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    Chapter 36

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    Chapter 36
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    Then I picked up the "Examiner." Our "Examiner" does not go in so much for moral causes; it is more interested in getting circulation, for which it relies upon sensation, and especially what it calls "heart interest," meaning sex. It had found what it wanted in this story, as you may judge by the headlines:

    MOVIE QUEEN PAWNS JEWELS FOR PROPHET OF GOD

    Then followed a story of which Mary Magna was the centre, with T-S and myself for background. The reporter had hunted out the Mexican family with which Carpenter had spent the night, and he drew a touching picture of Carpenter praying over Mary in this humble home, and converting her to a better life. Would the "million dollar vamp," as the "Examiner" called her, now take to playing only religious parts? Mary was noncommittal on the point; and pending her decision, the "Examiner" published her portraits in half a dozen of her most luxurious roles--for example, as Salome after taking off the seventh veil. Side by side with Carpenter, that had a real "punch," you may believe!

    The telephone rang, and there was the voice of T-S, fairly raving. He didn't mind the "Examiner" stuff; that was good business, but that in the "Times"--he was going to sue the "Times" for a million dollars, by God, and would I back him in his claim that he had not put Carpenter up to the healing business?

    After a bit, the magnate began apologizing for his repudiation of the prophet. He was in a position, just now with these hard times, where the Wall Street crowd could ruin him if he got in bad with them. And then he told me a curious story. Last night, after the meeting, young Everett, his secretary, had come to him and asked if he could have a couple of months' leave of absence without pay. He was so much interested in Carpenter that he wanted to follow him and help him!

    "Y' know, Billy," said the voice over the phone, "y' could a' knocked me over vit a fedder! Dat young feller, he vas alvays so quiet, and such a fine business feller, I put him in charge of all my collections. I said to him, 'Vot you gonna do?' And he said, 'I gonna learn from Mr. Carpenter." Says I, 'Vot you gonna learn?' and he says, 'I gonna learn to be a better man.' Den he vaits a minute, and he says, 'Mr. T-S, he told me to foller him!' J' ever hear de like o' dat?"

    "What did you say?"

    "Vot could I say? I vanted to say, 'Who's givin' you de orders?' But I couldn't, somehow! I hadda tell him to go ahead, and come back before he forgot all my business."

    I dressed, and had my breakfast, and drove to St. Bartholomew's. It was a November morning, bright and sunny, as warm as summer; and it is always such a pleasure to see that goodly company of ladies and gentlemen, so perfectly groomed, so perfectly mannered, breathing a sense of peace and well being. Ah, that wonderful sense of well being! "God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world!" And what a curious contrast with the Labor Temple! For a moment I doubted Carpenter; surely these ladies with their decorative bonnets, their sweet perfumes, their gowns of rose and lilac and other pastel shades--surely they were more important life-products than women in frowsy and dowdy imitation clothes! Surely it was better to be serene and clean and pleasant, than to be terrible and bewildered, sick and quarrelsome! I was seized by a frenzy, a sort of instinctive animal lust for this life of ease and prettiness. No matter if those dirty, raucous-voiced hordes of strikers, and others of their "ilk"--as the "Times" phrased it--did have to wash my clothes and scrub my floors, just so that I stayed clean and decent!

    I bowed to a score or two of the elegant ladies, and to their escorts in shiny top hats and uncreased kid gloves, and went into the exquisite church with its glowing stained glass window, and looked up over the altar--and there stood Carpenter! I tell you, it gave me a queer shock. There he was, up in the window, exactly where he had always been; I thought I had suddenly wakened from a dream. There had been no "prophet fresh from God," no mass-meeting at Grant Hall, no editorial in the "Times"! But suddenly I heard a voice at my elbow: "Billy, what is this awful thing you've been doing?" It was my Aunt Caroline, and I asked what she meant, and she answered, "That terrible prophet creature, and getting your name into the papers!"

    So I knew it was true, and I walked with my dear, sweet old auntie down the aisle, and there sat Aunt Jennie, with her two lanky girls who have grown inches every time I run into them; and also Uncle Timothy. Uncle Timothy was my guardian until I came of age, so I am a little in awe of him, and now I had to listen to his whispered reproaches--it being the first principle of our family never to "get into the papers." I told him that it wasn't my fault I had been knocked down by a mob, and surely I couldn't help it if this man Carpenter found me while I was unconscious, and made me well. Nor could I fail to be polite to my benefactor, and try to help him about. My Uncle Timothy was amazed, because he had accepted the "Times" story that it was all a "movie" hoax. Everybody will tell you in Western City that they "never believe a word they read in the 'Times'"; but of course they do--they have to believe something, and what else have they?

    I was trying to think about that picture over the altar. Of course, they would naturally have replaced it! I wondered who had found old de Wiggs up there; I wondered if he knew about it, and if he had any idea who had played that prank. I looked to his pew; yes, there he sat, rosy and beaming, bland as ever! I looked for old Peter Dexter, president of the Dexter Trust Company--yes, he was in his pew, wizened and hunched up, prematurely bald. And Stuyvesant Gunning, of the Fidelity National--they were all here, the masters of the city's finance and the pillars of "law and order." Some wag had remarked if you wanted to call directors' meeting after the service, you could settle all the business of Western City in St. Bartholomew's!

    The organ pealed and the white-robed choir marched in, bearing the golden crosses, and followed by the Reverend Dr. Lettuce-Spray, smooth-shaven, plump and beautiful, his eyes bent reverently on the floor. They were singing with fervor that most orthodox of hymns:

    The church's one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord.

    It is a beautiful old service, as you may know, and I had been taught to love it and thrill to it as a little child, and we never forget those things. Peace and propriety are its keynotes; order and dignity, combined with sensuous charm. Everyone knows his part, and it moves along like a beautiful machine. I knelt and prayed, and then sat and listened, and then stood and sang--over and over for perhaps three-quarters of an hour. We came to the hymn which precedes the sermon, and turning to the number, we obediently proclaimed:

    The Son of God goes forth to war A kingly crown to gain: His blood-red banner streams afar: Who follows in His train?

    During the singing of the last verse, the Reverend Lettuce-Spray had moved silently into the pulpit. After the choir had sung "Amen," he raised his hands in invocation--and at that awesome moment I saw Carpenter come striding up the aisle!
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