They dispersed a band of miners who were on the highway, armed, according to the sheriff’s version, “with sticks,” and bent on creating trouble in Harleigh.
Did it matter that the “sticks” were flag staffs on which were displayed the White Flag of truce, and the Emblem of Liberty?
A stand for conscience sake.
News of the massacre on the highway can not be suppressed. A wave of indignation sweeps over the country. Newspapers, clergymen, statesmen, ordinary citizens are of one opinion, that the sheriff and his deputies should be made to suffer for their dastardly acts. The result of the agitation is a call for trial for a case of murder. The Grand Jury of Luzerne County find an indictment against Sheriff Marlin and Captain Grout. These men are placed on trial.
Gorman Purdy at first is highly elated over the result of the sheriff’s summary action against the miners. “It has taught the miners a good lesson,” he asserts openly.
The morning after the Grand Jury returns its indictment, Purdy enters Harvey Trueman’s office.
The relationship between Purdy and Trueman is no longer strained. In three months time Harvey will marry Ethel. He is to live at the Purdy mansion until his own house can be built.
“You have read the papers this morning?” Purdy asks.
“Yes. It begins to look serious for the sheriff and Grout. I understand that they are to be imprisoned to-day.”
“Now I want to have a talk with you about defending them.”
“Defending them!” exclaims Trueman. “You want me to defend them?”
“It was in our interests that they acted,” says Purdy, “and the least we can do is to defend them.”
“It was not in my interests, nor was it at my suggestion that the Coal and Iron Police were sent to Hazleton. You must remember that I deprecated that step.”
“Well, we won’t go over that matter anew, Harvey; the defense of the Sheriff and Captain Grout is essential to the interests of the Paradise Coal Company. You are the chief counsel of the Company, and I look to you to secure their acquittal.”
“But you cannot want me to defend two men who are guilty of cold blooded murder,” protests Trueman. “I am the last man in the world to ignore the sanctity of the law. When I see the highest law of the land trodden under foot by an ignorant and arrogant sheriff, I wish to see the law enforced against him as it should be against the commonest offender.”
“It’s all very well to have high ideals of law and justice,” Purdy observes, with a cynical smile, “but you cannot be guided by them when a commercial interest is involved. The conviction of the sheriff would lay us open to the violence of the mob.”
“You can find a more capable man than I to defend the prisoners.”
“There is no one who is as familiar with the mining life as you are; I have thought the matter over carefully before broaching it to you. There is no way out of it, Harvey, you must take the case in hand. It is not the company’s request. I make it personal. I want you to do your best to get these men off.”