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    Chapter 32

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    Chapter 32
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    The chairman of the meeting was a man named Brown, the president of the city's labor council. He was certainly respectable enough, prosy and solemn. But he was deeply moved on this question of clubbing strikers' heads; and you could see that the crowd was only waiting for a chance to shout its indignation. The chairman introduced the president of the Restaurant Workers, a solid citizen whom you would have taken for a successful grocer. He told about what had happened last night at Prince's; and then he told about the causes of the strike, and the things that go on behind the scenes in big restaurants. I had been to Prince's many times in my life, but I had never been behind the scenes, nor had I ever before been to a labor-meeting. I must admit that I was startled. The things they put into the hashes! And the distressing habit of unorganized waiters, when robbed of their tips or otherwise ill-treated, to take it out by spitting into the soup!

    A couple of other labor men spoke, and then came James, the carpenter with a religious streak. He had a harsh, rasping voice, and a way of poking a long bony finger at the people he was impressing. He was desperately in earnest, and it caused him to swallow a great deal, and each time his Adam's apple would jump up. "I'm going to read you a newspaper clipping," he began; and I thought it was Judge Wollcott's injunction again, but it was a story about one of our social leaders, Mrs. Alinson Pakenham, who has four famous Pekinese spaniels, worth six thousand dollars each, and weighing only eight ounces--or is it eighty ounces?--I'm not sure, for I never was trusted to lift one of the wretched little brutes. Anyhow, their names are Fe, Fi, Fo, and Fum, and they have each their own attendant, and the four have a private limousine in which to travel, and they dine off a service of gold plate. And here were hundreds of starving strikers, with their wives, also starving; and a couple of thousand other workers in factories and on ranches who were in process of having their wages "deflated." The orator quoted a speech of Algernon de Wiggs before the Chamber of Commerce, declaring that the restoration of prosperity, especially in agriculture, depended upon "deflation," and this alone; and suddenly James, the carpenter with a religious streak, launched forth:

    "Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten! Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust on it shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as if it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold the hire of the laborers, who have reaped your fields; you have kept it back by fraud, and the cries of the reapers have entered into the ears of the Lord! You have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; you have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed the just--"

    At this point in the tirade, my old friend the ex-centre-rush, who was standing in the wings with me, turned and whispered: "For God's sake, Billy, what kind of a Goddamn Bolshevik stunt is this, anyhow?"

    I answered: "Hush, you dub! He's quoting from the Bible!"
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