Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887
Chapter 24

Public Domain

In the morning I went down stairs early in the hope of seeing Edith alone. In this, however, I was disappointed. Not finding her in the house, I sought her in the garden, but she was not there. In the course of my wanderings I visited the underground chamber, and sat down there to rest. Upon the reading table in the chamber several periodicals and newspapers lay, and thinking that Dr. Leete might be interested in glancing over a Boston daily of 1887, I brought one of the papers with me into the house when I came.

At breakfast I met Edith. She blushed as she greeted me, but was perfectly self-possessed. As we sat at table, Dr. Leete amused himself with looking over the paper I had brought in. There was in it, as in all the newspapers of that date, a great deal about the labor troubles, strikes, lockouts, boycotts, the programmes of labor parties, and the wild threats of the anarchists.

“By the way,” said I, as the doctor read aloud to us some of these items, “what part did the followers of the red flag take in the establishment of the new order of things? They were making considerable noise the last thing that I knew.”

“They had nothing to do with it except to hinder it, of course,” replied Dr. Leete. “They did that very effectually while they lasted, for their talk so disgusted people as to deprive the best considered projects for social reform of a hearing. The subsidizing of those fellows was one of the shrewdest moves of the opponents of reform.”

“Subsidizing them!” I exclaimed in astonishment.

“Certainly,” replied Dr. Leete. “No historical authority nowadays doubts that they were paid by the great monopolies to wave the red flag and talk about burning, sacking, and blowing people up, in order, by alarming the timid, to head off any real reforms. What astonishes me most is that you should have fallen into the trap so unsuspectingly.”

“What are your grounds for believing that the red flag party was subsidized?” I inquired.

“Why simply because they must have seen that their course made a thousand enemies of their professed cause to one friend. Not to suppose that they were hired for the work is to credit them with an inconceivable folly.[1] In the United States, of all countries, no party could intelligently expect to carry its point without first winning over to its ideas a majority of the nation, as the national party eventually did.”

“The national party!” I exclaimed. “That must have arisen after my day. I suppose it was one of the labor parties.”

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