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Chapter 8

The committee and its body-guard repaired to the dining-room of Reminitsky's, where they stretched themselves out on the floor; no one attempted to interfere with them, and while the majority snored peacefully, Hal and a small group sat writing out the list of demands which were to be submitted to the bosses in the morning. It was arranged that Jerry should go down to Pedro by the early morning train, to get into touch with Jack David and the union officials, and report to them the latest developments. Because the officials were sure to have detectives following them, Hal warned Jerry to go to MacKellar's house, and have MacKellar bring "Big Jack" to meet him there. Also Jerry must have MacKellar get the _Gazette_ on the long distance phone, and tell Billy Keating about the strike.

A hundred things like this Hal had to think of; his head was a-buzz with them, so that when he lay down to sleep he could not. He thought about the bosses, and what they might be doing. The bosses would not be sleeping, he felt sure!

And then came thoughts about his private-car friends; about the strangeness of this plight into which he had got himself! He laughed aloud in a kind of desperation as he recalled Percy's efforts to get him away from here. And poor Jessie! What could he say to her now?

The bosses made no move that night; and when morning came, the strikers hurried to the meeting-place, some of them without even stopping for breakfast. They came tousled and unkempt, looking anxiously at their fellows, as if unable to credit the memory of the bold thing they had done on the night before. But finding the committee and its body-guard on hand and ready for business, their courage revived, they felt again the wonderful sentiment of solidarity which had made men of them. Pretty soon speech-making began, and cheering and singing, which brought out the laggards and the cowards. So in a short while the movement was in full swing, with practically every man, woman and child among the workers present.

Mary Burke came from the hospital, where she had spent the night. She looked weary and bedraggled, but her spirit of battle had not slumped. She reported that she had talked with some of the injured men, and that many of them had signed "releases," whereby the company protected itself against even the threat of a lawsuit. Others had refused to sign, and Mary had been vehement in warning them to stand out. Two other women volunteered to go to the hospital, in order that she might have a chance to rest; but Mary did not wish to rest, she did not feel as if she could ever rest again.

The members of the newly-organised union proceeded to elect officers. They sought to make Hal president, but he was shy of binding himself in that irrevocable way, and succeeded in putting the honour off on Wauchope. Tim Rafferty was made treasurer and secretary. Then a committee was chosen to go to Cartwright with the demands of the men. It included Hal, Wauchope, and Tim; an Italian named Marcelli, whom Jerry had vouched for; a representative of the Slavs and one of the Greeks--Rusick and Zammakis, both of them solid and faithful men. Finally, with a good deal of laughter and cheering, the meeting voted to add Mary Burke to this committee. It was a new thing to have a woman in such a role, but Mary was the daughter of a miner and the sister of a breaker-boy, and had as good a right to speak as any one in North Valley.

Upton Sinclair