He saluted Andrew Peters. "Mr. Mayor, I'd say you're just in time." "For?"
"The volunteer police General Cole sent to Scollay Square walked into an ambush, sir. There have been shots fired, several injuries reported." "Good Lord."
Major Sullivan nodded. "They won't last, sir. I'm not sure they'll last five minutes in truth."
Well then, here it was.
"Your men are ready?"
"You see them here before you, sir."
"The cavalry?" Peters said.
"No quicker way to break up a crowd and establish dominance, Mr. Mayor."
Peters was struck by the absurdity of it all--a nineteenth-century military action in twentieth-century America. Absurd but somehow apt. Peters gave the order: "Save the volunteers, Major."
"With pleasure, sir." Major Sullivan snapped a salute and a young captain brought him his horse. Sullivan toed the stirrup without ever looking at it and swung gracefully atop his horse. The captain climbed onto the mount behind his and raised a bugle to his shoulder.
"First Cavalry Troop, on my command we will ride down into Scollay Square to the intersection of Cornhill and Sudbury. We will rescue the volunteer policemen and restore order. You are not to fire on the crowd unless you have no--I repeat, absolutely no--choice. Is that understood?"
A hard chorus of "Yes, sir!"
"Then, gentlemen, at-ten-tion!"
The horses swung into rows as sharp and straight as razors.
Peters thought, Wait a minute. Hold on. Slow down. Let's think about this.
The bugle blew and Major Sullivan's mount burst out through the portico, as if fired from a gun. The rest of the cavalry followed suit and Mayor Peters found himself running alongside them. He felt like a child at his first parade, but this was better than any parade, and he was no longer a child but a leader of men, a man worthy of salutes given without irony.
He was almost crushed by the flank of a horse as they rounded the corner of the State House fence line, took a quick right and then streamed left onto Beacon at full gallop. The sound of all those galloping hooves was unlike anything he had ever heard, as if the heavens had unleashed boulders by the hundreds, by the thousands, and sudden white cracks and fissures appeared in the windows along lower Beacon, and Beacon Hill itself shuddered from the glorious fury of the beasts and their riders.
The breadth of them had passed him by the time they turned left on Cambridge Street and headed for Scollay Square, but Mayor Peters kept running, the sharp decline of Beacon giving him added speed, and when he broke out onto Cambridge, they appeared before him, a block ahead, sabers held aloft, that bugle trumpeting their arrival. And just beyond them, the mob. A vast pepper sea that spread in every direction.
How Andrew Peters wished he'd been born twice as fast, wished he'd been given wings, as he watched those majestic brown beasts and their magnificent riders breach the crowd! They parted that pepper sea as Andrew Peters continued to run and the pepper gained clarity, became heads and then faces. Sounds grew more distinct as well. Shouts, screams, some squealing that sounded nonhuman, the clang and thwang of metal, the fi rst gunshot.
Followed by the second.
Followed by the third.
Andrew Peters reached Scollay Square in time to see a horse and rider fall through the storefront of a burned- out drugstore. A woman lay on the ground with blood seeping from her ears and a hoofprint in the center of her forehead. Sabers slashed at limbs. A man with blood all over his face pushed past his mayor. A volunteer policeman lay curled up on the sidewalk, clutching his side, weeping, most of his teeth gone. The horses spun in ferocious circles, their great legs stomping and clopping, their riders swinging those sabers.
A horse toppled, and its legs kicked out as it whinnied. People fell, people were kicked, people screamed. The horse kept kicking. The rider got a firm grip on the stirrup and the horse rose up in the crowd, its white eyes as large as eggs and wide with terror as it rose on its front legs and kicked out with its back legs and then toppled again with a squeal of confusion and abandonment.
Directly in front of Mayor Peters a volunteer policeman with a Springfi eld rifle and a face warped by fear leveled his weapon. Andrew Peters saw what was going to happen in the split second before it did, saw the other man in the black bowler with the stick, the man looking dazed, as if he'd taken a hit to the head, but still holding that stick, wavering. And Andrew Peters shouted, "No!"
But the bullet left the volunteer policeman's rifle and entered the chest of the dazed man with the stick. It exited his body as well, punching its way out and imbedding itself in the shoulder of another man, who spun and hit the ground. The volunteer policeman and Andrew Peters both watched the man with the stick stand in place, bent over at the waist. He stood like that for a few seconds, and then he dropped the stick and pitched forward onto the ground. His leg jerked, and then he sighed forth a gout of black blood and went still.
Andrew Peters felt the whole horrible summer coalesce into this moment. All the dreams they'd had of peace, of a mutually benefi cial solution, all the hard work and goodwill and good faith, all the hope . . .
The mayor of the great city of Boston lowered his head and wept. chapter thirty-eight Thomas had held out hope that the work he and Crowley and their ragtag band had performed last night would have sent the proper message, but it wasn't to be. They'd busted heads last night, they had. They'd gone in, fierce and fearless, and met the mob in Andrew Square, then met it again on West Broadway, and they'd cleared it. Two old warhorses and thirty-two bucks of varying experience and varying levels of fear. Thirty-four against thousands! When he'd finally arrived home, Thomas hadn't been able to fall asleep for hours.
But now the mob was at it again. In twice the numbers. And unlike last night, they were organized. Bolsheviks and anarchists moved among them, handing out weapons and rhetoric in equal measure. The Gusties and a variety of in- state and out-of- state plug-uglies had formed squads, and they were hitting safes up and down Broadway. Mayhem, yes, but no longer mindless.
Thomas had received a call from the mayor himself asking him to refrain from action until the State Guard arrived. When Thomas asked when His Honor expected that help to come, the mayor told him there'd been some unforeseen trouble in Scollay Square but the troops would be arriving presently.
West Broadway was anarchy. The citizens Thomas had sworn to protect were being victimized at this very moment. And the only possible saviors would arrive . . . presently.