They stood undecided a moment, but the argument had evidently struck home.
“What’s the matter with Harris?” asked one, pointing to the motionless form of the man in the green sweater. “Is he dead?”
“I suppose so,” answered Thursday coolly; but he stooped to examine Hetty’s victim, rolling him over so that his face was upward. “No; he isn’t hurt much, I’m sorry to say. The bullet glanced off his forehead and stunned him, that’s all. Take the brute, if you want him, and go.”
They obeyed in silence. Several stepped forward and raised the unconscious Harris, bearing him to the window, where they passed him to those without. Then they also retreated through the windows and the room was cleared.
Only then did Hetty and Beth venture to lower their weapons.
“Oh, dear!” cried Patsy, in a low, agitated voice; “I’m so glad you didn’t kill him, Hetty.”
“I’m not,” returned the artist doggedly. “He deserved death, at the least, and by killing him I’d have cheated the gallows.”
Then she glanced around at the horrified faces of her friends and burst into tears.
DEFENDING THE PRESS
In the front room Bob West and the detective were having a busy time. At the first rush they each fired a shot over the heads of the mob, merely to let them know the place was guarded. In the darkness it was impossible for the strikers to tell how many armed men confronted them, so they fell back a little, but formed a cordon around the entire building. From the printing office to the old mill was a distance of only a few hundred feet, and every able-bodied inhabitant of Millville except Peggy McNutt and Sara Cotting—who had discreetly disappeared at the first sign of danger—was assisting Joe Wegg to protect the electric cable he was trying to connect. The men from Royal were scattered all along the line, peering through the dim light to discover a vulnerable point of attack but deterred from interfering by the determination of the stalwart defenders. Mobs are invariably cowardly, and this one, composed of the lowest strata of mixed American and foreign laborers, was no exception to the general rule. However, when word was finally passed along from the mill that the dynamo was running and supplying power to the printing press, a howl of rage went up and a sudden rush was made for the line, the attack concentrating at one point.
The defenders promptly grouped themselves in front of the threatened pole and Seth Davis, the blacksmith, wielding a heavy sledge hammer, did valiant service, clearing a space around him with little difficulty. Joe Wegg, Arthur Weldon, Cox the detective, Lon Taft, Nick Thome and even little Skim Clark were all in the melee, fighting desperately for time to enable Thursday Smith to work his press, using whatever cudgels they had been able to pick up to keep the assailants from the pole. Slowly, however, they were forced back by superior numbers until finally one of the mill hands clambered up the pole and cut the wire.