To Him That Hath by Ralph Connor
Chapter XV. The Storm
Slowly the evening was deepening into night, but still the glow from the setting sun lingered in the western sky. The brave little songster had gone from the top of the elm tree, but from the shrubbery behind the church a whippoorwill was beginning to tune his pipe.
"Oh, listen to the darling!" cried Patricia. "I haven't heard one for a long, long time."
"There used to be a great many in the shrubbery here, and in the old days the woods nearby were full of them in the evenings," said Mrs. Templeton.
As they sat listening for the whippoorwill's voice, they became aware of other sounds floating up to their ears from the town. The hum of passing motors, the high, shrill laughter of children playing in the streets, the clang of the locomotive bell from the railroad station, all softened by distance. But as they listened there came another sound like nothing they had ever heard in that place before. A strange, confused rumbling, with cries jutting out through the dull, rolling noise. A little later came the faint clash of rhythmic, tumultuous cheering. Patricia's quick ears were the first to catch the sound.
"Hush!" she cried. "What is that noise?"
Again came the rumbling sound, punctuated with quick volleys of cheering. The men glanced at each other. They knew well that sound, a sound they had often heard during the stirring days of the war, in the streets of the great cities across the seas, and in other places, too, where men were wont to crowd. As they listened in tense silence, there came the throbbing of a drum.
"My dear," said Mrs. Templeton faintly to her eldest daughter, "I think I shall go in."
At once Hugh offered her his arm, while Adrien took the other, and together they led her slowly into the house.
Meanwhile the others tumbled into Rupert's car and motored down to the gate, and there waited the approach of what seemed to be a procession of some sort or other.
At the gate Dr. Templeton, returning from his pastor visitations, found them standing.
"Come here, Papa!" cried Patricia. "Let us wait here. There is something coming up the street."
"But what is it?" asked Dr. Templeton. "Does anybody know?"
"I guess it is a strikers' parade, sir. I heard that they were to organise a march-out to-night. It is rather a ridiculous thing."
Through the deepening twilight they could see at the head of the column and immediately before the band, a double platoon of young girls dressed in white, under the command of an officer distinguished from the others by her red sash, all marching with a beautiful precision to the tap of the drum. As the head of the column drew opposite, Patricia touched Vic's arm.
"Vic!" she cried. "Look! Look at that girl! It is Annette!"
"My aunt! So it is!" cried Vic. "Jove! What a picture she makes! What a swing!"
Behind that swinging company of girls came the band, marching to the tapping of the drum only. Then after a space came a figure, pathetic, arresting, moving--a woman, obviously a workman's wife, of middle age, grey, workworn, and carrying a babe of a few months in her arms, marched alone. Plainly dressed, her grey head bare, she walked proudly erect but with evident signs of weariness. The appearance of that lone, weary, grey-haired woman and her helpless babe struck hard upon the heart with its poignant appeal, choking men's throats and bringing hot tears to women's eyes. Following that lonely figure came one who was apparently the officer in command of the column. As he came opposite the gate, his eye fell upon the group there. Swiftly he turned about, and, like a trumpet, his voice rang out in command:
"Ba-t-t-a-a-lion, halt!! R-r-r-i-g-h-t turn!"
Immediately the whole column came to a halt and faced toward the side of the street where stood the group within the shadow of the gate.
"I am going to get Annette," said Patricia to her father, and she darted off, returning almost immediately with the leader of the girls' squad.
"What does this mean, Annette? What are you doing? It is a great lark!" cried Patricia.
"Well, it is not exactly a lark," answered Annette, with a slight laugh. "You see, we girls want to help out the boys. We are strikers, too, you know. They asked us to take part in the parade, and here we are. But it's got away past being a lark," she continued, her voice and face growing stern. "There is a lot of suffering among the workers. I know all my money has gone," she added, after a moment, with a gay laugh.
Meantime, the officer commanding the column had spoken a few words to the leader of the band, and in response, to the surprise and dismay of the venerable Doctor, the band struck up that rollicking air associated with the time-honoured chorus, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." Then all stood silent, gazing at the Doctor, who, much embarrassed, could only gaze back in return.
"Papa, dear," said Adrien, who with Hugh Maynard had joined them at the gate, "you will have to speak to them."
"Speak to them, my dear? What in the world could I say? I have nothing to say to them."
"Oh, but you must, Papa! Just thank them."
"And tell them you are all for them, Daddy!" added Patricia impulsively.
Then the old Doctor, buttoning his coat tightly about him and drawing himself erect, said:
"Rupert, please run your car out to the road. Thank you." Mounting the car, he stood waiting quietly till the cheering had died down into silence, his beautiful, noble, saintly face lit with the faint glow that still came from the western sky but more with the inner light that shines from a soul filled with high faith in God and compassion for man.
"Gentlemen--" he began.
"Ladies, too, Papa," said Patricia in a clear undertone.
"Ah!" corrected the Doctor. "Ladies and Gentlemen:" while a laugh ran down the line. "One generally begins a speech with the words 'I am glad to see you here.' These words I cannot say this evening. I regret more deeply than you can understand the occasion of your being here at all. And in this regret I know that you all share. But I am glad that I can say from my heart that I feel honoured by and deeply moved by the compliment you have just paid me through your band. I could wish, indeed, that I was the 'jolly good fellow' you have said, but as I look at you I confess I am anything but 'jolly.' I have been in too many of your homes during the last three weeks to be jolly. The simple truth is, I am deeply saddened and, whatever be the rights or wrongs, and all fair-minded men will agree that there are rights and wrongs on both sides, my heart goes out in sympathy to all who are suffering and anxious and fearful for the future. I will try to do my best to bring about a better understanding."
"We know that, sir," shouted a voice. "Ye done yer best."
"But so far I and those labouring with me have failed. But surely, surely, wise and reasonable men can find before many days a solution for these problems. And now let me beg your leaders to be patient a little longer, to banish angry and suspicious feelings and to be willing to follow the light. I see that many of you are soldiers. To you my heart goes out with a love as true as if you were my own sons, for you were the comrades of my son. Let me appeal to you to preserve unbroken that fine spirit of comradeship that made the Canadian Army what it was. And let me assure you all that, however our weak and erring human hearts may fail and come short, the great heart of the Eternal Father is unchanging in Its love and pity for us all. Meantime, believe me, I shall never cease to labour and pray that very soon peace may come to us again." Then, lifting his hands over them while the men uncovered, he said a brief prayer, closing with the apostolic blessing.
Startled at the burst of cheering which followed shortly after the conclusion of the prayer, the babe broke into loud crying. Vainly the weary mother sought to quiet her child, she herself well-nigh exhausted with her march, being hardly able to stand erect. Swiftly Adrien sprang from the car and ran out to her.
"Let me carry the babe," she cried, taking the child in her arms. "Come into the car with me."
"No," said the woman fiercely. "I will go through with it." But even as she spoke she swayed upon her feet.
With gentle insistence, however, Adrien caught her arm and forced her toward the car.
"I will not leave them," said the woman stubbornly.
"Speak to her, Annette," said Adrien. "She cannot walk."
"Mrs. Egan," said Annette, coming to her, "it will be quite all right to go in the car. It will be all the better. Think of the fine parade it will make."
But, still protesting, the old woman hung back, crying, "Let me go! I will go through!"
"Sure thing!" cried Patricia. "We will take you along. Where's Rupert?"
But Rupert, furious and disgusted, hung back in the shadow.
"Here, Vic!" cried Patricia. "You take the wheel!"
"Delighted, I am sure!" cried Vic, climbing into the seat. "Get in here, Patsy. All set, Colonel," he added, saluting to the officer in command of the parade, and again the column broke into cheering as they moved off to the tap of the drum, Rupert's elegant Hudson Six taking a place immediately following the band.
"All my life I have longed for the spotlight," murmured Vic to his companion, a delighted grin on his face. "But one can have too much of a good thing. And, with Wellington, I am praying that night may come before I reach the haunts of my comrades in arms."
"Why, Vic, do you care?" cried Patricia. "Not I! And I think it was just splendid of Adrien!"
"Oh, topping! But did you see the gentle Rupert's face? Oh, it was simply priceless! Fancy this sacred car leading a strikers' parade." And Vic's body shook with delighted chuckles.
"Don't laugh, Vic!" said Patricia, laying her hand upon his arm. "The lady behind will see you."
"Steady it is," said Vic. "But I feel as if I were the elephant in the circus. I say, can we execute a flank movement, or must we go through to the bitter end?"
"Adrien," said Patricia, "do you think this night air is good for the baby?"
"We shall go on a bit yet," said Adrien. "Mrs. Egan is very tired and I am sure will want to go home presently."
But Mrs. Egan was beginning to recover her strength and, indeed, to enjoy the new distinction of riding in a car, and in this high company.
"No," she said, "I must go through." She had the look and tone of a martyr. "They chose me, you see, and I must go through!"
"Oh, very well," said Adrien cheerfully. "We shall just go along, Vic."
Through the main streets of the town the parade marched and countermarched till, in a sudden, they found themselves in front of the McGinnis foundry. Before the gate in the high board fence which enclosed the property, a small crowd had gathered, which greeted the marching column with uproarious cheers. From the company at the gate a man rushed forward and spoke eagerly to the officer in command.
"By Jove, there's Tony!" said Vic. "And that chap McDonough. What does this mean?"
After a brief conversation with Tony, who apparently was passionately pressing his opinion, the officer shook his head and marched steadily forward. Suddenly Tony, climbing upon the fence, threw up his hand and, pointing toward the foundry, shouted forth the single word, "Scabs!" Instantly the column halted. Again Tony, in a yell, uttered the same word, "Scabs!" From hundreds of throats there was an answering roar, savage, bloodthirsty as from a pack of wild beasts. Tony waved his hand for silence.
"Scabs!" he cried again. "McGinnis strike-breakers! They came to- night. They are in there!" He swung his arm around and pointed to the foundry. "Shall we give them a welcome? What do you say, boys?" Again and more fiercely than before, more terribly cruel, came the answering roar.
"Here, this is no place for you!" cried Vic. "Let's get out." At his touch the machine leaped forward, clear of the crowd.
"Annette!" cried Adrien, her hand on Vic's shoulder. "Go and get her!"
Halting the car, Vic leaped from the wheel, ran to where the girls' squad was halted and caught Annette by the arm.
"Annette," he said, "get your girls away from here quick! Come with us!"
But Annette laughed scornfully at him.
"Go with you? Not I! But," she added in a breathless undertone, "for God's sake, get your ladies and the baby away. These people won't know who you are. Move quick!"
"Come with us, Annette!" implored Vic. "If you come, the rest will follow."
"Go! Go!" cried Annette, pushing him. Already the crowd were tearing the fence to pieces with their hands, and rocks were beginning to fly.
Failing to move the girl, Vic sprang to the wheel again.
"I will get you away from this, anyway," he said.
"But Annette!" cried Patricia. "We can't leave her!"
But Vic made no reply, and at his touch the machine leaped forward, and none too soon, for already men were crowding about the car on every side.
"We are well out of that!" said Vic coolly. "And now I will take you all home. Hello! They're messing up McGinnis's things a bit," he added, as the sound of crashing glass came to their ears.
Through the quiet streets the car flew like a hunted thing, and in a very few minutes they were at the Rectory door.
"No fuss, now, Patricia," said Adrien. "we must not alarm Mamma. All steady."
"Right you are! Steady it is!" said Patricia springing from the car. Quietly but swiftly they got the woman and the child indoors.
"Hugh! Rupert!" said Adrien, speaking in a quiet voice. "Vic needs you out there. That is a wild car of yours, Rupert," she added with a laugh. "It fairly flies." Gathering in her hands the men's hats and sticks, she hurried them out of the door.
"Cheerio!" cried Vic. "A lovely war is going on down at the McGinnis plant. Get in and let us plan a campaign. First, to Police Headquarters, I suppose." As they flew through the streets Vic gave them in a few words a picture of the scenes he had just witnessed.
They found the Chief of Police in his office. At their first word he was on the move.
"I was afraid of this thing when that fool parade started," he said. "Sergeant, send out the general alarm!"
"How many men have you, Chief?" inquired Hugh.
"About twenty-five, all told. But they are all over the town. How many men are down there?"
"There are five hundred, at least; possibly a thousand, raging like wild bulls of Bashan."
As he spoke, another car came tearing up and Jack Maitland sprang from the wheel.
"Are you in need of help, Chief?" he asked quietly.
"All the good men we can get," said the Chief curtly. "But first we must get the Mayor here. Sergeant, get him on the phone."
"You go for him, Vic," said Jack.
"Righto!" cried Vic. "But count me in on this."
In fifteen minutes Vic was back with the Mayor, helpless with nervous excitement.
"Get your men out, Chief!" he shouted, as he sprang from the car. "Get them out quick, arrest those devils and lock 'em up! We'll show them a thing or two! Hurry up! What are you waiting for?"
"Mr. Mayor," Jack's clear, firm, cool voice arrested the Mayor's attention. "May I suggest that you swear in some special constables? The Chief will need help and some of us here would be glad to assist."
"Yes! Yes! For God's sake, hurry up! Here's the clerk. How do you swear them in, clerk?"
"The Chief of Police has all the necessary authority."
"All right, Chief. Swear them! Swear them! For heaven's sake, swear them! Here, you, Maitland--and you, Maynard--and Stillwell--"
With cool, swift efficiency born of his experience in the war, the Chief went on with his arrangements. In his hands the process of swearing in a number of special constables was speedily accomplished. Meantime many cars and a considerable number of men had gathered about the Police Headquarters.
"What is that light?" cried the Mayor suddenly, pointing in the direction of the foundry. "It's a fire! My God, Chief, do you see that fire? Hurry up! Why don't you hurry up? They will burn the town down."
"All right, Mr. Mayor," said the Chief. "We shall be there in a few minutes now. Captain Maitland," said the Chief, "I will take the men I have with me. Will you swear in all you can get within the next fifteen or twenty minutes, and report to me at the foundry? Sergeant, you come along with me! I'm off!" So saying, the Chief commandeered as many cars as were necessary, packed them with the members of his police force available and with the specials he had secured, and hurried away.
After the Chief had retired, Jack stood up in his car. "Any of you chaps want to get into this?" he said, addressing the crowd. His voice was cheery and cool. At once a dozen voices responded. "Righto!" "Here you are!" "Put me down!" In less than fifteen minutes, he had secured between forty and fifty men.
"I want all these cars," he said. "Get in, men. Hold on!" he shouted at a driver who had thrown in his clutch. "Let no man move without orders! Any man disobeying orders will be arrested at once! Remember that no guns are to be used, no matter what provocation may be given. Even if you are fired on, don't fire in return! Does any man know where we can get anything in the shape of clubs?"
"Hundreds of axe handles in our store," said Rupert.
"Right you are! Drivers, fall in line. Keep close up. Now, Mr. Mayor, if you please."
Armed with axe handles from Stillwell & Son's store, they set off for the scene of action. Arrived at the foundry they found the maddest, wildest confusion raging along the street in front of the foundry, and in the foundry yard which was crowded with men. The board fence along the front of the grounds had been torn down and used as fagots to fire the foundry, which was blazing merrily in a dozen places. Everywhere about the blazing building parties of men like hounds on the trail were hunting down strike-breakers and, on finding them, were brutally battering them into insensibility.
Driving his car through the crowd, Maitland found his way to the Chief. In a few short, sharp sentences, the Chief explained his plan of operations. "Clear the street in front, and hold it so! Then come and assist me in clearing this yard."
"All right, sir!" replied Maitland, touching his hat as to a superior officer, and, wheeling his car, he led his men back to the thronging street.
Meantime, the Fire Department had arrived upon the scene with a couple of engines, a hose reel and other fire-fighting apparatus, the firemen greatly hampered in their operations.
Swinging his car back through the crowd, Maitland made his way to the street, and set to work to clear the space immediately in front of the foundry. Parking his cars at one end of the street, and forming his men up in a single line, he began slowly to press back the crowd. It was slow and difficult work, for the crowd, unable to recognise his ununiformed special constables, resented their attack.
He called Victor to his side. "Get a man with you," he said, "and bring up two cars here."
"Come along, Rupert," cried Victor, seizing Stillwell, and together they darted back to where the cars stood. Mounting one of the cars, Maitland shouted in a loud voice:
"The Chief of Police wants this street cleared. So get back, please! We don't wish to hurt anyone. Now, get back!" And lining up level with the cars, the special constables again began to press forward, using their axe handles as bayonets and seeking to prod their way through.
High up on a telegraph pole, his foot on one of the climbing spikes, was a man directing and encouraging the attack. As he drew near, Maitland discovered this man to be no other than Tony, wildly excited and vastly enjoying himself.
"Come down, Tony!" he said. "Hurry up!"
"Cheerio, Captain!" shouted Tony. "What about Festubert?"
"Come down, Tony," said Maitland, "and be quick about it!"
"Sorry, can't do it, Captain. I am a fixture here."
Like a cat, Maitland swarmed up the pole and coming to a level with Tony, struck him swiftly and unexpectedly a single blow. It caught Tony on the chin. He swung off from the post, hung a moment, then dropped quietly to the ground. As he fell, a woman's shriek rang out from the crowd and tearing her way through the line came Annette, who flung herself upon her brother.
"Here you," said Jack, seizing a couple of men from the crowd, "get this man in my car. Now, Annette," he continued, "don't make a fuss. Tony isn't hurt. We'll send him quietly home. Now then, men, let's have no nonsense," he shouted. "I want this street cleared, and quick!"
As he spoke, a huge man ran out from the crowd and, with an oath, flung himself at Maitland. But before he came within striking distance, an axe handle flashed and the man went down like a log.
"Axe handles!" shouted Maitland. "But steady, men!"
Over the heads of the advancing line, the axe handles swung, men dropping before them at every step. At once the crowd began a hasty retreat, till the pressure upon the back lines made it impossible for those in front to escape. From over the heads of the crowd rocks began to fly. A number of his specials were wounded and for a moment the advance hung fire. Down through the crowd came a fireman, dragging with him a hose preparatory to getting into action.
"Hello, there!" called Maitland. The fireman looked up at him. Jack sprang down to his side. "I want to clear this street," he said. "You can do it for me."
"Well, I can try," said the fireman with a grin, and turning his hose toward the crowd, gave the signal for the water, holding the nozzle at an angle slightly off the perpendicular. In a very few moments the crowd in the rear found themselves under a deluge of falling water, and immediately they took to their heels, followed as rapidly as possible by those in front. Then, levelling his nozzle, the fireman proceeded to wash back from either side of the street those who had sought refuge there, and before many minutes had elapsed, the street was cleared, and in command of Maitland's specials.
Leaving the street under guard, Maitland and his specials went to the help of the Chief, who was hampered more or less by His Worship, the Mayor, and very considerably by Mr. McGinnis, who had meantime arrived, mad with rage and demanding blood, and proceeded to clear up the foundry yard, and rescue the strike-breakers who had taken refuge within the burning building and in holes and corners about the premises. It was no light matter, but under the patient, good-natured but resolute direction of the Chief, they finally completed their job, rounding up the strike-breakers in a corner of the yard and driving off their assailants to a safe distance.
There remained still the most difficult part of their task. The strike-breakers must be got to the Police Headquarters, the nearest available place of safety. For, on the street beyond the water line, the crowd was still waiting in wrathful mood. The foundry was a wreck, but even this did not satisfy the fury of the strikers, which had been excited by the presence of the strike- breakers imported by McGinnis. For the more seriously injured, ambulances were called, and these were safely got off under police guard to the General Hospital.
The Chief entered into consultation with the Mayor:
"The only safe place within reach," he said, "is Police Headquarters. And the shortest and best route is up the hill to the left. But unfortunately, that is where the big crowd is gathered. There are not so many if we take the route to the right, but that is a longer way round."
"Put the men in your cars, Chief," said McGinnis, "and smash your way through. They can't stop you."
"Yes, and kill a dozen or so," said the Chief.
"Why not? Aren't they breaking the law?"
"Oh, well, Mr. McGinnis," said the Chief, "it is easy to kill men. The trouble is they are no use to anybody after they are dead. No, we must have no killing to-night. To-morrow we'd be sorry for it."
"Let us drive up and see them," suggested the Mayor. "Let me talk to the boys. The boys know me."
The Chief did not appear to be greatly in love with the suggestion of the Mayor.
"Well," he said, "it would do no harm to drive up and have a look at them. We'll see how they are fixed, anyway. I think, Mr. McGinnis, you had better remain on guard here. The Mayor and Captain Maitland will come with me."
Commandeering Rupert and his car, the Chief took his party at a moderate pace up the street, at the top of which the crowd stood waiting in compact masses. Into these masses Rupert recklessly drove his car.
"Steady there, Stillwell," warned the Chief. "You'll hurt someone."
"Hurt them?" said Rupert. "What do you want?"
"Certainly not to hurt anyone," replied the Chief quietly. "The function of my police force is the protection of citizens. Halt there!"
The Chief stepped out among the strikers and stood in the glare of the headlights.
"Well, boys," he said pleasantly, "don't you think it is time to get home? I think you have done enough damage to-night already. I am going to give you a chance to get away. We don't want to hurt anyone and we don't want to have any of you down for five years or so."
Then the Mayor spoke up. "Men, this is a most disgraceful thing. Most deplorable. Think of the stain upon the good name of our fair city."
Howls of derision drowned his further speech for a time.
"Now, boys," he continued, "can't we end this thing right here? Why can't you disperse quietly and go to your homes? What do you want here, anyway?"
"Scabs!" yelled a voice, followed by a savage yell from the crowd.
"Men," said the Chief sharply, "you know me. I want this street cleared. I shall return here in five minutes and anyone seeking to stop me will do so at his own risk. I have a hundred men down there and this time they won't give you the soft end of the club."
"We want them sulphurously described scabs," yelled a voice. "We ain't goin' to kill them, Chief. They're lousy. We want to give 'em a bath." And a savage yell of laughter greeted the remark. On every hand the word was taken up: "A bath! A bath! The river! The river!" The savage laughter of the crowd was even more horrible than their rage.
"All right, boys. We are coming back and we are going through. Leave this street clear or take your chances! It's up to you!" So saying, the car was turned about and the party proceeded back to the foundry.
"What are you going to do, Chief?" inquired the Mayor anxiously.
"There are a lot of soldiers in that crowd," said the Chief. "I don't like the looks of them. They are too steady. I hate to smash through them."
Arrived at the foundry, the Chief paced up and down, pondering his problem. He called Maitland to his side.
"How many cars have we here, Maitland?" he inquired.
"Some fifteen, I think. And there are five or six more parked down on the street."
"That would be enough," said the Chief. "I hate the idea of smashing through that crowd. You see, some of those boys went through hell with me and I hate to hurt them."
"Why not try a ruse?" suggested Maitland. "Divide your party. You take five or six cars with constables up the hill to that crowd there. Let me take the strikebreakers and the rest of the cars and make a dash to the right. It's a longer way round but with the streets clear, we can arrive at Headquarters in a very few minutes."
The Chief considered the plan for a few minutes in silence.
"It's a good plan, Maitland," he said at length. "It's a good plan. And we'll put it through. I'll make the feint on the left; you run them through on the right. I believe we can pull it off. Give me a few minutes to engage their attention before you set out."
Everything came off according to plan. As the Chief's detachment of cars approached the solid mass of strikers, they slowly gave back before them.
"Clear the way there!" said the Chief. "We are going through!"
Step by step the crowd gave way, pressed by the approaching cars. Suddenly, at a word of command, the mass opened ranks and the Chief saw before him a barrier across the street, constructed of fencing torn from neighbouring gardens, an upturned delivery wagon, a very ugly and very savage-looking field harrow commandeered from a neighbouring market garden, with wicked-looking, protruding teeth and other debris of varied material, but all helping to produce a most effective barricade. Silently the Chief stood for a few moments, gazing at the obstruction. A curious, ominous growl of laughter ran through the mob. Then came a sharp word of command:
As with one movement his party of constables were on the ground and lined up in front of their cars, with their clubs and axe handles ready for service. Still the mob waited in ominous silence. The Chief drew his gun and said in a loud, clear voice:
"I am going to clear away this barricade. The first man that offers to prevent me I shall shoot on the spot."
"I wouldn't do that, Chief," said a voice quietly from the rear. "There are others, you know. Listen."
Three shots rang out in rapid succession, and again silence fell.
Meantime from the corner of the barricade a man had been peering into the cars.
"Boys!" he shouted. "They ain't there! There ain't no scabs."
The Chief laughed quietly.
"Who said there were?" he asked.
"Sold, by thunder!" said the man. Then he yelled: "We'll get 'em yet. Come on, boys, to the main street."
Like a deer, he doubled down a side street, followed by the crowd, yelling, cursing, swearing deep oaths.
"Let 'em go," said the Chief. "Maitland's got through by this time." As he spoke, two shots rang out, followed by the crash of glass, and the headlights of the first car went black.
"Just as well you didn't get through, Chief," said the voice of the previous speaker. "Might've got hurt, eh?"
"Give it to him, Chief," said Rupert savagely.
"No use," said the Chief. "Let him go."
Meanwhile, Maitland, with little or no opposition, had got his cars through the crowd, which as a matter of fact were unaware of the identity of the party until after they had broken through.
Their way led by a circuitous route through quiet back streets, approaching Police Headquarters from the rear. A ten-minute run brought them to a short side street which led past the Maitland Mills, at the entrance to which they saw under the glare of the arc lights over the gateway a crowd blocking their way.
"Now, what in thunder is this? Hold up a minute," said Maitland to his driver. "Let me take a look." He ran forward to the main entrance. There he found the gateway, which stood a little above the street level, blocked by a number of his own men, some of whom he recognised as members of his hockey team, and among them, McNish. Out in the street among the crowd stood Simmons, standing on a barrel, lashing himself into a frenzy and demanding blood, fire, revolution, and what not.
"McNish, you here?" said Maitland sharply. "What is it, peace or war? Speak quick!"
"A'm haudden these fules back fra the mill," answered McNish with a scowl. Then, dropping into his book English, he continued bitterly: "They have done enough to-night already. They have wrecked our cause for us!"
"You are dead right, McNish," answered Maitland. "And what do they want here?"
"They are some of McGinnis's men and they are mad at the way you handled them over yonder. They are bound to get in here. They are only waiting for the rest of the crowd. Yon eejit doesn't know what he is saying. They are all half-drunk."
Maitland's mind worked swiftly. "McNish, listen!" he said. "I am in a deuce of a fix. I have the scabs in those cars there with me. The crowd are following me up. What shall I do?"
"My God, man, you're lost. They'll tear ye tae bits."
"McNish, listen. I'll run them into the office by the side gate down the street. Keep them busy here. Let that fool Simmons spout all he wants. He'll help to make a row."
His eyes fell upon a crouching figure at his feet.
"Who is this? It's Sam, by all that's holy! Why, Sam, you are the very chap I want. Listen, boy. Slip around to the side door and open it wide till I bring in some cars. Then shut and bar it quick." Carefully he repeated his instructions. "Can you do it, Sam?"
"I'm awful scared, Captain," replied the boy, his teeth chattering, "but I'll try it."
"Good boy," said Maitland. "Don't fail me, Sam. They might kill me."
"All right, Captain. I'll do it!" And Sam disappeared, crawling under the gate, while Maitland slipped back to his cars and passed the word among the drivers. "Keep close up and stop for nothing!"
They had almost made the entry when some man hanging on the rear of the crowd caught sight of them.
"Scabs! Scabs!" cried the man, dashing after the cars. But Sam was equal to his task, and as the last car passed through the gateway he slammed and bolted the door in their faces.
Disposing of the strike-breakers in the office, Maitland and his guard of specials passed outside to the main gate and took their places beside McNish and his guard. Before them the mob had become a mad, yelling, frenzied thing, bereft of power of thought, swaying under the fury of their passion like tree tops blown by storm, reiterating in hoarse and broken cries the single word "Scabs! Scabs!"
"Keep them going somehow, McNish," said Maitland. "The Chief won't be long now."
McNish climbed up upon the fence and, held in place there by two specials, lifted his hand for silence. But Simmons, who all too obviously had fallen under the spell of the bootleggers, knew too well the peril of his cause. Shrill and savage rose his voice:
"Don't listen to 'im. 'E's a traitor, a blank and double-blank traitor. 'E sold us (h)up, 'e 'as. Don't listen to 'im."
Like a maniac he spat out the words from his foam-flecked lips, waving his arms madly about his head. Relief came from an unexpected source. Sam Wigglesworth, annoyed at Simmons's persistence and observing that McNish, to whom as a labour leader he felt himself bound, regarded the orating and gesticulating Simmons with disfavour, reached down and, pulling a sizable club from beneath the bottom of a fence, took careful aim and, with the accuracy of the baseball pitcher that he was, hurled it at the swaying figure upon the barrel. The club caught Simmons fair in the mouth, who, being, none too firmly set upon his pedestal, itself affording a wobbling foothold, landed spatting and swearing in the arms of his friends below. With the mercurial temper characteristic of a crowd, they burst into a yell of laughter.
"Go to it now, McNish!" said Maitland.
Echoing the laughter, McNish once more held up his hand. "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes," he said in his deepest and most solemn tone. The phenomenal absurdity of a joke from the solemn Scotchman again tickled the uncertain temperament of the crowd into boisterous laughter.
"Men, listen tae me!" cried McNish. "Ye mad a bad mistake the nicht. In fact, ye're a lot of fules. And those who led ye are worse, for they have lost us the strike, if that is any satisfaction tae ye. And now ye want to do another fule thing. Ye're mad just because ye didn't know enough to keep out of the wet."
But at this point, a man fighting his way from the rear of the crowd, once more raised the cry "Scabs!"
"Keep that fool quiet," said McNish sharply.
"Keep quiet yourself, McNish," replied the man, still pushing his way toward the front.
"Heaven help us now," said Maitland. "It's Tony, and drunk at that!"
It was indeed Tony, without hat, coat or vest.
"McNish, we want those scabs," said Tony, in drunken gravity.
"There are nae scabs here. Haud ye're drunken tongue," said McNish savagely.
"McNish," persisted Tony in a grave and perfectly courteous tone, "you're a liar. The scabs are in that office." A roar again swept the crowd.
"Men, listen to me," pleaded McNish. "A'll tell ye about the scabs. They are in the office yonder. But I have Captain Maitland's word o' honour that they will be shipped out of town by the first train."
A savage yell answered him.
"McNish, we'll do the shipping," said Tony, moving still nearer the speaker.
"Officer," said Maitland sharply to a uniformed policeman standing by his side, "arrest that man!" pointing to Tony.
The policeman drew his baton, took two strides forward, seized Tony by the back of the neck and drew him in. An angry yell went up from the mob. Maitland felt a hand upon his arm. Looking down, he saw to his horror and dismay Annette, her face white and stricken with grief and terror.
"Oh, Jack," she pleaded, "don't let Tony be arrested. He broke away from us. Let me take him. He will come with me. Oh, let me take him!"
"Rescue! Rescue!" shouted the crowd, rushing the cordon of police lining the street.
"Kill him! Kill the traitor!" yelled Simmons, struggling through and waving unsteadily the revolver in his hand. "Down with that tyrant, Maitland! Kill him!" he shrieked.
He raised his arm, holding his gun with both hands.
"Look out, Jack," shrieked Annette, flinging herself on him.
Simultaneously with the shot, a woman's scream rang out and Annette fell back into Maitland's arms. A silence deep as death fell upon the mob.
With a groan McNish dropped from the fence beside the girl.
Annette opened her eyes and, looking up into Maitland's face, whispered: "He didn't get you, Jack. I'm so glad."
"Oh, Annette, dear girl! He's killed you!"
"It's--all--right--Jack," she whispered. "I--saved--you."
Meanwhile McNish, with her hand caught in his, was sobbing: "God, have mercy! She's deed! She's deed!"
Annette again opened her eyes. "Poor Malcolm," she whispered. "Dear Malcolm." Then, closing her eyes again, quietly as a tired child, she sank into unconsciousness. The big Scotchman, still kissing her hand, sobbed:
"Puir lassie, puir lassie! Ma God! Ma God! What now? What now?"
"She is dead. The girl is dead." The word passed from lip to lip among the crowd, which still held motionless and silent.
"We'll get her into the office," said Maitland.
"A'll tak her," said McNish, and, stopping down, he lifted her tenderly in his arms, stood for a moment facing the crowd, and then in a voice of unutterable sadness that told of a broken heart, he said: "Ye've killed her. Ye've killed the puir lassie. Are ye content?" And passed in through the gate, holding the motionless form close to his heart.
As he passed with his pathetic burden, the men on guard at the gate bared their heads. Immediately on every hand throughout the crowd men took off their hats and stood silent till he had disappeared from their sight. In the presence of that poignant grief their rage against him ceased, swept out of their hearts by an overwhelming pity.
In one swift instant a door had opened from another and unknown world, and through the open door a Presence, majestic, imperious, had moved in upon them, withering with His icy breath their hot passions, smiting their noisy clamour to guilty silence.