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16. The Strategist
"Never write with a hot pen." Thus runs one of McGuire Ellis's golden rules of
journalism. Had his employer better comprehended, in those early days, the Ellisonian
philosophy, perhaps the "Heredity" editorial might never have appeared. Now, as it lay
before him in proof, it seemed but the natural expression of a righteous wrath.
"Neither Kathleen Pierce nor her father can claim exemption or consideration in this
instance," Hal had written, in what he chose to consider his most telling passage. "Were it
the girl's first offense of temerity, allowance might be made. But the city streets have
long been the more perilous because of her defiance of the rights of others. Here she runs
true to type. She is her father's own daughter. In the light of his character and career, of
his use of the bludgeon in business, of his resort to foul means when fair would not serve,
of his brutal disregard of human rights in order that his own power might be enhanced, of
his ruthless and crushing tyranny, not alone toward his employees, but toward all labor in
its struggle for better conditions, we can but regard the girl who left her victim crushed
and senseless in the gutter and sped on because, in the words of her own bravado, she
'had a train to catch,' as a striking example of the influence of heredity. If the law which
she so contemptuously brushed aside is to be aborted by the influence and position of her
family, the precept will be a bitter and dangerous one. Much arrant nonsense is vented
concerning the 'class-hatred' stirred up by any criticism of the rich. One such instance as
the running-down of Miss Cleary bears within it far more than the extremest
demagoguery the potentialities of an unleashed hate. It is a lesson in lawlessness."
Still in the afterglow of composition, Hal, tinkering lightly with the proofs, felt a hand on
his shoulder.
"Well, Boy-ee," said the voice of Dr. Surtaine.
"Hello, father," returned Hal. "Sit down. What's up?"
"I've just had a message from E.M. Pierce."
"Did you obey a royal command and go to his office?"
"Neither did I."
"With you it's different. You're a younger man. And Elias M. Pierce is the most
powerful—um—er—well, as powerful as any man in Worthington."
"Outside of this office, possibly."