Calumet "K"
by Samuel Merwin and Henry Kitchell Webster
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During the speech Bannon had sat like a man hesitating between two courses of action. At this point he interrupted:—

"Let's get to business, Mr. Grady."

"I'll get to it fast enough. And when I do you'll see if you can safely insult the representative of the mighty power of the honest workingman of this vast land."


"I hear you folks are in a hurry, Mr. Bannon?"


"And that you'll spend anything it costs to get through on time. How'd it suit you to have all your laborers strike about now? Don't that idea make you sick?"

"Pretty near."

"Well, they will strike inside two days."

"What for? Suppose we settle with them direct."

"Just try that," said Grady, with withering sarcasm. "Just try that and see how it works."

"I don't want to. I only wanted to hear you confess that you are a rascal."

"You'll pay dear for giving me that name. But we come to that later. Do you think it would be worth something to the men who hire you for a dirty slave-driver to be protected against a strike? Wouldn't they be willing to pay a round sum to get this work done on time? Take a minute to think about it. Be careful how you tell me they wouldn't. You're not liked here, Mr. Bannon, by anybody—"

"You're threatening to have me recalled, according to your suggestions to Mr. Peterson the other night. Well, that's all right if you can do it. But I think that sooner than recall me or have a strike they would be willing to pay for protection."

"You do. I didn't look for that much sense in you. If you'd shown it sooner it might have saved your employers a large wad of bills. If you'd taken the trouble to be decent when I went to you in a friendly way a very little would have been enough. But now I've got to be paid. What do you say to five thousand as a fair sum?"

"They'd be willing to pay fully that to save delay," said Bannon, cheerfully.

"They would!" To save his life Grady could not help looking crestfallen. It seemed then that he might have got fifty. "All right," he went on, "five thousand it is; and I want it in hundred-dollar bills."

"You do!" cried Bannon, jumping to his feet. "Do you think you're going to get a cent of it? I might pay blackmail to an honest rascal who delivered the goods paid for. But I had your size the first time you came around. Don't you think I knew what you wanted? If I'd thought you were worth buying, I'd have settled it up for three hundred dollars and a box of cigars right at the start. That's about your market price. But as long as I knew you'd sell us out again if you could, I didn't think you were even worth the cigars. No; don't tell me what you're going to do. Go out and do it if you can. And get out of here."

For the second time Bannon took the little delegate by the arm. He marched him to the head of the long, straight flight of stairs. Then he hesitated a moment. "I wish you were three sizes larger," he said.


The organization of labor unions is generally democratic. The local lodge is self-governing; it elects its delegate, who attends a council of fellow-delegates, and this council may send representatives to a still more powerful body. But however high their titles, or their salaries, these dignitaries have power only to suggest action, except in a very limited variety of cases. There must always be a reference back to the rank and file. The real decision lies with them.

That is the theory. The laborers on Calumet K, with some others at work in the neighborhood, had organized into a lodge and had affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Grady, who had appeared out of nowhere, who had urged upon them the need of combining against the forces of oppression, and had induced them to organize, had been, without dissent, elected delegate. He was nothing more in theory than this: simply their concentrated voice. And this theory had the fond support of the laborers. "He's not our boss; he's our servant," was a sentiment they never tired of uttering when the delegate was out of earshot.

They met every Friday night, debated, passed portentous resolutions, and listened to Grady's oratory. After the meeting was over they liked to hear their delegate, their servant, talk mysteriously of the doings of the council, and so well did Grady manage this air of mystery that each man thought it assumed because of the presence of others, but that he himself was of the inner circle. They would not have dreamed of questioning his acts in meeting or after, as they stood about the dingy, reeking hall over Barry's saloon. It was only as they went to their lodgings in groups of two and three that they told how much better they could manage things themselves.

Bannon enjoyed his last conversation with Grady, though it left him a good deal to think out afterward. He had acted quite deliberately, had said nothing that afterward he wished unsaid; but as yet he had not decided what to do next. After he heard the door slam behind the little delegate, he walked back into his room, paced the length of it two or three times, then put on his ulster and went out. He started off aimlessly, paying no attention to whither he was going, and consequently he walked straight to the elevator. He picked his way across the C. & S. C. tracks, out to the wharf, and seated himself upon an empty nail keg not far from the end of the spouting house.

He sat there for a long while, heedless of all that was doing about him, turning the situation over and over in his mind. Like a good strategist, he was planning Grady's campaign as carefully as his own. Finally he was recalled to his material surroundings by a rough voice which commanded, "Get off that keg and clear out. We don't allow no loafers around here."

Turning, Bannon recognized one of the under-foremen. "That's a good idea," he said. "Are you making a regular patrol, or did you just happen to see me?"

"I didn't know it was you. No, I'm tending to some work here in the spouting house."

"Do you know where Mr. Peterson is?"

"He was right up here a bit ago. Do you want to see him?"

"Yes, if he isn't busy. I'm not the only loafer here, it seems," added Bannon, nodding toward where the indistinct figures of a man and a woman could be seen corning slowly toward them along the narrow strip of wharf between the building and the water. "Never mind," he added, as the foreman made a step in their direction, "I'll look after them myself."

The moment after he had called the foreman's attention to them he had recognized them as Hilda and Max. He walked over to meet them. "We can't get enough of it in the daytime, can we."

"It's a great place for a girl, isn't it, Mr. Bannon," said Max. "I was coming over here and Hilda made me bring her along. She said she thought it must look pretty at night."

"Doesn't it?" she asked. "Don't you think it does, Mr. Bannon?"

He had been staring at it for half an hour. Now for the first time he looked at it. For ninety feet up into the air the large mass was one unrelieved, unbroken shadow, barely distinguishable from the night sky that enveloped it. Above was the skeleton of the cupola, made brilliant, fairly dazzling, in contrast, by scores of arc lamps. At that distance and in that confused tangle of light and shadow the great timbers of the frame looked spidery. The effect was that of a luminous crown upon a gigantic, sphinx-like head.

"I guess you are right," he said slowly. "But I never thought of it that way before. And I've done more or less night work, too."

A moment later Peterson came up. "Having a tea party out here?" he asked; then turning to Bannon: "Was there something special you wanted, Charlie? I've got to go over to the main house pretty soon."

"It's our friend Grady. He's come down to business at last. He wants money."

Hilda was quietly signalling Max to come away, and Bannon, observing it, broke off to speak to them. "Don't go," he said. "We'll have a brief council of war right here." So Hilda was seated on the nail keg, while Bannon, resting his elbows on the top of a spile which projected waist high through the floor of the wharf, expounded the situation.

"You understand his proposition," he said, addressing Hilda, rather than either of the men. "It's just plain blackmail. He says, 'If you don't want your laborers to strike, you'll have to pay my price.'"

"Not much," Pete broke in. "I'd let the elevator rot before I'd pay a cent of blackmail."

"Page wouldn't," said Bannon, shortly, "or MacBride, neither. They'd be glad to pay five thousand or so for protection. But they'd want protection that would protect. Grady's trying to sell us a gold brick. He hated us to begin with, and when he'd struck us for about all he thought we'd stand, he'd call the men off just the same, and leave us to waltz the timbers around all by ourselves."

"How much did he want?"

"All he could get. I think he'd have been satisfied with a thousand, but he'd come 'round next week for a thousand more."

"What did you tell him?"

"I told him that a five-cent cigar was a bigger investment than I cared to make on him and that when we paid blackmail it would be to some fellow who'd deliver the goods. I said he could begin to make trouble just as soon as he pleased."

"Seems to me you might have asked for a few days' time to decide. Then we could have got something ready to come at him with. He's liable to call our men out tonight, ain't he?"

"I don't think so. I thought of trying to stave him off for a few days, but then I thought, 'Why, he'll see through that game and he'll go on with his scheme for sewing us up just the same.' You see, there's no good saying we're afraid. So I told him that we didn't mind him a bit; said he could go out and have all the fun he liked with us. If he thinks we've got something up our sleeve he may be a little cautious. Anyway, he knows that our biggest rush is coming a little later, and he's likely to wait for it."

Then Hilda spoke for the first time. "Has he so much power as that? Will they strike just because he orders them to?"

"Why, not exactly," said Bannon. "They decide that for themselves, or at least they think they do. They vote on it."

"Well, then," she asked hesitatingly, "why can't you just tell the men what Mr. Grady wants you to do and show them that he's dishonest? They know they've been treated all right, don't they?"

Bannon shook his head. "No use," he said. "You see, these fellows don't know much. They aren't like skilled laborers who need some sense in their business. They're just common roustabouts, and most of 'em have gunpowder in place of brains. They don't want facts or reason either; what they like is Grady's oratory. They think that's the finest thing they ever heard. They might all be perfectly satisfied and anxious to work, but if Grady was to sing out to know if they wanted to be slaves, they'd all strike like a freight train rolling down grade.

"No," he went on, "there's nothing to be done with the men. Do you know what would happen if I was to go up to their lodge and tell right out that Grady was a blackmailer? Why, after they'd got through with me, personally, they'd pass a resolution vindicating Grady. They'd resolve that I was a thief and a liar and a murderer and an oppressor of the poor and a traitor, and if they could think of anything more than that, they'd put it in, too. And after vindicating Grady to their satisfaction, they'd take his word for law and the gospel more than ever. In this sort of a scrape you want to hit as high as you can, strike the biggest man who will let you in his office. It's the small fry that make the trouble. I guess that's true 'most everywhere. I know the general manager of a railroad is always an easier chap to get on with than the division superintendent."

"Well," said Pete, after waiting a moment to see if Bannon had any definite suggestion to make as to the best way to deal with Grady, "I'm glad you don't think he'll try to tie us up tonight. Maybe we'll think of something tomorrow. I've got to get back on the job."

"I'll go up with you," said Max, promptly. Then, in answer to Hilda's gesture of protest, "You don't want to climb away up there tonight. I'll be back in ten minutes," and he was gone before she could reply. "I guess I can take care of you till he comes back," said Bannon. Hilda made no answer. She seemed to think that silence would conceal her annoyance better than anything she could say. So, after waiting a moment, Bannon went on talking.

"I suppose that's the reason why I get ugly sometimes and call names; because I ain't a big enough man not to. If I was getting twenty-five thousand a year maybe I'd be as smooth as anybody. I'd like to be a general manager for a while, just to see how it would work."

"I don't see how anybody could ever know enough to run a railroad." Hilda was looking up at the C. & S. C. right of way, where red and white semaphore lights were winking.

"I was offered that job once myself, though, and turned it down," said Bannon. "I was superintendent of the electric light plant at Yawger. Yawger's quite a place, on a branch of the G.T. There was another road ran through the town, called the Bemis, Yawger and Pacific. It went from Bemis to Stiles Corners, a place about six miles west of Yawger. It didn't get any nearer the Pacific than that. Nobody in Yawger ever went to Bemis or Stiles, and there wasn't anybody in Bemis and Stiles to come to Yawger, or if they did come they never went back, so the road didn't do a great deal of business. They assessed the stock every year to pay the officers' salaries—and they had a full line of officers, too—but the rest of the road had to scrub along the best it could.

"When they elected me alderman from the first ward up at Yawger, I found out that the B.Y.&P. owed the city four hundred and thirty dollars, so I tried to find out why they wasn't made to pay. It seemed that the city had had a judgment against them for years, but they couldn't get hold of anything that was worth seizing. They all laughed at me when I said I meant to get that money out of 'em.

"The railroad had one train; there was an engine and three box cars and a couple of flats and a combination—that's baggage and passenger. It made the round trip from Bemis every day, fifty-two miles over all, and considering the roadbed and the engine, that was a good day's work.

"Well, that train was worth four hundred and thirty dollars all right enough, if they could have got their hands on it, but the engineer was such a peppery chap that nobody ever wanted to bother him. But I just bided my time, and one hot day after watering up the engine him and the conductor went off to get a drink. I had a few lengths of log chain handy, and some laborers with picks and shovels, and we made a neat, clean little job of it. Then I climbed up into the cab. When the engineer came back and wanted to know what I was doing there, I told him we'd attached his train. 'Don't you try to serve no papers on me,' he sung out, 'or I'll split your head.' 'There's no papers about this job,' said I. 'We've attached it to the track.' At that he dropped the fire shovel and pulled open the throttle. The drivers spun around all right, but the train never moved an inch.

"He calmed right down after that and said he hadn't four hundred and thirty dollars with him, but if I'd let the train go, he'd pay me in a week. I couldn't quite do that, so him and the conductor had to walk 'way to Bemis, where the general offices was. They was pretty mad. We had that train chained up there for 'most a month, and at last they paid the claim."

"Was that the railroad that offered to make you general manager?" Hilda asked.

"Yes, provided I'd let the train go. I'm glad I didn't take it up, though. You see, the farmers along the road who held the stock in it made up their minds that the train had quit running for good, so they took up the rails where it ran across their farms, and used the ties for firewood. That's all they ever got out of their investment."

A few moments later Max came back and Bannon straightened up to go. "I wish you'd tell Pete when you see him tomorrow," he said to the boy, "that I won't be on the job till noon."

"Going to take a holiday?"

"Yes. Tell him I'm taking the rest cure up at a sanitarium."

At half-past eight next morning Bannon entered the outer office of R. S. Carver, president of the Central District of the American Federation of Labor, and seated himself on one of the long row of wood-bottomed chairs that stood against the wall. Most of them were already occupied by poorly dressed men who seemed also to be waiting for the president. One man, in dilapidated, dirty finery, was leaning over the stenographer's desk, talking about the last big strike and guessing at the chance of there being any fun ahead in the immediate future. But the rest of them waited in stolid, silent patience, sitting quite still in unbroken rank along the wall, their overcoats, if they had them, buttoned tight around their chins, though the office was stifling hot. The dirty man who was talking to the stenographer filled a pipe with some very bad tobacco and ostentatiously began smoking it, but not a man followed his example.

Bannon sat in that silent company for more than an hour before the great man came. Even then there was no movement among those who sat along the wall, save as they followed him almost furtively with their eyes. The president never so much as glanced at one of them; for all he seemed to see the rank of chairs might have been empty. He marched across to his private office, and, leaving the door open behind him, sat down before his desk. Bannon sat still a moment, waiting for those who had come before him to make the first move, but not a man of them stirred, so, somewhat out of patience with this mysteriously solemn way of doing business, he arose and walked into the president's office with as much assurance as though it had been his own. He shut the door after him. The president did not look up, but went on cutting open his mail.

"I'm from MacBride & Company, of Minneapolis," said Bannon.

"Guess I don't know the parties."

"Yes, you do. We're building a grain elevator at Calumet."

The president looked up quickly. "Sit down," he said. "Are you superintending the work?"

"Yes. My name's Bannon—Charles Bannon."

"Didn't you have some sort of an accident out there? An overloaded hoist? And you hurt a man, I believe."


"And I think one of your foremen drew a revolver on a man."

"I did, myself."

The president let a significant pause intervene before his next question. "What do you want with me?"

"I want you to help me out. It looks as though we might get into trouble with our laborers."

"You've come to the wrong man. Mr. Grady is the man for you to talk with. He's their representative."

"We haven't got on very well with Mr. Grady. The first time he came on the job he didn't know our rule that visitors must apply at the office, and we weren't very polite to him. He's been down on us ever since. We can't make any satisfactory agreement with him."

Carver turned away impatiently. "You'll have to," he said, "if you want to avoid trouble with your men. It's no business of mine. He's acting on their instructions."

"No, he isn't," said Bannon, sharply. "What they want, I guess, is to be treated square and paid a fair price. What he wants is blackmail."

"I've heard that kind of talk before. It's the same howl that an employer always makes when he's tried to bribe an agent who's active in the interest of the men, and got left at it. What have you got to show for it? Anything but just your say so?"

Bannon drew out Grady's letter of warning and handed it to him. Carver read it through, then tossed it on his desk. "You certainly don't offer that as proof that he wants blackmail, Mr. Bannon."

"There's never any proof of blackmail. When a man can see me alone, he isn't going to talk before witnesses, and he won't commit himself in writing. Grady told me that unless we paid his price he'd tie us up. No one else was around when he said it."

"Then you haven't anything but your say so. But I know him, and I don't know you. Do you think I'd take your word against his?"

"That letter doesn't prove blackmail," said Bannon, "but it smells of it. And there's the same smell about everything Grady has done. When he came to my office a day or two after that hoist accident, I tried to find out what he wanted, and he gave me nothing but oratory. I tried to pin him down to something definite, but my stenographer was there and Grady didn't have a suggestion to make. Then by straining his neck and asking questions, he found out we were in a hurry, that the elevator was no good unless it was done by January first, and that we had all the money we needed.

"Two days after he sent me that letter. Look at it again. Why does he want to take both of us to Chicago on Sunday morning, when he can see me any time at my office on the job?" Bannon spread the letter open before Carver's face. "Why doesn't he say right here what it is he wants, if it's anything he dares to put in black and white? I didn't pay any attention to that letter; it didn't deserve any. And then will you tell me why he came to my room at night to see me instead of to my office in the daytime? I can prove that he did. Does all that look as if I tried to bribe him? Forget that we're talking about Grady, and tell me what you think it looks like."

Carver was silent for a moment. "That wouldn't do any good," he said at last. "If you had proof that I could act on, I might be able to help you. I haven't any jurisdiction in the internal affairs of that lodge; but if you could offer proof that he is what you say he is, I could tell them that if they continued to support him, the federation withdraws its support. But I don't see that I can help you as it is. I don't see any reason why I should."

"I'll tell you why you should. Because if there's any chance that what I've said is true, it will be a lot better for your credit to have the thing settled quietly. And it won't be settled quietly if we have to fight. It isn't very much you have to do; just satisfy yourself as to how things are going down there. See whether we're square, or Grady is. Then when the scrap comes on you'll know how to act. That's all. Do your investigating in advance."

"That's just what I haven't any right to do. I can't mix up in the business till it comes before me in the regular way."

"Well," said Bannon, with a smile, "if you can't do it yourself, maybe some man you have confidence in would do it for you."

Carver drummed thoughtfully on his desk for a few minutes. Then he carefully folded Grady's letter and put it in his pocket. "I'm glad to have met you, Mr. Bannon," he said, holding out his hand. "Good morning."

Next morning while Bannon was opening his mail, a man came to the timekeeper's window and asked for a job as a laborer. "Guess we've got men enough," said Max. "Haven't we, Mr. Bannon?"

The man put his head in the window. "A fellow down in Chicago told me if I'd come out here to Calumet K and ask Mr. Bannon for a job, he'd give me one."

"Are you good up high?" Bannon asked.

The man smiled ruefully, and said he was afraid not.

"Well, then," returned Bannon, "we'll have to let you in on the ground floor. What's your name?"


"Go over to the tool house and get a broom. Give him a check, Max."


On the twenty-second of November Bannon received this telegram:—

MR. CHARLES BANNON, care of MacBride & Company, South Chicago:

We send today complete drawings for marine tower which you will build in the middle of spouting house. Harahan Company are building the Leg.


Bannon read it carefully, folded it, opened it and read it again, then tossed it on the desk. "We're off now, for sure," he said to Miss Vogel. "I've known that was coming sure as Christmas."

Hilda picked it up.

"Is there an answer, Mr. Bannon?"

"No, just file it. Do you make it out?"

She read it and shook her head. Bannon ignored her cool manner.

"It means that your friends on MacBride & Company's Calumet house are going to have the time of their lives for the next few weeks. I'm going to carry compressed food in my pockets, and when meal time comes around, just take a capsule."

"I think I know," she said slowly; "a marine leg is the thing that takes grain up out of ships."

"That's right. You'd better move up head."

"And we've been building a spouting house instead to load it into ships."

"We'll have to build both now. You see, it's getting around to the time when the Pages'll be having a fit every day until the machinery's running, and every bin is full. And every time they have a fit, the people up at the office'll have another, and they'll pass it on to us."

"But why do they want the marine leg?" she asked, "any more now than they did at first?"

"They've got to get the wheat down by boat instead of rail, that's all. Or likely it'll be coming both ways. There's no telling now what's behind it. Both sides have got big men fighting. You've seen it in the papers, haven't you?"

She nodded.

"Of course, what the papers say isn't all true, but it's lively doings all right."

The next morning's mail brought the drawings and instructions; and with them came a letter from Brown to Bannon. "I suppose there's not much good in telling you to hurry," it ran; "but if there is another minute a day you can crowd in, I guess you know what to do with it. Page told me today that this elevator will make or break them. Mr. MacBride says that you can have all January for a vacation if you get it through. We owe you two weeks off, anyhow, that you didn't take last summer. We're running down that C. & S. C. business, though I don't believe, myself, that they'll give you any more trouble."

Bannon read it to Hilda, saying as he laid it down:—

"That's something like. I don't know where'll I go, though. Winter ain't exactly the time for a vacation, unless you go shooting, and I'm no hand for that."

"Couldn't you put it off till summer?" she asked, smiling a little.

"Not much. You don't know those people. By the time summer'd come around, they'd have forgotten I ever worked here. I'd strike for a month and Brown would grin and say: 'That's all right, Bannon, you deserve it if anybody does. It'll take a week or so to get your pass arranged, and you might just run out to San Francisco and see if things are going the way they ought to.' And then the first thing I knew I'd be working three shifts somewhere over in China, and Brown would be writing me I was putting in too much time at my meals. No, if MacBride & Company offer you a holiday, the best thing you can do is to grab it, and run, and saw off the telegraph poles behind you. And you couldn't be sure of yourself then."

He turned the letter over in his hand.

"I might go up on the St. Lawrence," he went on. "That's the only place for spending the winter that ever struck me."

"Isn't it pretty cold?"

"It ain't so bad. I was up there last winter. We put up at a house at Coteau, you know. When I got there the foundation wasn't even begun, and we had a bad time getting laborers, I put in the first day sitting on the ice sawing off spiles."

Hilda laughed.

"I shouldn't think you'd care much about going back."

"Were you ever there?" he asked.

"No, I've never been anywhere but home and here, in Chicago."

"Where is your home?"

"It was up in Michigan. That's where Max learned the lumber business. But he and I have been here for nearly two years."

"Well," said Bannon, "some folks may think it's cold up there, but there ain't anywhere else to touch it. It's high ground, you know—nothing like this"—he swept his arm about to indicate the flats outside—"and the scenery beats anything this side of the Rockies. It ain't that there's mountains there, you understand, but it's all big and open, and they've got forests there that would make your Michigan pine woods look like weeds on a sandhill. And the river's great. You haven't seen anything really fine till you've seen the rapids in winter. The people there have a good time too. They know how to enjoy life—it isn't all grime and sweat and making money."

"Well," said Hilda, looking down at her pencil and drawing aimless designs as she talked, "I suppose it is a good place to go. I've seen the pictures, of course, in the timetables; and one of the railroad offices on Clark Street used to have some big photographs of the St. Lawrence in the window. I looked at them sometimes, but I never thought of really seeing anything like that. I've had some pretty good times on the lake and over at St. Joe. Max used to take me over to Berrien Springs last summer, when he could get off. My aunt lives there."

Bannon was buttoning his coat, and looking at her. He felt the different tone that had got into their talk. It had been impersonal a few minutes before.

"Oh, St. Joe isn't bad," he was saying; "it's quiet and restful and all that, but it's not the same sort of thing at all. You go over there and ride up the river on the May Graham, and it makes you feel lazy and comfortable, but it doesn't stir you up inside like the St. Lawrence does."

She looked up. Her eyes were sparkling as they had sparkled that afternoon on the elevator when she first looked out into the sunset.

"Yes," she replied. "I think I know what you mean. But I never really felt that way; I've only thought about it."

Bannon turned half away, as if to go.

"You'll have to go down there, that's all," he said abruptly. He looked back at her over his shoulder, and added, "That's all there is about it."

Her eyes were half startled, half mischievous, for his voice had been still less impersonal than before. Then she turned back to her work, her face sober, but an amused twinkle lingering in her eyes.

"I should like to go," she said, her pencil poised at the top of a long column. "Max would like it, too."

After supper that evening Max returned early from a visit to the injured man, and told Hilda of a new trouble.

"Do you know that little delegate that's been hanging around?" he asked.

"Grady," she said, and nodded.

"Yes, he's been working the man. I never saw such a change in my life. He just sat up there in bed and swore at me, and said I needn't think I could buy him off with this stuff"—he looked down and Hilda saw that the bowl in his hand was not empty—"and raised a row generally."

"Why?" she asked.

"Give it up. From what he said, I'm sure Grady's behind it."

"Did he give his name?"

"No, but he did a lot of talking about justice to the down-trodden and the power of the unions, and that kind of stuff. I couldn't understand all he said—he's got a funny lingo, you know; I guess it's Polack—but I got enough to know what he meant, and more, too."

"Can he do anything?"

"I don't think so. If we get after him, it'll just set him worse'n pig's bristles. A man like that'll lose his head over nothing. He may be all right in the morning."

But Hilda, after Max had given her the whole conversation as nearly as he could remember it, thought differently. She did not speak her mind out to Max, because she was not yet certain what was the best course to take. The man could easily make trouble, she saw that. But if Max were to lay the matter before Bannon, he would be likely to glide over some of the details that she had got only by close questioning. And a blunder in handling it might be fatal to the elevator, so far as getting it done in December was concerned. Perhaps she took it too seriously; for she was beginning, in spite of herself, to give a great deal of thought to the work and to Bannon. At any rate, she lay awake later than usual that night, going over the problem, and she brought it up, the next morning, the first time that Bannon came into the office after Max had gone out.

"Mr. Bannon," she said, when he had finished dictating a letter to the office, "I want to tell you about that man that was hurt."

Bannon tried not to smile at the nervous, almost breathless way in which she opened the conversation. He saw that, whatever it was, it seemed to her very important, and he settled comfortably on the table, leaning back against the wall with his legs stretched out before him. She had turned on her stool.

"You mean the hoist man?" he asked.

She nodded. "Max goes over to see him sometimes. We've been trying to help make him comfortable—"

"Oh," said Bannon; "it's you that's been sending those things around to him."

She looked at him with surprise.

"Why, how did you know?"

"I heard about it."

Hilda hesitated. She did not know exactly how to begin. It occurred to her that perhaps Bannon was smiling at her eager manner.

"Max was there last night and he said the man had changed all around. He's been friendly, you know, and grateful"—she had forgotten herself again, in thinking of her talk with Max—"and he's said all the time that he wasn't going to make trouble—" She paused.

"Yes, I know something about that," said Bannon. "The lawyers always get after a man that's hurt, you know."

"But last night he had changed all around. He said he was going to have you arrested. He thinks Max has been trying to buy him off with the things we've sent him."

Bannon whistled.

"So our Mr. Grady's got his hands on him!"

"That's what Max and I thought, but he didn't give any names. He wouldn't take the jelly."

"I'm glad you told me," said Bannon, swinging his legs around and sitting up. "It's just as well to know about these things. Grady's made him think he can make a good haul by going after me, poor fool—he isn't the man that'll get it."

"Can he really stop the work?" Hilda asked anxiously.

"Not likely. He'll probably try to make out a case of criminal carelessness against me, and get me jerked up. He ought to have more sense, though. I know how many sticks were on that hoist when it broke. I'll drop around there tonight after dinner and have a talk with him. I'd like to find Grady there—but that's too good to expect."

Hilda had stepped down from the stool, and was looking out through the half-cleaned window at a long train of freight cars that was clanking in on the Belt Line.

"That's what I wanted to see you about most," she said slowly. "Max says he's been warned that you'll come around and try to buy him off, and it won't go, because he can make more by standing out."

"Well," said Bannon, easily, amused at her unconscious drop into Max's language, "there's usually a way of getting after these fellows. We'll do anything within reason, but we won't be robbed. I'll throw Mr. Grady into the river first, and hang him up on the hoist to dry."

"But if he really means to stand out." she said, "wouldn't it hurt us for you to go around there?"

"Why?" He was openly smiling now. Then, of a sudden, he looked at her with a shrewd, close gaze, and repeated, "Why?"

"Maybe I don't understand it," she said nervously. "Max doesn't think I see things very clearly. But I thought perhaps you would be willing for me to see him this evening. I could go with Max, and—"

She faltered, when she saw how closely he was watching her, but he nodded, and said, "Go on."

"Why, I don't know that I could do much, but—no"—she tossed her head back and looked at him—"I won't say that. If you'll let me go, I'll fix it. I know I can."

Bannon was thinking partly of her—of her slight, graceful figure that leaned against the window frame, and of her eyes, usually quiet, but now snapping with determination—and partly of certain other jobs that had been imperiled by the efforts of injured workingmen to get heavy damages. One of the things his experience in railroad and engineering work had taught him was that men will take every opportunity to bleed a corporation. No matter how slight the accident, or how temporary in its effects, the stupidest workman has it in his power to make trouble. It was frankly not a matter of sentiment to Bannon. He would do all that he could, would gladly make the man's sickness actually profit him, so far as money would go; but he did not see justice in the great sums which the average jury will grant. As he sat there, he recognized what Hilda had seen at a flash, that this was a case for delicate handling.

She was looking at him, tremendously in earnest, yet all the while wondering at her own boldness. He slowly nodded.

"You're right," he said. "You're the one to do the talking. I won't ask you what you're going to say. I guess you understand it as well as anybody."

"I don't know yet, myself," she answered. "It isn't that, it isn't that there's something particular to say, but he's a poor man, and they've been telling him that the company is cheating him and stealing from him—I wouldn't like it myself, if I were in his place and didn't know any more than he does. And maybe I can show him that we'll be a good deal fairer to him before we get through than Mr. Grady will."

"Yes," said Bannon, "I think you can. And if you can keep this out of the courts I'll write Brown that there's a young lady down here that's come nearer to earning a big salary than I ever did to deserving a silk hat."

"Oh," she said, the earnest expression skipping abruptly out of her eyes; "did your hat come?"

"Not a sign of it. I'd clean forgotten. I'll give Brown one more warning— a long 'collect' telegram, about forty words—and then if he doesn't toe up, I'll get one and send him the bill.

"There was a man that looked some like Grady worked for me on the Galveston house. He was a carpenter, and thought he stood for the whole Federation of Labor. He got gay one day. I warned him once, and then I threw him off the distributing floor."

Hilda thought he was joking until she looked up and saw his face.

"Didn't it—didn't it kill him?" she asked.

"I don't remember exactly. I think there were some shavings there." He stood looking at her for a moment. "Do you know," he said, "if Grady comes up on the job again, I believe I'll tell him that story? I wonder if he'd know what I meant."

The spouting house, or "river house," was a long, narrow structure, one hundred feet by thirty-six, built on piles at the edge of the wharf. It would form, with the connecting belt gallery that was to reach out over the tracks, a T-shaped addition to the elevator. The river house was no higher than was necessary for the spouts that would drop the grain through the hatchways of the big lake steamers, twenty thousand bushels an hour— it reached between sixty and seventy feet above the water. The marine tower that was to be built, twenty-four feet square, up through the centre of the house, would be more than twice as high. A careful examination convinced Bannon that the pile foundations would prove strong enough to support this heavier structure, and that the only changes necessary would be in the frame of the spouting house. On the same day that the plans arrived, work on the tower commenced.

Peterson had about got to the point where startling developments no longer alarmed him. He had seen the telegram the day before, but his first information that a marine tower was actually under way came when Bannon called off a group of laborers late in the afternoon to rig the "trolley" for carrying timber across the track.

"What are you going to do, Charlie?" he called. "Got to slide them timbers back again?"

"Some of 'em," Bannon replied.

"Don't you think we could carry 'em over?" said Peterson. "If we was quiet about it, they needn't be any trouble?"

Bannon shook his head.

"We're not taking any more chances on this railroad. We haven't time."

Once more the heavy timbers went swinging through the air, high over the tracks, but this time back to the wharf. Before long the section boss of the C. & S. C. appeared, and though he soon went away, one of his men remained, lounging about the tracks, keeping a close eye on the sagging ropes and the timbers. Bannon, when he met Peterson a few minutes later, pointed out the man.

"What'd I tell you, Pete? They're watching us like cats. If you want to know what the C. & S. C. think about us, you just drop one timber and you'll find out."

But nothing dropped, and when Peterson, who had been on hand all the latter part of the afternoon, took hold, at seven o'clock, the first timbers of the tower had been set in place, somewhere down inside the rough shed of a spouting house, and more would go in during the night, and during other days and nights, until the narrow framework should go reaching high into the air. Another thing was recognized by the men at work on that night shift, even by the laborers who carried timbers, and grunted and swore in strange tongues; this was that the night shift men had suddenly begun to feel a most restless energy crowding them on, and they worked nearly as well as Bannon's day shifts. For Peterson's spirits had risen with a leap, once the misunderstanding that had been weighing on him had been removed, and now he was working as he had never worked before. The directions he gave showed that his head was clearer; and there was confidence in his manner.

Hilda was so serious all day after her talk with Bannon that once, in the afternoon, when he came into the office for a glance at the new pile of blue prints, he smiled, and asked if she were laying out a campaign. It was the first work of the kind that she had ever undertaken, and she was a little worried over the need for tact and delicacy. After she had closed her desk at supper time, she saw Bannon come into the circle of the electric light in front of the office, and, asking Max to wait, she went to meet him.

"Well," he said, "are you loaded up to fight the 'power of the union'?"

She smiled, and then said, with a trace of nervousness:—

"I don't believe I'm quite so sure about it as I was this morning."

"It won't bother you much. When you've made him see that we're square and Grady isn't, you've done the whole business. We won't pay fancy damages, that's all."

"Yes," she said, "I think I know. What I wanted to see you about was— was—Max and I are going over right after supper, and—"

She stopped abruptly; and Bannon, looking down at her, saw a look of embarrassment come into her face; and then she blushed, and lowering her eyes, fumbled with her glove. Bannon was a little puzzled. His eyes rested on her for a moment, and then, without understanding why, he suddenly knew that she had meant to ask him to see her after the visit, and that the new personal something in their acquaintance had flashed a warning. He spoke quickly, as if he were the first to think of it.

"If you don't mind, I'll come around tonight and hear the report of the committee of adjusters. That's you, you know. Something might come up that I ought to know right away."

"Yes," she replied rapidly, without looking up, "perhaps that would be the best thing to do."

He walked along with her toward the office, where Max was waiting, but she did not say anything, and he turned in with: "I won't say good-night, then. Good luck to you."

It was soon after eight that Bannon went to the boarding-house where Hilda and Max lived, and sat down to wait in the parlor. When a quarter of an hour had gone, and they had not returned, he buttoned up his coat and went out, walking slowly along the uneven sidewalk toward the river. The night was clear, and he could see, across the flats and over the tracks, where tiny signal lanterns were waving and circling, and freight trains were bumping and rumbling, the glow of the arc lamps on the elevator, and its square outline against the sky. Now and then, when the noise of the switching trains let down, he could hear the hoisting engines. Once he stopped and looked eastward at the clouds of illuminated smoke above the factories and at the red blast of the rolling mill. He went nearly to the river and had to turn back and walk slowly. Finally he heard Max's laugh, and then he saw them coming down a side street.

"Well," he said, "you don't sound like bad news."

"I don't believe we are very bad," replied Hilda.

"Should say not," put in Max. "It's finer'n silk."

Hilda said, "Max," in a low voice, but he went on:—

"The best thing, Mr. Bannon, was when I told him it was Hilda that had been sending things around. He thought it was you, you see, and Grady'd told him it was all a part of the game to bamboozle him out of the money that was rightfully his. It's funny to hear him sling that Grady talk around. I don't think he more'n half knows what it means. I'd promised not to tell, you know, but I just saw there wasn't no use trying to make him understand things without talking pretty plain. There ain't a thing he wouldn't do for Hilda now—"

"Max," said Hilda again, "please don't."

When they reached the house, Max at once started in. Hilda hesitated, and then said:—

"I'll come in a minute, Max."

"Oh," he replied, "all right." But he waited a moment longer, evidently puzzled.

"Well," said Bannon, "was it so hard?"

"No—not hard exactly. I didn't know he was so poor. Somehow you don't think about it that way when you see them working. I don't know that I ever thought about it at all before."

"You think he won't give us any trouble?"

"I'm sure he won't. I—I had to promise I'd go again pretty soon."

"Maybe you'll let me go along."

"Why—why, yes, of course."

She had been hesitating, looking down and picking at the splinters on the gate post. Neither was Bannon quick to speak. He did not want to question her about the visit, for he saw that it was hard for her to talk about it. Finally she straightened up and looked at him.

"I want to tell you," she said, "I haven't understood exactly until tonight—what they said about the accident and the way you've talked about it—well, some people think you don't think very much about the men, and that if anybody's hurt, or anything happens, you don't care as long as the work goes on." She was looking straight at him. "I thought so, too. And tonight I found out some things you've been doing for him—how you've been giving him tobacco, and the things he likes best that I'd never have thought of, and I knew it was you that did it, and not the Company—and I—I beg your pardon."

Bannon did not know what to reply. They stood for a moment without speaking, and then she smiled, and said "Good night," and ran up the steps without looking around.


It was the night of the tenth of December. Three of the four stories of the cupola were building, and the upright posts were reaching toward the fourth. It still appeared to be a confused network of timbers, with only the beginnings of walls, but as the cupola walls are nothing but a shell of light boards to withstand the wind, the work was further along than might have been supposed. Down on the working story the machinery was nearly all in, and up here in the cupola the scales and garners were going into place as rapidly as the completing of the supporting framework permitted. The cupola floors were not all laid. If you had stood on the distributing floor, over the tops of the bins, you might have looked not only down through a score of openings between plank areas and piles of timbers, into black pits, sixteen feet square by seventy deep, but upward through a grill of girders and joists to the clear sky. Everywhere men swarmed over the work, and the buzz of the electric lights and the sounds of hundreds of hammers blended into a confused hum.

If you had walked to the east end of the building, here and there balancing along a plank or dodging through gangs of laborers and around moving timbers, you would have seen stretching from off a point not halfway through to the ground, the annex bins, rising so steadily that it was a matter only of a few weeks before they would be ready to receive grain. Now another walk, this time across the building to the north side, would show you the river house, out there on the wharf, and the marine tower rising up through the middle with a single arc lamp on the topmost girder throwing a mottled, checkered shadow on the wharf and the water below.

At a little after eight o'clock, Peterson, who had been looking at the stairway, now nearly completed, came out on the distributing floor. He was in good spirits, for everything was going well, and Bannon had frankly credited him, of late, with the improvement in the work of the night shifts. He stood looking up through the upper floors of the cupola, and he did not see Max until the timekeeper stood beside him.

"Hello, Max," he said. "We'll have the roof on here in another ten days."

Max followed Peterson's glance upward.

"I guess that's right. It begins to look as if things was coming 'round all right. I just come up from the office. Mr. Bannon's there. He'll be up before long, he says. I was a-wondering if maybe I hadn't ought to go back and tell him about Grady. He's around, you know."

"Who? Grady?"

"Yes. Him and another fellow was standing down by one of the cribbin' piles. I was around there on the way up."

"What was they doing?"

"Nothing. Just looking on."

Peterson turned to shout at some laborers, then he pushed back his hat and scratched his head.

"I don't know but what you'd ought to 'a' told Charlie right off. That man Grady don't mean us no good."

"I know it, but I wasn't just sure."

"Well, I'll tell you—"

Before Peterson could finish, Max broke in:—

"That's him."


"That fellow over there, walking along slow. He's the one that was with Grady."

"I'd like to know what he thinks he's doing here." Peterson started forward, adding, "I guess I know what to say to him."

"Hold on, Pete," said Max, catching his arm. "Maybe we'd better speak to Mr. Bannon. I'll go down and tell him, and you keep an eye on this fellow."

Peterson reluctantly assented, and Max walked slowly away, now and then pausing to look around at the men. But when he had nearly reached the stairway, where he could slip behind the scaffolding about the only scale hopper that had reached a man's height above the floor, he moved more rapidly. He met Bannon on the stairway, and told him what he had seen. Bannon leaned against the wall of the stairway bin, and looked thoughtful.

"So he's come, has he?" was his only comment. "You might speak to Pete, Max, and bring him here. I'll wait."

Max and Peterson found him looking over the work of the carpenters.

"I may not be around much tonight," he said, with a wink, "but I'd like to see both of you tomorrow afternoon some time. Can you get around about four o'clock, Pete?"

"Sure," the night boss replied.

"We've got some thinking to do about the work, if we're going to put it through. I'll look for you at four o'clock then, in the office." He started down the stairs. "I'm going home now."

"Why," said Peterson, "you only just come."

Bannon paused and looked back over his shoulder. The light came from directly overhead, and the upper part of his face was in the shadow of his hat brim, but Max, looking closely at him, thought that he winked again.

"I wanted to tell you," the foreman went on; "Grady's come around, you know—and another fellow—"

"Yes, Max told me. I guess they won't hurt you. Good night."

As he went on down he passed a group of laborers who were bringing stairway material to the carpenters.

"I don't know but what you was talking pretty loud," said Max to Peterson, in a low voice. "Here's some of 'em now."

"They didn't hear nothing," Peterson replied, and the two went back to the distributing floor. They stood in a shadow, by the scale hopper, waiting for the reappearance of Grady's companion. He had evidently gone on to the upper floors, where he could not be distinguished from the many other moving figures; but in a few minutes he came back, walking deliberately toward the stairs. He looked at Peterson and Max, but passed by without a second glance, and descended. Peterson stood looking after him.

"Now, I'd like to know what Charlie meant by going home," he said.

Max had been thinking hard. Finally he said:—

"Say, Pete, we're blind."


"Did you think he was going home?"

Peterson looked at him, but did not reply.

"Because he ain't."

"Well, you heard what he said."

"What does that go for? He was winking when he said it. He wasn't going to stand there and tell the laborers all about it, like we was trying to do. I'll bet he ain't very far off."

"I ain't got a word to say," said Peterson. "If he wants to leave Grady to me, I guess I can take care of him."

Max had come to the elevator for a short visit—he liked to watch the work at night—but now he settled down to stay, keeping about the hopper where he could see Grady if his head should appear at the top of the stairs. Something told him that Bannon saw deeper into Grady's manoeuvres than either Peterson or himself, and while he could not understand, yet he was beginning to think that Grady would appear before long, and that Bannon knew it.

Sure enough, only a few minutes had gone when Max turned back from a glance at the marine tower and saw the little delegate standing on the top step, looking about the distributing floor and up through the girders overhead, with quick, keen eyes. Then Max understood what it all meant: Grady had chosen a time when Bannon was least likely to be on the job; and had sent the other man ahead to reconnoitre. It meant mischief—Max could see that; and he felt a boy's nervousness at the prospect of excitement. He stepped farther back into the shadow.

Grady was looking about for Peterson; when he saw his burly figure outlined against a light at the farther end of the building, he walked directly toward him, not pausing this time to talk to the laborers or to look at them. Max, moving off a little to one side, followed, and reached Peterson's side just as Grady, his hat pushed back on his head and his feet apart, was beginning to talk.

"I had a little conversation with you the other day, Mr. Peterson. I called to see you in the interests of the men, the men that are working for you—working like galley slaves they are, every man of them. It's shameful to a man that's seen how they've been treated by the nigger drivers that stands over them day and night." He was speaking in a loud voice, with the fluency of a man who is carefully prepared. There was none of the bitterness or the ugliness in his manner that had slipped out in his last talk with Bannon, for he knew that a score of laborers were within hearing, and that his words would travel, as if by wire, from mouth to mouth about the building and the grounds below. "I stand here, Mr. Peterson, the man chosen by these slaves of yours, to look after their rights. I do not ask you to treat them with kindness, I do not ask that you treat them as gentlemen. What do I ask? I demand what's accorded to them by the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, that says even a nigger has more rights than you've given to these men, the men that are putting money into your pocket, and Mr. Bannon's pocket, and the corporation's pocket, by the sweat of their brows. Look at them; will you look at them?" He waved his arm toward the nearest group, who had stopped working and were listening; and then, placing a cigar in his mouth and tilting it upward, he struck a match and sheltered it in his hands, looking over it for a moment at Peterson.

The night boss saw by this time that Grady meant business, that his speech was preliminary to something more emphatic, and he knew that he ought to stop it before the laborers should be demoralized.

"You can't do that here, Mister," said Max, over Peterson's shoulder, indicating the cigar.

Grady still held the match, and looked impudently across the tip of his cigar. Peterson took it up at once.

"You'll have to drop that," he said. "There's no smoking on this job."

The match had gone out, and Grady lighted another.

"So that's one of your rules, too?" he said, in the same loud voice. "It's a wonder you let a man eat."

Peterson was growing angry. His voice rose as he talked.

"I ain't got time to talk to you," he said. "The insurance company says there can't be no smoking here. If you want to know why, you'd better ask them."

Grady blew out the match and returned the cigar to his pocket, with an air of satisfaction that Peterson could not make out.

"That's all right, Mr. Peterson. I didn't come here to make trouble. I come here as a representative of these men"—he waved again toward the laborers—"and I say right here, that if you'd treated them right in the first place, I wouldn't be here at all. I've wanted you to have a fair show. I've put up with your mean tricks and threats and insults ever since you begun—and why? Because I wouldn't delay you and hurt the work. It's the industries of today, the elevators and railroads, and the work of strong men like these that's the bulwark of America's greatness. But what do I get in return, Mister Peterson? I come up here as a gentleman and talk to you. I treat you as a gentleman. I overlook what you've showed yourself to be. And how do you return it? By talking like the blackguard you are—you knock an innocent cigar—"

"Your time's up!" said Pete, drawing a step nearer. "Come to business, or clear out. That's all I've got to say to you."

"All right, Mister Peterson—all right. I'll put up with your insults. I can afford to forget myself when I look about me at the heavier burdens these men have to bear, day and night. Look at that—look at it, and then try to talk to me."

He pointed back toward the stairs where a gang of eight laborers were carrying a heavy timber across the shadowy floor.

"Well, what about it?" said Pete, with half-controlled rage.

"What about it! But never mind. I'm a busy man myself. I've got no more time to waste on the likes of you. Take a good look at that, and then listen to me. That's the last stick of timber that goes across this floor until you put a runway from the hoist to the end of the building. And every stick that leaves the runway has got to go on a dolly. Mark my words now—I'm talking plain. My men don't lift another pound of timber on this house—everything goes on rollers. I've tried to be a patient man, but you've run against the limit. You've broke the last back you'll have a chance at." He put his hand to his mouth as if to shout at the gang, but dropped it and faced around. "No, I won't stop them. I'll be fair to the last." He pulled out his watch. "I'll give you one hour from now. At ten o'clock, if your runway and the dollies ain't working, the men go out. And the next time I see you, I won't be so easy."

He turned away, waved to the laborers, with an, "All right, boys; go ahead," and walked grandly toward the stairway.

Max whistled.

"I'd like to know where Charlie is," said Peterson.

"He ain't far. I'll find him;" and Max hurried away.

Bannon was sitting in the office chair with his feet on the draughting-table, figuring on the back of a blotter. The light from the wall lamp was indistinct, and Bannon had to bend his head forward to see the figures. He did not look up when the door opened and Max came to the railing gate.

"Grady's been up on the distributing floor," said Max, breathlessly, for he had been running.

"What did he want?"

"He's going to call the men off at ten o'clock if we don't put in a runway and dollies on the distributing floor."

Bannon looked at his watch.

"Is that all he wants?"

Max, in his excitement, did not catch the sarcasm in the question.

"That's all he said, but it's enough. We can't do it."

Bannon closed his watch with a snap.

"No," he said, "and we won't throw away any good time trying. You'd better round up the committee that's supposed to run this lodge and send them here. That young Murphy's one of them—he can put you straight. Bring Pete back with you, and the new man, James."

Max lingered, with a look of awe and admiration.

"Are you going to stand out, Mr. Bannon?" he asked.

Bannon dropped his feet to the floor, and turned toward the table.

"Yes," he said. "We're going to stand out."

Since Bannon's talk with President Carver a little drama had been going on in the local lodge, a drama that neither Bannon, Max, nor Peterson knew about. James had been selected by Carver for this work because of proved ability and shrewdness. He had no sooner attached himself to the lodge, and made himself known as an active member, than his personality, without any noticeable effort on his part, began to make itself felt. Up to this time Grady had had full swing, for there had been no one among the laborers with force enough to oppose him.

The first collision took place at an early meeting after Grady's last talk with Bannon. The delegate, in the course of the meeting, bitterly attacked Bannon, accusing him, at the climax of his oration, of an attempt to buy off the honest representative of the working classes for five thousand dollars. This had a tremendous effect on the excitable minds before him. He finished his speech with an impassioned tirade against the corrupt influences of the money power, and was mopping his flushed face, listening with elation to the hum of anger that resulted, confident that he had made his point, when James arose. The new man was as familiar with the tone of the meetings of laborers as Grady himself. At the beginning he had no wish further than to get at the truth. Grady had not stated his case well. It had convinced the laborers, but to James it had weak points. He asked Grady a few pointed questions, that, had the delegate felt the truth behind him, should not have been hard to answer. But Grady was still under the spell of his own oratory, and in attempting to get his feet back on the ground, he bungled. James did not carry the discussion beyond the point where Grady, in the bewilderment of recognizing this new element in the lodge, lost his temper, but when he sat down, the sentiment of the meeting had changed. Few of those men could have explained their feelings; it was simply that the new man was stronger than they were, perhaps as strong as Grady, and they were influenced accordingly.

There was no decision for a strike at that meeting. Grady, cunning at the business, immediately dropped open discussion, and, smarting under the sense of lost prestige, set about regaining his position by well-planned talk with individual laborers. This went on, largely without James' knowledge, until Grady felt sure that a majority of the men were back in his control. This time he was determined to carry through the strike without the preliminary vote of the men. It was a bold stroke, but boldness was needed to defeat Charlie Bannon; and nobody knew better than Grady that a dashing show of authority would be hard for James or any one else to resist.

And so he had come on the job this evening, at a time when he supposed Bannon safe in bed, and delivered his ultimatum. Not that he had any hope of carrying the strike through without some sort of a collision with the boss, but he well knew that an encounter after the strike had gathered momentum would be easier than one before. Bannon might be able to outwit an individual, even Grady himself, but he would find it hard to make headway against an angry mob. And now Grady was pacing stiffly about the Belt Line yards, while the minute hand of his watch crept around toward ten o'clock. Even if Bannon should be called within the hour, a few fiery words to those sweating gangs on the distributing floor should carry the day. But Grady did not think that this would be necessary. He was still in the mistake of supposing that Peterson and the boss were at cuts, and he had arrived, by a sort of reasoning that seemed the keenest strategy, at the conclusion that Peterson would take the opportunity to settle the matter himself. In fact, Grady had evolved a neat little campaign, and he was proud of himself.

Bannon did not have to wait long. Soon there was a sound of feet outside the door, and after a little hesitation, six laborers entered, five of them awkwardly and timidly, wondering what was to come. Peterson followed, with Max, and closed the door. The members of the committee stood in a straggling row at the railing, looking at each other and at the floor and ceiling—anywhere but at the boss, who was sitting on the table, sternly taking them in. James stepped to one side.

"Is this all the committee?" Bannon presently said.

The men hesitated, and Murphy, who was in the centre, answered, "Yes, sir."

"You are the governing members of your lodge?"

There was an air of cool authority about Bannon that disturbed the men. They had been led to believe that his power reached only the work on the elevator, and that an attempt on his part to interfere in any way with their organization would be an act of high-handed tyranny, "to be resisted to the death" (Grady's words). But these men standing before their boss, in his own office, were not the same men that thrilled with righteous wrath under Grady's eloquence in the meetings over Barry's saloon. So they looked at the floor and ceiling again, until Murphy at last answered:—

"Yes, sir."

Bannon waited again, knowing that every added moment of silence gave him the firmer control.

"I have nothing to say about the government of your organization," he said, speaking slowly and coldly. "I have brought you here to ask you this question, Have you voted to strike?"

The silence was deep. Peterson, leaning against the closed door, held his breath; Max, sitting on the railing with his elbow thrown over the desk, leaned slightly forward. The eyes of the laborers wandered restlessly about the room. They were disturbed, taken off their guard; they needed Grady. But the thought of Grady was followed by the consciousness of the silent figure of the new man, James, standing behind them. Murphy's first impulse was to lie. Perhaps, if James had not been there, he would have lied. As it was, he glanced up two or three times, and his lips as many times framed themselves about words that did not come. Finally he said, mumbling the words:—

"No, we ain't voted for no strike."

"There has been no such decision made by your organization?"

"No, I guess not."

Bannon turned to Peterson.

"Mr. Peterson, will you please find Mr. Grady and bring him here."

Max and Peterson hurried out together. Bannon drew up the chair, and turned his back on the committee, going on with his figuring. Not a word was said; the men hardly moved; and the minutes went slowly by. Then there was a stir outside, and the sound of low voices. The door flew open, admitting Grady, who stalked to the railing, choking with anger. Max, who immediately followed, was grinning, his eyes resting on a round spot of dust on Grady's shoulder, and on his torn collar and disarranged tie. Peterson came in last, and carefully closed the door—his eyes were blazing, and one sleeve was rolled up over his bare forearm. Neither of them spoke. If anything in the nature of an assault had seemed necessary in dragging the delegate to the office, there had been no witnesses. And he had entered the room of his own accord.

Grady was at a disadvantage, and he knew it. Breathing hard, his face red, his little eyes darting about the room, he took it all in—the members of the Committee; the boss, figuring at the table, with an air of exasperating coolness about his lean back; and last of all, James, standing in the shadow. It was the sight of the new man that checked the storm of words that was pressing on Grady's tongue. But he finally gathered himself and stepped forward, pushing aside one of the committee.

Then Bannon turned. He faced about in his chair and began to talk straight at the committee, ignoring the delegate. Grady began to talk at the same time, but though his voice was the louder, no one seemed to hear him. The men were looking at Bannon. Grady hesitated, started again, and then, bound by his own rage and his sense of defeat, let his words die away, and stood casting about for an opening.

"—This man Grady threatened a good while ago that I would have a strike on my hands. He finally came to me and offered to protect me if I would pay him five thousand dollars."

"That's a lie!" shouted the delegate. "He come to me—"

Bannon had hardly paused. He drew a typewritten copy of Grady's letter from his pocket, and read it aloud, then handed it over to Murphy. "That's the way he came at me. I want you to read it."

The man took it awkwardly, glanced at it, and passed it on.

"Tonight he's ordered a strike. He calls himself your representative, but he has acted on his own responsibility. Now, I am going to talk plain to you. I came here to build this elevator, and I'm going to do it. I propose to treat you men fair and square. If you think you ain't treated right, you send an honest man to this office, and I'll talk with him. But I'm through with Grady. I won't have him here at all. If you send him around again, I'll throw him off the job."

The men were a little startled. They looked at one another, and the man on Murphy's left whispered something. Bannon sat still, watching them.

Then Grady came to himself. He wheeled around to face the committee, and threw out one arm in a wide gesture.

"I demand to know what this means! I demand to know if there is a law in this land! Is an honest man, the representative of the hand of labor, to be attacked by hired ruffians? Is he to be slandered by the tyrant who drives you at the point of the pistol? And you not men enough to defend your rights—the rights held by every American—the rights granted by the Constitution! But it ain't for myself I would talk. It ain't my own injuries that I suffer for. Your liberty hangs in the balance. This man has dared to interfere in the integrity of your lodge. Have you no words—"

Bannon arose, caught Grady's arm, and whirled him around.

"Grady," he said, "shut up." The delegate tried to jerk away, but he could not shake off that grip. He looked toward the committeemen, but they were silent. He looked everywhere but up into the eyes that were blazing down at him. And finally Bannon felt the muscles within his grip relax.

"I'll tell you what I want you to do," said Bannon to the committeemen. "I want you to elect a new delegate. Don't talk about interference—I don't care how you elect him, or who he is, if he comes to me squarely."

Grady was wriggling again.

"This means a strike!" he shouted. "This means the biggest strike the West has ever seen! You won't get men for love or money—"

Bannon gave the arm a wrench, and broke in:—

"I'm sick of this. I laid this matter before President Carver. I have his word that if you hang on to this man after he's been proved a blackmailer, your lodge can be dropped from the Federation. If you try to strike, you won't hurt anybody but yourselves. That's all. You can go."

"Wait—" Grady began, but they filed out without looking at him. James, as he followed them, nodded, and said, "Good night, Mr. Bannon."

Then for the last time Bannon led Grady away. Peterson started forward, but the boss shook his head, and went out, marching the delegate between the lumber piles to the point where the path crossed the Belt Line tracks.

"Now, Mr. Grady," he said, "this is where our ground stops. The other sides are the road there, and the river, and the last piles of cribbing at the other end. I'm telling you so you will know where you don't belong. Now, get out!"


The effect of the victory was felt everywhere. Not only were Max and Pete and Hilda jubilant over it, but the under-foremen, the timekeepers, even the laborers attacked their work with a fresher energy. It was like the first whiff of salt air to an army marching to the sea. Since the day when the cribbing came down from Ledyard, the work had gone forward with almost incredible rapidity; there had been no faltering during the weeks when Grady's threatened catastrophe was imminent, but now that the big shadow of the little delegate was dispelled, it was easier to see that the huge warehouse was almost finished. There was still much to do, and the handful of days that remained seemed absurdly inadequate; but it needed only a glance at what Charlie Bannon's tireless, driving energy had already accomplished to make the rest look easy.

"We're sure of it now. She'll be full to the roof before the year is out." As Max went over the job with his time-book next morning, he said it to every man he met, and they all believed him. Peterson, the same man and not the same man either, who had once vowed that there wouldn't be any night work on Calumet K, who had bent a pair of most unwilling shoulders to the work Bannon had put upon them, who had once spent long, sulky afternoons in the barren little room of his new boarding-house; Peterson held himself down in bed exactly three hours the morning after that famous victory. Before eleven o'clock he was sledging down a tottering timber at the summit of the marine tower, a hundred and forty feet sheer above the wharf. Just before noon he came into the office and found Hilda there alone.

He had stopped outside the door to put on his coat, but had not buttoned it; his shirt, wet as though he had been in the lake, clung to him and revealed the outline of every muscle in his great trunk. He flung his hat on the draughting-table, and his yellow hair seemed crisper and curlier than ever before.

"Well, it looks as though we was all right," he said.

Hilda nodded emphatically. "You think we'll get through in time, don't you, Mr. Peterson?"

"Think!" he exclaimed. "I don't have to stop to think. Here comes Max; just ask him."

Max slammed the door behind him, brought down the timekeeper's book on Hilda's desk with a slap that made her jump, and vaulted to a seat on the railing. "Well, I guess it's a case of hurrah for us, ain't it, Pete?"

"Your sister asked me if I thought we'd get done on time. I was just saying it's a sure thing."

"I don't know," said Max, laughing. "I guess an earthquake could stop us. But why ain't you abed, Pete?"

"What do I want to be abed for? I ain't going to sleep any more this year—unless we get through a day or two ahead of time. I don't like to miss any of it. Charlie Bannon may have hustled before, but I guess this breaks his record. Where is he now, Max?"

"Down in the cellar putting in the running gear for the 'cross-the-house conveyors. He has his nerve with him. He's putting in three drives entirely different from the way they are in the plans. He told me just now that there wasn't a man in the office who could design a drive that wouldn't tie itself up in square knots in the first ten minutes. I wonder what old MacBride'll say when he sees that he's changed the plans."

"If MacBride has good sense, he'll pass anything that Charlie puts up," said Pete.

He was going to say more, but just then Bannon strode into the office and over to the draughting table. He tossed Pete's hat to one side and began studying a detail of the machinery plans.

"Max." He spoke without looking up. "I wish you'd find a water boy and send him up to the hotel to get a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of coffee."

"Well, that's a nice way to celebrate, I must say," Pete commented.

"Celebrate what?"

"Why, last night; throwing Grady down. You ought to take a day off on the strength of that."

"What's Grady got to do with it? He ain't in the specifications."

"No," said Pete, slowly; "but where would we have been if he'd got the men off?"

"Where would we have been if the house had burned up?" Bannon retorted, turning away from the table. "That's got nothing to do with it. I haven't felt less like taking a day off since I came on the job. We may get through on time and we may not. If we get tangled up in the plans like this, very often, I don't know how we'll come out. But the surest way to get left is to begin now telling ourselves that this is easy and it's a cinch. That kind of talk makes me tired."

Pete flushed, started an explanatory sentence, and another, and then, very uncomfortable, went out.

Bannon did not look up; he went on studying the blue print, measuring here and there with his three-sided ruler and jotting down incomprehensible operations in arithmetic on a scrap of paper. Max was figuring tables in his time-book, Hilda poring over the cash account. For half an hour no one spoke. Max crammed his cap down over his ears and went out, and there were ten minutes more of silence. Then Bannon began talking. He still busied his fingers with the blue print, and Hilda, after discovering that he was talking to himself rather than to her, went on with her work. But nevertheless she heard, in a fragmentary way, what he was saying.

"Take a day off—schoolboy trick—enough to make a man tired. Might as well do it, though. We ain't going to get through. The office ought to do a little work once in a while just to see what it's like. They think a man can do anything. I'd like to know why I ain't entitled to a night's sleep as well as MacBride. But he don't think so. After he'd worked me twenty-four hours a day up to Duluth, and I lost thirty-two pounds up there, he sends me down to a mess like this. With a lot of drawings that look as though they were made by a college boy. Where does he expect 'em to pile their car doors, I'd like to know."

That was the vein of it, though the monologue ran on much longer. But at last he swung impatiently around and addressed Hilda. "I'm ready to throw up my hands. I think I'll go back to Minneapolis and tell MacBride I've had enough. He can come down here and finish the house himself."

"Do you think he would get it done in time?" Hilda's eyes were laughing at him, but she kept them on her work.

"Oh, yes," he said wearily. "He'd get the grain into her somehow. You couldn't stump MacBride with anything. That's why he makes it so warm for us."

"Do you think," she asked very demurely, indeed, "that if Mr. MacBride had been here he could have built it any faster than—than we have, so far?"

"I don't believe it," said Bannon, unwarily. Her smile told him that he had been trapped. "I see," he added. "You mean that there ain't any reason why we can't do it."

He arose and tramped uneasily about the little shanty. "Oh, of course, we'll get it done—just because we have to. There ain't anything else we can do. But just the same I'm sick of the business. I want to quit."

She said nothing, and after a moment he wheeled and, facing her, demanded abruptly: "What's the matter with me, anyway?" She looked at him frankly, a smile, almost mischievous, in her face. The hard, harassed look between his eyes and about his drawn mouth melted away, and he repeated the question: "What's the matter with me? You're the doctor. I'll take whatever medicine you say."

"You didn't take Mr. Peterson's suggestion very well—about taking a holiday, I mean. I don't know whether I dare prescribe for you or not. I don't think you need a day off. I think that, next to a good, long vacation, the best thing for you is excitement." He laughed. "No, I mean it. You're tired out, of course, but if you have enough to occupy your mind, you don't know it. The trouble today is that everything is going too smoothly. You weren't a bit afraid yesterday that the elevator wouldn't be done on time. That was because you thought there was going to be a strike. And if just now the elevator should catch on fire or anything, you'd feel all right about it again."

He still half suspected that she was making game of him, and he looked at her steadily while he turned her words over in his mind. "Well," he said, with a short laugh, "if the only medicine I need is excitement, I'll be the healthiest man you ever saw in a little while. I guess I'll find Pete. I must have made him feel pretty sore."

"Pete," he said, coming upon him in the marine tower a little later, "I've got over my stomach-ache. Is it all right?"

"Sure," said Pete; "I didn't know you was feeling bad. I was thinking about that belt gallery, Charlie. Ain't it time we was putting it up? I'm getting sort of nervous about it."

"There ain't three days' work in it, the way we're going," said Bannon, thoughtfully, his eyes on the C. & S. C. right-of-way that lay between him and the main house, "but I guess you're right. We'll get at it now. There's no telling what sort of a surprise party those railroad fellows may have for us. The plans call for three trestles between the tracks. We'll get those up today."

To Pete, building the gallery was a more serious business. He had not Bannon's years of experience at bridge repairing; it had happened that he had never been called upon to put up a belt gallery before, and this idea of building a wooden box one hundred and fifty feet long and holding it up, thirty feet in air, on three trestles, was formidable. Bannon's nonchalant air of setting about it seemed almost an affectation.

Each trestle was to consist of a rank of four posts, planted in a line at right angles to the direction of the gallery; they were to be held together at the top by a corbel. No one gave rush orders any more on Calumet K, for the reason that no one ever thought of doing anything else. If Bannon sent for a man, he came on the run. So in an incredibly short time the fences were down and a swarm of men with spades, post augers, picks, and shovels had invaded the C. & S. C. right-of-way. Up and down the track a hundred yards each way from the line of the gallery Bannon had stationed men to give warning of the approach of trains. "Now," said Bannon, "we'll get this part of the job done before any one has time to kick. And they won't be very likely to try to pull 'em up by the roots once we get 'em planted."

But the section boss had received instructions that caused him to be wide-awake, day or night, to what was going on in the neighborhood of Calumet K. Half an hour after the work was begun, the picket line up the track signalled that something was coming. There was no sound of bell or whistle, but presently Bannon saw a hand car spinning down the track as fast as six big, sweating men could pump the levers. The section boss had little to say; simply that they were to get out of there and put up that fence again, and the quicker the better. Bannon tried to tell him that the railroad had consented to their putting in the gallery, that they were well within their rights, that he, the section boss, had better be careful not to exceed his instructions. But the section boss had spoken his whole mind already. He was not of the sort that talk just for the pleasure of hearing their own voices, and he had categorical instructions that made parley unnecessary. He would not even tell from whom he had the orders. So the posts were lugged out of the way and the fence was put up and the men scattered out to their former work again, grinning a little over Bannon's discomfiture.

Bannon's next move was to write to Minneapolis for information and instructions, but MacBride, who seemed to have all the information there was, happened to be in Duluth, and Brown's instructions were consequently foggy. So, after waiting a few days for something more definite, Bannon disappeared one afternoon and was gone more than an hour. When he strode into the office again, keen and springy as though his work had just begun, Hilda looked up and smiled a little. Pete was tilted back in the chair staring glumly out of the window. He did not turn until Bannon slapped him jovially on the shoulders and told him to cheer up.

"Those railroad chaps are laying for us, sure enough," he said. "I've been talking to MacBride himself—over at the telephone exchange; he ain't in town—and he said that Porter—he's the vice-president of the C. & S. C.— Porter told him, when he was in Chicago, that they wouldn't object at all to our building the gallery over their tracks. But that's all we've got to go by. Not a word on paper. Oh, they mean to give us a picnic, and no mistake!"

With that, Bannon called up the general offices of the C. & S. C. and asked for Mr. Porter. There was some little delay in getting the connection, and then three or four minutes of fencing while a young man at the other end of the line tried to satisfy himself that Bannon had the right to ask for Mr. Porter, let alone to talk with him, and Bannon, steadily ignoring his questions, continued blandly requesting him to call Mr. Porter to the telephone. Hilda was listening with interest, for Bannon's manner was different from anything she had ever seen in him before. It lacked nothing of his customary assurance, but its breeziness gave place to the most studied restraint; he might have been a railroad president himself. He hung up the receiver, however, without accomplishing anything, for the young man finally told him that Mr. Porter had gone out for the afternoon.

So next morning Bannon tried again. He learned that Porter was in, and all seemed to be going well until he mentioned MacBride & Company, after which Mr. Porter became very elusive. Three or four attempts to pin him down, or at least to learn his whereabouts, proved unsuccessful, and at last Bannon, with wrath in his heart, started down town.

It was nearly night before he came back, and as before, he found Pete sitting gloomily in the office waiting his return. "Well," exclaimed the night boss, looking at him eagerly; "I thought you was never coming back. We've most had a fit here, wondering how you'd come out. I don't have to ask you, though. I can see by your looks that we're all right."

Bannon laughed, and glanced over at Hilda, who was watching him closely. "Is that your guess, too, Miss Vogel?"

"I don't think so," she said. "I think you've had a pretty hard time."

"They're both good guesses," he said, pulling a paper out of his pocket, and handing it to Hilda. "Read that." It was a formal permit for building the gallery, signed by Porter himself, and bearing the O.K. of the general manager.

"Nice, isn't it?" Bannon commented. "Now read the postscript, Miss Vogel." It was in Porter's handwriting, and Hilda read it slowly. "MacBride & Company are not, however, allowed to erect trestles or temporary scaffolding in the C. & S. C. right-of-way, nor to remove any property of the Company, such as fences, nor to do anything which may, in the opinion of the local authorities, hinder the movement of trains."

Pete's face went blank. "A lot of good this darned permit does us then. That just means we can't build it."

Bannon nodded. "That's what it's supposed to mean," he said. "That's just the point."

"You see, it's like this," he went on. "That man Porter would make the finest material for ring-oiling, dust proof, non-inflammable bearings that I ever saw. He's just about the hardest, smoothest, shiniest, coolest little piece of metal that ever came my way. Well, he wants to delay us on this job. I took that in the moment I saw him. Well, I told him how we went ahead, just banking on his verbal consent, and how his railroad had jumped on us; and I said I was sure it was just a misunderstanding, but I wanted it cleared up because we was in a hurry. He grinned a little over that, and I went on talking. Said we'd bother 'em as little as possible; of course we had to put up the trestles in their property, because we couldn't hold the thing up with a balloon.

"He asked me, innocent as you please, if a steel bridge couldn't be made in a single span, and I said, yes, but it would take too long. We only had a few days. 'Well,' he says, 'Mr. Bannon, I'll give you a permit.' And that's what he gave me. I bet he's grinning yet. I wonder if he'll grin so much about three days from now."

"Do you mean that you can build it anyway?" Hilda demanded breathlessly.

He nodded, and, turning to Pete, plunged into a swift, technical explanation of how the trick was to be done. "Won't you please tell me, too?" Hilda asked appealingly.

"Sure," he said. He sat down beside her at the desk and began drawing on a piece of paper. Pete came and looked over his shoulder. Bannon began his explanation.


"Here's the spouting house, and here's the elevator. Now, suppose they were only fifteen feet apart. Then if we had two ten-foot sticks and put 'em up at an angle and fastened the floor to a bolt that came down between 'em, the whole weight of the thing would be passed along to the foundation that the ends of the timbers rest on. But you see, it's got to be one hundred and fifty feet long, and to build it that way would take two one hundred-foot timbers, and we haven't got 'em that long.

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