“‘For God’s sake, lemme up,’ says Heegan, splashin’ along and look-in’ strangly. I hauls him in where he wouldn’t miss any of my ironies, and says:—
“’I just can’t do it, Oily—it’s wash day. You’re plumb nasty with boycotts and picketin’s and compulsory arbitrations. I’m goin’ to clean you up,’ and I sozzled him under like a wet shirt.
“I drug him out again and continues:—
“’This is Chinamen’s work, Oily, but I lost my pride in the Bridewell, thanks to you. It’s tough on St. Louis to laundry you up stream this way, but maybe the worst of your heresies ’ll be purified when they get that far.’ You know the Chicago River runs up hill out of Lake Michigan through the drainage canal and into the St. Louis waterworks. Sure it does—most unnatural stream I ever see about direction and smells.
“I was gettin’ a good deal of enjoyment and infections out of him when old man Badrich ran back enamelled with blood and passe tomato juice, the red in his white hair makin’ his top look like one of these fancy ice-cream drinks you get at a soda fountain.
“‘Here! here! you’ll kill him,’ says he, so I hauled him aboard, drippin’ and clingy, wringin’ him out good and thorough—by the neck. He made a fine mop.
“These clippings,” continued “Bitter Root,” fishing into his pocket, “tell in beautiful figgers how the last seen of Oily Heegan he was holystoning the deck of a sooty little tugboat under the admonishments and feet of ‘Bitter Root’ Billings of Montana, and they state how the strikers tried to get tugs for pursuit and couldn’t, and how, all day long, from the housetops was visible a tugboat madly cruisin’ about inside the outer cribs, bustin’ the silence with joyful blasts of victory, and they’ll further state that about dark she steamed up the river, tired and draggled, with a bony-lookin’ cowboy inhalin’ cigareets on the stern-bits, holding a three-foot knotted rope in his lap. When a delegation of strikers met her, inquirin’ about one D. O’Hara Heegan, it says like this,” and Billings read laboriously as follows:—
“’Then the bronzed and lanky man arose with a smile of rare contentment, threw overboard his cigarette, and approaching the boiler-room hatch, called loudly: “Come out of that,” and the President of the Federation of Fresh Water Firemen dragged himself wearily out into the flickering lights. He was black and drenched and streaked with sweat; also, he shone with the grease and oils of the engines, while the palms of his hands were covered with painful blisters from unwonted, intimate contact with shovels and drawbars. It was seen that he winced fearfully as the cowboy twirled the rope end.
“‘"He’s got the makin’s of a fair fireman,’” said the stranger, “’all he wants is practice.’”
“Then, as the delegation murmured angrily, he held up his hand and, in the ensuing silence, said:—
“’"Boys, the strike’s over. Mr. Heegan has arbitrated."’”