As Carton hung up the receiver he turned to us with a look of great satisfaction.
“Dopey Jack has just been arrested,” he announced. “He has shut up like an oyster, but we think we can at least hold him for a few days this time until we sift down some of these clues.”
THE SUFFRAGETTE SECRETARY
Carton took us directly to the campaign headquarters of the Reform League, where his fight for political life was being conducted.
We found the offices in the tower of a skyscraper, whence was pouring forth a torrent of appeal to the people, in printed and oral form of every kind, urging them to stand shoulder to shoulder for good government and vote the “ring” out of power.
There seemed to me to be a different tone to the place from that which I had ordinarily associated with political headquarters in previous campaigns. There was a notable absence of the old-fashioned politicians and of the air of intrigue laden with tobacco.
Rather, there was an air of earnestness and efficiency, which was decidedly encouraging and hopeful. It seemed to speak of a new era in politics when things were to be done in the open instead of at secret meetings and scandalous dinners, as Dorgan did them at Gastron’s.
Maps of the city were hanging on the walls, some stuck full of various coloured pins, denoting the condition of the canvass. Other maps of the city in colours, divided into all sorts of districts, told how fared the battle in the various strongholds of Boss Dorgan and Sub-boss Murtha.
Huge systems of card indexes, loose leaf devices, labour-saving appliances for getting out a vast amount of campaign “literature” in a hurry; in short, a perfect system, such as a great, well-managed business might have been proud of, were in evidence everywhere one looked.
Work was going ahead in every department under high pressure, for the campaign, which had been more than usually heated, was now drawing to a close. Indeed, it would have taken no great astuteness, even without one’s being told, to deduce merely from the surroundings that the people here were engaged in the annual struggle of seeking the votes of their fellow-citizens for reform and were nearly worn out by the arduous endeavour.
It had been, as I have said, the bitterest campaign in years. Formerly the reformers had been of the “silk-stocking” type, but now a new and younger generation was coming upon the stage, a generation which had been trained to achieve results, ambitious to attain what in former years had been considered impossible. The Reform League was making a stiff campaign and the System was, by the same token, more frightened than ever before.
Carton was fortunate in having shaken off the thralldom of the old bosses even before the popular uprising against them had assumed such proportions as to warrant anyone in taking his political life in his hands by defying the powers that ruled behind the scenes. In fact, the Reform League itself owed its existence to a fortunate conjunction of both moral and economic conditions which demanded progress.