Chapter 38 continues

The story so far: The sheriff issues harsh rules and penalties against the miners.

 

People in the crowd began to yell. Many had come here to escape war. No one wanted to get involved in a war if they didn’t understand the reasons. “It is our duty as human beings to avoid war when we can,” Adeline Sherek yelled. “Why fight the Germans? The British threatened our merchant ships too. This war is about money. Money for the master class. We don’t want money for the master class. We want to fill our children’s stomachs! We want chicken in our soup!”

“Chicken in our soup! Chicken in our soup!” The crowd started chanting in several languages. As the fervor gained momentum, the people instinctively came closer to each other.

“Stand back!” Paul yelled in Slovenian, as he saw two older men walk toward two younger men. “No groups of four or more men. Do not give them reason to fire!”

The men moved back. The crowd kept its distance, but kept shouting.

Mr. Augustine Stone held up his hand and addressed the midwife directly. “Let me remind you, Mrs. Sherek, that we have jails for womenfolk too. You are lucky we are kind enough to give you three days to learn the new law of the land.”

“I do not thank you,” she said. “I spit on your laws.”

“Arrest her!” Stone said. Three deputies quickly pounced upon her. Helen Cerkvenik and Ava Nurmi held fast to her.

“Stop this! Release her!” Sam Scarlett screamed, as townsfolk ran to her defense. “Do you wish to have violence within moments of your decree? Do you think you will persuade the workers to return to your slave caves if you arrest this woman, here and now?”

“Arrest me!” Mrs. Sherek cried. “I would rather spend twenty years in prison than a lifetime with no hope for my children!”

Katka moved up toward the steps, notebook in hand. “Mr. Stone,” she said, her tone even and strong. “I am recording everything that happens here. Within twenty-four hours, every word I write will be translated into thirty languages. Show some mercy, and I will record that as well. I only write the truth.”

Stone stared at her. “Who are you?”

“My name is Maria. I write for the Iron Range Ladies Journal.”

“No one takes seriously a women’s magazine. Who would read the writings of a girl, except silly girls like yourself, who cannot even vote? You are made to give men pleasure and babies milk.”

“It’s possible that you will not read what I write, sir. But you will be the only one who doesn’t.” Katka’s voice was even, strong. Her gaze was steadfast. Although Stone was twice her size and armed, she was not afraid.

Stone laughed loudly, as if he found Katka’s words hilarious.

“Let Mrs. Sherek go,” Katka said. “If not out of common decency, then for the sake of your own reputation.”

Stone considered her words for a moment, then gestured wildly about with his hands. “Fine. Free the midwife. She’s hardly worth our energy!” The deputies took their hands off Adeline Sherek. “This ceremony is ended. Deputies, pick up your fliers. No arrests for three days. You will travel from town to town putting up fliers announcing the ban on assemblies and the consequences of disobeying the governor’s edict to return to work. Sheriff Turner and his First Council will take care of everything.”

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 38 continues.