Francis A. Adams.

The Transgressors Story of a Great Sin online

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ascertaining the miner's standing with reference to his citizenship at
the time of his death. With his experience in the practice, the lawyer
surmised that the Magyar was never naturalized. If he was not
naturalized, his widow has no standing in the court where the suit has
been brought. In that case, it belongs to the Federal Court, and his
widow and orphan, as well as the impecunious lawyer who has taken the
widow's case on a contingent fee, will not have the means nor the
fortitude to begin action in the higher court.

Trueman discovers after a few moments of investigation in the Clerk's
office that his suspicion is well founded. The miner had never taken out
naturalization papers.

Cruel? In the concrete, perhaps. The law is made for the multitude.

"It is a legitimate defense!" Trueman murmurs to himself, as he passes
down the stairs. "The Magyar bore none of the burdens of citizenship.
Neither should he or his, share in the protection which the State of
Pennsylvania affords her citizens."

"Will the Magyar's widow get anything?" asks O'Connor, one of the
half-Irish, half-Italian miners, whose elbow Trueman brushes as he walks
towards the court room.

Trueman befriended O'Connor once in the matter of rent.

"No. He was not naturalized!"

"His blood be on old Purdy's head, then!" says O'Connor. "The mine boss
has said he will put her out in the street. She's already months back in
her rent."

Trueman passes on as if he has not heard O'Connor, who is at the Court
House as one of the witnesses.

As the young lawyer pushes his way into the court room his quick glance
catches the bent form of the woman in the front seat, clad in the
cheapest of black, and the open-eyed boy at her side.

The proceedings are short. Trueman sits down at one of the tables inside
the bar enclosure and hastily dashes off an affidavit containing the
facts he has discovered, and a formal motion to dismiss. The Judge hears
the motion, which is opposed to in a half-hearted way by the lawyer on
the other side. The suit is dismissed.

When she is finally made to understand what has happened, the widow
burst into tears. The boy, at sight of his mother's distress, sets up a
wailing that echoes through the whole Court House. In the hallway, the
bunch of miners from Shaft Fifteen gather about the weeping woman as she
comes out. One more instance of the heartlessness of the law which is
made by the men elected by the Coal Barons, is brought home to them.

To these ignorant men, to whom the first principle of self-preservation
is that limit of erudition set by the coal barons themselves, whose
first and last lessons in life are to read correctly the checks of the
time-keeper and the figures on the "company store" checks which they
receive in payment for their work, what difference does it make that the
dead miner was a Magyar - not a full fledged American?

He lost his life down in a coal mine where he went to dig coal that some
American, way off beyond the hills, might toast his toes on a winter's
evening. His life's work was to help keep the American public warm. In
return, all he asked was very poor food, a straw bed in a hovel, and a
crust for his wife should he be killed in the undertaking.

There is much grumbling already on account of the company stores. The
walking delegate of the miners' union has ordered a strike in Carbon
County, adjoining, unless the Paradise Company shall reduce the price of
blasting powder sold to the miners, fifteen cents a pound.

The miners leave the Court House grumbling. Soothing the Magyar's widow
in their rough way, they form a grim procession and trudge back over the
dusty road to the breaker and the row of hovels on either side of it.



An hour afterward Trueman is seated in his office, in the Commerce
building, on the public square of Wilkes-Barre, in the middle of which
is situated the Court House. On the same floor with his office are the
general offices of the Paradise Coal Company.

Besides giving him distinction as a "corporation lawyer," which has its
effect in drawing outside clients, this proximity to the general offices
of the Coal Barons' syndicate relieves the young lawyer from the payment
of rent. For the convenience of having a shrewd attorney always at his
beck and call, Gorman Purdy, president of the company, is willing that
Trueman shall occupy the office rent free in addition to the liberal
salary which is paid him.

While Trueman is successfully managing the legal affairs of the Paradise
Coal Company and achieving a brilliant reputation at the bar of
Pennsylvania, Gorman Purdy is "trying him out" with an entirely
different object in view. He desires to test the young man's mettle as a
man even more than as a lawyer. To accomplish this end it is most
important that Trueman shall occupy the office next the suite of the
great coal corporation.

Lying on the lawyer's desk is an open envelope, by the side of which is
a check for one thousand dollars, being the amount of his salary from
the coal company for two months. In his ears still ring the plaintive
sobs of the Magyar's widow and the denunciation of O'Connor.

"The mine boss will put her in the street!"

In his mind's eye he pictures the dusty road separating the two rows of
miners' huts, down around the bend in the Susquehanna. He sees the
mountain beyond and the column of steam rising from a more distant
breaker, half way up the slope - a beautiful vision from the distance,
but how squalid in its dull gray misery to those who spend their lives
in its midst.

At this moment the miners who were in attendance at court are trudging
along this highway, chattering their grievances to one another. The
widow and her boy bring up the rear, while the men march solemnly on
ahead, talking of their right to live - just to live.

Across these mountains, in the city of Philadelphia, six score years and
more ago a convention once uttered the identical sentiments being voiced
by these serfs of the coal seams. Harvey Trueman has been a deep student
of the teachings of that convention. On the shelves of his library are
the well-thumbed writings of Washington and the Adamses and Thomas
Jefferson. He is a firm believer of the doctrines enunciated at Faneuil
Hall, and by Henry in Virginia.

To-morrow, perhaps to-night, the widow's paltry chattels will be set in
the middle of that road by the sheriff. She will be dispossessed by the
Paradise Coal Company. A frail woman, pale with poverty of the blood,
shrinking with every breath she draws, because she knows the very air
she breathes comes to her over the lands of the Coal Barons - a haggard
widow of the mines will be deprived of her miserable shelter, not fit
for a beast of burden, by the richest coal corporation on earth. Why?
Because her abject misery is a lesson too graphic in its horrible
details to be constantly before the miners. Allowed to remain there, the
widow will breed trouble among the men who are all risking their lives
every minute of every working day, even as her husband risked his.
Dispossess proceedings do not come under the supervision of Harvey
Trueman, but he has ever been observant. A blind man may not remain in
ignorance of the human suffering in the coal regions of Pennsylvania.
Men in the general offices of the Paradise Coal Company see only the
papers and receive the returns. They ask not "Who put the widow of our
latest victim in the street?"

The sheriff sees to the rest. All hail to the Sheriff of Luzerne! But
Harvey Trueman knows of these things. He has a mind that pierces the
thin walls of the miners' cabins and sees beyond the papers placed in
the sheriff's hands.

"I suppose she will be hungry for three or four days," he tells himself,
"except for the crusts the other women give her. But in a month she will
be married again. If she had recovered a thousand dollars damages for
the life of her husband, one of the other miners would have had it in a

He picks up the check and glances at it for the third time. Then he
folds it and places it in his pocketbook.

"I am paid the thousand dollars," he continues, "for keeping her from
getting it - for two months of my life spent in throwing up legal
barricades to prevent the miners from approaching too near to the
coffers of the Paradise Coal Company. If the Magyar's widow had
collected damages for her husband's death, there would be twenty more
suits filed in a fortnight."

And so he appeases his conscience. He tries to be flippant, as he has
seen the officers of the great corporation flippant about such matters,
but in spite of himself his heartstrings tighten. Harvey Trueman is
acting a lie, and his heart knows it, though his brain has not yet found
it out.

The office door swings open. A man of fifty-five enters - a short man
with a stubby red beard, a round face, and hair well sprinkled with
gray. He is dressed in a gray cutaway business suit and wears a silk
hat. His neckscarf is of English make, his collar is of the thickest
linen and neatest pattern, and his general appearance that of the
aristocratic business man whose evenings in a provincial city are spent
at a club, and in the metropolis at the opera.

It is Gorman Purdy. Trueman's fondest hope - next to the one that at some
distant day, say ten or fifteen years in the future, he may sit in the
United States Senate - is that this man's daughter, Ethel Purdy, renowned
in more than one city for her beauty, may become his wife. Indeed, the
hope of the Senate and of Ethel go hand in hand. With either, he would
not know what to do without the other, and without the one he would not
want the other.

"Trueman, we are going to have trouble with the men." Purdy draws a
chair up to Trueman's desk.

"I've just been talking over the telephone to the mine boss at Harleigh.
The men there and at Hazleton hold a meeting to-night to decide whether
or not they will strike in sympathy with the Carbon County miners,
because of the shut-down.

"Now, we've got to strike the first blow! The men over at Pittsfield and
at the Woodward mines will join the strikers if the Harleigh and
Hazleton men go out. We must get an injunction to prevent the committee
from the affected mines from visiting the other men. If they come it is
for the sole purpose of inducing the men to strike. Isn't that
sufficient grounds for an injunction?"

"You can get your injunction, Mr. Purdy," Trueman replies, "but what
effect will it have if you haven't a regiment to back it up?"

"We have the regiment! The Coal and Iron Police have been drilling in
the Hazleton armory. We can put three hundred men in the field from the
offices of the several works, armed with riot guns."

"You may rely on me to get the injunction, Mr. Purdy," the younger man
says, after a moment's pause, "but I would not advise calling out the
Coal and Iron Police until some act of violence is committed by the
miners themselves. It may lead to bloodshed, may it not?"

"Lead to bloodshed? Why not? For what have we been training the Coal and
Iron Police? The miners of the Pennsylvania coal region need a wholesome
lesson. They have no respect for property rights. Let them be incited to
a strike by the walking delegates and their battle cry is 'Burn!

"We want no repetition of the Homestead and Latimer riots. They were too
costly to the employers! Coal breakers and company stores are no
playthings for the whimsical notions of so-called labor leaders who do
not know the conditions prevailing in this region. They are too
expensive to be made the food of the strikers' torch.

"Stop the strikers before they have a chance to blacken Luzerne County
with the charred ruins of the breakers! They'll be sacking our homes
next. Already their attitude is almost insufferable. People beyond these
hills do not understand the reign of terror under which these
foreign-born men hold the Wyoming Valley!

"It has come a time when _we_ must shoot first, if there is to be any
shooting! I've had a talk to-day with Sheriff Marlin. It is fortunate
that we have a sheriff who has the grit to stand his ground. He says a
telegram or telephone message will summon him to Harleigh or Hazleton at
a moment's notice, and he will swear our Coal and Iron Policemen in as

"Whatever they do then will be legal - _Understand?_"

Trueman looks straight at Purdy several seconds before he replies.

"No," he says, flushing, "not every thing they do. I do not set my
judgment against yours, but I do counsel great caution in placing
Sheriff Marlin in command of the Coal and Iron Police. While you may be
correct in saying we must administer a quick and salutary lesson to the
miners, as deputy sheriffs your men might be tempted to shoot too soon."

"Shoot too soon? If these men gather on mischief bent, we can't shoot
too soon!"

Purdy in turn flushes, as he carefully scrutinizes Trueman's serious
face, which has grown suddenly pale. It is the first time his talented
young protege has ever shown the white feather.

"Oh, yes, yes, Mr. Purdy - they - they can shoot too soon. Even deputy
sheriffs cannot commit murder with impunity. Fight these men with the
law. It's all in your favor! Sheriff Marlin could not step out there in
the street and shoot my fox terrier unless he could show someone's life
was in danger."

With a show of impatience Gorman Purdy arises from his chair. He is
displeased beyond measure with the attitude assumed by Trueman.

"Well, sir!" he says, "you should know there is a difference between
Harvey Trueman's fox terrier, so long as you are general counsel for the
Paradise Coal Company, and a man who marches along the highway with a
revolver in one hand and a torch in the other, his cowardly heart filled
with murder and arson! I am greatly disappointed with your views.
Perhaps it were better that I place the injunction proceedings in other

A sharp retort is on Trueman's lips, words not sarcastic, but stinging
in their earnest truthfulness, and wise beyond the years of the man
about to utter them. Each man has discovered that which is repugnant to
him in the other - that which has remained hidden through years of

The door of the office is unceremoniously opened, and a girlish voice

"Ah, father - I thought you must be keeping Mr. Trueman. Don't you
remember you promised me at breakfast you would not? Our ride was fixed
for three o'clock. It is now nearly four. Why, you both look positively

Ethel Purdy, gowned in a black riding habit which displays a dainty,
enamelled bootleg, and wearing a gray felt hat of the rough rider type,
gracefully poised on one side of her head, smiles incredulously as she
stands, one hand on the knob, looking in through the door at the two



Ethel enters Harvey's office just in time to avert a quarrel between the
Coal King and his attorney. In her presence both men resume their normal
reserve of manner.

"So you have come for your afternoon ride?" Purdy inquires, in a
pleasant tone.

"Well, my dear, you shall not be disappointed. The matter Harvey and I
were discussing can be deferred. Go and enjoy an hour's exercise. I
shall be home when you arrive."

"Won't you go with us, papa?"

"Not to-day. I have a Board meeting to attend."

"I do wish you would pay as much attention to your health as you do to
business. You are not looking well. Have you forgotten what the doctor
told you about over-working?"

"No, my dear; I remember his advice; but he does not know what a
responsibility rests upon me as the President of the Paradise Coal
Company. If I did not attend to the details of this business, there
would be a dozen competitors in the coal industry within a year. Even if
I cannot go with you every day, you have Harvey as an escort. You two
will not miss me. When I courted your mother, I should not have insisted
upon a third party accompanying us on our rambles."

"Then we will join you at dinner," says Harvey, as he walks towards the

At the curb in front of the entrance of the office building, a groom
stands holding the bridles of three magnificent hunters.

Harvey assists Ethel to her saddle and springs on to his horse. "Take
Nero back to the stables," Harvey instructs the groom. "Mr. Purdy will
not use him this afternoon."

The riders are soon out on the turnpike that leads to Woodward. For a
November afternoon, the weather is delightful. The prospects of a
bracing canter over the mountain roads could not be brighter. The high
color on the cheeks of Harvey and Ethel show that they are not strangers
to outdoor exercise. Indeed they are types of perfect physical

Since the day Harvey Trueman became the attorney of the Paradise Coal
Company, and the protege of Gorman Purdy, the young couple have been
constant companions. They have been encouraged to seek each other's
company by Mr. Purdy, who appreciated the worth of Harvey and who
secretly hoped that the brilliant young lawyer would become one of his

"I have spoken to your father," Harvey says, as the horses climb slowly
up one of the rough hills on the pike. "He has given his consent to our

"He's such a dear, good fellow, I knew he would not stand in the light
of making me happy!" exclaims Ethel.

"Tell me all he said?" she inquires eagerly.

"He told me that he was glad you thought enough of me to wish to have me
as your partner in life; that he had never had but one fear that you
might fall in love with some worthless snob, who would make you unhappy
and seek only the fortune which you would bring him.

"Your father was kind enough to say that he believed I would continue to
be attentive to my business, and to his interests. What do you think he
is going to give you as a marriage dot?"

"Don't make me guess. You know I am never able to guess a riddle."

"He is going to present you with his new villa at Newport."

"How could he have known that I was wishing for just that one thing? O,
won't it be jolly to go there and spend our honeymoon," Ethel exclaims

"We will make your father come there and spend the summer. He really
must take better care of his health."

Discussing the details of their cloudless future, the lovers enter the
dingy mining town of Woodward. The weather-beaten cottages, which never
have known a coat of paint, do not attract their attention. The groups
of ragged children playing in the dusty road, scurry out of the path of
the horses. On the hillside to the left stands the Jumbo Breaker, the
largest coal crusher in the world. Its rambling walls rise to a height
of several hundred feet up a steep incline. The noise of the machinery
within can be heard distinctly from the roadway. The grind, grind, grind
of the mammoth crushers, which sound as a perpetual monotone to the
townspeople, is lost on the ears of Ethel and Harvey.

Not until they reach the center of the town do they realize they are at
the end of their ride.

"We never rode those five miles so quickly before," says Ethel.

"O, yes we have. Why, it has taken us longer to-day than ever," Harvey
replies, as he looks at his watch.

"But of course it has not seemed long. We have had so much to talk
about. We must make good time on the ride home or we will be late for

They turn their horses and are off at a brisk trot back toward

On passing through the upper end of Woodward they have not noticed a
clump of men and women standing at the doorway of a miserable hovel,
setting back from the road.

Now the men and women are in the road and block the way.

"I wonder what can have happened," exclaims Ethel.

"Another accident, I presume," is Harvey's answer. "It does seem as
though the Jumbo Breaker injures more men than any other in the
district. It's all through using the new crusher. It's dangerous. I said
so from the moment I inspected the model. But it saves a hundred men's
labor; the company will not abolish its use."

They are now so near the crowd that the horses have to be reigned in.

"Who's hurt?" Harvey asks of a miner.

"Nobody hurt, sir, only the Sheriff putting out Braun's widow."

The scene in the court room looms up before Harvey. He sees the bent
form of the miners' widow as she had bent over her little boy, weeping
at the decision of the Judge who had said that she could not claim
damages for the killing of her husband. He thinks of the check that is
in his pocket - the reward he has gained for winning the case for the
Paradise Company. A blush comes to his cheeks; his inner conscience is

In the doorway of the hovel stands Sheriff Marlin. He is superintending
the eviction.

There are several miners in the group who had been at the court house.
They look at Harvey with glances which speak the thoughts they dare not

Then, as a hunted fawn which will seek shelter of the huntsmen who are
to slay her, the widow rushes from the house. She runs to the head of
Ethel's horse and falls prostrate at the animal's feet.

"In mercy's name, don't let them put me out to freeze," she wails. "It
is not for myself. I don't mind the cold; but little Eric, he will
freeze to death.

"You give your horses shelter; will you let a child die on the roadside?
It is not my fault that the rent is not paid. My husband never owed a
cent in his life. He was killed in the mines, and the company will give
me nothing - nothing. I won't ask for charity. All I ask for is a chance
to work. I can break coal. I can dig it. I am willing to work even in
the Jumbo, till it kills me. Anything to get food and a roof for my

This tragic scene is enacted, before Sheriff Marlin and his deputies
grasp the situation. They do not long stand idly by and see the daughter
of the great Purdy subjected to this annoyance. With a bound the
sheriff, himself, is upon the woman.

"What do you mean by stopping this lady?" he shouts, at the same time
grabbing the poor creature by the throat. "Back to your house and take
out your goods, or I'll burn them on the road."

"Take your hands off that woman," cries Harvey. He stands in his saddle
and waves his hand menacingly at the sheriff.

"Stop choking her! Do you hear!"

With savage energy Marlin hurls the widow to the ground.

"Do not be frightened, Miss Purdy," he says, in obsequious tone. "This
woman will not annoy you again." "You must excuse me, Mr. Trueman," he
adds, turning to Harvey. "But these mining folk cannot be handled like
ordinary people."

The blush of shame has passed from Harvey's face; he is ashen.

"Are you evicting this woman for non-payment of rent?" he asks.

"She has not paid a cent since her husband's death, ten months ago. I
received orders from the company to turn her out to-day. She has been
making trouble here for the past month, and now that she has lost her
suit it's time she got out."

"Mamma, mamma," cries the five year old boy, as he runs to his mother,
laying prostrate in the weeds at the side of the road.

"Are you hurt, mamma, tell me?" and then he bursts into a flood of

"Take that brat away," Sheriff Marlin says under his breath to a man. As
the deputy starts to pick up the child, it utters a piercing shriek.

"Don't let them hurt the child!" cries Ethel, in utter horror. She has
till now been a mute witness to the heartless acts of the agents of the

Harvey jumps from his saddle, and is at the deputy's side.

"Put that child down. I shall see that it is taken care of," he

"Excuse me, Mr. Trueman," interposes Sheriff Marlin, "you must not
interfere with us in the execution of our duty."

"Execution of your duty! You mean the execution of a woman and her
child. I shall not stand by and see the law violated. You have authority
to evict the widow for her debts; but you have no authority to assault

"How much does she owe?"

"Eighty dollars," is the surly reply.

"Here is the money," says Harvey, as he takes a roll of bills from his

"I cannot accept the money now," protests the sheriff.

Then stepping up to Harvey he says in an undertone:

"Mr. Trueman, the fact is, I have been told to put this woman out of
town; she will cause trouble if she remains. The miners are all in
sympathy with her because she lost the suit."

"Who gave you such orders?"

"Mr. Purdy."


"This afternoon. I saw him just after you left the office. He told me to
get the widow out of town this very day, so I took the switch engine and

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