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Marching Men

CHAPTER V.6
McGregor left the telling of the story of his love to Margaret. Edith Carson who
knew defeat so well and who had in her the courage of defeat was to meet defeat
at his hands through the undefeated woman and he let himself forget the whole
matter. For a month he had been trying to get workingmen to take up the idea of
the Marching Men without success and after the talk with Margaret he kept
doggedly at the work.
And then one evening something happened that aroused him. The Marching Men
idea that had become more than half intellectualised became again a burning
passion and the matter of his life with women got itself cleared up swiftly and
finally.
It was night and McGregor stood upon the platform of the Elevated Railroad at
State and Van Buren Streets. He had been feeling guilty concerning Edith and
had been intending to go out to her place but the scene in the street below
fascinated him and he remained standing, looking along the lighted thoroughfare.
For a week there had been a strike of teamsters in the city and that afternoon
there had been a riot. Windows had been smashed and several men injured.
Now the evening crowds gathered and speakers climbed upon boxes to talk.
Everywhere there was a great wagging of jaws and waving of arms. McGregor
grew reminiscent. Into his mind came the little mining town and he saw himself
again a boy sitting in the darkness on the steps before his mother's bake shop
and trying to think. Again in fancy he saw the disorganised miners tumbling out of
the saloon to stand on the street swearing and threatening and again he was
filled with contempt for them.
And then in the heart of the great western city the same thing happened that had
happened when he was a boy in Pennsylvania. The officials of the city, having
decided to startle the striking teamsters by a display of force, sent a regiment of
state troops marching through the streets. The soldiers were dressed in brown
uniforms. They were silent. As McGregor looked down they turned out of Polk
Street and came with swinging measured tread up State Street past the
disorderly mobs on the sidewalk and the equally disorderly speakers on the curb.
McGregor's heart beat so that he nearly choked. The men in the uniforms, each
in himself meaning nothing, had become by their marching together all alive with
meaning. Again he wanted to shout, to run down into the street and embrace
them. The strength in them seemed to kiss, as with the kiss of a lover, the
strength within himself and when they had passed and the disorderly jangle of
voices broke out again he got on a car and went out to Edith's with his heart afire
with resolution.
 
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