Francis A. Adams.

The Transgressors Story of a Great Sin online

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came out here."

"Well, you will let the matter stand as it is. I intend to pay the rent
for the woman and see that she is placed back in the house."

"You will be opposing Mr. Purdy. He explained the case to me and asked
my advice. We decided that with the widow in the town, the miners would
be more likely to carry out their threat than with her out of sight. You
had better let me carry out my orders."

"I have made up my mind to see the widow restored to her home," Harvey
repeats. "Here is the rent money. I know the spirit of the miners better
than either you or Mr. Purdy."

The sheriff takes the money reluctantly.

Widow Braun is now sitting up, vainly trying to comfort her child.

"You may go back to your home," says Trueman, as he bends over and helps
her to arise. "I have paid your rent and here is some money for food,
and for your next month's rent. I shall see that you get work."

"May God bless you," cries the widow, bursting into tears.

"You are my prisoner," Sheriff Marlin declares, as he places his hand on
the trembling figure.

"On what charge," Trueman demands.

"For getting goods from the company's store on her husband's card when
he was dead, and she had no money to pay for them," the sheriff asserts,

"But she has money to pay for the food she bought. And her husband's
card is valid until cancelled. You had better take care that you do not
overstep your authority. It is not the Widow Braun you have to deal with
now. I am interested in this case. I am the widow's counsel. She has one
thousand dollars to her credit on the books of the company's store."

Sheriff Marlin is in a fury. He realizes that he cannot serve two
masters and he decides to be faithful to Gorman Purdy.

"It is not my will that you are opposing, Mr. Trueman," he says with
emphasis. "It is your employer's."

The word "employer's" grates on Harvey's ears.

"Mr. Purdy is my employer, but he is not my master. I shall serve my
conscience before I do any man. But I do not believe that Mr. Purdy
would countenance this outrage."

"What do you mean by saying that the widow has a thousand dollars to her
credit?" the sheriff asks.

"I mean that she has this thousand dollars," and Trueman drew the check
from his pocket. "It is to be placed to her credit. I have something to
say about the company stores."

"I shall take this business direct to Mr. Purdy," the sheriff threatens
as he walks off.

The miners and their wives who have witnessed the quarrel between
Trueman and Marlin give expression to their feelings in whispered words
of praise for the young lawyer who bid defiance to the Sheriff of
Luzerne County, the most dreaded man in that part of Pennsylvania.

The widow grasps Harvey's hand and before he can withdraw it she covers
it with kisses. Her tears of gratitude fall on his hand. He appreciates
that it is but tardy justice that he is doing to the poor woman.

"You need have no fear of being turned out of your home," he tells her.
Then he springs back into the saddle.

"Come, Ethel, let us start for home."

The ride is finished in silence. Neither Harvey nor Ethel feels in the
mood to talk. On reaching the Purdy mansion the riders dismount, and go
at once to the library, where Gorman Purely is waiting for them.

"Harvey, I am surprised that you should interfere with my orders," is
Mr. Purdy's salutation. "Sheriff Marlin has just telephoned me. He tells
me that you opposed his evicting the widow, and that the miners are now
likely to make serious trouble. This is the second time to-day you have
attempted to defeat my plans. I cannot understand what object you have
in antagonizing me."

"You certainly misunderstand my motives," replies Trueman. "It is
because I have your interests at heart that I cannot see you pursue a
course that will lead to disastrous consequences."

"Do you put your judgment above mine?" asks the Coal King,

"In ordinary business matters, in affairs of finance and in the conduct
of the mines I should not presume to dispute your judgment. But on the
propriety of assembling the Coal and Iron Police and of evicting a woman
who has the sympathy of the entire mining district I believe that I am
better able to judge of the effect these acts will have than you are,
for I come into close contact with the people."

"The sheriff tells me you have placed a thousand dollars to the credit
of the widow at the Company's store. Is this so?"

"I intend to do so."

"It shall not be done, sir, not if I have the power to prevent it,"
declares the Coal King emphatically, rising and pacing the floor. "You
must be out of your mind to make such a move, now, of all times, to
offer encouragement to the lawless element."

"He did nothing wrong," interposes Ethel. "He prevented the sheriff and
his men from injuring the woman and her child."

"Not another word!" Gorman Purdy speaks in a tone he has never employed
when addressing his daughter.

"This matter must be settled, once and for all," he continues,
addressing Harvey. "There can be but one head of the Paradise Coal
Company. I wish to know if you will cease interfering with my orders?"

"I have never objected to carrying out any order of yours that was
legal. As long as I am in your employ I shall continue to do as I have
done. But to tell you that I will do your bidding, whether legal or not,
that is something I cannot bring myself to do," Trueman replies, looking
the Coal King squarely in the eye.

"I shall have no one in my employ who cannot obey me," Purdy says. He
then rehearses what he has done for Trueman; how he has advanced him to
the position of counsel to the company. "And all the thanks I receive is
your opposition, now that I need your support," he states, and without
waiting for a reply hurries from the room.

When Ethel and Harvey go to the dining room they find that the irate
Coal King has gone to his private apartment, where his dinner is being

Harvey spends the evening at the mansion.

As he and Ethel sit in the drawing room they discussed the events of the
day, and speculate on the result that will follow the quarrel with her

"My father will regret his hasty words," Ethel says. "He admires you and
places absolute confidence in you. Only yesterday he told me that there
was not another man in the world to whom he would confide his business
secrets as he has done to you."

The lovers go to the music room. Harvey's voice is a remarkably rich
baritone. At Ethel's request he sings a ballad which he has recently

Standing at her side as she plays the accompaniment, he sings.


"Sing me of love and dear days gone;
Sing me of joys that are fled;
Strike no chord of the now forlorn;
None of the future dread,

Ah, let thy music ring with tone
That speaks the budding year;
The Winter's blast too soon will moan
Through the forest bleak and drear.

Then sing but a line from the dear old days
We sang 'neath the moon's soft beams,
When we were young, in those gladsome days,
While we sailed on the sea of dreams.

There are no songs that reach the heart,
Like those sung long ago.
New singers and their songs depart;
The old ones ne'er shall go.

Nor is it strange that they should be
As balm to the sad heart;
They tell of love when it was young,
And all its joys impart."

At eleven o'clock Trueman leaves the Purdy mansion and goes to his
hotel. To him it is clear that an irreparable breach has been made in
the relations between himself and Gorman Purdy. He knows the unrelenting
character of the President of the Paradise Coal Company.

"It was a question of right and wrong," he muses. "I could not see a
woman and her child thrown out in the highway, when I knew that it was
through my skill as a lawyer that just damages were kept from them. The
law was on the side of the company; but justice was certainly on the
side of the widow.

"Every day I have some nasty work of this kind to perform. It is making
a heartless wretch of me. A man can make money sometimes that comes too

The next day, at the office, Purdy and Trueman have a long talk. It
results in Trueman withdrawing his objections to the assembling of the
Coal and Iron Police. As to the widow, a compromise is effected. She is
to be set up in business in a neighboring town where her case is

The thought that to break with Purely would mean to lose Ethel, turns
Harvey's decision when the moment comes to choose between duty and

The work of preparing to defeat the pending strike is at once taken up,
Purdy and Trueman working in perfect accord.



Nearly two months have passed, and a mantle of snow covers the ground.
The rigorous December weather has come and is causing widespread
distress among the mining population of Pennsylvania. Forty per cent of
the operatives of the Paradise Coal Company have been laid off, as Purdy
declared they would be. This means that starvation is the grim spectre
in six thousand homes.

The anomaly of miners in one town working at full time, and those of an
adjacent town shut out, must be explained as one of the insidious
methods of the Trust to create an artificial coal famine.

Gorman Purdy, whose word is law in the Paradise Company, had determined
to exact an advance of twenty-five cents a ton from the retail coal
dealers. To do this he had to make it appear that the supply of coal was
scarce. This led him to close the mines in Hazleton. The miners in the
town sought to force the opening of the mines by bringing about a
sympathetic strike in the neighboring towns. To prevent this, the Coal
and Iron Police have been brought to Hazleton to intimidate the miners
and to suppress them by force if they make any concerted move looking
toward bringing on a strike.

Preliminary to enforcing the order that debars such an army of men of
the means of support, the Coal Magnates, at Purdy's suggestion, have
massed three hundred of the Coal and Iron Police in the town of
Hazleton. This mercenary force occupies the armory, built two years
before by the benevolent multi-millionaire Iron King of Pennsylvania,
whose immense mills and foundries are situated some two hundred miles

Sheriff Marlin is in command of the Coal and Iron Police. He has sworn
them in as deputies, and each bears on his breast the badge of

The propinquity of Woodward and the other small towns to Wilkes-Barre
saved them from suffering the effects of a close-down. The Magnates did
not desire to have the scenes of distress brought too near their own
homes. So Hazleton and the outlying districts were selected to be
sacrificed to the arbitrary coal famine. Day after day the idle miners
congregate in the Town Hall to discuss their situation and to devise
some means of relieving the starving families. These meetings are under
the strict surveillance of Sheriff Marlin. Every letter that is sent
from the hall is subjected to his scrutiny.

There will be no incendiary appeals addressed to the miners of other

The newspaper correspondents, though they send accurate stories of the
awful condition of the miners and their families, are disappointed to
receive copies of their respective papers with their articles revamped,
and the essential points expurgated, to meet the approval of the
"conservative reader."

"The committee on rations reports that the allowance for each miner and
his family must henceforth be reduced to two loaves of black bread a
day. As some of the miners have eight and ten children, an idea of the
actual need of relief from some source may be formed."

Paragraphs like the above never reach the printed page of a newspaper
that has sworn allegiance to or is bound to support the Magnates.

It is now December twentieth. The miners resolve to make a final appeal
to the Paradise Coal Company to at least start the mines on half time.
If the company grants this appeal, there will be joy in the miners'
homes for Christmas.

Christmas is no more to the Magnates than any other calender day. The
necessary time for the creation of the coal famine has not elapsed, and
until it has there will not be another ton of coal taken from the pits.

Harvey Trueman is expected to confer with the leaders in the afternoon.
He will deliver the appeal to the company, and the following day,
Sunday, the miners will know if they are to go back to work.

"In the event of Purdy, the final arbiter, refusing to start up on half
time," says Metz, who is now the leader of the Miner's Union, "we can go
to Latimer and Harleigh, to-morrow. The mines will be closed; they are
only working them six days a week now. We will appeal to the men to quit
work unless the Paradise Company gives us a chance to earn our bread."

"If the Harleigh men won't go out, they will at least give us some food
for a Christmas dinner," says a miner whose hollow cheeks tell of long

"Peter Gick died last night," a miner states as he enters the hall. "He
went to the ash dumps to pick a basket of _cinders_; on his way back to
his house he fell. He was so weak that he could not get up. The snow is
two feet deep on the road, and it was drifting then; it soon covered him
up. This morning his son, Ernst, found him. Of course he was frozen

"Where is his body?" Metz asks.

"Sheriff ordered it buried by the police."

"A public funeral might prove dangerous to the Magnates," observes Metz.
"Our modern rulers have profited by the experience of the ancients."

Promptly at two o'clock Trueman arrives at the hall.

The committee on resolutions present him with their petition.

"I shall do all that I can to make the Company appreciate the condition
in which you are placed. You may depend upon it, there will be work for
you before Christmas," Trueman assures them at parting.

"We shall want an answer by to-morrow morning at ten o'clock," the
miners urge in chorus.

Harvey Trueman leaves for Wilkes-Barre on the mission of appealing to
the humanity of the Coal Magnates.

Miners' wives and children stream to the Town Hall, to receive their
bread and rations.

It is at such times as these, where the miners are ruthlessly shut out
of the mines, that the highest value of the Miner's Union is
demonstrated. From the slender treasury, which is enriched only by the
pennies of the miners during their weeks of employment, the money is
drawn to purchase the rations that must be had to keep the miners and
their families from actually starving when they can no longer buy from
the company store.

To supplement the rations distributed by the Union, the Hazleton miners
have a small supply of medicine. This is as important as food. The
medicine chest was given them by Sister Martha, the ministering angel of
the mines.

Martha Densmore was the daughter of Hiram Densmore, who had owned great
tracts of the coal lands. He had been forced out of the industry by
refusing to enter the combine which resulted in the formation of the
Coal Trust. At the time of his death, of all his fortune there remained
but a small part. Mrs. Densmore had not survived her husband a year.
Martha was left an orphan.

She has an income of $6000, and could live a life of idleness did she so
desire. But it was her purpose from girlhood to be always on missions of
charity. She had loved Harvey Trueman. They had been schoolmates, and
would undoubtedly have wed had not the wreck of Densmore's fortune been
accomplished just as Trueman was leaving college. Gorman Purdy had been
quick to perceive the calibre of the young man and had brought him into
the Paradise Company. With father and mother dead, and with her heart's
longing unappeased, Martha determined to join a sisterhood, and devote
her entire time to ministering to the poor and the sick.

The suffering of the miners of Hazleton attracts her sympathy and she
has come to the town from Wilkes-Barre.

It is her presence in the town hall that makes even Sheriff Marlin curb
his blasphemous tongue.

Her calm face, which wears an expression of contentment, if not of
happiness, is a solace to the miserable men and women who come to ask
for medicine. She always has a word of cheer.

The life she has led for eight years has not aged her, and to judge from
her manner she would not be taken for a woman more than thirty. She is,
however, six and thirty; her natal day being in the month of March, the
same as Trueman's. And they are both the same age. In the school days
they celebrated their birthdays together.

There is not a miner or one of his family who would not give up their
life, if such a sacrifice were necessary, to keep Sister Martha from
being injured. They have seen her enter a mine where an explosion had
occurred, when even the bravest of the rescuing party hesitated. They
have seen her in their own hovels, bending over the forms of their sick
and dying children. The yellow flag of pestilence never makes her

By her practical acts of charity and humanity, she has come to exert a
wonderful influence over the humble citizens of Luzerne County. In this
present crisis Sister Martha is the central figure.

In the Armory the Coal and Iron Police are playing cards and enjoying
themselves as men always can in comfortable barracks.

So the winter night closes. The hearths of the miners are cold, their
larders empty; but the armory is warm, the police are well fed.

"The Company refused to open the mines. They will, however, send thirty
barrels of flour to be distributed for Christmas." This is the message
returned by Trueman, on Sunday morning.

There are sixty miners in the Hall. They decide to go at once to
Harleigh, to exert "moral suasion" on their fellow miners there.

They start from the Hall unarmed, walking two by two. At the head of the
line of sixty men, one carries the Stars and Stripes; another a white
flag. There is nothing revolutionary about the procession. It is a sharp
contrast to the armed force of the Culpepper Minute Men, who, under the
leadership of Patrick Henry, marched to Williamsburg, Virginia, to
demand instant restoration of powder to an old magazine, or payment for
it by the Colonial Governor, Dunmore. The Minute Men carried as their
standard a flag bearing the celebrated rattlesnake, and the inscription
"Liberty or Death: Don't tread on me."

The route to Harleigh is in an opposite direction to the armory. The
little column passes out of the town of Hazleton and is a mile distant
when the Coal and Iron Police learn of their departure.

Instantly there is a bustle in the armory.

"Form your company, Captain Grout," the sheriff orders.

"Give each man twenty rounds. Tell them not to fire until I give the
order. When they do open fire, have them shoot to kill."

The company is formed on the floor of the armory. It receives the
orders; one-third of the force is left to guard the armory.

In column of fours the main body marches out, Captain Grout and Sheriff
Marlin in the lead.

To catch up with the miners the column marches in route step.

"We will head them off at the cross roads this side of Harleigh," the
sheriff explains. "There is a cut in the road there, and we can put our
men on either side. When the miners come within range I shall challenge
them. If they do not turn back, it will be your duty to compel them to
do so."

Unconscious of the approach of the sheriff and his posse, the miners
march on. The road is heavy and they are so much run down by long weeks
of short rations that they cannot make rapid headway.

Sheriff Marlin and his men are now at the cut near the cross roads.

Captain Grout stations his men to command either side of the road. The
banks of the cut are fringed with brush, which affords a complete cover
for the men.

"You keep out of sight, too, Captain," Sheriff Marlin orders. "I will
stop the miners. If they see you and the Coal and Iron Police they may
scatter, and some of them reach Harleigh."

The ambuscade is complete. Five minutes passes. There is no sign of the

"Can they have been told of our plan to head them off?" asks the

At this moment the head of the procession of miners turns the corner of
the road. The American Flag and the White Flag are still in the van.

The sheriff takes up a position on the side of the road. As the miners
come up to him, he calls them to "halt."

"Where are you going?" he demands.

"To Harleigh," replies Metz.

"Who gave you permission to parade?"

"We are exercising our rights as freemen."

"Well, you cannot march in a body on the highways of Pennsylvania."

"Then we can break up our procession and walk individually."

"_In the direction of Hazelton_," Sheriff Marlin says, significantly. "I
know what you are up to; do you think that I am going to let you cause a
sympathetic strike in Harleigh because you are locked out? Not if I know

When the miners come to a halt, the men in advance cluster about Metz
and the sheriff.

Now thirty men surround the sheriff.

Some of them are, of course, in advance of him.

"Get back to Hazleton," Sheriff Marlin cries, at the same time raising
his arms above his head and waving them.

He pushes his way through the crowd of miners to the edge of the road.

Off comes his hat

It is the signal which Captain Grout has been expecting.

"Company, attention!"

Two hundred Coal and Iron Police jump to their feet.

"Get back to Hazleton or I'll take you prisoners," shouts the sheriff.

But his words are lost. The miners are terror-stricken. The sight of the
police, armed with deadly rifles, has made the miners insensible to
every thought and impulse but that of self-preservation.

They scatter up and down the road.

"Don't let them escape to Harleigh," shouts the sheriff. Taking this as
an order, the police open fire on the men who have passed the sheriff.

Crack! crack! go the rifles.

Each shot fells a miner. They are practically at the muzzles of the

A miner rushes up the bank on the left to get out of the range of the
police on that side. He is riddled by the bullets from the opposite

Another dives into a snow bank; it affords him no protection. "Pot that
woodchuck," shouts Captain Grout to one of his men.

A bullet is sent into the hole. The miner springs to his feet; then
drops dead.

The line of carnage is now stretched out for two hundred yards.

There is no return fire. So the armed police come out from cover and
pursue their victims.

The police have lost all self-control. Each man is acting on his own

Of the ten miners who run toward Harleigh, not one is spared. Three lie
in the road; the snow about them tinged with their life's blood. Another
is clinging with a death grip to a stunted tree, which he caught as he
staggered forward, with three bullets in the back.

"Mercy! mercy!" cry several of the miners. But their wail is lost on the
ears of the Coal and Iron Police. The police are there to kill, not to
grant mercy.

Now a miner falls on his knees and prays to God for protection.

This attitude of submission is not heeded; a bullet topples him over.

With their hands above their head, some of the men walk deliberately
toward the deputies. Indians will recognize this as the sign of
surrender, and will give quarter. But the deputies, with unerring aim,
shoot down the voluntary captive.

It would not be so terrible if the miners were returning the fire, if
they were offering any resistance. But they are absolutely unarmed.
Their mission has been to present a petition to the miners of Harleigh.
The slaves of the South had enjoyed the right of petition. How could
these twentieth century miners anticipate that the sheriff would
massacre them on the highway for seeking to present a petition?

"Have you shot any one?" asks one of the deputies of his nearest

"Shot any one! Well, I should think I had. I've seen four drop. Here
goes a fifth."

To stand, to run, to fall to the ground, all are equally futile as means
of escape. Extermination is all that will stay the fire of the police.

Sheriff Marlin and Captain Grout stand in the middle of the road. Metz,
O'Connor, and Nevins, a mine foreman, are standing beside them.

O'Connor carries the white flag; Nevins the National emblem.

"Disarm those men," Marlin directs the Captain.

"Disarm them?" Captain Grout repeats, inquiringly.

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Online LibraryFrancis A. AdamsThe Transgressors Story of a Great Sin → online text (page 3 of 17)