Late in the afternoon Jimmie was witness of an exciting incident. In one of the shops a number of the men had persisted in returning to work, and an immense throng of strikers had gathered to wait for them. They were afraid to come out, but stayed in the building after the quitting-whistle, while those outside jeered and hooted and the bosses telephoned frantically for aid. The greater part of the Leesville police-force was on hand, and in addition, the company had its own guards and private detectives. But they were needed all over the place. You saw them at the various entrances, menacing, but not quite so sure of themselves as usual; their hands had a tendency to slip back to the bulge on their right hips.
Jimmie and another fellow had got themselves an empty box and were standing on it, leaning against the wall of the building and shouting “Ya! Ya!” at every “scab” head that showed itself. They saw an automobile come in at the gate, its horn honking savagely, causing the crowd to leap to one side or the other. The automobile was packed with men, sitting on one another’s knees, or hanging to the running-boards outside. There came a second car, loaded in the same fashion. They were guards, sent all the way from Hubbardtown; for of course the Hubbard Engine Company would help out its rivals in an emergency such as this. That was the solidarity of capitalism, concerning which the Socialists never wearied of preaching.
The men leaped from the cars, and spread themselves fanwise in front of the door. They had nightsticks in their hands, and grim resolution in their faces; they cried, “Stand back! Stand back!” The crowd hooted, but gave slightly, and a few minutes later the doors of the building opened, and the first of the timid workers emerged. There was a howl, and then from somewhere in the throng a stone was thrown. “Arrest that man!” shouted a voice, and Jimmie’s attention was attracted to the owner of this voice—a young man who had arrived in the first automobile, and was now standing up in the seat, from which position he could dominate the throng. “Arrest that man!” he shouted again, pointing his finger; and three of the guards leaped into the crowd at the spot indicated. The man who had thrown the missile started to run, but he could not go fast in the crowd, and in a moment, as it seemed, the guards had him by the collar. He tried to jerk away, and they struck him over the head, and laid about them to keep the rest of the throng at bay. “Take him inside!” the young man in the car kept shouting. And one of the guards twisted his hand in the collar of the wretched stone-thrower, until he grew purple in the face, and so half-dragged and half-ran him into the building.
The young man in the car turned toward the crowd which was blocking the way to the exit. “Get those men out of the way!” he yelled to the guards. “Drive them along—God damn them, they’ve got no business in here.” And so on, with a string of dynamic profanity, which stung both guards and policemen into action, and made them ply their clubs upon the crowd.