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    Chapter 53

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    Chapter 53
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    So there was the layout; and now, what was to be done? The first thing was to call Abell on the phone, and see if anything had happened. I picked up the receiver; but alas, the report was, "No answer." I urged "central" to try several times, but all I could get was, "I am ringing them." Carpenter, no doubt, was praying. What were the others doing? I kept on trying, but finally gave up.

    Could the mob have taken them away? But Old Joe answered, no, a definite hour had been set. The ex-service men were to gather on the stroke of midnight. We had nearly an hour yet.

    My first thought was that we should hurry to the Socialist headquarters and get Carpenter out of the way. But my friend pointed out that the place was certain to be watched, and we might find ourselves held up by the armed detectives; they would hardly take a chance of letting their prey escape at this hour. Also, I realized there was no use figuring on any plan that involved spiriting Carpenter away quietly, by the roof, or a rear entrance, or anything of that sort. He would insist on staying and facing his enemies.

    I put my wits to work. We needed a good-sized crowd; we needed, in fact, a mob of our own. And suddenly the word brought to me an inspiration; that mob which T-S had drilled at Eternal City! I recalled that a year or so ago I had been lured to sit through a very dull feature picture which the magnate had made, showing the salvation of our country by the Ku Klux Klan; and I knew enough about studio methods to be sure they had not thrown away the costumes, but would have them stored. Here was the way to save our prophet! Here was the way to get what one wanted in Mobland!

    I picked up the receiver and called Eternal City. Yes, Mr. T-S was there, but he was "on the lot" and could not be disturbed. I gave my name, and stated that it was a matter of life and death; Mr. T-S must come to the phone instantly. A couple of minutes later I heard his voice, and told him the situation, and also my scheme. He must come himself, to make sure that his orders were obeyed; he must bring several bus-loads of men, clad in the full regalia of Mobland's great Secret Society; and they must arrive at Abell's place precisely on the stroke of midnight. The men must be paid five dollars apiece, and be told that if they succeeded in bringing away the prophet unharmed, they would each get ten dollars extra. "I will put up that money," I said to T-S; but to my surprise he cried: "You ain't gonna put up nuttin'! God damn dem fellers, I'll beat 'em if it costs me a million!" So I realized that the prophet had made one more convert!

    "Have you got that bus with the siren?" I asked; and when he answered, yes, I said, "Let that be the signal. When we hear it, Joe and I will bring Carpenter down to the street, and if the Brigade is there, it's up to you to persuade them you're the bigger mob!"

    Then Old Joe and I ran down to my car, and drove at full speed to the Socialist headquarters; and on the way we worked out our own plan of campaign. The real danger-point was Hamby, the secret agent, and we must manage to put him out of the way. Despite his pose of "pacifism," he was certain to be armed, said Old Joe; yet we must take a chance, and do the job unarmed. If we should get into a shooting-scrape, they would certainly put it onto us; and they would make it a hanging matter, too.

    I named over the members of Carpenter's party who had stayed with him. Andy Lynch, the ex-soldier, was probably a useful man, and we would get his help. We would get rid of Hamby, and then we would wait for T-S and his siren. By the time these plans were thoroughly talked out, we had reached the building in which the headquarters were located. There were lights in the main room upstairs, and the door which led up to them was open. The street was apparently deserted, and we did not stop to look for any "operatives," but left our machine and stole quietly upstairs and into the room.
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