The Bread-winners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 316 pages of information about The Bread-winners.
the crowds gradually increased in the streets and public places; the strike, if it promised nothing worse, was taking the dimensions of a great, sad, anxious holiday.  There was not the slightest intention on the part of the authorities to interfere with it, and to do them justice, it is hard to see what they could have done, with the means at their disposal.  The Mayor, therefore, welcomed Farnham with great cordiality, made him a captain of police, for special duty, on the spot, and enrolled his list of recruits of the night before as members of the police force of the city, expressly providing that their employment should cost the city nothing, now or hereafter.

Farnham again made his rounds of the city, but found nothing especially noteworthy or threatening.  The wide town, in spite of the large crowds in the streets, had a deserted look.  A good many places of business were closed.  There was little traffic of vehicles.  The whistle of the locomotives and the rush of trains—­sounds which had grown so familiar in that great railroad centre that the ear ceased to be affected by them—­being suddenly shut off, the silence which came in their place was startling to the sense.  The voices of the striking employees, who retained possession of the Union Passenger Depot, resounded strangely through the vast building, which was usually a babel of shrill and strident sounds.

On the whole, the feature which most struck him in this violent and unnatural state of things was the singular good-nature of almost all classes.  The mass of the workingmen made no threats; the greater number of employers made no recriminations.  All hoped for an arrangement, though no one could say how it was to come.  The day passed away in fruitless parleys, and at night the fever naturally rose, as is the way of fevers.

When nightfall came, the crowd had become so great, in the public square that Farnham thought it might be better not to march his improvised policemen in a body up-town.  He therefore dispatched orders to Kendall to send them up with their arms, singly or by twos and threes, to his house.  By eight o’clock they were all there, and he passed an hour or so in putting them through a rude form of drill and giving them the instructions which he had prepared during the day.  His intention was to keep them together on his own place during the early part of the night, and if, toward midnight, all seemed quiet, to scatter them as a patrol about the neighborhood; in case of serious disturbance anywhere else, to be ready to take part in restoring order.

About nine o’clock a man was seen coming rapidly from the house to the rear garden, where Farnham and his company were.  The men were dispersed about the place; some on the garden seats, some lying on the grass in the clear moonlight.  Farnham was a little apart, talking with Kendall and Grosshammer.  He started up to meet the intruder; it was Mr. Temple.

“What’s all this?” said Temple.

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The Bread-winners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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