A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Chapter 37
The strike had apparently settled down to the ordinary run of strikes. The
newspaper men from New York were gradually recalled, as the mill towns
became orderly, and no further acts of violence took place. Here and there mills
that had gone down fired their furnaces again and went back to work, many with
depleted shifts, however.
But the strikers had lost, and knew it. Howard Cardew, facing the situation with
his customary honesty, saw in the gradual return of the men to work only the
urgency of providing for their families, and realized that it was not peace that was
coming, but an armed neutrality. The Cardew Mills were still down, but by winter
he was confident they would be open again. To what purpose? To more
wrangling and bickering, more strikes? Where was the middle ground? He was
willing to give the men a percentage of the profits they made. He did not want
great wealth, only an honest return for his invested capital. But he wanted to
manage his own business. It was his risk.
The coal miners were going out. The Cardews owned coal mines. The miners
wanted to work a minimum day for a maximum wage, but the country must have
coal. Shorter hours meant more men for the mines, and they would have to be
imported. But labor resented the importation of foreign workers.
Again, what was the answer?
Still, he was grateful for peace. The strike dragged on, with only occasional acts
of violence. From the hill above Baxter a sniper daily fired with a long range rifle
at the toluol tank in the center of one of the mills, and had so far escaped
capture, as the tank had escaped damage. But he knew well enough that a long
strike was playing into the hands of the Reds. It was impossible to sow the seeds
of revolution so long as a man s dinner-pail was full, his rent paid, and his family
contented. But a long strike, with bank accounts becoming exhausted and credit
curtailed, would pave the way for revolution.
Old Anthony had had a drastic remedy for strikes.
"Let all the storekeepers, the country over, refuse credit to the strikers, and we'd
have an end to this mess," he said.
"We'd have an end to the storekeepers, too," Howard had replied, grimly.
One good thing had come out of the bomb outrages. They had had a salutary
effect on the honest labor element. These had no sympathy with such methods