Francis A. Adams.

The Transgressors Story of a Great Sin online

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"Certainly. They have sticks in their hands."

Two deputies, who have exhausted their supply of cartridges in their
magazine rifles, stop reloading and rush upon Nevins. They beat him over
the head with their rifle butts. The flag is snatched out of his hands.

O'Connor is dealt a blow an instant later.

The subjugation of the unarmed miners is accomplished.

One by one the Coal and Iron Police return.

Some of them bring in captives who have escaped death, but who still
have felt the sting of the bullets.

Of the sixty miners, twenty-three are killed outright; ten are mortally
wounded; twenty-one have less serious wounds.

Six have run the gauntlet and are fleeing back to Hazleton.

The triumphant march of the police to Hazleton is begun.

"We will carry the wounded," says the sheriff. "They might get through
to Harleigh and Latimer."

"We will round up the six who escaped," Captain Grout assures the
sheriff. He then details ten men to run down the miners who have eluded
capture.

This is an easy matter, as the footprints of the miners are perfectly
distinct in the soft snow. On the six trails the men set off, as a pack
of hounds on the scent of game.

This man-hunt results in an addition of _six_ to the list of the slain.

Gorman Purdy's orders have been carried out.

His police have been sworn in as deputies; they have met the miners and
have "fired first."

The sanctity of the law enveloped their act. They shot as _Deputies_.

They dispersed a band of miners who were on the highway, armed,
according to the sheriff's version, "with sticks," and bent on creating
trouble in Harleigh.

Did it matter that the "sticks" were flag staffs on which were displayed
the White Flag of truce, and the Emblem of Liberty?




CHAPTER VI.

A STAND FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE.


News of the massacre on the highway can not be suppressed. A wave of
indignation sweeps over the country. Newspapers, clergymen, statesmen,
ordinary citizens are of one opinion, that the sheriff and his deputies
should be made to suffer for their dastardly acts. The result of the
agitation is a call for trial for a case of murder. The Grand Jury of
Luzerne County find an indictment against Sheriff Marlin and Captain
Grout. These men are placed on trial.

Gorman Purdy at first is highly elated over the result of the sheriff's
summary action against the miners. "It has taught the miners a good
lesson," he asserts openly.

The morning after the Grand Jury returns its indictment, Purdy enters
Harvey Trueman's office.

The relationship between Purdy and Trueman is no longer strained. In
three months time Harvey will marry Ethel. He is to live at the Purdy
mansion until his own house can be built.

"You have read the papers this morning?" Purdy asks.

"Yes. It begins to look serious for the sheriff and Grout. I understand
that they are to be imprisoned to-day."

"Now I want to have a talk with you about defending them."

"Defending them!" exclaims Trueman. "You want me to defend them?"

"It was in our interests that they acted," says Purdy, "and the least we
can do is to defend them."

"It was not in my interests, nor was it at my suggestion that the Coal
and Iron Police were sent to Hazleton. You must remember that I
deprecated that step."

"Well, we won't go over that matter anew, Harvey; the defense of the
Sheriff and Captain Grout is essential to the interests of the Paradise
Coal Company. You are the chief counsel of the Company, and I look to
you to secure their acquittal."

"But you cannot want me to defend two men who are guilty of cold blooded
murder," protests Trueman. "I am the last man in the world to ignore the
sanctity of the law. When I see the highest law of the land trodden
under foot by an ignorant and arrogant sheriff, I wish to see the law
enforced against him as it should be against the commonest offender."

"It's all very well to have high ideals of law and justice," Purdy
observes, with a cynical smile, "but you cannot be guided by them when a
commercial interest is involved. The conviction of the sheriff would lay
us open to the violence of the mob."

"You can find a more capable man than I to defend the prisoners."

"There is no one who is as familiar with the mining life as you are; I
have thought the matter over carefully before broaching it to you. There
is no way out of it, Harvey, you must take the case in hand. It is not
the company's request. I make it personal. I want you to do your best to
get these men off."

"Mr. Purdy, I cannot comply with your request."

"You refuse to oblige me?"

"I refuse to defend men who I believe have committed murder."

"I am an older man than you, Harvey Trueman, and I caution you to think
twice before you refuse to obey the request of the man who has made you
what you are." Purdy is white with rage, for he feels that Trueman will
remain obdurate.

"It may seem an act of ingratitude, but I cannot suffer my conscience to
be outraged by defending the perpetrators of an atrocious crime."

"Your conscience will cost you dear. If you do not defend this case you
may consider your connection with the Paradise Coal Company at an end.
You sever all bonds that have united us, and your marriage to my
daughter will be impossible. Is the gratification of a supersensitive
conscience to be bought at such a price?"

"There must be something back of your demand," Trueman declares.

"There is only the just claim that I have on you to work for my
interests."

"Mr. Purdy, I was a man before I met you. I am indebted to you for my
present position; yet I am not willing to pay for its retention by
forfeiting my honor. If you insist on me defending the case, I tell you
I would sooner pay the penalty you name."

Trueman's voice is tremulous. He realizes that his decision has cost him
not alone a position of great value, but all chance of wedding Ethel
Purdy.

"You will live to regret this day, Harvey Trueman," Purdy cries
menacingly. "Whatever is due you from the Paradise Coal Company will be
paid you to-day. Henceforth you will find office room elsewhere.
Remember, sir, I forbid you to have any communication with my daughter."

With these words Purdy walks out of Trueman's office.

"It may be better for me to get out of this damnable atmosphere while I
still have a spark of manhood left," Trueman muses, as he sits at his
desk. "If I remained here many years more I should be as heartless as
Purdy himself.

"I wonder how Ethel will act in this crisis? She loves me, that I would
swear to with my life, but can she sacrifice her fortune to marry me? I
cannot expect her to do so. No, it would be too much. I have money
enough to live but I could not support her in the style to which she has
been accustomed from her birth."

For an hour he sits intently thinking. He reviews the past. At the
recollection of his school days and the first love he had experienced
for Martha Densmore, a sigh escapes his lips.

"I might have been happy, had I married her," he says to himself.

"But then I should not have become a lawyer. What good have I done in
the law? I have been the buffer for a heartless corporation. The
president of the corporation demands of me to do an act that is against
my manhood. I refuse and I am turned out like a worthless old horse.

"I shall henceforth use my talents to some good. The Paradise Coal
Company and every other concern that is waxing rich at the expense of
the people will find that I can be as formidable an antagonist as I have
been defender. How could I have been blind to my duty so long?"

Trueman arises and walks from his office. A thought is forming in his
mind.

"I'll do it," he says aloud, as he reaches the elevator.

"The miners have no one who is capable of prosecuting the case of the
people. The District Attorney and his staff have been bought off. Any
one of the injured miners has standing in the court, and can be
represented by counsel. Yes, there is O'Connor, I shall be his counsel."

Trueman hurries to the east side of the town and hunts up the quarters
of Patrick O'Connor. The miner is still in bed; the fractured skull he
had received by the blow from the rifle barrel nearly proved fatal.

In a few words Trueman explains how he had been driven to leave the
Paradise Coal Company; and how he is now determined to be the champion
of the people.

"I believe you, sir," says O'Connor, feebly, "for you have always been
kind to me. But the rest of the miners think you are to blame for all of
their troubles; especially when they face you in court."

"You will tell them to put faith in me, won't you, O'Connor?"

"Indeed I will, sir."

The door opens to admit Sister Martha.

Harvey Trueman has not been face to face with Martha for eight years.

"You here, Martha!" he exclaims.

"I am here every day. My duty brings me among the sick."

The two playmates of the happy school days walk over to the window and
talk in low tones for half an hour. Trueman tells of his determination
to be an antagonist of the Magnates, one of whom has attempted to buy
his soul for the sordid interests of a corporation.

"You may be sure I shall be pleased to help you all I can," Sister
Martha assures him. "And I have many friends among the miners. It will
be some time before they will accept your protestations in good faith.
You must know that your masterful knowledge of the law has kept many of
them from winning their suit for damages against the Paradise Company.
If you do something to prove your sincerity it will win you many
friends."

"If I appear as the counsel of one of the miners and prosecute the
Sheriff of Luzerne County, will that be sufficient to demonstrate my
sincerity?" Trueman asks.

"It will make you their champion."

"Well, you may tell the miners of Wilkes-Barre that I am to appear as
counsel for Patrick O'Connor in the coming trial. We will meet often
now, I hope?" Harvey asks as he leaves the room.

"Whenever you come to this quarter of the city you will be able to find
me," Sister Martha responds.

Events move rapidly. The trial is set for February first. Between the
day Harvey Trueman left the employ of the Paradise Company and the
opening of the trial he wins the name of "Miner's Friend." Eight damage
suits against the Paradise Coal Company are won for miners by his
sagacity and eloquence.

He has been able to learn of the effect of the break in the friendship
between the Purdy's and himself. Ethel had been prostrated by the event.
For many days she had been actually ill. As soon as her health permitted
she had been sent abroad. She is now in the south of France.

At the trial of Sheriff Marlin and his lieutenants, Trueman
distinguishes himself by the searching line of questions he puts to the
sheriff's deputies and two lieutenants, who are placed on the witness
stand. In cross-examination he succeeds in eliciting the fact that the
only "weapons" carried by the miners were the two flag staffs.

He brings to court as witnesses men who had been shot in the back as
they had run to escape the deadly fire of the deputies.

One of these men, carried to the court room on a cot, testifies that he
ran up the embankment and had fallen at the feet of one of the deputies.

"I begged of him to spare my life; that I had a wife and six children.
He stepped back a pace and pointing his rifle at my head, fired. The
bullet grazed my temple. I rolled over. He thought I was dead. I lay
there motionless for several minutes. Then I was struck in the shoulder
by another bullet."

This testimony causes a tremendous sensation.

The defendants counsel asks for the recall of the witness the following
day. He is brought to court and answers two questions. Then with a groan
he turns on his side and dies in the presence of the crowded court and
before the very eyes of his assassin.

The trial is a travesty on justice. The jury is composed of men known to
be in sympathy with the prisoners. The deputies are in court each day
fully armed. They make no pretext to conceal their pistols. This is done
to influence the jury to believe that the deputies had shot in
self-defense. Both Sheriff Marlin and Captain Grout are acquitted; but
they are not vindicated in the eyes of the people of the United States
or of Wilkes-Barre.

Trueman emerges from the trial as the recognized champion of the people.

It has taken twelve weeks to try the case. The cost of this victory for
the Coal Barons is one hundred and twenty thousand dollars.

Sister Martha and Harvey meet frequently. She is a great aid to him in
getting information from the miners. She is inspired by the grand
results that Trueman realizes for the poor miners whose cases he
handles. She hears him mentioned as the candidate for some office, and
asks him if he would accept it.

"I do not wish to mix in local politics," Trueman tells her. "I might
accept the office of Congressman; but it is impossible to elect a
candidate of the miners in Pennsylvania."

Early in May a call is sent out through the several States for delegates
to attend an Anti-Trust Conference in Chicago. This Conference is deemed
urgent as the outgrowth of an atrocious move on the part of the Magnates
who seek to vitiate the laws of the United States as applied to capital.

Martha asks Trueman if he will accept the appointment as a delegate from
the State of Pennsylvania. He signifies his willingness to do so; but
doubts if the miners outside of Wilkes-Barre hold him in high enough
esteem to so honor him.

"I have not done enough yet to redeem myself for the years that I stood
as the barrier to the poor getting their deserts," he declares.

But the election shows that he is recognized as a faithful friend of the
people. At the Conference it is believed he will win recognition for the
claims of the miners, for justice, and for the Federal enforcement of
the laws of common safety in the mines.

The ten months that have passed since the afternoon he won the case
against the Magyar's widow, have been the most momentous in his life.
They have taken him out of the service of a soulless Company and put him
in the position of leader of a million miners.




BOOK II.

The Syndicate Incorporates.




CHAPTER VII.

AN ANTI-TRUST CONFERENCE.


From the hour that Trueman was selected as a delegate to the great
Anti-Trust Conference to convene in the city of Chicago, he has devoted
his hours, day and night, to study. In making his advent in the
conference, he enters the arena of national politics; he means to go
prepared. Martha has prevailed upon him to accept the nomination as a
candidate for the State of Pennsylvania, and he has been elected by the
unanimous vote of the Unions. This exhibition of confidence on the part
of the toilers of the state has made a deep impression on him, and has
fixed his resolve to do something that will be worthy of his
constituents.

The sudden transition he has undergone from being the staunch supporter
of the coal barons, to becoming their bitterest opponent, has left many
of the opinion that he is working some deep scheme for the undoing of
the unionists. Nor is this opinion confined to any small number. "He
changed his views too quickly," is the general sentiment in the ranks of
the small unions where Trueman is not personally known. This lurking
suspicion was what had operated strongly at first against securing
Trueman's consent to be a candidate. Martha has worked quietly,
assiduously, among the men she knew, and who placed absolute faith in
her advice. She has been the direct means of bringing about his
election.

Now he is to leave her, and must face the supreme opportunity of his
life.

It is not without a pang that he bids her farewell. She has come to be a
source of great comfort to him since his enlistment in the ranks of the
humble. The schoolday acquaintance has been renewed. He has learned to
appreciate the fact that he was the cause of her having donned the dress
of the sisterhood. His ambition to rise in the world made it impossible
for him to yield to the dictates of his heart and the mental vista that
opened before him at the close of his college course, did not have her
in it. The woman he saw there must be the favorite of fortune. He had
selfishly abandoned certain love for possible fortune and in the active
life to which he was at once introduced, all thoughts of Martha had been
driven from his mind.

But Martha had had no counteractant to soften or obliterate the thoughts
of her blasted hopes. The refuge of the convent appealed to her as the
one remaining avenue by which she might escape from her youth and its
recollections.

It is impossible for Trueman and Martha Densmore to ever again be
lovers; the inexorable ban of the church is between them. Yet they can
be friends. And Trueman feels that in Martha he has found his firmest
friend and advisor.

"You will hear from me from time to time," she says as they part. "I am
confident that you will do your duty; that you will awaken the finer
instincts in the delegates. With the scenes that have surrounded you in
Wilkes-Barre, you cannot be an advocate of violence as a means of
settling the struggle for the restoration of the rights of the people."

"It shall be my untiring labor to avert the adoption of any measure that
entails an appeal to force," Trueman assures her.

On his arrival at Chicago he finds the convention already in session. An
hour in the hall convinces him that the result will be nugatory. The
radicals are in the majority and the proposals they make are temporary
expedients that look only to appeasing the demand of the masses for
action against the usurpers of the public rights.

With a view to defeating the objects of the conference, the Magnates
have contrived to send a number of their hirelings as delegates. These
are among the loudest in demanding impossible remedies. It is not long
before Trueman discovers who these spies are, and he loses no time in
exposing them in open conference.

This action brings him into prominence.

"Who is this delegate from Pennsylvania?" asks Professor Talbot, a
venerable scholar sent by the Governor of Missouri to represent that
state, of Nevins, a neighboring delegate.

"He is a convert to the cause of the people," comes the quick reply.

"A tool of the Coal Barons, you mean," observes a New Yorker. "I knew
him three years ago when he was the attorney for the Paradise Coal
Company," he continues, "and a more relentless man to the miners never
was known in Pennsylvania."

"Yes, I know. He was once a counsel for the Paradise Company," assents
the champion of Trueman. "I know his record from A to Z. You can't find
a straighter man in this conference. He has come out for the people and
I believe he is sincere."

"Whoever he is, or whatever he has been," says the Professor, "it is
evident that he has the power of reading character. He was not here two
hours before he detected the presence of the goats in our fold."

"Would you like to meet him?" asks Nevins.

"Indeed, I should be pleased to do so."

Professor Talbot and the friendly delegate approach Trueman.

For an hour or more the three are engrossed in animated conversation.
Professor Talbot is delighted to find that Trueman is conversant with
the most complex questions of the hour.

"I shall make it a point to have the chairman call upon you for an
address," he assures Trueman at parting.

For three days the sessions of the conference are devoted to partisan
discourses. There seems to be no hope of reaching middle ground. The
newspapers ridicule the utterances of the speakers as the vaporings of
demagogues. And they are little else.

On the fourth day, true to his promise, Professor Talbot gets the
chairman to call upon Trueman for a fifteen-minute speech.

From his first words Trueman wins the attention of the audience. His
voice is full and far-reaching; his language simple, and it is possible
for every one to grasp his meaning instantly. He chooses to win the
delegates to his way of reasoning by force of the truth he utters rather
than by appealing to their senses by a display of forensic and
oratorical ability.

In the few minutes allotted to him, he reviews the industrial conditions
of a decade and shows where the insidious principle of class legislation
has undermined the prosperity of the people to bestow it upon the few.
In an unanswerable argument he pleads for the restoration of the rights
of the majority; by a rapid review of the causes that have led to the
downfall of the nations of the past, he shows that the unjust
distribution of the fruits of labor must inevitably lead to the
disintegration of the state.

His peroration is a fervent appeal to the delegates to reaffirm the
equality of man; it calls upon them to adopt resolutions advocating the
government control of all avenues of transportation and communication,
and for the strict regulation of all industries that affect the common
necessities of life.

"There is no law above that of the Creator. He did not fashion some of
his children to be damned with the brand of perpetual servitude; He did
not anoint some with omnipotence to place them as rulers over the many.
When He made mankind in His image, it was to have them live in fraternal
relationship. There should be no competition for the mere right to live.
Until God's design is declared to be wrong, I shall never cease to
counsel my brothers to live true to the Divine principles of liberty,
equality and fraternity."

With these words he closes his address.

There is no means for measuring the exact effect of his words. The
plaudits of an audience are an uncertain criterion.

In the final vote that is taken, after three other delegates have
spoken, a resolution is adopted calling for the appointment of a
standing committee of three to continue the investigation of the Trust
question until another year.

This result is not satisfactory to the radicals, yet they make no open
objection. To Trueman it is a source of gratification to know that the
heretical proposals of some of the delegates have been voted down.

The conference is on the point of closing when Delegate William Nevins
moves that the chairman of the special committee be empowered to
increase the number of the committee to forty at his own discretion.
This motion is adopted.

The conference ends. It has exemplified the old adage of the convention
of the mice to discuss the advisability of putting a bell on the cat.
All agreed that it would be for the good of micedom; yet no mouse had a
feasible method to advance for affixing the bell. The papers in every
city tell of the failure of the Anti-Trust conference to agree upon a
plan of action.

The millions of toilers bend lower under their burdens; the Magnates
tighten their grasp on the throat of labor.

In all the United States there is but one man who holds a solution of
the problem of emancipating mankind from commercial servitude. This man
has been a delegate. He has spoken but a few words; he has been present
as an auditor.

His hour for action is soon to come.




CHAPTER VIII.

A STARTLING PROPOSAL.


The special committee has been directed to hold meetings at intervals of
a month and to have a report ready by the first of the following
January. Thirty-seven of the most intelligent and earnest of the
Anti-Trust members have been placed on this committee by its chairman.
The meetings are now secret.

The first meeting is held in the hall that had been used for the big
meetings of the conference. After this the meetings are clandestine.

The comment that was provoked by the conference of the radical leaders
of the Trust opposition died out in the usual way, and then the interest
in the efforts of the special committee was confined to the few people
who realized the earnestness of the men who had decided to take the
Trust problem up and bring it to a speedy settlement.

Day by day the members of the committee met to discuss the phases of the
all absorbing question.

The managers of some of the largest corporations are warned of these
secret deliberations and institute a vigorous investigation. The aid of
the police is secured, and the officers of a dozen of the shrewdest
private detective bureaus are put in possession of the few facts that
have been ascertained. In a hundred directions public and private
sleuths are set in motion. But their untiring efforts are unavailing.
They have to combat a more adroit, more nervy and more intelligent force
than they have ever before been brought in contact with.


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Online LibraryFrancis A. AdamsThe Transgressors Story of a Great Sin → online text (page 4 of 17)