Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/476

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465
STEWART TAKES THE FIELD

detain you long. A steamboat is pushing two coal-barges up the Yolin Kiver—coal-barges roofed over, empty of coal, but not empty of men. These barges will be pushed ashore at the mill landing at eleven o'clock to-night. The steamboat will leave them and go back down the river.—And then—single file, two hundred mercenaries armed with rifles will march up the path from the landing, and occupy the mills. And once that occupation is achieved, what next? How many more, if need be, could be poured into the fortress—marching boldly in through the streets? Do you think that mercenaries like these, who live by the sword, will be careful of human life? They are sent that the works may be opened by force of arms—and that means slaughter. Why, the most innocent demonstration that any two or three of you may make, one irresponsible outcry by some one in a crowd, may be the signal for a rifle volley. Once the first shot is fired, who may forecast the bloodshed and murder that will follow? And when by force of arms you are crushed, out comes Uriah from the hospital, marches boldly into the works with his gang, and claims his reward. For nowadays, it is not necessary for David to kill Uriah—only to bargain with him. And you men are forever crushed if these two hundred hired assassins land to-night."

"They shall not land!" cried Tustin, raising his clenched fist before the audience could respond. "Spread the alarm—bring your guns—batter down the gate—we'll meet them, men,—we'll meet them!"

With wild cheering the crowd rushed and jammed at the stairs; Tustin and Stewart remained standing on the platform, Tustin gesticulating with both arms, shouting to keep alive the tumult—"No surrender!—Never let them land!"—any words that could be pitched as fuel to the flame. At last the hall was emptied, the shouting thinned away along the streets, Stewart put on his hat and overcoat and went down the stairs with Tustin. The mill entrance was only a block away, and already a crowd