Within thirty days over four thousand employees, mostly new men, were at work in the steel mills. Policemen and detectives, however, were still kept on duty. Colonel Harris was frequently congratulated on his second triumph, and orders for steel rails were again being rapidly filled.
Most of the strike leaders left the city, some threatening dire revenge. Many of the employees, who had lost their situations, were already searching for work elsewhere. All who were behind in their payments of rents due the company, were served with notices of evictment, as the tenements were needed for the new employees. Wives and children were crying for bread. In sixty days labor had lost by the strike over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and capital even more.
* * * * *
It was in August. The moon had set beyond the blue lake, and the myriad lights of heaven were hung out, as George and Gertrude alighted from their carriage in front of Colonel Harris’s residence. They had been to the Grand Opera House, where they had witnessed Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” beautifully played by Julia Marlowe and her company. Between the acts, George and Gertrude talked much of the strike, of labor troubles in general, and earnestly discussed the possible remedies.
Reuben Harris, who had awaited their return, hearing the carriage drive up, extended a cordial welcome. His hand was on the knob of the front door, which stood half open, when the sky above the steel mills suddenly became illuminated and deafening reports of explosions followed. The door, held by Harris, was slammed by the concussion against the wall, the glass in the windows rattled on the floor, the ground trembled, Harris seized George’s arm for support, and Gertrude’s face was blanched with fear. Fire and smoke in great volumes were now seen rising above the steel plant.
George ran to the telephone, but before he could shout “Exchange,” a call came for Colonel Harris from his night superintendent, who announced that the engines and batteries of boilers had been blown up, and that all the mills were on fire. The chief of police telephoned that he had sent one hundred more police to the mills; the chief of the fire department telephoned that ten steamers had been dispatched. George dropped the telephone, kissed Gertrude, and on the back of her Kentucky saddle horse flew into the darkness to direct matters at the mills as best he could.
The next morning’s Dispatch contained two full pages, headed,
“The Deadly Dynamite!
Frightful Loss of Life,
Destruction of Property
The Harrisville Iron & Steel Plant.
“One hundred employees were killed outright, and hundreds more were wounded. All the mills were either burned or wrecked. Many women and children were also injured. Five hundred tenement houses were damaged, and the windows of most of the buildings within a half mile of the mills were badly broken.”
Next morning the citizens of Harrisville were wild with excitement. Ringing editorials appeared in all the morning and evening journals declaring that “Lawlessness is anarchy,” and that “Law and order must prevail.”