Tải bản đầy đủ

Alls fair


“ALL’SFAIR…”
byRICHARDWORMSER
“All’sFair…”ismorethanastirringlovestory.Itssettingisaturbulentmining
countywheremoneyandcorruptpoliticiansrulewithguns.Intothismare’snest
comesayounglaborleader,grimlydeterminedtosolvethemurderofafellow
organizerandtobreakthefeudalreignofWareCountybosses.
Disguisedasamineowner’sson,youngMacisinvitedintothehomeofthe
Alastairs,WareCounty’srulingfamily,andnearlyforgetshismissionwhenSue
Alastair’sblueeyesspeakinanage-oldlanguage.Buttheminersstrike,Sue
disappears,andMacfightsdaringly.Fromtheopeningofthebooktoits
surprisingclimaxRichardWormsercarrieshisreadersatabreathlesspace.
MODERNAGEBOOKS,Inc.


155East44thStreet,NewYork
COPYRIGHT1937BYRICHARDWORMSER
Allrightsinthisbookarereserved,anditmaynotbereproducedinwholeorin
partwithoutwrittenpermissionfromtheholderoftheserights.Forinformation
addressthepublishers.
ComposedandprintedintheUnitedStatesofAmericabyUnionLabor

ATTHERUMFORDPRESS,CONCORD,NEWHAMPSHIRE
TypographybyRobertJosephy
ALL’SFAIR


1
Theywerefivemiddle-agedhardmen,andtheylookedatMacwithmiddleaged,hardeyes.Therewereonlyfivechairsaroundthesplinterytable,sohehad
tostandwhileheboretheirscrutiny;hehopedhisfacewasasnoncommittalas
theirs.
Finallythemanwiththescardownhischeeksaid:“Youlooklikeasilk-shirt
dudetome.”HehadtheremnantsofaSouthernaccent:onhistongue,“like”
became“lak.”
Macputhisthumbsthroughhisbelt.“Iwasn’ttoomuchofadudeforthe
deputiesthattriedtostopusorganizingthesharecroppers.”
“He’sgottolooklikeadude,”thethinbaldmansaid.“Howoldareyou,Mac?”
“Twenty-three,”Macsaid.Hefishedapackageofcigarettesoutofhispocket,
offeredthemaroundwithoutgettinganytakers,andthenlitoneforhimself.The
scarredmantookoutaplugofchewingtobaccoandgnawedoffapiece.
“Bytheway,Mac,what’syourrealname?”
“I’vealmostforgottenitmyself.”
“Yeah?”Themanwiththescarsquintedathim.“Youactlikeacollegeguy.
How’dyougetintolabororganizing?”
“Myoldmanwasacollegegraduate,sowasmymother,”Macsaid.“Iwas
fifteenin1929,ajuniorinhighschool.Firstmyoldman’ssavingswent,inWall
Street;he’dneverbeenonmargin,buthisbossadvisedhimonthemarketand
hetookachance.Thatmarketdidn’thaveabottom.Thenthebosslaidhimoff.
Motherwentoutasagovernesstosomerichkids.Shehadtoeatwiththe
servants,andherbossmadepassesather.Shewasonlythirty-six…Finally,I
ranaway.Ifiguredwithoutmetoworryaboutthey’ddobetter.”
“You’veneverbeenback?”
“Once.Theoldmanwassellingrazorbladesfromdoortodoor.Heandmy


motherstoppednaggingateachotherlongenoughtosayhellotome…Icould
rememberwhentherewasneveracrosswordinthehouse.”
Suddenlythetensionrelaxed,andthethinmansaid:“Here,takemychair.I’ll
getonefromtheotherroom.”
“I’llgetit,”Macsaid.Heopenedthedoor,grinnedatthetypistoutside,and
broughtachairback.Hesatinit,tiltedback,wrappinghislonglegsaroundthe
rung.


“Yougotanyideawhatwewantyoufor?”thethinmanasked.
“No,”Macsaid.“Justthatyouaskedtoborrowmebecauseyouneededayoung
organizer.”
“Thisisn’torganizing,”thethinmansaid.“It’sundercoverwork.Gotany
objectionstobeingafinkandalouseforawhile?”
Macusedagrinforananswer.“Let’shearit.”
“O.K.YouknowWareCounty,downinthebaugnitecountry?”
“Sure,”Macsaid.“Supposedtobetough.”
“Itistough,”theothersaid.“Baugniteminersruntough,butthatain’tnothingto
whatthedeputiesandforemenandcompanyspiesrundownthere.Welosta
mandownthereamonthago.”
“Organizer?”Macasked.
“No,”thethinbaldmanwenton,hisfacegaunt.“Notanorganizer.Listen,”he
said,quietly,“Wesentanorganizerdownthere.Thosebaugniteminerswork
theirgutsoutintwentyyearsforwagesthatwouldn’tfeedamouse.Theygota
righttoknowaboutunions.Sowesentthismanin.Toldhimtoplayiteasy,
avoidtheroughstuff.Hell,it’sfertilegroundthere!Allyouhavetodoistell
yourstory,andtheworkingstiffswouldrushtojoin.Well,thisguywastherea
week,andthingsweregoinggood.Hedidtwothingswrongthen.Heposteda
noticeofameeting.Andhewiredhissonhehadanineteen-year-oldsonto
comeandjoinhim.Forcompany.Thedayofthemeeting,abunchofdeputy
sheriffscamearoundinacar,andtoldthisorganizertogetoutoftown.Within


anhour.Hewireduphereforinstructions.”
Thebaldmanstopped,clearedhisthroat.
“Goon,”Macsaid.Hewasleaningforwardinhischair.
“Hegothisinstructions.Theyweretotellasmanypeopleaspossiblewhathad
happened,callthemeetingoff,andleavetown.”
“Wedidn’twantanybloodshed,”thescarredmansaid.
“That’sright,”thethinmansaid,sadly.“Nobloodshedwell,thisfellowdidall
thesethings.First,though,hewiredhissontostopoffatthenearestcityand
waitforhim.Thenhewentdowntothestation,andgotoutoftown.The
deputiessawhimgo.”
“But—”Macsaid.
“Sure.But.Thesonnevergotthetelegram.Itmissedhim.Sohecameintotown,
wentuptotheshackhisoldmanhadrented,andwaitedthere,wonderingwhere
hisfatherwas,Isuppose…Afterawhileitgotdark,andhemusthavelitalamp.
Aboutanhourafterdark,somecarspulledupinfrontoftheshack,andblew
theirhorns.Hewentandopenedthedoorand—”Thethinmanstopped,
coughed.“Theycuthiminhalfwithasubmachinegun.That’sall.”
“Thecounty’sunderquarantinenow,”thescarredmansaid.“Theysayit’sfullof
measlesorsomething.Butthechurchesarestillmeeting,andschoolsareopen.
Quarantine,hell!Onlywecan’tgetamaninthere.Theystophimatthecounty
line.”
“That’sanewtwist,”Macsaid.“Thatquarantinegag.”Hiseyeswerehard.
“Whywouldtheywanttokilltheson?Hehadn’tdoneanything.”
“Theyfiguredhewasanotherorganizer,ormaybetheytookhimforhisfather,
comeback,”thethinmansaid,thenheturnedaway.“Lawrence,tellMachere
whatyouwanthimtodo.”
“Wewantyoutogointhere,”thescarredmansaid,“andfindoutwhokilled
youngGowan.Why,how,everything.Butyou’llhavetoworkundercover.We
haveaplan.OutinCaliforniawehaveafriend,anoldunionman,apalofmine,


cripplednow.He’sworkinginamineoffice.You’rethesonoftheownerofthat
mine.Youaretowriteyour‘father’often.Ourfriendintheofficewillpickup
anymailfromWareCountyandansweritright.See?”
“Ithinkso,”Macsaid.“I’mtotellthesebaugniteownersinWareCountythat
weexpectlabortroubleinCalifornia—”Heputonamincing,slightlylisping
accent.“AndinWareCountytheyaresowise,socleverinkeepingtheunions
outthatDaddysentmeEasttofindouthowtheydoit.”
“That’sright,”Lawrencesaid.“We’llbuyyouanoutfitgoodEnglishtweeds,
swellluggageandtophat,whitetie,andtails,likethefellasays.Thinkyoucan
actamineowner’sson?”
“I’lltakeastabatit.Butthere’sonecatch.I’mnotbackingout,”Macsaid,“but
wrhatifthismanoutWestyourfriendintheofficediesorgetssick,and
somebodyelsegetsthemail?”
“That’sthechanceyoutake,”Lawrencesaid.“Butifyouwanttogo,youcan
startatonce.Gowanherehasthemoneyforyourclothesandspendingmoney.”
“Gowan?”Maclookedatthebald,thinman.
“Yes,”thethinmansaid.“Gowan.Itwasmysontheyshot.”
“Allright,Gowan,”Macsaid.“Let’sgobuymesomeclothes.”


2
Asthetrainsloweddown,Maccaughthisbreathandshovedhisshoulderback
againstthePullmancushions.Thiswasthebeginningofwhat?
ThewindowsofthePullmandarkenedasitenteredastation,andMacstoodup,
reachingforhisbags.Thenherememberedthathewasoutofthebagtotingclass
now,andwalked,easily,tothevestibule,wheretheporterbrushedhimoffand
acceptedatip.MachopedtoseescornintheNegro’seyes,sawnoneand
decidedthatportersweregoodatdisguisingthecontempttheymustfeelfor
able-bodiedmenwhohadtopayotherable-bodiedmentocarryapairofgrips.
Thetrainstopped,andhewentoutonthestoneplatformandsupervisedthe
transferofthesuitcasestoaredcap.Thenhefollowedtheredcapuptherampto
theironbarredgate.
ForrestAlastairtherewasanameforyouwassupposedtomeethimhere.That
is,OldJohnAlastairhadwrittentoMac’smythicalfatherthat“myson
Alastair’llbeatthetrain.”
FromOldJohn’sreputation,Macknewthatpeopledidwhathetoldthemto.
Macstoodbesidehisredcap,andlookedaround.Hetriedtothinklikehisfine
clothesinsteadoflikehimself.Thefeelingofbeingabouttoplungeintothe
unknownexcitedhim,andwhenhefinallysingledoutamanwhomustbe
ForrestAlastair,Macwasdeepintherolehehadtoplay.
“Mr.Alastair?”heasked.Heknewtheanswer,beforeheheardit;thisyoung
articlewiththebuttercoloredhairwouldhavetobearichman’sson.
“Yes.You’reMr.MacBlair.”Alastairgavehimawarmsmileandtoldtheporter
totakethebagsoutto“mycar.”
“Thisway,Mr.MacBlair.Iimagineyou’regladtostretchyourlegsafterthat
longtraintrip.”
MacadmitteditwasalongwayfromCalifornia.“ButIchangedtrainsjusttwo
hourswestofhere.Hadachancetostretchthere.”


Forrestwasmakingconversationwhiletheporterstowedthebagsintothe
rumbleofahugeroadster.“You’vebeenintheEastbefore?”Hiseyeswere
politeastheytookinMac.
“No,never.”Macthoughtupanembellishmenttothat.“Oh,yes,once,Dadand
MothertookmetoEurope.ButIwastooyoungtoremember.”
“NeverseenCalifornia,”ForrestAlastairsaid.“Liketo.”
“We’reveryproudofourclimate,”Macsaid,climbingin.Likestrangedogs,he
thought,smellingeachotherout,toseeifit’stobefriendshiporfight.
ForrestAlastairstartedthecar.“Beastlycity,this,”hesaid.“Notadecent
buildinginit.”
“I’vealwaysheardthecountryinyourstatewashandsome,”Macsaid.
“Notourpart,”Alastairsaid.“WareCountydoesn’tcareaboutscenery.”
MacdecidedthattherewassmallhopeofgettingForrestAlastairtolikehim.
“Thisisn’tWareCounty?”heasked.Citystreetswereflowingbythem;but
Alastairdrovelikeabatoutofhell.
“No.”Forrestswirledaroundatruck.
Theconversationdied.
Theyleftthecity,andForrestAlastairletthebigcarouttoseventy.Hewas,Mac
hadtoadmit,acompetentdriver,butafterawhileMac’slegachedfrompressing
downimaginarybrakes.
Thenthebigcarslowedup.
“Whatnow?”Macasked.
“Countyline,”youngAlastairsaid.“We’requarantined.”
Macsaid:“Oh,wasthatwhyIhadtogetoffthetrainatthecity?”
“That’sright,”Alastairtoldhim.Heleanedoutoftheroadster’sside,wavedat
theguard.“O.K.?”


“O.K.,Mr.Alastair.”
Thecargatheredspeedagain.AlastairglancedatMac’sface.“Don’tworry,”he
chuckled,“I’mnottakingyouintoadeathtrap.”
Macbithislip.AlastairthoughtMacwasafraidanddidnotknowitwashatehe
felt;buthehadalmostcaughthimoffhisguard.Watchit,Mac,watchit.
“Herearethemines,”Alastairsaid.“Bytheway,whatdoyourfriendscallyou?
Warren?”
MachadgiventhenameWarrenMacBlair.Itwasnothisown.“No,Mac,”he
said.“Thoseareyourmines,oldchap?”
“No,”Alastairsaid.“That’stheRandMiningCompanyoldHarfordRand.
You’llmeethimDad’sgivingapartyforyoutonight.Isuppose—”hemadeit
“s’pose”“theylookquitedifferentfromyoursortofmine.”
TherewasmorethancasualquestioninhistonebutMacwasonhomegrounds
now.Hehadcrammeduponengineeringjournalsonthetrain.
“Notsodifferent,”hesaid.“Baugnitefetchesabouttwelvedollarsthetonnow,
doesn’tit?”Hestaredoutattheblackenedlandscape.Abunchofmencameinto
viewasthecarroundedacurvewhite-facedmen,withablackedgetothem
goingtowork.Theysaidifyouworkedaweekinabaugnitemine,youdidn’t
getallthewaycleanforayear.“Nowwecanbarelymakemoneyonthreeand
fourdollarore.ButinColorado,Ihear,onecompany’sgettingfatontwofifty
stuff.That’sbecausetheyknowhowtohandlelabor,Isuppose.”
“Byjove,thatisinteresting,”ForrestAlastairsaid,warmingabit.“Gotmuch
labortohandleinyourtown?”
“OurtownMacBlairusedtohaveahundredfamiliesinit,”Macsaideasily.
“Nowwe’vegotoverathousand.Fatherdoesn’tlikeit;saysheusedtoknow
everymanwhoworkedforhim.Swellsupandbellowsabouthavingtoletalot
ofstrangersintohismine.”
Forrestchuckled.“Soundsanoldtimer,likemydad.”Heputthecararounda
curvethatnearlymadeahorseshoe.Thecenterofthehorseshoewasanelm.
“Well,timeschangeandmethodswiththem.Idon’tminddealingwithunions,


butDadandoldRandwon’thearofithere.”Somethinglikecordialitywas
growingupbetweentheyoungmen,hamperedbyoldfashionedfathers.
Macswallowed.“Unions?Thewaywefeel,getaunionandyougetastrike.”
Alastairslowedupforthebeginningofthecitylimits.“That’sonewayof
lookingatit.Now,there’sthecountycourthouseourleadingarchitectural
monstrosity.HarfordRandfoundadepositoflimestoneoveroneofhisbaugnite
veinsonce.Insteadofblowingitawaywithdynamite,hecutitoutcarefullyand
soldittothecountyforacourthouse.He’sstillbragging,andtheoppositionis
stillcursing.”
“That’showyougetrich,”Macsaid.“Takeyouropportunitieswhenyoucome
tothem.”
ForrestAalastairlookedathim.“Well,Isupposeso.”
“Takeiteasy,Mac.Don’tlaytheTorystuffonwithashovel.
SothiswasEmilsville,countyseatofWareCounty.Thesidewalksweregray
likeanyotherplace;rainshadwashedawaythebloodthathadstainedthem
fromtimetotimeinsevenyearsofturbulentlaborhistory.Everywaveoflabor
discontenthadlappedagainstWareCountylines,andthenebbedawayagain,
redstained.
Butitlookedjustlikeanyothercountyseat.Nothinginitsmerelookstomake
Mac’sheartbeatfaster;nothingyettogivehimthatoldtinglingfeelinghe
alwaysgotwhenhereachedtheplaceinthefieldwherehewouldhavehishands
full.
“There’stheRandoffice,”ForrestAlastairsaid.“OursisinthenextblockifI
canfindparkingspace.’
Underablandface,Macsneered.ThosemusclesofAlastair’shadn’tcomefrom
workingbutfromcollegeathletics.GuyslikeAlastairdidn’tknowwhattimeit
wasintheworld.Well,somuchthebetter;thedumbertheycame,theeasierit
wasgoingtobe.“Quiteatownyouhavehere,”Macsaid.
“Thedustfromthesortersblowsalldayandallnight,”Alastairsaid.“It’sa
filthyplacetolivein.”AfarmerwastakinghistruckoutandAlastair’scar


dartedintothevacatedspaceandparked.“Leaveyourbagshere.Noonewill
touchthem.I’lltellthecoponthecornertokeepaneyeopen.”Heslidoutand
called:“Oh,Perry,watchthecar.There’sluggageinit.”
“Sure,Mr.Alastair.”Thecopmadeaneagersalute.
MacfollowedtheotherboyintotheofficeoftheAlastairMiningCompany.A
switchboardgirlandthreetypistslookedupandsmiledsympathetically;clothes,
Macthought,makeadifference.NowthatIgotmesomegoodclothes,Icould
makeadatewiththatoneinthebluedress,forinstance,andbuthe’drisen
abovethat.Mineowners’sonscouldn’tdatestenographers.
HeandForrestAlastairclimbedaflightofstairs,wentpastanother
stenographer,middle-agedthistime,andintoabig,sparselyfurnishedroom.On
thewallwasageologicalmapofWareCounty.
JohnAlastairswungoutfrombehindadesktomeetthem.Hewasnotverytall,
buthewasbroadandbulging.“Muscle-bound,”Macsaidtohimself.Theuntidy
whitehair,crookedarms,anddeep-lined,tightmouthwerethoseofascrapper.
“You’reyoungMacBlair?”hedemanded.
“That’sright,”Macsaid.
“Yeah,Igotaletterfromyourfather,”JohnAlastairsaid.“You’reheretosee
howwerunaquantitymine,huh?”
“Sure,”Macsaid.Itsoundedflat,andheadded;“Learnfromthemenwhoare
doingit.”
Alastairgaveasnortthatwasevidentlymirth.“Youacollegeboylikemykid
here?”
“Yes,”Macsaid.“Iwenttocollege.”Thepalmsofhishandswerealittledamp;
therewasnowayoffakingacollegeregisteriftheywantedtolookitup.
“Well,didtheyteachyoutherehowtodigdirt?”Alastairasked.
“Layoff,Dad,”Forrestsaid.“Fatherhastohavehisjoke,”hetoldMac.


“Sure,myjoke.Hellofajokewhenoldtimerslikemehavetoleaveourmines
toberunbyabunchofkidswholearnedtheirminingoutofbooks.Yourold
manstartatthebottom?”
“Withapickandshovel,”Macsaid.
“SodidI,”JohnAlastairsnapped.“StartedoutinoldGuthrie’smine,theScotch
hellion.BeforeIgotthrough,Iboughttheminefromhisreceivers.Iwastough,”
Alastairsaid.“Buttherewereguystougherthanmearound.Iwassmart,but
thereweresmarterguysthanme,too.ButIwastougherthanthesmartones,and
smarterthanthetoughones.That’showyourunamine,butI’mnotsurprised
oneofyoucollegepunkshadtocomeallthewayfromCaliforniatolearnit.”
Macnoddedandsaidquietly:“Theolddaysaregone.Maybetheywerebetter
days,andmaybeworse,buteitherway,they’regone.Ifyougettootoughnow,
themenplantdynamiteinyourhoist.Ifyougettoosmart,theblueskylawsnick
you.”
Alastairquieteddown,andforthefirsttimetookagoodlookatMac.“Them
clothesfooledme,son,”hesaid.“You’reheretoseewhywedon’tgetdynamite
inourhoists,huh?Well,keepyoureyesopen,maybeyou’lllearn.”
“We’veheardaboutyou,evenoutinCalifornia,”Macsaid.“OldJohnAlastair
ofWareCounty.”
“Notsodamnoldatthat,”Alastairbragged.“WhatIgotItookwithmytwo
fists.Well,Ikeepitthesameway.LetForrestloseitbackto‘emwhenI’m
gone.Iwon’tbeheretoseeit.”Hedroppedbackinhischair,grabbedupa
bunchofpapersinhisknottyfist.“Taketheboyouttotheclubforlunch,
Forrest,”hesaid.“I’llseeyouthisevening,MacBlair.Goonouttothecountry
club,andcatchalookatWareCounty’srealproblemourkids.Wecanhandle
thelabororganizersandthebankers.Butwegotusaproblemoutatthecountry
cluboldCarnegiehimselfcouldn’tcut.Oursissysonsandtoodamnfresh
daughters!”
Hefrowneddownathispapers,andMacwasdismissed.
Outside,Forrestsaid,“Don’tpaytoomuchattentiontotheoldman.Theonly
thingIcandobetterthanheisplaygolf,anditmakeshimsore.We’llstopby
thehouseanddropyourbags.”


ThenForrestlookedup.“Ah.Thefamilyprideandjoy.Herecomesmysister.”
Asmallcoupeslidintothecurb,itsnoseagainstthetailofForrest’sroadster,
andagirlslidout.Exceptforherface,shewasalittletoothin;butunderher
unrulyblondehairthatwascutalmostlikeaboy’s,shehadaningratiatingly
roundface.Maccouldn’thelpdespitethewayhefeltabouttheAlastairsliking
herrebelliousblueeyes.Shewalkedover,stuckoutherhand,andshookMac’s
hard.“ThisLochinvarMacBlair?”
“Lochinvar?”Macasked.
“OutoftheWest,”shesaid.“Thelonesomevirginsheredon’toftengetacrack
atayoungmanwhosefatherownsgoldmines.Youareabachelor,aren’tyou?”
sheaskedanxiously.“It’llbejusttoobadifyou’remarriedtoafilmstar.”
“Sue!”Forrestsaid.“StopridingMac!”
“I’mnotembarrassingyou,Mac?”
Helaughed.“Oh,no.ButIwon’tflutteranydovecotes.I’mheretolearn.”
“Iknow,”shesaid.“Dadshowedmeyourletter.Thenlearnsomethingabout
these!”
Herlookindicatedtwomenontheothersideofthestreet.Theyworeoveralls
andbigblackhats;theywerestringyandwornoutandeverylineintheirfaces
wasdeeplyetchedwithblackbaugnitedust.“Pretty,aren’tthey?”SueAlastair
asked.“Minersaretough,”Macsaid.“Theycantakeit.”
“I’dliketoseeyoucutbaugniteforawhile.”
“Don’tmindher,”Forrestsaid,“Shelikestorib.TalkslikeaCommunist.You
fallforitandthejokeisonyou!”
Suegavehimalonglook.Thenshesmiled.“Well,golunchwithForrest,Mac.
I’lldriveyouaroundthisafternoon.”


3
“I’vejusthadlunchinthecountryclub,”Macwrote.“Alltheprominentfamilies
aroundhereareinterestedinthemines,andtheyoungmenknowagooddeal
moreabouttheworkthanthefellowsIwentwithinCalifornia.I’msureI’ll
comebackknowingalotmorethanIdidwhenIwentaway,Father.
“SueAlastairthedaughterofthefamilyIamstayingwithistakingmedriving
thisafternoon.Sheischarming,ifalittlewild,seemstohavemorebrainsthan
herbrother,whometmeupinthecitythismorning,anddrovemedown.When
Isaysheiswild,Imeaninherideas;shetoldmethatshewassorryforher
father’semployes,andthatshehadevenconsideredjoiningtheCommunist
partyatonetime.Butthere’smorethananoffchancesheisonlyjoking.More
thanlikely.
“ItoldherIunderstoodherfather’sviewpointbetterthanIdidhers;hesaysthat
whathegothegotbyfightingandheholdsitthesameway.Heisanoutspoken
olddevil.
“Writemesoon,Father,andtellmeallthenews.
Yourlovingson,
Warren.”
Heputtheletterinanenvelope,andaddressedittothemineofficeinCalifornia.
Ifthisgoesastray,hethought,andgetsintooldMacBlair’shands,therewillbe
fireworks;thiswholebusinessisrathersilly.Thesepeoplearen’tlikelytoread
mymail;theyhavetakenmeinonfacevalue.
Buthehadbeenintheorganizinggametoolongtoquestiondiscipline;he
followedorders.WhenSueAlastaircalleduponthehousephonetosayshewas
downstairs,hewentdowncarryingtheletterwithhim.“Mindstoppingatthe
postoffice?”hesaidtoher.“Iwanttogetthisofftomyfather.”
“Adutifulson,”shemocked.“FathershouldhavehadyouinsteadofForrest.”
“What’swrongwithForrest?”


Instantlyshechanged.“He’smybrother,afterall.Here’sthepostoffice.”
“MaybeIshouldhavesaidyourfatheroughttocounthisblessings,”Macsaid.
“Afterall,withadaugh*terlikeyou,hegothisshareofthebreaks.”
“Yourtechniqueisnonetoosubtle,”Suedecided.“Gomailyourletter.”
Heknewhisgrinwasgood.Ithadgothimbackdoorhandoutsoftenenoughon
theroad.Heuseditonher,andcarriedtheletterintothepostoffice.Heshoved
itintoabox,thinking,thishastogototheCoastandthenbackeastofhere,and
iftheyweren’tsodamnedsuspiciousupatheadquarters,theycouldhaveit
tomorrowmorning.
“Whereto?”sheaskedwhenhecameback.
“I’dliketoseethemines.Afterall,that’swhatI’mherefor.”
“Suchaseriousmindedboy,”shesaid.
“ButIhavetogetbackwestsoon,”hesaid.“Trouble’sbrewingupfastinour
town.Wewanttoavoidastrikeifwecan.”
“AndSonny-boyisgoingtobringbackthemagickeythatavoidsstrikes.Idon’t
know,Mac.Ittakesamantodothat.Amanlikemyfather.Theydon’tbreed
themlikehimanymore.”
“You’requotinghim,Sue.Arewebothinthegoodchildclass?”Talkingthis
waywasaneffort.ItkeptmakinghimwanttouseafewfourletterAnglo-Saxon
words.
“Ijustadmithiscapabilities.Idon’tsayIadmirethem.ButthenI’veneverbeen
withoutmoney,andhehas.MaybeifIwasbrokeenoughI’dthinkanythingwas
justifiableifitguaranteedmyneverbeingpooragain.”Sheturnedthewheelher
carwashalfthelengthofherbrother’sandshotdownacommercialstreetof
gaudysignsanddingywindows.Thenextblockwasallframehouses,allalike,
alldingywiththedustfromthebaugnitemills.
“Lookatthem,”Suesaid.“ThesepeoplelivethatwaysoIcanhavethiscarand
Forresthis,amongotherthings.Peopleliveinthosethings,Mac.Doyouhave
theminCalifornia?Thetravelfoldersdon’tsay.”


“Whattheheck?Youcan’tkeepminersinpalaces.They’djusthavethemfilthy
againinaweek.”
“Ohyou—”Thegirlseemedbitterlyangry,andwhatanactress!Intensitymade
hereyesbluer.Buthe,too,hadtoactwell.Hehadtomarkhimselfaheelinher
eyes.“It’salwaysbeenthatway,Sue.Youcan’tchangehumannature.”
ShemadeaviciousU-turninthemiddleofthestreet,andswirledbackagainas
thoughtoflinghimoff.
Heslumpedinhiscornerofthecar,miserable.Shecouldn’thateasmug-bellyas
muchashedid,because,afterall,shehadnevermissedameal.Butnobody
couldloveasmug-bellyexceptanothersmug-belly.Inhereyeshemustbeas
badasForrest,assomeofthoseguysatthecountryclub.Well,itwastoobad,
butitwasoneofthebumpsrthatcamewiththework.Onlythisonehurtmore
thanmost.
Shestoppedthecaratagroupofbuildings,graydustoverredpaint.“Thisis
AlastairNumber1,”SueAlastairsaid.“ThesuperintendentisReilly.I’ll
introduceyoutohim,andthenIhavetorun.He’llbegladtodriveyoubackto
town.”Hereyeswerecoldandwithdrawn.
Reillycameoutoftheoffice,lankyinmoleskinpantsandagrayshirt,aslouch
hatshovedbackonhisbaldforehead.Whenhesmiled,twogoldteethshowed
andanopeningforanother.“Hi,MissSue.Comin’tovisitus?”
“ThisisMr.MacBlair,Reilly.AfriendofDad’s.Intheminingbusinessout
West.”
“So?”ReillyshowedthewhiteofoneeyeatMac.
“I’monheretolearnsomethingaboutyourmethods,Mr.Reilly,”Macsaid.He
putouthishandandshookReilly’s.
Thesuperwasenergeticinhisgrip;hisarmpumpedupanddownsothathis
unbuttonedvestslidbackandshowedadeputysheriff’sbadgepinnedtohis
shirt.
“You’lldrivehimbacktotown?”Sueasked.


“Sure.Comeon,Mister—”
“Mac’lldo.ShortforMacBlair.Well,Sue,thank—”
“I’llseeyouaround,Mac.”
Sueshovedthecarintogear.Asshewentdowntheroad,herealizedshewasnot
angryathim;shehadsimplylostinterest.Thathurtalittlemore.
Reillysaid,“Well,whatd’yawanttoseefirst?”
“Themine,thesortertheworks,”Macsaid.“I’mmoreinterestedinlabor
relationsthanIaminmechanisms.”
Reillygrunted.“Ineverwenttocollege,”hesaid,insolently.“Bettertryme
againinshorterwords.”Hesneered,almostopenly,atMac’sgoodEnglish
tweeds.
Macgrinned.“Iseeyou’rearealminer,Reilly.I’llgiveittoyoushortenough.
WareCountyknowshowtohandlelabor.Iwanttoseeitdone.”
Reillysnorted,buthelookedflattered.“Idunnohowyouhandlelabor,”hesaid.
“AllIeverhadtodealwithismen.Treat‘emsquare,work‘emhard,andkick
‘eminthepantsiftheygetfresh.Whatth’hell?Weain’tgotnobunchoflousy
furrinershereinWare.Ah!goodAmericans,asgoodasyouormeiftheyhad
theopportunity.”
Easy,Mac.Theregoesthatoldanger,risingup,chokingyou,makingyouwant
tocrackthistoughface.Rideit,Mac,rideit…Hegotsomecontrolonhimself,
andhopedhisvoicewaslevel.“Soundseasywhenyousayit.Iguessitwouldbe
prettyhardformostmen,butmaybethat’swhyyou’reasuper.”
“Sure,”Reillysaidcomplacently.“Comeon,Mac,I’llgetyouasetofjeans.You
mightspileyourprettyclothes.Baugnite’sdirtystufftohandle.”
Intheoffice,hetossedMacasetofdenims,washedtoafadedblue.Macpulle’d
themon,acceptedaminer’stinhat,andstolealookatapackofriflespadlocked
againstthewall.Hegesturedtowardsthem.“Payrolltrouble?”heasked.“Oris
thatthekickinthepantsyouweretalkingabout?”


Reillygrinned.“Allyougottadoishave‘emhere.Iknowthey’rethere,andthe
menknowthey’rethere.But,hell,weneverhavenotrouble.WareCounty’s
gottenabadnamefromalotofthemnewspapermencomin’inhereandwritin’
stuffthatain’tso.”Hetappedthebadgeonhisshirt.“Besides,I’madeppity
sheriff,andIgottakeep‘emonhandferlaw‘n’orderwork.C’mon,I’llshow
youthemine.”
ThegroundfeltgrittyunderMac’sfeet.Afewhundredyardsawayaridgemade
theskyline;butitwastoostraighttobenatural;manhadmadethatlongsharp
blackridge.ReillysawMacstaringatit.“Tailing’sdump,”hesaid.“Showyou
thatlater.Here’sthemine.”Theysteppedintoahut.Therewasnothinginthe
hutbutthehoistmachineryandablack-facedwhitemantorunthehoist.Reilly
madesomecrypticgesturewithhishands,andthehoistmanpulledalever.The
drumstartedtowindupitscable.
“Now,”Reillysaid,“this’llgiveyousomeidea.Wesendthemendownthisway,
butwetaketheoreoutincars.Y’see,wecutdownhere,andthencutoverto
meetthetracksunderground.Thehoist-carsgottracks.”Hegesturedasthe
hoiststoppedontheirlevel.“Andwecanmovethecars,oneatatime,froma
higherorlowerleveltoagradelevelconnectin’withtheoutside.Itain’talways
worthit,butsometimeswedoitthatway.”HeandMacsteppedontothe
elevator,betweenthetracks,andMacbenthisknees.Knowingmines,and
knowingthetypeReillywas,heguessedwhatwascomingnext.
Hewasright.Thecardroppedahundredfeetwithoutrestraint,jerkedupshort
asthehoistmantightenedthecable,andcontinuedtodropundercontrol.
ReillylookedatMac.“Thoughtshewasbrokethere,”hesaidgravely.
“Sometimestheydo.”
“WepullthatoneoutWest,”Macsaid,“toscaretenderfeet.Iexpectedit.”
Reillysnorted.Thecarstoppedataleveleeriewithunshadedelectricbulbs,and
colderthananicebox.Reillyledthewayout,showingMacthetracks,theway
stopeswerecut,themendrilling,explainingthewaybaugnitewascutoutofthe
earth.
Machardlylistened.Hewaslookingatthemen’sfaces.Itwasprettyhardtotell
whattheylookedlikeundertheblackoftheirwork,butitseemedtohimthathe
couldfeelasulkiness,abitternessintheirattitudetowardsReilly,andtowards


him,becausehisfacewascleanandbecausehewaswithReilly.Thatwaswhat
they’dwanttoknowbackatheadquarters;wasthetimeripeforastrike,ornot.
Hepointedathumbatamanholdinganelectricdrillstraightoverhisheadtocut
adynamiteholeintheceiling.“Wecallthatthewidow-makerouthome,”he
said.Hehadtoshoutitoverthenoisethedrillmade.“Don’tyoumakethemen
takeprecautionsagainstgettinghurt?”
Reillysneered,draggedMacdownthetrack.“Whatthehell’stheidea?”he
asked.“Wegotenoughtroublegettin’thementodooverheaddrillingnow.
Gottapay‘emfiftycentsanhourextraasitis.Theydon’tlikebreathingthe
stuffthatfloatsdown.”
“Whynotgivethemmasks?”Macasked.“Youcankillamanwiththatdustin
hislungs.”
“Wetriedmasks,”Reillysaid,“butthemenwouldn’twear‘em.Couldn’tget
productionthatway;themaskshold‘emup,gettheirneckstired.Whatthehell,
theycanhavemasksiftheywant‘em;Igotacaseupinmyoffice.”
Oh,yeah,Macthought,onlyyou’lldockaguyifhecan’tgetasmanyholes
drilledwithoneonashecanwithoutone.Well,itwasanitemtowriteto
“father”inhisnextletter.Alittleliteraturemailedintothecounty,tellingthe
workingstiffsthatyoudidn’thavetodieofsilicosisanditoughttostirupalittle
troubleforthegoodMr.Reilly.
Reillyflaggedacar,andtheyrodeitoutoftheminetodaylight.“Here’sthe
mill,”Reillysaid.
Macmadeashowofinterestashewasledbytheball-millthatgroundupthe
oretopowder,thewatertablesthatfloatedthematrixawayfromthegood
baugnite,thescrapersthatsentthebaugniteconcentrateintofreightcarstobe
hauledtothesteelmillswhichuseditforalloy.Thenoutofthemill.
Overheadranadozenchutes.Reillypointedup.“Carryingawaythematrix,”he
said.“It’stailingsnow.Look.”
TheyclimbedtheridgethatMachadseenfromthedistance.Thechutescame
togetherandpouredalltheirblacksludgeintaahugehosethatwasdumpingit
ononeendoftheridge.Itstayedthere,thewatertricklingdownthrough


previousdays’deposittosoakintotheground.
“What’llyoudowhenyourtailingsdumpgetstoobig?”Macasked.
“Naturehelpsusthere,”Reillysaid.“Lookatthatend.That’swherewedumped
lastyear.We’realmostreadytostartagain.”
Thepilehepointedatwasatthefarendoftheridge.Itwasonlyathirdashigh
asthecenter.“Whenshedriesoutgood,”Reillysaid,“everylittlebreezethat
comesalongcarriessomeaway,andbythetimewereachoneend,theother’s
readyfordumpingagain.”
“Doesn’tthatstuffpoisontheground?”Macasked.
“Yeah,”Reillysaid.“Butit’swhatthecountyliveson.”Hepointedwithalittle
pride,likeamanfromWyomingshowingageyser.“Inthatdirection,”hesaid,
“thereain’tafarmleft.Backth’otherway’ssomeofthebestfarmin’countryin
theworld.Thewind’salmostalwaysfromtheWesthere.”
“Always?”Macasked.
“Well,yeah,”Reillysaid.“Sometimesitturnsitselfaroundforaday,andthen
wegetabunchofhowls.Yousee,backthere’swhereallthenicefolkslive.Igot
alittlehousetheremyself,tuckedrightinbetweenAlastair’splacearidold
HarfordRand’s,”hesaidwithpride.
“Andintheotherdirection?”Macasked.
“Aw,that’swheretheminerslive,”Reillysaid.“Hell,theygetsousedtothe
dustintheminestheycouldn’tsleepatnightifthetailingswasn’tblowin’inta
theirwindows.Anyway,they’reabunchofiggnerantbastards.Theysleepwith
theirwindowsclosed.”
Macmanagedtogethisstomachbackdowntoitsoriginallevel.“IguessI’ve
seeneverything,”hesaid.
“Yeah,Iguessso.Wait’llItellmyassistant,andI’llrunyououttothecountry
club,orwhereveryou’regoing.”


4
Backattheoffice,MacfoundthatoldJohnAlastairhadhadadeskdraggedinto
theowner’sofficeforhim.ThedeskwashisbecauseoldJohngrowled:“Sit
there,”thenwentbacktoscowlingoversomereports.IntheothercornerForrest
Alastairdictatedsoftlytothemiddle-agedstenographer.
Macsatdown,pulledoverpenandpaperandthoughtfullywrote:“DearFather:
—”Thenhechewedtheendofthepen.
Forreststoppeddictating,andcalledover:“How’dyoulikethemine,Mac?”
“O.K.,”Macsaid.Thatwasn’tenough.Headded:“It’sefficientlyrun.”Hismind
wasontheletter.
OldJohngrowled:“Getonwithyourwork,Forrest,sowecangetoutofhere.”
Forrestwentondictating,andMacwrote:“Ihavejustcomebackfrom
inspectingAlastairNo.1,oneofthelargestminesinthecounty.Theforeman,
Reilly,isarealoldtimeworkingboss,remindsmeofFanner,tough,unthinking,
butaharddriver.”Thatwasgood.HewonderedwherethenameFannerhad
comefrom.
“Ofcourse,baugniteisdifferentstufftodigfromgold,butnotsodifferentaswe
thought.Themillismuchthesamebutnotastightlyrun,ofcourse,baugnite
concentratecanbewastedwithoutmuchloss.Theycallthetailingsadump
insteadofapond,aswedo,andbaugnitetailingsrunblackinsteadofour
yellow.
“Thisplaceisbeautifullyrun.Itshowstheeffectsofplanning.Forinstance,they
allownaturetotakecareofthetailings.Theyaredumpedwet,thenthenozzle
moveson,andinsteadofremovingthetailings,theyletthemdryout.Theyhave
placedthedumpinsuchawaythatasteadybreezeblowsagainstit;whenthe
tailingsgetgoodanddrytheyjustgowiththewind.Thismakesaprettysharp
differentiationinlivingquarters:supervisorsandforemen,andofcourse,the
owners,liveononesideofthedumps,theworkingmenhavetheirhousesonthe
other.


“Theworkingpeopleherearesousedtothetailingsblowingin,thattheydonot
seemtonoticethem.Canyouimaginehowthewomeninourtownwould
screamifweallowedblackdusttoblowagainstthemallthetime?”
Maclikedthat.Itwasasignalifyoucangetanyorganizersin,sendthemamong
thewomen.
“Reilly,thesuperatNo.1,toldmehowtheygotaroundthewidow-makermasks
thathavebeensuchaburdentous.Theygivethementhemasks,urgethemto
usethem,andthendockthemiftheycannotgetoutasmuchproductionasthey
didbeforetheyworetheprotectors.YoumighttrythisIthinkitwouldspeedup
operationsandcutdownonthenumberofdrillers.
“Theytellmetheyhavehadnoviolencehereforyears.
“Letmeknowhowthingsaregoing.Affectionately,yourson,
Warren.”
Hesignedtheletter,letitlieonthedeskforamoment.“Noviolenceherefor
years”shouldtellGowanthathehadmadenoheadwayintheinvestigationof
Gowan’sson’sdeath.Yes,letitride.
OldJohnAlastairbangedovertoMac’sdeskwithheavystrides.Mac’sfirst
instinctwastocovertheletter;hepulledhishandsbackinmid-action.“Writing
areporttomydad,”hesaid.“ItoldhimI’dreportasIsawthings.Maybehecan
thinkofsomethingtoaskthatImissed.ThenI’llhavetimetolookfurtherinto
it.”
JohnAlastairreachedoutfortheletter.
“Goahead,”Macsaid.“Nothingpersonalinit.”
Heheldhisbreath,tryingtokeepthatcasuallookwhiletheoldmanread.Ifhe’d
madeoneslip…Heconcentratedonsomethingelse.Thinkaboutyourswell
clothes,Mac,oraboutthegirlintheofficedownstairsthatkeepsgivingyouthe
eye.
ButhismindslidbeyondhiscontroltothinkofSueAlastairandthescorninher
eyes,andhewasgladwhenoldAlastairsaid:“You’reprettysmartfora


youngster.That’salottopickupinoneday.Nexttime,mightaswelldictateit;
anythingpersonalyougottosayyoucanputonaseparatesheet.”
“Anythingtocorrect?”Macaskedcasually.“Imaybegotthewrongslantonthe
mine.”
“No,you’vegotitallright,”Alastairgrowled.“Notmuchengineeringinthere,
butthenyouain’tanengineer,areyou?”
“No.Dadsaidhecouldalwayshireengineers.Wantedmetogetsomegeneral
knowledge.”
Theoldmanbegantopoundbacktohisdesk.Midwayhestopped.“One
correction,son.Reillymaybedidn’ttrustyou.Yeah,we’vehadalittletrouble
here.
Oneofthemdamn,unionssentinatroublemaker.”Hegrinned.“Weneverhad
toliftafinger.Themenknowwhichsidetheirbread’sbutteredon.Theyhandled
himthemselves.Therewon’tbeanotherinheresoon.”
“O.K.,”Macsaid.“I’lladdthat.Gotanyideawhatmakesthementakecareof
thosethingsthemselves?”
“No,”Alastairdrawled,cynically.“Notadamnidea.”
Macwrote:“Mr.Alastairjustreadthis,andaddsapostscript.Therewas
violenceherealittlewhileago,someoutsidertriedtostirupthemen.They
bandedandtookcareofhimthemselves,Mr.Alastairsays.”
Hefinishedthepostscript,andthenlookedup.ForrestAlastair’sfacewasred,
andtense,andhelookedathisfatherstrangely.
Macblottedtheletter,fishedanenvelopeoutofthedesk,addressedit,and
shovedthesheetofpaperinside.Therewasawirebasketonhisdesk,marked
outgoingmail;hetossedtheenvelopein.
Hewishedhecouldbealoneforamomentandletthemaskofhisfacerelax.
OldJohnAlastair,acrosstheroomthere,knewwhohadstirredupthosecarloads
ofmentogodownandshootGowan’sboy;knew,andhadalmosttoldMac.
Soonerorlater,hewould.


Whenithappened,Macthought,hewouldgetoutoftownquick.The
roundaboutwayhislettershadtotakewasgettinghimdown;toomanychances
ofslipping.
“Comeon,Forrest,”oldAlastairsaid,“let’sgetouttotheclub,andletthose
saleslettersgo.IwanttoshowyoungMacherewhataboilerinakeris.”
Forreststoppeddictatingandstoodup.“Dad,thedoctortoldyoutostop
drinkingboilermakers.”
“Son,I’lldiewhenI’mready.I’ddienow,ifIhadanybodytoleavethisjointto
butyou.”
Macdroppedhiseyes,embarrassedatbeinginthemiddleofthisfamilyrow.
Therewasapausethatwaslikedynamiteintheair.
ThenForrestsaid:“Dadwillhavehisjoke,Mac.Allright,let’sgo.”
Themiddle-agedstenographerscuttledoutoftheroomasthoughshehadbeen
afraidofbeinghit.Thethreemengottheirhatsandmovedtowardsthestairs
together.Macdroppedalittlebehind;atthebottomofthestairs,thebrunette
stenographerinthebluedressranintohim.Sheexcusedherself,andstoodthere,
alittletooclosetohim,alittletoobreathless.“OhI’msorry,”shesaid.
“Myfault,”Mactoldher.“Ichargedownstairslikeabuffalo.”
“Ohwell,it’sniceofyoutosayit.”Shesmiledalittle,obviouslyconsciousthat
Macwasawareofherbreastsclosetohischest.“Imustn’tholdyouup,Mr.
MacBlair.”
Mactookaquicklookoutthedoor,whereJohnAlastairandhissonwere
arguingovercars.“Youknowmyname,”hesaid.“You’vegotmethere.”
“OhI’mKayNannie.You’dbettergo,Mr.MacBlair.Mr.Alastair’swaiting.”
“Allright,Kay.Beseeingyouaround.”Hefelthewasalittleflusteredashe
wenttojointheAlastairsatthecar.Imustreportonher,hethought,shehas
accesstothefiles…Thenhewasreallyembarrassed,atcatchinghimself
justifyinganinterestinayoung,willingandshapelyfemalebypretendingthat


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×