| When McMurdo awoke next morning he had good
remember his initiation into the lodge. His head ached
effect of the drink, and his arm, where he had been
hot and swollen. Having his own peculiar source of
was irregular in his attendance at his work; so he
had a late
breakfast, and remained at home for the morning writing
letter to a friend. Afterwards he read the Daily Herald.
special column put in at the last moment he read:
OUTRAGE AT THE HERALD OFFICE -- EDITOR
It was a short account of the facts with which he was
more familiar than the writer could have been. It
ended with the
The matter is now
in the hands of the police; but it can
hardly be hoped that their exertions
will be attended by any
better results than in the past.
Some of the men were
recognized, and there is hope
that a conviction may be
obtained. The source of the
outrage was, it need hardly be
said, that infamous society
which has held this community
in bondage for so long a period,
and against which the
Herald has taken so uncompromising
a stand. Mr. Stanger's
many friends will rejoice to
hear that, though he has been
cruelly and brutally beaten,
and though he has sustained
severe injuries about the head,
there is no immediate danger
to his life.
Below it stated that a guard of police, armed
rifles, had been requisitioned for the defense of
McMurdo had laid down the paper, and was lighting
with a hand which was shaky from the excesses of the
evening, when there was a knock outside, and his landlady
to him a note which had just been handed in by a lad.
unsigned, and ran thus:
I should wish to
speak to you, but would rather not do so
in your house. You will find
me beside the flagstaff upon
Miller Hill. If you will come
there now, I have something
which it is important for you
to hear and for me to say.
McMurdo read the note twice with the utmost
surprise; for he
could not imagine what it meant or who was the author
Had it been in a feminine hand, he might have imagined
was the beginning of one of those adventures which
familiar enough in his past life. But it was the writing
of a man,
and of a well educated one, too. Finally, after some
he determined to see the matter through.
Miller Hill is an ill-kept public park in the
very centre of the
town. In summer it is a favourite resort of the people;
winter it is desolate enough. From the top of it one
has a view
not only of the whole straggling, grimy town, but
of the winding
valley beneath, with its scattered mines and factories
the snow on each side of it, and of the wooded and
ranges flanking it.
McMurdo strolled up the winding path hedged
in with ever-
greens until he reached the deserted restaurant which
centre of summer gaiety. Beside it was a bare flagstaff,
underneath it a man, his hat drawn down and the collar
overcoat turned up. When he turned his face McMurdo
it was Brother Morris, he who had incurred the anger
Bodymaster the night before. The lodge sign was given
exchanged as they met.
"I wanted to have a word with you, Mr. McMurdo,"
older man, speaking with a hesitation which showed
that he was
on delicate ground. "It was kind of you to come."
"Why did you not put your name to the note?"
"One has to be cautious, mister. One never
knows in times
like these how a thing may come back to one. One never
either who to trust or who not to trust."
"Surely one may trust brothers of the lodge."
"No, no, not always," cried Morris with vehemence.
ever we say, even what we think, seems to go back
to that man
"Look here!" said McMurdo sternly. "It was
only last night,
as you know well, that I swore good faith to our Bodymaster.
Would you be asking me to break my oath?"
"If that is the view you take," said Morris
sadly, "I can only
say that I am sorry I gave you the trouble to come
and meet me.
Things have come to a bad pass when two free citizens
speak their thoughts to each other."
McMurdo, who had been watching his companion
rowly, relaxed somewhat in his bearing. "Sure I spoke
myself only," said he. "I am a newcomer, as you know,
am strange to it all. It is not for me to open my
Morris, and if you think well to say anything to me
I am here to
"And to take it back to Boss McGinty!" said
"Indeed, then, you do me injustice there,"
"For myself I am loyal to the lodge, and so l tell
but I would be a poor creature if I were to repeat
to any other
what you might say to me in confidence. It will go
than me; though I warn you that you may get neither
"I have given up looking for either the one
or the other," said
Morris. "I may be putting my very life in your hands
by what I
say; but, bad as you are -- and it seemed to me last
night that you
were shaping to be as bad as the worst -- still you
are new to it,
and your conscience cannot yet be as hardened as theirs.
was why I thought to speak with you."
"Well, what have you to say?"
"If you give me away, may a curse be on you!"
"Sure, I said I would not."
"I would ask you, then, when you joined the
society in Chicago and swore vows of charity and fidelity,
ever it cross your mind that you might find it would
lead you to
"If you call it crime," McMurdo answered.
"Call it crime!" cried Morris, his voice vibrating
sion. "You have seen little of it if you can call
it anything else.
Was it crime last night when a man old enough to be
was beaten till the blood dripped from his white hairs?
crime -- or what else would you call it?"
"There are some would say it was war," said
war of two classes with all in, so that each struck
as best it
"Well, did you think of such a thing when you
Freeman's society at Chicago?"
"No, I'm bound to say I did not."
"Nor did I when I joined it at Philadelphia.
It was just a
benefit club and a meeting place for one's fellows.
Then I heard
of this place -- curse the hour that the name first
fell upon my
ears! -- and I came to better myself! My God! to better
My wife and three children came with me. I started
store on Market Square, and I prospered well. The
gone round that I was a Freeman, and I was forced
to join the
local lodge, same as you did last night. I've the
badge of shame
on my forearm and something worse branded on my heart.
found that I was under the orders of a black villain
and caught in
a meshwork of crime. What could I do? Every word I
make things better was taken as treason, same as it
night. I can't get away; for all I have in the world
is in my store.
If I leave the society, I know well that it means
murder to me,
and God knows what to my wife and children. Oh, man,
awful -- awful!" He put his hands to his face, and
his body shook
with convulsive sobs.
McMurdo shrugged his shoulders. "You were too
soft for the
job," said he. "You are the wrong sort for such work."
"I had a conscience and a religion; but they
made me a
criminal among them. I was chosen for a job. If I
I knew well what would come to me. Maybe I'm a coward.
Maybe it's the thought of my poor little woman and
that makes me one. Anyhow I went. I guess it will
"It was a lonely house, twenty miles from here,
range yonder. I was told off for the door, same as
you were last
night. They could not trust me with the job. The others
When they came out their hands were crimson to the
we turned away a child was screaming out of the house
us. It was a boy of five who had seen his father murdered.
nearly fainted with the horror of it, and yet I had
to keep a bold
and smiling face; for well I knew that if I did not
it would be out
of my house that they would come next with their bloody
and it would be my little Fred that would be screaming
"But I was a criminal then, part sharer in
a murder, lost
forever in this world, and lost also in the next.
I am a good
Catholic; but the priest would have no word with me
heard I was a Scowrer, and I am excommunicated from
That's how it stands with me. And T see you going
same road, and I ask you what the end is to be. Are
you ready to
be a cold-blooded murderer also, or can we do anything
"What would you do?" asked McMurdo abruptly.
would not inform?"
"God forbid!" cried Morris. "Sure, the very
cost me my life."
"That's well," said McMurdo. "I'm thinking
that you are a
weak man and that you make too much of the matter."
"Too much! Wait till you have lived here longer.
the valley! See the cloud of a hundred chimneys that
ows it! I tell you that the cloud of murder hangs
lower than that over the heads of the people. It is
the Valley of
Fear, the Valley of Death. The terror is in the hearts
people from the dusk to the dawn. Wait, young man,
will learn for yourself."
"Well, I'll let you know what I think when
I have seen
more," said McMurdo carelessly. "What is very clear
you are not the man for the place, and that the sooner
out -- if you only get a dime a dollar for what the
worth -- the better it will be for you. What you have
said is safe
with me; but, by Gar! if I thought you were an informer
"No, no!" cried Morris piteously.
"Well, let it rest at that. I'll bear what
you have said in mind,
and maybe some day I'll come back to it. I expect
kindly by speaking to me like this. Now I'll be getting
"One word before you go," said Morris. "We
may have been
seen together. They may want to know what we have
"Ah! that's well thought of."
"I offer you a clerkship in my store."
"And I refuse it. That's our business. Well,
so long, Brother
Morris, and may you find things go better with you
That same afternoon, as McMurdo sat smoking,
lost in thought
beside the stove of his sitting-room, the door swung
open and its
framework was filled with the huge figure of Boss
passed the sign, and then seating himself opposite
to the young
man he looked at him steadily for some time, a look
as steadily returned.
"I'm not much of a visitor, Brother McMurdo,"
he said at
last. "I guess I am too busy over the folk that visit
me. But I
thought I'd stretch a point and drop down to see you
in your own
"I'm proud to see you here, Councillor," McMurdo
heartily, bringing his whisky bottle out of the cupboard.
honour that I had not expected."
"How's the arm?" asked the Boss.
McMurdo made a wry face. "Well, I'm not forgetting
said; "but it's worth it."
"Yes, it's worth it," the other answered, "to
those that are
loyal and go through with it and are a help to the
were you speaking to Brother Morris about on Miller
The question came so suddenly that it was well
that he had his
answer prepared. He burst into a hearty laugh. "Morris
know I could earn a living here at home. He shan't
for he has got too much conscience for the likes of
me. But he's
a good-hearted old chap. It was his idea that I was
at a loose
end, and that he would do me a good turn by offering
clerkship in a drygoods store."
"Oh, that was it?"
"Yes, that was it."
"And you refused it?"
"Sure. Couldn't I earn ten times as much in
my own bedroom
with four hours' work?"
"That's so. But I wouldn't get about too much
"Well, I guess because I tell you not. That's
enough for most
folk in these parts."
"It may be enough for most folk; but it ain't
enough for me,
Councillor," said McMurdo boldly. "If you are a judge
you'll know that."
The swarthy giant glared at him, and his hairy
paw closed for
an instant round the glass as though he would hurl
it at the head
of his companion. Then he laughed in his loud, boisterous,
"You're a queer card, for sure," said he. "Well,
if you want
reasons, I'll give them. Did Morris say nothing to
"Nor against me?"
"Well, that's because he daren't trust you.
But in his heart he
is not a loyal brother. We know that well. So we watch
we wait for the time to admonish him. I'm thinking
that the time
is drawing near. There's no room for scabby sheep
in our pen.
But if you keep company with a disloyal man, we might
that you were disloyal, too. See?"
"There's no chance of my keeping company with
him; for I
dislike the man," McMurdo answered. "As to being disloyal,
it was any man but you he would not use the word to
"Well, that's enough," said McGinty, draining
off his glass.
"I came down to give you a word in season, and you've
"I'd like to know," said McMurdo, "how you
ever came to
learn that I had spoken with Morris at all?"
McGinty laughed. "It's my business to know
what goes on in
this township," said he. "I guess you'd best reckon
hearing all that passes. Well, time's up, and I'll
just say --"
But his leavetaking was cut short in a very
ion. With a sudden crash the door flew open, and three
ing, intent faces glared in at them from under the
peaks of police
caps. McMurdo sprang to his feet and half drew his
his arm stopped midway as he became conscious that
chester rifles were levelled at his head. A man in
advanced into the room, a six-shooter in his hand.
It was Captain
Marvin, once of Chicago, and now of the Mine Constabulary.
He shook his head with a half-smile at McMurdo.
"I thought you'd be getting into trouble, Mr.
McMurdo of Chicago," said he. "Can't keep out of it,
Take your hat and come along with us."
"I guess you'll pay for this, Captain Marvin,"
"Who are you, I'd like to know, to break into a house
fashion and molest honest, law-abiding men?"
"You're standing out in this deal, Councillor
the police captain. "We are not out after you, but
after this man
McMurdo. It is for you to help, not to hinder us in
"He is a friend of mine, and I'll answer for
his conduct," said
"By all accounts, Mr. McGinty, you may have
to answer for
your own conduct some of these days," the captain
"This man McMurdo was a crook before ever he came
he's a crook still. Cover him, Patrolman, while I
"There's my pistol," said McMurdo coolly. "Maybe,
tain Marvin, if you and I were alone and face to face
not take me so easily."
"Where's your warrant?" asked McGinty. "By
Gar! a man
might as well live in Russia as in Vemmissa while
folk like you
are running the police. It's a capitalist outrage,
and you'll hear
more of it, I reckon."
"You do what you think is your duty the best
way you can,
Councillor. We'll look after ours."
"What am I accused of?" asked McMurdo.
"Of being concerned in the beating of old Editor
the Herald office. It wasn't your fault that it isn't
"Well, if that's all you have against him,"
with a laugh, "you can save yourself a deal of trouble
dropping it right now. This man was with me in my
playing poker up to midnight, and I can bring a dozen
"That's your affair, and I guess you can settle
it in court
to-morrow. Meanwhile, come on, McMurdo, and come quietly
if you don't want a gun across your head. You stand
Mr. McGinty; for I warn you I will stand no resistance
I am on duty!"
So determined was the appearance of the captain
McMurdo and his boss were forced to accept the situation.
latter managed to have a few whispered words with
before they parted.
"What about --" he jerked his thumb upward
to signify the
"All right," whispered McMurdo, who had devised
hiding place under the floor.
"I'll bid you good-bye," said the Boss, shaking
see Reilly the lawyer and take the defense upon myself.
word for it that they won't be able to hold you."
"I wouldn't bet on that. Guard the prisoner,
you two, and
shoot him if he tries any games. I'll search the house
He did so; but apparently found no trace of
plant. When he had descended he and his men escorted
to headquarters. Darkness had fallen, and a keen blizzard
was blowing so that the streets were nearly deserted;
but a few
loiterers followed the group, and emboldened by invisibility
shouted imprecations at the prisoner.
"Lynch the cursed Scowrer!" they cried. "Lynch
laughed and jeered as he was pushed into the police
After a short, formal examination from the inspector
in charge he
was put into the common cell. Here he found Baldwin
other criminals of the night before, all arrested
that afternoon and
waiting their trial next morning.
But even within this inner fortress of the
law the long arm of
the Freemen was able to extend. Late at night there
came a jailer
with a straw bundle for their bedding, out of which
two bottles of whisky, some glasses, and a pack of
spent a hilarious night, without an anxious thought
as to the
ordeal of the morning.
Nor had they cause, as the result was to show.
could not possibly, on the evidence, have held them
for a higher
court. On the one hand the compositors and pressmen
to admit that the light was uncertain, that they were
much perturbed, and that it was difficult for them
to swear to the
identity of the assailants; although they believed
that the accused
were among them. Cross examined by the clever attorney
had been engaged by McGinty, they were even more nebulous
The injured man had already deposed that he
was so taken by
surprise by the suddenness of the attack that he could
nothing beyond the fact that the first man who struck
him wore a
moustache. He added that he knew them to be Scowrers,
no one else in the community could possibly have any
him, and he had long been threatened on account of
ken editorials. On the other hand, it was clearly
shown by the
united and unfaltering evidence of six citizens, including
high municipal official, Councillor McGinty, that
the men had
been at a card party at the Union House until an hour
later than the commission of the outrage.
Needless to say that they were discharged with
near to an apology from the bench for the inconvenience
which they had been put, together with an implied
Captain Marvin and the police for their officious
The verdict was greeted with loud applause
by a court in
which McMurdo saw many familiar faces. Brothers of
smiled and waved. But there were others who sat with
pressed lips and brooding eyes as the men filed out
of the dock.
One of them, a little, dark-bearded, resolute fellow,
thoughts of himself and comrades into words as the
"You damned murderers!" he said. "We'll fix