Anyone who had been in the vicinity of the Connor estate that night after Ioan’s coach rode off would have seen the four black-clad figures creeping across the lawn to the manor. They wore black-dyed long underwear and military boots along with a hairnet over their curlers. Their faces were black as night though white skin was visible above their black leather gloves.
Edward Connor was going over the union proposals in his office in order to prepare a report for his partners. Sharon, among others, had convinced him that the conditions in the mine had to be corrected with all due urgency. Although they were fully prepared to make immediate changes, they wanted to choose the most expedient course of action possible to meet the greatest needs. They also wanted to ensure that, by bringing the union aboard, they would be given the best advice on how to make working conditions both as safe and cost-efficient as possible.
He heard a noise in the parlor and thought to investigate, but shrugged it off as possibly an animal bumping against the house or a tree limb blown against it. His instincts made him think twice, especially with the notion of the Molly Maguires possibly lurking in the vicinity and committing an act of vandalism on the property. He was confident in the abilities of the Pottsville Police Department, as well as the resolve of the Coal and Iron Police and the Pinkertons in tracking down the Mollies. Yet he knew that there were a fair number of hooligans amongst their ranks who would slip through dragnets undetected and destroy property to establish themselves with their more dangerous counterparts.
As he came down the stairs, he was shoved hard down the steps where he crashed into the banister and tumbled down to the floor. He sprained his wrist and banged up both knees, unable to offer serious resistance as two sets of hands grabbed his arms and dragged him to a wooden armchair. He was twisted around and dropped down, a third man coming over to help tie him to the chair as the fourth intruder came down from the stairwell.
“Well, well, quite a setup you have here. Doing slightly better than in the Old Country, I see,” the leader chortled as he descended to the parlor. “Perhaps you’ll be a bit more generous to those less fortunate than you in this new environment.”
“You’re making a mistake,” Connor warned him. “This property is under surveillance by the Coal and Iron Police and the Pinkertons. Just walk away and it’ll be as if nothing happened. Leave now before this gets out of hand.”
“Don’t you think we would’ve been watching the house as well to see when those bunglers make their rounds?” The leader strolled across the carpet, admiring the tasteful Victorian furnishings. “They come by at five o’clock so they can beat the evening rush to the steak house. I’ve got six-thirty on my pocket watch.”
“What do you want? I don’t keep much money in the house,” Edward bargained.
“I’ve got a pen and paper. I want your signature on a document agreeing to allow your workers to form a chapter of the WBA here in Pottsville.”
“That’s absurd! I’m a junior partner in the firm; it wouldn’t be worth the cost of the paper!”
“It’s what they call a moral victory.” The leader walked over to stand before him. “It would signify a rift in leadership among the mine owners. The beginning of a petition, if you will.”
“My name won’t be at the top of it,” Connor asserted. “I don’t know why you started here, but you picked the wrong fellow.”
“Luck of the draw,” the leader produced a long-handled pair of pliers from a small sack tied to his belt. “Well, let’s see now. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘pulling hen’s teeth’?”
Connor did not answer, jerking at his bonds, and staring balefully at the three other men standing around him.
“In your case, I can either knock them all out in one shot, or I can pull them one by one. Either way, I can assure you the pain will probably be more than a pencil-pusher like yourself could tolerate. I will give you a moment to consider, and should you choose to remain stubborn, then you can decide how we will proceed with the dental work.”
“You infer principles, yet you fail to consider how you will strengthen the resolve of the mine owners to resist your demands! Do you not think they will declare war against you on principle? You defeat your own purpose with these acts of barbarism!”
“I’m sure when they see how this dental work affects your job performance, they will surely reconsider.” The leader grinned, clicking the jaws of the pliers nonchalantly.
Suddenly there was a great crash as a huge earthen pot from the outside patio was hurled through the framed glass door. Wood and glass flew through the room before the vase exploded on the tiled floor, sending shards of clay and dirt everywhere. Behind it hurtled a figure, which catapulted across the floor to the fireplace. Most of the men recognized Ioan, who yanked a poker from its stand and tumbled across the floor once again. He rolled to where two of the men stood and took vicious swings, cracking them across the knees and shins. They dropped to the floor in agony as he rose to his feet.
“Okay, William, let us get on either side of him,” the leader rose to the balls of his feet, brandishing the pliers as a small club. “He can only take one of us; the other will catch him from behind.”
“You know you’ll be the one I take out, and I’m sure your friend would be no match for me thereafter,” Ioan assured him. “Take these goons and get out while I attend to Mr. Connor.”
“You strike a hard bargain,” the leader grinned. Both he and William helped their partners to their feet and out the broken glass door as Ioan took his time freeing Edward.