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.
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
“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.
• • • •
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.
And she laughed when she delivered the mes
• • • •
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
“I mean European ten minutes.”
Dolly leaped about him.
“Why certainly, you’re coming along.”
• • • •
The ten minutes last long.
An auto rattles somewhere.
Marguerite looks at the clock.
“He is certainly wasting time.”
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
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.
• « • •
An auto tears by.
A blow. Blow of a fist. Powerful hands. Cold,
He is stunned.
What’s that? What’s that?
He opens his eyes.
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
A living corpse.
The auto tears through the night.
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
The gag is removed. >
He can cry too.
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.
“Are you freezing?”
“Just wait, very soon you will be warm again.”
They swing whips. Whips with nails in them.
Forty hoods in a circle.
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?”
“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
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!”
Pain penetrating to the marrow.
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
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