Chapter 37 continues
The story so far: Anton returns, loaded with crates of food.
A slight breeze was gently rustling through the trees. Anton gestured for the ladies to sit.
“Bring any cards?” Katka asked Anton. “We could play Smear.”
“No time for cards. I have news. ”
“Are you with child?” Katka asked.
Anton laughed. “I wish it were that. I’ll tell you, but then Paul and I must move on and tell others.”
Anton had seen something in Duluth, when he had gone to get supplies. Something disturbing. He had already told Paul and most of the Wobbly men and locals on the strike committee. The organizers planned to meet the next morning in the underground bunker. But in the meantime, they were telling as many people as possible, knowing that word would spread fast.
“Just tell us what you saw, for the love of Mary,” Lily said. “This isn’t a gothic romance novel.”
“No. Ain’t nothing romantic about it.” Anton slapped a mosquito. “So on my way to get the supplies, see, I drove past the prison. Who you think I seen standing outside, talking to some man in a uniform?”
Neither woman wagered to guess.
“Sheriff Turner, that who.”
“What was he doing there?” Lily asked.
“That was my question. I figure there weren’t much chance in me finding out by asking him, being as we ain’t exactly kissing cousins, see. So I looked around for the first saloon I could find. I went inside and ordered myself a pint. I started talking to the owner of the saloon. As I figured, the guards come in his place real regular. Saloonkeeper knew everything going on at the prison. He knew who Sheriff Turner was, too. Said he and Mr. Stone had been by a few times in the past week or so, and they were making a deal with the warden.”
“What kind of deal?” Katka asked.
“Mr. Stone bought himself some men. They should be arriving up here within the week.”
“Men to work the mines? Scab laborers?”
“That’s what I thought. But the saloon owner, he said no. They already got scabs coming in from Minneapolis. It’s all arranged. Said he heard that Turner and Stone were not looking for miners. They were looking for deputies.”
“Deputies?” Lily asked. “From the prisons? You must be plum outta your mind, Anton.”
“They plan to release some of the prisoners — those who know how to wield a pistol — and hire them as company guards. The prisoners get a small stipend and the warden gets a big one.”
“They already got mine guards to watch the company property. They need more?”
Anton shot Paul a look. “Don’t shield Katka, Paul. They need to be prepared. Tell her what you know.”
“I’ve seen it before, Kat. Probably a brute force squad. The sheriff will deputize the criminals. They’ll each get a badge and the powers that come with it. They’ll be able to issue warrants, make arrests, God only knows what else.”
Tomorrow: Chapter 37 continues.