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MASTERS AND SLAVES (A Stor
(Synopsis of Preceding Chapters) Nickles and Joe Vavas, migratory workers, meet under a freight train while beating their way west. They get off at Colorado Springs. Joe Vavas is a barber by ■trade, and Nickles manages to get work as a footman at Broadmoor, the mansion of the Broidins. His work Is constant drudgery. Vavas is class conscious, and Nick les is not, but they are staunch friends nevertheless. An attachment springs up between Nickles and Margue rite, the maid at the Broadmoor mansion. One day Joe Vavas tells Nickles and Marguerite that a barbers’ union has been formed to fight against the intolerable condi tions. Joe Vavas has formed the union with the help of William who is an American by birth and not an im migrant like Joe. The younger elements in the union, led by Joe and William force a strike against the bosses. The strike is won by the barbers, but the union delegate from Denver sells out at the last moment, and the strik ers are deprived of most of the fruits of their victory. The ku klux klan of Colorado Springs holds an initiation ceremony as a result of the fight of the workers. They swear to exterminate the reds. Mr. Broidin takes part in the ceremony. He desires Marguerite the young servant and makes love to her. Gradually Nickles is be coming more and more receptive to the ideas of Jo«r Vavas who is a Communist. The Broidins are more and more tyrannical. A Christian Science service is held at the Broadmoor mansion. At the ceremony the poet who officiates delivers an oration full of the claptrap of the master class. All this spiritual bunk does not pre vent the guests from devouring a great quantity of food after the services are over. This means more work for the servants who are overworked as it is. JThe Broidins give a bathing party for their friends, which means extra hard work for the servants. Mr. Broidin purposely leaves his camera at the lake in order to send Marguerite to find it at night when everybody is gone. He follows her to the place, and there attacks her. In Colorado Springs there is a general strike wave follow ing the strike of the barbers. The ku klux klan is pre paring for a counter-offensive against the workers. The Broidins give a big ball at which the wealthy guests rige against the workers while they themselves indulge lq all sprts of pleasures. Broidin makes love to a young woman who responds to his advances. The servants are worn out from their work at the ball. Joe Vavas and William form a local branch of the Workers Party. The members accept the Communist program as outlined by Wifiiam. But one of those present objects, saying that they should come out for bomb throwing. He leaves the meeting when his proposition is rejected. William is elected organizer and Joe secretary. Joe meets Nick les and asks him to receive the mail for the local Work ers Party branch instead of William because William is being watched. Nickles consents because by this time he has become practically converted to Joe’s views. His own hard lot has caused this conversion. Marguerite reveals to her loveV Nickles about the wrong that Broi din had done her. Nickles is not angry at her, but at Broidin. They decide that in two months they would leave. A leaflet is issued by the local branch of the Workers Party which rallies the workers of Colorado Springs. The reaction gathers its forces. The ku klux klan is getting on the job with the purpose of extermin ating the reds and establishing "law and order.” Wil liam and Joe are arrested, and their homes searched lot names. Then they are liberated. There is great excite ment and expectation of something terrible about to happen. Now go on with the story. CHAPTER XX. are we going out for ten minutes?”— Marguerite asked Nickles. “In four weeks.” The idea of this made the work lighter. The Broidin family also made preparations to move to New York. It was a dry winter day. Joe’s experience with the police filled Nickles with indignation. “But just tell me why?” He couldn’t get it into his head. It showed hifn our society from a new angle. He discovered that acts of violence are committed by those who want to remain in power. * • • * Nickles got through with the table servcie. In this work he had a good deal of practice. The knives and forks were nice and bright Broidin went through the room. Nickles was sharpening the knife. His gaze crossed that of Broidin. What expression could there have been in that g;ize as he held the big kitchen knife with the steel blade in his hand? Broidin shrank back. He hurried into the din ing room. He had to be among people. But Nick le’s gaze followed him there too. And it followed him even when he went to visit the young society woman in the afternoon. • • • • Telephone-call. Marguerite hurries to the receiver. Mr. Broidin is wanted. “He isn’t home.” “When is he coming home?” “I don’t know . . . Who is that talking?” “He knows. Just give him the message that he is to be at the clean-up today.” “I don’t understand.” “Mr. Broidin is to come to the clean-up today.” “To the clean-up?” “Yes, to the clean-up, that’s right . . . " She was cut off. Marguerite laughed. And she laughed when she delivered the mes sage. • • • • It is evening. A dark evening. In winter it gets dark early. “I am going out for ten minutes. Joe is wait ing for me.” “For ten minutes? Will it be no longer than that ?” They laughed. “I mean European ten minutes.” Dolly leaped about him. “Why certainly, you’re coming along.” • • • • Stillness. The ten minutes last long. An auto rattles somewhere. Stillness. Marguerite looks at the clock. “He is certainly wasting time.” She waits. The time drags on with leaden steps. An hour has already gone. It is cold outside. She becomes uneasy. Maybe he’ll catch a cold. She broods. She thinks of going out. But she does not. He might think it obtrusive and might get angry. She lies down on the bed. Perhaps he had to go downtowm. That has happened once before. But he always told her if that was the case. Maybe it happened all of a sudden, and he didn’t have the time to go back to tell her. She calms herself. She is tired. Sleep overcomes her. • « • • Dolly yelps. An auto tears by. A blow. Blow of a fist. Powerful hands. Cold, catting wind. Someone laughs. He is stunned. What’s that? What’s that? He opens his eyes. White hoods. The auto tears thru the white night. He wants to cry. Cannot.' They have stuffed something into his mouth. Earth. He wants to spit it out. He can’t. His mouth is gagged. He wants to tear off the gag. Impossible. His hands are tied. A living corpse. The auto tears through the night. Whither? The road winds on. Pikep Peak is dumb. Autos are coming from all sides. White hoods glimmer. What do they want of him? The raid winds on. Do they want to torture him? His glance meets a pair of eyes. Only for a sec ond. Somebody looks away towards the window. The auto dashes on. Perhaps this pair of eyes will save him t , What do they want with him? Maybe it’s only a joke. A joke of the Hrh a poor man. He hadn’t done anything wrong. What wrong has he done? It is an evil, ugly joke. It wasn’t right. The automobiles dish on. Always higher up. Suddnely the car stops. * * # * He is all stiff. They force him though to stand up straight. Hoods. Many hoods. He is fright ened. Joe and William. William cries. “My wife, my children! My tw r o children! . This cry tears fearfully into the white night. Nickles feels choked. It sounded as if millions were howling at him. Marguerite’s picture rises before him. Disappears again. Only the cry re mains. The gag is removed. > He can cry too. What for? White, lonely night on Pikes Peak. The others will only be glad. It is cold. A cold night of snow. A voice bellows: “Take off their clothes!” That too must be only a joke. He hears the words, but does not grasp their meaning. He is stunned. A powerful hand grabs him. Tears the clothes from his body. ne looks for Joe. And William. Both are already naked. They shiver naked in the white night. Half a minute, and he too is naked. William does not cry any more. Nickles totters. “Are you freezing?” He totters. “Just wait, very soon you will be warm again.” They swing whips. Whips with nails in them. Forty hoods in a circle. “Begin!” The three don’t make a sound. The whips whistle through the air. The three collapse. One of the hoods rubs his forehead? “Are you weaklings?” Another: “We won’t let you die so easily!” The three men are tied together. A great pyre. Behind it the cross—and the speaker’s platform. The man with the death’s head rises. “See, the day of reckoning has The trouble-makers of the city are standing before the judgment seat of God ... “Law and order must conquer over the mob . . . “The laws of the stafq* were not adequate. The mob ruled at will over Colorado Springs . . . “Upon us lay the sad but sublime duty to help the law where it showed itself too weak . , » “One hundred per cent Americanism has tri umphed over these new-<y>mers.” Once more the whips whirr through the air. The flesh hangs in strips from the three who no longer freeze now.- The hot blood warms them. Nickles discovers familiar voices behind the hoods. ,j New blows of the whip. c Singing. Hymn singing. f “We are thinking of thee, Jesus Christ . . *< A cry piercing everything? “This is law and order!” Blows. Pain penetrating to the marrow. Maddening pain. Smoke. Flames. William: “My children!” Then nothing. Nothing. The fire blazes up in the white night. And behind the fire the cross towers upward. “For order!”—cried the man with the death’s head.