A Poor Wise Man
The new movement was growing rapidly, and with a surprising catholicity of
range. Already it included lawyers and doctors, chauffeurs, butchers, clergymen,
clerks of all sorts, truck gardeners from the surrounding county, railroad
employees, and some of the strikers from the mills, men who had obeyed their
union order to quit work, but had obeyed it unwillingly; men who resented bitterly
the invasion of the ranks of labor by the lawless element which was fomenting
Dan had joined.
On the day that Lily received her engagement ring from Louis Akers, one of the
cards of the new Vigilance Committee was being inspected with cynical
amusement by two clerks in a certain suite of offices in the Searing Building.
They studied it with interest, while the man who had brought it stood by.
"Where'd you pick it up, Cusick?"
"One of our men brought it into the store. Said you might want to see it."
The three men bent over it.
The Myers Housecleaning Company had a suite of three rooms. During the day
two stenographers, both men, sat before machines and made a pretense of
business at such times as the door opened, or when an occasional client, seeing
the name, came in to inquire for rates. At such times the clerks were politely
regretful. The firm's contracts were all they could handle for months ahead.
There was a constant ebb and flow of men in the office, presumably professional
cleaners. They came and went, or sat along the walls, waiting. A large
percentage were foreigners but the clerks proved to be accomplished linguists.
They talked, with more or less fluency, with Croats, Serbs, Poles and Slavs.
There was a supply room off the office, a room filled with pails and brushes, soap
and ladders. But there was a great safe also, and its compartments were filled
with pamphlets in many tongues, a supply constantly depleted and yet never
diminishing. Workmen, carrying out the pails of honest labor, carried them loaded
down with the literature it was their only business to circulate.
Thus, openly, and yet with infinite caution, was spread the doctrine of no God; of
no government, and of no church; of the confiscation of private property; of
strikes and unrest; of revolution, rape, arson and pillage.