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Chapter 19

Hal found himself forced to accept the decision of the labour-leaders. They had had experience, they could judge the situation. The miners would have to go back to work, and Cartwright and Alec Stone and Jeff Cotton would drive them as before! All that the rebels could do was to try to keep a secret organisation in the camp.

Jerry Minetti mentioned Jack David. He had gone back this morning, without having seen the labour-leaders. So he might escape suspicion, and keep his job, and help the union work.

"How about you?" asked Hal. "I suppose you've cooked your goose."

Jerry had never heard this phrase, but he got its meaning. "Sure thing!" said he. "Cooked him plenty!"

"Didn't you see the 'dicks' down stairs in the lobby?" inquired Hartman.

"I haven't learned to recognise them yet."

"Well, you will, if you stay at this business. There hasn't been a minute since our office was opened that we haven't had half a dozen on the other side of the street. Every man that comes to see us is followed back to his camp and fired that same day. They've broken into my desk at night and stolen my letters and papers; they've threatened us with death a hundred times."

"I don't see how you make any headway at all!"

"They can never stop us. They thought when they broke into my desk, they'd get a list of our organisers. But you see, I carry the lists in my head!"

"No small task, either," put in Moylan. "Would you like to know how many organisers we have at work? Ninety-seven. And they haven't caught a single one of them!"

Hal heard him, amazed. Here was a new aspect of the labour movement! This quiet, resolute old "Dutchy," whom you might have taken for a delicatessen-proprietor; this merry-eyed Irish boy, whom you would have expected to be escorting a lady to a firemen's ball----they were captains of an army of sappers who were undermining the towers of Peter Harrigan's fortress of greed!

Hartman suggested that Jerry might take a chance at this sort of work. He would surely be fired from North Valley, so he might as well send word to his family to come to Pedro. In this way he might save himself to work as an organiser; because it was the custom of these company "spotters" to follow a man back to his camp and there identify him. If Jerry took a train for Western City, they would be thrown off the track, and he might get into some new camp and do organising among the Italians. Jerry accepted this proposition with alacrity; it would put off the evil day when Rosa and her little ones would be left to the mercy of chance.

They were still talking when the telephone rang. It was Hartman's secretary in Sheridan, reporting that he had just heard from the kidnapped committee. The entire party, eight men and Mary Burke, had been taken to Horton, a station not far up the line, and put on the train with many dire threats. But they had left the train at the next stop, and declared their intention of coming to Pedro. They were due at the hotel very soon.

Hal desired to be present at this meeting, and went downstairs to tell his brother. There was another dispute, of course. Edward reminded Hal that the scenery of Pedro had a tendency to monotony; to which Hal could only answer by offering to introduce his brother to his friends. They were men who could teach Edward much, if he would consent to learn. He might attend the session with the committee--eight men and a woman who had ventured an act of heroism and been made the victims of a crime. Nor were they bores, as Edward might be thinking! There was blue-eyed Tim Rafferty, for example, a silent, smutty-faced gnome who had broken out of his black cavern and spread unexpected golden wings of oratory; and Mary Burke, of whom Edward might read in that afternoon's edition of the Western City _Gazette_--a "Joan of Arc of the coal-camps," or something equally picturesque. But Edward's mood was not to be enlivened. He had a vision of his brother's appearance in the paper as the companion of this Hibernian Joan!

Hal went off with Jerry Minetti to what his brother described as a "hash-house," while Edward proceeded in solitary state to the dining-room of the American Hotel. But he was not left in solitary state; pretty soon a sharp-faced young man was ushered to a seat beside him, and started up a conversation. He was a "drummer," he said; his "line" was hardware, what was Edward's? Edward answered coldly that he had no "line," but the young man was not rebuffed--apparently his "line" had hardened his sensibilities. Perhaps Edward was interested in coal-mines? Had he been visiting the camps? He questioned so persistently, and came back so often to the subject, that at last it dawned over Edward what this meant--he was receiving the attention of a "spotter!" Strange to say, the circumstance caused Edward more irritation against Peter Harrigan's regime than all his brother's eloquence about oppression at North Valley.

Upton Sinclair