The Ear in the Wall HTML version

5. The Suffragette Secretary
Carton took us directly to the campaign headquarters of the Reform League, where his
fight for political life was being conducted.
We found the offices in the tower of a skyscraper, whence was pouring forth a torrent of
appeal to the people, in printed and oral form of every kind, urging them to stand
shoulder to shoulder for good government and vote the "ring" out of power.
There seemed to me to be a different tone to the place from that which I had ordinarily
associated with political headquarters in previous campaigns. There was a notable
absence of the old- fashioned politicians and of the air of intrigue laden with tobacco.
Rather, there was an air of earnestness and efficiency, which was decidedly encouraging
and hopeful. It seemed to speak of a new era in politics when things were to be done in
the open instead of at secret meetings and scandalous dinners, as Dorgan did them at
Maps of the city were hanging on the walls, some stuck full of various coloured pins,
denoting the condition of the canvass. Other maps of the city in colours, divided into all
sorts of districts, told how fared the battle in the various strongholds of Boss Dorgan and
Sub-boss Murtha.
Huge systems of card indexes, loose leaf devices, labour-saving appliances for getting out
a vast amount of campaign "literature" in a hurry; in short, a perfect system, such as a
great, well- managed business might have been proud of, were in evidence everywhere
one looked.
Work was going ahead in every department under high pressure, for the campaign, which
had been more than usually heated, was now drawing to a close. Indeed, it would have
taken no great astuteness, even without one's being told, to deduce merely from the
surroundings that the people here were engaged in the annual struggle of seeking the
votes of their fellow-citizens for reform and were nearly worn out by the arduous
It had been, as I have said, the bitterest campaign in years. Formerly the reformers had
been of the "silk-stocking" type, but now a new and younger generation was coming
upon the stage, a generation which had been trained to achieve results, ambitious to attain
what in former years had been considered impossible. The Reform League was making a
stiff campaign and the System was, by the same token, more frightened than ever before.
Carton was fortunate in having shaken off the thralldom of the old bosses even before the
popular uprising against them had assumed such proportions as to warrant anyone in
taking his political life in his hands by defying the powers that ruled behind the scenes. In