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    Chapter 22

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    Chapter 22
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    So presently we three were alone once more; and Mary, gazing intently with those big dark eyes that the public knows so well, opened up: "Tell me, Mr. Carpenter! Have you ever been in love?"

    I was startled, but if Carpenter was, he gave no sign. "Mary," he said, "I have been in grief." Then thinking, perhaps, that he had been abrupt, he added: "You, Mary--you have been in love?"

    She answered: "No." I'm not sure if I said anything out loud, but my thought was easy to read, and she turned upon me. "You don't know what love is. But a woman knows, even though she doesn't act it."

    "Well, of course," I replied; "if you want to go into metaphysics--"

    "Metaphysics be damned!" said Mary, and turned again to Carpenter.

    Said he: "A good woman like you--"

    "Me?" cried Mary. And she laughed, a wild laugh. "Don't hit me when you've got me down! I've sold myself for every job I ever got; I sold myself for every jewel you saw on me this afternoon. You notice I've got them off now!"

    "I don't understand, Mary," he said, gently. "Why does a woman like you sell herself?"

    "What else has she got? I was a rat in a tenement. I could have been a drudge, but I wasn't made for that. I sold myself for a job in a store, and then for ribbons to be pretty, and then for a place in the chorus, and then for a speaking part--so on all the way. Now I portray other women selling themselves. They get fancy prices, and so do I, and that makes me a 'star.' I hope you'll never see my pictures."

    I sat watching this scene, marvelling more than ever. That tone in Mary Magna's voice was a new one to me; perhaps she had not used it since she played her last "speaking part!" I thought to myself, there was a crisis impending in the screen industry.

    Said Carpenter: "What are you going to do about it, Mary?"

    "What can I do? My contract has seven years to run."

    "Couldn't you do something honest? I mean, couldn't you tell an honest story in your pictures?"

    "Me? My God! Tell that to T-S, and watch his face! Why, they hunt all the world over for some new kind of clothes for me to take off; they search all history for some war I can cause, some empire I can wreck. Me play an honest woman? The public would call it a joke, and the screen people would call it indecent."

    Carpenter got up, and began to pace the room. "Mary," said he, "I once lived under the Roman empire--"

    "Yes, I know. I was Cleopatra, and again I was Nero's mistress while he watched the city burning."

    "Rome was rough, and crude, and poor, Mary. Rome was nothing to this. This is Satan on my Father's throne, making new worlds for himself." He paced the room again, then turned and said: "I don't understand this world. I must know more about it, if I am to save it!" There was such grief, such selfless pity in his voijce as he repeated this: "I must know more!"

    "You know everything!" exclaimed Mary, suddenly. "You are all wisdom!"

    But he went on, speaking as if to himself, pondering his problem: "To serve others, yet not to indulge them; for the cause of their enslavment is that they have accepted service without return. And how shall one preach patience to the poor, when the masters make such preaching a new means of enslavement?" He looked at me, as if he thought that I could answer his question. Then with sudden energy he exclaimed: "I must meet those who are in rebellion against enslavement! Tomorrow I want to meet the strikers--all the strikers in your city."

    "You'll have your hands full," I said--for I was a coward, and wanted to keep him out of it.

    "How shall I find them?" he persisted.

    "I don't know; I suppose their headquarters are at the Labor Temple."

    "I will go there. Meantime, I fear I shall have to be alone. I need to think about the things I have learned."

    "Where are you going to stay?"

    "I don't know."

    Said Mary, hesitatingly: "My car is outside--"

    He answered: "In ancient days I saw the young patricians drive through the streets in their chariots; no, I shall not ride with them again."

    Said I: "I have an apartment at the club, with plenty of room--"

    "No, no, friend. I have seen enough of the masters of this city. From now on, if you want to see me, you will find me among the poor."

    "If I may meet you in the morning," I said--"to show you to the Labor Temple--" Yes, I would see him through!

    "By all means," said he. "But you must come early, for I cannot delay."

    "Where shall I come?"

    "Come here. I am sure these people will give me shelter." He looked about him. "I suspect that some of them sleep in this room; but they have a little porch outside, and if they will let me stay there I shall be alone, which is what I want now." After a moment, he added, "What I wish to do is to pray. Have you ever tried prayer, Mary?"

    She answered, simply, "I wouldn't know how."

    "Come to me, and I will teach you," he said.
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