Francis A. Adams.

The Transgressors Story of a Great Sin online

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to her that Ethel will need comforting. Ethel Purdy is the woman who
eclipsed Sister Martha in Harvey's mind. It is not to be supposed that
Martha has forgotten this; yet it does not deter her from hastening to
the place. She finds Ethel on the verge of hysteria.

Under the soothing influence of the Sister of Charity, Ethel's composure
is restored.

"What is to become of me?" she asks, despairingly. "How am I to face the
world? I have wealth; but will it restore my father?"

"Have faith, my dear, and you will find your troubles lightened."

Martha prays with the late Magnate's daughter. They are on their knees
in the sumptuous bed-room of Ethel's suite when a servant abruptly
enters.

"O, Miss Purdy, run for your life," cries the maid. "The miners are
coming to burn the house."

Ethel utters a cry of terror.

"Leave the room!" sister Martha orders. And the frightened servant
retires.

"Do not feel alarmed. I shall stay here and the miners will do you no
injury. They love me and will obey me."

Ethel clasps the hand of her defender and crouches at her feet. A knock
at the door startles the two women. Sister Martha remains in possession
of her faculties; Ethel swoons.

"Come in," calls Sister Martha.

The butler enters.

"I have come to inform you that the miners are on their way to the
house. They have sworn to sack it. What shall we do?"

"Who told you that the miners intend to come here?"

"I have just received the warning from the office; one of the clerks
telephoned. He says the Superintendent is on his way here, but will
probably be cut off."

Fear has anticipated the actual trend which events are to take. The
miners are parading the streets but have not formulated any definite
plan to attack the Purdy palace.

Superintendent Judson arrives and assumes charge of the house. He brings
definite news of the intention of the miners. They are bent on claiming
the body of Carl Metz to give it a public funeral. "We shall never be
able to prevent violence," he declares.

"The police and the militia have been summoned; but it will be hours
before they arrive."

"If there was some one here who could pacify the mob until the troops
come; there is no one they will heed."

"Perhaps I can pacify them," suggests Sister Martha.

"You can try," says the Superintendent, scrutinizing her closely. "You
are known as the friend of the miners; they may respect your wishes."

Inwardly he doubts her ability to check the mob; he feels, even, that
she may meet with physical violence at their hands. Yet his nature is so
small that he is eager to sacrifice her if it will keep the miners at
bay for an hour.

"I shall try to keep them in the town," Sister Martha assures him as she
departs. On reaching the centre of the town Sister Martha meets some of
the miner folk. A woman comes up to her and whispers:

"They have sent for the police. The work will be done before they get
here."

"What work?"

"Why, we are going to give Metz a decent funeral. He died for us. He
said in a letter, - died to set us free from Purdy."

"When are you going to demand the body?"

"This evening when the mines and shops close. We will all get together
and then the sheriff can't stop us."

An inspiration comes to Martha. She hurries to a telegraph station, and
sends the message to Trueman calling him to Wilkes-Barre.

"If he only gets here before the police or the troops, he can prevent
trouble," is the thought that consoles her. The hour that passes before
she receives word that he will arrive on the Keystone Express, seems an
eternity.

With the knowledge that Trueman will arrive at five o'clock she breathes
a sigh of relief. Again she mingles with the crowds which fill the
streets. Here and there she goes, begging of the men and women to
refrain from doing anything that they will regret later.

The afternoon wears on, and as rumors float through the town that the
Governor has called out the State Guard, the excitement increases.

At four o'clock Sister Martha hears that the miners have determined to
wreck the express, as it is bringing the Coal and Iron Police.

This news appalls her. Can she tell them that Trueman is on this train,
and hope to have his arrival effective? No. He must come unexpectedly.

The plot to wreck the train must be defeated.

She hurries to the house of one of the miners who she knows will be in
sympathy with any movement that has for its object the destruction of
the Police. His two sons were shot at the Massacre of Hazleton. One of
the young men died from the effects of his wounds. The other is a
confirmed invalid.

On reaching the miner's cottage, Sister Martha finds that her intuition
is correct. Henry Osling is telling his son the plan of vengeance.

"We will wipe out the old score to-night," he is saying. "When the
express starts up the grade, we will send a ton of Paradise Powder down
to meet it."

"How will it explode?" asks the son.

"How? Why, by the collision with the engine."

"But it may not go off," suggests the invalid. "You had better make sure
by using dynamite. No! that won't do either.

"Use nitro. You can get it from the Horton shaft. They have to use it
there to blast the slate."

"That's what we'll do, 'sonny.' Just lie still 'til you hear the bang,
then you can get up and dance, for the Police will be blown to pieces."

Sister Martha waits for no further details. Her plan of action is
decided upon. She knows every foot of ground in the mountains. A short
cut will bring her to the home of Widow Braun. This woman will do
anything in the world for Harvey Trueman. She will help Sister Martha to
save the train; for by so doing she will save Trueman's life.

The widow is at home. In a few words Martha tells her what she must do
if she would save the life of the men who rescued her boy and herself
from the sheriff.

"Do you have to ask me twice to help you?" cries the woman. "I would lie
down on the track and let the cars run over me if it would protect Mr.
Trueman."

Martha and her ally start for the long grade. On the way they discuss
the manner in which they may derail the car with the nitro-glycerine.

"We will put rocks on the track," suggests Sister Martha. "But the
miners will see us;" objects the widow, "it won't be dark when the train
arrives."

"I heard the miners say the train would be late. A freight was off the
track east of Mathews and the wrecking crew was at work," Martha goes on
to explain.

When the rescuers arrive at the track they realize that in their haste
they have neglected to bring a lantern, the one thing that may be needed
to signal the train, for now a dilemma confronts them. If they place a
pile of rocks on the track, the train may reach that point before the
car of destruction, and in this event the obstruction will cause the
wrecking of the train.

The roadway is along the side of the mountain.

On one side of the tracks the rocks rise in a sheer wall; on the other
is a steep embankment that in places is almost as precipitous as the
crags above.

"We will have to separate," Martha advises. "You go up the track. No, I
will go up and you down. If it is possible, you must stop the train. I
will wait till the last moment and then put rocks on the track. When you
see Mr. Trueman, tell him to hasten to the Purdy house, for Ethel is in
great danger. Tell him I will be there to aid him in pacifying the
miners."

"But you can never pile rocks enough on the track to stop the car,"
Widow Braun says compassionately, glancing at the frail form before her.

"Have no fear. I can do my part of the work. God will give me strength.
And you, He will guide you, as well. Come, let us set about our work."

With a parting blessing from Sister Martha, the widow hurries down the
track. She can discern the station five miles below at the beginning of
the ten-mile grade. This station is her objective. If she can reach it
before the arrival of the express, the life of Harvey Trueman and those
of all the passengers will be saved.

The nature of her mission gives her strength to travel over the rough
roadbed with incredible speed. Her eyes are upon the station, which
momentarily becomes more and more indistinct; she knows that if the
train starts up the grade she can see the headlight. Her lips move in an
articulate prayer that she may not see the light. So absorbed is she in
the thought of how to stop the train in the event of its passing the
station that she fails to see a culvert bridge. At the bridge the
roadbed terminates and a trestle carries the tracks for a distance of
fifteen yards. The culvert is dry nine mouths in the year, and is a
raging mountain torrent only in the spring.

Widow Braun rushes upon the trestle. Her steps are not regulated by the
ties, and almost instantly she falls between them. Her hands grasp the
rails on either side; but she has not sufficient strength to support
herself. With an agonizing cry she drops twenty feet upon the jagged
rocks below. Her head strikes a rock and she lies motionless.

Several minutes pass; then she regains consciousness. On attempting to
rise she finds that her ankle is sprained. Despite the agony it causes
her, the brave woman struggles to climb back to the track. It is now
quite dark and she realizes that the train must be along in a few
minutes. She cannot reach the station. But she may yet stop the train at
the culvert bridge.

A long shrill whistle sounds. It is the familiar signal of the Keystone
Express.

Regardless of the acute pain which every step causes her, the widow
scrambles over the rocks.

As she reaches the roadbed the express rumbles over the trestle. With a
cry of despair she sinks to the ground.

Sister Martha is acting her role of heroine at a point a mile and a half
further up the grade. She has posted herself where she can observe the
station and the summit of the grade.

At the side of the track she collects a dozen boulders, the heaviest she
can move. These she determines to put on the track to derail the car
which the miners are to send down the grade to wreck the train.

"Will the widow Braun stop the express?" Martha asks herself again and
again, as the terrible minutes of suspense pass. "Perhaps I should have
gone down the track instead of sending her."

Through the darkness a glimmer of light shines from the summit of the
mountain.

"The miners are in readiness. What shall I do?"

For an answer, the whistle of the train falls upon her ears.

She hesitates, then with an energy born of desperation she begins to
pile the rocks on the track. The ragged edges cut her tender fingers.
She works on unmindful of cuts and bruises.

Higher and higher the pyramid rises.

Only once does she glance down the track to see the train. Its great
headlight looks like a beacon. It is approaching nearer and nearer.

"Have they started the car?" Martha wonders. She can hear the rumble of
the train, but not a sound from the road above.

"The train will reach this spot first," she cries aloud. "The miners are
waiting for it to get nearer to them."

Acting upon a sudden impulse, she runs up the track a distance of a
hundred yards. There are rocks lying on the side of the track nearest
the mountain.

One, two, three big rocks she places on the track.

A faint cheer reaches her.

"They have started the car," she laughs hysterically.

"It will not harm the Keystone. No, it will stop here."

Another and another rock is placed on the rails.

She knows that these boulders are a poor impediment to a wildcat car;
but they are the only things available.

A whirring sound rings in her ears. It is the car rolling down the grade
with the velocity of a thunder-bolt.

In a minute or two at the most, the car will be upon her.

Still she does not falter. The second pyramid must be completed.

Again she turns to look down the track. The headlight of the engine
seems to be upon her. It is, in fact, just crossing the culvert.

A glance at the pile of rocks makes them appear insignificant.

"They will never be able to stop the car," she moans.

Then with a final effort she tugs at a boulder larger than any of the
others. She has it on the rail when the whistling of the engine startles
her.

The engineer has seen the lower pyramid of rocks on the track and has
whistled "down brakes."

The train is stopping; it will be saved, for one of the two obstructions
will derail the motor-car.

Sister Martha starts to run down the track. She has not taken a dozen
steps when the juggernaut dashes into the pyramid of rocks.

Instantly there is a flash and an explosion, that shakes the mountain.
Great ledges of rock slide from the overhanging crags.

In a shower of splintered stone, Martha is literally entombed. Her life
is sacrificed on the altar of devotion. She has lived a Christian and
dies a martyr.

But the Keystone Express is saved.

Its passengers and crew, when they recover from the fright occasioned by
the explosion, hasten from the cars. Trainmen are sent up the track to
investigate. Brakemen are also sent down the track to carry the news to
the station.

One of these men stumbles across Widow Braun. He returns to the train
carrying her.

From her, Trueman and the other passengers, including the Coal and Iron
Police, learn of the plot to wreck the train and of the heroic effort
made by Sister Martha and the widow herself, to avert the calamity.

Trueman starts in quest of Sister Martha. Accompanied by one of the
trainmen with a lamp, he reaches the scene of the explosion.

The trainman discovers the body of Martha.

Bending over the prostrate body Harvey Trueman weeps. It is the manly
expression of deep emotion.

"She died to save my life and the lives of the hundreds on the train.
Was there ever a more noble sacrifice? It cannot be that she has given
her life in vain. I must do the work she has begun. If I can prevent the
miners from committing acts of violence it will atone for the loss of
Sister Martha."

From the top of the mountain, Trueman catches a glimpse of the torches
and miners' lamps. The miners are moving toward the town. Trueman is
familiar with every inch of ground about Wilkes-Barre. He has played on
the mountain as a boy. He now recollects a by-path which will bring him
to the town in advance of the miners who are on the wagon road.

"Have the body of Sister Martha taken to the Mount Hope Seminary," he
says to the trainman, and away he speeds for Wilkes-Barre.

The Coal and Iron Police are thrown into utter consternation. They dare
not advance upon the town in the darkness for fear that there is another
plot to destroy them.

The captain orders them to march across the mountain so as to enter the
town from a direction opposite to that by which they are expected. To
affect this detour will delay their arrival several hours, but their own
safety is more to be considered than that of the townspeople.

And the miners? They have heard the explosion and believe that the Coal
and Iron Police have been sent to their doom.

With the police out of their way there is nothing to check the miners in
the accomplishment of their design to recover the body of Carl Metz.

It is the radical element that has conceived the idea of wrecking the
train. They take full control of the miners and lead the way to join
their comrades on the Esplanade. As they pass through the streets
hundreds of men and women who have known nothing of the plot to wreck
the train, fall in line and march on in the procession. The number of
miners and townspeople soon reaches the thousands. By the time they
arrive at the Esplanade there are ten thousand in line.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

AT THE DEAD COAL KING'S MANSION.


Along the Esplanade the hurrying thousands begin to move in the
direction of the Terrace; miners who have been in the shafts for
eighteen hours; yard-hands from the railroads; iron founders, naked save
for their breeches, have quit their furnaces; townspeople whom fear
impels to see what the night will bring forth; this heterogeneous horde
presses on to the scene of the murder.

It is a night that lends an appropriate setting to so strange and
uncanny an event. The sky is leaden except for a streak on the western
horizon where the fading, sinister light of the sun gives token of a
stormy morrow. Through the walled banks, the river rushes turbulently,
swollen by recent rains; its waters tinged by the dyes and other refuse
from the city above.

On the further bank, the groups of breakers and foundries loom up as
vague shadow creations. From fifty chimney mouths thick black smoke
curls unceasingly; now soaring to a considerable height, now driven down
to earth by fitful gusts of wind. In their sinuous course these
smoke-clouds resemble the genii of fable, who spread over the earth
carrying death and devastation.

In sharp contrast to this picture is the Avenue of Opulence on the side
of the river which boasts of the Esplanade. Here is a line of fifty
palatial residences; the homes of the owners of a hundred mines and
factories and the task-masters of fifty thousand men, their wives and
their progeny.

Clustered about the breakers and furnaces are the squalid huts and
ramshackle cottages of the operatives; there too, a little removed from
the river are the caves in which the Huns and Scandinavians dwell, even
as their prehistoric ancestors dwelt before the light of civilization
dawned.

Nero thrumming his violin from the vantage point of the crowning hill of
Rome, had no such portraiture of the degradation of humanity as that
which the Magnates nightly view from their balconies. A stranger would
be struck with surprise that the thousands should be huddled in dens
that wild animals would find uninhabitable, while the sons of greed and
avarice flaunt their trappings of mammon from the hilltops.

This is the arena in which is to be enacted a scene of this great drama.
The actors, the audience are gathering.

Mingled sounds of strange nature are on the air. The murmur always
present where multitudes are assembled runs as an undertone; the sharp
notes of frightened women and terrified children rise as the tones of an
oratorio; steady, full, vibrant are the sounds of the men's voices.

On the countenances of the men can be read the exultation of their
hearts, that at least one of their tyrants has encountered his Nemesis.
Faces here and there are wreathed in smiles, as though their possessors
were hastening to a fete. Some are grave, for the thought of the
retribution that the Magnates will demand, and which they knew so well
how to secure, is enough to bring a pallor to the cheek. There are men
in the eddying thousands who have felt the hot lead of Latimer and
Hazleton burn into their backs and the recollection makes them shudder.
They are again upon a highway, but is this a protection against the
violence of their masters? They are now, as then, unarmed, but is this a
safeguard against the rifles of the hirelings?

From the bridge that connects the shores of the river, to the mansion of
the Coal King, is a distance of two miles. The broad avenue affords an
excellent concourse and down it the throng fairly runs. They traverse
the distance in twenty minutes.

An army advancing into an enemy's country could not preserve better
order. Far in advance of the main body of the toilers is the vanguard, a
group of twenty of the acknowledged leaders of the men. It is at their
suggestion that the cowed wretches have mustered up courage enough to
cross the bridge and enter upon the interdicted boulevard. So it is
incumbent upon them to show no trepidation.

Immediately behind them are the more adventurous ones, followed by the
women and children, who, like angels, tread where men fear to go. The
great mass of the crowd is composed of the workmen of the town. The
faint-hearted and the cowardly bring up the rear. When the marble steps
that lead up to the mansion are reached, the vanguard halts. The impetus
of the entire line is arrested as if by magic. An unheard, invisible
signal is obeyed, the signal of fear. Then the men in advance beckon to
the people to come forward.

A score of young men respond as if to a summons for volunteers, and in
their wake press the multitude.

The tumult ceases. The moment for action is approaching and men
concentrate their attention on what is being done by the leaders.

"I have come for the body of Carl Metz," shouts Foreman O'Neil, from the
foot of the terrace; his voice ringing with a tone of defiance.

"I have come for the body, and if you do not bring it out we will go in
after it."

This ultimatum is addressed to the private detective who stands on the
piazza of the Coal Magnate's palace, as a sentinel.

He does not seem disconcerted at the sight of so great a number of
people. On the contrary his mouth curls in a derisive smile.

"O, you had better all go back to the breakers," he retorts. "We will
see that Metz's body is buried."

Then he pauses, waiting to see the effect his words will produce. On and
on comes the tidal wave of humanity. If it is not checked soon it will
deluge the palace.

"I will shoot the first man who sets a foot on this piazza," defiantly
cries the detective, at the same time drawing his revolver. "Get back to
your breakers. If the superintendent sees you on this side of the river,
you'll all get _sacked_," he adds as a threat more terrible than the
shooting of one of them.

"We don't want to make trouble," explains O'Neil. "All that we ask is
that we may take the body of Metz and give it decent burial. Has the
superintendent said we could not have it?"

Mr. Judson, the superintendent of the Giant Breakers, appears at the
door. He steps out on the piazza.

A sullen roar greets him.

"Until the coroner has disposed of the case," he begins, "no one will be
permitted to touch the body. You have heard my decision. Now go back to
your work."

The recollection of the treachery practiced on them in the riot of 1900,
when their dead fellow-workmen were put in crates and buried by the
police at night, without religious rites, comes to the minds of all.
They have sworn then that never again would they be cheated of the right
to bury their martyred brothers.

"Give us the body," cry a hundred voices in chorus.

"Go on, go on," shout the pressing thousands. "Go in and get it."

The forces for a storm have been gathering since the first tidings of
the tragedy reached the people.

When they heard that Carl Metz, the foreman of the Keystone furnace, had
killed Gorman Purdy and had then ended his own life, they were
dumbfounded. Then as a lightning flash the information had spread that
Metz had left a note explaining that he had killed the tyrannical Coal
Magnate for the good of mankind. This word of explanation had clarified
the confused thoughts in the minds of all. They read in that message
their emancipation. The hour to strike a blow for their long lost rights
had come.

The opposition offered by the detective and Judson, proves to be the
shock needed to precipitate the storm.

By a single impulse the crowd rushes up the terrace. Its advance is
irresistible. Both Judson and his hireling see the futility of
attempting to resist the mob. They, therefore, withdraw within the
house. As they enter they close the massive oak doors. Even as the doors
swing to, the weight of a dozen powerful shoulders is thrown against
them.

For a moment the advance is checked.

Turning to the windows, the infuriated men shatter them one by one, and
like the sea pouring into a breach in a ship, they enter the house. One
of the first to enter runs to the doors and flings them open. "Come in!"
he shouts. "This is ours for to-day."

A marble staircase leads from the first floor to the one above. This
marvellous masterpiece had been made in Europe and imported. It cost two
hundred thousand dollars - more than the appraised value of the two
thousand hovels of the crowd that now trample upon its polished steps.

Up this staircase the impetuous leaders run. At the head of the stairs
is the library, the room in which the tragedy has been enacted.

On the floor in this room is the body of Metz. It has not been
disturbed.

The body of the Magnate has been removed to his bed-room to be prepared
for burial.

O'Neil and two members of the Committee of Labor take up the prostrate
form of their friend and make their way toward the door. It is not their
intention to commit any violence in the house. Yet, as is always the
case when men are under high mental tension, there is an element that


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