Then finally when sufficiently developed, he gathered all the threads together, and in a great burst of poetic eloquence and fiery fervor he swept along like a tornado in a grand burst of superb oratory, his eyes rolling and flashing, his hands and head poised into beautifully effective gesture, and appealed to them in great rolling, fiery sentences that completely swept the conference like a whirlwind, and sat down amid a great burst of applause which broke with splendid spontaneity from the assembled delegates, and the winning golden smile upon his face which Robert’s companion had described earlier in the day.
Robert could hardly analyze his feelings. He felt he did not know whether to admire or condemn, but all the time he felt a slow rising indignation within him, and that the Conference was being swung away from what they had met to discuss. Perhaps it was his companions’ conversation that did it. He could not tell; but unable to contain himself longer his impulsive nature getting the upper hand, he bounced to his feet, pale and excited, though trying hard to curb and control himself, and in a low tense voice, which at first halted a little, electrified the gathering by a speech wrung from his very soul.
“Mr. Chairman,” he began, in this unexpected incident, “I have listened very attentively to the speeches just delivered by yourself and the other honorable gentlemen.”
Here some of the other delegates intervened to tell him that he was not expected to speak, but the Prime Minister, for some reason unknown, told him to go on and so he proceeded.
Then Robert proceeded to pour out his soul, stating the miners’ grievances and their rights as men. How they were always put off with promises, and defeated in dialectics and the game of wits. As he spoke he felt the assembly gradually thaw, then become liquid, finally it seemed to join the torrent of his eloquence, and sweep on, blotting out all resistance.
When at last he sat down a wild burst of applause rent the air, as he sat down pale and excited; but glad that he had got the chance at last of speaking what he felt to the enemies of his class.
For fully five minutes the delegates went wild in their cheering and applause. Again and again it broke out afresh, when it had spent itself a little, and seemed to be dying down, but the memory of it always stirred them to fresh outbursts until at last, taking advantage of a lull, the Prime Minister suggested that he and his colleagues would prefer that the conference should stand adjourned till the next day, and this was agreed to by the delegates, who were not averse to the holiday.
Congratulations were showered upon Robert from all sides. Even men who differed from him on most things grasped his hand and shook it, and told him how proud they were of his little speech.
Robert heard and saw all their pleased enjoyment but was vaguely troubled in his heart, wondering how Smillie would have taken it, and this pained him more than the pleasant things the other delegates said to him.