Marching Men HTML version
The matter of McGregor's attitude toward women and the call of sex was not of
course settled by the fight in the house in Lake Street. He was a man who, even
in the days of his great crudeness, appealed strongly to the mating instinct in
women and more than once his purpose was to be shaken and his mind
disturbed by the forms, the faces and the eyes of women.
McGregor thought he had settled the matter. He forgot the black-eyed girl in the
hallway and thought only of advancement in the warehouse and of study in his
room at night. Now and then he took an evening off and went for a walk through
the streets or in one of the parks.
In the streets of Chicago, under the night lights, among the restless moving
people he was a figure to be remembered. Sometimes he did not see the people
at all but went swinging along in the same spirit in which he had walked in the
Pennsylvania hills. He was striving to get a hold of some elusive quality in life
that seemed to be forever out of reach. He did not want to be a lawyer or a
warehouseman. What did he want? Along the street he went trying to make up
his mind and because his was not a gentle nature his perplexity drove him to
anger and he swore.
Up and down Madison Street he went striding along, his lips muttering words. In
a corner saloon some one played a piano. Groups of girls passed laughing and
talking. He came to the bridge that led over the river into the loop district and
then turned restlessly back. On the sidewalks along Canal Street he saw strong-
bodied men loitering before cheap lodging houses. Their clothing was filthy with
long wear and there was no light of determination in their faces. In the little fine
interstices of the cloth of which their clothes were made was gathered the filth of
the city in which they lived and in the stuff of their natures the filth and disorder of
modern civilisation had also found lodging.
On walked McGregor looking at man-made things and the flame of anger within
burned stronger and stronger. He saw the drifting clouds of people of all nations
that wander at night in Halstead Street and turning into a side street saw also the
Italians, Poles and Russians that at evening gather on the sidewalks before
tenements in that district.
The desire in McGregor for some kind of activity became a madness. His body
shook with the strength of his desire to end the vast disorder of life. With all the
ardour of youth he wanted to see if with the strength of his arm he could shake
mankind out of its sloth. A drunken man passed and following him came a large
man with a pipe in his mouth. The large man did not walk with any suggestion of
power in his legs. He shambled along. He was like a huge child with fat cheeks