The buzz of excitement due to Chick’s appearance on the witness stand
had scarcely subsided, and the first question had not yet been asked
him, when a man, breathless and perturbed, entered the court-room,
pushed his way up to the table where the Barriscales were sitting,
and announced, in a loud whisper, that a riot was at that moment in
progress at the Barriscale mills. Immediately all was confusion.
People began hastily to leave the room, and the president of the court
martial, after consulting with his associates, and with counsel on both
sides, announced an adjournment until the following Tuesday.
There had, indeed, been a serious disturbance on the plaza in front
of the mills, but by the time the Barriscales reached there the
trouble was practically over. Two men, returning from their dinners
to their work in the shops, had been set upon by pickets of the
Industrialists and badly beaten. Supporters of both sides had hurried
to the scene, and the fracas had promised to be a bloody one when the
police, heavily reinforced by Barriscale guards, descended upon the
combatants, rescued the union workers, and clubbed their adversaries
from the plaza. But when the mob, frenzied and cursing, had been driven
back, the rioters left one of their number prone and bleeding on the
pavement, and that one was a woman, Marie Brussiloff, the boldest and
most bigoted leader of the local Industrialist army. She was lifted
up by the police, thrust into an ambulance, rattled away to the City
Hospital, and for many a day her comrades saw her no more. But her fate
aroused such a spirit of resentment and revenge as boded ill for the
forces of law and order, for the safety of capitalist property, and for
the lives of union workmen.
That evening as Donatello sat at his table in the office and press-room
of _The Disinherited_, he heard footsteps on the stairs and recognized
them. It was General Chick who was coming. No one else had quite the
same method of climbing the stairs.
When the boy came stumbling in, and the editor caught a glimpse of his
face in the lamplight, he was startled at its appearance. He had not
seen him before for two days. With the court-martial impending it had
been impossible for Chick to follow the routine of his regular tasks.
Now he stood there, his cap in his hand, white faced, trembling with
the excitement that was still on him, the pain of his unfortunate
position still mirrored in his eyes.
If there had been, in Donatello’s mind, any thought of rebuking his
dilatory employee, that thought disappeared when he looked at him. Any
one could see that the boy was suffering.
“Why, Chick!” he exclaimed, “what is the matter? Have you been sick;
“No,” replied Chick stoutly; “I ain’t been sick; I been busy. I jest
come to say I’m goin’ to quit.”
“To quit? You mean you will leave my employ?”
“That’s what I mean. I can’t stan’ it here no longer.”
“The work; is it too hard?”
“No; that’s easy enough.”
“Is it that I have been unkind to you?”
“No; I ain’t got no fault to find the way I been treated. It’s account
o’ Lieutenant ’Cormack.”
“Has he asked you that you quit?”
“No; no! He ain’t asked nothin’. But if I hadn’t ’a’ be’n here I
wouldn’t ’a’ got into this trouble. If I hadn’t ’a’ heard what he said
here that night I wouldn’t ’a’ had to be a witness ag’inst him. Now
I’ve got to tell; and it’s goin’ to break him. I hadn’t no business to
come here in the first place.”
Chick dropped into a chair, put his elbow on the table and rested his
head in his hand. He was a picture of despair. Donatello gazed at him
curiously for a moment, and said nothing. But when he did speak his
voice was vibrant with sympathy.
“It is not you,” he said, “who should yourself accuse. You have done
nothing. If it is to blame, the fault is mine. It was I who asked him
that he come. It was I who brought him into contact with these men to
whom he spoke words. You have simply heard them. The law, it makes you
tell that which you have heard. How can fault be yours?”
He spread out his hands appealingly.
“I don’t know,” replied Chick, wearily. “All I know is I hadn’t ought
to ’a’ come here; and I’m goin’ to quit. That’s what I come for, to
tell you I’m goin’ to quit. An’ you don’t owe me nothin’. You’ve
treated me white; I want to be fair with you.”
Even if there had been any basis for contention, Donatello would not
have had the heart to argue the matter. The boy was suffering too
keenly, and it was evident that his mind was made up.
“It is as you will,” he said. “It must be so. If it is that I can
commend you to the future employer, you shall ask it. I will so
“You’re good to say that,” replied Chick. “But I won’t need no
recommend. I won’t never take no job in a printin’ shop ag’in.”
He was through with his errand and he rose to go. He appeared to be
dizzy, and Donatello, thinking he was about to fall, rose and reached
toward him a helping hand.
But the boy steadied himself without assistance and stood firm.
“It ain’t nothin’,” he said. “I used to have them spells; but I got
over ’em. I’ll git over these.”
He put on his cap, said good-night to his sometime employer, and left
the room. Donatello went with him to the head of the stairs and saw him
reach the bottom of the flight in safety, then he returned to his room.
But he did not immediately resume his work. He sat, for many minutes,
his chin in his hand, in deep thought.
The day following the outbreak at the mills was Saturday. From early
morning rumors of further trouble had filled the air. Yet everything
was quiet. No union workmen had been molested, even the pickets of the
Industrial workers had been withdrawn. People versed in the ways of
syndicalism predicted that it was the calm before the storm. They were
At noon, information, carried by dependable spies, reached the Barriscale
headquarters to the effect that the cause of the Industrialists in
Fairweather had been taken up by their brethren in a neighboring city,
and that active and aggressive aid was to be immediately forthcoming.
Incensed at the treatment of their fellows by the police, angered that
one of their women should be wounded, they were to march in a body on
the Barriscale works, and demand reinstatement for their brethren, under
penalty of having the works taken over by the Industrialist army.
It was a desperate programme; it called for drastic measures of
prevention. The chief of police admitted that his force would be unable
to cope with such a body of marchers and rioters as the Industrialists
could undoubtedly muster. The state police had troubles of their own at
the coal mines and could not be spared. It was plain that the National
Guard must be looked to for protection.
An appeal to the Governor of the State by the mayor of Fairweather
resulted, after a considerable exchange of telegrams, in the giving of
authority to use the militia to prevent rioting.
It was late in the afternoon when the order came down through
regimental headquarters to Captain Murray to mobilize his men at the
armory, to hold them in readiness for immediate action, and to use
his discretion about putting them into the field. At seven o’clock
ninety-five per cent of the enlisted men were present at the armory and
under arms. They were lounging about the drill-hall, sitting in the
company room, indulging in athletic sports in the basement. Some one
said that the story of the proposed invasion was a false alarm anyway,
and that there would be nothing doing. At seven-thirty Captain Murray
jumped into a waiting automobile and started for his home, promising to
return inside of an hour. At half-past eight the telephone bell in the
officers’ quarters rang viciously again and again.
“Central must be having a fit!” said the second lieutenant putting the
receiver to his ear.
McCormack, facing him as he sat, saw his eyes widen and his face go
white. Brownell turned from the transmitter long enough to explain to
“Murray’s been in a smash-up; badly hurt; taken to hospital!”
Then he asked some hurried questions of the person who was talking to
him, apparently obtained all the information he could, and hung up the
receiver. Hal still sat facing him with expectant and apprehensive eyes.
“That’s terrible!” exclaimed the second lieutenant.
“What happened?” asked McCormack.
“Why, there was an automobile collision down somewhere on Main Street.
Lewis just telephoned me. Tipped Murray’s car over, broke his leg,
smashed his ribs. He’s still unconscious.”
Brownell got to his feet and began pacing hurriedly up and down the
But Hal sank back in his chair, frightened, nerveless and speechless.
He knew that, with Captain Murray disabled, the command of Company E
would devolve upon him, and in his heart he knew that he was not fit to
be entrusted with that authority. No wonder his pulse fluttered, and
his breath came quick, and that he stared across the room with unseeing
Brownell stopped now and then, in his hurried marching, to give vent to
his feelings of grief and anxiety, but McCormack, submerged in thought,
was still silent.
Some one knocked at the door and came in to give details, that he had
learned from an eye-witness, of the accident to Captain Murray.
Down-stairs the drill-hall buzzed with excitement and indignation. For
it was suspected that the injury to the captain was the result of a
plot to deprive the company of the services of its regular leader at
a critical time, and throw the command to an officer whose declared
sympathies were with the prospective rioters. There appeared to have
been no excuse for the accident. A car containing two strangers,
evidently of some foreign nationality, had deliberately collided with
Captain Murray’s automobile at the corner of Main Street and Maple
Avenue. The reckless drivers had been arrested and committed to the
lock-up, but would give no information concerning themselves or their
errand in the city. Barriscale was loud in his demand that a committee
should go to Lieutenant Brownell and insist on his assuming command
of the company; but the proposition was frowned down by most of the
enlisted men. In spite of all that they had heard and seen they still
had faith in the first lieutenant and were willing to go out under his
At nine o’clock Brownell and McCormack commandeered a car and drove to
the hospital. But their visit was fruitless. Captain Murray could not
be seen. He was in a serious condition, semi-conscious, beginning to
suffer greatly. His wife and daughter were in the corridor with white
faces and tearful eyes, tormented with anxiety.
When the two commissioned officers returned to the armory they learned
that news had come over the wire confirming the rumor of an invasion.
It was definitely stated that a large number of radicals and terrorists
were secretly preparing to leave the neighboring city some time in the
night and march to Fairweather on a hostile errand. But they had not
yet started, and Fairweather was twelve miles away.
So, at ten o’clock, the Guardsmen took their shelter-tent rolls and
blankets, adjusted them for sleeping purposes, and flung themselves
down on the armory floor to rest until the command should come to “fall
Then some one inquired for Chick, and it was recalled that he had not
been seen at the armory all the afternoon and evening. Every one knew
that excitement like this would have been meat and drink to him. Why
was he not here?
Up-stairs, in the officers’ quarters, McCormack and Brownell were
again alone. The second lieutenant was reading up on field maneuvers.
The first lieutenant, torn with conflicting emotions and desires, was
pacing the floor. Suddenly he stopped, and faced Brownell.
“Joe,” he said, “you’ve got to take this company out when the time
comes; I can’t!”
Brownell looked up at him incredulously.
“What’s the reason you can’t?” he inquired.
“Because I’m not fit to. Because, after what they heard in court
yesterday, the boys will have no confidence in me. Because I’m under
court-martial, and ought to be under arrest. Because I’m afraid of
myself. If the worst comes to the worst there’ll be a conflict between
my duty to the Guard and the State, and my duty to those with whose
cause I sympathize. You know what I mean. Can’t you see how utterly
impossible it is for me to take command of this company?”
He held out his hands appealingly.
“No,” replied Brownell, promptly, “I can’t see. You’re the ranking
Hal interrupted him impatiently:
“That doesn’t matter. I’ll go away. I’ll leave the city. I’ll make it a
necessity for you to assume command.”
Brownell began to show impatience.
“You’ll do nothing of the kind!” he exclaimed. “You’ll do your duty to
the State and the Guard and yourself. This gang of hoodlums? Why, man,
they’re not men looking for their jobs! They’re just common rioters and
bullies and criminals, bent on tearing the constitution of the United
States to bits, and throwing the pieces into the gutter. Look here! do
you know what you swore to do when you took your oath as a commissioned
officer? You swore to defend the constitution of the United States and
of this State against all enemies foreign and domestic. Now, go and do
it. It’s up to you. It’s the first chance you’ve had. Go and do it!”
“But, Joe, I know these people. I know what their aspirations are, and
I know they are sincere. Their leaders are my friends. How could I give
orders to shoot them down?”
Brownell sprang from his chair. At last his patience was exhausted.
“Friends!” he shouted savagely. “Your friends! These thugs! These
would-be murderers! And your own captain their first victim! Why, you
cringing coward you, your blood ought to boil in your veins when you
think of the crimes of which these traitors have been and want to be
guilty. Friends! Heaven save the mark!”
Hal did not get angry; he could not. He knew that Brownell was
castigating him because he loved him. He dropped into a chair by the
table and rested his head in his hands and was silent. Then his
comrade, knowing that he was suffering, took pity on him, and came over
and placed an affectionate hand on his shoulder.
“Forgive me, old man!” he said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. The thing
got on my nerves and I had to let go. But you’re dead wrong. You’re in
command of this company, and you’ve got to take it out.”
McCormack looked up wearily.
“At the risk,” he said, “of leading it into disaster and disgrace? Why
do you compel me to face such a temptation as this?”
Brownell’s hand tightened on Hal’s shoulder.
“Because,” he replied, “I know you and trust you. I know what things
lie at the bottom of your heart; red blood, pure patriotism, soldierly
pride, the honor of a gentleman. I was never so little afraid of
anything in my life as I am that you will either disgrace us, or
The first lieutenant did not reply. He was about to say something, but
his lips trembled, his eyes filled with tears, and he dropped his head
again into his hands and was silent.
Down-stairs all was quiet. The Guardsmen were sleeping. Through an open
window of the officers’ quarters there came the measured tramp of the
sentry on the flagged walk outside.
At midnight the sky was clear, the stars were shining, the street-lights
across the river gleamed like blazing jewels in the darkness. And over
the sleeping world hung still the portent of evil and the promise of
At five o’clock on Sunday morning the call came. Word was received at
the armory that a marching mob, three hundred strong, was approaching
the outskirts of Fairweather. At five-thirty, in command of Lieutenant
McCormack, Company E was on the plaza fronting the Barriscale mills.
Hot coffee and biscuits had been served to the men before leaving the
armory, and now, at ease, with arms stacked, sitting, standing, talking
in groups, the Guardsmen awaited the coming of the mob.
It is not to be supposed that there had been no discussion among the
enlisted men concerning the propriety and risk of being led into action
by Lieutenant McCormack. Even after Sergeant Barriscale’s failure to
have the men demand the temporary retirement of the first lieutenant,
the subject would not down. There were those who felt, and not without
reason, that it was taking too long a chance to permit an avowed
sympathizer with the disorderly element in the ranks of labor to lead
them on such an expedition as this. Barriscale, himself, was bitter in
his continued denunciation of such a programme.
“The man should have had a sufficient sense of decency,” he declared to
a little group that surrounded him on the pavement, “to have prevented
him from taking this company out. I don’t know what he intends to do,”
he added; “but if his orders, or his refusal to give orders, show that
he intends to let this mob have its way and work its will, I, for one,
will revolt. If the first lieutenant plays traitor and the second
lieutenant’s afraid to take hold, I’ll assume command of the company
myself; I’ve got a right to under the Articles of War, and I’ll arrest
McCormack and have him punished for treason and sedition. I tell you,
boys, the honor of this company and of the whole National Guard is at
stake this morning, and I’ll stop at nothing to save it.”
And there were those who agreed with him.
In order to place his men most effectively for service, McCormack had
concentrated them on the northerly side of the plaza to the right of
the entrance gates to the shops, and just in rear of the flagstaff
which in the early morning was still bare of the colors. This position
was still further strengthened by the fact that the troops covered
the mouths of the three streets leading from the central city and
converging at that point. Only the mouth of the street leading to the
south was unguarded. This was the street up which the marchers would
come, and across this street, a block away, the police had thrown a
platoon which, it was hoped, would prevent the mob from reaching the
mills or coming into contact with the militia.
Lieutenant McCormack, having made his plans, and having given final
instructions to his officers, sauntered across the corner of the plaza
to the mouth of the main street leading into the city, and leaned
against a lamp-post at the curb. He was not only deep in thought, his
mind was in a very tumult of emotions. He knew that he had reached
“the parting of the ways”; that he could no longer serve two masters,
that he must either “hate the one and love the other,” or “hold to the
one and despise the other.” The time had come when he must either give
undivided allegiance to the flag of his country, or fling himself,
body and soul, into the movement for the merging of the flags of all
countries into the red flag of social radicalism.
The sun, well above the crest of the hill range to the east, threw long
shafts of yellow light down through the open spaces of the streets,
and flooded the plaza with a carpet of shining gold. An apple tree in
a near-by yard was a pink and white marvel of beauty and bloom. All
around him birds were rioting in their spring-time songs.
Hal had the soul of an artist, and in any other mood he would have
breathed in the glory of the morning. But its splendor fell now upon
unseeing eyes, and its music upon ears that did not hear.
Lieutenant Brownell approached him and saluted.
“I am informed,” he said, “that the custodian of the flag here is about
to hoist it on the staff.”
McCormack returned the salute.
“You will bring the company to attention,” he said, “and do honor to
Two men came from the Barriscale offices with the flag, and ran the
ends of the halyards through the rings. The company was brought to
“attention,” and then to “present arms,” while the colors mounted the
As the banner rose, as it gave itself to the fresh morning air, as it
rolled itself out against the strong but gentle wind, as it flashed
back its glorious colors in the splendid sunlight, something gripped
Lieutenant McCormack’s heart. Perhaps it was a spirit of patriotism
that, heretofore lying dormant, now rose from the tragic struggle
that was going on in his own soul. He remembered that his father had
served under this flag, that his father’s father had fought for it,
that hundreds of thousands of men, on battle-fields, in fever camps,
in prison pens, on the decks of sinking ships, had died that it might
wave; that millions of hearts to-day beat faster as eyes dim with
patriotic sentiment looked up at it–why? Mistakes had been made under
it indeed, political crimes had been committed in its name; graft,
greed, unholy ambitions had flourished in its shelter, while the
deserving poor by thousands had toiled and sweat in the shadow of it,
and found no rest. And yet–and yet, until that far-off day shall come
when the hearts of all men shall be purged of selfishness and sin,
what nobler flag, what symbol of a better government, more free from
tyranny, more blest with liberty, more rich with opportunity, floats
anywhere in all the world? Day by day, year by year, rising out of
turmoil and tribulation and the constant struggle for better things, to
ever higher and broader planes of life and levels of true democracy,
what other people on earth have a greater right or a richer incentive
to love the one flag that protects their homes and thrills their
hearts, than the people of the United States of America?
The colors were at the top of the staff, the halyards were fastened to
the clamps, the company was brought to an “order arms,” and again to
a rest at will, and the period of waiting was resumed. But Lieutenant
McCormack’s eyes were still fixed on the flag. Somehow, suddenly,
there was a fascination in the sight of it that he could not resist;
his country’s flag, the flag of his ancestors, the symbol of the soul
of America; America, his home. That strange grip on his heart grew
tighter, firmer, deeper–was it pain, was it sweetness, was it one of
that trio of highest and noblest sentiments that stir humanity, love of
one’s own country as distinct from every other country in the world,
that caused his eyes to fill with tears as he stood with raised head
and gazed on the “Banner of the Stars”?
He was suddenly aware that some one was standing at his side, and when
he looked down he saw that it was General Chick. The boy, too, was
staring at the colors.
“Ain’t it beautiful?” he asked.
“Chick,” was the reply, “I feel this morning that that flag is the most
beautiful thing in the world, and that every American citizen should
“And,” added Chick, “should ought to want to be a soldier an’ fight
under it. That’s what I’ve been wanting to be; but lately I’m kind o’
“Why discouraged, Chick?”
“Oh, I’m afraid I won’t never git into the Guard now. It feels as
though somethin’s gone wrong inside o’ me.”
McCormack looked down at the boy, at his gray face, his hollow eyes,
his sunken cheeks, at the evidences of physical pain with which his
countenance was marked, and he felt a sudden pity for him.
“You’re not well, Chick,” he said; “you ought not to be here.”
“I know,” was the labored reply. “But I couldn’t help comin’. I heard
about it, an’ I got up an’ come away while the old woman was asleep.”
A wan smile spread over his face at the memory of his diplomatic
“I thought, mebbe,” he continued, “I might never see the boys ag’in–in
action; and I–wanted to see ’em.”
“Chick, you must go back home. You’re too ill to stay here.”
The boy ignored the command and asked a question.
“They ain’t through tryin’ you yet, air they?”
“No, the trial will be resumed next Tuesday. Chick, you—-”
“Well, Mr. ’Cormack, if I should–should jest happen, you know–to die
before then, they couldn’t git nothin’ on you, could they?”
He was leaning against a tie-post at the curb, trembling and exhausted.
He looked up anxiously and wistfully at the lieutenant as he spoke.
McCormack bent down and put his arm around the boy’s shoulder and
turned his face toward the city.
“Chick, don’t talk that way. You can’t hurt me in a thousand years so
much as I’ve hurt myself many a time in a day. Now go back home and try
to get well. We can’t do without you in the Guard.”
A man came across the plaza from the Barriscale offices, and thrust
a written message into the lieutenant’s hands. It was to the effect
that the marchers were at the outskirts of the city; that they had
sacked provision and liquor stores on their way, were drunk, riotous,
boastful and destructive, and would reach the plaza in less than ten
Even as McCormack finished reading the message he heard in the distance
the dull roar that presaged the coming of the mob.
When Lieutenant McCormack, after reading the message announcing the
coming of the mob, crossed the plaza and faced his company, he found
his men already in ranks and standing at “order arms.” They also had
heard the ominous sound of approaching disorder. Already the forefront
of the procession was in sight on the street leading up from the
south. Inflamed with the liquor which they had seized in the course of
their journey, the exuberant and reckless spirit of the marchers was
showing itself. Men were singing, shouting, waving clubs, demanding
justice for their fellow-workers, and the recognition of the rule
of the proletariat. At the junction of every street and alley their
members had been swelled by the angry and resentful Industrialists of
Fairweather. The cordon of police that had attempted to block their way
was swept down as though it had been a rope of straw. Now, five hundred
strong, reckless and determined, they were bearing down on the center
of the city’s industries.
The waiting hundreds of citizens who, for the last hour, had lined the
curbs about the open place, began to withdraw. They did not care to be
caught between the clubs of the rioters and the bayonets of the militia.
The mob, filling the main street from wall to wall, entered the plaza
like a rushing stream which, confined between barriers at the side, is
powerful and resistless, but, spreading out over the broad lowland,
loses its momentum and its destructive force. It was so with the
marchers. The wide space into which they emptied themselves weakened
their physical power, but in no wise altered their purpose or their
spirit of aggressiveness. When they caught sight of the American
flag waving from the staff before their faces, and saw the silent,
khaki-clad ranks of soldiers standing at attention beneath it, they
sent up a howl of derision. These were but the visible sign and symbol
of the powers of oppression against which they fought. Therefore they
wanted the world to know that they despised and defied them.
From somewhere outside, a drayman’s cart was brought and rattled
across the pavement to the center of the plaza. A man leaped up into
it and began to harangue the crowd. Italian, German, Slavonic words
and sentences rolled from his tongue with equal fluency. His hearers
applauded him wildly.
Sergeant Barriscale could endure the situation no longer. He brought
his rifle to a “shoulder arms,” stepped one pace to the front and
saluted his commanding officer.
“Lieutenant McCormack,” he said, “do you intend to permit those fellows
to stir the rabble up to violence with incendiary speeches?”
The lieutenant acknowledged the salute and replied calmly:
“It is not our mission here to interfere with the right of free speech
or of public assembly.”
“But,” shouted Ben, “this is simply a mob. The thing will develop into
a riot. The time to stop it is now. I demand that you put this company
into action and disperse that crowd.”
Hal looked his first sergeant squarely in the eyes. He was not angry,
but there was a certain unusual note of decision in his voice as he
“I shall not permit this company,” he said, “so long as I am in
command, to oppress or harass any person acting within his rights. You
will take your post.”
“But these hoodlums are not within their rights. They—-”
“You will take your post, sir!”
The look in Lieutenant McCormack’s eyes, the ring in his voice,
admonished Barriscale that the parley was at an end. He stepped back
into his place at the right of the line, and came to “order arms” with
a crash of the butt of his rifle on the pavement.
McCormack’s language had convinced him that, so far as the Guardsmen
were concerned, the rioters were to have their way and work their will.
And the same conviction was not far removed from the breasts of many of
the men in the ranks.
The voice of the orator on the dray grew louder, his words tumbled in
torrents from his lips, he was gesticulating like a man gone mad. His
hearers, dominated by his fierce eloquence, applauded him to the echo.
At the end of a fiery peroration there was a sudden movement of the
crowd. Some one thrust up a pole with a red flag waving from its tip.
Clubs were lifted into the air. From five hundred throats came a yell
of defiance. Every hate-lined face was turned toward the soldiers still
standing quietly at “order arms.” It was a critical moment. The orator
flung his hands into the air and begged his followers to restrain their
wrath until he should intercede for them with the capitalist-hired
militia. He dismounted from the dray and, for a moment, was lost in
the crowd. But, presently, with another leader at his side, he crossed
the narrow, open space that separated the ranks of turbulence from the
ranks of order and law.
At the foot of the flagstaff the two men met Lieutenant McCormack and
stopped and addressed him. He recognized them, then, for the first
time, as the two leaders whom he had met in Donatello’s shop. The
American was again the spokesman.
“May I ask,” he said, “the purpose of bringing soldiers here?”
Lieutenant McCormack, standing with folded arms, responded quietly but
“To prevent disorder and violence.”
“There will be no disorder and no violence,” replied Kranich, “unless
an attempt is made to thwart my followers in their purpose.”
“What is their purpose?”
The question came as mildly as though it had to do with a summer shower
instead of a prospective riot.
“Our purpose,” was the response, “is to pass up the streets, the
entrances to which you have covered with your troops, and spread our
propaganda in the public places of the city, which is our right.”
“I understand. Is that your entire programme?”
The men in the ranks moved uneasily. It was apparent to them that their
commanding officer was about to accede to the demand of the leaders of
Kranich hesitated, and studied his questioner’s face for a moment
before replying. He was debating in his mind whether he should evade
the real issue, or whether he should depend upon the friendly sympathy
and anticipated acquiescence of the first lieutenant, and disclose the
full purpose of the marchers. He made a quick decision, and chose
the latter course as likely to lead to quicker and more satisfactory
“No,” he replied, “we intend to take possession of this plant before
us, in behalf of the men who have a right to work there and to receive
full compensation for their toil.”
“I see. And what is it that you wish me to do?”
Again the mild, acquiescent, deprecatory manner, with its intimation of
a truculent yielding to the will of the mob.
The faces of the Guardsmen were a study in the expression of anxious
doubt and increasing dismay. Brownell felt chills creeping down his
back. The time had come when he, too, staunchest supporter and firmest
friend of Halpert McCormack, had to keep tight grip on his faith in him
in order to prevent it from sinking out of sight.
Barriscale was in a tumult of wrath. That McCormack should even consent
to parley with the leaders of the mob was unbelievable and unendurable.
“Bullets, not words,” he said in a hoarse whisper to the men at his
left. “That’s what they want, bullets, not words!”
Kranich did not reply directly to the lieutenant’s last question. He
gesticulated slightly, assumed an oratorical manner, and said:
“The time has come for you to prove by your works your declared faith
in the righteousness of the proletarian movement.”
“What is it that you wish me to do?”
The question was repeated, perhaps a little more firmly, a little more
distinctly than before, and it now brought a definite answer.
“We wish you to withdraw your troops from the plaza. The sight of them
excites and angers my followers. If they remain here I shall not be
responsible for the consequences.”
Lieutenant McCormack turned and faced his company. It was apparent that
he was about to yield to the demand of the captains of the mob and give
such orders to his company as would lead to its immediate withdrawal.
Kranich and Gabriel looked at each other and smiled with satisfaction.
The men in the ranks grew sick at heart. Brownell clutched the butt of
his pistol in sheer desperation. Barriscale snatched his rifle up from
the pavement and started once more to leave the ranks, but was checked
by the command that now issued from the lips of the first lieutenant.
The first sergeant dropped back into his place. Brownell’s heart leaped
in his breast. The Guardsmen caught their breaths and wondered and were
But there was no delay in the execution of the order. The men came to
“parade rest” and drew their bayonets from their scabbards. The click
sounded sharp and ominous as the springs caught on the muzzles of the
rifle barrels. Then, with shining blades fixed, the “order arms” was
Lieutenant McCormack turned again to face the ringleaders. The smiles
had vanished from their faces, their eyes were filled with a surprise
that was not unmixed with indignation.
“In answer to your request,” said the lieutenant, “I will say that I
decline to withdraw my troops. But I demand that you, who seem to be
leaders of this crowd, take your men back at once along the street by
which they came. Otherwise I shall clear the plaza at the point of the
His voice, rising as he proceeded, rang out at the last with a
clearness and precision that left no room for doubt as to the meaning
of his words.
Against all military precedent and custom the men of Company E, with
almost a single voice, gave vent to a great shout of approval. The
reaction was so great, the relief was so tremendous, that a week in
the guard-house would scarcely have been sufficient to repress this
exuberant expression of their feeling.
The faces of the leaders of the mob blazed with wrath, and their eyes
shot fire. They had been mistaken in their man. It was Gabriel who now
“And is it,” he cried angrily, the words tumbling from his bearded
lips, “that we are deceived? Are you also traitor? Judas? Hound? I
curse you! I defy your guns!”
His face was distorted with rage. His whole body was writhing with
“See!” he shrieked, “I despise your capitalist flag! I spit upon it! I
As he spoke he drew from his waistcoat pocket a big clasp-knife, opened
the blade, and made a lunge toward the flagstaff with the evident
purpose of slashing the halyards and dropping the flag to be trampled
on. Quick and dextrous as he was, the first lieutenant of Company E was
quicker. In a blaze of patriotic wrath he cleared the space between him
and Gabriel, and brought the butt of his pistol crashing down upon the
head of the would-be desecrator of the flag.
The knife dropped from the man’s hand and went clattering to the
pavement, and he, himself, swaying, staggering for a moment, fell,
bleeding and unconscious, at the foot of the staff he would have
If the cheer that had greeted McCormack’s ultimatum to the leader
of the mob had been whole-souled and exuberant, the yell that came
now from the throats of half a hundred khaki-clad enthusiasts was
vociferous and overwhelming. At last they had a soldier and a patriot
for a leader, and they wanted the world to know it.
Barriscale alone was displeased and dissatisfied.
“It was a reckless thing to do,” he shouted. “Those fellows over there
will see red now. Bayonets are no use. We’ve got to shoot into ’em or
they’ll murder us. Look at ’em!”
The rioters presented, indeed, a terrifying spectacle. Stunned, for
a moment, by the swift retribution that had fallen on their leader,
their amazement now gave way to a frenzy of rage. Incited to still
greater fury by Kranich who had precipitately fled into the midst of
his followers when he saw his companion fall, the men of the invading
host were clamoring for revenge. The red flag, temporarily lowered,
was again shaken aloft. Men with faces distorted by wrath and a desire
for vengeance were shrieking their anger, flourishing their clubs,
brandishing knives, daggers, pistols, gathering from the street
missiles of any and every kind with which to charge upon their enemy.
They could not conceive that sixty Guardsmen in khaki, with rifles and
bayonets, could check the murderous onslaught of five hundred desperate
and daring men.
Already stones and brickbats were hurtling through the air, and falling
in the midst of the troops. A stone struck Manning’s head, cut through
his hat, and sent him staggering and bleeding to the curb.
McCormack’s command rang out clear and distinct above the din and
tumult of the riot. As it went down the line the rifle of every man
was thrown to the front, his left hand supporting the barrel, his
right hand grasping the stock. The points of sixty bayonets, four
paces apart, ranged in the sweeping arc of a circle, converged in the
direction of the howling and advancing mob. Barriscale alone was in
“It’s wild!” he shouted. “We’ve got to give ’em bullets, not bayonets!
This is no pink tea! This is war! I say, load your guns, men, load!
Obeying his own command, he pulled back the bolt of his piece, withdrew
a clip from his cartridge belt, pushed it with trembling and hurried
fingers into the slot of his rifle, forced the cartridges into the
magazine, thrust the bolt home, and then looked around in amazement to
see that no one else had followed his lead.
McCormack, though his face went white with anger, still thought
it prudent to let Barriscale have his fling. The man was excited,
terrified, utterly beyond even self-control; he could harm no one but
The calmness, the deliberation, the apparent patience which the
commanding officer was exercising in the handling of his force,
appeared to give courage to the attacking mob, the front rank of which,
forced on from behind, was now within twenty paces of the line of
army steel. The jeering was hideous and the yelling terrific. Stones,
brickbats, missiles of all kinds went crashing into the silent ranks.
McCormack gave the command and repeated it. It was instantly obeyed.
With measured step, bayonets pointed ahead of them at the height of
their chins, firmness in every eye, determination gripping every inch
of muscle, the men of Company E moved forward in the face of such a mad
and murderous assault as few of them ever cared to witness again.
All but Sergeant Barriscale. He was now in flat revolt. He seemed
bereft of his senses, wild with rage or fear or both.
“I’ll not advance!” he yelled. “You boys are going to your death.
They’ll murder you. I say again, load and fire!” He turned savagely
toward the commanding officer. “Fool!” he cried, “to send your men to
slaughter. I defy your orders!”
Then, indeed, the first lieutenant lost grip on his patience. He
thrust his pistol into its holster, reached out a right hand nerved
with wrath, tore Barriscale’s loaded and unbayoneted rifle from his
grasp, and tossed it to Manning sitting on the curb. With both hands he
gripped the shoulders of the first sergeant and flung him about, face
to the rear.
“Report at the armory,” he cried, “and consider yourself under arrest
till I return.”
Then he swung about and followed his men into action.
As the troops pressed on the howling and shrieking died down, and the
firing of missiles ceased. The points of sixty bayonets were within
two feet of a hundred throats grown tired with shouting. The front
rank of rioters looked into the eyes of the men behind the guns and
saw their own doom written there. They made a last wild attempt to
thrust aside the glittering steel. The effort was futile. They only
pierced and lacerated their hands and put their lives in jeopardy.
Then valor gave way to discretion. They broke and fell back, crowding,
pushing and trampling on their comrades in the rear. The line of
bayonets lengthened till it swept the plaza and forced the last man
of the riotous host into the street up which the marchers had come a
short half hour before. Panic seized upon the throng, a mad desire in
the breast of each one to protect himself, regardless of his fellows,
against what appeared to be the murderous onslaught of the pitiless
troops. There was a wild scramble, shrieks of terror, a futile effort
to escape. But it was not until vacant lots, side streets unguarded
by police, and at last the open country, had been reached that the
defeated, scattered and terrorized invaders found safe asylum and a
respite from their fears. So, crushed, humiliated and spiritless,
bleeding from many superficial wounds, singly and in groups, the
rioters found their way back to the city from which, in the early
morning, they had come.
Back, on the north side of the plaza, four persons stood or sat,
watching, with vivid interest, the vanishing mob and the backs of the
khaki-clad troops as they disappeared in the dust and distance down the
main street leading to the south.
First among them was Gabriel the anarchist, who, coming to himself,
had struggled into a sitting posture the better to nurse his wounds
to which the surgeon who had administered first aid to Manning was
now giving his attention. Manning himself, sitting on the curb, a
little weak from shock and loss of blood, lifted his feeble voice in
enthusiastic acclaim as he saw the riotous army routed from the plaza
and driven down the street. Chick, seated at Manning’s side, joined
his voice, pathetically tremulous, with the corporal’s outburst of
rejoicing; and back of them a multitude of order-loving and law-abiding
citizens shouted vociferously their delight at the victory won over the
forces of disloyalty and disruption.
Finally, Barriscale stood there, midway between the wounded rioter and
the cheering Guardsman, a powerless and pathetic figure. He looked
at the marching troops, with bayonets at the “charge,” pressing the
mob to its overthrow. He turned his eyes to the big buildings and the
spacious yards of his father’s great industrial plant, saved by the
firm and wise action of Lieutenant Halpert McCormack from pillage and
destruction. He gazed up at the swelling and rolling folds of the
“Star-Spangled Banner,” still floating, thanks to the alert patriotism
of the same bold officer, in glorious symbolism from the summit of its
staff. Finally his eyes fell on Corporal Manning and General Chick
still sitting in front of him on the curb. His face was a study. It no
longer showed any mark of excitement or anger. The emotions pictured
on it were far different; wonder, humiliation, disgust, following each
other in quick succession; finally the indication of a transforming
force back of his countenance, no less powerful and thorough than that
which this very morning had changed the tenor of the life and thought
of his comrade in arms, Halpert McCormack. He came a step nearer to
“Dick,” he said, “I’ve been a fool.”
“I think, myself,” replied the corporal with a wan smile, “that you’ve
been rather indiscreet.”
“Indiscreet! I’ve been a consummate idiot. Look at that fellow;”
he half turned his head in the direction in which McCormack had
disappeared; “getting all the honor and glory of this thing; and
deserving it; and me–facing a court martial and the penitentiary–and
He came over and sat down on the curb beside Chick, and dropped his
head into his hands.
“Him,” said Chick, gazing also with eyes filled with admiration after
the disappearing troops, “he’ll be a major-general some day.”
Barriscale started up again. “I’m under arrest,” he said; “I’ve got to
go to the armory. Who’s going?”
“I am,” replied Manning.
“Me too,” added Chick.
“Come along then, both of you.”
The corporal rose uncertainly to his feet, picked up his own rifle, and
started to pick up the one belonging to Barriscale with which McCormack
had intrusted him.
“Here,” said Chick, bravely, “give that one to me.”
The first sergeant looked down on him with pitying eyes. Yesterday he
would have despised him and thrust him aside. But to-day the boy was
so shrunken, so white and trembling, such a pathetic little figure to
undertake to carry a man’s load.
“No,” said Barriscale, “you can’t. I’ll carry ’em both, Dick, if you’ll
He took both rifles, put one over each shoulder, pushed a way through
the noisy and wondering crowd, and together the three started up the
main street toward the central city.