Chapter 19

The story so far: Sheriff Turner pays a threatening visit.

 

Before marrying Lily, Anton worked as a lumberjack. When the timber companies laid off workers, he would pick up shifts at the mine, but he hated it. He was a man of the forest and loved to be surrounded by pines and white oaks and all the creatures that lived beside or inside of the trees. He had labored hard in the lumber camps and endured the cold, the lousy beds, the long hours and the bad food. Then he met and married Lily, daughter of a wealthy couple who despised him as much as Lily adored him. He wished he could say he’d earned his good fortune, not married into it, but that’s not how it was. He had a wife he loved and he worked for no man. His land belonged to him and he was making a good income leasing a small portion of the land to a logging company. He went out into the woods every day. There was something peaceful about riding his horse, Bruno, through the leaf-covered paths, with the sun streaming through the canopy of branches. Sometimes, as he rode through the noisy forest he would be surprised by a voice. “Mine,” the voice would say pridefully. “All mine.” The voice was his own.

Anton was also known throughout the area as a superior marksman. He was precise and rarely wasted a bullet. On off days, he shot rabbits, grouse and squirrels, which he would bring home for Lily to make into stews for the boarders. On good days, he shot moose, elk, partridge and deer. His boarding house was the envy of all because the men always had meat to eat, even when there was no pig to butcher. He and Lily smoked the venison and other meats in the shack in the back yard. What they couldn’t eat, they sold to Sherek’s Butchery and Meat Market.

In late September, Lily and Katka began to incorporate more controversial articles into their journal. Lily had wanted to write about Toivo’s death and the injustices experienced at the Slovenski Dom, but they knew they couldn’t risk it. Anton had deemed the place unsafe for meetings, at least for now. So the women continued to focus on women. In the fourth installment, Lily simply wrote, “Women in Finland and New Zealand have the same voting rights as men. Why don’t we?” She had heard the news from Helen, who had heard about it from Avi Nurmi, who had just received a letter from her cousin back in Finland. Letters from the old country that did not report a death were a cause for celebration. Immigrants passed them around to all who could read. Avi Nurmi’s cousin had actually voted in the last election. “Perhaps our mayor and city council would push for running water in the mining locations if they knew that the women who washed the clothes and prepared the food had the power to vote them out of office if they ignored women,” Katka said.

“Maybe,” Lily replied. “But then there’s always the issue of the husbands. Many husbands would not let their women vote.”

“Nonsense. They’d tell their wives who to vote for and consider themselves as getting two votes instead of one.”

In October, after reading some old copies of the New York Times that a traveling salesman had given her, Katka wrote about a woman named Margaret Sanger, who was teaching about ways to prevent pregnancies. This pamphlet created quite a stir. Copies of the article were floating around town, having been translated into Finnish, Latvian, Italian, and Serbian. The editor of the local paper, The Company Chronicle, wrote an editorial about Lily and Katka’s pamphlet.

“Oh my stars!” Lily said to Katka one morning after breakfast. They were seated at the table in the cellar. She had a copy of The Chronicle in her hand and began to read out loud:

 

“Not only is The Iron Range Ladies Journal not a legitimate journalistic publication, it is not journalism at all. The publisher of the pamphlet obviously has no regard for the basic tenets of the newspaper trade. There were no interviews, no direct quotations from legitimate sources. The cowardly author has refused to identify himself, thereby relinquishing responsibilities for its content. The most recent article about Mrs. Margaret Sanger’s Clinic for Women failed to report the dangerous medical side effects associated with taking a tonic to prevent childbirth, not to mention the fact that the practice is abhorrent. No God-fearing man should allow his wife to read such drivel.”

 

Lily was just about to cheer when she was jolted out of her chair by a shrill sound, forceful enough to be readily audible even in the relative obscurity of the cellar. It was the most horrific sound in the world. “Oh God,” she said. “The accident whistle!” Lily quickly shoved the article in her pocket and the two women scrambled up the ladder.

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 19 continues.