Francis A. Adams.

The Transgressors Story of a Great Sin online

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Some of the men in the crowd now begin cheering. They cry:

"Trueman! Trueman! Rah! rah! rah! Speech! speech!"

The proper moment has arrived. Trueman takes off his hat and waves it as
a sign for silence. The cheering and the rumor that Trueman has suddenly
appeared, turns a sea of people in the direction of the music stand.
Fully eight thousand men are within the radius of his voice. He speaks
at first in a high metallic key; but after the first minute or so he
reaches his normal voice, which with its fullness and exquisite
modulation makes his oratory remarkable.

Here is an occasion where rhetoric will prove available; the crowd
before him is composed for the most part of the better element, so
called for reason of its disinclination to change existing conditions.
If a sense of justice in this great mass of humanity can be aroused it
will impel each and all to yield to the will of the orator. With sharp
sarcasm he refers to the precautionary action of the Plutocrats to
prevent his addressing a New York audience. Do they fear he may convert
it?

Rapidly he pictures the scenes of intimidation he has witnessed in the
west and northwest. Is New York chained to the wheels of the Plutocratic
chariot?

As the first sign of sympathy answers his appeal, he urges upon his
audience the necessity of declaring anew the independence of the people.
The fervor of his speech affects the crowd; the indescribable impulse to
yield to the will of a fellow-man who commands the power of oratory,
asserts itself. At the declaration of a principle of government which is
trite in itself, there is a scattered cheer; an apt epigram evokes a
storm of applause. Trueman wins the full sympathy of his audience; they
are his to command.

"I am expected to address an audience at the foot of Barclay street. It
will afford me unbounded pleasure if I may tell them that the meeting
will not be disturbed; that you have decided to apply to politics the
same spirit of fair play that you would demand in a street brawl."

"We're with you," cries a man. "You're all right." Trueman steps from
the music stand. The crowd gather about him, shouting and cheering for
him.

"This is an Independence parade," some one shouts.

"Forward, march, for Barclay street!" becomes the general shout. Trueman
is pushed on toward the edge of the Battery Park till the line of
carriages in which some of the members of the parade were to ride is
reached. He is lifted into one of the carriages and the march for the
West street stand is begun. The line of march leads along State street
to Battery Place; here it turns west to the river, and thence up West
street. The traffic which chokes that thoroughfare in the day is absent
and the broad expanse of street affords an excellent concourse.

With the clashing strains of three bands, the shouts of thousands of
men, the flickering lights of torches and Roman candles, Trueman
approaches the audience which has been impatiently awaiting him. Flushed
with the pride of his victory he mounts the stand to address ten
thousand men in the citadel of Plutocracy. His advent in New York is a
signal triumph.




CHAPTER XIX.

DEPARTURE OF THE COMMITTEE.


By the last election for President a man has been put in office who is
the acknowledged tool of the Trusts and Monopolies. He has avowedly
sealed his independence by accepting a nomination brought about by the
ring leader of a syndicate of Railroad Magnates and Steel and Oil Kings.

The people are in such a depressed condition that it is believed no
determined opposition to the dominant party can be conducted. So this
man is a candidate for re-election. The few intrepid men who succeed in
keeping the people's party in the field are derided and denounced as
anarchists. Their very lives are threatened, and in one instance a
Governor of the people being elected, he is immediately assassinated.
But for the certainty of the Plutocrats that their money will win them a
victory, all the leaders of the Independence party would be forcibly
done away with.

The prospects of the coming election look dubious for the people. On
August thirteenth the Committee of Forty determined to take the step for
re-emancipation. The time to strike the telling blow at monopoly is
approaching. The men all know what the work outlined will entail, and
they have brought themselves to look at the matter in much the same
light as the originator of the unparalleled expedient.

"We have been forced into adopting the plan of annihilation," Professor
Talbort declares to Henry Neilson, a fellow committeeman with whom he is
traveling to the Pacific coast.

"I agree with you," replies Neilson, "it is the only course open to us;
we have given every other proposal careful consideration. They would
only temporarily avert a conflict."

"I have pondered on the question of how our acts will be accepted by the
people," the Professor resumes. "I believe they will hail our acts as
those of deliverance."

"They will appreciate that we gave our lives for them," Neilson declares
unhesitatingly.

All of the Forty act with similar coolness.

Men of action are not as a usual thing great talkers; so it is with the
members of this committee. They waive much that would be deemed
essential by less resolute and active men. How the several annihilations
are to be effected is a matter left for each man to decide for himself.
He will have to carry out any plan he devises, and it is considered as
the best policy to let his method be known to no one else. This is the
surest way of avoiding a possible miscarriage of the plan.

The failure of one of the forty men will not then involve the remaining
thirty-nine. Every contingency is weighed. The chance of one or more of
the men going insane because of the frightful secret, is taken into
account and the idea that each man shall decide the details of the
course he is to pursue is adopted.

"I am glad that we parted without formality," Nettinger declares to the
group of committeemen who are his companions on a train that leaves
Chicago for the South.

"It would have unnerved us to speak of our meeting as '_the last_'" says
another of the group. "I have faced danger in my life, but I regard this
as the most astounding departure that has ever been made in the
interests of humanity."

"The future of the Republic is at stake," observes a third. "How will it
all end?"

This is the question that is uppermost in the minds of all.

"There is no time left to weigh the effects of defeat," Nettinger
asserts. "Each of us has but one thing to do, and to do this
successfully he has pledged his life. No man can do more."

The eleven disciples, as they separated after the crucifixion, each to
pursue a separate course, inaugurated the preaching of a great and
potential religion, and their work is the most momentous in history. So
it may prove that this Nineteenth Century aggregation of men united for
the purpose of benefiting their fellowmen, is of tantamount influence on
the human race.

From acting as component parts in a body that exists as a moral protest
against the wrongs of the world and the unrelenting hands of the
usurpers of the right of the people, these forty men go forth as an army
of crusaders.

On the committee of forty there is not a man who has not argued his
conscience into a state of appreciation of the worthiness of the action
he is to perform.

It is past midnight. Two months from this date, on October thirteenth,
the fulfillment of the vows the men have taken, must be made. In the
sixty days that are to intervene will any of these intrepid wills bend
under the pressure of mental anxiety? Will any of them prove a modern
Judas?

Nevins is the last to quit the store-room. He is nervous, almost
hysterical; his thin classical features are distorted and tense, as
though he were undergoing actual physical pain. And indeed to his
sensitive nature, the events of the night are sufficient to unnerve his
mind and body.

He is to meet Carl Metz and Hendrick Stahl in the morning, to start for
the East.

"The syndicate of annihilation is now incorporated," he observes, half
aloud. "I am no longer the promoter; now I assume a place as one of the
avengers of the people. God alone knows how repugnant this plan for
physical vengeance is to me, yet it is better than to permit a storm of
anarchy to come upon us. And the conditions that exist cannot long
continue."

Although every man has been called upon to make a personal sacrifice
there is none who makes a greater one than he. It is not alone the
relinquishment of his position in the world as a patient and industrious
worker; his sacrifice of love; the obliteration of his hope for
preferment, but the extinction of life itself at an age when all men
cherish it most highly.

Nevins is in the heyday of manhood; his forty years and six having been
spent in the perfection of his mental and physical forces. He is
equipped with a quick, perceptive brain that grasps the intricacies of a
problem almost intuitively; his logic is profound. Years of study have
made his mind a storehouse of knowledge.

To Nevins, in the allotment of the proscribed, has fallen the head of
the money trust, a multi-millionaire banker, a financial Magnate known
throughout the civilized world as the most rapacious miser on record.
This man has repeatedly shown that he has no regard for honesty of
purpose, and his moral appreciation is imperceptible. To recount the
deeds of cunning, of fraud, of gigantic robbery that he has committed in
his relentless quest for wealth, would be to retell the story of wrecked
railroads, enormously profitable bond issues and Wall street panics of
the past decade. The obituaries of the hundreds he has ruined afford the
best method of arriving at a partial conception of his power for evil.

"What a privilege to rid the world of this genius of evil!" is Nevins's
inward comment as he reads the fatal slip and sees that upon him has
fallen the lot to execute the sentence of annihilation upon James
Golding, the King of Wall street.




CHAPTER XX.

IN THE ENEMY'S STRONGHOLD.


After an absence of weeks, during which time Harvey Trueman carries the
war into the very heart of the Magnates' strongholds, he returns to
Chicago. His first mission is to visit Sister Martha. She had been kept
in touch with his movements by short notes and aggravatingly brief
telegrams, which he sent her as occasion permitted. In the papers she
finds but meagre notice of the progress which the Independence party is
making, for the censor of the press has effectually silenced all the
important mediums. The News Associations, even, are brought under the
ban and are given to understand that a violation of the orders of the
Plutocratic Party will mean a forfeiture of all privileges of
transportation to papers using the offensive news.

The meeting of these two ardent patriots is fraught with emotion.
Trueman is the more moved by reason of the knowledge that he is regarded
by Martha as the embodiment of all virtue, wisdom and power. He feels
his incapacity to fill this exalted role, especially as the unrequited
love he bears for Ethel Purdy is still burning in his heart.

"You do not seem yourself to-night," Martha tells him frankly.

"No, that is true; I have so much to think about; so many details to
keep in mind that I suffer from abstraction when I am not under the
stress of actual labor."

Trueman is seated beside a table in the centre of the Sisters' Home,
which has come to be the only haven of rest he knows in the whole world.
He is in a communicative mood, and appreciating that the woman before
him is an interested listener he is ready to review the events of the
campaign.

"I have so many evidences of treachery in my own camp that at times I
despair of the result of the struggle," he says, half despondently.

"It is the accursed power of gold that is fighting you," Martha breaks
in vehemently. "O, if we could only have a few thousand dollars to fight
them with their own weapon."

At the mention of so paltry a sum to be pitted against the unlimited
millions of the Magnates, Trueman cannot repress a smile.

"I know it may seem ludicrous for a woman to talk politics," continues
his gentle adviser, apologetically. "Yet it would not take as much as
you imagine to nullify the effect of the millions of bribe money and
tribute money that the Plutocrats are spending.

"What would you have me do with the money?"

"Use it in enlightening the people as to their true condition. It is
impossible to conceive of men who would knowingly sell their birthright.
The perfidy of the press is the sin of sins in this age of unbridled
iniquity," she declares, her face flushing with indignation. "Free
speech has not yet been totally interdicted. Speak to the people; tell
them to emancipate themselves."

"You make me wish, almost, that your sex was not debarred from the
exercise of suffrage," Trueman declares. "If I receive as staunch
support from the men of the land as I have already been accorded by the
women I shall triumph at the polls.

"Let me recount the events of the past few days that I have only hinted
at in my letters. It will make you glad that you were born a woman.

"When I reached Milwaukee, ten days ago," continues Trueman, "I found
that the committee of coercion had anticipated my arrival and had issued
its edict against the citizens turning out to see me. The police had
received their instructions to keep the streets clear, and they were
untiring in their efforts to earn the approbation of their masters. The
train arrived at one-thirty in the afternoon. Ordinarily there would
have been a large crowd at the depot; to our surprise we found the depot
and the adjoining streets practically deserted.

"As our party moved in the direction of the hotel, I noticed that a
woman was keeping pace with us on the opposite side of the street. She
was dressed in a modest gown and would not have attracted attention had
she not continually turned her head to look behind her.

"Yielding to an impulse of curiosity I turned my head and saw that at
the distance of a block a squad of police was following us. Then it
dawned upon me that the woman was endeavoring to give our party the cue.
When the steps of the hotel were reached I felt impelled to see where
the woman would go. She stood on the corner of the street for half a
minute and then disappeared around the corner.

"Half an hour later I was handed the card of a 'Mrs. Walton.' Upon going
to the reception room I found that the strange woman had come to see me.

"Her first words, 'Are we alone?' made me feel that I should have a new
element to meet. I suspected a trap of the enemy. When I assured her
that she was at liberty to speak, Mrs. Walton went directly to the
point.

"'I have come to offer you the support of the women of Milwaukee,' she
began, 'and that means a great deal at a time when the men are afraid to
say their souls are their own.

"'The women of this city are not under the yoke and they trust to you to
put off the day of their subjugation, if you cannot put them in safety
for all time.

"'We have realized that the hour for woman to assert her power has come;
she cannot vote, nor does she aspire to that questionable right, but she
can influence the votes of the men with whom she comes in contact.

"'You have come to a city that is as effectually closed to you as if it
were walled and the gates were shut in your face. The press, the police,
the labor organizations, every power has been subsidized to work against
you. I know every move that has been made. For there's not a word
uttered that is not brought to the council of women's clubs.

"'The moment it was known that you were to visit this city the order
went forth that you were not to be permitted to hold a public meeting.
You were not to be refused the right to speak; that would have been too
bold and brazen an act for even the Plutocrats to carry out. It was
decided that the same ends could be accomplished by preventing the army
of mercenaries and wage-slaves to parade the streets. The corps of
"spotters" were sent out.

"'You are a witness to what end. The streets were deserted. They will
remain so during your stay.'

"I was on the point of interrupting the woman, but she exclaimed, 'Don't
interrupt me.'

"'I was appointed a committee of one to wait upon you and extend you the
offices of the Women's League,' she continued. 'While waiting in the
depot I overheard the orders of the Captain of Police to the Sergeant.
He told his subordinate not to allow you to collect a crowd on the
street, and detailed a squad to follow you to your hotel.

"'If you have any message to deliver to the men of Milwaukee you may
depend upon the seven thousand women who are enrolled in the League to
scatter it for you. I can tell you that there is no other way open to
you.'

"I was too surprised to reply for a moment. When I finally formulated a
response, I told her that the facts she had just furnished me were of
such an extraordinary nature that I should be obliged to give them my
most careful consideration, and that if she would call again in an hour
I should be able to tell her what use I could make of her offer.

"When I was alone I hastened to rejoin the members of the Committee who
had accompanied me on my trip.

"I asked them if they were aware of the conditions that existed in the
city. They told me that the Chief of Police had just informed them that
we could not hold a meeting outside of a hall. 'Public safety' was given
as the cause of this order.

"Then I hastily recounted the incident of the visit of Mrs. Walton. Some
of the committeemen were skeptical and advised me not to have any
dealings with the woman. I, however, was favorably impressed with her.

"At the expiration of two hours she returned. I had a long talk with
her, in which I told her how her League could be of benefit to me if it
would impress upon the men the necessity of voting for their rights. She
assured me that my messages would be carried into every mill and factory
in the city.

"I held a meeting in the hall that the local Independence party had
secured. The attendance was made up exclusively of staunch party men.
Outside of the hall stood a dozen policemen and a half dozen spotters.

"None of the workmen of the city dared to attend the meeting."

"And this is Free America!" exclaims Martha, under her breath.

"Yes, this is America; but, is it free?" asks Trueman.

"From Milwaukee I went to St. Paul and Minneapolis. The same condition
existed in these places. I turned to Detroit; the result was the same.

"I resolved to advance into the one State that the Magnates believe they
control absolutely. From Detroit I went to Philadelphia. The reception
that awaited me there is one that I shall never forget. My native State
is so utterly dominated by the Trust Magnates that the free-born
citizens do not dare to attend public meetings."

"What is the use of the secret ballot if men cannot go to the polls and
register there the opinion they hold?" Martha asks, with irony in her
voice.

"Ah, the secret ballot is but another of the illusive baits which the
rich wisely throw out to the poor to keep them in submission. It is
secret only in name. The results of an election are what count. The
Magnates have so intimidated the masses that they are no longer
possessed of the spirit to vote according to their thoughts," Trueman
replies sadly.

"The Pharisees have preached the doctrine of the sacredness of 'vested
rights' until the people, in many sections of the country, have come to
regard the right of property as paramount to the right of mankind to
life and liberty.

"Every act that would alleviate the sufferings of the people is at once
stigmatized as anarchistic; while the aggressions of the men of money in
the legislatures, and through executives, are upheld as justifiable
means for the proper protection of property.

"My trip to the West and East has made me doubtful as to the result of
the election. In New York City alone is there a tendency to support me."

"Oh, do not say that you have lost hope," expostulates Sister Martha.

"It is not my intention to intimate that I have done so, to any one,
other than to you."

"Ah, I cannot believe that a just God will see you defeated!"

"As matters stand now it will take almost a miracle to elect me. I have
studied all the elements that enter into this campaign. It will be the
last one that can be conducted with the semblance of order. Four years
from now, if not before then, the conditions will be ripe for a
revolution; the oligarchy of American manufacturers and bankers will
have reached its height and will be on the point of dissolution. The
perfected mechanism of government that it will have established, will be
in readiness to be turned over to the people.

"Socialism of a rational sort will result from the sudden and sharp
revolution. History will not be enriched by a new chapter, but be marked
by the repetition of its most frequent story - the fall of empire and the
establishment of a new government. In the end of all governments at the
same point, is the strongest argument in support of the theory of
reincarnation; a state, as a being, has its birth, mature age, and
decay. None seemingly is endowed with the attribute of immutability. It
was the fond hope of our forefathers that the United States should prove
the exception. Imperialism was the reef on which the classic empires
were wrecked; commercialism is the danger that threatens our ship of
state."

"You must take a brighter view of the situation," insists the sensitive
woman, to whom these lugubrious words are as dagger thrusts. "You must
fight as if there was not the shadow of a doubt but that you will be
successful. I have a premonition (woman's intuition, if you prefer),
that you will be the victor in this struggle."

With these words of encouragement ringing in his ears, Trueman departs.
He has yielded to the human weakness which prompts a man to confide his
inmost thoughts to woman. Kingdoms have been destroyed, empires have
crumbled in a day; the world's greatest generals have seen their
carefully designed campaigns fall flat, all through the treachery of
women in failing to keep secret the confessions of their confidants.

The admission that Trueman has made of his misgivings as to the result
of the election, if it were made public, would shatter his every chance.
The world will not lend its support to a man or a cause that admits its
hopelessness. A forlorn hope, however forlorn, has never wanted
volunteers.

Fortunately Trueman has made a confidant of a woman unselfishly and
devotedly his friend, and who has the good sense to realize that his
untrammeled utterances to her are for her alone.

It is eleven o'clock when Trueman reaches his party's headquarters. He
finds his supporters working with the feverish energy that attaches to a
desperate situation. The soldiers of a beleaguered fortress man the guns
with a disregard to fatigue and danger that is inspiring; the men at the
pumps, when the word goes forth that the ship is sinking, work with a
frenzy that defies nature; so it is with the leaders of the Independence
party. They are fighting against appalling odds, yet they do not stop to
question the result. "Work, work, work!" is the command they obey.

"The indications from the Southern States are brighter than ever," one
of the committeemen tells Trueman.

"Judge for yourself," adds another, and he hands the candidate a
telegram. It is from New Orleans. Trueman reads it aloud:

"CHAIRMAN BAILEY, National Headquarters, Independence
Party, Chicago, Ill.:

From a canvass of the cotton belt the indications are that
our party will carry all the Southern States with the possible
exception of Louisiana. This doubtful state can be carried if
speakers are sent there.

(Signed) EDWARD B. MASON."

"Is there any way of complying with this request?" Trueman asks.

"We may be able to send three speakers down there the latter part of the
week," says the Chairman of the Speakers Committee, after consulting his
schedule.

"Have you heard from New York to-day?" Trueman is asked by the
Treasurer. "You know we have been expecting to hear the result of the
forecast there."

"No, I have had no word. It is barely possible that the message has been
intercepted."

As Trueman speaks the telegraph operator approaches and hands him a
message.


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