The ferry boat, nearing the Staten Island landing, slowed its ponderous screws. The chauffeur flung away his cigarette, drew on his gauntlets and accelerated his engine. Forward the human drove began to press, under the long slave-driven habit of haste, of eagerness to do the masters’ bidding.
The young mechanic by the rail—he of the overalls and keen blue eyes—turned toward the bows, picked up a canvas bag of tools and stood there waiting with the rest.
For a moment his glance rested on the limousine and the two half-seen figures within. As it did so, a wanton breeze from off the Island flapped back the lapel of his jumper. In that brief instant one might have seen a button pinned upon his blue flannel shirt—clasped hands, surrounded by the legend: “Workers of the World, Unite!”
But neither of the plutocrats observed this; nor, had they seen, would they have understood.
And whether the sturdy toiler had overheard aught of their infernal conspiring—or, having heard it, grasped its dire and criminal significance—who, who in all this weary and toil-burdened world, could say?
IN THE LABORATORY.
Half an hour’s run down Staten Island, along smooth roads lined with sleepy little towns and through sparse woods beyond which sparkled the shining waters of the harbor, brought the two plutocrats to the quiet settlement of Oakwood Heights.
Now the blase chauffeur swung the car sharply to the left, past the aviation field, and so came to the wide-scattered settlement—almost a colony—which, hidden behind high, barb-wire-topped fences, carried on the many and complex activities of the partners’ experiment station. Here were the several laboratories where new products were evolved and old ones refined, for Flint’s and Waldron’s greater profit. Here stood a complete electric power plant, for lighting and heating the works, as well as for current to use in the retorts and many powerful machines of the testing works.
Here, again, were broad proving grounds, for fuel and explosives; and, at one side, stood a low, skylighted group of brick buildings, known as the electro-chemical station. Dormitories and boarding-houses for the small army of employees occupied the eastern end of the enclosure, nearest the sea. Over all, high chimney stacks and the aerials of a mighty wireless plant dominated the entire works. A private railroad spur pierced the western side of the enclosure, for food and coal supplies, as well as for the handling of the numerous imports and exports of this wonderfully complete feudal domain. As the colony lay there basking in the sunshine of early spring, under its drifting streamers of smoke, it seemed an ideal picture of peaceful activities. Here a locomotive puffed, shunting cars; there, a steam-jet flung its plumes of snowy vapor into air; yonder, a steam hammer thundered on a massive anvil. And forges rang, and through open windows hummed sounds of industry.