Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/481

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he felt that nothing could have hurt him so much as this from wives and daughters of his men.

The crowd, swarming off along the lanes between the mills, was less dense than it had appeared; and in order to gain a general view of the situation, Floyd turned and went up one of these by-ways. He escaped the hissing, and in the greater darkness here he was apparently not recognized; the opera-hat, at the same time that it was a distinction, was also something of a disguise. As he walked, he caught fragments of talk—"They say there's two dead bodies lying on the barge."—"How many of our men have been killed?"—"They're goin' to pour oil on the river and set fire to it; that'll smoke 'em out."—"Why the hell don't somebody bring some dynamite and blow 'em out o' the water?" Floyd soon derived an idea of the temper of the men.

At last he worked his way into the throng on the edge of the bank a hundred yards up the river; and from this position he could dimly see the two barges lying side by side inshore. At intervals, from under or between the freight cars which were lined up below him, darted a flash of light in a downward stab—and the shot would be followed by cheers. Three times from one of the barges there was an answering flash.

It was clear that for the watchmen the only hope was in the coming of a tug to the rescue, or in the yielding of the mob to some impulse of mercy. They could not land, they could not scale the bank and then the barricade of cars; the attempt would mean massacre.

Floyd walked down beside the freight cars through the mob in the direction of the rifle flashes. It was so dark, and men were jostling so eagerly, so blindly to reach some point from which they could see what was happening, that he went on unnoticed. He came to a place where the crowd had given back a few feet from one of the cars; the men in front were stooping, looking under the trucks; and among these men Floyd saw Stewart, peering with the rest.