Windy McPherson's Son

by Sherwood Anderson

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Book III - Chapter 1

One day when the youth Sam McPherson was new in the city he went on aSunday afternoon to a down-town theatre to hear a sermon. The sermon wasdelivered by a small dark-skinned Boston man, and seemed to the youngMcPherson scholarly and well thought out.

"The greatest man is he whose deeds affect the greatest number of lives,"the speaker had said, and the thought had stuck in Sam's mind. Now walkingalong the street carrying his travelling bag, he remembered the sermon andthe thought and shook his head in doubt.

"What I have done here in this city must have affected thousands oflives," he mused, and felt a quickening of his blood at just letting go ofhis thoughts as he had not dared do since that day when, by breaking hisword to Sue, he had started on his career as a business giant.

He began to think of the quest on which he had started and had keensatisfaction in the thought of what he should do.

"I will begin all over and come up to Truth through work," he toldhimself. "I will leave the money hunger behind me, and if it returns Iwill come back here to Chicago and see my fortune piled up and the menrushing about the banks and the stock exchange and the court they pay tosuch fools and brutes as I have been, and that will cure me."

Into the Illinois Central Station he went, a strange spectacle. A smilecame to his lips as he sat on a bench along the wall between an immigrantfrom Russia and a small plump farmer's wife who held a banana in her handand gave bites of it to a rosy-cheeked babe lying in her arms. He, anAmerican multimillionaire, a man in the midst of his money-making, one whohad realised the American dream, to have sickened at the feast and to havewandered out of a fashionable club with a bag in his hand and a roll ofbills in his pocket and to have come on this strange quest--to seek Truth,to seek God. A few years of the fast greedy living in the city, that hadseemed so splendid to the Iowa boy and to the men and women who had livedin his town, and then a woman had died lonely and in want in that Iowatown, and half across the continent a fat blustering old man had shothimself in a New York hotel, and here he sat.

Leaving his bag in the care of the farmer's wife, he walked across theroom to the ticket window and standing there watched the people withdefinite destinations in mind come up, lay down money, and taking theirtickets go briskly away. He had no fear of being known. Although his nameand his picture had been upon the front pages of Chicago newspapers foryears, he felt so great a change within himself from just the resolutionhe had taken that he had no doubt of passing unnoticed.

A thought struck him. Looking up and down the long room filled with itsstrangely assorted clusters of men and women a sense of the great toilingmasses of people, the labourers, the small merchants, the skilledmechanics, came over him.

"These are the Americans," he began telling himself, "these people withchildren beside them and with hard daily work to be done, and many of themwith stunted or imperfectly developed bodies, not Crofts, not Morrison andI, but these others who toil without hope of luxury and wealth, who makeup the armies in times of war and raise up boys and girls to do the workof the world in their turn."

He fell into the line moving toward the ticket window behind a sturdylooking old man who carried a box of carpenter tools in one hand and a bagin the other, and bought a ticket to the same Illinois town to which theold man was bound.

In the train he sat beside the old man and the two fell into quiet talk-the old man talking of his family. He had a son, married and living in theIllinois town to which he was going, of whom he began boasting. The son,he said, had gone to that town and had prospered there, owning a hotelwhich his wife managed while he worked as a builder.

"Ed," he said, "keeps fifty or sixty men going all summer. He has sent forme to come and take charge of a gang. He knows well enough I will get thework out of them."

From Ed the old man drifted into talk of himself and his life, tellingbare facts with directness and simplicity and making no effort to disguisea slight turn of vanity in his success.

"I have raised seven sons and made them all good workmen and they are alldoing well," he said.

He told of each in detail. One, who had taken to books, was a mechanicalengineer in a manufacturing town in New England. The mother of hischildren had died the year before and of his three daughters two hadmarried mechanics. The third, Sam gathered, had not done well and fromsomething the old man said he thought she had perhaps gone the wrong waythere in Chicago.

To the old man Sam talked of God and of a man's effort to get truth out oflife.

"I have thought of it a lot," he said.

The old man was interested. He looked at Sam and then out at the carwindow and began talking of his own beliefs, the substance of which Samcould not get.

"God is a spirit and lives in the growing corn," said the old man,pointing out the window at the passing fields.

He began talking of churches and of ministers, against whom he was filledwith bitterness.

"They are dodgers. They do not get at things. They are damned dodgers,pretending to be good," he declared.

Sam talked of himself, saying that he was alone in the world and hadmoney. He said that he wanted work in the open air, not for the money itwould bring him, but because his paunch was large and his hand trembled inthe morning.

"I've been drinking," he said, "and I want to work hard day after day sothat my muscles may become firm and sleep come to me at night."

The old man thought that his son could find Sam a place.

"He's a driver--Ed is," he said, laughing, "and he won't pay you much. Eddon't let go of money. He's a tight one."

Night had come when they reached the town where Ed lived, and the threemen walked over a bridge, beneath which roared a waterfall, toward thelong poorly-lighted main street of the town and Ed's hotel. Ed, a young,broad-shouldered man, with a dry cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth,led the way. He had engaged Sam standing in the darkness on the stationplatform, accepting his story without comment.

"I'll let you carry timbers and drive nails," he said, "that will hardenyou up."

On the way over the bridge he talked of the town.

"It's a live place," he said, "we are getting people in here."

"Look at that!" he exclaimed, chewing at the cigar and pointing to thewaterfall that foamed and roared almost under the bridge. "There's a lotof power there and where there's power there will be a city."

At Ed's hotel some twenty men sat about a long low office. They were, forthe most part, middle-aged working men and sat in silence reading andsmoking pipes. At a table pushed against the wall a bald-headed young manwith a scar on his cheek played solitaire with a greasy pack of cards, andin front of him and sitting in a chair tilted against the wall a sullenfaced boy idly watched the game. When the three men came into the officethe boy dropped his chair to the floor and stared at Ed who stared back athim. It was as though a contest of some sort went on between them. A tallneatly-dressed woman, with a brisk manner and pale, inexpressive, hardblue eyes, stood back of a little combined desk and cigar case at the endof the room, and as the three walked toward her she looked from Ed to thesullen-faced boy and then again at Ed. Sam concluded she was a woman benton having her own way. She had that air.

"This is my wife," said Ed, introducing Sam with a wave of his hand andpassing around the end of the desk to stand by her side.

Ed's wife twirled the hotel register about facing Sam, nodded her head,and then, leaning over the desk, bestowed a quick kiss upon the leatherycheek of the old carpenter.

Sam and the old man found a place in chairs along the wall and sat downamong the silent men. The old man pointed to the boy in the chair besidethe card players.

"Their son," he whispered cautiously.

The boy looked at his mother, who in turn looked steadily at him, and gotup from his chair. Back of the desk Ed talked in low tones to his wife.The boy, stopping before Sam and the old man and still looking toward thewoman, put out his hand which the old man took. Then, without speaking,he went past the desk and through a doorway, and began noisily climbinga flight of stairs, followed by his mother. As they climbed they beratedeach other, their voices rising to a high pitch and echoing through theupper part of the house.

Ed, coming across to them, talked to Sam about the assignment of a room,and the men began looking at the stranger; noting his fine clothes, theireyes filled with curiosity.

"Selling something?" asked a large red-haired young man, rolling a quid oftobacco in his mouth.

"No," replied Sam shortly, "going to work for Ed."

The silent men in chairs along the wall dropped their newspapers andstared, and the bald-headed young man at the table sat with open mouth, acard held suspended in the air. Sam had become, for the moment, a centreof interest and the men stirred in their chairs and began to whisper andpoint to him.

A large, watery-eyed man, with florid cheeks, clad in a long overcoat withspots down the front, came in at the door and passed through the roombowing and smiling to the men. Taking Ed by the arm he disappeared into alittle barroom, where Sam could hear him talking in low tones.

After a little while the florid-faced man came and put his head throughthe barroom door into the office.

"Come on, boys," he said, smiling and nodding right and left, "the drinksare on me."

The men got up and filed into the bar, the old man and Sam remainingseated in their chairs. They began talking in undertones.

"I'll start 'em thinking--these men," said the old man.

From his pocket he took a pamphlet and gave it to Sam. It was a crudelywritten attack upon rich men and corporations.

"Some brains in the fellow who wrote that," said the old carpenter,rubbing his hands together and smiling.

Sam did not think so. He sat reading it and listening to the loud,boisterous voices of the men in the barroom. The florid-faced man wasexplaining the details of a proposed town bond issue. Sam gathered thatthe water power in the river was to be developed.

"We want to make this a live town," said the voice of Ed, earnestly.

The old man, leaning over and putting his hand beside his mouth, beganwhispering to Sam.

"I'll bet there is a capitalist deal back of that power scheme," he said.

He nodded his head up and down and smiled knowingly.

"If there is Ed will be in on it," he added. "You can't lose Ed. He's aslick one."

He took the pamphlet from Sam's hand and put it in his pocket.

"I'm a socialist," he explained, "but don't say anything. Ed's against'em."

The men filed back into the room, each with a freshly-lighted cigar in hismouth, and the florid-faced man followed them and went out at the officedoor.

"Well, so long, boys," he shouted heartily.

Ed went silently up the stairs to join the mother and boy, whose voicescould still be heard raised in outbursts of wrath from above as the mentook their former chairs along the wall.

"Well, Bill's sure all right," said the red-haired young man, evidentlyexpressing the opinion of the men in regard to the florid-faced man.

A small bent old man with sunken cheeks got up and walking across the roomleaned against the cigar case.

"Did you ever hear this one?" he asked, looking about.

Obviously no answer could be given and the bent old man launched into avile pointless anecdote of a woman, a miner, and a mule, the crowd givingclose attention and laughing uproariously when he had finished. Thesocialist rubbed his hands together and joined in the applause.

"That was a good one, eh?" he commented, turning to Sam.

Sam, picking up his bag, climbed the stairway as the red-haired young manlaunched into another tale, slightly less vile. In his room to which Ed,meeting him at the top of the stairs, led him, still chewing at theunlighted cigar, he turned out the light and sat on the edge of the bed.He was as homesick as a boy.

"Truth," he muttered, looking through the window to the dimly-lightedstreet. "Do these men seek truth?"

The next day he went to work, wearing a suit of clothes bought from Ed. Heworked with Ed's father, carrying timbers and driving nails as directed byhim. In the gang with him were four men, boarders at Ed's hotel, and fourother men who lived in the town with their families. At the noon hour heasked the old carpenter how the men from the hotel, who did not live inthe town, could vote on the question of the power bonds. The old mangrinned and rubbed his hands together.

"I don't know," he said. "I suppose Ed tends to that. He's a slick one, Edis."

At work, the men who had been so silent in the office of the hotel werealert and wonderfully busy, hurrying here and there at a word from the oldman and sawing and nailing furiously. They seemed bent upon outdoing eachother and when one fell behind they laughed and shouted at him, asking himif he had decided to quit for the day. But though they seemed determinedto outdo him the old man kept ahead of them all, his hammer beating arattling tattoo upon the boards all day. At the noon hour he had giveneach of the men one of the pamphlets from his pocket and on the way backto his hotel in the evening he told Sam that the others had tried to showhim up.

"They wanted to see if I had juice in me," he explained, strutting besideSam with an amusing little swagger of his shoulders.

Sam was sick with fatigue. His hands were blistered, his legs felt weak,and a terrible thirst burned in his throat. All day he had gone grimlyahead, thankful for every physical discomfort, every throb of hisstrained, tired muscles. In his weariness and in his efforts to keep pacewith the others he had forgotten Colonel Tom and Mary Underwood.

All during that month and into the next Sam stayed with the old man'sgang. He ceased thinking, and only worked desperately. An odd feeling ofloyalty and devotion to the old man came over him and he felt that he toomust prove that he had the juice in him. At the hotel he went to bedimmediately after the silent dinner, slept, awoke aching, and went to workagain.

One Sunday one of the men of his gang came to Sam's room and invited himto go with a party of the workers into the country. They went in boats,carrying with them kegs of beer, to a deep ravine clothed on both sides byheavy woods. In the boat with Sam sat the red-haired young man, who wascalled Jake and who talked loudly of the time they would have in thewoods, and boasted that he was the instigator of the trip.

"I thought of it," he said over and over again.

Sam wondered why he had been invited. It was a soft October day and in theravine he sat looking at the trees splashed with colour and breathingdeeply of the air, his whole body relaxed, grateful for the day of rest.Jake came and sat beside him.

"What are you?" he asked bluntly. "We know you are no working man."

Sam told him a half-truth.

"You are right enough about that; I have money enough not to have to work.I used to be a business man. I sold guns. But I have a disease and thedoctors have told me that if I do not work out of doors part of me willdie."

The man from his own gang who had invited him on the trip came up to them,bringing Sam a foaming glass of beer. He shook his head.

"The doctor says it will not do," he explained to the two men.

The red-haired man called Jake began talking.

"We are going to have a fight with Ed," he said. "That's what we came uphere to talk about. We want to know where you stand. We are going to seeif we can't make him pay as well for the work here as men are paid for thesame work in Chicago."

Sam lay back upon the grass.

"All right," he said. "Go ahead. If I can help I will. I'm not so fond ofEd."

The men began talking among themselves. Jake, standing among them, readaloud a list of names among which was the name Sam had written on theregister at Ed's hotel.

"It's a list of the names of men we think will stick together and votetogether on the bond issue," he explained, turning to Sam. "Ed's in thatand we want to use our votes to scare him into giving us what we want.Will you stay with us? You look like a fighter."

Sam nodded and getting up joined the men about the beer kegs. They begantalking of Ed and of the money he had made in the town.

"He's done a lot of town work here and there's been graft in all of it,"explained Jake emphatically. "It's time he was being made to do the rightthing."

While they talked Sam sat watching the men's faces. They did not seem vileto him now as they had seemed that first evening in the hotel office. Hebegan thinking of them silently and alertly at work all day long,surrounded by such influences as Ed and Bill, and the thought sweetenedhis opinion of them.

"Look here," he said, "tell me of this matter. I was a business man beforeI came here and I may be able to help you fellows get what you want."

Getting up, Jake took Sam's arm and they walked down the ravine, Jakeexplaining the situation in the town.

"The game," he said, "is to make the taxpayers pay for a millrace to bebuilt for the development of the water power in the river and then, by atrick, to turn it over to a private company. Bill and Ed are both in thedeal and they are working for a Chicago man named Crofts. He's been uphere at the hotel with Bill talking to Ed. I've figured out what they areup to." Sam sat down upon a log and laughed heartily.

"Crofts, eh?" he exclaimed. "Say, we will fight this thing. If Crofts hasbeen up here you can depend upon it there is some size to the deal. Wewill just smash the whole crooked gang for the good of the town."

"How would you do that?" asked Jake.

Sam sat down on a log and looked at the river flowing past the mouth ofthe ravine.

"Just fight," he said. "Let me show you something."

He took a pencil and slip of paper from his pocket, and, with the voicesof the men about the beer kegs in his ears and the red-haired man peeringover his shoulder, began writing his first political pamphlet. He wroteand erased and changed words and phrases. The pamphlet was a statement offacts as to the value of water power, and was addressed to the taxpayersof the community. He warmed to the subject, saying that a fortune laysleeping in the river, and that the town, by the exercise of a littlediscretion now, could build with that fortune a beautiful city belongingto the people.

"This fortune in the river rightly managed will pay the expenses ofgovernment and give you control of a great source of revenue forever," hewrote. "Build your millrace, but look out for a trick of the politicians.They are trying to steal it. Reject the offer of the Chicago banker namedCrofts. Demand an investigation. A capitalist has been found who will takethe water power bonds at four per cent and back the people in this fightfor a free American city." Across the head of the pamphlet Sam wrote thecaption, "A River Paved With Gold," and handed it to Jake, who read it andwhistled softly.

"Good!" he said. "I will take this and have it printed. It will make Billand Ed sit up."

Sam took a twenty-dollar bill from his pocket and gave it to the man.

"To pay for the printing," he said. "And when we have them licked I am theman who will take the four per cent bonds."

Jake scratched his head. "How much do you suppose the deal is worth toCrofts?"

"A million, or he would not bother," Sam answered.

Jake folded the paper and put it in his pocket.

"This would make Bill and Ed squirm, eh?" he laughed.

Going home down the river the men, filled with beer, sang and shouted asthe boats, guided by Sam and Jake, floated along. The night fell warm andstill and Sam thought he had never seen the sky so filled with stars. Hisbrain was busy with the idea of doing something for the people.

"Perhaps here in this town I shall make a start toward what I am after,"he thought, his heart filled with happiness and the songs of the tipsyworkmen ringing in his ears.

All through the next few weeks there was an air of something astir amongthe men of Sam's gang and about Ed's hotel. During the evening Jake wentamong the men talking in low tones, and once he took a three days'vacation, telling Ed that he did not feel well and spending the time amongthe men employed in the plough works up the river. From time to time hecame to Sam for money.

"For the campaign," he said, winking and hurrying away.

Suddenly a speaker appeared and began talking nightly from a box before adrug store on Main Street, and after dinner the office of Ed's hotel wasdeserted. The man on the box had a blackboard hung on a pole, on which hedrew figures estimating the value of the power in the river, and as hetalked he grew more and more excited, waving his arms and inveighingagainst certain leasing clauses in the bond proposal. He declared himselfa follower of Karl Marx and delighted the old carpenter who danced up anddown in the road and rubbed his hands.

"It will come to something--this will--you'll see," he declared to Sam.

One day Ed appeared, riding in a buggy, at the job where Sam worked, andcalled the old man into the road. He sat pounding one hand upon the otherand talking in a low voice. Sam thought the old man had perhaps beenindiscreet in the distribution of the socialistic pamphlets. He seemednervous, dancing up and down beside the buggy and shaking his head. Thenhurrying back to where the men worked he pointed over his shoulder withhis thumb.

"Ed wants you," he said, and Sam noticed that his voice trembled and hishand shook.

In the buggy Ed and Sam rode in silence. Again Ed chewed at an unlightedcigar.

"I want to talk with you," he had said as Sam climbed into the buggy.

At the hotel the two men got out of the buggy and went into the office.Inside the door Ed, who came behind, sprang forward and pinioned Sam'sarms with his own. He was as powerful as a bear. His wife, the tall womanwith the inexpressive eyes, came running into the room, her face drawnwith hatred. In her hand she carried a broom and with the handle of thisshe struck Sam several swinging blows across the face, accompanying eachblow with a half scream of rage and a volley of vile names. The sullenfaced boy, alive now and with eyes burning with zeal, came running downthe stairs and pushed the woman aside. He struck Sam time after time inthe face with his fist, laughing each time as Sam winced under the blows.

Sam struggled furiously to escape Ed's powerful grasp. It was the firsttime he had ever been beaten and the first time he had faced hopelessdefeat. The wrath within him was so intense that the jolting impact of theblows seemed a secondary matter to the need of escaping Ed's vice-likegrasp.

Suddenly Ed turned and, pushing Sam before him, threw him through theoffice door and into the street. In falling his head struck against ahitching post and he lay stunned. When he partially recovered from thefall Sam got up and walked along the street. His face was swollen andbruised and his nose bled. The street was deserted and the assault uponhim had been unnoticed.

He went to a hotel on Main Street--a more pretentious place than Ed's,near the bridge leading to the station--and as he passed in he saw,through an open door, Jake, the red-haired man, leaning against the barand talking to Bill, the man with the florid face. Sam, paying for a room,went upstairs and to bed.

In the bed, with cold bandages on his bruised face, he tried to get thesituation in hand. Hatred for Ed ran through his veins. His handsclenched, his brain whirled, and the brutal, passionate faces of the womanand the boy danced before his eyes.

"I'll fix them, the brutal bullies," he muttered aloud.

And then the thought of his quest came back to his mind and quieted him.Through the window came the roar of the waterfall, broken by noises of thestreet. As he fell asleep they mingled with his dreams, sounding soft andquiet like the low talk of a family about the fire of an evening.

He was awakened by a noise of pounding on his door. At his call the dooropened and the face of the old carpenter appeared. Sam laughed and sat upin bed. Already the cold bandages had soothed the throbbing of his bruisedface.

"Go away," begged the old man, rubbing his hands together nervously. "Getout of town."

He put his hand to his mouth and talked in a hoarse whisper, looking backover his shoulder through the open door. Sam, getting out of bed, beganfilling his pipe.

"You can't beat Ed, you fellows," added the old man, backing out at thedoor. "He's a slick one, Ed is. You better get out of town."

Sam called a boy and gave him a note to Ed asking for his clothes and forthe bag in his room, and to the boy he gave a large bill, asking him topay anything due. When the boy came back bringing the clothes and the baghe returned the bill unbroken.

"They're scared about something up there," he said, looking at Sam'sbruised face.

Sam dressed carefully and went down into the street. He remembered that hehad never seen a printed copy of the political pamphlet written in theravine and realised that Jake had used it to make money for himself.

"Now I shall try something else," he thought.

It was early evening and crowds of men coming down the railroad track fromthe plough works turned to right and left as they reached Main Street. Samwalked among them, climbing a little hilly side street to a number he hadgot from a clerk at the drug store before which the socialist had talked.He stopped at a little frame house and a moment after knocking was in thepresence of the man who had talked night after night from the box in thestreet. Sam had decided to see what could be done through him. Thesocialist was a short, fat man, with curly grey hair, shiny round cheeks,and black broken teeth. He sat on the edge of his bed and looked as if hehad slept in his clothes. A corncob pipe lay smoking among the covers ofthe bed, and during most of the talk he sat with one shoe held in his handas though about to put it on. About the room in orderly piles lay stackafter stack of paper-covered books. Sam sat down in a chair by the windowand told his mission.

"It is a big thing, this power steal that is going on here," he explained."I know the man back of it and he would not bother with a small affair. Iknow they are going to make the city build the millrace and then steal it.It will be a big thing for your party about here if you take hold and stopthem. Let me tell you how it can be done."

He explained his plan, and told of Crofts and of his wealth and dogged,bullying determination. The socialist seemed beside himself. He pulled onthe shoe and began running hurriedly about the room.

"The time for the election," Sam went on, "is almost here. I have lookedinto this thing. We must beat this bond issue and then put through asquare one. There is a train out of Chicago at seven o'clock, a fasttrain. You get fifty speakers out here. I will pay for a special train ifnecessary and I will hire a band and help stir things up. I can give youfacts enough to shake this town to the bottom. You come with me and 'phoneto Chicago. I will pay everything. I am McPherson, Sam McPherson ofChicago."

The socialist ran to a closet and began pulling on his coat. The nameaffected him so that his hand trembled and he could scarcely get his arminto the coat sleeve. He began to apologise for the appearance of the roomand kept looking at Sam with the air of one not able to believe what hehad heard. As the two men walked out of the house he ran ahead holdingdoors open for Sam's passage.

"And you will help us, Mr. McPherson?" he exclaimed. "You, a man ofmillions, will help us in this fight?"

Sam had a feeling that the man was going to kiss his hand or do somethingequally ridiculous. He had the air of a club door man gone off his head.

At the hotel Sam stood in the lobby while the fat man waited in atelephone booth.

"I will have to 'phone Chicago, I will simply have to 'phone Chicago. Wesocialists don't do anything like this offhand, Mr. McPherson," he hadexplained as they walked along the street.

When the socialist came out of the booth he stood before Sam shaking hishead. His whole attitude had changed, and he looked like a man caughtdoing a foolish or absurd thing.

"Nothing doing, nothing doing, Mr. McPherson," he said, starting for thehotel door.

At the door he stopped and shook his finger at Sam.

"It won't work," he said, emphatically. "Chicago is too wise."

Sam turned and went back to his room. His name had killed his only chanceto beat Crofts, Jake, Bill and Ed. In his room he sat looking out of thewindow into the street.

"Where shall I take hold now?" he asked himself.

Turning out the lights he sat listening to the roar of the waterfall andthinking of the events of the last week.

"I have had a time," he thought. "I have tried something and even thoughit did not work it has been the best fun I have had for years."

The hours slipped away and night came on. He could hear men shouting andlaughing in the street, and going downstairs he stood in a hallway at theedge of the crowd that gathered about the socialist. The orator shoutedand waved his hand. He seemed as proud as a young recruit who has justpassed through his first baptism of fire.

"He tried to make a fool of me--McPherson of Chicago--the millionaire--oneof the capitalist kings--he tried to bribe me and my party."

In the crowd the old carpenter was dancing in the road and rubbing hishands together. With the feeling of a man who had finished a piece of workor turned the last leaf of a book, Sam went back to his hotel.

"In the morning I shall be on my way," he thought.

A knock came at the door and the red-haired man came in. He closed thedoor softly and winked at Sam.

"Ed made a mistake," he said, and laughed. "The old man told him you werea socialist and he thought you were trying to spoil the graft. He isscared about that beating you got and mighty sorry. He's all right--Ed is--and he and Bill and I have got the votes. What made you stay under coverso long? Why didn't you tell us you were McPherson?"

Sam saw the hopelessness of any attempt to explain. Jake had evidentlysold out the men. Sam wondered how.

"How do you know you can deliver the votes?'" he asked, trying to leadJake on.

Jake rolled the quid in his mouth and winked again.

"It was easy enough to fix the men when Ed, Bill and I got together," hesaid. "You know about the other. There's a clause in the act authorisingthe bond issue, a sleeper, Bill calls it. You know more about that than Ido. Anyway the power will be turned over to the man we say."

"But how do I know you can deliver the votes?"

Jake threw out his hand impatiently.

"What do they know?" he asked sharply. "What they want is more wages.There's a million in the power deal and they can't any more realise amillion than they can tell what they want to do in Heaven. I promised Ed'sfellows the city scale. Ed can't kick. He'll make a hundred thousand as itstands. Then I promised the plough works gang a ten per cent raise. We'llget it for them if we can, but if we can't, they won't know it till thedeal is put through."

Sam walked over and held open the door.

"Good night," he said.

Jake looked annoyed.

"Ain't you even going to make a bid against Crofts?" he asked. "We ain'ttied to him if you do better by us. I'm in this thing because you put mein. That piece you wrote up the river scared 'em stiff. I want to do theright thing by you. Don't be sore about Ed. He wouldn't a done it if he'dknown."

Sam shook his head and stood with his hand still on the door.

"Good night," he said again. "I am not in it. I have dropped it. No usetrying to explain."

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