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Philip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 online

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for each unit just as at the national headquarters. So these two had
only each other to consider, and their duty was to bring to Rockland a
majority of the one thousand votes within their charge. The local men
gave the conditions, the national men gave the proper literature and
advice, and the local man then applied it. The money that it cost to
maintain such an organization was more than saved from the waste that
would have occurred under the old method.

The opposition management was sending out tons of printed matter, but
they sent it to state headquarters that, in turn, distributed it to the
county organizations, where it was dumped into a corner and given to
visitors when asked for. Selwyn's committee used one-fourth as much
printed matter, but it went in a sealed envelope, along with a cordial
letter, direct to a voter that had as yet not decided how he would vote.

The opposition was sending speakers at great expense from one end of
the country to the other, and the sound of their voices rarely fell on
any but friendly and sympathetic ears. Selwyn sent men into his units to
personally persuade each of the one thousand hesitating voters to
support the Rockland ticket.

The opposition was spending large sums upon the daily press. Selwyn used
the weekly press so that he could reach the fireside of every farmer and
the dweller in the small country towns. These were the ones that would
read every line in their local papers and ponder over it.

The opposition had its candidates going by special train to every part
of the Union, making many speeches every day, and mostly to voters that
could not be driven from him either by force or persuasion. The leaders
in cities, both large and small, would secure a date and, having in mind
for themselves a postmastership or collectorship, would tell their
followers to turn out in great force and give the candidate a big
ovation. They wanted the candidate to remember the enthusiasm of these
places, and to leave greatly pleased and under the belief that he was
making untold converts. As a matter of fact his voice would seldom
reach any but a staunch partisan.

Selwyn kept Rockland at home, and arranged to have him meet by special
appointment the important citizens of the twelve uncertain states. He
would have the most prominent party leader, in a particular state, go to
a rich brewer or large manufacturer, whose views had not yet been
crystallized, and say, "Governor Rockland has expressed a desire to know
you, and I would like to arrange a meeting." The man approached would be
flattered to think he was of such importance that a candidate for the
presidency had expressed a desire to meet him. He would know it was his
influence that was wanted but, even so, there was a subtle flattery in
that. An appointment would be arranged. Just before he came into
Rockland's presence, his name and a short epitome of his career would be
handed to Rockland to read. When he reached Rockland's home he would at
first be denied admittance. His sponsor would say, - "this is Mr. Munting
of Muntingville." "Oh, pardon me, Mr. Munting, Governor Rockland
expects you."

And in this way he is ushered into the presence of the great. His fame,
up to a moment ago, was unknown to Rockland, but he now grasps his hand
cordially and says, - "I am delighted to know you, Mr. Munting. I recall
the address you made a few years ago when you gave a library to
Muntingville. It is men of your type that have made America what it is
to-day, and, whether you support me or not, if I am elected President it
is such as you that I hope will help sustain my hands in my effort to
give to our people a clean, sane and conservative government."

When Munting leaves he is stepping on air. He sees visions of visits to
Washington to consult the President upon matters of state, and perhaps
he sees an ambassadorship in the misty future. He becomes Rockland's
ardent supporter, and his purse is open and his influence is used to the
fullest extent.

And this was Selwyn's way. It was all so simple. The opposition was
groaning under the thought of having one hundred millions of people to
reach, and of having to persuade a majority of twenty millions of voters
to take their view.

Selwyn had only one thousand doubtful voters in each of a few units on
his mind, and he knew the very day when a majority of them had decided
to vote for Rockland, and that his fight was won. The pay-roll of the
opposition was filled with incompetent political hacks, that had been
fastened upon the management by men of influence. Selwyn's force, from
end to end, was composed of able men who did a full day's work under the
eye of their watchful taskmaster.

And Selwyn won and Rockland became the keystone of the arch he had set
out to build.

There followed in orderly succession the inauguration, the selection of
cabinet officers and the new administration was launched.

Drunk with power and the adulation of sycophants, once or twice Rockland
asserted himself, and acted upon important matters without having first
conferred with Selwyn. But, after he had been bitterly assailed by
Selwyn's papers and by his senators, he made no further attempts at
independence. He felt that he was utterly helpless in that strong man's
hands, and so, indeed, he was.

One of the Supreme Court justices died, two retired because of age, and
all were replaced by men suggested by Selwyn.

He now had the Senate, the Executive and a majority of the Court of
last resort. The government was in his hands. He had reached the summit
of his ambition, and the joy of it made all his work seem worth while.

But Selwyn, great man that he was, did not know, could not know, that
when his power was greatest it was most insecure. He did not know, could
not know, what force was working to his ruin and to the ruin of his
system.

Take heart, therefore, you who had lost faith in the ultimate destiny of
the Republic, for a greater than Selwyn is here to espouse your cause.
He comes panoplied in justice and with the light of reason in his eyes.
He comes as the advocate of equal opportunity and he comes with the
power to enforce his will.



CHAPTER XV

THE EXULTANT CONSPIRATORS



It was a strange happening, the way the disclosure was made and the
Nation came to know of the Selwyn-Thor conspiracy to control the
government.

Thor, being without any delicate sense of honor, was in the habit of
using a dictagraph to record what was intended to be confidential
conversations. He would take these confidential records, clearly mark
them, and place them in his private safe within the vault. When the
transaction to which they related was closed he destroyed them.

The character of the instrument was carefully concealed. It was a part
of a massive piece of office furniture, which answered for a table as
well. In order to facilitate his correspondence, he often used it for
dictating, and no one but Thor knew that it was ever put into commission
for other purposes.

He had never, but once, had occasion to use a record that related to a
private conversation or agreement. Then it concerned a matter involving
a large sum, a demand having been made upon him that smacked of
blackmail. He arranged a meeting, which his opponent regarded as an
indication that he was willing to yield. There were present the
contestant, his lawyer, Thor's counsel and Thor himself.

"Before discussing the business that is before us," said Thor, "I think
you would all enjoy, more or less, a record which I have in my
dictagraph, and which I have just listened to with a great deal of
pleasure."

He handed a tube to each and started the machine. It is a pity that
Hogarth could not have been present to have painted the several
expressions that came upon the faces of those four. A quiet but amused
satisfaction beamed from Thor, and his counsel could not conceal a broad
smile, but the wretched victim was fairly sick from mortification and
defeated avarice. He finally could stand no more and took the tube from
his ear, reached for his hat and was gone.

Thor had not seen Selwyn for a long time, but one morning, when he was
expecting another for whom he had his dictagraph set, Selwyn was
announced. He asked him in and gave orders that they were not to be
disturbed. When Selwyn had assured himself that they were absolutely
alone he told Thor his whole story.

It was of absorbing interest, and Thor listened fairly hypnotized by the
recital, which at times approached the dramatic. It was the first time
that Selwyn had been able to unbosom himself, and he enjoyed the
impression he was making upon the great financier. When he told how
Rockland had made an effort for freedom and how he brought him back,
squirming under his defeat, they laughed joyously.

Rich though he was beyond the dreams of avarice, rich as no man had ever
before been, Thor could not refrain from a mental calculation of how
enormously such a situation advanced his fortune. There was to be no
restriction now, he could annihilate and absorb at will. He had grown so
powerful that his mental equilibrium was unbalanced upon the question
of accretion. He wanted more, he must have more, and now, by the aid of
Selwyn, he would have more. He was so exultant that he gave some
expression to his thoughts, and Selwyn, cynical as he was, was shocked
and began to fear the consequences of his handiwork.

He insisted upon Selwyn's lunching with him in order to celebrate the
triumph of "their" plan. Selwyn was amused at the plural. They went to a
near-by club and remained for several hours talking of things of general
interest, for Selwyn refused to discuss his victory after they had left
the protecting walls of Thor's office.

Thor had forgotten his other engagement, and along with it he forgot the
dictagraph that he had set. When he returned to his office he could not
recall whether or not he had set the dictagraph. He looked at it, saw
that it was not set, but that there was an unused record in it and
dismissed it from his mind. He wanted no more business for the day. He
desired to get out and walk and think and enjoy the situation. And so he
went, a certain unholy joy within his warped and money-soddened heart.



CHAPTER XVI

THE EXPOSURE


Long after Thor had gone, long after the day had dwindled into twilight
and the twilight had shaded into dusk, Thomas Spears, his secretary, sat
and pondered. After Thor and Selwyn had left the office for luncheon he
had gone to the dictagraph to see whether there was anything for him to
take. He found the record, saw it had been used, removed it to his
machine and got ready to transmit. He was surprised to find that it was
Selwyn's voice that came to him, then Thor's, and again Selwyn's. He
knew then that it was not intended for dictation, that there was some
mistake and yet he held it until he had gotten the whole of the mighty
conspiracy. Pale and greatly agitated he remained motionless for a long
time. Then he returned to Thor's office, placed a new record in the
machine and closed it.

Spears came from sturdy New England stock and was at heart a patriot. He
had come to New York largely by accident of circumstances.

Spears had a friend named Harry Tracy, with whom he had grown up in the
little Connecticut village they called home, and who was distantly
related to Thor, whose forebears also came from that vicinity. They had
gone to the same commercial school, and were trained particularly in
stenography and typing. Tracy sought and obtained a place in Thor's
office. He was attentive to his duties, very accurate, and because of
his kinship and trustworthiness, Thor made him his confidential
secretary. The work became so heavy that Tracy got permission to employ
an assistant. He had Spears in mind for the place, and, after
conferring with Thor, offered it to him.

Thor consented largely because he preferred some one who had not lived
in New York, and was in no way entangled with the life and sentiment of
the city. Being from New England himself, he trusted the people of that
section as he did no others.

So Thomas Spears was offered the place and gladly accepted it. He had
not been there long before he found himself doing all the stenographic
work and typing.

Spears was a man of few words. He did his work promptly and well. Thor
had him closely shadowed for a long while, and the report came that he
had no bad habits and but few companions and those of the best. But Thor
could get no confidential report upon the workings of his mind. He did
not know that his conscience sickened at what he learned through the
correspondence and from his fellow clerks. He did not know that his
every heart beat was for the unfortunates that came within the reach of
Thor's avarice, and were left the merest derelicts upon the financial
seas.

All the clerks were gone, the lights were out and Spears sat by the
window looking out over the great modern Babylon, still fighting with
his conscience. His sense of loyalty to the man who gave him his
livelihood rebelled at the thought of treachery. It was not unlike
accepting food and shelter and murdering your benefactor, for Spears
well knew that in the present state of the public mind if once the truth
were known, it would mean death to such as Thor. For with a fatuous
ignorance of public feeling the interests had gone blindly on, conceding
nothing, stifling competition and absorbing the wealth and energies of
the people.

Spears knew that the whole social and industrial fabric of the nation
was at high tension, and that it needed but a spark to explode. He held
within his hand that spark. Should he plunge the country, his country,
into a bloody internecine war, or should he let the Selwyns and the
Thors trample the hopes, the fortunes and the lives of the people under
foot for still another season. If he held his peace it did but postpone
the conflict.

The thought flashed through his mind of the bigness of the sum any one
of the several great dailies would give to have the story. And then
there followed a sense of shame that he could think of such a thing.

He felt that he was God's instrument for good and that he should act
accordingly. He was aroused now, he would no longer parley with his
conscience. What was best to do? That was the only question left to
debate.

He looked at an illuminated clock upon a large white shaft that lifted
its marble shoulders towards the stars. It was nine o'clock. He turned
on the lights, ran over the telephone book until he reached the name of
what he considered the most important daily. He said: "Mr. John Thor's
office desires to speak with the Managing Editor." This at once gave him
the connection he desired.

"This is Mr. John Thor's secretary, and I would like to see you
immediately upon a matter of enormous public importance. May I come to
your office at once?"

There was something in the voice that startled the newspaper man, and he
wondered what Thor's office could possibly want with him concerning any
matter, public or private. However, he readily consented to an interview
and waited with some impatience for the quarter of an hour to go by that
was necessary to cover the distance. He gave orders to have Spears
brought in as soon as he arrived.

When Spears came he told the story with hesitation and embarrassment.
The Managing Editor thought at first that he was in the presence of a
lunatic, but after a few questions he began to believe. He had a
dictagraph in his office and asked for the record. He was visibly
agitated when the full import of the news became known to him. Spears
insisted that the story be given to all the city papers and to the
Associated Press, which the Managing Editor promised to do.

When the story was read the next morning by America's millions, it was
clear to every far-sighted person that a crisis had come and that
revolution was imminent. Men at once divided themselves into groups.
Now, as it has ever been, the very poor largely went with the rich and
powerful. The reason for this may be partly from fear and partly from
habit. They had seen the struggle going on for centuries and with but
one result.

A mass meeting was called to take place the day following at New York's
largest public hall. The call was not inflammatory, but asked "all good
citizens to lend their counsel and influence to the rectification of
those abuses that had crept into the Government," and it was signed by
many of the best known men in the Nation.

The hall was packed to its limits an hour before the time named. A
distinguished college president from a nearby town was given the chair,
and in a few words he voiced the indignation and the humiliation which
they all felt. Then one speaker after another bitterly denounced the
administration, and advocated the overthrow of the Government. One, more
intemperate than the rest, urged an immediate attack on Thor and all
his kind. This was met by a roar of approval.

Philip had come early and was seated well in front. In the pandemonium
that now prevailed no speaker could be heard. Finally Philip fought his
way to the stage, gave his name to the chairman, and asked to be heard.

When the white-haired college president arose there was a measure of
quiet, and when he mentioned Philip's name and they saw his splendid,
homely face there was a curious hush. He waited for nearly a minute
after perfect quiet prevailed, and then, in a voice like a deep-toned
bell, he spoke with such fervor and eloquence that one who was present
said afterwards that he knew the hour and the man had come. Philip
explained that hasty and ill-considered action had ruined other causes
as just as theirs, and advised moderation. He suggested that a committee
be named by the chairman to draw up a plan of procedure, to be
presented at another meeting to be held the following night. This was
agreed to, and the chairman received tremendous applause when he named
Philip first.

This meeting had been called so quickly, and the names attached to the
call were so favorably known, that the country at large seemed ready to
wait upon its conclusions.

It was apparent from the size and earnestness of the second gathering
that the interest was growing rather than abating.

Philip read the plan which his committee had formulated, and then
explained more at length their reasons for offering it. Briefly, it
advised no resort to violence, but urged immediate organization and
cooperation with citizens throughout the United States who were in
sympathy with the movement. He told them that the conscience of the
people was now aroused, and that there would be no halting until the
Government was again within their hands to be administered for the good
of the many instead of for the good of a rapacious few.

The resolutions were sustained, and once more Philip was placed at the
head of a committee to perfect not only a state, but a national
organization as well. Calls for funds to cover preliminary expenses
brought immediate and generous response, and the contest was on.



CHAPTER XVII

SELWYN AND THOR DEFEND THEMSELVES


In the meantime Selwyn and Thor had issued an address, defending their
course as warranted by both the facts and the law.

They said that the Government had been honeycombed by irresponsible
demagogues, that were fattening upon the credulity of the people to the
great injury of our commerce and prosperity, that no laws unfriendly to
the best interests had been planned, and no act had been contemplated
inconsistent with the dignity and honor of the Nation. They contended
that in protecting capital against vicious assaults, they were serving
the cause of labor and advancing the welfare of all.

Thor's whereabouts was a mystery, but Selwyn, brave and defiant, pursued
his usual way.

President Rockland also made a statement defending his appointments of
Justices of the Supreme Court, and challenged anyone to prove them
unfit. He said that, from the foundation of the Government, it had
become customary for a President to make such appointments from amongst
those whose views were in harmony with his own, that in this case he had
selected men of well known integrity, and of profound legal ability,
and, because they were such, they were brave enough to stand for the
right without regard to the clamor of ill-advised and ignorant people.
He stated that he would continue to do his duty, and that he would
uphold the constitutional rights of all the people without distinction
to race, color or previous condition.

Acting under Selwyn's advice, Rockland began to concentrate quietly
troops in the large centers of population. He also ordered the fleets
into home waters. A careful inquiry was made regarding the views of the
several Governors within easy reach of Washington, and, finding most of
them favorable to the Government, he told them that in case of disorder
he would honor their requisition for federal troops. He advised a
thorough overlooking of the militia, and the weeding out of those likely
to sympathize with the "mob." If trouble came, he promised to act
promptly and forcefully, and not to let mawkish sentiment encourage
further violence.

He recalled to them that the French Revolution was caused, and
continued, by the weakness and inertia of Louis Fifteenth and his
ministers and that the moment the Directorate placed Bonaparte in
command of a handful of troops, and gave him power to act, by the use of
grape and ball he brought order in a day. It only needed a quick and
decisive use of force, he thought, and untold suffering and bloodshed
would be averted.

President Rockland believed what he said. He seemed not to know that
Bonaparte dealt with a ragged, ignorant mob, and had back of him a
nation that had been in a drunken and bloody orgy for a period of years
and wanted to sober up. He seemed not to know that in this contest, the
clear-brained, sturdy American patriot was enlisted against him and what
he represented, and had determined to come once more into his own.



CHAPTER XVIII

GLORIA'S WORK BEARS FRUIT


In her efforts towards proselyting the rich, Gloria had not neglected
her immediate family. By arguments and by bringing to the fore concrete
examples to illustrate them, she had succeeded in awakening within her
father a curious and unhappy frame of mind. That shifting and illusive
thing we call conscience was beginning to assert itself in divers ways.

The first glimpse that Gloria had of his change of heart was at a dinner
party. The discussion began by a dyspeptic old banker declaring that
before the business world could bring the laboring classes to their
senses it would be necessary to shut down the factories for a time and
discontinue new enterprises in order that their dinner buckets and
stomachs might become empty.

Before Gloria could take up the cudgels in behalf of those seeking a
larger share of the profits of their labor, Mr. Strawn had done so. The
debate between the two did not last long and was not unduly heated, but
Gloria knew that the Rubicon had been crossed and that in the future she
would have a powerful ally in her father.

Neither had she been without success in other directions, and she was,
therefore, able to report to Philip very satisfactory progress. In one
of their many conferences she was glad to be able to tell him that in
the future abundant financial backing was assured for any cause
recommended by either of them as being worthy. This was a long step
forward, and Philip congratulated Gloria upon her efficient work.

"Do you remember, Gloria," he said, "how unhappy you were over the
thought of laboring among the rich instead of the poor? And yet,
contemplate the result. You have not only given some part of your social
world an insight into real happiness, but you are enabling the balance
of us to move forward at a pace that would have been impossible without
your aid." Gloria flushed with pleasure at his generous praise and
replied: "It is good of you, Philip, to give me so large a credit, and I
will not deny that I am very happy over the outcome of my endeavors,
unimportant though they be. I am so glad, Philip, that you have been
given the leadership of our side in the coming struggle, for I shall now
feel confident of success."

"Do not be too sure, Gloria. We have the right and a majority of the
American people with us; yet, on the other hand, we have opposed to us
not only resourceful men but the machinery of a great Government
buttressed by unlimited wealth and credit."

"Why could not I 'try out' the sincerity of my rich converts and get


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Online LibraryEdward Mandell HousePhilip Dru Administrator : a Story of Tomorrow 1920 - 1935 → online text (page 5 of 14)