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Derry Irvine, Baron Irvine of Lairg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about From the Bottom Up.

As my term of service drew to a close, the workingmen who had joined the church during my incumbency got together.  They were in a majority.  A church meeting was called, and a motion passed to call a council of the other churches.  The purpose of the call was to advise the church how to proceed to force its own Society to pay the pastor’s salary.  A leading minister drew up the call.  All ministers knew the record of the church:  only one minister in its history had left of his own accord.  The council met.  It was composed of ministers and laymen of other churches.  Among the laymen was the president of the telephone company.  I had publicly criticized the company for disfiguring the streets with ugly cross-bars that looked like gibbets.  The president’s opposition to me was well known.

The council, under such influence, struck several technical snags, and adjourned.  The president of the council wrote me later that the president of the telephone company had advised him not to recall the council, and he had come to that decision.

Concerning the defrauding me of my salary, the best people in that church to this day, when speaking of it, say:  “Well, we didn’t owe it to him, legally.”  The Society spent the money in fitting up the parsonage for my successor.

CHAPTER XVII

I JOIN A LABOUR UNION AND HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH STRIKES

After the public hearing on the water contract, several labour unions elected me to honorary membership.  The carriage makers’ union had so elected me, and a night was set for my initiation.  It was a wild winter’s night—­the streets of the city were covered with snow, and the thermometer registered five above zero.  Few hard-working men would come out a night like this.  Who would expect them?  I was rather glad of the inclement weather.  I was weary and tired, and hoped the thing would soon be over.  I entered an old office building on Orange street and climbed to the top floor.

A man met me as I reached the top of the stairs and led me to a door, where certain formalities were performed.  There was an eye-hole in the door, through which men watched each other.  There were whispered words in an unknown tongue, then a long pause.  Why all this secrecy?  What means this panther-like vigilance?  It is a time of war.  This body of craftsmen is an organized regiment.  The battle is for bread.  Before the door is opened there is a noise like the sound of far-off thunder.  What can it mean?  To what mysterious doings am I to become an eye-witness to-night?  I became a little anxious, perhaps a little nervous, and regretful.  An eye appeared at the hole in the door; there is a whispered conference and I find myself between two men marching up the centre of the hall to the desk of the presiding officer.

My entrance was the signal of an outburst of applause such as I had seldom heard before.  The hall was small, and it was a mystery how six hundred men could be packed into it.  But there they were, solidly packed on both sides of the hall, and as I marched through them they seemed to shake the whole building with their cheers.  The chairman rapped for order, and made a short speech.

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