Francis A. Adams.

The Transgressors Story of a Great Sin online

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"Here is the message!" cries Trueman. "It is from Faulkner. He says that
the city of New York will be about evenly divided; and that in the state
we can rely upon the counties along the canal. He ends up by stating
that the result in Greater New York may be assured if I can go there and
fight in person."

"Then you will go?" inquires Mr. Bailey.

"Yes, I shall go there at once and try to be there for the close of the
campaign."

The routine of the night's work is resumed. Trueman leaves to take a
much needed rest.




CHAPTER XXI.

THE COMMITTEE REPORTS PROGRESS.


As the time approaches for the carrying out of the plan of annihilation,
the spirits of the forty vacillate from joyousness to despair at the
thought, now of the glorious page they are to give to the history of the
world and now, of the terrible means that an inexorable fate compels
them to use. Each passes through varying moods. The ever present thought
that the day will soon arrive on which each will have to commit two
deeds of violence, the one, to take a public enemy out of the world's
arena once and forever; the other, the extinction of self, is enough to
keep the mental tension at the snapping point.

Yet, not a man weakens. The stolid march of trained men toward
inevitable death is the only counterpart to their action. And their
unfaltering fulfillment of the work allotted them is the more remarkable
as each works independently. It is one thing to be impelled forward by
the frenzy and madness of battle; to be nerved to deeds of valor and
self-sacrifice in the face of impending disaster, such as shipwreck and
fire; but it is quite another thing to deliberately carry out a plan
that taxes the will, the heart and the conscience, and that too, totally
unaided by the presence or sympathy of others. This is what these forty
men have determined it is their duty to perform.

Nevins is in New York to receive reports from the members of the
Committee. A month has passed since their departure from Chicago. From
most of the men he receives letters in which they tell of their success.
No mention is made of the men to whom they are assigned, yet the reports
seem to assure Nevins that the plan will not miscarry.

"I have twice been sorely tempted to abandon my mission," writes Horace
Turner, the plain, honest Wisconsin farmer. "My heart and not my
conscience has been weak. But strength of purpose has come to me. I
realize that our undertaking is one that the populace will not sanction
at the start; it is not one that we can hope to make acceptable to the
public mind until it comes to a successful issue.

"The world does not look with favor upon reforms or revolutions until
they are accomplished facts. And this is the reason history records the
events of every advance of man in letters of blood. This advance is not
to be an exception in this point so far as the spilling of blood is
concerned; it is to be exceptional in regard to the quantity that is to
be sacrificed.

"The revolutions in politics that have preceded it, the reformations in
religion, have necessitated the butchery of thousands of men and women;
the overturning of existing conditions and the impediment of the human
race for generations.

"This reformation will measure its sacrificial blood in drops. It will
have as many martyrs as it had tyrants."

It is the preponderance of reasons in favor of their adhering to their
oaths that prevents the members of the Committee of Annihilation from
faltering.

At forty points through the world these unheralded crusaders are
silently arranging their campaigns against the enemies of the common
weal. For the most part the men who have been named on the proscribed
list are residents of the chief city of their respective states; they
are men who have walked the path of life rough-shod and have stepped to
their exalted positions over the prostrate forms of their fellowmen.
They are what the world is pleased to call the "Princes of Commerce."

To become acquainted with the habits of his quarry; to fix upon a plan
for inflicting death upon him, which will be certain, and to be prepared
to carry this programme out at the appointed time, these are matters
that each of the forty has to arrange.

They call into requisition all of their talents, all of the skill that
has made them men of mark in their respective professions and vocations.

When Hendrick Stahl became sponsor for Nevins he felt that he had not
misplaced his confidence, yet it was impossible for him to be
unacquainted with the movements of the originator of the Committee of
Forty. He so arranges his affairs as to be in New York at the end of the
month to meet him. On his visits he seeks Nevins and spends the night
with him.

"I have perfected my plans," Stahl tells his friend. "At first it looked
as though I could not get acquainted with my man, but I finally struck
upon a course that led me directly to him. I perfected the details of a
mechanism to do away with manual labor on a machine which he employs in
his factory. When I suggested the adoption of it and proved that I could
make the improvement, he became interested. I meet him every day. On the
thirteenth of October we will examine the model."

Nevins opens a letter bearing a postmark, "Edinburgh, Scotland." The
letter simply states:

"I am enjoying the hospitality of one of the Transgressors. He and I are
great friends. We are arranging to substitute a counterfeit substance
for the new armor plate ordered by the government.

"By our plan the government will be defrauded of thirty million dollars.
The armor plate will not stand the test of heavy projectiles. But we can
'fix' the inspectors. My _friend_ is delighted at the prospect of giving
the United States Government another batch of worthless armor plate."

This particular Transgressor is Ephraim Barnaby, the Pennsylvania iron
king. He is the master of the greatest iron and steel concern in the
world. His wealth is counted by scores of millions; he has palaces in
this country and abroad. His domination over the lives of the thousands
who slave in his foundries is kept unshaken by reason of the fact that
he coats the bitter acts of oppression of which he is constantly guilty,
with ostentatious gifts in the name of benevolence. He presents the
cities of the country with public libraries.

This philanthrophic iron master has erected an armory for his private
detectives for every library he has established for the people. To make
a life of unparalleled achievement as an amasser of money terminate in
glory is well within his power, but avarice is the chief occupant of his
heart. With sixty and more years on his head and so much wealth that he
cannot by any possibility spend one twentieth part of his yearly income,
the iron master still has an insatiable thirst for gold. To the Forty
who know every detail of his career, this man above all others is the
one whom they despise. His hypocrisy makes him the most despicable of
the proscribed. Chadwick is proud that to him has fallen the lot of
exterminating this Transgressor.

From other letters received by Nevins it develops that not one of the
men has failed in locating his man and in laying the net which is to
enmesh him.

The proposal of a supposed inventor to create a machine that will reduce
cost of manufacture, leads the merchant prince into a trap. He rejoices
at the thought of reducing the expense of wage and of maintaining the
price of goods to the consumer.

An improved explosive interests the mine owner It will cost him less and
can be sold to the operatives at the same price. It is more dangerous to
use, but that does not deter him from seeking to utilize it; for it is
the operatives who will have to run the risk in the mines.

A substitute for oil is the lure that compels the Oil King to pay
respectful attention to another of the committee. The same prospect of a
substitute for sugar demands the attention of the Sugar King. To each of
the Transgressors there is held out as a bait the needed promise of gain
at the public expense.

Thus the details of the pending tragedy are perfected.




CHAPTER XXII.

MILLIONAIRES SOWING THE WIND.


While the work of the Independence party is being conducted with all the
vigor that its scanty financial resources will permit, the opponents of
popular government are pushing their campaign in all directions, aided
by inexhaustible money, and all the influence that attaches to the party
in power. The Plutocratic convention which had been held in Chicago
promulgated a platform that pledges the party to institute every form of
legislation calculated to appease the demands of the people.

That the pretences of the platform are insincere is a fact that every
one is well acquainted with; yet so potential is the power of the party
that it is able to persuade men against their best judgment, and those
whom it cannot bring to its support by argument are forced to align
themselves on the side of phitocratic government by the force of
coercion.

Where in 1900 the Trusts employed four million men, they now have on
their pay rolls more than ten millions. This represents seventy-five per
cent. of all the able-bodied men in the country. The tradesmen in every
city are as effectually dominated by the Trust magnates as if they were
on their payrolls. Through the general establishment of the system of
"consignment," by which goods are placed on sale in small shops, under
covenants with the Trusts, the retailers are made to sell at the prices
dictated by the manufacturers. It is useless for a retailer to rebel; he
has either to handle the goods of the Trusts or go out of business
altogether.

To realize how far-reaching this system is, it will suffice to cite the
case of the retail grocers. Their staple articles, such as sugar, flour,
salt, coffee, tea, spices and canned meats are all controlled by Trusts.
If the retailer attempts to sell any article not manufactured by the
Trusts, his contumacy is taken as a cause for all the staples he has "on
sale" to be reclaimed by the Trusts. This leaves him with practically
nothing to sell.

Where a man, more pugnacious than the majority, attempts to fight the
Trusts, his stand is made futile by the Trust immediately establishing a
rival store in his neighborhood, where goods are sold at an actual loss
until ruin comes upon the recalcitrant tradesman.

This is the story of all trades. It is the condition that exists in all
lines of manufacture as well, and the system reaches even to the
farmers. They have either to sell their products at the prices offered
by the Trusts or run themselves into inevitable bankruptcy. They may
dispose of one year's crop, but the next year they are doomed to find
themselves without a purchaser. Failing to intimidate the farmer, the
Trust will bring its influence to bear upon the purchaser - he will
either be absorbed or annihilated.

From being a nation of independent producers, the people of the United
States have been slowly and insidiously pushed back to a position where
more than nine-tenths of the people are the servants of the remaining
few. With the changed condition has come a deterioration in the spirit
of the masses. They are apathetic, and take the scant wage that the
Trusts condescend to pay them. The efforts to regain a place of
honorable independence are becoming weaker and weaker.

The enervating effects of urban life have told on the millions who live
in the great cities. The number of men who can stand the rigor of
out-door life, and the exigencies of labor afield, grows smaller year by
year.

Adulterated food, sedentary work at machines which require practically
no skill to operate, and dispiriting home surroundings have brought
millions of men to a mental and physical condition which makes them
little better than slaves.

These truths Trueman and his co-workers endeavor to impress upon the
people. In some districts the audiences evince interest in the
arguments. In others the speakers are met with open derision.

"We are content to work in our present places," some of the laborers
assert. "Are we not sure of getting our bread as it is? If we were to
bring on a revolution where would our next day's wage come from?"

To this argument, which exhibits to what a debased position the
wage-earner has sunk, the Independence party leaders who have formed the
party of the fragment of free-minded men that still remains, marshal all
the arguments of logic and political economy. They appeal to the pride,
the decency of the men, to drag themselves from the slough into which
they have fallen. The appeals are fervent, yet their effect seems
uncertain.

The terror of "lock-outs," of massacres done under the seal of the law,
is vividly recalled.

In 1900 the people had made a desperate effort to throw off the yoke of
the Trusts. They had failed and been made to feel the lash of their
victors. Eight years have passed, during which the Trusts have become
impregnable, the people impotent.

Trueman is in St. Louis on a flying trip. This city of two millions is
the great centre of the labor organizations.

It is Friday night, and the local headquarters is the scene of wild
excitement. It resembles nothing more closely than a camp on the eve of
battle. Leaders from all districts of the city are on hand to receive
final instructions, as in a camp they would be given ammunition, rations
and assignment of positions. The determined expression that marks the
face of a man who is set at a task which involves his entire future, is
upon every man who enters the headquarters. The fountain of their
inspiration is Trueman, who has a word for everyone. He seems to be
everywhere and to be able to do all things.

From the hour of his triumph at Chicago he has won the support of the
rural districts. Mass meetings have been held in villages, hamlets and
cross-roads in all the States. In the smaller towns the people have
likewise hailed Trueman as their deliverer. It is the good fortune of
those dwelling outside of the cities to be still in possession of the
dormant spirit of independence. They have been crushed, yet not cowed by
the Trusts.

The fact that they are self-supporting in so far as procuring the actual
necessities of food and shelter, make them capable of retaining a hope
for emancipation from Trust domination.

The wage-slaves of the cities are in a condition actually appalling. It
is part of Trueman's campaign to go amongst the shops and factories in
the environs of the cities to talk with the men, and to picture to them
the results that will follow their voting in their own interests. He has
seen poverty in its most direful forms.

The evening has worn on until it is within an hour of midnight.
Reporters come and go; the last of the committeemen has said good night.
Trueman is alone with his secretary, Herbert Benson.

Benson, a young newspaperman, volunteered his services at the opening of
the campaign. He is a brilliant writer, and what is of more consequence,
he is beyond doubt an ardent supporter of popular government. There are
few men in the journalistic field who are free thinkers. The
universities, colleges and academies in which the higher branches of
study can be pursued, have all been brought under the power of the
Magnates. Endowments are only to be obtained by observing the commands
of the donors. The chief offence which an institution of learning can
commit is to tell the truth regarding social conditions. For this reason
the men who enter journalism from college, are unfitted to grasp the
social problem; or if, in the case of a few, the true conditions are
realized, they find it expedient to remain silent. Excommunication from
the craft is sure to follow any radical expression in favor of
socialism. The press is free only in name.

A strong friendship exists between Trueman and Benson.

"Tell me candidly, Benson," Trueman inquires, "do you think there is a
chance of my carrying New York City and St. Louis?"

"I am satisfied that you will have a clean majority in both. My belief
is based on personal observations. I have been in all quarters of the
cities, and have questioned workmen in every industry. They seem of one
mind. Your Convention speech converted them."

"What do they say about it?"

"Why, it makes it clear to them that with a fearless and noble leader,
the masses can express their will. You showed to the world that reason
_can_ rule passion. It needed but a word from you to have precipitated a
revolt in the party which would have spread through every state. To most
men in your position it would have appeared that out of the tumult and
confusion, they would have come out with a decided advantage. But you
gave no thought to a personal advantage; it was the good of the people
that actuated you. And now you are to reap your reward. What was plain
to the inhabitants of the rural districts from the start, is now
manifest to the toilers in the cities, especially in this city and
Chicago."

"This condition must be known at the Plutocratic Headquarters. What is
being done by the managers there, to overcome the sudden change in the
public mind? I hear so many stories that I am at a loss to tell which is
true and which false."

"The local committee of the Plutocrats has abandoned all hope of
coercing the people. This evening it sent out a letter of instruction to
the manufacturers calling upon them to exercise drastic measures to
prevent their operatives from voting; but this is only a blind," replies
Benson.

"The Chairman of the National executive committee at the same time held
a conference with the chief labor leaders. These leaders were offered a
flat bribe if they prevent the men whom they represented from voting.
Eight out of the ten who were present accepted the bribe, which was
$50,000, in cash. Two declined. One of these afterwards went to the
local treasurer and agreed to deliver his people into bondage for
$100,000. His terms were acceded to.

"The one who spurned the bribe has been given to understand that if he
divulges the nature of the meeting, his life will be the penalty.
Notwithstanding this, he has just informed me of the matter. I had to
pledge not to make public the information he gave me. But we can
counteract the influence of the labor leaders."

"In what way?" Trueman asks, with deep interest.

"You have made a great mistake," he continues, before Benson has time to
reply. "You never should promise to keep a secret. Publicity would have
been our sure means of thwarting their design."

"If I had not promised to keep the secret I should not have learned of
the plot," protests Benson. "I have an idea that we can bring the labor
leaders to terms. We are driven to the wall by the Trust Magnates, who
will stop at nothing. We must do what instinct would suggest. The labor
leaders shall receive notice that if they attempt to prevent the people
from voting, their blow at public suffrage will bring on a revolution.
It will be on treacherous leaders of the people that the vengeance will
fall."

"No, no, that will never do. I cannot consent to the use of a threat of
violence," declares Trueman, with emphasis.

"But this is not a question of what you may or may not consent to,"
replies Benson. "It is what I will do. I know what I say is certain to
be true. To avert an uprising I shall warn the labor leaders myself. You
will have no part in this matter. I am determined that the vote of the
people shall be recorded at this election." Benson hurries from the
room.

He is soon in secret conference with the leaders at Liberty Hall. They
are inclined to scoff at his assertion that the people will resort to
violence if they discover that they have again been betrayed; but when
Benson repeats the circumstances of the compact between the Magnates and
the Labor leaders, with every detail and word, they realize that their
positions as leaders are endangered.

With threat and bribe they seek to win Benson to silence. He withstands
their blandishments; at the suggestion of a bribe he flies into a
passion.

These men are cowards at heart; they have taken the gifts of the
Magnates for years, and have contrived to pacify their followers. Now
that they are brought face to face with the possibility of exposure,
they tremble at the thought of the popular denouncement that will come
upon them. They even weigh the chances of physical harm that may befall
them. Secretly planning to get the bribe money, they agree to make no
attempt to coerce the vote of the people.

"The first word of intimidation or coercion which is spoken will be my
signal to expose you," Benson tells them at parting.

The Trust Magnates remain ignorant that they are sowing the wind. They
receive daily reports from the leaders telling of their success in
intimidating the masses. To every demand for money the Magnates
willingly respond. It is an election where money is not to be spared.
Benson and his faithful corps of workers keep a vigilant watch over the
Labor leaders.

When the Magnates arrange for a great parade, Benson warns the Labor
leaders not to attempt to force any workingman to march. This causes the
parade to turn out a dismal failure.

"We must have more money," the leaders assert.

Two millions of dollars is set aside for use in St. Louis alone. Against
such odds can the Independence party win?




CHAPTER XXIII.

A DAY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.


It is two o'clock P.M., on October twelfth. In sixty minutes the New
York Stock 'Change will close. The day has been exceedingly quiet;
brokers are standing in groups discussing the whys and wherefores of
this and that stock scheme; all are of little consequence. Indeed, there
has been nothing done on the floor since the abrupt departure of James
Golding, the Head of the Banking Syndicate for Europe, three weeks
before this pleasant twelfth day of October.

Golding's mission abroad is vaguely guessed to be the floating of a bond
issue for the government, as there has been an alarming shrinkage in the
money market, and the Secretary of the Treasury has called upon the
Banking interests to relieve the strain on the Treasury.

The slightest indication of weakness in the money market has its instant
effect on stocks. New York quotations are looked upon as the criterion
of the country, and for that reason the brokers are disposed to be
cautious. Wall street traditions make it seem proper for the brokers to
wait the result of the European trip.

Since the inauguration of the system of bank favoritism, which, was one
of the strong features of the previous Plutocratic Platform, and on
which the Party was able to raise an enormous Campaign fund, the secrets
of the Government and its favorite bankers are not shared with the
brokers in ordinary stocks and industrials. For this reason the timidity
of the brokers is more pronounced than ever before.

To them it seems inexplicable that the Government should seek to float a
bond issue on the eve of an election. They do not grasp the full import
of this scheme to force the people to support the Plutocratic candidates
as the preservers of the country's credit.

A broker, running the tape through his fingers listlessly, reads this
sentence: "London, Oct. 12, - James Golding announces his intention to
float $245,000,000 three per cent. U.S. gold bonds in London."

In an instant he realizes that the confidence of the market will be
restored. Rushing to the pit he begins to buy everything that is
offered. Half a hundred tickers in the Exchange convey the same news to
as many brokerage firms.

A wild scramble is started; everyone is anxious to go "long" on stocks
which they have been cautiously selling for days past. Point by point
the listed stocks advance.

The clock strikes half-past two. Will half an hour suffice to readjust
the market?

An exceptional, an unprecedented bull panic is in progress. Brokers,
messengers, clerks, every one connected with the Stock Exchange is in a
flurry. Tickers are for the time being utterly forgotten.

In a corner of the Exchange sits the operator who has to send the doings
of the day to the Press Association. He is unmoved by any excitement
that may occur on the floor; it is an every-day experience with him.
Stolidly he reads the tape, and jots down the advance in the stocks as a
matter of course.

He has sent word to his office that Golding is to float the bond issue;
but he knows that this news has reached the office through another
channel before his belated report. He sends the message because it is a


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