THE SPY’S STORY
“Andrews,” said the Prince, “tell these gentlemen what you have found out about the extent of this organization and the personality of its leaders?”
“My lord,” replied the man, “I can speak only by hearsay—from whispers which I have heard in a thousand places, and by piecing together scraps of information which I have gathered in a great many ways. I do not yet speak positively. After to-morrow night I hope to be able to tell you everything.”
“I understand the difficulties you have to contend with,” replied the Prince; “and these gentlemen will not hold you to a strict accountability for the correctness of what you have gathered in that way.”
“You can have no idea,” said Andrews, “of the difficulty of obtaining information. It is a terrible organization. I do not think that anything like it has every existed before on the earth. One year ago there were fifteen of us engaged in this work; I am the only one left alive to-night.”
His face grew paler as he spoke, and there was a visible start and sensation about the council board.
“This organization,” he continued, “is called ’The Brotherhood of Destruction.’ It extends all over Europe and America, and numbers, I am told, one hundred million members.”
“Can that be possible?” asked one gentleman, in astonishment.
“I believe it to be true,” said Andrews, solemnly. “Nearly every workman of good character and sober habits in New York belongs to it; and so it is in all our great cities; while the blacks of the South are members of it to a man. Their former masters have kept them in a state of savagery, instead of civilizing and elevating them; and the result is they are as barbarous and bloodthirsty as their ancestors were when brought from Africa, and fit subjects for such a terrible organization.”
“What has caused such a vast movement?” asked another gentleman.
“The universal misery and wretchedness of the working classes, in the cities, on the farms—everywhere,” replied Andrews.
“Are they armed?” asked another of the Council.
“It is claimed,” said Andrews, “that every one of the hundred millions possesses a magazine rifle of the most improved pattern, with abundance of fixed ammunition.”
“I fear, my good man,” said another member of the Council, with a sneer, “that you have been frightened by some old woman’s tales. Where could these men buy such weapons? What would they buy them with? Where would they hide them? Our armories and manufacturers are forbidden by law to sell firearms, unless under special permit, signed by one of our trusty officers. The value of those guns would in itself be a vast sum, far beyond the means of those miserable wretches. And our police are constantly scouring the cities and the country for weapons, and they report that the people possess none, except a few old-fashioned, worthless fowling-pieces, that have come down from father to son.”