A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Chapter 48
There was a little city, and few men within it; And there came a great king against
it, and besieged it, And built great bulwarks against it; Now there was found in it a
Poor Wise Man, And he by his wisdom delivered the city. - Ecclesiastes IX :14,
The general strike occurred two days later, at mid-day. During the interval a joint
committee representing the workers, the employers and the public had held a
protracted sitting, but without result, and by one o'clock the city was in the throes
of a complete tie-up. Laundry and delivery wagons were abandoned where they
stood. Some of the street cars had been returned to the barns, but others stood
in the street where the crews had deserted them.
There was no disorder, however, and the city took its difficulties with a quiet
patience and a certain sense of humor. Bulletins similar to the ones used in
Seattle began to appear.
"Strikers, the world is the workers' for the taking, and the workers are the vast
majority in society. Your interests are paramount to those of a small, useless
band of parasites who exploit you to their advantage. You have nothing to lose
but your chains and you have a world to gain. The world for the workers."
There was one ray of light in the darkness, however. The municipal employees
had refused to strike, and only by force would the city go dark that night. It was a
blow to the conspirators. In the strange psychology of the mob, darkness was an
essential to violence, and by three o'clock that afternoon the light plant and city
water supply had been secured against attack by effectual policing. The power
plant for the car lines was likewise protected, and at five o'clock a line of street
cars, stalled on Amanda Street, began to show signs of life.
The first car was boarded by a half dozen youngish men, unobtrusively ready for
trouble, and headed by a tall youth who limped slightly and wore an extremely
anxious expression. He went forward and commenced a series of experiments
with levers and brake, in which process incidentally he liberated a quantity of
sand onto the rails. A moment later the car lurched forward, and then stopped
with a jerk.
Willy Cameron looked behind him and grinned. The entire guard was piled in an
ignoble mass on the floor.
By six o'clock volunteer crews were running a number of cars, and had been
subjected to nothing worse than abuse. Strikers lined the streets and watched