“As to that,” Farnham said with a laugh, “you have your own house and stables to look after, which will probably be as much as you can manage.”
“No,” said Temple, earnestly, “that ain’t the case. I will have to explain to you”—and a positive blush came to his ruddy face. “They won’t touch me or my property. They say a man who uses such good horses and such bad language as I do—that’s just what they say—is one of them, and sha’n’t be racketed. I ain’t very proud of my popularity, but I am willing to profit by it and I’ll come around and see you if anything more turns up. Now, we’ll go and give Phrasy Dallas that glass of champagne.”
A HOLIDAY NOT IN THE CALENDAR.
The next morning while Farnham was at breakfast he received a note from Mr. Temple in these words:
“Strikes will begin to-day, but will not be general. There will be no disturbance, I think. They don’t seem very gritty.”
After breakfast he walked down to the City Hall. On every street corner he saw little groups of men in rather listless conversation. He met an acquaintance crossing the street.
“Have you heard the news?” The man’s face was flushed with pleasure at having something to tell—“The firemen and stokers have all struck, and run their engines into the round-house at Riverley, five miles out. There won’t be a train leave or come in for the present.”
“Is that all?”
“No, that ain’t a start. The Model Oil men have struck, and are all over the North End, shutting up the other shops. They say there won’t be a lick of work done in town the rest of the week.”
“Except what Satan finds for idle hands,” Farnham suggested, and hastened his steps a little to the municipal buildings.
He found the chief of police in his office, suffering from nervousness and a sense of importance. He began by reminding him of the occurrence of the week before in the wood. The chief waited with an absent expression for the story to end, and then said, “My dear sir, I cannot pay any attention to such little matters with anarchy threatening our city. I must protect life and property, sir—life and property.”
“Very well,” rejoined Farnham, “I am informed that life and property are threatened in my own neighborhood. Can you detail a few policemen to patrol Algonquin Avenue, in case of a serious disturbance?”
“I can’t tell you, my dear sir; I will do the best I can by all sections. Why, man,” he cried, in a voice which suddenly grew a shrill falsetto in his agitation, “I tell you I haven’t a policeman for every ten miles of street in this town. I can’t spare but two for my own house!”
Farnham saw the case was hopeless, and went to the office of the mayor. That official had assumed an attitude expressive of dignified and dauntless energy. He sat in a chair tilted back on its hind feet; the boots of the municipal authority were on a desk covered with official papers; a long cigar adorned his eloquent lips; a beaver hat shaded his eyes.