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I was like a mad one. I kept on talking until I noticed the foreman and young boss laughing at me and at my speech. I was ashamed of myself. Their laughter made me feel that I said a lot of foolishness. When I came home, I cried from anger at myself.
At last the deputy clerks from the association and the Union came. I was called in the office. In my broken English I tried to explain to them every thing I knew. After me the foreman spoke. In a soft, gentle voice he spoke. Hearing him talk in the office, it could hardly be believed that a man like him could use such violent language as he used in the shop to the girls. He denied all I said. He told them for how long he had been foreman in the shop, that the girls never kicked about anything, that peace prevailed until I came, that I was also satisfied until the system of week-work was changed; since then I began to make trouble in the shop because I don't want to work piece-work.
'It's a lie!' I interrupted him. 'I'm glad that the system is changed. I only wanted to have a man from the Union to settle the prices for us!'
I was maddened by the foreman's false statements. He lied through and through, and I could not help interrupting him; but by interrupting him, I only succeeded in discrediting myself, for the clerk of the association stopped me.
"Why, that girl is unbearable, she possesses an awful temper!' said he to the clerk of the Union. After all, he is the boss, and she should have more respect for him! She is too fresh!'
'Oh, if you only knew him!' said I, and burst into tears, for it pained me that I was not given the privilege to be heard as he; he was more trusted than I; besides, I was so disappointed. I expected to get full justice when the clerks came. I expected that they would adjust the prices; they would
tell the boss he should not agitate the people against the Union, they would order the foreman to be more polite to the girls. All they did was to tell us that we, together with the boss, should select a girl to test the garments.
Both clerks failed to see the impossibility of selecting a girl in our shop. All the girls, without exception, were as week-workers very much underpaid. If any girl was to make a test, and be paid by the hour according to her former salary, we would surely not be able to make out anything. But I was not given any chance to explain it to them, for they left in a hurry.
When I stepped back into the shop, the girls were all waiting impatiently for news. Their eyes were fixed on me, questioning. Before I could open my mouth, the foreman followed me.
'Well, girls! Even the clerk said that she was fresh, that she had a bad temper. He also said that I'm the boss here, and she has nothing to say!'
So he interpreted the clerk's sentences, and wanted the girls to believe him. From that day on our quarreling began. The next morning the first thing I did was to remind the foreman of selecting a test girl. We were only four girls who were competent enough in the work, so that only the four could act as testers. Among the four of us he selected Sadie and wanted nobody else. How could I agree to her when she was such a good worker and only got twenty cents an hour? My arguments did not do any good. He would again call me trouble-maker and fresh girl.
When I went over for work, the foreman kept me waiting, purposely to make me lose time. At lunch-time I ran to the Union again. There I cried for a long time until I was able to talk. The people up there comforted me. To them it was not new. Hundreds of girls used to come to them with the same grievances as I. But those did not cry
any more. They were used to the illtreatment of the bosses and foremen.
I went back to work. Before I had time to sit down, the foreman began.
'Well, what did your Union tell you? You think I'm afraid of you, eh? The more you complain, the worse for you! I shall give you such work that you can't make two dollars a week!'
That day he would give me only such bundles as had to go to the hemstitchers. I would only have for halfhour work in a bundle, and wait for another one. That afternoon, when I asked for such a bundle that I could work on it without any interruption, he refused to give. I complained to the boss. The boss took out a bundle from a girl's basket and put me to work on it. To the foreman I heard him saying:
'You better stop torturing the girl too much!'
Too much! The boss seemed to have a limit as to how much they could trouble me he was afraid to trouble me too much!
At three o'clock the clerks were up again. When the complaint was read before the boss, he said he knew nothing about it. He tells the foreman to treat everybody alike. If the foreman does treat me unfair, he'll see to it that he does not.
In the presence of the clerks we selected a test girl. She was Mollie of the price committee. They told us that, in case we would not agree on the test, they'd have a man sent up to make the prices.
When they left, the boss came over to us and said,
'Of course, you wanted the clerks and you had them! But I'm telling you again that you may have a thousand of clerks to make prices for you, I would not pay a cent more than I pay you now! I cannot afford to pay you more, for I sell my merchandise
cheap and I can't raise the price on it.'
"Then why don't you tell that to the clerks? What's the use of bothering around and waste people's time for nothing?' asked I. 'If you are a member of the association, you can afford to pay as much as the other members do; if you can't—all right, give up your business! Somebody else will have to make up the work and we'll get our jobs all right!'
'A-ah, is that what you want?' cried the boss in anger. 'You want to drive me out from business you socialist, you anarchist that you are!!! Go, go to Russia, fight with the Cossacks! I'm telling you girls again,' he continued, 'if I have to pay more, I'll give up the business! If you suffer after, it won't be my fault, but hers!' He pointed his finger at me.
'You, Mollie, go ahead, make the test and let see how it'll come out.'
Mollie was given two waists to test. At the same time the foreman gave two waists to Sadie. He did not trust Mollie, though he said that she was a good respectable girl - and so she was.
She tried her best to make the test a fair one. Sadie saw her chance to show her devotion to the boss with that test. She rushed the work terribly, but when she saw that she was not ahead of Mollie, she had the girl next to her help her out. I watched them all. Sadie had her waists finished ten minutes before Mollie. Of course Mollie's test was not accepted. According to Mollie's test, the waists had to be priced at 46 cents apiece; according to Sadie's, the waist came out at 35 cents. All the boss wanted to pay was 30 cents.
When the expert came, he priced the waist at 50 cents. He said that a waist like that was paid everywhere at 50 cents. The boss refused to pay either price. He claimed it was impossible for him to exist. He made a proposition to have the work made in sections. The
garment should be divided into collars, cuffs, bodies, sleeves, belts. Each part should be settled by the dozen, and each part should be made by one girl.
I did not agree to it, neither did the union clerk. I tried to make the girls see the danger in section-work for them. No skill is required at sectionwork. Anybody could learn in a week or less to make a certain part of the garment. The girls, not being skilled workers, will always have to depend on that only shop, and, of course, will never be able to take a stand against any wrong which will occur to them, for fear to lose their position.
The association and the Union at last took more interest in that case. For three days clerks would come and go, come and go; they could not come to an understanding. At last the boss announced that he would give up the business.
Again I had a meeting with the girls. All the will-power I possessed I used to the utmost that evening in convincing the girls of the great mistake they would make by working in the shop on the old conditions.
In the morning, when we had our work finished out, we told the foreman that we would only work there if we were to have a strictly union shop with union conditions. He announced that no more work would be cut and that we were free to look for positions. I took all the girls with me and went to the union office.
took work from the competent girl to take care of the others. A few I sent through the paper, and they found jobs themselves. Mollie and her sister I sent to the shop where I first learned the trade. As I once already mentioned, that boss was a good acquaintance of mine, and through my recommendation they got employment there, where one of the sisters is still working. I and another girl were still out.
The next day, I received a letter from Mr. Baroff of our Union, informing me that he got a job for me as a sample-maker. I quickly ran over to the office. There the other girl sat waiting for me; she also like me was still looking for work. As I promised to all the girls to help them in finding jobs, if the boss should give up the business, I felt that I had no right to accept the offered job, while a girl who held me responsible for her idleness was still out of a position. But I also needed the job, I needed the position to support both of us, myself and my brother; how could I give away the job to her? And still I did. I preferred to suffer economically, rather than be blamed for irresponsibility.
My present pessimistic state of mind developed not only from my own sufferings but also from the life around me. The general conditions of the people I lived among filled my heart with misery. My head was always puzzled with the question of inequality in this universe. I was unable to decide what remedy should be applied in order to equalize the world. One thing I understood: that the present capitalistic system must be changed, that the wealth created by people should be divided among those people. But whether the change should come through peaceful education or revolution, I felt not ripe enough to decide. (The End)
The next morning, when I came to the union office to meet my girls who waited impatiently for results, the manager of the independent department had called up a few shops, inquiring for positions for the girls. The first two positions he got I sent up two girls, one competent worker and the other a learner. Before I sent them away I
PETER STOOD AND WARMED HIMSELF
BY GEORGE PARKIN ATWATER
THE high explosive shell, fashioned, filled, and fired by the Reverend Joseph H. Odell, in the February Atlantic, has filled the land with reverberations. It is a courageous, manly, and sincere explosion of the pent-up feelings of an indignant patriot. The shock of it tumbled me into my dug-out and left me speechless, my brain reeling with the vivid images of his graphic pen, with the piercing denunciations of his prophetic voice. All honor to him for his utterance.
After a time the shock passed, and I put on my gas-mask and ventured forth to look upon the ruins. Ruins were abundant. Neutrality and pacifism were withered to dust and ashes. Complacency was powdered to atoms. Denominationalism was flattened into a pulp. German theology was hurled into a leper colony, and, like Judas, went to its own place. The tribal god of the high places of Potsdam, disguised as the Lord God of Christianity, was shorn of its mask, and the label 'Made in Germany 'revealed the Moloch, made in the image of the Kaiser, reveling in human sacrifices.
has become the spiritual heritage of memory, because in destroying the military asset of its high towers, the German shells ruined its age-long splendor. But explosions of human wrath may be more discriminating, and it is but justice to Dr. Odell to affirm that he undoubtedly had no intention of uprooting the whole structure, the faults of which he assails. To use his words, his 'volcanic eruption' has poured molten lava upon certain institutions and has left no vestige; but in the process he has buried other institutions in cold ashes. We may dig them out.
Peter, the symbol of the ministry? Sitting by a fire and hugging the comfortable delusion of security? Trapped by a casual feminine inquiry which would have ended his career? Not so Peter! Peter stood. St. John says so. Involved in the stupendous tragedy of God incarnate, who had brought the dead to life, being hurried to a trial, of which even St. Peter could not know the outcome; confused by the calamities and obscurities and perplexities of the passing hour, Peter, the rock man, stood, awaiting the message, the direction, the mission, that was to be his. The maid who asked the question of him was but the unsubstantial shadow of an unreal world, compared with the question, -‘And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth?'-a question asked by conscience, not of the reality of his physical companionship, but of the verity of his special discipleship.
Peter, resistant, as poor human na
ture often is, thrust aside for a moment the outer and less important implication of the situation, made it a matter of inner struggle and sacrifice, then surrendered to the light and leading of it all, and went out and wept bitterly. They were tears of consecration, and the man who stood, during the struggle, weighing its issues, not acquiescent and yet not sure of the trend of it, that man, so human and more to be trusted because of his period of uncertainty, went forth to his martyrdom. If St. Peter, as he stood there, had shown a foreknowledge of the events, if he had seemed an object of divine assurance which would have made his struggle less keen, we should not have respected his experience. The clergy at this time, having stood, with Peter, are now exemplifying his boldness.
The clergy to-day have a serious task. This is a day of false alarms. Street-corner orators vent their spleen upon every institution of mankind, hurling invectives at the educational, commercial, and religious granaries in which is stored the wealth of the labor of ages; reviling the granaries which these orators themselves did not by constructive effort help to fill, while having no further foundation for their vituperation than the soap-boxes which they did not help to empty. Political parties and newspapers raise clouds of dust by their cunning manœuvres, both in the hope that the public vision will be clouded thereby, and also in the hope that their crocodile tears of lamentation will turn the dust to mud with which to besmirch those whom they would destroy. Amid the public turmoil stand the clergy, representing a higher order of things. Realizing the moral weight of their collective judgment, every partisan would invoke them, as Balak invoked Balaam of old, to curse his enemies. But the clergy are not to be convinced by clamor.
Who are these men, the clergy? Are they all fiery-tongued orators, saturated with the wisdom of the ages, commanding and swaying vast assemblages of people? Are they luxurious and isolated devotees of idle reflection, reveling in the psychological and spiritual joys of meditation in a garden sheltered by high walls from the turmoil without? They are neither. The clergy to-day are hard-working, underpaid, long-suffering plodders, living lives of sacrifice in every corner of the land, and sharing the lesser fragments of the crusts that fall from the wealth of our prosperity. With every conceivable obstacle in their paths, in the midst of a movie-crazed public, and a golfdistracted and motor-mad society, they do their duty humbly and quietly. They have no sufficient organ for concentrating public attention, for the people will not come to their churches, and the newspapers, while giving two columns to a prize-fight, would dismiss Isaiah himself in ten lines, unless he was 'good stuff' and would get a column as an eccentricity.
In spite of this fact, the clergy are a vast influence. For generations they have kept alight the beacons that point the path to human progress and happiness and duty. While you, half parent, were foozling that drive on the golf course, of a Sunday, or washing your car, or devouring the Sunday paper, in utter oblivion of the fact that you are a rank slacker and a parasite feeding upon the construction work of other men, and belittling their work so that you might take a minute's comfort to your own beggarly soul, the clergy are taking the other half of your parental duty and are trying to teach your children a few principles which may later make you take a false pride in the kind of boy or girl you assume that you have brought up.
It has not been the example of the