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    Chapter 57

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    Chapter 57
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    T-S and I had exchanged a few whispered words, and decided that we would take Carpenter to his place, which was a few miles in the country from Eternal City. He would be as safe there as anywhere I could think of. When we had got to the studios, we discharged our Klansmen, and arranged to send Old Joe to his home, and the three disciples to a hotel for the night; then I invited Carpenter to step into T-S's car. He had not spoken a word, and all he said now was, "I wish to be alone."

    I answered: "I am taking you to a place where you may be alone as long as you choose." So he entered the car, and a few minutes later T-S and I were escorting him into the latter's showy mansion.

    We were getting to be rather scared now, for Carpenter's silence was forbidding. But again he said: "I wish to be alone." We took him upstairs to a bed-room, and shut him in and left him--but taking the precaution to lock the door.

    Downstairs, we stood and looked at each other, feeling like two school-boys who had been playing truant, and would soon have to face the teacher. "You stay here, Billy!" insisted the magnate. "You gotta see him in de mornin'! I von't!"

    "I'll stay," I said, and looked at my watch. It was after one o'clock. "Give me an alarm-clock," I said, "because Carpenter wakes with the birds, and we don't want him escaping by the window."

    So it came about that at daybreak I tapped on Carpenter's door, softly, so as not to waken him if he were asleep. But he answered, "Come in;" and I entered, and found him sitting by the window, watching the dawn.

    I stood timidly in the middle of the room, and began: "I realize, of course, Mr. Carpenter, that I have taken a very great liberty with you--"

    "You have said it," he replied; and his eyes were awful.

    "But," I persisted, "if you knew what danger you were in--"

    Said he: "Do you think that I came to Mobland to look for a comfortable life?"

    "But," I pleaded, "if you only knew that particular gang! Do you realize that they had planted an infernal machine, a dynamite bomb, in that room? And all the world was to read in the newspapers this morning that you had been conspiring to blow up somebody!"

    Said Carpenter: "Would it have been the first time that I have been lied about?"

    "Of course," I argued, "I know what I have done--"

    "You can have no idea what you have done. You are too ignorant."

    I bowed my head, prepared to take my punishment. But at once Carpenter's voice softened. "You are a part of Mobland," he said; "you cannot help yourself. In Mobland it is not possible for even a martyrdom to proceed in an orderly way."

    I gazed at him a moment, bewildered. "What's the good of a martyrdom?" I cried.

    "The good is, that men can be moved in no other way; they are in that childish stage of being, where they require blood sacrifice."

    "But what kind of martyrdom!" I argued. "So undignified and unimpressive! To have hot tar smeared over your body, and be hanged by the neck like a common criminal!"

    I realized that this last phrase was unfortunate. Said Carpenter: "I am used to being treated as a common criminal."

    "Well," said I, in a voice of despair, "of course, if you're absolutely bent on being hanged--if you can't think of anything you would prefer--"

    I stopped, for I saw that he had covered his face with his hands. In the silence I heard him whisper: "I prayed last night that this cup might pass from me; and apparently my prayer has been answered."

    "Well," I said, deciding to cheer up, "you see, I have only been playing the part of Providence. Let me play it just a few days longer, until this mob of crazy soldier-boys has got out of town again. I am truly ashamed for them, but I am one of them myself, so I understand them. They really fought and won a war, you see, and they are full of the madness of it, the blind, intense passions--"

    Carpenter was on his feet. "I know!" he exclaimed. "I know! You need not tell me about that! I do not blame your soldier-boys. I blame the men who incite them--the old men, the soft-handed men, who sit back in office-chairs and plan madness for the world! What shall be the punishment of these men?"

    "They're a hard crowd--" I admitted.

    "I have seen them! They are stone-faced men! They are wolves with machinery! They are savages with polished fingernails! And they have made of the land a place of fools! They have made it Mobland!"

    I did not try to answer him, but waited until the storm of his emotion passed. "You are right, Mr. Carpenter. But that is the fact about our world, and you cannot change it--"

    Carpenter flung out his arm at me. "Let no man utter in my presence the supreme blasphemy against life!"

    So, of course, I was silent; and Carpenter went and sat at the window again, and watched the dawn.

    At last I ventured: "All that your friends ask, Mr. Carpenter, is that you will wait until this convention of the ex-soldiers has got out of town. After that, it may be possible to get people to listen to you. But while the Brigade is here, it is impossible. They are rough, and they are wild; they are taking possession of the city, and will do what they please. If they see you on the streets, they will inflict indignities upon you, they will mishandle you--"

    Said Carpenter: "Do not fear those who kill the body, but fear those who kill the soul."

    So again I fell silent; and presently he remarked: "My brother, I wish to be alone."

    Said I: "Won't you please promise, Mr. Carpenter--"

    He answered: "I make promises only to my Father. Let me be."
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