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Marching Men

CHAPTER V.3
One evening three weeks after the great murder trial McGregor took a long walk
in the streets of Chicago and tried to plan out his life. He was troubled and
disconcerted by the event that had crowded in upon the heels of his dramatic
success in the court room and more than troubled by the fact that his mind
constantly played with the dream of having Margaret Ormsby as his wife. In the
city he had become a power and instead of the names and the pictures of
criminals and keepers of disorderly houses his name and his picture now
appeared on the front pages of newspapers. Andrew Leffingwell, the political
representative in Chicago of a rich and successful publisher of sensational
newspapers, had visited him in his office and had proposed to make him a
political figure in the city. Finley a noted criminal lawyer had offered him a
partnership. The lawyer, a small smiling man with white teeth, had not asked
McGregor for an immediate decision. In a way he had taken the decision for
granted. Smiling genially and rolling a cigar across McGregor's desk he had
spent an hour telling stories of famous court room triumphs.
"One such triumph is enough to make a man," he declared. "You have no idea
how far such a success will carry you. The word of it keeps running through
men's minds. A tradition is built up. The remembrance of it acts upon the minds
of jurors. Cases are won for you by the mere connection of your name with the
case."
McGregor walked slowly and heavily through the streets without seeing the
people. In Wabash Avenue near Twenty-third Street he stopped in a saloon and
drank beer. The saloon was in a room below the level of the sidewalk and the
floor was covered with sawdust. Two half drunken labourers stood by the bar
quarrelling. One of the labourers who was a socialist continually cursed the army
and his words started McGregor to thinking of the dream he had so long held and
that now seemed fading. "I was in the army and I know what I am talking about,"
declared the socialist. "There is nothing national about the army. It is a privately
owned thing. Here it is secretly owned by the capitalists and in Europe by the
aristocracy. Don't tell me--I know. The army is made up of bums. If I'm a bum I
became one then. You will see fast enough what fellows are in the army if the
country is ever caught and drawn into a great war."
Becoming excited the socialist raised his voice and pounded on the bar. "Hell, we
don't know ourselves at all," he cried. "We never have been tested. We call
ourselves a great nation because we are rich. We are like a fat boy who has had
too much pie. Yes sir--that's what we are here in America and as far as our army
goes it is a fat boy's plaything. Keep away from it."
 
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