The Bread-winners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Bread-winners.

“I want to know,” growled Bowersox, with sullen obstinacy, “what’s to be done.”

“Put your views in the form of a motion, that they may be properly considered by the meetin’,” said the imperturbable president.

“Well, I motion that we stop talkin’ and commence doin’——­”

“Do you suggest that a committee be appointed for that purpose?”

“Yes, anything.”  And the chairman appointed Bowersox, Bott, and Folgum such a committee.

All breathed more freely and felt as if something practical and energetic had been accomplished.  The committee would, of course, never meet nor report, but the colloquy and the prompt action taken upon it made every one feel that the evening had been interesting and profitable.  Before they broke up, Sleeny was asked for his initiation fee of two dollars, and all the brethren were dunned for their monthly dues.

“What becomes of this money?” the neophyte bluntly inquired of the hierophant.

“It pays room rent and lights,” said Offitt, with unabashed front, as he returned his greasy wallet to his pocket.  “The rest goes for propagatin’ our ideas, and especially for influencin’ the press.”

Sleeny was a dull man, but he made up his mind on the way home that the question which had so long puzzled him—­how Offitt made his living—­was partly solved.

VI.

TWO MEN SHAKE HANDS.

Sleeny, though a Bread-winner in full standing, was not yet sufficiently impressed with the wrongs of labor to throw down his hammer and saw.  He continued his work upon Farnham’s conservatory, under the direction of Fergus Ferguson, the gardener, with the same instinctive fidelity which had always characterized him.  He had his intervals of right feeling and common sense, when he reflected that Farnham had done him no wrong, and probably intended no wrong to Maud, and that he was not answerable for the ill luck that met him in his wooing, for Maud had refused him before she ever saw Farnham.  But, once in a while, and especially when he was in company with Offitt, an access of jealous fury would come upon him, which found vent in imprecations which were none the less fervid for being slowly and haltingly uttered.  The dark-skinned, unwholesome-looking Bread-winner found a singular delight in tormenting the powerful young fellow.  He felt a spontaneous hatred for him, for many reasons.  His shapely build, his curly blond hair and beard, his frank blue eye, first attracted his envious notice; his steady, contented industry excited in him a desire to pervert a workman whose daily life was a practical argument against the doctrines of socialism, by which Offitt made a part of his precarious living; and after he had met Maud Matchin and had felt, as such natures will, the force of her beauty, his instinctive hate became an active, though secret, hostility.  She had come one evening with Sleeny to a spiritualist

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The Bread-winners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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