Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/475

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whom we know, instead of being an honorable patriot, is a traitorous hireling—or that instead of being slain he is recuperating in a hospital? What matters it, I say?—for the curse on David remains the same. Do you men know who David is?"

He paused for answer, and it came—"Yes—yes!"—an angry shout. Already he had the passion of the men aroused; the intensity of their interest made him desire to prolong his sensation of power.

"Why do I recall to you this thing? It is that you may see how the mind that could conceive that small and double perfidy is the same that plots the greater and more treacherous attack to-night. My friends, you have been cozened into a careless comfort because you have been told that no strike-breakers, no scabs would be introduced into the mills. That is true, my friends; no strike-breakers, no scabs will be introduced into the mills. But there are men worse than strike-breakers, men worse than scabs—and two hundred of these men, armed and ready, are creeping stealthily upon you at this moment through the dark. They do not come by day along the ordinary channels; they move secretly at night, for theirs is a dark and wicked trade. To the American who loves liberty there is no uglier word than that which describes these men—the word 'mercenaries;' and there is no uglier thing. Mercenaries, armed and shipped for a purpose—what purpose? Can you guess? What should you think were you to wake to-morrow and find the mills a fortress—rifles leveled at you if you paused before the gate—each knot-hole in the fence become a port-hole for a gun—and every shed a cover for sharp-shooters to roost? Unless you act to-night, that is what to-morrow you will see."

"Where are they?" shouted a man in the back of the hall, and the question was taken up inarticulately by the crowd. Tustin rose from the piano stool and held up a hand invoking silence.

"You have two hours," cried Stewart, "and I shall not