Surely one may trust brothers of the lodge.
No, no, not always, cried Morris with vehemence. Whatever we say, even what we think, seems to go back to that man McGinty.
Look here! said McMurdo sternly. It was only last night, as you know well, that I swore good faith to our Bodymaster. Would you be asking me to break my oath?
If that is the view you take, said Morris sadly, I can only say that I am sorry I gave you the trouble to come and meet me. Things have come to a bad pass when two free citizens cannot speak their thoughts to each other.
McMurdo, who had been watching his companion very narrowly, relaxed somewhat in his bearing. Sure I spoke for myself only, said he. I am a newcomer, as you know, and I am strange to it all. It is not for me to open my mouth, Mr. Morris, and if you think well to say anything to me I am here to hear it.
And to take it back to Boss McGinty! said Morris bitterly.
Indeed, then, you do me injustice there, cried McMurdo. For myself I am loyal to the lodge, and so I tell you straight; but I would be a poor creature if I were to repeat to any other what you might say to me in confidence. It will go no further than me; though I warn you that you may get neither help nor sympathy.
I have given up looking for either the one or the other, said Morris. I may be putting my very life in your hands by what I say; but, bad as you areand it seemed to me last night that you were shaping to be as bad as the worststill you are new to it, and your conscience cannot yet be as hardened as theirs. That was why I thought to speak with you.
Well, what have you to say?
If you give me away, may a curse be on you!
Sure, I said I would not.
I would ask you, then, when you joined the Freemans society in Chicago and swore vows of charity and fidelity, did ever it cross your mind that you might find it would lead you to crime?
If you call it crime, McMurdo answered.
Call it crime! cried Morris, his voice vibrating with passion. You have seen little of it if you can call it anything else. Was it crime last night when a man old enough to be your father was beaten till the blood dripped from his white hairs? Was that crimeor what else would you call it?
There are some would say it was war, said McMurdo, a war of two classes with all in, so that each struck as best it could.
Well, did you think of such a thing when you joined the Freemans society at Chicago?
No, Im bound to say I did not.
Nor did I when I joined it at Philadelphia. It was just a benefit club and a meeting place for ones fellows. Then I heard of this placecurse the hour that the name first fell upon my ears!and I came to better myself! My God! to better myself! My wife and three children came with me. I started a drygoods store on Market Square, and I prospered well. The word had gone round that I was a Freeman, and I was forced to join the local lodge, same as you did last night. Ive the badge of shame on my forearm and something worse branded on my heart. I found that I was under the orders of a black villain and caught
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