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    Chapter 31

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    Chapter 31
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    It came time when the rest of us were ready for dinner, but Carpenter said that he wanted to pray. Apparently, whenever he was tired, and had work to do he prayed. He told me that he would find his own way to Grant Hall, the place of the mass-meeting; but somehow, I didn't like the idea of his walking through the streets alone. I said I would call for him at seven-thirty and made him promise not to leave the Labor Temple until that hour.

    I cast about in my mind for a body-guard, and bethought me of old Joe. His name is Joseph Camper, and he played centre-rush with my elder brother in the days before they opened up the game, and when beef was what counted. Old Joe has shoulders like the biggest hams in a butcher shop, and you can trust him like a Newfoundland dog. I knew that if I asked him not to let anybody hurt my friend, he wouldn't--and this regardless of the circumstance of my friend's not wearing pants. Old Joe knows nothing about religion or sociology-- only wrestling and motor-cars, and the price of wholesale stationery.

    So I phoned him to meet me, and we had dinner, and at seven-thirty sharp our taxi crew drew up at the Labor Temple. Half a minute later, who should come walking down the street but Everett, T-S's secretary! "I thought I'd take the liberty," he said, apologetically. "I thought Mr. Carpenter might say something worth while, and you'd be glad to have a transcript of his speech."

    "Why, that's very kind of you," I answered, "I didn't know you were interested in him."

    "Well, I didn't know it myself, but I seem to be; and besides, he told me to follow him."

    I went upstairs, and found the stranger waiting in the room where I had left him. I put myself on one side of him, and the ex-centre-rush on the other, with Everett respectfully bringing up the rear, and so we walked to Grant Hall. Many people stared at us, and a few followed, but no one said anything--and thank God, there was nothing resembling a mob! I took my prophet to the stage entrance of the hall, and got him into the wings; and there was a pathetically earnest lady waiting to give him a tract on the horrors of vivisection, and an old gentleman with a white beard and palsied hands, inviting him to a spiritualistic seance. Funniest of all, there was Aunt Caroline's prophet, the author of the "Eternal Bible," with his white robes and his permanent wave, and his little tribute of carrots and onions wrapped in a newspaper. I decided that these were Carpenter's own kind of troubles, and I left him to attend to them, and strolled out to have a look at the audience.

    The hall was packed, both the floor and the galleries; there must have been three thousand people. I noted a big squad of police, and wondered what was coming; for in these days you can never tell whether any public meeting is to be allowed to start, and still less if it is to be allowed to finish. However, the crowd was orderly, the only disturber being some kind of a Socialist trying to sell literature.

    I saw Mary Magna come in, with Laura Lee, another picture actress, and Mrs. T-S. They found seats; and I looked for the magnate, and saw him talking to some one near the door. I strolled back to speak to him, and recognized the other man as Westerly, secretary of the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association. I knew what he was there for--to size up this new disturber Of the city's peace, and perhaps to give the police their orders.

    It was not my wish to overhear the conversation, but it worked out that way, partly because it is hard not to overhear T-S, and partly because I stopped in surprise at the first words: "Good Gawd, Mr. Vesterly, vy should I vant to give money to strikers? Dat's nuttin' but fool newspaper talk. I vent to see de man, because Mary Magna told me he vas a vunderful type, and I said I'd pay him a tousand dollars on de contract. You know vot de newspapers do vit such tings!"

    "Then the man isn't a friend of yours?" said the other.

    "My Gawd, do I make friends vit every feller vot I hire because he looks like a character part?"

    At this point there came up Rankin, one of T-S's directors. "Hello!" said he. "I thought I'd come to hear your friend the prophet."

    "Friend?" said T-S. "Who told you he's a friend o' mine?"

    "Why, the papers said--"

    "Vell, de papers 're nutty!"

    And then came one of the strikers who had been in the soup-kitchen--a fresh young fellow, proud to know a great man. "How dy'do, Mr. T-S? I hear our friend, Mr. Carpenter, is going--"

    "Cut out dis friend stuff!" cried T-S, irritably. "He may be yours--he ain't mine!"

    I strolled up. "Hello, T-S!" I said.

    "Oh, Billy! Hello!"

    "So you've denied him three times!"

    "Vot you mean?"

    "Three times--and the cock hasn't crowed yet! That man's a prophet for sure, T-S!"

    The magnate pretended not to understand, but the deep flush on his features gave him away.

    "How dy'do, Mr. Westerly," I said. "What do you think of Mr. T-S in the role of the first pope?"

    "You mean he's going to act?" inquired the other, puzzled.

    "Come off!" exclaimed Rankin, who knew better, of course.

    "He's going to be St. Peter," I insisted, "and hold the keys to the golden gate. He's planning a religious play, you know, for this fellow Carpenter. Maybe he might cast Mr. Westerly for a part--say Pontius Pilate."

    "Ha, ha, ha!" said the secretary of our "M. and M." "Pretty good! Ha, ha, ha! Gimme a chance at these bunk-shooters--I'll shut 'em up, you bet!"
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