THE RED TIDE OF ANARCHY
Betty and her uncle spent the next few hours in
preparing for eventualities. They explored the
storeroom and armory, and in the latter they
found ample provision for a stout defense. There
were firearms in plenty, and such a supply of ammunition
as should be sufficient to withstand a
siege. The store of dynamite gave them some
anxiety. It was dangerous where it was, in case of
open warfare, but it would be still more dangerous
in the hands of the strikers. Eventually they concealed
it well under a pile of other stores in the
hopes, in case of accident, it might remain undiscovered.
During their preparations several more stones
crashed against the walls and the door of the building.
They were hurled at longish intervals, and
seemed to be the work of one person. Then,
finally no more were thrown, and futile as the attack
had been, its cessation brought a certain relief
and ease of mind. To the man it suggested the
work of some drunken lumber-jack—perhaps the
man who had been so forcibly rebuffed by Betty
earlier in the evening.
It was one o'clock when Chepstow took a final
look round his barricades. Betty was sitting at the
table with a fine array of firearms spread out before
her. She had just finished loading the last one
when her uncle came to her side. She looked up
at him with quiet amusement in her eyes.
"I was wondering," she said, with just a suspicion
of satire in her manner, "whether we are in a
state of siege, or—panic?"
But her uncle's sense of humor was lacking at
the moment. He saw only the gravity of his responsibility.
"You'd best get to bed," he said a little severely.
"I shall sit up. You must get all the rest you can.
We do not know what may be in store for us."
Betty promptly fell in with his mood.
"But the sick?" she said. "We must visit them
to-morrow. We cannot let them suffer."
"No. We must wait and see what to-morrow
brings forth. In the meantime——"
He broke off, listening. Betty too had suddenly
turned her eyes upon the barred door. There was
a long pause, during which the murmur of many
voices reached them, and the faint but distinct
sound of tramping feet. The man's eyes grew anxious,
his lean face was set and hard. It was easy
enough to read his thoughts. He was weighing
the possibilities of collision with these strikers,
and calculating the chances in his favor. Betty
seemed less disturbed. Her eyes were steady and
interested rather than alarmed.
"There's a crowd of them," said her uncle in a
The girl listened for something which perhaps
her uncle had forgotten. Sober, she did not expect
much trouble from these people. If they had
been drinking it would be different.
The voices grew louder. The shuffling, clumping
footsteps grew louder. They drew near. They
were within a few yards of the building. Finally
they stopped just outside the door. Instantly there
was a loud hammering upon it, and a harsh demand
"Open the door!" roared the voice, and the cry
was taken up by others until it grew into a perfect
babel of shouting and cursing.
Betty moved to her uncle's side and laid a hand
upon his arm. She looked up into his face and
saw the storm-clouds of his anger gathering there.
"We shall have to open it, uncle," she said.
"That's—that's Tim Canfield's voice."
He looked down into her eager young face. He
saw no fear there. He feared, but not for himself:
it was of her he was thinking. He wanted to open
the door. He wanted to vent his anger in scathing
defiance, but he was thinking of the girl in his
charge. He was her sole protection. He knew,
only too well, what "strike" meant to these men.
It meant the turning of their savage passions loose
upon brains all too untutored to afford them a semblance
of control. Then there was the drink, and
The clamor at the door was becoming terrific.
He stirred, and, walking swiftly across the room,
put his mouth to the jamb.
"What do you want?" he shouted angrily.
"What right have you to come here disturbing us
at such an hour?"
Instantly the noise dropped. Then he heard
Tim's voice repeating his words to the crowd, and
they were greeted with a laugh that had in it a
note of rebellion.
The laugh died out as the spokesman turned
again to the door.
"Open this gorl-durned door, or we'll bust it
in!" he shouted. And a chorus of "Break it in!"
was taken up by the crowd.
The parson's anger leapt. His keen nerves
were on edge in a moment. Even Betty's gentle
eyes kindled. He turned to her, his eyes blazing.
"Hand me a couple of guns!" he cried, in a
voice that reached the men outside. "Get hold of
a couple yourself! If there's to be trouble we'll
take a hand!" Then he turned to the door, and his
voice was thrilling with "fight." "I'll open the door
to no one till I know what you want!" he shouted
furiously. "Beat the door in! I warn you those
who step inside will get it good and plenty! Beat
His words had instant effect. For several seconds
there was not a sound on the other side of the
door. Then some one muttered something, and instantly
the crowd took up a fierce cry, urging their
But the men in front were not to be rushed into a
reckless assault, and a fierce altercation ensued.
Finally silence was restored, and Tim Canfield spoke
again, but there was a conciliatory note in his voice
"You ken open it, passon," he said. "We're
talkin' fair. We ain't nuthin' up agin you. We're
astin' you to help us out some. Ef you open that
door, me an' Mike Duggan'll step in, an' no one
else. We'll tell you what's doin'. Ther' don't need
be no shootin' to this racket."
The churchman considered. The position was
awkward. His anger was melting, but he knew
that, for the moment, he had the whip hand. However,
he also knew if he didn't open the door, ultimately
force would certainly be used. These were
not the men to be scared easily. But Betty was in
his thoughts, and finally it was Betty who decided
"Open it," she whispered. "It's our best course.
I don't think they mean any harm—yet."
The man reluctantly obeyed, but only after some
moments' hesitation. He withdrew the bars, and
as the girl moved away beyond the stove, and sat
down to her sewing, he stepped aside, covering the
doorway with his two revolvers.
"Only two of you!" he cried, as the door
The two men came in and, turning quickly,
shut the rest of the crowd out and rebarred the door.
Then they confronted the churchman's two guns.
There was something tremendously compelling in
Chepstow's attitude and the light of battle that
shone in his eyes. He meant business, and they
knew it. Their respect for him rose, and they
watched him warily until presently he lowered the
guns to his side.
He eyed them severely. They were men he
knew, men who were real lumber-jacks, matured in
the long service of Dave's mills, men who should
have known better. They were powerfully built
and grizzled, with faces and eyes as hard as their
tremendous muscles. He knew the type well. It
was the type he had always admired, and a type,
once they were on the wrong path, he knew could
be very, very dangerous.
"Well, boys," he demanded, in a more moderate
tone, yet holding them with the severity of his expression.
"What's all this bother about? What
do you mean by this intolerable—bulldozing?"
The men suddenly discovered Betty at the far
side of the stove. Her attitude was one of preoccupation
in her sewing. It was pretense, but it
looked natural. They abruptly pulled off their
caps, and for the moment, seemed half abashed.
But it was only for the moment. The next, Canfield
turned on the churchman coldly.
"You're actin' kind o' foolish, passon," he said.
"It ain't no use talkin' gun-play when ther' ain't no
need whatever. It's like to make things ridic'lous
awkward, an' set the boys sore. We come along
here peaceful to talk you fair——"
"So you bring an army," broke in Chepstow, impatiently,
"after holding a meeting at the store, and
considering the advisability of making prisoners of
my niece and me."
"Who said?" demanded Tim fiercely.
"I did," retorted Chepstow militantly.
The promptness of his retort silenced the lumberman.
He grinned, and leered round at his companion.
"Well?" The parson's voice was getting
"Well, it's like this, passon. Ther' ain't goin' to
be no prisoner-makin' if you'll act reas'nable.
Ther' ain't nuthin' up to you nor the leddy but
wot's good an' clean. You've see to our boys
who's sick, an' just done right by us—we can't say
the same fer others. We just want you to come
right along down to the camp. Ther's a feller bin
shot by that all-fired skunk Mason, an' I guess
he's jest busy bleedin' plumb to death. Will you
"Who is it?"
The shortness of Chepstow's tone was uncompromising.
The lumber-jack stirred uneasily. He glanced
round at his companion. The churchman saw the
look and understood.
"Come on, Mike Duggan, out with it. I'm not
going to be played with," he said. "Your mate
doesn't seem easy about it. I suppose it's one of
the ringleaders of your strike, and you want me to
patch him up so he can go on with his dirty work.
Well? I'm waiting."
Duggan's eyes flashed.
"Easy, passon," he said sharply. "The feller's
name is Walford. You ain't like to know him fer
sure. He's kind o' runnin' things fer us. He's hit
in the shoulder bad."
"Ah, it's that fellow who was speaking at your
meeting. So he's got his medicine. Good. Well,
you want me to fix him up?"
The lumber-jacks nodded.
"That's it," said Duggan cheerfully.
Chepstow considered for a moment. Then he
glanced over at Betty. Their eyes met, and his had
a smile of encouragement in them. He turned
back at once to the waiting men.
"I'll help you, but on one or two conditions. I
demand my own conditions absolutely. They're
easy, but I won't change them or moderate them
by a single detail."
"Get to it, passon," said Canfield, as he paused.
"Make 'em easy, an' ther' won't be no kick
"You must bring the fellow here, and leave him
with us until he is sufficiently recovered. Any of
you can come and see him, if he's not too sick.
Then you must give me a guarantee that my niece
and I can visit the sick camp to tend the boys up
there without any sort of molestation. You understand?
You must guarantee this. You must
guarantee that we are in no way interfered with,
and if at any time we are out of this hut, no one
will enter it without our permission. We are here
for peace. We are here to help your sick comrades.
Your affairs with your employers have nothing
to do with us. Is it a deal?"
"Why sure, passon," replied Duggan. And Tim
nodded his approval.
"It's folks like you makes things easy fer us,"
added the latter, with hearty good-will. "Guess
we'll shake on it."
He held out his hand, and Chepstow promptly
gripped it. He also shook the other by the hand.
"Now, boys," he said genially, "how about those
others outside? How will you guarantee them?"
"We'll fix that quick. Say, Mike, just open that
door." Canfield turned again to Chepstow, while
Mike obeyed orders. "I'll give 'em a few words,"
he went on, "an' we'll send right off for Walford.
He's mighty bad, passon. He's——"
The door was open by this time, and the two
men hurried out. Chepstow secured it behind
them, and stood listening for what was to happen.
He heard Canfield haranguing the crowd, and his
words seemed to have the desired effect, for presently
the whole lot began to move off, and in two
minutes the last sound of voices and receding footsteps
had died out. Betty drew a sigh of relief.
"Uncle," she said, smiling affectionately across at
him as he left the door and came toward the stove,
"you are a genius of diplomacy."
The man laughed self-consciously.
"Well, we have gained a point," he said doubtfully.
Betty let her eyes fall upon her sewing again.
"Yes, we have gained a point. I wonder how
long that point will hold good, when—when the
drink begins to flow."
"That's what I'm wondering."
And their question was answered in less than
Half an hour later the wounded strike-leader was
brought to the hut. He was in a semi-conscious
state, and a swift examination showed him to be in
a pretty bad way. The bullet had ploughed its
way through the shoulder, smashing both the collar-bone
and the shoulder-blade. Then, though no
vital spot had been touched, the loss of blood had
been terrific. He had been left lying at the store
ever since he was shot by Mason, with just a rough
bandage of his own shirt, which had been quite
powerless to stop the flow of blood.
It took Chepstow nearly two hours to dress the
wound and set the bones, and by that time the
man's weakness had plunged him into absolute unconsciousness.
Still, this was due solely to loss of
blood, and with careful nursing there was no real
reason why he should not make a satisfactory recovery.
The rest of the night was spent at the sick man's
bedside. Betty and her uncle shared the vigil in
reliefs, and, weary work as it was, they never
hesitated. A life was at stake, and though the
man was the cause of all the trouble, or instrumental
in it, they were yet ready to spare no effort
on his behalf. With the parson it was sheer love
of his duty toward all men that gave him inspiration.
With Betty there may have been a less
Christian spirit in her motives. All this man's
efforts had been directed against the man she
loved, and she hated him for it; but a life was at
stake, and a life, to her, was a very sacred thing.
The next day was spent between care for the
sick at the fever camp and the wounded man in their
own quarters, and the guarantee of the strikers was
literally carried out. There were one or two visits
to their sick leader, but no interference or molestation
occurred. Then at sundown came the first
warning of storm.
Betty was returning to the dugout. She was
tired and sick at heart with her labors. For both
it had been a strenuous day, but it had found her
strength out a good deal more than it had her
uncle's. Ahead of her she knew there yet lay a
long night of nursing the wounded man.
It was a gorgeous evening. The fog had quite
passed away. A splendid sunset lit the glittering
peaks towering about her with a cloak of iridescent
fire. The snow caps shone with a ruddy glow,
while the ancient glaciers suggested molten streams
pouring from the heart of them to the darkling
wood-belts below. The girl paused and for a moment
the wonder of the scene lifted her out of her
weariness. But it was only momentary. The
whole picture was so transient. It changed and
varied with kaleidoscopic suddenness, and vanished
altogether in less than five minutes. Again the
mountains assumed the gray cold of their unlit
beauties. The sun had gone, and day merged
into night with almost staggering abruptness. She
turned with a sigh to resume her journey.
It was then that her attention was drawn elsewhere.
In the direction of the lumber camp, in the
very heart of it, it seemed, a heavy smoke was rising
and drifting westward on the light evening
breeze. It was not the haze of smoke from campfires
just lit, but a cloud augmented by great belches
from below. And in the growing dusk she fancied
there was even a ruddy reflection lighting it. She
stared with wide-open, wondering eyes.
Suddenly a great shaft of flame shot up into its
midst, and, as it lit the scene, she heard the shouting
of men mingling with the crash of falling
timber. She stood spellbound, a strange terror
gripping her heart. It was fear of the unknown.
There was a fire—burning what? She turned and
ran for the dugout.
Bursting into the hut, she poured out her tidings
to her uncle, who was preparing supper. The man
listening to her hasty words understood the terror
that beset her. Fire in those forest regions might
well strike terror into the heart. He held a great
check upon himself.
"Sit down, child," he said gently, at the conclusion
of her story. "Sit down and have some food.
Afterward, while you see to Walford, I'll cut
through the woods and see what's doing."
He accomplished his object. Betty calmed at
once, and obediently sat down to the food he set before
her. She even forced herself to eat, and presently
realized she was hungry. The churchman
said nothing until they had finished eating. Then
he lit his pipe.
"It's drink, I expect," he said, as though he had
been striving to solve the matter during supper.
"Likely they're burning the camp. We know
what they are."
Betty took a deep breath.
"And if they're doing that here, what about the
She knew that such an event would mean absolute
ruin to Dave, and again her terror rose. This
time it was for Dave, and the feeling sickened her.
Her uncle put on his hat. He had no answer for
her. He understood what was in her mind.
"Don't leave this place, Betty," he said calmly.
"Redress Walford's wound the way I showed you.
Keep this door barred, and don't let any one in.
I'll be back soon."
He was gone. And the manner of his going
suggested anything but the calmness with which
Once outside, the terror he had refused to display
in Betty's presence lent wings to his feet. Night
had closed in by the time he took to the woods.
Now the air was full of the burning reek, and he
tried to calculate the possibilities. He snuffed at
the air to test the smell, fearful lest it should be the
forest that was burning. He could not tell. He
was too inexperienced in woodcraft to judge accurately.
In their sober senses these lumber-jacks
dreaded fire as much as a sailor dreads it at sea,
then there could be little doubt as to the cause of it
now. The inevitable had happened. Drink was
flowing, scorching out the none too acute senses of
these savages. Where would their orgy lead them?
Was there any limit that could hold them? He
thought not. If he were inexperienced in the
woodsman's craft, he knew these woodsmen, and he
shuddered at the pictures his thoughts painted.
As he drew nearer the camp the smoke got into
his lungs. The fire must be a big one. A sudden
thought came to him, and with it his fears receded.
He wondered why it had not occurred to him before.
Of course. His eyes brightened almost to a
smile. If what he suspected had happened, perhaps
it was the hand of Providence working in
Dave's interest. Working in Dave's, and——
Perhaps it was the cleansing fires of the Almighty
sent to wipe out the evil inspired by the erring
mind of man.
He reached the fringe of woods which surrounded
the clearing of the camp, and in another
few seconds he stood in the open.
"Thank God," he exclaimed. Then, in a moment,
the horror of a pitying Christian mind shone
in his eyes. His lips were tight shut, and his
hands clenched at his sides. Every muscle strung
tense with the force of his emotions.
In the centre of the clearing the sutler's store was
a blazing pile. But it was literally in the centre,
with such a distance between it and the surrounding
woods as to reduce the danger of setting fire to
them to a minimum. It was this, and the fact that
it was the store where the spirits were kept, that
had inspired his heartfelt exclamation. But his
horror was for that which he saw besides.
The running figures of the strikers about the fire
were the figures of men mad with drink. Their
shoutings, their laughter, their antics told him this.
But they were not so drunk but what they had
sacked the store before setting it ablaze. Ah, he
understood now, and he wondered what had happened
to the Jew trader.
He drew nearer. He felt safe in doing so.
These demented savages were so fully occupied
that they were scarcely likely to observe him.
And if they did, he doubted if he were running
much personal risk. They had no particular animosity
And as he came near, the sights he beheld sickened
him. There were several fights in progress.
Not individual battles, but drunken brawls in
groups; mauling, savaging masses of men whose
instinct, when roused, it is to hurt, hurt anyhow, and
if possible to kill. These men fought as beasts
fight, tearing each other with teeth and hands,
gouging, hacking, clawing. It was a merciless display
of brute savagery inspired by a bestial instinct,
stirred to fever pitch by the filthy spirit
served in a lumber camp.
At another point, well away from the burning
building, the merchandise was piled, tossed together
in the reckless fashion only to be expected
in men so inspired. Around this were the more
sober, helping themselves greedily, snatching at
clothing, at blankets, at the tools of their craft.
Some were loaded with tin boxes of fancy biscuits
and canned meats, others had possessed themselves
of the cheap jewelry such as traders love to dazzle
the eyes of their simple customers with. Each took
as his stomach guided him, but with a gluttony for
things which can be had for nothing always to be
found in people of unbridled passions. It was a
sight little less revolting than the other, for it spoke
of another form of unchecked savagery.
Not far from this, shown in strong relief by the
lurid fires, was gathered a shouting, turbulent crowd
round a pile of barrels and cases. Three barrels
were standing on end, apart from the rest, and their
heads had been removed, and round these struggled
a maddened crew with tin pannikins. They
were dipping the fiery spirit out of the casks, and
draining each draught as hurriedly as the scorching
stuff could pass down their throats, so as to secure
as much as possible before it was all gone. The
watching man shuddered. Truly a more terrible
display was inconceivable. The men were not
human in their orgy. They were wild beasts.
What, he asked himself, what would be the result
when the liquor had saturated the brains of every
one of them? It was too terrible to contemplate.
The roar of the blazing building, the babel of
shouting, the darkly lurid light shining amidst the
shadows of surrounding woods, the starlit heavens
above, the stillness of mountain gloom and solitude;
these things created a picture so awful of
contemplation as to be unforgettable. Every detail
drove into the watching man's heart as though
graven there with chisel and hammer. It was a
hellish picture, lit with hellish light, and set in the
midst of gloom profound. The men might have
been demons silhouetted against the ruddy fire;
their doings, their antics, had in them so little that
was human. It was awful, and at last, in despair,
the man on the outskirts of the clearing turned and
fled. Anything rather than this degrading sight;
he could bear it no longer. He sickened, yet his
heart yearned for them. There was nothing he
could do to help them or check them. He could
only pray for their demented souls, and—see to the
safeguarding of Betty.
Betty heard her uncle's voice calling, and flung
down the bars of the door. She looked into his
ghastly face as he hurried in. She asked no question,
and watched him as with nervous hands he
closed and secured the door behind him. Her eyes
followed his movements as he crossed to the stove
and flung himself into a chair. She saw his head
droop forward, and his hands cover his eyes in
a gesture of despair. Still she waited, her breath
coming more quickly as the moments passed.
She moved a step toward him, and slowly he
raised a drawn haggard face, and his horrified eyes
looked into hers.
"You must not leave this hut on any pretense,
Betty," he said slowly. Then he raised his eyes to
the roof. "God have pity on them! They are
mad! Mad with drink, and ready for any debauchery.
I could kill the men," he went on, shaking
his two clenched fists in the air, "who have driven
"Hush, uncle!" the girl broke in, laying a restraining
hand upon his upraised arms. "One of
them lies over there, and—and he is wounded. We
must do what we can to help."