Puslapio vaizdai

"Unfortunate? Why unfortunate? If you mean because my father did n't—”

"Don't be a goose," I said, severely, for after all he was only twenty and I over fifty. "I mean to say, that I consider Mrs. Pegram to be deserving of pity in that she is the mother of a rude and bad-mannered youth like you. If my son behaved as you have done to me, a perfect stranger, during the last five minutes, I 'd—”

"Well," he asked, sulkily, "what would you do to him?"

"Spank him," I returned, firmly, inwardly chuckling, for my son happened to be at that period just four years old. To my relief, young Pegram burst out laughing. He was not a bad-looking boy, but I could see that things had embittered him, and I did not altogether wonder.

"Look here," I said, seriously, "your mother is one of the nicest women it has ever been my good fortune to meet. Your father, of course, is one of England's glories. I do hope you are not going to belie them."

Then, for an inspiration had come at last, I hurried on, "I have come to ask a great favor of you-not of your mother, mind you, but of you. And you are, I am sure, man of the world enough to understand me."

Then I told him the absolute truth about Mrs. Herraday, painting her with the utmost sincerity but appealing for her, victim of her own foolishness, to Godfrey Pegram, in whose veins ran such fine blood.

"It hurts no one, that chapter," I said, "but you. If he had wished to-to acknowledge you as his illegitimate son-and mind you, it's your mother's fault that he did not marry her years ago-he would have done so. Another sting. You know how curious people are. If it comes out that those letters were written to some unknown woman, some busybody will make it his or her business to find out who the unknown woman is, and will find out, too. Then your mother will be tormented to death by reporters and photographers, his name will be bandied about as having illtreated the woman he loved and-"

To my relief, for I felt that I had done well and feared spoiling my plea if forced by his silence to go on, he interrupted me. "Wait a minute," he said; "I must think."

hind his smooth young brow. He was not a genius like his father, nor a fine brave creature like his mother, but there was good stuff in him.

Presently he said, slowly, "I see what you mean. You want the chapter to remain untouched?"

"Yes. It seems to me to be best for everybody that it should."

"But he did love Mother. And she-" "I know, my dear Godfrey," I interrupted, paternally, "I know. And I must tell you that Mrs. Pegram seems to me to be worthy of the love of even a finer man than Clandon."

"And he loved us-us children, I mean. He came here every week of his life, if not oftener. And I am quite old enough to remember his manner to my mother. I know! Besides, only a little while before he died, he sent for me. I was the last person he ever sent for, besides Mother! And he told me then that—that she was the only woman he had ever cared for." He broke off, choking a little. "Then when that book came out, and I saw that every one credited Mrs. Herraday with what had been my mother's—I—I—"

"Very naturally you doubted whether your father had told you the truth. Well, your mother will have told you what Mrs. Herraday told her, on her word of honor."

"Yes, I know."

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In silence she handed it to her son, and I could see the thoughts working be- while he read it, we exchanged a glance.

"It seems true," the young man said, her. Godfrey's right hand lay on her not over-graciously, after a pause.

"Of course, it's true, Godfrey," she answered. "I told you what the lady told me. And besides, you had no right to doubt-'im."

To do the boy justice he did not wince at her lapsed 'h,' though his own h's were irreproachable.

"Mr.-, this gentleman," he said, slowly, "wants us to let the chapter stay as it is."

"Oh?" she asked, turning to me.

And then I said to him, as the door again opened and an extremely pretty girl came in, "Will you tell your mother what I have asked you to do-and what you have decided? Meantime," to the. girl, "I am sure you are Miss Grace Powell?"

She was, and said so very charmingly, and taking me to the window, shyly, in answer to my request, allowed me to look at her sketch.

It was curious to be talking to Godfrey Clandon's daughter, whom her mother had called after my favorite among all his heroines.

: I mentioned the book to her, and she spoke quite simply of her father and of her pride in him. "It 's eight years," she said, "since he died, and Mother is beginning to cheer up a little. He used to come every Sunday, so Sunday is our worst day, but I hope she will soon get used to it." "A terrible loss," I assented, gravely. "You 've not seen Geraldine?" Grace Powell asked me.


"She is so like him! Mother, is n't Geraldine exactly like Father? Oh, she 's crying" the young girl went swiftly to her mother and put both arms round


"Don't, Mother, dear," he was saying, "I'll do whatever you think he'd have liked, of course."

I looked out of the window and counted two cabs and a taxi pass before I looked round. "We

Then Godfrey approached me. have talked it over, sir," he said, simply, "and Mother thinks he would n't 'like it' if we-if we caused the lady who was his friend any annoyance. So the chapter may stay as it is."

I thanked him and then turned to Mrs. Pegram, whose face was still wet.

"I thank you very much," I said; "and I am sure you are right. For though Clandon did not love Mrs. Herraday, he certainly liked her very much, and in his illness she did her best to be of use to him-"

"I know. Miss Clandon told meonly I don't like the letters-I don't like people to think they were sent to her."

"But they were n't, Mother, dear," I heard Grace Powell whisper, "and as long as we know, what does it matter?"

This was the comfort I left with them. Wilmot Herraday's relief was, of course, great, and I was as naturally relieved for her. But my real sympathies were, and have remained, I confess, at The Laburnums. I have never been back there, nor seen any one of the Pegrams since. I dare say they do not even know my name, for I had no card, and the maid is pretty sure to have muddled it, and yet I always feel that they are there-round the corner, so to speak. They have remained in my mind with remarkable distinctness, Mrs. Pegram, and Godfrey, and Grace Powell,-even the Geraldine, "so like him," whom I never saw!

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S the apostles of scientific management have shown us we Americans have wasted foolishly in the individual processes of our industry. In the whole body of our industry we have often wasted, not only foolishly, but cruelly, and nowhere more cruelly than in the matter of provision for the wreckage of industry, the killed and wounded in our industrial warfare. Nearly every year, perils inevitable to an age of industry kill their thousands, and maim their tens of thousands. The railroads alone return an unusual list of killed and wounded employees which would match well with real warfare. We have recognized dimly that either society or the industry in question owes to this wreckage some form of support for crippled, impotent years, or for a new generation of unprotected survivors. But we are struggling along on a system of compensation for industrial accidents which is a relic of the old hand-labor days, and which has worked out into a tangle of law, highly expensive, incredibly complicated, and decidedly unjust. All the socalled progressive nations entered the era of specialized labor and machine production with legal principles similar to ours; all but the United States have either amended them or changed them utterly to fit the necessities of the new age.

Ten years ago, the demand for a basic change in the spirit of our law of accident compensation proceeded solely from the

more enlightened labor leaders and "charity workers." The business community, if it noticed the problem at all, was deadset in opposition. Five years ago, a few business men awoke to the fact that a scientific system of working-men's compensation must come in this country, as it has come has come in Germany, England, and France. Now, employers as well as employees are working to hasten the new era; a stable and just form of industrial indemnity is coming with a rush. Three great corporations-the United States Steel Corporation, the International Harvester Company, and the Cheney Silk Mills-have instituted voluntary systems of working-men's compensation. Oregon, Montana, and New York, with the cooperation of the more enlightened among their employers, have passed more or less complete laws embodying the principles which Germany and England have incorporated into their codes. Nine other states have statutes on the new plan before their legislatures. At least twenty more are studying the matter through commissions or committees. The National Association of Manufacturers, the implacable enemy of Union labor, has passed resolutions indorsing in a general way the principle which Union labor was first to advocate. And at present the only active opponents of a modern employer's liability law are a few old-time manufacturers, who can see nothing but next year's dollar, and the

more fanatical or unscrupulous labor leaders, who wish to retain the old code of laws with all protection for the employer removed. On this wing of the firing-line, the battle between the capitalist and the laborer has narrowed down to a contest over the terms of the agreement.

What is the basis, and what are the terms, of the present law of employer's liability which afflicts American industry so grievously? This we must understand before we can understand the new plan and the new era in the relations between the toiler and the employer. Expressed in terms of a layman, our laws, based on the English Common Law, generally declare that the victim of an injury may receive compensation through the courts from any person whose carelessness or criminal intent has caused his injury. The employer and the employee stand on equal footing before this law; in the sight of the State they are separate individuals. Another act of common law declares that the principal is responsible for the act of his agent. A railroad switchman, for example, is an agent of the railroad company. So far, if any one, either passenger or brakeman, is killed or injured by the negligence of a switchman, the company should be liable.

This basic law recognizes, however, the principle of "contributory negligence." The fact that the victim, by carelessness, by the lack of proper precaution, contributed to his own injury, may be used to deny him damages or to mitigate them. This is the first instrument, employed by lawyers to pervert law to injustice; it is still the stock defense of corporation claim departments against personal injury suits. In itself, however, it is just.

In the dawn of specialized industry, a Lord Chief Justice of England laid down a principle in the law of personal damage suits which may be called definitely an injustice. Known as the "fellow-servant act," it became part of the English law at the very time when industry was becoming specialized. The employer remained responsible for the act of the agent, except in cases where the agent was a fellowservant of the injured person. That is: if an employer of a gang of shovelers left a manhole open, and one of his laborers fell through it to his injury, the laborer could recover damages. But if another laborer

in the same employ left the manhole open, the injured man had no action in lawfor the offender and the victim were fellow-servants. If an outsider fell into that manhole, however, he could recover damages no matter who left it open; for in that case the offender was an agent of the employer, not a fellow-servant. That decision, so carelessly conceived that Lord Abinger called the butcher and the baker fellow-servants with the butler and the cook, came over into American law. At one time or another the fellow-servant principle prevailed in all our states. To this day, it remains in most of them.

Our State Supreme Courts have differed widely in their definition of this doctrine. In one state, a flagman is a fellowservant with an engineer. In another, he is a part of the management. In the first case, an engineer injured because the flagman is "asleep at the switch," cannot recover, though his passenger can; in the other, his suit against the company is as good as the passenger's.


There is little doubt that Lord Chief Justice Abinger had domestic service mainly in mind when he laid down his celebrated principle; and applied to domestic or simple agricultural service, there is justice in it. Where the processes are few and simple, where every man knows his fellow-servants, their faults and peculiarities, the workman may be expected to look out for himself. And, indeed, in that period industry had not gone very far beyond hand labor. But the era of specialized labor, of extreme complex machinery, was arriving even then. Industrial society became highly interdependent. safety of John Dvorak, miner, lay in the hands of a dozen men whom he did not know, as, for example, the engineer who hoisted and lowered his cage. Men had to accept employments which placed them at the mercy of fellow-servants in the next township or county. The electrical worker could not know for himself whether the engineer in the plant away up in the mountains was likely to get drunk and send a fatal current down a wire supposed to be dead. dead. The engineer of a through New York Central train could not know, upon leaving Chicago, that a fellow engineer at Syracuse had sat up two nights with a sick wife and was in no condition to read the signals. The growth of modern in

dustry made this law an injustice almost before it was firmly set in the statute books.

This same complexity of modern industry wrought another law, originally fairly just, into still another injustice. I refer


'assumption of risk." By this basic principle an employee cannot be held liable for injury received from a danger with which he is perfectly well acquainted. He has the immemorial right to "quit." That principle worked well under hand labor and individual industry. For instance Farmer Jones keeps a dangerous bull in his pasture. John Smith, farm hand, knows that the bull is dangerous. If he is ordered to enter the pasture, he can refuse; if necessary, he can give up his job; if he takes the chances, he does it at his own fair risk. But industry grew into warfare, returning its inevitable list of killed and wounded every year. In many common trades, it became necessary to assume risks that lay in the nature of the calling, and he who was always watching for his safety was an impossible workman. "Railroading" is perhaps our one greatest specialized industry; and a cautious railroad man is a contradiction in terms. The prevailing type of city building is erected on a steel framework; and the "bridgemen" who do this work must take all the chances of a soldier. That is in the nature of the craft; a coward cannot become a bridgeman. The grim giants of steel which are the tools of our little bodies in this age, present so many complex possibilities of going wrong that no workman may foresee their dangers.

Behold the law, as we carried it over into an age for which it was never conceived. Behold now what a mess we made of its application:

The injured workman had only one recourse beyond the possible charity of his employer-the courts. Obviously, since generally the employer was rich and the employee poor, the former had all the advantage in "good legal talent." The attorneys of the company, the claims department of the corporation, took advantage of this complex, ill-conceived tangle of laws to throw every obstacle in the way of even the most just claims. On the principle that the poor are woefully given to the purchase of shoddy goods, the working-man-in spite of legal

aid societies formed for his benefit-characteristically ran acteristically ran to "shyster" lawyers, who often invented for their clients cases having no basis either in truth or in justice. If the employer, with his claims department, had nearly all the resources and the talent, the employee, with his shyster, had at least one strong hold-the sympathy of juries. "I'll get it before the jury," said the shyster in beginning a case. "Very well, I'll appeal," responded the claims agent. So the suits, gathering expense as they went, dragged over two, four, even five or six years, while a crippled laborer waited unproductive. And when a case was so clear and obvious that quibbles and appeals could not beat it, when the verdict of the jury was finally nailed down hard and fast, then appeared another injustice, this time against the employer. Juries, when they could register their opinions, had a way of giving ridiculously large verdicts. Awards of ten or fifteen thousand dollars for the disabled limb of a two-dollar-a-day laborer have not been uncommon.

Then appeared the indemnity insurance companies, taking the matter further away from a simple relation between employer and employee. These companies were machines. It became their business to pay the indemnity claims of the insured, and to keep these claims down by every fair method known to law. It was part of their policy to discourage the habit of bringing suits for industrial accidents, to make the way to verdicts seem as rough as possible. And they destroyed all feeling of personal responsibility between the employer and employee. "I'm sorry you got hurt, Jim," said the superintendent. "You 're a good fellow and a good workman. I can't do anything for you, though. We 're insured, and we have to agree not to give any special compensation. You'll have to sue; and I hope you 'll get something." How this part of the system operated a modern instance will show. A pressman, a good workman, much liked and trusted by the management, went back to his shop on his Saturday half-holiday to repair a troublesome bit of his press. Part of the machine fell on him and killed him. It was rather a dangerous operation to perform alone; he must have known the risk he took. Contributory negligence and assumption of risk prob

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