An event of graver nature than any that has preceded is what the crowd craves. The appetite of a man, or of a collection of men, is the same; if it is fed to repletion, it cannot resist the desire for an excess.
“Let’s wait for one more bulletin,” an engineer suggests to his fireman.
“All right; we can stay until 2.30. That will give us time to get to the building.”
Before the fifteen minutes elapse all thoughts of tending in the engine room are driven from their minds.
The first bulletin announcing the tidings of the Wilkes-Barre uprising is posted by the Javelin at 2.35 o’clock. From this moment the crowds in City Hall increase. No one who can get within range of the blackboard thinks of leaving. There is a subtle fascination in waiting for the details of the momentous events.
At daybreak the evening edition of the day’s papers containing news of the transcendent occurrences of the hour are on the street. In these papers the first intimation of the full scope of the blow that has been dealt the Magnates is given to the public. Link by link the chain of evidence that the accidents and murders are each part of a general and concerted movement is built.
“Martyrs or Murderers?” This is the interrogatory headline that appears in every paper.
The events of the past twenty-four hours have been so unparalleled that men dare not jump at conclusions. To proclaim the forty agents of the Syndicate of Annihilation martyrs, may lead to an instant uprising of the anarchistic element. To denounce them as murderers may have the same effect. Fear prompts the people to take a conservative stand, they wait for full evidence before pronouncing a verdict.
They do not know that Harvey Trueman is pleading the cause of justice and right to a mob at Wilkes-Barre.
The case is now in the hands of the great public as a jury.
A verdict that will shake the world is about to be tendered.
This verdict is to be entered at Wilkes-Barre.
ON TO WILKES-BARRE.
When the first news of the Act of Annihilation reaches the Independence Party’s Headquarters, Trueman is out on an important mission, a conference with the American Mothers’ League for the Abolition of Child Labor. This League, it is believed, can influence scores of thousands of voters.
A telephone call from Benson brings Trueman back to the headquarters. On the way down town he hears loud cries in the street.
“Get y’er Extra! All about the big murders!” the newsboys are calling in front of the headquarters. Trueman buys a paper. He reads about the murder in Central Park. “This is an unfortunate occurrence,” he says, half aloud. “The people will put more credence in the assertions of the Magnates, that there are anarchists working to disrupt the Government.”