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    Chapter 33

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    Chapter 33
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    President Brown of the Western City Labor Council arose to perform his next duty as chairman. Said he:

    "The next speaker is a stranger to most of you, and he is also a stranger to me. I do not know what his doctrine is, and I assume no responsibility for it. But he is a man who has proven his friendship for labor, not by words, but by very unusual deeds. He is a man of remarkable personality, and we have asked him to make what suggestions he can as to our problems. I have pleasure in introducing Mr. Carpenter."

    Whereupon the prophet fresh from God arose from his chair, and come slowly to the front of the platform. There was no applause, but a silence made part of curiosity and part of amazement. His figure, standing thus apart, was majestic; and I noted a curious thing--a shining as of light about his head. It was so clear and so beautiful that I whispered to Old Joe: "Do you see that halo?"

    "Go on, Billy!" said the ex-centre-rush. "You're getting nutty!"

    "But it's plain as day, man!"

    I felt some one touch my arm, and saw the little lady of the anti-vivisection tracts peering past me. "Do you see his aura?" she whispered, excitedly.

    "Is that what it is?"

    "Yes. It's purple. That denotes spirituality."

    I thought to myself, "Good Lord, am I getting to be that sort?"

    Carpenter began to speak, quietly, in his grave, measured voice. "My brothers!" He waited for some time, as if that were enough; as if all the problems of life would be solved, if only men would understand those two words. "My brothers: I am, as your chairman says, a stranger to this world of yours. I do not understand your vast machines and your complex arts. But I know the souls of men and women; when I meet greed, and pride, and cruelty, the enslavements of the flesh, they cannot lie to me. And I have walked about the streets of your city, and I know myself in the presence of a people wandering in a wilderness. My children!--broken-hearted, desolate, and betrayed--poorest when you are rich, loneliest when you throng together, proudest when you are most ignorant--my people, I call you into the way of salvation!"

    He stretched out his arms to them, and on his face and in his whole look was such anguish, that I think there was no man in that whole great throng so rooted in self-esteem that he was not shaken with sudden awe. The prophet raised his hands in invocation: "Let us pray!" He bowed his head, and many in the audience did the same. Others stared at him in bewilderment, having long ago forgotten how to pray. Here and there some one snickered.

    "Oh, God, Our Father, we, Thy lost children, return to Thee, the Giver of Life. We bring our follies and our greeds, and cast them at Thy feet. We do not like the life we have lived. We wish to be those things which for long ages we have dreamed in vain. Wilt Thou show the way?"

    His hands sank to his sides, and he raised his head. "Such is the prayer. What is the answer? It has been made known: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.--These are ancient words, by many forgotten. What do they mean? They mean that we are children of our Father, and not slaves of earthly masters. Would a man make a slave of his own child? And shall man be more righteous than his Creator?

    "My brothers: You are hungry, and in need, and your children cry for bread; do I bid you feed them upon words? Not so; but the life of men is made by the will of men, and that which exists in steel and stone existed first in thought. If your thought is mean and base, your world is a place of torment; if your thought is true and generous, your world is free.

    "There was once a man who owned much land, and upon it he built great factories, and many thousand men toiled for him, and he grew fat upon the product of their labor, and his heart was high. And it came to pass that his workers rebelled; and he hired others, and they shot down the workers, so that the rest returned to their labor. And the master said: The world is mine, and none can oppose me. But one day there arose among the workers a man who laughed. And his laughter spread, until all the thousands were laughing; they said, We are laughing at the thought that we should work and you take the fruit of our labor. He ordered his troops to shoot them, but his troops were also laughing, and he could not withstand the laughter of so many men; he laughed also, and said, let us end this foolish thing.

    "Is there a man among you who can say, I am worthy of freedom? That man shall save the world. And I say to you: Make ready your hearts for brotherhood; for the hour draws near, and it is a shameful thing when man is not worthy of his destiny. A man may serve with his body, and yet be free, but he that is a slave in his soul admires the symbols of mastery, and lusts after its fruits.

    "What are the fruits of mastery? They are pride and pomp, they are luxury and wantoness and the shows of power. And who is there among you that can say to himself, these things have no roots in my heart? That man is great, and the deliverance of the world is the act of his will."
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