Francis A. Adams.

The Transgressors Story of a Great Sin online

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given their orders for the make-up of the extras, some account, either
of the death of a railroad magnate or the head of some one of the great
trusts, is received. The necessity of a change in the form of the paper
is made imperative. For the thought that a rival sheet may feature the
news forces a change.

Extras of the evening papers are being issued every half hour. The
excitement on the streets exceeds even that of the days when the reports
of our wars was the all absorbing topic.

In the present calamity men know not what to think. To some it is
apparent that a modern juggernaut is abroad; others hold the belief that
a conspiracy is being carried to its bloody fulfillment.

No more accurate idea of the confused condition of the public mind can
be gathered than from a study of the action in the editorial rooms of
the great New York newspaper, the Javelin.

The editorial staff of this paper is composed of the brainiest men in
journalism; men who have won distinction in their profession by reason
of their ability to handle the news of the day in a manner that will
satisfy the demands of the public.

On the large reportorial staff are men who have been brought from
various cities; each is competent to gather news and present it in the
most interesting fashion.

In the composing room sixty of the most skilled linotypists sit at their
machines ready to set the words as they fall from the pencils of the

Still other men are at the presses, awaiting to put the great mechanisms
in motion, to pour out a stream of a hundred thousand papers an hour.

All is in readiness to turn out the news with unerring accuracy and
incredible speed.

Year in and year out the routine of publication has been gone through
with. Now one man who is advanced or discharged vacates a position,
which is immediately filled by the man next in line for promotion. The
machinery of the office never clogs. But on this night, turmoil takes
the place of system.

A crisis in the history of the paper is being reached. The heads of
departments are all present, having been summoned by telegram or
telephone. They are ready to act. Yet the signal for action is delayed.

To run off the edition of a morning paper is a far different thing from
getting out an edition of an evening paper.

The morning newspaper must contain the "_news_" in its first edition if
it is to reach distant points; if it is even to reach the suburban
towns. In these towns, by far the largest percentage of the readers are
located. They will be anxious for the latest and most complete news. The
evening papers give hurried accounts of the events that are stirring the
country. For the full details the readers depend upon the morning
papers. The newspaper which fails to satisfy their demands will lose its

So the editor-in-chief and the proprietor of the Javelin are in a

"It is now 1.30," says the editor-in-chief, as he consults the clock.
"If we are to get out a paper we must start the presses." "What is the
leader?" inquires the proprietor anxiously.

"A general review of the casualties; the summary of the result of the
announcements of the sudden deaths of so many leading men. This is
followed by the story of the deaths of six Senators. The head runs
across the page. The head-line reads 'Death's Harvest, Thirty-Six!' The
banks tell of the sudden deaths that have come upon Senators, Judges,
Manufacturers, Railroad Magnates, and a score of multi-millionaires."

"We can't tell everything in a line, or in one edition," observes the
proprietor, "so I think it is safe to 'go to press.' Is there nothing of
importance left out?"

Before an answer can be given to this query the telegraph editor rushes
from his desk waving a slip of paper.

"Hold the press!" he exclaims. "Here's the biggest news yet. Attorney
General Bradley of the United States has been assassinated as he was
leaving his office.

"The man who killed him made no attempt to escape, but, waiting to see
that the three shots he had fired point-blank at the Attorney General
had done their work, he deliberately turned the pistol on himself. He
placed it at his right temple and fired, dropping dead in his tracks."

"Wait a minute; wait!" cries the editor-in-chief. "Don't say another

Turning to the night editor he says, "It will be necessary to change the
first page. A new head will have to be run, and the leading story will
have to tell of the murder of the Attorney General. This news is
national. I think I had better go to the press room and do this work
myself. The press will start in twenty minutes, if you give me the word
'Go ahead!'"

"Go ahead," is the laconic reply.

Down the winding staircase that leads to the composing room, and then to
the basement where the presses are located, the chief runs. He sets
about his work with a calmness and speed that is remarkable. The first
page is put on the composing table and the form opened. The head lines
are removed and the copy that the editor is turning out a dozen words at
a time on a page, are instantly set up and put in place.

In eight minutes the form is keyed up and the stereotypers have it in
their hands. Three minutes later the pressman has the stereotype plate.
A minute later the press is in motion.

With the first half dozen copies of the edition wet from the press, the
editor rushes back to his office.

In his absence there has been nothing startling reported. He breathes a
sigh of relief and sinks exhausted into his chair.

At a score of desks men are writing special portions of the news. One is
telling of the startling murders, another of the unusual accidents that
have claimed a dozen prominent men as victims.

The strange story of the hanging of an Ex-Justice of the Supreme Court
Judge is being written by one of the sporting reporters; the
assassination of six Senators is the theme of another special writer.
Every one is busy.

The chance that always comes to the young reporter is at hand. He is
entrusted with the important work of writing the story of the deaths of
five railroad magnates. His face is a study. It is scarlet and beads of
perspiration run down his cheeks.

Even the copy-boys are alive to the fact that a night of unusual import
is passing, and they carry copy without being called. A boy stands at
the side of every reporter and runs with the pages to the desks where
the copy readers scan it and write the head lines; it is not a night
when copy is carefully read and "cut." Everything is news, and the
responsibility for the accuracy of the writing is upon the heads of the

Surrounding the bulletin board in the City Hall square, a crowd of from
one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand has gathered.

The lateness of the hour is forgotten. Men and women stand through the
chill hours of the late night and early morning waiting for news. There
is an ever varying stream passing in front of the _Javelin_ office.
Early in the afternoon the police have taken control of the streets and
compelled the people to keep moving. There is fear that the disorderly
element will start a riot.

Fortunately the first of the calamitous telegrams of the day has been
received after the close of the Exchanges. This has prevented a panic.
Brokers and bankers receive the tidings with consternation; they dread
the opening on the morrow. Many of them are in the crowd anxiously
waiting for further details of the deaths of the controllers of railroad
and industrial stocks.

At midnight a bulletin announces that Senator Barker, who had been the
staunch advocate of Bi-metallism until the recent session, and who had
then voted with the Gold element, has been found murdered in his
palatial home at Lakewood, N.J. His private secretary has also been
killed, evidently because he had attempted to rescue his employer. Both
have been stabbed.

After this the only news that is posted is of a confirmatory nature. It
tells of the development of the national wave of death. Then, too, it
begins to give the first positive information that the majority of the
deaths have been the result of a plot.

Either on the body of each of the assassins or in his effects have been
found papers that show conclusively that the men acted in concert. While
the phraseology of each of the letters differ, there is a similarity
which is very apparent when they are compared.

"I have kept my word. The world will judge if I was justified," is found
on one of the suicides.

"If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out," is all that the card on
another bears.

"A part is not greater than the whole," is the inscription on the card
that is found in the breast-pocket of the man who has killed the Sugar

When the news of the assassination of the Attorney General is given to
the people, there is a reaction in the spirit of the multitude
immediately surrounding the _Javelin_ bulletin. They have previously
received the notices with expressions of wonderment. Now all realize
that the Nation itself is imperilled.

"This is another Suratt conspiracy," says one man to another.

"Will it reach the President?" is the question that men do not dare ask,
though they think it.

"This is not the work of cranks, you may depend upon it," observes a
Central office detective, who has a reputation for sagacity. His
fellow-officer, who stands a pace in advance of him, turns and inquires
if the detective thinks he could run the gang down.

"If I am set on the case I shall not waste much time in looking for
ordinary crooks," replies the detective. "It will be my aim to unearth a
society of malcontents."

At another point a party of club men, who have come down town from their
Fifth avenue haunt, stand discussing the terrible events.

"Do you remember the night that the news was received here that Lincoln
has been shot?" asks a patriarchal New Yorker of an equally ancient

"Indeed I do. You and I were at the Niblo's Garden, weren't we?"

"That's right. It's strange that history should repeat itself; and that
we should be together to-night?"

"There is quite a difference between the murder of Lincoln and this
series of crimes," observes one of the younger men. "This night's, or
rather day's, work is aimed at all classes of wealth. It is evident that
it is an attack on capital. And the inexplicable part of the news is,
that in every instance the murderers have cheated the gallows."

"Come, move on there," gruffly shouts a policeman.

"Hallo, Mason," cries one of the club men as he pushes his way to the
side of the policeman.

"O! How do you do, Mr. Castor," says the blue-coat, in deferential tone.

"Mason, these are my friends; we want to stand here for a few minutes.
It's all right, isn't it?"

"Certainly, it's all right. I thought that you were a lot of the idle
crowd, sir, and we have had orders to keep everyone on the move. But
you're all right."

Mason had been appointed to the force by the Clubman's influence.

Turning from his patron the policeman roughs his way through the crowd
and makes the men and women "move on."

"Nothing like having a friend at court, eh?" laughingly cries one of Mr.
Castor's friends.

"It is this custom of privilege that has brought on this calamity,"
soberly observes the philosopher of the group.

A riot breaks out at this moment at the foot of the Franklin statue; and
the shouts and curses of the men who are being beaten by the police send
a thrill through the multitude.

The people on the fringe of the swaying thousands begin a retreat. Their
action is quickly imitated.

The Clubmen decide that they have seen all that they want of the crowd.
But the matter of getting out is not easy of accomplishment.

"What are you plug hats looking for?" sneers a rough from the slums. And
his arm swings out and hits the foremost man in the face. This seems to
be the cue for a dozen ruffians to fall upon the party of well dressed

Two policemen who stand nearby come to the rescue of the party and
conduct them to a place of safety. From thence the sightseers are glad
to make their way up-town.

The ambulances from the Hudson Street Hospital take four of the rioters
who have been beaten with the night sticks of the police, to the station
house. Under ordinary circumstances the prisoners would be taken to the
hospital; but the Inspector of Police, who is on the scene, deems it
advisible to take them to the Station house.

A sullen crowd of young men from the neighboring streets follow the
ambulances, shouting execrations at the policemen who have made the

The hands on the clock in the cupola of the City Hall point to 2.15 A.M.

The news wagons are wedging their way through the sea of humanity.
Morning papers are being sold by the ever vigilant newsboys. Still the
people linger.

An event of graver nature than any that has preceded is what the crowd
craves. The appetite of a man, or of a collection of men, is the same;
if it is fed to repletion, it cannot resist the desire for an excess.

"Let's wait for one more bulletin," an engineer suggests to his fireman.

"All right; we can stay until 2.30. That will give us time to get to the

Before the fifteen minutes elapse all thoughts of tending in the engine
room are driven from their minds.

The first bulletin announcing the tidings of the Wilkes-Barre uprising
is posted by the _Javelin_ at 2.35 o'clock. From this moment the crowds
in City Hall increase. No one who can get within range of the blackboard
thinks of leaving. There is a subtle fascination in waiting for the
details of the momentous events.

At daybreak the evening edition of the day's papers containing news of
the transcendent occurrences of the hour are on the street. In these
papers the first intimation of the full scope of the blow that has been
dealt the Magnates is given to the public. Link by link the chain of
evidence that the accidents and murders are each part of a general and
concerted movement is built.

"Martyrs or Murderers?" This is the interrogatory headline that appears
in every paper.

The events of the past twenty-four hours have been so unparalleled that
men dare not jump at conclusions. To proclaim the forty agents of the
Syndicate of Annihilation martyrs, may lead to an instant uprising of
the anarchistic element. To denounce them as murderers may have the same
effect. Fear prompts the people to take a conservative stand, they wait
for full evidence before pronouncing a verdict.

They do not know that Harvey Trueman is pleading the cause of justice
and right to a mob at Wilkes-Barre.

The case is now in the hands of the great public as a jury.

A verdict that will shake the world is about to be tendered.

This verdict is to be entered at Wilkes-Barre.



When the first news of the Act of Annihilation reaches the Independence
Party's Headquarters, Trueman is out on an important mission, a
conference with the American Mothers' League for the Abolition of Child
Labor. This League, it is believed, can influence scores of thousands of

A telephone call from Benson brings Trueman back to the headquarters. On
the way down town he hears loud cries in the street.

"Get y'er Extra! All about the big murders!" the newsboys are calling in
front of the headquarters. Trueman buys a paper. He reads about the
murder in Central Park. "This is an unfortunate occurrence," he says,
half aloud. "The people will put more credence in the assertions of the
Magnates, that there are anarchists working to disrupt the Government."

Once in the rooms of the Campaign Committee he receives the messages
direct from the _Javelin_ office over a special wire.

He is as ignorant of the true condition of affairs as any of the public.
What to think of the wholesale destruction of the leading magnates, is a
riddle to him.

"WILKES-BARRE, PA., Oct. 13th.

Gorman Purdy was murdered in his house at 2 o'clock this
afternoon, by Carl Metz. After shooting Purdy, Metz committed
suicide. Come to Wilkes-Barre at once. Miners are
threatening to sack the palaces on the esplanade. Ethel is in
great danger. MARTHA."

This telegram is handed to Trueman. He reads it; re-reads it. The full
import flashes upon him. He knows the character of the miners; knows
that there is an element which will take advantage of every opportunity
to commit acts of violence. He pictures Ethel at her home, besieged by
the mob of miners.

"I must get to Wilkes-Barre immediately," he declares.

"Mr. Benson, will you telephone to the Inter-State Railroad and ask when
the next train leaves for Wilkes-Barre? If there is not one within an
hour, ask if it is possible to engage a special. I must reach
Wilkes-Barre as quickly as possible.

"Here, read this," and he hands his secretary the telegram.

"Send this message to Martha Densmore. Address it, 'Sister Martha, Care
of the Mount Hope Seminary, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., I leave for Wilkes-Barre
at once.' If you can find out the time the train will leave, state it in
the message to Martha."

In five minutes Benson returns to inform Trueman that the Keystone
Express will leave at 3.30 P.M. This gives Trueman thirty minutes to
catch the train. He hurries to the street and jumps into a cab.

"Drive to the Twenty-third street ferry as fast as you can. I'll give
you an extra dollar if you make the four o'clock boat," he tells the cab

"All right Mr. Trueman," replies the man, who recognizes the people's
candidate. "You'll get the boat. Don't worry about that."

From Twenty-third street and Broadway the cab starts. It turns west on
Twenty-fourth street. Then the driver whips up his horse. At Eleventh
Avenue a freight train is passing. It will delay Trueman for five
minutes. He jumps from the cab.

"Mr. Benson will pay you," he calls to the cab-man. The train moves down
the street at a slow rate of speed.

Trueman jumps on a car, climbs across it and jumps to the street. At a
run he makes for the ferry house.

As he passes the gateman he throws down a silver piece for ferry fare
and rushes toward the boat. Half a minute later the boat draws out of
the slip. When he enters the train, Trueman seats himself in the
smoking-car. The man next to him is reading a late extra which he has
bought at Cortlandt street.

Glancing over the man's shoulder, Trueman reads of the deaths of
financiers, statesmen, manufacturers. All have met sudden and violent
deaths, and in each instance there is announced the suicide or
accidental death of an unknown companion.

Under a seven-column head, printed in red, is a suggestive paragraph. It
asks if the wave of annihilation can have any connection with the
Committee of Forty. And as if to answer the interrogation affirmatively,
the paragraph concludes in these words:

"On the cards of six of the men whose bodies have been found with the
murdered multi-millionaires, reference to the Committee of Forty is made
point-blank. One asserts: 'In the future, arrogant capitalists will not
sneer at the protestations of a committee of the people. As a
deliberative body the Committee of Forty was impotent; as the avenger of
the downtrodden, it will never be forgotten.' Another bears this strange
inscription: 'When anarchy seems imminent, take courage, for an honest
leader will deliver you from harm.'

"There are two cards which quote direct from the Scriptures: 'The wicked
in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices
that they have imagined.' This gives the motive which supplied the
assassin of the Sugar King with courage to commit a double crime. He was
a religious fanatic. The name George M. Watson was scribbled on the back
of the card. This is the name of one of the Committee of Forty.

"The other card reads: 'And the destruction of the transgressors and of
the sinners _shall_ be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be

Here is a matter which sets Trueman thinking. He knows every member of
the Committee of Forty; they are men who would not take part in a
dastardly crime.

But is this terrible annihilation to be looked at in the light of an
ordinary crime?

"Metz is a member of the committee." Trueman resolves this thought for
several minutes.

The train rolls on at a rapid rate; the towns of Jersey are entered and
passed so quickly that no idea of the excitement that is stirring them
can be formed. It is not until Trenton is reached that Trueman hears the
news of the deaths of still other prominent men.

He buys a paper and returns to his seat. This extra contains the details
of the threatened uprising in Wilkes-Barre, and the statement that the
Committee of Forty has converted itself into a Syndicate of

When the train reaches Philadelphia a battalion of the State Militia
goes on board. The Major in command has instructions to report to the
Sheriff of Luzerne County. This means that the militia is to be handed
over to the Magnates.

As the train is about to leave the depot a telegram is received at the
dispatcher's office, which causes a delay. A freight on the Wilkes-Barre
division has jumped the track. The wrecking train is called for. After
the departure of the wrecking train the express pulls out. The accident
has occurred thirty miles east of Wilkes-Barre. It causes the Keystone
to be two hours late.

During his enforced wait, Trueman improves the time by telegraphing to
New York. He gets from Benson the latest details of the news; the full
import of the terrible atonement dawns upon him. The Committee of Forty
had come to the conclusion that it must meet force with force. This was
a step which Trueman would never have sanctioned. He realizes that the
opprobrium for the act of the committee will be placed on him. He has
been associated with the committee; has been the one candidate which it
indorsed. And for all that he has known absolutely nothing of its
intention to carry out a wholesale annihilation.

"Who will believe that I am not an accomplice?" he asks himself.

"I have but one way to clear my name of such an imputation. I must stand
out as the advocate for rational action. I must bring the people, those
who know me and who will obey my wishes, to unite to suppress anarchy."

As this thought shapes itself, the words on the card of one of the
committee obtrude themselves on Trueman: "When anarchy seems imminent,
take courage, for an honest leader will deliver you from harm." Is there
something prophetic in these words?

Reinforcements are arriving on trains that are obliged to stop in the
rear of the express. One of the new arrivals is a part of the infamous
Coal and Iron Police. As these men are familiar with the mining
district, the Sheriff of Luzerne requests that they be placed on the
Keystone and rushed through first. This request is complied with. When
the train starts, after the track is cleared, the three hundred and
fifty members of the Coal and Iron Police have exchanged places with the

From the intemperate speech of the men, Trueman foresees that the
conflict between the miners and the police will be sanguinary. He
resolves to keep the two bodies of men apart, if anything in his power
can effect this result.

As the twilight deepens the train reaches the ten-mile grade that leads
to Wilkes-Barre. The powerful engine responds to the utmost of its
capacity and begins the ascent at a speed of fifty miles an hour.

"We shall be doing business in fifteen minutes," remarks one of the Coal
and Iron Police, as he pulls his rifle from under the seat.

"Thank God, we don't have to stand up and receive a shower of sticks and
stones, as the militia did in the old days. We have the right on our
side now, and we can shoot without waiting to be shot," asserts a
dyspeptic clerk, who has quit his desk for "_a day's shooting_."



When the tidings of the murder of Gorman Purdy reach the mines, the
rejoicing of the miners and their families is undisguised. They feel
that an avenging hand has been raised against the man who has caused
them so many days of suffering.

"The devil has a new recruit," says a brawny miner.

"Hell is too good for a man like Purdy," another declares.

In all of Wilkes-Barre not a man or a woman except those who live under
the Coal King's roof has a word of pity to express.

Sister Martha is silent; she feels shocked at the news; yet even in her
heart there is no room for sympathy for the Magnate. The thought comes

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Online LibraryFrancis A. AdamsThe Transgressors Story of a Great Sin → online text (page 14 of 17)