So they gathered, until about thirty were present, and then the meeting speedily got down to business. It was evident, said Grady, that the authorities had deliberately framed-up the dynamite conspiracy, in order to have an excuse for wiping out the I. W. W. organization; they had closed the hall, and confiscated everything, typewriters and office furniture and books—including a book on Sabotage which they had turned over to the editor of the “Evening Times”! There was a hiss of anger at this. Also, they had taken to interfering with the mail of the organization; the I. W. W. were having to get out their literature by express. They were fighting for their existence, and they must find some way of getting the truth to people. If anybody had any suggestions to make, now was the time.
There came one suggestion after another; and meantime Peter sat as if his chair were full of pins. Why didn’t they come—the younger members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association—and do what they were going to do without any further delay? Did they expect Peter to sit there all night, trembling with alarm—and he not having any dinner besides?
Suddenly Peter gave a jump. Outside came a yell, and Donald Gordon, who was making a speech, stopped suddenly, and the members of the company stared at one another, and some sprang to their feet. There were more yells, rising to screams, and some of the company made for the front doors, and some for the back doors, and yet others for the windows and the staircase. Peter wasted no time, but dived into the clothes closet in the hallway back of the living-room, and got into the farthest corner of this closet, and pulled some of the clothes on top of him; and then, to make him safer yet, came several other people piling on top of him.
From his place of refuge he listened to the confusion that reigned. The place was a bedlam of women’s shrieks, and the curses of fighting men, and the crash of overturning furniture, and of clubs and monkey-wrenches on human heads. The younger members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association had come in sufficient force to make sure of their purpose. There were enough to crowd the room full, and to pack all the doorways, and two or three to guard each window, and a flying squadron to keep watch for anybody who jumped from the roof or tried to hide in the trees of the garden.
Peter cowered, and listened to the furious uproar, and presently he heard the cries of those on top of him, and realized that they were being pulled off and clubbed; he felt hands reach down and grab him, and he cringed and cried in terror; but nothing happened to him, and presently he glanced up and he saw a man wearing a black mask, but easily to be recognized as McGivney. Never in all his life had Peter been gladder to see a human face than he was to see that masked face of a rat! McGivney had a club in his hand, and was dealing ferocious blows to the clothes heaped around Peter. Behind McGivney were Hammett and Cummings, covering the proceedings, and now and then carefully putting in a blow of their own.