Maraton passed his arm through his companion’s.
“It is not sheathed,” he declared, “nor while I have life will it be sheathed. If I have chosen the quieter methods, it is because for the present I have come to believe that they are the best. Six hundred thousand people in Lancashire are going to start life next Monday with an increase of between fifteen and twenty per cent to their weekly wage. Isn’t that something to the good? And then, in a few weeks, every forge and furnace in Sheffield will be cold until the men’s demands are granted there. And when that is over, we go for every industry, one by one, throughout the country. Before a year is past, I reckon that many millions will have passed from the pockets of the middle classes into the pockets of the labouring man. I am going to set that stream running faster and faster, and then I am going to begin all over again. With prosperity, the labouring classes will gain strength. You will have more time for thought, for education, for self-knowledge. And as they gain strength, once more we raise our hands. Do they seem slow to you, our methods, David Ross? Believe me, they did to me. Yet in my heart I know that I have chosen the right.”
The man drew a little sigh. There may have been disappointment mingled with it, yet there was a certain amount of relief.
“I was afraid for you, Maraton,” he said. “I thought of those others when they stumbled upon the easy ways, and I was afraid. With you it may be different. Hold on your way, then. It is not for me to criticise. But if you slacken, if your hand droops, then I shall come again.”
He turned abruptly away and disappeared, walking with quick, shambling footsteps. Maraton looked after him thoughtfully for several moments, then he continued on his way homewards.
The last words had been spoken, the suspense of a few hours was at an end. Maraton was on his way back to London, a duly accredited Member of Parliament for the eastern division of Nottingham. From his place in the railway carriage he fancied that he could hear even now the roar of voices, feel the thrill of emotion with which he had waited for the result. An Independent Member, even when backed as Maraton had been backed, is never in a wholly safe position. On the whole, he had done well. He had increased the majority of four hundred to a majority of seven hundred. And this, too, in the face of unexpected difficulties. At the last minute a surprise had been sprung upon the constituency. A Labour candidate had entered the field. Maraton’s telegram to Peter Dale had produced no reply. The man, if not officially recognised, was at least not officially discouraged. His intervention had been useless, however. Maraton had carried the working men with him. In a sense it was an election on the strangest issues which had ever been fought. Many of the