Trueman befriended O’Connor once in the matter of rent.
“No. He was not naturalized!”
“His blood be on old Purdy’s head, then!” says O’Connor. “The mine boss has said he will put her out in the street. She’s already months back in her rent.”
Trueman passes on as if he has not heard O’Connor,
who is at the Court
House as one of the witnesses.
As the young lawyer pushes his way into the court room his quick glance catches the bent form of the woman in the front seat, clad in the cheapest of black, and the open-eyed boy at her side.
The proceedings are short. Trueman sits down at one of the tables inside the bar enclosure and hastily dashes off an affidavit containing the facts he has discovered, and a formal motion to dismiss. The Judge hears the motion, which is opposed to in a half-hearted way by the lawyer on the other side. The suit is dismissed.
When she is finally made to understand what has happened, the widow burst into tears. The boy, at sight of his mother’s distress, sets up a wailing that echoes through the whole Court House. In the hallway, the bunch of miners from Shaft Fifteen gather about the weeping woman as she comes out. One more instance of the heartlessness of the law which is made by the men elected by the Coal Barons, is brought home to them.
To these ignorant men, to whom the first principle of self-preservation is that limit of erudition set by the coal barons themselves, whose first and last lessons in life are to read correctly the checks of the time-keeper and the figures on the “company store” checks which they receive in payment for their work, what difference does it make that the dead miner was a Magyar—not a full fledged American?
He lost his life down in a coal mine where he went to dig coal that some American, way off beyond the hills, might toast his toes on a winter’s evening. His life’s work was to help keep the American public warm. In return, all he asked was very poor food, a straw bed in a hovel, and a crust for his wife should he be killed in the undertaking.
There is much grumbling already on account of the company stores. The walking delegate of the miners’ union has ordered a strike in Carbon County, adjoining, unless the Paradise Company shall reduce the price of blasting powder sold to the miners, fifteen cents a pound.
The miners leave the Court House grumbling. Soothing the Magyar’s widow in their rough way, they form a grim procession and trudge back over the dusty road to the breaker and the row of hovels on either side of it.
An hour afterward Trueman is seated in his office, in the Commerce building, on the public square of Wilkes-Barre, in the middle of which is situated the Court House. On the same floor with his office are the general offices of the Paradise Coal Company.