"I think it was reading in a newspaper one morning of the strikes in the rolling-mills at Warrenton and Leetsburg," replied Colonel Halket. "It started me thinking. I said to myself, 'I never have strikes in my mills; why should these men have them in theirs?' The answer was simple; my methods, my organization, my system of dealing with my men were based on correct principles; theirs were at fault. And then it occurred to me; if my methods could be applied to all the steel mills of this vicinity, under my personal supervision, there would be a harmonizing at once of interests which have been conflicting—a harmonizing and humanizing, to speak in epigram. It was the idea of so harmonizing and humanizing the relations of capital and labor, of giving a sense of stability to the workingman as well as to the employer that suggested the gathering together of all the mills in the valley under my control. From that, the next generalization is logical enough. If one can combine the iron industries of the valley, one can, almost as easily, combine those of the country. It will be done by gradual, inevitable accretion. It was first my mission to introduce a more enlightened and liberal policy towards labor into my own mills; it is now my mission to propagate this wherever the industry flourishes; in another decade, if I am spared to set this work properly on its feet, the condition of the iron-worker will be improved a hundred per cent., and a strike in the iron and steel business will be as unlikely as an earthquake in New York."
Floyd found himself for the moment with nothing to say. The idea that his grandfather had evolved this prodigious scheme in the interests of the laboring-man seemed to him unspeakably astounding and grotesque. It indicated a monstrous delusion as to the situation in the New Rome mills, where there was greater disaffection and discontent than there had ever been. It indicated a development of the visionary side of Colonel Halket's nature which Floyd had hardly suspected.