E. E. (Elizabeth E.) Flagg.

Between two opinions; or, The question of the hour online

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ding of a party. It's the inconsistency of the thing
Tm looking at"

"Don't you know," returned Martin Treworthy,
leaning forward in his chait and giving the fire an
extra poke, "that these good men believe all the
while they are voting for temperance. They are
humbugged and don't know it. *He that letteth will
let till he be taken out of the way.' There's a lying
spirit abroad in the world, in the church, everywhere
— an organized Satanic power that will either plant
itself square in the way of every honest reform, or
if it has got too strong to be stopped, checks and
hampers it; puts a bridle round its neck and a bit in
its mouth, covers it with fine trappings, and then
rides on it just where it wants to go. Look at the
Good Templars, started in 1851 when the temper-
ance reform was thirty or forty years old, and had
got too strong a grip on the hearts and consciences
of the people to be shook off— who were its chief en-
gineers? High Masons. And what has it done for
temperance? Well, I'll tell you. It has humbugged
a great many temperance folks into sitting with
folded hands and trusting to the lodge to do their
work for them; it has humbugged lots of others into
joining, and then kept them busy with childish non-



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On Hvmbugs, 115

sense; it has humbugged thousands of Christian men '

and women into supporting secrecy as a principle;
and in short it has been ndlhing else but a first-class
humbug clear through."

"But what has all this to do with temperance men
votmg for Gen. Putney?" asked Nelson, rather im-
patiently. • '

"I hain't come to it yet," answered Martin Tre- \

worthy, serenely, still keeping his hold on the poker. |

"It's a long story; it's got as many coils and ramifi- \

cations as the old Serpent himself. Now take the •

Grand Army of the Republic. I believe the rank j

and file of the members are honest men, but they are
humbugged. They are made to believe that all the
reason for loyal soldiers banding together in secret
like a company of robbers is to cultivate fraternal
feelings and assist one another, when the real object
is to get offices for the leaders. Take all the secret
orders in the land — and their name is legion — ^they
are nothing but different manifestationcKof one lying
spirit — ^Freemasonry. Good Templars, or KuKlux,
or Nihilists — ^it is all the same. Men that will be
humbugged by a secret order will be very easily
humbugged at the polls. Men that will bind them-
selves by an oath, or an obligation — ^I don't care
which — ^to obey leaders they never saw or heard of,
will be just as easily made slaves to a party, especi-
ally if that party is itself nose-led by the lodge.
There's the whole thing in a nutsheU. Gen. Putney
has been elected by the votes of old soldiers, prohi-
bitionists and liquor men; and I can tell you how it



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116 Between Two Opinions.

has been done. In the first place he was nominated
over the heads of other and better candidates by
Masonic leaders of the G. A. R who all had axes to
grind of one sort and another. The G. A. R is a
grand machine for getting fraudulent pensions, and
there's lots of bounty jumpers who ought to bless
the Gkneml for his work in that line when he was
Representative. But does anybody who knows Joe
Putney and has got as much common sense as you
can put on the point of a cambric needle, think for a
minute that he cares for the soldiers any more than
just to catch their votes. Then the next thing was
to dupe the Prohibitionists with lies and fair speech-
es; and how was that done? Why^ by means of
Masonic influence controlling the secret temperance
orders just as it controls the G. A. R; magnifying
the Republican party, belittling the prohibition
movement, ridiculing the prohibition leaders, and
lauding Gen. Putney for a temperance man, when it
is a fact tha^ brewers and distillers all over the State
have poured out money like water to secure his eleo-
tion. Maybe you don't know it, but every saloonist
in Jacksonville is a Republican, because the party
managers have given him to understand that that's
the side his bread is buttered. 'Support our ticket
and we won't interfere with your business.' That's
the word; and when every bar-keeper is a Mason, or
an Odd-fellow, or a Knight of Pythias, or all three,
they know pretty well they don't run much risks
promising. So the lowest groggery becomes a trap
to catch the votes of the drinking class, and we are



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On Bumbuffs. 117

treated toa spectacle that is enough to make the devil
laugh in his sleeve, bar-keepers and temperance men,
church members and drunkards, ministers and row-
dies, all voting together for the same man!"

"I must say you are making out the political situ-
ation to be in even a worse muddle than I thought,"
observed Nelson, with a shrug of his shoulders.
"But if I have been told once I have fifty times tiiat
the G. A. R was not in the least a political organiza-
tion."

"Tell that to the marines. No; to somebody a
great deal greener than the marines, a jack Mason;
but don't you go to riling me up by talking as
though f/au believed any of that stuff, Nelson New-
hall, or I vow, I don't know but I shall be tempted
to show you the door."

Nelson laughed quietly,' as a threatening flourish
of the poker, which had been buried long enough in
the coals to show a red-hot tip, gave emphasis to the *
words.

"Their hand has been plain enough in this elec-
tion, I'll confess. It's an idea I don't like. I am
not down on secret orders hammer and tongs like
you, but I hold to their keeping their fingers out of
the political pie and not making a worse hocus pocus
of it than it is."

"Might as well say that a cat ought to go against
its nature, and not catch birds and mice," retorted
Martin. "It is the nature of the lodge to want
power, and the way to power is through politics.
The saloon party has played us a trick"—



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118 Between jTwo Opinions.

"Which they won't do another time," growled Nel-
son, who felt that his indignation was most right-
eous; for through a purposely ambiguous wording
of the ballots it was found that many Prohibitionists
had voted Yes, on the question of license, believing
all the while that they were voting No— a fraud
which doomed Jacksonville to another year of rum-
rule, the just demand for a recoimt having been re-
fused.

"Not the same trick, but maybe another just as
bad. When the lodge and the saloon strike hands
what can honest men expect? Years ago the Lord
opened my eyes to see that lodgery, and slavery, and
rum, and every other evil that is opposing the reign
of Christ, were so many links in the devil's chain;
and, Nelson Newhall, the day is coming when your
eyes will be opened, too."

Martin Treworthy spoke with a strange solemnity
which impressed Nelson too much to ask him what
he meant; and in the silence which followed he be-
gan to think — ^feeling almost angry with himself
meanwhile that the recollection should occur to him
at just that moment, for what could it possibly have
to do witK Martin Treworthy's prediction? — ^how the
day before h$.had been visited at his lodgings by a
stranger who represented himself as an agent of the
Union, empowered to look into matters connected
with the works where Nelson was employed. In his
immaculate broadcloth and spotless beaver, with his
massive gold watch and chain, and his fat, white
hands bedecked with rings, this champion of the



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On Humbugs. 119

laborer's rigbts seemed so evidently to belong to
that class of humanity which like the lilies of the
field "toil not, neither do they spin/' that Nelson did
not feel inspired with any particular confidence; but
he answered his inquiries frankly. There had been
a recent cut-down in the wages which he considered
unjust and unreasonable, and this had caused some
dissatisfaction among the workmen. But when
asked "if there was any talk of a strike," he had
bluntly answered "that with the winter just on them
and promising to be a hard one, he shouldn't sup-
pose anybody but a fool would talk of such a thing.
The capitalist could barricade himself behind his
dollars, and then when the strike was over start up
again with perhaps an improved market, while ten
to one the men would go back to work at the old
prices." This vigorous speech was met by the agent
with the smooth reply that it was the settled policy
of the Union to avoid strikes if practicable, and in-
deed it was in accordance with this policy that he
had been sent out to make these inquiries. But the
assurance for some reason did not allay Nelson's
feeling of distrust; and still further was it increased
when he picked up and b^an to read a paper left
behind him, either accidentally or purposely by this
white-handed and be-ringed representative of labor.
It was a Socialistic sheet filled with accounts of
many real wrongs and abuses and some fancied
ones; but with the same false, dangerous, unrepnbli-
can remedies for alL He read it awhile, then thriew
it into the fire with an impatient "pshaw!" — ^f<» Nel-



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120 Between Tux) Opinions.

son Newhall, as a typical AmericaiT workman, de-
sired most devoutly the elevation of his own class,
but with ideas rather than dynamite.

There was reason why Martin Treworthy's words,
though not remarkable in themselves, should im-
press him like a solemn prophecy of things already
close at hand. Side by side with his rough, practi-
cal common sense ran a vein of that spiritual fire
that bums in the souls of prophets and seers; his
rough border experience, filled with episodes of un-
written heroism, had fanned the divine fiame. Alto-
gether Martin Treworthy was a unique character who
never could have been developed on other than
Western soil, with a dash of the Yankee, the Puritan
and the backwoodsman, all combined. His news-
paper had educated him as it has many an American
citizen with few early advantages, so that he could
talk in a pungent, practical style with no very seri-
ous sn^ammatical lapses; while his daily study of the
Bible had given him a kind of Hebraistic turn of
thought and feeling. Nelson had heard of his
strange foretelling of our great civil struggle, and
for an instant he felt vaguely thrilled and startled —
that involuntary shiver that passes over the spirit
when touched by the breath of the supernatural.

"Well," he said, rising with a sigh from his seat
before the fire; "this seems home-like, but 1 must go.
Tom don't seem to be quite so well to-day. 1 wish
I could get hold of something that would cure his
cough."

"Ob, you must keep up heart Cut and try, cut



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On Hv/mhags. 121

and try; that's the way. Now there's Bahn of Gilead
buds, with a little ipecac and balsam of fir; I*ve
known that to cure a man given over in consump-
tion. I*ve got some of the buds; always calculate to
keep them on hand for sprains and bruises." And
Martin Treworthy began to rummage among his
rather heretogenous stores on the shelf where he
kept his "tin box" with a brisk cheerfulness which
might have wakened a heart of hope in the very
bosom of despair.

But we must not forget Stephen Howland, who
still continued to live with a Spartan economy, satis-
fied with the thought that he was laying the basis
for a legal reputation which would not dishonor the
Howland ancestry. Stephen felt not a little honest
pride in the good old Puritan stock from which he
sprang, and in fighting the liquor oligarchy was he
not doing just what they did two or three hundred
years ago, only in a different shape and fashion?

He was also fast becoming a good Odd-fellow, ac-
cording to Mr. Bassett's idea of the term — that is to
say, he attended the lodge regularly and was slowly
beginning to see some of its peculiar advantages.^
He had passed all the degrees of Friendship, Bro-
therly Love and Truth. He had acted over the story
of David and Jonathan and the parable of the Good
Samaritan with a promiscuous company of church
members, ministers, deists, and we must add, pro-
fane swearers and libertines. And in all this steal-
ing from Holy Scripture never a mention of that
Name above every name which is the central pivot



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122 Between Two Opinions.

on which all divine truth turns! He had been shown
various instructive symbols, such as the All-Seeing
Eye, a skull and crossed bones, a cofi^, a Bible, and
a serpent lifted on a pole, but ne 7er a hint of God's
wonderful plan of redemption; for even the latter
symbol was explained to him as bearing merely the
pagan signification of Wisdom, and not as typifying
that atoning sacrifice for human guilt once uplifted
on Calvary,

To be sure, Stephen was familiar enough with
Bible truth. Like young Timothy he had known the
holy Scriptures from a child; but the lessons that he
learned at the lodge were softly, slowly letting down
a veil over his spiritual sight through which the doc-
trines taught him at his mother's knee, of repent-
ance, of a new birth and faith in a risen Eedeemer,
appeared as dim and indistinct as the images and
sounds about him to one half-locked in slumber.
He never thought of Odd-fellowship as a form of
salvation or even a form of religion, and had he been
questioned would have emphatically denied it was
either. He would have scouted the idea that these
nightly meetings with their Christless prayers, their
equally Christless morality, and ceremonies borrowed
from pagan sources, had stolen from him his early
faith. And why? Simply because the lodge knows
that to keep its victims unconscious of the robbery
it must substitute in the place of those truths sham
semblances to counterfeit them, as a wax figure coun-
terfeits the living, breathing human form. He read
in the Odd-fellow's manual, kindly lent him by Mr,



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On Humhugi, 123

Bassett, that "his initiation into the order was the
same thing as regeneration by the Word;" that "it
was a leading characteristic of all the ancient rites
from which Odd-fellowship was copied that they be-
gan in sorrow and gloom and ended in light and
joy," just as in the Christian religion the soul passes
to the joys of salvation through the narrow gate of
conviction and repentance. He read, furthermore,
that "the order was a miniature representation
among a chosen few of that fraternity which Gkxi
has instituted among men" — in other words, of the
Christian church, the holy nation, the royal priest
hood, the peculiar people; that Love (not the love of
Christ which constrains us to act justly and merci-
fully by all men, but that kind which excludes from
its bowels of compassion more than four-fifths of the
human race) "was the hidden name in the white
stone;" ai^d, to crown all, that he had only to be a
good Odd-fellow, practicing all its three cardinal vir-
tues "to have the bow of hope span his last resting
place," and "find the mysteries of heaven unveiled
to his admiring vision."

One who has taken a deadly dose of laudanum may
seem to be only in a sound, natural slumber, while
every moment is locking him faster in the sleep that
knows no waking. This was the trouble with
Stephen. That old-fashioned couple in their hill
country home who held to the old theol(^cal land-
marks with a pertinacity quite in keeping with the
rocky, stubborn soil from which they drew their live-
lihood; who believed in the inspiration of the Bible



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124 Between Tvoo Opinions.

from Genesis to Revelation; who held that the deep-
'est conviction of sin could not fathom the awfulness
of that guilt which cost the Son of God his life; who
looked upon time as the only preparation for etern-
ity, and on all departed souls gone into the invisible
as beyond the power of any prayer or ceremonial
rite whatever to alter their final state, could not un-
derstand, what Stephen had never told them, that he
had been spiritually chloroformed by the false wor-
ship of the lodge, which fascinated him with its
dreamy, shadowy semblance of the true religion, as
the mirage with its vision of palm-fringed lakes fas-
cinates the desert traveller.

Not that he was wholly satisfied, for it sometimes
crossed his mind that he did not fancy standing in
fraternal relations to men of such free and easy
morals, as Van Gilder, for instance; and he even had
strong suspicions that many of the members secretly
adjourned after lodge meeting was over to some of
those very bar-rooms upon which he, as attorney for
the Law and Order League, had been waging such
vigorous warfare. Indeed, he once hinted as much
to Mr. Basset, who answered him with a reassuring
Scriptural quotation.

"Wheat and tares, wheat and tares. They've got
to grow together in the lodge as well as in the
church. As to Van Gilder, I don't stand up for the
man; you know I don't; but still he's no worse than
a good many others, and if we went to expelling all
the unworthy members I don't know where we
should stop. We all have sins and shortcomings



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On Hmnhugs, 125

enough to lead us to deal charitably with weak and
erring brethren."

Stephen felt rebuked, as if Mr. Basset had deli-
cately accused him of Pharisaism, not reflecting that
such a man as Van Gilder might easily be in posses-
sion of too many secrets (which was in fact the case)
affecting the reputation of seemingly respectable
members of the fraternity to be safely expelled.
And as to the vexatious and needless drawbacks
which he had met with in prosecuting liquor sellers
— ^it is true that Stephen himself had solemnly prom-
ised "to warn a brother of any approaching danger,
whether from his own imprudence or the evil designs
of others;" but he would have repelled with scorn
and indignation the idea that this could ever mean
shielding a criminal from the consequences of his
crime, and he was far too honest and fair-minded to
impute any such understanding of it to others.

From dl this the reader will see that Stephen
Howland was very thoroughly humbugged, and
would have afforded a fine illustration for Mr. Tre-
worthy with which to point his arguments and facts
when discoursing to Nelson.



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CHAPTER IX.

A NEW KIND OF MACHINE.

Chronologically speaking, this chapter is out of
place, for it belongs to an early epoch in our story,
when Stephen Rowland was patiently waiting for
slow-footed Fortune in the shape of his first client,
Nelson NewhalL

Fairfield is one of the pleasantest of prairie vil-
lages, and the finest farm therein is owned by Israel
Deming, himself as fine a specimen of the well-to-do
Western farmer as one often meets. At the present
moment he sits on his shaded back porch discussing
the news and the crops with Uncle Zeb, and at the
same time enjoying the cool breeze that has sprung
up after a day of unusual sultriness. Uncle Zeb is
a lean, dried-up little man who might have sat for a
picture of Timon after the goddess turned him into
a grasshopper, so much did his long, thin legs, and
a certain lively quirk in his. voice, to say nothing of
a happy faculty of living without work or worry, re-
mind one of that musical insect.

"They say com is going to yield more to the acre
than it did last year, Mr. Deming," remarked Uncle
Zeb, briskly. "Them frosts we had along back
didn't do no great damage arter all. I see your
wheat is coming out heavier than the average.



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A New Kind of Machine. 127

Some folks think it is all luck, but I believe what
Solomon says, 'The hand of the diligent maketh
rich/ And I tell 'em if they'll only pattern after
Israel Beming, always up and at it, early or late,
rain or shine, they'll have as good luck as he."

"Anyhow I don't get much more than my living,"
replied the person thus complimented; "and no
farmer can with these high freights and middle men
taking all the profits. These confounded corpora-
tions lobby round, and wheedle and bribe Congress
into voting away the people's land and money to
make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Farmers
ought to combine like other working men to protect
their own interests, /say."

Now the wrongs of the farmers was a theme on
which Mr. Beming always waxed into a fiery indig-
nation, and if some of his strong speeches on this
subject could have been uttered in the ears of the
Senatorial "dough-heads" (his mildest term of con-
tempt for law-makers who truckle to class interests)
it might have made their ears tingle, but would cer-
tainly have done them no harm.

"They says there's going to be a farmer's grange
started in Fairfield afore long," responded Uncle
Zeb.

Mr. Beming broke off a head of orchard grass that
peeped through the lattice, and chewed one end of it
reflectively.

"To tell the truth I ain't certain about these
granges. No offence to you. Uncle Zeb, but I want
nothing to do with anything that is patterned after



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128 Between Two Opinions.

Masonry, and I have alwajs been suspicious that the
grange was a kind of Masonic institution. But then
I don't know anything about it."

"I ain't one to give offence, Mr. Deming — least-
ways not when I know it — and I never take what I
ain't ready to give," was Uncle Zeb's reassuring re-
ply. "I'm a Mason, but not one of your thin-
skinned kind. There's bad and there's good in
Masonry, and I see no sense in acting as though the
thing was a powder mill, and if anybody said a word
it would blow up. But I'll tell ye how I look on
this 'ere matter of the grange. It's jest a new kind
of machine. Farmers must test it and take their
chances. It may break down arte? usin' of it awhile
and cost more for repairs than its wuth. And it
may be hard to get the hang on't Some machines
are awkward things if a green hand tries to run 'em
without knowing how; get caught in 'em and they'll
pound a man to jelly or cut him up into inch pieces.
And then agin, — "

How far Uncle Zeb's lively imagination would
have carried him in picturing all the possibilities of
"the machine" must forever remain among the
things untold, for he was interrupted at this junc-
ture by a pretty, girlish figure suddenly framed in
tiie doorway, while a voice, saucy and sweet as a
bobolink's, cried out, —

"Now, Uncle Zeb, what do you mean, saying su6h
awful things? Father will be more prejudiced
against the grange than ever, and I was hoping they
would start one in Fairfield right away."



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A New Kind of Machine. 129

"I only called it a machine,'* said Uncle Zeb,
composedly. "I had to make some sort of a com-
parison, and they use machines for everything un-
der the sun, nowadays, so that seemed to come
handiest. I never said whether it was bad or
good."

The nymph in the doorway tossed her bright head.
She and Uncle Zeb were used to bandying words
with each other, and both enjoyed the exercise.

"Well, /think it is good. I don't like Masonry,
but I like these societies that women and girls can
join as well as men and have a nice time. And they
do have splendid times in the grange. Mrs. Thomp-
son told me all lebout it."

"Marthy Washington!" ejaculated Unde Zeb, who
had an odd habit of using the name of that distin-
guished lady when he felt the need of a mild ex-
pletive. "They say women never can keep secrets,
and now I shall believe it sure enough."

"Oh, nonsense. Uncle Zeb. You know I didn't
mean that Mrs. Thompson told me anything she
hadn't a right to. She says the grange is really
nothing but a farmer's club, only the secrecy makes
more fun. You will join, won't you, father?"

"I don't know, Dora. I shall have to think it
over first -Of course its natural for young folks to
like a frolic, but a society that's all play ain't going
to benefit the farmers much."

"I don't fancy the idea anyhow," put in Mrs.
Deming, very decidedly, from her seat by the open
window. "I remember how it was with the Good



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130 Between Two Opinions.

Templars. When a lodge was started here I let
Dora join because I thought it a good thing for
young people to get interested in temperance work.
But the way they carried on! The last time Dora
went they had a dance, and she didn't get home till
after midnight I never let her go again, and so
many of the other parents in Fairfield thought as I
did that the lodge died down in less than a year
without reforming a single drunkard, so far as I


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Online LibraryE. E. (Elizabeth E.) FlaggBetween two opinions; or, The question of the hour → online text (page 7 of 22)