| On the day following the evening which had
contained so many
exciting events, McMurdo moved his lodgings from old
Shafter's and took up his quarters at the Widow MacNamara's
on the extreme outskirts of the town. Scanlan, his
acquaintance aboard the train, had occasion shortly
move into Vermissa, and the two lodged together. There
other boarder, and the hostess was an easy-going old
who left them to themselves; so that they had a freedom
speech and action welcome to men who had secrets in
Shafter had relented to the extent of letting
McMurdo come to
his meals there when he liked; so that his intercourse
was by no means broken. On the contrary, it drew closer
more intimate as the weeks went by.
In his bedroom at his new abode McMurdo felt
it safe to take
out the coining moulds, and under many a pledge of
number of brothers from the lodge were allowed to
come in and
see them, each carrying away in his pocket some examples
false money, so cunningly struck that there was never
est difficulty or danger in passing it. Why, with
such a wonder-
ful art at his command, McMurdo should condescend
to work at
all was a perpetual mystery to his companions; though
he made it
clear to anyone who asked him that if he lived without
visible means it would very quickly bring the police
One policeman was indeed after him already;
but the incident,
as luck would have it, did the adventurer a great
deal more good
than harm. After the first introduction there were
when he did not find his way to McGinty's saloon,
there to make
closer acquaintance with "the boys," which was the
by which the dangerous gang who infested the place
to one another. His dashing manner and fearlessness
made him a favourite with them all; while the rapid
way in which he polished off his antagonist in an
bar-room scrap earned the respect of that rough community.
Another incident, however, raised him even higher
Just at the crowded hour one night, the door
opened and a man
entered with the quiet blue uniforrn and peaked cap
of the mine
police. This was a special body raised by the railways
colliery owners to supplement the efforts of the ordinary
police, who were perfectly helpless in the face of
ruffianism which terrorized the district. There was
a hush as he
entered, and many a curious glance was cast at him;
relations between policemen and criminals are peculiar
parts of the States, and McGinty himself standing
counter, showed no surprise when the policeman enrolled
self among his customers.
"A straight whisky, for the night is bitter,"
said the police
officer. "I don't think we have met before, Councillor?"
"You'll be the new captain?" said McGinty.
"That's so. We're looking to you, Councillor,
and to the other
leading citizens, to help us in upholding law and
order in this
township. Captain Marvin is my name."
"We'd do better without you, Captain Marvin,"
coldly; "for we have our own police of the township,
need for any imported goods. What are you but the
paid tool of
the capitalists, hired by them to club or shoot your
"Well, well, we won't argue about that," said
officer good-humouredly. "I expect we all do our duty
we see it; but we can't all see it the same." He had
drunk off his
glass and had turned to go, when his eyes fell upon
the face of
Jack McMurdo, who was scowling at his elbow. "Hullo!
he cried, looking him up and down. "Here's an old
McMurdo shrank away from him. "I was never
a friend to
you nor any other cursed copper in my life," said
"An acquaintance isn't always a friend," said
captain, grinning. "You're Jack McMurdo of Chicago,
enough, and don't you deny it!"
McMurdo shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not denying
he. "D'ye think I'm ashamed of my own name?"
"You've got good cause to be, anyhow."
"What the devil d'you mean by that?" he roared
with his fists
"No, no, Jack, bluster won't do with me. I
was an officer in
Chicago before ever I came to this darned coal bunker,
know a Chicago crook when I see one."
McMurdo's face fell. "Don't tell me that you're
Marvin of the
Chicago Central!" he cried.
"Just the same old Teddy Marvin, at your service.
forgotten the shooting of Jonas Pinto up there."
"I never shot him."
"Did you not? That's good impartial evidence,
ain't it? Well,
his death came in uncommon handy for you, or they
had you for shoving the queer. Well, we can let that
for, between you and me -- and perhaps I'm going further
my duty in saying it -- they could get no clear case
and Chicago's open to you to-morrow."
"I'm very well where I am."
"Well, I've given you the pointer, and you're
a sulky dog not
to thank me for it."
"Well, I suppose you mean well, and I do thank
McMurdo in no very gracious manner.
"It's mum with me so long as I see you living
straight," said the captain. "But, by the Lord! if
you get off
after this, it's another story! So good-night to you
-- and good-
He left the bar-room; but not before he had
created a local
hero. McMurdo's deeds in far Chicago had been whispered
before. He had put off all questions with a smile,
as one who did
not wish to have greatness thrust upon him. But now
was officially confirmed. The bar loafers crowded
round him and
shook him heartily by the hand. He was free of the
from that time on. He could drink hard and show little
trace of it;
but that evening, had his mate Scanlan not been at
hand to lead
him home, the feted hero would surely have spent his
under the bar.
On a Saturday night McMurdo was introduced
to the lodge.
He had thought to pass in without ceremony as being
of Chicago; but there were particular rites in Vermissa
they were proud, and these had to be undergone by
postulant. The assembly met in a large room reserved
purposes at the Union House. Some sixty members assembled
Vermissa; but that by no means represented the full
the organization, for there were several other lodges
valley, and others across the mountains on each side,
exchanged members when any serious business was afoot,
a crime might be done by men who were strangers to
locality. Altogether there were not less than five
tered over the coal district.
In the bare assembly room the men were gathered
long table. At the side was a second one laden with
glasses, on which some members of the company were
turning their eyes. McGinty sat at the head with a
velvet cap upon his shock of tangled black hair, and
purple stole round his neck, so that he seemed to
be a priest
presiding over some diabolical ritual. To right and
left of him
were the higher lodge officials, the cruel, handsome
face of Ted
Baldwin among them. Each of these wore some scarf
lion as emblem of his office.
They were, for the most part, men of mature
age; but the rest of
the company consisted of young fellows from eighteen
five, the ready and capable agents who carried out
of their seniors. Among the older men were many whose
showed the tigerish, lawless souls within; but looking
at the rank
and file it was difficult to believe that these eager
young fellows were in very truth a dangerous gang
whose minds had suffered such complete moral perversion
they took a horrible pride in their proficiency at
the business, and
looked with deepest respect at the man who had the
making what they called "a clean job."
To their contorted natures it had become a
spirited and chival-
rous thing to volunteer for service against some man
never injured them, and whom in many cases they had
seen in their lives. The crime committed, they quarrelled
who had actually struck the fatal blow, and amused
and the company by describing the cries and contortions
At first they had shown some secrecy in their
but at the time which this narrative describes their
were extraordinarily open, for the repeated failures
of the law
had proved to them that, on the one hand, no one would
witness against them, and on the other they had an
number of stanch witnesses upon whom they could call,
well-filled treasure chest from which they could draw
to engage the best legal talent in the state. In ten
long years of
outrage there had been no single conviction, and thc
that ever threatened the Scowrers lay in the victim
who, however outnumbered and taken by surprise, might
occasionally did leave his mark upon his assailants.
McMurdo had been warned that some ordeal lay
but no one would tell him in what it consisted. He
was led now
into an outer room by two solemn brothers. Through
partition he could hear the murmur of many voices
assembly within. Once or twice he caught the sound
of his own
name, and he knew that they were discussing his candidacy.
Then there entered an inner guard with a green and
across his chest.
"The Bodymaster orders that he shall be trussed,
entered," said he.
The three of them removed his coat, turned
up the sleeve of
his right arm, and finally passed a rope round above
and made it fast. They next placed a thick black cap
his head and the upper part of his face, so that he
nothing. He was then led into the assembly hall.
It was pitch dark and very oppressive under
his hood. He
heard the rustle and murmur of the people round him,
the voice of McGinty sounded dull and distant through
covering of his ears.
"John McMurdo," said the voice, "are you already
of the Ancient Order of Freemen?"
He bowed in assent.
"Is your lodge No. 29, Chicago?"
He bowed again.
"Dark nights are unpleasant," said the voice.
"Yes, for strangers to travel," he answered.
"The clouds are heavy."
"Yes, a storm is approaching."
"Are the brethren satisfied?" asked the Bodymaster.
There was a general murmur of assent.
"We know, Brother, by your sign and by your
that you are indeed one of us," said McGinty. "We
you know, however, that in this county and in other
these parts we have certain rites, and also certain
duties of our
own which call for good men. Are you ready to be tested?"
"Are you of stout heart?"
"Take a stride forward to prove it."
As the words were said he felt two hard points
in front of his
eyes, pressing upon them so that it appeared as if
he could not
move forward without a danger of losing them. None
the less. he
nerved himself to step resolutely out, and as he did
pressure melted away. There was a low murmur of applause.
"He is of stout heart," said the voice. "Can
you bear pain?"
"As well as another," he answered.
It was all he could do to keep himself from
screaming out, for
an agonizing pain shot through his forearm. He nearly
the sudden shock of it; but he bit his lip and clenched
to hide his agony.
"I can take more than that," said he.
This time there was loud applause. A finer
had never been made in the lodge. Hands clapped him
back, and the hood was plucked from his head. He stood
ing and smiling amid the congratulations of the brothers.
"One last word, Brother McMurdo," said McGinty.
have already sworn the oath of secrecy and fidelity,
and you are
aware that the punishment for any breach of it is
"I am," said McMurdo.
"And you accept the rule of the Bodymaster
for the time
being under all circumstances?"
"Then in the name of Lodge 341, Vemmissa, I
welcome you to
its privileges and debates. You will put the liquor
on the table,
Brother Scanlan, and we will drink to our worthy brother."
McMurdo's coat had been brought to him; but
before putting it
on he examined his right arm, which still smarted
on the flesh of the forearm was a circle with a triangle
deep and red, as the branding iron had left it. One
or two of his
neighbours pulled up their sleeves and showed their
"We've all had it," said one; "but not all
as brave as you
"Tut! It was nothing," said he; but it burned
and ached all the
When the drinks which followed the ceremony
had all been disposed of, the business of the lodge
McMurdo, accustomed only to the prosaic performances
cago, listened with open ears and more surprise than
to show to what followed.
"The first business on the agenda paper," said
to read the following letter from Division Master
Merton County Lodge 249. He says:
a job to be done on Andrew Rae of Rae &
Sturmash, coal owners
near this place. You will remember
that your lodge owes us
a return, having had the service of
two brethren in the matter
of the patrolman last fall. You
will send two good men,
they will be taken charge of by
Treasurer Higgins of this
lodge, whose address you know.
He will show them when
to act and where. Yours in freedom,
"J. W. WINDLE D. M. A. 0. F.
"Windle has never refused us when we have had
ask for the loan of a man or two, and it is not for
us to refuse
him." McGinty paused and looked round the room with
malevolent eyes. "Who will volunteer for the job?"
Several young fellows held up their hands.
looked at them with an approving smile.
"You'll do, Tiger Cormac. If you handle it
as well as you did
the last, you won't be wrong. And you, Wilson."
"I've no pistol," said the volunteer, a mere
boy in his teens.
"It's your first, is it not? Well, you have
to be blooded some
time. It will be a great start for you. As to the
pistol, you'll find
it waiting for you, or I'm mistaken. If you report
Monday, it will be time enough. You'll get a great
when you return."
"Any reward this time?" asked Cormac, a thick-set,
faced, brutal-looking young man, whose ferocity had
the nickname of "Tiger."
"Never mind the reward. You just do it for
the honour of the
thing. Maybe when it is done there will be a few odd
the bottom of the box."
"What has the man done?" asked young Wilson.
"Sure, it's not for the likes of you to ask
what the man has
done. He has been judged over there. That's no business
All we have to do is to carry it out for them, same
as they would
for us. Speaking of that, two brothers from the Merton
coming over to us next week to do some business in
"Who are they?" asked someone.
"Faith, it is wiser not to ask. If you know
nothing, you can
testify nothing, and no trouble can come of it. But
they are men
who will make a clean job when they are about it."
"And time, too!" cried Ted Baldwin. " Folk
are gettin' out of
hand in these parts. It was only last week that three
of our men
were turned off by Foreman Blaker. It's been owing
him a long
time, and he'll get it full and proper."
"Get what?" McMurdo whispered to his neighbour.
"The business end of a buckshot cartridge!"
cried the man
with a loud laugh. "What think you of our ways, Brother?"
McMurdo's criminal soul seemed to have already
spirit of the vile association of which he was now
a member. "I
like it well," said he. " 'Tis a proper place for
a lad of mettle."
Several of those who sat around heard his words
"What's that?" cried the black-maned Bodymaster
end of the table.
" 'Tis our new brother, sir, who finds our
ways to his taste."
McMurdo rose to his feet for an instant. "I
Eminent Bodymaster, that if a man should be wanted
take it as an honour to be chosen to help the lodge."
There was great applause at this. It was felt
that a new sun
was pushing its rim above the horizon. To some of
the elders it
seemed that the progress was a little too rapid.
"I would move," said the secretary, Harraway,
faced old graybeard who sat near the chairman, "that
McMurdo should wait until it is the good pleasure
of the lodge to
"Sure, that was what I meant; I'm in your hands,"
"Your time will come, Brother," said the chairman.
have marked you down as a willing man, and we believe
you will do good work in these parts. There is a small
to-night in which you may take a hand if it so please
"I will wait for something that is worth while."
"You can come to-night, anyhow, and it will
help you to
know what we stand for in this community. I will make
announcement later. Meanwhile," he glanced at his
per, "I have one or two more points to bring before
First of all, I will ask the treasurer as to our bank
is the pension to Jim Carnaway's widow. He was struck
doing the work of the lodge, and it is for us to see
that she is not
"Jim was shot last month when they tried to
Wilcox of Marley Creek," McMurdo's neighbour informed
"The funds are good at the moment," said the
the bankbook in front of him. "The firms have been
late. Max Linder & Co. paid five hundred to be
Walker Brothers sent in a hundred; but I took it on
return it and ask for five. If I do not hear by Wednesday,
winding gear may get out of order. We had to burn
last year before they became reasonable. Then the
Coaling Company has paid its annual contribution.
enough on hand to meet any obligations."
"What about Archie Swindon?" asked a brother.
"He has sold out and left the district. The
old devil left a note
for us to say that he had rather be a free crossing
sweeper in New
York than a large mine owner under the power of a
blackmailers. By Gar! it was as well that he made
a break for it
before the note reached us! I guess he won't show
his face in this
An elderly, clean-shaved man with a kindly
face and a good
brow rose from the end of the table which faced the
"Mr. Treasurer," he asked, "may I ask who has bought
property of this man that we have driven out of the
"Yes, Brother Morris. It has been bought by
the State &
Merton County Railroad Company."
"And who bought the mines of Todman and of
Lee that came
into the market in the same way last year?"
"The same company, Brother Morris."
"And who bought the ironworks of Manson and
and of Van Deher and of Atwood, which have all been
"They were all bought by the West Gilmerton
"I don't see, Brother Morris," said the chairman,
matters to us who buys them, since they can't carry
them out of
"With all respect to you, Eminent Bodymaster,
I think it may
matter very much to us. This process has been going
on now for
ten long years. We are gradually driving all the small
men out of
trade. What is the result? We find in their places
like the Railroad or the General Iron, who have their
New York or Philadelphia, and care nothing for our
can take it out of their local bosses, but it only
means that others
will be sent in their stead. And we are making it
ourselves. The small men could not harm us. They had
money nor the power. So long as we did not squeeze
dry, they would stay on under our power. But if these
companies find that we stand between them and their
they will spare no pains and no expense to hunt us
bring us to court."
There was a hush at these ominous words, and
darkened as gloomy looks were exchanged. So omnipotent
unchallenged had they been that the very thought that
possible retribution in the background had been banished
their minds. And yet the idea struck a chill to the
"It is my advice," the speaker continued, "that
we go easier
upon the small men. On the day that they have all
out the power of this society will have been broken."
Unwelcome truths are not popular. There were
angry cries as
the speaker resumed his seat. McGinty rose with gloom
"Brother Morris," said he, "you were always
a croaker. So
long as the members of this lodge stand together there
power in the United States that can touch them. Sure,
not tried it often enough in the law courts? I expect
companies will find it easier to pay than to fight,
same as the
little companies do. And now, Brethren," McGinty took
black velvet cap and his stole as he spoke, "this
finished its business for the evening, save for one
which may be mentioned when we are parting. The time
come for fraternal refreshment and for harmony."
Strange indeed is human nature. Here were these
whom murder was familiar, who again and again had
down the father of the family, some man against whom
no personal feeling, without one thought of compunction
compassion for his weeping wife or helpless children,
the tender or pathetic in music could move them to
had a fine tenor voice, and if he had failed to gain
will of the lodge before, it could no longer have
after he had thrilled them with "I'm Sitting on the
and "On the Banks of Allan Water."
In his very first night the new recruit had
made himself one of
the most popular of the brethren, marked already for
ment and high office. There were other qualities needed,
ever. besides those of good fellowship. to make a
and of these he was given an example before the evening
over. The whisky bottle had passed round many times,
men were flushed and ripe for mischief when their
rose once more to address them.
"Boys," said he, "there's one man in this town
trimming up, and it's for you to see that he gets
it. I'm speaking
of James Stanger of the Herald. You've seen how he's
opening his mouth against us again?"
There was a murmur of assent, with many a muttered
McGinty took a slip of paper from his waistcoat pocket.
"LAW AND ORDER!
That's how he heads it.
"REIGN OF TERROR
IN THE COAL AND IRON DISTRICT
"Twelve years have now
elapsed since the first assassina-
tions which proved the existence of
a criminal organization
in our midst. From that day these
outrages have never
ceased, until now they have reached
a pitch which makes us
the opprobrium of the civilized world.
Is it for such results
as this that our great country welcomes
to its bosom the
alien who flies from the despotisms
of Europe? Is it that
they shall themselves become tyrants
over the very men
who have given them shelter, and that
a state of terrorism
and lawlessness should be established
under the very shadow
of the sacred folds of the starry
Flag of Freedom which
would raise horror in our minds if
we read of it as existing
under the most effete monarchy of
the East? The men are
known. The organization is patent
and public. How long are
we to endure it? Can we forever live
Sure, I've read enough of the slush!" cried the chairman,
the paper down upon the table. "That's what he says
of us. The
question I'm asking you is what shall we say to him?"
"Kill him!" cried a dozen fierce voices.
"I protest against that," said Brother Morris,
the man of the
good brow and shaved face. "I tell you, Brethren,
that our hand
is too heavy in this valley, and that there will come
where in self-defense every man will unite to crush
us out. James
Stanger is an old man. He is respected in the township
district. His paper stands for all that is solid in
the valley. If that
man is struck down, there will be a stir through this
will only end with our destruction."
"And how would they bring about our destruction,
Standback?" cried McGinty. "Is it by the police? Sure,
them are in our pay and half of them afraid of us.
Or is it by the
law courts and the judge? Haven't we tried that before
what ever came of it?"
"There is a Judge Lynch that might try the
A general shout of anger greeted the suggestion.
"I have but to raise my finger," cried McGinty,
"and I could
put two hundred men into this town that would clear
it out from
end to end." Then suddenly raising his voice and bending
huge black brows into a terrible frown, "See here,
Morris, I have my eye on you, and have had for some
You've no heart yourself, and you try to take the
heart out of
others. It will be an ill day for you, Brother Morris,
own name comes on our agenda paper, and I'm thinking
just there that I ought to place it."
Morris had turned deadly pale, and his knees
seemed to give
way under him as he fell back into his chair. He raised
in his trembling hand and drank before he could answer.
apologize, Eminent Bodymaster, to you and to every
this lodge if I have said more than I should. I am
member -- you all know that -- and it is my fear lest
evil come to
the lodge which makes me speak in anxious words. But
greater trust in your judgment than in my own, Eminent
Bodymaster, and I promise you that I will not offend
The Bodymaster's scowl relaxed as he listened
to the humble
words. "Very good, Brother Morris. It's myself that
sorry if it were needful to give you a lesson. But
so long as I am
in this chair we shall be a united lodge in word and
in deed. And
now, boys," he continued, looking round at the company,
say this much, that if Stanger got his full deserts
there would be
more trouble than we need ask for. These editors hang
and every journal in the state would be crying out
for police and
troops. But I guess you can give him a pretty severe
Will you fix it, Brother Baldwin?"
"Sure!" said the young man eagerly.
"How many will you take?"
"Half a dozen, and two to guard the door. You'll
Gower, and you, Mansel. and you, Scanlan, and the
"I promised the new brother he should go,"
said the chairman.
Ted Baldwin looked at McMurdo with eyes which
he had not forgotten nor forgiven. "Well, he can come
wants," he said in a surly voice. "That's enough.
we get to work the better."
The company broke up with shouts and yells
and snatches of
drunken song. The bar was still crowded with revellers,
many of the brethren remained there. The little band
been told off for duty passed out into the street,
twos and threes along the sidewalk so as not to provoke
tion. It was a bitterly cold night, with a half-moon
brilliantly in a frosty, star-spangled sky. The men
gathered in a yard which faced a high building. The
"Vemmissa Herald" were printed in gold lettering between
brightly lit windows. From within came the clanking
"Here, you," said Baldwin to McMurdo, "you
below at the door and see that the road is kept open
Arthur Willaby can stay with you. You others come
Have no fears, boys; for we have a dozen witnesses
that we are
in the Union Bar at this very moment."
It was nearly midnight, and the street was
deserted save for
one or two revellers upon their way home. The party
road, and, pushing open the door of the newspaper
Baldwin and his men rushed in and up the stair which
them. McMurdo and another remained below. From the
above came a shout, a cry for help, and then the sound
trampling feet and of falling chairs. An instant later
man rushed out on the landing.
He was seized before he could get farther,
and his spectacles
came tinkling down to McMurdo's feet. There was a
thud and a
groan. He was on his face, and half a dozen sticks
ing together as they fell upon him. He writhed, and
his long, thin
limbs quivered under the blows. The others ceased
at last; but
Baldwin, his cruel face set in an infernal smile,
was hacking at
the man's head, which he vainly endeavoured to defend
arms. His white hair was dabbled with patches of blood.
win was still stooping over his victim, putting in
vicious blow whenever he could see a part exposed,
McMurdo dashed up the stair and pushed him back.
"You'll kill the man," said he. "Drop it!"
Baldwin looked at him in amazement. "Curse
you!" he cried.
"Who are you to interfere -- you that are new to the
back!" He raised his stick; but McMurdo had whipped
out of his hip pocket.
"Stand back yourself!" he cried. "I'll blow
your face in if
you lay a hand on me. As to the lodge, wasn't it the
order of the
Bodymaster that the man was not to be killed -- and
what are you
doing but killing him?"
"It's truth he says," remarked one of the men.
"By Gar! you'd best hurry yourselves!" cried
the man below.
"The windows are all lighting up, and you'll have
town here inside of five minutes."
There was indeed the sound of shouting in the
street, and a
little group of compositors and pressmen was forming
in the hall
below and nerving itself to action. Leaving the limp
less body of the editor at the head of the stair,
rushed down and made their way swiftly along the street.
reached the Union House, some of them mixed with the
McGinty's saloon, whispering across the bar to the
Boss that the
job had been well carried through. Others, and among
McMurdo, broke away into side streets, and so by devious
to their own homes.