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    Chapter 26

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    Chapter 26
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    We got to the Labor Temple, and found the place in a buzz of excitement, over what had occurred in front of Prince's last night. I had suspected rough work on the part of the police, and here was the living evidence--men with bandages over cracked heads, men pulling open their shirts or pulling up their sleeves to show black and blue bruises. In the headquarters of the Restaurant Workers we found a crowd, jabbering in a dozen languages about their troubles; we learned that there were eight in jail, and several in the hospital, one not expected to live. All that had been going on, while we sat at table gluttonizing--and while tears were running down Carpenter's cheeks!

    It seemed to me that every third man in the crowd had one of the morning's newspapers in his hand--the newspapers which told how a furious mob of armed ruffians had sought to break its way into Prince's, and had with difficulty been driven off by the gallant protectors of the law. A man would read some passage which struck him as especially false; he would tell what he had seen or done, and he would crumple the paper in his hand and cry. "The liars! The dirty liars!"--adding adjectives not suitable for print.

    I realized more than ever that I had made a mistake in letting Carpenter get into this place. It was no resort for anybody who wanted to be patriotic, or happy about the world. All sorts of wonderful promises had been made to labor, to persuade it to win the war; and now labor came with the blank check, duly filled out according to its fancy--and was in process of being kicked downstairs. Wages were being "liquidated," as the phrase had it; and there was an endless succession of futile strikes, all pitiful failures. You must understand that Western City is the home of the "open shop;" the poor devils who went on strike were locked out of the factories, and slugged off the streets; their organizations were betrayed by spies, and their policies dedeviled by provocateurs. And all the mass of misery resulting seemed to have crowded into one building this bright November morning; pitiful figures, men and women and even a few children--for some had been turned out of their homes, and had no place to go; ragged, haggard, and underfed; weeping, some of them, with pain, or lifting their clenched hands in a passion of impotent fury. My friend T-S, the king of the movies, with all his resources, could not have made a more complete picture of human misery--nor one more fitted to work on the sensitive soul of a prophet, and persuade him that capitalist America was worse than imperial Rome.

    The arrival of Carpenter attracted no particular attention. The troubles of these people were too recent for them to be aware of anything else. All they wanted was some one to tell their troubles to, and they quickly found that this stranger was available for the purpose. He asked many questions, and before long had a crowd about him--as if he were some sort of government commissioner, conducting an investigation. It was an all day job, apparently; I hung round, trying to keep myself inconspicuous.

    Towards noon came a boy with newspapers, and I bought the early edition of the "Evening Blare." Yes, there it was--all the way across the front page; not even a big fire at the harbor and an earthquake in Japan had been able to displace it. As I had foreseen, the reporter had played up the most sensational aspects of the matter: Carpenter announced himself as a prophet only twenty-four hours out of God's presence, and proved it by healing the lame and the halt and the blind--and also by hypnotising everyone he spoke to, from a wealthy young clubman to a mob of Jewish housewives. Incidentally he denounced America as "Mobland," and called it a country governed by madmen.

    I took the paper to him, thinking to teach him a little worldly prudence. Said I: "You remember, I tried to keep out that stuff about mobs--"

    He took the sheet from my hands and looked at the headlines. I saw his nostrils dilate, and his eyes flash. "Mobs? This paper is a mob! It is the worst of your mobs!" And it fell to the floor, and he put his foot on the flaring print.

    Said he: "You talk about mobs--listen to this." Then, to one of the group about him: "Tell how they mobbed you!" The man thus addressed, a little Russian tailor named Korwsky, narrated in his halting English that he was the secretary of the tailors' union, and they had a strike, and a few days ago their offices had been raided at night, the door "jimmed" open and the desk rifled of all the papers and records. Evidently it had been done by the bosses or their agents, for nothing had been taken but papers which would be of use against the strike. "Dey got our members' list," said Korwsky. "Dey send people to frighten 'em back to verk! Dey call loans, dey git girls fired from stores if dey got jobs--dey hound 'em every way!"

    The speaker went on to declare that no such job could have been pulled off without the police knowing; yet they made no move to arrest the criminals. His voice trembled with indignation; and Carpenter turned to me.

    "You have mobs that come at night, with dark lanterns and burglars' tools!"

    I had noticed among the men talking to Carpenter one who bore a striking resemblance to him. He was tall and not too well nourished; but instead of the prophet's robes of white and amethyst, he wore the clothes of a working-man, a little too short in the sleeves; and where Carpenter had a soft and silky brown beard, this man had a skinny Adam's apple that worked up and down. He was something of an agitator, I judged, and he appeared to have a religious streak. "I am a Christian," I heard him say; "but one of the kind that speak out against injustice. And I can show you Bible texts for it," he insisted. "I can prove it by the word of God."

    This man's name was James, and I learned that he was one of the striking carpenters. The prophet turned to him, and said: "Tell him your story." So the other took from his pocket a greasy note-book, and produced a newspaper clipping, quoting an injunction which Judge Wollcott had issued against his union. "Read that," said he; but I answered that I knew about it. I remember hearing my uncle laughing over the matter at the dinner-table, saying that "Bobbie" Wollcott had forbidden the strikers to do everything but sit on air and walk on water. And now I got another view of "Bobbie," this time from a prophet fresh from God. Said the prophet: "Your judges are mobs!"
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