"That's the kind of talk I like to hear," exclaimed Mr. Terry.
"And nobody's had the gumption to fight 'em," said Mr. Widgeon.
"It looks," said Austen, "as though it must come to a fight in the end. I do not think they will listen to reason. I mean," he added, with a flash of humour, "that they will listen to it, but not act upon it. Gentlemen, I regret to have to say, for obvious reasons, something which you all know, that my father is at the head of the Northeastern machine, which is the Republican party organization."
"You went again' him, and we honour you for it, Austen," said Mr. Redbrook, at length.
"I want to say," Austen continued, "that I have tried to look at things as Mr. Vane sees them, and that I have a good deal of sympathy for his point of view. Conditions as they exist are the result of an evolution for which no one man is responsible. That does not alter the fact that the conditions are wrong. But the railroads, before they consolidated, found the political boss in power, and had to pay him for favours. The citizen was the culprit to start with, just as he is the culprit now, because he does not take sufficient interest in his government to make it honest. We mustn't blame the railroads too severely, when they grew strong enough, for substituting their own political army to avoid being blackmailed. Long immunity has reenforced them in the belief that they have but one duty to pay dividends. I am afraid," he added, "that they will have to be enlightened somewhat as Pharaoh was enlightened."
"Well, that's sense, too," said Mr. Widgeon; "I guess you're the man to enlighten 'em."
"Moderate talk appeals to me," declared Mr. Jarley.
"And when that fails," said Mr. Terry, 'hard, tellin' blows."