
"Why not?" inquired his father. "He is a very shrewd and able business man."
"He may be all that, sir, but in a case like this, if you really want my opinion, and I have no wish to be disrespectful, he is a hot-headed ass. Just the kind of employer to rejoice the heart of a clever labour leader who is out for trouble. Dad," and Jack's voice became very earnest, "let's work this out by ourselves. We can handle our own men better without the help of McGinnis or any other."
"That is just the trouble. Look at this precious document, 'The Allied Unions.' What have I got to do with them? And signed by Simmons and McDonough. Who is McDonough, pray?"
"McDonough? Oh, I know McDonough. He is a little like McGinnis—big-hearted, hot-headed, good in a scrap, useless in a conference. But I suggest, sir, that we ignore the slight unpleasant technicalities in the manner and method of negotiation and try to deal with our own people in a reasonable way."
"I am ready always to meet my own people, but I refuse utterly to deal with this committee!" It was not often that Mr. Maitland became profane, but in his description of this particular group of individuals his ordinary English suffered a complete collapse.
"Dad, McGinnis will be here in a few minutes. I should like to suggest one or two things, if you will allow me."
"Go on," said his father quickly.
"Dad, this is war, and I have learned a little about that game 'over there.' And I have learned something about it in my athletic activities. The first essential is to decline to play the enemy's game. Let's discover his plan of campaign. As I read this document, the thing that hits my eye is this: do they really want the things they ask for, or is the whole thing a blind? What I mean is, do they really want war or peace? I say let's feel them out. If they are after peace, the thing is easy. If they want war, this may come to be a very serious thing. Meantime, Dad, let's not commit ourselves to McGinnis. Let's play it alone."
Mr. Maitland's lips had set in a thin, hard line. His face was like a mask of grey steel. He sat thinking silently.
"Here he comes," said Jack, looking out of the window. "Dad, you asked me to come into this with you. Let's play the game together. I found it wise to place the weight on the defence line. Will you play defence in this?"
The lines in his father's face began to relax.
"All right, boy, we'll play it together, and meantime I shall play defence."
"By Jove, Dad," cried Jack, in a tone of exultant confidence, "we'll beat 'em. And now here comes that old Irish fire-eater. I'll go. No alliance, Dad, remember." His father nodded as Jack left the room, to return almost immediately with Mr. McGinnis, evidently quite incoherent with rage.
In the outer office Jack paused beside the desk of the old bookkeeper. From behind the closed door came the sound of high explosives.
"Rough stuff in there, eh, Wickes," said Jack, with a humorous smile. For some moments he stood listening. "War is a terrible thing," he added with a grin.
"What seems to be the matter, Mr. Jack?"
Jack laid before him the document sent out by the Allied Unions.
"Oh, this is terrible, Mr. Jack! And just at this time. I am very much afraid it will ruin us."
"Ruin us? Rot. Don't ever say that word again. We will possibly have a jolly good row. Someone will be hurt and perhaps all of us, more or less, but I don't mean to be beaten, if I know myself," he added, with the smile on his face that his hockey team loved to see before a match. "Now, Wickes," continued Jack, "get that idea of failure out of your mind. We are going to win. And meantime, let us prepare for our campaign. Here's a bit of work I want you to do for me. Get four things for me: the wages for the last three years—you have the sheets?"
"—The cost of living from the Labour Gazette for the last three years—you have them here—and the rates of increase in wages. Plot a diagram showing all these things. You know what I mean?"
"Yes, sir, I understand."
"And find out the wages paid at our competing points."
"All right, Mr. Jack. I know what you want. I can give you the necessary information in regard to the first three points almost at once. It will take some days, however, to get the wages of our competing points."
"All right, old boy. Carry on!" said Jack, and with the same smile on his face he passed out of the office into the shops.
It amused him slightly to observe the change in the attitude and bearing of his men. They would not look at him fairly in the face. Even Snoopy Sykes and Macnamara avoided his glance. But he had for everyone his usual cheery word. Why should he not? These chaps had no hatred for him, nor he for them. He had come to understand union methods of discipline and recognised fully the demands for loyalty and obedience imposed upon its members by the organisation. These men of his were bound to the union by solemn obligations. He bore them no ill-will on that score. Rather he respected them the more for it. If a fight was inevitable, he would do his best to beat them but he would allow no spirit of hatred to change his mind toward them nor cloud his judgment.
The day was full of excursions and alarms. A hurry call was sent out by McGinnis to all employers who had received copies of the document from the Allied Unions. In the afternoon a meeting was held in the Board of Trade Building, but it was given over chiefly to vituperation and threatening directed toward their variously described employees. With one heart and voice all affirmed with solemn, and in many cases with profane oaths that they would not yield a jot to the insolent demands of this newly organised body.
"I have already sent my answer," shouted Mr. McGinnis.
"What did you say, Mac?"
"Told 'em to go to hell, and told 'em that if any of these highly coloured committee men came on my premises, I would kick 'em into the middle of next week."
Jack, who was present at the meeting, sat listening with silent and amused pity. They seemed to him so like a group of angry children whose game had suddenly been interfered with and whose rage rendered them incapable of coherent thought.
Grant Maitland, who, throughout the meeting had sat silent, finally rose and said: "Gentlemen, the mere expression of feeling may afford a sort of satisfaction but the question is, What is to be done? That the situation is grave for all of us we know too well. Not many of us are in a position to be indifferent to a strike. Let us get down to business. What shall we do?"
"Fight them to a finish! Smash the unions!" were the suggestions in various forms and with various descriptive adjectives.
"It may come to a fight, gentlemen, but however gratifying a fight may be to our feelings, a fight may be disastrous to our business. A strike may last for weeks, perhaps months. Are we in a position to stand that? And as for smashing the unions, let us once and for all put such a thought out of our minds. These unions have all international affiliations. It is absurd to imagine that we here in Blackwater could smash a single union."
Fiercely McGinnis made reply. "I want to tell you right here and now that I am prepared to close down and go out of business but I will have no outside committee tell me how to run my job."
But no one took this threat seriously, and no one but knew that a shut-down for any of them might mean disaster. They all recalled those unfilled orders which they were straining every nerve to complete before the market should break, or cancellation should come. It added not a little to their rage that they knew themselves to be held in the grip of circumstances over which they had little control.
After much angry deliberation it was finally agreed that they should appoint a committee to consider the whole situation and to prepare a plan of action. Meantime the committee were instructed to temporise with the enemy.
The evening papers announced the imminence of a strike the extent and magnitude of which had never been experienced in the history of Blackwater. Everywhere the citizens of the industrial town were discussing the disturbing news anxiously, angrily, indifferently, according as they were variously affected. But there was a general agreement among all classes of citizens that a strike in the present industrial and financial situation which was already serious enough, would be nothing short of a calamity, because no matter what the issue would be, no matter which of the parties won in the conflict, a fight meant serious loss not only to the two parties immediately concerned, but to the whole community as well. With the rank and file of the working people there was little heart for a fight. More especially, men upon whom lay the responsibility for the support of homes shrank from the pain and the suffering, as well as from the loss which experience taught them a strike must entail. It is safe to say that in every working man's home in Blackwater that night there was to be found a woman who, as she put her children to bed, prayed that trouble might be averted, for she knew that in every war it is upon the women and children that in the last analysis the sorest burden must fall. To them even victory would mean for many months a loss of luxuries for the family, it might be of comforts; and defeat, which would come not until after long conflict, would mean not only straitened means but actual poverty, with all the attendant humiliation and bitterness which would kill for them the joy of life and sensibly add to its already heavy burden.
That night Jack Maitland felt that a chat with the Reverend Murdo Matheson might help to clear his own mind as to the demands of the Allied Unions. He found the minister in his study and in great distress of soul.
"I am glad to see you, Maitland," he said, giving him a hearty greeting. "My hope is largely placed in you and you must not fail me in this crisis. What exactly are the demands of the unions?"
Maitland spread before him the letter which his father had received that morning. The Reverend Murdo read it carefully over, then, with a sigh of relief, he said: "Well, it might be worse. There should not be much difficulty in coming to an agreement between people anxious for peace."
After an hour spent in canvassing the subject from various points of view, the Reverend Murdo exclaimed: "Let us go and see McNish."
"The very thing," said Maitland. "I have been trying to get in touch with him for the last month or so, but he avoids me."
"Ay," replied the Reverend Murdo, "he has a reason, no doubt."
To Maitland's joy they found McNish at home. They were received with none-too-cordial a welcome by the son, with kindly, even eager greeting by the mother.
"Come awa in, Minister; come awa, Mr. Maitland. You have come to talk about the 'trouble,' a doot. Malcolm does-na want to talk about it to me, a bad sign. He declines to converse even, wi' me, Mr. Matheson. Perhaps ye may succeed better wi' him."
"Mr. Matheson can see for himself," said her son, using his most correct English, "the impropriety of my talking with an employer in this way."
"Nonsense, McNish," said the minister briskly. "You know me quite well and we both know Maitland. It is just sheer nonsense to say that you cannot talk with us. Everyone in town is talking. Every man in your union is talking, trying to justify their present position, which, I am bound to say, takes some justifying."
"Why?" asked McNish hotly.
"Because the demands are some of them quite unsound. Some other than you had a hand in drawing up your Petition of Right, McNish, and some of the demands are impossible."
"How do you—" began McNish indignantly, but the minister held up his hand and continued:
"And some of them are both sound and reasonable."
"What's wrang with the demands?" said McNish.
"That's what I am about to show you," said the minister with grave confidence.
"Aye, minister," said the mother with a chuckle of delight. "That's you! That's you! Haud at him! Haud at him! That's you!"
They took seats about the blazing fire for the evening was still shrewd enough to make the fire welcome.
"Noo, Mr. Matheson," said the old lady, leaning toward him with keen relish in her face, "read me the union demands. Malcolm wadna read nor talk nor anything but glower."
The Reverend Murdo read the six clauses.
"Um! They're no bad negotiating pints."
"Negotiatin' pints!" exclaimed her son indignantly. "Noo, mither, ye maun play the game. A'm no gaun tae argue with ye to-night. Nor wi' any of ye," he added.
"Nonsense, Malcolm. You can't object to talk over these points with us. You must talk them over before you're done with them. And you'll talk them over before the whole town, too."
"What do you mean, 'before the whole town'?" said Malcolm.
"This is a community question. This community is interested and greatly interested. It will demand a full exposition of the attitude of the unions."
"The community!" snorted McNish in contempt.
"Aye, the community," replied the minister, "and you are not to snort at it. That's the trouble with you labour folk. You think you are the whole thing. You forget the third and most important party in any industrial strife, the community. The community is interested first, in justice being done to its citizens—to all its citizens, mind you; second, in the preservation of the services necessary to its comfort and well-being; third, in the continuance of the means of livelihood to wage earners."
"Ye missed one," said McNish grimly. "The conserving of the profits of labour for the benefit of the capitalist."
"I might have put that in, too," said the minister, "but it is included in my first. But I should have added another which, to my mind, is of the very first importance, the preservation of the spirit of brotherly feeling and Christian decency as between man and man in this community."
"Aye, ye might," replied Malcolm in bitter irony, "and ye might begin with the ministers and the churches."
"Whisht, laddie," said his mother sharply, "Mind yer manners."
"He doesn't mean me specially, Mrs. McNish, but I will not say but what he is right."
"No," replied McNish, "I don't mean you exactly, Mr. Matheson."
"Don't take it back, McNish," said the minister. "I need it. We all need it in the churches, and we will take it, too. But come now, let us look at these clauses. You are surely not standing for them all, or for them all alike?"
"Why not, then?" said McNish, angrily.
"I'll tell you," replied the minister, "and won't take long, either." He proceeded to read over carefully the various clauses in the demands of the allied unions, emphasizing and explaining the meaning of each clause. "First, as to wages. This is purely a matter for adjustment to the cost of living and general industrial conditions. It is a matter of arithmetic and common sense. There is no principle involved."
"I don't agree with you," said McNish. "There is more than the cost of living to be considered. There is the question of the standard of living. Why should it be considered right that the standard of living for the working man should be lower than that for the professional man or the capitalist?"
"There you are again, McNish," said the minister. "You are not up to your usual to-night. You know quite well that every working man in my parish lives better than I do, and spends more money on his living. The standard of living has no special significance with the working man to-day as distinguished from the professional man. We are not speaking of the wasteful and idle rich. So I repeat that here it is a matter of adjustment and that there is no principle involved. Now, as regard to hours. You ask an eight-hour day and a Saturday half-holiday. That, too, is a matter of adjustment."
"What about production, Mr. Matheson?" said Maitland. "And overhead? Production costs are abnormally high to-day and so are carrying charges. I am not saying that a ten-hour day is not too long. Personally, I believe that a man cannot keep at his best for ten hours in certain industries—not in all."
"Long hours do not mean big production, Maitland. Not long hours but intensive and co-ordinated work bring up production and lower production costs."
"What about idle machines and overhead?" inquired Maitland.
"A very important consideration," said the minister. "The only sound rule governing factory industry especially is this: the longest possible machine time, the shortest possible man time. But here again it is a question of organisation, adjustment and co-ordination of work and workers. We all want education here."
"If I remember right," said McNish, and he could not keep the bitterness out of his voice, "I have heard you say something in the pulpit at times in regard to the value of men's immortal souls. What care can men take of their bodies and minds, let alone their souls, if you work them ten hours a day?"
"There is a previous question, McNish," said the minister. "Why give more leisure time to men who spend their leisure hours now in pool rooms and that sort of nonsense?"
"And whose fault is that," replied McNish sharply. "Who is responsible that they have not learned to use their leisure more wisely? And further, what about your young bloods and their leisure hours?"
"Ay, A doot he has ye there, minister," said Mrs. McNish with a quiet chuckle.
"He has," said the minister. "The point is well taken and I acknowledge it freely. My position is that the men need more leisure, but, more than that, they need instruction as to how to use their leisure time wisely. But let us get on to the third point. 'A Joint Committee of References demanded to which all complaints shall be referred.' Now, that's fine. That's the Whitley plan. It is quite sound and has proved thoroughly useful in practice."
"I quite agree," said Maitland frankly. "But certain conditions must be observed."
"Of course, of course," replied the minister. "Conditions must be observed everywhere. Now, the fourth point: 'The foreman must be a member of the union.' Thoroughly unsound. They can't ride two horses at once.
"I am not so sure of that," said Maitland. "For my part, I should like to have retained my membership in the union. The more that both parties meet for conference, the better. And the more connecting links between them, the better. I should like to see a union where employers and employees should have equal rights of membership."
McNish grunted contemptuously.
"It would be an interesting experiment," said the minister. "An interesting experiment, McNish, and you are not to grunt like that. The human element, of course, is the crux here. If we had the right sort of foreman he might be trusted to be a member of the union, but a man cannot direct and be directed at the same time. But that union of yours, Maitland, with both parties represented in it, is a big idea. It is worth considering. What do you think about it, McNish?"
"What do I think of it? It is sheer idealistic nonsense."
"It is a noble idea, laddie, and no to be sneered at, but A doot it needs a better world for it than we hae at the present."
"I am afraid that is true," said the minister. "But meantime a foreman is a man who gives orders and directs work, and, generally speaking, he must remain with a directorate in any business. There may be exceptions. You must acknowledge that, McNish."
"I'll acknowledge nothing of the sort," replied McNish, and entered into a long argument which convinced no one.
"Now we come to the next, number five: 'a voice in the management,' it means. Come now, McNish, this is rather much. Do you want Mr. Maitland's job here, or is there anyone in your shop who would be anything but an embarrassment trying running the Maitland Mills, and you know quite well that the men want nothing of the sort. It may be as Mrs. McNish said, 'a good negotiating point,' but it has no place in practical politics here in Blackwater. How would you like, for instance, to take orders from Simmons?"
The old lady chuckled delightedly. "He has you there, laddie, he has you there!"
But this McNish would not acknowledge, and proceeded to argue at great length on purely theoretical grounds for joint control of industries, till his mother quite lost patience with him.
"Hoots, laddie, haud yer hoofs on mither earth. Would ye want yon radical bodies to take chairge o' ony business in which ye had a baubee? Ye're talkin' havers."
"Now, let us look at the last," said Mr. Matheson. "It is practically a demand for the closed shop. Now, McNish, I ask you, man to man, what is the use of putting that in there? It is not even a negotiating point."
At that McNish fired up. "It is no negotiating point," he declared. "I stand for that. It is vital to the very existence of unionised labour. Everyone knows that. Unionism cannot maintain itself in existence without the closed shop. It is the ideal toward which all unionised labour works."
"Now, McNish, tell me honestly," said the minister, "do you expect or hope for an absolutely closed shop in the factories here in Blackwater, or in the Building Industries? Have you the faintest shadow of a hope?"
"We may not get it," said McNish, "but that is no reason why we should not fight for it. Men have died fighting for the impossible because they knew it was right, and, by dying for it, they have brought it to pass."
"Far be it from me, McNish, to deny that. But I am asking you now, again as man to man, do you know of any industry, even in the Old Land, where the closed shop absolutely prevails, and do you think that conditions in Blackwater give you the faintest hope of a closed shop here?"
"Yes," shouted McNish, springing to his feet, "there is hope. There is hope even in Blackwater."
"Tut, tut, laddie," said his mother. "Dinna deeve us. What has come ower ye that ye canna talk like a reasonable man? Noo, Mr. Matheson, ye've had enough of the labour matters. A'll mak ye a cup of tea."
"Thank you, Mrs. McNish," said the minister gravely, "but I cannot linger. I have still work to do to-night." He rose from his chair and found his coat. His manner was gravely sad and gave evidence of his disappointment with the evening's conversation.
"Dinna fash yerself, minister," said the old lady, helping him on with his coat. "The 'trouble' will blow ower, a doot. It'll a' come oot richt."
"Mrs. McNish, what I have seen and heard in this house to-night," said the minister solemnly, "gives me little hope that it will all come right, but rather gives me grave concern." Then, looking straight into the eyes of her son, he added: "I came here expecting to find help and guidance in discovering a reasonable way out of a very grave and serious difficulty. I confess I have been disappointed."
"Mr. Matheson," said McNish, "I am always glad to discuss any matter with you in a reasonable and kindly way."
"I am afraid my presence has not helped very much, Mrs. McNish," said Maitland. "I am sorry I came tonight. I did come earnestly desiring and hoping that we might find a way out. It seems I have made a mistake."
"You came at my request, Maitland," said the minister. "If a mistake has been made, it is mine. Good-night, Mrs. McNish. Good-night, Malcolm. I don't pretend to know or understand what is in your heart, but I am going to say to you as your minister that where there is evil passion there can be no clear thinking. And further, let me say that upon you will devolve a heavy responsibility for the guidance you give these men. Good-night again. Remember that One whom we both acknowledge as the source of all true light said: 'If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.'" He shook hands first with the mother, then with the son, who turned away from him with a curt "Good-night" and nodded to Maitland.
For a moment or two neither of the men spoke. They were both grievously disappointed in the interview.
"I never saw him like that," said the Reverend Murdo at length. "What can be the matter with him? With him passion is darkening counsel."
"Well," said Maitland, "I have found out one thing that I wanted."
"And what is that?"
"These men clearly do not want what they are asking for. They want chiefly war—at least, McNish does."
"I am deeply disappointed in McNish," replied the minister, "and I confess I am anxious. McNish, above all others, is the brains of this movement, and in that mood there is little hope of reason from him. I fear it will be a sore fight, with a doubtful issue."
"Oh, I don't despair," said Maitland cheerily. "I have an idea he has a quarrel with me. He wants to get me. But we can beat him."
The Reverend Murdo waited for a further explanation, but was too much of a gentleman to press the point and kept silent till they reached his door.
"You will not desert us, Mr. Matheson," said Maitland earnestly.
"Desert you? It is my job. These people are my people. We cannot desert them."
"Right you are," said Maitland. "Cheerio. We'll carry on. He shook hands warmly with the minister and went off, whistling cheerily.
"That is a man to follow," said the minister to himself. "He goes whistling into a fight."
The negotiations between the men and their employers, in which the chief exponents of the principles of justice and fair play were Mr. McGinnis on the one hand and Brother Simmons on the other, broke down at the second meeting, which ended in a vigorous personal encounter between these gentlemen, without, however, serious injury to either.
The following day a general strike was declared. All work ceased in the factories affected and building operations which had begun in a moderate way were arrested. Grant Maitland was heartily disgusted with the course of events and more especially with the humiliating and disgraceful manner in which the negotiations had been conducted.
"You were quite right, Jack," he said to his son the morning after which the strike had been declared. "That man McGinnis is quite impossible."
"It really made little difference, Dad. The negotiations were hopeless from the beginning. There was no chance of peace."
"Because McNish wants war." He proceeded to give an account of the evening spent at the McNish home. "When McNish wants peace, we can easily end the strike," concluded Jack.
"There is something in what you say, doubtless," replied his father, "but meantime there is a lot to be done."
"What do you mean exactly, Father?"
"We have a lot of stock made up on hand. The market is dead at present prices. There is no hope of sales. The market will fall lower still. I propose that we take our loss and unload at the best rate we can get."
"That is your job, Dad. I know little about that, but I believe you are right. I have been doing a lot of reading in trade journals and that sort of thing, and I believe that a big slump is surely coming. But there is a lot to do in my department at the Mills, also. I am not satisfied with the inside arrangement of our planing mill. There is a lot of time wasted and there is an almost complete lack of co-ordination. Here is a plan I want to show you. The idea is to improve the routing of our work."
Maitland glanced at the plan perfunctorily, more to please his son than anything else. But, after a second glance, he became deeply interested and began to ask questions. After half an hour's study he said:
"Jack, this is really a vast improvement. Strange, I never thought of a great many of these things."
"I have been reading up a bit, and when I was on my trip two weeks ago I looked in upon two or three of the plants of our competitors. I believe this will be more up-to-date and will save time and labour."
"I am sure it will, boy. And we will put this in hand at once. But what about men?"
"Oh, we can pick up labourers, and that is all we want at the present time."
"All right, go at it. I will give you a hand myself."
"Then there is something else, Dad. We ought to have a good athletic field for our men."
His father gasped at him.
"An athletic field for those ungrateful rascals?"
"Father, they are not rascals," said his son. "They are just the same to-day as they ever were. A decent lot of chaps who don't think the same as we do on a number of points. But they are coming back again some time and we may as well be ready for them. Look at this."
And before Grant Maitland could recover his speech he found himself looking at a beautifully-drawn plan of athletic grounds set out with walks, shade trees and shrubbery, and with a plain but commodious club-house appearing in the background.
"And where do you get this land, and what does it cost you?"
"The land," replied Jack, "is your land about the old mill. It will cost us nothing, I hope. The old mill site contains two and one-half acres. It can be put in shape with little work. The mill itself is an eyesore; ought to have been removed long ago. Dad, you ought to have seen the plant at Violetta, that is in Ohio, you know. It is a joy to behold. But never mind about that. The lumber in the old mill can be used up in the club-house. The timbers are wonderful; nothing like them to-day anywhere. The outside finishing will be done with slabs from our own yard. They will make a very pretty job."
"And where do you get the men for this work?" inquired his father.
"Why, our men. It is for themselves and they are our men."
"Voluntary work, I suppose?" inquired Maitland.
"Voluntary work?" said Jack. "We couldn't have men work for us for nothing."
"And you mean to pay them for the construction of their own athletic grounds and club-house?"
"But why not?" inquired Jack in amazement.
His father threw back his head and began to laugh.
"This is really the most extraordinary thing I have ever heard of in all my life," he said, after he had done with his laugh. "Your men strike; you prepare for them a beautiful club-house and athletic grounds as a reward for their loyalty. You pay them wages so that they may be able to sustain the strike indefinitely." Again he threw back his head and continued laughing as Jack had never in his life heard him laugh.
"Why not, Dad?" said Jack, gazing at his father in half-shamed perplexity. "The idea of athletic grounds and club-house is according to the best modern thought. These are our own men. You are not like McGinnis. You are not enraged at them. You don't hate them. They are going to work for us again in some days or weeks. They are idle and therefore available for work. You can get better work from them than from other men. And you wouldn't take their work from them for nothing."
Again his father began to laugh. "Your argument, Jack," he said when he was able to control his speech, "is absolutely unanswerable. There is no answer possible on any count; but did ever man hear of such a scheme? Did you?"
"I confess not. But, Dad, you are a good sport. We are out to win this fight, but we don't want to injure anybody. We are going to beat them, but we don't want to abuse them unnecessarily. Besides, I think it is good business. And then, you see, I really like these chaps."
"Simmons, for instance?" said his father with an ironical smile.
"Well, Simmons, just as much as you can like an ass."
"And McNish?" inquired Maitland.
"McNish," echoed Jack, a cloud falling upon his face. "I confess I don't understand McNish. At least," he added, "I am sorry for McNish. But what do you say to my scheme, Dad?"
"Well, boy," said his father, beginning to laugh again, "give me a night to think it over."
Then Jack departed, not quite sure of himself or of the plan which appeared to give his father such intense amusement. "At any rate," he said to himself as he walked out of the office, "if it is a joke it is a good one. And it has given the governor a better laugh than he has had for five years."
The Mayor of Blackwater was peculiarly sensitive to public opinion and acutely susceptible of public approval. In addition, he was possessed of a somewhat exalted idea of his powers as the administrator in public affairs, and more particularly as a mediator in times of strife. He had been singularly happy in his mediation between the conflicting elements in his Council, and more than once he had been successful in the composing of disputes in arbitration cases submitted to his judgment. Moreover, he had an eye to a second term in the mayor's chair, which gubernatorial and majestical office gave full scope to the ruling ambition of his life, which was, in his own words, "to guard the interests and promote the well-being of my people."
The industrial strike appeared to furnish him with an opportunity to gratify this ambition. He resolved to put an end to this unnecessary and wasteful struggle, and to that end he summoned to a public meeting his fellow citizens of all classes, at which he invited each party in the industrial strife to make a statement of their case, in the hope that a fair and reasonable settlement might be effected.
The employers were more than dubious of the issue, having but a small idea of the mayor's power of control and less of his common-sense. Brother Simmons, however, foreseeing a magnificent field for the display of his forensic ability, a thing greatly desired by labour leaders of his kidney, joyfully welcomed the proposal. McNish gave hesitating assent, but, relying upon his experience in the management of public assemblies and confident of his ability to shape events to his own advantage, he finally agreed to accept the invitation.
The public meeting packed the City Hall, with representatives of both parties in the controversy in about equal numbers and with a great body of citizens more or less keenly interested in the issue of the meeting and expectant of a certain amount of "fun." The Mayor's opening speech was thoroughly characteristic. He was impressed with the responsibility that was his for the well-being of his people. Like all right-thinking citizens of this fair town of Blackwater, he deeply regretted this industrial strife. It interfered with business. It meant loss of money to the strikers. It was an occasion of much inconvenience to the citizens and it engendered bitterness of feeling that might take months, even years, to remove. He stood there as the friend of the working man. He was a working man himself and was proud of it. He believed that on the whole they were good fellows. He was a friend also of the employers of labour. What could we do without them? How could our great industries prosper without their money and their brains? The one thing necessary for success was co-operation. That was the great word in modern democracy. In glowing periods he illustrated this point from their experiences in the war. All they wanted to do was to sit down together, and, man to man, talk their difficulties over. He would be glad to assist them, and he had no doubt as to the result. He warned the working man that hard times were coming. The spectre of unemployment was already parading their streets. Unemployment meant disorder, rioting. This, he assured them, would not be permitted. At all costs order would be maintained. He had no wish to threaten, but he promised them that the peace would be preserved at all costs. He suggested that the strikers should get back at once to work and the negotiations should proceed in the meantime.
At this point Brother Simmons rose.
"The mayor (h)urges the workers to get back to work," he said. "Does 'e mean at (h)increased pay, or not? 'E says as 'ow this strike interferes with business. 'E doesn't tell us what business. But I can tell 'im it (h)interferes with the business of robbery of the workin' man. 'E deplores the loss of money to the strikers. Let me tell 'im that the workin' men are prepared to suffer that loss. True, they 'ave no big bank accounts to carry 'em on, but there are things that they love more than money—liberty and justice and the rights of the people. What are we strikin' for? Nothin' but what is our own. The workin' man makes (h)everything that is made. What percentage of the returns does 'e get in wages? They won't tell us that. Last year these factories were busy in the makin' o' munitions. Mr. McGinnis 'ere was makin' shells. I'd like to (h)ask, Mr. Mayor, what profit Mr. McGinnis made out of these shells."
Mr. McGinnis sprang to his feet, "I want to tell you," he said in a voice choking with rage, "that it is none of your high-explosive business."
"'E says as it is none o' my business," cried Brother Simmons, joyously taking Mr. McGinnis on. "Let me (h)ask 'im who paid for these shells? I did, you did, all of us did. Not my business? Then 'ose business is it? (H)If 'e was paid a fair price for 'is shells, (h)all right, I say nothin' against it. If 'e was paid more than a fair price, then 'e is a robber, worse, 'e is a blood robber, because the price was paid in blood."
At once a dozen men were on their feet. Cries of "Order! Order!" and "Put him out!" arose on every hand. The mayor rose from his chair and, in an impressive voice, said: "We must have order. Sit down, Mr. Simmons." Simmons sat down promptly. Union men are thoroughly disciplined in points of order. "We must have order," continued the mayor. "I will not permit any citizen to be insulted. We all did our bit in this town of Blackwater. Some of us went to fight, and some that could not go to fight 'kept the home fires burning'." A shout of derisive laughter from the working men greeted this phrase. The mayor was deeply hurt. "I want to say that those who could not go to the war did their bit at home. Let the meeting proceed, but let us observe the courtesies that are proper in debate."
Again Simmons took the floor. "As I was sayin', Mr. Mayor—"
Cries of "Order! Order! Sit down!"
"—Mr. Mayor, I believe I 'ave the floor?"
"Yes, you have. Go on. But you must not insult."
"(H)Insult? Did I (h)insult anybody? I don't know what Mr. McGinnis made from 'is shells. I only said that if—you (h)understand—if 'e made more than e ought to, 'e is a robber. And since the price of our freedom was paid in blood, if 'e made more than was fair, 'e's a blood robber."
Again the cries arose. "Throw him out!" Once more the mayor rose. "You must not make insinuations, sir," he cried angrily. "You must not make insinuations against respectable citizens."
"(H)Insinooations," cried Simmons. "No, sir, I never make no (h)insinooations. If I knew that (h)any man 'ere 'ad made (h)unfair profits I wouldn't make no (h)insinooations. I would charge 'im right 'ere with blood robbery. And let me say," shouted Simmons, taking a step into the aisle, "that the time may come when the working men of this country will make these charges, and will (h)ask the people who kept the ''ome fires burning'—"
Yells of derisive laughter.
"—what profits came to them from these same 'ome fires. The people will (h)ask for an (h)explanation of these bank accounts, of these new factories, of these big stores, of these (h)autermobiles. The people that went to the war and were (h)unfortoonate enough to return came back to poverty, while many of these 'ere 'ome fire burners came (h)out with fortunes." At this point brother Simmons cast a fierce and baleful eye upon a group of the employers who sat silent and wrathful before him. "And now, what I say," continued Brother Simmons—
At this point a quiet voice was heard.
"Mr. Mayor, I rise to a point of order."
Immediately Simmons took his seat.
"Mr. Farrington," said the mayor, recognising one of the largest building contractors in the town.
"Mr. Mayor, I should like to ask what are we discussing this afternoon? Are we discussing the war records of the citizens of Blackwater? If so, that is not what I came for. It may be interesting to find out what each man did in the war. I find that those who did most say least. I don't know what Mr. Simmons did in the war. I suppose he was there."
With one spring Simmons was on his feet and in the aisle. He ripped off coat and vest, pulled his shirt over his head and revealed a back covered with the network of ghastly scars. "The gentleman (h)asks," he panted, "what I done in the war. I don't know. I cannot say what I done in the war, but that is what the war done to me." The effect was positively overwhelming.
A deadly silence gripped the audience for a single moment. Then upon every hand rose fierce yells, oaths and strange cries. Above the uproar came Farrington's booming voice. Leaving his seat, which was near the back of the hall, he came forward, crying out:
"Mr. Mayor! Mr. Mayor! I demand attention!" As he reached Simmons's side, he paused and, facing about, he looked upon the array of faces pale and tense with passion. "I want to apologise to this gentleman," he said in a voice breaking with emotion. "I should not have said what I did. The man who bears these scars is a man I am proud to know." He turned swiftly toward Simmons with outstretched hand. "I am proud to know you, sir. I could not go to the war. I was past age. I sent my two boys. They are over there still." As the two men shook hands, for once in his life Simmons was speechless. His face was suffused with uncontrollable feeling. On every side were seen men, strong men, with tears streaming down their faces. A nobler spirit seemed to fall upon them all. In the silence that followed, Mr. Maitland rose.
"Mr. Mayor," he said quietly, "we have all suffered together in this war. I, for one, want to do the fair thing by our men. Let us meet them and talk things over before any fair-minded committee. Surely we who have suffered together in war can work together in peace." It was a noble appeal, and met with a noble response. On all sides and from all parties a storm of cheers broke forth.
Then the Reverend Murdo Matheson rose to his feet. "Mr. Mayor," he said, "I confess I was not hopeful of the result of this meeting. But I am sure we all recognise the presence and influence of a mightier Spirit than ours. From the outset I have been convinced that the problems in the industrial situation here are not beyond solution, and should yield to fair and reasonable consideration. I venture to move that a committee of five be appointed, two to be chosen by each of the parties in this dispute, who would in turn choose a chairman; that this committee meet with representatives of both parties; and that their decision in all cases be final."
Mr. Farrington rose and heartily seconded the motion.
At this point Jack, who was sitting near the platform and whose eyes were wandering over the audience, was startled by the look on the face of McNish. It was a look in which mingled fear, anxiety, wrath. He seemed to be on the point of starting to his feet when McGinnis broke in:
"Do I understand that the decision of this committee is to be final on every point?"
"Certainly," said the Reverend Murdo. "There is no other way by which we can arrive at a decision."
"Do you mean," cried McGinnis, "that if this committee says I must hire only union men in my foundry that I must do so?"
"I would reply," said the Reverend Murdo, "that we must trust this committee to act in a fair and reasonable way."
But Mr. McGinnis was not satisfied with this answer.
"I want to know," he cried in growing anger, "I want to know exactly where we are and I want a definite answer. Will this committee have the right to force me to employ only union men?"
"Mr. Mayor," replied the Reverend Murdo, "Mr. McGinnis is right in asking for definiteness. My answer is that we must trust this committee to do what is wise and reasonable, and we must accept their decision as final in every case."
Thereupon McGinnis rose and expressed an earnest desire for a tragic and unhappy and age-long fate if he would consent to any such proposition. With terrible swiftness the spirit of the meeting was changed. The moment of lofty emotion and noble impulse passed. The opportunity for reason and fair play to determine the issue was lost, and the old evil spirit of suspicion and hate fell upon the audience like a pall.
At this point McNish, from whose face all anxiety had disappeared, rose and said:
"For my part, and speaking for the working men of this town, I am ready to accept the proposal that has been made. We have no fear for the justice of our demands like some men here present. We know we have the right on our side and we are willing to accept the judgment of such a committee as has been proposed." The words were fair enough, but the tone of sneering contempt was so irritating that immediately the position assumed by McGinnis received support from his fellow employers on every hand. Once more uproar ensued. The mayor, in a state of angry excitement, sought in vain to restore order.
After some minutes of heated altercation with Mr. McGinnis, whom he threatened with expulsion from the meeting, the mayor finally left the chair and the meeting broke up in disorder which threatened to degenerate into a series of personal encounters.
Again McNish took command. Leaping upon a chair, with a loud voice which caught at once the ears of his following, he announced that a meeting was to be held immediately in the union rooms, and he added: "When these men here want us again, they know where to find us." He was answered with a roar of approval, and with an ugly smile on his face he led his people in triumph from the hall, leaving behind the mayor, still engaged in a heated argument with McGinnis and certain employers who sympathised with the Irishman's opinions. Thus the strike passed into another and more dangerous phase.
On the Rectory lawn a hard-fought game had just finished, bringing to a conclusion a lengthened series of contests which had extended over a whole week, in which series Patricia, with her devoted cavalier, Victor Forsythe, had been forced to accept defeat at the hands of her sister and her partner, Hugh Maynard.
"Partner, you were wonderful in that last set!" said Patricia, as they moved off together to offer their congratulations to their conquerors.
"Patsy," said her partner, in a low voice, "as ever, you are superb in defeat as in victory. Superb, unapproachable, wonderful."
"Anything else, Vic?" inquired Patsy, grinning at the youth.
"Oh, a whole lot more, Pat, if you only give me a chance to tell you."
"No time just now," cried Patricia as she reached the others. "Well, you two deserved to win. You played ripping tennis," she continued, offering Hugh her hand.
"So did you, Pat. You were at the very top of your form."
"Well, some other day," said Vic. "I think we are improving a bit, partner. A little more close harmony will do the trick."
"Come away, children," said Mrs. Templeton, calling to them from the shade at the side of the courts. "You must be very tired and done out. Why, how hot you look, Patricia."
"Stunning, I should say!" murmured Vic, looking at her with adoring eyes.
And a truly wonderful picture the girl made, in her dainty muslin frock, her bold red hair tossed in a splendid aureole about her face. Care-free, heart-free, as she flashed from her hearty blue eyes her saucy and bewitching glances at her partner's face, her mother sighed, thinking that her baby girl was swiftly slipping away from her and forever into that wider world of womanhood where others would claim her.
In lovely contrast stood her sister, dressed in flannel skirt and sweater of old gold silk, fair, tall, beautiful, a delicate grace in every line of her body and a proud, yet gentle strength in every feature of her face. There dwelt in her deep blue eyes a look of hidden, mysterious power which had wrought in her mother a certain fear of her eldest daughter. The mother never quite knew what to expect from Adrien. Yet, for all, she carried an assured confidence that whatever she might do, her daughter never would shame the high traditions of her race.
The long shadows from the tall elms lay across the velvet sward of the Rectory lawn. The heat of the early June day had given place to the cool air of the evening. The exquisitely delicate colouring from the setting sun flooded the sky overhead and deepened into blues and purples behind the elms and the church spire. A deep peace had fallen upon the world except that from the topmost bough of the tallest elm tree a robin sang, pouring his very heart out in a song of joyous optimism.
The little group, disposed upon the lawn according to their various desires, stood and sat looking up at the brave little songster.
"How happy he is," said Mrs. Templeton, a wistful cadence of sadness in her voice.
"I wonder if he is, Mamma. Perhaps he is only pretending," said Adrien.
"Cheerio, old chap!" cried Vic, waving his hand at the gallant little songster. "You are a regular grouch killer."
"He has no troubles," said Mrs. Templeton, with a sigh.
"I wonder, Mamma. Or is he just bluffing us all?"
"He has no strike, at any rate, to worry him," said Patricia, "and, by the way, what is the news to-day? Does anybody know? Is there any change?"
"Oh," cried Vic, "there has been a most exciting morning at the E. D. C.—the Employers' Defence Committee," he explained, in answer to Mrs. Templeton's mystified look.
"Do go on!" cried Patricia impatiently. "Was there a fight? They are always having one."
"Of course there was the usual morning scrap, but with a variation to-day of a deputation from the brethren of the Ministerial Association. But, of course, Mrs. Templeton, the Doctor must have told you already."
"I hardly ever see him these days. He is dreadfully occupied. There is so much trouble, sickness and that sort of thing. Oh, it is all terribly sad. The Doctor is almost worn out."
"He made a wonderful speech to the magnates, my governor says."
"Oh, go on, Vic!" cried Patricia. "Why do you stop? You are so deliberate."
"I was thinking of that speech," replied Victor more quietly than was his wont. "It came at a most dramatic moment. The governor was quite worked up over it and gave me a full account. They had just got all their reports in—'all safe along the Potomac'—no break in the front line—Building Industries slightly shaky due to working men's groups taking on small contracts, which excited great wrath and which McGinnis declared must be stopped."
"How can they stop them? This is a free country," said Adrien.
"Aha!" cried Victor. "Little you know of the resources of the E. D. C. It is proposed that the supply dealers should refuse supplies to all builders until the strike is settled. No more lumber, lime, cement, etc., etc."
"Boycott, eh? I call that pretty rotten," said Adrien.
"The majority were pretty much for it, however, except Maitland and my governor, they protesting that this boycott was hardly playing the game. Your friend Captain Jack came in for his licks," continued Vic, turning to Patricia. "It appears he has been employing strikers in some work or other, which some of the brethren considered to be not according to Hoyle."
"Nonsense!" cried Patricia indignantly. "Jack took me yesterday to see the work. He showed me all the plans and we went over the grounds. It is a most splendid thing, Mamma! He is laying out athletic grounds for his men, with a club house and all that sort of thing. They are going to be perfectly splendid! Do you mean to say they were blaming him for this? Who was?" And Patricia stood ready for battle.
"Kamerad!" cried Vic, holding up his hands. "Not me! However, Jack was exonerated, for it appears he sent them a letter two weeks ago, telling them what he proposed to do, to which letter they had raised no objection."
"Well, what then?" inquired Patricia.
"Oh, the usual thing. They all resolved to stand pat—no surrender—or, rather, let the whole line advance—you know the stuff—when into this warlike atmosphere walked the deputation from the Ministerial Association. It gave the E. D. C. a slight shock, so my Dad says. The Doctor fired the first gun. My governor says that it was like a breath from another world. His face was enough. Everybody felt mean for just being what they were. I know exactly what that is, for I know the way he makes me feel when I look at him in church. You know what I mean, Pat."
"I know," said Patricia softly, letting her hand fall upon her mother's shoulder.
"Well," continued Vic, "the Doctor just talked to them as if they were his children. They hadn't been very good and he was sorry for them. He would like to help them to be better. The other side, too, had been doing wrong, and they were having a bad time. They were suffering, and as he went on to tell them in that wonderful voice of his about the women and children, every man in the room, so the governor said, was wondering how much he had in his pocket. And then he told them of how wicked it was for men whose sons had died together in France to be fighting each other here in Canada. Well, you know my governor. As he told me this tale, we just both of us bowed our heads and wept. It's the truth, so help me, just as you are doing now, Pat."
"I am not," cried Patricia indignantly. "And I don't care if I am. He is a dear and those men are just—"
"Hush, dear," said Mrs. Templeton gently. "And did they agree to anything?"
"Alas, not they, for at that moment some old Johnny began asking questions and then that old fire-eater, McGinnis, horned in again. No Arbitration Committee for him—no one could come into his foundry and tell him how to run his business—same old stuff, you know. Well, then, the Methodist Johnny took a hand. What's his name? Haynes, isn't it?"
"Yes, Haynes," said Hugh Maynard.
"Well, Brother Haynes took up the tale. He is an eloquent chap, all right. He took the line 'As you are strong, be pitiful,' but the psychological moment had gone and the line still held strong. Campbell of the woollen mills invited him up to view his $25,000.00 stock 'all dressed up and nowhere to go.' 'Tell me how I can pay increased wages with this stock on my hands.' And echo answered 'How?' Haynes could not. Then my old chief took a hand—the Reverend Murdo Matheson. He is a good old scout, a Padre, you know—regular fire-eater—a rasping voice and grey matter oozing from his pores. My governor says he abandoned the frontal attack and took them on the flank. Opened up with a dose of economics that made them sit up. And when he got through on this line, he made every man feel that it was entirely due to the courtesy and forbearance of the union that he was allowed to carry on business at all. He spiked Brother McGinnis's guns by informing him that if he was harbouring the idea that he owned a foundry all on his own, he was labouring under a hallucination. All he owned was a heap of brick and mortar and some iron and steel junk arranged in some peculiar way. In fact, there was no foundry there till the workmen came in and started the wheels going round. Old McGinnis sat gasping like a chicken with the pip. Then the Padre turned on the 'Liberty of the subject' stop as follows: 'Mr. McGinnis insists upon liberty to run his foundry as he likes; insists upon perfect freedom of action. There is no such thing as perfect freedom of action in modern civilisation. For instance, Mr. McGinnis rushing to catch a train, hurls his Hudson Six gaily down Main Street thirty miles an hour, on the left-hand side of the street. A speed cop sidles up, whispers a sweet something in his ear, hails him ignominiously into court and invites him to contribute to the support of the democracy fifty little iron men as an evidence of his devotion to the sacred principle of personal liberty. In short, there is no such thing as personal liberty in this burg, unless it is too late for the cop to see.' The governor says McGinnis's face afforded a perfect study in emotions. I should have liked to have seen it. The Padre never took his foot off the accelerator. He took them all for an excursion along the 'Responsibility' line: personal responsibility, mutual responsibility, community responsibility and every responsibility known to the modern mind. And then when he had them eating out of his hand, he offered them two alternatives: an Arbitration Committee as formerly proposed, or a Conciliation Board under the Lemieux Act. My governor says it was a great speech. He had 'em all jumping through the hoops."