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    Chapter 54

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    Chapter 54
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    Comrade Abell sat at the table, with his head bowed in his arms, sound asleep. Lynch, the ex-soldier, and Tom Moneta, the Mexican, were lying on the floor snoring. And on a chair near the doorway, watching the scene, sat Hamby, wide awake. We knew he was awake, because he leaped to his feet the instant we entered the door. "Oh, it's you!" he said, recognizing me; I noted the alarm in his voice.

    I beckoned to him, softly. "Come here a moment;" and he came out into the ante-room. At the same time Old Joe stepped across the big room, and stooped down and waked up Lynch. We had agreed that Joe was to give Lynch a whispered explanation of the situation, while I kept Hamby busy.

    "Where is Mr. Carpenter?" I asked.

    "He's in the private office, praying."

    "Well," said I, "there's a sick woman who needs help very badly. I wonder if we'd better disturb him."

    "I don't know," said Hamby. "I've been here an hour, and haven't heard a sound. Maybe he's asleep."

    I was uncertain what I should do, and I elaborately explained my uncertainty. Of course, praying was an important and useful occupation, and I knew that the prophet laid great stress upon it, and all of us who loved him so dearly must respect his wishes.

    "Yes, of course," said Hamby.

    Yet at the same time, I continued, this woman was very ill, a case of ptomaine poisoning--

    "Do you think he can cure that?" asked Hamby guilelessly; and at that moment Old Joe and Lynch came from the big room. Hamby started to turn, but he was too late. Old Joe's arms went around him, and Hamby's two elbows were clamped to his sides, in a grip which more than one professional wrestler in our part of the world has found it impossible to break. At the same time I stooped on my knees and grasped the man's two wrists; because we were taking no chances of his gun. Lynch, the ex-soldier, had a cloth, taken from the big table, and he flung this over the head of the "pacifist" and stifled his cries.

    I took a revolver from his hip-pocket, but Joe was not satisfied. "Search him carefully," said he, and so I discovered another weapon in a side-pocket. Then I made hasty search in a big closet of the room, and found a lot of bundles of books and magazines tied with stout cords. I took the cords, and we bound the "pacifist's" wrists and ankles, and put a gag in his mouth, and then we felt sure he was really a pacifist. We carried him to the closet and laid him on the floor, where a humorous idea came to us. These bundles of magazines and books were no doubt the ones which the mob had confiscated from Comrade Abell. Since they were no longer saleable, they might as well be put to some use, so I gathered armfuls of them and distributed them over the form of Hamby, until there was no longer a trace of him visible.

    And while I was doing this, I noticed in one corner of the closet, under the bundles, a wooden box about a foot square. Upon trying to lift it, I discovered that it weighed several times as much as it should have weighed if it had contained printed matter. "Here's our infernal machine," I whispered, and I picked it up gingerly, and tiptoed out of the room, and back to the kitchen, and down a rear stairway of the building. I unlocked the door and opened it--and there, crouching in the shadows alongside the door, just as I expected, I saw a man.

    "Hello!" I whispered.

    "Hello!" said he, badly startled.

    "Here's something belonging to Hamby. He wants me to give it to you. Be careful, it's heavy." I deposited the box in his hands, and shut the door, and turned the lock again, and groped my way upstairs, chuckling to myself as I imagined the man's plight. He would not know what to make of this incident, and I had an idea he would not be able to find out, because he could not leave his post. Nor would he have much time to figure over the matter; for when I got back to the light, I looked at my watch, and it lacked just three minutes to twelve.

    I found that Lynch and Old Joe had shut the pacifist in the closet, and were in the ante-room waiting for me. I whispered that everything was all right. A moment later we heard a sound in the big room, and peered in, and saw a door at the far end open--and there was Carpenter, standing with his white robes gleaming in the light. After a moment I realized that they gleamed even more than was natural; I perceived once more that strange "aura" which had been noticed at the mass-meeting; and by means of it I noticed an even more startling thing. There were drops of sweat on Carpenter's forehead, as always when he had labored intensely in his soul. This time I saw that the drops were large, and they were drops of blood!

    A trembling seized me. I was awe-stricken before this man--afraid to go on with what I was doing, and equally afraid to back out. I remained staring helplessly, and saw him approach the sleeping figures, and stand looking at them. "Could you not watch with me one hour?" he said, in his gentle, sad voice; and he put his hand on Comrade Abell's shoulder, with the words: "The time has come."

    Abell started to his feet, and began to apologize. The other said nothing, but stooped and waked Moneta. And at that moment I heard the shrill blast of a whistle outside on the street! "There's the Brigade!" whispered Old Joe.
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