« AnkstesnisTęsti »
be sharply criticized, but would probably pass of carrying it into action, and found it in the without much change. The second part con- landlords. The landlords were to be the tained the famous clause by which it became policemen of the new act. To every owner penal to practise certain trades, such as tail- of every tenement or other house in London oring, boot-finishing, and shirt-making, in a the bill said: You are responsible. If, after man's or woman's own home-in the same a certain date, you allow certain trades to be place, that is to say, as the worker uses for carried on within your walls at all, even by eating and sleeping. This clause, which rep- the single man or the single woman working resented the climax of a long series of re- in their own rooms, penalty and punishment strictions upon the right of a man to stitch shall follow. even his own life away, still more upon his Of this clause in the bill Fontenoy could right to force his children or bribe his neigh- never speak with calmness. One might see bor to a like waste of the nation's force, was his heart thumping in his breast as he deby now stirring the industrial mind of Eng- nounced it. At bottom it was to him the last land far and wide.
and vilest step in a long and slanderous camAnd not the mind of England only. Ireland paign against the class to which he belonged and Scotland, town and country, talked of it, -against property-against the existing soseethed with it. The new law, if it passed, cial order. was to be tried, indeed, at first in London He fell upon the subject to-night apropos only. But every provincial town and every of a Socialist letter in the morning papers; country district knew that, if it succeeded, and George, who was mostly conscious at the there was not a corner of the land that moment of a sick fatigue with Fontenoy and would not ultimately feel the yoke or the Fontenoy's arguments, had to bear it as best deliverance of it. Every workman's club, he might. Presently he interrupted: every trade-union meeting, every mechanics' «One assumption you make I should like to institute was ringing with it. Organized contest. You imagine, I think, that if they labor, dragged down at every point-in Lon- carry the (prohibition) and the hours) clauses don, at any rate-by the competition of the we shall be able to whip up a still fiercer atstarving and struggling crew of home-work- tack on the landlords) clause. Now, that is n't ers, clamored for the bill. The starving and my view.) struggling crew themselves were partly voice- Fontenoy turned upon him, startled. less, partly bewildered; now drawn by the «Why is n't it your view ? » he said abeloquence of their trade-union fellows to ruptly. shout for the revolution that threatened « Because there are always waverers who them, now surging tumultuously against it. will accept a fait accompli, and you know how
On this vital clause, in Fontenoy's belief, opposition always has a trick of cooling tothe government would go down. But if, by ward the end of a bill. Maxwell has carried amazing good fortune and good generalship, his main point, they will say; this is a questhey should get through with it, then the tion of machinery. Besides, many of those fight would but rage the more fiercely round Liberals who will be with us on the main the last two sections of the bill.
point don't love the landlords. No; don't The third section dealt with the hours of flatter yourself that, if we lose the main enlabor in the new workshops that were to be. gagement, there will be any Prussians to For the first time it became directly penal bring up. The thing will be done.) for a man, as well as a woman, to work more « Well, thank God!» grumbled Fontenoy, than the accepted factory day of ten and a « we don't mean to lose the main engagehalf hours, with a few exceptions and exemp- ment. But if one of our men were to argue tions in the matter of overtime. On this in that way I should know what to say to clause, if it ever were reached, the Socialist him.» vote, were it given solidly for the govern- George made no reply. ment, might, no doubt, pull them through. They walked on in silence, the summer « But if we have any luck- damn it! they twilight falling softly over the river and the won't get the chance,» Fontenoy would say, hospital, over the terrace, with its groups, with that grim, sudden reddening which re- and the towering pile of buildings beside them. vealed from moment to moment the feverish Presently Fontenoy said in another voice: tension of the man.
«I have really never had the courage to In the last section of the bill the govern- talk to you of the matter, Tressady; but did n't ment, having made its revolution, looked you see something of that lad Ancoats before round for a class on which to lay the burden he went off abroad?»
« Yes, I saw him several times: first at the « Ancoats told me nothing. I have heard club, then he came and dined with me here some gossip from Harding Watton,» said one night.
George, unwillingly. It was one of his strong& And did he confide in you? »
est characteristics, this fastidious and even * More or less,» said George, smiling rather haughty dislike of chatter about other peoqueerly at the recollection.
ple's private affairs-a dislike which, in the Fontenoy made a sound between a growl present case, had been strengthened by his and a sigh.
growing antipathy to Harding. Really, it 's rather too much to have to « How should he know?» said Fontenoy, think out that young man's affairs as well as angrily. He was glad enough to use Watton one's own. And the situation is so extraor- as a political tool, but had never yet admitted dinary. Maxwell and I have to be in constant him to the smallest social intimacy. consultation. I went to see him in his room Yet with Tressady he felt no difficulty in in the House of Lords the other night, and talking over these private affairs, and he did, met a man coming out, who stopped, and in fact, report the whole story—that same stared as though he were shot. Luckily I story with which Marcella had startled Betty knew him, and could say a word to him, or Leven on the night in question: how Ancoats there would have been all sorts of cock-and- on that Sunday evening had decoyed the handbull stories abroad.»
some, impressionable girl, to whom throughWell, and what are you and Maxwell out the winter he had been paying decided and doing? »
even ostentatious court, into a tête-à-tête; « Trying to get at the young woman. One had poured out to her frantic confessions of can't buy her off, of course. Ancoats is his his attachment to the theatrical lady-a own master, and could outbid us. But Max- woman he could never marry, whom his well has found a brother-a decent sort of mother could never meet, but with whom, fellow-a country solicitor. And there is a nevertheless, come what might, he was deterRitualist curate, a Father somebody,» - Fon- mined to live and die. She (Madeleine) was tenoy raised his shoulders, — « who seems to his friend, his good angel. Would she go to have an intermittent hold on the girl. When his mother and break it to her? Would she she has fits of virtue she goes to confess to understand and forgive him? There must be him. Maxwell has got hold of him.»
no opposition, or he would shoot himself. And « And meanwhile Ancoats is at Bad Wild- so on, till the poor girl, worn out with exciteheim? »
ment and grief, tottered into Mrs. Allison's « Ancoats is at Bad Wildheim, and be- room more dead than alive. having himself, as I hear from his poor But at that point Fontenoy stopped abmother. Fontenoy sighed. «But the boy ruptly. was frightened, of course, when they went George agreed that the story was almost abroad. Now she is getting better, and one incredible, and added the inward and natural can't tell —-))
comment of the public-school man- that if No, one can't tell,» said George.
people will keep their boys at home, and de"I wish I knew what the thing really fraud them of the kickings that are their due, meant," said Fontenoy, presently, in a tone of they may look out for something unwholeperplexed reverie. «What do you think? Is some in the finished product. Then, aloud, it a passion-?»
he said: " Or a pose? »
« I should imagine that Ancoats was acting George pondered.
through the greater part of that. He had said H’m,” he said at last; « more of a pose, I to himself that such a scene would be effecthink, than a passion. Ancoats always seems tive, and would be new.) to me the jeune premier in his own play. He «Good heavens! Why, that makes it ten sees his life in scenes, and plays them accord- thousand times more abominable than being to all the rules.»
fore!» a Intolerable!” said Fontenoy, in exaspera- «I dare say," said George, coolly. «But it tion. « And at least he might refrain from also makes the future, perhaps, a little more dragging a girl into it! We were n't saints hopeful---throws some light on the passion or in my day, but we were n't in the habit of pose alternative. My impression is that if we choosing well-brought-up maidens of twenty can only find an effective exit for Ancoats, in our own set for our confidantes. You a last act that he would consider worthy of know, I suppose, what broke up the party at him, he will bow himself out of the business Castle Luton? »
Fontenoy smiled rather gloomily, and the and planning at Ferth! His face flushed and two walked on in silence.
hardened as he thought of their many wrangles «I say, Tressady, will you pair till eleven?» during the past fortnight, her constant drag cried a man swinging bareheaded along the upon his purse, his own weakness, the annoyterrace with his hat in his hand. «I want an ance and contempt that made him yield rather hour or two off badly, and there will be no than argue. big guns on till eleven or so.)
What was that fellow Harding Watton George exchanged a word or two with Fon- doing in the house at all hours, beguiling tenoy, then stood still and thought a moment. Letty, by his collector's airs, into a hundred A sudden animation flushed into his face. foolish wants and whims? And that brute Why not?
Cathedine! Was it decent, was it bearable, « All right,” he said; «till eleven.»
that a bride of three months should take no Then he and Fontenoy went back to dine. more notice of her husband's wishes and disAs they mounted the dark staircase leading likes in such a matter than Letty had shown from the terrace another man caught Tres- with regard to her growing friendship with sady by the arm.
that disreputable person? It seemed to « The strike notices are out,» he said. «I George that he called most afternoons. have just had a wire. Every one leaves work Letty laughed, excused herself, or abused to-night.»
her visitor as soon as he had departed; but George shrugged his shoulders. He had the rebuff which George's pride would not let been expecting the news at any moment, and him ask of her directly, while yet his whole was glad that the long shilly-shallying on manner demanded it, was never given. both sides was at last over.
He sat solitary in the brilliantly lighted car«Good luck to them!» he said. «I'm glad. riage, staring at the advertisements opposite, The fight had to come.)
his long chin thrust forward, his head, with its «Oh, we shall be in the middle of arbitra- fair curls, thrown moodily back. And all the tion before a fortnight's up. The men won't time his mind was working with an appalling stand.»
clearness. This cold light in which he was George shook his head. He himself believed beginning to see his wife and all she did it that the struggle would last on through the was already a tragedy. autumn.
What was he flying to, what was he in « Well, to be sure, there 's Burrows,» said search of, there in the East End? His whole his informant, himself a large coal-owner in being flung the answer. A little sympathy, a the Ferth district; «if Burrows keeps sober, little heart, a little tenderness and delicacy and if somebody does n't buy him, Burrows of soul! Nothing else. He had once taken it will do his worst.»
for granted that every woman possessed them « That we always knew,» said George, in some degree; or was it only since he had laughing, and passed on. He had only just found them in this unexampled fullness and time to catch his train.
wealth that he had begun to thirst for them
in this way? He made himself face the quesHe walked across to the underground station, tion. «One need n’t lie to one's self!) and by the time he reached it he had clean At Aldgate, as he was making his way out forgotten his pits and the strike, though as of the station, he stumbled upon Edward he passed the post-office in the House a sheaf Watton. of letters and telegrams had been put into «Hullo! You bound for No. 20, too? » his hands. Rather, he was full of a boy's «No; there is no function to-night. Lady eagerness and exultation. He had never sup- Maxwell is at a meeting. It has grown rather posed he could be let off to-night till the suddenly from small beginnings, and two days offer of Dudley's pair tempted him. And now ago they made her promise to speak. I came in half an hour he would be in that queer down because I am afraid of a row. Things Mile End room, watching her-quarreling are beginning to look ugly down here, and I with her.
don't think she has much idea of it. Will you A little later, however, as he was sitting come ? » quietly in the train, quick composite thoughts « Of course.» of Letty, of his miners and his money diffi- Watton looked at him with an amused and culties, began to clutch at him again. Per- friendly eye. haps, now that the strike was a reality, it It was another instance of her power-that might even be a help to him and a bridle to she had been able to bind even this young his wife. Preposterous, what she was doing enemy to her chariot-wheels. He hoped Letty
had the sense to approve. As a matter of For it was the direct fruit of an agitation fact, Watton had never, by his own choice, that, as Tressady knew, was in particular become well acquainted with his cousin Letty, Fontenoy's agitation. The Free Workers' and had always secretly marveled at Tres- League, which had called upon the tradesady's sudden marriage.
unionists of Mile End to summon the meeting, and to hear therein what both sides had
to say, was, in fact, Fontenoy's creation. It XIV.
had succeeded especially in organizing the « BETTER get down here, I think,» said Wat- women home-workers of Mile End and Poplar. ton, signaling to the tram-conductor, «and Two or three lady speakers employed by the find out whether they have really gone or league had been active to the point of frenzy not.)
in denouncing the bill, and shrieking «LibThey stopped, half-way down the Mile End erty!» in the frightened ear of Mile End. Road, before a piece of wall with a door in it. Watton could not find a good word for any of A trim maiden of fifteen, in a spotless cotton them-was sure that what mostly attracted frock and white apron, opened to them. them was the notoriety of the position, in
Inside was a small flagged courtyard and volving, as it did, a sort of personal antagothe old-fashioned house that Marcella Max- nism to Lady Maxwell, who had, so to speak, well a year before-some time after their made Mile End her own. And to be Lady first lodging in Armingford's house had been Maxwell's enemy was, Watton opined, the given up-had rescued from demolition and next best thing, from the point of view of the builder, to make an East End home out advertisement, to being her friend. of it. Somewhere about 1750 some City « Excellent women, I dare say," said Trestradesman had built it among fields, and sady, laughing, «talking excellent sense. taken his rest there; while, somewhat later, But tell me, what is this about Naseby-why in a time of Evangelical revival, a pious widow Naseby-on all these occasions ? » had thrown out a low room to one side for «Why not, indeed?» said Watton. «Ah, you class-meetings. In this room Marcella now don't know? It seems to be Naseby that 's held her gatherings, and both Tressady and going to get the egg out of the hat for us.) Watton knew it well.
And he plunged eagerly into the description The little handmaid bubbled over with will- of certain schemes wherewith Naseby had ing talk. Oh, yes; there was a meeting up lately astonished the Maxwell circle. "TresManx Road, and her ladyship had gone with sady listened languidly at first, then with a Lord Naseby and Lady Madeleine and Mr. kind of jealous annoyance that scandalized Everard the inspector, and, she thought, one himself. How well he could understand the or two besides. She expected the ladies back attraction of such things for her quick mind! about ten, and they were to stay the night. Life was made too easy for these « golden
& And they do say, sir,» she said eagerly, lads.» People attributed too much importance looking up at Watton, whom she knew, «as to their fancies. there 'll be a lot o'rough people at the Naseby, in fact, - but so much George almeetin'.
ready knew,-- had been for some months now « Oh, I dare say,” said Watton. «Well, the comrade and helper of both the Maxwells. We're going up, too, to look after her.» His friends still supposed him to be merely
As they walked on they talked over the the agreeable and fashionable idler. In realgeneral situation in the district, and Watton ity, Naseby for some years past had been explained what he knew of this particular spending all the varied leisure that his commeeting. In the first place, he repeated, he mission in the Life Guards allowed him upon could not see that Lady Maxwell understood the work of a social and economic student. as yet the sort of opposition that the bill was He had joined the staff of a well-known rousing, especially in these East End districts. sociologist who was at the time engaged in The middle-class and parliamentary resistance an inquiry into certain typical East London she had always appreciated; but the sort of trades. The inquiry had made a noise, and the rage that might be awakened among a de- evidence collected under it had already been graded class of workers by proposals that largely used in the debates on the Maxwell seemed to threaten their immediate means of bill. Tressady, for instance, had much of it living he believed she had not yet realized in by heart, although he never knew, until he anything like its full measure and degree; and became a haunter of Lady Maxwell's circle, he feared that this meeting might be a dis- that Naseby had played any part in the gathagreeable experience.
ering of it.
At the same time, as George had soon ob- of different sorts, hundreds of sallow women, served, Naseby was no blind follower of the representing the home-workers of Mile End, Maxwells. In truth, under his young gaiety Bow, and Stepney, -poor souls, bowed by toil and coolness he had the temper of the student and maternity, whose marred fingers labor who is more in love with his problem itself day and night to clothe the colonies and the than with any suggested solution of it. As he army; their husbands and brothers too, Enghad told Lady Betty, he had « no opinions » – lish slop-tailors, for the most part, of the
. would himself rather leave the sweated trades humbler sort, – the short side street was alone, and trust to much slower and less vio- packed with them. It was an anxious, sensilent things than law-making. All this the tive crowd, Tressady thought, as he elbowed Maxwells knew perfectly, and liked and his passage through it. A small thing might trusted him none the less.
inflame it, and he saw a number of rough lads Now, however, it seemed there was a new on the skirts of it. development. If the bill passed, Naseby had Jews, too, there were in plenty. For the a plan. He was already a rich man, indepen- stress of this bill had brought Jew and Gentile dently of the marquisate to come. His grand- together in a new comradeship that amazed mother had left him a large preliminary the East End. Here were groups representfortune, and through his friends and connec- ing the thrifty, hard-working London Jew of tions besides he seemed to command as much the second generation, small masters for the money as he desired. And of this money, sup- most part, pale with the confinement and posing the bill passed, he proposed to make «drive » of the workshop; men who are exoriginal and startling use. He had worked out pelling and conquering the Gentile Eastthe idea of a syndicate, furnished with, say, a Ender, because their inherited passion for quarter of a million of money, which should business is not neutralized by any of the come down upon a given district of the East common English passions for spendingEnd, map it out, buy up all the existing busi- above all, by the passion for drink. Here, too, nesses in its typical trade, and start a system were men of a far lower type and grade-the of new workshops proportioned to the popu- waste and refuse of the vast industrial mill. lation, supplying it with work just as the Tressady knew a good many of them by sightboard schools supply it with education. The sullen, quick-eyed folk, who buy their « greennew scheme was to have a profit-sharing ele- ers » at the docks, and work them day and ment: the workers were to be represented in night at any time of pressure; whose workthe syndicate, and every nerve was to be shops are still flaring at two o'clock in the strained to secure the best business manage- morning, and alive again by the winter dawn; ment. The existing middlemen would be either who fight and flout the law by a hundred arts, liberally bought out or absorbed into the new and yet, brutal and shifty as many of them machine. It was by no means certain that they are, have a curious way of winning the Genwould show it any strong resistance. tile inspector's sympathy, even while he fines
Tressady made a number of unfriendly and harasses them, so clearly are they and comments on the scheme as Watton detailed their «hands » alike the victims of a huge it. A bit of amateur economics, which would world-struggle that does but toss them on its only help the bill to ruin a few more people surge. than would otherwise have gone down. These gentry, however, were hard hit by
« Ah, well,» said Watton, «if this thing more than one clause of the Maxwell bill, and passes there are bound to be experiments, they were here to-night to protest, as they and Naseby means to be in ’em. So do I, only had been already protesting at many meetI have n't got a quarter of a million. Here's ings, large and small, all over the East End. our road. We 're late, of course; the meet. And they had their slaves with them, -raging 's begun. I say, just look at this!» ged, hollow-eyed creatures, newly arrived
For Manx Road, as they turned into it, was from Russian Poland, Austria, or Rumania, already held by another big meeting of its and ready to shout or howl in Yiddish as they own. The room in the board school which were told, - men whose strange faces and crossed the end of the street must be full, eyes, under their matted shocks of black or and this crowd represented, apparently, those reddish hair, suggested every here and there who had been turned away.
the typical history and tragic destiny of the As the two friends pushed their way race which, in other parts of the crowd, was through, Tressady’s quick eye recognized in seen under its softer and more cosmopolitan the throng a number of familiar types. Well- aspects. to-do «pressers and machinists, factory girls As the two men neared the door of the