Marching Men HTML version
The clearing of Andrew Brown made a sensation in Chicago. At the trial
McGregor was able to introduce one of those breath-taking dramatic climaxes
that catch the attention of the mob. At the tense dramatic moment of the trial a
frightened hush fell upon the court room and that evening in their houses men
turned instinctively from the reading of the papers to look at their beloved sitting
about them. A chill of fear ran over the bodies of women. For a moment Beaut
McGregor had given them a peep under the crust of civilisation that awoke an
age- old trembling in their hearts. In his fervour and impatience McGregor had
cried out, not against the incidental enemies of Brown but against all modern
society and its formlessness. To the listeners it seemed that he shook mankind
by the throat and that by the power and purposefulness of his own solitary figure
he revealed the pitiful weakness of his fellows.
In the court room McGregor had sat, grim and silent, letting the State build up its
case. In his face was a challenge. His eyes looked out from beneath swollen
eyelids. For weeks he had been as tireless as a bloodhound running through the
First Ward and building his case. Policemen had seen him emerge from
alleyways at three in the morning, the soft spoken boss hearing of his activities
had eagerly questioned Henry Hunt, a bartender in a dive on Polk Street had felt
the grip of a hand at his throat and a trembling girl of the town had knelt before
him in a little dark room begging protection from his wrath. In the court room he
sat waiting and watching.
When the special counsel for the State, a man of great name in the courts, had
finished his insistent persistent cry for the blood of the silent unemotional Brown,
McGregor acted. Springing to his feet he shouted hoarsely across the silent court
room to a large woman sitting among the witnesses. "They have tricked you
Mary," he roared. "The tale about the pardon after the excitement dies is a lie.
They're stringing you. They're going to hang Andy Brown. Get up there and tell
the naked truth or his blood be on your hands."
A furor arose in the crowded court room. Lawyers sprang to their feet, objecting,
protesting. Above the noise arose a hoarse accusing voice. "Keep Polk Street
Mary and every woman from her place in here," he shouted. "They know who
killed your man. Put them back there on the stand. They'll tell. Look at them. The
truth is coming out of them."
The clamour in the room subsided. The silent red-haired attorney, the joke of the
case, had scored. Walking in the streets at night the words of Edith Carson had
come back into his brain, and with the help of Margaret Ormsby he had been
able to follow a clue given by her suggestion.