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    Chapter 29

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    Chapter 29
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    We turned the corner, and soon I saw what was before us, and almost cried out with glee. It was really too good to be true! Carpenter, in the course of his talks with strikers, had learned where their soup-kitchen was located, the relief-headquarters where their families were being fed; and he now had the sublime audacity to take the picture magnate to lunch among them!

    The place was an empty warehouse, fitted with long tables, and benches made of planks that were old and full of splinters. Here in rows of twenty or thirty were seated men and women and children, mixed together; before each one a bowl of not very thick soup, and a hunk of bread, and a tin cup full of hot brown liquid, politely taken for coffee. It was a meal which would have been spurned by any of the "studio bums" of T-S's mob-scenes; but now T-S was going to be a good sport, and sit on a splintery plank and eat it!

    Nor was that all. As we pushed our way into the place, Carpenter turned to the magnate, and without a trace of embarrassment, said: "You understand, Mr. T-S, I have no money. But we must pay--"

    "Oh, sure!" said T-S, quickly. "I'll pay!"

    "Thank you," said the other; and he turned to an official of the union with whom he had got acquainted in the course of the morning. He introduced us all, not forgetting the secretary, and then said: "Mr. T-S is the moving picture producer, and wants to have lunch with you, if you will consent."

    "Oh, sure!" said the official, cordially.

    "He will pay for it," added Carpenter. "He has brought along a thousand dollars for that purpose."

    T-S started as if some one had struck him; and the official started too. "WHAT?"

    "He will pay a thousand dollars," declared Carpenter. "It is a fact, and you may tell the people, if you wish."

    "My Gawd, no!" cried T-S wildly.

    But the official did not heed him. He faced the crowd and stretched out his arms. "Boys! Boys! This is Mr. T-S, the picture producer, and he's come to lunch with us, and he's going to pay a thousand dollars for it!"

    There was a moment of amazed silence, then a roar from the company. Men leaped to their feet and yelled. And there stood poor T-S-not enjoying the ovation!

    "Give it to them," whispered Carpenter; and the magnate, thus held up, took out the roll of bills, and turned it over to the trembling official, who leaped onto a chair and waved the miracle before the crowd. "A thousand dollars! A thousand dollars!" He counted it over before their eyes and called, louder than ever, "A thousand dollars!"

    Carpenter, followed by T-S and the secretary and myself, went down the line of tables, shaking hands with many on the way, and being patted on the back by others. Also T-S shook hands, and was patted. Seats were found for us, and food was brought--double portions of it, as if to make the plight of the poor magnate even more absurd! I watched him out of the corner of my eye; he enjoyed that costly meal just about as much as Carpenter had enjoyed the one at Prince's last night!

    However, he was game, and spilled no tears into his soup; and Carpenter ate with honest appetite, having had no breakfast. The strikers about us ate as if they had missed both breakfast and supper; they laughed and chatted and made jokes with us--you would have thought they were celebrating the winning of the strike and the end of all their troubles. In the midst of the meal I noted two well-dressed young men by the door, asking questions; I chuckled to myself, seeing more head-lines--double ones, and extra size:

    PROPHET OF GOD VAMPS MOVIE KING MAGNATE OF SCREEN PAYS THOUSAND FOR LUNCH

    But I knew that T-S had never yet paid a thousand dollars without getting something for it, and I was not surprised when, after he had gulped down his meal, he turned to his host and, disregarding the company and the excitement, demanded, "Now, Mr. Carpenter, tell me, do I git de contract?"

    Carpenter had had his jest, and was through with it. He answered, gravely: "You must understand me, Mr. T-S. You don't want a contract with me."

    "I don't?"

    "If I were to sign it, it would not be a week before you would be sorry, and would be asking me to release you."

    "Vy is dat, Mr. Carpenter?"

    "Because I am going to do things which will make me quite useless to you in a business way."

    "Dat can't be true, Mr. Carpenter!"

    "It is true, and you will realize it soon. I assure you, it won't be a day before you will be ashamed of having known me."

    T-S was gazing at the speaker, not certain whether this was something very terrible, or only a polite evasion. "Mr. Carpenter," he answered, "if all de vorld vas to give you up, I vouldn't!"

    Said Carpenter: "I tell you, before the cock crows again, you will deny three times that you know me." And then, without awaiting response from the amazed T-S, he turned to speak to the man on the other side of him.

    The magnate of the pictures sat silent, evidently frightened. At last he turned to me and asked, "Vot you tink he meant by dat, Billy?"

    I answered: "I think he meant that you are to play the part of Peter."

    "Peter? Peter Pan?"

    "No; St. Peter, who denied his master."

    "Veil," said T-S, patiently, "you know, I ain't vun o' dese litry fellers."

    "I'll tell it to you some time," I continued. "It's kind of funny. If he's right, you are going to be the first pope, and sit at the golden gate, holding the keys of heaven."

    "My Gawd!" said T-S.

    "And you've made a record in the movies." I added. "You've played Satan and St. Peter, both on the same day! That is 'doubling' with a vengeance!"
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