The Iron Heel
by Jack London
IT CANNOT BE SAID THAT THE Everhard Manuscript is an important
historical document. To the historian it bristles with errors- not
errors of fact, but errors of interpretation. Looking back across
the seven centuries that have lapsed since Avis Everhard completed her
manuscript, events, and the bearings of events, that were confused and
veiled to her, are clear to us. She lacked perspective. She was too
close to the events she writes about. Nay, she was merged in the
events she has described.
Nevertheless, as a personal document, the Everhard Manuscript is
of inestimable value. But here again enter error of perspective, and
vitiation due to the bias of love. Yet we smile, indeed, and forgive
Avis Everhard for the heroic lines upon which she modelled her
husband. We know to-day that he was not so colossal, and that he
loomed among the events of his times less largely than the
Manuscript would lead us to believe.
We know that Ernest Everhard was an exceptionally strong man, but
not so exceptional as his wife thought him to be. He was, after all,
but one of a large number of heroes who, throughout the world, devoted
their lives to the Revolution; though it must be conceded that he
did unusual work, especially in his elaboration and interpretation
of working-class philosophy. 'Proletarian science' and 'proletarian
philosophy' were his phrases for it, and therein he shows the
provincialism of his mind- a defect, however, that was due to the
times and that none in that day could escape.
But to return to the Manuscript. Especially valuable is it in
communicating to us the feel of those terrible times. Nowhere do we
find more vividly portrayed the psychology of the persons that lived
in that turbulent period embraced between the years 1912 and 1932-
their mistakes and ignorance, their doubts and fears and
misapprehensions, their ethical delusions, their violent passions,
their inconceivable sordidness and selfishness. These are the things
that are so hard for us of this enlightened age to understand. History
tells us that these things were, and biology and psychology tell us
why they were; but history and biology and psychology do not make
these things alive. We accept them as facts, but we are left without
sympathetic comprehension of them.
This sympathy comes to us, however, as we peruse the Everhard
Manuscript. We enter into the minds of the actors in that long-ago
world-drama, and for the time being their mental processes are our
mental processes. Not alone do we understand Avis Everhard's love
for her hero-husband, but we feel, as he felt, in those first days,
the vague and terrible loom of the Oligarchy. The Iron Heel (well
named) we feel descending upon and crushing mankind.
And in passing we note that that historic phrase, the Iron Heel,
originated in Ernest Everhard's mind. This, we may say, is the one
moot question that this new-found document clears up. Previous to
this, the earliest-known use of the phrase occurred in the pamphlet,
'Ye Slaves,' written by George Milford and published in December,
1912. This George Milford was an obscure agitator about whom nothing
is known, save the one additional bit of information gained from the
Manuscript, which mentions that he was shot in the Chicago Commune.
Evidently he had heard Ernest Everhard make use of the phrase in
some public speech, most probably when he was running for Congress
in the fall of 1912. From the Manuscript we learn that Everhard used
the phrase at a private dinner in the spring of 1912. This is, without
discussion, the earliest-known occasion on which the Oligarchy was
The rise of the Oligarchy will always remain a cause of secret
wonder to the historian and the philosopher. Other great historical
events have their place in social evolution. They were inevitable.
Their coming could have been predicted with the same certitude that
astronomers to-day predict the outcome of the movements of stars.
Without these other great historical events, social evolution could
not have proceeded. Primitive communism, chattel slavery, serf
slavery, and wage slavery were necessary stepping-stones in the
evolution of society. But it were ridiculous to assert that the Iron
Heel was a necessary stepping-stone. Rather, to-day, is it adjudged
a step aside, or a step backward, to the social tyrannies that made
the early world a hell, but that were as necessary as the Iron Heel
Black as Feudalism was, yet the coming of it was inevitable. What
else than Feudalism could have followed upon the breakdown of that
great centralized governmental machine known as the Roman Empire?
Not so, however, with the Iron Heel. In the orderly procedure of
social evolution there was no place for it. It was not necessary,
and it was not inevitable. It must always remain the great curiosity
of history- a whim, a fantasy, an apparition, a thing unexpected and
undreamed; and it should serve as a warning to those rash political
theorists of to-day who speak with certitude of social processes.
Capitalism was adjudged by the sociologists of the time to be the
culmination of bourgeois rule, the ripened fruit of the bourgeois
revolution. And we of to-day can but applaud that judgment.
Following upon Capitalism, it was held, even by such intellectual
and antagonistic giants as Herbert Spencer, that Socialism would come.
Out of the decay of self-seeking capitalism, it was held, would
arise that flower of the ages, the Brotherhood of Man. Instead of
which, appalling alike to us who look back and to those that lived
at the time, capitalism, rotten-ripe, sent forth that monstrous
offshoot, the Oligarchy.
Too late did the socialist movement of the early twentieth century
divine the coming of the Oligarchy. Even as it was divined, the
Oligarchy was there- a fact established in blood, a stupendous and
awful reality. Nor even then, as the Everhard Manuscript well shows,
was any permanence attributed to the Iron Heel. Its overthrow was a
matter of a few short years, was the judgment of the revolutionists.
It is true, they realized that the Peasant Revolt was unplanned, and
that the First Revolt was premature; but they little realized that the
Second Revolt, planned and mature, was doomed to equal futility and
more terrible punishment.
It is apparent that Avis Everhard completed the Manuscript during
the last days of preparation for the Second Revolt; hence the fact
that there is no mention of the disastrous outcome of the Second
Revolt. It is quite clear that she intended the Manuscript for
immediate publication, as soon as the Iron Heel was overthrown, so
that her husband, so recently dead, should receive full credit for all
that he had ventured and accomplished. Then came the frightful
crushing of the Second Revolt, and it is probable that in the moment
of danger, ere she fled or was captured by the Mercenaries, she hid
the Manuscript in the hollow oak at Wake Robin Lodge.
Of Avis Everhard there is no further record. Undoubtedly she was
executed by the Mercenaries; and, as is well known, no record of
such executions was kept by the Iron Heel. But little did she realize,
even then, as she hid the Manuscript and prepared to flee, how
terrible had been the breakdown of the Second Revolt. Little did she
realize that the tortuous and distorted evolution of the next three
centuries would compel a Third Revolt and a Fourth Revolt, and many
Revolts, all drowned in seas of blood, ere the world-movement of labor
should come into its own. And little did she dream that for seven long
centuries the tribute of her love to Ernest Everhard would repose
undisturbed in the heart of the ancient oak of Wake Robin Lodge.
November 27, 419 B.O.M.
THE SOFT SUMMER WIND stirs the redwoods, and Wild-Water ripples
sweet cadences over its mossy stones. There are butterflies in the
sunshine, and from everywhere arises the drowsy hum of bees. It is
so quiet and peaceful, and I sit here, and ponder, and am restless. It
is the quiet that makes me restless. It seems unreal. All the world is
quiet, but it is the quiet before the storm. I strain my ears, and all
my senses, for some betrayal of that impending storm. Oh, that it
may not be premature! That it may not be premature!*
* The Second Revolt was largely the work of Ernest Everhard,
though he cooperated, of course, with the European leaders. The
capture and secret execution of Everhard was the great event of the
spring of 1932 A.D. Yet so thoroughly had he prepared for the
revolt, that his fellow-conspirators were able, with little
confusion or delay, to carry out his plans. It was after Everhard's
execution that his wife went to Wake Robin Lodge, a small bungalow
in the Sonoma Hills of California.
Small wonder that I am restless. I think, and think, and I cannot
cease from thinking. I have been in the thick of life so long that I
am oppressed by the peace and quiet, and I cannot forbear from
dwelling upon that mad maelstrom of death and destruction so soon to
burst forth. In my ears are the cries of the stricken; and I can
see, as I have seen in the past,* all the marring and mangling of
the sweet, beautiful flesh, and the souls torn with violence from
proud bodies and hurled to God. Thus do we poor humans attain our
ends, striving through carnage and destruction to bring lasting
peace and happiness upon the earth.
* Without doubt she here refers to the Chicago Commune.
And then I am lonely. When I do not think of what is to come, I
think of what has been and is no more- my Eagle, beating with tireless
wings the void, soaring toward what was ever his sun, the flaming
ideal of human freedom. I cannot sit idly by and wait the great
event that is his making, though he is not here to see. He devoted all
the years of his manhood to it, and for it he gave his life. It is his
handiwork. He made it.*
* With all respect to Avis Everhard, it must be pointed out that
Everhard was but one of many able leaders who planned the Second
Revolt. And we to-day, looking back across the centuries, can safely
say that even had he lived, the Second Revolt would not have been less
calamitous in its outcome than it was.
And so it is, in this anxious time of waiting, that I shall write of
my husband. There is much light that I alone of all persons living can
throw upon his character, and so noble a character cannot be
blazoned forth too brightly. His was a great soul, and, when my love
grows unselfish, my chiefest regret is that he is not here to
witness to-morrow's dawn. We cannot fail. He has built too stoutly and
too surely for that. Woe to the Iron Heel! Soon shall it be thrust
back from off prostrate humanity. When the word goes forth, the
labor hosts of all the world shall rise. There has been nothing like
it in the history of the world. The solidarity of labor is assured,
and for the first time will there be an international revolution
wide as the world is wide.*
* The Second Revolt was truly international. It was a colossal plan-
too colossal to be wrought by the genius of one man alone. Labor, in
all the oligarchies of the world, was prepared to rise at the
signal. Germany, Italy, France, and all Australasia were labor
countries- socialist states. They were ready to lend aid to the
revolution. Gallantly they did; and it was for this reason, when the
Second Revolt was crushed, that they, too, were crushed by the
united oligarchies of the world, their socialist governments being
replaced by oligarchical governments.
You see, I am full of what is impending. I have lived it day and
night utterly and for so long that it is ever present in my mind.
For that matter, I cannot think of my husband without thinking of
it. He was the soul of it, and how can I possibly separate the two
As I have said, there is much light that I alone can throw upon
his character. It is well known that he toiled hard for liberty and
suffered sore. How hard he toiled and how greatly he suffered, I
well know; for I have been with him during these twenty anxious
years and I know his patience, his untiring effort, his infinite
devotion to the Cause for which, only two months gone, he laid down
I shall try to write simply and to tell here how Ernest Everhard
entered my life- how I first met him, how he grew until I became a
part of him, and the tremendous changes he wrought in my life. In this
way may you look at him through my eyes and learn him as I learned
him- in all save the things too secret and sweet for me to tell.
It was in February, 1912, that I first met him, when, as a guest
of my father's* at dinner, he came to our house in Berkeley. I
cannot say that my very first impression of him was favorable. He
was one of many at dinner, and in the drawing-room where we gathered
and waited for all to arrive, he made a rather incongruous appearance.
It was 'preacher's night,' as my father privately called it, and
Ernest was certainly out of place in the midst of the churchmen.
* John Cunningham, Avis Everhard's father, was a professor at the
State University at Berkeley, California. His chosen field was
physics, and in addition he did much original research and was greatly
distinguished as a scientist. His chief contribution to science was
his studies of the electron and his monumental work on the
'Identification of Matter and Energy,' wherein he established,
beyond cavil and for all time, that the ultimate unit of matter and
the ultimate unit of force were identical. This idea had been
earlier advanced, but not demonstrated, by Sir Oliver Lodge and
other students in the new field of radio-activity.
In the first place, his clothes did not fit him. He wore a
ready-made suit of dark cloth that was ill adjusted to his body. In
fact, no ready-made suit of clothes ever could fit his body. And on
this night, as always, the cloth bulged with his muscles, while the
coat between the shoulders, what of the heavy shoulder-development,
was a maze of wrinkles. His neck was the neck of a prize-fighter,*
thick and strong. So this was the social philosopher and ex-horseshoer
my father had discovered, was my thought. And he certainly looked it
with those bulging muscles and that bull-throat. Immediately I
classified him- a sort of prodigy, I thought, a Blind Tom*(2) of the
* In that day it was the custom of men to compete for purses of
money. They fought with their hands. When one was beaten into
insensibility or killed, the survivor took the money.
*(2) This obscure reference applies to a blind negro musician who
took the world by storm in the latter half of the nineteenth century
of the Christian Era.
And then, when he shook hands with me! His handshake was firm and
strong, but he looked at me boldly with his black eyes- too boldly,
I thought. You see, I was a creature of environment, and at that
time had strong class instincts. Such boldness on the part of a man of
my own class would have been almost unforgivable. I know that I
could not avoid dropping my eyes, and I was quite relieved when I
passed him on and turned to greet Bishop Morehouse- a favorite of
mine, a sweet and serious man of middle age, Christ-like in appearance
and goodness, and a scholar as well.
But this boldness that I took to be presumption was a vital clew
to the nature of Ernest Everhard. He was simple, direct, afraid of
nothing, and he refused to waste time on conventional mannerisms. 'You
pleased me,' he explained long afterward; 'and why should I not fill
my eyes with that which pleases me?' I have said that he was afraid of
nothing. He was a natural aristocrat- and this in spite of the fact
that he was in the camp of the non-aristocrats. He was a superman, a
blond beast such as Nietzsche* has described, and in addition he was
aflame with democracy.
* Friederich Nietzsche, the mad philosopher of the nineteenth
century of the Christian Era, who caught wild glimpses of truth, but
who, before he was done, reasoned himself around the great circle of
human thought and off into madness.
In the interest of meeting the other guests, and what of my
unfavorable impression, I forgot all about the working-class
philosopher, though once or twice at table I noticed him- especially
the twinkle in his eye as he listened to the talk first of one
minister and then of another. He has humor, I thought, and I almost
forgave him his clothes. But the time went by, and the dinner went by,
and he never opened his mouth to speak, while the ministers talked
interminably about the working class and its relation to the church,
and what the church had done and was doing for it. I noticed that my
father was annoyed because Ernest did not talk. Once father took
advantage of a lull and asked him to say something; but Ernest
shrugged his shoulders and with an 'I have nothing to say' went on
eating salted almonds.
But father was not to be denied. After a while he said:
'We have with us a member of the working class. I am sure that he
can present things from a new point of view that will be interesting
and refreshing. I refer to Mr. Everhard.'
The others betrayed a well-mannered interest, and urged Ernest for a
statement of his views. Their attitude toward him was so broadly
tolerant and kindly that it was really patronizing. And I saw that
Ernest noted it and was amused. He looked slowly about him, and I
saw the glint of laughter in his eyes.
'I am not versed in the courtesies of ecclesiastical controversy,'
he began, and then hesitated with modesty and indecision.
'Go on,' they urged, and Dr. Hammerfield said: 'We do not mind the
truth that is in any man. If it is sincere,' he amended.
'Then you separate sincerity from truth?' Ernest laughed quickly.
Dr. Hammerfield gasped, and managed to answer, 'The best of us may
be mistaken, young man, the best of us.'
Ernest's manner changed on the instant. He became another man.
'All right, then,' he answered; 'and let me begin by saying that you
are all mistaken. You know nothing, and worse than nothing, about
the working class. Your sociology is as vicious and worthless as is
your method of thinking.'
It was not so much what he said as how he said it. I roused at the
first sound of his voice. It was as bold as his eyes. It was a
clarion-call that thrilled me. And the whole table was aroused, shaken
alive from monotony and drowsiness.
'What is so dreadfully vicious and worthless in our method of
thinking, young man?' Dr. Hammerfield demanded, and already there
was something unpleasant in his voice and manner of utterance.
'You are metaphysicians. You can prove anything by metaphysics;
and having done so, every metaphysician can prove every other
metaphysician wrong- to his own satisfaction. You are anarchists in
the realm of thought. And you are mad cosmos-makers. Each of you
dwells in a cosmos of his own making, created out of his own fancies
and desires. You do not know the real world in which you live, and
your thinking has no place in the real world except in so far as it is
phenomena of mental aberration.
'Do you know what I was reminded of as I sat at table and listened
to you talk and talk? You reminded me for all the world of the
scholastics of the Middle Ages who gravely and learnedly debated the
absorbing question of how many angels could dance on the point of a
needle. Why, my dear sirs, you are as remote from the intellectual
life of the twentieth century as an Indian medicine-man making
incantation in the primeval forest ten thousand years ago.'
As Ernest talked he seemed in a fine passion; his face glowed, his
eyes snapped and flashed, and his chin and jaw were eloquent with
aggressiveness. But it was only a way he had. It always aroused
people. His smashing, sledge-hammer manner of attack invariably made
them forget themselves. And they were forgetting themselves now.
Bishop Morehouse was leaning forward and listening intently.
Exasperation and anger were flushing the face of Dr. Hammerfield.
And others were exasperated, too, and some were smiling in an amused
and superior way. As for myself, I found it most enjoyable. I
glanced at father, and I was afraid he was going to giggle at the
effect of this human bombshell he had been guilty of launching amongst
'Your terms are rather vague,' Dr. Hammerfield interrupted. 'Just
precisely what do you mean when you call us metaphysicians?'
'I call you metaphysicians because you reason metaphysically,'
Ernest went on. 'Your method of reasoning is the opposite to that of
science. There is no validity to your conclusions. You can prove
everything and nothing, and no two of you can agree upon anything.
Each of you goes into his own consciousness to explain himself and the
universe. As well may you lift yourselves by your own bootstraps as to
explain consciousness by consciousness.'
'I do not understand,' Bishop Morehouse said. 'It seems to me that
all things of the mind are metaphysical. That most exact and
convincing of all sciences, mathematics, is sheerly metaphysical. Each
and every thought-process of the scientific reasoner is
metaphysical. Surely you will agree with me?'
'As you say, you do not understand,' Ernest replied. 'The
metaphysician reasons deductively out of his own subjectivity. The
scientist reasons inductively from the facts of experience. The
metaphysician reasons from theory to facts, the scientist reasons from
facts to theory. The metaphysician explains the universe by himself,
the scientist explains himself by the universe.'
'Thank God we are not scientists,' Dr. Hammerfield murmured
'What are you then?' Ernest demanded.
'There you go,' Ernest laughed. 'You have left the real and solid
earth and are up in the air with a word for a flying machine. Pray
come down to earth and tell me precisely what you do mean by
'Philosophy is-' (Dr. Hammerfield paused and cleared his throat)
'something that cannot be defined comprehensively except to such minds
and temperaments as are philosophical. The narrow scientist with his
nose in a test-tube cannot understand philosophy.'
Ernest ignored the thrust. It was always his way to turn the point
back upon an opponent, and he did it now, with a beaming brotherliness
of face and utterance.
'Then you will undoubtedly understand the definition I shall now
make of philosophy. But before I make it, I shall challenge you to
point out error in it or to remain a silent metaphysician.
Philosophy is merely the widest science of all. Its reasoning method
is the same as that of any particular science and of all particular
sciences. And by that same method of reasoning, the inductive
method, philosophy fuses all particular sciences into one great
science. As Spencer says, the data of any particular science are
partially unified knowledge. Philosophy unifies the knowledge that
is contributed by all the sciences. Philosophy is the science of
science, the master science, if you please. How do you like my
'Very creditable, very creditable,' Dr. Hammerfield muttered lamely.
But Ernest was merciless.
'Remember,' he warned, 'my definition is fatal to metaphysics. If
you do not now point out a flaw in my definition, you are disqualified
later on from advancing metaphysical arguments. You must go through
life seeking that flaw and remaining metaphysically silent until you
have found it.'
Ernest waited. The silence was painful. Dr. Hammerfield was
pained. He was also puzzled. Ernest's sledge-hammer attack
disconcerted him. He was not used to the simple and direct method of
controversy. He looked appealingly around the table, but no one
answered for him. I caught father grinning into his napkin.
'There is another way of disqualifying the metaphysicians,' Ernest
said, when he had rendered Dr. Hammerfield's discomfiture complete.
'Judge them by their works. What have they done for mankind beyond the
spinning of airy fancies and the mistaking of their own shadows for
gods? They have added to the gayety of mankind, I grant; but what
tangible good have they wrought for mankind? They philosophized, if
you will pardon my misuse of the word, about the heart as the seat
of the emotions, while the scientists were formulating the circulation
of the blood. They declaimed about famine and pestilence as being
scourges of God, while the scientists were building granaries and
draining cities. They builded gods in their own shapes and out of
their own desires, while the scientists were building roads and
bridges. They were describing the earth as the centre of the universe,
while the scientists were discovering America and probing space for
the stars and the laws of the stars. In short, the metaphysicians have
done nothing, absolutely nothing, for mankind. Step by step, before
the advance of science, they have been driven back. As fast as the
ascertained facts of science have overthrown their subjective
explanations of things, they have made new subjective explanations
of things, including explanations of the latest ascertained facts. And
this, I doubt not, they will go on doing to the end of time.
Gentlemen, a metaphysician is a medicine man. The difference between
you and the Eskimo who makes a fur-clad blubber-eating god is merely a
difference of several thousand years of ascertained facts. That is
'Yet the thought of Aristotle ruled Europe for twelve centuries,'
Dr. Ballingford announced pompously. 'And Aristotle was a
Dr. Ballingford glanced around the table and was rewarded by nods
and smiles of approval.
'Your illustration is most unfortunate,' Ernest replied. 'You
refer to a very dark period in human history. In fact, we call that
period the Dark Ages. A period wherein science was raped by the
metaphysicians, wherein physics became a search for the
Philosopher's Stone, wherein chemistry became alchemy, and astronomy
became astrology. Sorry the domination of Aristotle's thought!'
Dr. Ballingford looked pained, then he brightened up and said:
'Granted this horrible picture you have drawn, yet you must
confess that metaphysics was inherently potent in so far as it drew
humanity out of this dark period and on into the illumination of the
'Metaphysics had nothing to do with it,' Ernest retorted.
'What?' Dr. Hammerfield cried. 'It was not the thinking and the
speculation that led to the voyages of discovery?'
'Ah, my dear sir,' Ernest smiled, 'I thought you were
disqualified. You have not yet picked out the flaw in my definition of
philosophy. You are now on an unsubstantial basis. But it is the way
of the metaphysicians, and I forgive you. No, I repeat, metaphysics
had nothing to do with it. Bread and butter, silks and jewels, dollars
and cents, and, incidentally, the closing up of the overland
trade-routes to India, were the things that caused the voyages of
discovery. With the fall of Constantinople, in 1453, the Turks blocked
the way of the caravans to India. The traders of Europe had to find
another route. Here was the original cause for the voyages of
discovery. Columbus sailed to find a new route to the Indies. It is so
stated in all the history books. Incidentally, new facts were
learned about the nature, size, and form of the earth, and the
Ptolemaic system went glimmering.'
Dr. Hammerfield snorted.
'You do not agree with me?' Ernest queried. 'Then wherein am I
'I can only reaffirm my position,' Dr. Hammerfield retorted
tartly. 'It is too long a story to enter into now.'
'No story is too long for the scientist,' Ernest said sweetly. 'That
is why the scientist gets to places. That is why he got to America.'
I shall not describe the whole evening, though it is a joy to me
to recall every moment, every detail, of those first hours of my
coming to know Ernest Everhard.
Battle royal raged, and the ministers grew red-faced and excited,
especially at the moments when Ernest called them romantic
philosophers, shadow-projectors, and similar things. And always he
checked them back to facts. 'The fact, man, the irrefragable fact!' he
would proclaim triumphantly, when he had brought one of them a
cropper. He bristled with facts. He tripped them up with facts,
ambuscaded them with facts, bombarded them with broadsides of facts.
'You seem to worship at the shrine of fact,' Dr. Hammerfield taunted
'There is no God but Fact, and Mr. Everhard is its prophet,' Dr.
Ernest smilingly acquiesced.
'I'm like the man from Texas,' he said. And, on being solicited,
he explained. 'You see, the man from Missouri always says, 'You've got
to show me.' But the man from Texas says, 'You've got to put it in
my hand.' From which it is apparent that he is no metaphysician.'
Another time, when Ernest had just said that the metaphysical
philosophers could never stand the test of truth, Dr. Hammerfield
'What is the test of truth, young man? Will you kindly explain
what has so long puzzled wiser heads than yours?'
'Certainly,' Ernest answered. His cocksureness irritated them.
'The wise heads have puzzled so sorely over truth because they went up
into the air after it. Had they remained on the solid earth, they
would have found it easily enough- ay, they would have found that they
themselves were precisely testing truth with every practical act and
thought of their lives.'
'The test, the test,' Dr. Hammerfield repeated impatiently. 'Never
mind the preamble. Give us that which we have sought so long- the test
of truth. Give it us, and we will be as gods.'
There was an impolite and sneering scepticism in his words and
manner that secretly pleased most of them at the table, though it
seemed to bother Bishop Morehouse.
'Dr. Jordan* has stated it very clearly,' Ernest said. 'His test
of truth is: "Will it work? Will you trust your life to it?"'
* A noted educator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries of the Christian Era. He was president of the Stanford
University, a private benefaction of the times.
'Pish!' Dr. Hammerfield sneered. 'You have not taken Bishop
Berkeley* into account. He has never been answered.'
* An idealistic monist who long puzzled the philosophers of that
time with his denial of the existence of matter, but whose clever
argument was finally demolished when the new empiric facts of
science were philosophically generalized.
'The noblest metaphysician of them all,' Ernest laughed. 'But your
example is unfortunate. As Berkeley himself attested, his
metaphysics didn't work.'
Dr. Hammerfield was angry, righteously angry. It was as though he
had caught Ernest in a theft or a lie.
'Young man,' he trumpeted, 'that statement is on a par with all
you have uttered to-night. It is a base and unwarranted assumption.'
'I am quite crushed,' Ernest murmured meekly. 'Only I don't know
what hit me. You'll have to put it in my hand, Doctor.'
'I will, I will,' Dr. Hammerfield spluttered. 'How do you know?
You do not know that Bishop Berkeley attested that his metaphysics did
not work. You have no proof. Young man, they have always worked.'
'I take it as proof that Berkeley's metaphysics did not work,
because-' Ernest paused calmly for a moment. 'Because Berkeley made an
invariable practice of going through doors instead of walls. Because
he trusted his life to solid bread and butter and roast beef.
Because he shaved himself with a razor that worked when it removed the
hair from his face.'
'But those are actual things!' Dr. Hammerfield cried. 'Metaphysics
is of the mind.'
'And they work- in the mind?' Ernest queried softly.
The other nodded.
'And even a multitude of angels can dance on the point of a
needle- in the mind,' Ernest went on reflectively. 'And a
blubber-eating, fur-clad god can exist and work- in the mind; and
there are no proofs to the contrary- in the mind. I suppose, Doctor,
you live in the mind?'
'My mind to me a kingdom is,' was the answer.
'That's another way of saying that you live up in the air. But you
come back to earth at meal-time, I am sure, or when an earthquake
happens along. Or, tell me, Doctor, do you have no apprehension in
an earthquake that that incorporeal body of yours will be hit by an
Instantly, and quite unconsciously, Dr. Hammerfield's hand shot up
to his head, where a scar disappeared under the hair. It happened that
Ernest had blundered on an apposite illustration. Dr. Hammerfield
had been nearly killed in the Great Earthquake* by a falling
chimney. Everybody broke out into roars of laughter.
* The Great Earthquake of 1906 A.D. that destroyed San Francisco.
'Well?' Ernest asked, when the merriment had subsided. 'Proofs to
And in the silence he asked again, 'Well?' Then he added, 'Still
well, but not so well, that argument of yours.'
But Dr. Hammerfield was temporarily crushed, and the battle raged on
in new directions. On point after point, Ernest challenged the
ministers. When they affirmed that they knew the working class, he
told them fundamental truths about the working class that they did not
know, and challenged them for disproofs. He gave them facts, always
facts, checked their excursions into the air, and brought them back to
the solid earth and its facts.
How the scene comes back to me! I can hear him now, with that
war-note in his voice, flaying them with his facts, each fact a lash
that stung and stung again. And he was merciless. He took no quarter,*
and gave none. I can never forget the flaying he gave them at the end:
* This figure arises from the customs of the times. When, among
men fighting to the death in their wild-animal way, a beaten man threw
down his weapons, it was at the option of the victor to slay him or
'You have repeatedly confessed to-night, by direct avowal or
ignorant statement, that you do not know the working class. But you
are not to be blamed for this. How can you know anything about the
working class? You do not live in the same locality with the working
class. You herd with the capitalist class in another locality. And why
not? It is the capitalist class that pays you, that feeds you, that
puts the very clothes on your backs that you are wearing to-night. And
in return you preach to your employers the brands of metaphysics
that are especially acceptable to them; and the especially
acceptable brands are acceptable because they do not menace the
established order of society.'
Here there was a stir of dissent around the table.
'Oh, I am not challenging your sincerity,' Ernest continued. 'You
are sincere. You preach what you believe. There lies your strength and
your value- to the capitalist class. But should you change your belief
to something that menaces the established order, your preaching
would be unacceptable to your employers, and you would be
discharged. Every little while some one or another of you is so
discharged.* Am I not right?'
* During this period there were many ministers cast out of the
church for preaching unacceptable doctrine. Especially were they
cast out when their preaching became tainted with socialism.
This time there was no dissent. They sat dumbly acquiescent, with
the exception of Dr. Hammerfield, who said:
'It is when their thinking is wrong that they are asked to resign.'
'Which is another way of saying when their thinking is
unacceptable,' Ernest answered, and then went on. 'So I say to you, go
ahead and preach and earn your pay, but for goodness' sake leave the
working class alone. You belong in the enemy's camp. You have
nothing in common with the working class. Your hands are soft with the
work others have performed for you. Your stomachs are round with the
plenitude of eating.' (Here Dr. Ballingford winced, and every eye
glanced at his prodigious girth. It was said he had not seen his own
feet in years.) 'And your minds are filled with doctrines that are
buttresses of the established order. You are as much mercenaries
(sincere mercenaries, I grant) as were the men of the Swiss Guard.* Be
true to your salt and your hire; guard, with your preaching, the
interests of your employers; but do not come down to the working class
and serve as false leaders. You cannot honestly be in the two camps at
once. The working class has done without you. Believe me, the
working class will continue to do without you. And, furthermore, the
working class can do better without you than with you.'
* The hired foreign palace guards of Louis XVI, a king of France
that was beheaded by his people.
AFTER THE GUESTS HAD GONE, father threw himself into a chair and
gave vent to roars of Gargantuan laughter. Not since the death of my
mother had I known him to laugh so heartily.
I'll wager Dr. Hammerfield was never up against anything like it
in his life,' he laughed. '"The courtesies of ecclesiastical
controversy!" Did you notice how he began like a lamb- Everhard, I
mean, and how quickly he became a roaring lion? He has a splendidly
disciplined mind. He would have made a good scientist if his
energies had been directed that way.'
I need scarcely say that I was deeply interested in Ernest Everhard.
It was not alone what he had said and how he had said it, but it was
the man himself. I had never met a man like him. I suppose that was
why, in spite of my twenty-four years, I had not married. I liked him;
I had to confess it to myself. And my like for him was founded on
things beyond intellect and argument. Regardless of his bulging
muscles and prize-fighter's throat, he impressed me as an ingenuous
boy. I felt that under the guise of an intellectual swashbuckler was a
delicate and sensitive spirit. I sensed this, in ways I knew not, save
that they were my woman's intuitions.
There was something in that clarion-call of his that went to my
heart. It still rang in my ears, and I felt that I should like to hear
it again- and to see again that glint of laughter in his eyes that
belied the impassioned seriousness of his face. And there were further
reaches of vague and indeterminate feelings that stirred in me. I
almost loved him then, though I am confident, had I never seen him
again, that the vague feelings would have passed away and that I
should easily have forgotten him.
But I was not destined never to see him again. My father's
new-born interest in sociology and the dinner parties he gave would
not permit. Father was not a sociologist. His marriage with my
mother had been very happy, and in the researches of his own
science, physics, he had been very happy. But when mother died, his
own work could not fill the emptiness. At first, in a mild way, he had
dabbled in philosophy; then, becoming interested, he had drifted on
into economics and sociology. He had a strong sense of justice, and he
soon became fired with a passion to redress wrong. It was with
gratitude that I hailed these signs of a new interest in life,
though I little dreamed what the outcome would be. With the enthusiasm
of a boy he plunged excitedly into these new pursuits, regardless of
whither they led him.
He had been used always to the laboratory, and so it was that he
turned the dining room into a sociological laboratory. Here came to
dinner all sorts and conditions of men,- scientists, politicians,
bankers, merchants, professors, labor leaders, socialists, and
anarchists. He stirred them to discussion, and analyzed their thoughts
of life and society.
He had met Ernest shortly prior to the 'preacher's night.' And after
the guests were gone, I learned how he had met him, passing down a
street at night and stopping to listen to a man on a soap-box who
was addressing a crowd of workingmen. The man on the box was Ernest.
Not that he was a mere soap-box orator. He stood high in the
councils of the socialist party, was one of the leaders, and was the
acknowledged leader in the philosophy of socialism. But he had a
certain clear way of stating the abstruse in simple language, was a
born expositor and teacher, and was not above the soap-box as a
means of interpreting economics to the workingmen.
My father stopped to listen, became interested, effected a
meeting, and, after quite an acquaintance, invited him to the
ministers' dinner. It was after the dinner that father told me what
little he knew about him. He had been born in the. working class,
though he was a descendant of the old line of Everhards that for
over two hundred years had lived in America.* At ten years of age he
had gone to work in the mills, and later he served his
apprenticeship and became a horseshoer. He was self-educated, had
taught himself German and French, and at that time was earning a
meagre living by translating scientific and philosophical works for
a struggling socialist publishing house in Chicago. Also, his earnings
were added to by the royalties from the small sales of his own
economic and philosophic works.
* The distinction between being native born and foreign born was
sharp and invidious in those days.
This much I learned of him before I went to bed, and I lay long
awake, listening in memory to the sound of his voice. I grew
frightened at my thoughts. He was so unlike the men of my own class,
so alien and so strong. His masterfulness delighted me and terrified
me, for my fancies wantonly roved until I found myself considering him
as a lover, as a husband. I had always heard that the strength of
men was an irresistible attraction to women; but he was too strong.
'No! no!' I cried out. 'It is impossible, absurd!' And on the morrow I
awoke to find in myself a longing to see him again. I wanted to see
him mastering men in discussion, the war-note in his voice; to see
him, in all his certitude and strength, shattering their
complacency, shaking them out of their ruts of thinking. What if he
did swashbuckle? To use his own phrase, 'it worked,' it produced
effects. And, besides, his swashbuckling was a fine thing to see. It
stirred one like the onset of battle.
Several days passed during which I read Ernest's books, borrowed
from my father. His written word was as his spoken word, clear and
convincing. It was its absolute simplicity that convinced even while
one continued to doubt. He had the gift of lucidity. He was the
perfect expositor. Yet, in spite of his style, there was much that I
did not like. He laid too great stress on what he called the class
struggle, the antagonism between labor and capital, the conflict of
Father reported with glee Dr. Hammerfield's judgment of Ernest,
which was to the effect that he was an insolent young puppy, made
bumptious by a little and very inadequate learning.' Also, Dr.
Hammerfield declined to meet Ernest again.
But Bishop Morehouse turned out to have become interested in Ernest,
and was anxious for another meeting. 'A strong young man,' he said;
'and very much alive, very much alive. But he is too sure, too sure.'
Ernest came one afternoon with father. The Bishop had already
arrived, and we were having tea on the veranda. Ernest's continued
presence in Berkeley, by the way, was accounted for by the fact that
he was taking special courses in biology at the university, and also
that he was hard at work on a new book entitled 'Philosophy and
* This book continued to be secretly printed throughout the three
centuries of the Iron Heel. There are several copies of various
editions in the National Library of Ardis.
The veranda seemed suddenly to have become small when Ernest
arrived. Not that he was so very large- he stood only five feet nine
inches; but that he seemed to radiate an atmosphere of largeness. As
he stopped to meet me, he betrayed a certain slight awkwardness that
was strangely at variance with his bold-looking eyes and his firm,
sure hand that clasped for a moment in greeting. And in that moment
his eyes were just as steady and sure. There seemed a question in them
this time, and as before he looked at me over long.
'I have been reading your "Working-class Philosophy,"' I said,
his eyes lighted in a pleased way.
'Of course,' he answered, 'you took into consideration the
audience to which it was addressed.'
'I did, and it is because I did that I have a quarrel with you,' I
'I, too, have a quarrel with you, Mr. Everhard,' Bishop Morehouse
Ernest shrugged his shoulders whimsically and accepted a cup of tea.
The Bishop bowed and gave me precedence.
'You foment class hatred,' I said. 'I consider it wrong and criminal
to appeal to all that is narrow and brutal in the working class. Class
hatred is anti-social, and, it seems to me, antisocialistic.'
'Not guilty,' he answered. 'Class hatred is neither in the text
nor in the spirit of anything I have every written.'
'Oh!' I cried reproachfully, and reached for his book and opened it.
He sipped his tea and smiled at me while I ran over the pages.
'Page one hundred and thirty-two,' I read aloud: '"The class
struggle, therefore, presents itself in the present stage of social
development between the wage-paying and the wage-paid classes."'
I looked at him triumphantly.
'No mention there of class hatred,' he smiled back.
'But,' I answered, 'you say "class struggle."'
'A different thing from class hatred,' he replied. 'And, believe me,
we foment no hatred. We say that the class struggle is a law of social
development. We are not responsible for it. We do not make the class
struggle. We merely explain it, as Newton explained gravitation. We
explain the nature of the conflict of interest that produces the class
'But there should be no conflict of interest!' I cried.
'I agree with you heartily,' he answered. 'That is what we
socialists are trying to bring about,- the abolition of the conflict
of interest. Pardon me. Let me read an extract.' He took his book
and turned back several pages. 'Page one hundred and twenty-six:
"The cycle of class struggles which began with the dissolution of
rude, tribal communism and the rise of private property will end
with the passing of private property in the means of social
'But I disagree with you,' the Bishop interposed, his pale,
ascetic face betraying by a faint glow the intensity of his
feelings. 'Your premise is wrong. There is no such thing as a conflict
of interest between labor and capital- or, rather, there ought not
'Thank you,' Ernest said gravely. 'By that last statement you have
given me back my premise.'
'But why should there be a conflict?' the Bishop demanded warmly.
Ernest shrugged his shoulders. 'Because we are so made, I guess.'
'But we are not so made!' cried the other.
'Are you discussing the ideal man?' Ernest asked, '-unselfish and
godlike, and so few in numbers as to be practically non-existent, or
are you discussing the common and ordinary average man?'
'The common and ordinary man,' was the answer.
'Who is weak and fallible, prone to error?'
Bishop Morehouse nodded.
'And petty and selfish?'
Again he nodded.
'Watch out!' Ernest warned. 'I said "selfish."'
'The average man is selfish,' the Bishop affirmed valiantly.
'Wants all he can get?'
'Wants all he can get- true but deplorable.'
'Then I've got you.' Ernest's jaw snapped like a trap. 'Let me
show you. Here is a man who works on the street railways.'
'He couldn't work if it weren't for capital,' the Bishop
'True, and you will grant that capital would perish if there were no
labor to earn the dividends.'
The Bishop was silent.
'Won't you?' Ernest insisted.
The Bishop nodded.
'Then our statements cancel each other,' Ernest said in a
matter-of-fact tone, 'and we are where we were. Now to begin again.
The workingmen on the street railway furnish the labor. The
stockholders furnish the capital. By the joint effort of the
workingmen and the capital, money is earned.* They divide between them
this money that is earned. Capital's share is called "dividends."
Labor's share is called "wages."'
* In those days, groups of predatory individuals controlled all
the means of transportation, and for the use of same levied toll
upon the public.
'Very good,' the Bishop interposed. 'And there is no reason that the
division should not be amicable.'
'You have already forgotten what we had agreed upon,' Ernest
replied. 'We agreed that the average man is selfish. He is the man
that is. You have gone up in the air and are arranging a division
between the kind of men that ought to be but are not. But to return to
the earth, the workingman, being selfish, wants all he can get in
the division. The capitalist, being selfish, wants all he can get in
the division. When there is only so much of the same thing, and when
two men want all they can get of the same thing, there is a conflict
of interest between labor and capital. And it is an irreconcilable
conflict. As long as workingmen and capitalists exist, they will
continue to quarrel over the division. If you were in San Francisco
this afternoon, you'd have to walk. There isn't a street car running.'
'Another strike?'* the Bishop queried with alarm.
* These quarrels were very common in those irrational and anarchic
times. Sometimes the laborers refused to work. Sometimes the
capitalists refused to let the laborers work. In the violence and
turbulence of such disagreements much property was destroyed and
many lives lost. All this is inconceivable to us- as inconceivable
as another custom of that time, namely, the habit the men of the lower
classes had of breaking the furniture when they quarrelled with
'Yes, they're quarrelling over the division of the earnings of the
Bishop Morehouse became excited.
'It is wrong!' he cried. 'It is so short-sighted on the part of
the workingmen. How can they hope to keep our sympathy-'
'When we are compelled to walk,' Ernest said slyly.
But Bishop Morehouse ignored him and went on:
'Their outlook is too narrow. Men should be men, not brutes. There
will be violence and murder now, and sorrowing widows and orphans.
Capital and labor should be friends. They should work hand in hand and
to their mutual benefit.'
'Ah, now you are up in the air again,' Ernest remarked dryly.
'Come back to earth. Remember, we agreed that the average man is
'But he ought not to be!' the Bishop cried.
'And there I agree with you,' was Ernest's rejoinder. 'He ought
not to be selfish, but he will continue to be selfish as long as he
lives in a social system that is based on pig-ethics.'
The Bishop was aghast, and my father chuckled.
'Yes, pig-ethics,' Ernest went on remorselessly. 'That is the
meaning of the capitalist system. And that is what your church is
standing for, what you are preaching for every time you get up in
the pulpit. Pig-ethics! There is no other name for it.'
Bishop Morehouse turned appealingly to my father, but he laughed and
nodded his head.
'I'm afraid Mr. Everhard is right,' he said. 'Laissez-faire, the
let-alone policy of each for himself and devil take the hindmost. As
Mr. Everhard said the other night, the function you churchmen
perform is to maintain the established order of society, and society
is established on that foundation.'
'But that is not the teaching of Christ!' cried the Bishop.
The Church is not teaching Christ these days,' Ernest put in
quickly. 'That is why the workingmen will have nothing to do with
the Church. The Church condones the frightful brutality and savagery
with which the capitalist class treats the working class.'
'The Church does not condone it,' the Bishop objected.
'The Church does not protest against it,' Ernest replied. 'And in so
far as the Church does not protest, it condones, for remember the
Church is supported by the capitalist class.'
'I had not looked at it in that light,' the Bishop said naively.
'You must be wrong. I know that there is much that is sad and wicked
in this world. I know that the Church has lost the- what you call
* Proletariat: Derived originally from the Latin proletarii, the
name given in the census of Servius Tullius to those who were of value
to the state only as the rearers of offspring (proles); in other
words, they were of no importance either for wealth, or position, or
'You never had the proletariat,' Ernest cried. 'The proletariat
has grown up outside the Church and without the Church.'
'I do not follow you,' the Bishop said faintly.
'Then let me explain. With the introduction of machinery and the
factory system in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the great
mass of the working people was separated from the land. The old system
of labor was broken down. The working people were driven from their
villages and herded in factory towns. The mothers and children were
put to work at the new machines. Family life ceased. The conditions
were frightful. It is a tale of blood.'
'I know, I know,' Bishop Morehouse interrupted with an agonized
expression on his face. 'It was terrible. But it occurred a century
and a half ago.'
'And there, a century and a half ago, originated the modern
proletariat,' Ernest continued. 'And the Church ignored it. While a
slaughter-house was made of the nation by the capitalist, the Church
was dumb. It did not protest, as to-day it does not protest. As Austin
Lewis* says, speaking of that time, those to whom the command "Feed
lambs" had been given, saw those lambs sold into slavery and worked
death without a protest.*(2) The Church was dumb, then, and before I
go on I want you either flatly to agree with me or flatly to
disagree with me. Was the Church dumb then?'
* Candidate for Governor of California on the Socialist ticket in
the fall election of 1906 Christian Era. An Englishman by birth, a
writer of many books on political economy and philosophy, and one of
the Socialist leaders of the times.
*(2) There is no more horrible page in history than the treatment of
the child and women slaves in the English factories in the latter half
of the eighteenth century of the Christian Era. In such industrial
hells arose some of the proudest fortunes of that day.
Bishop Morehouse hesitated. Like Dr. Hammerfield, he was unused to
this fierce 'infighting,' as Ernest called it.
'The history of the eighteenth century is written,' Ernest prompted.
'If the Church was not dumb, it will be found not dumb in the books.'
'I am afraid the Church was dumb,' the Bishop confessed.
'And the Church is dumb to-day.'
'There I disagree,' said the Bishop.
Ernest paused, looked at him searchingly, and accepted the
'All right,' he said. 'Let us see. In Chicago there are women who
toil all the week for ninety cents. Has the Church protested?'
'This is news to me,' was the answer. 'Ninety cents per week! It
'Has the Church protested?' Ernest insisted.
'The Church does not know.' The Bishop was struggling hard.
'Yet the command to the Church was, "Feed my lambs,"' Ernest
sneered. And then, the next moment, 'Pardon my sneer, Bishop. But
can you wonder that we lose patience with you? When have you protested
to your capitalistic congregations at the working of children in the
Southern cotton mills?* Children, six and seven years of age,
working every night at twelve-hour shifts? They never see the
blessed sunshine. They die like flies. The dividends are paid out of
their blood. And out of the dividends magnificent churches are builded
in New England, wherein your kind preaches pleasant platitudes to
the sleek, full-bellied recipients of those dividends.'
* Everhard might have drawn a better illustration from the
Southern Church's outspoken defence of chattel slavery prior to what
is known as the 'War of the Rebellion.' Several such illustrations,
culled from the documents of the times, are here appended. In 1835
A.D., the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church resolved that:
'slavery is recognized in both the Old and the New Testaments, and
is not condemned by the authority of God.' The Charleston Baptist
Association issued the following, in an address, in 1835 A.D.: 'The
right of masters to dispose of the time of their slaves has been
distinctly recognized by the Creator of all things, who is surely at
liberty to vest the right of property over any object whomsoever He
pleases.' The Rev. E. D. Simon, Doctor of Divinity and professor in
the Randolph-Macon Methodist College of Virginia, wrote: 'Extracts
from Holy Writ unequivocally assert the right of property in slaves,
together with the usual incidents to that right. The right to buy
and sell is clearly stated. Upon the whole, then, whether we consult
the Jewish policy instituted by God himself, or the uniform opinion
and practice of mankind in all ages, or the injunctions of the New
Testament and the moral law, we are brought to the conclusion that
slavery is not immoral. Having established the point that the first
African slaves were legally brought into bondage, the right to
detain their children in bondage follows as an indispensable
consequence. Thus we see that the slavery that exists in America was
founded in right.'
It is not at all remarkable that this same note should have been
struck by the Church a generation or so later in relation to the
defence of capitalistic property. In the great museum at Asgard
there is a book entitled 'Essays in Application,' written by Henry van
Dyke. The book was published in 1905 of the Christian Era. From what
we can make out, Van Dyke must have been a churchman. The book is a
good example of what Everhard would have called bourgeois thinking.
Note the similarity between the utterance of the Charleston Baptist
Association quoted above, and the following utterance of Van Dyke
seventy years later: 'The Bible teaches that God owns the world. He
distributes to every man according to His own good pleasure,
conformably to general laws.'
'I did not know,' the Bishop murmured faintly. His face was pale,
and he seemed suffering from nausea.
'Then you have not protested?'
The Bishop shook his head.
'Then the Church is dumb to-day, as it was in the eighteenth
The Bishop was silent, and for once Ernest forbore to press the
'And do not forget, whenever a churchman does protest that he is
'I hardly think that is fair,' was the objection.
'Will you protest?' Ernest demanded.
'Show me evils, such as you mention, in our own community, and I
'I'll show you,' Ernest said quietly. 'I am at your disposal. I will
take you on a journey through hell.'
'And I shall protest.' The Bishop straightened himself in his chair,
and over his gentle face spread the harshness of the warrior. 'The
Church shall not be dumb!'
'You will be discharged,' was the warning.
'I shall prove the contrary,' was the retort. 'I shall prove, if
what you say is so, that the Church has erred through ignorance.
And, furthermore, I hold that whatever is horrible in industrial
society is due to the ignorance of the capitalist class. It will
mend all that is wrong as soon as it receives the message. And this
message it shall be the duty of the Church to deliver.'
Ernest laughed. He laughed brutally, and I was driven to the
'Remember,' I said, 'you see but one side of the shield. There is
much good in us, though you give us credit for no good at all.
Bishop Morehouse is right. The industrial wrong, terrible as you say
it is, is due to ignorance. The divisions of society have become too
'The wild Indian is not so brutal and savage as the capitalist
class,' he answered; and in that moment I hated him.
'You do not know us,' I answered. 'We are not brutal and savage.'
'Prove it,' he challenged.
'How can I prove it... to you?' I was growing angry.
He shook his head. 'I do not ask you to prove it to me. I ask you to
prove it to yourself.'
'I know,' I said.
'You know nothing,' was his rude reply.
'There, there, children,' father said soothingly.
'I don't care-' I began indignantly, but Ernest interrupted.
'I understand you have money, or your father has, which is the
same thing- money invested in the Sierra Mills.'
'What has that to do with it?' I cried.
'Nothing much,' he began slowly, 'except that the gown you wear is
stained with blood. The food you eat is a bloody stew. The blood of
little children and of strong men is dripping from your very
roof-beams. I can close my eyes, now, and hear it drip, drop, drip,
drop, all about me.'
And suiting the action to the words, he closed his eyes and leaned
back in his chair. I burst into tears of mortification and hurt
vanity. I had never been so brutally treated in my life. Both the
Bishop and my father were embarrassed and perturbed. They tried to
lead the conversation away into easier channels; but Ernest opened his
eyes, looked at me, and waved them aside. His mouth was stern, and his
eyes too; and in the latter there was no glint of laughter. What he
was about to say, what terrible castigation he was going to give me, I
never knew; for at that moment a man, passing along the sidewalk,
stopped and glanced in at us. He was a large man, poorly dressed,
and on his back was a great load of rattan and bamboo stands,
chairs, and screens. He looked at the house as if debating whether
or not he should come in and try to sell some of his wares.
'That man's name is Jackson,' Ernest said.
'With that strong body of his he should be at work, and not
peddling,'* I answered curtly.
* In that day there were many thousands of these poor merchants
called pedlers. They carried their whole stock in trade from door to
door. It was a most wasteful expenditure of energy. Distribution was
as confused and irrational as the whole general system of society.
'Notice the sleeve of his left arm,' Ernest said gently.
I looked, and saw that the sleeve was empty.
'It was some of the blood from that arm that I heard dripping from
your roof-beams,' Ernest said with continued gentleness. 'He lost
his arm in the Sierra Mills, and like a broken-down horse you turned
him out on the highway to die. When I say "you," I mean the
superintendent and the officials that you and the other stockholders
pay to manage the mills for you. It was an accident. It was caused
by his trying to save the company a few dollars. The toothed drum of
the picker caught his arm. He might have let the small flint that he
saw in the teeth go through. It would have smashed out a double row of
spikes. But he reached for the flint, and his arm was picked and
clawed to shreds from the finger tips to the shoulder. It was at
night. The mills were working overtime. They paid a fat dividend
that quarter. Jackson had been working many hours, and his muscles had
lost their resiliency and snap. They made his movements a bit slow.
That was why the machine caught him. He had a wife and three
'And what did the company do for him?' I asked.
'Nothing. Oh, yes, they did do something. They successfully fought
the damage suit he brought when he came out of hospital. The company
employs very efficient lawyers, you know.'
'You have not told the whole story,' I said with conviction. 'Or
else you do not know the whole story. Maybe the man was insolent.'
'Insolent! Ha! ha!' His laughter was Mephistophelian. 'Great God!
Insolent! And with his arm chewed off! Nevertheless he was a meek
and lowly servant, and there is no record of his having been
'But the courts,' I urged. 'The case would not have been decided
against him had there been no more to the affair than you have
'Colonel Ingram is leading counsel for the company. He is a shrewd
lawyer.' Ernest looked at me intently for a moment, then went on.
'I'll tell you what you do, Miss Cunningham. You investigate Jackson's
'I had already determined to,' I said coldly.
'All right,' he beamed good-naturedly, 'and I'll tell you where to
find him. But I tremble for you when I think of all you are to prove
by Jackson's arm.'
And so it came about that both the Bishop and I accepted Ernest's
challenges. They went away together, leaving me smarting with a sense
of injustice that had been done me and my class. The man was a beast.
I hated him, then, and consoled myself with the thought that his
behavior was what was to be expected from a man of the working class.
LITTLE DID I DREAM THE FATEFUL part Jackson's arm was to play in
my life. Jackson himself did not impress me when I hunted him out. I
found him in a crazy, ramshackle* house down near the bay on the
edge of the marsh. Pools of stagnant water stood around the house,
their surfaces covered with a green and putrid-looking scum, while the
stench that arose from them was intolerable.
* An adjective descriptive of ruined and dilapidated houses in which
great numbers of the working people found shelter in those days.
They invariably paid rent, and, considering the value of such
houses, enormous rent, to the landlords.
I found Jackson the meek and lowly man he had been described. He was
making some sort of rattan-work, and he toiled on stolidly while I
talked with him. But in spite of his meekness and lowliness, I fancied
I caught the first note of a nascent bitterness in him when he said:
'They might a-given me a job as watchman,* anyway.'
* In those days thievery was incredibly prevalent. Everybody stole
property from everybody else. The lords of society stole legally or
else legalized their stealing, while the poorer classes stole
illegally. Nothing was safe unless guarded. Enormous numbers of men
were employed as watchmen to protect property. The houses of the
well-to-do were a combination of safe deposit vault and fortress.
The appropriation of the personal belongings of others by our own
children of to-day is looked upon as a rudimentary survival of the
theft-characteristic that in those early times was universal.
I got little out of him. He struck me as stupid, and yet the
deftness with which he worked with his one hand seemed to belie his
stupidity. This suggested an idea to me.
'How did you happen to get your arm caught in the machine?' I asked.
He looked at me in a slow and pondering way, and shook his head.
'I don't know. It just happened.'
'Carelessness?' I prompted.
'No,' he answered, 'I ain't for callin' it that. I was workin'
overtime, an' I guess I was tired out some. I worked seventeen years
in them mills, an' I've took notice that most of the accidents happens
just before whistle-blow.* I'm willin' to bet that more accidents
happens in the hour before whistle-blow than in all the rest of the
day. A man ain't so quick after workin' steady for hours. I've seen
too many of 'em cut up an' gouged an' chawed not to know.'
* The laborers were called to work and dismissed by savage,
screaming, nerve-racking steam-whistles.
'Many of them?' I queried.
'Hundreds an' hundreds, an' children, too.'
With the exception of the terrible details, Jackson's story of his
accident was the same as that I had already heard. When I asked him if
he had broken some rule of working the machinery, he shook his head.
'I chucked off the belt with my right hand,' he said, 'an' made a
reach for the flint with my left. I didn't stop to see if the belt was
off. I thought my right hand had done it- only it didn't. I reached
quick, and the belt wasn't all the way off. And then my arm was chewed
'It must have been painful,' I said sympathetically.
'The crunchin' of the bones wasn't nice,' was his answer.
His mind was rather hazy concerning the damage suit. Only one
thing was clear to him, and that was that he had not got any
damages. He had a feeling that the testimony of the foremen and the
superintendent had brought about the adverse decision of the court.
Their testimony, as he put it, 'wasn't what it ought to have ben.' And
to them I resolved to go.
One thing was plain, Jackson's situation was wretched. His wife
was in ill health, and he was unable to earn, by his rattan-work and
peddling, sufficient food for the family. He was back in his rent, and
the oldest boy, a lad of eleven, had started to work in the mills.
'They might a-given me that watchman's job,' were his last words
as I went away.
By the time I had seen the lawyer who had handled Jackson's case,
and the two foremen and the superintendent at the mills who had
testified, I began to feel that there was something after all in
He was a weak and inefficient-looking man, the lawyer, and at
sight of him I did not wonder that Jackson's case had been lost. My
first thought was that it had served Jackson right for getting such
a lawyer. But the next moment two of Ernest's statements came flashing
into my consciousness: 'The company employs very efficient lawyers'
and 'Colonel Ingram is a shrewd lawyer.' I did some rapid thinking. It
dawned upon me that of course the company could afford finer legal
talent than could a workingman like Jackson. But this was merely a
minor detail. There was some very good reason, I was sure, why
Jackson's case had gone against him.
'Why did you lose the case?' I asked.
The lawyer was perplexed and worried for a moment, and I found it in
my heart to pity the wretched little creature. Then he began to whine.
I do believe his whine was congenital. He was a man beaten at birth.
He whined about the testimony. The witnesses had given only the
evidence that helped the other side. Not one word could he get out
of them that would have helped Jackson. They knew which side their
bread was buttered on. Jackson was a fool. He had been brow-beaten and
confused by Colonel Ingram. Colonel Ingram was brilliant at
cross-examination. He had made Jackson answer damaging questions.
'How could his answers be damaging if he had the right on his side?'
'What's right got to do with it?' he demanded back. 'You see all
those books.' He moved his hand over the array of volumes on the walls
of his tiny office. 'All my reading and studying of them has taught me
that law is one thing and right is another thing. Ask any lawyer.
You go to Sunday-school to learn what is right. But you go to those
books to learn... law.'
'Do you mean to tell me that Jackson had the right on his side and
yet was beaten?' I queried tentatively. 'Do you mean to tell me that
there is no justice in Judge Caldwell's court?'
The little lawyer glared at me a moment, and then the belligerence
faded out of his face.
'I hadn't a fair chance,' he began whining again. 'They made a
fool out of Jackson and out of me, too. What chance had I? Colonel
Ingram is a great lawyer. If he wasn't great, would he have charge
of the law business of the Sierra Mills, of the Erston Land Syndicate,
of the Berkeley Consolidated, of the Oakland, San Leandro, and
Pleasanton Electric? He's a corporation lawyer, and corporation
lawyers are not paid for being fools.* What do you think the Sierra
Mills alone give him twenty thousand dollars a year for? Because
he's worth twenty thousand dollars a year to them, that's what for.
I'm not worth that much. If I was, I wouldn't be on the outside,
starving and taking cases like Jackson's. What do you think I'd have
got if I'd won Jackson's case?'
'You'd have robbed him, most probably,' I answered.
'Of course I would,' he cried angrily. 'I've got to live, haven't
* The function of the corporation lawyer was to serve, by corrupt
methods, the money-grabbing propensities of the corporations. It is on
record that Theodore Roosevelt, at that time President of the United
States, said in 1905 A.D., in his address at Harvard Commencement: 'We
all know that, as things actually are, many of the most influential
and most highly remunerated members of the Bar in every centre of
wealth, make it their special task to work out bold and ingenious
schemes by which their wealthy clients, individual or corporate, can
evade the laws which were made to regulate, in the interests of the
public, the uses of great wealth.'
*(2) A typical illustration of the internecine strife that permeated
all society. Men preyed upon one another like ravening wolves. The big
wolves ate the little wolves, and in the social pack Jackson was one
of the least of the little wolves.
'He has a wife and children,' I chided.
'So have I a wife and children,' he retorted. 'And there's not a
soul in this world except myself that cares whether they starve or
His face suddenly softened, and he opened his watch and showed me
a small photograph of a woman and two little girls pasted inside the
'There they are. Look at them. We've had a hard time, a hard time. I
had hoped to send them away to the country if I'd won Jackson's
case. They're not healthy here, but I can't afford to send them away.'
When I started to leave, he dropped back into his whine.
'I hadn't the ghost of a chance. Colonel Ingram and Judge Caldwell
are pretty friendly. I'm not saying that if I'd got the right kind
of testimony out of their witnesses on cross-examination, that
friendship would have decided the case. And yet I must say that
Judge Caldwell did a whole lot to prevent my getting that very
testimony. Why, Judge Caldwell and Colonel Ingram belong to the same
lodge and the same club. They live in the same neighborhood- one I
can't afford. And their wives are always in and out of each other's
houses. They're always having whist parties and such things back and
'And yet you think Jackson had the right of it?' I asked, pausing
for the moment on the threshold.
'I don't think; I know it,' was his answer. 'And at first I
thought he had some show, too. But I didn't tell my wife. I didn't
want to disappoint her. She had her heart set on a trip to the country
hard enough as it was.'
'Why did you not call attention to the fact that Jackson was
trying to save the machinery from being injured?' I asked Peter
Donnelly, one of the foremen who had testified at the trial.
He pondered a long time before replying. Then he cast an anxious
look about him and said:
'Because I've a good wife an' three of the sweetest children ye ever
laid eyes on, that's why.'
'I do not understand,' I said.
'In other words, because it wouldn't a-ben healthy,' he answered.
'You mean-' I began.
But he interrupted passionately.
'I mean what I said. It's long years I've worked in the mills. I
began as a little lad on the spindles. I worked up ever since. It's by
hard work I got to my present exalted position. I'm a foreman, if
you please. An' I doubt me if there's a man in the mills that'd put
out a hand to drag me from drownin'. I used to belong to the union.
But I've stayed by the company through two strikes. They called me
"scab." There's not a man among 'em to-day to take a drink with
if I asked him. D'ye see the scars on me head where I was struck
with flying bricks? There ain't a child at the spindles but what would
curse me name. Me only friend is the company. It's not me duty, but me
bread an' butter an' the life of me children to stand by the mills.
'Was Jackson to blame?' I asked.
'He should a-got the damages. He was a good worker an' never made
'Then you were not at liberty to tell the whole truth, as you had
sworn to do?'
He shook his head.
'The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?' I said
Again his face became impassioned, and he lifted it, not to me,
but to heaven.
'I'd let me soul an' body burn in everlastin' hell for them children
of mine,' was his answer.
Henry Dallas, the superintendent, was a vulpine-faced creature who
regarded me insolently and refused to talk. Not a word could I get
from him concerning the trial and his testimony. But with the other
foreman I had better luck. James Smith was a hard-faced man, and my
heart sank as I encountered him. He, too, gave me the impression
that he was not a free agent, as we talked I began to see that he
was mentally superior to the average of his kind. He agreed with Peter
Donnelly that Jackson should have got damages, and he went farther and
called the action heartless and cold-blooded that had turned the
worker adrift after he had been made helpless by the accident. Also,
he explained that there were many accidents in the mills, and that the
company's policy was to fight to the bitter end all consequent
'It means hundreds of thousands a year to the stockholders,' he
said; and as he spoke I remembered the last dividend that had been
paid my father, and the pretty gown for me and the books for him
that had been bought out of that dividend. I remembered Ernest's
charge that my gown was stained with blood, and my flesh began to
crawl underneath my garments.
'When you testified at the trial, you didn't point out that
Jackson received his accident through trying to save the machinery
from damage?' I said.
'No, I did not,' was the answer, and his mouth set bitterly. 'I
testified to the effect that Jackson injured himself by neglect and
carelessness, and that the company was not in any way to blame or
'Was it carelessness?' I asked.
'Call it that, or anything you want to call it. The fact is, a man
gets tired after he's been working for hours.'
I was becoming interested in the man. He certainly was of a superior
'You are better educated than most workingmen,' I said.
'I went through high school,' he replied. 'I worked my way through
doing janitor-work. I wanted to go through the university. But my
father died, and I came to work in the mills.
'I wanted to become a naturalist,' he explained shyly, as though
confessing a weakness. 'I love animals. But I came to work in the
mills. When I was promoted to foreman I got married, then the family
came, and... well, I wasn't my own boss any more.'
'What do you mean by that?' I asked.
'I was explaining why I testified at the trial the way I did- why
I followed instructions.'
'Colonel Ingram. He outlined the evidence I was to give.'
'And it lost Jackson's case for him.'
He nodded, and the blood began to rise darkly in his face.
'And Jackson had a wife and two children dependent on him.'
'I know,' he said quietly, though his face was growing darker.
'Tell me,' I went on, 'was it easy to make yourself over from what
you were, say in high school, to the man you must have become to do
such a thing at the trial?'
The suddenness of his outburst startled and frightened me. He
ripped* out a savage oath, and clenched his fist as though about to
* It is interesting to note the virilities of language that were
common speech in that day, as indicative of the life, 'red of claw and
fang,' that was then lived. Reference is here made, of course, not
to the oath of Smith, but to the verb ripped used by Avis Everhard.
'I beg your pardon,' he said the next moment. 'No, it was not
easy. And now I guess you can go away. You've got all you wanted out
of me. But let me tell you this before you go. It won't do you any
good to repeat anything I've said. I'll deny it, and there are no
witnesses. I'll deny every word of it; and if I have to, I'll do it
under oath on the witness stand.'
After my interview with Smith I went to my father's office in the
Chemistry Building and there encountered Ernest. It was quite
unexpected, but he met me with his bold eyes and firm hand-clasp,
and with that curious blend of his awkwardness and ease. It was as
though our last stormy meeting was forgotten; but I was not in the
mood to have it forgotten.
'I have been looking up Jackson's case,' I said abruptly.
He was all interested attention, and waited for me to go on,
though I could see in his eyes the certitude that my convictions had
'He seems to have been badly treated,' I confessed. 'I- I- think
some of his blood is dripping from our roof-beams.'
'Of course,' he answered. 'If Jackson and all his fellows were
treated mercifully, the dividends would not be so large.'
'I shall never be able to take pleasure in pretty gowns again,' I
I felt humble and contrite, and was aware of a sweet feeling that
Ernest was a sort of father confessor. Then, as ever after, his
strength appealed to me. It seemed to radiate a promise of peace and
'Nor will you be able to take pleasure in sackcloth,' he said
gravely. 'There are the jute mills, you know, and the same thing
goes on there. It goes on everywhere. Our boasted civilization is
based upon blood, soaked in blood, and neither you nor I nor any of us
can escape the scarlet stain. The men you talked with- who were they?'
I told him all that had taken place.
'And not one of them was a free agent,' he said. 'They were all tied
to the merciless industrial machine. And the pathos of it and the
tragedy is that they are tied by their heartstrings. Their children-
always the young life that it is their instinct to protect. This
instinct is stronger than any ethic they possess. My father! He
lied, he stole, he did all sorts of dishonorable things to put bread
into my mouth and into the mouths of my brothers and sisters. He was a
slave to the industrial machine, and it stamped his life out, worked
him to death.'
'But you,' I interjected. 'You are surely a free agent.'
'Not wholly,' he replied. 'I am not tied by my heartstrings. I am
often thankful that I have no children, and I dearly love children.
Yet if I married I should not dare to have any.'
'That surely is bad doctrine,' I cried.
'I know it is,' he said sadly. 'But it is expedient doctrine. I am a
revolutionist, and it is a perilous vocation.'
I laughed incredulously.
'If I tried to enter your father's house at night to steal his
dividends from the Sierra Mills, what would he do?'
'He sleeps with a revolver on the stand by the bed,' I answered. 'He
would most probably shoot you.'
'And if I and a few others should lead a million and a half of
men* into the houses of all the well-to-do, there would be a great
deal of shooting, wouldn't there?'
* This reference is to the socialist vote cast in the United
States in 1910. The rise of this vote clearly indicates the swift
growth of the party of revolution. Its voting strength in the United
States in 1888 was 2068; in 1902, 127,713; in 1904, 435,040; in
1908, 1,108,427; and in 1910, 1,688,211.
'Yes, but you are not doing that,' I objected.
'It is precisely what I am doing. And we intend to take, not the
mere wealth in the houses, but all the sources of that wealth, all the
mines, and railroads, and factories, and banks, and stores. That is
the revolution. It is truly perilous. There will be more shooting, I
am afraid, than even I dream of. But as I was saying, no one to-day is
a free agent. We are all caught up in the wheels and cogs of the
industrial machine. You found that you were, and that the men you
talked with were. Talk with more of them. Go and see Colonel Ingram.
Look up the reporters that kept Jackson's case out of the papers,
and the editors that run the papers. You will find them all slaves
of the machine.'
A little later in our conversation I asked him a simple little
question about the liability of workingmen to accidents, and
received a statistical lecture in return.
'It is all in the books,' he said. 'The figures have been
gathered, and it has been proved conclusively that accidents rarely
occur in the first hours of the morning work, but that they increase
rapidly in the succeeding hours as the workers grow tired and slower
in both their muscular and mental processes.
'Why, do you know that your father has three times as many chances
for safety of life and limb than has a working-man? He has. The
insurance* companies know. They will charge him four dollars and
twenty cents a year on a thousand-dollar accident policy, and for
the same policy they will charge a laborer fifteen dollars.'
* In the terrible wolf-struggle of those centuries, no man was
permanently safe, no matter how much wealth he amassed. Out of fear
for the welfare of their families, men devised the scheme of
insurance. To us, in this intelligent age, such a device is
laughably absurd and primitive. But in that age insurance was a very
serious matter. The amusing part of it is that the funds of the
insurance companies were frequently plundered and wasted by the very
officials who were intrusted with the management of them.
'And you?' I asked; and in the moment of asking I was aware of a
solicitude that was something more than slight.
'Oh, as a revolutionist, I have about eight chances to the
workingman's one of being injured or killed,' he answered
carelessly. 'The insurance companies charge the highly trained
chemists that handle explosives eight times what they charge the
workingmen. I don't think they'd insure me at all. Why did you ask?'
My eyes fluttered, and I could feel the blood warm in my face. It
was not that he had caught me in my solicitude, but that I had
caught myself, and in his presence.
Just then my father came in and began making preparations to
depart with me. Ernest returned some books he had borrowed, and went
away first. But just as he was going, he turned and said:
'Oh, by the way, while you are ruining your own peace of mind and
I am ruining the Bishop's, you'd better look up Mrs. Wickson and
Mrs. Pertonwaithe. Their husbands, you know, are the two principal
stockholders in the Mills. Like all the rest of humanity, those two
women are tied to the machine, but they are so tied that they sit on
top of it.'
Slaves of the Machine.
THE MORE I THOUGHT OF JACKSON'S arm, the more shaken I was. I was
confronted by the concrete. For the first time I was seeing life. My
university life, and study and culture, had not been real. I had
learned nothing but theories of life and society that looked all
very well on the printed page, but now I had seen life itself.
Jackson's arm was a fact of life. 'The fact, man, the irrefragable
fact!' of Ernest's was ringing in my consciousness.
It seemed monstrous, impossible, that our whole society was based
upon blood. And yet there was Jackson. I could not get away from
him. Constantly my thought swung back to him as the compass to the
Pole. He had been monstrously treated. His blood had not been paid for
in order that a larger dividend might be paid. And I knew a score of
happy complacent families that had received those dividends and by
that much had profited by Jackson's blood. If one man could be so
monstrously treated and society move on its way unheeding, might not
many men be so monstrously treated? I remembered Ernest's women of
Chicago who toiled for ninety cents a week, and the child slaves of
the Southern cotton mills he had described. And I could see their
wan white hands, from which the blood had been pressed, at work upon
the cloth out of which had been made my gown. And then I thought of
the Sierra Mills and the dividends that had been paid, and I saw the
blood of Jackson upon my gown as well. Jackson I could not escape.
Always my meditations led me back to him.
Down in the depths of me I had a feeling that I stood on the edge of
a precipice. It was as though I were about to see a new and awful
revelation of life. And not I alone. My whole world was turning
over. There was my father. I could see the effect Ernest was beginning
to have on him. And then there was the Bishop. When I had last seen
him he had looked a sick man. He was at high nervous tension, and in
his eyes there was unspeakable horror. From the little I learned I
knew that Ernest had been keeping his promise of taking him through
hell. But what scenes of hell the Bishop's eyes had seen, I knew
not, for he seemed too stunned to speak about them.
Once, the feeling strong upon me that my little world and all the
world was turning over, I thought of Ernest as the cause of it; and
also I thought, 'We were so happy and peaceful before he came!' And
the next moment I was aware that the thought was a treason against
truth, and Ernest rose before me transfigured, the apostle of truth,
with shining brows and the fearlessness of one of God's own angels,
battling for the truth and the right, and battling for the succor of
the poor and lonely and oppressed. And then there arose before me
another figure, the Christ! He, too, had taken the part of the lowly
and oppressed, and against all the established power of priest and
pharisee. And I remembered his end upon the cross, and my heart
contracted with a pang as I thought of Ernest. Was he, too, destined
for a cross?- he, with his clarion call and war-noted voice, and all
the fine man's vigor of him!
And in that moment I knew that I loved him, and that I was melting
with desire to comfort him. I thought of his life. A sordid, harsh,
and meagre life it must have been. And I thought of his father, who
had lied and stolen for him and been worked to death. And he himself
had gone into the mills when he was ten! All my heart seemed
bursting with desire to fold my arms around him, and to rest his
head on my breast- his head that must be weary with so many
thoughts; and to give him rest- just rest- and easement and
forgetfulness for a tender space.
I met Colonel Ingram at a church reception. Him I knew well and
had known well for many years. I trapped him behind large palms and
rubber plants, though he did not know he was trapped. He met me with
the conventional gayety and gallantry. He was ever a graceful man,
diplomatic, tactful, and considerate. And as for appearance, he was
the most distinguished-looking man in our society. Beside him even the
venerable head of the university looked tawdry and small.
And yet I found Colonel Ingram situated the same as the unlettered
mechanics. He was not a free agent. He, too, was bound upon the wheel.
I shall never forget the change in him when I mentioned Jackson's
case. His smiling good nature vanished like a ghost. A sudden,
frightful expression distorted his well-bred face. I felt the same
alarm that I had felt when James Smith broke out. But Colonel Ingram
did not curse. That was the slight difference that was left between
the workingman and him. He was famed as a wit, but he had no wit
now. And, unconsciously, this way and that he glanced for avenues of
escape. But he was trapped amid the palms and rubber trees.
Oh, he was sick of the sound of Jackson's name. Why had I brought
the matter up? He did not relish my joke. It was poor taste on my
part, and very inconsiderate. Did I not know that in his profession
personal feelings did not count? He left his personal feelings at home
when he went down to the office. At the office he had only
'Should Jackson have received damages?' I asked.
'Certainly,' he answered. 'That is, personally, I have a feeling
that he should. But that has nothing to do with the legal aspects of
He was getting his scattered wits slightly in hand.
'Tell me, has right anything to do with the law?' I asked.
'You have used the wrong initial consonant,' he smiled in answer.
'Might?' I queried; and he nodded his head. 'And yet we are supposed
to get justice by means of the law?'
'That is the paradox of it,' he countered. 'We do get justice.'
'You are speaking professionally now, are you not?' I asked.
Colonel Ingram blushed, actually blushed, and again he looked
anxiously about him for a way of escape. But I blocked his path and
did not offer to move.
'Tell me,' I said, 'when one surrenders his personal feelings to his
professional feelings, may not the action be defined as a sort of
I did not get an answer. Colonel Ingram had ingloriously bolted,
overturning a palm in his flight.
Next I tried the newspapers. I wrote a quiet, restrained,
dispassionate account of Jackson's case. I made no charges against the
men with whom I had talked, nor, for that matter, did I even mention
them. I gave the actual facts of the case, the long years Jackson
had worked in the mills, his effort to save the machinery from
damage and the consequent accident, and his own present wretched and
starving condition. The three local newspapers rejected my
communication, likewise did the two weeklies.
I got hold of Percy Layton. He was a graduate of the university, had
gone in for journalism, and was then serving his apprenticeship as
reporter on the most influential of the three newspapers. He smiled
when I asked him the reason the newspapers suppressed all mention of
Jackson or his case.
'Editorial policy,' he said. 'We have nothing to do with that.
It's up to the editors.'
'But why is it policy?' I asked.
'We're all solid with the corporations,' he answered. 'If you paid
advertising rates, you couldn't get any such matter into the papers. A
man who tried to smuggle it in would lose his job. You couldn't get it
in if you paid ten times the regular advertising rates.'
'How about your own policy?' I questioned. 'It would seem your
function is to twist truth at the command of your employers, who, in
turn, obey the behests of the corporations.'
'I haven't anything to do with that.' He looked uncomfortable for
the moment, then brightened as he saw his way out. 'I, myself, do
not write untruthful things. I keep square all right with my own
conscience. Of course, there's lots that's repugnant in the course
of the day's work. But then, you see, that's all part of the day's
work,' he wound up boyishly.
'Yet you expect to sit at an editor's desk some day and conduct a
'I'll be case-hardened by that time,' was his reply.
'Since you are not yet case-hardened, tell me what you think right
now about the general editorial policy.'
'I don't think,' he answered quickly. 'One can't kick over the ropes
if he's going to succeed in journalism. I've learned that much, at any
And he nodded his young head sagely.
'But the right?' I persisted.
'You don't understand the game. Of course it's all right, because it
comes out all right, don't you see?'
'Delightfully vague,' I murmured; but my heart was aching for the
youth of him, and I felt that I must either scream or burst into
I was beginning to see through the appearances of the society in
which I had always lived, and to find the frightful realities that
were beneath. There seemed a tacit conspiracy against Jackson, and I
was aware of a thrill of sympathy for the whining lawyer who had
ingloriously fought his case. But this tacit conspiracy grew large.
Not alone was it aimed against Jackson. It was aimed against every
workingman who was maimed in the mills. And if against every man in
the mills, why not against every man in all the other mills and
factories? In fact, was it not true of all the industries?
And if this was so, then society was a lie. I shrank back from my
own conclusions. It was too terrible and awful to be true. But there
was Jackson, and Jackson's arm, and the blood that stained my gown and
dripped from my own roof-beams. And there were many Jacksons- hundreds
of them in the mills alone, as Jackson himself had said. Jackson I
could not escape.
I saw Mr. Wickson and Mr. Pertonwaithe, the two men who held most of
the stock in the Sierra Mills. But I could not shake them as I had
shaken the mechanics in their employ. I discovered that they had an
ethic superior to that of the rest of society. It was what I may
call the aristocratic ethic or the master ethic.* They talked in large
ways of policy, and they identified policy and right. And to me they
talked in fatherly ways, patronizing my youth and inexperience. They
were the most hopeless of all I had encountered in my quest. They
believed absolutely that their conduct was right. There was no
question about it, no discussion. They were convinced that they were
the saviours of society, and that it was they who made happiness for
the many. And they drew pathetic pictures of what would be the
sufferings of the working class were it not for the employment that
they, and they alone, by their wisdom, provided for it.
* Before Avis Everhard was born, John Stuart Mill, in his essay,
On Liberty, wrote: 'Wherever there is an ascendant class, a large
portion of the morality emanates from its class interests and its
class feelings of superiority.'
Fresh from these two masters, I met Ernest and related my
experience. He looked at me with a pleased expression, and said:
'Really, this is fine. You are beginning to dig truth for
yourself. It is your own empirical generalization, and it is
correct. No man in the industrial machine is a free-will agent, except
the large capitalist, and he isn't, if you'll pardon the Irishism.*
You see, the masters are quite sure that they are right in what they
are doing. That is the crowning absurdity of the whole situation. They
are so tied by their human nature that they can't do a thing unless
they think it is right. They must have a sanction for their acts.
* Verbal contradictions, called bulls, were long an amiable weakness
of the ancient Irish.
'When they want to do a thing, in business of course, they must wait
till there arises in their brains, somehow, a religious, or ethical,
or scientific, or philosophic, concept that the thing is right. And
then they go ahead and do it, unwitting that one of the weaknesses
of the human mind is that the wish is parent to the thought. No matter
what they want to do, the sanction always comes. They are
superficial casuists. They are Jesuitical. They even see their way
to doing wrong that right may come of it. One of the pleasant and
axiomatic fictions they have created is that they are superior to
the rest of mankind in wisdom and efficiency. Therefrom comes their
sanction to manage the bread and butter of the rest of mankind. They
have even resurrected the theory of the divine right of kings-
commercial kings in their case.*
* The newspapers, in 1902 of that era, credited the president of the
Anthracite Coal Trust, George F. Baer, with the enunciation of the
following principle: 'The rights and interests of the laboring man
will be protected by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite
wisdom has given the property interests of the country.'
'The weakness in their position lies in that they are merely
business men. They are not philosophers. They are not biologists nor
sociologists. If they were, of course all would be well. A business
man who was also a biologist and a sociologist would know,
approximately, the right thing to do for humanity. But, outside the
realm of business, these men are stupid. They know only business. They
do not know mankind nor society, and yet they set themselves up as
arbiters of the fates of the hungry millions and all the other
millions thrown in. History, some day, will have an excruciating laugh
at their expense.'
I was not surprised when I had my talk out with Mrs. Wickson and
Mrs. Pertonwaithe. They were society women.* Their homes were palaces.
They had many homes scattered over the country, in the mountains, on
lakes, and by the sea. They were tended by armies of servants, and
their social activities were bewildering. They patronized the
university and the churches, and the pastors especially bowed at their
knees in meek subservience.*(2) They were powers, these two women,
what of the money that was theirs. The power of subsidization of
thought was theirs to a remarkable degree, as I was soon to learn
under Ernest's tuition.
* Society is here used in a restricted sense, a common usage of
the times to denote the gilded drones that did no labor, but only
glutted themselves at the honey-vats of the workers. Neither the
business men nor the laborers had time or opportunity for society.
Society was the creation of the idle rich who toiled not and who in
this way played.
*(2) 'Bring on your tainted money,' was the expressed sentiment of
the Church during this period.
They aped their husbands, and talked in the same large ways about
policy, and the duties and responsibilities of the rich. They were
swayed by the same ethic that dominated their husbands- the ethic of
their class; and they uttered glib phrases that their own ears did not
Also, they grew irritated when I told them of the deplorable
condition of Jackson's family, and when I wondered that they had
made no voluntary provision for the man. I was told that they
thanked no one for instructing them in their social duties. When I
asked them flatly to assist Jackson, they as flatly refused. The
astounding thing about it was that they refused in almost
identically the same language, and this in face of the fact that I
interviewed them separately and that one did not know that I had
seen or was going to see the other. Their common reply was that they
were glad of the opportunity to make it perfectly plain that no
premium would ever be put on carelessness by them; nor would they,
by paying for accident, tempt the poor to hurt themselves in the
* In the files of the Outlook, a critical weekly of the period, in
the number dated August 18, 1906, is related the circumstance of a
workingman losing his arm, the details of which are quite similar to
those of Jackson's case as related by Avis Everhard.
And they were sincere, these two women. They were drunk with
conviction of the superiority of their class and of themselves. They
had a sanction, in their own class-ethic, for every act they
performed. As I drove away from Mrs. Pertonwaithe's great house, I
looked back at it, and I remembered Ernest's expression that they were
bound to the machine, but that they were so bound that they sat on top
ERNEST WAS OFTEN AT THE house. Nor was it my father, merely, nor the
controversial dinners, that drew him there. Even at that time I
flattered myself that I played some part in causing his visits, and it
was not long before I learned the correctness of my surmise. For never
was there such a lover as Ernest Everhard. His gaze and his hand-clasp
grew firmer and steadier, if that were possible; and the question that
had grown from the first in his eyes, grew only the more imperative.
My impression of him, the first time I saw him, had been
unfavorable. Then I had found myself attracted toward him. Next came
my repulsion, when he so savagely attacked my class and me. After
that, as I saw that he had not maligned my class, and that the harsh
and bitter things he said about it were justified, I had drawn
closer to him again. He became my oracle. For me he tore the sham from
the face of society and gave me glimpses of reality that were as
unpleasant as they were undeniably true.
As I have said, there was never such a lover as he. No girl could
live in a university town till she was twenty-four and not have love
experiences. I had been made love to by beardless sophomores and
gray professors, and by the athletes and the football giants. But
not one of them made love to me as Ernest did. His arms were around me
before I knew. His lips were on mine before I could protest or resist.
Before his earnestness conventional maiden dignity was ridiculous.
He swept me off my feet by the splendid invincible rush of him. He did
not propose. He put his arms around me and kissed me and took it for
granted that we should be married. There was no discussion about it.
The only discussion- and that arose afterward- was when we should be
It was unprecedented. It was unreal. Yet, in accordance with
Ernest's test of truth, it worked. I trusted my life to it. And
fortunate was the trust. Yet during those first days of our love, fear
of the future came often to me when I thought of the violence and
impetuosity of his love-making. Yet such fears were groundless. No
woman was ever blessed with a gentler, tenderer husband. This
gentleness and violence on his part was a curious blend similar to the
one in his carriage of awkwardness and ease. That slight
awkwardness! He never got over it, and it was delicious. His
behavior in our drawing-room reminded me of a careful bull in a
* In those days it was still the custom to fill the living rooms
with bric-a-brac. They had not discovered simplicity of living. Such
rooms were museums, entailing endless labor to keep clean. The
dust-demon was the lord of the household. There were a myriad
devices for catching dust, and only a few devices for getting rid of
It was at this time that vanished my last doubt of the
completeness of my love for him (a subconscious doubt, at most). It
was at the Philomath Club- a wonderful night of battle, wherein Ernest
bearded the masters in their lair. Now the Philomath Club was the most
select on the Pacific Coast. It was the creation of Miss Brentwood, an
enormously wealthy old maid; and it was her husband, and family, and
toy. Its members were the wealthiest in the community, and the
strongest-minded of the wealthy, with, of course, a sprinkling of
scholars to give it intellectual tone.
The Philomath had no club house. It was not that kind of a club.
Once a month its members gathered at some one of their private
houses to listen to a lecture. The lecturers were usually, though
not always, hired. If a chemist in New York made a new discovery in
say radium, all his expenses across the continent were paid, and as
well he received a princely fee for his time. The same with a
returning explorer from the polar regions, or the latest literary or
artistic success. No visitors were allowed, while it was the
Philomath's policy to permit none of its discussions to get into the
papers. Thus great statesmen- and there had been such occasions-
were able fully to speak their minds.
I spread before me a wrinkled letter, written to me by Ernest twenty
years ago, and from it I copy the following:
'Your father is a member of the Philomath, so you are able to
come. Therefore come next Tuesday night. I promise you that you will
have the time of your life. In your recent encounters, you failed to
shake the masters. If you come, I'll shake them for you. I'll make
them snarl like wolves. You merely questioned their morality. When
their morality is questioned, they grow only the more complacent and
superior. But I shall menace their money-bags. That will shake them to
the roots of their primitive natures. If you can come, you will see
the cave-man, in evening dress, snarling and snapping over a bone. I
promise you a great caterwauling and an illuminating insight into
the nature of the beast.
'They've invited me in order to tear me to pieces. This is the
idea of Miss Brentwood. She clumsily hinted as much when she invited
me. She's given them that kind of fun before. They delight in
getting trustful-souled gentle reformers before them. Miss Brentwood
thinks I am as mild as a kitten and as good-natured and stolid as
the family cow. I'll not deny that I helped to give her that
impression. She was very tentative at first, until she divined my
harmlessness. I am to receive a handsome fee- two hundred and fifty
dollars- as befits the man who, though a radical, once ran for
governor. Also, I am to wear evening dress. This is compulsory. I
never was so apparelled in my life. I suppose I'll have to hire one
somewhere. But I'd do more than that to get a chance at the
Of all places, the Club gathered that night at the Pertonwaithe
house. Extra chairs had been brought into the great drawing-room,
and in all there must have been two hundred Philomaths that sat down
to hear Ernest. They were truly lords of society. I amused myself with
running over in my mind the sum of the fortunes represented, and it
ran well into the hundreds of millions. And the possessors were not of
the idle rich. They were men of affairs who took most active parts
in industrial and political life.
We were all seated when Miss Brentwood brought Ernest in. They moved
at once to the head of the room, from where he was to speak. He was in
evening dress, and, what of his broad shoulders and kingly head, he
looked magnificent. And then there was that faint and unmistakable
touch of awkwardness in his movements. I almost think I could have
loved him for that alone. And as I looked at him I was aware of a
great joy. I felt again the pulse of his palm on mine, the touch of
his lips; and such pride was mine that I felt I must rise up and cry
out to the assembled company: 'He is mine! He has held me in his arms,
and I, mere I, have filled that mind of his to the exclusion of all
his multitudinous and kingly thoughts!'
At the head of the room, Miss Brentwood introduced him to Colonel
Van Gilbert, and I knew that the latter was to preside. Colonel Van
Gilbert was a great corporation lawyer. In addition, he was
immensely wealthy. The smallest fee he would deign to notice was a
hundred thousand dollars. He was a master of law. The law was a puppet
with which he played. He moulded it like clay, twisted and distorted
it like a Chinese puzzle into any design he chose. In appearance and
rhetoric he was old-fashioned, but in imagination and knowledge and
resource he was as young as the latest statute. His first prominence
had come when he broke the Shardwell will.* His fee for this one act
was five hundred thousand dollars. From then on he had risen like a
rocket. He was often called the greatest lawyer in the country-
corporation lawyer, of course; and no classification of the three
greatest lawyers in the United States could have excluded him.
* This breaking of wills was a peculiar feature of the period.
With the accumulation of vast fortunes, the problem of disposing of
these fortunes after death was a vexing one to the accumulators.
Will-making and will-breaking became complementary trades, like
armor-making and gun-making. The shrewdest will-making lawyers were
called in to make wills that could not be broken. But these wills were
always broken, and very often by the very lawyers that had drawn
them up. Nevertheless the delusion persisted in the wealthy class that
an absolutely unbreakable will could be cast; and so, through the
generations, clients and lawyers pursued the illusion. It was a
pursuit like unto that of the Universal Solvent of the mediaeval
He arose and began, in a few well-chosen phrases that carried an
undertone of faint irony, to introduce Ernest. Colonel Van Gilbert was
subtly facetious in his introduction of the social reformer and member
of the working class, and the audience smiled. It made me angry, and I
glanced at Ernest. The sight of him made me doubly angry. He did not
seem to resent the delicate slurs. Worse than that, he did not seem to
be aware of them. There he sat, gentle, and stolid, and somnolent.
He really looked stupid. And for a moment the thought rose in my mind,
What if he were overawed by this imposing array of power and brains?
Then I smiled. He couldn't fool me. But he fooled the others, just
as he had fooled Miss Brentwood. She occupied a chair right up to
the front, and several times she turned her head toward one or another
of her confreres and smiled her appreciation of the remarks.
Colonel Van Gilbert done, Ernest arose and began to speak. He
began in a low voice, haltingly and modestly, and with an air of
evident embarrassment. He spoke of his birth in the working class, and
of the sordidness and wretchedness of his environment, where flesh and
spirit were alike starved and tormented. He described his ambitions
and ideals, and his conception of the paradise wherein lived the
people of the upper classes. As he said:
'Up above me, I knew, were unselfishnesses of the spirit, clean
and noble thinking, keen intellectual living. I knew all this
because I read "Seaside Library"* novels, in which, with the exception
of the villains and adventuresses, all men and women thought beautiful
thoughts, spoke a beautiful tongue, and performed glorious deeds. In
short, as I accepted the rising of the sun, I accepted that up above
me was all that was fine and noble and gracious, all that gave decency
and dignity to life, all that made life worth living and that
remunerated one for his travail and misery.'
* A curious and amazing literature that served to make the working
class utterly misapprehend the nature of the leisure class.
He went on and traced his life in the mills, the learning of the
horseshoeing trade, and his meeting with the socialists. Among them,
he said, he had found keen intellects and brilliant wits, ministers of
the Gospel who had been broken because their Christianity was too wide
for any congregation of mammon-worshippers, and professors who had
been broken on the wheel of university subservience to the ruling
class. The socialists were revolutionists, he said, struggling to
overthrow the irrational society of the present and out of the
material to build the rational society of the future. Much more he
said that would take too long to write, but I shall never forget how
he described the life among the revolutionists. All halting
utterance vanished. His voice grew strong and confident, and it glowed
as he glowed, and as the thoughts glowed that poured out from him.
'Amongst the revolutionists I found, also, warm faith in the
human, ardent idealism, sweetnesses of unselfishness, renunciation,
and martyrdom- all the splendid, stinging things of the spirit. Here
life was clean, noble, and alive. I was in touch with great souls
who exalted flesh and spirit over dollars and cents, and to whom the
thin wail of the starved slum child meant more than all the pomp and
circumstance of commercial expansion and world empire. All about me
were nobleness of purpose and heroism of effort, and my days and
nights were sunshine and starshine, all fire and dew, with before my
eyes, ever burning and blazing, the Holy Grail, Christ's own Grail,
the warm human, long-suffering and maltreated but to be rescued and
saved at the last.'
As before I had seen him transfigured, so now he stood
transfigured before me. His brows were bright with the divine that was
in him, and brighter yet shone his eyes from the midst of the radiance
that seemed to envelop him as a mantle. But the others did not see
this radiance, and I assumed that it was due to the tears of joy and
love that dimmed my vision. At any rate, Mr. Wickson, who sat behind
me, was unaffected, for I heard him sneer aloud, 'Utopian.'*
* The people of that age were phrase slaves. The abjectness of their
servitude is incomprehensible to us. There was a magic in words
greater than the conjurer's art. So befuddled and chaotic were their
minds that the utterance of a single word could negative the
generalizations of a lifetime of serious research and thought. Such
a word was the adjective Utopian. The mere utterance of it could
damn any scheme, no matter how sanely conceived, of economic
amelioration or regeneration. Vast populations grew frenzied over such
phrases as 'an honest dollar' and 'a full dinner pail.' The coinage of
such phrases was considered strokes of genius.
Ernest went on to his rise in society, till at last he came in touch
with members of the upper classes, and rubbed shoulders with the men
who sat in the high places. Then came his disillusionment, and this
disillusionment he described in terms that did not flatter his
audience. He was surprised at the commonness of the clay. Life
proved not to be fine and gracious. He was appalled by the selfishness
he encountered, and what had surprised him even more than that was the
absence of intellectual life. Fresh from his revolutionists, he was
shocked by the intellectual stupidity of the master class. And then,
in spite of their magnificent churches and well-paid preachers, he had
found the masters, men and women, grossly material. It was true that
they prattled sweet little ideals and dear little moralities, but in
spite of their prattle the dominant key of the life they lived was
materialistic. And they were without real morality- for instance, that
which Christ had preached but which was no longer preached.
'I met men,' he said, 'who invoked the name of the Prince of Peace
in their diatribes against war, and who put rifles in the hands of
Pinkertons* with which to shoot down strikers in their own
factories. I met men incoherent with indignation at the brutality of
prize-fighting, and who, at the same time, were parties to the
adulteration of food that killed each year more babes than even
red-handed Herod had killed.
* Originally, they were private detectives; but they quickly
became hired fighting men of the capitalists, and ultimately developed
into the Mercenaries of the Oligarchy.
'This delicate, aristocratic-featured gentleman was a dummy director
and a tool of corporations that secretly robbed widows and orphans.
This gentleman, who collected fine editions and was a patron of
literature, paid blackmail to a heavy-jowled, black-browed boss of a
municipal machine. This editor, who published patent medicine
advertisements, called me a scoundrelly demagogue because I dared
him to print in his paper the truth about patent medicines.* This man,
talking soberly and earnestly about the beauties of idealism and the
goodness of God, had just betrayed his comrades in a business deal.
This man, a pillar of the church and heavy contributor to foreign
missions, worked his shop girls ten hours a day on a starvation wage
and thereby directly encouraged prostitution. This man, who endowed
chairs in universities and erected magnificent chapels, perjured
himself in courts of law over dollars and cents. This railroad magnate
broke his word as a citizen, as a gentleman, and as a Christian,
when he granted a secret rebate, and he granted many secret rebates.
This senator was the tool and the slave, the little puppet, of a
brutal uneducated machine boss;*(2) so was this governor and this
supreme court judge; and all three rode on railroad passes; and, also,
this sleek capitalist owned the machine, the machine boss, and the
railroads that issued the passes.
* Patent medicines were patent lies, but, like the charms and
indulgences of the Middle Ages, they deceived the people. The only
difference lay in that the patent medicines were more harmful and more
*(2) Even as late as 1912, A.D., the great mass of the people
still persisted in the belief that they ruled the country by virtue of
their ballots. In reality, the country was ruled by what were called
political machines. At first the machine bosses charged the master
capitalists extortionate tolls for legislation; but in a short time
the master capitalists found it cheaper to own the political
machines themselves and to hire the machine bosses.
'And so it was, instead of in paradise, that I found myself in the
arid desert of commercialism. I found nothing but stupidity, except
for business. I found none clean, noble, and alive, though I found
many who were alive- with rottenness. What I did find was monstrous
selfishness and heartlessness, and a gross, gluttonous, practised, and
Much more Ernest told them of themselves and of his disillusionment.
Intellectually they had bored him; morally and spiritually they had
sickened him; so that he was glad to go back to his revolutionists,
who were clean, noble, and alive, and all that the capitalists were
'And now,' he said, 'let me tell you about that revolution.'
But first I must say that his terrible diatribe had not touched
them. I looked about me at their faces and saw that they remained
complacently superior to what he had charged. And I remembered what he
had told me: that no indictment of their morality could shake them.
However, I could see that the boldness of his language had affected
Miss Brentwood. She was looking worried and apprehensive.
Ernest began by describing the army of revolution, and as he gave
the figures of its strength (the votes cast in the various countries),
the assemblage began to grow restless. Concern showed in their
faces, and I noticed a tightening of lips. At last the gage of
battle had been thrown down. He described the international
organization of the socialists that united the million and a half in
the United States with the twenty-three millions and a half in the
rest of the world.
'Such an army of revolution,' he said, 'twenty-five millions strong,
is a thing to make rulers and ruling classes pause and consider. The
cry of this army is: "No quarter! We want all that you possess. We
will be content with nothing less than all that you possess. We want
in our hands the reins of power and the destiny of mankind. Here are
our hands. They are strong hands. We are going to take your
governments, your palaces, and all your purpled ease away from you,
and in that day you shall work for your bread even as the peasant in
the field or the starved and runty clerk in your metropolises. Here
are our hands. They are strong hands!"'
And as he spoke he extended from his splendid shoulders his two
great arms, and the horseshoer's hands were clutching the air like
eagle's talons. He was the spirit of regnant labor as he stood
there, his hands outreaching to rend and crush his audience. I was
aware of a faintly perceptible shrinking on the part of the
listeners before this figure of revolution, concrete, potential, and
menacing. That is, the women shrank, and fear was in their faces.
Not so with the men. They were of the active rich, and not the idle,
and they were fighters. A low, throaty rumble arose, lingered on the
air a moment, and ceased. It was the forerunner of the snarl, and I
was to hear it many times that night- the token of the brute in man,
the earnest of his primitive passions. And they were unconscious
that they had made this sound. It was the growl of the pack, mouthed
by the pack, and mouthed in all unconsciousness. And in that moment,
as I saw the harshness form in their faces and saw the fight-light
flashing in their eyes, I realized that not easily would they let
their lordship of the world be wrested from them.
Ernest proceeded with his attack. He accounted for the existence
of the million and a half of revolutionists in the United States by
charging the capitalist class with having mismanaged society. He
sketched the economic condition of the cave-man and of the savage
peoples of to-day, pointing out that they possessed neither tools
nor machines, and possessed only a natural efficiency of one in
producing power. Then he traced the development of machinery and
social organization so that to-day the producing power of civilized
man was a thousand times greater than that of the savage.
'Five men,' he said, 'can produce bread for a thousand. One man
can produce cotton cloth for two hundred and fifty people, woollens
for three hundred, and boots and shoes for a thousand. One would
conclude from this that under a capable management of society modern
civilized man would be a great deal better off than the cave-man.
But is he? Let us see. In the United States to-day there are fifteen
million* people living in poverty; and by poverty is meant that
condition in life in which, through lack of food and adequate shelter,
the mere standard of working efficiency cannot be maintained. In the
United States to-day, in spite of all your so-called labor
legislation, there are three millions of child laborers.*(2) In twelve
years their numbers have been doubled. And in passing I will ask you
managers of society why you did not make public the census figures
of 1910? And I will answer for you, that you were afraid. The
figures of misery would have precipitated the revolution that even now
* Robert Hunter, in 1906, in a book entitled 'Poverty,' pointed
out that at that time there were ten millions in the United States
living in poverty.
*(2) In the United States Census of 1900 (the last census the
figures of which were made public), the number of child laborers was
placed at 1,752,187.
'But to return to my indictment. If modern man's producing power
is a thousand times greater than that of the cave-man, why then, in
the United States to-day, are there fifteen million people who are not
properly sheltered and properly fed? Why then, in the United States
to-day, are there three million child laborers? It is a true
indictment. The capitalist class has mismanaged. In face of the
facts that modern man lives more wretchedly than the cave-man, and
that his producing power is a thousand times greater than that of
the cave-man, no other conclusion is possible than that the capitalist
class has mismanaged, that you have mismanaged, my masters, that you
have criminally and selfishly mismanaged. And on this count you cannot
answer me here to-night, face to face, any more than can your whole
class answer the million and a half of revolutionists in the United
States. You cannot answer. I challenge you to answer. And furthermore,
I dare to say to you now that when I have finished you will not
answer. On that point you will be tongue-tied, though you will talk
wordily enough about other things.
'You have failed in your management. You have made a shambles of
civilization. You have been blind and greedy. You have risen up (as
you to-day rise up), shamelessly, in our legislative halls, and
declared that profits were impossible without the toil of children and
babes. Don't take my word for it. It is all in the records against
you. You have lulled your conscience to sleep with prattle of sweet
ideals and dear moralities. You are fat with power and possession,
drunken with success; and you have no more hope against us than have
the drones, clustered about the honey-vats, when the worker-bees
spring upon them to end their rotund existence. You have failed in
your management of society, and your management is to be taken away
from you. A million and a half of the men of the working class say
that they are going to get the rest of the working class to join
with them and take the management away from you. This is the
revolution, my masters. Stop it if you can.'
For an appreciable lapse of time Ernest's voice continued to ring
through the great room. Then arose the throaty rumble I had heard
before, and a dozen men were on their feet clamoring for recognition
from Colonel Van Gilbert. I noticed Miss Brentwood's shoulders
moving convulsively, and for the moment I was angry, for I thought
that she was laughing at Ernest. And then I discovered that it was not
laughter, but hysteria. She was appalled by what she had done in
bringing this firebrand before her blessed Philomath Club.
Colonel Van Gilbert did not notice the dozen men, with
passion-wrought faces, who strove to get permission from him to speak.
His own face was passion-wrought. He sprang to his feet, waving his
arms, and for a moment could utter only incoherent sounds. Then speech
poured from him. But it was not the speech of a
one-hundred-thousand-dollar lawyer, nor was the rhetoric
'Fallacy upon fallacy!' he cried. 'Never in all my life have I heard
so many fallacies uttered in one short hour. And besides, young man, I
must tell you that you have said nothing new. I learned all that at
college before you were born. Jean Jacques Rousseau enunciated your
socialistic theory nearly two centuries ago. A return to the soil,
forsooth! Reversion! Our biology teaches the absurdity of it. It has
been truly said that a little learning is a dangerous thing, and you
have exemplified it to-night with your madcap theories. Fallacy upon
fallacy! I was never so nauseated in my life with overplus of fallacy.
That for your immature generalizations and childish reasonings!'
He snapped his fingers contemptuously and proceeded to sit down.
There were lip-exclamations of approval on the part of the women,
and hoarser notes of confirmation came from the men. As for the
dozen men who were clamoring for the floor, half of them began
speaking at once. The confusion and babel was indescribable. Never had
Mrs. Pertonwaithe's spacious walls beheld such a spectacle. These,
then, were the cool captains of industry and lords of society, these
snarling, growling savages in evening clothes. Truly Ernest had shaken
them when he stretched out his hands for their moneybags, his hands
that had appeared in their eyes as the hands of the fifteen hundred
But Ernest never lost his head in a situation. Before Colonel Van
Gilbert had succeeded in sitting down, Ernest was on his feet and
had sprung forward.
'One at a time!' he roared at them.
The sound arose from his great lungs and dominated the human
tempest. By sheer compulsion of personality he commanded silence.
'One at a time,' he repeated softly. 'Let me answer Colonel Van
Gilbert. After that the rest of you can come at me- but one at a time,
remember. No mass-plays here. This is not a football field.
'As for you,' he went on, turning toward Colonel Van Gilbert, 'you
have replied to nothing I have said. You have merely made a few
excited and dogmatic assertions about my mental caliber. That may
serve you in your business, but you can't talk to me like that. I am
not a workingman, cap in hand, asking you to increase my wages or to
protect me from the machine at which I work. You cannot be dogmatic
with truth when you deal with me. Save that for dealing with your
wage-slaves. They will not dare reply to you because you hold their
bread and butter, their lives, in your hands.
'As for this return to nature that you say you learned at college
before I was born, permit me to point out that on the face of it you
cannot have learned anything since. Socialism has no more to do with
the state of nature than has differential calculus with a Bible class.
I have called your class stupid when outside the realm of business.
You, sir, have brilliantly exemplified my statement.'
This terrible castigation of her hundred-thousand-dollar lawyer
was too much for Miss Brentwood's nerves. Her hysteria became violent,
and she was helped, weeping and laughing, out of the room. It was just
as well, for there was worse to follow.
'Don't take my word for it,' Ernest continued, when the interruption
had been led away. 'Your own authorities with one unanimous voice will
prove you stupid. Your own hired purveyors of knowledge will tell
you that you are wrong. Go to your meekest little assistant instructor
of sociology and ask him what is the difference between Rousseau's
theory of the return to nature and the theory of socialism; ask your
greatest orthodox bourgeois political economists and sociologists;
question through the pages of every text-book written on the subject
and stored on the shelves of your subsidized libraries; and from one
and all the answer will be that there is nothing congruous between the
return to nature and socialism. On the other hand, the unanimous
affirmative answer will be that the return to nature and socialism are
diametrically opposed to each other. As I say, don't take my word
for it. The record of your stupidity is there in the books, your own
books that you never read. And so far as your stupidity is
concerned, you are but the exemplar of your class.
'You know law and business, Colonel Van Gilbert. You know how to
serve corporations and increase dividends by twisting the law. Very
good. Stick to it. You are quite a figure. You are a very good lawyer,
but you are a poor historian, you know nothing of sociology, and
your biology is contemporaneous with Pliny.'
Here Colonel Van Gilbert writhed in his chair. There was perfect
quiet in the room. Everybody sat fascinated- paralyzed, I may say.
Such fearful treatment of the great Colonel Van Gilbert was unheard
of, undreamed of, impossible to believe- the great Colonel Van Gilbert
before whom judges trembled when he arose in court. But Ernest never
gave quarter to an enemy.
'This is, of course, no reflection on you,' Ernest said. 'Every
man to his trade. Only you stick to your trade, and I'll stick to
mine. You have specialized. When it comes to a knowledge of the law,
of how best to evade the law or make new law for the benefit of
thieving corporations, I am down in the dirt at your feet. But when it
comes to sociology- my trade- you are down in the dirt at my feet.
Remember that. Remember, also, that your law is the stuff of a day,
and that you are not versatile in the stuff of more than a day.
Therefore your dogmatic assertions and rash generalizations on
things historical and sociological are not worth the breath you
waste on them.'
Ernest paused for a moment and regarded him thoughtfully, noting his
face dark and twisted with anger, his panting chest, his writhing
body, and his slim white hands nervously clenching and unclenching.
'But it seems you have breath to use, and I'll give you a chance
to use it. I indicted your class. Show me that my indictment is wrong.
I pointed out to you the wretchedness of modern man- three million
child slaves in the United States, without whose labor profits would
not be possible, and fifteen million under-fed, ill-clothed, and
worse-housed people. I pointed out that modern man's producing power
through social organization and the use of machinery was a thousand
times greater than that of the cave-man. And I stated that from
these two facts no other conclusion was possible than that the
capitalist class had mismanaged. This was my indictment, and I
specifically and at length challenged you to answer it. Nay, I did
more. I prophesied that you would not answer. It remains for your
breath to smash my prophecy. You called my speech fallacy. Show the
fallacy, Colonel Van Gilbert. Answer the indictment that I and my
fifteen hundred thousand comrades have brought against your class
Colonel Van Gilbert quite forgot that he was presiding, and that
in courtesy he should permit the other clamorers to speak. He was on
his feet, flinging his arms, his rhetoric, and his control to the
winds, alternately abusing Ernest for his youth and demagoguery, and
savagely attacking the working class, elaborating its inefficiency and
'For a lawyer, you are the hardest man to keep to a point I ever
saw,' Ernest began his answer to the tirade. 'My youth has nothing
to do with what I have enunciated. Nor has the worthlessness of the
working class. I charged the capitalist class with having mismanaged
society. You have not answered. You have made no attempt to answer.
Why? Is it because you have no answer? You are the champion of this
whole audience. Every one here, except me, is hanging on your lips for
that answer. They are hanging on your lips for that answer because
they have no answer themselves. As for me, as I said before, I know
that you not only cannot answer, but that you will not attempt an
'This is intolerable!' Colonel Van Gilbert cried out. 'This is
'That you should not answer is intolerable,' Ernest replied gravely.
'No man can be intellectually insulted. Insult, in its very nature, is
emotional. Recover yourself. Give me an intellectual answer to my
intellectual charge that the capitalist class has mismanaged society.'
Colonel Van Gilbert remained silent, a sullen, superior expression
on his face, such as will appear on the face of a man who will not
bandy words with a ruffian.
'Do not be downcast,' Ernest said. 'Take consolation in the fact
that no member of your class has ever yet answered that charge.' He
turned to the other men who were anxious to speak. 'And now it's
your chance. Fire away, and do not forget that I here challenge you to
give the answer that Colonel Van Gilbert has failed to give.'
It would be impossible for me to write all that was said in the
discussion. I never realized before how many words could be spoken
in three short hours. At any rate, it was glorious. The more his
opponents grew excited, the more Ernest deliberately excited them.
He had an encyclopaedic command of the field of knowledge, and by a
word or a phrase, by delicate rapier thrusts, he punctured them, He
named the points of their illogic. This was a false syllogism, that
conclusion had no connection with the premise, while that next premise
was an impostor because it had cunningly hidden in it the conclusion
that was being attempted to be proved. This was an error, that was
an assumption, and the next was an assertion contrary to ascertained
truth as printed in all the text-books.
And so it went. Sometimes he exchanged the rapier for the club and
went smashing amongst their thoughts right and left. And always he
demanded facts and refused to discuss theories. And his facts made for
them a Waterloo. When they attacked the working class, he always
retorted, 'The pot calling the kettle black; that is no answer to
the charge that your own face is dirty.' And to one and all he said:
'Why have you not answered the charge that your class has
mismanaged? You have talked about other things and things concerning
other things, but you have not answered. Is it because you have no
It was at the end of the discussion that Mr. Wickson spoke. He was
the only one that was cool, and Ernest treated him with a respect he
had not accorded the others.
'No answer is necessary,' Mr. Wickson said with slow deliberation.
'I have followed the whole discussion with amazement and disgust. I am
disgusted with you gentlemen, members of my class. You have behaved
like foolish little schoolboys, what with intruding ethics and the
thunder of the common politician into such a discussion. You have been
outgeneralled and outclassed. You have been very wordy, and all you
have done is buzz. You have buzzed like gnats about a bear. Gentlemen,
there stands the bear' (he pointed at Ernest), 'and your buzzing has
only tickled his ears.
'Believe me, the situation is serious. That bear reached out his
paws tonight to crush us. He has said there are a million and a half
of revolutionists in the United States. That is a fact. He has said
that it is their intention to take away from us our governments, our
palaces, and all our purpled ease. That, also, is a fact. A change,
a great change, is coming in society; but, haply, it may not be the
change the bear anticipates. The bear has said that he will crush
us. What if we crush the bear?'
The throat-rumble arose in the great room, and man nodded to man
with indorsement and certitude. Their faces were set hard. They were
fighters, that was certain.
'But not by buzzing will we crush the bear,' Mr. Wickson went on
coldly and dispassionately. 'We will hunt the bear. We will not
reply to the bear in words. Our reply shall be couched in terms of
lead. We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that power we
shall remain in power.'
He turned suddenly upon Ernest. The moment was dramatic.
'This, then, is our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When
you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled
ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel
and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched.* We will
grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon
your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall
remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since
history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall
remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the
power. There is the word. It is the king of words- Power. Not God, not
Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it.
* To show the tenor of thought, the following definition is quoted
from 'The Cynic's Word Book' (1906 A.D.), written by one Ambrose
Bierce, an avowed and confirmed misanthrope of the period: 'Grapeshot,
n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the
demands of American Socialism.'
'I am answered,' Ernest said quietly. 'It is the only answer that
could be given. Power. It is what we of the working class preach. We
know, and well we know by bitter experience, that no appeal for the
right, for justice, for humanity, can ever touch you. Your hearts
are hard as your heels with which you tread upon the faces of the
poor. So we have preached power. By the power of our ballots on
election day will we take your government away from you-'
'What if you do get a majority, a sweeping majority, on election
day?' Mr. Wickson broke in to demand. 'Suppose we refuse to turn the
government over to you after you have captured it at the ballot-box?'
'That, also, have we considered,' Ernest replied. 'And we shall give
you an answer in terms of lead. Power you have proclaimed the king
of words. Very good. Power it shall be. And in the day that we sweep
to victory at the ballot-box, and you refuse to turn over to us the
government we have constitutionally and peacefully captured, and you
demand what we are going to do about it- in that day, I say, we
shall answer you; and in roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of
machine-guns shall our answer be couched.
'You cannot escape us. It is true that you have read history aright.
It is true that labor has from the beginning of history been in the
dirt. And it is equally true that so long as you and yours and those
that come after you have power, that labor shall remain in the dirt. I
agree with you. I agree with all that you have said. Power will be the
arbiter, as it always has been the arbiter. It is a struggle of
classes. Just as your class dragged down the old feudal nobility, so
shall it be dragged down by my class, the working class. If you will
read your biology and your sociology as clearly as you do your
history, you will see that this end I have described is inevitable. It
does not matter whether it is in one year, ten, or a thousand- your
class shall be dragged down. And it shall be done by power. We of
the labor hosts have conned that word over till our minds are all
a-tingle with it. Power. It is a kingly word.'
And so ended the night with the Philomaths.
IT WAS ABOUT THIS TIME THAT the warnings of coming events began to
fall about us thick and fast. Ernest had already questioned father's
policy of having socialists and labor leaders at his house, and of
openly attending socialist meetings; and father had only laughed at
him for his pains. As for myself, I was learning much from this
contact with the working-class leaders and thinkers. I was seeing
the other side of the shield. I was delighted with the unselfishness
and high idealism I encountered, though I was appalled by the vast
philosophic and scientific literature of socialism that was opened
up to me. I was learning fast, but I learned not fast enough to
realize then the peril of our position.
There were warnings, but I did not heed them. For instance, Mrs.
Pertonwaithe and Mrs. Wickson exercised tremendous social power in the
university town, and from them emanated the sentiment that I was a
too-forward and self-assertive young woman with a mischievous penchant
for officiousness and interference in other persons' affairs. This I
thought no more than natural, considering the part I had played in
investigating the case of Jackson's arm. But the effect of such a
sentiment, enunciated by two such powerful social arbiters, I
True, I noticed a certain aloofness on the part of my general
friends, but this I ascribed to the disapproval that was prevalent
in my circles of my intended marriage with Ernest. It was not till
some time afterward that Ernest pointed out to me clearly that this
general attitude of my class was something more than spontaneous, that
behind it were the hidden springs of an organized conduct. 'You have
given shelter to an enemy of your class,' he said. 'And not alone
shelter, for you have given your love, yourself. This is treason to
your class. Think not that you will escape being penalized.'
But it was before this that father returned one afternoon. Ernest
was with me, and we could see that father was angry- philosophically
angry. He was rarely really angry; but a certain measure of controlled
anger he allowed himself. He called it a tonic. And we could see
that he was tonic-angry when he entered the room.
'What do you think?' he demanded. 'I had luncheon with Wilcox.'
Wilcox was the superannuated president of the university, whose
withered mind was stored with generalizations that were young in 1870,
and which he had since failed to revise.
'I was invited,' father announced. 'I was sent for.'
He paused, and we waited.
'Oh, it was done very nicely, I'll allow; but I was reprimanded.
I! And by that old fossil!'
'I'll wager I know what you were reprimanded for,' Ernest said.
'Not in three guesses,' father laughed.
'One guess will do,' Ernest retorted. 'And it won't be a guess. It
will be a deduction. You were reprimanded for your private life.'
'The very thing!' father cried. 'How did you guess?'
'I knew it was coming. I warned you before about it.'
'Yes, you did,' father meditated. 'But I couldn't believe it. At any
rate, it is only so much more clinching evidence for my book.'
'It is nothing to what will come,' Ernest went on, 'if you persist
in your policy of having these socialists and radicals of all sorts at
your house, myself included.'
'Just what old Wilcox said. And of all unwarranted things! He said
it was in poor taste, utterly profitless, anyway, and not in harmony
with university traditions and policy. He said much more of the same
vague sort, and I couldn't pin him down to anything specific. I made
it pretty awkward for him, and he could only go on repeating himself
and telling me how much he honored me, and all the world honored me,
as a scientist. It wasn't an agreeable task for him. I could see he
didn't like it.'
'He was not a free agent,' Ernest said. 'The leg-bar* is not
always worn graciously.'
* Leg-bar- the African slaves were so manacled; also criminals. It
was not until the coming of the Brotherhood of Man that the leg-bar
passed out of use.
'Yes. I got that much out of him. He said the university needed ever
so much more money this year than the state was willing to furnish;
and that it must come from wealthy personages who could not but be
offended by the swerving of the university from its high ideal of
the passionless pursuit of passionless intelligence. When I tried to
pin him down to what my home life had to do with swerving the
university from its high ideal, he offered me a two years' vacation,
on full pay, in Europe, for recreation and research. Of course I
couldn't accept it under the circumstances.'
'It would have been far better if you had,' Ernest said gravely.
'It was a bribe,' father protested; and Ernest nodded.
'Also, the beggar said that there was talk, tea-table gossip and
so forth, about my daughter being seen in public with so notorious a
character as you, and that it was not in keeping with university
tone and dignity. Not that he personally objected- oh, no; but that
there was talk and that I would understand.'
Ernest considered this announcement for a moment, and then said, and
his face was very grave, withal there was a sombre wrath in it:
'There is more behind this than a mere university ideal. Somebody
has put pressure on President Wilcox.'
'Do you think so?' father asked, and his face showed that he was
interested rather than frightened.
'I wish I could convey to you the conception that is dimly forming
in my own mind,' Ernest said. 'Never in the history of the world was
society in so terrific flux as it is right now. The swift changes in
our industrial system are causing equally swift changes in our
religious, political, and social structures. An unseen and fearful
revolution is taking place in the fibre and structure of society.
One can only dimly feel these things. But they are in the air, now,
to-day. One can feel the loom of them- things vast, vague, and
terrible. My mind recoils from contemplation of what they may
crystallize into. You heard Wickson talk the other night. Behind
what he said were the same nameless, formless things that I feel. He
spoke out of a superconscious apprehension of them.'
'You mean...?' father began, then paused.
'I mean that there is a shadow of something colossal and menacing
that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow
of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it.
What its nature may be I refuse to imagine.* But what I wanted to
say was this: You are in a perilous position- a peril that my own fear
enhances because I am not able even to measure it. Take my advice
and accept the vacation.'
* Though, like Everhard, they did not dream of the nature of it,
there were men, even before his time, who caught glimpses of the
shadow. John C. Calhoun said: 'A power has risen up in the
government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many
and various and powerful interests, combined into one mass, and held
together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the banks.'
And that great humanist, Abraham Lincoln, said, just before his
assassination: 'I see in the near future a crisis approaching that
unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my
country.... Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption
in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will
endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the
people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the
Republic is destroyed.'
'But it would be cowardly,' was the protest.
'Not at all. You are an old man. You have done your work in the
world, and a great work. Leave the present battle to youth and
strength. We young fellows have our work yet to do. Avis will stand by
my side in what is to come. She will be your representative in the
'But they can't hurt me,' father objected. 'Thank God I am
independent. Oh, I assure you, I know the frightful persecution they
can wage on a professor who is economically dependent on his
university. But I am independent. I have not been a professor for
the sake of my salary. I can get along very comfortably on my own
income, and the salary is all they can take away from me.'
'But you do not realize,' Ernest answered. 'If all that I fear be
so, your private income, your principal itself, can be taken from
you just as easily as your salary.'
Father was silent for a few minutes. He was thinking deeply, and I
could see the lines of decision forming in his face. At last he spoke.
'I shall not take the vacation.' He paused again. 'I shall go on
with my book.* You may be wrong, but whether you are wrong or right, I
shall stand by my guns.'
* This book, 'Economics and Education,' was published in that
year. Three copies of it are extant; two at Ardis, and one at
Asgard. It dealt, in elaborate detail, with one factor in the
persistence of the established, namely, the capitalistic bias of the
universities and common schools. It was a logical and crushing
indictment of the whole system of education that developed in the
minds of the students only such ideas as were favorable to the
capitalistic regime, to the exclusion of all ideas that were
inimical and subversive. The book created a furor, and was promptly
suppressed by the Oligarchy.
'All right,' Ernest said. 'You are travelling the same path that
Bishop Morehouse is, and toward a similar smash-up. You'll both be
proletarians before you're done with it.'
The conversation turned upon the Bishop, and we got Ernest to
explain what he had been doing with him.
'He is soul-sick from the journey through hell I have given him. I
took him through the homes of a few of our factory workers. I showed
him the human wrecks cast aside by the industrial machine, and he
listened to their life stories. I took him through the slums of San
Francisco, and in drunkenness, prostitution, and criminality he
learned a deeper cause than innate depravity. He is very sick, and,
worse than that, he has got out of hand. He is too ethical. He has
been too severely touched. And, as usual, he is unpractical. He is
up in the air with all kinds of ethical delusions and plans for
mission work among the cultured. He feels it is his bounden duty to
resurrect the ancient spirit of the Church and to deliver its
message to the masters. He is overwrought. Sooner or later he is going
to break out, and then there's going to be a smash-up. What form it
will take I can't even guess. He is a pure, exalted soul, but he is so
unpractical. He's beyond me. I can't keep his feet on the earth. And
through the air he is rushing on to his Gethsemane. And after this his
crucifixion. Such high souls are made for crucifixion.'
'And you?' I asked; and beneath my smile was the seriousness of
the anxiety of love.
'Not I,' he laughed back. 'I may be executed, or assassinated, but I
shall never be crucified. I am planted too solidly and stolidly upon
'But why should you bring about the crucifixion of the Bishop?' I
asked. 'You will not deny that you are the cause of it.'
'Why should I leave one comfortable soul in comfort when there are
millions in travail and misery?' he demanded back.
'Then why did you advise father to accept the vacation?'
'Because I am not a pure, exalted soul,' was the answer. 'Because
I am solid and stolid and selfish. Because I love you and, like Ruth
of old, thy people are my people. As for the Bishop, he has no
daughter. Besides, no matter how small the good, nevertheless his
little inadequate wail will be productive of some good in the
revolution, and every little bit counts.'
I could not agree with Ernest. I knew well the noble nature of
Bishop Morehouse, and I could not conceive that his voice raised for
righteousness would be no more than a little inadequate wail. But I
did not yet have the harsh facts of life at my fingers' ends as Ernest
had. He saw clearly the futility of the Bishop's great soul, as coming
events were soon to show as clearly to me.
It was shortly after this day that Ernest told me, as a good
story, the offer he had received from the government, namely, an
appointment as United States Commissioner of Labor. I was overjoyed.
The salary was comparatively large, and would make safe our
marriage. And then it surely was congenial work for Ernest, and,
furthermore, my jealous pride in him made me hail the proffered
appointment as a recognition of his abilities.
Then I noticed the twinkle in his eyes. He was laughing at me.
'You are not going to... to decline?' I quavered.
'It is a bribe,' he said. 'Behind it is the fine hand of Wickson,
and behind him the hands of greater men than he. It is an old trick,
old as the class struggle is old- stealing the captains from the
army of labor. Poor betrayed labor! If you but knew how many of its
leaders have been bought out in similar ways in the past. It is
cheaper, so much cheaper, to buy a general than to fight him and his
whole army. There was- but I'll not call any names. I'm bitter
enough over it as it is. Dear heart, I am a captain of labor. I
could not sell out. If for no other reason, the memory of my poor
old father and the way he was worked to death would prevent.'
The tears were in his eyes, this great, strong hero of mine. He
never could forgive the way his father had been malformed- the
sordid lies and the petty thefts he had been compelled to, in order to
put food in his children's mouths.
'My father was a good man,' Ernest once said to me. 'The soul of him
was good, and yet it was twisted, and maimed, and blunted by the
savagery of his life. He was made into a broken-down beast by his
masters, the arch-beasts. He should be alive to-day, like your father.
He had a strong constitution. But he was caught in the machine and
worked to death- for profit. Think of it. For profit- his life blood
transmuted into a wine-supper, or a jewelled gewgaw, or some similar
sense-orgy of the parasitic and idle rich, his masters, the
The Bishop's Vision.
'THE BISHOP IS OUT OF HAND,' Ernest wrote me. 'He is clear up in the
air. Tonight he is going to begin putting to rights this very
miserable world of ours. He is going to deliver his message. He has
told me so, and I cannot dissuade him. To-night he is chairman of
the I.P.H.*, and he will embody his message in his introductory
* There is no clew to the name of the organization for which these
'May I bring you to hear him? Of course, he is foredoomed to
futility. It will break your heart- it will break his; but for you
it will be an excellent object lesson. You know, dear heart, how proud
I am because you love me. And because of that I want you to know my
fullest value, I want to redeem, in your eyes, some small measure of
my unworthiness. And so it is that my pride desires that you shall
know my thinking is correct and right. My views are harsh; the
futility of so noble a soul as the Bishop will show you the compulsion
for such harshness. So come to-night. Sad though this night's
happening will be, I feel that it will but draw you more closely to
The I.P.H. held its convention that night in San Francisco.* This
convention had been called to consider public immorality and the
remedy for it. Bishop Morehouse presided. He was very nervous as he
sat on the platform, and I could see the high tension he was under. By
his side were Bishop Dickinson; H. H. Jones, the head of the ethical
department in the University of California; Mrs. W. W. Hurd, the great
charity organizer; Philip Ward, the equally great philanthropist;
and several lesser luminaries in the field of morality and charity.
Bishop Morehouse arose and abruptly began:
* It took but a few minutes to cross by ferry from Berkeley to San
Francisco. These, and the other bay cities, practically composed one
'I was in my brougham, driving through the streets. It was
night-time. Now and then I looked through the carriage windows, and
suddenly my eyes seemed to be opened, and I saw things as they
really are. At first I covered my eyes with my hands to shut out the
awful sight, and then, in the darkness, the question came to me:
What is to be done? What is to be done? A little later the question
came to me in another way: What would the Master do? And with the
question a great light seemed to fill the place, and I saw my duty
sun-clear, as Saul saw his on the way to Damascus.
'I stopped the carriage, got out, and, after a few minutes'
conversation, persuaded two of the public women to get into the
brougham with me. If Jesus was right, then these two unfortunates were
my sisters, and the only hope of their purification was in my
affection and tenderness.
'I live in one of the loveliest localities of San Francisco. The
house in which I live cost a hundred thousand dollars, and its
furnishings, books, and works of art cost as much more. The house is a
mansion. No, it is a palace, wherein there are many servants. I
never knew what palaces were good for. I had thought they were to live
in. But now I know. I took the two women of the street to my palace,
and they are going to stay with me. I hope to fill every room in my
palace with such sisters as they.'
The audience had been growing more and more restless and
unsettled, and the faces of those that sat on the platform had been
betraying greater and greater dismay and consternation. And at this
point Bishop Dickinson arose, and with an expression of disgust on his
face, fled from the platform and the hall. But Bishop Morehouse,
oblivious to all, his eyes filled with his vision, continued:
'Oh, sisters and brothers, in this act of mine I find the solution
of all my difficulties. I didn't know what broughams were made for,
but now I know. They are made to carry the weak, the sick, and the
aged; they are made to show honor to those who have lost the sense
even of shame.
'I did not know what palaces were made for, but now I have found a
use for them. The palaces of the Church should be hospitals and
nurseries for those who have fallen by the wayside and are perishing.'
He made a long pause, plainly overcome by the thought that was in
him, and nervous how best to express it.
'I am not fit, dear brethren, to tell you anything about morality. I
have lived in shame and hypocrisies too long to be able to help
others; but my action with those women, sisters of mine, shows me that
the better way is easy to find. To those who believe in Jesus and
his gospel there can be no other relation between man and man than the
relation of affection. Love alone is stronger than sin- stronger
than death. I therefore say to the rich among you that it is their
duty to do what I have done and am doing. Let each one of you who is
prosperous take into his house some thief and treat him as his
brother, some unfortunate and treat her as his sister, and San
Francisco will need no police force and no magistrates; the prisons
will be turned into hospitals, and the criminal will disappear with
'We must give ourselves and not our money alone. We must do as
Christ did; that is the message of the Church today. We have
wandered far from the Master's teaching. We are consumed in our own
flesh-pots. We have put mammon in the place of Christ. I have here a
poem that tells the whole story. I should like to read it to you. It
was written by an erring soul who yet saw clearly.* It must not be
mistaken for an attack upon the Catholic Church. It is an attack
upon all churches, upon the pomp and splendor of all churches that
have wandered from the Master's path and hedged themselves in from his
lambs. Here it is:
* Oscar Wilde, one of the lords of language of the nineteenth
century of the Christian Era.
'The silver trumpets rang across the Dome;
The people knelt upon the ground with awe;
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
'Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head;
In splendor and in light the Pope passed home.
'My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea;
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
"Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears."'
The audience was agitated, but unresponsive. Yet Bishop Morehouse
was not aware of it. He held steadily on his way.
'And so I say to the rich among you, and to all the rich, that
bitterly you oppress the Master's lambs. You have hardened your
hearts. You have closed your ears to the voices that are crying in the
land- the voices of pain and sorrow that you will not hear but that
some day will be heard. And so I say-'
But at this point H. H. Jones and Philip Ward, who had already risen
from their chairs, led the Bishop off the platform, while the audience
sat breathless and shocked.
Ernest laughed harshly and savagely when he had gained the street.
His laughter jarred upon me. My heart seemed ready to burst with
'He has delivered his message,' Ernest cried. 'The manhood and the
deep-hidden, tender nature of their Bishop burst out, and his
Christian audience, that loved him, concluded that he was crazy! Did
you see them leading him so solicitously from the platform? There must
have been laughter in hell at the spectacle.'
'Nevertheless, it will make a great impression, what the Bishop
did and said to-night,' I said.
'Think so?' Ernest queried mockingly.
'It will make a sensation,' I asserted. 'Didn't you see the
reporters scribbling like mad while he was speaking?'
'Not a line of which will appear in to-morrow's papers.'
'I can't believe it,' I cried.
'Just wait and see,' was the answer. 'Not a line, not a thought that
he uttered. The daily press? The daily suppressage!'
'But the reporters,' I objected. 'I saw them.'
'Not a word that he uttered will see print. You have forgotten the
editors. They draw their salaries for the policy they maintain.
Their policy is to print nothing that is a vital menace to the
established. The Bishop's utterance was a violent assault upon the
established morality. It was heresy. They led him from the platform to
prevent him from uttering more heresy. The newspapers will purge his
heresy in the oblivion of silence. The press of the United States?
It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. Its
function is to serve the established by moulding public opinion, and
right well it serves it.
'Let me prophesy. To-morrow's papers will merely mention that the
Bishop is in poor health, that he has been working too hard, and
that he broke down last night. The next mention, some days hence, will
be to the effect that he is suffering from nervous prostration and has
been given a vacation by his grateful flock. After that, one of two
things will happen: either the Bishop will see the error of his way
and return from his vacation a well man in whose eyes there are no
more visions, or else he will persist in his madness, and then you may
expect to see in the papers, couched pathetically and tenderly, the
announcement of his insanity. After that he will be left to gibber his
visions to padded walls.'
'Now there you go too far!' I cried out.
'In the eyes of society it will truly be insanity,' he replied.
'What honest man, who is not insane, would take lost women and thieves
into his house to dwell with him sisterly and brotherly? True,
Christ died between two thieves, but that is another story.
Insanity? The mental processes of the man with whom one disagrees, are
always wrong. Therefore the mind of the man is wrong. Where is the
line between wrong mind and insane mind? It is inconceivable that
any sane man can radically disagree with one's most sane conclusions.
'There is a good example of it in this evening's paper. Mary McKenna
lives south of Market Street. She is a poor but honest woman. She is
also patriotic. But she has erroneous ideas concerning the American
flag and the protection it is supposed to symbolize. And here's what
happened to her. Her husband had an accident and was laid up in
hospital three months. In spite of taking in washing, she got behind
in her rent. Yesterday they evicted her. But first, she hoisted an
American flag, and from under its folds she announced that by virtue
of its protection they could not turn her out on to the cold street.
What was done? She was arrested and arraigned for insanity. To-day she
was examined by the regular insanity experts. She was found insane.
She was consigned to the Napa Asylum.'
'But that is far-fetched,' I objected. 'Suppose I should disagree
with everybody about the literary style of a book. They wouldn't
send me to an asylum for that.'
'Very true,' he replied. 'But such divergence of opinion would
constitute no menace to society. Therein lies the difference. The
divergence of opinion on the parts of Mary McKenna and the Bishop do
menace society. What if all the poor people should refuse to pay
rent and shelter themselves under the American flag? Landlordism would
go crumbling. The Bishop's views are just as perilous to society.
Ergo, to the asylum with him.'
But still I refused to believe.
'Wait and see,' Ernest said, and I waited.
Next morning I sent out for all the papers. So far Ernest was right.
Not a word that Bishop Morehouse had uttered was in print. Mention was
made in one or two of the papers that he had been overcome by his
feelings. Yet the platitudes of the speakers that followed him were
reported at length.
Several days later the brief announcement was made that he had
gone away on a vacation to recover from the effects of overwork. So
far so good, but there had been no hint of insanity, nor even of
nervous collapse. Little did I dream the terrible road the Bishop
was destined to travel- the Gethsemane and crucifixion that Ernest had
The Machine Breakers.
IT WAS JUST BEFORE ERNEST ran for Congress, on the socialist ticket,
that father gave what he privately called his 'Profit and Loss'
dinner. Ernest called it the dinner of the Machine Breakers. In
point of fact, it was merely a dinner for business men- small business
men, of course. I doubt if one of them was interested in any
business the total capitalization of which exceeded a couple of
hundred thousand dollars. They were truly representative
middle-class business men.
There was Owen, of Silverberg, Owen & Company- a large grocery
firm with several branch stores. We bought our groceries from them.
There were both partners of the big drug firm of Kowalt & Washburn,
and Mr. Asmunsen, the owner of a large granite quarry in Contra
Costa County. And there were many similar men, owners or part-owners
in small factories, small businesses and small industries- small
capitalists, in short.
They were shrewd-faced, interesting men, and they talked with
simplicity and clearness. Their unanimous complaint was against the
corporations and trusts. Their creed was, 'Bust the Trusts.' All
oppression originated in the trusts, and one and all told the same
tale of woe. They advocated government ownership of such trusts as the
railroads and telegraphs, and excessive income taxes, graduated with
ferocity, to destroy large accumulations. Likewise they advocated,
as a cure for local ills, municipal ownership of such public utilities
as water, gas, telephones, and street railways.
Especially interesting was Mr. Asmunsen's narrative of his
tribulations as a quarry owner. He confessed that he never made any
profits out of his quarry, and this, in spite of the enormous volume
of business that had been caused by the destruction of San Francisco
by the big earthquake. For six years the rebuilding of San Francisco
had been going on, and his business had quadrupled and octupled, and
yet he was no better off.
'The railroad knows my business just a little bit better than I do,'
he said. 'It knows my operating expenses to a cent, and it knows the
terms of my contracts. How it knows these things I can only guess.
It must have spies in my employ, and it must have access to the
parties to all my contracts. For look you, when I place a big
contract, the terms of which favor me a goodly profit, the freight
rate from my quarry to market is promptly raised. No explanation is
made. The railroad gets my profit. Under such circumstances I have
never succeeded in getting the railroad to reconsider its raise. On
the other hand, when there have been accidents, increased expenses
of operating, or contracts with less profitable terms, I have always
succeeded in getting the railroad to lower its rate. What is the
result? Large or small, the railroad always gets my profits.'
'What remains to you over and above,' Ernest interrupted to ask,
'would roughly be the equivalent of your salary as a manager did the
railroad own the quarry.'
'The very thing,' Mr. Asmunsen replied. 'Only a short time ago I had
my books gone through for the past ten years. I discovered that for
those ten years my gain was just equivalent to a manager's salary. The
railroad might just as well have owned my quarry and hired me to run
'But with this difference,' Ernest laughed; 'the railroad would have
had to assume all the risk which you so obligingly assumed for it.'
'Very true,' Mr. Asmunsen answered sadly.
Having let them have they say, Ernest began asking questions right
and left. He began with Mr. Owen.
'You started a branch store here in Berkeley about six months ago?'
'Yes,' Mr. Owen answered.
'And since then I've noticed that three little corner groceries have
gone out of business. Was your branch store the cause of it?'
Mr. Owen affirmed with a complacent smile. 'They had no chance
'We had greater capital. With a large business there is always
less waste and greater efficiency.'
'And your branch store absorbed the profits of the three small ones.
I see. But tell me, what became of the owners of the three stores?'
'One is driving a delivery wagon for us. I don't know what
happened to the other two.'
Ernest turned abruptly on Mr. Kowalt.
'You sell a great deal at cut-rates.* What have become of the owners
of the small drug stores that you forced to the wall?'
* A lowering of selling price to cost, and even to less than cost.
Thus, a large company could sell at a loss for a longer period than
a small company, and so drive the small company out of business. A
common device of competition.
'One of them, Mr. Haasfurther, has charge now of our prescription
department,' was the answer.
'And you absorbed the profits they had been making?'
'Surely. That is what we are in business for.'
'And you?' Ernest said suddenly to Mr. Asmunsen. 'You are
disgusted because the railroad has absorbed your profits?'
Mr. Asmunsen nodded.
'What you want is to make profits yourself?'
Again Mr. Asmunsen nodded.
'Out of others?'
There was no answer.
'Out of others?' Ernest insisted.
'That is the way profits are made,' Mr. Asmunsen replied curtly.
'Then the business game is to make profits out of others, and to
prevent others from making profits out of you. That's it, isn't it?'
Ernest had to repeat his question before Mr. Asmunsen gave an
answer, and then he said:
'Yes, that's it, except that we do not object to the others making
profits so long as they are not extortionate.'
'By extortionate you mean large; yet you do not object to making
large profits yourself?... Surely not?'
And Mr. Asmunsen amiably confessed to the weakness. There was one
other man who was quizzed by Ernest at this juncture, a Mr. Calvin,
who had once been a great dairy-owner.
'Some time ago you were fighting the Milk Trust,' Ernest said to
him; 'and now you are in Grange politics.* How did it happen?'
* Many efforts were made during this period to organize the
perishing farmer class into a political party, the aim of which was
destroy the trusts and corporations by drastic legislation. All such
attempts ended in failure.
'Oh, I haven't quit the fight,' Mr. Calvin answered, and he looked
belligerent enough. 'I'm fighting the Trust on the only field where it
is possible to fight- the political field. Let me show you. A few
years ago we dairymen had everything our own way.'
'But you competed among yourselves?' Ernest interrupted.
'Yes, that was what kept the profits down. We did try to organize,
but independent dairymen always broke through us. Then came the Milk
Trust.' 'Financed by surplus capital from Standard Oil,* Ernest said.
* The first successful great trust- almost a generation in advance
of the rest.
'Yes,' Mr. Calvin acknowledged. 'But we did not know it at the time.
Its agents approached us with a club. "Come in and be fat," was
their proposition, "or stay out and starve." Most of us came in.
that didn't, starved. Oh, it paid us... at first. Milk was raised a
cent a quart. One-quarter of this cent came to us. Three-quarters of
it went to the Trust. Then milk was raised another cent, only we
didn't get any of that cent. Our complaints were useless. The Trust
was in control. We discovered that we were pawns. Finally, the
additional quarter of a cent was denied us. Then the Trust began to
squeeze us out. What could we do? We were squeezed out. There were
no dairymen, only a Milk Trust.'
'But with milk two cents higher, I should think you could have
competed,' Ernest suggested slyly.
'So we thought. We tried it.' Mr. Calvin paused a moment. 'It
broke us. The Trust could put milk upon the market more cheaply than
we. It could sell still at a slight profit when we were selling at
actual loss. I dropped fifty thousand dollars in that venture. Most of
us went bankrupt.* The dairymen were wiped out of existence.'
* Bankruptcy- a peculiar institution that enabled an individual, who
had failed in competitive industry, to forego paying his debts. The
effect was to ameliorate the too savage conditions of the
fang-and-claw social struggle.
'So the Trust took your profits away from you,' Ernest said, 'and
you've gone into politics in order to legislate the Trust out of
existence and get the profits back?'
Mr. Calvin's face lighted up. 'That is precisely what I say in my
speeches to the farmers. That's our whole idea in a nutshell.'
'And yet the Trust produces milk more cheaply than could the
independent dairymen?' Ernest queried.
'Why shouldn't it, with the splendid organization and new
machinery its large capital makes possible?'
'There is no discussion,' Ernest answered. 'It certainly should,
and, furthermore, it does.'
Mr. Calvin here launched out into a political speech in exposition
of his views. He was warmly followed by a number of the others, and
the cry of all was to destroy the trusts.
'Poor simple folk,' Ernest said to me in an undertone. 'They see
clearly as far as they see, but they see only to the ends of their
A little later he got the floor again, and in his characteristic way
controlled it for the rest of the evening.
'I have listened carefully to all of you,' he began, 'and I see
plainly that you play the business game in the orthodox fashion.
Life sums itself up to you in profits. You have a firm and abiding
belief that you were created for the sole purpose of making profits.
Only there is a hitch. In the midst of your own profit-making along
comes the trust and takes your profits away from you. This is a
dilemma that interferes somehow with the aim of creation, and the only
way out, as it seems to you, is to destroy that which takes from you
'I have listened carefully, and there is only one name that will
epitomize you. I shall call you that name. You are machine-breakers.
Do you know what a machine-breaker is? Let me tell you. In the
eighteenth century, in England, men and women wove cloth on hand-looms
in their own cottages. It was a slow, clumsy, and costly way of
weaving cloth, this cottage system of manufacture. Along came the
steam-engine and labor-saving machinery. A thousand looms assembled in
a large factory, and driven by a central engine wove cloth vastly more
cheaply than could the cottage weavers on their hand-looms. Here in
the factory was combination, and before it competition faded away. The
men and women who had worked the hand-looms for themselves now went
into the factories and worked the machine-looms, not for themselves,
but for the capitalist owners. Furthermore, little children went to
work on the machine-looms, at lower wages, and displaced the men. This
made hard times for the men. Their standard of living fell. They
starved. And they said it was all the fault of the machines.
Therefore, they proceeded to break the machines. They did not succeed,
and they were very stupid.
'Yet you have not learned their lesson. Here are you, a century
and a half later, trying to break machines. By your own confession the
trust machines do the work more efficiently and more cheaply than
you can. That is why you cannot compete with them. And yet you would
break those machines. You are even more stupid than the stupid workmen
of England. And while you maunder about restoring competition, the
trusts go on destroying you.
'One and all you tell the same story,- the passing away of
competition and the coming on of combination. You, Mr. Owen, destroyed
competition here in Berkeley when your branch store drove the three
small groceries out of business. Your combination was more
effective. Yet you feel the pressure of other combinations on you, the
trust combinations, and you cry out. It is because you are not a
trust. If you were a grocery trust for the whole United States, you
would be singing another song. And the song would be, "Blessed are
trusts." And yet again, not only is your small combination not a
trust, but you are aware yourself of its lack of strength. You are
beginning to divine your own end. You feel yourself and your branch
stores a pawn in the game. You see the powerful interests rising and
growing more powerful day by day; you feel their mailed hands
descending upon your profits and taking a pinch here and a pinch
there- the railroad trust, the oil trust, the steel trust, the coal
trust; and you know that in the end they will destroy you, take away
from you the last per cent of your little profits.
'You, sir, are a poor gamester. When you squeezed out the three
small groceries here in Berkeley by virtue of your superior
combination, you swelled out your chest, talked about efficiency and
enterprise, and sent your wife to Europe on the profits you had gained
by eating up the three small groceries. It is dog eat dog, and you ate
them up. But, on the other hand, you are being eaten up in turn by the
bigger dogs, wherefore you squeal. And what I say to you is true of
all of you at this table. You are all squealing. You are all playing
the losing game, and you are all squealing about it.
'But when you squeal you don't state the situation flatly, as I have
stated it. You don't say that you like to squeeze profits out of
others, and that you are making all the row because others are
squeezing your profits out of you. No, you are too cunning for that.
You say something else. You make small-capitalist political speeches
such as Mr. Calvin made. What did he say? Here are a few of his
phrases I caught: "Our original principles are all right," "What
this country requires is a return to fundamental American methods-
free opportunity for all," "The spirit of liberty in which this
was born," "Let us return to the principles of our forefathers."
'When he says "free opportunity for all," he means free
opportunity to squeeze profits, which freedom of opportunity is now
denied him by the great trusts. And the absurd thing about it is
that you have repeated these phrases so often that you believe them.
You want opportunity to plunder your fellow-men in your own small way,
but you hypnotize yourselves into thinking you want freedom. You are
piggish and acquisitive, but the magic of your phrases leads you to
believe that you are patriotic. Your desire for profits, which is
sheer selfishness, you metamorphose into altruistic solicitude for
suffering humanity. Come on now, right here amongst ourselves, and
be honest for once. Look the matter in the face and state it in direct
There were flushed and angry faces at the table, and withal a
measure of awe. They were a little frightened at this smooth-faced
young fellow, and the swing and smash of his words, and his dreadful
trait of calling a spade a spade. Mr. Calvin promptly replied.
'And why not?' he demanded. 'Why can we not return to ways of our
fathers when this republic was founded? You have spoken much truth,
Mr. Everhard, unpalatable though it has been. But here amongst
ourselves let us speak out. Let us throw off all disguise and accept
the truth as Mr. Everhard has flatly stated it. It is true that we
smaller capitalists are after profits, and that the trusts are
taking our profits away from us. It is true that we want to destroy
the trusts in order that our profits may remain to us. And why can
we not do it? Why not? I say, why not?'
'Ah, now we come to the gist of the matter,' Ernest said with a
pleased expression. 'I'll try to tell you why not, though the
telling will be rather hard. You see, you fellows have studied
business, in a small way, but you have not studied social evolution at
all. You are in the midst of a transition stage now in economic
evolution, but you do not understand it, and that's what causes all
the confusion. Why cannot you return? Because you can't. You can no
more make water run up hill than can you cause the tide of economic
evolution to flow back in its channel along the way it came. Joshua
made the sun stand still upon Gibeon, but you would outdo Joshua.
You would make the sun go backward in the sky. You would have time
retrace its steps from noon to morning.
'In the face of labor-saving machinery, of organized production,
of the increased efficiency of combination, you would set the economic
sun back a whole generation or so to the time when there were no great
capitalists, no great machinery, no railroads- a time when a host of
little capitalists warred with each other in economic anarchy, and
when production was primitive, wasteful, unorganized, and costly.
Believe me, Joshua's task was easier, and he had Jehovah to help
him. But God has forsaken you small capitalists. The sun of the
small capitalists is setting. It will never rise again. Nor is it in
your power even to make it stand still. You are perishing, and you are
doomed to perish utterly from the face of society.
'This is the fiat of evolution. It is the word of God. Combination
is stronger than competition. Primitive man was a puny creature hiding
in the crevices of the rocks. He combined and made war upon his
carnivorous enemies. They were competitive beasts. Primitive man was a
combinative beast, and because of it he rose to primacy over all the
animals. And man has been achieving greater and greater combinations
ever since. It is combination versus competition, a thousand centuries
long struggle, in which competition has always been worsted. Whoso
enlists on the side of competition perishes.'
'But the trusts themselves arose out of competition,' Mr. Calvin
Very true,' Ernest answered. 'And the trusts themselves destroyed
competition. That, by your own word, is why you are no longer in the
The first laughter of the evening went around the table, and even
Mr. Calvin joined in the laugh against himself.
'And now, while we are on the trusts,' Ernest went on, 'let us
settle a few things. I shall make certain statements, and if you
disagree with them, speak up. Silence will mean agreement. Is it not
true that a machine-loom will weave more cloth and weave more
cheaply than a hand-loom?' He paused, but nobody spoke up. 'Is it
not then highly irrational to break the machine-loom and go back to
the clumsy and more costly hand-loom method of weaving?' Heads
nodded in acquiescence. 'Is it not true that that known as a trust
produces more efficiently and cheaply than can a thousand competing
small concerns?' Still no one objected. 'Then is it not irrational
to destroy that cheap and efficient combination?'
No one answered for a long time. Then Mr. Kowalt spoke.
'What are we to do, then?' he demanded. 'To destroy the trusts is
the only way we can see to escape their domination.'
Ernest was all fire and aliveness on the instant.
'I'll show you another way!' he cried. 'Let us not destroy those
wonderful machines that produce efficiently and cheaply. Let us
control them. Let us profit by their efficiency and cheapness. Let
us run them for ourselves. Let us oust the present owners of the
wonderful machines, and let us own the wonderful machines ourselves.
That, gentlemen, is socialism, a greater combination than the
trusts, a greater economic and social combination than any that has as
yet appeared on the planet. It is in line with evolution. We meet
combination with greater combination. It is the winning side. Come
on over with us socialists and play on the winning side.'
Here arose dissent. There was a shaking of heads, and mutterings
'All right, then, you prefer to be anachronisms,' Ernest laughed.
'You prefer to play atavistic roles. You are doomed to perish as all
atavisms perish. Have you ever asked what will happen to you when
greater combinations than even the present trusts arise? Have you ever
considered where you will stand when the great trusts themselves
combine into the combination of combinations- into the social,
economic, and political trust?'
He turned abruptly and irrelevantly upon Mr. Calvin.
'Tell me,' Ernest said, 'if this is not true. You are compelled to
form a new political party because the old parties are in the hands of
the trusts. The chief obstacle to your Grange propaganda is the
trusts. Behind every obstacle you encounter, every blow that smites
you, every defeat that you receive, is the hand of the trusts. Is this
not so? Tell me.'
Mr. Calvin sat in uncomfortable silence.
'Go ahead,' Ernest encouraged.
'It is true,' Mr. Calvin confessed. 'We captured the state
legislature of Oregon and put through splendid protective legislation,
and it was vetoed by the governor, who was a creature of the trusts.
We elected a governor of Colorado, and the legislature refused to
permit him to take office. Twice we have passed a national income tax,
and each time the supreme court smashed it as unconstitutional. The
courts are in the hands of the trusts. We, the people, do not pay
our judges sufficiently. But there will come a time-'
'When the combination of the trusts will control all legislation,
when the combination of the trusts will itself be the government,'
'Never! never!' were the cries that arose. Everybody was excited and
'Tell me,' Ernest demanded, 'what will you do when such a time
'We will rise in our strength!' Mr. Asmunsen cried, and many
voices backed his decision.
'That will be civil war,' Ernest warned them.
'So be it, civil war,' was Mr. Asmunsen's answer, with the cries
of all the men at the table behind him. 'We have not forgotten the
deeds of our forefathers. For our liberties we are ready to fight
'Do not forget,' he said, 'that we had tacitly agreed that liberty
in your case, gentlemen, means liberty to squeeze profits out of
The table was angry, now, fighting angry; but Ernest controlled
the tumult and made himself heard.
'One more question. When you rise in your strength, remember, the
reason for your rising will be that the government is in the hands
of the trusts. Therefore, against your strength the government will
turn the regular army, the navy, the militia, the police- in short,
the whole organized war machinery of the United States. Where will
your strength be then?'
Dismay sat on their faces, and before they could recover, Ernest
'Do you remember, not so long ago, when our regular army was only
fifty thousand? Year by year it has been increased until to-day it
is three hundred thousand.'
Again he struck.
'Nor is that all. While you diligently pursued that favorite phantom
of yours, called profits, and moralized about that favorite fetich
of yours, called competition, even greater and more direful things
have been accomplished by combination. There is the militia.'
'It is our strength!' cried Mr. Kowalt. 'With it we would repel
the invasion of the regular army.'
'You would go into the militia yourself,' was Ernest's retort,
'and be sent to Maine, or Florida, or the Philippines, or anywhere
else, to drown in blood your own comrades civil-warring for their
liberties. While from Kansas, or Wisconsin, or any other state, your
own comrades would go into the militia and come here to California
to drown in blood your own civil-warring.'
Now they were really shocked, and they sat wordless, until Mr.
'We would not go into the militia. That would settle it. We would
not be so foolish.'
Ernest laughed outright.
'You do not understand the combination that has been effected. You
could not help yourself. You would be drafted into the militia.'
'There is such a thing as civil law,' Mr. Owen insisted.
'Not when the government suspends civil law. In that day when you
speak of rising in your strength, your strength would be turned
against yourself. Into the militia you would go, willy-nilly. Habeas
corpus, I heard some one mutter just now. Instead of habeas corpus you
would get post mortems. If you refused to go into the militia, or to
obey after you were in, you would be tried by drumhead court martial
and shot down like dogs. It is the law.'
'It is not the law!' Mr. Calvin asserted positively. 'There is no
such law. Young man, you have dreamed all this. Why, you spoke of
sending the militia to the Philippines. That is unconstitutional.
The Constitution especially states that the militia cannot be sent out
of the country.'
'What's the Constitution got to do with it?' Ernest demanded. 'The
courts interpret the Constitution, and the courts, as Mr. Asmunsen
agreed, are the creatures of the trusts. Besides, it is as I have
said, the law. It has been the law for years, for nine years,
'That we can be drafted into the militia?' Mr. Calvin asked
incredulously. 'That they can shoot us by drumhead court martial if we
'Yes,' Ernest answered, 'precisely that.'
'How is it that we have never heard of this law?' my father asked,
and I could see that it was likewise new to him.
'For two reasons,' Ernest said. 'First, there has been no need to
enforce it. If there had, you'd have heard of it soon enough. And
secondly, the law was rushed through Congress and the Senate secretly,
with practically no discussion. Of course, the newspapers made no
mention of it. But we socialists knew about it. We published it in our
papers. But you never read our papers.'
'I still insist you are dreaming,' Mr. Calvin said stubbornly.
'The country would never have permitted it.'
'But the country did permit it,' Ernest replied. 'And as for my
dreaming-' he put his hand in his pocket and drew out a small
pamphlet- 'tell me if this looks like dream-stuff.'
He opened it and began to read:
'"Section One, be it enacted, and so forth and so forth, that the
militia shall consist of every able-bodied male citizen of the
respective states, territories, and District of Columbia, who is
more than eighteen and less than forty-five years of age."
'"Section Seven, that any officer or enlisted man"- remember Section
One, gentlemen, you are all enlisted men- "that any enlisted man of
the militia who shall refuse or neglect to present himself to such
mustering officer upon being called forth as herein prescribed,
shall be subject to trial by court martial, and shall be punished as
such court martial shall direct."
'"Section Eight, that courts martial, for the trial of officers or
men of the militia, shall be composed of militia officers only."
'"Section Nine, that the militia, when called into the actual
service of the United States, shall be subject to the same rules and
articles of war as the regular troops of the United States."
'There you are gentlemen, American citizens, and
fellow-militiamen. Nine years ago we socialists thought that law was
aimed against labor. But it would seem that it was aimed against
you, too. Congressman Wiley, in the brief discussion that was
permitted, said that the bill "provided for a reserve force to take
the mob by the throat"- you're the mob, gentlemen- "and protect
hazards life, liberty, and property." And in the time to come, when
you rise in your strength, remember that you will be rising against
the property of the trusts, and the liberty of the trusts, according
to the law, to squeeze you. Your teeth are pulled, gentlemen. Your
claws are trimmed. In the day you rise in your strength, toothless and
clawless, you will be as harmless as any army of clams.'
'I don't believe it!' Kowalt cried. 'There is no such law. It is a
canard got up by you socialists.'
'This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on July
30, 1902,' was the reply. 'It was introduced by Representative Dick of
Ohio. It was rushed through. It was passed unanimously by the Senate
on January 14, 1903. And just seven days afterward was approved by the
President of the United States.'*
* Everhard was right in the essential particulars, though his date
of the introduction of the bill is in error. The bill was introduced
on June 30, and not on July 30. The Congressional Record is here in
Ardis, and a reference to it shows mention of the bill on the
following dates: June 30, December 9, 15, 16, and 17, 1902, and
January 7 and 14, 1903. The ignorance evidenced by the business men at
the dinner was nothing unusual. Very few people knew of the
existence of this law. E. Untermann, a revolutionist, in July, 1903,
published a pamphlet at Girard, Kansas, on the 'Militia Bill.' This
pamphlet had a small circulation among workingmen; but already had the
segregation of classes proceeded so far, that the members of the
middle class never heard of the pamphlet at all, and so remained in
ignorance of the law.
The Mathematics of a Dream.
IN THE MIDST OF THE consternation his revelation had produced,
Ernest began again to speak.
'You have said, a dozen of you to-night, that socialism is
impossible. You have asserted the impossible, now let me demonstrate
the inevitable. Not only is it inevitable that you small capitalists
shall pass away, but it is inevitable that the large capitalists,
and the trusts also, shall pass away. Remember, the tide of
evolution never flows backward. It flows on and on, and it flows
from competition to combination, and from little combination to
large combination, and from large combination to colossal combination,
and it flows on to socialism, which is the most colossal combination
'You tell me that I dream. Very good. I'll give you the
mathematics of my dream; and here, in advance, I challenge you to show
that my mathematics are wrong. I shall develop the inevitability of
the breakdown of the capitalist system, and I shall demonstrate
mathematically why it must break down. Here goes, and bear with me
if at first I seem irrelevant.
'Let us, first of all, investigate a particular industrial
process, and whenever I state something with which you disagree,
please interrupt me. Here is a shoe factory. This factory takes
leather and makes it into shoes. Here is one hundred dollars' worth of
leather. It goes through the factory and comes out in the form of
shoes, worth, let us say, two hundred dollars. What has happened?
One hundred dollars has been added to the value of the leather. How
was it added? Let us see.
'Capital and labor added this value of one hundred dollars.
Capital furnished the factory, the machines, and paid all the
expenses. Labor furnished labor. By the joint effort of capital and
labor one hundred dollars of value was added. Are you all agreed so
Heads nodded around the table in affirmation.
'Labor and capital having produced this one hundred dollars, now
proceed to divide it. The statistics of this division are
fractional; so let us, for the sake of convenience, make them
roughly approximate. Capital takes fifty dollars as its share, and
labor gets in wages fifty dollars as its share. We will not enter into
the squabbling over the division.* No matter how much squabbling takes
place, in one percentage or another the division is arranged. And take
notice here, that what is true of this particular industrial process
is true of all industrial processes. Am I right?'
* Everhard here clearly develops the cause of all the labor troubles
of that time. In the division of the joint-product, capital wanted all
it could get, and labor wanted all it could get. This quarrel over the
division was irreconcilable. So long as the system of capitalistic
production existed, labor and capital continued to quarrel over the
division of the joint-product. It is a ludicrous spectacle to us,
but we must not forget that we have seven centuries' advantage over
those that lived in that time.
Again the whole table agreed with Ernest.
'Now, suppose labor, having received its fifty dollars, wanted to
buy back shoes. It could only buy back fifty dollars' worth. That's
clear, isn't it?
'And now we shift from this particular process to the sum total of
all industrial processes in the United States, which includes the
leather itself, raw material, transportation, selling, everything.
We will say, for the sake of round figures, that the total
production of wealth in the United States is one year is four
billion dollars. Then labor has received in wages, during the same
period, two billion dollars. Four billion dollars has been produced.
How much of this can labor buy back? Two billions. There is no
discussion of this, I am sure. For that matter, my percentages are
mild. Because of a thousand capitalistic devices, labor cannot buy
back even half of the total product.
'But to return. We will say labor buys back two billions. Then it
stands to reason that labor can consume only two billions. There are
still two billions to be accounted for, which labor cannot buy back
'Labor does not consume its two billions, even,' Mr. Kowalt spoke
up. 'If it did, it would not have any deposits in the savings banks.'
'Labor's deposits in the savings banks are only a sort of reserve
fund that is consumed as fast as it accumulates. These deposits are
saved for old age, for sickness and accident, and for funeral
expenses. The savings bank deposit is simply a piece of the loaf put
back on the shelf to be eaten next day. No, labor consumes all of
the total product that its wages will buy back.
'Two billions are left to capital. After it has paid its expenses,
does it consume the remainder? Does capital consume all of its two
Ernest stopped and put the question point blank to a number of the
men. They shook their heads.
'I don't know,' one of them frankly said.
'Of course you do,' Ernest went on. 'Stop and think a moment. If
capital consumed its share, the sum total of capital could not
increase. It would remain constant. If you will look at the economic
history of the United States, you will see that the sum total of
capital has continually increased. Therefore capital does not
consume its share. Do you remember when England owned so much of our
railroad bonds? As the years went by, we bought back those bonds. What
does that mean? That part of capital's unconsumed share bought back
the bonds. What is the meaning of the fact that to-day the capitalists
of the United States own hundreds and hundreds of millions of
dollars of Mexican bonds, Russian bonds, Italian bonds, Grecian bonds?
The meaning is that those hundreds and hundreds of millions were
part of capital's share which capital did not consume. Furthermore,
from the very beginning of the capitalist system, capital has never
consumed all of its share.
'And now we come to the point. Four billion dollars of wealth is
produced in one year in the United States. Labor buys back and
consumes two billions. Capital does not consume the remaining two
billions. There is a large balance left over unconsumed. What is
done with this balance? What can be done with it? Labor cannot consume
any of it, for labor has already spent all its wages. Capital will not
consume this balance, because, already, according to its nature, it
has consumed all it can. And still remains the balance. What can be
done with it? What is done with it?'
'It is sold abroad,' Mr. Kowalt volunteered.
'The very thing,' Ernest agreed. 'Because of this balance arises our
need for a foreign market. This is sold abroad. It has to be sold
abroad. There is no other way of getting rid of it. And that
unconsumed surplus, sold abroad, becomes what we call our favorable
balance of trade. Are we all agreed so far?'
'Surely it is a waste of time to elaborate these A B C's of
commerce,' Mr. Calvin said tartly. 'We all understand them.'
'And it is by these A B C's I have so carefully elaborated that I
shall confound you,' Ernest retorted. 'There's the beauty of it. And
I'm going to confound you with them right now. Here goes.
'The United States is a capitalist country that has developed its
resources. According to its capitalist system of industry, it has an
unconsumed surplus that must be got rid of, and that must be got rid
of abroad.* What is true of the United States is true of every other
capitalist country with developed resources. Every one of such
countries has an unconsumed surplus. Don't forget that they have
already traded with one another, and that these surpluses yet
remain. Labor in all these countries has spent it wages, and cannot
buy any of the surpluses. Capital in all these countries has already
consumed all it is able according to its nature. And still remain
the surpluses. They cannot dispose of these surpluses to one
another. How are they going to get rid of them?'
* Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States a few years
prior to this time, made the following public declaration: 'A more
liberal and extensive reciprocity in the purchase and sale of
commodities is necessary, so that the overproduction of the United
States can be satisfactorily disposed of to foreign countries.' Of
course, this overproduction he mentions was the profits of the
capitalist system over and beyond the consuming power of the
capitalists. It was at this time that Senator Mark Hanna said: 'The
production of wealth in the United States is one-third larger annually
than its consumption.' Also a fellow-Senator, Chauncey Depew, said:
'The American people produce annually two billions more wealth than
'Sell them to countries with undeveloped resources,' Mr. Kowalt
'The very thing. You see, my argument is so clear and simple that in
your own minds you carry it on for me. And now for the next step.
Suppose the United States disposes of its surplus to a country with
undeveloped resources like, say, Brazil. Remember this surplus is over
and above trade, which articles of trade have been consumed. What,
then, does the United States get in return from Brazil?'
'Gold,' said Mr. Kowalt.
'But there is only so much gold, and not much of it, in the
world,' Ernest objected.
'Gold in the form of securities and bonds and so forth,' Mr.
'Now you've struck it,' Ernest said. 'From Brazil the United States,
in return for her surplus, gets bonds and securities. And what does
that mean? It means that the United States is coming to own
railroads in Brazil, factories, mines, and lands in Brazil. And what
is the meaning of that in turn?'
Mr. Kowalt pondered and shook his head.
'I'll tell you,' Ernest continued. 'It means that the resources of
Brazil are being developed. And now, the next point. When Brazil,
under the capitalist system, has developed her resources, she will
herself have an unconsumed surplus. Can she get rid of this surplus to
the United States? No, because the United States has herself a
surplus. Can the United States do what she previously did- get rid
of her surplus to Brazil? No, for Brazil now has a surplus, too.
'What happens? The United States and Brazil must both seek out other
countries with undeveloped resources, in order to unload the surpluses
on them. But by the very process of unloading the surpluses, the
resources of those countries are in turn developed. Soon they have
surpluses, and are seeking other countries on which to unload. Now,
gentlemen, follow me. The planet is only so large. There are only so
many countries in the world. What will happen when every country in
the world, down to the smallest and last, with a surplus in its hands,
stands confronting every other country with surpluses in their hands?'
He paused and regarded his listeners. The bepuzzlement in their
faces was delicious. Also, there was awe in their faces. Out of
abstractions Ernest had conjured a vision and made them see it. They
were seeing it then, as they sat there, and they were frightened by
'We started with A B C, Mr. Calvin,' Ernest said slyly. 'I have
now given you the rest of the alphabet. It is very simple. That is the
beauty of it. You surely have the answer forthcoming. What, then, when
every country in the world has an unconsumed surplus? Where will
your capitalist system be then?'
But Mr. Calvin shook a troubled head. He was obviously questing back
through Ernest's reasoning in search of an error.
'Let me briefly go over the ground with you again,' Ernest said. 'We
began with a particular industrial process, the shoe factory. We found
that the division of the joint product that took place there was
similar to the division that took place in the sum total of all
industrial processes. We found that labor could buy back with its
wages only so much of the product, and that capital did not consume
all of the remainder of the product. We found that when labor had
consumed to the full extent of its wages, and when capital had
consumed all it wanted, there was still left an unconsumed surplus. We
agreed that this surplus could only be disposed of abroad. We
agreed, also, that the effect of unloading this surplus on another
country would be to develop the resources of that country, and that in
a short time that country would have an unconsumed surplus. We
extended this process to all the countries on the planet, till every
country was producing every year, and every day, an unconsumed
surplus, which it could dispose of to no other country. And now I
ask you again, what are we going to do with those surpluses?'
Still no one answered.
'Mr. Calvin?' Ernest queried.
'It beats me,' Mr. Calvin confessed.
'I never dreamed of such a thing,' Mr. Asmunsen said. 'And yet it
does seem clear as print.'
It was the first time I had ever heard Karl Marx's* doctrine of
surplus value elaborated, and Ernest had done it so simply that I,
too, sat puzzled and dumbfounded.
* Karl Marx- the great intellectual hero of Socialism. A German
Jew of the nineteenth century. A contemporary of John Stuart Mill.
It seems incredible to us that whole generations should have elapsed
after the enunciation of Marx's economic discoveries, in which time he
was sneered at by the world's accepted thinkers and scholars.
Because of his discoveries he was banished from his native country,
and he died an exile in England.
'I'll tell you a way to get rid of the surplus,' Ernest said. 'Throw
it into the sea. Throw every year hundreds of millions of dollars'
worth of shoes and wheat and clothing and all the commodities of
commerce into the sea. Won't that fix it?'
'It will certainly fix it,' Mr. Calvin answered. 'But it is absurd
for you to talk that way.'
Ernest was upon him like a flash.
'Is it a bit more absurd than what you advocate, you
machine-breaker, returning to the antediluvian ways of your
forefathers? What do you propose in order to get rid of the surplus?
You would escape the problem of the surplus by not producing any
surplus. And how do you propose to avoid producing a surplus? By
returning to a primitive method of production, so confused and
disorderly and irrational, so wasteful and costly, that it will be
impossible to produce a surplus.'
Mr. Calvin swallowed. The point had been driven home. He swallowed
again and cleared his throat.
'You are right,' he said. 'I stand convicted. It is absurd. But
we've got to do something. It is a case of life and death for us of
the middle class. We refuse to perish. We elect to be absurd and to
return to the truly crude and wasteful methods of our forefathers.
We will put back industry to its pre-trust stage. We will break the
machines. And what are you going to do about it?'
'But you can't break the machines,' Ernest replied. 'You cannot make
the tide of evolution flow backward. Opposed to you are two great
forces, each of which is more powerful than you of the middle class.
The large capitalists, the trusts, in short, will not let you turn
back. They don't want the machines destroyed. And greater than the
trusts, and more powerful, is labor. It will not let you destroy the
machines. The ownership of the world, along with the machines, lies
between the trusts and labor. That is the battle alignment. Neither
side wants the destruction of the machines. But each side wants to
possess the machines. In this battle the middle class has no place.
The middle class is a pygmy between two giants. Don't you see, you
poor perishing middle class, you are caught between the upper and
nether millstones, and even now has the grinding begun.
'I have demonstrated to you mathematically the inevitable
breakdown of the capitalist system. When every country stands with
an unconsumed and unsalable surplus on its hands, the capitalist
system will break down under the terrific structure of profits that it
itself has reared. And in that day there won't be any destruction of
the machines. The struggle then will be for the ownership of the
machines. If labor wins, your way will be easy. The United States, and
the whole world for that matter, will enter upon a new and
tremendous era. Instead of being crushed by the machines, life will be
made fairer, and happier, and nobler by them. You of the destroyed
middle class, along with labor- there will be nothing but labor
then; so you, and all the rest of labor, will participate in the
equitable distribution of the products of the wonderful machines.
And we, all of us, will make new and more wonderful machines. And
there won't be any unconsumed surplus, because there won't be any
'But suppose the trusts win in this battle over the ownership of the
machines and the world?' Mr. Kowalt asked.
'Then,' Ernest answered, 'you, and labor, and all of us, will be
crushed under the iron heel of a despotism as relentless and
terrible as any despotism that has blackened the pages of the
history of man. That will be a good name for that despotism, the
* The earliest known use of that name to designate the Oligarchy.
There was a long pause, and every man at the table meditated in ways
unwonted and profound.
'But this socialism of yours is a dream,' Mr. Calvin said; and
repeated, 'a dream.'
'I'll show you something that isn't a dream, then,' Ernest answered.
'And that something I shall call the Oligarchy. You call it the
Plutocracy. We both mean the same thing, the large capitalists or
the trusts. Let us see where the power lies today. And in order to
do so, let us apportion society into its class divisions.
'There are three big classes in society. First comes the Plutocracy,
which is composed of wealthy bankers, railway magnates, corporation
directors, and trust magnates. Second, is the middle class, your
class, gentlemen, which is composed of farmers, merchants, small
manufacturers, and professional men. And third and last comes my
class, the proletariat, which is composed of the wage-workers.*
* This division of society made by Everhard is in accordance with
that made by Lucien Sanial, one of the statistical authorities of that
time. His calculation of the membership of these divisions by
occupation, from the United States Census of 1900, is as follows:
Plutocratic class, 250,251; Middle class, 8,429,845; and Proletariat
'You cannot but grant that the ownership of wealth constitutes
essential power in the United States to-day. How is this wealth
owned by these three classes? Here are the figures. The Plutocracy
owns sixty-seven billions of wealth. Of the total number of persons
engaged in occupations in the United States, only nine-tenths of one
per cent are from the Plutocracy, yet the Plutocracy owns seventy
per cent of the total wealth. The middle class owns twenty-four
billions. Twenty-nine per cent of those in occupations are from the
middle class, and they own twenty-five per cent of the total wealth.
Remains the proletariat. It owns four billions. Of all persons in
occupations, seventy per cent come from the proletariat; and the
proletariat owns four per cent of the total wealth. Where does the
power lie, gentlemen?'
'From your own figures, we of the middle class are more powerful
than labor,' Mr. Asmunsen remarked.
'Calling us weak does not make you stronger in the face of the
strength of the Plutocracy,' Ernest retorted. 'And furthermore, I'm
not done with you. There is a greater strength than wealth, and it
is greater because it cannot be taken away. Our strength, the strength
of the proletariat, is in our muscles, in our hands to cast ballots,
in our fingers to pull triggers. This strength we cannot be stripped
of. It is the primitive strength, it is the strength that is to life
germane, it is the strength that is stronger than wealth, and that
wealth cannot take away.
'But your strength is detachable. It can be taken away from you.
Even now the Plutocracy is taking it away from you. In the end it will
take it all away from you. And then you will cease to be the middle
class. You will descend to us. You will become proletarians. And the
beauty of it is that you will then add to our strength. We will hail
you brothers, and we will fight shoulder to shoulder in the cause of
'You see, labor has nothing concrete of which to be despoiled. Its
share of the wealth of the country consists of clothes and household
furniture, with here and there, in very rare cases, an unencumbered
home. But you have the concrete wealth, twenty-four billions of it,
and the Plutocracy will take it away from you. Of course, there is the
large likelihood that the proletariat will take it away first. Don't
you see your position, gentlemen? The middle class is a wobbly
little lamb between a lion and a tiger. If one doesn't get you, the
other will. And if the Plutocracy gets you first, why it's only a
matter of time when the Proletariat gets the Plutocracy.
'Even your present wealth is not a true measure of your power. The
strength of your wealth at this moment is only an empty shell. That is
why you are crying out your feeble little battle-cry, "Return to the
ways of our fathers." You are aware of your impotency. You know that
your strength is an empty shell. And I'll show you the emptiness of
'What power have the farmers? Over fifty per cent are thralls by
virtue of the fact that they are merely tenants or are mortgaged.
And all of them are thralls by virtue of the fact that the trusts
already own or control (which is the same thing only better)- own
and control all the means of marketing the crops, such as cold
storage, railroads, elevators, and steamship lines. And,
furthermore, the trusts control the markets. In all this the farmers
are without power. As regards their political and governmental
power, I'll take that up later, along with the political and
governmental power of the whole middle class.
'Day by day the trusts squeeze out the farmers as they squeezed
out Mr. Calvin and the rest of the dairymen. And day by day are the
merchants squeezed out in the same way. Do you remember how, in six
months, the Tobacco Trust squeezed out over four hundred cigar
stores in New York City alone? Where are the old-time owners of the
coal fields? You know today, without my telling you, that the Railroad
Trust owns or controls the entire anthracite and bituminous coal
fields. Doesn't the Standard Oil Trust* own a score of the ocean
lines? And does it not also control copper, to say nothing of
running a smelter trust as a little side enterprise? There are ten
thousand cities in the United States to-night lighted by the companies
owned or controlled by Standard Oil, and in as many cities all the
electric transportation,- urban, suburban, and interurban,- is in
the hands of Standard Oil. The small capitalists who were in these
thousands of enterprises are gone. You know that. It's the same way
that you are going.
* Standard Oil and Rockefeller- See upcoming footnote:
'Rockefeller began as...'
'The small manufacturer is like the farmer; and small
manufacturers and farmers to-day are reduced, to all intents and
purposes, to feudal tenure. For that matter, the professional men
and the artists are at this present moment villeins in everything
but name, while the politicians are henchmen. Why do you, Mr.
Calvin, work all your nights and days to organize the farmers, along
with the rest of the middle class, into a new political party? Because
the politicians of the old parties will have nothing to do with your
atavistic ideas; and with your atavistic ideas, they will have nothing
to do because they are what I said they are, henchmen, retainers of
'I spoke of the professional men and the artists as villeins. What
else are they? One and all, the professors, the preachers, and the
editors, hold their jobs by serving the Plutocracy, and their
service consists of propagating only such ideas as are either harmless
to or commendatory of the Plutocracy. Whenever they propagate ideas
that menace the Plutocracy, they lose their jobs, in which case, if
they have not provided for the rainy day, they descend into the
proletariat and either perish or become working-class agitators. And
don't forget that it is the press, the pulpit, and the university that
mould public opinion, set the thought-pace of the nation. As for the
artists, they merely pander to the little less than ignoble tastes
of the Plutocracy.
'But after all, wealth in itself is not the real power; it is the
means to power, and power is governmental. Who controls the government
to-day? The proletariat with its twenty millions engaged in
occupations? Even you laugh at the idea. Does the middle class, with
its eight million occupied members? No more than the proletariat. Who,
then, controls the government? The Plutocracy, with its paltry quarter
of a million of occupied members. But this quarter of a million does
not control the government, though it renders yeoman service. It is
the brain of the Plutocracy that controls the government, and this
brain consists of seven* small and powerful groups of men. And do
not forget that these groups are working to-day practically in unison.
* Even as late as 1907, it was considered that eleven groups
dominated the country, but this number was reduced by the amalgamation
of the five railroad groups into a supreme combination of all the
railroads. These five groups so amalgamated, along with their
financial and political allies, were (1) James J. Hill with his
control of the Northwest; (2) the Pennsylvania railway group, Schiff
financial manager, with big banking firms of Philadelphia and New
York; (3) Harriman, with Frick for counsel and Odell as political
lieutenant, controlling the central continental, Southwestern and
Southern Pacific Coast lines of transportation; (4) the Gould family
railway interests; and (5) Moore, Reid, and Leeds, known as the
'Rock Island crowd.' These strong oligarchs arose out of the
conflict of competition and travelled the inevitable road toward
'Let me point out the power of but one of them, the railroad
group. It employs forty thousand lawyers to defeat the people in the
courts. It issues countless thousands of free passes to judges,
bankers, editors, ministers, university men, members of state
legislatures, and of Congress. It maintains luxurious lobbies* at
every state capital, and at the national capital; and in all the
cities and towns of the land it employs an immense army of
pettifoggers and small politicians whose business is to attend
primaries, pack conventions, get on juries, bribe judges, and in every
way to work for its interests.*(2)
* Lobby- a peculiar institution for bribing, bulldozing, and
corrupting the legislators who were supposed to represent the people's
*(2) A decade before this speech of Everhard's, the New York Board
of Trade issued a report from which the following is quoted: 'The
railroads control absolutely the legislatures of a majority of the
states of the Union; they make and unmake United States Senators,
congressmen, and governors, and are practically dictators of the
governmental policy of the United States.'
'Gentlemen, I have merely sketched the power of one of the seven
groups that constitute the brain of the Plutocracy.* Your
twenty-four billions of wealth does not give you twenty-five cents'
worth of governmental power. It is an empty shell, and soon even the
empty shell will be taken away from you. The Plutocracy has all
power in its hands to-day. It to-day makes the laws, for it owns the
Senate, Congress, the courts, and the state legislatures. And not only
that. Behind law must be force to execute the law. To-day the
Plutocracy makes the law, and to enforce the law it has at its beck
and call the, police, the army, the navy, and, lastly, the militia,
which is you, and me, and all of us.'
* Rockefeller began as a member of the proletariat, and through
thrift and cunning succeeded in developing the first perfect trust,
namely that known as Standard Oil. We cannot forbear giving the
following remarkable page from the history of the times, to show how
the need for reinvestment of the Standard Oil surplus crushed out
small capitalists and hastened the breakdown of the capitalist system.
David Graham Phillips was a radical writer of the period, and the
quotation, by him, is taken from a copy of the Saturday Evening
Post, dated October 4, 1902 A.D. This is the only copy of this
publication that has come down to us, and yet, from its appearance and
content, we cannot but conclude that it was one of the popular
periodicals with a large circulation. The quotation here follows:
'About ten years ago Rockefeller's income was given as thirty
millions by an excellent authority. He had reached the limit of
profitable investment of profits in the oil industry. Here, then, were
these enormous sums in cash pouring in- more than $2,000,000 a month
for John Davison Rockefeller alone. The problem of reinvestment became
more serious. It became a nightmare. The oil income was swelling,
swelling, and the number of sound investments limited, even more
limited than it is now. It was through no special eagerness for more
gains that the Rockefellers began to branch out from oil into other
things. They were forced, swept on by this inrolling tide of wealth
which their monopoly magnet irresistibly attracted. They developed a
staff of investment seekers and investigators. It is said that the
chief of this staff has a salary of $125,000 a year.
'The first conspicuous excursion and incursion of the Rockefellers
was into the railway field. By 1895 they controlled one-fifth of the
railway mileage of the country. What do they own or, through
dominant ownership, control to-day? They are powerful in all the great
railways of New York, north, east, and west, except one, where their
share is only a few millions. They are in most of the great railways
radiating from Chicago. They dominate in several of the systems that
extend to the Pacific. It is their votes that make Mr. Morgan so
potent, though, it may be added, they need his brains more than he
needs their votes- at present, and the combination of the two
constitutes in large measure the "community of interest."
'But railways could not alone absorb rapidly enough those mighty
floods of gold. Presently John D. Rockefeller's $2,500,000 a month had
increased to four, to five, to six millions a month, to $75,000,000
a year. Illuminating oil was becoming all profit. The reinvestments of
income were adding their mite of many annual millions.
'The Rockefellers went into gas and electricity when those
industries had developed to the safe investment stage. And now a large
part of the American people must begin to enrich the Rockefellers as
soon as the sun goes down, no matter what form of illuminant they use.
They went into farm mortgages. It is said that when prosperity a few
years ago enabled the farmers to rid themselves of their mortgages,
John D. Rockefeller was moved almost to tears; eight millions which he
had thought taken care of for years to come at a good interest were
suddenly dumped upon his doorstep and there set up a-squawking for a
new home. This unexpected addition to his worriments in finding places
for the progeny of his petroleum and their progeny and their progeny's
progeny was too much for the equanimity of a man without a
'The Rockefellers went into mines- iron and coal and copper and
lead; into other industrial companies; into street railways, into
national, state, and municipal bonds; into steamships and steamboats
and telegraphy; into real estate, into skyscrapers and residences
and hotels and business blocks; into life insurance, into banking.
There was soon literally no field of industry where their millions
were not at work...
'The Rockefeller bank- the National City Bank- is by itself far
and away the biggest bank in the United States. It is exceeded in
the world only by the Bank of England and the Bank of France. The
deposits average more than one hundred millions a day; and it
dominates the call loan market on Wall Street and the stock market.
But it is not alone; it is the head of the Rockefeller chain of banks,
which includes fourteen banks and trust companies in New York City,
and banks of great strength and influence in every large money
center in the country.
'John D. Rockefeller owns Standard Oil stock worth between four
and five hundred millions at the market quotations. He has a hundred
millions in the steel trust, almost as much in a single western
railway system, half as much in a second, and so on and on and on
until the mind wearies of the cataloguing. His income last year was
about $100,000,000- it is doubtful if the incomes of all the
Rothschilds together make a greater sum. And it is going up by leaps
Little discussion took place after this, and the dinner soon broke
up. All were quiet and subdued, and leave-taking was done with low
voices. It seemed almost that they were scared by the vision of the
times they had seen.
'The situation is, indeed, serious,' Mr. Calvin said to Ernest. 'I
have little quarrel with the way you have depicted it. Only I disagree
with you about the doom of the middle class. We shall survive, and
we shall overthrow the trusts.'
'And return to the ways of your fathers,' Ernest finished for him.
'Even so,' Mr. Calvin answered gravely. 'I know it's a sort of
machine-breaking, and that it is absurd. But then life seems absurd
to-day, what of the machinations of the Plutocracy. And at any rate,
our sort of machine-breaking is at least practical and possible, which
your dream is not. Your socialistic dream is... well, a dream. We
cannot follow you.'
'I only wish you fellows knew a little something about evolution and
sociology,' Ernest said wistfully, as they shook hands. 'We would be
saved so much trouble if you did.'
FOLLOWING LIKE THUNDER claps upon the Business Men's dinner,
occurred event after event of terrifying moment; and I, little I,
who had lived so placidly all my days in the quiet university town,
found myself and my personal affairs drawn into the vortex of the
great world-affairs. Whether it was my love for Ernest, or the clear
sight he had given me of the society in which I lived, that made me
a revolutionist, I know not; but a revolutionist I became, and I was
plunged into a whirl of happenings that would have been
inconceivable three short months before.
The crisis in my own fortunes came simultaneously with great
crises in society. First of all, father was discharged from the
university. Oh, he was not technically discharged. His resignation was
demanded, that was all. This, in itself, did not amount to much.
Father, in fact, was delighted. He was especially delighted because
his discharge had been precipitated by the publication of his book,
'Economics and Education.' It clinched his argument, he contended.
What better evidence could be advanced to prove that education was
dominated by the capitalist class?
But this proof never got anywhere. Nobody knew he had been forced to
resign from the university. He was so eminent a scientist that such an
announcement, coupled with the reason for his enforced resignation,
would have created somewhat of a furor all over the world. The
newspapers showered him with praise and honor, and commended him for
having given up the drudgery of the lecture room in order to devote
his whole time to scientific research.
At first father laughed. Then he became angry- tonic angry. Then
came the suppression of his book. This suppression was performed
secretly, so secretly that at first we could not comprehend. The
publication of the book had immediately caused a bit of excitement
in the country. Father had been politely abused in the capitalist
press, the tone of the abuse being to the effect that it was a pity so
great a scientist should leave his field and invade the realm of
sociology, about which he knew nothing and wherein he had promptly
become lost. This lasted for a week, while father chuckled and said
the book had touched a sore spot on capitalism. And then, abruptly,
the newspapers and the critical magazines ceased saying anything about
the book at all. Also, and with equal suddenness, the book disappeared
from the market. Not a copy was obtainable from any bookseller. Father
wrote to the publishers and was informed that the plates had been
accidentally injured. An unsatisfactory correspondence followed.
Driven finally to an unequivocal stand, the publishers stated that
they could not see their way to putting the book into type again,
but that they were willing to relinquish their rights in it.
'And you won't find another publishing house in the country to touch
it,' Ernest said. 'And if I were you, I'd hunt cover right now. You've
merely got a foretaste of the Iron Heel.'
But father was nothing if not a scientist. He never believed in
jumping to conclusions. A laboratory experiment was no experiment if
it were not carried through in all its details. So he patiently went
the round of the publishing houses. They gave a multitude of
excuses, but not one house would consider the book.
When father became convinced that the book had actually been
suppressed, he tried to get the fact into the newspapers; but his
communications were ignored. At a political meeting of the socialists,
where many reporters were present, father saw his chance. He arose and
related the history of the suppression of the book. He laughed next
day when he read the newspapers, and then he grew angry to a degree
that eliminated all tonic qualities. The papers made no mention of the
book, but they misreported him beautifully. They twisted his words and
phrases away from the context, and turned his subdued and controlled
remarks into a howling anarchistic speech. It was done artfully. One
instance, in particular, I remember. He had used the phrase 'social
revolution.' The reporter merely dropped out 'social.' This was sent
out all over the country in an Associated Press despatch, and from all
over the country arose a cry of alarm. Father was branded as a
nihilist and an anarchist, and in one cartoon that was copied widely
he was portrayed waving a red flag at the head of a mob of
long-haired, wild-eyed men who bore in their hands torches, knives,
and dynamite bombs.
He was assailed terribly in the press, in long and abusive
editorials, for his anarchy, and hints were made of mental breakdown
on his part. This behavior, on the part of the capitalist press, was
nothing new, Ernest told us. It was the custom, he said, to send
reporters to all the socialist meetings for the express purpose of
misreporting and distorting what was said, in order to frighten the
middle class away from any possible affiliation with the
proletariat. And repeatedly Ernest warned father to cease fighting and
to take to cover.
The socialist press of the country took up the fight, however, and
throughout the reading portion of the working class it was known
that the book had been suppressed. But this knowledge stopped with the
working class. Next, the 'Appeal to Reason,' a big socialist
publishing house, arranged with father to bring out the book. Father
was jubilant, but Ernest was alarmed.
'I tell you we are on the verge of the unknown,' he insisted. 'Big
things are happening secretly all around us. We can feel them. We do
not know what they are, but they are there. The whole fabric of
society is a-tremble with them. Don't ask me. I don't know myself. But
out of this flux of society something is about to crystallize. It is
crystallizing now. The suppression of the book is a precipitation. How
many books have been suppressed? We haven't the least idea. We are
in the dark. We have no way of learning. Watch out next for the
suppression of the socialist press and socialist publishing houses.
I'm afraid it's coming. We are going to be throttled.'
Ernest had his hand on the pulse of events even more closely than
the rest of the socialists, and within two days the first blow was
struck. The Appeal to Reason was a weekly, and its regular circulation
amongst the proletariat was seven hundred and fifty thousand. Also, it
very frequently got out special editions of from two to five millions.
These great editions were paid for and distributed by the small army
of voluntary workers who had marshalled around the Appeal. The first
blow was aimed at these special editions, and it was a crushing one.
By an arbitrary ruling of the Post Office, these editions were decided
to be not the regular circulation of the paper, and for that reason
were denied admission to the mails.
A week later the Post Office Department ruled that the paper was
seditious, and barred it entirely from the mails. This was a fearful
blow to the socialist propaganda. The Appeal was desperate. It devised
a plan of reaching its subscribers through the express companies,
but they declined to handle it. This was the end of the Appeal. But
not quite. It prepared to go on with its book publishing. Twenty
thousand copies of father's book were in the bindery, and the
presses were turning off more. And then, without warning, a mob
arose one night, and, under a waving American flag, singing
patriotic songs, set fire to the great plant of the Appeal and totally
Now Girard, Kansas, was a quiet, peaceable town. There had never
been any labor troubles there. The Appeal paid union wages; and, in
fact, was the backbone of the town, giving employment to hundreds of
men and women. It was not the citizens of Girard that composed the
mob. This mob had risen up out of the earth apparently, and to all
intents and purposes, its work done, it had gone back into the
earth. Ernest saw in the affair the most sinister import.
'The Black Hundreds* are being organized in the United States,' he
said. 'This is the beginning. There will be more of it. The Iron
Heel is getting bold.'
* The Black Hundreds were reactionary mobs organized by the
perishing Autocracy in the Russian Revolution. These reactionary
groups attacked the revolutionary groups, and also, at needed moments,
rioted and destroyed property so as to afford the Autocracy the
pretext of calling out the Cossacks.
And so perished father's book. We were to see much of the Black
Hundreds as the days went by. Week by week more of the socialist
papers were barred from the mails, and in a number of instances the
Black Hundreds destroyed the socialist presses. Of course, the
newspapers of the land lived up to the reactionary policy of the
ruling class, and the destroyed socialist press was misrepresented and
vilified, while the Black Hundreds were represented as true patriots
and saviours of society. So convincing was all this
misrepresentation that even sincere ministers in the pulpit praised
the Black Hundreds while regretting the necessity of violence.
History was making fast. The fall elections were soon to occur,
and Ernest was nominated by the socialist party to run for Congress.
His chance for election was most favorable. The street-car strike in
San Francisco had been broken. And following upon it the teamsters'
strike had been broken. These two defeats had been very disastrous
to organized labor. The whole Water Front Federation, along with its
allies in the structural trades, had backed up the teamsters, and
all had smashed down ingloriously. It had been a bloody strike. The
police had broken countless heads with their riot clubs; and the death
list had been augmented by the turning loose of a machine-gun on the
strikers from the barns of the Marsden Special Delivery Company.
In consequence, the men were sullen and vindictive. They wanted
blood, and revenge. Beaten on their chosen field, they were ripe to
seek revenge by means of political action. They still maintained their
labor organization, and this gave them strength in the political
struggle that was on. Ernest's chance for election grew stronger and
stronger. Day by day unions and more unions voted their support to the
socialists, until even Ernest laughed when the Undertakers' Assistants
and the Chicken Pickers fell into line. Labor became mulish. While
it packed the socialist meetings with mad enthusiasm, it was
impervious to the wiles of the old-party politicians. The old-party
orators were usually greeted with empty halls, though occasionally
they encountered full halls where they were so roughly handled that
more than once it was necessary to call out the police reserves.
History was making fast. The air was vibrant with things happening
and impending. The country was on the verge of hard times,* caused
by a series of prosperous years wherein the difficulty of disposing
abroad of the unconsumed surplus had become increasingly difficult.
Industries were working short time; many great factories were standing
idle against the time when the surplus should be gone; and wages
were being cut right and left.
* Under the capitalist regime these periods of hard times were as
inevitable as they were absurd. Prosperity always brought calamity.
This, of course, was due to the excess of unconsumed profits that
was piled up.
Also, the great machinist strike had been broken. Two hundred
thousand machinists, along with their five hundred thousand allies
in the metalworking trades, had been defeated in as bloody a strike as
had ever marred the United States. Pitched battles had been fought
with the small armies of armed strike-breakers* put in the field by
the employers' associations; the Black Hundreds, appearing in scores
of wide-scattered places, had destroyed property; and, in consequence,
a hundred thousand regular soldiers of the United States has been
called out to put a frightful end to the whole affair. A number of the
labor leaders had been executed; many others had been sentenced to
prison, while thousands of the rank and file of the strikers had
been herded into bull-pens*(2) and abominably treated by the soldiers.
* Strike-breakers- these were, in purpose and practice and
everything except name, the private soldiers of the capitalists.
They were thoroughly organized and well armed, and they were held in
readiness to be hurled in special trains to any part of the country
where labor went on strike or was locked out by the employers. Only
those curious times could have given rise to the amazing spectacle
of one, Farley, a notorious commander of strike-breakers, who, in
1906, swept across the United States in special trains from New York
to San Francisco with an army of twenty-five hundred men, fully
armed and equipped, to break a strike of the San Francisco
street-car men. Such an act was in direct violation of the laws of the
land. The fact that this act, and thousands of similar acts, went
unpunished, goes to show how completely the judiciary was the creature
of the Plutocracy.
*(2) Bull-pen- in a miners' strike in Idaho, in the latter part of
the nineteenth century, it happened that many of the strikers were
confined in a bull-pen by the troops. The practice and the name
continued in the twentieth century.
The years of prosperity were now to be paid for. All markets were
glutted; all markets were falling; and amidst the general crumble of
prices the price of labor crumbled fastest of all. The land was
convulsed with industrial dissensions. Labor was striking here, there,
and everywhere; and where it was not striking, it was being turned out
by the capitalists. The papers were filled with tales of violence
and blood. And through it all the Black Hundreds played their part.
Riot, arson, and wanton destruction of property was their function,
and well they performed it. The whole regular army was in the field,
called there by the actions of the Black Hundreds.* All cities and
towns were like armed camps, and laborers were shot down like dogs.
Out of the vast army of the unemployed the strike-breakers were
recruited; and when the strike-breakers were worsted by the labor
unions, the troops always appeared and crushed the unions. Then
there was the militia. As yet, it was not necessary to have recourse
to the secret militia law. Only the regularly organized militia was
out, and it was out everywhere. And in this time of terror, the
regular army was increased an additional hundred thousand by the
* The name only, and not the idea, was imported from Russia. The
Black Hundreds were a development out of the secret agents of the
capitalists, and their use arose in the labor struggles of the
nineteenth century. There is no discussion of this. No less an
authority of the times than Carroll D. Wright, United States
Commissioner of Labor, is responsible for the statement. From his
book, entitled 'The Battles of Labor,' is quoted the declaration
that 'in some of the great historic strikes the employers themselves
have instigated acts of violence;' that manufacturers have
deliberately provoked strikes in order to get rid of surplus stock;
and that freight cars have been burned by employers' agents during
railroad strikes in order to increase disorder. It was out of these
secret agents of the employers that the Black Hundreds arose; and it
was they, in turn, that later became that terrible weapon of the
Oligarchy, the agents-provocateurs.
Never had labor received such an all-around beating. The great
captains of industry, the oligarchs, had for the first time thrown
their full weight into the breach the struggling employers'
associations had made. These associations were practically
middle-class affairs, and now, compelled by hard times and crashing
markets, and aided by the great captains of industry, they gave
organized labor an awful and decisive defeat. It was an all-powerful
alliance, but it was an alliance of the lion and the lamb, as the
middle class was soon to learn.
Labor was bloody and sullen, but crushed. Yet its defeat did not put
an end to the hard times. The banks, themselves constituting one of
the most important forces of the Oligarchy, continued to call in
credits. The Wall Street* group turned the stock market into a
maelstrom where the values of all the land crumbled away almost to
nothingness. And out of all the rack and ruin rose the form of the
nascent Oligarchy, imperturbable, indifferent, and sure. Its
serenity and certitude was terrifying. Not only did it use its own
vast power, but it used all the power of the United States Treasury to
carry out its plans.
* Wall Street- so named from a street in ancient New York, where was
situated the stock exchange, and where the irrational organization
of society permitted underhanded manipulation of all the industries of
The captains of industry had turned upon the middle class. The
employers' associations, that had helped the captains of industry to
tear and rend labor, were now torn and rent by their quondam allies.
Amidst the crashing of the middle men, the small business men and
manufacturers, the trusts stood firm. Nay, the trusts did more than
stand firm. They were active. They sowed wind, and wind, and ever more
wind; for they alone knew how to reap the whirlwind and make a
profit out of it. And such profits! Colossal profits! Strong enough
themselves to weather the storm that was largely their own brewing,
they turned loose and plundered the wrecks that floated about them.
Values were pitifully and inconceivably shrunken, and the trusts added
hugely to their holdings, even extending their enterprises into many
new fields- and always at the expense of the middle class.
Thus the summer of 1912 witnessed the virtual death-thrust to the
middle class. Even Ernest was astounded at the quickness with which it
had been done. He shook his head ominously and looked forward
without hope to the fall elections.
'It's no use,' he said. 'We are beaten. The Iron Heel is here. I had
hoped for a peaceable victory at the ballot-box. I was wrong.
Wickson was right. We shall be robbed of our few remaining
liberties; the Iron Heel will walk upon our faces; nothing remains but
a bloody revolution of the working class. Of course we will win, but I
shudder to think of it.'
And from then on Ernest pinned his faith in revolution. In this he
was in advance of his party. His fellow-socialists could not agree
with him. They still insisted that victory could be gained through the
elections. It was not that they were stunned. They were too
cool-headed and courageous for that. They were merely incredulous,
that was all. Ernest could not get them seriously to fear the coming
of the Oligarchy. They were stirred by him, but they were too sure
of their own strength. There was no room in their theoretical social
evolution for an oligarchy, therefore the Oligarchy could not be.
'We'll send you to Congress and it will be all right,' they told him
at one of our secret meetings.
'And when they take me out of Congress,' Ernest replied coldly, 'and
put me against a wall, and blow my brains out- what then?'
'Then we'll rise in our might,' a dozen voices answered at once.
'Then you'll welter in your gore,' was his retort. 'I've heard
that song sung by the middle class, and where is it now in its might?'
The Great Adventure.
MR. WICKSON DID NOT SEND for father. They met by chance on the
ferry-boat to San Francisco, so that the warning he gave father was
not premeditated. Had they not met accidentally, there would not
have been any warning. Not that the outcome would have been different,
however. Father came of stout old Mayflower* stock, and the blood
was imperative in him.
* One of the first ships that carried colonies to America, after the
discovery of the New World. Descendants of these original colonists
were for a while inordinately proud of their genealogy; but in time
the blood became so widely diffused that it ran in the veins
practically of all Americans.
'Ernest was right,' he told me, as soon as he had returned home.
'Ernest is a very remarkable young man, and I'd rather see you his
wife than the wife of Rockefeller himself or the King of England.'
'What's the matter?' I asked in alarm.
'The Oligarchy is about to tread upon our faces- yours and mine.
Wickson as much as told me so. He was very kind- for an oligarch. He
offered to reinstate me in the university. What do you think of
that? He, Wickson, a sordid money-grabber, has the power to
determine whether I shall or shall not teach in the university of
the state. But he offered me even better than that- offered to make me
president of some great college of physical sciences that is being
planned- the Oligarchy must get rid of its surplus somehow, you see.
'"Do you remember what I told that socialist lover of your
daughter's?" he said. "I told him that we would walk upon the
the working class. And so we shall. As for you, I have for you a
deep respect as a scientist; but if you throw your fortunes in with
the working class- well, watch out for your face, that is all." And
then he turned and left me.'
'It means we'll have to marry earlier than you planned,' was
Ernest's comment when we told him.
I could not follow his reasoning, but I was soon to learn it. It was
at this time that the quarterly dividend of the Sierra Mills was paid-
or, rather, should have been paid, for father did not receive his.
After waiting several days, father wrote to the secretary. Promptly
came the reply that there was no record on the books of father's
owning any stock, and a polite request for more explicit information.
'I'll make it explicit enough, confound him,' father declared, and
departed for the bank to get the stock in question from his
'Ernest is a very remarkable man,' he said when he got back and
while I was helping him off with his overcoat. 'I repeat, my daughter,
that young man of yours is a very remarkable young man.'
I had learned, whenever he praised Ernest in such fashion, to expect
'They have already walked upon my face,' father explained. 'There
was no stock. The box was empty. You and Ernest will have to get
married pretty quickly.'
Father insisted on laboratory methods. He brought the Sierra Mills
into court, but he could not bring the books of the Sierra Mills
into court. He did not control the courts, and the Sierra Mills did.
That explained it all. He was thoroughly beaten by the law, and the
bare-faced robbery held good.
It is almost laughable now, when I look back on it, the way father
was beaten. He met Wickson accidentally on the street in San
Francisco, and he told Wickson that he was a damned scoundrel. And
then father was arrested for attempted assault, fined in the police
court, and bound over to keep the peace. It was all so ridiculous that
when he got home he had to laugh himself. But what a furor was
raised in the local papers! There was grave talk about the bacillus of
violence that infected all men who embraced socialism; and father,
with his long and peaceful life, was instanced as a shining example of
how the bacillus of violence worked. Also, it was asserted by more
than one paper that father's mind had weakened under the strain of
scientific study, and confinement in a state asylum for the insane was
suggested. Nor was this merely talk. It was an imminent peril. But
father was wise enough to see it. He had the Bishop's experience to
lesson from, and he lessoned well. He kept quiet no matter what
injustice was perpetrated on him, and really, I think, surprised his
There was the matter of the house- our home. A mortgage was
foreclosed on it, and we had to give up possession. Of course there
wasn't any mortgage, and never had been any mortgage. The ground had
been bought outright, and the house had been paid for when it was
built. And house and lot had always been free and unencumbered.
Nevertheless there was the mortgage, properly and legally drawn up and
signed, with a record of the payments of interest through a number
of years. Father made no outcry. As he had been robbed of his money,
so was he now robbed of his home. And he had no recourse. The
machinery of society was in the hands of those who were bent on
breaking him. He was a philosopher at heart, and he was no longer even
'I am doomed to be broken,' he said to me; 'but that is no reason
that I should not try to be shattered as little as possible. These old
bones of mine are fragile, and I've learned my lesson. God knows I
don't want to spend my last days in an insane asylum.'
Which reminds me of Bishop Morehouse, whom I have neglected for many
pages. But first let me tell of my marriage. In the play of events, my
marriage sinks into insignificance, I know, so I shall barely
'Now we shall become real proletarians,' father said, when we were
driven from our home. 'I have often envied that young man of yours for
his actual knowledge of the proletariat. Now I shall see and learn for
Father must have had strong in him the blood of adventure. He looked
upon our catastrophe in the light of an adventure. No anger nor
bitterness possessed him. He was too philosophic and simple to be
vindictive, and he lived too much in the world of mind to miss the
creature comforts we were giving up. So it was, when we moved to San
Francisco into four wretched rooms in the slum south of Market Street,
that he embarked upon the adventure with the joy and enthusiasm of a
child- combined with the clear sight and mental grasp of an
extraordinary intellect. He really never crystallized mentally. He had
no false sense of values. Conventional or habitual values meant
nothing to him. The only values he recognized were mathematical and
scientific facts. My father was a great man. He had the mind and the
soul that only great men have. In ways he was even greater than
Ernest, than whom I have known none greater.
Even I found some relief in our change of living. If nothing else, I
was escaping from the organized ostracism that had been our increasing
portion in the university town ever since the enmity of the nascent
Oligarchy had been incurred. And the change was to me likewise
adventure, and the greatest of all, for it was love-adventure. The
change in our fortunes had hastened my marriage, and it was as a
wife that I came to live in the four rooms on Pell Street, in the
San Francisco slum.
And this out of all remains: I made Ernest happy. I came into his
stormy life, not as a new perturbing force, but as one that made
toward peace and repose. I gave him rest. It was the guerdon of my
love for him. It was the one infallible token that I had not failed.
To bring forgetfulness, or the light of gladness, into those poor
tired eyes of his- what greater joy could have blessed me than that?
Those dear tired eyes. He toiled as few men ever toiled, and all his
lifetime he toiled for others. That was the measure of his manhood. He
was a humanist and a lover. And he, with his incarnate spirit of
battle, his gladiator body and his eagle spirit- he was as gentle
and tender to me as a poet. He was a poet. A singer in deeds. And
all his life he sang the song of man. And he did it out of sheer
love of man, and for man he gave his life and was crucified.
And all this he did with no hope of future reward. In his conception
of things there was no future life. He, who fairly burnt with
immortality, denied himself immortality- such was the paradox of
him. He, so warm in spirit, was dominated by that cold and
forbidding philosophy, materialistic monism. I used to refute him by
telling him that I measured his immortality by the wings of his
soul, and that I should have to live endless aeons in order to achieve
the full measurement. Whereat he would laugh, and his arms would
leap out to me, and he would call me his sweet metaphysician; and
the tiredness would pass out of his eyes, and into them would flood
the happy love-light that was in itself a new and sufficient
advertisement of his immortality.
Also, he used to call me his dualist, and he would explain how Kant,
by means of pure reason, had abolished reason, in order to worship
God. And he drew the parallel and included me guilty of a similar act.
And when I pleaded guilty, but defended the act as highly rational, he
but pressed me closer and laughed as only one of God's own lovers
could laugh. I was wont to deny that heredity and environment could
explain his own originality and genius, any more than could the cold
groping finger of science catch and analyze and classify that
elusive essence that lurked in the constitution of life itself.
I held that space was an apparition of God, and that soul was a
projection of the character of God; and when he called me his sweet
metaphysician, I called him my immortal materialist. And so we loved
and were happy; and I forgave him his materialism because of his
tremendous work in the world, performed without thought of soul-gain
thereby, and because of his so exceeding modesty of spirit that
prevented him from having pride and regal consciousness of himself and
But he had pride. How could he have been an eagle and not have
pride? His contention was that it was finer for a finite mortal
speck of life to feel Godlike, than for a god to feel godlike; and
so it was that he exalted what he deemed his mortality. He was fond of
quoting a fragment from a certain poem. He had never seen the whole
poem, and he had tried vainly to learn its authorship. I here give the
fragment, not alone because he loved it, but because it epitomized the
paradox that he was in the spirit of him, and his conception of his
spirit. For how can a man, with thrilling, and burning, and
exaltation, recite the following and still be mere mortal earth, a bit
of fugitive force, an evanescent form? Here it is:
'Joy upon joy and gain upon gain
Are the destined rights of my birth,
And I shout the praise of my endless days
To the echoing edge of the earth.
Though I suffer all deaths that a man can die
To the uttermost end of time,
I have deep-drained this, my cup of bliss,
In every age and clime-
'The froth of Pride, the tang of Power,
The sweet of Womanhood!
I drain the lees upon my knees,
For oh, the draught is good;
I drink to Life, I drink to Death,
And smack my lips with song,
For when I die, another 'I' shall pass the cup along.
'The man you drove from Eden's grove
Was I, my Lord, was I,
And I shall be there when the earth and the air
Are rent from sea to sky;
For it is my world, my gorgeous world,
The world of my dearest woes,
From the first faint cry of the newborn
To the rack of the woman's throes.
'Packed with the pulse of an unborn race,
Torn with a world's desire,
The surging flood of my wild young blood
Would quench the judgment fire.
I am Man, Man, Man, from the tingling flesh
To the dust of my earthly goal,
From the nestling gloom of the pregnant womb
To the sheen of my naked soul.
Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh
The whole world leaps to my will,
And the unslaked thirst of an Eden cursed
Shall harrow the earth for its fill.
Almighty God, when I drain life's glass
Of all its rainbow gleams,
The hapless plight of eternal night
Shall be none too long for my dreams.
'The man you drove from Eden's grove
Was I, my Lord, was I,
And I shall be there when the earth and the air
Are rent from sea to sky;
For it is my world, my gorgeous world,
The world of my dear delight,
From the brightest gleam of the Arctic stream
To the dusk of my own love-night.'
Ernest always overworked. His wonderful constitution kept him up;
but even that constitution could not keep the tired look out of his
eyes. His dear, tired eyes! He never slept more than four and one-half
hours a night; yet he never found time to do all the work he wanted to
do. He never ceased from his activities as a propagandist, and was
always scheduled long in advance for lectures to workingmen's
organizations. Then there was the campaign. He did a man's full work
in that alone. With the suppression of the socialist publishing
houses, his meagre royalties ceased, and he was hard-put to make a
living; for he had to make a living in addition to all his other
labor. He did a great deal of translating for the magazines on
scientific and philosophic subjects; and, coming home late at night,
worn out from the strain of the campaign, he would plunge into his
translating and toil on well into the morning hours. And in addition
to everything, there was his studying. To the day of his death he kept
up his studies, and he studied prodigiously.
And yet he found time in which to love me and make me happy. But
this was accomplished only through my merging my life completely
into his. I learned shorthand and typewriting, and became his
secretary. He insisted that I succeeded in cutting his work in half;
and so it was that I schooled myself to understand his work. Our
interests became mutual, and we worked together and played together.
And then there were our sweet stolen moments in the midst of our
work- just a word, or caress, or flash of love-light; and our
moments were sweeter for being stolen. For we lived on the heights,
where the air was keen and sparkling, where the toil was for humanity,
and where sordidness and selfishness never entered. We loved love, and
our love was never smirched by anything less than the best. And this
out of all remains: I did not fail. I gave him rest- he who worked
so hard for others, my dear, tired-eyed mortalist.
IT WAS AFTER MY MARRIAGE that I chanced upon Bishop Morehouse. But I
must give the events in their proper sequence. After his outbreak at
the I.P.H. Convention, the Bishop, being a gentle soul, had yielded to
the friendly pressure brought to bear upon him, and had gone away on a
vacation. But he returned more fixed than ever in his determination to
preach the message of the Church. To the consternation of his
congregation, his first sermon was quite similar to the address he had
given before the Convention. Again he said, and at length and with
distressing detail, that the Church had wandered away from the
Master's teaching, and that Mammon had been instated in the place of
And the result was, willy-nilly, that he was led away to a private
sanitarium for mental disease, while in the newspapers appeared
pathetic accounts of his mental breakdown and of the saintliness of
his character. He was held a prisoner in the sanitarium. I called
repeatedly, but was denied access to him; and I was terribly impressed
by the tragedy of a sane, normal, saintly man being crushed by the
brutal will of society. For the Bishop was sane, and pure, and
noble. As Ernest said, all that was the matter with him was that he
had incorrect notions of biology and sociology, and because of his
incorrect notions he had not gone about it in the right way to rectify
What terrified me was the Bishop's helplessness. If he persisted
in the truth as he saw it, he was doomed to an insane ward. And he
could do nothing. His money, his position, his culture, could not save
him. His views were perilous to society, and society could not
conceive that such perilous views could be the product of a sane mind.
Or, at least, it seems to me that such was society's attitude.
But the Bishop, in spite of the gentleness and purity of his spirit,
was possessed of guile. He apprehended clearly his danger. He saw
himself caught in the web, and he tried to escape from it. Denied help
from his friends, such as father and Ernest and I could have given, he
was left to battle for himself alone. And in the enforced solitude
of the sanitarium he recovered. He became again sane. His eyes
ceased to see visions; his brain was purged of the fancy that it was
the duty of society to feed the Master's lambs.
As I say, he became well, quite well, and the newspapers and the
church people hailed his return with joy. I went once to his church.
The sermon was of the same order as the ones he had preached long
before his eyes had seen visions. I was disappointed, shocked. Had
society then beaten him into submission? Was he a coward? Had he
been bulldozed into recanting? Or had the strain been too great for
him, and had he meekly surrendered to the juggernaut of the
I called upon him in his beautiful home. He was woefully changed. He
was thinner, and there were lines on his face which I had never seen
before. He was manifestly distressed by my coming. He plucked
nervously at his sleeve as we talked; and his eyes were restless,
fluttering here, there, and everywhere, and refusing to meet mine. His
mind seemed preoccupied, and there were strange pauses in his
conversation, abrupt changes of topic, and an inconsecutiveness that
was bewildering. Could this, then, be the firm-poised, Christ-like man
I had known, with pure, limpid eyes and a gaze steady and
unfaltering as his soul? He had been man-handled; he had been cowed
into subjection. His spirit was too gentle. It had not been mighty
enough to face the organized wolf-pack of society.
I felt sad, unutterably sad. He talked ambiguously, and was so
apprehensive of what I might say that I had not the heart to catechise
him. He spoke in a far-away manner of his illness, and we talked
disjointedly about the church, the alterations in the organ, and about
petty charities; and he saw me depart with such evident relief that
I should have laughed had not my heart been so full of tears.
The poor little hero! If I had only known! He was battling like a
giant, and I did not guess it. Alone, all alone, in the midst of
millions of his fellow-men, he was fighting his fight. Torn by his
horror of the asylum and his fidelity to truth and the right, he clung
steadfastly to truth and the right; but so alone was he that he did
not dare to trust even me. He had learned his lesson well- too well.
But I was soon to know. One day the Bishop disappeared. He had
told nobody that he was going away; and as the days went by and he did
not reappear, there was much gossip to the effect that he had
committed suicide while temporarily deranged. But this idea was
dispelled when it was learned that he had sold all his possessions,-
his city mansion, his country house at Menlo Park, his paintings,
and collections, and even his cherished library. It was patent that he
had made a clean and secret sweep of everything before he disappeared.
This happened during the time when calamity had overtaken us in
our own affairs; and it was not till we were well settled in our new
home that we had opportunity really to wonder and speculate about
the Bishop's doings. And then, everything was suddenly made clear.
Early one evening, while it was yet twilight, I had run across the
street and into the butcher-shop to get some chops for Ernest's
supper. We called the last meal of the day 'supper' in our new
Just at the moment I came out of the butcher-shop, a man emerged
from the corner grocery that stood alongside. A queer sense
familiarity made me look again. But the man had turned and was walking
rapidly away. There was something about the slope of the shoulders and
the fringe of silver hair between coat collar and slouch hat that
aroused vague memories. Instead of crossing the street, I hurried
after the man. I quickened my pace, trying not to think the thoughts
that formed unbidden in my brain. No, it was impossible. It could
not be- not in those faded overalls, too long in the legs and frayed
at the bottoms.
I paused, laughed at myself, and almost abandoned the chase. But the
haunting familiarity of those shoulders and that silver hair! Again
I hurried on. As I passed him, I shot a keen look at his face; then
I whirled around abruptly and confronted- the Bishop.
He halted with equal abruptness, and gasped. A large paper bag in
his right hand fell to the sidewalk. It burst, and about his feet
and mine bounced and rolled a flood of potatoes. He looked at me
with surprise and alarm, then he seemed to wilt away; the shoulders
drooped with dejection, and he uttered a deep sigh.
I held out my hand. He shook it, but his hand felt clammy. He
cleared his throat in embarrassment, and I could see the sweat
starting out on his forehead. It was evident that he was badly
'The potatoes,' he murmured faintly. 'They are precious.'
Between us we picked them up and replaced them in the broken bag,
which he now held carefully in the hollow of his arm. I tried to
tell him my gladness at meeting him and that he must come right home
'Father will be rejoiced to see you,' I said. 'We live only a
stone's throw away.
'I can't,' he said, 'I must be going. Good-by.'
He looked apprehensively about him, as though dreading discovery,
and made an attempt to walk on.
'Tell me where you live, and I shall call later,' he said, when he
saw that I walked beside him and that it was my intention to stick
to him now that he was found.
'No,' I answered firmly. 'You must come now.'
He looked at the potatoes spilling on his arm, and at the small
parcels on his other arm.
'Really, it is impossible,' he said. 'Forgive me for my rudeness. If
you only knew.'
He looked as if he were going to break down, but the next moment
he had himself in control.
'Besides, this food,' he went on. 'It is a sad case. It is terrible.
She is an old woman. I must take it to her at once. She is suffering
from want of it. I must go at once. You understand. Then I will
return. I promise you.'
'Let me go with you,' I volunteered. 'Is it far?'
He sighed again, and surrendered.
'Only two blocks,' he said. 'Let us hasten.'
Under the Bishop's guidance I learned something of my own
neighborhood. I had not dreamed such wretchedness and misery existed
in it. Of course, this was because I did not concern myself with
charity. I had become convinced that Ernest was right when he
sneered at charity as a poulticing of an ulcer. Remove the ulcer,
was his remedy; give to the worker his product; pension as soldiers
those who grow honorably old in their toil, and there will be no
need for charity. Convinced of this, I toiled with him at the
revolution, and did not exhaust my energy in alleviating the social
ills that continuously arose from the injustice of the system.
I followed the Bishop into a small room, ten by twelve, in a rear
tenement. And there we found a little old German woman- sixty-four
years old, the Bishop said. She was surprised at seeing me, but she
nodded a pleasant greeting and went on sewing on the pair of men's
trousers in her lap. Beside her, on the floor, was a pile of trousers.
The Bishop discovered there was neither coal nor kindling, and went
out to buy some.
I took up a pair of trousers and examined her work.
'Six cents, lady,' she said, nodding her head gently while she
went on stitching. She stitched slowly, but never did she cease from
stitching. She seemed mastered by the verb 'to stitch.'
'For all that work?' I asked. 'Is that what they pay? How long
does it take you?'
'Yes,' she answered, 'that is what they pay. Six cents for
finishing. Two hours' sewing on each pair.'
But the boss doesn't know that,' she added quickly, betraying a fear
of getting him into trouble. 'I'm slow. I've got the rheumatism in
my hands. Girls work much faster. They finish in half that time. The
boss is kind. He lets me take the work home, now that I am old and the
noise of the machine bothers my head. If it wasn't for his kindness,
'Yes, those who work in the shop get eight cents. But what can you
do? There is not enough work for the young. The old have no chance.
Often one pair is all I can get. Sometimes, like to-day, I am given
eight pair to finish before night.'
I asked her the hours she worked, and she said it depended on the
'In the summer, when there is a rush order, I work from five in
the morning to nine at night. But in the winter it is too cold. The
hands do not early get over the stiffness. Then you must work later-
till after midnight sometimes.
'Yes, it has been a bad summer. The hard times. God must be angry.
This is the first work the boss has given me in a week. It is true,
one cannot eat much when there is no work. I am used to it. I have
sewed all my life, in the old country and here in San Francisco-
'If you are sure of the rent, it is all right. The houseman is
very kind, but he must have his rent. It is fair. He only charges
three dollars for this room. That is cheap. But it is not easy for you
to find all of three dollars every month.'
She ceased talking, and, nodding her head, went on stitching.
'You have to be very careful as to how you spend your earnings,' I
She nodded emphatically.
'After the rent it's not so bad. Of course you can't buy meat. And
there is no milk for the coffee. But always there is one meal a day,
and often two.'
She said this last proudly. There was a smack of success in her
words. But as she stitched on in silence, I noticed the sadness in her
pleasant eyes and the droop of her mouth. The look in her eyes
became far away. She rubbed the dimness hastily out of them; it
interfered with her stitching.
No, it is not the hunger that makes the heart ache,' she
explained. 'You get used to being hungry. It is for my child that I
cry. It was the machine that killed her. It is true she worked hard,
but I cannot understand. She was strong. And she was young- only
forty; and she worked only thirty years. She began young, it is
true; but my man died. The boiler exploded down at the works. And what
were we to do? She was ten, but she was very strong. But the machine
killed her. Yes, it did. It killed her, and she was the fastest worker
in the shop. I have thought about it often, and I know. That is why
I cannot work in the shop. The machine bothers my head. Always I
hear it saying, "I did it, I did it." And it says that all day
And then I think of my daughter, and I cannot work.'
The moistness was in her old eyes again, and she had to wipe it away
before she could go on stitching.
I heard the Bishop stumbling up the stairs, and I opened the door.
What a spectacle he was. On his back he carried half a sack of coal,
with kindling on top. Some of the coal dust had coated his face, and
the sweat from his exertions was running in streaks. He dropped his
burden in the corner by the stove and wiped his face on a coarse
bandana handkerchief. I could scarcely accept the verdict of my
senses. The Bishop, black as a coal-heaver, in a workingman's cheap
cotton shirt (one button was missing from the throat), and in
overalls! That was the most incongruous of all- the overalls, frayed
at the bottoms, dragged down at the heels, and held up by a narrow
leather belt around the hips such as laborers wear.
Though the Bishop was warm, the poor swollen hands of the old
woman were already cramping with the cold; and before we left her, the
Bishop had built the fire, while I had peeled the potatoes and put
them on to boil. I was to learn, as time went by, that there were many
cases similar to hers, and many worse, hidden away in the monstrous
depths of the tenements in my neighborhood.
We got back to find Ernest alarmed by my absence. After the first
surprise of greeting was over, the Bishop leaned back in his chair,
stretched out his overall-covered legs, and actually sighed a
comfortable sigh. We were the first of his old friends he had met
since his disappearance, he told us; and during the intervening
weeks he must have suffered greatly from loneliness. He told us
much, though he told us more of the joy he had experienced in doing
the Master's bidding.
'For truly now,' he said, 'I am feeding his lambs. And I have
learned a great lesson. The soul cannot be ministered to till the
stomach is appeased. His lambs must be fed bread and butter and
potatoes and meat; after that, and only after that, are their
spirits ready for more refined nourishment.'
He ate heartily of the supper I cooked. Never had he had such an
appetite at our table in the old days. We spoke of it, and he said
that he had never been so healthy in his life.
'I walk always now,' he said, and a blush was on his cheek at the
thought of the time when he rode in his carriage, as though it were
a sin not lightly to be laid.
'My health is better for it,' he added hastily. 'And I am very
happy- indeed, most happy. At last I am a consecrated spirit.'
And yet there was in his face a permanent pain, the pain of the
world that he was now taking to himself. He was seeing life in the
raw, and it was a different life from what he had known within the
printed books of his library.
'And you are responsible for all this, young man,' he said
directly to Ernest.
Ernest was embarrassed and awkward.
'I- I warned you,' he faltered.
'No, you misunderstand,' the Bishop answered. 'I speak not in
reproach, but in gratitude. I have you to thank for showing me my
path. You led me from theories about life to life itself. You pulled
aside the veils from the social shams. You were light in my
darkness, but now I, too, see the light. And I am very happy, only...'
he hesitated painfully, and in his eyes fear leaped large. 'Only the
persecution. I harm no one. Why will they not let me alone? But it
is not that. It is the nature of the persecution. I shouldn't mind
if they cut my flesh with stripes, or burned me at the stake, or
crucified me head- downward. But it is the asylum that frightens me.
Think of it! Of me- in an asylum for the insane! It is revolting. I
saw some of the cases at the sanitarium. They were violent. My blood
chills when I think of it. And to be imprisoned for the rest of my
life amid scenes of screaming madness! No! no! Not that! Not that!'
It was pitiful. His hands shook, his whole body quivered and
shrank away from the picture he had conjured. But the next moment he
'Forgive me,' he said simply. 'It is my wretched nerves. And if
the Master's work leads there, so be it. Who am I to complain?'
I felt like crying aloud as I looked at him: 'Great Bishop! O
hero! God's hero!'
As the evening wore on we learned more of his doings.
'I sold my house- my houses, rather,' he said, all my other
possessions. I knew I must do it secretly, else they would have
taken everything away from me. That would have been terrible. I
often marvel these days at the immense quantity of potatoes two or
three hundred thousand dollars will buy, or bread, or meat, or coal
and kindling.' He turned to Ernest. 'You are right, young man. Labor
is dreadfully underpaid. I never did a bit of work in my life,
except to appeal aesthetically to Pharisees- I thought I was preaching
the message- and yet I was worth half a million dollars. I never
knew what half a million dollars meant until I realized how much
potatoes and bread and butter and meat it could buy. And then I
realized something more. I realized that all those potatoes and that
bread and butter and meat were mine, and that I had not worked to make
them. Then it was clear to me, some one else had worked and made
them and been robbed of them. And when I came down amongst the poor
I found those who had been robbed and who were hungry and wretched
because they had been robbed.'
We drew him back to his narrative.
'The money? I have it deposited in many different banks under
different names. It can never be taken away from me, because it can
never be found. And it is so good, that money. It buys so much food. I
never knew before what money was good for.'
'I wish we could get some of it for the propaganda,' Ernest said
wistfully. 'It would do immense good.'
'Do you think so?' the Bishop said. 'I do not have much faith in
politics. In fact, I am afraid I do not understand politics.'
Ernest was delicate in such matters. He did not repeat his
suggestion, though he knew only too well the sore straits the
Socialist Party was in through lack of money.
'I sleep in cheap lodging houses,' the Bishop went on. 'But I am
afraid, and never stay long in one place. Also, I rent two rooms in
workingmen's houses in different quarters of the city. It is a great
extravagance, I know, but it is necessary. I make up for it in part by
doing my own cooking, though sometimes I get something to eat in cheap
coffee-houses. And I have made a discovery. Tamales* are very good
when the air grows chilly late at night. Only they are so expensive.
But I have discovered a place where I can get three for ten cents.
They are not so good as the others, but they are very warming.
* A Mexican dish, referred to occasionally in the literature of
the times. It is supposed that it was warmly seasoned. No recipe of it
has come down to us.
'And so I have at last found my work in the world, thanks to you,
young man. It is the Master's work.' He looked at me, and his eyes
twinkled. 'You caught me feeding his lambs, you know. And of course
you will all keep my secret.'
He spoke carelessly enough, but there was real fear behind the
speech. He promised to call upon us again. But a week later we read in
the newspaper of the sad case of Bishop Morehouse, who had been
committed to the Napa Asylum and for whom there were still hopes
held out. In vain we tried to see him, to have his case reconsidered
or investigated. Nor could we learn anything about him except the
reiterated statements that slight hopes were still held for his
'Christ told the rich young man to sell all he had,' Ernest said
bitterly. 'The Bishop obeyed Christ's injunction and got locked up
in a madhouse. Times have changed since Christ's day. A rich man
to-day who gives all he has to the poor is crazy. There is no
discussion. Society has spoken.'
The General Strike.
OF COURSE ERNEST WAS ELECTED to Congress in the great socialist
landslide that took place in the fall of 1912. One great factor that
helped to swell the socialist vote was the destruction of Hearst.*
This the Plutocracy found an easy task. It cost Hearst eighteen
million dollars a year to run his various papers, and this sum, and
more, he got back from the middle class in payment for advertising.
The source of his financial strength lay wholly in the middle class.
The trusts did not advertise.*(2) To destroy Hearst, all that was
necessary was to take away from him his advertising.
* William Randolph Hearst- a young California millionaire who became
the most powerful newspaper owner in the country. His newspapers
were published in all the large cities, and they appealed to the
perishing middle class and to the proletariat. So large was his
following that he managed to take possession of the empty shell of the
old Democratic Party. He occupied an anomalous position, preaching
an emasculated socialism combined with a nondescript sort of petty
bourgeois capitalism. It was oil and water, and there was no hope
for him, though for a short period he was a source of serious
apprehension to the Plutocrats.
*(2) The cost of advertising was amazing in those helter-skelter
times. Only the small capitalists competed, and therefore they did the
advertising. There being no competition where there was a trust, there
was no need for the trusts to advertise.
The whole middle class had not yet been exterminated. The sturdy
skeleton of it remained; but it was without power. The small
manufacturers and small business men who still survived were at the
complete mercy of the Plutocracy. They had no economic nor political
souls of their own. When the fiat of the Plutocracy went forth, they
withdrew their advertisements from the Hearst papers.
Hearst made a gallant fight. He brought his papers out at a loss
of a million and a half each month. He continued to publish the
advertisements for which he no longer received pay. Again the fiat
of the Plutocracy went forth, and the small business men and
manufacturers swamped him with a flood of notices that he must
discontinue running their old advertisements. Hearst persisted.
Injunctions were served on him. Still he persisted. He received six
months' imprisonment for contempt of court in disobeying the
injunctions, while he was bankrupted by countless damage suits. He had
no chance. The Plutocracy had passed sentence on him. The courts
were in the hands of the Plutocracy to carry the sentence out. And
with Hearst crashed also to destruction the Democratic Party that he
had so recently captured.
With the destruction of Hearst and the Democratic Party, there
were only two paths for his following to take. One was into the
Socialist Party; the other was into the Republican Party. Then it
was that we socialists reaped the fruit of Hearst's pseudo-socialistic
preaching; for the great Majority of his followers came over to us.
The expropriation of the farmers that took place at this time
would also have swelled our vote had it not been for the brief and
futile rise of the Grange Party. Ernest and the socialist leaders
fought fiercely to capture the farmers; but the destruction of the
socialist press and publishing houses constituted too great a
handicap, while the mouth-to-mouth propaganda had not yet been
perfected. So it was that politicians like Mr. Calvin, who were
themselves farmers long since expropriated, captured the farmers and
threw their political strength away in a vain campaign.
'The poor farmers,' Ernest once laughed savagely; 'the trusts have
them both coming and going.'
And that was really the situation. The seven great trusts, working
together, had pooled their enormous surpluses and made a farm trust.
The railroads, controlling rates, and the bankers and stock exchange
gamesters, controlling prices, had long since bled the farmers into
indebtedness. The bankers, and all the trusts for that matter, had
likewise long since loaned colossal amounts of money to the farmers.
The farmers were in the net. All that remained to be done was the
drawing in of the net. This the farm trust proceeded to do.
The hard times of 1912 had already caused a frightful slump in the
farm markets. Prices were now deliberately pressed down to bankruptcy,
while the railroads, with extortionate rates, broke the back of the
farmer-camel. Thus the farmers were compelled to borrow more and more,
while they were prevented from paying back old loans. Then ensued
the great foreclosing of mortgages and enforced collection of notes.
The farmers simply surrendered the land to the farm trust. There was
nothing else for them to do. And having surrendered the land, the
farmers next went to work for the farm trust, becoming managers,
superintendents, foremen, and common laborers. They worked for
wages. They became villeins, in short- serfs bound to the soil by a
living wage. They could not leave their masters, for their masters
composed the Plutocracy. They could not go to the cities, for there,
also, the Plutocracy was in control. They had but one alternative,- to
leave the soil and become vagrants, in brief, to starve. And even
there they were frustrated, for stringent vagrancy laws were passed
and rigidly enforced.
Of course, here and there, farmers, and even whole communities of
farmers, escaped expropriation by virtue of exceptional conditions.
But they were merely strays and did not count, and they were
gathered in anyway during the following year.*
* The destruction of the Roman yeomanry proceeded far less rapidly
than the destruction of the American farmers and small capitalists.
There was momentum in the twentieth century, while there was
practically none in ancient Rome.
Numbers of the farmers, impelled by an insane lust for the soil, and
willing to show what beasts they could become, tried to escape
expropriation by withdrawing from any and all market-dealing. They
sold nothing. They bought nothing. Among themselves a primitive barter
began to spring up. Their privation and hardships were terrible, but
they persisted. It became quite a movement, in fact. The manner in
which they were beaten was unique and logical and simple. The
Plutocracy, by virtue of its possession of the government, raised
their taxes. It was the weak joint in their armor. Neither buying
nor selling, they had no money, and in the end their land was sold
to pay the taxes.
Thus it was that in the fall of 1912 the socialist leaders, with the
exception of Ernest, decided that the end of capitalism had come. What
of the hard times and the consequent vast army of the unemployed; what
of the destruction of the farmers and the middle class; and what of
the decisive defeat administered all along the line to the labor
unions; the socialists were really justified in believing that the end
of capitalism had come and in themselves throwing down the gauntlet to
Alas, how we underestimated the strength of the enemy! Everywhere
the socialists proclaimed their coming victory at the ballot-box,
while, in unmistakable terms, they stated the situation. The
Plutocracy accepted the challenge. It was the Plutocracy, weighing and
balancing, that defeated us by dividing our strength. It was the
Plutocracy, through its secret agents, that raised the cry that
socialism was sacrilegious and atheistic; it was the Plutocracy that
whipped the churches, and especially the Catholic Church, into line,
and robbed us of a portion of the labor vote. And it was the
Plutocracy, through its secret agents of course, that encouraged the
Grange Party and even spread it to the cities into the ranks of the
dying middle class.
Nevertheless the socialist landslide occurred. But, instead of a
sweeping victory with chief executive officers and majorities in all
legislative bodies, we found ourselves in the minority. It is true, we
elected fifty Congressmen; but when they took their seats in the
spring of 1913, they found themselves without power of any sort. Yet
they were more fortunate than the Grangers, who captured a dozen state
governments, and who, in the spring, were not permitted to take
possession of the captured offices. The incumbents refused to
retire, and the courts were in the hands of the Oligarchy. But this is
too far in advance of events. I have yet to tell of the stirring times
of the winter of 1912.
The hard times at home had caused an immense decrease in
consumption. Labor, out of work, had no wages with which to buy. The
result was that the Plutocracy found a greater surplus than ever on
its hands. This surplus it was compelled to dispose of abroad, and,
what of its colossal plans, it needed money. Because of its
strenuous efforts to dispose of the surplus in the world market, the
Plutocracy clashed with Germany. Economic clashes were usually
succeeded by wars, and this particular clash was no exception. The
great German war-lord prepared, and so did the United States prepare.
The war-cloud hovered dark and ominous. The stage was set for a
world-catastrophe, for in all the world were hard times, labor
troubles, perishing middle classes, armies of unemployed, clashes of
economic interests in the world-market, and mutterings and rumblings
of the socialist revolution.*
* For a long time these mutterings and rumblings had been heard.
As far back as 1906 A.D., Lord Avebury, an Englishman, uttered the
following in the House of Lords: 'The unrest in Europe, the spread
of socialism, and the ominous rise of Anarchism, are warnings to the
governments and the ruling classes that the condition of the working
classes in Europe is becoming intolerable, and that if a revolution is
to be avoided some steps must be taken to increase wages, reduce the
hours of labor, and lower the prices of the necessaries of life.'
The Wall Street Journal, a stock gamesters' publication, in commenting
upon Lord Avebury's speech, said: 'These words were spoken by an
aristocrat and a member of the most conservative body in all Europe.
That gives them all the more significance. They contain more
valuable political economy than is to be found in most of the books.
They sound a note of warning. Take heed, gentlemen of the war and navy
At the same time, Sydney Brooks, writing in America, in Harper's
Weekly, said: 'You will not hear the socialists mentioned in
Washington. Why should you? The politicians are always the last people
in this country to see what is going on under their noses. They will
jeer at me when I prophesy, and prophesy with the utmost confidence,
that at the next presidential election the socialists will poll over a
The Oligarchy wanted the war with Germany. And it wanted the war for
a dozen reasons. In the juggling of events such a war would cause,
in the reshuffling of the international cards and the making of new
treaties and alliances, the Oligarchy had much to gain. And,
furthermore, the war would consume many national surpluses, reduce the
armies of unemployed that menaced all countries, and give the
Oligarchy a breathing space in which to perfect its plans and carry
them out. Such a war would virtually put the Oligarchy in possession
of the world-market. Also, such a war would create a large standing
army that need never be disbanded, while in the minds of the people
would be substituted the issue, 'America versus Germany,' in place
of 'Socialism versus Oligarchy.'
And truly the war would have done all these things had it not been
for the socialists. A secret meeting of the Western leaders was held
in our four tiny rooms in Pell Street. Here was first considered the
stand the socialists were to take. It was not the first time we had
put our foot down upon war,* but it was the first time we had done
so in the United States. After our secret meeting we got in touch with
the national organization, and soon our code cables were passing
back and forth across the Atlantic between us and the International
* It was at the very beginning of the twentieth century A.D., that
the international organization of the socialists finally formulated
their long-maturing policy on war. Epitomized their doctrine was: 'Why
should the workingmen of one country fight with the workingmen of
another country for the benefit of their capitalist masters?'
On May 21, 1905 A.D., when war threatened between Austria and Italy,
the socialists of Italy, Austria, and Hungary held a conference at
Trieste, and threatened a general strike of the workingmen of both
countries in case war was declared. This was repeated the following
year, when the 'Morocco Affair' threatened to involve France, Germany,
The German socialists were ready to act with us. There were over
five million of them, many of them in the standing army, and, in
addition, they were on friendly terms with the labor unions. In both
countries the socialists came out in bold declaration against the
war and threatened the general strike. And in the meantime they made
preparation for the general strike. Furthermore, the revolutionary
parties in all countries gave public utterance to the socialist
principle of international peace that must be preserved at all
hazards, even to the extent of revolt and revolution at home.
The general strike was the one great victory we American
socialists won. On 4 December the American minister was withdrawn from
the German capital. That night a German fleet made a dash on Honolulu,
sinking three American cruisers and a revenue cutter, and bombarding
the city. Next day both Germany and the United States declared war,
and within an hour the socialists called the general strike in both
For the first time the German war-lord faced the men of his empire
who made his empire go. Without them he could not run his empire.
The novelty of the situation lay in that their revolt was passive.
They did not fight. They did nothing. And by doing nothing they tied
their war-lord's hands. He would have asked for nothing better than an
opportunity to loose his war-dogs on his rebellious proletariat. But
this was denied him. He could not loose his war-dogs. Neither could he
mobilize his army to go forth to war, nor could he punish his
recalcitrant subjects. Not a wheel moved in his empire. Not a train
ran, not a telegraphic message went over the wires, for the
telegraphers and railroad men had ceased work along with the rest of
And as it was in Germany, so it was in the United States. At last
organized labor had learned its lesson. Beaten decisively on its own
chosen field, it had abandoned that field and come over to the
political field of the socialists; for the general strike was a
political strike. Besides, organized labor had been so badly beaten
that it did not care. It joined in the general strike out of sheer
desperation. The workers threw down their tools and left their tasks
by the millions. Especially notable were the machinists. Their heads
were bloody, their organization had apparently been destroyed, yet out
they came, along with their allies in the metal-working trades.
Even the common laborers and all unorganized labor ceased work.
The strike had tied everything up so that nobody could work.
Besides, the women proved to be the strongest promoters of the strike.
They set their faces against the war. They did not want their men to
go forth to die. Then, also, the idea of the general strike caught the
mood of the people. It struck their sense of humor. The idea was
infectious. The children struck in all the schools, and such
teachers as came, went home again from deserted class rooms. The
general strike took the form of a great national picnic. And the
idea of the solidarity of labor, so evidenced, appealed to the
imagination of all. And, finally, there was no danger to be incurred
by the colossal frolic. When everybody was guilty, how was anybody
to be punished?
The United States was paralyzed. No one knew what was happening.
There were no newspapers, no letters, no despatches. Every community
was as completely isolated as though ten thousand miles of primeval
wilderness stretched between it and the rest of the world. For that
matter, the world had ceased to exist. And for a week this state of
affairs was maintained.
In San Francisco we did not know what was happening even across
the bay in Oakland or Berkeley. The effect on one's sensibilities
was weird, depressing. It seemed as though some great cosmic thing lay
dead. The pulse of the land had ceased to beat. Of a truth the
nation had died. There were no wagons rumbling on the streets, no
factory whistles, no hum of electricity in the air, no passing of
street cars, no cries of news-boys- nothing but persons who at rare
intervals went by like furtive ghosts, themselves oppressed and made
unreal by the silence.
And during that week of silence the Oligarchy was taught its lesson.
And well it learned the lesson. The general strike was a warning. It
should never occur again. The Oligarchy would see to that.
At the end of the week, as had been prearranged, the telegraphers of
Germany and the United States returned to their posts. Through them
the socialist leaders of both countries presented their ultimatum to
the rulers. The war should be called off, or the general strike
would continue. It did not take long to come to an understanding.
The war was declared off, and the populations of both countries
returned to their tasks.
It was this renewal of peace that brought about the alliance between
Germany and the United States. In reality, this was an alliance
between the Emperor and the Oligarchy, for the purpose of meeting
their common foe, the revolutionary proletariat of both countries. And
it was this alliance that the Oligarchy afterward so treacherously
broke when the German socialists rose and drove the war-lord from
his throne. It was the very thing the Oligarchy had played for- the
destruction of its great rival in the world-market. With the German
Emperor out of the way, Germany would have no surplus to sell
abroad. By the very nature of the socialist state, the German
population would consume all that it produced. Of course, it would
trade abroad certain things it produced for things it did not produce;
but this would be quite different from an unconsumable surplus.
'I'll wager the Oligarchy finds justification,' Ernest said, when
its treachery to the German Emperor became known. 'As usual, the
Oligarchy will believe it has done right.'
And sure enough. The Oligarchy's public defence for the act was that
it had done it for the sake of the American people whose interests
it was looking out for. It had flung its hated rival out of the
world-market and enabled us to dispose of our surplus in that market.
'And the howling folly of it is that we are so helpless that such
idiots really are managing our interests,' was Ernest's comment. 'They
have enabled us to sell more abroad, which means that we'll be
compelled to consume less at home.'
The Beginning of the End.
AS EARLY AS JANUARY, 1913, Ernest saw the true trend of affairs, but
he could not get his brother leaders to see the vision of the Iron
Heel that had arisen in his brain. They were too confident. Events
were rushing too rapidly to culmination. A crisis had come in world
affairs. The American Oligarchy was practically in possession of the
world-market, and scores of countries were flung out of that market
with unconsumable and unsalable surpluses on their hands. For such
countries nothing remained but reorganization. They could not continue
their method of producing surpluses. The capitalistic system, so far
as they were concerned, had hopelessly broken down.
The reorganization of these countries took the form of revolution.
It was a time of confusion and violence. Everywhere institutions and
governments were crashing. Everywhere, with the exception of two or
three countries, the erstwhile capitalist masters fought bitterly
for their possessions. But the governments were taken away from them
by the militant proletariat. At last was being realized Karl Marx's
classic: 'The knell of private capitalist property sounds. The
expropriators are expropriated.' And as fast as capitalistic
governments crashed, cooperative commonwealths arose in their place.
'Why does the United States lag behind?'; 'Get busy, you American
revolutionists!'; 'What's the matter with America?'- were the messages
sent to us by our successful comrades in other lands. But we could not
keep up. The Oligarchy stood in the way. Its bulk, like that of some
huge monster, blocked our path.
'Wait till we take office in the spring,' we answered. 'Then
Behind this lay our secret. We had won over the Grangers, and in the
spring a dozen states would pass into their hands by virtue of the
elections of the preceding fall. At once would be instituted a dozen
cooperative commonwealth states. After that, the rest would be easy.
'But what if the Grangers fail to get possession?' Ernest
demanded. And his comrades called him a calamity howler.
But this failure to get possession was not the chief danger that
Ernest had in mind. What he foresaw was the defection of the great
labor unions and the rise of the castes.
'Ghent has taught the oligarchs how to do it,' Ernest said. 'I'll
wager they've made a text-book out of his "Benevolent Feudalism."'*
* 'Our Benevolent Feudalism,' a book published in 1902 A.D., by W.
J. Ghent. It has always been insisted that Ghent put the idea of the
Oligarchy into the minds of the great capitalists. This belief
persists throughout the literature of the three centuries of the
Iron Heel, and even in the literature of the first century of the
Brotherhood of Man. To-day we know better, but our knowledge does
not overcome the fact that Ghent remains the most abused innocent
man in all history.
Never shall I forget the night when, after a hot discussion with
half a dozen labor leaders, Ernest turned to me and said quietly:
'That settles it. The Iron Heel has won. The end is in sight.'
This little conference in our home was unofficial; but Ernest,
like the rest of his comrades, was working for assurances from the
labor leaders that they would call out their men in the next general
strike. O'Connor, the president of the Association of Machinists,
had been foremost of the six leaders present in refusing to give
'You have seen that you were beaten soundly at your old tactics of
strike and boycott,' Ernest urged.
O'Connor and the others nodded their heads.
'And you saw what a general strike would do,' Ernest went on. 'We
stopped the war with Germany. Never was there so fine a display of the
solidarity and the power of labor. Labor can and will rule the
world. If you continue to stand with us, we'll put an end to the reign
of capitalism. It is your only hope. And what is more, you know it.
There is no other way out. No matter what you do under your old
tactics, you are doomed to defeat, if for no other reason because
the masters control the courts.'*
* As a sample of the decisions of the courts adverse to labor, the
following instances are given. In the coal-mining regions the
employment of children was notorious. In 1905 A.D., labor succeeded in
getting a law passed in Pennsylvania providing that proof of the age
of the child and of certain educational qualifications must
accompany the oath of the parent. This was promptly declared
unconstitutional by the Luzerne County Court, on the ground that it
violated the Fourteenth Amendment in that it discriminated between
individuals of the same class- namely, children above fourteen years
of age and children below. The state court sustained the decision. The
New York Court of Special Sessions, in 1905 A.D., declared
unconstitutional the law prohibiting minors and women from working
in factories after nine o'clock at night, the ground taken being
that such a law was 'class legislation.' Again, the bakers of that
time were terribly overworked. The New York Legislature passed a law
restricting work in bakeries to ten hours a day. In 1906 A.D., the
Supreme Court of the United States declared this law to be
unconstitutional. In part the decision read: 'There is no reasonable
ground for interfering with the liberty of persons or the right of
free contract by determining the hours of labor in the occupation of a
'You run ahead too fast,' O'Connor answered. 'You don't know all the
ways out. There is another way out. We know what we're about. We're
sick of strikes. They've got us beaten that way to a frazzle. But I
don't think we'll ever need to call our men out again.'
'What is your way out?' Ernest demanded bluntly.
O'Connor laughed and shook his head. 'I can tell you this much:
We've not been asleep. And we're not dreaming now.'
'There's nothing to be afraid of, or ashamed of, I hope,' Ernest
'I guess we know our business best,' was the retort.
'It's a dark business, from the way you hide it,' Ernest said with
'We've paid for our experience in sweat and blood, and we've
earned all that's coming to us,' was the reply. 'Charity begins at
'If you're afraid to tell me your way out, I'll tell it to you.'
Ernest's blood was up. 'You're going in for grab-sharing. You've
made terms with the enemy, that's what you've done. You've sold out
the cause of labor, of all labor. You are leaving the battle-field
'I'm not saying anything,' O'Connor answered sullenly. 'Only I guess
we know what's best for us a little bit better than you do.'
'And you don't care a cent for what is best for the rest of labor.
You kick it into the ditch.'
'I'm not saying anything,' O'Connor replied, 'except that I'm
president of the Machinists' Association, and it's my business to
consider the interests of the men I represent, that's all.'
And then, when the labor leaders had left, Ernest, with the calmness
of defeat, outlined to me the course of events to come.
'The socialists used to foretell with joy,' he said, 'the coming
of the day when organized labor, defeated on the industrial field,
would come over on to the political field. Well, the Iron Heel has
defeated the labor unions on the industrial field and driven them over
to the political field; and instead of this being joyful for us, it
will be a source of grief. The Iron Heel learned its lesson. We showed
it our power in the general strike. It has taken steps to prevent
another general strike.'
'But how?' I asked.
'Simply by subsidizing the great unions. They won't join in the next
general strike. Therefore it won't be a general strike.'
'But the Iron Heel can't maintain so costly a programme forever,'
'Oh, it hasn't subsidized all of the unions. That's not necessary.
Here is what is going to happen. Wages are going to be advanced and
hours shortened in the railroad unions, the iron and steel workers
unions, and the engineer and machinist unions. In these unions more
favorable conditions will continue to prevail. Membership in these
unions will become like seats in Paradise.'
'Still I don't see,' I objected. 'What is to become of the other
unions? There are far more unions outside of this combination than
'The other unions will be ground out of existence- all of them. For,
don't you see, the railway men, machinists and engineers, iron and
steel workers, do all of the vitally essential work in our machine
civilization. Assured of their faithfulness, the Iron Heel can snap
its fingers at all the rest of labor. Iron, steel, coal, machinery,
and transportation constitute the backbone of the whole industrial
'But coal?' I queried. 'There are nearly a million coal miners.'
They are practically unskilled labor. They will not count. Their
wages will go down and their hours will increase. They will be
slaves like all the rest of us, and they will become about the most
bestial of all of us. They will be compelled to work, just as the
farmers are compelled to work now for the masters who robbed them of
their land. And the same with all the other unions outside the
combination. Watch them wobble and go to pieces, and their members
become slaves driven to toil by empty stomachs and the law of the
'Do you know what will happen to Farley* and his strike-breakers?
I'll tell you. Strike-breaking as an occupation will cease. There
won't be any more strikes. In place of strikes will be slave
revolts. Farley and his gang will be promoted to slave-driving. Oh, it
won't be called that; it will be called enforcing the law of the
land that compels the laborers to work. It simply prolongs the
fight, this treachery of the big unions. Heaven only knows now where
and when the Revolution will triumph.'
* James Farley- a notorious strike-breaker of the period. A man more
courageous than ethical, and of undeniable ability. He rose high under
the rule of the Iron Heel and finally was translated into the oligarch
class. He was assassinated in 1932 by Sarah Jenkins, whose husband,
thirty years before, had been killed by Farley's strike-breakers.
'But with such a powerful combination as the Oligarchy and the big
unions, is there any reason to believe that the Revolution will ever
triumph?' I queried. 'May not the combination endure forever?'
He shook his head. 'One of our generalizations is that every
system founded upon class and caste contains within itself the germs
of its own decay. When a system is founded upon class, how can caste
be prevented? The Iron Heel will not be able to prevent it, and in the
end caste will destroy the Iron Heel. The oligarchs have already
developed caste among themselves; but wait until the favored unions
develop caste. The Iron Heel will use all its power to prevent it, but
it will fail.
'In the favored unions are the flower of the American workingmen.
They are strong, efficient men. They have become members of those
unions through competition for place. Every fit workman in the
United States will be possessed by the ambition to become a member
of the favored unions. The Oligarchy will encourage such ambition
and the consequent competition. Thus will the strong men, who might
else be revolutionists, be won away and their strength used to bolster
'On the other hand, the labor castes, the members of the favored
unions, will strive to make their organizations into close
corporations. And they will succeed. Membership in the labor castes
will become hereditary. Sons will succeed fathers, and there will be
no inflow of new strength from that eternal reservoir of strength, the
common people. This will mean deterioration of the labor castes, and
in the end they will become weaker and weaker. At the same time, as an
institution, they will become temporarily all-powerful. They will be
like the guards of the palace in old Rome, and there will be palace
revolutions whereby the labor castes will seize the reins of power.
And there will be counter-palace revolutions of the oligarchs, and
sometimes the one, and sometimes the other, will be in power. And
through it all the inevitable caste-weakening will go on, so that in
the end the common people will come into their own.'
This foreshadowing of a slow social evolution was made when Ernest
was first depressed by the defection of the great unions. I never
agreed with him in it, and I disagree now, as I write these lines,
more heartily than ever; for even now, though Ernest is gone, we are
on the verge of the revolt that will sweep all oligarchies away. Yet I
have here given Ernest's prophecy because it was his prophecy. In
spite of his belief in it, he worked like a giant against it, and
he, more than any man, has made possible the revolt that even now
waits the signal to burst forth.*
* Everhard's social foresight was remarkable. As clearly as in the
light of past events, he saw the defection of the favored unions,
the rise and the slow decay of the labor castes, and the struggle
between the decaying oligarchs and labor castes for control of the
great governmental machine.
'But if the Oligarchy persists,' I asked him that evening, 'what
will become of the great surpluses that will fall to its share every
'The surpluses will have to be expended somehow,' he answered;
'and trust the oligarchs to find a way. Magnificent roads will be
built. There will be great achievements in science, and especially
in art. When the oligarchs have completely mastered the people, they
will have time to spare for other things. They will become worshippers
of beauty. They will become art-lovers. And under their direction
and generously rewarded, will toil the artists. The result will be
great art; for no longer, as up to yesterday, will the artists
pander to the bourgeois taste of the middle class. It will be great
art, I tell you, and wonder cities will arise that will make tawdry
and cheap the cities of old time. And in these cities will the
oligarchs dwell and worship beauty.*
* We cannot but marvel at Everhard's foresight. Before ever the
thought of wonder cities like Ardis and Asgard entered the minds of
the oligarchs, Everhard saw those cities and the inevitable
necessity for their creation.
'Thus will the surplus be constantly expended while labor does the
work. The building of these great works and cities will give a
starvation ration to millions of common laborers, for the enormous
bulk of the surplus will compel an equally enormous expenditure, and
the oligarchs will build for a thousand years- ay, for ten thousand
years. They will build as the Egyptians and the Babylonians never
dreamed of building; and when the oligarchs have passed away, their
great roads and their wonder cities will remain for the brotherhood of
labor to tread upon and dwell within.*
* And since that day of prophecy, have passed away the three
centuries of the Iron Heel and the four centuries of the Brotherhood
of Man, and to-day we tread the roads and dwell in the cities that the
oligarchs built. It is true, we are even now building still more
wonderful wonder cities, but the wonder cities of the oligarchs
endure, and I write these lines in Ardis, one of the most wonderful of
'These things the oligarchs will do because they cannot help doing
them. These great works will be the form their expenditure of the
surplus will take, and in the same way that the ruling classes of
Egypt of long ago expended the surplus they robbed from the people
by the building of temples and pyramids. Under the oligarchs will
flourish, not a priest class, but an artist class. And in place of the
merchant class of bourgeoisie will be the labor castes. And beneath
will be the abyss, wherein will fester and starve and rot, and ever
renew itself, the common people, the great bulk of the population. And
in the end, who knows in what day, the common people will rise up
out of the abyss; the labor castes and the Oligarchy will crumble
away; and then, at last, after the travail of the centuries, will it
be the day of the common man. I had thought to see that day; but now I
know that I shall never see it.'
He paused and looked at me, and added:
'Social evolution is exasperatingly slow, isn't it, sweetheart?'
My arms were about him, and his head was on my breast.
'Sing me to sleep,' he murmured whimsically. 'I have had a
visioning, and I wish to forget.'
IT WAS NEAR THE END OF January, 1913, that the changed attitude of
the Oligarchy toward the favored unions was made public. The
newspapers published information of an unprecedented rise in wages and
shortening of hours for the railroad employees, the iron and steel
workers, and the engineers and machinists. But the whole truth was not
told. The oligarchs did not dare permit the telling of the whole
truth. In reality, the wages had been raised much higher, and the
privileges were correspondingly greater. All this was secret, but
secrets will out. Members of the favored unions told their wives,
and the wives gossiped, and soon all the labor world knew what had
It was merely the logical development of what in the nineteenth
century had been known as grab-sharing. In the industrial warfare of
that time, profit-sharing had been tried. That is, the capitalists had
striven to placate the workers by interesting them financially in
their work. But profit-sharing, as a system, was ridiculous and
impossible. Profit-sharing could be successful only in isolated
cases in the midst of a system of industrial strife; for if all
labor and all capital shared profits, the same conditions would obtain
as did obtain when there was no profit-sharing.
So, out of the unpractical idea of profit-sharing, arose the
practical idea of grab-sharing. 'Give us more pay and charge it to the
public,' was the slogan of the strong unions.* And here and there this
selfish policy worked successfully. In charging it to the public, it
was charged to the great mass of unorganized labor and of weakly
organized labor. These workers actually paid the increased wages of
their stronger brothers who were members of unions that were labor
monopolies. This idea, as I say, was merely carried to its logical
conclusion, on a large scale, by the combination of the oligarchs
and the favored unions.
* All the railroad unions entered into this combination with the
oligarchs, and it is of interest to note that the first definite
application of the policy of profit-grabbing was made by a railroad
union in the nineteenth century A.D., namely, the Brotherhood of
Locomotive Engineers. P. M. Arthur was for twenty years Grand Chief of
the Brotherhood. After the strike on the Pennsylvania Railroad in
1877, he broached a scheme to have the Locomotive Engineers make terms
with the railroads and to 'go it alone' so far as the rest of the
labor unions were concerned. This scheme was eminently successful.
It was as successful as it was selfish, and out of it was coined the
word 'arthurization,' to denote grab-sharing on the part of labor
unions. This word 'arthurization' has long puzzled the etymologists,
but its derivation, I hope, is now made clear.
As soon as the secret of the defection of the favored unions
leaked out, there were rumblings and mutterings in the labor world.
Next, the favored unions withdrew from the international organizations
and broke off all affiliations. Then came trouble and violence. The
members of the favored unions were branded as traitors, and in saloons
and brothels, on the streets and at work, and, in fact, everywhere,
they were assaulted by the comrades they had so treacherously
Countless heads were broken, and there were many killed. No member
of the favored unions was safe. They gathered together in bands in
order to go to work or to return from work. They walked always in
the middle of the street. On the sidewalk they were liable to have
their skulls crushed by bricks and cobblestones thrown from windows
and house-tops. They were permitted to carry weapons, and the
authorities aided them in every way. Their persecutors were
sentenced to long terms in prison, where they were harshly treated;
while no man, not a member of the favored unions, was permitted to
carry weapons. Violation of this law was made a high misdemeanor and
Outraged labor continued to wreak vengeance on the traitors. Caste
lines formed automatically. The children of the traitors were
persecuted by the children of the workers who had been betrayed, until
it was impossible for the former to play on the streets or to attend
the public schools. Also, the wives and families of the traitors
were ostracized, while the corner groceryman who sold provisions to
them was boycotted.
As a result, driven back upon themselves from every side, the
traitors and their families became clannish. Finding it impossible
to dwell in safety in the midst of the betrayed proletariat, they
moved into new localities inhabited by themselves alone. In this
they were favored by the oligarchs. Good dwellings, modern and
sanitary, were built for them, surrounded by spacious yards, and
separated here and there by parks and playgrounds. Their children
attended schools especially built for them, and in these schools
manual training and applied science were specialized upon. Thus, and
unavoidably, at the very beginning, out of this segregation arose
caste. The members of the favored unions became the aristocracy of
labor. They were set apart from the rest of labor. They were better
housed, better clothed, better fed, better treated. They were
grab-sharing with a vengeance.
In the meantime, the rest of the working class was more harshly
treated. Many little privileges were taken away from it, while its
wages and its standard of living steadily sank down. Incidentally, its
public schools deteriorated, and education slowly ceased to be
compulsory. The increase in the younger generation of children who
could not read nor write was perilous.
The capture of the world-market by the United States had disrupted
the rest of the world. Institutions and governments were everywhere
crashing or transforming. Germany, Italy, France, Australia, and New
Zealand were busy forming cooperative commonwealths. The British
Empire was falling apart. England's hands were full. In India revolt
was in full swing. The cry in all Asia was, 'Asia for the Asiatics!'
And behind this cry was Japan, ever urging and aiding the yellow and
brown races against the white. And while Japan dreamed of
continental empire and strove to realize the dream, she suppressed her
own proletarian revolution. It was a simple war of the castes,
Coolie versus Samurai, and the coolie socialists were executed by tens
of thousands. Forty thousand were killed in the street-fighting of
Tokio and in the futile assault on the Mikado's palace. Kobe was a
shambles; the slaughter of the cotton operatives by machine-guns
became classic as the most terrific execution ever achieved by
modern war machines. Most savage of all was the Japanese Oligarchy
that arose. Japan dominated the East, and took to herself the whole
Asiatic portion of the world-market, with the exception of India.
England managed to crush her own proletarian revolution and to
hold on to India, though she was brought to the verge of exhaustion.
Also, she was compelled to let her great colonies slip away from
her. So it was that the socialists succeeded in making Australia and
New Zealand into cooperative commonwealths. And it was for the same
reason that Canada was lost to the mother country. But Canada
crushed her own socialist revolution, being aided in this by the
Iron Heel. At the same time, the Iron Heel helped Mexico and Cuba to
put down revolt. The result was that the Iron Heel was firmly
established in the New World. It had welded into one compact political
mass the whole of North America from the Panama Canal to the Arctic
And England, at the sacrifice of her great colonies, had succeeded
only in retaining India. But this was no more than temporary. The
struggle with Japan and the rest of Asia for India was merely delayed.
England was destined shortly to lose India, while behind that event
loomed the struggle between a united Asia and the world.
And while all the world was torn with conflict, we of the United
States were not placid and peaceful. The defection of the great unions
had prevented our proletarian revolt, but violence was everywhere.
In addition to the labor troubles, and the discontent of the farmers
and of the remnant of the middle class, a religious revival had blazed
up. An offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists sprang into sudden
prominence, proclaiming the end of the world.
'Confusion thrice confounded!' Ernest cried. 'How can we hope for
solidarity with all these cross purposes and conflicts?'
And truly the religious revival assumed formidable proportions.
The people, what of their wretchedness, and of their disappointment in
all things earthly, were ripe and eager for a heaven where
industrial tyrants entered no more than camels passed through
needle-eyes. Wild-eyed itinerant preachers swarmed over the land;
and despite the prohibition of the civil authorities, and the
persecution for disobedience, the flames of religious frenzy were
fanned by countless camp-meetings.
It was the last days, they claimed, the beginning of the end of
the world. The four winds had been loosed. God had stirred the nations
to strife. It was a time of visions and miracles, while seers and
prophetesses were legion. The people ceased work by hundreds of
thousands and fled to the mountains, there to await the imminent
coming of God and the rising of the hundred and forty and four
thousand to heaven. But in the meantime God did not come, and they
starved to death in great numbers. In their desperation they ravaged
the farms for food, and the consequent tumult and anarchy in the
country districts but increased the woes of the poor expropriated
Also, the farms and warehouses were the property of the Iron Heel.
Armies of troops were put into the field, and the fanatics were herded
back at the bayonet point to their tasks in the cities. There they
broke out in ever recurring mobs and riots. Their leaders were
executed for sedition or confined in madhouses. Those who were
executed went to their deaths with all the gladness of martyrs. It was
a time of madness. The unrest spread. In the swamps and deserts and
waste places, from Florida to Alaska, the small groups of Indians that
survived were dancing ghost dances and waiting the coming of a Messiah
of their own.
And through it all, with a serenity and certitude that was
terrifying, continued to rise the form of that monster of the ages,
the Oligarchy. With iron hand and iron heel it mastered the surging
millions, out of confusion brought order, out of the very chaos
wrought its own foundation and structure.
'Just wait till we get in,' the Grangers said- Calvin said it to
us in our Pell Street quarters. 'Look at the states we've captured.
With you socialists to back us, we'll make them sing another song when
we take office.'
'The millions of the discontented and the impoverished are ours,'
the socialists said. 'The Grangers have come over to us, the
farmers, the middle class, and the laborers. The capitalist system
will fall to pieces. In another month we send fifty men to Congress.
Two years hence every office will be ours, from the President down
to the local dog-catcher.'
To all of which Ernest would shake his head and say:
'How many rifles have you got? Do you know where you can get
plenty of lead? When it comes to powder, chemical mixtures are
better than mechanical mixtures, you take my word.'
WHEN IT CAME TIME FOR Ernest and me to go to Washington, father
did not accompany us. He had become enamoured of proletarian life.
He looked upon our slum neighborhood as a great sociological
laboratory, and he had embarked upon an apparently endless orgy of
investigation. He chummed with the laborers, and was an intimate in
scores of homes. Also, he worked at odd jobs, and the work was play as
well as learned investigation, for he delighted in it and was always
returning home with copious notes and bubbling over with new
adventures. He was the perfect scientist.
There was no need for his working at all, because Ernest managed
to earn enough from his translating to take care of the three of us.
But father insisted on pursuing his favorite phantom, and a protean
phantom it was, judging from the jobs he worked at. I shall never
forget the evening he brought home his street pedler's outfit of
shoe-laces and suspenders, nor the time I went into the little
corner grocery to make some purchase and had him wait on me. After
that I was not surprised when he tended bar for a week in the saloon
across the street. He worked as a night watchman, hawked potatoes on
the street, pasted labels in a cannery warehouse, was utility man in a
paper-box factory, and water-carrier for a street railway construction
gang, and even joined the Dishwashers' Union just before it fell to
I think the Bishop's example, so far as wearing apparel was
concerned, must have fascinated father, for he wore the cheap cotton
shirt of the laborer and the overalls with the narrow strap about
the hips. Yet one habit remained to him from the old life; he always
dressed for dinner, or supper, rather.
I could be happy anywhere with Ernest; and father's happiness in our
changed circumstances rounded out my own happiness.
'When I was a boy,' father said, 'I was very curious. I wanted to
know why things were and how they came to pass. That was why I
became a physicist. The life in me to-day is just as curious as it was
in my boyhood, and it's the being curious that makes life worth
Sometimes he ventured north of Market Street into the shopping and
theatre district, where he sold papers, ran errands, and opened
cabs. There, one day, closing a cab, he encountered Mr. Wickson. In
high glee father described the incident to us that evening.
'Wickson looked at me sharply when I closed the door on him, and
muttered, "Well, I'll be damned." Just like that he said it, "Well,
I'll be damned." His face turned red and he was so confused that he
forgot to tip me. But he must have recovered himself quickly, for
the cab hadn't gone fifty feet before it turned around and came
back. He leaned out of the door.
'"Look here, Professor," he said, "this is too much. What
can I do
'"I closed the cab door for you," I answered. "According
custom you might give me a dime."
'"Bother that!" he snorted. "I mean something substantial."
'He was certainly serious- a twinge of ossified conscience or
something; and so I considered with grave deliberation for a moment.
'His face was quite expectant when I began my answer, but you should
have seen it when I finished.
'"You might give me back my home," I said, "and my stock
'What did he say?' I questioned eagerly.
'What could he say? He said nothing. But I said. "I hope you are
happy." He looked at me curiously. "Tell me, are you happy?"'
'He ordered the cabman to drive on, and went away swearing horribly.
And he didn't give me the dime, much less the home and stock; so you
see, my dear, your father's street-arab career is beset with
And so it was that father kept on at our Pell Street quarters, while
Ernest and I went to Washington. Except for the final consummation,
the old order had passed away, and the final consummation was nearer
than I dreamed. Contrary to our expectation, no obstacles were
raised to prevent the socialist Congressmen from taking their seats.
Everything went smoothly, and I laughed at Ernest when he looked
upon the very smoothness as something ominous.
We found our socialist comrades confident, optimistic of their
strength and of the things they would accomplish. A few Grangers who
had been elected to Congress increased our strength, and an
elaborate programme of what was to be done was prepared by the
united forces. In all of which Ernest joined loyally and
energetically, though he could not forbear, now and again, from
saying, apropos of nothing in particular, 'When it comes to powder,
chemical mixtures are better than mechanical mixtures, you take my
The trouble arose first with the Grangers in the various states they
had captured at the last election. There were a dozen of these states,
but the Grangers who had been elected were not permitted to take
office. The incumbents refused to get out. It was very simple. They
merely charged illegality in the elections and wrapped up the whole
situation in the interminable red tape of the law. The Grangers were
powerless. The courts were in the hands of their enemies.
This was the moment of danger. If the cheated Grangers became
violent, all was lost. How we socialists worked to hold them back!
There were days and nights when Ernest never closed his eyes in sleep.
The big leaders of the Grangers saw the peril and were with us to a
man. But it was all of no avail. The Oligarchy wanted violence, and it
set its agents-provocateurs to work. Without discussion, it was the
agents-provocateurs who caused the Peasant Revolt.
In a dozen states the revolt flared up. The expropriated farmers
took forcible possession of the state governments. Of course this
was unconstitutional, and of course the United States put its soldiers
into the field. Everywhere the agents-provocateurs urged the people
on. These emissaries of the Iron Heel disguised themselves as
artisans, farmers, and farm laborers. In Sacramento, the capital of
California, the Grangers had succeeded in maintaining order. Thousands
of secret agents were rushed to the devoted city. In mobs composed
wholly of themselves, they fired and looted buildings and factories.
They worked the people up until they joined them in the pillage.
Liquor in large quantities was distributed among the slum classes
further to inflame their minds. And then, when all was ready, appeared
upon the scene the soldiers of the United States, who were, in
reality, the soldiers of the Iron Heel. Eleven thousand men, women,
and children were shot down on the streets of Sacramento or murdered
in their houses. The national government took possession of the
state government, and all was over for California.
And as with California, so elsewhere. Every Granger state was
ravaged with violence and washed in blood. First, disorder was
precipitated by the secret agents and the Black Hundreds, then the
troops were called out. Rioting and mob-rule reigned throughout the
rural districts. Day and night the smoke of burning farms, warehouses,
villages, and cities filled the sky. Dynamite appeared. Railroad
bridges and tunnels were blown up and trains were wrecked. The poor
farmers were shot and hanged in great numbers. Reprisals were
bitter, and many plutocrats and army officers were murdered. Blood and
vengeance were in men's hearts. The regular troops fought the
farmers as savagely as had they been Indians. And the regular troops
had cause. Twenty-eight hundred of them had been annihilated in a
tremendous series of dynamite explosions in Oregon, and in a similar
manner, a number of train loads, at different times and places, had
been destroyed. So it was that the regular troops fought for their
lives as well as did the farmers.
As for the militia, the militia law of 1903 was put into effect, and
the workers of one state were compelled, under pain of death, to shoot
down their comrade-workers in other states. Of course, the militia law
did not work smoothly at first. Many militia officers were murdered,
and many militiamen were executed by drumhead court martial.
Ernest's prophecy was strikingly fulfilled in the cases of Mr.
Kowalt and Mr. Asmunsen. Both were eligible for the militia, and
both were drafted to serve in the punitive expedition that was
despatched from California against the farmers of Missouri. Mr. Kowalt
and Mr. Asmunsen refused to serve. They were given short shrift.
Drumhead court martial was their portion, and military execution their
end. They were shot with their backs to the firing squad.
Many young men fled into the mountains to escape serving in the
militia. There they became outlaws, and it was not until more peaceful
times that they received their punishment. It was drastic. The
government issued a proclamation for all law-abiding citizens to
come in from the mountains for a period of three months. When the
proclaimed date arrived, half a million soldiers were sent into the
mountainous districts everywhere. There was no investigation, no
trial. Wherever a man was encountered, he was shot down on the spot.
The troops operated on the basis that no man not an outlaw remained in
the mountains. Some bands, in strong positions, fought gallantly,
but in the end every deserter from the militia met death.
A more immediate lesson, however, was impressed on the minds of
the people by the punishment meted out to the Kansas militia. The
great Kansas Mutiny occurred at the very beginning of military
operations against the Grangers. Six thousand of the militia mutinied.
They had been for several weeks very turbulent and sullen, and for
that reason had been kept in camp. Their open mutiny, however, was
without doubt precipitated by the agents-provocateurs.
On the night of the April 22 they arose and murdered their officers,
only a small remnant of the latter escaping. This was beyond the
scheme of the Iron Heel, for the agents-provocateurs had done their
work too well. But everything was grist to the Iron Heel. It had
prepared for the outbreak, and the killing of so many officers gave it
justification for what followed. As by magic, forty thousand
soldiers of the regular army surrounded the malcontents. It was a
trap. The wretched militiamen found that their machine-guns had been
tampered with, and that the cartridges from the captured magazines did
not fit their rifles. They hoisted the white flag of surrender, but it
was ignored. There were no survivors. The entire six thousand were
annihilated. Common shell and shrapnel were thrown in upon them from a
distance, and, when, in their desperation, they charged the encircling
lines, they were mowed down by the machine-guns. I talked with an
eye-witness, and he said that the nearest any militiaman approached
the machine-guns was a hundred and fifty yards. The earth was carpeted
with the slain, and a final charge of cavalry, with trampling of
horses' hoofs, revolvers, and sabres, crushed the wounded into the
Simultaneously with the destruction of the Grangers came the
revolt of the coal miners. It was the expiring effort of organized
labor. Three-quarters of a million of miners went out on strike. But
they were too widely scattered over the country to advantage from
their own strength. They were segregated in their own districts and
beaten into submission. This was the first great slave-drive.
Pocock* won his spurs as a slave-driver and earned the undying
hatred of the proletariat. Countless attempts were made upon his life,
but he seemed to bear a charmed existence. It was he who was
responsible for the introduction of the Russian passport system
among the miners, and the denial of their right of removal from one
part of the country to another.
* Albert Pocock, another of the notorious strike-breakers of earlier
years, who, to the day of his death, successfully held all the
coal-miners of the country to their task. He was succeeded by his son,
Lewis Pocock, and for five generations this remarkable line of
slave-drivers handled the coal mines. The elder Pocock, known as
Pocock I., has been described as follows: 'A long, lean head,
semicircled by a fringe of brown and gray hair, with big cheek-bones
and a heavy chin,... a pale face, lustreless gray eyes, a metallic
voice, and a languid manner.' He was born of humble parents, and began
his career as a bartender. He next became a private detective for a
street railway corporation, and by successive steps developed into a
professional strikebreaker. Pocock V., the last of the line, was blown
up in a pump-house by a bomb during a petty revolt of the miners in
the Indian Territory. This occurred in 2073 A.D.
In the meantime, the socialists held firm. While the Grangers
expired in flame and blood, and organized labor was disrupted, the
socialists held their peace and perfected their secret organization.
In vain the Grangers pleaded with us. We rightly contended that any
revolt on our part was virtually suicide for the whole Revolution. The
Iron Heel, at first dubious about dealing with the entire
proletariat at one time, had found the work easier than it had
expected, and would have asked nothing better than an uprising on
our part. But we avoided the issue, in spite of the fact that
agents-provocateurs swarmed in our midst. In those early days, the
agents of the Iron Heel were clumsy in their methods. They had much to
learn and in the meantime our Fighting Groups weeded them out. It
was bitter, bloody work, but we were fighting for life and for the
Revolution, and we had to fight the enemy with its own weapons. Yet we
were fair. No agent of the Iron Heel was executed without a trial.
We may have made mistakes, but if so, very rarely. The bravest, and
the most combative and self-sacrificing of our comrades went into
the Fighting Groups. Once, after ten years had passed, Ernest made a
calculation from figures furnished by the chiefs of the Fighting
Groups, and his conclusion was that the average life of a man or woman
after becoming a member was five years. The comrades of the Fighting
Groups were heroes all, and the peculiar thing about it was that
they were opposed to the taking of life. They violated their own
natures, yet they loved liberty and knew of no sacrifice too great
to make for the Cause.*
* These Fighting groups were modelled somewhat after the Fighting
Organization of the Russian Revolution, and, despite the unceasing
efforts of the Iron Heel, these groups persisted throughout the
three centuries of its existence. Composed of men and women actuated
by lofty purpose and unafraid to die, the Fighting Groups exercised
tremendous influence and tempered the savage brutality of the
rulers. Not alone was their work confined to unseen warfare with the
secret agents of the Oligarchy. The oligarchs themselves were
compelled to listen to the decrees of the Groups, and often, when they
disobeyed, were punished by death- and likewise with the
subordinates of the oligarchs, with the officers of the army and the
leaders of the labor castes.
Stern justice was meted out by these organized avengers, but most
remarkable was their passionless and judicial procedure. There were no
snap judgments. When a man was captured he was given fair trial and
opportunity for defence. Of necessity, many men were tried and
condemned by proxy, as in the case of General Lampton. This occurred
in 2138 A.D. Possibly the most bloodthirsty and malignant of all the
mercenaries that ever served the Iron Heel, he was informed by the
Fighting Groups that they had tried him, found him guilty, and
condemned him to death- and this, after three warnings for him to
cease from his ferocious treatment of the proletariat. After his
condemnation he surrounded himself with a myriad protective devices.
Years passed, and in vain the Fighting Groups strove to execute
their decree. Comrade after comrade, men and women, failed in their
attempts, and were cruelly executed by the Oligarchy. It was the
case of General Lampton that revived crucifixion as a legal method
of execution. But in the end the condemned man found his executioner
in the form of a slender girl of seventeen, Madeline Provence, who, to
accomplish her purpose, served two years in his palace as a seamstress
to the household. She died in solitary confinement after horrible
and prolonged torture; but to-day she stands in imperishable bronze in
the Pantheon of Brotherhood in the wonder city of Serles.
We, who by personal experience know nothing of bloodshed, must not
judge harshly the heroes of the Fighting Groups. They gave up their
lives for humanity, no sacrifice was too great for them to accomplish,
while inexorable necessity compelled them to bloody expression in an
age of blood. The Fighting Groups constituted the one thorn in the
side of the Iron Heel that the Iron Heel could never remove.
Everhard was the father of this curious army, and its
accomplishments and successful persistence for three hundred years
bear witness to the wisdom with which he organized and the solid
foundation he laid for the succeeding generations to build upon. In
some respects, despite his great economic and sociological
contributions, and his work as a general leader in the Revolution, his
organization of the Fighting Groups must be regarded as his greatest
The task we set ourselves was threefold. First, the weeding out from
our circles of the secret agents of the Oligarchy. Second, the
organizing of the Fighting Groups, and outside of them, of the general
secret organization of the Revolution. And third, the introduction
of our own secret agents into every branch of the Oligarchy- into
the labor castes and especially among the telegraphers and secretaries
and clerks, into the army, the agents-provocateurs, and the
slave-drivers. It was slow work, and perilous, and often were our
efforts rewarded with costly failures.
The Iron Heel had triumphed in open warfare, but we held our own
in the new warfare, strange and awful and subterranean, that we
instituted. All was unseen, much was unguessed; the blind fought the
blind; and yet through it all was order, purpose, control. We
permeated the entire organization of the Iron Heel with our agents,
while our own organization was permeated with the agents of the Iron
Heel. It was warfare dark and devious, replete with intrigue and
conspiracy, plot and counterplot. And behind all, ever menacing, was
death, violent and terrible. Men and women disappeared, our nearest
and dearest comrades. We saw them to-day. To-morrow they were gone; we
never saw them again, and we knew that they had died.
There was no trust, no confidence anywhere. The man who plotted
beside us, for all we knew, might be an agent of the Iron Heel. We
mined the organization of the Iron Heel with our secret agents, and
the Iron Heel countermined with its secret agents inside its own
organization. And it was the same with our organization. And despite
the absence of confidence and trust we were compelled to base our
every effort on confidence and trust. Often were we betrayed. Men were
weak. The Iron Heel could offer money, leisure, the joys and pleasures
that waited in the repose of the wonder cities. We could offer nothing
but the satisfaction of being faithful to a noble ideal. As for the
rest, the wages of those who were loyal were unceasing peril, torture,
Men were weak, I say, and because of their weakness we were
compelled to make the only other reward that was within our power.
It was the reward of death. Out of necessity we had to punish our
traitors. For every man who betrayed us, from one to a dozen
faithful avengers were loosed upon his heels. We might fail to carry
out our decrees against our enemies, such as the Pococks, for
instance; but the one thing we could not afford to fail in was the
punishment of our own traitors. Comrades turned traitor by permission,
in order to win to the wonder cities and there execute our sentences
on the real traitors. In fact, so terrible did we make ourselves, that
it became a greater peril to betray us than to remain loyal to us.
The Revolution took on largely the character of religion. We
worshipped at the shrine of the Revolution, which was the shrine of
liberty. It was the divine flashing through us. Men and women
devoted their lives to the Cause, and new-born babes were sealed to it
as of old they had been sealed to the service of God. We were lovers
The Scarlet Livery.
WITH THE DESTRUCTION OF THE Granger states, the Grangers in Congress
disappeared. They were being tried for high treason, and their
places were taken by the creatures of the Iron Heel. The socialists
were in a pitiful minority, and they knew that their end was near.
Congress and the Senate were empty pretences, farces. Public questions
were gravely debated and passed upon according to the old forms, while
in reality all that was done was to give the stamp of constitutional
procedure to the mandates of the Oligarchy.
Ernest was in the thick of the fight when the end came. It was in
the debate on the bill to assist the unemployed. The hard times of the
preceding year had thrust great masses of the proletariat beneath
the starvation line, and the continued and wide-reaching disorder
had but sunk them deeper. Millions of people were starving, while
the oligarchs and their supporters were surfeiting on the surplus*
We called these wretched people the people of the abyss,*(2) and it
was to alleviate their awful suffering that the socialists had
introduced the unemployed bill. But this was not to the fancy of the
Iron Heel. In its own way it was preparing to set these millions to
work, but the way was not our way, wherefore it had issued its
orders that our bill should be voted down. Ernest and his fellows knew
that their effort was futile, but they were tired of the suspense.
They wanted something to happen. They were accomplishing nothing,
and the best they hoped for was the putting of an end to the
legislative farce in which they were unwilling players. They knew
not what end would come, but they never anticipated a more
disastrous end than the one that did come.
* The same conditions obtained in the nineteenth century A.D.
under British rule in India. The natives died of starvation by the
million, while their rulers robbed them of the fruits of their toil
and expended it on magnificent pageants and mumbo-jumbo fooleries.
Perforce, in this enlightened age, we have much to blush for in the
acts of our ancestors. Our only consolation is philosophic. We must
accept the capitalistic stage in social evolution as about on a par
with the earlier monkey stage. The human had to pass through those
stages in its rise from the mire and slime of low organic life. It was
inevitable that much of the mire and slime should cling and be not
easily shaken off.
*(2) The people of the abyss- this phrase was struck out by the
genius of H. G. Wells in the late nineteenth century A.D. Wells was
a sociological seer, sane and normal as well as warm human. Many
fragments of his work have come down to us, while two of his
greatest achievements, 'Anticipations' and 'Mankind in the Making,'
have come down intact. Before the oligarchs, and before Everhard,
Wells speculated upon the building of the wonder cities, though in his
writings they are referred to as 'pleasure cities.'
I sat in the gallery that day. We all knew that something terrible
was imminent. It was in the air, and its presence was made visible
by the armed soldiers drawn up in lines in the corridors, and by the
officers grouped in the entrances to the House itself. The Oligarchy
was about to strike. Ernest was speaking. He was describing the
sufferings of the unemployed, as if with the wild idea of in some
way touching their hearts and consciences; but the Republican and
Democratic members sneered and jeered at him, and there was uproar and
confusion. Ernest abruptly changed front.
'I know nothing that I may say can influence you,' he said. 'You
have no souls to be influenced. You are spineless, flaccid things. You
pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. There is no
Republican Party. There is no Democratic Party. There are no
Republicans nor Democrats in this House. You are lick-spittlers and
panderers, the creatures of the Plutocracy. You talk verbosely in
antiquated terminology of your love of liberty, and all the while
you wear the scarlet livery of the Iron Heel.'
Here the shouting and the cries of 'Order! order!' drowned his
voice, and he stood disdainfully till the din had somewhat subsided.
He waved his hand to include all of them, turned to his own
comrades, and said:
'Listen to the bellowing of the well-fed beasts.'
Pandemonium broke out again. The Speaker rapped for order and
glanced expectantly at the officers in the doorways. There were
cries of 'Sedition!' and a great, rotund New York member began
shouting 'Anarchist!' at Ernest. And Ernest was not pleasant to look
at. Every fighting fibre of him was quivering, and his face was the
face of a fighting animal, withal he was cool and collected.
'Remember,' he said, in a voice that made itself heard above the
din, 'that as you show mercy now to the proletariat, some day will
that same proletariat show mercy to you.'
The cries of 'Sedition!' and 'Anarchist!' redoubled.
'I know that you will not vote for this bill' Ernest went on. 'You
have received the command from your masters to vote against it. And
yet you call me anarchist. You, who have destroyed the government of
the people, and who shamelessly flaunt your scarlet shame in public
places, call me anarchist. I do not believe in hell-fire and
brimstone; but in moments like this I regret my unbelief. Nay, in
moments like this I almost do believe. Surely there must be a hell,
for in no less place could it be possible for you to receive
punishment adequate to your crimes. So long as you exist, there is a
vital need for hell-fire in the Cosmos.'
There was movement in the doorways. Ernest, the Speaker, all the
members turned to see.
'Why do you not call your soldiers in, Mr. Speaker, and bid them
do their work?' Ernest demanded. 'They should carry out your plan with
'There are other plans afoot,' was the retort. 'That is why the
soldiers are present.'
'Our plans, I suppose,' Ernest sneered. 'Assassination or
But at the word 'assassination' the uproar broke out again. Ernest
could not make himself heard, but he remained on his feet waiting
for a lull. And then it happened. From my place in the gallery I saw
nothing except the flash of the explosion. The roar of it filled my
ears and I saw Ernest reeling and falling in a swirl of smoke, and the
soldiers rushing up all the aisles. His comrades were on their feet,
wild with anger, capable of any violence. But Ernest steadied
himself for a moment, and waved his arms for silence.
'It is a plot!' his voice rang out in warning to his comrades. 'Do
nothing, or you will be destroyed.'
Then he slowly sank down, and the soldiers reached him. The next
moment soldiers were clearing the galleries and I saw no more.
Though he was my husband, I was not permitted to get to him. When
I announced who I was, I was promptly placed under arrest. And at
the same time were arrested all socialist Congressmen in Washington,
including the unfortunate Simpson, who lay ill with typhoid fever in
The trial was prompt and brief. The men were foredoomed. The
wonder was that Ernest was not executed. This was a blunder on the
part of the Oligarchy, and a costly one. But the Oligarchy was too
confident in those days. It was drunk with success, and little did
it dream that that small handful of heroes had within them the power
to rock it to its foundations. To-morrow, when the Great Revolt breaks
out and all the world resounds with the tramp, tramp of the
millions, the Oligarchy, will realize, and too late, how mightily that
band of heroes has grown.*
* Avis Everhard took for granted that her narrative would be read in
her own day, and so omits to mention the outcome of the trial for high
treason. Many other similar disconcerting omissions will be noticed in
the Manuscript. Fifty-two socialist Congressmen were tried, and all
were found guilty. Strange to relate, not one received the death
sentence. Everhard and eleven others, among whom were Theodore
Donnelson and Matthew Kent, received life imprisonment. The
remaining forty received sentences varying from thirty to forty-five
years; while Arthur Simpson, referred to in the Manuscript as being
ill of typhoid fever at the time of the explosion, received only
fifteen years. It is the tradition that he died of starvation in
solitary confinement, and this harsh treatment is explained as
having been caused by his uncompromising stubbornness and his fiery
and tactless hatred for all men that served the despotism. He died
in Cabanas in Cuba, where three of his comrades were also confined.
The fifty-two socialist Congressmen were confined in military
fortresses scattered all over the United States. Thus, Du Bois and
Woods were held in Porto Rico, while Everhard and Merryweather were
placed in Alcatraz, an island in San Francisco Bay that had already
seen long service as a military prison.
As a revolutionist myself, as one on the inside who knew the hopes
and fears and secret plans of the revolutionists, I am fitted to
answer, as very few are, the charge that they were guilty of exploding
the bomb in Congress. And I can say flatly, without qualification or
doubt of any sort, that the socialists, in Congress and out, had no
hand in the affair. Who threw the bomb we do not know, but the one
thing we are absolutely sure of is that we did not throw it.
On the other hand, there is evidence to show that the Iron Heel
was responsible for the act. Of course, we cannot prove this. Our
conclusion is merely presumptive. But here are such facts as we do
know. It had been reported to the Speaker of the House, by
secret-service agents of the government, that the Socialist
Congressmen were about to resort to terroristic tactics, and that they
had decided upon the day when their tactics would go into effect. This
day was the very day of the explosion. Wherefore the Capitol had
been packed with troops in anticipation. Since we knew nothing about
the bomb, and since a bomb actually was exploded, and since the
authorities had prepared in advance for the explosion, it is only fair
to conclude that the Iron Heel did know. Furthermore, we charge that
the Iron Heel was guilty of the outrage, and that the Iron Heel
planned and perpetrated the outrage for the purpose of foisting the
guilt on our shoulders and so bringing about our destruction.
From the Speaker the warning leaked out to all the creatures in
the House that wore the scarlet livery. They knew, while Ernest was
speaking, that some violent act was to be committed. And to do them
justice, they honestly believed that the act was to be committed by
the socialists. At the trial, and still with honest belief, several
testified to having seen Ernest prepare to throw the bomb, and that it
exploded prematurely. Of course they saw nothing of the sort. In the
fevered imagination of fear they thought they saw, that was all.
As Ernest said at the trial: 'Does it stand to reason, if I were
going to throw a bomb, that I should elect to throw a feeble little
squib like the one that was thrown? There wasn't enough powder in
it. It made a lot of smoke, but hurt no one except me. It exploded
right at my feet, and yet it did not kill me. Believe me, when I get
to throwing bombs, I'll do damage. There'll be more than smoke in my
In return it was argued by the prosecution that the weakness of
the bomb was a blunder on the part of the socialists, just as its
premature explosion, caused by Ernest's losing his nerve and
dropping it, was a blunder. And to clinch the argument, there were the
several Congressmen who testified to having seen Ernest fumble and
drop the bomb.
As for ourselves, not one of us knew how the bomb was thrown. Ernest
told me that the fraction of an instant before it exploded he both
heard and saw it strike at his feet. He testified to this at the
trial, but no one believed him. Besides, the whole thing, in popular
slang, was 'cooked up.' The Iron Heel had made up its mind to
destroy us, and there was no withstanding it.
There is a saying that truth will out. I have come to doubt that
saying. Nineteen years have elapsed, and despite our untiring efforts,
we have failed to find the man who really did throw the bomb.
Undoubtedly he was some emissary of the Iron Heel, but he has
escaped detection. We have never got the slightest clew to his
identity. And now, at this late date, nothing remains but for the
affair to take its place among the mysteries of history.*
* Avis Everhard would have had to live for many generations ere
she could have seen the clearing up of this particular mystery. A
little less than a hundred years ago, and a little more than six
hundred years after the death, the confession of Pervaise was
discovered in the secret archives of the Vatican. It is perhaps well
to tell a little something about this obscure document, which, in
the main, is of interest to the historian only.
Pervaise was an American, of French descent, who in 1913 A.D., was
lying in the Tombs Prison, New York City, awaiting trial for murder.
From his confession we learn that he was not a criminal. He was
warm-blooded, passionate, emotional. In an insane fit of jealousy he
killed his wife- a very common act in those times. Pervaise was
mastered by the fear of death, all of which is recounted at length
in his confession. To escape death he would have done anything, and
the police agents prepared him by assuring him that he could not
possibly escape conviction of murder in the first degree when his
trial came off. In those days, murder in the first degree was a
capital offense. The guilty man or woman was placed in a specially
constructed death-chair, and, under the supervision of competent
physicians, was destroyed by a current of electricity. This was called
electrocution, and it was very popular during that period.
Anaesthesia, as a mode of compulsory death, was not introduced until
This man, good at heart but with a ferocious animalism close at
the surface of his being, lying in jail and expectant of nothing
less than death, was prevailed upon by the agents of the Iron Heel
to throw the bomb in the House of Representatives. In his confession
he states explicitly that he was informed that the bomb was to be a
feeble thing and that no lives would be lost. This is directly in line
with the fact that the bomb was lightly charged, and that its
explosion at Everhard's feet was not deadly.
Pervaise was smuggled into one of the galleries ostensibly closed
for repairs. He was to select the moment for the throwing of the bomb,
and he naively confesses that in his interest in Everhard's tirade and
the general commotion raised thereby, he nearly forgot his mission.
Not only was he released from prison in reward for his deed, but
he was granted an income for life. This he did not long enjoy. In 1914
A.D., in September, he was stricken with rheumatism of the heart and
lived for three days. It was then that he sent for the Catholic
priest, Father Peter Durban, and to him made confession. So
important did it seem to the priest, that he had the confession
taken down in writing and sworn to. What happened after this we can
only surmise. The document was certainly important enough to find
its way to Rome. Powerful influences must have been brought to bear,
hence its suppression. For centuries no hint of its existence
reached the world. It was not until in the last century that Lorbia,
the brilliant Italian scholar, stumbled upon it quite by chance during
his researches in the Vatican.
There is to-day no doubt whatever that the Iron Heel was responsible
for the bomb that exploded in the House of Representatives in 1913
A.D. Even though the Pervaise confession had never come to light, no
reasonable doubt could obtain; for the act in question, that sent
fifty-two Congressmen to prison, was on a par with countless other
acts committed by the oligarchs, and, before them, by the capitalists.
There is the classic instance of the ferocious and wanton judicial
murder of the innocent and so-called Haymarket Anarchists in Chicago
in the penultimate decade of the nineteenth century A.D. In a category
by itself is the deliberate burning and destruction of capitalist
property by the capitalists themselves. For such destruction of
property innocent men were frequently punished- 'railroaded' in the
parlance of the times.
In the labor troubles of the first decade of the twentieth century
A.D., between the capitalists and the Western Federation of Miners,
similar but more bloody tactics were employed. The railroad station at
Independence was blown up by the agents of the capitalists. Thirteen
men were killed, and many more were wounded. And then the capitalists,
controlling the legislative and judicial machinery of the state of
Colorado, charged the miners with the crime and came very near to
convicting them. Romaines, one of the tools in this affair, like
Pervaise, was lying in jail in another state, Kansas, awaiting
trial, when he was approached by the agents of the capitalists. But,
unlike Pervaise the confession of Romaines was made public in his
Then, during this same period, there was the case of Moyer and
Haywood, two strong, fearless leaders of labor. One was president
and the other was secretary of the Western Federation of Miners. The
ex-governor of Idaho had been mysteriously murdered. The crime, at the
time, was openly charged to the mine owners by the socialists and
miners. Nevertheless, in violation of the national and state
constitutions, and by means of conspiracy on the parts of the
governors of Idaho and Colorado, Moyer and Haywood were kidnapped,
thrown into jail, and charged with the murder. It was this instance
that provoked from Eugene V. Debs, national leader of the American
socialists at the time, the following words: 'The labor leaders that
cannot be bribed nor bullied, must be ambushed and murdered. The
only crime of Moyer and Haywood is that they have been unswervingly
true to the working class. The capitalists have stolen our country,
debauched our politics, defiled our judiciary, and ridden over us
rough-shod, and now they propose to murder those who will not abjectly
surrender to their brutal dominion. The governors of Colorado and
Idaho are but executing the mandates of their masters, the Plutocracy.
The issue is the Workers versus the Plutocracy. If they strike the
first violent blow, we will strike the last.'
In the Shadow of Sonoma.
OF MYSELF, DURING THIS PERIOD, there is not much to say. For six
months I was kept in prison, though charged with no crime. I was a
suspect- a word of fear that all revolutionists were soon to come to
know. But our own nascent secret service was beginning to work. By the
end of my second month in prison, one of the jailers made himself
known as a revolutionist in touch with the organization. Several weeks
later, Joseph Parkhurst, the prison doctor who had just been
appointed, proved himself to be a member of one of the Fighting
Thus, throughout the organization of the Oligarchy, our own
organization, weblike and spidery, was insinuating itself. And so I
was kept in touch with all that was happening in the world without.
And furthermore, every one of our imprisoned leaders was in contact
with brave comrades who masqueraded in the livery of the Iron Heel.
Though Ernest lay in prison three thousand miles away, on the
Pacific Coast, I was in unbroken communication with him, and our
letters passed regularly back and forth.
The leaders, in prison and out, were able to discuss and direct
the campaign. It would have been possible, within a few months, to
have effected the escape of some of them; but since imprisonment
proved no bar to our activities, it was decided to avoid anything
premature. Fifty-two Congressmen were in prison, and fully three
hundred more of our leaders. It was planned that they should be
delivered simultaneously. If part of them escaped, the vigilance of
the oligarchs might be aroused so as to prevent the escape of the
remainder. On the other hand, it was held that a simultaneous
jail-delivery all over the land would have immense psychological
influence on the proletariat. It would show our strength and give
So it was arranged, when I was released at the end of six months,
that I was to disappear and prepare a secure hiding-place for
Ernest. To disappear was in itself no easy thing. No sooner did I
get my freedom than my footsteps began to be dogged by the spies of
the Iron Heel. It was necessary that they should be thrown off the
track, and that I should win to California. It is laughable, the way
this was accomplished.
Although the passport system, modelled on the Russian, was
developing. I dared not cross the continent in my own character. It
was necessary that I should be completely lost if ever I was to see
Ernest again, for by trailing me after he escaped, he would be
caught once more. Again, I could not disguise myself as a
proletarian and travel. There remained the disguise of a member of the
Oligarchy. While the arch-oligarchs were no more than a handful, there
were myriads of lesser ones of the type, say, of Mr. Wickson- men,
worth a few millions, who were adherents of the arch-oligarchs. The
wives and daughters of these lesser oligarchs were legion, and it
was decided that I should assume the disguise of such a one. A few
years later this would have been impossible, because the passport
system was to become so perfect that no man, woman, nor child in all
the land was unregistered and unaccounted for in his or her movements.
When the time was ripe, the spies were thrown off my track. An
hour later Avis Everhard was no more. At that time one Felice Van
Verdighan, accompanied by two maids and a lap-dog, with another maid
for the lap-dog,* entered a drawing-room on a Pullman,*(2) and a few
minutes later was speeding west.
* This ridiculous picture well illustrates the heartless conduct
of the masters. While people starved, lap-dogs were waited upon by
maids. This was a serious masquerade on the part of Avis Everhard.
Life and death and the Cause were in the issue; therefore the
picture must be accepted as a true picture. It affords a striking
commentary of the times.
*(2) Pullman- the designation of the more luxurious railway cars
of the period and so named from the inventor.
The three maids who accompanied me were revolutionists. Two were
members of the Fighting Groups, and the third, Grace Holbrook, entered
a group the following year, and six months later was executed by the
Iron Heel. She it was who waited upon the dog. Of the other two,
Bertha Stole disappeared twelve years later, while Anna Roylston still
lives and plays an increasingly important part in the Revolution.*
* Despite continual and almost inconceivable hazards, Anna
Roylston lived to the royal age of ninety-one. As the Pococks defied
the executioners of the Fighting Groups, so she defied the
executioners of the Iron Heel. She bore a charmed life and prospered
amid dangers and alarms. She herself was an executioner for the
Fighting Groups, and, known as the Red Virgin, she became one of the
inspired figures of the Revolution. When she was an old woman of
sixty-nine she shot 'Bloody' Halcliffe down in the midst of his
armed escort and got away unscathed. In the end she died peaceably
of old age in a secret refuge of the revolutionists in the Ozark
Without adventure we crossed the United States to California. When
the train stopped at Sixteenth Street Station, in Oakland, we
alighted, and there Felice Van Verdighan, with her two maids, her
lap-dog, and her lap-dog's maid, disappeared forever. The maids,
guided by trusty comrades, were led away. Other comrades took charge
of me. Within half an hour after leaving the train I was on board a
small fishing boat and out on the waters of San Francisco Bay. The
winds baffled, and we drifted aimlessly the greater part of the night.
But I saw the lights of Alcatraz where Ernest lay, and found comfort
in the thought of nearness to him. By dawn, what with the rowing of
the fishermen, we made the Marin Islands. Here we lay in hiding all
day, and on the following night, swept on by a flood tide and a
fresh wind, we crossed San Pablo Bay in two hours and ran up
Here horses were ready and another comrade, and without delay we
were away through the starlight. To the north I could see the loom
of Sonoma Mountain, toward which we rode. We left the old town of
Sonoma to the right and rode up a canyon that lay between outlying
buttresses of the mountain. The wagon-road became a wood-road, the
wood-road became a cow-path, and the cow-path dwindled away and ceased
among the upland pastures. Straight over Sonoma Mountain we rode. It
was the safest route. There was no one to mark our passing.
Dawn caught us on the northern brow, and in the gray light we
dropped down through chaparral into redwood canyons deep and warm with
the breath of passing summer. It was old country to me that I knew and
loved, and soon I became the guide. The hiding-place was mine. I had
selected it. We let down the bars and crossed an upland meadow.
Next, we went over a low, oak-covered ridge and descended into a
smaller meadow. Again we climbed a ridge, this time riding under
red-limbed madronos and manzanitas of deeper red. The first rays of
the sun streamed upon our backs as we climbed. A flight of quail
thrummed off through the thickets. A big jackrabbit crossed our
path, leaping swiftly and silently like a deer. And then a deer, a
many-pronged buck, the sun flashing red-gold from neck and
shoulders, cleared the crest of the ridge before us and was gone.
We followed in his wake a space, then dropped down a zigzag trail
that he disdained into a group of noble redwoods that stood about a
pool of water murky with minerals from the mountain side. I knew every
inch of the way. Once a writer friend of mine had owned the ranch; but
he, too, had become a revolutionist, though more disastrously than
I, for he was already dead and gone, and none knew where nor how. He
alone, in the days he had lived, knew the secret of the hiding-place
for which I was bound. He had bought the ranch for beauty, and paid
a round price for it, much to the disgust of the local farmers. He
used to tell with great glee how they were wont to shake their heads
mournfully at the price, to accomplish ponderously a bit of mental
arithmetic, and then to say, 'But you can't make six per cent on it.'
But he was dead now, nor did the ranch descend to his children. Of
all men, it was now the property of Mr. Wickson, who owned the whole
eastern and northern slopes of Sonoma Mountain, running from the
Spreckels estate to the divide of Bennett Valley. Out of it he had
made a magnificent deerpark, where, over thousands of acres of sweet
slopes and glades and canyons, the deer ran almost in primitive
wildness. The people who had owned the soil had been driven away. A
state home for the feeble-minded had also been demolished to make room
for the deer.
To cap it all, Wickson's hunting lodge was a quarter of a mile
from my hiding-place. This, instead of being a danger, was an added
security. We were sheltered under the very aegis of one of the minor
oligarchs. Suspicion, by the nature of the situation, was turned
aside. The last place in the world the spies of the Iron Heel would
dream of looking for me, and for Ernest when he joined me, was
We tied our horses among the redwoods at the pool. From a cache
behind a hollow rotting log my companion brought out a variety of
things,- a fifty-pound sack of flour, tinned foods of all sorts,
cooking utensils, blankets, a canvas tarpaulin, books and writing
material, a great bundle of letters, a five-gallon can of kerosene, an
oil stove, and, last and most important, a large coil of stout rope.
So large was the supply of things that a number of trips would be
necessary to carry them to the refuge.
But the refuge was very near. Taking the rope and leading the way, I
passed through a glade of tangled vines and bushes that ran between
two wooded knolls. The glade ended abruptly at the steep bank of a
stream. It was a little stream, rising from springs, and the hottest
summer never dried it up. On every hand were tall wooded knolls, a
group of them, with all the seeming of having been flung there from
some careless Titan's hand. There was no bed-rock in them. They rose
from their bases hundreds of feet, and they were composed of red
volcanic earth, the famous wine-soil of Sonoma. Through these the tiny
stream had cut its deep and precipitous channel.
It was quite a scramble down to the stream bed, and, once on the
bed, we went down stream perhaps for a hundred feet. And then we
came to the great hole. There was no warning of the existence of the
hole, nor was it a hole in the common sense of the word. One crawled
through tight-locked briers and branches, and found oneself on the
very edge, peering out and down through a green screen. A couple of
hundred feet in length and width, it was half of that in depth.
Possibly because of some fault that had occurred when the knolls
were flung together, and certainly helped by freakish erosion, the
hole had been scooped out in the course of centuries by the wash of
water. Nowhere did the raw earth appear. All was garmented by
vegetation, from tiny maiden-hair and gold-back ferns to mighty
redwood and Douglas spruces. These great trees even sprang out from
the walls of the hole. Some leaned over at angles as great as
forty-five degrees, though the majority towered straight up from the
soft and almost perpendicular earth walls.
It was a perfect hiding-place. No one ever came there, not even
the village boys of Glen Ellen. Had this hole existed in the bed of
a canyon a mile long, or several miles long, it would have been well
known. But this was no canyon. From beginning to end the length of the
stream was no more than five hundred yards. Three hundred yards
above the hole the stream took its rise in a spring at the foot of a
flat meadow. A hundred yards below the hole the stream ran out into
open country, joining the main stream and flowing across rolling and
My companion took a turn of the rope around a tree, and with me fast
on the other end lowered away. In no time I was on the bottom. And
in but a short while he had carried all the articles from the cache
and lowered them down to me. He hauled the rope up and hid it, and
before he went away called down to me a cheerful parting.
Before I go on I want to say a word for this comrade, John
Carlson, a humble figure of the Revolution, one of the countless
faithful ones in the ranks. He worked for Wickson, in the stables near
the hunting lodge. In fact, it was on Wickson's horses that we had
ridden over Sonoma Mountain. For nearly twenty years now John
Carlson has been custodian of the refuge. No thought of disloyalty,
I am sure, has ever entered his mind during all that time. To betray
his trust would have been in his mind a thing undreamed. He was
phlegmatic, stolid to such a degree that one could not but wonder
how the Revolution had any meaning to him at all. And yet love of
freedom glowed sombrely and steadily in his dim soul. In ways it was
indeed good that he was not flighty and imaginative. He never lost his
head. He could obey orders, and he was neither curious nor
garrulous. Once I asked how it was that he was a revolutionist.
'When I was a young man I was a soldier,' was his answer. 'It was in
Germany. There all young men must be in the army. So I was in the
army. There was another soldier there, a young man, too. His father
was what you call an agitator, and his father was in jail for lese
majesty- what you call speaking the truth about the Emperor. And the
young man, the son, talked with me much about people, and work, and
the robbery of the people by the capitalists. He made me see things in
new ways, and I became a socialist. His talk was very true and good,
and I have never forgotten. When I came to the United States I
hunted up the socialists. I became a member of a section- that was
in the day of the S.L.P. Then later, when the split came, I joined the
local of the S.P. I was working in a livery stable in San Francisco
then. That was before the Earthquake. I have paid my dues for
twenty-two years. I am yet a member, and I yet pay my dues, though
it is very secret now. I will always pay my dues, and when the
cooperative commonwealth comes, I will be glad.'
Left to myself, I proceeded to cook breakfast on the oil stove and
to prepare my home. Often, in the early morning, or in the evening
after dark, Carlson would steal down to the refuge and work for a
couple of hours. At first my home was the tarpaulin. Later, a small
tent was put up. And still later, when we became assured of the
perfect security of the place, a small house was erected. This house
was completely hidden from any chance eye that might peer down from
the edge of the hole. The lush vegetation of that sheltered spot
make a natural shield. Also, the house was built against the
perpendicular wall; and in the wall itself, shored by strong
timbers, well drained and ventilated, we excavated two small rooms.
Oh, believe me, we had many comforts. When Biedenbach, the German
terrorist, hid with us some time later, he installed a smoke-consuming
device that enabled us to sit by crackling wood fires on winter
And here I must say a word for that gentle-souled terrorist, than
whom there is no comrade in the Revolution more fearfully
misunderstood. Comrade Biedenbach did not betray the Cause. Nor was he
executed by the comrades as is commonly supposed. This canard was
circulated by the creatures of the Oligarchy. Comrade Biedenbach was
absent-minded, forgetful. He was shot by one of our lookouts at the
cave-refuge at Carmel, through failure on his part to remember the
secret signals. It was all a sad mistake. And that he betrayed his
Fighting Group is an absolute lie. No truer, more loyal man ever
labored for the Cause.*
* Search as we may through all the material of those times that
has come down to us, we can find no clew to the Biedenbach here
referred to. No mention is made of him anywhere save in the Everhard
For nineteen years now the refuge that I selected had been almost
continuously occupied, and in all that time, with one exception, it
has never been discovered by an outsider. And yet it was only a
quarter of a mile from Wickson's hunting-lodge, and a short mile
from the village of Glen Ellen. I was able, always, to hear the
morning and evening trains arrive and depart, and I used to set my
watch by the whistle at the brickyards.*
* If the curious traveller will turn south from Glen Ellen, he
will find himself on a boulevard that is identical with the old
country road seven centuries ago. A quarter of a mile from Glen Ellen,
after the second bridge is passed, to the right will be noticed a
barranca that runs like a scar across the rolling land toward a
group of wooded knolls. The barranca is the site of the ancient
right of way that in the time of private property in land ran across
the holding of one Chauvet, a French pioneer of California who came
from his native country in the fabled days of gold. The wooded
knolls are the same knolls referred to by Avis Everhard.
The Great Earthquake of 2368 A.D. broke off the side of one of these
knolls and toppled it into the hole where the Everhards made their
refuge. Since the finding of the Manuscript excavations have been
made, and the house, the two cave rooms, and all the accumulated
rubbish of long occupancy have been brought to light. Many valuable
relics have been found, among which, curious to relate, is the
smoke-consuming device of Biedenbach's mentioned in the narrative.
Students interested in such matters should read the brochure of Arnold
Bentham soon to be published.
A mile northwest from the wooded knolls brings one to the site of
Wake Robin Lodge at the junction of Wild-Water and Sonoma Creeks. It
may be noticed, in passing, that Wild-Water was originally called
Graham Creek and was so named on the early local maps. But the later
name sticks. It was at Wake Robin Lodge that Avis Everhard later lived
for short periods, when, disguised as an agent-provocateur of the Iron
Heel, she was enabled to play with impunity her part among men and
events. The official permission to occupy Wake Robin Lodge is still on
the records, signed by no less a man than Wickson, the minor
oligarch of the Manuscript.
'YOU MUST MAKE YOURSELF over again,' Ernest wrote to me. 'You must
cease to be. You must become another woman- and not merely in the
clothes you wear, but inside your skin under the clothes. You must
make yourself over again so that even I would not know you- your
voice, your gestures, your mannerisms, your carriage, your walk,
This command I obeyed. Every day I practised for hours in burying
forever the old Avis Everhard beneath the skin of another woman whom I
may call my other self. It was only by long practice that such results
could be obtained. In the mere detail of voice intonation I
practised almost perpetually till the voice of my new self became
fixed, automatic. It was this automatic assumption of a role that
was considered imperative. One must become so adept as to deceive
oneself. It was like learning a new language, say the French. At first
speech in French is self-conscious, a matter of the will. The
student thinks in English and then transmutes into French, or reads in
French but transmutes into English before he can understand. Then
later, becoming firmly grounded, automatic, the student reads, writes,
and thinks in French, without any recourse to English at all.
And so with our disguises. It was necessary for us to practise until
our assumed roles became real; until to be our original selves would
require a watchful and strong exercise of will. Of course, at first,
much was mere blundering experiment. We were creating a new art, and
we had much to discover. But the work was going on everywhere; masters
in the art were developing, and a fund of tricks and expedients was
being accumulated. This fund became a sort of text-book that was
passed on, a part of the curriculum, as it were, of the school of
* Disguise did become a veritable art during that period. The
revolutionists maintained schools of acting in all their refuges. They
scorned accessories, such as wigs and beards, false eyebrows, and such
aids of the theatrical actors. The game of revolution was a game of
life and death, and mere accessories were traps. Disguise had to be
fundamental, intrinsic, part and parcel of one's being, second nature.
The Red Virgin is reported to have been one of the most adept in the
art, to which must be ascribed her long and successful career.
It was at this time that my father disappeared. His letters, which
had come to me regularly, ceased. He no longer appeared at our Pell
Street quarters. Our comrades sought him everywhere. Through our
secret service we ransacked every prison in the land. But he was
lost as completely as if the earth had swallowed him up, and to this
day no clew to his end has been discovered.*
* Disappearance was one of the horrors of the time. As a motif, in
song and story, it constantly crops up. It was an inevitable
concomitant of the subterranean warfare that raged through those three
centuries. This phenomenon was almost as common in the oligarch
class and the labor castes, as it was in the ranks of the
revolutionists. Without warning, without trace, men and women, and
even children, disappeared and were seen no more, their end shrouded
Six lonely months I spent in the refuge, but they were not idle
months. Our organization went on apace, and there were mountains of
work always waiting to be done. Ernest and his fellow-leaders, from
their prisons, decided what should be done; and it remained for us
on the outside to do it. There was the organization of the
mouth-to-mouth propaganda; the organization, with all its
ramifications, of our spy system; the establishment of our secret
printing-presses; and the establishment of our underground railways,
which meant the knitting together of all our myriads of places of
refuge, and the formation of new refuges where links were missing in
the chains we ran over all the land.
So I say, the work was never done. At the end of six months my
loneliness was broken by the arrival of two comrades. They were
young girls, brave souls and passionate lovers of liberty: Lora
Peterson, who disappeared in 1922, and Kate Bierce, who later
married Du Bois,* and who is still with us with eyes lifted to
to-morrow's sun, that heralds in the new age.
* Du Bois, the present librarian of Ardis, is a lineal descendant of
this revolutionary pair.
The two girls arrived in a flurry of excitement, danger, and
sudden death. In the crew of the fishing boat that conveyed them
across San Pablo Bay was a spy. A creature of the Iron Heel, he had
successfully masqueraded as a revolutionist and penetrated deep into
the secrets of our organization. Without doubt he was on my trail, for
we had long since learned that my disappearance had been cause of deep
concern to the secret service of the Oligarchy. Luckily, as the
outcome proved, he had not divulged his discoveries to any one. He had
evidently delayed reporting, preferring to wait until he had brought
things to a successful conclusion by discovering my hiding-place and
capturing me. His information died with him. Under some pretext, after
the girls had landed at Petaluma Creek and taken to the horses, he
managed to get away from the boat.
Part way up Sonoma Mountain, John Carlson let the girls go on,
leading his horse, while he went back on foot. His suspicions had been
aroused. He captured the spy, and as to what then happened, Carlson
gave us a fair idea.
'I fixed him,' was Carlson's unimaginative way of describing the
affair. 'I fixed him,' he repeated, while a sombre light burnt in
his eyes, and his huge, toil-distorted hands opened and closed
eloquently. 'He made no noise. I hid him, and tonight I will go back
and bury him deep.'
During that period I used to marvel at my own metamorphosis. At
times it seemed impossible, either that I had ever lived a placid,
peaceful life in a college town, or else that I had become a
revolutionist inured to scenes of violence and death. One or the other
could not be. One was real, the other was a dream, but which was
which? Was this present life of a revolutionist, hiding in a hole, a
nightmare? or was I a revolutionist who had somewhere, somehow,
dreamed that in some former existence I have lived in Berkeley and
never known of life more violent than teas and dances, debating
societies, and lectures rooms? But then I suppose this was a common
experience of all of us who had rallied under the red banner of the
brotherhood of man.
I often remembered figures from that other life, and, curiously
enough, they appeared and disappeared, now and again, in my new
life. There was Bishop Morehouse. In vain we searched for him after
our organization had developed. He had been transferred from asylum to
asylum. We traced him from the state hospital for the insane at Napa
to the one in Stockton, and from there to the one in the Santa Clara
Valley called Agnews, and there the trail ceased. There was no
record of his death. In some way he must have escaped. Little did I
dream of the awful manner in which I was to see him once again- the
fleeting glimpse of him in the whirlwind carnage of the Chicago
Jackson, who had lost his arm in the Sierra Mills and who had been
the cause of my own conversion into a revolutionist, I never saw
again; but we all knew what he did before he died. He never joined the
revolutionists. Embittered by his fate, brooding over his wrongs, he
became an anarchist- not a philosophic anarchist, but a mere animal,
mad with hate and lust for revenge. And well he revenged himself.
Evading the guards, in the nighttime while all were asleep, he blew
the Pertonwaithe palace into atoms. Not a soul escaped, not even the
guards. And in prison, while awaiting trial, he suffocated himself
under his blankets.
Dr. Hammerfield and Dr. Ballingford achieved quite different fates
from that of Jackson. They have been faithful to their salt, and
they have been correspondingly rewarded with ecclesiastical palaces
wherein they dwell at peace with the world. Both are apologists for
the Oligarchy. Both have grown very fat. 'Dr. Hammerfield,' as
Ernest once said, 'has succeeded in modifying his metaphysics so as to
give God's sanction to the Iron Heel, and also to include much worship
of beauty and to reduce to an invisible wraith the gaseous
vertebrate described by Haeckel- the difference between Dr.
Hammerfield and Dr. Ballingford being that the latter has made the God
of the oligarchs a little more gaseous and a little less vertebrate.'
Peter Donnelly, the scab foreman at the Sierra Mills whom I
encountered while investigating the case of Jackson, was a surprise to
all of us. In 1918 I was present at a meeting of the 'Frisco Reds.
Of all our Fighting Groups this one was the most formidable,
ferocious, and merciless. It was really not a part of our
organization. Its members were fanatics, madmen. We dared not
encourage such a spirit. On the other hand, though they did not belong
to us, we remained on friendly terms with them. It was a matter of
vital importance that brought me there that night. I, alone in the
midst of a score of men, was the only person unmasked. After the
business that brought me there was transacted, I was led away by one
of them. In a dark passage this guide struck a match, and, holding
it close to his face, slipped back his mask. For a moment I gazed upon
the passion-wrought features of Peter Donnelly. Then the match went
'I just wanted you to know it was me,' he said in the darkness.
'D'you remember Dallas, the superintendent?'
I nodded at recollection of the vulpine-face superintendent of the
'Well, I got him first,' Donnelly said with pride. ''Twas after that
I joined the Reds.'
'But how comes it that you are here?' I queried. 'Your wife and
'Dead,' he answered. 'That's why. No,' he went on hastily, ''tis not
revenge for them. They died easily in their beds- sickness, you see,
one time and another. They tied my arms while they lived. And now that
they're gone, 'tis revenge for my blasted manhood I'm after. I was
once Peter Donnelly, the scab foreman. But to-night I'm Number 27 of
the 'Frisco Reds. Come on now, and I'll get you out of this.'
More I heard of him afterward. In his own way he had told the
truth when he said all were dead. But one lived, Timothy, and him
his father considered dead because he had taken service with the
Iron Heel in the Mercenaries.* A member of the 'Frisco Reds pledged
himself to twelve annual executions. The penalty for failure was
death. A member who failed to complete his number committed suicide.
These executions were not haphazard. This group of madmen met
frequently and passed wholesale judgments upon offending members and
servitors of the Oligarchy. The executions were afterward
apportioned by lot.
* In addition to the labor castes, there arose another caste, the
military. A standing army of professional soldiers was created,
officered by members of the Oligarchy and known as the Mercenaries.
This institution took the place of the militia, which had proved
impracticable under the new regime. Outside the regular secret service
of the Iron Heel, there was further established a secret service of
the Mercenaries, this latter forming a connecting link between the
police and the military.
In fact, the business that brought me there the night of my visit
was such a trial. One of our own comrades, who for years had
successfully maintained himself in a clerical position in the local
bureau of the secret service of the Iron Heel, had fallen under the
ban of the 'Frisco Reds and was being tried. Of course he was not
present, and of course his judges did not know that he was one of
our men. My mission had been to testify to his identity and loyalty.
It may be wondered how we came to know of the affair at all. The
explanation is simple. One of our secret agents was a member of the
'Frisco Reds. It was necessary for us to keep an eye on friend as well
as foe, and this group of madmen was not too unimportant to escape our
But to return to Peter Donnelly and his son. All went well with
Donnelly until, in the following year, he found among the sheaf of
executions that fell to him the name of Timothy Donnelly. Then it
was that that clannishness, which was his to so extraordinary a
degree, asserted itself. To save his son, he betrayed his comrades. In
this he was partially blocked, but a dozen of the 'Frisco Reds were
executed, and the group was well-nigh destroyed. In retaliation, the
survivors meted out to Donnelly the death he had earned by his
Nor did Timothy Donnelly long survive. The 'Frisco Reds pledged
themselves to his execution. Every effort was made by the Oligarchy to
save him. He was transferred from one part of the country to
another. Three of the Reds lost their lives in vain efforts to get
him. The Group was composed only of men. In the end they fell back
on a woman, one of our comrades, and none other than Anna Roylston.
Our Inner Circle forbade her, but she had ever a will of her own and
disdained discipline. Furthermore, she was a genius and lovable, and
we could never discipline her anyway. She is in a class by herself and
not amenable to the ordinary standards of the revolutionists.
Despite our refusal to grant permission to do the deed, she went
on with it. Now Anna Roylston was a fascinating woman. All she had
to do was to beckon a man to her. She broke the hearts of scores of
our young comrades, and scores of others she captured, and by their
heart-strings led into our organization. Yet she steadfastly refused
to marry. She dearly loved children, but she held that a child of
her own would claim her from the Cause, and that it was the Cause to
which her life was devoted.
It was an easy task for Anna Roylston to win Timothy Donnelly. Her
conscience did not trouble her, for at that very time occurred the
Nashville Massacre, when the Mercenaries, Donnelly in command,
literally murdered eight hundred weavers of that city. But she did not
kill Donnelly. She turned him over, a prisoner, to the 'Frisco Reds.
This happened only last year, and now she had been renamed. The
revolutionists everywhere are calling her the 'Red Virgin.'*
* It was not until the Second Revolt was crushed, that the 'Frisco
Reds flourished again. And for two generations the Group flourished.
Then an agent of the Iron Heel managed to become a member,
penetrated all its secrets, and brought about its total
annihilation. This occurred in 2002 A.D. The members were executed one
at a time, at intervals of three weeks, and their bodies exposed in
the labor-ghetto of San Francisco.
Colonel Ingram and Colonel Van Gilbert are two more familiar figures
that I was later to encounter. Colonel Ingram rose high in the
Oligarchy and became Minister to Germany. He was cordially detested by
the proletariat of both countries. It was in Berlin that I met him,
where, as an accredited international spy of the Iron Heel, I was
received by him and afforded much assistance. Incidentally, I may
state that in my dual role I managed a few important things for the
Colonel Van Gilbert became known as 'Snarling' Van Gilbert. His
important part was played in drafting the new code after the Chicago
Commune. But before that, as trial judge, he had earned sentence of
death by his fiendish malignancy. I was one of those that tried him
and passed sentence upon him. Anna Roylston carried out the execution.
Still another figure arises out of the old life- Jackson's lawyer.
Least of all would I have expected again to meet this man, Joseph
Hurd. It was a strange meeting. Late at night, two years after the
Chicago Commune, Ernest and I arrived together at the Benton Harbor
refuge. This was in Michigan, across the lake from Chicago. We arrived
just at the conclusion of the trial of a spy. Sentence of death had
been passed, and he was being led away. Such was the scene as we
came upon it. The next moment the wretched man had wrenched free
from his captors and flung himself at my feet, his arms clutching me
about the knees in a vicelike grip as he prayed in a frenzy for mercy.
As he turned his agonized face up to me, I recognized him as Joseph
Hurd. Of all the terrible things I have witnessed, never have I been
so unnerved as by this frantic creature's pleading for life. He was
mad for life. It was pitiable. He refused to let go of me, despite the
hands of a dozen comrades. And when at last he was dragged shrieking
away, I sank down fainting upon the floor. It is far easier to see
brave men die than to hear a coward beg for life.*
* The Benton Harbor refuge was a catacomb, the entrance of which was
cunningly contrived by way of a well. It has been maintained in a fair
state of preservation, and the curious visitor may to-day tread its
labyrinths to the assembly hall, where, without doubt, occurred the
scene described by Avis Everhard. Farther on are the cells where the
prisoners were confined, and the death chamber where the executions
took place. Beyond is the cemetery- long, winding galleries hewn out
of the solid rock, with recesses on either hand, wherein, tier above
tier, lie the revolutionists just as they were laid away by their
comrades long years agone.
A Lost Oligarch.
BUT IN REMEMBERING THE old life I have run ahead of my story into
the new life. The wholesale jail delivery did not occur until well
along into 1915. Complicated as it was, it was carried through without
a hitch, and as a very creditable achievement it cheered us on in
our work. From Cuba to California, out of scores of jails, military
prisons, and fortresses, in a single night, we delivered fifty-one
of our fifty-two Congressmen, and in addition over three hundred other
leaders. There was not a single instance of miscarriage. Not only
did they escape, but every one of them won to the refuges as
planned. The one comrade Congressman we did not get was Arthur
Simpson, and he had already died in Cabanas after cruel tortures.
The eighteen months that followed was perhaps the happiest of my
life with Ernest. During that time we were never apart. Later, when we
went back into the world, we were separated much. Not more impatiently
do I await the flame of to-morrow's revolt than did I that night await
the coming of Ernest. I had not seen him for so long, and the
thought of a possible hitch or error in our plans that would keep
him still in his island prison almost drove me mad. The hours passed
like ages. I was all alone. Biedenbach, and three young men who had
been living in the refuge, were out and over the mountain, heavily
armed and prepared for anything. The refuges all over the land were
quite empty, I imagine, of comrades that night.
Just as the sky paled with the first warning of dawn, I heard the
signal from above and gave the answer. In the darkness I almost
embraced Biedenbach, who came down first; but the next moment I was in
Ernest's arms. And in that moment, so complete had been my
transformation, I discovered it was only by an effort of will that I
could be the old Avis Everhard, with the old mannerisms and smiles,
phrases and intonations of voice. It was by strong effort only that
I was able to maintain my old identity; I could not allow myself to
forget for an instant, so automatically imperative had become the
new personality I had created.
Once inside the little cabin, I saw Ernest's face in the light. With
the exception of the prison pallor, there was no change in him- at
least, not much. He was my same lover- husband and hero. And yet there
was a certain ascetic lengthening of the lines of his face. But he
could well stand it, for it seemed to add a certain nobility of
refinement to the riotous excess of life that had always marked his
features. He might have been a trifle graver than of yore, but the
glint of laughter still was in his eyes. He was twenty pounds lighter,
but in splendid physical condition. He had kept up exercise during the
whole period of confinement, and his muscles were like iron. In truth,
he was in better condition than when he had entered prison. Hours
passed before his head touched pillow and I had soothed him off to
sleep. But there was no sleep for me. I was too happy, and the fatigue
of jail-breaking and riding horseback had not been mine.
While Ernest slept, I changed my dress, arranged my hair
differently, and came back to my new automatic self. Then, when
Biedenbach and the other comrades awoke, with their aid I concocted
a little conspiracy. All was ready, and we were in the cave-room
that served for kitchen and dining room when Ernest opened the door
and entered. At that moment Biedenbach addressed me as Mary, and I
turned and answered him. Then I glanced at Ernest with curious
interest, such as any young comrade might betray on seeing for the
first time so noted a hero of the Revolution. But Ernest's glance took
me in and questioned impatiently past and around the room. The next
moment I was being introduced to him as Mary Holmes.
To complete the deception, an extra plate was laid, and when we
sat down to table one chair was not occupied. I could have cried
with joy as I noted Ernest's increasing uneasiness and impatience.
Finally he could stand it no longer.
'Where's my wife?' he demanded bluntly.
'She is still asleep,' I answered.
It was the crucial moment. But my voice was a strange voice, and
in it he recognized nothing familiar. The meal went on. I talked a
great deal, and enthusiastically, as a hero-worshipper might talk, and
it was obvious that he was my hero. I rose to a climax of enthusiasm
and worship, and, before he could guess my intention, threw my arms
around his neck and kissed him on the lips. He held me from him at
arm's length and stared about in annoyance and perplexity. The four
men greeted him with roars of laughter, and explanations were made. At
first he was sceptical. He scrutinized me keenly and was half
convinced, then shook his head and would not believe. It was not until
I became the old Avis Everhard and whispered secrets in his ear that
none knew but he and Avis Everhard, that he accepted me as his really,
It was later in the day that he took me in his arms, manifesting
great embarrassment and claiming polygamous emotions.
'You are my Avis,' he said, and you are also some one else. You
are two women, and therefore you are my harem. At any rate, we are
safe now. If the United States becomes too hot for us, why I have
qualified for citizenship in Turkey.'*
* At that time polygamy was still practised in Turkey.
Life became for me very happy in the refuge. It is true, we worked
hard and for long hours; but we worked together. We had each other for
eighteen precious months, and we were not lonely, for there was always
a coming and going of leaders and comrades- strange voices from the
under-world of intrigue and revolution, bringing stranger tales of
strife and war from all our battle-line. And there was much fun and
delight. We were not mere gloomy conspirators. We toiled hard and
suffered greatly, filled the gaps in our ranks and went on, and
through all the labour and the play and interplay of life and death we
found time to laugh and love. There were artists, scientists,
scholars, musicians, and poets among us; and in that hole in the
ground culture was higher and finer than in the palaces of
wonder-cities of the oligarchs. In truth, many of our comrades
toiled at making beautiful those same palaces and wonder-cities.*
* This is not braggadocio on the part of Avis Everhard. The flower
of the artistic and intellectual world were revolutionists. With the
exception of a few of the musicians and singers, and of a few of the
oligarchs, all the great creators of the period whose names have
come down to us, were revolutionists.
Nor were we confined to the refuge itself. Often at night we rode
over the mountains for exercise, and we rode on Wickson's horses. If
only he knew how many revolutionists his horses have carried! We
even went on picnics to isolated spots we knew, where we remained
all day, going before daylight and returning after dark. Also, we used
Wickson's cream and butter,* and Ernest was not above shooting
Wickson's quail and rabbits, and, on occasion, his young bucks.
* Even as late as that period, cream and butter were still crudely
extracted from cow's milk. The laboratory preparation of foods had not
Indeed, it was a safe refuge. I have said that it was discovered
only once, and this brings me to the clearing up of the mystery of the
disappearance of young Wickson. Now that he is dead. I am free to
speak. There was a nook on the bottom of the great hole where the
sun shone for several hours and which was hidden from above. Here we
had carried many loads of gravel from the creek-bed, so that it was
dry and warm, a pleasant basking place; and here, one afternoon, I was
drowsing, half asleep, over a volume of Mendenhall.* I was so
comfortable and secure that even his flaming lyrics failed to stir me.
* In all the extant literature and documents of that period,
continual reference is made to the poems of Rudolph Mendenhall. By his
comrades he was called 'The Flame.' He was undoubtedly a great genius;
yet, beyond weird and haunting fragments of his verse, quoted in the
writings of others, nothing of his has come down to us. He was
executed by the Iron Heel in 1928 A.D.
I was aroused by a clod of earth striking at my feet. Then from
above, I heard a sound of scrambling. The next moment a young man,
with a final slide down the crumbling wall, alighted at my feet. It
was Philip Wickson, though I did not know him at the time. He looked
at me coolly and uttered a low whistle of surprise.
'Well,' he said; and the next moment, cap in hand, he was saying, 'I
beg your pardon. I did not expect to find any one here.'
I was not so cool. I was still a tyro so far as concerned knowing
how to behave in desperate circumstances. Later on, when I was an
international spy, I should have been less clumsy, I am sure. As it
was, I scrambled to my feet and cried out the danger call.
'Why did you do that?' he asked, looking at me searchingly.
It was evident that he had no suspicion of our presence when
making the descent. I recognized this with relief.
'For what purpose do you think I did it?' I countered. I was
indeed clumsy in those days.
'I don't know,' he answered, shaking his head. 'Unless you've got
friends about. Anyway, you've got some explanations to make. I don't
like the look of it. You are trespassing. This is my father's land,
But at that moment, Biedenbach, every polite and gentle, said from
behind him in a low voice, 'Hands up, my young sir.'
Young Wickson put his hands up first, then turned to confront
Biedenbach, who held a thirty-thirty automatic rifle on him. Wickson
'Oh, ho,' he said, 'a nest of revolutionists- and quite a hornet's
nest it would seem. Well, you won't abide here long, I can tell you.'
'Maybe you'll abide here long enough to reconsider that
statement,' Biedenbach said quietly. 'And in the meanwhile I must
ask you to come inside with me'
'Inside?' The young man was genuinely astonished. 'Have you a
catacomb here? I have heard of such things.'
'Come and see,' Biedenbach answered with his adorable accent.
'But it is unlawful,' was the protest.
'Yes, by your law,' the terrorist replied significantly. 'But by our
law, believe me, it is quite lawful. You must accustom yourself to the
fact that you are in another world than the one of oppression and
brutality in which you have lived.'
'There is room for argument there,' Wickson muttered.
'Then stay with us and discuss it.'
The young fellow laughed and followed his captor into the house.
He was led into the inner cave-room, and one of the young comrades
left to guard him, while we discussed the situation in the kitchen.
Biedenbach, with tears in his eyes, held that Wickson must die,
and was quite relieved when we outvoted him and his horrible
proposition. On the other hand, we could not dream of allowing the
young oligarch to depart.
'I'll tell you what to do,' Ernest said. 'We'll keep him and give
him an education.'
'I bespeak the privilege, then, of enlightening him in
jurisprudence, Biedenbach cried.
And so a decision was laughingly reached. We would keep Philip
Wickson a prisoner and educate him in our ethics and sociology. But in
the meantime there was work to be done. All trace of the young
oligarch must be obliterated. There were the marks he had left when
descending the crumbling wall of the hole. This task fell to
Biedenbach, and, slung on a rope from above, he toiled cunningly for
the rest of the day till no sign remained. Back up the canyon from the
lip of the hole all marks were likewise removed. Then, at twilight,
came John Carlson, who demanded Wickson's shoes.
The young man did not want to give up his shoes, and even offered to
fight for them, till he felt the horseshoer's strength in Ernest's
hands. Carlson afterward reported several blisters and much grievous
loss of skin due to the smallness of the shoes, but he succeeded in
doing gallant work with them. Back from the lip of the hole, where
ended the young man's obliterated trial, Carlson put on the shoes
and walked away to the left. He walked for miles, around knolls,
over ridges and through canyons, and finally covered the trail in
the running water of a creek-bed. Here he removed the shoes, and,
still hiding trail for a distance, at last put on his own shoes. A
week later Wickson got back his shoes.
That night the hounds were out, and there was little sleep in the
refuge. Next day, time and again, the baying hounds came down the
canyon, plunged off to the left on the trail Carlson had made for
them, and were lost to ear in the farther canyons high up the
mountain. And all the time our men waited in the refuge, weapons in
hand- automatic revolvers and rifles, to say nothing of half a dozen
infernal machines of Biedenbach's manufacture. A more surprised
party of rescuers could not be imagined, had they ventured down into
I have now given the true disappearance of Philip Wickson,
one-time oligarch, and, later, comrade in the Revolution. For we
converted him in the end. His mind was fresh and plastic, and by
nature he was very ethical. Several months later we rode him, on one
of his father's horses, over Sonoma Mountains to Petaluma Creek and
embarked him in a small fishing-launch. By easy stages we smuggled him
along our underground railway to the Carmel refuge.
There he remained eight months, at the end of which time, for two
reasons, he was loath to leave us. One reason was that he had fallen
in love with Anna Roylston, and the other was that he had become one
of us. It was not until he became convinced of the hopelessness of his
love affair that he acceded to our wishes and went back to his father.
Ostensibly an oligarch until his death, he was in reality one of the
most valuable of our agents. Often and often has the Iron Heel been
dumbfounded by the miscarriage of its plans and operations against us.
If it but knew the number of its own members who are our agents, it
would understand. Young Wickson never wavered in his loyalty to the
Cause. In truth, his very death was incurred by his devotion to
duty. In the great storm of 1927, while attending a meeting of our
leaders, he contracted the pneumonia of which he died.*
* The case of this young man was not unusual. Many young men of
the Oligarchy, impelled by sense of right conduct, or their
imaginations captured by the glory of the Revolution, ethically or
romantically devoted their lives to it. In similar way, many sons of
the Russian nobility played their parts in the earlier and
protracted revolution in that country.
The Roaring Abysmal Beast.
DURING THE LONG PERIOD Of our stay in the refuge, we were kept
closely in touch with what was happening in the world without, and
we were learning thoroughly the strength of the Oligarchy with which
we were at war. Out of the flux of transition the new institutions
were forming more definitely and taking on the appearance and
attributes of permanence. The oligarchs had succeeded in devising a
governmental machine, as intricate as it was vast, that worked- and
this despite all our efforts to clog and hamper.
This was a surprise to many of the revolutionists. They had not
conceived it possible. Nevertheless the work of the country went on.
The men toiled in the mines and fields- perforce they were no more
than slaves. As for the vital industries, everything prospered. The
members of the great labor castes were contented and worked on
merrily. For the first time in their lives they knew industrial peace.
No more were they worried by slack times, strike and lockout, and
the union label. They lived in more comfortable homes and in
delightful cities of their own- delightful compared with the slums and
ghettos in which they had formerly dwelt. They had better food to eat,
less hours of labor, more holidays, and a greater amount and variety
of interests and pleasures. And for their less fortunate brothers
and sisters, the unfavored laborers, the driven people of the abyss,
they cared nothing. An age of selfishness was dawning upon mankind.
And yet this is not altogether true. The labor castes were honeycombed
by our agents- men whose eyes saw, beyond the belly-need, the
radiant figure of liberty and brotherhood.
Another great institution that had taken form and was working
smoothly was the Mercenaries. This body of soldiers had been evolved
out of the old regular army and was now a million strong, to say
nothing of the colonial forces. The Mercenaries constituted a race
apart. They dwelt in cities of their own which were practically
self-governed, and they were granted many privileges. By them a
large portion of the perplexing surplus was consumed. They were losing
all touch and sympathy with the rest of the people, and, in fact, were
developing their own class morality and consciousness. And yet we
had thousands of our agents among them.*
* The Mercenaries, in the last days of the Iron Heel, played an
important role. They constituted the balance of power in the struggles
between the labor castes and the oligarchs, and now to one side and
now to the other, threw their strength according to the play of
intrigue and conspiracy.
The oligarchs themselves were going through a remarkable and, it
must be confessed, unexpected development. As a class, they
disciplined themselves. Every member had his work to do in the
world, and this work he was compelled to do. There were no more
idle-rich young men. Their strength was used to give united strength
to the Oligarchy. They served as leaders of troops and as
lieutenants and captains of industry. They found careers in applied
science, and many of them became great engineers. They went into the
multitudinous divisions of the government, took service in the
colonial possessions, and by tens of thousands went into the various
secret services. They were, I may say, apprenticed to education, to
art, to the church, to science, to literature; and in those fields
they served the important function of moulding the thought-processes
of the nation in the direction of the perpetuity of the Oligarchy.
They were taught, and later they in turn taught, that what they were
doing was right. They assimilated the aristocratic idea from the
moment they began, as children, to receive impressions of the world.
The aristocratic idea was woven into the making of them until it
became bone of them and flesh of them. They looked upon themselves
as wild-animal trainers, rulers of beasts. From beneath their feet
rose always the subterranean rumbles of revolt. Violent death ever
stalked in their midst; bomb and knife and bullet were looked upon
as so many fangs of the roaring abysmal beast they must dominate if
humanity were to persist. They were the saviours of humanity, and they
regarded themselves as heroic and sacrificing laborers for the highest
They, as a class, believed that they alone maintained
civilization. It was their belief that if ever they weakened, the
great beast would ingulf them and everything of beauty and wonder
and joy and good in its cavernous and slime-dripping maw. Without
them, anarchy would reign and humanity would drop backward into the
primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged. The horrid
picture of anarchy was held always before their child's eyes until
they, in turn, obsessed by this cultivated fear, held the picture of
anarchy before the eyes of the children that followed them. This was
the beast to be stamped upon, and the highest duty of the aristocrat
was to stamp upon it. In short, they alone, by their unremitting
toil and sacrifice, stood between weak humanity and the
all-devouring beast; and they believed it, firmly believed it.
I cannot lay too great stress upon this high ethical righteousness
of the whole oligarch class. This has been the strength of the Iron
Heel, and too many of the comrades have been slow or loath to
realize it. Many of them have ascribed the strength of the Iron Heel
to its system of reward and punishment. This is a mistake. Heaven
and hell may be the prime factors of zeal in the religion of a
fanatic; but for the great majority of the religious, heaven and
hell are incidental to right and wrong. Love of the right, desire
for the right, unhappiness with anything less than the right- in
short, right conduct, is the prime factor of religion. And so with the
Oligarchy. Prisons, banishment and degradation, honors and palaces and
wonder-cities, are all incidental. The great driving force of the
oligarchs is the belief that they are doing right. Never mind the
exceptions, and never mind the oppression and injustice in Which the
Iron Heel was conceived. All is granted. The point is that the
strength of the Oligarchy today lies in its satisfied conception of
its own righteousness.*
* Out of the ethical incoherency and inconsistency of capitalism,
the oligarchs emerged with a new ethics, coherent and definite,
sharp and severe as steel, the most absurd and unscientific and at the
same time the most potent ever possessed by any tyrant class. The
oligarchs believed their ethics, in spite of the fact that biology and
evolution gave them the lie; and, because of their faith, for three
centuries they were able to hold back the mighty tide of human
progress- a spectacle, profound, tremendous, puzzling to the
metaphysical moralist, and one that to the materialist is the cause of
many doubts and reconsiderations.
For that matter, the strength of the Revolution, during these
frightful twenty years, has resided in nothing else than the sense
of righteousness. In no other way can be explained our sacrifices
and martyrdoms. For no other reason did Rudolph Mendenhall flame out
his soul for the Cause and sing his wild swan-song that last night
of life. For no other reason did Hurlbert die under torture,
refusing to the last to betray his comrades. For no other reason has
Anna Roylston refused blessed motherhood. For no other reason has John
Carlson been the faithful and unrewarded custodian of the Glen Ellen
Refuge. It does not matter, young or old, man or woman, high or low,
genius or clod, go where one will among the comrades of the
Revolution, the motor-force will be found to be a great and abiding
desire for the right.
But I have run away from my narrative. Ernest and I well understood,
before we left the refuge, how the strength of the Iron Heel was
developing. The labor castes, the Mercenaries, and the great hordes of
secret agents and police of various sorts were all pledged to the
Oligarchy. In the main, and ignoring the loss of liberty, they were
better off than they had been. On the other hand, the great helpless
mass of the population, the people of the abyss, was sinking into a
brutish apathy of content with misery. Whenever strong proletarians
asserted their strength in the midst of the mass, they were drawn away
from the mass by the oligarchs and given better conditions by being
made members of the labor castes or of the Mercenaries. Thus
discontent was lulled and the proletariat robbed of its natural
The condition of the people of the abyss was pitiable. Common school
education, so far as they were concerned, had ceased. They lived
like beasts in great squalid labor-ghettos, festering in misery and
degradation. All their old liberties were gone. They were
labor-slaves. Choice of work was denied them. Likewise was denied them
the right to move from place to place, or the right to bear or possess
arms. They were not land serfs like the farmers. They were
machine-serfs and labor-serfs. When unusual needs arose for them, such
as the building of the great highways and air-lines, of canals,
tunnels, subways, and fortifications, levies were made on the
labor-ghettos, and tens of thousands of serfs, willy-nilly, were
transported to the scene of operations. Great armies of them are
toiling now at the building of Ardis, housed in wretched barracks
where family life cannot exist, and where decency is displaced by dull
bestiality. In all truth, there in the labor-ghettos is the roaring
abysmal beast the oligarchs fear so dreadfully- but it is the beast of
their own making. In it they will not let the ape and tiger die.
And just now the word has gone forth that new levies are being
imposed for the building of Asgard, the projected wonder-city that
will far exceed Ardis when the latter is completed.* We of the
Revolution will go on with that great work, but it will not be done by
the miserable serfs. The walls and towers and shafts of that fair city
will arise to the sound of singing, and into its beauty and wonder
will be woven, not sighs and groans, but music and laughter.
* Ardis was completed in 1942 A.D., Asgard was not completed until
1984 A.D. It was fifty-two years in the building, during which time
a permanent army of half a million serfs was employed. At times
these numbers swelled to over a million- without any account being
taken of the hundreds of thousands of the labor castes and the
Ernest was madly impatient to be out in the world and doing, for our
ill-fated First Revolt, that had miscarried in the Chicago Commune,
was ripening fast. Yet he possessed his soul with patience, and during
this time of his torment, when Hadly, who had been brought for the
purpose from Illinois, made him over into another man* he revolved
great plans in his head for the organization of the learned
proletariat, and for the maintenance of at least the rudiments of
education amongst the people of the abyss- all this of course in the
event of the First Revolt being a failure.
* Among the Revolutionists were many surgeons, and in vivisection
they attained marvellous proficiency. In Avis Everhard's words, they
could literally make a man over. To them the elimination of scars
and disfigurements was a trivial detail. They changed the features
with such microscopic care that no traces were left of their
handiwork. The nose was a favorite organ to work upon. Skin-grafting
and hair-transplanting were among their commonest devices. The changes
in expression they accomplished were wizard-like. Eyes and eyebrows,
lips, mouths, and ears, were radically altered. By cunning
operations on tongue, throat, larynx, and nasal cavities a man's whole
enunciation and manner of speech could be changed. Desperate times
give need for desperate remedies, and the surgeons of the Revolution
rose to the need. Among other things, they could increase an adult's
stature by as much as four or five inches and decrease it by one or
two inches. What they did is to-day a lost art. We have no need for
It was not until January, 1917, that we left the refuge. All had
been arranged. We took our place at once as agents-provocateurs in the
scheme of the Iron Heel. I was supposed to be Ernest's sister. By
oligarchs and comrades on the inside who were high in authority, place
had been made for us, we were in possession of all necessary
documents, and our pasts were accounted for. With help on the
inside, this was not difficult, for in that shadow-world of secret
service identity was nebulous. Like ghosts the agents came and went,
obeying commands, fulfilling duties, following clews, making their
reports often to officers they never saw or cooperating with other
agents they had never seen before and would never see again.
The Chicago Commune.
AS AGENTS-PROVOCATEURS, not alone were we able to travel a great
deal, but our very work threw us in contact with the proletariat and
with our comrades, the revolutionists. Thus we were in both camps at
the same time, ostensibly serving the Iron Heel and secretly working
with all our might for the Cause. There were many of us in the various
secret services of the Oligarchy, and despite the shakings-up and
reorganizations the secret services have undergone, they have never
been able to weed all of us out.
Ernest had largely planned the First Revolt, and the date set had
been somewhere early in the spring of 1918. In the fall of 1917 we
were not ready; much remained to be done, and when the Revolt was
precipitated, of course it was doomed to failure. The plot of
necessity was frightfully intricate, and anything premature was sure
to destroy it. This the Iron Heel foresaw and laid its schemes
We had planned to strike our first blow at the nervous system of the
Oligarchy. The latter had remembered the general strike, and had
guarded against the defection of the telegraphers by installing
wireless stations, in the control of the Mercenaries. We, in turn, had
countered this move. When the signal was given, from every refuge, all
over the land, and from the cities, and towns, and barracks, devoted
comrades were to go forth and blow up the wireless stations. Thus at
the first shock would the Iron Heel be brought to earth and lie
At the same moment, other comrades were to blow up the bridges and
tunnels and disrupt the whole network of railroads. Still further,
other groups of comrades, at the signal, were to seize the officers of
the Mercenaries and the police, as well as all Oligarchs of unusual
ability or who held executive positions. Thus would the leaders of the
enemy be removed from the field of the local battles that would
inevitably be fought all over the land.
Many things were to occur simultaneously when the signal went forth.
The Canadian and Mexican patriots, who were far stronger than the Iron
Heel dreamed, were to duplicate our tactics. Then there were
comrades (these were the women, for the men would be busy elsewhere)
who were to post the proclamations from our secret presses. Those of
us in the higher employ of the Iron Heel were to proceed immediately
to make confusion and anarchy in all our departments. Inside the
Mercenaries were thousands of our comrades. Their work was to blow
up the magazines and to destroy the delicate mechanism of all the
war machinery. In the cities of the Mercenaries and of the labor
castes similar programmes of disruption were to be carried out.
In short, a sudden, colossal, stunning blow was to be struck. Before
the paralyzed Oligarchy could recover itself, its end would have come.
It would have meant terrible times and great loss of life, but no
revolutionist hesitates at such things. Why, we even depended much, in
our plan, on the unorganized people of the abyss. They were to be
loosed on the palaces and cities of the masters. Never mind the
destruction of life and property. Let the abysmal brute roar and the
police and Mercenaries slay. The abysmal brute would roar anyway,
and the police and Mercenaries would slay anyway. It would merely mean
that various dangers to us were harmlessly destroying one another.
In the meantime we would be doing our own work, largely unhampered,
and gaining control of all the machinery of society.
Such was our plan, every detail of which had to be worked out in
secret, and, as the day drew near, communicated to more and more
comrades. This was the danger point, the stretching of the conspiracy.
But that danger-point was never reached. Through its spy-system the
Iron Heel got wind of the Revolt and prepared to teach us another of
its bloody lessons. Chicago was the devoted city selected for the
instruction, and well were we instructed.
Chicago* was the ripest of all- Chicago which of old time was the
city of blood and which was to earn anew its name. There the
revolutionary spirit was strong. Too many bitter strikes had been
curbed there in the days of capitalism for the workers to forget and
forgive. Even the labor castes of the city were alive with revolt. Too
many heads had been broken in the early strikes. Despite their changed
and favorable conditions, their hatred for the master class had not
died. This spirit had infected the Mercenaries, of which three
regiments in particular were ready to come over to us en masse.
* Chicago was the industrial inferno of the nineteenth century
A.D. A curious anecdote has come down to us of John Burns, a great
English labor leader and one time member of the British Cabinet. In
Chicago, while on a visit to the United States, he was asked by a
newspaper reporter for his opinion of that city. 'Chicago,' he
answered, 'is a pocket edition of hell.' Some time later, as he was
going aboard his steamer to sail to England, he was approached by
another reporter, who wanted to know if he had changed his opinion
of Chicago. 'Yes, I have,' was his reply. 'My present opinion is
that hell is a pocket edition of Chicago.'
Chicago had always been the storm-centre of the conflict between
labor and capital, a city of street-battles and violent death, with
a class-conscious capitalist organization and a class-conscious
workman organization, where, in the old days, the very school-teachers
were formed into labor unions and affiliated with the hod-carriers and
brick-layers in the American Federation of Labor. And Chicago became
the storm-centre of the premature First Revolt.
The trouble was precipitated by the Iron Heel. It was cleverly done.
The whole population, including the favored labor castes, was given
a course of outrageous treatment. Promises and agreements were broken,
and most drastic punishments visited upon even petty offenders. The
people of the abyss were tormented out of their apathy. In fact, the
Iron Heel was preparing to make the abysmal beast roar. And hand in
hand with this, in all precautionary measures in Chicago, the Iron
Heel was inconceivably careless. Discipline was relaxed among the
Mercenaries that remained, while many regiments had been withdrawn and
sent to various parts of the country.
It did not take long to carry out this programme- only several
weeks. We of the Revolution caught vague rumors of the state of
affairs, but had nothing definite enough for an understanding. In
fact, we thought it was a spontaneous spirit of revolt that would
require careful curbing on our part, and never dreamed that it was
deliberately manufactured- and it had been manufactured so secretly,
from the very innermost circle of the Iron Heel, that we had got no
inkling. The counter-plot was an able achievement, and ably carried
I was in New York when I received the order to proceed immediately
to Chicago. The man who gave me the order was one of the oligarchs,
I could tell that by his speech, though I did not know his name nor
see his face. His instructions were too clear for me to make a
mistake. Plainly I read between the lines that our plot had been
discovered, that we had been countermined. The explosion was ready for
the flash of powder, and countless agents of the Iron Heel,
including me, either on the ground or being sent there, were to supply
that flash. I flatter myself that I maintained my composure under
the keen eye of the oligarch, but my heart was beating madly. I
could almost have shrieked and flown at his throat with my naked hands
before his final, cold-blooded instructions were given.
Once out of his presence, I calculated the time. I had just the
moments to spare, if I were lucky, to get in touch with some local
leader before catching my train. Guarding against being trailed, I
made a rush of it for the Emergency Hospital. Luck was with me, and
I gained access at once to comrade Galvin, the surgeon-in-chief. I
started to gasp out my information, but he stopped me.
'I already know,' he said quietly, though his Irish eyes were
flashing. 'I knew what you had come for. I got the word fifteen
minutes ago, and I have already passed it along. Everything shall be
done here to keep the comrades quiet. Chicago is to be sacrificed, but
it shall be Chicago alone.'
'Have you tried to get word to Chicago?' I asked.
He shook his head. 'No telegraphic communication. Chicago is shut
off. It's going to be hell there.'
He paused a moment, and I saw his white hands clinch. Then he
'By God! I wish I were going to be there!'
'There is yet a chance to stop it,' I said, 'if nothing happens to
the train and I can get there in time. Or if some of the other
secret-service comrades who have learned the truth can get there in
'You on the inside were caught napping this time,' he said.
I nodded my head humbly.
'It was very secret,' I answered. 'Only the inner chiefs could
have known up to to-day. We haven't yet penetrated that far, so we
couldn't escape being kept in the dark. If only Ernest were here.
Maybe he is in Chicago now, and all is well.'
Dr. Galvin shook his head. 'The last news I heard of him was that he
had been sent to Boston or New Haven. This secret service for the
enemy must hamper him a lot, but it's better than lying in a refuge.'
I started to go, and Galvin wrung my hand.
'Keep a stout heart,' were his parting words. 'What if the First
Revolt is lost? There will be a second, and we will be wiser then.
Good-by and good luck. I don't know whether I'll ever see you again.
It's going to be hell there, but I'd give ten years of my life for
your chance to be in it.'
The Twentieth Century* left New York at six in the evening, and
was supposed to arrive at Chicago at seven next morning. But it lost
time that night. We were running behind another train. Among the
travellers in my Pullman was comrade Hartman, like myself in the
secret service of the Iron Heel. He it was who told me of the train
that immediately preceded us. It was an exact duplicate of our
train, though it contained no passengers. The idea was that the
empty train should receive the disaster were an attempt made to blow
up the Twentieth Century. For that matter there were very few people
on the train- only a baker's dozen in our car.
* This was reputed to be the fastest train in the world then. It was
quite a famous train.
'There must be some big men on board,' Hartman concluded. 'I noticed
a private car on the rear.'
Night had fallen when we made our first change of engine, and I
walked down the platform for a breath of fresh air and to see what I
could see. Through the windows of the private car I caught a glimpse
of three men whom I recognized. Hartman was right. One of the men
was General Altendorff; and the other two were Mason and Vanderbold,
the brains of the inner circle of the Oligarchy's secret service.
It was a quiet moonlight night, but I tossed restlessly and could
not sleep. At five in the morning I dressed and abandoned my bed.
I asked the man in the dressing-room how late the train was, and she
told me two hours. She was a mulatto woman, and I noticed that her
face was haggard, with great circles under the eyes, while the eyes
themselves were wide with some haunting fear.
'What is the matter?' I asked.
'Nothing, miss; I didn't sleep well, I guess,' was her reply.
I looked at her closely, and tried her with one of our signals.
She responded, and I made sure of her.
'Something terrible is going to happen in Chicago,' she said.
'There's that fake* train in front of us. That and the troop-trains
have made us late.'
'Troop-trains?' I queried.
She nodded her head. 'The line is thick with them. We've been
passing them all night. And they're all heading for Chicago. And
bringing them over the air-line- that means business.
'I've a lover in Chicago,' she added apologetically. 'He's one of
us, and he's in the Mercenaries, and I'm afraid for him.'
Poor girl. Her lover was in one of the three disloyal regiments.
Hartman and I had breakfast together in the dining car, and I forced
myself to eat. The sky had clouded, and the train rushed on like a
sullen thunderbolt through the gray pall of advancing day. The very
negroes that waited on us knew that something terrible was
impending. Oppression sat heavily upon them; the lightness of their
natures had ebbed out of them; they were slack and absent-minded in
their service, and they whispered gloomily to one another in the far
end of the car next to the kitchen. Hartman was hopeless over the
'What can we do?' he demanded for the twentieth time, with a
helpless shrug of the shoulders.
He pointed out of the window. 'See, all is ready. You can depend
upon it that they're holding them like this, thirty or forty miles
outside the city, on every road.'
He had reference to troop-trains on the side-track. The soldiers
were cooking their breakfasts over fires built on the ground beside
the track, and they looked up curiously at us as we thundered past
without slackening our terrific speed.
All was quiet as we entered Chicago. It was evident nothing had
happened yet. In the suburbs the morning papers came on board the
train. There was nothing in them, and yet there was much in them for
those skilled in reading between the lines that it was intended the
ordinary reader should read into the text. The fine hand of the Iron
Heel was apparent in every column. Glimmerings of weakness in the
armor of the Oligarchy were given. Of course, there was nothing
definite. It was intended that the reader should feel his way to these
glimmerings. It was cleverly done. As fiction, those morning papers of
October 27 were masterpieces.
The local news was missing. This in itself was a masterstroke. It
shrouded Chicago in mystery, and it suggested to the average Chicago
reader that the Oligarchy did not dare give the local news. Hints that
were untrue, of course, were given of insubordination all over the
land, crudely disguised with complacent references to punitive
measures to be taken. There were reports of numerous wireless stations
that had been blown up, with heavy rewards offered for the detection
of the perpetrators. Of course no wireless stations had been blown up.
Many similar outrages, that dovetailed with the plot of the
revolutionists, were given. The impression to be made on the minds
of the Chicago comrades was that the general Revolt was beginning,
albeit with a confusing miscarriage in many details. It was impossible
for one uninformed to escape the vague yet certain feeling that all
the land was ripe for the revolt that had already begun to break out.
It was reported that the defection of the Mercenaries in
California had become so serious that half a dozen regiments had
been disbanded and broken, and that their members with their
families had been driven from their own city and on into the
labor-ghettos. And the California Mercenaries were in reality the most
faithful of all to their salt! But how was Chicago, shut off from
the rest of the world, to know? Then there was a ragged telegram
describing an outbreak of the populace in New York City, in which
the labor castes were joining, concluding with the statement (intended
to be accepted as a bluff*) that the troops had the situation in hand.
* A lie.
And as the oligarchs had done with the morning papers, so had they
done in a thousand other ways. These we learned afterward, as, for
example, the secret messages of the oligarchs, sent with the express
purpose of leaking to the ears of the revolutionists, that had come
over the wires, now and again, during the first part of the night.
'I guess the Iron Heel won't need our services,' Hartman remarked,
putting down the paper he had been reading, when the train pulled into
the central depot. 'They wasted their time sending us here. Their
plans have evidently prospered better than they expected. Hell will
break loose any second now.'
He turned and looked down the train as we alighted.
'I thought so,' he muttered. 'They dropped that private car when the
papers came aboard.'
Hartman was hopelessly depressed. I tried to cheer him up, but he
ignored my effort and suddenly began talking very hurriedly, in a
low voice, as we passed through the station. At first I could not
'I have not been sure,' he was saying, 'and I have told no one. I
have been working on it for weeks, and I cannot make sure. Watch out
for Knowlton. I suspect him. He knows the secrets of a score of our
refuges. He carries the lives of hundreds of us in his hands, and I
think he is a traitor. It's more a feeling on my part than anything
else. But I thought I marked a change in him a short while back. There
is the danger that he has sold us out, or is going to sell us out. I
am almost sure of it. I wouldn't whisper my suspicions to a soul, but,
somehow, I don't think I'll leave Chicago alive. Keep your eye on
Knowlton. Trap him. Find out. I don't know anything more. It is only
an intuition, and so far I have failed to find the slightest clew.' We
were just stepping out upon the sidewalk. 'Remember,' Hartman
concluded earnestly. 'Keep your eyes upon Knowlton.'
And Hartman was right. Before a month went by Knowlton paid for
his treason with his life. He was formally executed by the comrades in
All was quiet on the streets- too quiet. Chicago lay dead. There was
no roar and rumble of traffic. There were not even cabs on the
streets. The surface cars and the elevated were not running. Only
occasionally, on the sidewalks, were there stray pedestrians, and
these pedestrians did not loiter. They went their ways with great
haste and definiteness, withal there was a curious indecision in their
movements, as though they expected the buildings to topple over on
them or the sidewalks to sink under their feet or fly up in the air. A
few gamins, however, were around, in their eyes a suppressed eagerness
in anticipation of wonderful and exciting things to happen.
From somewhere, far to the south, the dull sound of an explosion
came to our ears. That was all. Then quiet again, though the gamins
had startled and listened, like young deer, at the sound. The doorways
to all the buildings were closed; the shutters to the shops were up.
But there were many police and watchmen in evidence, and now and again
automobile patrols of the Mercenaries slipped swiftly past.
Hartman and I agreed that it was useless to report ourselves to
the local chiefs of the secret service. Our failure so to report would
be excused, we knew, in the light of subsequent events. So we headed
for the great labor-ghetto on the South Side in the hope of getting in
contact with some of the comrades. Too late! We knew it. But we
could not stand still and do nothing in those ghastly, silent streets.
Where was Ernest? I was wondering. What was happening in the cities of
the labor castes and Mercenaries? In the fortresses?
As if in answer, a great screaming roar went up, dim with
distance, punctuated with detonation after detonation.
'It's the fortresses,' Hartman said. 'God pity those three
At a crossing we noticed, in the direction of the stockyards, a
gigantic pillar of smoke. At the next crossing several similar smoke
pillars were rising skyward in the direction of the West Side. Over
the city of the Mercenaries we saw a great captive war-balloon that
burst even as we looked at it, and fell in flaming wreckage toward the
earth. There was no clew to that tragedy of the air. We could not
determine whether the balloon had been manned by comrades or
enemies. A vague sound came to our ears, like the bubbling of a
gigantic caldron a long way off, and Hartman said it was
machine-guns and automatic rifles.
And still we walked in immediate quietude. Nothing was happening
where we were. The police and the automobile patrols went by, and once
half a dozen fire-engines, returning evidently from some
conflagration. A question was called to the fireman by an officer in
an automobile, and we heard one shout in reply: 'No water! They've
blown up the mains!'
'We've smashed the water supply,' Hartman cried excitedly to me. 'If
we can do all this in a premature, isolated, abortive attempt, what
can't we do in a concerted, ripened effort all over the land?'
The automobile containing the officer who had asked the question
darted on. Suddenly there was a deafening roar. The machine, with
its human freight, lifted in an upburst of smoke, and sank down a mass
of wreckage and death.
Hartman was jubilant. 'Well done! well done!' he was repeating, over
and over, in a whisper. 'The proletariat gets its lesson to-day, but
it gives one, too.'
Police were running for the spot. Also, another patrol machine had
halted. As for myself, I was in a daze. The suddenness of it was
stunning. How had it happened? I knew not how, and yet I had been
looking directly at it. So dazed was I for the moment that I was
scarcely aware of the fact that we were being held up by the police. I
abruptly saw that a policeman was in the act of shooting Hartman.
But Hartman was cool and was giving the proper passwords. I saw the
levelled revolver hesitate, then sink down, and heard the disgusted
grunt of the policeman. He was very angry, and was cursing the whole
secret service. It was always in the way, he was averring, while
Hartman was talking back to him and with fitting secret-service
pride explaining to him the clumsiness of the police.
The next moment I knew how it had happened. There was quite a
group about the wreck, and two men were just lifting up the wounded
officer to carry him to the other machine. A panic seized all of them,
and they scattered in every direction, running in blind terror, the
wounded officer, roughly dropped, being left behind. The cursing
policeman alongside of me also ran, and Hartman and I ran, too, we
knew not why, obsessed with the same blind terror to get away from
that particular spot.
Nothing really happened then, but everything was explained. The
flying men were sheepishly coming back, but all the while their eyes
were raised apprehensively to the many-windowed, lofty buildings
that towered like the sheer walls of a canyon on each side of the
street. From one of those countless windows the bomb had been
thrown, but which window? There had been no second bomb, only a fear
Thereafter we looked with speculative comprehension at the
windows. Any of them contained possible death. Each building was a
possible ambuscade. This was warfare in that modern jungle, a great
city. Every street was a canyon, every building a mountain. We had not
changed much from primitive man, despite the war automobiles that were
Turning a corner, we came upon a woman. She was lying on the
pavement, in a pool of blood. Hartman bent over and examined her. As
for myself, I turned deathly sick. I was to see many dead that day,
but the total carnage was not to affect me as did this first forlorn
body lying there at my feet abandoned on the pavement. 'Shot in the
breast,' was Hartman's report. Clasped in the hollow of her arm, as
a child might be clasped, was a bundle of printed matter. Even in
death she seemed loath to part with that which had caused her death;
for when Hartman had succeeded in withdrawing the bundle, we found
that it consisted of large printed sheets, the proclamations of the
'A comrade,' I said.
But Hartman only cursed the Iron Heel, and we passed on. Often we
were halted by the police and patrols, but our passwords enabled us to
proceed. No more bombs fell from the windows, the last pedestrians
seemed to have vanished from the streets, and our immediate quietude
grew more profound; though the gigantic caldron continued to bubble in
the distance, dull roars of explosions came to us from all directions,
and the smoke-pillars were towering more ominously in the heavens.
The People of the Abyss.
SUDDENLY A CHANGE CAME over the face of things. A tingle of
excitement ran along the air. Automobiles fled past, two, three, a
dozen, and from them warnings were shouted to us. One of the
machines swerved wildly at high speed half a block down, and the
next moment, already left well behind it, the pavement was torn into a
great hole by a bursting bomb. We saw the police disappearing down the
cross-streets on the run, and knew that something terrible was coming.
We could hear the rising roar of it.
'Our brave comrades are coming,' Hartman said.
We could see the front of their column filling the street from
gutter to gutter, as the last war-automobile fled past. The machine
stopped for a moment just abreast of us. A soldier leaped from it,
carrying something carefully in his hands. This, with the same care,
he deposited in the gutter. Then he leaped back to his seat and the
machine dashed on, took the turn at the corner, and was gone from
sight. Hartman ran to the gutter and stooped over the object.
'Keep back,' he warned me.
I could see he was working rapidly with his hands. When he
returned to me the sweat was heavy on his forehead.
'I disconnected it,' he said, 'and just in the nick of time. The
soldier was clumsy. He intended it for our comrades, but he didn't
give it enough time. It would have exploded prematurely. Now it
won't explode at all.'
Everything was happening rapidly now. Across the street and half a
block down, high up in a building, I could see heads peering out. I
had just pointed them out to Hartman, when a sheet of flame and
smoke ran along that portion of the face of the building where the
heads had appeared, and the air was shaken by the explosion. In places
the stone facing of the building was torn away, exposing the iron
construction beneath. The next moment similar sheets of flame and
smoke smote the front of the building across the street opposite it.
Between the explosions we could hear the rattle of the automatic
pistols and rifles. For several minutes this mid-air battle continued,
then died out. It was patent that our comrades were in one building,
that Mercenaries were in the other, and that they were fighting across
the street. But we could not tell which was which- which building
contained our comrades and which the Mercenaries.
By this time the column on the street was almost on us. As the front
of it passed under the warring buildings, both went into action again-
one building dropping bombs into the street, being attacked from
across the street, and in return replying to that attack. Thus we
learned which building was held by our comrades, and they did good
work, saving those in the street from the bombs of the enemy.
Hartman gripped my arm and dragged me into a wide entrance.
'They're not our comrades,' he shouted in my ear.
The inner doors to the entrance were locked and bolted. We could not
escape. The next moment the front of the column went by. It was not
a column, but a mob, an awful river that filled the street, the people
of the abyss, mad with drink and wrong, up at last and roaring for the
blood of their masters. I had seen the people of the abyss before,
gone through its ghettos, and thought I knew it; but I found that I
was now looking on it for the first time. Dumb apathy had vanished. It
was now dynamic- a fascinating spectacle of dread. It surged past my
vision in concrete waves of wrath, snarling and growling, carnivorous,
drunk with whiskey from pillaged warehouses, drunk with hatred,
drunk with lust for blood- men, women, and children, in rags and
tatters, dim ferocious intelligences with all the godlike blotted from
their features and all the fiendlike stamped in, apes and tigers,
anaemic consumptives and great hairy beasts of burden, wan faces
from which vampire society had sucked the juice of life, bloated forms
swollen with physical grossness and corruption, withered hags and
death's-heads bearded like patriarchs, festering youth and festering
age, faces of fiends, crooked, twisted, misshapen monsters blasted
with the ravages of disease and all the horrors of chronic
innutrition- the refuse and the scum of life, a raging, screaming,
screeching, demoniacal horde.
And why not? The people of the abyss had nothing to lose but the
misery and pain of living. And to gain?- nothing, save one final,
awful glut of vengeance. And as I looked the thought came to me that
in that rushing stream of human lava were men, comrades and heroes,
whose mission had been to rouse the abysmal beast and to keep the
enemy occupied in coping with it.
And now a strange thing happened to me. A transformation came over
me. The fear of death, for myself and for others, left me. I was
strangely exalted, another being in another life. Nothing mattered.
The Cause for this one time was lost, but the Cause would be here
to-morrow, the same Cause, ever fresh and ever burning. And
thereafter, in the orgy of horror that raged through the succeeding
hours, I was able to take a calm interest. Death meant nothing, life
meant nothing. I was an interested spectator of events, and, sometimes
swept on by the rush, was myself a curious participant. For my mind
had leaped to a star-cool altitude and grasped a passionless
transvaluation of values. Had it not done this, I know that I should
Half a mile of the mob had swept by when we were discovered. A woman
in fantastic rags, with cheeks cavernously hollow and with narrow
black eyes like burning gimlets, caught a glimpse of Hartman and me.
She let out a shrill shriek and bore in upon us. A section of the
mob tore itself loose and surged in after her. I can see her now, as I
write these lines, a leap in advance, her gray hair flying in thin
tangled strings, the blood dripping down her forehead from some
wound in the scalp, in her right hand a hatchet, her left hand, lean
and wrinkled, a yellow talon, gripping the air convulsively. Hartman
sprang in front of me. This was no time for explanations. We were well
dressed, and that was enough. His fist shot out, striking the woman
between her burning eyes. The impact of the blow drove her backward,
but she struck the wall of her on-coming fellows and bounced forward
again, dazed and helpless, the brandished hatchet falling feebly on
The next moment I knew not what was happening. I was overborne by
the crowd. The confined space was filled with shrieks and yells and
curses. Blows were falling on me. Hands were ripping and tearing at my
flesh and garments. I felt that I was being torn to pieces. I was
being borne down, suffocated. Some strong hand gripped my shoulder
in the thick of the press and was dragging fiercely at me. Between
pain and pressure I fainted. Hartman never came out of that
entrance. He had shielded me and received the first brunt of the
attack. This had saved me, for the jam had quickly become too dense
for anything more than the mad gripping and tearing of hands.
I came to in the midst of wild movement. All about me was the same
movement. I had been caught up in a monstrous flood that was
sweeping me I knew not whither. Fresh air was on my cheek and biting
sweetly in my lungs. Faint and dizzy, I was vaguely aware of a
strong arm around my body under the arms, and half-lifting me and
dragging me along. Feebly my own limbs were helping me. In front of me
I could see the moving back of a man's coat. It had been slit from top
to bottom along the centre seam, and it pulsed rhythmically, the
slit opening and closing regularly with every leap of the wearer. This
phenomenon fascinated me for a time, while my senses were coming
back to me. Next I became aware of stinging cheeks and nose, and could
feel blood dripping on my face. My hat was gone. My hair was down
and flying, and from the stinging of the scalp I managed to
recollect a hand in the press of the entrance that had torn at my
hair. My chest and arms were bruised and aching in a score of places.
My brain grew clearer, and I turned as I ran and looked at the man
who was holding me up. He it was who had dragged me out and saved
me. He noticed my movement.
'It's all right!' he shouted hoarsely. 'I knew you on the instant.'
I failed to recognize him, but before I could speak I trod upon
something that was alive and that squirmed under my foot. I was
swept on by those behind and could not look down and see, and yet I
knew that it was a woman who had fallen and who was being trampled
into the pavement by thousands of successive feet.
'It's all right,' he repeated. 'I'm Garthwaite.'
He was bearded and gaunt and dirty, but I succeeded in remembering
him as the stalwart youth that had spent several months in our Glen
Ellen refuge three years before. He passed me the signals of the
Iron Heel's secret service, in token that he, too, was in its employ.
'I'll get you out of this as soon as I can get a chance,' he assured
me. 'But watch your footing. On your life don't stumble and go down.'
All things happened abruptly on that day, and with an abruptness
that was sickening the mob checked itself. I came in violent collision
with a large woman in front of me (the man with the split coat had
vanished), while those behind collided against me. A devilish
pandemonium reigned,- shrieks, curses, and cries of death, while above
all rose the churning rattle of machine-guns and the put-a-put,
put-a-put of rifles. At first I could make out nothing. People were
falling about me right and left. The woman in front doubled up and
went down, her hands on her abdomen in a frenzied clutch. A man was
quivering against my legs in a death-struggle.
It came to me that we were at the head of the column. Half a mile of
it had disappeared- where or how I never learned. To this day I do not
know what became of that half-mile of humanity- whether it was blotted
out by some frightful bolt of war, whether it was scattered and
destroyed piecemeal, or whether it escaped. But there we were, at
the head of the column instead of in its middle, and we were being
swept out of life by a torrent of shrieking lead.
As soon as death had thinned the jam, Garthwaite, still grasping
my arm, led a rush of survivors into the wide entrance of an office
building. Here, at the rear, against the doors, we were pressed by a
panting, gasping mass of creatures. For some time we remained in
this position without a change in the situation.
'I did it beautifully,' Garthwaite was lamenting to me. 'Ran you
right into a trap. We had a gambler's chance in the street, but in
here there is no chance at all. It's all over but the shouting. Vive
Then, what he expected, began. The Mercenaries were killing
without quarter. At first, the surge back upon us was crushing, but as
the killing continued the pressure was eased. The dead and dying
went down and made room. Garthwaite put his mouth to my ear and
shouted, but in the frightful din I could not catch what he said. He
did not wait. He seized me and threw me down. Next he dragged a
dying woman over on top of me, and, with much squeezing and shoving,
crawled in beside me and partly over me. A mound of dead and dying
began to pile up over us, and over this mound, pawing and moaning,
crept those that still survived. But these, too, soon ceased, and a
semi-silence settled down, broken by groans and sobs and sounds of
I should have been crushed had it not been for Garthwaite. As it
was, it seemed inconceivable that I could bear the weight I did and
live. And yet, outside of pain, the only feeling I possessed was one
of curiosity. How was it going to end? What would death be like?
Thus did I receive my red baptism in that Chicago shambles. Prior to
that, death to me had been a theory; but ever afterward death has been
a simple fact that does not matter, it is so easy.
But the Mercenaries were not content with what they had done. They
invaded the entrance, killing the wounded and searching out the unhurt
that, like ourselves, were playing dead. I remember one man they
dragged out of a heap, who pleaded abjectly until a revolver shot
cut him short. Then there was a woman who charged from a heap,
snarling and shooting. She fired six shots before they got her, though
what damage she did we could not know. We could follow these tragedies
only by the sound. Every little while flurries like this occurred,
each flurry culminating in the revolver shot that put an end to it. In
the intervals we could hear the soldiers talking and swearing as
they rummaged among the carcasses, urged on by their officers to hurry
At last they went to work on our heap, and we could feel the
pressure diminish as they dragged away the dead and wounded.
Garthwaite began uttering aloud the signals. At first he was not
heard. Then he raised his voice.
'Listen to that,' we heard a soldier say. And next the sharp voice
of an officer. 'Hold on there! Careful as you go!'
Oh, that first breath of air as we were dragged out! Garthwaite
did the talking at first, but I was compelled to undergo a brief
examination to prove service with the Iron Heel.
'Agents-provocateurs all right,' was the officer's conclusion. He
was a beardless young fellow, a cadet, evidently, of some great
'It's a hell of a job,' Garthwaite grumbled. 'I'm going to try and
resign and get into the army. You fellows have a snap.'
'You've earned it,' was the young officer's answer. 'I've got some
pull, and I'll see if it can be managed. I can tell them how I found
He took Garthwaite's name and number, then turned to me.
'Oh, I'm going to be married,' I answered lightly, 'and then I'll be
out of it all.'
And so we talked, while the killing of the wounded went on. It is
all a dream, now, as I look back on it; but at the time it was the
most natural thing in the world. Garthwaite and the young officer fell
into an animated conversation over the difference between so-called
modern warfare and the present street-fighting and sky-scraper
fighting that was taking place all over the city. I followed them
intently, fixing up my hair at the same time and pinning together my
torn skirts. And all the time the killing of the wounded went on.
Sometimes the revolver shots drowned the voices of Garthwaite and
the officer, and they were compelled to repeat what they had been
I lived through three days of the Chicago Commune, and the
vastness of it and of the slaughter may be imagined when I say that in
all that time I saw practically nothing outside the killing of the
people of the abyss and the mid-air fighting between sky-scrapers. I
really saw nothing of the heroic work done by the comrades. I could
hear the explosions of their mines and bombs, and see the smoke of
their conflagrations, and that was all. The mid-air part of one
great deed I saw, however, and that was the balloon attacks made by
our comrades on the fortresses. That was on the second day. The
three disloyal regiments had been destroyed in the fortresses to the
last man. The fortresses were crowded with Mercenaries, the wind
blew in the right direction, and up went our balloons from one of
the office buildings in the city.
Now Biedenbach, after he left Glen Ellen, had invented a most
powerful explosive- 'expedite' he called it. This was the weapon the
balloons used. They were only hot-air balloons, clumsily and hastily
made, but they did the work. I saw it all from the top of an office
building. The first balloon missed the fortresses completely and
disappeared into the country; but we learned about it afterward.
Burton and O'Sullivan were in it. As they were descending they swept
across a railroad directly over a troop-train that was heading at full
speed for Chicago. They dropped their whole supply of expedite upon
the locomotive. The resulting wreck tied the line up for days. And the
best of it was that, released from the weight of expedite, the balloon
shot up into the air and did not come down for half a dozen miles,
both heroes escaping unharmed.
The second balloon was a failure. Its flight was lame. It floated
too low and was shot full of holes before it could reach the
fortresses. Herford and Guinness were in it, and they were blown to
pieces along with the field into which they fell. Biedenbach was in
despair- we heard all about it afterward- and he went up alone in
the third balloon. He, too, made a low flight, but he was in luck, for
they failed seriously to puncture his balloon. I can see it now as I
did then, from the lofty top of the building- that inflated bag
drifting along the air, and that tiny speck of a man clinging on
beneath. I could not see the fortress, but those on the roof with me
said he was directly over it. I did not see the expedite fall when
he cut it loose. But I did see the balloon suddenly leap up into the
sky. An appreciable time after that the great column of the
explosion towered in the air, and after that, in turn, I heard the
roar of it. Biedenbach the gentle had destroyed a fortress. Two
other balloons followed at the same time. One was blown to pieces in
the air, the expedite exploding, and the shock of it disrupted the
second balloon, which fell prettily into the remaining fortress. It
couldn't have been better planned, though the two comrades in it
sacrificed their lives.
But to return to the people of the abyss. My experiences were
confined to them. They raged and slaughtered and destroyed all over
the city proper, and were in turn destroyed; but never once did they
succeed in reaching the city of the oligarchs over on the west side.
The oligarchs had protected themselves well. No matter what
destruction was wreaked in the heart of the city, they, and their
womenkind and children, were to escape hurt. I am told that their
children played in the parks during those terrible days and that their
favorite game was an imitation of their elders stamping upon the
But the Mercenaries found it no easy task to cope with the people of
the abyss and at the same time fight with the comrades. Chicago was
true to her traditions, and though a generation of revolutionists
was wiped out, it took along with it pretty close to a generation of
its enemies. Of course, the Iron Heel kept the figures secret, but, at
a very conservative estimate, at least one hundred and thirty thousand
Mercenaries were slain. But the comrades had no chance. Instead of the
whole country being hand in hand in revolt, they were all alone, and
the total strength of the Oligarchy could have been directed against
them if necessary. As it was, hour after hour, day after day, in
endless train-loads, by hundreds of thousands, the Mercenaries were
hurled into Chicago.
And there were so many of the people of the abyss! Tiring of the
slaughter, a great herding movement was begun by the soldiers, the
intent of which was to drive the street mobs, like cattle, into Lake
Michigan. It was at the beginning of this movement that Garthwaite and
I had encountered the young officer. This herding movement was
practically a failure, thanks to the splendid work of the comrades.
Instead of the great host the Mercenaries had hoped to gather
together, they succeeded in driving no more than forty thousand of the
wretches into the lake. Time and again, when a mob of them was well in
hand and being driven along the streets to the water, the comrades
would create a diversion, and the mob would escape through the
consequent hole torn in the encircling net.
'Garthwaite and I saw an example of this shortly after meeting
with the young officer. The mob of which we had been a part, and which
had been put in retreat, was prevented from escaping to the south
and east by strong bodies of troops. The troops we had fallen in
with had held it back on the west. The only outlet was north, and
north it went toward the lake, driven on from east and west and
south by machine-gun fire and automatics. Whether it divined that it
was being driven toward the lake, or whether it was merely a blind
squirm of the monster, I do not know; but at any rate the mob took a
cross street to the west, turned down the next street, and came back
upon its track, heading south toward the great ghetto.
Garthwaite and I at that time were trying to make our way westward
to get out of the territory of street-fighting, and we were caught
right in the thick of it again. As we came to the corner we saw the
howling mob bearing down upon us. Garthwaite seized my arm and we were
just starting to run, when he dragged me back from in front of the
wheels of half a dozen war automobiles, equipped with machine-guns,
that were rushing for the spot. Behind them came the soldiers with
their automatic rifles. By the time they took position, the mob was
upon them, and it looked as though they would be overwhelmed before
they could get into action.
Here and there a soldier was discharging his rifle, but this
scattered fire had no effect in checking the mob. On it came,
bellowing with brute rage. It seemed the machine-guns could not get
started. The automobiles on which they were mounted blocked the
street, compelling the soldiers to find positions in, between, and
on the sidewalks. More and more soldiers were arriving, and in the jam
we were unable to get away. Garthwaite held me by the arm, and we
pressed close against the front of a building.
The mob was no more than twenty-five feet away when the machine-guns
opened up; but before that flaming sheet of death nothing could
live. The mob came on, but it could not advance. It piled up in a
heap, a mound, a huge and growing wave of dead and dying. Those behind
urged on, and the column, from gutter to gutter, telescoped upon
itself. Wounded creatures, men and women, were vomited over the top of
that awful wave and fell squirming down the face of it till they
threshed about under the automobiles and against the legs of the
soldiers. The latter bayoneted the struggling wretches, though one I
saw who gained his feet and flew at a soldier's throat with his teeth.
Together they went down, soldier and slave, into the welter.
The firing ceased. The work was done. The mob had been stopped in
its wild attempt to break through. Orders were being given to clear
the wheels of the war-machines. They could not advance over that
wave of dead, and the idea was to run them down the cross street.
The soldiers were dragging the bodies away from the wheels when it
happened. We learned afterward how it happened. A block distant a
hundred of our comrades had been holding a building. Across roofs
and through buildings they made their way, till they found
themselves looking down upon the close-packed soldiers. Then it was
Without warning, a shower of bombs fell from the top of the
building. The automobiles were blown to fragments, along with many
soldiers. We, with the survivors, swept back in mad retreat. Half a
block down another building opened fire on us. As the soldiers had
carpeted the street with dead slaves, so, in turn, did they themselves
become carpet. Garthwaite and I bore charmed lives. As we had done
before, so again we sought shelter in an entrance. But he was not to
be caught napping this time. As the roar of the bombs died away, he
began peering out.
'The mob's coming back!' he called to me. 'We've got to get out of
We fled, hand in hand, down the bloody pavement, slipping and
sliding, and making for the corner. Down the cross street we could see
a few soldiers still running. Nothing was happening to them. The way
was clear. So we paused a moment and looked back. The mob came on
slowly. It was busy arming itself with the rifles of the slain and
killing the wounded. We saw the end of the young officer who had
rescued us. He painfully lifted himself on his elbow and turned
loose with his automatic pistol.
'There goes my chance of promotion,' Garthwaite laughed, as a
woman bore down on the wounded man, brandishing a butcher's cleaver.
'Come on. It's the wrong direction, but we'll get out somehow.'
And we fled eastward through the quiet streets, prepared at every
cross street for anything to happen. To the south a monster
conflagration was filling the sky, and we knew that the great ghetto
was burning. At last I sank down on the sidewalk. I was exhausted
and could go no farther. I was bruised and sore and aching in every
limb; yet I could not escape smiling at Garthwaite, who was rolling
a cigarette and saying:
'I know I'm making a mess of rescuing you, but I can't get head
nor tail of the situation. It's all a mess. Every time we try to break
out, something happens and we're turned back. We're only a couple of
blocks now from where I got you out of that entrance. Friend and foe
are all mixed up. It's chaos. You can't tell who is in those darned
buildings. Try to find out, and you get a bomb on your head. Try to go
peaceably on your way, and you run into a mob and are killed by
machine-guns, or you run into the Mercenaries and are killed by your
own comrades from a roof. And on the top of it all the mob comes along
and kills you, too.'
He shook his head dolefully, lighted his cigarette, and sat down
'And I'm that hungry,' he added, 'I could eat cobblestones.'
The next moment he was on his feet again and out in the street
prying up a cobblestone. He came back with it and assaulted the window
of a store behind us.
'It's ground floor and no good,' he explained as he helped me
through the hole he had made; 'but it's the best we can do. You get
a nap and I'll reconnoitre. I'll finish this rescue all right, but I
want time, time, lots of it- and something to eat.'
It was a harness store we found ourselves in, and he fixed me up a
couch of horse blankets in the private office well to the rear. To add
to my wretchedness a splitting headache was coming on, and I was
only too glad to close my eyes and try to sleep.
'I'll be back,' were his parting words. 'I don't hope to get an
auto, but I'll surely bring some grub,* anyway.'
And that was the last I saw of Garthwaite for three years. Instead
of coming back, he was carried away to a hospital with a bullet
through his lungs and another through the fleshy part of his neck.
I HAD NOT CLOSED MY EYES the night before on the Twentieth
Century, and what of that and of my exhaustion I slept soundly. When I
first awoke, it was night. Garthwaite had not returned. I had lost
my watch and had no idea of the time. As I lay with my eyes closed,
I heard the same dull sound of distant explosions. The inferno was
still raging. I crept through the store to the front. The reflection
from the sky of vast conflagrations made the street almost as light as
day. One could have read the finest print with ease. From several
blocks away came the crackle of small hand-bombs and the churning of
machine-guns, and from a long way off came a long series of heavy
explosions. I crept back to my horse blankets and slept again.
When next I awoke, a sickly yellow light was filtering in on me.
It was dawn of the second day. I crept to the front of the store. A
smoke pall, shot through with lurid gleams, filled the sky. Down the
opposite side of the street tottered a wretched slave. One hand he
held tightly against his side, and behind him he left a bloody
trail. His eyes roved everywhere, and they were filled with
apprehension and dread. Once he looked straight across at me, and in
his face was all the dumb pathos of the wounded and hunted animal.
He saw me, but there was no kinship between us, and with him, at
least, no sympathy of understanding; for he cowered perceptibly and
dragged himself on. He could expect no aid in all God's world. He
was a helot in the great hunt of helots that the masters were
making. All he could hope for, all he sought, was some hole to crawl
away in and hide like any animal. The sharp clang of a passing
ambulance at the corner gave him a start. Ambulances were not for such
as he. With a groan of pain he threw himself into a doorway. A
minute later he was out again and desperately hobbling on.
I went back to my horse blankets and waited an hour for
Garthwaite. My headache had not gone away. On the contrary, it was
increasing. It was by an effort of will only that I was able to open
my eyes and look at objects. And with the opening of my eyes and the
looking came intolerable torment. Also, a great pulse was beating in
my brain. Weak and reeling, I went out through the broken window and
down the street, seeking to escape, instinctively and gropingly,
from the awful shambles. And thereafter I lived nightmare. My memory
of what happened in the succeeding hours is the memory one would
have of nightmare. Many events are focussed sharply on my brain, but
between these indelible pictures I retain are intervals of
unconsciousness. What occurred in those intervals I know not, and
never shall know.
I remember stumbling at the corner over the legs of a man. It was
the poor hunted wretch that had dragged himself past my
hiding-place. How distinctly do I remember his poor, pitiful,
gnarled hands as he lay there on the pavement- hands that were more
hoof and claw than hands, all twisted and distorted by the toil of all
his days, with on the palms a horny growth of callous a half inch
thick. And as I picked myself up and started on, I looked into the
face of the thing and saw that it still lived; for the eyes, dimly
intelligent, were looking at me and seeing me.
After that came a kindly blank. I knew nothing, saw nothing,
merely tottered on in my quest for safety. My next nightmare vision
was a quiet street of the dead. I came upon it abruptly, as a wanderer
in the country would come upon a flowing stream. Only this stream I
gazed upon did not flow. It was congealed in death. From pavement to
pavement, and covering the sidewalks, it lay there, spread out quite
evenly, with only here and there a lump or mound of bodies to break
the surface. Poor driven people of the abyss, hunted helots- they
lay there as the rabbits in California after a drive.* Up the street
and down I looked. There was no movement, no sound. The quiet
buildings looked down upon the scene from their many windows. And
once, and once only, I saw an arm that moved in that dead stream. I
swear I saw it move, with a strange writhing gesture of agony, and
with it lifted a head, gory with nameless horror, that gibbered at
me and then lay down again and moved no more.
* In those days, so sparsely populated was the land that wild
animals often became pests. In California the custom of rabbit-driving
obtained. On a given day all the farmers in a locality would
assemble and sweep across the country in converging lines, driving the
rabbits by scores of thousands into a prepared enclosure, where they
were clubbed to death by men and boys.
I remember another street, with quiet buildings on either side,
and the panic that smote me into consciousness as again I saw the
people of the abyss, but this time in a stream that flowed and came
on. And then I saw there was nothing to fear. The stream moved slowly,
while from it arose groans and lamentations, cursings, babblings of
senility, hysteria, and insanity; for these were the very young and
the very old, the feeble and the sick, the helpless and the
hopeless, all the wreckage of the ghetto. The burning of the great
ghetto on the South Side had driven them forth into the inferno of the
street-fighting, and whither they wended and whatever became of them I
did not know and never learned.*
* It was long a question of debate, whether the burning of the South
Side ghetto was accidental, or whether it was done by the Mercenaries;
but it is definitely settled now that the ghetto was fired by the
Mercenaries under orders from their chiefs.
I have faint memories of breaking a window and hiding in some shop
to escape a street mob that was pursued by soldiers. Also, a bomb
burst near me, once, in some still street, where, look as I would,
up and down, I could see no human being. But my next sharp
recollection begins with the crack of a rifle and an abrupt becoming
aware that I am being fired at by a soldier in an automobile. The shot
missed, and the next moment I was screaming and motioning the signals.
My memory of riding in the automobile is very hazy, though this
ride, in turn, is broken by one vivid picture. The crack of the
rifle of the soldier sitting beside me made me open my eyes, and I saw
George Milford, whom I had known in the Pell Street days, sinking
slowly down to the sidewalk. Even as he sank the soldier fired
again, and Milford doubled in, then flung his body out, and fell
sprawling. The soldier chuckled, and the automobile sped on.
The next I knew after that I was awakened out of a sound sleep by
a man who walked up and down close beside me. His face was drawn and
strained, and the sweat rolled down his nose from his forehead. One
hand was clutched tightly against his chest by the other hand, and
blood dripped down upon the floor as he walked. He wore the uniform of
the Mercenaries. From without, as through thick walls, came the
muffled roar of bursting bombs. I was in some building that was locked
in combat with some other building.
A surgeon came in to dress the wounded soldier, and I learned that
it was two in the afternoon. My headache was no better, and the
surgeon paused from his work long enough to give me a powerful drug
that would depress the heart and bring relief. I slept again, and
the next I knew I was on top of the building. The immediate fighting
had ceased, and I was watching the balloon attack on the fortresses.
Some one had an arm around me and I was leaning close against him.
It came to me quite as a matter of course that this was Ernest, and
I found myself wondering how he had got his hair and eyebrows so badly
It was by the merest chance that we had found each other in that
terrible city. He had had no idea that I had left New York, and,
coming through the room where I lay asleep, could not at first believe
that it was I. Little more I saw of the Chicago Commune. After
watching the balloon attack, Ernest took me down into the heart of the
building, where I slept the afternoon out and the night. The third day
we spent in the building, and on the fourth, Ernest having got
permission and an automobile from the authorities, we left Chicago.
My headache was gone, but, body and soul, I was very tired. I lay
back against Ernest in the automobile, and with apathetic eyes watched
the soldiers trying to get the machine out of the city. Fighting was
still going on, but only in isolated localities. Here and there
whole districts were still in possession of the comrades, but such
districts were surrounded and guarded by heavy bodies of troops. In
a hundred segregated traps were the comrades thus held while the
work of subjugating them went on. Subjugation meant death, for no
quarter was given, and they fought heroically to the last man.*
* Numbers of the buildings held out over a week, while one held
out eleven days. Each building had to be stormed like a fort, and
the Mercenaries fought their way upward floor by floor. It was
deadly fighting. Quarter was neither given nor taken, and in the
fighting the revolutionists had the advantage of being above. While
the revolutionists were wiped out, the loss was not one-sided. The
proud Chicago proletariat lived up to its ancient boast. For as many
of itself as were killed, it killed that many of the enemy.
Whenever we approached such localities, the guards turned us back
and sent us around. Once, the only way past two strong positions of
the comrades was through a burnt section that lay between. From either
side we could hear the rattle and roar of war, while the automobile
picked its way through smoking ruins and tottering walls. Often the
streets were blocked by mountains of debris that compelled us to go
around. We were in a labyrinth of ruin, and our progress was slow.
The stockyards (ghetto, plant, and everything) were smouldering
ruins. Far off to the right a wide smoke haze dimmed the sky,- the
town of Pullman, the soldier chauffeur told us, or what had been the
town of Pullman, for it was utterly destroyed. He had driven the
machine out there, with despatches, on the afternoon of the third day.
Some of the heaviest fighting had occurred there, he said, many of the
streets being rendered impassable by the heaps of the dead.
Swinging around the shattered walls of a building, in the stockyards
district, the automobile was stopped by a wave of dead. It was for all
the world like a wave tossed up by the sea. It was patent to us what
had happened. As the mob charged past the corner, it had been swept,
at right angles and point-blank range, by the machine-guns drawn up on
the cross street. But disaster had come to the soldiers. A chance bomb
must have exploded among them, for the mob, checked until its dead and
dying formed the wave, had white-capped and flung forward its foam
of living, fighting slaves. Soldiers and slaves lay together, torn and
mangled, around and over the wreckage of the automobiles and guns.
Ernest sprang out. A familiar pair of shoulders in a cotton shirt
and a familiar fringe of white hair had caught his eye. I did not
watch him, and it was not until he was back beside me and we were
speeding on that he said:
'It was Bishop Morehouse.'
Soon we were in the green country, and I took one last glance back
at the smoke-filled sky. Faint and far came the low thud of an
explosion. Then I turned my face against Ernest's breast and wept
softly for the Cause that was lost. Ernest's arm about me was eloquent
'For this time lost, dear heart,' he said, 'but not forever. We have
learned. To-morrow the Cause will rise again, strong with wisdom and
The automobile drew up at a railroad station. Here we would catch
a train to New York. As we waited on the platform, three trains
thundered past, bound west to Chicago. They were crowded with
ragged, unskilled laborers, people of the abyss.
'Slave-levies for the rebuilding of Chicago,' Ernest said. 'You see,
the Chicago slaves are all killed.'
IT WAS NOT UNTIL ERNEST and I were back in New York, and after weeks
had elapsed, that we were able to comprehend thoroughly the full sweep
of the disaster that had befallen the Cause. The situation was
bitter and bloody. In many places, scattered over the country, slave
revolts and massacres had occurred. The roll of the martyrs
increased mightily. Countless executions took place everywhere. The
mountains and waste regions were filled with outlaws and refugees
who were being hunted down mercilessly. Our own refuges were packed
with comrades who had prices on their heads. Through information
furnished by its spies, scores of our refuges were raided by the
soldiers of the Iron Heel.
Many of the comrades were disheartened, and they retaliated with
terroristic tactics. The set-back to their hopes made them
despairing and desperate. Many terrorist organizations unaffiliated
with us sprang into existence and caused us much trouble.* These
misguided people sacrificed their own lives wantonly, very often
made our own plans go astray, and retarded our organization.
* The annals of this short-lived era of despair make bloody reading.
Revenge was the ruling motive, and the members of the terroristic
organizations were careless of their own lives and hopeless about
the future. The Danites, taking their name from the avenging angels of
the Mormon mythology, sprang up in the mountains of the Great West and
spread over the Pacific Coast from Panama to Alaska. The Valkyries
were women. They were the most terrible of all. No woman was
eligible for membership who had not lost near relatives at the hands
of the Oligarchy. They were guilty of torturing their prisoners to
death. Another famous organization of women was The Widows of War. A
companion organization to the Valkyries was the Berserkers. These
men placed no value whatever upon their own lives, and it was they who
totally destroyed the great Mercenary city of Bellona along with its
population of over a hundred thousand souls. The Bedlamites and the
Helldamites were twin slave organizations, while a new religious
sect that did not flourish long was called The Wrath of God. Among
others, to show the whimsicality of their deadly seriousness, may be
mentioned the following: The Bleeding Hearts, Sons of the Morning, the
Morning Stars, The Flamingoes, The Triple Triangles, The Three Bars,
The Rubonics, The Vindicators, The Comanches, and the Erebusites.
And through it all moved the Iron Heel, impassive and deliberate,
shaking up the whole fabric of the social structure in its search
for the comrades, combing out the Mercenaries, the labor castes, and
all its secret services, punishing without mercy and without malice,
suffering in silence all retaliations that were made upon it, and
filling the gaps in its fighting line as fast as they appeared. And
hand in hand with this, Ernest and the other leaders were hard at work
reorganizing the forces of the Revolution. The magnitude of the task
may be understood when it is taken into*
* This is the end of the Everhard Manuscript. It breaks off abruptly
in the middle of a sentence. She must have received warning of the
coming of the Mercenaries, for she had time safely to hide the
Manuscript before she fled or was captured. It is to be regretted that
she did not live to complete her narrative, for then, undoubtedly,
would have been cleared away the mystery that has shrouded for seven
centuries the execution of Ernest Everhard.