Madame Cleaver laid the matter very plainly before her two hundred and forty-odd girls. She had observed that the Christmas problem had a tendency to make some of the students of her school sympathize with Old Scrooge. If Christmas wasn’t a humbug it could very easily be made a nuisance.
Madame Cleaver agreed with them in this respect. She told them so. Furthermore, she added:
“I don’t wish you to understand that there is anything compulsory in the giving of presents on such occasions. One of the dangers of this sort of thing is that it is likely to become a perfunctory affair with thousands taking part because they feel they have to. Also Christmas is exploited by many people. Their sympathy for the good-fellowship of the occasion is measured largely by the dollars and cents that it pours into their coffers.
“You should see all these drawbacks and then decide for yourselves whether the advantages of Christmas overbalance the drawbacks. For my part I believe that they do and I enjoy the day and the season. But don’t take my word for it. Decide for yourselves.”
The result was that everybody at the Institute got busy several weeks before the holiday season, and the manner in which the products of girl ingenuity began to pile up must have been satisfying indeed to the head of the school. But the work was not all done when the Camp Fire arrived at Hollyhill, most of the girls still having enough to do to keep them busy almost up to Christmas eve.
Mr. Stanlock advised the girls not to leave the house under any consideration after night, and engaged three detectives, who were given instructions to follow and protect any of Marion’s guests who might desire to go shopping or make other journeys about the city in the day time. Automobiles, with drivers, were within ready call for these men at any time. It was understood, also, that no journeys were to be made into the section of the city inhabited by the miners and their families.
Thus far the strike had not been attended by violence of any sort or the destruction of property. The men had simply ceased to work and had submitted their demands to the president of the company. The latter realized at once that the employees were being led by an unusual type of labor agitators, who might be expected to employ unusual methods to gain their ends. The man who appeared to be the leader was as unusual in appearance as he was in methods pursued. He was about thirty-five years old, but looked five or eight years younger. He had first been employed in the mines about six months before as an operator of an electric chain-cutter machine, but he had not long been connected with the work before his influence among the men began to be felt. To the casual observer, he was a quiet sharp-eyed man, who seldom spoke, under ordinary circumstances, unless he was first spoken to. But he got in communication with all his fellow workers in some mysterious manner