Chapter 37

The story so far: The strikers deliver a Declaration of War.


Katka came barreling into the house with her empty egg basket. She had just come from town, where she sold all her eggs to Helen Cerkvenik from the Mercantile.

“Lily, something terrible has happened,” she said.

Lily was peeling potatoes, while rocking baby Gregor’s cradle with her foot. Anton sat across from her reading the latest edition of Strikers News and drinking coffee. “What is it?” Anton said.

“The stores in town. They have been forbidden to extend credit to the striking miners.”

“By who?”

“The town council. They told Helen they would revoke her license to sell dry goods if she extended a single more penny of credit to a striker.”

“They are going to try to starve them back to work,” Anton said. “The scab laborers they brought in were scared off by the parades and crowds. The company hasn’t made a dime in three weeks.”

“Neither have the workers! They’re starving already!”

“Inhuman, I tell you,” Anton said.

“So what are you going to do about it?” Lily asked.

“What am I going to do about it? Nothing. I don’t get mixed up in politicals.”

“Of course you don’t,” Lily said.

The next morning, Anton was awake before sunup. Katka packed him a hearty lunch and filled his canteen. Lily, wrapped in a shawl, stood outside and watched as her husband hitched Bruno and another horse to his cart.

“All set,” he said. “Back by nightfall tomorrow, I should be. If it doesn’t rain. Don’t be sneaking off with any lumberjacks while I’m away, you hear?”

“Don’t fall in with one of those trollop dock walkers.”

“Every time I go to Duluth, you mention that, Lily. Do you need to mention that every time?” “Be safe,” she said. And he was off down the Vermilion Trail toward the big port.


Tomorrow: Chapter 37 continues.