“If—you may come to see me again if you want to.”
He took her extended hand. “I may?” he said, almost incredulously. “And will you smile for me?”
“Once, each time you come,” she said.
Day after day and week after week the strike dragged on. Daily strength departed from it and entered into Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. The men had embarked upon it with enthusiasm, many of them with fanatic determination; but with the advent in their home of privation, of hunger, their zeal was transmuted into heavy determination, lifeless stubbornness. Idleness hung heavily on their hands, and small coins that should have passed over the baker’s counter clinked upon mahogany bars.
Dulac labored, exhorted, prayed with them. It was his personality, his individual powers over the minds and hearts of men, that kept the strike alive. The weight rested upon his shoulders alone, but he did not bend under it. He would not admit the hopelessness of the contest—and he fought on. At the end of a month he was still able to fire his audiences with sincere, if theatrical, oratory; he could still play upon them and be certain of a response. At the end of two months he—even he—was forced to admit that they listened with stolidness, with apathy. They were falling away from him; but he fought on. He would not admit defeat, would not, even in his most secret thoughts, look forward to inevitable failure.
Every man that deserted was an added atom of strength to Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. Every hungry baby, every ailing wife, every empty dinner table fought for the company and against Dulac. Rioting ended. It requires more than hopeless apathy to create a riot; there must be fervor, determination, enthusiasm. Daily Dulac’s ranks were thinned by men who slunk to the company’s employment office and begged to be reinstated. ... The back of the strike was broken.
Bonbright Foote saw how his company crushed the strike; how, ruthlessly, with machinelike certainty and lack of heart, it went ahead undeviatingly, careless of obstructions, indifferent to human beings in its path. There was something Prussian about it; something that recalled to him Bismarck and Moltke and 1870 with the exact, soulless mechanical perfection of the systematic trampling of the France of Napoleon III. ... And, just as the Bonbright Foote tradition crunched the strike to pieces so it was crunching and macerating his own individuality until it would be a formless mass ready for the mold.
The will should be a straight steel rod urged in one undeviating direction by heart and mind. No day passed upon which the rod of Bonbright’s will was not bent, was not twisted to make it follow the direction of some other will stronger than his—the direction of the accumulated wills of all the Bonbright Footes who had built up the family tradition.