“It strikes me,” he said, “that you had all better go back to the fair-ground, while I look into things. There’s an item or two on the program Mr. Carson wants to work off before supper.”
He had taken the right tone, and when they began to disperse he rode on to the Sachem.
“I want your account of this disturbance,” he said to the proprietor.
Beamish related what had taken place and the constable looked surprised.
“Am I to understand that you’re afraid to open your bar because of the women?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” replied Beamish, coolly; “that’s about the size of it. You’d have been scared, too; they’re a mighty determined crowd.”
“Nobody except the authorities has any right to interfere.”
“That’s my opinion, but what am I to do about it? Suppose these women come back, will you stand at the door and keep them out? They’re capable of mobbing you.”
The constable looked dubious, and Beamish continued:
“Besides, I’ve given them my word I’d shut up—they made me.”
“Then how do you expect us to help?”
“So far as I can see, you can only report the matter to your bosses.”
The constable felt inclined to agree with this. He asked for the names of the ladies, and Beamish hesitated.
“I was too taken up with Mrs. Nelson to notice the rest, and the place was rather dark. Anyway, about half of them were foolish girls with notions; I don’t want to drag them in.”
“You blame somebody for setting them on?”
“I do,” said Beamish, without a trace of rancor. “There’s Mrs. Nelson—everybody knows she’s a crank—and Hardie, the Methodist minister. They’ve been trying to make trouble for the hotels for quite a while.”
The constable made a note of this and presently called on Hardie, who had just returned to town after visiting a sick farmer. The former listened to what the minister had to say, but was not much impressed. Beamish had cleverly made him his partizan.
After supper George and Grant called on Hardie and found him looking distressed.
“I’m much afraid that the result of three or four months’ earnest work has been destroyed this afternoon,” he said. “Our allies have stirred up popular prejudice against us. We’ll meet with opposition whichever way we turn.”
“There’s something in that,” Grant agreed. “Mrs. Nelson’s a lady who would wreck any cause. Still, she has closed the hotels.”
“For one night. As a result of this afternoon’s work, they will probably be kept open altogether. You can imagine how the authorities will receive any representations we can make, after our being implicated in this disturbance.”
“Have you thought of disowning the ladies? You could do so—you had no hand in the thing.”
The young clergyman flushed hotly.
“I’d have stopped this rashness, if I’d heard of it; but, after all, I’m the real instigator, since I started the campaign. I’m willing to face my share of the blame.”