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Title: Comrades - A Story of Social Adventure in California
Author: Dixon, Thomas, 1864-1946
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Comrades

[Illustration]

Thomas Dixon JR.



    [Illustration: NORMAN CLASPED HER IN HIS ARMS.]



  COMRADES

  _A STORY OF SOCIAL ADVENTURE
  IN CALIFORNIA_

  BY
  THOMAS DIXON, Jr.

  Illustrated by
  C.D. WILLIAMS


  [Illustration]


  GROSSET & DUNLAP
  Publishers  ::  New York



  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION
  INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN

  COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY THOMAS DIXON, JR.
  PUBLISHED, JANUARY, 1909



  DEDICATED TO
  THE DEAREST LITTLE
  GIRL IN THE WORLD, MY DAUGHTER
  LOUISE



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                      PAGE

       I. The Woman in Red                                      3

      II. A New Joan of Arc                                    19

     III. The Birth of a Man                                   31

      IV. Among the Shadows                                    37

       V. The Island of Ventura                                48

      VI. The Red Flag                                         56

     VII. Father and Son                                       73

    VIII. Through the Eyes of Love                             85

      IX. A Faded Picture                                      90

       X. Son and Father                                       93

      XI. The Way of a Woman                                  103

     XII. A Royal Gift                                        105

    XIII. The Burning of the Bridges                          110

     XIV. The New World                                       118

      XV. For the Cause                                       123

     XVI. Barbara Chooses a Profession                        130

    XVII. A Call for Heroes                                   134

   XVIII. A New Aristocracy                                   151

     XIX. Some Troubles in Heaven                             166

      XX. The Unconventional                                  181

     XXI. A Pair of Cold Gray Eyes                            186

    XXII. The Fighting Instinct                               192

   XXIII. The Cords Tighten                                   207

    XXIV. Some Interrogation Points                           212

     XXV. The Master Hand                                     224

    XXVI. At the Parting of the Ways                          235

   XXVII. The Fruits of Patience                              246

  XXVIII. The New Master                                      257

    XXIX. A Test of Strength                                  269

     XXX. A Vision from the Hilltop                           274

    XXXI. In Love and War                                     283

   XXXII. A Primitive Lover                                   291

  XXXIII. Equality                                            295

   XXXIV. A Brother to the Beast                              306

    XXXV. Love and Locksmiths                                 313

   XXXVI. The Shining Emblem                                  318



LEADING CHARACTERS OF THE STORY

_Scene_: California. _Time_: 1898-1901

  NORMAN WORTH            An Amateur Socialist
  COLONEL WORTH           His Father
  ELENA STOCKTON          The Colonel's Ward
  HERMAN WOLF             A Socialist Leader
  CATHERINE               His Affinity Wife
  BARBARA BOZENTA         A New Joan of Arc
  METHODIST JOHN          A Pauper
  TOM MOONEY              A Miner
  JOHN DIGGS              A Truth Seeker
  ROLAND ADAIR            Bard of Ramcat



ILLUSTRATIONS


  "Norman clasped her in his arms"                 _Frontispiece_

                                                      FACING PAGE

  "'Lift the flag back to its place!'"                         72

  Barbara                                                     214

  "Wolf grasped her"                                          292



COMRADES



COMRADES



CHAPTER I

THE WOMAN IN RED


"Fools and fanatics!"

Colonel Worth crumpled the morning paper with a gesture of rage and
walked to the window.

Elena followed softly and laid her hand on his arm.

"What is it, Guardie? I thought you were supremely happy this morning
over the news that Dewey has smashed the Spanish fleet?"

"And so I am, little girl," was the gentle reply, "or was until my eye
fell on this call of the Socialists for a meeting to-night to denounce
the war--denounce the men who are dying for the flag. Read their
summons."

He opened the crumpled sheet and pointed to its head lines:

"Down with the Stars and Stripes--up with the Red Flag of
Revolution--the symbol of universal human brotherhood! Come and bring
your friends. A big surprise for all!" The Colonel's jaws snapped
suddenly.

"I'd like to give them the surprise they need to-night."

"What?" Elena asked.

"A serenade."

"A serenade?"

"Yes, with Mauser rifles and Gatling guns. I'd mow them down as I
would a herd of wild beasts loose in the streets of San Francisco."

"Merely for a difference of opinion, Governor?" lazily broke in a
voice from the depths of a heavy armchair.

"If you want to put it so, Norman, yes. Opinions, my boy, are the
essence of life--they may lead to heaven or hell. Opinions make
cowards or heroes, patriots or traitors, criminals or saints."

"But you believe in free speech?" persisted the boy.

"Yes. And that's more than any Socialist can say. I don't deny their
right to speak their message. What I can't understand is how the
people who have been hounded from the tyrant-ridden countries of the
old world and found shelter and protection beneath our flag should
turn thus to curse the hand that shields them."

"But if they propose to give you a better flag, Governor?" drawled the
lazy voice. "Why not consider?"

"Look, Elena! Did the sun ever shine on anything more beautiful? See
it fluttering from a thousand house-tops--the proud emblem of human
freedom and human progress! Dewey has lifted it this morning on the
foulest slave-pen of the Orient--the flag that has never met defeat.
The one big faith in me is the belief that Almighty God inspired our
fathers to build this Republic--the noblest dream yet conceived by the
mind of man. Dewey has sunk a tyrant fleet and conquered an empire of
slaves without the loss of a single man. The God of our fathers was
with him. We have a message for the swarming millions of the East----"

"Pardon the interruption, Governor, but I must hold the mirror up to
nature just a moment--your portrait sketched by the poet-laureate of
the English-speaking world. He speaks of the American:

    "Enslaved, illogical, elate.
      He greets the embarrassed gods, nor fears
    To shake the iron hand of Fate
      Or match with Destiny for beers.

    "Lo! imperturbable he rules,
      Unkempt, disreputable, vast--
    And in the teeth of all the schools
      I--I shall save him at the last!"

The Colonel smiled.

"How do you like the picture?"

"Not bad for an Englishman, Norman. You know we licked England
twice----"

"And we kin do it again, b' gosh, can't we?" blustered the younger man
with mock heroics.

"You can bet we can, my son!" continued the Colonel, quietly. "The
roar of Dewey's guns are echoing round the world this morning. The
lesson will not be lost. You will observe that even your English poet
foresees at last our salvation.

    "'And in the teeth of all the schools
      I--I shall save him at the last!'"

"Even in spite of the Socialists?" queried the boy, with a grin.

"In spite of every foe--even those within our own household. War is
the searchlight of history, the great revealer of national life, of
hidden strength and unexpected weakness. I saw it in the Civil
conflict--I've seen it in this little struggle----"

"Then you do acknowledge it's not the greatest struggle in
history--that's something to be thankful for in these days of
patriotism," exclaimed Norman, rising and stretching himself before
the open fire while he winked mischievously at Elena.

"It's big enough, my boy, to show us the truth about our nation. Our
old problems are no longer real. The Union our fathers dreamed has
come at last. We are one people--one out of many--and we can whip
Spain before breakfast----"

"With one hand tied behind our back!" laughed the boy.

"Yes, and blindfolded. It will be easy. But the next serious job will
be to bury a half million deluded fools in this country who call
themselves Socialists."

The Colonel paused and a look of foreboding clouded his face as he
gazed from the window of his house on Nob Hill over the city of San
Francisco, which he loved with a devotion second only to his
passionate enthusiasm for the Union.

Elena sat watching him in silent sympathy. He was the one perfect man
of her life dreams, the biggest, strongest, tenderest soul she had
ever known. Since the day she crept into his arms a lonely little
orphan ten years old she had worshipped him as father, mother,
guardian, lover, friend--all in one. She had accepted Norman's love
and promised to be his wife more to please his father than from any
overwhelming passion for the handsome, lazy young athlete. It had come
about as a matter of course because Colonel Worth wished it.

The Colonel turned from the window, and his eyes rested on Elena's
upturned face.

"It will be bloody work--but we've got to do it----"

Elena sprang to her feet with a start and a laugh.

"Do what, Guardie? I forgot what you were talking about."

"Then don't worry your pretty head about it, dear. It's a job we men
will look after in due time."

He stooped and kissed her forehead. "By-by until to-night--I'll drop
down to the club and hear the latest from the front."

With the firm, swinging stride of a man who lives in the open the
Colonel passed through the door of the library.

"Norman, I can't realize that you two are father and son--he looks
more like your brother."

"At least my older brother----"

"Yes, of course, but you would never take him for a man of
forty-eight. I like the touch of gray in his hair. It means dignity,
strength, experience. I've always hated sap-headed youngsters."

"Say, Elena, for heaven's sake, who are you in love with anyhow--with
me or the Governor?"

A smile flickered around the corners of the girl's eyes and mouth
before she slowly answered:

"I sometimes think I really love you both, Norman--but there are
times when I have doubts about you."

"Thanks. I suppose I must be duly grateful for small favours, or else
resign myself to call you 'Mother.'"

"Would such a fate be intolerable?"

Elena drew her magnificent figure to its full height and looked into
the young athlete's face with laughing audacity.

"By George, Elena, if I'm honest with you, I'd have to say no. You are
tall, stately, dignified, beautiful from the crown of your black hair
to the tip of your dainty toe--the most stunning-looking woman I ever
saw. I never think of you as a girl just out of school. You always
remind me of a glorious royal figure in some old romance of the Middle
Ages----"

"Now I'm sure I love you, Norman--for the moment at least."

"Then promise to go with me on a lark to-night," he suddenly cried.

"A lark?"

Elena's gray-blue eyes danced beneath their black lashes.

"Yes, a real lark, daring, adventurous, dangerous, audacious."

"What is it--what is it? Tell me quick."

The girl seized Norman's arm with eager, childish glee.

"Let's go to that Socialist meeting and beard the lion in his den."

Elena drew back.

"No. Guardie will be furious!"

"Ah, who's afraid? Guardie be hanged!"

"Go by yourself."

"No, you've got to go with me."

"I won't do it. You just want to worry your father and then hide
behind my skirts."

"You can see yourself that's the easiest way to manage it. If he has a
fit, I can just say that your curiosity was excited and I had to go
with you."

"But it's not excited."

"For the purposes of the lark I tell you that it is excited. There's
too much patriotism in the air. It's giving me nervous prostration. I
want something to brace me up. I think those fellows can give me some
good points to tease the Governor with."

"Tease the Governor! You flatter yourself, Norman. He doesn't pay any
more attention to your talk than he would to the bark of a six weeks'
old puppy."

"That's what riles me. The Governor's so cocksure of himself. I don't
know how to answer him, but I know he's wrong. The fury with which he
hates the Socialists rouses my curiosity. I've always found that the
good things in life are forbidden. All respectable people are
positively forbidden to attend a Socialist--traitors'--meeting. For
that reason let's go."

"No."

"Ah, come on. Don't be a chump. Be a sport!"

"I'd like the lark, but I won't hurt Guardie's feelings; so that's the
end of it."

"Going to be a surprise, they say."

"What kind of a surprise?"

"Going to spring a big sensation."

Elena's eyes began to dance again.

"The woman called the Scarlet Nun is going to speak, and Herman Wolf,
the famous 'blond beast' of Socialism, will preside. They are
mates--affinities."

"Married?"

"God knows. A hundred weird stories about them circulate in the
under-world."

"I won't go! Don't you say another word!" Elena snapped.

Norman was silent.

"Are you sure it would be perfectly safe, Norman?" the girl softly
asked.

"Perfectly. I know every inch of that quarter of the city--went there
a hundred times the year I was a reporter."

"I won't go!"

"It's the wickedest street in town. They say it's the worst block in
America."

"I don't want to see it." Elena laughed.

"And the hall is a famous red-light dancing dive in the heart of
Hell's Half Acre."

"Hush! Hush! I tell you I won't--_I won't_ go! But--but if I _do_--you
promise to hold my hand every minute, Norman?"

"And keep my arm around your waist, if you like."

Elena's cheeks flushed and her voice quivered with excitement as she
paused in the doorway.

"I'll be ready in twenty minutes after dinner."

"Bully for my chum! I'll tell the Governor we've gone for a stroll."

As the shadows slowly fell over the city, Norman led Elena down the
marble steps of his father's palatial home and paused for a moment on
the edge of the hill on which were perched the seats of the mighty.
Elena fumbled with a new glove.

"Are you ready to descend with me to the depths, my princess in
disguise?" he gaily asked.

"Did you ever know me to flunk when I gave my word?"

"No, you're a brick, Elena."

Norman seized her arm and strode down the steep hillside with sure,
firm step, the girl accompanying his every movement with responsive
joy.

"You're awfully wicked to get me into a scrape of this kind, Norman,"
she cried, with bantering laughter. "You know I was dying to go
slumming, and Guardie wouldn't let me. It's awfully mean of you to
take advantage of me like this."

He stopped suddenly and looked gravely into her flushed face.

"Let's go back, then."

"No! I won't."

Norman broke into a laugh. "Then away with vain regrets! And remember
the fate of Lot's wife."

Elena pressed his hand close to her side and whispered:

"You are with me. The big handsome captain of last year's football
team. Very young and very vain and very foolish and very lazy--but I
do think you'd stand by me in a scrap, Norman. Wouldn't you?"

"Well, I rather think!" was the deep answer, half whispered, as they
suddenly turned a corner and plunged into the red-light district. His
strong hand gripped her wrist with unusual tenderness.

"So who's afraid?" she cried, looking up into his face just as a
drunken blear-eyed woman staggered through an open door and lurched
against her.

A low scream of terror came from Elena as she sprang back, and the
woman's head struck the pavement with a dull whack. Norman bent over
her and started to lift the heavy figure, when her fist suddenly shot
into his face.

"Go ter hell--I can take care o' myself!"

"Evidently," he laughed.

Elena's hand suddenly gripped his.

"Let's go back, Norman."

"Nonsense--who's afraid?"

"I am. I don't mind saying it. This is more than I bargained for."

The woman scrambled to her feet and limped back into the doorway.

Elena shivered. "I didn't know such women lived on this earth."

"To say nothing of living but a stone's throw from your own door," he
continued.

"Let's go back," she pleaded.

"No. A thing like this is merely one more reason why we should keep
on. This only shows that the world we live in isn't quite perfect, as
the Governor seems to think. These Socialists may be right after all.
Now that we've started let's hear their side of it. Come on! Don't be
a quitter!"

Norman seized her arm and hurried through the swiftly moving throng of
the under-world--gambling touts, thieves, cut-throats, pick-pockets,
opium fiends, drunkards, thugs, carousing miners, and sailors--but
above all, everywhere, omnipresent, the abandoned woman--painted,
bedizened, lurching through the streets, hanging in doorways, clinging
to men on the sidewalks, beckoning from windows, singing vulgar songs
on crude platforms among throngs of half-drunken men, whirling past
doors and windows in dance-halls, their cracked voices shrill and
rasping above the din of cheap music.

Elena stopped suddenly and clung heavily to Norman's arm.

"Please, Norman, let's go back. I can't endure this."

"And you're my chum that never flunked when she gave her word?" he
asked with scorn. "We are only a few feet from the hall now."

"Where is it?"

"Right there in the middle of the block where you see that sign with
the blazing red torch."

"Come on, then," Elena said, with a shudder.

They walked quickly through the long, dimly lighted passage to the
entrance of the hall. It was densely packed with a crowd of five
hundred. Elena closed her eyes and allowed Norman to lead her through
the mob that blocked the space inside the door. At the entrance to the
centre aisle he encountered an usher who stared with bulging eyes at
his towering figure. Norman leaned close and whispered:

"My boy, can you possibly get us two seats?"

"Can I git de captain er de football team two seats? Well, des watch
me!"

The boy darted up the aisle, dived under the platform, drew out two
folding-chairs, placed them in the aisle on the front row, darted
back, and bowed with grave courtesy.

"Dis way, sir!"

Norman followed with Elena clinging timidly and blindly to his arm. In
a moment they were seated. He offered the boy a dollar.

The youngster bowed again.

"De honour is all mine, sir. But you can give it to the Cause when
they pass the box."

Norman turned to Elena. "Well, doesn't that jar you? A
sixteen-year-old boy declines a tip, and says give it to the Cause!"

The boy darted up the steps of the platform and whispered to the
chairman:

"Git on to his curves! Dat's de captain o' de football--de bloke dat's
worth millions, an' don't give a doggone!"

A woman dressed in deep red who sat beside the chairman leaned close
and asked with quiet intensity:

"You mean young Worth, the millionaire of Nob Hill?"

"Bet yer life! Dat's him!"

The woman in red whispered to the chairman, who nodded, while his keen
gray eyes flashed a ray of light from his heavy brows as he turned
toward Norman.

The woman wheeled suddenly in her chair, and with her back to the
audience bent over a girl who was evidently hiding behind her.

"Outdo yourself to-night, Barbara. Young Norman Worth, the son of our
multi-millionaire nabob, is sitting in the aisle just in front of you.
Win him for the Cause and I'll give you the half of our kingdom."

"How can I know him?" the girl asked excitedly.

"He's not ten feet from the platform in the centre aisle--front
row--clean shaven--a young giant of twenty-three--the handsomest man
in the house. Put your soul _and_ your body in every word you utter,
every breath you breathe--and _win_ him!"

"I'll try," was the low reply.



CHAPTER II

A NEW JOAN OF ARC


The woman in scarlet rose, lifted her hand, and the crowd sprang to
their feet to the music of the most stirring song of revolution ever
written.

Norman and Elena were both swept from their seats in spite of
themselves. Elena's eyes flashed with excitement.

"What on earth is that they are singing, Norman?" she whispered.

"The Marseillaise hymn."

"Isn't it thrilling?" she gasped.

"It makes your heart leap, doesn't it?"

"And, heavens, how they sing it!" she exclaimed.

Norman turned and looked over the crowd of eager faces--every man and
woman singing with the passionate enthusiasm of religious fanatics--an
enthusiasm electric, contagious, overwhelming. In spite of himself he
felt his heart beat with quickened sympathy.

He was amazed at the character of the audience. He had expected to see
a throng of low-browed brutes. The first shock he received was the
feeling that this crowd was distinctly an intellectual one. They might
be fanatics. They certainly were not fools. The stamp of personality
was clean cut on almost every face. They were fighters. They meant
business and they didn't care who knew it. Some of them wore dirty
clothes, but their faces were stamped with the power of free,
rebellious thought--a power that always commands respect in spite of
shabby clothes. He looked in vain for a single joyous face. Not a
smile. Deep, dark eyes, shining with the light of purpose, mouths
firm, headstrong, merciless, and bitter, but nowhere the glimmer of a
ray of sunlight! He felt with a sense of awe the uncanny presence of
Tragedy.

And to his amazement he noticed a lot of men he knew in the
crowd--three or four authors, a newspaper reporter evidently off duty,
two college professors, a clergyman, three artists, a priest, and a
street preacher.

The hymn died away into a low sigh, like the sob of the wind after a
storm. The crowd sank to their seats so quietly with the dying of the
music that Norman and Elena were standing alone for an instant. They
awoke from the spell, and dropped into their seats with evident
embarrassment.

A boy of sixteen stepped briskly to the front in answer to a nod from
the chairman, and recited a Socialist poem. After the first stanza,
which was crude and stilted, Norman's eye rested on the heavy figure
of the chairman. He was surprised at the power of his rugged face.
Through its brute strength flashed the keenest sense of alert
intelligence--an intelligence which seemed to lurk behind the big,
shaggy eyebrows as if about to spring on its victim. His heavy-set
face was covered with a thick, reddish blond beard and his short hair
stood up straight on his head, like the bristles of a wild boar. Of
medium height and heavy build, with arms and legs of extraordinary
muscle and big, coarse short fingers evidently gnarled and knotted, by
the coarsest labor in youth, he looked like a blacksmith who had taken
a college course by the light of his forge at night. There was
something about the way he sat crouching low in his seat, watching
with his keen gray eyes everything that passed, that bespoke the man
of reserve power--the man who was quietly waiting his hour.

"By George, a pretty good pet name they've given him--'The Blond
Beast,'" Norman muttered. "I shouldn't like to tackle him in the
dark."

The woman in red leaned toward the chairman and said something in low
tones. He nodded his massive head, smiled, and looked back over his
shoulder at the girl sitting behind them. The movement showed for the
first time a long ugly scar on the side of his great neck.

"Look at that fellow's neck!" whispered Elena.

"Yes. He had a close call that time," Norman answered. "But I'll bet
the other one never lived to tell the story----"

"Sh! 'The Scarlet Nun' is going to speak."

The woman in red rose and walked to the edge of the platform. She
stood silent for a moment, her tall, graceful, willowy figure erect
and tense. The crowd burst into a tumult of applause. She smiled,
bowed, and lifted her slender hand with a quick, imperious gesture for
silence.

Norman was struck by the note of religious fervour which her whole
personality seemed to radiate. The peculiar scarlet robe she wore
accented this impression perhaps, and its strangeness added a touch of
awe. The dress gave one the impression of a nun's garb except that its
long folds were so arranged that they revealed rather than concealed
the beautiful lines of her graceful figure. The colour was the deep,
warm red of the Socialist flag--the colour of human blood, chosen as
the symbol of the universal brotherhood of man. The effect of a nun's
cowl was given by a thin scarlet mantilla thrown over the head, the
silken meshes of its long fringe mingling with the waves of her thick
black hair. Her face was that of a madonna of the slender type,
except that the lips were too full, round, and sensuous and her long
eyelashes drooped slightly over dark, lustrous eyes.

"Comrades," she began, in slow, measured tones, "after to-night I
retire from the platform to take up work for which I am better fitted.
I promised you a big surprise this evening, and you shall not be
disappointed----"

A murmur rippled the audience and she paused, smiling into Norman's
face with a curious look. She spoke with a decided foreign accent with
little moments of coquettish hesitation as though feeling for words.
Norman felt an almost irresistible impulse to help her.

"I am going to in-tro-duce to you to-night," she continued, "a new
leader, whose tongue the God of the poor and the outcast and the
dis-in-herited has touched with divine fire. She is no stran-ger.
Twenty years ago she was born beneath the bright skies of
Cal-i-for-nia at Anaheim, in the little Socialist colony of Polish
dreamers led by Madame Modjeska, Count Bozenta, and Henry Sienkiewicz,
the distin-guished author of 'Quo Vadis.' As you know, the colony
failed. Her mother died in poverty and she was placed in an orphan
asylum until eight years of age, when she was taken back to Poland by
her foolish kins-men. Four years later I found her, a ragged,
homeless waif, in the streets of Warsaw, alone and star-ving. Since
then she has been mine. Amid the squalor and misery of the old world
her busy little tongue never tired telling of the glories of
Cali-for-nia! Always she sighed for its groves of oranges and olives,
its dazzling flowers, its luscious grapes, its rich valleys, its
cloud-kissed, snow-clad mountains and the mur-mur of its mighty seas!
It was her tiny hand that led me across the ocean to you. I have sent
her to school in one of your Western colleges where a great Socialist
professor has taught her history and e-con-omics. I have the high
honour, comrades, of intro-ducing to you the child of genius who from
to-night will be the Joan of Arc of our Cause, Comrade Barbara
Bozenta!"

She quickly turned and drew forward a trembling slip of a girl whose
big brown eyes were swimming in tears of excitement. A moment of
intense silence, and the crowd burst into cheers as the dazzling
beauty of their new champion slowly dawned on their understanding. The
woman in red resumed her seat, and the girl stood bowing, trembling,
and smiling.

The young athlete watched her keenly. Never had he seen such a bundle
of quivering, pulsing, nervous, ravishing beauty. He could have sworn
he saw electric sparks flash from the tips of every eyelash, from
every strand of the mass of brown curls that circled her face and fell
in rich profusion on her shoulders and across her heaving bosom. He
felt before she had uttered a word--felt, rather than saw--the
remarkable effectiveness of the simple, girlish dress which enhanced
her dark beauty. She wore the same deep red as the older woman, but
the bottom of the skirt was relieved by a row of ruffles edged with
white lace. A scarf of white embroidered at the ends with scarlet
flowers, was thrown gracefully around her shoulders and hung below the
knees. Her round young arms were bare to the elbows, her throat and
neck bare to the upper edge of the full bust.

The girl's eyes sought Norman's for an imperceptible instant and a
smile flashed from her trembling lips. The cheering ceased and she
began to speak. He watched her with breathless intensity, and listened
with steadily increasing fascination. Her voice at first was low, yet
every word fell clear and distinct. Never had he heard a voice so
tender and full of expressive feeling--soft and mellow, sweet like the
notes of a flute. There was something in its tone quality that
compelled sympathy, that stole into the inner depths of the soul of
the listener, and led reason a willing captive.

In simple yet burning words she told of the darkness and poverty, the
crime and shame, hunger and cruelty of the old world in which she had
spent four years of her childhood. And then in a flight of poetic
eloquence, came the story of her dreams of California, the Golden
West, the land of eternal sunshine and flowers. And then, in a voice
quivering and choking with emotion, she drew the picture of what she
found--of Hell's Half Acre, in which she stood, with its brazen vice,
its crime, its hopeless misery, its want and despair. With bold and
fierce invective she charged modern civilization with this infamy.

"Why do strong men go forth to war?" she cried, looking into the
depths of Norman's soul. "Here is the enemy at your door, gripping the
soft, white throats of your girls. Watch them sink into the mire at
your feet and then down, down into the black sewers of the under-world
never to rise again! I, too, call for volunteers. For heroes and
heroines--not to fight another--I call you to a nobler warfare. I call
you to the salvation of a world. Will you come? I offer you stones for
bread, the sky for your canopy, the earth for your bed, and for your
wages death! None may enter but the brave. Will you come----?"

The last words of her appeal rang through Norman's heart with
resistless power. Her round, soft arms seemed about his neck and his
soul went out to her in passionate yearning. He gripped the chair to
hold himself back from shouting:

"Yes! I'm coming!"

She sank to her seat before the crowd realized that she had stopped. A
shout of triumph shook the building--wave after wave, rising and
falling in ever-increasing intensity. At its height the Scarlet Nun
sprang to her feet, with a graceful leap reached the edge of the
platform, and again lifted her hand. A sudden hush fell on the crowd.

"Now, comrades, the battle-hymn of the Republic set to new music! Mark
its words, and remember that we sing it not as a mem-ory, but as a
proph-esy of the day our streets may run red with the blood of the
last struggle of Man to break his chains of Slav-ery--a proph-esy,
remember, not a mem-ory! Read it Barbara!"

The girl was by her side in an instant, and read from memory, her
clear sweet voice tremulous with passion:

  "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
  He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
  He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword:
  His truth is marching on!

  I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
  They have builded Him an altar in the evening's dews and damps;
  I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
  His day is marching on!

  He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
  He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
  Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer them, be jubilant my feet!
  Our God is marching on!"

The crowd burst again into triumphant song, and Norman looked at their
faces with increasing amazement. The immense vitality of their faith,
the rush of its forward movement, the grandeur and audacity of their
programme struck him as a revelation. They proposed no half-way
measures. They meant to uproot the foundations of modern society and
build a new world on its ruins. Their leaders were fanatics--yes. But
fanatics were the only kind of people who would dare such things and do
them. Here was a movement, which at least meant something--something
big, heroic, daring. His face suddenly flushed and his heart leaped
with an impulse.

"In heaven's name, Norman, what's the matter?" Elena asked.

The young poet-athlete looked at her in a dazed sort of way and
stammered:

"Did you ever see anything like it?"

"No, and I don't want to again," she replied with a frown. "Let's go
home."

"Wait, they are taking up a collection. At least we must pay for our
seats."

When the usher passed he emptied the contents of his pocket in the
collection-box.

As the meeting broke up, the boy who placed their seats touched Norman
on the arm.

"Let me introduce ye to her. I wants ter tell 'er ye er my
friend--I've yelled my head off for ye many a day on de football
ground. Jest er minute. I'll fetch 'er right down."

The boy darted up on the platform, and Norman turned to Elena:

"Shall we please the boy?"

"You mean yourself," she replied. "I decline the honour."

She turned away into the crowd as the boy returned leading Barbara.

Norman hastened to meet them at the foot of the platform steps.

"Dis is me friend, Worth, de captain of de football team, Miss
Barbara," proudly exclaimed the boy.

Barbara extended her soft hand with a warm, friendly smile, and
Norman clasped it while his heart throbbed.

"I congratulate you," he said, "on your wonderful triumph to-night."

"You were interested?" she asked, quietly.

"More than I can tell you," was the quick response.

"Then join our club and help me in my work among the poor," she urged,
with frank eagerness. "We meet to-morrow afternoon at three o'clock.
Won't you come?"

A long, deep look into her brown eyes--his face flushed and his heart
leaped with sudden resolution.

"Thank you, I will," he slowly answered.

He joined Elena at the door and they walked home in brooding silence.



CHAPTER III

THE BIRTH OF A MAN


Norman stood silent and thoughtful before the fire in the dining-room,
the morning after the meeting of the Socialists. His sleep had been
feverish and a hundred half-formed dreams had haunted the moments in
which he had lost consciousness with always the shining face of
Barbara smiling and beckoning him on.

Elena silently entered and watched him a moment before he saw her.

"Still dreaming of the New Joan of Arc, Norman?" she asked with
playful banter.

"I'm going to do it, Elena," he said, with slow, thoughtful emphasis.

"What? Marry her without even giving me the usual two weeks' notice?"
Elena laughed.

"Now, isn't that like a woman! I wasn't even thinking of the girl----"

"Of course not."

Norman laughed. "By Jove, you're jealous at last, Elena."

"You flatter yourself."

"Honestly, I wasn't thinking of the girl----"

"Well, I've been thinking of her. She haunts me. I like her and I hate
her. I feel that she's charming and vicious, of the spirit and flesh,
and yet I can't help believing that she's good. The woman who
introduced her is a she-devil, and the man who presided over that
meeting is a brute. It's a pity she's mixed up with them. What are you
going to do--play the hero and rescue her from their clutches?"

"Nonsense. The girl is nothing to me, except as the symbol of a great
idea. It stirs my blood. I'm going to join the Socialist Club."

"Of which the fair Barbara is secretary."

"Come with me, and join too. We'll go together to every meeting."

"Have you gone mad?" Elena asked, with deep seriousness.

"I'm in dead earnest."

"And you think your father will stand for it?"

"That remains to be seen. I'm going to tackle him as soon as he comes
down to breakfast."

"Well, if I never see you again, good-bye, old pal." She extended her
hand in mock gravity.

"I'm not afraid of him."

"No, of course not!"

"You're a coward, or you'd stand by me. Wait, Elena, he's coming now."

"Why stand by? You're not afraid? I'll return in time for the
inquest. Brace up! Remember Barbara. Be a hero!"

With a ripple of laughter she disappeared as the Colonel's footsteps
were heard at the door.

Norman braced himself for the ordeal. He had never before dared to
test his father's iron will. He had grown accustomed to see strong men
bow and cringe before him, and felt a secret contempt for them all.
They were bowing to his millions. And yet the boy knew with intuitive
certainty that beneath the mask of quiet dignity and polished military
bearing of the man he facetiously called "the Governor" there
slumbered a will unique, powerful, and overbearing. More than once he
had resented the silent pressure of his positive and aggressive
personality. His own budding manhood had begun instinctively to
bristle at its approach.

The Colonel started on seeing Norman, and looked at him with a
quizzical expression.

"Was there an earthquake this morning, Norman?"

"I didn't feel it, sir--why?"

"You're downstairs rather early."

Norman smiled. "I've been a little lazy, I'm afraid, Governor. But you
know I wasn't consulted as to whether I wished to be born. You assumed
a fearful responsibility. You see the results."

The Colonel dropped his paper and looked at Norman a moment.

"Well, upon my word!" he exclaimed. "What's happened?"

"The biggest thing that ever came into my life, Governor," was the
low, serious answer.

"What?"

"The decision that hereafter I'd rather be than seem to be, that I'm
going to do some thinking for myself."

"And what brought you to this decision?" the father quietly asked.

"I went last night to that Socialist meeting."

"Indeed!"

"Yes," he went on, impetuously, "and I heard the most wonderful appeal
to which I ever listened--an appeal which stirred me to the deepest
depths of my being. I think it's the biggest movement of the century.
I'm going to study it. I'm going to see what it means. What do you say
to it?"

The boy lifted his tall figure with instinctive dignity, and his eyes
met his father's in a straight, deep man's gaze.

The faintest smile played about the corners of the Colonel's mouth as
he suddenly extended his hand.

"I congratulate you!"

"Congratulate me?" Norman stammered.

"Upon the attainment of your majority. Up to date you have written a
few verses and played football. But this is the first evidence you
have ever shown of conscious personality. You're in the grub-worm
stage as yet, but you're on the move. You're a human being. You have
developed the germ of character. And that's the only thing in this
world that's worth the candle, my boy. It's funny to hear you say that
the appeal of Socialism has worked this miracle. For character is the
one thing the scheme of Socialism leaves out of account. A character
is the one thing a machine-made society could never produce if given a
million years in which to develop the experiment."

"And you don't object?" Norman asked with increasing amazement.

"Certainly not. Study Socialism to your heart's content. Go to the
bottom of it. Don't slop over it. Don't accept sentimental mush for
facts. Find out for yourself. Read, think, and learn to know your
fellow man. When you've picked up a few first principles, and know
enough to talk intelligently, I've something to say to you--something
I've learned for myself."

The boy looked at his father steadily and spoke with a slight tremor
in his voice.

"Governor, you're a bigger man than I thought you were. I like
you--even if you are my father."

"Thanks, my boy," the Colonel gravely replied, "I trust we may know
each other still better in the future."



CHAPTER IV

AMONG THE SHADOWS


Under the tutelage of Barbara, the young millionaire plunged into the
study of Socialism with the zeal of the fresh convert to a holy
crusade.

At first he had listened to her stories of the sufferings of the poor
and the unemployed with mild incredulity. She laid her warm little
hand on his and said:

"Come and see. If you think that Socialism is a dream, I'll show you
that capitalism is a nightmare."

He followed her down the ugly pavements of a squalid street into the
poorest quarter of the city. She entered a dingy hall and pushed her
way through a swarm of filthy children to the rear room. On a bed of
rags lay the body of a suicide--a working-man who had shot himself the
day before. The wife sat crouching on a broken chair, with eyes
staring out of the window at the sunlit skies of a May morning in
California. Her body seemed to have turned to stone and her eyes to
have frozen in their sockets. Her hands lay limp in her lap, her
shoulders drooped, her mouth hung hopelessly open. She was as dead to
every sight and sound of earth as though shrouded and buried in six
feet of clay instead of sunlight.

Barbara touched her shoulder, but she did not move.

"Have you been sitting there all night, Mrs. Nelson?" she asked,
gently.

The woman turned her weak eyes toward the speaker and stared without
reply.

"You haven't tasted the food I brought you," Barbara continued.

The drooping figure stirred with sudden energy, as if the realization
of the question first asked had begun to stir her intelligence.

"Yes. I set up all night with Jim. He'd a-done as much fer me. There's
nobody else that cared enough to come. Ye know it ain't respectful to
leave your dead alone----"

"But you must eat something," Barbara urged.

"I can't eat--it chokes me." She paused a moment, and looked at Norman
in a dazed sort of way. "I tried to eat and something choked me--what
was it? O God, I remember now!" she cried, with strangling emotion.
"They are going to bury him in the potter's field unless we can save
him, and I know we can't. He's got an old mother way back East that
thinks he's doing well out here. Hit'll kill her dead when she finds
out he wuz buried by the city."

"He shan't go to the potter's field," Norman interrupted, looking out
of the window.

The woman rose, and tried to speak, but sank sobbing:

"Thank God! Thank God! Thank God!"

When the first flood of grateful emotion had spent itself, she looked
up at Norman and said:

"You see, sir, he wasn't strong, and kept losin' his job in Chicago.
We'd heard about California all our lives. We sold out everything and
got enough to come. For two years we've made a hard fight, but it was
no use. Jim couldn't git work. I tried and I couldn't. Folks have
helped us, but he was proud. He wouldn't beg and he wouldn't let me.
He wouldn't sell his gun. I think he always meant to use it that way
when he got to the end, and it come yesterday when they give us notice
to git out."

She staggered over to the bed and fell across the body, sobbing:

"My poor old boy. He loved me. He was always good to me. I tried to go
with him. But I couldn't pull the trigger! I was afraid! I was
afraid!"

When they reached the street, Barbara lifted her brown eyes to
Norman's face and asked:

"What do you think of a social system that drives thousands of men to
kill themselves like that?"

"To tell you the truth I never thought of it at all before."

"He would have been buried in a pauper's grave but for your help. I
brought you here this morning because I knew you would save her that
anguish when you understood."

"You knew I would?" he softly asked.

"I wouldn't have let you come with me if I hadn't known it," she
answered, earnestly.

"It's funny how many of us live in this world without knowing anything
about it," he said, musingly.

"It would be funny were it not a tragedy," she answered, turning
across the street to the next block. They paused at the entrance of
another narrow hallway.

"My work as secretary of the club includes, as you see, a wide range
of calls. I'm a dispenser of alms, the pastor of a great parish, the
friend, adviser, and champion of a lost world, and you have no idea
what a big world it is."

"I'm beginning to understand. What's the trouble here? Another
suicide?"

"No--something worse, I think. A man who was afraid to die and took to
drink. That's the way with most of them. None but the brave can look
into the face of Death. This man is good to his family until he's
drunk. Drink is the only thing that makes life worth the candle to
him. But when he's under the influence of liquor he's a fiend. Last
night he beat his wife into insensibility. This morning he sent one of
the children for me."

They climbed two flights of rickety stairs and entered a room littered
with broken furniture. Every chair was smashed, the table lay in
splinters, pieces of crockery scattered everywhere, and the stove
broken into fragments. Two blear-eyed children with the look of hunted
rabbits crouched in a corner. A man was bending over the bed, where
the form of a woman lay still and white.

"For God's sake, brace up, Mary!" he was saying. "Ye mustn't die! Ye
mustn't, I tell ye! Your white face will haunt me and drive me into
hell a raving maniac. I didn't know what I was doin', old gal. I was
crazy. I wouldn't 'a' hurt a hair of your head if I'd 'a' knowed what
I was doin'!"

He bowed his face in his coarse, bloated hands and sobbed.

The thin white hand of the wife stroked his hair feebly.

"It's all right, Sam. I know ye didn't mean it," she sighed.

Norman sent for a doctor, and left some money.

With each new glimpse of the under-world of pain and despair the
conviction grew in Norman's mind that he had not lived, and the
determination deepened that he would get acquainted with his fellow
men and the place he called his home.

"You are not tired?" Barbara asked, as they hurried into the street.

"No, I'm just beginning to live," he answered, soberly.

"Good. Then you shall be allowed the honour of accompanying me to the
county jail, to the poorhouse, to the hospital, and to the morgue--the
four greatest institutions of modern civilization. We must hurry. I've
another sadder visit after these."

As they hurried through the streets, Norman began to study with
increasing intensity the phenomena presented in the development of
Barbara's character. The more he saw of her, the more he realized the
lofty ideals of her life, the more puerile and contemptible his own
past seemed.

At the jail they found a boy who had been convicted of stealing and
sentenced to the penitentiary. His old mother was ill. Barbara bore
her last message of love.

They stopped at the poorhouse to see a curious old pauper who had
become a regular attendant on the Socialists' meetings. He was called
"Methodist John," because he was forever shouting "Glory, Hallelujah!"
and interrupting the speakers. Barbara was the bearer of a painful
message to John. Wolf had instructed her to keep him out of the
meetings. She had decided to try a gentler way--to warn him against
yelling "Glory" again under penalty of being deprived of a dish of
soup of which he was particularly fond. The Socialist Club served this
simple, wholesome meal to all who asked for it after its weekly
meetings.

John promised Barbara faithfully to stop shouting.

"Remember, John," she warned him finally, "shout--no soup! No
shout--soup!"

"I understand, Miss Barbara," he answered, solemnly.

"You see, sir," he said, apologetically, turning to Norman, "I get
along all right till she begins ter speak, and when I hears her soft,
sweet voice it seems ter run all down my back in little ticklin' waves
clean down ter my toes, an' I holler 'Glory' before I can stop it!"

Norman laughed.

"I understand, old man."

"You feel that way yerself, don't ye, now, when she looks down into
yer soul with them big, soft eyes o' hern, an' her voice comes
a-stealin' inter yer heart like the music of the angels----"

Barbara's face lighted, and a slight blush suffused her cheeks as she
caught the look of admiring assent in Norman's expression.

"That will do, John," she said, firmly. "Mr. Wolf was very angry with
you yesterday."

"I'll remember, Miss Barbara," he repeated. "And God bless your dear
heart fer comin' by ter tell me."

"I suppose he has no people living who are interested in him?" Norman
asked, as they turned toward the Socialist hall.

"No. He came from a big mill town in the East. His children all died
before they were grown, and he landed here with his wife ten years
ago. When she died, he was sent to the poorhouse. He hasn't much mind,
but there's enough left to burst into flame at the memory of his
children being slowly ground to death by the wheels of those mills.
I've seen his dead soul start to life more than once as I've looked
into his face from our platform. What an awful thing to see dead men
walking about!"

"Yes. People who are dead and don't know it. I never thought of it
before." Norman exclaimed.

They stopped in front of a house with a scarlet light in the hall,
which threw its rays through a red-glass transom over a door of
coloured leaded glass. The shadows of evening had begun to fall, and
for the first time the girl showed a sign of hesitation and
embarrassment.

"I hate to ask you to go in here with me, and I'd hate worse to have
you see me go alone. Yet I have to do it. My work leads me."

"I'm going with you, whether you ask it or not," he firmly replied.

"Then words are useless," she said, simply, as she rang the bell.

A Negro maid opened the door, and smiled a look of recognition. "She
ain't no better, miss. She's been crying for you all day."

Barbara led the way up two flights of stairs to a small room in the
rear, and entered without knocking. With a bound she was beside the
bed on which lay a slender girl of nineteen. A mass of golden blond
hair was piled in confusion on the pillow, and a pair of big,
childish-looking blue eyes blinked at her through her tears.

"Oh! you've come at last! I'm so glad. It makes me strong to see you.
Your face shines so, Barbara! They say I can't live, but it's not so.
I shall live! I'm feeling better every day. It's nonsense. The doctors
haven't got any sense. I wish you'd get me one that knows something.
Won't you, dear?"

"My friend, Mr. Worth, who has called with me, has kindly agreed to
send you another doctor, little sister--that's why I brought him to
see you."

Norman extended his hand, and grasped the thin, cold one the girl
extended. He felt the chill of death in its icy touch as he stammered:

"I'll send him right away."

"Thank you," the girl replied, as a smile flitted about her weak
mouth. She turned to Barbara with a look of infinite tenderness.

"I knew you'd come, and I knew you'd save me. You're my angel! When I
dream at night, you're always hovering over me."

"I'll come again to-morrow, dearie, when the new doctor has seen you,"
Barbara answered, as she pressed her hand good-bye.

When they reached the street, Norman asked:

"You knew her before she fell into evil ways?"

"Yes," Barbara answered, with feeling. "She was just a little child of
joy and sunlight. She couldn't endure the darkness. She loved flowers
and music, beauty and love. She hated drudgery and poverty. She tried
to work, and gave up in despair. A man came into her life at a
critical moment and she broke with the world. She's been sending all
the money she could make the past two years to her mother and four
little kids. Her father was killed at work in a mine for a great
corporation."

"She can't live, can she?" Norman asked.

"Of course not. I only did this to humour her. She has developed acute
consumption--she may not live a month."

Barbara paused.

"I must leave you now--I'm very tired, and I must sleep a while before
I attend the meeting to-night. It has been a great strain on me
to-day, this trip with you. How do you like our boasted civilization?
Do you think it perfect? Are you satisfied with a system which drives
hundreds of thousands of such girls into a life of shame? Are you
content with a system which produces three million paupers in a land
flowing with milk and honey? Do you like a system which drives
thousands to the madness of drink and suicide every year?"

"And to think," responded Norman, dreamily, "that for the past two
years of my manhood I've been writing verses and playing football!
Great God!"

"Then from to-day we are comrades in the cause of humanity?" she asked
tenderly, extending her hand. His own clasped hers with firm grasp.

"Comrades!"



CHAPTER V

THE ISLAND OF VENTURA


Norman had never been a boy to do things by halves. In college, when
he went in for football, he made it the one supreme end of life--and
won. He incidentally managed to pull through a course in mining
engineering. He knew mining by instinct and inheritance from his
father. It came easy.

When he had a three months' vacation from football he took up the
modelling of a dredge for mining gold from the sands of the beaches.
The thing had never been perfected, but after three months' experiment
and study he was just on the point of making the castings for the
machinery when the football season opened and he dropped such trifling
matters for the more serious work of training his men for a successful
season. He won the championship and forgot the dredge.

Into the new movement of Socialism he naturally threw his whole
personality without reservation. Its daring programme thrilled him.
The audacity of its leaders and their refusal to discuss anything less
than the salvation of man appealed to every instinct of his nature.
He devoured every book on the subject he could find, and in his
new-found enthusiasm for humanity accepted as the inspired voice of
God their wildest visions of social regeneration.

In his work of charity and organization with Barbara he found
everything to confirm and nothing to shake his faith in these
theories. When once he caught the idea that all the ills of modern
civilization were due directly to the fiendish system of "capitalism"
and its "iron law of wages," it was the key which unlocked every
mystery of Pain and every tragedy of the Soul. All sin and crime and
shame and suffering became the incidents of a social system whose
movements were as inexorable as Fate, as merciless as Death. There was
but one thing worth talking about, and that was how to destroy modern
society, root and branch, and do it quickly, thoroughly and without
compromise.

The same daring enthusiasm and capacity for leadership which made him
the captain of his football team brought him at once to the front as a
Socialist leader. He would have gained this leadership had he been the
poorest man among them. It was a gift as his birthright.

But, added to this capacity for daring and successful action, was his
wealth and social prestige. He had cast his lot with a class whose
avowed purpose was to destroy all social distinctions, to level all
wealth to a common standard. And for this reason in particular he was
conspicuous and heroic in the eyes of his Socialist comrades.

He found soon after his entrance into their active councils that the
woman known to the world as "The Scarlet Nun," to her associates as
"Sister Catherine," was the inspiring brain of their movement in the
West. This remarkable woman interested him deeply from their first
hour's talk. Born in Poland and educated in Germany, she spoke
fluently the Russian, German, French, and English languages. She had
led two great strikes of women workers in New York and had been
arrested, convicted, and sentenced twice to the penitentiary for
exciting riots. To her associates she had always remained a saint and
a martyr for their cause.

She had been married before her association with Wolf had begun, ten
years ago. Her first husband had been divorced, and her marriage to
Wolf had been merely "announced" at a Socialist meeting. And yet the
young millionaire had never questioned the sincerity of their devotion
or the apparent happiness of their union. He was amazed at her
learning, her grasp of affairs, the simplicity and refinement of her
manners, and the charm of her conversation.

Wolf he found to be a man of wide reading and deep convictions. As he
came in daily contact with these two powerful personalities, and
watched the singular zeal with which they devoted themselves to their
self-appointed task of destroying modern society, he could not divest
himself of the impression that they belonged to a religious order and
were leading a crusade, as the monks of the Middle Ages led men and
women to die to rescue the tomb of Christ from the desecration of Turk
and Saracen.

The woman in particular gave him this impression of religious
fanaticism. The apparent simplicity and austerity of her life, the
tireless zeal with which she planned and worked for the spread of the
gospel of Socialism, to his mind gave the lie emphatically to all the
stories he had read of her affairs with men.

The only moments of suspicion about her which ever clouded his mind
came with the accidental discovery that she had skilfully managed to
throw him and Barbara together for a day. It seemed just a little like
the old habit of a scheming mamma angling for the rich young man, and
deliberately using the beauty of her daughter as the bait with which
to land him in the household.

Yet, when he found himself with Barbara he had always dismissed the
thought as absurd. Whatever might be the dimly formed design in the
back of the older woman's fancy, her brilliant protégé gave no sign of
being her accomplice.

Norman had found Barbara a charming but baffling enigma. She walked
through a world of sin and shame, filth and mire, with never a speck
on the white of her soul or body. She spoke in the simplest and most
direct way of things about which the ordinary girl in society would
never dare to utter a word, and yet he took it as a matter of course.
He grew to feel that she was a mysterious messenger from the spirit
world. Yet when he took her arm and felt its warm round lines soft and
thrilling against his own, or the warmth of her lithe body pressing
close to his side in some lonely or dangerous spot on their rounds of
work, he was brought up sharply against the fact that she was both
flesh and spirit. Yet the moment he tried to draw nearer to her inner
thoughts, he found her a skilful little fencer, an adept in all the
arts of the most delicate and subtle coquetry.

He grew at last, however, to know, with unerring masculine instinct,
that with all her brave and frank talk about her "fallen" sisters, she
hadn't an idea of what their fall really meant. She was as innocent
as a child, and when at last she caught the young athlete smiling at
one of her apparently frank and learned discussions of the modern
degradation of woman, she blushed and became silent. Whereat he
laughed, and she became so angry they parted in silence.

Baffled in his efforts to approach Barbara's heart, he threw himself
with zeal into the Cause. When two months had been spent in mastering
the details of the Socialist programme, in studying its history and
the condition of its movement, he called a meeting of the council of
the Socialist Club, and fairly took away the breath of the Wolfs and
Barbara by the magnitude and audacity of a scheme which he proposed to
launch immediately.

He had secured, without consulting any of his associates, an option on
a rich, beautiful, and fertile island off the coast of Southern
California. It was owned by a corporation which had invested more than
a million dollars in its improvement. The enterprise had failed for
two reasons--the money had been expended recklessly in the days of the
famous land boom, and it had been found impossible to induce labourers
to isolate themselves on this lonely spot, sixty miles from the coast
of Santa Barbara, with no means of regular connection with the outside
world.

His eyes flashing with enthusiasm and his voice ringing with
conviction, Norman closed his description of the island of Ventura
with a demand for its immediate purchase by the Socialists.

"It can be bought," he declared impetuously, "for $200,000. A million
dollars' worth of improvements are already there. I propose that we
immediately raise $500,000, buy this island, establish a steamship
line, plant a colony of ten thousand Socialists, found the Brotherhood
of Man, build a model city, and create a vast fund for the propaganda
of our faith."

Barbara's brown eyes danced with excitement, her cheeks flushed, while
her little hands clapped approval.

"Good! Good! It's great! It's beautiful! We must do it!" she cried.

Wolf grimly shook his head.

"The idea has failed a hundred times. We must conquer the world by
political action--we have the weapon in our hand--manhood suffrage.
All colonies fail sooner or later. They are corrupted from
outside----"

"Just so!" Norman interrupted. "But this one you can't reach from the
outside. We will own the only means of communication. We will inherit
all the advantages of modern civilization with none of its drawbacks.
We can demonstrate the truths we hold and from our impregnable
Gibraltar send out our missionaries to conquer the world. We will not
merely dream dreams and see visions; we will make history. We will
prove the God that's in man and establish the fact of his universal
brotherhood."

"It's a wonderful idea, comrade!" Catherine exclaimed, with
enthusiasm. "I congratulate you! We will accept your plan, and I move
that we appoint you our agent vested with full power to collect this
fund from the enemy!"

The motion was put and carried unanimously, even Wolf voting for it.

Barbara sprang to Norman's side, and grasped his hand:

"Our feud is over! I forgive you for laughing at me. You are a born
leader. You've won your spurs to-night. You will raise this money?"

"As sure as I'm living!" was the firm reply.



CHAPTER VI

THE RED FLAG


Norman lost no time in springing his scheme for the establishment of
the Socialist colony and headquarters for the propaganda of the new
social religion on the island of Ventura. The season he had spent as a
reporter gave him the key to the proper launching of a press story
which created a profound sensation. It appeared simultaneously in the
Sunday editions of all the leading dailies of the Pacific coast, and
in forty-eight hours his mail had grown to such proportions that he
required two secretaries to assist him in answering it.

He called for a thousand volunteers to join the advance-guard of the
coming Brotherhood of Man, each contributing a thousand dollars. He
announced a mass meeting and picnic for the Fourth of July, to be held
on the big lawn of the Worth country house on the outskirts of
Berkeley.

Colonel Worth had readily given his consent to the use of the lawn. He
had not tried in any way to interfere with his son's association with
the Socialists. He felt sure that in time he would tire of the fad,
as he had of football, and in a fatherly way he began to admire the
dash and audacity of the boy's plans.

On the morning of the picnic, when Elena expressed her fears of the
outcome, the Colonel laughed.

"Don't worry, Elena. He'll come to his senses. It's like a fever. It
must run its course. I'm rather proud of the extravagance of his
foolishness. A boy who can forget his games and give his life to
destroy the foundations of human society and try to rebuild a new
world on its ruins--well, there's good stuff in him."

"But if he does something rash?" Elena persisted.

"He won't. With all his extravagance and enthusiasm he's not a fool.
I, too, saw visions like that once."

"You, Guardie?"

"Yes, when I was very, very young--a mere boy of thirteen--I joined a
colony of Communists."

"I wish I could have seen you at thirteen," Elena cried, with a joyous
laugh.

The laugh died suddenly and a frown overspread her face as Norman
appeared.

"I want you and Elena to hear our orator to-day, Governor," Norman
said, with enthusiasm. "We are going to make it a great day."

"It's already great, my boy--I've just got the news."

"What news?"

The Colonel drew a telegram from his pocket.

"A message from Washington. Sampson and Schley have annihilated the
Spanish fleet. Admiral Cervera is a prisoner on board the flagship,
and the army is rapidly closing in on the doomed city of Santiago."

He handed the telegram to Norman, who glanced at it in silence and
returned it to his father.

"Come to our meeting on the lawn at noon, Governor. We've bigger news
than that for you."

"Bigger news?" the older man asked with a quizzical look.

"Yes. A message announcing the dawn of a day when every gun on earth
shall be broken to pieces and melted into ploughshares."

The Colonel looked at Norman a moment, smiled, and slowly said:

"I love the young--because I live myself over again in them."

"Then you'll join us to-day?"

"Thanks--no--Elena and I are going to shoot firecrackers--but we won't
disturb your crowd. Let them speak to their hearts' content."

The Colonel turned with Elena, and entered the house, which crowned an
eminence overlooking the distant bay and city, while Norman hurried
down the green sloping lawn to finish the decorations of the speakers'
stand.

The crowd had already begun to pour in from Oakland and San Francisco,
and more than a hundred delegates from Socialist locals in other
cities were expected.

On a little headland which jutted out from the long sloping mountain
side on which the lawn was laid out, Colonel Worth had erected a tall
steel flag-pole. The big flag which flew from its peak could be seen
by every ship that entered or left the bay and for miles on shore in
almost every direction.

Around this flag-pole Norman had built the speakers' platform, with
every inch of its boards covered with the deep-red bunting symbolic of
the Socialist cause. Behind the stand toward the mountains rose a
smooth grass-carpeted hillside in semi-circular form, making a natural
amphitheatre on which five thousand people might sit in tiers one
above the other and distinctly hear every word uttered on the
platform.

By noon every inch of this space was packed with a dense crowd of
Socialists, their friends, and the curious who had come, drawn by the
sensational announcement of the launching of the Socialist colony on
the island of Ventura.

In the front row, packed close against the platform, were a number of
famous people--conspicuous among whom was an author whose impassioned
stories of the coming social upheaval had resulted in fame for himself
and a divorce-suit by his first wife. His new wife, the "affinity" who
caused the disturbance, sat by his side.

On his left sat a solemn looking poet with bushy, unkempt hair. He had
deliberately chosen the title "The Bard of Ramcat." The name Ramcat
had been long applied to a shabby section of the outskirts of San
Francisco. Here the poet had chosen to dwell and sing of social
horrors which existed only in his fertile imagination.

He had won wide fame, however, as the supreme exponent of the
"affinity" theory which has always been epidemic among thoughtful
Socialists. He coolly informed his wife that he had discovered his
true "affinity" in a woman he had installed as her guest. The two
affinities accompanied the wife and her child to a steamer for Europe
with instructions to obtain a divorce.

The poet married the affinity, and on the birth of a new son and heir
acquired the habit of beating her as a form of relaxation from the
strain of work. Considerable trouble followed, and he spent a portion
of his time in jail. He had once gone barefooted and bareheaded. But
since his "affinity" marriage he had been compelled for reasons best
known to himself to resume shoe-leather and to buy a hat. Nevertheless
he was still a striking-looking figure, seated beside his new wife
whose strong, intellectual face won the sympathy of all who saw her.

Just behind him sat an ex-clergyman with whom a rich young woman in
his congregation had fallen in love. To avoid trouble, the woman of
wealth got him to leave the ministry, and bought him from his wife for
a good round sum. He became an apostle of the new gospel of Socialism,
and secured a position as a professor of economics. When finally he
lost this position by his vagaries, his wife hired a hall and set him
up in business as an inspired leader of new thought emancipated from
the chains of capitalistic tyranny.

Beside the distinguished ex-clergyman Socialistic apostle sat
Professor Otto Schmitt, a famous teacher of economics at a Western
university. His supreme passion was hatred of women. His one big book
was written to prove that woman has no soul, that she is the mere
matter on which man by his will acts, that she is not immoral, but
merely non-moral, having never possessed even the rudiments of a moral
nature. Schmitt had, therefore, maintained that the entrance of women
into competition in the economic world presaged the downfall of man
and the utter extinction of humanity. For this reason he had joined
the Socialists.

Not three feet away from him sat a thoughtful, elderly, short-haired
woman who had written a book on the evolution of woman to prove that
woman alone is the original unit of creation, man a superfluous and
temporary addition, merely the missing link between woman and the
monkey, and in the process of human development the male biped would
be eliminated. She demanded equal rights with man, and more besides,
and she, too, had joined the Socialists.

Yet through all these ludicrous incongruities there ran the single
scarlet thread of social discontent which made them one. In every soul
rang the stirring cry:

"Down with civilization! Up with the Red Flag!"

A more remarkable group of men and women could scarcely be gathered
together on the face of the earth. But the one mark they all bore,
distinctly cut deep in the lines of every face on which character had
set its seal, and written large in the restless, nervous personality
of the young--they all had a grievance, and though their troubles
might come from as many different causes as there were men and women
present, they united in one thought:

"Modern civilization must be destroyed!"

Every heart beat with this fiery resolution, and every incongruity
melted and faded into insignificance before this consuming belief.

And they had gone about this purpose with a deadly earnestness which
meant business. Their political campaigns were merely moments when the
captain of their ship cast the lead-line to feel the bottom and find
his position with certainty before signalling full speed ahead.

They worked all the year round and every day in every year, from one
election to the next. They were mastering the tricks of the demagogue
in their appeal to the masses, and they kept everlastingly at it. No
man is too high, no man too low, for them to reach for him. They
couldn't be beaten for they had accepted defeat before they began to
fight, and began the next fight before they got up from the ground
where they had been knocked down. They had become the one element in
American politics to which it was utterly useless to direct any
argument of expediency.

The Fourth of July, the Nation's birthday, they were now using to
demand its extinction. The fact that our army and navy had just torn
the flag of Spain from its last masthead in the Western hemisphere and
startled the old world with our sudden advent among the great powers
of the earth, stirred in their hearts no emotion save that of
contempt. While the souls of millions beat with patriotic pride, they
had met to uproot the very ideas from whose soil patriotism sprang
into life.

There was no question as to who should be the orator of the day. The
fame of Barbara Bozenta had become national from the day of her first
speech in San Francisco. Her beauty and eloquence were sufficient to
pack any hall at twenty-four hours' notice.

Her delicate face was radiant to-day with unusual elation. She walked
with a quick, nervous energy that seemed to lift her whole body into
the air. As she ascended the platform and bowed to the tumult of
applause, she trembled from head to foot with intensest excitement. As
she stood looking over the inspiring scene for a moment, her sensitive
nostrils dilated, her brown eyes flashed, and her heart beat with a
great throb of personal pride. She had never before faced such an
immense throng of excited men and women, and the secret consciousness
that she had within her soul the message which would sweep their
heartstrings as she willed, lifted her into the clouds.

She felt for the moment that the whole scene was a tribute to her
power. The magnificent house whose windows flashed in the sunlight,
the vast lawn carpeted with green and set in dazzling flowers, the
emerald waters of the bay, and the spires and domes of the distant
city set on its proud hills beyond--all were hers to-day! Her voice
had called to their standard the young millionaire whose name was now
on every lip. Her voice had inspired his dream of the experiment to be
made on the island of Ventura which had called this host together. For
one big moment she felt the thrill of conscious creative genius, the
pain, the joy, the glory of a positive achievement.

Her eyes suddenly filled with tears, and she sank to her seat with a
suppressed sob.

When at last she rose to speak, her whole personality was a quivering
battery of resistless emotion. Her voice, low and pulsing with
magnetic waves of suppressed feeling, caught and chained the attention
of the farthest straggler on the edge of the throng. Instinctively
they moved closer. Resistlessly she drew them.

She had not spoken two minutes before she was sweeping the hearts of
her hearers. Men and women who had come to laugh or scoff, as well as
the young and thoughtless who had drifted with the crowd, were all
alike caught in the spell and hung breathless on her words.

Every trick and art of persuasive speech were hers without effort.
Scorn, pathos, humour, passion, were of the breath she breathed. At
times her eloquence reached the highest conception of its might. It
was simple thought packed until it took fire. At such moments scores
of men leaped to their feet and shouted. Nothing disconcerted her or
changed the swift current of her ideas. She was a master-musician
whose hands swept a harp of a thousand strings--every string a
throbbing human soul.

What matter if her appeal was to the emotions and not to the
intellect? Her purpose was to persuade her hearers. And she did it.
Her courage, her beauty, her skill, her utter sincerity, commanded the
respect of the strongest man who listened. If their intellects were
not convinced, no matter--she carried them with her on a storm of
resistless emotion.

Suddenly a thing happened which would have destroyed the total
impression of the average speech. Old Methodist John, her pauper
protégé, had listened with increasing torture, choking down a hundred
"Glorys" as they leaped from his soul until at last he could endure no
more. At the climax of one of her impassioned appeals the old man
leaped to his feet, rushed in front of the speakers' stand and shouted
into the face of the chairman:

"Look here! Look here, now, Wolf! Soup or no soup--Glory hallelujah!"

Barbara alone smiled. The crowd took up his shout, and a thousand
voices made the heavens ring with its wild music.

Norman whispered to the old man, who sat down, and Barbara swept on in
her impetuous triumph without the lapse of a moment's power. She
seized the instant's hush which followed the storm of cheering to fire
into the minds of her hearers some of the solid shot of the
revolutionary programme.

In a voice which swelled to the clarion note of a trumpet she cried:

"The earth for all the people! This is our demand!

"The machinery of all production and distribution for all the people!
This is our demand!

"The collective ownership and control of all industry! This is our
demand!

"The elimination of rent, interest, and profit! This is our demand!

"A new social order, a higher civilization, a real republic! This is
our demand!

"The end of the hell called war, of poverty and shame, of cruelty and
crime, the birth of freedom, the dawn of brotherhood, the beginning of
man! These are our demands! This is Socialism! Is this an idle dream?
Have you no faith in your fellow man?

"In the grim prison beyond the bay I found one day a woman convict who
was little removed from a fiend. I got permission to hang a beautiful
picture in her cell--a picture that set her soul to dreaming, that
melted her at last to tears, and transformed the beast within her to a
gentle, loving, beautiful, human character.

"I believe in man because he alone possesses this power to look
through the window of the soul into the infinite and eternal. Here the
world's real battles are fought. Here the world's real work is done.
Here cowards run and the brave die. This power to recreate the earth,
people it with beauty, and fill it with harmony is your birthright.

"Lo, the day of humanity dawns!

"I preach class consciousness that we may destroy all classes. Class
must perish and Man be glorified. Man, whose inhumanity to his fellow
man has filled the ages with ashes and tears, is coming forth at last
purified by suffering, and we shall see his tears turned to smiles
upon the faces of a nobler race.

"Why should we rejoice to-day in the death of our fellow man? Nations
are but the dung-heaps out of which the fair flower of a
world-democracy is slowly growing. Truth is not national, it is
infinite. France may fight Germany because two titled fools insult
each other, but there can be no war between the laboratories of
Pasteur and of Koch. Their work is the common heritage of humanity.
Who asks if Humboldt was German or English, whether Spinoza was Jew or
Gentile, Darwin English or French? A German wrote 'Faust,' a Frenchman
set it to immortal music, and an American girl sang it into the hearts
of millions. Who cares to know nationalities? The great belong to the
democracy of the world. And I swear that your children will still
laugh with the soul of Cervantes in spite of the Fourth of July,
Santiago, and Manila!

"Why should you fight one another? When called to war by your rulers,
let the liberty-loving spirits of the modern world say to their
masters:

"'Go and do your own killing--you who have separated us from our
brothers and made the earth a slaughter-pen.'

"If you are court-martialed and shot for this act of heroism remember:

    "'They never fail who die
    In a great cause: the block may soak their gore:
    Their heads may sodden in the sun: their limbs
    Be strung to city gates and castle walls--
    But still their spirit walks abroad. Though years
    Elapse and others share as dark a doom,
    They but augment the deep and sweeping thoughts
    Which overpower all others, and conduct
    The world at last to freedom!'"

A shout of wild applause rent the air as the last note of Byron's
immortal song fell from her beautiful lips. And then, in a low,
intense voice, she closed her speech with a thrilling appeal for human
brotherhood. To Norman, who hung on her lips, the slight girlish
figure seemed transformed before their eyes into a radiant messenger
of the spirit. And when the sweet womanly tones at last broke and
choked into deep-drawn sobs, his soul and body seemed no longer his
own. As her last words sank into his heart: "From to-day let each of
us swear allegiance to but one flag, the deep-red emblem of human
blood, God's sign of universal brotherhood!" Norman leaped to his
feet, sprang on the platform, and while the crowd swayed in a frenzy
of applause, hauled down the Stars and Stripes and quickly raised the
big red standard of Socialism which was thrown across the speaker's
table.

And then the great crowd seemed to go mad. Wave after wave of cheering
rose and fell, rose and fell, in apparently unending power. Catherine
threw her arms around Barbara in a paroxysm of emotion, while the big
figure of Wolf towered above them both, shouting and gesturing like a
madman. Barbara at last lifted her hand and, as the storm subsided,
began the Marseillaise hymn.

The first stirring notes had just swept the audience when the stalwart
figure of Colonel Worth suddenly appeared on the platform, his face a
blaze of anger, his magnificent figure erect, every nerve and muscle
drawn to the highest tension.

He stepped to the edge of the stand, lifted his head, and his voice
rang over the crowd like the sudden boom of a cannon:

"Silence!"

He didn't repeat the word.

The singing stopped, and every eye was riveted on the group that stood
on the platform.

The Colonel confronted Wolf, and shot his words at him as though from
a machine-gun.

"Who lowered that flag?"

A moment of silence followed. The Colonel spoke with increasing
rapidity.

"Who lowered that flag? The man who did it must answer to me!"

Some one behind him moved, and the Colonel turned, confronting Norman.

"I did it, Governor," was the quiet answer.

"You?" the father gasped.

"Yes," said the even, firm voice.

"Haul that red rag down and raise the flag back to its place!" The
Colonel's voice was low and thick with rage.

Elena put her hand on his arm and said gently:

"Guardie!"

"Will you do it?" he firmly asked, ignoring Elena, and holding Norman
with his gaze.

The young man hesitated an instant, met his father's look with a
deadly straight stare, and slowly replied:

"I will not."

A smothered cry from Barbara, half joy, half pain, was the only sound
that followed, until the Colonel said:

"Then I'll do it for you."

Amid a dead silence he hauled down the red flag, threw it on the
floor, boldly stamped on it, made fast the Stars and Stripes, and
quickly raised it to the top of its staff. He turned to the crowd, and
in clear-cut, sharp tones of command shouted:

"This is my flag, my house, my lawn. Get off it! And do it quick!"

As the crowd hastened away, he turned to Norman:

"You and I must come to an understanding at once, young man," he said,
with angry emphasis.

"I'll meet you in the library in thirty minutes," was Norman's firm
reply as he led Barbara from the platform and joined the retreating
throng.

    [Illustration: "LIFT THE FLAG BACK TO ITS PLACE."]



CHAPTER VII

FATHER AND SON


The Colonel paced the floor of his library with increasing anger as he
waited the return of Norman. Never in his life had his whole being
been so abandoned to incontrollable rage. He had always been a man of
fiery temper, but an iron will had held his temper in control.

His most intimate business associates had always found him suave,
persuasive, and genial in every hour of trial. Never once had they
heard a threat or an idle boast fall from his lips. He had the rare
faculty of beating his enemies in a fight in which no quarter was
asked or given, and coming out of it with his bitterest foe turned
into a friend. This was one of the secrets of his fortune--an
instinctive leadership among powerful men.

For the first time he realized that he had challenged the one man in
all his personal acquaintance about whose character he knew
nothing--his own son. For the first time he realized that they were
strangers. He had been absorbed in the big affairs of life. He had
taken the boy for granted. Since the death of his mother twelve years
ago, Norman had spent most of his time at school.

The Colonel had always been in command. His word had been law for so
many years, it brought him up with a disagreeable start to find that
the one man with whom his life was bound, and in whom his hopes
centred, could dare thus to defy and flaunt his wishes. It was the
most disgusting, enraging fact he had ever encountered. The longer he
confronted the situation the more furious and blind his anger became.

Elena had timidly entered the room, and stood watching him gravely
before she spoke.

"Has he returned from that woman yet?" the Colonel asked with sudden
energy.

"No, and I hope he will stay all day," she answered slowly.

"But he won't," the father snapped.

"I'm sure he will not," the girl sighed. "I don't like you to-day,
Guardie."

"You, too, side with these fanatics then?"

"No. I hate them--hate everything they say and do and stand for. I
loathe the very sight of them. But you were unfair to Norman."

"Unfair? How?"

"You allowed him the widest liberty to do as he pleased, think as he
pleased, associate with whom he pleased, and then all of a sudden you
sprang on that platform and insulted him before his invited guests."

"How could I dream that he would commit such an act of insane treason
before my very eyes?"

"You make no allowance for the spell of Barbara Bozenta's eloquence. I
don't like her, but she's a wonderful little woman, and I envy her her
power over men."

"I'll end this folly to-day," was the Colonel's firm announcement.

"I'm not so sure," Elena warned.

"I'll show you!"

She came close and laid her hand on the Colonel's arm.

"Will you promise me one thing, Guardie?" she asked, tenderly.

The anger faded from the strong face, and his voice sank low.

"I'm afraid I've never been able to refuse you anything, child. It's
on your account, I think, I'm most angry with Norman to-day."

"You promise?" she repeated.

"Yes, what is it?" he said, bending to kiss her smooth, white
forehead.

"Promise to put all anger out of your heart and talk to Norman as a
father, not as an enemy--won't you?"

"An enemy?" the Colonel slowly asked.

"Yes. I thought you were going to strike him once. It would have been
horrible. I never could have forgiven you for that. You've always been
my hero, Guardie--I never saw you give way to anger before. I don't
like it. You'll talk to him lovingly and tenderly as a father, won't
you?"

"Yes, dear, for your sake, I will," he answered.

"Then I'll tell him to come. I asked him to wait outside until I saw
you."

She turned and quickly left the room. In a moment Norman entered and
stood facing his father.

The Colonel flushed with anger at sight of the insolence with which
the younger man calmly surveyed him.

"Well, sir," the father said, at length, "have you nothing to say to
me after what has occurred to-day?"

"I was under the impression that you had something to say to me," was
the cool answer.

By an effort of will the older man crushed back an angry retort,
smiled, and said:

"Sit down, please--I've a good deal to say to you."

Norman threw himself lazily into a chair, and continued to watch his
father with a curious expression of half-amused contempt. The Colonel
stood in silence, evidently struggling with his emotions, and feeling
for the right word with which to begin.

Norman anticipated him.

"Honestly, now, Governor, just between us, don't you think you were a
little bit absurd to-day?"

"Absurd?" his father broke in with rising accent.

"Just a little childish about a piece of red, white, and blue cloth?"

"Perhaps so, my boy," was the answer. "Just about as absurd as you
were over the red rag you lifted in its place. Why did you do it?"

"On the impulse of the moment, to express my feeling of contempt for
war, and my faith in my fellow man."

"Exactly. So I acted on the impulse of the moment to express my
contempt for that crowd of fools and fanatics--my loyalty and faith in
my country."

"I can't understand how a man of your age, poise and pride, culture
and power, could be so foolish. A sixteen-year-old school-boy on the
Fourth of July, yes! But you----"

"Norman," the Colonel interrupted, in even tones, "I'm sorry I've been
too busy for us to get acquainted. It's time we began. It may
interest you to know that I, too, hate war--learned to hate it long
before your Socialist orator was born--learned it in the grim
University of Hell--war itself. Socialism has no patent on the hope of
universal peace. I am a member of a peace society. I have always
believed the Civil War should have been prevented. All the Negroes on
this earth are not worth the blood and tears of one year of that
struggle. Whether it could have been prevented God alone knows. When
it came I volunteered--a drummer-boy at fourteen--and marched to the
front beneath the flag you tore down to-day."

"I never thought of that, Governor--honestly, I never did!" the boy
exclaimed.

"I went in," the Colonel continued, "with my head full of silly
rubbish about the glory of war. When I beat the call to my first
charge, and saw the men I knew and loved shot to pieces, and heard
their groans and cries for water, I had no more delusions. I worked on
the field that night until twelve o'clock, helping the men who were
wounded--enemies as well as comrades. I learned the brotherhood of man
and the meaning of red blood in the big, tragic school of life, my
son. Many a boy in gray, whom I had fought, died in my arms while my
heart ached for his loved ones in some far-away Southern home.

"But I knew the war had to be when once it was begun. I was fighting
for the flag I loved--and I grew to love it better than life. To you
it may be a bit of red, white, and blue bunting; to me it is the
symbol of truth and right, liberty and human progress.

"My people in western North Carolina were all slave-holders and loyal
to their state, except my father. He hated slavery, loved the Union,
and moved on westward before the war. I saw them bury him in the flag
you tore down to-day, my boy.

"Many a night I've lain on the ground looking up at the stars before
the dawn of a day of battle and seen visions of that flag flying
triumphant in the sky. I've seen the men who carried it shot down
again and again, and another snatch it from their dying grasp and bear
it on to victory.

"I grew not only to love it, but to believe in it with all the
passionate faith of my soul. I believe in its destiny, in its sublime
mission to humanity. The older I've grown and the more I've seen of my
fellow man, the wider I've travelled in foreign lands, the deeper has
become my conviction that our flag symbolizes the noblest, freest
ideal ever born in the soul of man; that we have but to live up to its
standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and the kingdom of
human brotherhood is already here.

"After the war, I joined the regular army, not because I loved war,
but because there seemed nothing else for me to do at the time. I was
absolutely alone in the world. At twenty-five I was in command of a
company on the frontier. I had not been in battle since the end of the
Civil War, when suddenly I found myself surrounded by a horde of
hostile Indians, and I had to turn my machine guns on them and mow
them down. The slaughter was something terrific. As the last charge
was made I saw a young squaw retreat in the face of a withering fire,
walk backward facing our men, holding a bundle of something behind her
body. She fell at last, riddled with bullets. I rode up where she lay,
and found the bundle to be a little Indian baby boy. He was unhurt,
and stretched out his hand to me in friendly baby greeting. I found
the squaw quite dead, and discovered the child was not her own. She
was simply trying to save it for the tribe. I took the child and
educated him. But he went back to the free life of the plains. I found
him again, and made him the gamekeeper of our mountain preserves."

"You mean Saka?" Norman asked.

"Yes. That night as I lay in my tent I saw war as it is--a hideous,
savage nightmare. From that moment I hated the service, hated its
iron laws of discipline, its cruel machinery devised for suppressing
the individuality of its members. I saw that night a larger vision of
life. I made up my mind to create, not to kill--to build up, not to
tear down. I left the army and mastered mining.

"Your leather-lunged agitators say that I stole my millions from the
earnings of the men who worked for me. A more stupid lie was never
uttered. I invented improved mining machinery. I made deserts blossom
and gave employment to thousands of men who couldn't think for
themselves. I did their thinking for them, and set their tasks. I have
made millions, and have added tens of millions to the wealth of the
West."

"If labour is the creator of all wealth can one man ever earn a
million dollars?" Norman interrupted.

"Manual labour is not the creator of wealth. The brain which conceives
is the creator of wealth. The hand which executes these plans is
merely the automaton moved by a superior power."

"Yet nothing could be accomplished without it," persisted Norman.

His father lifted his hand with a gesture of command.

"We'll not discuss the theory of Socialism to-day, my boy. I grant you
have plausible arguments which skilful demagogues are using with more
and more efficiency. I don't object to your study of this subject. I'm
rather pleased at the serious turn your energies have taken. What I do
object to is your continued association with the kind of people who
made up that crowd to-day--people who make the agitation of the
revolutionary programme of the Socialists a daily profession, people
who are seeking to destroy modern civilization itself."

"You will have to come down to earth, Governor," Norman said, "in your
indictment of these people. The time has gone by when you can scare
anybody with a few high-sounding phrases. If modern civilization is
rotten, it ought to be destroyed, and who cares if it is?"

"The issue between us, my boy," the Colonel continued, gravely, "is
not an academic one. It is not open to discussion. Some of the people
you are associating with have criminal records. If they continue their
present wild harangues they will be shot down like dogs in the
streets. I cannot afford to have my name even under the suspicion of
sympathy for them, through you. Do you understand me?"

"I think I do," Norman replied, holding his father's steady gaze.

"You are my son and the heir of my fortune. But you must remember that
I am the master of this establishment."

"I am aware of that fact, sir," the boy replied, in cold tones.

"I trust that it will not be necessary, then, for me to repeat to you
my first positive order--that you will immediately sever your
connection with the Socialist Club, and never again appear in public
or private with the three people who were on that platform to-day."

"It will not be necessary for you to repeat your order," the young
athlete replied, with a curious smile and a slight tightening of the
lips.

"I thought as much."

Norman laughed, and the Colonel's eyes began to blaze.

"What do you mean, sir?" he sternly asked.

"That it will be unnecessary for you to repeat your order, for the
very simple reason that I'm a man. I've the right to do my own
thinking, and I propose to do it."

With a quick stride the Colonel confronted the young rebel, his breath
quick and laboured, his face aflame with unbridled rage.

"You dare thus to defy my wishes?"

"If you put it that way, yes."

The Colonel stepped to the door and opened it.

"You will obey my order or get out of this house never to enter it
again. Take your choice!"

"You mean it?" the younger man asked, with sullen emphasis.

"Exactly what I say," was the cold reply.

Norman turned without a word, seized his hat, and left the room. As he
reached the end of the corridor, and placed his hand on the front
door, his father's voice rang out suddenly:

"Norman!"

He paused, and looked back without taking his hand from the knob.

"You can't be such a fool!" the Colonel cried.

"It looks that way, Governor!"

He opened the door, softly closed it, and was gone.



CHAPTER VIII

THROUGH THE EYES OF LOVE


Norman's break with his father created a sensation. The flag episode,
coming on the Fourth of July and at the very hour when the guns of the
forts were thundering their celebration of the fleet's victory at
Santiago, presented the dramatic contrast which stirred the
indignation of the public to unusual depths. The morning papers
devoted from four to five columns to the story. The remarkable speech
of Barbara Bozenta was reported in full, with a sketch of her life,
interspersed with portraits of the Wolfs, of Norman, Elena, his
father, the palatial home on Nob Hill, and the country estate where
the stirring little drama had been played.

The Socialist cause received a tremendous impetus. The very violence
of the editorial assaults on their programme reacted in their favour.
Thousands of men who did not know the meaning of the word Socialism
began to read and think and discuss its principles. Their meetings
were crowded, and the fame of the little brown-eyed Joan of Arc
became so great it was no longer possible for her to pass through the
streets without an escort.

All sorts of stories about the relations of the famous millionaire and
his son filled the air. Some were printed, others were vague rumours.
A sensational paper published the story that they had actually come to
blows, and had fought a duel in the big library which might have ended
fatally for one or both but for the timely interference of Colonel
Worth's ward, Elena Stockton.

Norman became at once the hero of the Socialist's cause. His
appearance at a meeting was the signal for pandemonium to break loose.
He secured employment on a sensational daily paper, and his signed
articles were made a feature.

Colonel Worth was so enraged over the vulgar notoriety with which the
incident had overwhelmed him that he denied himself to all callers,
refused to speak to a reporter or to allow a word to be uttered in
confirmation or denial of any stories printed or rumoured.

He issued orders that Norman's name should never again be spoken in
his house.

When he made this announcement to Elena her full, red lips, quivered
and she looked at him reproachfully.

"I mean it, Elena," he said, sternly.

The girl spoke in tenderness.

"I don't believe you, Guardie. It isn't like you at all. I'll not
mention his name to a servant, but I will to you."

"I don't want to hear it!"

"That's because you know you've done a great wrong."

"I accept the responsibility. It's done, and that's the end of it."

"Nothing ends until it ends right, Guardie," spoke the soft, even
voice.

"I know it's hard on you, dear," the Colonel responded, with feeling.
"It was for your sake I made the issue. If he has turned from you for
a loud-mouthed vulgar agitator, he's not worth a thought. Forget that
he lives. I'm going to leave my fortune to you."

"I don't want it at the price, Guardie," she replied, slipping her arm
around his neck and resting her head on his shoulder. "I couldn't be
happy with such a fortune. What you've done hurts me more than it
hurts Norman."

"Yes, yes. I know that you love him, child, but your happiness could
not be found among a crowd of criminals and revolutionists."

"I'm not thinking of myself," was the low response as she withdrew
from his arms, "I was thinking of you."

"Of me?"

"Yes. You've broken my idol. To me you were the one perfect man in the
world. I didn't know you. I didn't know that you were hard and cold
and cruel and selfish and proud."

"I'm not, Elena."

"You allowed Norman to drift into any crazy theory that might strike
his fancy. And the moment he fails to agree with your views you turn
like a madman and drive him into the streets."

"He went of his own accord. I gave him his choice."

"And I admire his pluck. It was a manly thing to do."

"It was the act of a fool."

"Yet, you know, Guardie, in your heart of hearts you admire him for
it. He showed you that he was made of the same stuff as his father."

The Colonel scowled, and the girl took courage.

"I'm going to meet him this evening----"

"I forbid it!"

"You can't help it," she cried, as the tears slowly gathered. "I'm
going to tell him you wish to see and talk with him again."

"On one condition only--his absolute obedience to my wishes."

"I love him all the more for defying you--love him better than I ever
did in my life. And--and, Guardie--I don't love you any more. You are
cruel and unjust."

With a sob she turned and left the room.



CHAPTER IX

A FADED PICTURE


Elena's tears had shaken the Colonel's confidence in his position as
nothing else could possibly have done. Since she had finished her
course in college two years before, and he had come in daily contact
with her strong personality, a most intimate and perfect sympathy had
grown between them. He had never before known her intuitive judgment
to be wrong. Her impressions of character especially he had found
singularly accurate, her sense of right and her good taste nearly
perfect.

He retired to his room at night with a deep sense of uneasiness. His
anger had cooled, and in its stead a feeling of depression slowly
settled. From every nook and corner came memories of the boy he had
driven from his door. His pictures hung on the walls and stared at him
from every piece of furniture on which a frame could be placed. He had
learned photography as a pastime years before the kodak was invented,
and most of the pictures he had taken himself.

One photograph in particular, which stood by the clock on the mantel,
set in a heavy frame of hammered gold, which he had made himself from
the product of his first mine, riveted and held his attention. His
first impulse was to tear these pictures all down and throw them in
the fire. He had picked this one up first, to carry out his furious
impulse, but something held his hand and he placed it back in its old
place with the grim exclamation:

"No! It's the act of a coward. I've got to live with my memories--or
surrender at once."

Again and again his eye came back to this picture. He had taken it
twenty-three years ago in a little bedroom in a dirty hotel of a
desolate, God-forsaken mining town in Nevada. How well he remembered
it! He was poor then, and had just begun the first big fight of his
life for wealth and power. The boy was four weeks old, and he had
insisted on taking the picture of the mother with the baby in her
arms. He had carefully posed her, standing by the window looking down
into the child's upturned face. It had turned out a remarkable
likeness of both--the young mother's face wreathed in smiles, tender
and frail and happy, with the great joy of the dawn of motherhood
shining in her eyes.

He looked at it long and tenderly. And, as a thousand memories of
life crowded his soul, he suddenly exclaimed:

"God in heaven! What does she say to-day if she knows what I've done?"

His eyes blinked, and the tears blinded them.

He kissed the picture and buried his face in his hands as a sob of
anguish shook his frame.

"The girl's right. My boy's my boy after all. I'm wrong!"



CHAPTER X

SON AND FATHER


When the Colonel had greeted Elena at breakfast next morning he
quietly asked:

"You met Norman?"

"Yes."

"I shall be glad to see him when he comes."

Elena threw her arms impulsively around his neck.

"Now you're a darling! Now you're big and strong and good and great
again--and I love you."

The Colonel stroked her hair slowly, and asked with a smile:

"What time is he coming?"

"He's not coming." Elena laughed.

"Not coming?" the colonel repeated blankly.

"No. You're going to see him."

"Indeed!"

"You see, Guardie, he is a chip off the old block."

"It begins to look like he's the whole block," the Colonel remarked,
dryly.

"Can you blame him after the way you acted?"

"I can't say I do, much. I like a boy of spirit----"

"And individuality--that's your own pet idea Guardie."

The Colonel was silent a moment.

"Yes. I like his grit. Where will I find him?"

"At his desk at work in the newspaper office."

"I'll call him up and make an appointment."

The Colonel seized the telephone, called the newspaper office, and
asked for Norman. He waited for several minutes before any one reached
the 'phone. He scarcely recognized the short, sharp business accent of
Norman's voice:

"Well, well, what is it?"

The Colonel cleared his throat.

"Here! Here! Get a move on you--what's the matter--I'm in a hurry!"

"This is your father, Norman----"

"Get off the wire or quit your kiddin'--what do you want?"

His father laughed.

"I beg your pardon, Governor, honestly I didn't recognize your voice
until you laughed. I'm awfully glad to hear it again. What can I do
for you?"

"Well, I must say I like your impudence. What can _you_ do for me? I
want to see you right away. Shall I call at your office?"

A pause ensued, followed by audible smiles at both ends of the wire.

"Of course not, sir. It seems a long time since I left home but I've
not forgotten the way. I'll come over as soon as I can leave my desk."

Two hours later he entered the library with a boyish laugh and grasped
his father's hand.

The Colonel pressed it with deep tenderness.

"You must forgive me, boy. I wasn't fair to you the other day."

Norman tried to laugh, and stammered awkwardly:

"Well, when I hear a man of your age and experience say a thing like
that, Governor, I begin to fear I'm not quite as big as I thought I
was."

"Then we're both in the right mind now, to begin all over again, are
we not?"

"It's with you, sir," was the quick reply.

"Suppose I can convince you that you have entered on a mistaken
mission--that your programme is foolish, impossible, and dangerous?"

"Do it, and I'll join you in trying to put an end to Socialism."

"Before I begin, let me ask you a very personal question."

"As many as you like, Governor," was the frank response.

"Are you mixed up in any way personally with the young woman who spoke
here that day?"

"We're comrades in the cause of humanity--that's all."

"You're sure that it is not her personal influence over you that has
made you a Socialist?"

"Only in so far as she has made me think and feel."

"You have not made love to her?"

"Certainly not. I'm engaged to Elena."

"Then it ought to be easy for us to understand each other. Come down
out of the clouds of theory now, and tell me exactly how you are going
to save humanity, and let's see if we can't work together for the same
end. A great purpose like yours ought not to separate father and
son--you can't defend such platitudes as this, for example, which one
of your orators got off last night--listen!"

The Colonel took the morning paper from the table and read:

"Remember in this supreme hour that capitalism has you and your loved
ones by the throats, is stealing your substance, draining your veins,
and reducing you inch by inch to the potter's field. Every sweating
den cries out to you as from the depths of hell to gird up your loins
and march forth in one solid phalanx to strike the blow that shall
sound the knell of capitalistic despotism, and set the star of hope in
the skies of the despairing and dying thousands of your class who are
at the mercy of the vampires of soulless wealth. How long shall
capitalism be allowed to work its devastation, spread its blighting
curse, destroy manhood, debauch womanhood, and grind the flesh and
blood and bone of childhood into food for Mammon?"

The Colonel paused.

"Such appeals to passion can only end in riot, bloodshed, and prison
bars. You don't write such rot as that yourself, and yet the men you
are following preach it."

"I'm not following just now, Governor--I'm trying to direct this
tremendous impulse, this enthusiasm for humanity, called Socialism,
into a practical experiment that will demonstrate the truths of their
faith, and from this white city of a glorified human life send out our
missionaries to conquer the world. Give me ten thousand earnest men
and women on the island of Ventura, isolated from contact with the
corruption of the outside, and I'll show you a miracle more wonderful
than if they had risen from the dead."

"And what are the foundations on which you propose to build this
heaven on earth?"

"Squarely on these principles: From every man according to his
ability; to every man according to his needs; and to every child born
the right to laugh and play and grow to a strong manhood and
womanhood. We are not civilized so long as there is one child sobbing
to be freed from the tomb of the modern workshop, so long as there is
one man willing to work and not able to find it, so long as there is
one soul striving upward who is crushed to earth, so long as one man
lives in idleness and luxury while his neighbour starves, so long as
there's one spot of this earth on which a man lives by tearing the
bread from the lips of another."

"Hasn't your imagination been caught by beautiful phrases, my boy?"
asked the father. "In your new State of Ventura you will give to each
man according to his needs?"

"Yes."

"And who will decide how much each one needs--the man who feels the
need or the state?"

"The state, in the last resort."

"Exactly. And who will determine how large the service required of
each man? Who will decide the question of ability?"

"The state, of course."

"Are you not cutting out a pretty big job for the state, remembering
that the state is nothing more or less than a lot of ordinary
second-rate politicians named Tom, Dick, and Harry, who individually
or collectively haven't as much sense as you or I?"

"In the new world it will be different."

"Then you are going to import a new breed of men and women?"

"No, we will simply give the God in man a chance to be."

"But how about the beast that's in man--the elemental instinct to
fight and kill--to take the woman he desires by the force of his hands
and muscle?"

"When man is free and strong and happy he can have no motive to kill
or play the beast."

"That remains to be seen, my boy! Your assertion does not change the
nature of man. Another problem in your scheme I can't solve is wages."

"We will abolish wage slavery."

"Yes, yes, I know; but man must work--all men must work in your new
state?"

"Certainly."

"And the man who refuses to work?"

"Will be made to work according to his ability."

"Just so. We live under the wage system now--the system of free
contract by which labourer and employer agree. Under your system
contract would be abolished, and men would do what they are _told_ to
do--a system of _command_ instead of _contract_--is it not so?"

"I should say just the opposite. Men are forced to work now at tasks
they loathe and for pay that is insufficient. Under our state they
would be free to choose the work for which they are fitted."

"And suppose they all choose one job?"

"The state would assign their work in the last resort."

"There you are, once more, bowing down to the same Tom, Dick, and
Harry. And you cannot see that Socialism would impose on man the most
colossal system of slavery, the most merciless because the most
impersonal, the world ever saw?"

"No, I cannot. Give me a chance on one spot of earth free from the
corruption of your present system, and I'll show you that man is a
child of God, that deep in every human soul is planted the sense of
brotherhood, justice, and human fellowship."

"And you will abolish private property?"

"Except what each man earns or makes for himself."

The Colonel laughed aloud.

"Can he earn a wife, or make one for himself?"

"No; nor own one as a slave."

"You can never abolish private property, my boy, so long as any man
has the right to say, 'This woman is mine.' The home is the basis of
modern civilization. If you destroy it the home will not survive. If
the home survives it will kill Socialism. The two things can't mix."

Norman laughed.

"And you think capitalism is building ideal homes with its drudgery
that kills woman--its poverty that starves the man and drives the girl
to a life of shame?"

"Our conditions are not ideal, my son. But they are growing better
with each generation. Because all homes are not ideal, you propose to
abolish the institution. There are ten million homes in America.
Perhaps a million of them are unhappy. Can we mend matters by
destroying them all?"

"Socialism proposes to build the highest ideal of home ever seen on
earth, founded on love--and only love."

The Colonel smiled sadly.

"I see I'm too late. You've got it bad. Socialism is a contagious
disease, imported from the old world--a brain disease, the result of
centuries of wrong and oppression. Its reasons for existence in this
country are purely imaginary. If it were possible for you to build the
new State of Ventura of which you dream----"

"Dream! We are going to do it, I tell you, Governor! We have a hundred
thousand dollars already pledged. We hold to-morrow night a great
mass-meeting at which five thousand Socialists will be present. Four
hundred thousand dollars more will buy the island and give a capital
of three hundred thousand with which to begin."

"Then I can't persuade you to give up this madness?" the Colonel
asked, tenderly.

"It's my life," Norman answered firmly.

The father slipped his arm around the tall, strong figure.

"All right! Remember now, from this moment on, one thing is settled
for good and all. My boy's my boy, right or wrong, good or bad, wise
or foolish----"

The Colonel's voice broke, and his grip tightened.

Norman looked out of the window, blinked his eyes, and said in low
tones:

"I understand, sir!"



CHAPTER XI

THE WAY OF A WOMAN


As Elena entered the library the two men fell suddenly apart as though
ashamed of the weakness of affection before a woman.

The girl pretended not to have seen, but her face was radiant.

The Colonel paused as he turned to leave the room:

"You will keep up your newspaper grind, my boy?" he asked.

"No. I'll jump at the chance to do the big thing. I'll give my whole
time to it."

"Well, I suppose you're right. The way to do a thing is to do it."

As the father passed Elena he softly whispered:

"Your face shines like an angel's!"

"I am very happy," was the low answer.

Norman hastened to her side, and seized both her hands.

"I owe this to you, my stately queen."

"He would have come to the same conclusion himself. I only hastened it
a little by a suggestion," she replied.

"I have my own idea about the way you expressed it," he said with a
jolly laugh. "Look here, Elena, I hope you don't believe that I have
been disloyal to you in my association with Barbara Bozenta?"

The girl straightened her superb figure, and broke into a laugh of
mingled humour and irony.

"Well, I've a confession to make, Norman. I've been disloyal to you."

"You--disloyal--to me!" he gasped.

"Yes. I've felt of late as though you were a big, sick baby on my
hands, and I've grown tired of the charge."

"Well, upon my soul!" he exclaimed.

"Our engagement is at an end."

"Elena!"

"I'll keep your beautiful ring"--she touched it affectionately--"for
the memories that will always bind us as brother and sister. Besides,
it will deceive your father for a while. He has enough to worry him
just now."

Before Norman could pull himself together, or utter a protest, she had
turned and left him gasping with astonishment.



CHAPTER XII

A ROYAL GIFT


Norman resumed his place in his father's home and began a systematic,
persistent, and enthusiastic campaign to raise the funds to purchase
the island of Ventura and establish the ideal Commonwealth of Man.

On the day of the big mass-meeting of Socialists, who had gathered
from every state of the Golden West, Elena found her guardian seated
alone on the broad veranda overlooking the Bay of San Francisco. A
look of deep trouble clouded his strong face.

"You are worried?" she said, seating herself by his side.

"Yes, dearie," was the moody answer.

"Over Norman's meeting?"

"Yes. The boy's set his heart on this big foolish enterprise. His
failure is a certainty. I don't know what may follow."

"You are sure he can't raise the money?"

"Absolutely. The disappointment will be a stunning blow to his pride."

"You know that if he did succeed in raising the money, and
establishing his brotherhood of man, the scheme would end in failure?"

"As clearly as I know I am living."

"Would you be sorry if the dream should be realized?"

"On the other hand, I'd shout for joy to find the human race capable
of such a miracle."

Elena gently touched his hand. "Then, Guardie, there's but one thing
to do," she said, with a deep, spiritual look in her blue eyes.

"What?"

"Give Norman a round million dollars to make the experiment."

The Colonel looked at her in amazement, and suddenly sprang to his
feet, pacing the floor with feverish steps. He stopped at last before
the girl and studied her.

"Don't let Norman know who gave the money," she continued. "It will be
a big, noble, beautiful thing to do--and--it will save him."

"What a wonderful woman you are, Elena!"

He paused and looked at her steadily. "I'm going to do it!"

       *       *       *       *       *

When Norman returned at midnight from the mass-meeting his face was
flushed and his eyes sparkled.

"It's done, Governor! It's done!" he fairly shouted.

"You mean the half million was subscribed?" the Colonel asked.

"Yes, and more!" he went on, excitedly. "We have succeeded beyond my
wildest hopes. We had subscriptions for a hundred thousand. Fifty
thousand more was subscribed at the meeting by the delegates, and just
as we were about to adjourn Judge Clark, a famous lawyer, rose and
announced the gift of a round million to the cause by a group of
friends whose names he refused to make known."

"And what happened?" Elena asked.

"It's hard to tell exactly. The first thing I did was to jump over
three rows of seats, grab the lawyer, and yell like a maniac. We
carried him around the room, and shouted and screamed until we were
hoarse. The scene was indescribable. Strong men fell into each other's
arms and cried like children."

"And you could get no hint of the identity of the men who gave the
money?" Elena inquired.

"Not the slightest. The deed of gift was made to me through the lawyer
as trustee. I don't like one or two conditions, exactly, but it was no
time to haggle over details."

"What were the conditions?" Elena interrupted, with a glance at the
Colonel.

"That the title to the island of Ventura should be vested in me
personally for two years. And five hundred thousand dollars should
remain a fund in my hands as trustee to administer its income for the
same period. At the end of one year, or of two, I may transfer the
whole to the Brotherhood, or reconvey it to the original donors. I
think it gives too much power into one man's hands--but I'll hold it a
sacred trust."

The young enthusiast's face glowed with thrilling purpose, and his
eyes were shining with unshed tears, as he laid his hand on his
father's shoulder and exclaimed:

"Ah! Governor, you didn't have faith enough in your fellow man! You
said it couldn't be done!"

"I congratulate you, my son," the Colonel gravely said, "and I wish
for you the noblest success."

"There's no such word as fail." Norman cried. "No sleep for me
to-night! I return to the Socialist Club for a celebration. I just
came to tell you personally of our triumph. The deed is done, and the
Brotherhood of Man is a thrilling fact!"

With swift, joyous stride he threw himself into the hall and bounded
down the steps.

"Suppose after all, Guardie, he should succeed?" Elena exclaimed.

"They'll start with many things in their favour," the Colonel
responded. "The island of Ventura is said to be the most fertile and
beautiful spot of earth in the West. No adverse influences can reach
them from without. Five thousand men and women, inspired by a sublime
faith in themselves, may under such conditions surprise us. If
Socialism is possible on an island of a hundred thousand acres, it's
possible on a hundred thousand square miles, and its faith will
conquer the world. We'll give them two years before we visit them, and
see what happens."

"Suppose they do succeed!" Elena repeated, musingly.



CHAPTER XIII

THE BURNING OF THE BRIDGES


The success which attended the launching of the new Brotherhood of Man
with its million-dollar endowment fund was phenomenal.

The announcement that the books were ready for the enrollment of the
pioneer group of two thousand who should locate the enterprise on the
island of Ventura brought twenty-five thousand applicants.

The first shock Norman's faith in man received was to collide with the
army of cranks who came in troops to join. Every creed of Christendom,
every cult of the heathen world, every ism of all the philosophies of
the past and the present came in droves. They got into arguments with
one another in the waiting-rooms of the Socialist headquarters, and
sometimes came to blows. Each conceived the hour for establishing his
own particular patent for saving the human race had come. It was an
appalling revelation to Norman to find how many of these schemes were
at work in the brains of people who were evidently incapable of taking
care of themselves.

The first week he attempted to hear each one with courtesy and
sympathy. But after wasting six days in idiotic discussions of
preposterous schemes he was compelled to call on the Wolfs for advice.

Both Wolf and his wife had begun to call Norman "Chief" from the
moment of their first burst of enthusiasm over the gift of the
million. At times the young dreamer looked at the massive face of the
older man with a touch of suspicion at this sudden acceptance of his
premiership. And yet both Wolf and Catherine (she insisted that he
call her Catherine) seemed so utterly sincere in their admiration, so
enthusiastic in their faith in his ability, they always disarmed
suspicion. Catherine's repeated explanation of this faith when Norman
halted or hesitated was always flattering to his vanity, and yet
perfectly reasonable.

"My boy, we take off our hats to you! A man can't do the impossible
unless he tries. We didn't try. You did. The trouble with Herman, and
with every man of forty, is that he loses faith in himself. We get
careful and conservative. We lack the dash and fire and daring of
youth. I envy you. I salute you as the inspired leader of our
Cause--you've done the impossible! And you've just begun. We can only
hope to help you with our larger experience."

At the end of a week of futile and exhausting palaver with this army
of cranks who infest the West, Wolf, carefully watching his
opportunity, turned to Norman and said:

"I've been waiting for you to see things a little more clearly before
I say something to you--I think it's time."

"What is it?" the young leader asked.

Wolf hesitated a moment as if feeling his way.

"Something he should have said sooner," exclaimed Catherine.

"There's but one way, comrade. Kick these fools into the street!"

"But don't we begin to weaken the moment we do a thing like that? We
accept the brotherhood of man----"

"Of man, yes," the old leader broke in, "but these are not men--they
are what might have been had they lived in a sane world. They are the
results of the nightmare we call civilization. The kindest thing you
can do for a crank is to kill him. You are trying to do what God
Almighty never undertook--to make something out of nothing. You know,
when he made Adam he had a ball of mud to start with."

"I'm afraid you're right," Norman agreed.

"When the Brotherhood is established with picked men," Catherine
added, "we can take in new members with less care. Now it is of the
utmost importance that we select the pioneer group of the best blood
in the Socialist ranks--trained men and women who believe with
passionate faith what you and I believe."

"Then do it," Norman said, with emphasis. "I put you and Wolf in
charge of this first roll. I've more important work to do in
organizing the business details of the enterprise."

A look of joy flashed from Wolf's gray eyes into the woman's as he
calmly but quickly replied:

"I'll do the best I can."

"You ought to know by name every true Socialist on the Coast," Norman
added.

"I do, comrade, and I'll guarantee the pioneer group."

"Let all applicants for membership hereafter pass your scrutiny," were
his final orders.

He rose from his desk with a sigh of relief as Barbara entered the
room, her cheeks flushed with joy, her eyes sparkling with excitement
from the ovation she had just received from the crowd which packed the
corridor.

His first impulse was to ask her to accompany him to the country, rest
and play for a day. His heart beat more quickly at the thought, but as
the question trembled on his lips, his eyes rested on Wolf's shaggy
head bending over the piles of papers on his desk, and a grim fear
shadowed his imagination. Elena's laughter suddenly echoed through his
memory. He recalled his father's questions. A frown slowly settled on
his brow, and a firm resolution took shape in his mind.

"No woman's spell to blind your senses! Clear thinking, my boy! You're
on trial before the man who gave you life. You're on trial before the
men whose faith gave you a million dollars to put you to the test.
Success first, and then, perhaps, the joy of living!"

Barbara felt the chill of a sudden barrier between them, and looked at
him with a little touch of wounded pride.

He merely nodded pleasantly and hurried from the room.

He gave his whole energies at once to the larger business of the
enterprise. The title to the property was searched with the utmost
thoroughness and found to be perfect. Enormous sums of money had been
spent on the island by the bankrupt wild-cat real-estate company which
had bought it in for improvement and exploitation. They had built a
magnificent hotel with accommodations for one thousand five hundred
guests, had planted vineyards, established a winery planted vast
orchards of plums, apricots, olives, peaches, and oranges, built flour
mills, an ice factory, and had started a number of mining and
manufacturing enterprises. When the bubble burst the company was
bankrupt and the lawyers got the rest. A careful inventory showed to
Norman that they had acquired a property of enormous value. The
improvements alone had cost $1,250,000, and they were worth twice that
sum now to the colony.

He chartered a corporate society, known as "The Brotherhood of Man,"
for the purpose of legalizing the new social State of Ventura when it
had passed the experimental stage and he could surrender to it the
title and money held in trust under the deed of gift. Two hundred
thousand dollars was paid in cash for the island, and the remaining
capital held for work. A steamer was purchased to serve the colony by
plying between the island, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco.

The Wolfs advised Norman that no mail service be asked or permitted.

"The reasons are many, comrade," the old leader urged. "The first
condition of success in this work is the complete isolation of the
colony from outside influences. If modern civilization is hell, you
can't build a heaven with daily communication between the two
places."

"Every man and woman who enters," Catherine added, "must sign a solemn
contract to remain five years, enlist as soldier, and communicate with
the outside world only by permission of the authority of the
Brotherhood."

"I see," laughed Norman. "I must have the Czar's power to examine
suspected mail if treason or rebellion threatens."

"Exactly," cried Wolf.

"A large power to put in one man's hands!" Norman protested.

"There's not a man or woman going to that island who wouldn't trust
you with life, to say nothing of a mail pouch," Catherine declared,
with a look of genuine admiration.

"You think such drastic measures to prevent communication with the
outside world will be needed?" Norman argued.

"Let us hope not," Wolf quickly replied. "But it's better to be on the
safe side. The history of every experiment made in Socialism by the
heroes and pioneers of the cause in the past shows that failure came
in every case from just this source. We will start under the most
favourable conditions ever tried. Our island will be a little world
within itself. Cut every line of possible communication with modern
competitive society, and we can prove the brotherhood of man a living
fact. Open our experiment to the lies and slanders of our enemies from
without, and they can destroy us before the work is fairly begun. Our
colony would be overrun with hostile reporters from the capitalist
press, for example----"

"You're right," exclaimed Norman.

"Let every volunteer enlist in the service of humanity for five
years," repeated Catherine, "agreeing to hold no communication with
the world. Make that agreement one impossible for them to break, and
our success is as sure as that man is made in the image of God. All we
ask is a chance to prove it without interference."

"I agree with you," cried Norman, at last. "Five years' service, with
every bridge burned behind us--we'll fight it out on that line."

A look of triumph came from beneath Wolf's shaggy brows as his eyes
rested again on the smiling madonna-like face of the woman by his
side.



CHAPTER XIV

THE NEW WORLD


On a beautiful Sunday morning in May, 1899, the steamship _Comrade_
slowly swept through the Golden Gate with two thousand enthusiastic
Socialists crowding her decks, shouting, cheering, laughing, crying,
singing their joy and faith in the new world of human brotherhood for
which they had set sail.

The flag of the republic flew from her stern because the law of the
port of entry required it. But from her huge prow rose a slender steel
staff, above the tips of her funnels and masts, on which flew the
blood-red ensign of Socialism, while from every masthead huge red
steamers fluttered in the sky.

At noon on the following day the eager eyes of the pioneers sighted
the island of Ventura. At first a tiny white and blue spot on the
horizon, and then slowly out of the sea rose its majestic outlines,
until at last the ship drew in so close to the towering mountains of
its shore line the colonists could almost touch the stone walls with
their hands.

The captain was evidently at home in the sparkling blue waters which
rolled lazily against the perpendicular cliffs.

Norman had climbed over the piles of freight, cordage, and anchors,
and taken his stand beside the flagstaff on the ship's prow, his soul
enraptured with the thrilling adventure on which he had embarked.

He had made two trips to the island before, but never had he seen it
rise from the sea in such matchless glory as to-day.

Far up in the sky loomed the mountain peaks still covered with snow,
while the rich hills and valleys to the southward rolled laughingly in
their robes of green.

Five miles down the coast the ship turned her nose inshore, and slowly
ploughed her way through a narrow channel which opened between two
hills. She quickly cleared the channel and rounded another headland,
when a shout rang from her decks. Straight before them, across a
beautiful landlocked bay, which formed a perfect harbour, rose the
huge hotel, the home of the Brotherhood. The central building was
crowned by two tall towers, and the long wings which stretched toward
the sea pierced the skyline with a dozen minarets of quaint Moorish
pattern. From the flagpole on the lawn, from each graceful tower and
each shining sun-kissed minaret, flew the scarlet ensign of Socialism.

When the ship swept in alongside the pier the building loomed from its
hilltop higher apparently than the mountain range behind it.

Barbara clapped her hands as she ran to Norman's side.

"Look! Look at those flags! Aren't they glorious? Nobody will haul
them down here, will they?"

Norman lifted his eyes and looked in silence for a moment. A stiff
breeze was blowing from the southeast, and the two huge banners of
scarlet stood straight from their staffs on the towers and seemed to
fill the sky with quivering flame.

"Glorious!" he said, at last. "They speak the end of strife, the dawn
of love and human brotherhood!"

The Wolfs had preceded them to the colony with a select band of
enthusiasts, stored the first supplies, and set the place in order to
receive as welcome guests the first shipload of pioneers.

When the throng of joyous, excited comrades had landed, they formed in
line and marched up from the pier. The wide, white, smooth road led
through a wilderness of flowers which had grown in wild profusion
since they had been abandoned two years before. The Wolfs led the
procession, with Barbara and Norman by their side.

When they reached the big circle of scarlet geraniums in the centre of
the floral court between the two wings of the great building they
stopped, and Catherine began in her clear, thrilling soprano voice the
Marseillaise hymn. The pioneers crowded around her tall, commanding
figure and sang with inspired emotion. Every heart beat with high
resolve. The heaven of which they had dreamed was no longer a dream.
They were walking its white, shining streets. Their souls were crying
for joy in its dazzling court of honour. The old world, with its sin
and shame, its crime and misery, its hunger and cold, its greed and
lust, its cruelty and insanity, had passed away, and lo! all things
were new. The very air was charged with faith and hope and love. A
wave of religious ecstasy swept the crowd. They called each by their
first names. Strong men embraced, crying "Comrade!" through their
tears. The older ones had made allowances for the glowing accounts of
the island. They expected some disillusioning at first. Yet their
wildest expectations were far surpassed. Such beauty, such grandeur,
such wealth of nature, such magnificence of equipment, were too good
to be true, and yet they were facts.

The island of Ventura was enchanted. The impression it gave each heart
of the certainty of success was the biggest asset of real wealth with
which the colony began its history.



CHAPTER XV

FOR THE CAUSE


During the first enchanted days every man woman and child entered the
strange new system with a determination to see only its beauty, its
truth, its sure success. Service was the order of the day. Men who had
never before worked with their hands asked the privilege of the
hardest tasks.

The whole colony swarmed to unload the ship. They refused to allow the
crew to touch a piece of freight or handle a piece of baggage.

The only difficulty Norman found was to systematize their work under
the captain's direction.

The day following they "swarmed" again to clear the lawn of weeds and
restore the labyrinth of walks and beds of flowers in the great court.
Merchants exchanged the yardstick for the rake and hoe. Preachers laid
aside their sermons to wield a spade, and returned from their tasks in
the evening with song and laughter.

Among the women the spirit of sacrifice and enthusiastic service was
even higher. Many who loved flowers begged the privilege of using the
pruning-knife and some even seized a hoe and worked with unwearied
zeal.

Others, who had never seen the inside of their own kitchens, rolled up
their sleeves, donned white aprons, entered the great cooking-room of
the hotel, and made pots and kettles fly. Beautiful girls who had
spent lives of comparative ease took turns in waiting on the tables,
and all worked with a spirit of joy which robbed labour of its
weariness.

By common consent Norman had assumed the general directorship of the
colony, and by common consent the Wolfs were accepted as his chief
advisers. This arrangement was formally voted on and unanimously
approved at the first night's assembly of the Brotherhood in the big
dining-hall of the building, which they now christened the "Mission
House of the Brotherhood of Man."

On accepting the position of general manager of the Brotherhood the
young leader rose and faced the people with deep emotion.

"Comrades," he began, in trembling tones, "I thank you for the
confidence you have shown in me. I shall strive to prove myself worthy
of your faith, and I hope within a year that we shall make such
progress in the development of our new social system that I shall be
able to convey then the full title to this glorious island to your
permanent organization."

A round of applause greeted this announcement.

"I'm sure our preliminary work will be completed within a single year.
I am not a man of many words, but I hope to prove myself a man of
deeds. I shall consult you in every important step to be taken, and
for this purpose the General Assembly of the Brotherhood will be held
in this hall every Friday evening. On Monday evening a ball will be
given for the pleasure of our young people, and every Wednesday
evening a social reception. Let us make these three evenings the
source of inspiration for our daily tasks."

Norman closed his brief speech in a burst of genuine enthusiasm.
Scores of young men and women crowded to the platform and grasped his
hand.

When the last echoes of the evening's celebration had died away,
Catherine led Barbara into her room.

Wolf sat quietly smoking by the window.

"What on earth's the matter?" the girl asked. "You drag me to your
room half dressed, in the dead of night, and speak in whispers. I
thought we'd done with the dark and scheming ways of the world."

"And so we have, my child," laughed Wolf. His cold gray eyes lighted
with sudden warmth as they rested on Barbara's dainty little figure.
Its exquisite lines could be plainly seen through the silk kimono as
she walked with languid grace and threw the mass of dishevelled curls
back from her shoulders.

"Sit down, dear," Catherine said, with a smile. "We have something of
the utmost importance to say to you."

"I am to go abroad as an ambassador to some foreign court. Don't say
that--I like it here."

"No. We are going to propose that you establish a court here," Wolf
interrupted.

"Establish a court!" Barbara exclaimed. "How romantic!"

"In short, my child, it's absolutely necessary for you to become, not
merely the power behind the throne with our young Comrade Chief, you
must assume the throne itself."

"But how?" the girl asked.

"As if you didn't know!"

"I honestly don't. My eloquence is of little use here. We are all
persuaded. Besides, our Comrade Chief has acquired the habit of
thinking for himself."

"Just so," observed Wolf. "And we want you to do his thinking for
him."

"What do you mean, Catherine?" Barbara asked, her brow suddenly
clouding, as she looked straight into her foster-mother's eyes.

"That you must win young Worth."

"Deliberately set out to make him love me?" the girl exclaimed with
scorn. "I'll do nothing of the kind."

"You must, my dear," Wolf pleaded earnestly. "It's all for the Cause.
It's in this boy's power to make or wreck this great enterprise. We
have a kingdom here whose wealth and power may become the wonder of
the world. It may be wrecked by the whim of one man. A thousand
difficulties must be faced before we can have smooth sailing. The one
thing above all to be done is to secure from young Worth the deed to
this island. He must be convinced of the success of the scheme, and he
must be convinced before he faces some of the most serious problems
that are sure to arise--problems which will demand a strong arm and a
cool, clear head to handle. The boy means well, but he can never meet
these issues. Win his love and everything will be easy. Slowly and
patiently I will perfect the organization we must have to succeed."

"I fail to see the necessity of such a shameless act on my part. No
man here is so enthusiastic as our young leader. He is sure to make
the deed. You heard his promise to-night."

"He intends to do it, I grant," Catherine argued. "But what Herman and
I clearly see is that he will sooner or later be overwhelmed with
difficulties. He may quit in disgust at the very moment when a strong
policy could save the Cause. We want to be sure. He is a new convert.
His enthusiasm is now at white heat. We are afraid of what may happen
when it cools."

"With your great brown eyes looking into his," Wolf broke in, "and
your little hand in his, it can't cool!"

"I don't think he cares for me in that way at all," the girl
protested. "He has held himself quite aloof from me of late."

"All the more reason why your woman's pride should be piqued to make
the conquest," urged Wolf.

"I have no such vulgar ambitions," was the short answer.

"Of course you haven't, child," Wolf said in serious tones. "We
understand that. But we ask this of you as a brave little soldier of
the Cause. It's the one big, brave thing you can do."

"I might have to let him kiss me," she said, with a frown.

"Well, he's a handsome youngster--it wouldn't poison you," laughed
Catherine.

"I hate it! I think I hate every man on earth sometimes," she
answered.

Wolf laughed and looked at her with quiet intensity.

"Come, dear, you can do this for the Cause we both love," Catherine
urged.

"I might have to let him put his arm around me----."

Catherine seized her hand, looked at her steadily for a moment, and
slowly said:

"The woman who would not give both her body and her soul for the Cause
of Humanity, if called on to make the sacrifice, is not worthy to live
in the big world of which we've dreamed."

Barbara's face flushed and her eyes sparkled.

"You believe this?" she asked, sternly.

"With all my soul," was the fierce answer.

Barbara hesitated a moment, and firmly said:

"Then I'll do it!"



CHAPTER XVI

BARBARA CHOOSES A PROFESSION


When Norman came down to the office next morning, the clerk handed him
a note. A glance at the smooth, perfect handwriting told him at once
it was from Barbara. He opened it with a smile of pleasant surprise
and read with increasing astonishment:

        "You are to take breakfast with me this morning in
        the rose bower of the floral court.

          "By order of
                    "BARBARA BOZENTA,
                  "_Secretary to the General Manager_."

Norman found her alone, seated beside a little table in the bower, her
face wreathed in mischievous smiles.

She rose and extended her hand:

"Permit me to introduce you to your new secretary."

"I assure you my delight is only equalled by my surprise," he
answered, with boyish banter.

"Yes, I thought it best to take you by surprise. Now that it's all
settled, I trust we will get on well." She looked at him with demure
and charming impudence.

Norman burst into laughter.

"I'm sure we will!" he answered. "All I require is industry, patience,
wisdom, tact, knowledge, sacrifice, absolute obedience, and a joyous
desire to assume full responsibility for my mistakes!"

"All of which will come to me," she responded, with mock gravity.
"Permit me!"

She led him to the chair she had placed beside the table, and poured a
cup of coffee for him.

Norman watched her with keen enjoyment. "I've never seen you in this
mood before," he said, quietly.

"You like it?"

"Beyond words! I'm afraid I'll wake up directly and find I'm dreaming.
I'm sure now, when I look into your eyes, sparkling with fun, that you
are a flower nymph, and that your home has always been a rose bower on
the sunny slope of a southern hillside."

"Perhaps I'm just teasing you. Perhaps I won't work," she said,
glancing at him from the corners of her brown eyes.

"Then you'll find it a serious joke," he answered, firmly.
"Resignations are not in order. You have chosen your profession. As
general manager I have given my approval. That settles it, doesn't
it?"

"If you are pleased, yes," she answered, gravely.

"I am more than pleased. I've been afraid to ask you to do this work
for me--though I've had it in mind."

"Why afraid?"

"I don't know. I somehow got the impression lately that you didn't
like me personally."

"How could you think such a thing!" she protested.

"Just a vague impression--caught, perhaps, from little gestures you
sometimes made, little frowns that sometimes came to your brow, little
flashes of hostility from your eyes."

"I didn't mean it, comrade!" she said, demurely, while her eyes danced
and her mouth twitched playfully.

"And you've fully weighed the cost?"

"Fully."

"You know that you will be forced to spend most of your time in my
office?"

"I'll try to endure it," she laughed.

"Without a frown or a hostile look?"

"Unless you provoke it."

Norman ate in silence for five minutes, listening to Barbara's girlish
chatter while she bubbled over with the spirit of pure joy. Her whole
being radiated fun and laughter as the sun pours forth heat and light.
He wondered where this magic secret of joyous womanhood had been
hidden in the past.

"What a revelation you've been to me this morning," he said, musingly,
as he rose from the table.

"How?" she asked.

"I thought you were all seriousness and tragedy, eloquence and
pathos."

"We're in paradise now. The shadows have lifted."

"And I find you a little ray of dancing sunlight."

"So every girl would be if she had the chance."

"And we're going to give them the chance here, little comrade!" he
cried, with enthusiasm.

"I'll help you!" she earnestly responded, extending her hand with a
tender look into the depth of Norman's soul.



CHAPTER XVII

A CALL FOR HEROES


The first business before the Assembly of the Brotherhood was the
permanent assignment of work. The enthusiasm which swept the
Socialists through the first week of joyous life could not last. No
one expected it. The novelty of their surroundings, the surprise and
elation of every one over the beauty and richness of their newly
acquired empire, carried the pioneers over the opening days as in a
dream. It all seemed like a great picnic--like the long-hoped-for
holidays in life of which they had dreamed and never realized, yet
which somehow had come to pass.

But the time was at hand to face the first big, sober reality of the
new social system. The dining-hall was packed. Every member of the
Brotherhood was present.

The orchestra played a lively air in a vain effort to revive the
spirit of festivity with which every meeting had hitherto buzzed.

But an evil spirit had entered the Garden of Eden, and joy had fled.
Over every heart hovered a brood of solemn questions. What will be my
lot? Will I be allowed to choose my work? Or will they tell me what to
do? Will it be dirty and disagreeable, or pleasant and inspiring?

Norman sat in his chair of state as presiding officer, bending over a
mass of papers which Barbara had spread before him. She leaned close,
and a stray hair from one of her brown curls touched his forehead. He
trembled and stared blankly at the papers, seeing only a beautiful
face.

"You understand?" she asked. "I've placed under each department the
number of workers needed."

"Yes, yes, I understand!" he repeated, looking at her, blankly.

"I don't believe you've heard a word I've spoken to you," she said,
reproachfully.

He was about to answer when the music stopped. Norman lifted his head
with a start, rose quickly and faced the crowd.

"Comrades," he began, "the time has come for us to make good our faith
in one another. You have proven yourselves brave and faithful in our
struggle with the infamies of the system of capitalism. We call now
for the heroes and heroines of actual work. We are entering, under the
most favourable auspices, on the most important experiment yet made in
the social history of the world. We are going to prove that mankind is
one vast brotherhood--that love, not greed, can rule this earth.

"In our temporary organization we wish to outline the forms on which
we will later found the permanent State of Ventura. At present we will
organize four departments--Production, Distribution, Domestic Service,
and Education.

"I am going to ask each one of you, by secret ballot, to choose your
permanent work."

A cheer shook the building.

Norman flushed with pleasure, and continued quickly:

"It shall be my constant aim as your general manager under our
temporary organization to give you the widest personal liberty
consistent with the success of our enterprise.

"Before preparing your ballots for choice of your work, I shall have
to ask that each head of a family and each unmarried man and woman
first pass by the platform and draw lots for the assignment of your
rooms in our Mission House. There have been some complaints already,
I'm sorry to say, on this question. Some wish to live on the first
floor, some on the top, but everybody wants to live on the south side
of the house with the glorious views of the sea, and nobody wishes to
live on the north side. There is but one way to determine such a
question in our ideal state. Fate must decide.

"The numbers of each room and suite are in the basket. The bachelors
will be assigned to the right wing, the girls to the left wing, the
married ones to the centre of the building.

"Please form in line on the left and march toward the right aisle past
the platform."

"Mr. Chairman!" called Roland Adair, the Bard of Ramcat.

Norman rapped for silence, and those who had risen resumed their
seats.

"I protest, Mr. Chairman," continued the poet, "against the cruelty of
such a process. The weak and the aged should be given their choice
first."

"We left them all behind us!" Norman cried, with a wave of his hand.
"There are no weak and aged in this crowd. We belong to the elect. We
have found the secret of eternal youth."

Another cheer swept the crowd, the poet subsided with a sigh of
contempt, and the people quickly filed past the platform and drew
their lots for permanent rooms in the building. The larger suites had
been subdivided, so that the entire pioneer colony of two thousand
found accommodations under one roof.

When the crowd had resumed their seats, and the last cry of triumph
over a successful draw and the last groan of disappointment over an
unlucky lot had subsided, Norman rose and made the most momentous
announcement the Brotherhood had yet heard:

"In the Department of Production we need hod-carriers, bricklayers,
carpenters, architects, teamsters, and skilled mechanics for the
foundry and machine-shops, saw-mill, and flour mills. On the farm and
orchard we need ploughmen and harvesters for grain and hay, gardeners,
stablemen, and ditchers.

"In our Department of Domestic Service we need cooks, seamstresses,
washerwomen, scrubbers and cleaners, waiters, porters, bell-boys,
telephone girls, steamfitters, plumbers, chimney-sweeps, and sewer
cleaners.

"In the Department of Education we need artists and artisans,
teachers, nurses, printers and binders, pressmen and compositors, one
editor, scientists and lecturers, missionaries, actors, singers, and
authors.

"Now you each of you know what you can do best. Choose the work in
which you can render your comrades the highest service of which you
are capable and best advance the cause of humanity. Write your name
and your choice of work on the blanks which have been furnished you."

The orchestra played while the ballots were being cast and counted.

The chairman at length rose with the tabulated sheet in his hand and
faced his audience.

"Comrades," he said, with a twinkle in his eye, "that old saying I'll
have to repeat, 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!'
Beyond the shadow of a doubt we shall have to try this election again.
If I didn't know by the serious look on your faces that you mean it
I'd say off-hand that you were trying to put up a joke on me."

He paused, and a painful silence followed.

"Give us the ballot!" growled the Bard.

Norman looked at the list he held, and in spite of himself, as he
caught the gleam of mischief in Barbara's eye, burst into laughter and
sat down.

Wolf ascended the platform, glanced over the list and whispered:

"It's a waste of time. Call for the election of an executive council
with full powers."

"We'll try once more," Norman insisted, quickly rising.

"Comrades, I'm sorry to say there is no election. We must proceed to
another ballot, and if the industries absolutely necessary to the
existence of any society are not voted into operation, we must then
choose an executive council with full power to act. I appeal to your
sense of heroism and self-sacrifice----"

"Give us the ballot! Read it!" thundered the offended poet.

"Yes, read it!"

"Read it!"

The shouts came from all parts of the hall. The crowd was in dead
earnest and couldn't see the joke.

Once more the young chairman raised the fateful record of human
frailty before his eyes, paused, and then solemnly began:

"In the first place, comrades, more than six hundred ballots out of
the two thousand cast are invalid. They have been cast for work not
asked for. They must be thrown out at once.

"Three hundred and sixty five able-bodied men choose hunting as their
occupation. I grant you that game is plentiful on the island, but we
can't spare you, gentlemen!

"Two hundred and thirty-five men want to fish! The waters abound in
fish, but we have a pound-net which supplies us with all we can eat.

"Thirty-two men and forty-six women wish to preach.

"We do not need at present hunters, fishermen, or preachers, and have
not called for volunteers in these departments of labour.

"Three hundred and fifty-six women wish to go on the stage, and one
hundred and ninety-five of them choose musical comedy and light
opera. I think this includes most of our female population between the
ages of fourteen and thirty-five!"

A murmur of excitement swept the feminine portion of the audience.

"Allow me to say," he went on, "that the most urgent need of the
colony at this moment cannot be met by organizing a chorus, however
beautiful and pleasing its performances would be. We need, and we must
have, waitresses and milkmaids. The chorus can wait, the cows cannot.

"I asked for one editor. One hundred and seventy-five men and
sixty-three women have chosen that field. Seventy-five men and
thirty-two women wish to be musicians."

"We have looked in vain among the ballots for a single hod-carrier, or
ploughman, ditcher, cook, seamstress, washerman or washerwoman,
stableman, scrubber, or cleaner. The Brotherhood cannot live a day
without them. Remember, comrades, we are to make the great experiment
on which the future happiness of the race may depend. Let us forget
our selfish preferences and think only of our fellow men. I call for
heroes of the hod, heroines of the washtub and the scrubbing-brush and
milk-pail, knights of the pitchfork, spade, and shovel. Let hunters,
fishermen, preachers, and chorus-girls forget they live for the
present.

"This is not a joke, comrades, though I have laughed. It's one of the
gravest problems we must face. It has been suggested that we hire
outside labour to do this disagreeable work for a generation or two.
The moment we dare make such a compromise we are lost forever. We must
solve this problem or quit. A second ballot is ordered at once."

Again the orchestra played, the ushers passed the boxes, the vote was
taken, and all for naught. Not a single hero of the hod appeared. Not
a single heroine of the washtub, the scrubbing-brush, or the
milk-pail.

The young chairman's face was very grave when Barbara handed him the
results.

She bent and whispered:

"Away with frowns and doubts and fears! There's a better way. A leader
must lead. Their business is to follow."

Norman's face brightened. He turned to the crowd, and in tones of
clear, ringing command announced:

"Comrades, I had hoped you could choose your work of your own accord.
The attempt has failed. Six divisions of labour, each of them
absolutely essential to the existence of society in any form above
the primitive savage, have not a single man or woman in them."

"We must elect an executive council of four who shall sit as a court
of last resort in settling the question of the ability of each comrade
and the work to which he shall be assigned. Under our temporary
charter the general manager will preside over this court and cast the
deciding vote. Nominations are in order for the other four. We want
two men and two women in this council. In all our deliberations woman
shall have equal voice with man."

The Bard made a speech of protest against the action about to be
taken, in the sacred name of liberty.

"This act is the first step on the road to a tyranny more monstrous
than any ever devised by capitalism!" he shouted, with hands uplifted,
his long hair flying in wild disorder.

Tom Mooney, an old miner, who had met Norman and become his friend
during a visit to one of his father's mines, sprang to his feet and
made a rush for the excited poet. Confronting him a moment, Tom
inquired:

"Kin I ax ye a few questions?"

"Certainly. As many as you like."

"Kin ye cook?"

"I cannot."

"Kin ye wash?"

"No!"

"Kin ye scrub?"

"No, sir."

"Ever swing a hod?"

"I have not."

"Ever milk a cow?"

"No!"

"Are ye willin' to learn them things?"

"I didn't come here for that purpose."

"Then, what t' 'ell ye kickin' about?" Tom cried, and, glaring at the
poet, he thundered fiercely:

"Set down!"

The man of song was so disconcerted by this unexpected onslaught, and
by the roars of laughter which greeted Tom's final order, that he
dropped into his seat, muttering incoherent protests, and the
balloting for the executive council proceeded at once amid universal
good humour.

A dozen names were proposed as candidates, and the four receiving the
highest votes were declared duly elected.

The election resulted in the choice of Herman Wolf, Catherine, Barbara
Bozenta, and Thomas Mooney.

Tom was amazed at his sudden promotion to high office, and insisted
on resigning in favour of a man of better education.

Norman caught his big horny hand and pressed it.

"Not on your life, Tom. You've made a hit. The people like your hard
horse-sense. You will make a good judge. Besides, I need you. You're a
man I can depend on every day in the year."

"I'll stick ef you need me, boy--but I hain't fitten, I tell ye."

"I'll vouch for your fitness--sit down!"

The last command Norman thundered into Tom's ears in imitation of his
order to the poet, and the old miner, with a grin, dropped into his
seat.

As Norman was about to declare the meeting adjourned, the steward
ascended the platform and whispered a message.

The young leader turned to the crowd and lifted his hand for silence.

"Comrades, a prosaic but very important announcement I have to make. I
have just been informed that there is no milk for supper. The cows
have been neglected. They must be milked. I call for a dozen volunteer
milkmaids until this adjustment can be made. Come, now!--and a dozen
young men to assist them. Let's make this a test of your loyalty to
the cause. All labour is equally honourable. Labour is the service of
your fellow man. Who will be the first heroine to fill this breach in
the walls of our defence?"

Barbara sprang forward, with uplifted head, laughing.

"I will!"

"And I'll help you!" Norman cried, with a laugh. "Who will join us
now? Come, you pretty chorus-girls! You wouldn't mind if you carried
these milk-pails on the stage in a play. Well, this is the biggest
stage you will ever appear on, and all the millions of the civilized
world are watching."

A pretty, rosy-cheeked girl joined Barbara.

An admirer followed, and in a moment a dozen girls and their escorts
had volunteered. They formed in line and marched to the cow lot with
Norman and Barbara leading, singing and laughing and swinging their
milk-pails like a crowd of rollicking children.

When they reached the pasture where the cows were herded, Norman asked
Barbara, with some misgivings:

"Honestly, did you ever milk a cow?"

"Of course I have," she promptly replied. "I spent two years on a farm
once. Do you think I'd make a fool of myself trying before all these
kids if I hadn't?"

"I didn't know but that you made a bluff at it to lead the others on.
What can I do, for heaven's sake?"

Norman looked at her in a helpless sort of way while Barbara rolled up
her sleeves. For the first time he saw her beautifully rounded bare
arm to its full length. He stood with open-eyed admiration. Never had
he seen anything so white and round and soft, so subtly and
seductively suggestive of tenderness and love.

"For heaven's sake, what do I do?" he repeated, blankly.

"Get some meal in that bucket for my cow, and see that her calf don't
get to her--I'll do the rest."

Norman hustled to the barn with the other boys, got his bucket of
meal, placed it in front of the cow Barbara had selected, and stood
watching with admiration the skill with which her deft little hands
pressed two streams of white milk into the bucket at her feet.

"Goodness, you're a wonder," he cried, admiringly. "But where's the
calf I'm supposed to be watching?"

"I think that's the one standing close to the gate in the next lot
watching me with envy. The first time the gate's opened he'll jump
through if he gets half a chance--so look out!"

"I'll watch him," Norman promised, without lifting his eyes from the
rhythmic movement of the bare white arms.

He had scarcely spoken when a careless boy swung the gate wide open,
and the lusty calf, whose soft eyes had been watching Barbara through
the fence, made a break for his mother. In a swift, silent rush he
planted one foot in Barbara's milk-pail, knocked her over with the
other, switched his tail, and fell to work on his own account without
further concern. It was all done so suddenly it took Norman's breath.
He sprang to Barbara's side and helped her to her feet.

Norman grabbed the calf by the ear with one hand and by the tail with
the other, and started toward the gate.

The animal suddenly ducked his head, plunged forward, jerked Norman to
his knees, and dragged him ten yards before he could regain his feet.
The young leader rose, tightened his grip, and started with a rush
toward the gate, but the calf swerved in time to avoid it, gaining
speed with each step, and started off with his escort in a mad race
around the lot, galloping at a terrific speed, bellowing and snorting
at every jump.

The others stopped their work to laugh and cheer as round and round
the maddened little brute flew with the tall, heroic leader galloping
by his side.

Norman had no time to call for help. He couldn't let go and he
couldn't stop the calf.

As he made the second round of the lot, upsetting buckets, smashing
milk-pails, and stampeding peaceful cows, a boy yelled through the
roars of laughter:

"Twist his tail! Twist his tail an' he'll go the way you want him!"

Norman misunderstood the order, loosened the head and grabbed the tail
with both hands. With a loud bellow the calf plunged into a wilder
race around the lot, dragging his tormentor now with regular, graceful
easy jumps. He made the rounds twice thus, single file, amid screams
of laughter, suddenly turned and plunged headlong through an osage
hedge, and left Norman sitting in a dusty heap on the ground among the
thorns. He rose, brushed his clothes sheepishly, and looked through
the hedge at the calf which had turned and stood eyeing him now with
an expression of injured innocence.

Barbara came up, wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes.

"I've learned something new," Norman quietly observed. "All labour
may be equally honourable. It's not equally expedient. I wish you'd
look at that beast eyeing me through the fence! It's positively
uncanny. I believe he's possessed of the devil. I don't wonder at that
belief of the ancients. I've tackled many a brute on the football
field--but this is one on me!"

The brilliant young leader of the new moral world led the procession
of milkmaids back to the house as the shadows of evening fell, a
sadder but wiser man for the day's experience.



CHAPTER XVIII

A NEW ARISTOCRACY


Three members of the executive council, Norman, Barbara, and Tom,
began at once the task of assigning work. The problems which
immediately faced the council were overwhelming, but they were urgent
and could admit of no delay. The absolute refusal of every member of
the Brotherhood to do the dirty and disagreeable work brought at once
two issues to a crisis. Either labour must be voluntary or
involuntary. The people who did this work must be induced to agree to
perform it or they must be forced to do it by a superior authority
without their consent.

They could only be led to choose this work by inducements of an
extraordinary nature--the payment of enormously high wages and the
shortening of each day's work to a ridiculous minimum.

If wages were made unequal, the old problem of inequality would remain
unsolved. For equal wages no man would lift his hand.

Confronted by this dilemma the executive council decided at once to
fix wages on an unequal basis rather than reduce its unwilling members
to a condition of involuntary labour, which is merely a long way to
spell slavery.

When this decision was announced, Roland Adair, the Bard of Ramcat,
once more lifted his voice in solemn protest:

"I denounce this act in the name of every principle which has brought
us together," he cried, with solemn warning. "You have established a
system far more infamous than the unequal wages of the old society
where the law of the survival of the fittest is the court of last
resort. You have opened the door of fathomless corruption by
substituting the whim of an executive council for the law of nature.
It is the beginning of jealousy, strife, favouritism, jobbery, and
injustice."

"Then what's a better way?" Old Tom asked, with a sneer.

"It's your business to find a better way," cried the man of visions.

Tom glared at the poet with a look of fury and Norman whispered to the
old miner:

"Remember, Tom, you're sitting as a judge in the Supreme Court of
State!"

"Can't help it. I never did have no use for a fool. Ef he can't tell
us a better way, let 'im shet up."

Barbara pressed Tom's arm, and he subsided.

The court at once entered into the question of wages for domestic
service.

It had been agreed, at the suggestion of the Wolfs, that they should
spend their time in quietly investigating the qualifications of each
member of the Brotherhood for the work to be assigned, and make their
reports in secret to the majority of the court, which should sit
continuously until all had been decided.

Neither Norman, Barbara, nor the old miner suspected for a moment the
deeper motive which Wolf concealed behind this withdrawal from the
decision of these cases. They found out in a very startling way later.

The chief cook demanded a hundred dollars a month.

Old Tom snorted with contempt. Norman smiled and spoke kindly:

"Remember, Louis, you only received $75 a month in San Francisco. Here
the Brotherhood provides every man with his food, his clothes, and his
house. Wages are merely the inducement used to satisfy each individual
that labour may still be done by free contract, not by force."

"Well, it'll take a hundred a month to satisfy me," was the stolid
reply. "I didn't come here to cook. I could do that in the old hell we
lived in. I came here to do better and bigger things. I can do them,
too----"

"But we've fixed the salary of the general manager at only
seventy-five dollars a month, and you demand a hundred?"

"I do, and if the general manager prefers my job, I'll trade with you
and guarantee to do your work better than it's being done."

"Yes, you will!" old Tom growled, as he leaned over Barbara and
whispered to Norman.

"Make it thirty dollars a month, and if he don't go to work--leave him
to me, I'll beat him till he does it."

"No, we can't manage it that way, Tom. We must try to satisfy him."

"Hit's a hold-up, I tell ye--highway robbery--the triflin' son of a
gun! Don't you say so, miss?" Tom appealed earnestly to Barbara.

"We must have cooks, Tom--and we want everybody to be happy."

"Make him cook, make him--that's his business--I'd do it if I knowed
how. He's got to take what we give 'im. He can't git off this island.
He enlisted for five years. If he deserts, court-martial and shoot
him."

In spite of old Tom's bitter protest, Norman and Barbara succeeded in
persuading the chief cook to accept eighty-five dollars a month--an
advance of ten dollars over the highest wages he had ever received
before.

When the eighteen assistant cooks lined up for the settlement of their
wages a new problem of unexpected proportions was presented. They had
listened attentively to the case of the chef, and their chosen orator
presented his argument in brief but emphatic words:

"We demand the exact wages you have voted the chef."

"Well, what do ye think er that?" old Tom groaned to Norman. "Hit's
jist like I told ye. Hit's a hold-up."

"We must persuade them, Tom," the young leader replied.

"Let me persuade 'em!" the old miner pleaded.

"How?" Barbara asked, with a twinkle in her brown eyes.

"I'll line 'em up agin that wall and trim their hair with my
six-shooter. I won't hurt 'em. But when I finish the job I'll
guarantee they'll do what I tell 'em without any back talk. You folks
take a walk and make me Chief Justice fer an hour, and when you come
back we'll have peace and plenty. Jest try it now, and don't you butt
in. Let me persuade 'em!"

Norman shook his head.

"Keep still, Tom! We must reason with them."

"Ye 're wastin' yer breath," the miner drawled in disgust.

"Don't you think, comrades," Norman began, in persuasive tones, "that
your demands are rather high?"

"Certainly not," was the prompt reply. "We come here to get equal
rights. We don't want to cook. I'm a born actor, myself. I expected to
play in Shakespeare when I joined the Brotherhood. Anybody that wants
this job can have it. If we do your hot, dirty, disgusting,
disagreeable work while the others play in the shade we are going to
get something for it."

"Even so," the young leader responded, "is it fair that an assistant
cook should receive equal wages with the chef?"

"And why not? Labour creates all value. The chef's a fakir. We do all
the work. He never lifts his hand to a pot or pan. He struts and loafs
through the kitchen and lords it over the men. Let him try to run the
kitchen without us, and see how much you get to eat! We stand on the
equal rights of man!"

"But my dear comrade----"

"Don't use them words," old Tom pleaded, "jest let me make a few
remarks----"

Barbara pinched Tom's arm and he subsided.

"Can't you see," Norman went on, "that we are paying the chef for his
directive ability, for his inventive genius in creating new dishes and
making old ones more delicious? You but execute his orders."

"We stand square on our principles. Labour creates all values. The
chef never works. We make every dish that goes to the table. If it has
any value we make it. We demand our rights!"

The court agreed on fifty dollars a month, and the men refused to
consider it.

"We prefer to work in the fields, the foundry, the machine-shop, the
mills, the forests, anywhere you like except the kitchen. Let the chef
do your work. Good day!"

They turned and marched out in a body and sat down in the sunshine.

In vain Norman argued and pleaded. They stood their ground with sullen
determination.

A final clincher which the young leader could not evade always ended
the argument. The spokesman came back to it with dogged persistence:

"What did you mean, then, when you've been drumming into our ears that
labour creates all value? We do all the work, don't we?"

The upshot of it was the eighteen assistant cooks marched back into
the hall, stood before the judges, and all were granted equal wages
with the chef.

Whereupon the chef sprang to his feet and faced the court with blazing
eyes.

"You grant these chumps--these idiots--wages equal to mine? Not one of
them has brains enough to cook an egg if I didn't tell him how. Their
wages equal to mine. I resign!"

Tom spoke vigorously:

"Now will ye leave him to me?"

Norman and Barbara looked at each other in angry and helpless
amazement.

The old miner leaped to his feet, made his way down from the platform,
and with two swift strides reached the chef. He leaned close and
whispered something in the rebel's ear. There was a moment's
hesitation and the chef turned, signalled to his assistants, and amid
cheers marched to the kitchen.

Tom resumed his seat beside Barbara with a smile, quietly saying:

"That's the way to do business, ladies and gentlemen!"

"What did you say to him?" Barbara asked.

"Oh, nothin' much," was the careless answer.

"I hope you didn't threaten him, Tom?" Norman asked with some
misgiving.

"Na--I didn't threaten him. I spoke quiet and peaceable."

"But what did you tell him?" the young leader persisted.

"I jest told him I'd give him two minutes ter git back ter the kitchen
or I'd blow his head off!"

"I'm afraid our table will feel the effects of that remark, Tom,"
Barbara said, doubtfully.

Next to the question of cooks the most urgent issue to be settled was
the case of the scrubbers, cleaners, and drainmen. The women who had
been assigned to the tasks of scrubbing the floors, washing the
windows and dishes, had watched the triumphs of the cooks with keen
appreciation of their own power. It was easy to see that the more
disagreeable and disgusting the character of the work, the more
extravagant the demands which could be made and enforced. The
scrubbers and dishwashers boldly demanded one hundred dollars a month
and six hours for a working day, and refused with sullen determination
to argue the question.

To Barbara's mild and gentle protest their answer was complete and
stunning:

"You have assigned us this dirty job. Do you want it at any price?"
asked their orator. "I'll take yours without wages and jump at the
chance."

Tom lost all interest in the proceedings and drew himself up in a knot
in his chair. Now and then a growl came from the depths of his
throat.

Once he was heard to distinctly articulate:

"This makes me tired."

The court begged and pleaded, cajoled, argued in vain with the
stubborn scrubwomen. Not an inch would they move in their demands. The
floors were becoming unspeakably filthy. They had not been scrubbed
since the arrival of the colony.

Norman turned to Barbara.

"Put the question solemnly to ourselves--we don't want the job at any
price, do we?"

"I couldn't do it!" she admitted, frankly. "Then what's the use? We
must be fair. It's worth what they ask."

The court granted the demands and the scrubwomen and dishwashers
marched to the kitchen and once more the chef tore his hair and cursed
the fate which brought him to such disgrace as to work with stupid
subordinates at equal wages and gaze on dishwashers and scrubwomen
whose wages exceeded his own.

The climax of all demands was reached when the drainman demanded a
hundred and fifty dollars a month and four hours for each working day.

Norman looked at him in dumb confusion. He knew what he was going to
say before he opened his mouth and he had no answer.

The drainman bowed low in mock humility, but the proud wave of his
hand belied his words.

"My calling was a humble one in the old world, Comrade Judges," he
said. "I came here to climb mountain heights and find my way among the
stars. You have sent me back to the sewers. I always felt that I had
missed my true calling. I've always wanted to be a poet----"

The Bard shook his mane and groaned.

"I don't want this job at any price. But the sewers are choked. They
have not been cleaned for two years. It must be done. I've named my
price. I'll gladly yield to any man who envies my luck. If such a man
is here let him speak--or forever hereafter hold his peace."

With a grandiloquent gesture the drainman swept the crowd with his
eye, but no man responded.

The court granted his demand.

The Bard leaped once more to his feet and entered his protest. This
time old Tom listened with interest. His concluding sentence rang with
bitter irony:

"Against these absurd decisions I lift my voice once more in solemn
protest. We came to this charmed island to abolish all class
distinctions. You have destroyed the old classes based on culture,
achievement, genius, wealth, and power. You have created a new
aristocracy on whose shield is emblazoned--a dish-rag and
scrubbing-brush encircled by a sewer pipe! I make my most humble bow
to our new king--the drainman! I hail the apotheosis of the
scrubwoman!"

"Say, you give me a pain--shut up" thundered Tom.

The singer collapsed with a sigh and the crowd laughed.

The foreman of the farm brought two men before the court and asked for
important instructions.

"Comrade Judges," he began, "I had two men assigned to me a week ago
whom I don't want and won't have at any price. I return them to the
Brotherhood with thanks. You can do what you please with them."

"What's the matter?" Norman asked, with some irritation.

The foreman shoved and kicked a man in front of the judges.

"This fool----"

"You must not use such language, Mr. Foreman," Barbara interrupted.

"I beg your pardon, Comrade Judges," he apologized. "This coyote I put
on a mowing-machine yesterday. He said he knew how to run it. He broke
it on a smooth piece of ground the first hour. I gave him another and
he wrecked it before noon. It will take the labour of five men two
days to repair the damage he has done. I don't want him at any price."

"What have you to say?" Norman asked the accused.

"It wasn't my fault. The thing broke itself."

"But how did it happen twice the same day, sonny?" Tom asked.

"I dunno. Hit jist happened," was the dogged answer.

"I've another scoundrel----"

"You must not use such language," Barbara broke in.

"Again begging the pardon of Comrade Judges," the foreman continued:
"This dog"--he kicked another slovenly looking lout before the
judges--"tore to pieces the shoulders of two pairs of horses with
careless harnessing before I found him and kicked him out of the
stables. Those four horses can't work for a month. We'll have to pay
at least $500 for two teams right away to take their places, or lose a
crop of hay."

Tom glared at the culprit.

"What did ye ruin them horses' shoulders fer?"

"I didn't know it," was the sulking answer.

"He's a liar!" cried the foreman. "He put the same collars on their
galled necks three days in succession and beat them unmercifully when
they couldn't pull the load."

"What do you say, Tom?" Norman asked.

The old miner glared at the last culprit and his grim mouth tightened:

"Wall, you kin do as ye please, but any man that'll abuse a hoss will
commit murder. I'd put the fust one in the cow lot to shovellin'
compost. This one I'd quietly lynch--no public rumpus about it--jest
take 'im down by the beach, hang 'im to one of them posts on the pier,
shoot 'im full of holes, and drop 'im into the sea to be sure he don't
come back to life."

Norman conferred with Barbara a moment and rendered the decision:

"Mr. Foreman, the first man is transferred from the field machinery to
the compost-heap in the barnyard. The second man who disabled the
horses will assist in cleaning the sewers. Their wages will remain the
same as before."

A round of applause greeted this decision.

The Bard renewed his attack with unusual zeal. Standing before the
court and shaking his long hair he cried:

"At last the climax of tyranny! Two comrades condemned without a jury
and without defense! I congratulate you. In one day you have
established an aristocracy of filth and created a penal colony without
a hearing or appeal. We are making progress."

The old miner grunted, Barbara smiled tenderly at Norman, and the
court adjourned.



CHAPTER XIX

SOME TROUBLES IN HEAVEN


Norman found it necessary for the executive council to sit
continuously for the adjustment of disputes and the settlement of new
problems which arose at every step of progress in the new moral world.

He had condemned the sins of the old world of capitalism with cocksure
certainty. Now that he had been made a supreme judge with power to
adjust the rights and wrongs of his fellow man, he was appalled at the
magnitude of the task of substituting an ideal for the reign of
natural law under which civilization had been slowly evolved.

There were two men in the Brotherhood whom he grew early to hate with
cordial, thorough, murderous hatred--Roland Adair, the Bard of Ramcat,
who always denounced every decision as unjust, and a tall,
hooked-nosed, stoop-shouldered, scholarly looking man named Diggs, who
invariably sat near him and at every conceivable opportunity asked
questions. These questions were always put in an innocent, friendly
way, but when Diggs looked at him through his gleaming spectacles
Norman always got the impression that an imp of the devil had suddenly
popped up through the floor.

The first day after the general assignment of work Diggs rose before
the council, adjusted his glasses, and drew a piece of paper from his
pocket. Norman knew before he spoke that the document bristled with
questions. Diggs's glasses had always fascinated him, but to-day they
seemed of unusual thickness and enormous size, and their concave
surfaces seemed to flash light from a thousand angles.

Diggs adjusted them on his hook-nose with deliberation and glanced
carefully over his notes before speaking.

Norman turned to Barbara with a sigh.

She pressed his hand in silent sympathy.

"Don't worry!" she whispered.

Norman's breath quickened as he answered the pressure of the soft,
warm fingers but he managed to move his chair and break the effects of
her spell without revealing to her the effort it cost. Each hour of
their association he felt the cords he dare not try to break tighten
about his heart. He determined each day to put the thought from him.
Over and over again with grim resolution he repeated his vow:

"I'll keep a clear head. I've got to decide this issue on its merits.
I owe it to my generous friends who made it possible."

He had avoided her for the last few days. She guessed the cause
intuitively and knew that he was fighting with desperation to escape
the net she was slowly weaving about him. She began to watch the
struggle now with a curious fascination in which cruelty and
tenderness were equally mixed. The idea of surrendering her own heart
had never once entered her pretty head.

Her life had been lived in a strange war with human society. Man had
always appeared to her imagination as an enemy. She had never trusted
one--least of all Wolf, the big, impassive animal who had dominated
the life of her foster-mother.

With deliberate and cruel art she had set out to master the heart of
the man who sat by her side. The task was accepted as part of her
work. She had enlisted as a soldier in the Cause. She had received the
orders from headquarters. When the deed was done she would turn to a
greater task. She had expected to be bored by his idiotic love making.
Now her curiosity was beginning to be piqued by his silence. She began
vaguely to wonder each moment what kind of pictures she was making in
his mind. Her brown eyes searched the depths of his soul in a dumb way
that sent the blood rushing to Norman's heart, but each time he had
eluded her.

He sat in moody silence now, giving no response to her words of cheer.
She roused him from his reverie with a plaintive protest.

"What's the matter? Have I, too, offended?"

He turned quickly and crushed her hand in his strong grasp:

"For heaven's sake don't _you_ get into the habit of asking me
questions! How could you offend? Your face is my lighthouse set on the
cliffs, calm, serene, joyful. I couldn't get through a day without
you."

A smiling answer was just trembling on her lips when Diggs began to
speak.

"Now for the human interrogation point," Barbara laughed.

"Comrade Judges," Diggs began, with guileless good humour, "while we
are shaping the form of our ideal State for its permanent organization
I wish to submit some questions which may help us in our search for
truth."

"Questions," Norman whispered, "which any fool can ask, but the angels
of God can't answer."

"But we will answer them!" she flashed, with defiant courage.

"We agree," Diggs went on, "that society must be governed in some way.
There must be rulers, but how shall we choose our rulers, and with
what powers shall we clothe them? We can begin to see that the head of
our social system must at times exercise the full powers of the State.
Into whose hands can this enormous power be entrusted, and how shall
he be called to account?"

Diggs paused, and Norman flushed at this question, for he took it as a
personal thrust. He had occasion to change his mind later.

"How can we," the questioner went on, "retain our democratic liberties
as law makers as we grow in numbers? Now we can all meet in general
assembly. When the State numbers even five thousand this will not be
possible. Will not our politics become even more corrupt than the old
system, seeing how enormous the power over the smallest details of
life which these legislators possess?

"As our society grows--and thousands are now clamouring for
admission--how is wealth to be distributed? Who shall determine, in
this larger society, who shall be common labourers, who poets,
artists, musicians, preachers, managers? Who shall appoint editors?
And who shall call them to account if they publish treason against the
State? What shall be done with the ever-increasing number of the
lazy, dishonest, and criminal members of the community?

"Who shall determine how much mental work is equivalent to so much
manual labour, seeing how vast is the difference in the value of one
man's brain product over another's? How can men who are not artists,
poets, or musicians determine the value of such work? Or how can one
poet be just to his rival if he be made the judge? When our theatre is
opened, who shall select the actors? Who shall decide whether they are
incompetent? Who shall decide on the selection of the star? What shall
be done with an actor, for example, who should spit in the face of a
judge deciding adversely? Suppose a man offends the judge? Shall he be
punished? If so, who shall do it?

"How can we prevent a man from losing his wages playing poker with his
neighbour if he does so joyfully?

"What shall be done with a man who works outside regular hours and
accumulates a vast private fortune?"

"Say, ain't you worked your jaw overtime now?" old Tom broke in
rudely. "We'll take them things up when we come to 'em. We got
somethin' else to do now--set down!"

"These are only friendly suggestions for thought as we develop our
ideal," Diggs answered, with smiling good nature, as he resumed his
seat.

"What makes me want to kill that man," Norman muttered to Barbara, "is
the unfailing politeness and unction with which he asks those
questions."

"Patience! patience!" was the low, musical reply. "These little things
will all adjust themselves."

Methodist John pressed to the front and poured out to the judges a
story of wrong and asked for justice.

"Miss Barbara," he began, in plaintive tones, "you was always good to
me in the other world, but since we've got here even you don't seem
the same. Everybody's hard and cold. They hain't got no sympathy here
for a poor man. In the other world I missed my callin'--I was born for
the ministry. I come here to serve the Lord. And now they make me work
so hard I ain't even got time to pray. I ask for a licence to preach
the gospel. Just give me a chance. They've put me to feedin' hogs and
tendin' ter calves. I ain't fit for such work. I want to call sinners
to repentance, not swine to their swill. I tell ye I've been buncoed.
It ain't a square deal. I left the poorhouse to come with you to
heaven and, by gum, I've landed in the workhouse----"

"And ef yer don't shet up and git back ter yer work," Tom thundered,
"you'll land in the hospital--you hear me!"

"I ain't er talkin' to you, you cussin, swearin', ungodly son of the
devil," the old man answered.

"Come, come, John," Norman interrupted, as he held Tom back. "We can't
grant your request. We are not ready to undertake religious work yet."

"Well, God knows ye need it!" John muttered, as the crowd pushed him
away.

At the door Catherine greeted him as he passed out, whispered
encouraging words, and sent him back to his tasks more cheerful. She
had taken her stand thus each day; and, while Wolf was busy quietly
mingling with the men outside getting the facts as to the progress of
each department, the tall graceful woman of soft voice and madonna
face was fast becoming the friend and sympathizer of each discontented
worker. She had now assumed the task of peacemaker after each harsh
decision had been rendered, and did her work with rare skill--a skill
which promised big results in the dawning State of Ventura.

Uncle Bob Worth, an old Negro, bowed low before the judges. He had
been a slave of Norman's grandfather in North Carolina and had joined
the colony out of admiration for the young leader.

"Marse Norman," he solemnly began.

"Don't call me 'master,' Bob," Norman interrupted. "Remember that we
are all comrades here."

"Yassah! Yassah! Marse Norman, I try to 'member dat sah, but 'pears
ter me dey's somefin' wrong bout dis whole 'comrade' business, sah!
I'se er 'comrade' now but I'se wuss off dan I eber wuz. 'Fo' I come
here I wuz er butler, and I wuz er gemmen--yas-sah, ef I do hat ter
say it myself--and I allus live wid gemmens an' sociate wid gemmens. I
come out here wid you ter be a white man an' er equal. Dat's what dey
all say. I be er equal 'comrade.' I make up my mind dat I jine de
minstrel band, pick de banjer, an' sing de balance er my life. Bress
God, what happen. Dey make me a hod-carrier and make me 'sociate wid
low-down po' white trash. I ain't come here ter be no 'comrade' wid
dem kin' er folks. Dey ain't my equal, sah, an' I can't 'ford to
'sociate wid 'em. What's fuddermo, sah, carryin' a hod ain't my
business--hit don't suit my health an' brick-dust ain't good fur my
complexion, sah!"

Tom grunted contemptuously.

Norman smiled and shook his head.

"Sorry, Comrade Bob," he replied. "We haven't men enough to organize
the minstrels yet. We must rush the new building. We have thousands
of new members clamouring to join. We have nowhere to house them."

"Yassah, an' I 'spec' dey'll be clamourin' ter unjine fo' long," old
Bob muttered, as he passed on to be comforted by Catherine's soothing
words.

Saka, the Indian, whom Colonel Worth had educated, had followed
Norman. He demanded a return ticket to the Colonel's hunting lodge.

It was promptly refused. Catherine attempted to soothe his ruffled
feelings. He snapped his fingers in her face and grunted.

The Brotherhood of Man saw Saka no more for many moons, but the crack
of his rifle was heard on the mountain side and the smoke of his tepee
curled defiantly from the neighbouring plains.

The chef appeared before the court in answer to numerous complaints
about the table.

"I must have the law laid down for the tables, Comrade Judges," he
demanded. "One man wants one thing and another refuses to eat at the
table where such food is served. A dozen men and women ask only for
bread, vegetables, and nuts. They refuse to eat meat. They refuse to
allow me to cook it or any one else to eat it if they can help it.
They make my life miserable. I want permission to kick them out of the
kitchen. They demand the right to inspect my pots and pans to see if
meat has touched them. They must go or I go. I will not be insulted by
fools. If you do not give me permission to kick these people out of
the kitchen I will do so without permission. You can take your
choice."

The cook mopped his brow and sat down with a defiant wave of his arm.

A woman who had been a leader of the W.C.T.U. pressed forward before
the cook's demand could be considered.

"And I demand in the name of truth, purity, righteousness, justice,
faith, and God, that no more wine be allowed on the table. I demand
that we burn the wine house and issue an order to the cook never
again, under penalty of imprisonment for life, to use a drop of
alcohol in the food he serves to the Brotherhood----"

"And I also demand, Comrade Judges," the cook interrupted, "the right
to throw that woman out of the kitchen and have her fined and
imprisoned the next time she dares to interfere with my business. She
got into the pantry yesterday and destroyed five hundred mince pies
because she smelled brandy in them."

"Yes, and I'll do it again if you dare to poison the bodies and souls
of my comrades with that hellish stuff!" she cried, triumphantly.

"I'd like to know," the cook shouted, "how I'm to do my work if every
fool in creation can butt into my business?"

"Softly! Softly!" Norman warned.

"I mean it!" thundered the chef. "This woman swears she will wreck the
dining-room if I dare to place wine again on our bill of fare. I want
to know if she's in command of this colony? If so, you can count me
out!"

"And while we are on this point, Comrade Judges," spoke up a
mild-looking little man, "I have summoned a neighbour of mine to
appear before you and show cause why he should _not_ cease to have
sauerkraut served at breakfast. He sits at my table. I've begged him
to stop it. I've begged the cook to stop cooking the stuff, but he
bribes the cook----"

"That's a lie," shouted the chef.

"I saw him do it, your honours," the little man went on. "I'm a
small-sized man or I'd lick him. I tried to move my seat but they
wouldn't let me. I pledge you my word when he brings that big dish of
steaming sauerkraut to our table it fogs the whole end of the
dining-room. The odour is so strong it not only stops you from eating,
you can't think. It knocks you out for the day."

"Is it possible," Norman inquired, "that there is a human being among
us who eats sauerkraut for breakfast?"

"There's no doubt about it, comrade," promptly responded a tall,
strapping-looking fellow, with a dark, scholarly face, as he stepped
to the front.

"That's him!" cried the little accuser. "I made him come. Told him I'd
organize a party to lynch him if he didn't. He won't dare deny it. I
can prove it."

"I have no desire to deny that I eat sauerkraut, you little ape," he
replied with scorn. "I come of German ancestry, comrades. My
great-grandfather helped to create this nation. He was a pure-blooded
German. I inherit from him my personal likes and dislikes. Sauerkraut
is the best breakfast food ever served to man. It is a pure vegetable
malt. It is wholesome, clean, healthful, and keeps the system of a
brain worker in perfect order. I eat it with ham gravy and good hot
wheat biscuits. It is some trouble for the cook to prepare this
particular kind of soft tea-biscuit for me. I paid him a little extra
for this bread--not the kraut. I suggest to your honours that you make
sauerkraut a standard breakfast diet as a health measure. They may
kick a little at first, but I assure you it will improve the health
and character of the colony. If this little chap who accuses me were
put on a diet of kraut for breakfast it might even now make a man of
him. I not only have nothing to apologize for, I bring you good
tidings. I proclaim sauerkraut the only perfect health food for
breakfast, and I suggest its compulsory use. The man who sits next to
me eats snails. I think the habit a filthy and dangerous one. If you
are going into this question, do it thoroughly. Let us fix by law what
is fit to eat, and stick to it. I'll back sauerkraut before any
dietary commission ever organized on earth."

The council appointed a commission to conduct hearings and make a
rigid code of laws establishing the kind of foods for each meal.

Again Roland Adair, the Bard of Ramcat, rose, shook his long hair and
cleared his throat.

Norman lifted his hand for silence.

"I anticipate the poet's words. You solemnly protest against the
further establishment of a tyranny which shall dare prescribe your
food from day to day. I grieve over the necessity of these laws and
mingle my tears with yours in advance. But, in the language of a
distinguished citizen of the old republic, 'we are confronted by a
condition, not a theory.' The council stands adjourned."

The Bard poured his bitter protest into Catherine's patient ears and
left with a growing conviction of her wisdom.

The woman with the drooping eyelids stood watching his retreating
figure while a quiet smile of contempt played about her full, sensuous
lips.



CHAPTER XX

THE UNCONVENTIONAL


Within a week it was necessary to appoint a commission to formulate an
elaborate code of laws regulating various nuisances which had
developed in the community.

A kitchen-boy insisted on playing a cornet in his room. He didn't know
a musical from a promissory note but he swore he'd become a musician
before he died. His efforts came near proving fatal to his neighbours
before he was suppressed.

Several women had pet parrots. The people who lived near by
strenuously objected. The parrots had to go.

A sailor had brought a monkey whose manners were not appreciated by
any one except his master. The monkey had to go. Cats were arraigned
for trial and a fierce battle raged over the question of allowing them
in the building. The question was finally put to the popular vote in
the assembly and the cats won by a good majority. But strict laws
regulating the kind of cats, their number, and their care, were put
into force.

Dogs won by a large majority when they were finally put on trial.

The commission on nuisances had finally to make a code of laws
regulating table manners and the conduct of all social gatherings.

The one question which all but precipitated a civil war was the
problem of dress. Inequality of wages meant, of necessity, inequality
of dress.

A desperate effort was made by a large number to force the community
to adopt a uniform for both men and women. It was fiercely opposed.
Every woman who believed herself good looking refused to listen to any
argument on the subject.

It was necessary at once, however, to formulate some sort of code. A
number of men had been coming into the dining-room in their shirt
sleeves. Some of them apparently never combed their hair or changed
their linen. A number of women had gotten into the habit of coming
into the dining-room in loose wrappers of variegated colors and
without corsets.

The Bard of Ramcat was particularly severe in his public criticism of
these women in the general assembly of the Brotherhood.

"In the name of beauty, I protest!" he cried. "Beauty is an attribute
of God. It is woman's first duty to be beautiful, and if she isn't, at
least to make man think she is. I insist that she shall have the
widest liberty in the choice of dress. Only let her be careful that
she is beautiful!"

The poet was heartily applauded, and a resolution was passed which
embodied his ideas, approving the widest freedom of choice in dress,
approving especially unconventional forms of dress, provided always
the ideal of beauty was held inviolate.

In his speech advocating the immediate passage of the resolution the
Bard urged every woman to outdo herself in the struggle for supreme
beauty of appearance at the weekly ball on Friday evening.

His resolutions and speech bore surprising fruit.

When the festivities were at their height a crowd of fifteen pretty
girls suddenly swept into the brilliantly lighted ball-room in tights!
The sensation was so instantaneous and overwhelming the music stopped
with a crash. The orchestra thought somebody had yelled fire.

The girls in their beautiful but unconventional dress tried to appear
unconcerned. But even the Bard was appalled at the results.

The pretty young chorus-girls had taken him at his word. They had
always cherished a secret desire to live in an unconventional real
world, where they could have a chance to be themselves, without the
hideous skirts of conventional society veiling their beauty. They had
brought these costumes with them and joined the new moral world in the
firm faith that their ideal would be realized. It had come very
slowly, but it had come at last.

They donned their beautiful costumes with hearts fluttering in
triumphant pride. But they had huddled into a corner of the ball-room
in a panic of fright at the insane commotion their honest efforts to
promote beauty had caused. One by one every woman in skirts save
Barbara and Catherine left the room. The married ones seized their
husbands and pushed them out ahead.

Norman, who was dancing with Barbara, broke down and burst into a
paroxysm of laughter.

Some of the girls began to cry, but others made a brave effort to face
the crowd of eager, giggling boys who pressed nearer.

The Bard approached with a serious look on his noble brow,
deliberately put on his glasses and surveyed the crowd.

"My dear girls," he began, "I thank you from the bottom of my heart
for the sincerity and honesty of your efforts to express beauty in
unconventional form, but really this is beyond my wildest
expectation."

Catherine drove the rude boys out of the room and closed the windows,
while Barbara kissed the tears away from the hysterical innovators and
led them back to their rooms.

The next morning the general assembly held an unusually solemn meeting
at which it was voted by a large majority to settle at once and
forever the question of dress by adopting a Socialist uniform of
scarlet and white for the women, and for the men a dull gray suit with
scarlet bands on the sleeve, a scarlet stripe and belt for the
trousers.

The discussion was brief and Roland Adair, the Bard of Ramcat,
protested in vain.



CHAPTER XXI

A PAIR OF COLD GRAY EYES


From the night of the ball at which the group of chorus-girls made
their sensational entrance in tights, Norman had his hands full.
Disorder had rapidly grown in the Brotherhood. Two distinct parties
began to line up for a desperate struggle for supremacy, the one
standing for the widest liberty of the individual members of the
community, the other demanding the stern enforcement of law and order
and the formulation of a complete and strict code of rules for the
government of daily conduct.

Among the men assigned to various tasks there gradually appeared a
number who slighted their work. From carelessness they drifted into
utter incompetency and downright laziness. Groups of these loafers
began to hang around the house daily.

When they had spent the last penny of their credit at the general
store of the community, they began to steal. Not a day or night passed
but complaints of thefts were made from every department of the
colony. One of the most serious of these burglaries was the robbery
of the winery of an enormous quantity of the most valuable wines.

Drunkenness had already become one of the serious problems of the
Brotherhood, and the right to buy of the steward had been denied a
large number of men and several women. These people began at once to
show signs of intoxication. It was plain that the thieves had hidden
this wine and that they were carrying on a secret traffic with those
to whom it had been forbidden.

With the increase of reckless drunkenness another evil grew with
alarming rapidity, the carousing of boisterous men and women. One of
them very quickly passed the limits of tolerance. She was in many
respects the most beautiful girl in the colony, barely nineteen years
old, with luxuriant blond hair, and big, wide, staring baby-blue eyes.
She had with it all a smile so saucy, so winsome, so elfish, and yet
so innocent, it was impossible for the average man or woman to think
ill of her. To every appeal of Barbara she merely showed her pretty
white teeth in a winsome smile, promised her anything she asked, and
proceeded to do as she liked.

At last her room was declared an intolerable nuisance by a committee
appointed to enter the complaint on behalf of her neighbours on the
floor on which she lived. The night before this committee appealed to
Barbara two boys had fought a desperate fist duel in this room. The
noise had roused the neighbours, and the case could no longer be
ignored by the executive council.

Barbara was sent to this room with full power to deal with the
offender.

"Good heavens," cried the girl, her big blue eyes opening wide with
injured innocence, "how could I help it? They're both in love with me.
I don't care a rap for either one of them, but they got to fighting,
and I couldn't stop them. I threw a pitcher of water on them, but they
kept right on. I'd have called the police, but there was none to call.
It wasn't my fault."

"But my dear Blanche," pleaded Barbara, "can't you see that you are
bringing scandal and disgrace into the colony?"

"It's not me!" the pretty lips pouted. "It's these old women who are
talking. Let them shut their mouths and attend to their own business.
I'm not bothering them."

"You deny the accusations they bring against your good name?" Barbara
said, with some surprise.

"Of course I deny them," she snapped. "I've got to have some fun,
haven't I? I can't help it that a dozen boys come to see me and nobody
ever sees the old tabbies who lie about me, can I? I can't help it
that they are old and ugly, can I?"

Barbara had ceased to listen to the glib tongue, whose lying chatter
tired her. She looked about the room with increasing amazement. It was
stuffed with presents of every conceivable description. Costly rugs
adorned the floor. Soft pillows filled the couch by the window. Dainty
and expensive works of art adorned her mantel, and the richest and
most beautiful underwear lay in a smoothly laundered pile on her
luxuriant bed.

"And how did you get all these costly and beautiful things, my dear?"
Barbara asked, with a touch of sarcasm.

The big blue eyes opened wide again with wonder.

"Why, the boys who are in love with me gave them. Why shouldn't they?
I can't help it that they are foolish, can I? God made them so."

"And you accepted these rich and costly things in perfect innocence of
the evil meaning others might put on them?"

"Of course! How can I keep their tongues from wagging? Life's too
short. I have but one life to live. I can't waste it worrying over
nothing."

For the first time in her career Barbara stood face to face with naked
evil--with a liar to whom a lie was good--a radiantly beautiful girl
to whom shame was sweet.

For a moment the thought was suffocating. She looked out of the window
at the infinite blue sea until the tears slowly blinded her. The first
doubt of her theory of life crept into her heart and threw its shadow
over the ideal of the new world she had built.

She took the girl's hand, slipped her arm around her neck, kissed the
soft, shining hair, and sobbed:

"Poor little foolish sister! I'm afraid you've broken my heart
to-day."

"I haven't done a thing! Honestly, I haven't!" the lusty young liar
rattled on and on, in a hundred silly, vain protests, which Barbara
never heard.

She left the room at length with a sickening sense of defeat, though
the girl had promised her on the honour of her soul never again to
give the slightest cause for complaint.

Many a day she had trudged through the streets of the great city,
after hours of nerve-racking struggles with sin and shame and despair
in the old world, but she had always come home at night with a heart
singing a battle-hymn of victory. She knew the cause of all the pain,
and she had given her life to right the wrong. Nothing daunted her,
nothing disconcerted her. In the end triumph was sure, and while she
felt this there could be no such thing as failure.

She stood before the full meeting of the executive council, honestly
reported the case, and for the first time tasted the bitterness of
defeat, helpless, complete, and overwhelming. While she was talking a
peculiar expression in Wolf's cold gray eyes suddenly caught her
attention and fixed her gaze on him with a curious fascination and
horror. Wolf was quick to note her look, recovered himself and smiled
in his old fatherly, friendly way.

"Don't worry, comrade. We've got to meet and settle such questions.
They are merely the inheritance of civilization. It will take a little
time, that's all."

But as Barbara's gaze lingered on the heavy brutal lines of Wolf's
massive figure and she caught again the gleam of his gray eyes a
sickening sense of foreboding gripped her heart.



CHAPTER XXII

THE FIGHTING INSTINCT


As questions of discipline became more and more pressing old Tom
refused to sit as an active judge in the executive council.

Norman protested in vain against his decision to retire for a while.

"I can't do no good settin' thar listenin' to them fools," the miner
declared. "They make me sick. Besides, ye all vote me down when I
tells ye what to do, and things keep on goin' from bad to worse. Jest
let me git out and move around among the boys a little. I think I can
do some good. You folks is all too chicken-hearted to run this
Brotherhood. Love and fellowship is all right, but ye've got ter mix a
little law and common sense before ye can straighten the kinks out of
this here community."

Norman gave his consent reluctantly, and was amazed at the end of a
week to observe a remarkable improvement in the spirit of the colony.
Loafers disappeared, stealing all but ceased, drinking and fighting
were on the decrease.

One by one old Tom had taken the loafers with him on a long walk up
the beach. He was usually gone about an hour and always came back
laughing and chatting with his friend in the best of humour.
Invariably the loafer went to work.

In the same way he took a walk with each one of a crowd of wild,
unmannerly boys, whose rudeness at the table and whose horse-play
about the building had become unendurable. The effects of these walks
seemed magical. Always the pair returned in a fine humour and the most
marked revolution was immediately noted in the conduct of the
offender.

Norman asked the old man again and again for the secret of his power.

He replied in the most casual way:

"Just had a plain heart-to-heart talk with 'em and told 'em what had
to be--that's all."

The good work had continued for a week with uninterrupted success,
when a bomb was suddenly exploded in the executive council by the
appearance of an irate mother leading an insolent fourteen-year-old
cub, who walked rather stiffly.

Amid a silence that was painful, the mother stripped the boy to the
waist, thrust him before Norman and Barbara, and said:

"Now, tell them what you've just told me."

The boy glanced cautiously around to see if his enemy were near and
poured forth a tale the like of which had never been heard before.

"Old Tom asked me to take a walk with him. He got me away off in a
lonely place behind the big rocks on that little island up the beach
and pulled up a plank drawbridge so I couldn't get back till he wanted
to let me. He stripped me like this, tied me to a whipping-post and
nearly beat the life out of me. He said he'd been appointed by the
council to settle with me in private so nobody would know anything
about it."

"Said that he had been appointed by the council to whip you?" Norman
asked, in amazement.

"That's what he said, sir," the boy went on. "He gave me forty-nine
lashes with a cowhide and then set down and talked to me a half hour."

"And what did he say?" Norman inquired, forcing back a smile by a
desperate effort.

"He told me that he tried to get out of the work, but the council had
forced it on him. Said there oughtn't to be no hard feelings, that it
was a dirty, tiresome job, and he didn't have no pleasure in it, but
it had to be done for the salvation of the people. He said it wasn't
wise to talk about such things among the Brotherhood. I told him I'd
tell my ma the minute I got home. He said that would be foolish, that
none of the others had said a word, that they had all taken their
medicine like little men."

"He told you he had whipped all the others who had taken that walk
with him?" Norman gasped.

"That's what he said, sir," the boy insisted, "and I guess he had, for
they'd pawed a hole in the sand 'round that whipping-post big enough
to bury a horse in."

The boy paused and his mother shook him angrily.

"Tell what else he said to you!"

The cub glanced hastily toward the door and whispered:

"Said if I opened my mouth about what had happened he'd skin me
alive."

The council sent the mother and son away with the assurance of
immediate action.

The court adjourned and Norman started with Barbara at once to find
Tom. Faithful to his new calling he had strolled up the beach with a
man who once had been his partner as a prospector and miner. Joe
Weatherby had been drinking heavily the week before and Tom had keenly
felt the disgrace his old partner had brought on the Brotherhood by
his rudeness in the dining-room.

Joe had thrown a plate of soup in the face of a boy who was making
facetious remarks about his capacity for strong drink. When rebuked by
his neighbours he had accentuated his displeasure by overturning the
table and smashing every dish on it. He ended the affair by roundly
cursing the Brotherhood for its rules and regulations interfering with
his personal liberty, threw his pack on his back, and struck the trail
for the mountains to prospect for gold.

He had just returned, after a week's absence, and Tom seized the
opportunity to invite Joe to take a walk with him.

Knowing the character of the two men, Norman felt quite sure this walk
could not possibly have the usual happy ending that attended so many
of these performances.

He quickened his pace.

"Hurry, or we may have a funeral for our next function," he cried,
with a laugh.

A quarter of a mile up the beach the sound of loud angry words
suddenly struck their ears from behind a pile of huge boulders.

"Quick, we're just in time!" Barbara cried, "they've begun to
quarrel."

They cautiously approached the boulders and climbed to the top of the
larger one overlooking the scene Tom had evidently chosen for his
debate with Joe.

"Hadn't you better part them now?" Barbara asked with some anxiety.

"No, I'll stop them in time. I want to get acquainted with Tom's
methods of persuasion first."

Tom's voice was rising in accents of wrath. "Joe, I'm a man o'
peace--I'm a member o' the Brotherhood and you're my brother, but I'll
tell ye right now we've got to have law and order in this
community----"

"And I say, Tom Mooney, there hain't no law exceptin' what's inside a
man."

"Yes, but how kin ye git any law inside a man ef he's always chuck
full er licker?"

"I don't drink to 'mount to nothin'," Joe protested. "Just a drop now
an' then ter keep me in good health."

"Wall, ef you try any more capers in that dinin'-room, your health's
goin' ter break clean down--yer hear me?"

Joe eyed Tom a moment and said with sharp emphasis:

"I reckon I can take care o' myself, partner, without you settin' up
nights to worry about me."

"That's just the trouble, Joe, ye can't. You jined the Brotherhood,
but yer faith's gettin' weak. I'm afeard you're onregenerate,
conceived in sin an' brought forth in iniquity, an' ye ain't had no
change er heart nohow."

"Look here, what are ye drivin' at?" Joe asked, beginning to back away
cautiously.

"I just want ter strengthen yer faith, partner," Tom protested kindly
as he advanced good-naturedly and laid his hand on Joe's arm.

Joe shook it off and turned to go. With a sudden spring Tom was on
him. A brief, fierce struggle ensued marked by low, savage growls like
two bull-dogs clinched and searching for each other's throats.

"Stop them! Stop them! They'll kill one another," pleaded Barbara.

"No. It'll do them good. Wait," he replied, watching them
breathlessly.

"Here! Here, you old fool," growled Joe. "Do you call this the
Brotherhood of Man?"

"Yes, my son, and specially the Fatherhood er God. The Lord chastens
them he loveth!"

With a sudden twist the writhing figures fell in the sand, Tom on top
pinning Joe down.

Joe fought with fierce strength to rise but it was no use.

Tom clutched his throat and choked him steadily into submission.

"I'm er man o' peace, Joe," he repeated.

"Yes, you are!" the bottom one growled.

"But when I mingles with the unregenerate, my son, I trusts in God an'
keeps my powder dry!"

"Let me up, you old fool!" Joe growled.

"Not yet, my son!" was the firm answer.

"You'll get my dander up in a minute and some body's goin' ter git
hurt," warned the prostrate figure.

"Please make them quit," Barbara whispered tremblingly.

"Nonsense. They're enjoying themselves," Norman softly laughed.

"What are you tryin' ter do anyhow?" whined Joe.

"I'm callin' a lost sinner to repentance," was the prompt answer.

"Lemme up, I tell ye," Joe yelled, struggling with desperation.

Tom choked him again into silence and seated himself comfortably
across Joe's stomach.

"Now, Joseph, my boy. I want you ter say over the catechism of the
Brotherhood of Man. Hit'll freshen yer mind an' be good fer yer
soul----"

Another grim struggle interrupted the teacher.

"Say it after me: I believe in the fatherhood er God----"

Joe squirmed.

"Say it!"

Still no sound. Tom firmly gripped his throat and Joe gurgled:

"Fatherhood er God!"

"And brotherhood o' man!"

"Brotherhood er man!"

"Yer believe it now?" Tom fiercely asked.

Joe feebly assented.

Tom gripped his throat.

"Say it strong!"

"Yes--I believe it!" Joe confessed.

Again the under man struggled desperately and the man on top fiercely
choked him into a quieter frame of mind.

"Now again: No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom er God!"

Joe repeated, "No drunkard--shall--what?"

"Inherit--the--kingdom--er God--by golly you've forgot yer Bible too!"

"Inherit--the--kingdom er--God!"

"Who shall not inherit the kingdom of God?"

"No drunkard!" Joe answered.

"Let that soak into yer lost soul!" Tom growled, pausing a moment.

"Now once more! Bear--ye--one--another's burdens!"

Joe hesitated and the man on top bumped the words out of him one at a
time:

"Bear--ye--one--another's--burdens!"

"An' ye're goin' ter help me bear mine?" the teacher asked.

"Ain't I a-doin' it now?" grumbled the man below.

"Well, once more then: Private property is theft!"

"That's a lie an' you know it," Joe sneered.

"The big chief says so and it goes--say it!"

"Private property is theft," Joe repeated.

"Well, then, once more: Love--one--another!"

"Love one another," came the feeble echo.

"Do ye love me?" Tom fiercely inquired.

Joe struggled.

"Say it!" commanded the teacher.

"I love ye," he groaned.

Norman suddenly appeared on the scene followed by Barbara and the two
miners leaped to their feet.

"Tom, old boy," the young leader cried, "you mean well, but we are
told by the preacher that the kingdom of God cometh not of
observation--it must be from within."

"Just goin' over his Sunday-school lesson with him, Chief."

Joe made a hostile movement, and Norman stepped between them.

"Come! You two big kids--enough of this now, shake hands and make
up!"

The men both hung back stubbornly.

Norman turned to Tom.

"Were you not partners and friends before you joined the Brotherhood?"

"Yes," the old miner replied grudgingly. "We bin tergether twelve
years an' we worked an' played tergether, starved an' froze tergether,
lived tergether, an' slept under the same blanket--he's the only
partner I ever had--an' he's my best friend"--Tom paused and
choked--"but I don't like 'im!"

"Shake hands and make up!" Barbara laughed.

They hung back a moment longer until Barbara's smile became
resistless.

Joe extended his hand, exclaiming:

"Shake, you old coyote!"

Norman gave Joe a serious talk--got a pledge from him to quit drink
and stand by him in his efforts to bring order out of the confusion
and chaos in which the colony was floundering.

"You think I can do anything to help you?" Joe asked incredulously.

"Of course you can. You and Tom are two men I've known all my life. I
know where to find you if I get into trouble."

"Is there goin' ter be any trouble?" Tom broke in, eagerly.

"Not yet, but it's coming. When it does we'll fight it out and win.
I've set my life on the issue of this experiment."

Joe extended him his hand. "I'm sorry I got drunk. I won't do it
again--we'll stand by ye!"

"Through thick an' thin," Tom added.

"And hereafter, Tom," Norman said with a smile, "I'd like to be
consulted before you hold any more sessions of your court up the
beach."

Tom started.

"You've heard about it?"

"Yes."

"By gum, I knowed I oughter licked that kid again!" the old miner
observed, regretfully.

Norman, said gravely: "Tom, we are getting into deep water. I've begun
to have some doubts about our safety. A leader must lead. And I'm
going to do it. Can I depend on you to execute my orders and mine
alone?"

"Every day in the year," was the firm reply.

"The same here," Joe echoed.

Barbara had drawn apart from the group of men and stood watching them
with keen, suspicious interest as the two miners started homeward with
restored good humour.

"What did you mean by saying that you were afraid of coming trouble?"
Barbara eagerly asked of Norman. "What have you heard? What do you
suspect?"

"Nothing," he answered, thoughtfully. "But I've had the blues for a
week. It's been growing on me that we are not getting on except into
situations more and more impossible. There's a screw loose somewhere
in our system. There's going to be a wreck unless we find and repair
it."

"I have felt this, too, and I think I know the cause."

"What?"

"Liberty which has degenerated into licence. We lack authority and the
power to enforce it."

"And this is the one thing we cursed in the old system--the law,
power, authority."

"No," Barbara quickly objected. "We did not rebel against law or the
exercise of authority. We rebelled against its unjust use."

"And what depresses me is that I am convinced that we must use the
power of law with more stern, direct, and personal pressure than ever
known under the system of capitalism, or we must fail."

"Is not such pressure desirable?"

"It depends on who applies the pressure--but it seems inevitable--and
it depresses me."

Barbara broke into a joyous laugh.

"Away with gloomy forebodings! It's only a day's fog. It will lift.
The sun is shining behind it now."

Her laughter was contagious. Norman smiled in quick sympathy, and a
response of hope and courage was just forming itself on his lips when
he looked toward the house and saw an excited crowd packed in the
doorway.

"What on earth is the matter?" Barbara gasped.

"Some accident has happened," he replied, quickly. "Come, we must
hurry!"

Catherine's lithe figure darted down the steps and met them on the
lawn.

"What is it?" Norman cried.

"A murder!"

"A murder?" Barbara repeated, incredulously.

"Yes--wilful, deliberate, cruel, horrible!" Catherine went on
excitedly.

"Not old Tom and Joe?" Norman broke in.

"No--Blanche----"

"Oh, God, I knew it," Barbara gasped. "Go on."

"Blanche kept on playing fast and loose with the two boys who fought
over her the other night. George Mann found his rival in her room just
now, waylaid him in the hall, and when he came out sprang on him like
a fiend, stabbed him through the heart and cut his throat. The
brothers of the dead boy swear they will kill the murderer on sight,
and they've locked him in your room, Norman, for safety. The men are
excited to frenzy. Nobody likes the boy who did the crime. The
rougher ones swear they are going to hang him. They tried to break in
your door twice, but Herman knocked the ringleaders down and with Tom
and Joe beat the crowd back. Something must be done at once to prevent
another outbreak."

Norman hurried to the scene and joined Wolf in his defence of the
prisoner. Tom formed a guard of ten men heavily armed and marched the
prisoner to the top of the house, placed him in the small room in one
of the central towers, and stationed one man inside and five on the
stairway leading into the tower.

The executive council met immediately and voted unanimously to erect a
prison, establish a penal colony on the small island at the north of
Ventura, and restore the whipping-post for minor offenders.

The announcement of this momentous act was made to the general
assembly without request for debate or an expression of opinion. It
was received in silence.

The Bard could not protest. He was still confined to his room from the
effects of a recent argument with his wife.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE CORDS TIGHTEN


On Wolf's urgent advice Norman determined to use the autocratic power
invested in him by the deed of gift to establish a complete code of
law and enforce it without fear or favour. As the cords tightened,
scores who became dissatisfied with their lot offered their
resignations and asked to return to their old homes.

In answer to their clamour Norman posted this notice on the bulletin
board:

    "Every member of the army of the Brotherhood of Man enlisted for
    five years' service. Resignations will not be considered and
    deserters will be tried by court-martial. I am going to use my
    power for the best interests of the Brotherhood. I ask the
    coöperation of all the loyal members of the colony. Of traitors
    I ask no quarter, and I expect to give none.

                                              "NORMAN WORTH,
                                 "_Trustee and General Manager_."

The effects of the proclamation were instantaneous. The helplessness
of any attempt to resist authority firmly established under such
daring leadership was at once apparent to the most stupid mind.

Loafing, drinking, stealing, carousing, and disorder of all kind were
reduced at once to a minimum.

One act, however, of the executive council under Norman's direction
precipitated a storm in an unexpected quarter.

The council removed Blanche and a group of wayward girls with whom she
associated to a cottage outside the lawn.

The women of the Brotherhood were practically unanimous in their
demands that the whole group be immediately expelled from the colony.
A committee of three aggressive women presented their demand to Norman
in no uncertain language.

His reply was equally emphatic:

"Comrades," he said, firmly, "I shall do nothing of the kind. We are
going to work out this experiment in human society without compromise.
We have successfully cut communication with the outside world. The
crew of our ship are no longer allowed to land and only picked men
unload her cargo. We are not going to play the baby act and dump these
girls back on the old civilization which we have denounced. They may
be wayward but they are our sisters."

"They are not mine," shouted one of the committee. "The brazen
creatures! And we do not propose to have our sons and daughters
corrupted by association with them."

"Then we must find some other solution than that of transportation,"
Norman insisted.

"Send them to the penal colony, then," demanded the committee.

"And back in a circle we immediately travel to the crimes of
civilization from which we fled. I prefer to send the boys who
associate with them. They are the real offenders."

"I deny that assertion," firmly declared the leader of the committee.
"My boy is one of the unfortunate victims of these brazen wretches.
Before we came to this island he never gave me a word of impudence.
From the night he met Blanche at our first ball he was beyond my
advice or control. These girls are the enemies of society and this
colony cannot exist if they remain within its life."

"I refuse to believe it," Norman cried, with scorn. "It is your duty
to reform these girls and restore them to mental and physical sanity,
and as the leader of this colony I direct you to take up this divine
work."

"And I, for one," spoke, for the first time, the silent gray-haired
member of the committee, "refuse to smirch my hands with the task."

Norman, looked into the calm face of this white-haired, motherly
looking woman with amazement.

"I can't understand you, comrade mother!" he exclaimed, with
bitterness.

"That's because you're young, handsome, inexperienced, and, above all,
because you are a man," was the quick reply. "I have spent a busy life
since my own children grew out of the home nest in New York City in
trying to help other people's children less fortunate than my own.
I've helped scores of boys and never had one to disappoint me yet.
I've tried to help scores of girls of the type we are discussing. I've
always regretted it. I found them shallow, false, lazy, stupid,
worthless. I have never looked at one of them except to blush that I
am a woman. I speak from the saddest and most hopeless experiences of
my life."

Norman cut the argument short with a gesture of angry impatience.
"This discussion is a waste of breath. As long as I am in command of
this colony no such insane act of injustice shall be committed against
these girls."

"Then it's time you gave place to a man of greater wisdom and less
sentimental mush in his brain," replied the calm, gray-haired woman.

"Thank you," the young leader replied, with chilling politeness, "you
may be right--but in the meantime I accept the responsibility. Good
day."

He had made three enemies whose power he was soon to feel. As they
passed through the doorway Catherine greeted them politely and soothed
their ruffled spirits with gentle words.



CHAPTER XXIV

SOME INTERROGATION POINTS


The establishment of a police and detective service completed the
efficient organization of the colony. Its life now began to move with
clock-like regularity.

But these changes were not made without provoking fierce debates and
bitter prophecies in the general assembly over which Norman presided
every Friday night.

He began to listen to these endless wrangles, however, with a sense of
growing anger. It became clearer each week that they were the source
of cliques and factions, of plots and counter-plots, within the
colony. His patience reached the limit on the night he announced the
completion of the jail.

"This is a sad present I am forced to make you to-night, comrades," he
said, with a note of weariness in his voice. "But I have no choice in
the matter. It was forced on the executive council. Crimes were
committed which threatened the existence of our society. We had to
meet the issue squarely. We could have begged the question by calling
in the authorities of the State of California, acknowledged our
defeat, and surrendered. We are not ready to surrender. We haven't
begun to fight yet."

He had scarcely taken his seat when Diggs, the human
interrogation-point, slowly unwound his lank figure, adjusted his
eye-glasses, and gazed smilingly at the chairman.

Norman squirmed with rage as the glint of light from Diggs's big
lenses began to irritate his spirit.

Barbara slipped her little hand under the table and found his. He
clasped it gratefully and refused to let go. She allowed him to hold
it a minute and drew it away laughing.

"Comrades," the man of questions slowly began, "we are making rapid
progress. Our new building will soon be finished and another colony of
two thousand enthusiastic souls will be added to our commonwealth. If
we are going to successfully carry on this work we must begin to
develop with infinite patience the details of this larger life.

"I submit to you some questions that are profoundly interesting to me.

"How are we to prevent speculation, wages being unequal? How is one
community to exchange products with another? How determine which line
of goods each community shall make?

"What is to be done with a strong minority who are bitterly opposed to
the action of the majority when we assume our permanent democratic
form?

"How are the thousand and one matters pertaining to private life and
habits to be settled without continually augmenting the power of
government? The authority of the most absolute despot who ever lived
never dared to sit on questions we must decide. Can we do it?

"If we are ever to attain a condition of equality must we not forbid
gifts and exchanges? For, if men are not to be allowed to grow rich by
trading, must not the State forbid private exchanges of every nature?

"On the other hand, if the State alone can make exchanges, how can we
prevent a shrewd man from getting rich by dealing with the State
itself?

"If the State will not make exchanges, what is one to do who has taken
a piece of property and finds later he has no use for it? For example:
if Miss Blanche grows tired of looking at her piano, which she cannot
play, and desires to exchange it for a carriage and pair of horses,
must she continue to walk because she cannot effect the exchange?

    [Illustration: BARBARA.]

"If we solve these troubles by declaring all property in common, who
shall decide the privilege of use which the various tastes of
individuals may demand?

"If each member be allowed a fixed number of units of value for each
day of the year, must he spend them at once, or will the State keep an
account for each individual? If he doesn't spend all his allowance by
the end of the year can he save it and thus accumulate a private
fortune?

"Or will the State force him to spend all, thus encouraging reckless
habits?

"Suppose that a spendthrift squanders his allowance at once and later
breaks his leg, has it amputated, and needs a hundred dollars to buy a
wooden leg, how will he get it? Will the State make good his
recklessness, force him to buy his own leg, or make him hop through
the year on one leg?"

"I move we adjourn!" Joe yelled, from the rear.

"Second the motion!" Tom echoed, from the front.

The Bard, who had recovered sufficiently to attend on crutches, rose
painfully, adjusted the bandage on his eye, and once more raised his
voice in protest.

"I demand freedom of speech on behalf of my friend whom those rowdies
are insulting!" he thundered.

With reluctance the chairman rapped for order, and Diggs wiped his
glasses and smilingly proceeded:

"We have established a general nursery for the children. As they grow
up, who shall decide at what age each child shall begin to work? Some
children are slow, some quick in growth. Will the new State of Ventura
take direct charge of all children?

"Or, supposing that separate families are allowed to live apart and
parents to govern their own children, how is each child to be
protected so that it gets its exact due? How is it to be known whether
the parents misappropriate the fund of a child, or favour one more
than another?

"As our numbers increase we cannot avoid the religious question."

"Amen, O Lord!" shouted Methodist John.

"A number of good people are clamouring for the use of this hall for
religious services every night. We may deny their demands now. But we
cannot as they increase. How are we to meet them? Shall we tax the
unbeliever to support a church? Or shall we tax the believer to pay
for lighting this hall for a weekly ball?

"If religion is allowed, who shall determine how many preachers each
denomination can have? How many sisters shall be allowed the Catholics
and how many monks, and how shall they be distributed? To whom shall
they answer, the State, or their superior church dignitary?

"Shall Protestants be allowed a sum equal to the amount used in
support of religious orders? If so, who shall determine how it shall
be expended?

"If churches are built, who shall determine their cost and their style
of architecture if the State erects them?

"When our theatre is opened, shall admission be free? If not, what
shall be done when the receipts fall below expenses?

"What compensation can we give to those who hate theatres? If a small
majority want a dance-hall and musical extravaganza, and a minority
want only the serious drama, which shall it be? Suppose a majority
demand a race-course? Shall the resources of the colony be used thus
against the bitter protest of those who do not believe in racing?
Suppose, just before the race-course is finished, the majority become
a minority and the work is stopped--has the new majority the right to
destroy the property and accumulate a new fund for a different
purpose?

"Must a doctor always come when he's called--even for imaginary,
hysterical, and foolish causes? Will the people vote for and elect
their own doctor, or will he be assigned? If the doctor proves a
failure, how will they get rid of him? If they get rid of him, how
can he be saddled on another community? Shall one community suffer at
the hands of an incompetent man, while a physician of genius ministers
to the one next door? If a great surgeon is needed by ten persons at
the same hour, who shall decide which operation he shall perform, and
who shall live or die in consequence?

"Who shall say when a doctor is not fit to practise?

"We have just established a weekly paper. Within a year the population
will need a daily. Who shall say when an editor is competent?

"Some men fail in early life and make their great success later. At
what period, or after how long a trial, shall it be decided that a man
is a failure and must quit his chosen or assigned work?

"Many young men promise well at first and make later miserable
failures. Many are failures at first and make great successes. Who
shall decide which to continue and which to stop? If a youth is forced
to abandon a work on which he has set his heart, how can he be made of
service to the community in a work he loathes?

"We must continue to make inventions, or progress ceases. When the
cost of experiments is greater than the total income of a citizen, how
can the inventor bear the expense? Will any man sacrifice his own
funds and his own time on an uncertain experiment when he can receive
no benefit from the work?

"Many men are working now over problems all other men believe cannot
be solved. If the State must furnish the capital to make the
experiments of inventors, who will be responsible for the enormous
waste of treasure on senseless and useless and impossible inventions?

"Who can decide whether ideas proposed are useless or impossible? All
great inventions which have revolutionized the history of ages have
been laughed at by the world.

"How can we punish the jobbery and waste and corruption which may
enter from experiments which are not made in good faith? Cannot any
group of shrewd men pretend to have invented a machine which will save
over half the labour of the colony, and spend millions on this
imaginary invention which proves useless? If such an abuse of power
should be made, would not the effect be to end forever all experiments
and stop the progress of the world?

"When many cities have been built and one is more healthful,
beautiful, and cultured than the others, shall those who live in the
poorer cities be allowed to move or be forced to remain where they
are? How are sculptors, artists, musicians, or architects to be
apportioned among different communities? Suppose they all demand the
right to live in one place?

"Will the State publish all books by all authors, or will selections
be made? If all books are published will not vast sums be wasted in
printing worthless trash? If selections are made, what unprejudiced,
infallible board can be found competent to decide?

"If a man chooses to be a writer, how many years shall he be allowed
to work at his occupation if in the opinion of the judges he shows no
talent?

"Will the State permit freedom of opinion in the columns of its papers
and the books printed? If so, what shall hinder a treasonable
conspiracy from destroying respect for its authority? If opinions are
to be edited by the State, how can the freedom of the press be
maintained?

"What shall be done with the Negro, the Chinaman, and the Indian when
their numbers largely increase? Will these inferior races be placed on
an absolute equality with the Aryan and will they be allowed to freely
intermarry? If so, can the new mongrel race maintain itself against
the progress and power of the great high-bred races of men?

"Are women to receive the same allowance as men, and married women the
same as spinsters?

"Shall men and women be required to marry or be allowed to remain
single? Shall all women be made to work? If it continues to cost more
to support a single woman than a married one, how can equality of
rights be maintained?

"As food is the basis of all supply, many must be farmers. How shall
this great industry be conducted ultimately? Can we allow individuals
to work small farms? If so, who determines the kind of crop each farm
shall raise? How much land will a man be required to work?

"An Italian from the north of Italy can raise more on one acre than an
Irishman can on ten--whose method shall be used, and whose capacity be
taken for the standard?

"How many hours shall constitute a day on the farm? Shall a farmhand
get only a dollar a day and a bricklayer two? If so, where is the
justice and equality of such an arrangement?

"Can a farmer be allowed vacations? If so, must he ask permission
where to go? If not, suppose he goes at seedtime or harvest, gets
drunk, stays two weeks or two months, and destroys a year's crop? Who
shall pay for this enormous damage, and how shall the penalty be
enforced?

"Suppose a poor manager spoils the crop on an immense tract of land,
how can any adequate penalty be enforced?

"Shall one general manager decide what kind of crops to raise on each
piece of land or each manager decide for himself? Suppose they all
raise hay----"

"Then you'll have plenty to eat the balance of your life--you and all
the other jackasses in the colony!" old Tom growled.

A laugh rippled the crowd and the speaker paused in angry confusion.
For the first time he lost his temper and stood glaring at his
tormentors in silent rage.

Norman whispered to Barbara:

"Wolf has urged me for some time to suppress this meeting. Shall I do
it?"

"Yes. It's a nuisance. I agree with him. Do it."

Norman rose just as Diggs sat down choking with anger.

"Comrades," the young leader said, in commanding tones. "I think this
assembly has completed its work of discussion. The questions
propounded here to-night are important. We will meet and solve them in
due time, as we come to them. What this community needs now is the
spirit of coöperation, of loyalty, and industry. We have been assigned
our tasks for the year. Now every man to his work! We have had enough
of wrangling and questioning. Let's live and breathe awhile. The
executive council has decided to close the weekly sessions of the
assembly until the annual election of officers next spring. Hereafter
a musicale and dance will be held both Monday and Friday evenings."

The young folks broke into hearty applause led by old Tom and his
partner Joe.

The Bard sprang to his feet, his one good eye blazing with inspired
wrath.

"And I denounce this act of tyranny as the climax of a series of
infamies! You have now forged the chains of slavery on every limb.
Free speech has been suppressed--in God's name, what next?"

But the crowd only laughed. The Bard had protested so often his words
ceased to have weight. The halo of romance that once wreathed his
classic brow had faded with the painful disillusioning which followed
a thrashing his wife had given him. He was a prophet without honour
and his warnings fell on deaf ears.

Wolf and Catherine stood at the door with a word of cheer, a friendly
nod, or a silent pressure of the hand for every one who emerged from
the hall. These two alone at every turn grew in prestige among all
jarring factions of the struggling colony.



CHAPTER XXV

THE MASTER HAND


The whole machinery of the colony responded instantly to the grip of
the master's hand. It was the one thing needed to insure successful
progress.

When the Brotherhood realized that the young poet-athlete was not
merely a love-sick dreamer and theorist, but a man of quick decisions,
of firm and inflexible will, and the power to execute his will, they
fell in line, caught the step, and order emerged from chaos.

When a crisis called for decision he made it with lightning rapidity
and stuck to it. The situation demanded a dictatorship for the moment,
and he did not hesitate to assume it. He saw before him sure success.
If fools and cranks interfered with his plans he would crush and push
them aside. The consciousness of power and its daily exercise
developed his faculties to their highest tension. His mind began to
arrange every detail of the vast and complicated system of the new
social scheme. Men became the mere tools with which he would work out
the revolution in human society. Every scrap of knowledge he had ever
gained flashed through his excited imagination and fell into its place
in the creation of the new order.

He put the machine-shops to work constructing the big gold dredge on
which he had experimented one summer.

He had a pet scheme of farming which had come into his mind from
watching his father's gardener the year before raise the most
delicious cantaloups he had ever tasted. He discovered the secret of
their marvellous sweetness and leaped to an instantaneous conclusion.
He had the opportunity to test this inspiration now on a scale as vast
as his dreams.

He called the superintendents and overseers of the farm together, and
asked their plans for the crop on the five hundred acres of fertile
lands under cultivation. They gave him their schedule for a variety of
crops.

"Won't this soil grow cantaloups?" he asked.

They all reported that it would.

"Then I suggest that the entire acreage be planted in these vines."

To a man they declared the plan absurd.

"But suppose," he persisted, "that we raise and send to the East the
most delicious melon they have ever tasted, and suppose we get three
dollars a crate, we will make three hundred dollars an acre and our
first crop will be worth one hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

They laughed at him.

"Do you know," smilingly inquired the superintendent, "how much it
will cost to plant and harvest such a crop?"

"I should say twenty-five dollars an acre," he replied.

"Double it," he cried.

"Very well, fifty dollars an acre," Norman agreed. "In round numbers
it will cost us twenty-five thousand dollars. That leaves a profit of
more than a hundred thousand, doesn't it?"

Again the superintendent laughed.

"And would you risk this enormous sum on one experiment? Suppose your
melons would not be sweet?"

"There is no such possibility," the young enthusiast declared. "Their
sweetness depends solely on two things--the quality of the seed and
the quantity of rain which falls on them while they are growing. We
are wasting a supreme opportunity. No rain falls in Ventura during the
summer. We get our water to the roots by irrigation, not by rainfall.
Get the right seed and your melons must be perfect. This is a
scientific fact I have seen demonstrated. Try it on a vast scale and
success is sure."

They voted unanimously against the proposition. Norman insisted. The
superintendent resigned and appealed to the executive council. Wolf
and Catherine, Tom and Barbara advised against placing so much capital
in a single enterprise.

"I've got to make you rich and successful in spite of yourselves,"
Norman finally declared. "For the present I control these funds and
I'm going to plant this crop. So that settles it. I'm sorry we can't
agree."

His instantaneous decision fairly took Wolf's breath.

Barbara laughed and congratulated him.

"At least you have the courage of your convictions. I can't help
admiring it."

As further opposition was useless, the order was put into execution.
The superintendent finally caught the young man's spirit, withdrew his
resignation, and undertook the work with enthusiasm.

At the end of the summer the success of the colony was astounding. The
wildest prediction of the young leader fell below the facts. The crop
of cantaloups averaged one hundred and five crates to the acre, and
brought three dollars and a half a crate. The net profit on the
melons reached the enormous total of one hundred and fifty thousand
dollars.

The men who raised the crop and added this wealth to the treasury of
the colony were not slow in demanding an immediate readjustment of the
scale of wages.

Two hundred and fifty men had done all the work of planting,
cultivating, harvesting this crop and added ten times as much to the
year's income as the combined labour of all the other members of the
colony.

Brick-masons were receiving two dollars a day and farm-hands one
dollar. The miners who were digging for gold in the mountain ranges
and on the beaches were receiving five dollars a day and had added as
yet not a single dollar to the wealth of the community. They had
discovered gold in three new districts and thousands of dollars had
been wasted in vain efforts to make it pay. The farmers protested
bitterly against such waste, and demanded the equalization of wages.

Their spokesman astonished Norman by the vehemence and audacity of
their demands:

"If Socialism means justice," he shouted, "now is the time to prove
it! Labour creates all value. We have created one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars' worth of wealth for the colony and we have received
a mere pittance. If we created this wealth----"

"Wait a minute, comrades," Norman interrupted, with irritation. "Why
should you continue to repeat that foolish assertion? You didn't
create this wealth."

"Then I'd like to know who did?" shouted the orator. "We turned the
soil, placed the fertilizers, planted every seed, cultivated every
vine, pulled every melon, packed and placed them on the steamer. If we
didn't make the wealth, who did?"

"I did," the young leader declared. "I conceived the possibility of
this crop. I tried to persuade your superintendent and overseers. They
had no faith. I forced them to plant these particular seeds against
their own wishes. Your labour is a fixed thing year in and year out.
All men must work or die. All life is a struggle thus with tooth and
nail for a living. The creator of wealth is the superior intelligence
that conceives something better than this clodhopper's daily task. You
did what you were told to do. Your hands would have worked just as
many hours at labour just as tiresome over a crop of beans that
wouldn't have paid a profit at all this year. Wealth belongs to its
creator. I made the crop, your hands were the mere automata which my
brain directed. Your demands are absurd. I refuse to consider them or
to permit their discussion."

The farmers refused point-blank to submit to this decision, and voted
unanimously to quit work until they were given justice. Every plough
stopped and the entire machinery of food production came to a dead
standstill.

Norman threatened to refuse them admission to the dining-hall unless
they returned to work, and they boldly replied that they would smash
the door down and take what was their own.

Had the farmers been alone in their demands for an equalization of
wages, the situation would have been easier to handle. But discontent
over the question of wages had been growing steadily since the day of
the decision that wages should be unequal.

The distinctions of wealth and poverty were rapidly making their
appearance as in the old world. The cook had married a scrubwoman and
the scrubwoman's daughter had married the drainman who had charge of
the sewers. The combine income of the two highest-salaried workers in
the colony had at once formed the nucleus of a new aristocracy of
wealth.

The strike of the entire farming division of the colony was the match
thrown in the powder magazine. Discontent flamed in every department
of labour.

The demand for absolute equality of wages became resistless. It was
the only thing which could once more bring order out of chaos.

Norman called a meeting of the general assembly and submitted the
question for their discussion and decision. The debate was long,
fierce, and bitter. In vain did the young leader plead with those who
were receiving the highest rates that the profits of the colony would
be greater and that each would share alike in the total wealth of the
community. They denounced the proposed act as the climax of infamy.

The chef was furious.

"You give me the wages of a clodhopper and ask me to prepare a table
fit for a king. Well, try it, and see what you get."

He sat down repeating his threat in a series of endless announcements
to the people around him.

"I think he'll poison us all if you pass this law," Barbara whispered.

"The farmers will run us through with their pitchforks if we don't,"
he laughed.

"Poisoning is the easier way," she sighed.

The leader of the brass band raised the biggest row of all. From the
first these men had refused to lift their hand to do a thing except
to play at stated hours each day and furnish the music for the three
evenings of social amusement.

"You place me on an equality with the lout who holds a calf or the
clodhopper who holds a plough--I, who feed the soul with ravishing
melody--I, who lift man from earth to heaven on the wings of angels!"
The band leader swelled with righteous wrath and sat down beside the
cook who was still muttering incoherently:

"Let 'em try it--and see what they get!"

Yet, in spite of the fierce threats of the cook, the scrubwoman, the
drainman, the musician, and all the high-salaried favourites of
labour, the inevitable occurred. When put to a vote equal wages were
established by an overwhelming majority.

Each member of the colony, man, woman, and child, was voted free food,
clothes, and shelter, and a credit of five hundred dollars a year at
the Brotherhood store.

The executive council was abolished and in its place a board of
governors established, composed of the heads of each department of
labour and presided over by two regents, a man and a woman, elected by
the general assembly. Norman and Barbara were elected regents without
opposition, and the old heads of each department of labour placed on
the board of governors to serve until the approaching annual election.

The assembly proposed:

"Article I. of the constitution of the new State of Ventura as
follows:

"Every citizen of the State must labour according to his ability.
Those who can work and will not shall be made to work."

No man who voted this simple and obviously just law could dream of the
tremendous results. It was merely the enactment into statutory law of
the first principle of an effective Socialism:

"From every man according to his ability, unto every man according to
his needs."

The first obvious requirement of such a law was an immediate increase
of the police and detective force at the command of the regents and
the board of governors.

Norman thanked the assembly for the promptness and thoroughness which
had characterized their work, and closed his congratulations with a
sentence of peculiarly sinister meaning to the man who had ears to
hear.

"Hereafter, comrades, we can move forward without another pause. There
can never be another strike on the island of Ventura. The State is now
supreme."

The Wolfs, who had modestly declined all office, were omnipresent
during the long sessions of the assembly, which had lasted two days.
Everywhere they had counselled compromise, forbearance, good
fellowship, moving quietly from group to group in the big hall, and
always winning new friends.

Wolf's gnarled hand gripped Norman's at the close of the meeting as he
bent his massive head and whispered:

"A great day's work, Comrade Chief--one that will make history."

The young leader's face clouded as he slowly replied:

"I wish I were sure that it will be history of the right kind."

"You doubt it?" the old leader asked incredulously.

"It all depends on our leadership."

"With your hand on the helm"--Wolf paused and smiled curiously--"the
ship of State is safe."



CHAPTER XXVI

AT THE PARTING OF THE WAYS


Again the colony entered on a period of active and efficient industry.
Every man was at his post and did the work assigned him.

Eight hours was fixed as a working day in all departments. The first
acts of insubordination were promptly suppressed. The discipline of an
army was strictly enforced--the guard-house and whipping-post were
found sufficient.

No report except the most favourable had ever reached the outside
world, and thousands of applicants in San Francisco were clamouring
for admission. The new colony house with accommodation for two
thousand had been completed, and another of like size was under way.

Wolf had urged Norman to admit a new colony at once and prepare for
the third. But the difficulties of government and the fights within
the Brotherhood had alarmed the young leader. He hesitated, and the
big new building as yet remained empty.

As the day for the annual meeting of the assembly drew near, doubts of
the future grew darker in the young regent's mind. He had the power,
under the deed of gift, to prolong the experiment another year,
holding the title to the property for further experiment, or divide
the profits between the members and reconvey the gift back to its
donors, or by deed convey at once the whole property to the
Brotherhood and end his trusteeship.

Which should it be?

His faith in his fellow man had been shaken by the events of the past
year, and yet the colony had succeeded. Its wealth was great and its
prospects greater. With the perfect discipline recently inaugurated
and wisely administered, no limit could be fixed to the productive
power of such an organization.

That he should hesitate a moment after the achievements of the year
was a stunning shock to Wolf. The moment he realized the import of the
crisis, he at once appealed to Barbara.

"You alone can save us, child," he urged. "You must act at once. You
promised to lead him captive in your train. You have failed for one
reason only----"

"Yes, I know," Barbara interrupted. "I haven't tried. I confess it."

"There is not a moment to lose," Wolf urged. "We are entering on the
most wonderful development in the history of the human race. The only
thing lacking for its triumphant achievement is faith and leadership.
Secure from our young dreamer the title to this island and you will
achieve an immortal deed--you will not hesitate or fail?"

"No," was the firm answer. "I will not fail. I'm going with him to-day
on a mountain climb. Just for fun, if for nothing else, I'll test my
power."

"You'll report to me the moment you return?" Wolf urged.

"Yes," she answered, dreamily.

Norman found Barbara in a mood resistlessly charming. She seemed to
have utterly forgotten that she was grown up or had ever been the
herald of a revolutionary cause. She was a laughing girl of eighteen
again, with the joy of youth sparkling in her eyes and laughter
ringing in every accent of her voice.

Instantly the mood of the man reflected hers. He threw to the winds
the cares and worries of the great adventure that had brought them
together, and the island of Ventura became the enchanted isle of song
and story.

"We shall be just two children to-day--shall we not?" she asked.

"Yes," he responded gaily, "two children who have run away from
school, tired of books, with hearts hungry for the breath of the
fields."

For half an hour hill and dale rang with laughter as they ascended the
path of the brook. They came to a wide expanse of still water. And
Norman said with a bantering laugh:

"We leave the stream here and climb the hill to the left. I must wade
and carry you across this place if you're not afraid?"

"Who's afraid?" she asked with scorn.

"All right."

He removed his shoes, and rolled his trousers high.

"Now your arm around my neck, and no jumping or screaming until we're
safe on the other shore."

She hesitated just an instant, blushed, and slipped her soft round arm
about his neck as he lifted her slight figure and began to pick his
way across the treacherous surface of the slippery bottom. His foot
slipped on a muddy stone. She gave a scream, and both arms gripped his
neck in sudden fear. Her burning cheek pressed his forehead.

"I beg your pardon," she cried, blushing red. "I didn't mean to
smother you."

"And I distinctly said no jumping or screaming, didn't I?"

"I won't do it again--oh, dear!"

Again both arms clasped his neck in a strangling, smothering hug,
which he purposely prolonged with an extra slip which might have been
avoided.

Her face was scarlet now and the blushes refused to go. They lingered
in great red bunches after he had carefully placed her on the smooth
grass on the opposite bank.

"Honestly, I'm afraid I disgraced myself, didn't I?" she asked,
timidly.

"No. It was all my fault," he replied. "I did it on purpose."

"Perhaps I choked you on purpose, too!" she answered, blushing again.

Norman looked at her thoughtfully.

"You know I never saw you blush before. I like it."

"Is it becoming?" she asked, demurely.

"Very."

"You know I was never in a man's arms before."

"And you didn't like it?" he asked, with a smile playing around his
mouth.

"To tell you the truth, I found it very awkward."

"Awkward?" he laughed.

"And exciting," she confessed.

"Shall we repeat it until you are used to it?"

"Thank you, I'm sufficiently amused for to-day," she answered,
soberly. "And now we will put on our shoes and be good children."

For the rest of the journey Norman found her strangely silent. Now and
then he caught her looking at him furtively out of her big brown eyes,
as if she had just met him and was half afraid to go further.

He found himself particularly sensitive to her moods. The moment she
became silent and thoughtful her impulses ruled his, and not a word
was spoken for a mile. Scarcely two sentences passed between them
until they reached the summit of the range and sat down on the cliff
overhanging the sea.

This cliff was one of the numerous headlands which thrust their peaks
in almost perpendicular lines sheer into the ocean.

They sat for an hour and drank in the peace and solemn grandeur of the
infinite blue expanse.

"What a little world, the one in which we live down there and fret and
fume," he whispered. "The one we think so big when in the thick of the
fight! We forget the dim expanse of ocean kissing ocean--encircling
the earth--of the skies that kiss the sea and lead on and on into
those great silent deeps where a universe of worlds roll in grandeur!"

"Yet isn't man greater than all these worlds?" she asked, with sudden
elation.

"If he is a man, yes; a real man with the conscious divine power in
his soul which says, I will! Isn't that the only power worth having?
The herd of cattle we call men, whose souls have never spoken that
divine word of character and of action--are they men? Have they souls
at all? Is it worth the while of those who have to fret and fuss and
fume trying to make something out of nothing?"

Barbara turned suddenly, looked into Norman's eyes, and asked in
anxious tones:

"What do you mean?"

"That I'm thinking of giving up this experiment."

"Now that you are just making it a marvellous success?"

"But is it a success? What is the good of achievement for any
community if that achievement springs from the will of one man? If
their souls are in subjection to his, has he not degraded them? Is
life inside or outside? Are we Socialists not struggling merely with
what is outside? Are we not in reality struggling back into the
primitive savage herd out of which individual manhood has slowly
emerged? I'm puzzled. I'm afraid to go on. I've asked you to come up
here to-day to tell me what to do."

Barbara's breath came quick.

"You wish me to decide the momentous question of our colony? Perhaps
the future of humanity?"

"Yes, just that. You are a woman. Women know things by intuition
rather than by reason. I'm growing more and more to believe that we
only know what we feel. I trust you as I would not trust my own
judgment just now. I'm going to ask you, in the purity and beauty of
your woman's soul, to read the future for me. I'm going to allow you
to decide this question. Feel with me its difficulties and its
prospects, trust utterly to your own intuitions, and you will decide
right."

Barbara began to tremble and her voice was very low as she bent toward
him.

"Why do you trust me with the greatest question of your life with such
perfect faith?"

He took her hand, bowed, and kissed it.

"Because, Barbara, I love you," he whispered with passionate
tenderness.

The girl looked away and smiled while her heart beat in an ecstasy of
triumph.

"And this is one of the things that has puzzled me most," he went on,
rapidly. "Every hope and dream my soul has cherished of you has been
at war with this scheme of herding men and women together. I want you
all my very own. I want to seize you now in my arms and carry you a
thousand miles away from every vulgar crowd on earth. A hundred times
I've been on the point of telling you that I love you, but I drew back
and sealed my lips. It was treason to the Cause. For how can this
cause of the herd be one with the heart-cry of the man for the one
woman on earth his mate? I've tried to reconcile them, but I can't.
Come, dearest, you are my nobler, better self, the part of me I've
been searching for and have found. You must answer this cry for light
and guidance. Your voice shall be to me the voice of God. Shall I go
back to the faith of my fathers in the old world, and will you come
with me--my wife, my mate, my life? Or shall we remain here, and hand
in hand fight this battle to a finish? The one thing that is
unthinkable is that I shall lose you. I lay my life at your feet. Do
with it as you will."

Barbara tried to speak and a sob choked her into silence. She lifted
her head at last and spoke timidly.

"I thought it would be easy. But I find it very, very difficult--this
settling the destiny of a man. Of one thing I'm sure. You must not
give up this work."

"I'll sign the deeds of transfer to-morrow," he interrupted.

The girl's eyes opened in wonder and a feeling of awe stole into her
heart.

"You trust me so far?" she asked, brokenly.

"Yes."

"Then I must speak softly, must I not? I must weigh every word. You
frighten me----"

"I'm not afraid. You are the woman I love."

"How long have you loved me?" she asked, studying him curiously.

"Always, I think. Consciously since the day I tore that flag down on
our lawn."

"And yet you drew away from me at times."

"Yes. I felt the irrepressible conflict between this ideal and my
desires. Your voice called me to the work. I determined to put the
work to the test first----"

"And I was the inspiration behind your faith and daring leadership?"

"Always."

"You haven't asked me if I love you?" Barbara said, after a pause.

"I've been afraid."

"Why?"

"Because I don't think you are yet conscious of the meaning of love."

"And yet you place yourself absolutely in my power?"

"Absolutely. I love you and I have not made a mistake."

"Frankly, then, I don't know what love means. In my heart of hearts
I've always been afraid of men----"

"You're not afraid of me?"

"After to-day--no, I don't think I will be."

"You have made me very happy," he cried joyously. "Come, we must hurry
back now. I'm going to make out the deeds to-night and place them in
your hands to-morrow morning."

Scarcely a word was spoken as they descended the mountain. She had
gone up in the morning a laughing girl, conscious of her beauty and
its cruel power, and determined to use it. She came down a sober
little woman with a great, wondering question growing in her heart.

When Wolf met her with eager questions she answered as in a dream.

"He will deliver the deeds to-morrow?" he gasped in amazement.

"Yes, to-morrow," she answered mechanically.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE FRUITS OF PATIENCE


The next morning Norman asked Barbara to take breakfast alone with him
in the little rose bower on the lawn where she had first announced her
choice of work so oddly and charmingly.

She entered with a timid hesitation and a half-frightened look he was
quick to note. He was sure from the expression of her eyes that she
had not slept.

"You did not sleep well?" he asked.

"I didn't sleep at all," she confessed.

He attempted to take her hand and she drew back trembling.

"Now, you _are_ afraid of me?"

"Yes. I'm afraid I am," she stammered.

"Why of me? The one man of all men on earth--the man who loves you?"

"Perhaps that's just why I'm afraid of you," she said, with an effort
to smile. "But, to tell you the truth, I think it's just because you
are a man. Last night I lay awake thinking it all over. I'm quite sure
that I shall always be afraid of men. I like you better than any man
I've ever known, but now that you've told me you love me I'm uneasy
when I'm near you. I think you'd better give me up at once. I'm sure
I'm hopeless as a sweet-heart. I know I could never marry. The
domestic instinct seems utterly missing in my nature. I love man in
the abstract, but I can never surrender to any particular man. It
seems like suicide. I want to be myself. I hate the idea of losing
myself in another's being--I can't endure it, and if you make love to
me any more I shall be very unhappy--and--I'll have to keep out of
your way. You won't do this any more will you? Promise me, and we will
be our old selves again--just comrades."

Norman bowed with a smile.

"I promise never to speak another word of love to you until you tell
me that you love me!"

"Honestly?" she laughed.

"On my word of honour," he answered, gravely.

"Then I shall be happy again," she cried.

"You will not try to avoid me?"

"No."

"You will help and cheer me in the work I've planned?"

"Every day," she promised.

"Then I shall bide my time." He drew the deeds to the island from his
pocket and handed them to her.

"The title to a kingdom which I joyfully deliver by order of the
queen-regent!"

"You are sure you do this because I asked you?"

"Do you really doubt it?"

"No," was the candid reply. "And I'll be frank enough to confess that
I feel very proud of my power. You flattered my vanity as never
before. You have put me under a sense of gratitude for which I fear I
can never reward you."

"I have my reward in your approval."

She smiled and lifted her finger in warning.

"I'll not forget my promise," he said. "From to-day we understand each
other perfectly. I am permitted to love you in silence. You graciously
permit this as long as I am silent. In my wounded pride I have vowed
that you yourself shall break this silence or it shall remain unbroken
forever. This is our compact?"

"Yes," she answered extending her hand. He felt it tremble at his
first touch and then rest contentedly and confidently in his strong
grasp for a moment before they parted.

       *       *       *       *       *

When once his decision was made, Norman threw every doubt to the winds
and devoted himself with tireless zeal to establishing the
Brotherhood on the vast scale he had originally planned.

In every step of the expanding life of the colony Barbara was his
constant companion and silent inspiration.

The transfer of the property was duly made under Wolf's keen gray
eyes, with every detail of the law carefully guarded.

A second colony of two thousand enthusiasts was landed and established
in the new building. Under Norman's inspiring leadership their work
was quickly organized.

A new central administrative colony of five thousand was planned, and
the foundation of its buildings laid with inspiring ceremonies. The
huge structure was formed in the shape of a quadrangle covering ten
acres of ground. In the centre of the court rose the house of the
regents, in reality a palace of imposing splendour. The assembly hall
was located in the regents' palace and formed the dining-room of their
colony. At one end of the magnificent room was placed on an elevated
platform the table at which the board of governors would sit, while at
each end of the table stood the gilded chairs of state to be occupied
by the regent and his consort.

The scheme of imposing grandeur was suggested by Wolf. Norman objected
at first, but yielded at last, convinced by his past experiences that
a central authority of undisputed power was essential to the existence
of any state founded on the socialistic ideal.

At each corner of the quadrangle a public building was placed
connected by the dormitories; on one corner was placed a theatre, on
another a music hall, on another a school and nursery, on the other a
lyceum to be used for public gatherings of all kinds, religious,
social, or political. Each section of the outer buildings was
connected with the regent's palace in the centre of the court by
covered walk ways.

The entire force of the four thousand members of the Brotherhood
(except the farmers) were placed at work to complete this structure at
the earliest possible moment.

A day before the annual meeting of the Brotherhood at which the board
of governors and the two regents were to be elected for the term of
four years, Norman established a daily newspaper, _The New Era_, and
the event was celebrated in the evening by a banquet and ball.

As he walked among the joyous throngs of the Brotherhood as they moved
through the brilliantly lighted ball-room he began to feel for the
first time the conscious joy of a great achievement.

Beyond a doubt the Brotherhood was an accomplished fact. Its fame was
stirring the world beyond their little island. Pictures of the future
flashed through his imagination, and always in greater and more
alluring splendour.

He saw himself becoming more and more the guiding spirit of the great
enterprise. If men opposed his plans he would mould their wills in
his.

Gradually he meant to remove the hard and painful elements of force on
which the efficiency of the colony now rested. The discipline of an
army with its stern laws of physical violence back of its clock-like
precision was not to his liking. He winced at the thought of that grim
relic of barbarism, the whipping-post, which they had found necessary
to temporarily revive. The jail, guard-house, and penal colony were
thorns in his flesh which he would remove at the earliest possible
moment. The one excuse for their existence was the inheritance of evil
in man's nature due to his wrongs and suffering under the system of
capitalism. They would outgrow them.

Again and again he encountered Wolf and Catherine in the highest
spirits, laughing, joking, chatting, shaking hands with each one they
met.

Suddenly it struck him for the first time that he had a poor memory
for names and faces. He wondered how Wolf could remember the name of
the most obscure member of the colony without an effort. He had been
so absorbed in the big problems of the Brotherhood that he had given
little or no time to cultivating the personal acquaintance of its
individual members. The arts of the politician were foreign to his
nature. He had never stooped in his thoughts even to consider them. He
had always lived in a different world.

Never for a moment had the idea occurred to him that he might have to
fight for his position as leader of the colony which he had created,
yet when he took his seat beside Barbara the following night to
preside over the annual meeting, he was conscious instantly that
through the crowd of eager faces before him there ran a strong current
of personal hostility.

It was a disagreeable surprise. But as he recalled the many unpopular
decisions he had been called on to make during the past year it seemed
but natural there should be a lingering soreness in some minds. It was
not until he saw Wolf in deep consultation with Diggs's glasses, and
Catherine whispering to the smooth, gray-haired woman who had demanded
the expulsion of Blanche, that he knew an organized plot had been
formed to depose him from power.

His first impulse was one of blind rage. He recalled now with
lightning flashes of memory the long hours Wolf and his wife had
spent in soothing the anger of rebellious and troublesome members. At
every public meeting he recalled their smiling faces at the door or
moving through the hall. The whole scheme was plain, its low
chicanery, its shallow hypocrisy, its fawning acceptance of his
leadership! They had been patiently waiting for him to finish the work
of strong, legal, invincible, powerful organization to step in and
take the reins from his hands.

And they had done it with such consummate skill, such infinite care
and patience, that not one of his own personal followers had
discovered the plot.

When the smooth, gray-haired woman rose to nominate candidates for
regent he knew, before she spoke, the names she would pronounce. He
looked at her with a feeling of contempt and to save his life he
couldn't recall her name.

She repeated her address to the chair with angry emphasis:

"Comrade Chairman!"

"I beg your pardon," Norman answered, "but I could not for the moment
recall your name. The comrade on my right (the woman without a soul,
he added in low tones) has the floor."

Barbara started at his tone of anger and whispered:

"How could you be so rude--what is wrong?"

"We are about to retire from office."

"What!" Barbara gasped as the little woman began to speak.

"Listen--you will understand," he said, with a sudden curve of his
lip.

"Comrades," the deep, calm voice began, "I place in nomination for the
office of regents for the four ensuing years the names of a man and
woman whom every member of the old colony entitled to vote to-night
has learned to love and honour--a man and woman whose ripe experience,
whose sound judgment, whose sense of right, whose powers of reasoning,
whose executive genius will give to us all the guarantee of perfect
justice and perfect order----"

"You bet they will, old girl," Tom cried with enthusiasm, waving his
hand admiringly toward Norman and Barbara.

The speaker paused, regarded Tom a moment with quiet scorn, and
continued:

"I have the honour to name for the highest honour in the gift of the
Brotherhood for the regency of the new State of Ventura Comrades
Herman and Catherine Wolf."

"What's that you say?" old Tom yelled with anger, leaping to his feet,
and glaring around the room in a dazed surprise.

The old miner was too shrewd a politician to doubt now for a moment
the situation. He made the only possible attack on the programme that
promised results.

"In view of the fact, feller comrades," he shouted, "that half the
present members er this here Brotherhood have not been here long
enough to vote, I move that in justice to the new members we postpone
this election for six months."

Joe seconded the motion, and the chairman asked:

"Are there any remarks on the motion?"

The Bard moved as if to rise, when Diggs snatched him back into his
seat.

Amid a silence that was ominous the chairman put the question:

"All in favour of postponing this election for six months that our new
members may be able to vote will say 'Aye.'"

The response was feeble. Tom and Joe yelled very loudly, but their
effort was obvious.

"All in favour say 'No.'"

The whole audience seemed to shout in solid trained chorus "No!"

Tom hastened to nominate Norman and Barbara. The old miner's speech
was couched in plain, uncouth words, but they came from the heart and
their rugged eloquence stirred the crowd with surprising power. Diggs
glanced over the audience through his flashing glasses, and his
perpetual smile faded into a look of uneasiness as a round of applause
swept the house.

He tiptoed to Wolf's side and whispered:

"Any danger?"

"Not the slightest. I want him to get some votes. It's better so."

The programme went through without a hitch. Wolf and Catherine were
elected regents by an overwhelming majority and a new board of
governors chosen with not a single one whom Norman knew personally.

The young leader sat in sullen silence, and watched the proceedings
with contempt. Barbara looked on in increasing wonder and pain.

When the result was announced and the cheering had died away she bent
her beautiful head close to his and whispered:

"This is a complete surprise. You believe me?"

"Yes," he quickly answered, "and one touch of your hand will rob
defeat of its sting."

She pressed his hand with lingering tenderness and sought Catherine
with a flash of anger in her brown eyes that boded trouble for the
house of Wolf.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE NEW MASTER


Wolf lost no time in demonstrating that he was complete master of the
situation.

At nine o'clock next morning two armed guards, whom he had never seen
in the house before, entered Norman's room and handed him the first
official order of the new regents. The deposed young leader read it
with amusement at first, but as his eyes rested on its brief words of
command, something of their sinister meaning began to dawn in his
mind.

    "All citizens of the State of Ventura are ordered to immediately
    surrender their arms. By order of

                                               "HERMAN WOLF,
                                                      "_Regent_."

Norman looked at the revolvers in the holsters of the guards and dryly
remarked:

"But the State will kindly continue their use, I see!"

Norman surrendered his revolver, and his room was searched in every
nook and corner for weapons he might have concealed.

"Why this insult?" he demanded.

The guardsman saluted.

"Special orders of the regent, sir. We are to take no man's word for
it."

Norman sat in silence while the men opened his trunks, ransacked his
drawers, and searched in every conceivable spot where a weapon of any
kind might be hid.

"I could have told you at first that I had no other guns. The entire
colony is being disarmed this morning?"

"Yes, sir, the work will be completed by two o'clock."

"Indeed!"

The man fumbled in his pocket and drew out another order.

"And this one for you personally, sir."

"Oh--after the disarming?"

"Yes, sir!"

Norman read the second order and the lines of his mouth tightened
suddenly. The note was brief but to the point:

    "Comrade Norman Worth will report to the regent at ten o'clock
    for orders.

                                               "HERMAN WOLF,
                                                     "_Regent_."

For five minutes after the guards had gone Norman stood in silence
staring at this order. It was the first he had ever received in his
life except the one from his own father which he had disobeyed.

To be driven into another man's presence to take orders as from a
master to a servant was an idea that had never entered his
imagination. He had seen such things. He had given orders, but he had
never, somehow, counted himself in the class of men who took them.

For the first time he began to realize the meaning of the work he had
been doing, and began to see how deftly and unconsciously he had been
forging the chains of a system of irresponsible slavery on his fellow
men. While the motive which impelled him was one of unselfish love,
and he had thought only of their best interest, he saw now in a flash
with what crushing cruelty this power could be used.

It all seemed simple enough when he regarded his own will as the
centre and source of power. Now that another man had grasped the lever
and applied this power, the whole scheme of artificial life which he
had created took on a new and darker meaning.

What should he do?

His first impulse was to walk into Wolf's presence, denounce him as a
scheming scoundrel, and defy his power. That Wolf would fight was not
to be questioned for a minute. His first act of disarming the colony
was a master-stroke, and the longer the young leader thought of it the
more hopeless his present situation became.

Beyond a doubt Wolf had been selecting the new regent's guard with the
same patience and skill with which he had executed his political coup.
This guard was composed now only of his tried and trusted henchmen. A
single false step on Norman's part would simply play into the wily
brute's hands, and he would destroy himself at a single stroke.

He must use his brain. He must fight the devil with fire. He must
submit for the moment, plan and work and wait with infinite patience,
and when the work of patience was complete, then strike and strike to
kill.

And yet the blood rushed to his heart and strangled with the thought
of submission to such a man. But there was no other way. He had
himself set the trap of steel he now felt crash into his own flesh.

To appeal to his father was unthinkable--his pride forbade it, even if
it were possible.

To escape was out of the question. Every way had been cut and that by
his own order. The mail was inspected. The steamer held no
communication with the people of the island. No boat was allowed to
land, and no boat, even the smallest sail or row boat, was permitted
to a member of the Brotherhood on any pretext.

Besides, resignation or flight could not be thought of for another
reason. To retreat now and leave thousands of people behind whom he
had led into this enterprise would be the act of a coward.

There was nothing left except to fight it out on the lines he had
himself laid down.

The one thing that hurt him most was the ugly suspicion that Barbara
must have known something of this deeply laid scheme by which the
Wolfs had gained control of the Brotherhood. And yet her surprise had
been genuine, her anger real. He couldn't be mistaken about it. To
believe her capable of such treachery and double-dealing was to doubt
the very existence of truth and purity.

And yet, when he recalled how little he really knew of her past life,
what dark secrets might lurk in the story of the years she had spent
under the same roof with these people, he grew sick at the thought.

He knew now that the blond beast with the red scar on his neck and the
slender, dark-eyed madonna-like mate who had always been his shadow
were capable of anything. Two people who could smile in treacherous
silence for a year and suddenly grip the throat of the man who had
been their best friend, needed no written biography to tell their
past. It was luminous. And in the glare in which he read it he
shuddered at the sinister light it threw on the beautiful girl whom
they had reared as their own.

He took from his mantel a little picture made one day in San Francisco
by a tintype man. It was a singularly beautiful likeness of Barbara,
taken on a sudden impulse without a moment's thought or preparation.
Her laughing face looked out at him, wreathed in a garland of wayward
ringlets of dark brown hair. Truth, sincerity, beauty, intelligence,
and a childlike innocence were stamped in every line.

A thousand times since he had seen her just like that. And from the
moment of their advent on the island this impression of girlish
innocence and sincerity had grown rather than decreased. The more he
saw of her in the simpler, quieter moments of their association, the
stronger, deeper, and more tender his love became, and the deeper grew
his utter faith in the purity of her soul and body.

"I'll sooner doubt an angel of God!" he said at last, as he placed it
back on the mantel.

He would see Wolf at once, learn his plans, and then carefully make
his own.

He dressed with care and at the appointed hour rapped for admission at
the executive office where the day before he sat as master.

He was told the regent was busy with others and ordered to wait his
turn. He flushed with anger, recovered himself, waited a half hour,
and was ushered into the presence of the new ruler.

Wolf sat in the big revolving chair at his desk with conscious dignity
and power. Two of his guards stood outside the door, grim reminders of
the substantial character of the new administration.

Norman seated himself with careless ease without invitation and waited
for the older man to speak.

Wolf smiled grimly, stroked his thick, coarse reddish beard, and
looked at Norman thoughtfully a moment.

"Well, my boy," the regent began, with friendly patronage, "we'd as
well come to the point without ceremony. You are down and out. The new
board of governors will do what I wish. I am in supreme command of the
ship of state. Do you want to fight or work?"

"It's a poor doctor, Wolf," Norman said, coolly, "who can't take his
own medicine. I came here to work."

"Congratulations on your good sense!" the regent replied. "I've no
desire to make trouble for you. I have nothing against you
personally. I had to put you out and take command to save the colony
from ruin. You meant well, but you were a bungling amateur, and you
can be of greater service in the ranks than in command. I know you
don't like me after what has happened, but you don't have to. I'll be
generous. What sort of work would you like to have assigned you?"

"Thanks, that's very kind of you, Wolf, I'm sure. I believe the warden
of every penitentiary is equally generous to all convicts. However,
that's a minor detail, seeing that I assisted in the creation of this
ideal world."

Wolf smashed the desk top with his big fist and suddenly glared at
Norman, his cold eyes gleaming angrily.

"Come to the point! I've no time to waste! Have you any choice as to
the kind of work to which you wish to be assigned?"

"I have a decided choice. Our mines have all failed. I'll redeem the
failure by perfecting and completing the big dredge for mining gold
from the low-grade sands on the beach."

"A waste of time and money," Wolf snapped. "I can't afford to spare
the men on any more fool inventions. Such things must stop."

"You mean to stop all progress by stopping inventions?" Norman asked.

"So far as the State is concerned, yes," said the regent, with
emphasis. "Under your slipshod administration we spent nearly two
hundred thousand dollars during the past year on so-called inventions.
Every fool in the colony has invented something. Not one in a hundred
has produced an idea that is practicable. We cannot afford to waste
the capital of the State in such idiocy."

"Give me twenty men and I'll complete the dredge."

"Labour is capital in the Socialist State. I can't afford to waste
it."

"But you are not wasting it," Norman pleaded. "I've spent sixty
thousand already on this invention. Unless the machine is completed
the capital will be lost to the colony."

"It will be lost anyhow," Wolf answered, impatiently. "Your whole
conception is a piece of childish folly. You can't make a profit
operating a dredge in sand containing only twenty cents' worth of gold
to a ton of dirt."

"I can do better," Norman urged with enthusiasm. "I can make a hundred
per cent. on the investment if the dirt pans out ten cents to the ton.
If it pans twenty cents a ton I can make millions."

"So every crank has claimed for his particular piece of idiocy. I'll
not permit another dollar or another day's labour to be thrown away
on any such crazy experiment."

Norman's face reddened with a rush of uncontrollable anger.

"Look here, Wolf, you can't be serious in this."

"I was never more serious in my life," the big jaws snapped. "I am
going to issue an order to-day that hereafter any man or woman who
conceives an invention can work it out himself without aid from the
State. They must do this at odd hours after working the required time
each day. They must put their own money into their machine."

"As the State only has capital," Norman protested, "this means the
practical prohibition of all invention. No man can with his own hands
make the machinery needed in the progress of humanity. We have
abolished private capital by abolishing rent, interest, and profit. Do
you propose thus to stop the progress of the world?"

"No," Wolf cried with a wave of his heavy hand. "Let the ambitious
inventor work at night and build his own machine. I will grant, in my
order on the subject, to each successful inventor the right to operate
his own machine for ten years before it becomes the property of the
State."

"Suppose he succeeds," said Norman, "under such hard conditions with
his own hands and without capital in perfecting an invention of
enormous value, such as the dredge I have begun, of what use will the
results be if he cannot invest them in rent or interest, and all gifts
and exchanges are prohibited?"

"He may build a home and lavish them on his wife and children, or he
may become a great public benefactor and win the love and gratitude of
the people by enriching the State and shortening the hours of labour.
If your dredge can make a million, for example, as you claim--go
ahead, work at night, perfect it, put it to work, build yourself a
palace to live in, give millions to the Brotherhood. Shorten their
hours from eight to four, and I'll guarantee you'll oust me from my
position of power."

Norman's eye suddenly flashed with resolution.

"You will not grant me the labour to complete the dredge?" Norman
asked.

"Not one man for one minute," was the curt reply.

"Then I'll finish it myself," Norman said, with determination.

"After you've worked eight full hours a day, under my direction--you
understand!" the regent responded sullenly.

Norman sprang to his feet and the two men faced each other a moment,
the big scar on Wolf's neck flashing red, his enormous fists
instinctively closing.

"Wolf, this is an infamous outrage!"

"I'll teach you not to speak to me in that manner again, sir!" the
regent slowly said, as he tapped his bell.

The guards sprang to his side.

"Show this gentleman to the barnyard--he is a good farmer. Put him at
work with old Methodist John cleaning out the stables for the new
cantaloup crop. He is very fond of cantaloups. If he makes any trouble
tell the sergeant of your guard to give him thirty-nine lashes without
consulting me."

Norman stepped closer, and, trembling from head to foot, said to Wolf:

"If ever one of your men lays the weight of his hand on me----"

"And yet we both agreed that under our system discipline must be
enforced--the discipline of an army?" the regent interrupted.

Norman held his gaze fixed without moving a muscle, and slowly
continued:

"If you ever try it, you'd better finish your job."

"I'll remember your advice," Wolf answered with a sneer. "Show him to
his work."



CHAPTER XXIX

A TEST OF STRENGTH


When Catherine saw the furious look on Barbara's face as she descended
from the platform the night of the election, she avoided a meeting and
went to bed pleading a headache.

Early the next morning Barbara rapped for entrance, forced her way in,
and stood, tense with anger, before the older woman, her eyes red from
the long vigil of a sleepless night.

"You avoided me last night----"

Catherine laughed.

"My dear, I never saw you in quite such a rage. It might be serious if
it were not so silly."

"You'll find it serious before you are through with this performance,"
Barbara retorted, angrily.

"Remember, I am in supreme authority now. Don't you dare speak to me
in that manner, you ungrateful little wretch!"

"I'll dare to tell you the truth--even if you were the mother who bore
me--even if I had not repaid you a hundredfold for every dollar you
have spent on me."

"Hush, hush, my dear, I do not wish to quarrel," Catherine said,
recovering herself. "I know your pride is wounded over your defeat.
I've watched your growing vanity in high office with much amusement
for the past year."

"I'm not thinking of myself," Barbara said with emphasis.

"Of course not--what woman ever does?" Catherine sneered.

"I am glad to be relieved of the annoyance of such a position. But
your treatment of the brave and daring young spirit who conceived this
colony and created its wealth and influence----"

"Am I responsible?"

"Yes. Herman is incapable of conceiving such a plot without your
suggestion. It is your work. You have always loved luxury and power."

"Perhaps I love a man also," Catherine interrupted, as her full
sensuous lips curled in a curious smile.

"Yes, I give you credit for that too," the girl admitted. "Though I
confess the secret of your infatuation for that hulking brute has
always been one of the black mysteries of life to me."

"When you're older," again the round lips quivered with a smile,
"perhaps you will understand. And now, my child, I've been patient
with you. But don't you ever again call Herman a brute in my
presence."

"Take care he doesn't prove it to you!" the girl warned.

Catherine suddenly paled.

"What do you mean by that?" she whispered, glancing about the room.

"Nothing! nothing! nothing! Only that in every deed of the devil there
is the seed of death. You have planted the seed. The harvest is sure."

"My dear----"

"Don't call me that again! I hate you!" Barbara spoke with deliberate
passion.

"Have you gone mad?" Catherine cried, with impatience.

"Yes, mad with hatred. From to-day we are enemies, and I'll hate you
forever!"

The older woman looked at her in astonishment and spoke with a
deliberate sneer:

"As you like. Remember, then, from this moment that you are a servant
under my command. I am no longer your foster-mother. Leave this room
instantly, take your things to the domestic servants' quarters, and
report to the head-woman for duty in the corridors of this wing of the
building."

"And you think I'll submit to this?" Barbara gasped.

Catherine rang the bell, and Barbara gazed at her with a look of
mingled terror and rage. A sudden light flashed in her brown eyes.

"You mean this?"

"I'll show you in a moment," was the calm reply.

"Then it's war between us," Barbara cried.

She sprang to the door and Catherine caught her arm.

"Where are you going?"

"To Herman."

"He cannot interfere with my decisions."

Barbara threw her off and bounded through the door crying:

"We shall see!"

The girl rushed past the guard at the door of Wolf's office, trembling
with rage, her eyes filled with blinding tears.

Wolf sprang to his feet in astonishment and met her with outstretched
hands.

"What's the matter, child?" he asked as his big coarse fists closed
over the hot little fingers and his gray eyes lighted at the sight of
her dishevelled hair and bare throat.

Barbara choked back the sobs, and looked appealingly into Wolf's face.

"We have quarrelled about last night. You understand, Herman.
Catherine has ordered me to leave my room and join the servants in
the halls. You--you will not allow me to be degraded thus--will you?"

Wolf drew the trembling girl into his arms, pressed her close a
moment, stroked her curls with his gnarled hand, and his face flushed
with a look of triumph.

"Don't worry, dear, I'll protect you," he answered, bending and
kissing her forehead. "Go back to your room, and if any one dares to
disturb you, call for me."

Barbara murmured through her tears:

"Thank you, Herman."

Wolf's eyes sparkled as he watched the graceful little figure proudly
leave the room.



CHAPTER XXX

A VISION FROM THE HILLTOP


Catherine's fight with Wolf was long and bitter. For hours she
struggled to force him to leave in her hands the discipline of the
women members of the colony. Her tears and threats fell on ears
equally deaf to all pleading. At last the guards listening outside
heard only the low sobbing of a woman's voice near the door for a half
hour without a sound from the man.

And then his short, sharp words came quick and curt and stinging:

"Are you done now with this fool performance?"

The answer was a sob.

"Understand once for all," the cold, hard voice went on, "I am the
master here. Your office as regent is one of courtesy only as my wife.
My word alone is supreme. When you cease to be my wife another regent
will be chosen and I do the choosing. I not only propose to do the
work of disciplining the women, but it is the one kind of work to
which I shall devote myself with pleasure."

"Herman!" Catherine sobbed, as if she had sunk beneath a blow.

The man laughed with brutal enjoyment.

"You'd as well know this now as later. You can be getting used to it."

Her eyes red with weeping, her proud shoulders drooped for the first
time in her life, Catherine slowly walked from Wolf's office back to
her room.

Barbara passed her on the stairs without a word or a glance, and
hurried again to see the regent, her whole being alert with quick
intelligence.

The guard had received instructions that she was the one privileged
person in the colony who could enter his office at all hours, day or
night, without ceremony or delay. They showed her in immediately.

"I've just heard of your order sending Norman to the work of a common
farm-hand, Herman," Barbara began.

Wolf scowled.

"You must not interfere in this little affair between my rival and
myself, Barbara," he said, sternly.

"I will interfere," she quickly replied, "both for your sake and his.
You've made a serious mistake, Herman. Correct it at once."

"I had to show him his place."

"It isn't fair. The men will resent it. You will make enemies. Your
power is complete. You can afford to be generous."

Wolf looked at her with hungry, admiring gaze.

"Perhaps you're right," he said slowly.

"Of course I'm right!" she replied, "and you know it. You've made him
a martyr and a hero on the first day of his fall from power. Your true
policy is just the opposite. Let him do what he pleases for a time.
Above all things don't put yourself in the position of his enemy. Your
strength lies in standing as his patron and friend."

"By Jove, Barbara," Wolf cried, "what a wise head on your little
shoulders! Come, be honest with me now--you're not in love with this
man?"

The girl smiled demurely:

"He is with me, I think," she admitted.

"Yes, yes, of course--so we all are," he cried, with a smile. "But you
have not accepted his love?"

"No."

"I thought you had better sense. I'll change my order at your
suggestion."

"I knew you would," she cried, joyfully.

Wolf sat down at his desk and wrote:

    "Comrade Norman Worth is transferred from the field to the
    foundry, with permission, after his day's work, to employ his
    time in the shops perfecting any invention in which he may be
    interested.

                                                "WOLF--_Regent_."

He handed the order to Barbara.

"Take this to the youngster and tell him I did it at your suggestion,
and hereafter give him a wide berth if you wish to be friendly with
me."

Barbara dropped her eyes and Wolf touched her chin with his coarse,
short fingers.

"A hint to the wise is sufficient, little girl. You understand?"

Barbara took the order, turned toward the door, paused and smiled
coquettishly:

"I understand, Herman."

She found Norman at work with Methodist John cleaning out a stable. To
her amazement he was whistling and joking about something with the old
man. She stopped and listened a moment.

"But what on earth do you want a lightning-rod for, John?" Norman
asked.

"That's my secret, sir," the old man answered, "but I must have
one--won't you get it for me?"

"I'm sorry, John, but I have no more power now in the State of Ventura
than you have."

"But didn't you get the million dollars and didn't you make all the
money for 'em--a hundred and fifty thousand dollars on the cantaloups
the others didn't have sense enough to plant? Surely they'll give you
enough to get me a thirty-foot lightning-rod?"

"I'm afraid not, John, still I'll do my best. I don't like to press
you for the secrets of your inner life, old man, but I've immense
curiosity to know what you want with that lightning-rod? You say
you're not afraid of lightning?"

"No, sir, I'm not afraid of nothin'."

"Then why----"

"'Tain't no use in askin' sir, I can't tell ye. But I want it. I'm
going to pray every night for it till I get it. Maybe the Lord will
send me one by an angel----"

Barbara suddenly appeared in the door of the stall.

"Speaking of angels," Norman cried, laughing.

"I have an order for you," Barbara said, quickly.

Norman threw his pitchfork full of manure out of the window of the
stall, stood the fork in the corner, brushed his hands, and bowed
before Barbara.

"What an exquisite picture you make standing in the doorway there with
that ocean of blossoming peach trees stretching up the slope until it
kisses the sky line. I wish I were an artist."

She looked at him with amazement.

"I expected to find you with murder in your heart. I can't
understand."

Norman took the note from her white fingers.

"Because I'm laughing?"

"Yes."

"Well, isn't the joke on me? I've been preaching, preaching,
preaching, about the dignity of all labour. I kicked the first few
moments, I confess. The medicine was bitter, but I soon began to find
that it was good for the soul. I'm getting acquainted with myself----"

Norman paused, read Wolf's order, and looked tenderly into Barbara's
eyes.

"So you heard of my fall and came to my rescue. It's worth the jolt to
be rescued by such a hand."

He stooped and kissed the tips of her fingers.

"Come with me up the hill yonder among those blossoming trees," he
said, leading her toward the orchard. "I want to tell you about a
vision I saw in that stable a while ago while I wielded the pitchfork
and talked to my old pauper friend, both of us now comrade equals."

They walked on in silence through the long, clean rows of fruit trees
in full bloom, the air redolent with sweet perfume and quivering with
the electric hum of growing life. On the top of the hill they paused
and looked toward the sea that stretched away in solemn, infinite
grandeur. Below, on the next plateau, rolled in apparently endless
acres, the great white carpet of flowering plum trees and further on
the tender budding grapes and beyond, lower still, the deep green
valley with orange trees flashing their golden fruit.

"What a glorious world!" Barbara cried.

"Yes," he answered with a sigh, "a world of endless beauty in which
after all there's nothing vile but man. And I once thought that in
such a world angels only could live."

"Must we despair because one man or woman proves false," she asked.

"No," he answered cheerily, leading her to a boulder and taking his
seat by her side.

"I don't despair. I've been seeing visions to-day--visions as old as
the beat of the human heart, perhaps, yet always new."

He drew the order of Wolf from his pocket and looked at it.

"From the moment of my awakening last night from the fool's paradise
in which I've been living the past year my mind has been at work on
solving the one unsolved problem in this dredge to which he refers. It
came to me like a flash while at work this morning."

"Your invention will succeed?" she interrupted.

"Beyond the shadow of a doubt," he said, with enthusiasm. "I didn't
solve it before because I lacked the incentive to apply my mind to
it."

"And you got the incentive in your defeat?" she asked, in surprise.

"Yes. Deprived of my toys, I came back to myself, the source of
power."

"But your incentive--I don't understand--in such an hour?"

"A very simple, very old, but very powerful one, I'm beginning to
think, the source of all human progress--the determination to build a
home here in one of these flower-robed hills overlooking the sea, and
bring my bride to it some glorious day like this when every tree is
festooned with joy! I don't want a modest cottage. My bride was born a
queen. Every line of her delicate and sensitive face proclaims her
royal ancestry. She shall have a palace. Love, Beauty, Music, Art, and
Truth shall be her servants. I shall be the magician who will create
all this out of the dirt men are now trampling under foot along the
beach."

Barbara drew a deep breath, trembled, and looked away.

"I promised her never to speak of love again until her own dear lips
called me, and I will not, though I fear sometimes the waiting seems
long."

"And if she never calls?" the girl asked, dreamily.

"Then my palace shall remain silent and empty. Her hand alone can open
its doors."

"And if I do not see you often while your palace is building, you may
know at least I have not forgotten--and you will understand?"

"Yes, I will understand," he answered, with elation.



CHAPTER XXXI

IN LOVE AND WAR


With untiring zeal Norman gave himself to work on the dredge. Wolf
refused to modify his original order that a full day should first be
given as a labourer in the foundry and machine shops before he could
devote himself to his invention.

This proved an advantage rather than a hindrance. By his unfailing
courtesy, good fellowship, skill, and wit, Norman won his fellow
workmen as warm personal friends. He was able thus to secure all the
assistance he needed in his work.

Within two months the big dredge was finished.

From the first the regent had regarded Norman's fad with contempt.
That he could succeed in making money out of dirt containing but
twenty cents' worth of gold to a ton was an absurdity on its face.

While the young inventor worked day and night with tireless energy the
regent quietly perfected his grip on the life of the rapidly growing
colony. To render escape from the island or communication with the
coast more impossible than ever, he established the strict system of
double patrol around each community. No member of the Brotherhood was
allowed to leave his room at night without permission. Beyond the
outer patrol a mounted guard was established and the entire line of
beach was guarded by watchmen in relays who reported each hour, day
and night, by telephone to the commandant.

At the end of two months of Wolf's merciless rule the efficiency of
labour had so decreased, it was necessary to lengthen the number of
hours from eight to nine. As every inducement to efficiency of labour
had been removed there was no incentive to any man to do more than he
must without a fight with his guard or overseer. No vote was permitted
on the question of increasing the hours of labour. The board of
governors passed the order which Wolf wrote out for them without a
dissenting voice.

Norman had no trouble in getting a gang of willing hands to push the
monster gold-digger into position on one of the sand-points inside the
harbour.

It was mounted on a float twenty-five feet wide and sixty-five feet
long. For power it carried two fifty-horse-power distillate engines.
Tom was in charge of one and Joe of the other. For raising the sand
and gravel containing the gold two big Jackson gravel-pumps were
located on opposite corners at the front end of the float.

Old Tom blew the whistle, the engines started, and in an hour the
pumps had raised a hundred tons of sand and gravel and deposited them
in the concentrating flumes. Norman worked the dredge all night
without a moment's pause and in twelve hours his pumps had lifted
fifteen hundred tons of sand, showing a capacity of 3,000 tons per
day. When the gold was extracted and weighed it was found that the
dredge had averaged twenty cents from each ton of sand and that it
would cost less than three cents a ton to operate the entire machinery
of its production. The first experimental machine alone would net $500
dollars a day, or $150,000 a year. He could put five of these machines
to work in three months and make $3,000 a day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The invention stirred the colony to its depths. Norman's appearance
was the signal for a burst of cheering wherever he went.

Wolf was dumfounded. He called his board of governors together at once
and ordered them to enact a new law to meet the situation.

Norman announced in the _Era_ that he would give the Brotherhood from
the beginning one half the net earnings of his machines, and asked
the board of governors at once to grant him the men needed to build
and operate enough dredges to reduce the hours of labour from nine to
seven.

Wolf met the emergency with prompt and vigorous action. He suspended
the editor for printing the announcement and set him to work carrying
a hod.

He issued a proclamation as regent that the dredge in the hands of its
inventor threatened the existence of the State, declared the law of
inventions under which it was built suspended, and ordered Norman to
at once operate the machine for the sole benefit of the State and
begin the construction of twenty dredges of equal capacity.

When Norman received this order he set to work without a moment's
delay and made a half-dozen dynamite bombs, gave one each to Tom and
Joe and their assistants, laid in a supply of provisions, erected a
tent on the beach beside the dredge, and set the big machine to work
for all it was worth.

Wolf promptly ordered his arrest. The men who attempted to execute the
order fled in terror at the sight of the bombs and reported for
instructions.

Wolf came in person at the head of a picked company of fifty guards.

Norman had stretched a rope a hundred feet from the dredge and posted
a notice that he would kill any man daring to cross it without his
permission.

Wolf paused at the rope. Norman stood alone on one of the big pumps
with his arms folded watching his enemy in silence.

The captain of the guard laid his hand on the regent's arm:

"You'd better not try it."

"He won't dare," Wolf growled.

"Yes, he will," the captain insisted.

"I'll risk it," the regent snapped.

"Are you mad? What's the use? He'll blow it up. You can't rebuild the
dredge--no one understands it. Use common sense. Send the girl with a
flag of truce and ask for a conference."

"A good idea--if it works," Wolf answered hesitating.

"It's worth trying," the captain urged.

Wolf returned to the house with his men, and in a few minutes Barbara
came to Norman, her face white with terror, her voice quivering with
pleading intensity.

"Please," she gasped, "for my sake, I beg of you not to do this insane
thing! The regent asks for a conference under a flag of truce. He
recognizes that it is impossible that you should remain here after
what has happened. He asks for a half-hour's talk with you to offer an
adjustment under which you can resign and return to San Francisco."

"It's a trick and a lie. He's deceiving you," Norman replied,
sullenly.

"No, I swear it's true. He is in earnest, Catherine is beside herself
with fear lest he be killed. He swore to her as he swore to me to
respect your wishes. I'll gladly give my life if he proves false."

Norman turned his face away and looked over the still, blue waters,
struggling with himself as he felt the tug of her soft hand on his
heart.

Suddenly a hundred men with Wolf at their head sprang over the steep
embankment and rushed to the dredge. Tom leaped to his feet and lifted
his bomb without a word.

Norman covered Barbara and grasped his uplifted arm.

"It's all over boys. I've surrendered!" he shouted.

Barbara faced Wolf with blazing eyes:

"You have betrayed my trust!"

Wolf brushed her aside and confronted Norman, who had thrown the bomb
he had taken from Tom's hand into the sea.

Norman paid no attention to Wolf, and seemed to see only the girl's
face convulsed with passion. His eyes never left her for a moment.

Wolf turned and secured the other men who had defended the dredge,
marching them with their hands tied behind their backs between two
rows of guardsmen off to jail.

Norman spoke at last to Barbara in low, cold tones:

"I congratulate you."

"What do you mean?" she gasped.

"That you are a superb actress. You have played your part to
perfection. Your rôle was very dramatic, too. A clumsy woman would
have bungled it, and lost even at the last moment."

"You cannot believe that I willingly betrayed you?" she cried, in
anguish.

"I wish I had died before I knew it," he answered, bitterly.

Barbara pressed close to his side and seized his hand fiercely. He
turned away with a shudder.

"Look at me," she pleaded.

He turned and faced her with a look of anger.

"Words are idle. Deeds speak louder than words."

"Norman, you are killing me with this cruel doubt!" she sobbed. "I
give up! I love you! I love you!"

She threw her arms around his neck and her head sank on his breast.

He resisted for a moment, then clasped her to his heart, bent and
kissed her with passionate tenderness.

"You believe me now?" she cried, through her tears.

"God forgive me for doubting you for a moment!" he answered,
earnestly.

The guard suddenly drew Norman from her arms, tied his hands, and led
him away to prison while the little figure followed, sobbing in
helpless anguish.

Wolf walked behind, his big mouth twitching with smiles he could not
suppress.



CHAPTER XXXII

A PRIMITIVE LOVER


Wolf led Barbara into his office, lighted the lamp, and waited in
patience for her first blinding surrender to grief to spend itself
before speaking.

He stood over her at last with a smile, bent and touched her brown
curls.

The girl sprang to her feet and faced him.

"It's no use, my beauty, I'm on to your tricks now!"

The little figure stiffened, and her gaze was steady, though her
fingers trembled as she nervously twisted the tiny handkerchief she
held.

"You've been playing me for a fool for the past two months. Your eyes
have been laughing into mine with all sorts of little daring
suggestions when you had an axe to grind at my expense. And then you
had a habit of disappearing until you needed something else. You were
off billing and cooing with our hero and smiling at my stupidity
behind my back."

"I've spoken to him to-day," Barbara answered solemnly, "the first
words of love that ever passed my lips."

"You did pretty well for an amateur, if that was the first kiss you
ever gave him."

"It was the first!" she said, defiantly.

"It will be the last for him."

"Perhaps," she answered, with a curl to her lips.

"You think I don't mean it?" Wolf demanded, stepping close and
thrusting his massive head forward while his big fists closed.

"I don't doubt it," she answered, firmly. "But I'm not afraid of you,
Herman."

"You doubt my power?" he asked.

"Over others, no."

"But over you?"

Wolf suddenly grasped her.

The girl shrank back in terror for an instant, and then, to his
surprise, her hand was still and cold and steady. Not a tremor in the
tense body. Her brown eyes, staring wide, held his gaze without a sign
of weakness or of fear. Something in her attitude startled the beast
within him. He suddenly dropped her hand and changed his tone.

"Come, let's not quarrel! Don't be foolish. It is for you I've been
scheming and planning the past year. For you the regent's palace was
planned. Within five years a hundred thousand people will be here.
The State will be rich beyond our wildest dreams, and I shall be the
State. I want you to sit by my side."

    [Illustration: "WOLF GRASPED HER."]

"You say this to me after all that Catherine has been to you and your
life?"

"And why not? If I no longer love, should I be chained?"

"And this is the ideal you came here to build?" she asked, with scorn.

"Certainly. It is the essence of Socialism. In my next proclamation I
shall declare for the freedom of love. Every great Socialist has
preached this. Marriage and the family form the tap-root out of which
the whole system of capitalism grew. The system can never be destroyed
until the family is annihilated. I had thought you a woman whose
brilliant intellect had faced this issue and broken the chains of a
degrading bourgeois morality."

"The chains of love, I find, are very sweet," she interrupted, with
dreamy tenderness.

"You talk this twaddle about romantic love? You, the leader of a
revolution! Come, you are no longer a child. We are living now in the
world of freedom and reality where men and women say the unspoken
things and live to the utmost reach of their being, body and soul."

"Is it a world worth living in?" she asked.

"Was the old world of family life, of starvation and misery, worth
living in?" Wolf retorted.

"Perhaps I might have said no an hour ago, but now that my lips have
met my lover's the dream of the old family life, with its sanctity and
purity, begins to call me. And something deep down within answers with
a cry of joy. Why should you desire me, knowing that I thus love
another?"

"You can love where you like," he snapped, as his big jaws came
together. "I can get along without your love. I just want you--and I'm
going to have you!"

"I'll die first!"

"We shall see. Time works wonders."

With a shudder Barbara turned and left him.



CHAPTER XXXIII

EQUALITY


Barbara asked Wolf for permission to visit Norman in prison.

The Regent shook his head.

"No, my little beauty, it's not wise. I promise you that not a hair of
his head shall be harmed. He is safe and well. If you wish to test my
power, try to bribe my guards and see him."

Day after day Barbara sought in vain to gain admittance to the jail,
send or receive a message from within. Her lover had disappeared as
completely as if the earth had opened and swallowed his body.

The episode of the dredge was the last effort to question the power of
the regent. The day after its capture Wolf put the men who had helped
Norman build it to work operating the big machine, and its huge pumps
began to throb in perfect time, piling ton on ton of gold-bearing sand
and gravel into the flumes, as faithful to the touch of the thief who
had stolen it as to the hand of the man of genius who invented it.

The head machinist he ordered to build five duplicates, and placed
the entire working force of the mechanical department at once on the
job.

The daily _New Era_ received a number of protests against the outrage
of the inventor's arrest and imprisonment. Two protests were signed by
the names of the writers, Diggs and the Bard. There appeared in the
paper a warning editorial against sneaks who, under cover of the cause
of justice, were seeking to aid treason and rebellion against the
State.

Diggs and the Bard were summoned before Wolf in person.

The regent fixed his gray eyes on Diggs, and the man of questions
forgot to smile.

"You are not dealing with an amateur now, Diggs," Wolf said, with a
sneer. "The insulting letter you wrote----"

"I--I--beg your pardon, Mr. Regent," Diggs stammered, "my questions
were asked in the spirit of honest inquiry."

"I understand their spirit, sir," Wolf growled. "And don't you
interrupt me again when I'm talking! Your article was seditious. I've
a mind to imprison you a year, but as this is your first offence I'll
simply transfer you from the department of accounts to that of garbage
and sewerage. Report at once to the overseer."

Diggs's lips quivered and he tried to speak, but Wolf froze him with a
look and he dropped to a seat.

"I said report at once, sir, to the overseer of the department of
garbage and sewerage. Did you hear me?" Wolf thundered.

Diggs leaped to his feet stammering and retreating.

"Yes, sir! Yes, sir! Excuse me. I was only waiting for Comrade Adair,
sir! Excuse me, sir, I'll go at once!"

He stumbled through the door and disappeared.

The Bard of Ramcat watched this scene with increasing terror. He had
prepared an eloquent and daring appeal for freedom of speech. He tried
to open his mouth, but Wolf's gaze froze the blood in his veins. His
tongue refused to move. He sat huddled in a heap, trembling and
shifting uneasily in his seat.

At length the regent spoke with sneering patronage:

"You wield a facile pen, Adair. I admire the glib ability with which
you pour out gaseous matter from your overheated imagination."

The Bard scrambled to his feet and bowed low in humble submission,
fumbling his slouch hat tremblingly.

"I meant no harm, sir, I assure you. A great leader of your power and
genius can make allowances for poetic fervour. I'm sure you know that
my whole soul is aflame with enthusiasm for our noble Cause!"

"Well, upon my word," Wolf laughed, "you're developing into a nimble
liar! You used to be quite brutal in the frankness of your
criticisms."

"But I see the error of my way, sir," the Bard humbly cried.

"Then I'll remit your prison sentence also and merely transfer you to
the stone-quarry. We need more common labourers on the rock-pile there
preparing the macadam for the court of the regent's palace. Report at
once to the foreman of that gang."

"Thank you, sir," the Bard stammered, feebly, as he backed out of the
room.

The poet bent his proud back over the stone-pile for two weeks and
suddenly disappeared.

His hat was found on a rustic seat on a high cliff whose perpendicular
wall was washed by the sea. Beneath this hat lay his last manuscript
protest to the world. It was entitled:

"The Journal of Roland Adair, Bard of Ramcat." It was written in blank
verse and proved a most harrowing recital of the horrors he had
suffered at the hands of the tyrant regent. With eloquence fierce and
fiery he called on the slaves who were being ground beneath his heel
to rise in their might and slay the oppressor. He had chosen to die
that his death-song might stir their souls to heroic action.

Search was made on the beaches for his body in vain. His wife's grief
was genuine and a few of his friends gathered with her on the tenth
day after his disappearance to express their sorrow and appreciation
in a brief formal service.

Diggs was delivering a funeral oration bombarding Death, Hell, and the
Grave with endless questions, when suddenly the Bard appeared, pinched
with hunger, his clothes covered with dirt, his long hair dishevelled
and unkempt. He had evidently been sleeping in the open.

His friends stood in wonder. His wife shrieked in terror.

The Bard solemnly lifted his hand and cried:

"I stood on the hills and waited for slaves to rise and fight their
way to death or freedom. And no man stirred! Did they not find my
death-song?"

Diggs spoke in timid accents:

"The regent destroyed it."

"Yes, yes, but before my death I anticipated his treachery. I left ten
mimeographed copies where they could be found by the people. If they
have not been found my death would have been vain. I waited to be
sure. I've come to ask."

"They were found all right," his wife cried, angrily. "And if Wolf
finds you now----"

She had scarcely spoken when an officer of the secret service suddenly
laid his hand on the Bard's shoulder and quietly said:

"Come. We'll give you something to sing about now worth while!"

His wife clung to the tottering, terror-stricken figure for a moment
and burst in tears. His friends shrank back in silence.

The regent had him flogged unmercifully; and Roland Adair, the Bard of
Ramcat, ceased to sing. He became a mere cog in the wheel of things
which moved on with swift certainty to its appointed end.

The social system worked now with deadly precision and ceaseless
regularity. No citizen dared to speak against the man in authority
over him or complain to the regent, for they were his trusted
henchmen. Men and women huddled in groups and asked in whispers the
news.

Disarmed and at the mercy of his brutal guard, cut off from the world
as effectually as if they lived on another planet, despair began to
sicken the strongest hearts, and suicide to be more common than in the
darkest days of panic and hunger in the old world.

A curious group of three huddled together in the shadows discussing
their fate on the day the Bard was publicly flogged.

Uncle Bob led the whispered conference of woe.

"I tells ye, gemmens, dis beats de worl'! Befo' de war I wuz er slave.
But I knowed my master. We wuz good friends. He say ter me, 'Bob
you'se de blackest, laziest nigger dat ebber cumber de groun'! And I
laf right in his face an' say, 'Come on, Marse Henry, an' le's go
fishin'--dey'll bite ter-day'! An' he go wid me. He nebber lay de
weight er his han' on me in his life. He come ter see me when I sick
an' cheer me up. He gimme good clothes an' a good house an' plenty ter
eat. He love me, an' I love him. I tells ye I'se er slave now an' I
don't know who de debbil my master is. Dey change him every ten days.
Dey cuss an' kick me--an' I work like a beast. Dis yer comrade
business too much fer me."

"To tell you the truth, boys," said a bowed figure by old Bob's side,
"I lived in a model community once before."

"Oh, go 'long dar, man, dey nebber wuz er nudder one!" Bob protested.

"Yes. We all wore the same thickness of clothes, ate the same three
meals regularly, never over-ate or suffered from dyspepsia; all of us
worked the same number of hours a day, went to bed at the same time
and got up at the same time. There was no drinking, cursing,
carousing, gambling, stealing, or fighting. We were model people and
every man's wants were met with absolute equality. The only trouble
was we all lived in the penitentiary at San Quentin----"

"Des listen at dat now!" Bob exclaimed.

"Yes, and I found the world outside a pretty tough place to live in
when I got out, too. I thought I'd find the real thing here and
slipped in. What's the difference? In the pen we wore a gray suit.
We've got it here with a red spangle on it. There they decided the
kind of grub they'd give us. The same here. There we worked at jobs
they give us. The same here. There we worked under overseers and
guards. So we do here. I was sent up there for two years. It looks
like we're in here for life."

"How long, O Lord, how long, will Thy servant wait for deliverance?"
cried Methodist John, in plaintive despair. "If I only could get back
to the poorhouse! There I had food and shelter and clothes. It's all
I've got here--but with it work, work, work! and a wicked, sinful,
cussin' son of the devil always over me drivin' and watchin'!"

John's jaw suddenly dropped as a black cloud swept in from the sea and
obscured the sun. A squall of unusual violence burst over the island
with wonderful swiftness. The darkness of twilight fell like a pall,
and a sharp peal of thunder rang over the harbour.

John watched the progress of the storm with strange elation, quietly
walked through the blinding, drenching rain to the barn, and drew from
the forks of two trees a lightning-rod about thirty feet long which
Norman had finally made for him in answer to his constant pleading.
The tip of the rod was pointed with a dozen shining spikes.

John seized this rod, held it straight over his head, and began to
march with firm step around the lawn. He walked with slow, measured
tread past the two big colony houses to the amazement of the people
who stood at the windows watching the storm. He held his lightning-rod
as a soldier a musket on dress-parade, his eyes fixed straight in
front. As he passed through the floral court between the two buildings
he burst into an old Methodist song, his cracked voice ringing in
weird and plaintive tones with the sigh and crash of the wind among
the foliage of the trees and shrubbery:

    "I want to be an angel,
      And with the angels stand,
    A crown upon my forehead,
      A harp within my hand."

Over and over he sang this stanza with increasing fervour as he
marched steadily on through every path around the buildings, his
rain-soaked clothes clinging to his flesh and flopping dismally about
his thin legs. As the storm suddenly lifted he stopped in front of the
kitchen, dropped his rod, and sank with a groan to his knees taking up
again his old refrain:

"How long, O Lord, how long?"

Old Bob ran out and shook him.

"Name er God, man, what de matter wid you? Is you gone clean crazy?
What you doin' monkeyin' wid dat lightnin'-rod?"

John lifted his drooping head and sighed:

"You see, neighbour, I don't like to kill myself. It's against my
religion. It seems like taking things out of the hands of God. But I
thought the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, might be kind
enough to spare me a bolt if I lifted my rod and put myself in the
way. If he had only seen fit to do it, I'd be at rest now in the
courts of glory!"

"Dis here's a sad worl', brudder," Bob said comfortingly. "'Pears lak
ter me de Lawd doan' lib here no mo'."

Before John could reply, a guard arrested him for disorderly conduct.
The regent kicked him from his office and ordered him to prison on a
diet of bread and water for a week.

The slightest criticism of his reign Wolf resented with instant and
crushing cruelty. His system of spies was complete and his knowledge
of every man's attitude accurate and full. Where-ever he appeared, he
received the most cringing obeisance.

Especially did women tremble at his approach and count themselves
happy if he condescended to smile.



CHAPTER XXXIV

A BROTHER TO THE BEAST


At the end of three months from the time he took possession of the
dredge, Wolf's men had built five duplicates, and they were all at
work. More than three thousand dollars' worth of gold he weighed daily
and stored in secret vaults whose keys never left his grasp.

The new colony he landed in groups of two hundred at intervals of
sufficient time to assign each new member to work where the least
trouble could be given. The strictest search for arms and weapons of
every kind was made before each person was allowed to land.

It took only about two weeks to bring the new group into perfect
subjection. Spies reported every word of surprise and criticism that
fell from the lips of a newcomer.

The overseer of each gang of labourers was required to complete the
task assigned to him by the standard of the very best records labour
had ever made, and to secure these results it was necessary to
constantly lengthen the hours of each day's service. As the efficiency
of labour decreased the entire colony gradually gravitated to the
basis of convict service. As no man received more than food, clothes,
and shelter there could be no conceivable motive to induce any one to
work harder than was necessary to escape the lash of the overseer.
Consequently the hours of labour were increased from nine to ten.

The one ambition now of every man was to win the favour of the
authorities, and become one of the regent's guard, an overseer, or
find relief from the hard, brutal tasks imposed on the great majority.
The road to promotion could not be found in achievement.

The power to assign and enforce work was the mightiest force ever
developed in the hand of man.

Under the system of capitalism wealth was desirable because it meant
power over men. But this power was always limited. Under the free play
of natural law no man, even the poorest, could be commanded to work by
a superior power. He could always quit if he liked. He might choose to
go hungry, or apply to the charity society for help in the last
resort, but he was still master of his own person. His will was
supreme. He, and he alone, could say, I will, or I will not.

Here all was changed. A new force in human history had been created.
Wealth beyond all the dreams of passion and avarice was in the grasp
of the regent and his henchmen. He wielded the most autocratic and
merciless power over men conceivable to the human imagination--a power
final and resistless, from which there could be no appeal save in
death itself.

The results of this power quickly began to show in the development of
life around the regent and each of his trusted minions.

By the time the theatre and music hall were finished and opened, Wolf
had selected more than a hundred of the prettiest girls in the colony
for the two stages.

His method of selection was always the same. The girl he desired he
secretly ordered to be assigned to a dirty or disgusting form of
labour. He allowed her to rave in hopeless anger at her tasks until
she found that all appeal was in vain and her doom sealed.

He then made it his business to call, express his surprise at the task
to which she had been assigned, and smile vaguely at her eager appeal
for a change.

If she proved charming to the regent she was promptly assigned to the
chorus of the State theatre and given luxurious quarters in the
building adjoining.

Their tasks were light and agreeable. They studied music and dancing
and elocution. But, above all, they studied day and night the art of
pleasing the regent, whose frown could send any of them instantly to
the washtub or the scrubbing-brush.

In like manner around the personality of each guard, overseer,
secret-service man, superintendent, and governor of departments there
grew a coterie of favoured ones whose position depended solely on the
whim of the man in power.

The State only could manufacture arms. The State only could bear arms.
And the system of law which Socialism developed was so full, so minute
in its touch on every detail of human life, and so merciless in its
system of espionage, the very idea of revolution was slowly dying in
the despairing hearts of the colonists.

So sure was Wolf of his victim when once he had marked her, he was
merely amused rather than displeased over Barbara's defiance of his
wishes.

A few days before the opening and dedication of the regent's palace,
when all his preparations were complete, Wolf summoned Catherine.

"I have here," he began, "my proclamation for the complete
establishment of a perfect Social State. I publish it to-morrow
morning. It goes into effect immediately:

"'From to-day the State of Ventura enters upon the reign of pure
Communism which is the only logical end of Socialism. All private
property is hereby abolished. The claim of husband to the person of
his wife as his own can no longer be tolerated. Love is free from all
chains. Marriage will hereafter be celebrated by a simple declaration
before a representative of the State, and it shall cease to bind at
the will of either party. Complete freedom in the sex-relationship is
left to the judgment and taste of a race of equally developed men and
women. The State will interfere, when necessary, to regulate the
birth-rate and maintain the limits of efficient population.'"

"Which means for me?" Catherine inquired.

"That you are divorced and free to marry whom you please."

The woman uttered a cry of anguish, threw her arms around Wolf's big
neck, and burst into sobs.

"Oh, Herman, surely you have some pity left in your heart! For God's
sake, don't cast me out of your life in this cruel, horrible way!"

He turned his stolid face away with cold indifference.

She lifted her tapering hand timidly and smoothed the coarse hair back
from his forehead with a tender gesture.

"Can you forget," she went on, in low, passionate tones, "all we have
been to one another through the long, dark years of our fight with
poverty and oppression? All I have done for your sake? That I broke
my husband's heart--for he loved me even as I love you--I left my
babies, and have never seen them since; broke with every friend and
loved one on earth for you! Have you forgotten all I have done in this
work? The tireless zeal with which I've fought your battles? Can you
kick me from your presence now as though I were a dog?"

Wolf pursed his thick lips and scowled.

"No, I mean that you shall stay where you are and take charge of my
new household. Barbara will need your assistance."

"Barbara!" she gasped.

"I have chosen her as the new regent," Wolf calmly answered. "I will
announce our marriage at the dedication of the palace."

"And you think that I will accept such shame?"

"I'm sure you will!" he quickly answered with an ominous threat in his
tone.

The woman sprang to her feet and faced him, her tall, lithe figure
tense with passion.

"I dare you to try it!"

"Dare?" Wolf repeated in a low growl.

"I said it!" she cried, defiantly. "From the very housetop I'll shout
the story of our life. I'll show you I'm a power you must reckon
with----"

"And I'll show you," Wolf answered "that there's but one power that
counts now in the world of realities in which we live--the elemental
force of tooth, and nail, and claw--do you understand?"

He thrust his big, ugly face into hers and a look of terror flashed
from her eyes as she saw his features convulsed with fury.

"Please, Herman!" she pleaded at last in a feeble, childish voice.

"You are still daring me?"

"No, I give up--surely you will not strike me!" she gasped.

"Not unless I have to," he answered, with cold menace.



CHAPTER XXXV

LOVE AND LOCKSMITHS


Barbara sat in the little rose bower on the lawn puzzling her brain
for the thousandth time over impossible schemes to communicate with
Norman.

From day to day she had watched with increasing fear the rapid growth
of Wolf's cruel instincts under the conditions of tyranny he had
established.

She had appealed in vain to every man in authority. Everywhere the
same answer. The regent's power inspired a terror which no appeal
could penetrate.

She started with a sudden thought. Among the guards who stood watch at
Wolf's door was the nineteen-year-old boy who had acted as usher and
shown Norman to a seat in the Socialist Hall the night they met.

She had caught a peculiar look in his face the last time she entered
Wolf's office. Could it be possible he was in love with her in the
helpless, heroic, boy fashion of his age? She would put him to the
test. It was worth trying.

She found him on guard in the corridor outside Wolf's door,
approached him cautiously, touched his hand timidly, and whispered:

"Jimmy, I'm in great distress."

"I wish I could help you, Miss Barbara," he answered in low, earnest
tones, sweeping the corridor with a quick look.

"Even at the risk of your life?"

"I'd jump at the chance to die for you!" was the simple answer.

Barbara's voice choked and her little hand caught the boy's
gratefully. His conquest was too easy, his love too big and generous!
"I wish I could do it, Jimmy, without letting you risk your life, but
I must see Norman."

"I'll help you if I can, Miss Barbara, but I don't know how. The
jailer won't let me in without an order from the regent."

"I'll go in now," she went on, "get a piece of paper from his desk,
forge the order, and sign his name. I can imitate his handwriting.
I'll give it to you immediately, and watch until you get back to your
post."

"I'll do it!" the boy answered, his eyes shining.

"Tell Norman," Barbara whispered, "that I have found Saka in the
hills. He has built a skiff and has it ready to sail with his message
for relief."

"I understand."

She entered Wolf's office unannounced and surprised him with her
girlish buoyancy of spirit.

With a light laugh she sprang on his big desk, sat down among his
papers, and deftly closed her hand over one of his small official
order-pads.

"I cannot see Norman, to-day?" she asked.

"Not to-day, my dear. A little later, yes, but not to-day!"

He laughed carelessly and turned in his armchair to a messenger:

"Take that order to the captain of the guard and tell him to report to
me at seven o'clock to-night."

While he spoke, the girl slipped from her place on the desk and thrust
the order pad in her pocket.

"Then I'm wasting breath to plead with you?"

"Decidedly. But I congratulate you on the rational way you are
beginning to look at things."

As she moved to the door she smiled over her shoulder: "Time will work
wonders, perhaps!"

"I told you so," he laughed.

She hurried to her room and wrote the order signing Wolf's name
without a moment's hesitation:

    "Admit the guard bearing this order for the delivery of a
    personal message to the prisoner, Norman Worth.

                                                "WOLF--_Regent_."

She stood at the window and watched the boy enter the jail. He stayed
an interminable time! Each tick of the tiny watch in her hand seemed
an hour. One minute, two, three, four, five minutes slowly dragged.
Merciful God, would he never return? A thousand questions began to
strangle her. Had Wolf suspected and played with her? Had the jailer
recognized the trick and arrested the boy? Had Wolf discovered the
boy's absence from his post?

She looked at her watch again. He had been gone seven minutes! The
door of the jail suddenly opened and the boy appeared.

Her hand was tingling with a curious pain. She looked, and the nails
of her fingers had cut the flesh as she had stood in agony counting
the seconds.

The boy walked with leisurely precision as though on an ordinary
errand for the regent. Barbara waited until he resumed his position on
guard at the door and quickly reached his side.

He pressed a note into her hand, whispering:

"The jailer held me up at first--but I found him!"

Barbara glanced down the corridor with a quick look threw her arms
around the boy's neck and kissed him tenderly.

He smiled, drew a deep breath, and said:

"Now, I'm ready to die!"

"No. To live and fight," she cried. "Fight our way back to freedom.
You must help me!"

She turned and flew to her room. The note in her hand was burning the
soft flesh.

She locked her door and read:

    "HEART OF MY HEART:

    "Iron bars have held my body but my soul has been with you! I've
    seen you walking among the flowers a hundred times and tried to
    force my message through the walls. I enclose a telegram to my
    father and one to the Governor of California. Send Saka to Santa
    Barbara with them. The troops should arrive in forty-eight
    hours. All I ask of God now is the chance to fight. I love you!

                                              "Always yours,
                                                         NORMAN."

She kissed the note, tore it into fragments, and burned the pieces.

When night had fallen, Jimmy safely passed the patrol lines, delivered
his message to Saka, helped him launch the skiff, watched the little
sail spread before a fair wind, and returned to his post.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE SHINING EMBLEM


When Wolf's patrol telephoned two days later that a company of troops
had suddenly landed on the other side of the island, he called the
captain of the guard:

"A detail of men to move the gold aboard the ship. Order the steam up.
I'll divide with you. We must beat those soldiers back until we can
sail. Fight them at every possible stand as they cross the hills. I'll
join you if the guard is driven in."

The captain hurried to execute Wolf's orders, while the regent began
with feverish haste to transfer the treasures of the colony to the
ship.

       *       *       *       *       *

Norman sat on his cot in prison, awaiting anxiously the first sound of
the troops.

He suddenly leaped to his feet.

"They are coming!"

Listening a moment intently, he cried:

"There it is again--the scream of fifes from the hills!--now, they are
driving in the pickets--hear the crack of those rifles!--God in
heaven, isn't it music!"

He sank back on the cot with a sob of joy.

In a rush the troops surrounded the jail. The sheriff lifted his hand
and shouted:

"In the name of the peace and dignity of the State of California----"

Wolf answered with a defiant wave and charged at the head of his
guard. The soldiers poured into their ranks a deadly fire. At the
first volley the leader fell. The charging column hesitated, halted,
threw down their arms, and surrendered.

In five minutes Colonel Worth entered the jail and father and son
silently embraced. Barbara followed and Norman clasped her in his
arms.

A shout rose from the troops and the group within moved to the prison
window. The colour-sergeant had hauled down the red ensign of
Socialism from the flag-staff on the lawn and lifted the Stars and
Stripes in its place.

Norman's hand sought his father's. They clasped a moment tremblingly,
and, still looking through the barred window at the shining emblem in
the sky, the young man slowly said:

"It _is_ beautiful, isn't it Governor!"


THE END



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       *       *       *       *       *

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    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                   |
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    | Page  62: ecomonic replaced with economic                 |
    | Page 126: "could be plainly see" replaced with            |
    |           "could be plainly seen"                         |
    | Page 162: collasped replaced by collapsed                 |
    | Page 246: "he was was quick to note" replaced with        |
    |           "he was quick to note"                          |
    | Page 290: kissd replaced with kissed                      |
    | Page 297: "with which your pour out" replaced with        |
    |           "with which you pour out"                       |
    |                                                           |
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