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    Chapter 60

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    Chapter 60
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    They had got hold of a canvas-covered wagon, of the type of the old "prairie-schooner." You still find these camped by our roadsides now and then, with nomad families in them; and evidently one of these families had been so ill advised as to come to town for the convention. The rioters had hoisted their victim on top of the wagon, having first dumped a gallon of red paint over his head, so that everyone might know him for the Red Prophet they had been reading about in the papers. They had tied a long rope to the shaft of the wagon, and one or two hundred men had hold of it, and were hauling it through the streets, dancing and singing, shouting murder-threats against the "reds." Some ran ahead, to clear the traffic; and then came the wagon, lumbering and rocking, so that the prophet was thrown from side to side. Fortunately there was a hole in the canvas, and he could hold to one of the wooden ribs.

    The cortege came opposite to me. On each side was a guard of honor, a line of men walking in lock-step, each with his hands on the shoulders of the one in front; they had got up a sort of chant: "Hi! Hi! The Bolsheviki prophet! Hi! Hi! The Bolsheviki prophet!" And others would yell, "I won't work! I won't work!"--this being our Mobland nickname for the I.W.W. Some one had daubed the letters on the sides of the wagon, using the red paint; and a drunken fellow standing near me shook his clenched fist at the wretch on top and bellowed in a fog-horn voice: "Hey, there, you goddam Arnychist, if you're a prophet, come down from that there wagon and cure my venereal disease!" There was a roar of laughter from the throng, and the drunken fellow liked the sensation so well that he walked alongside, shouting his challenge again and again.

    Then I heard a crash behind me, and a clatter of falling glass; I turned to see a soldier, inside the Royal Hotel, engaged in chopping out the plate-glass window of the lobby with a chair. There were twenty or thirty uniformed men behind him, who wanted to get out and see the fun; but the door of the hotel was blocked by the crowd, so they were seeking a direct route to the goal of their desires.

    I knew, of course, there was nothing I could do; one might as well have tried to stop a hurricane by blowing one's breath. Carpenter had wanted martyrdom, and now he was going to get it--of the peculiar kind and in the peculiar fashion of our free and independent and happy-go-lucky land. We have had many agitators and disturbers of our self-satisfaction, and they have all "got theirs," in one form or another; but there had never been one who had done quite so much to make himself odious as this "Bolsheviki prophet," who was now "getting his." "Treat 'em rough!" runs the formula of the army; and I fell in step, watching, and thinking that later I might serve as one of the stretcher-bearers.

    Half way down the block we came to the Palace Hotel, and uniformed men came pouring out of that. I heard the shrieks of a woman, and put my foot on the edge of a store-window, and raised myself up by an awning, to see over the heads of the crowd. Half a dozen rowdies had got hold of a girl; I don't know what she had done--maybe her skirts were too short, or maybe she had been saucy to one of the gang; anyhow, they were tearing her clothes to shreds, and having done this gaily, they took her on their shoulders, and ran her out to the wagon, and tossed her up beside the Red Prophet. "There's a girl for you!" they yelled; and the drunken fellow who wanted Carpenter to cure him, suddenly thought of a new witticism: "Hey, you goddam Bolsheviki, why don't you nationalize her?" Men laughed and whooped over that; some of them were so tickled that they danced about and waved their arms in the air. For, you see, they knew all the details concerning the "nationalization of women in Russia," and also they had read in the papers about Mary Magna, and Carpenter's fondness for picture-actresses and other gay ladies. He stretched out his hand to the girl, to save her from falling off; and at this there went up such a roar from the mob, that it made me think of wild beasts in the arena. So to my whirling brain came back the words that Carpenter had spoken: "It is Rome! It is Rome! Rome that never dies!"

    The cortege came to the "Hippodrome," which is our biggest theatre, and which, like everything else, had declared open house for Brigade members during the convention. Some one in the crowd evidently knew the building, and guided the procession down a side street, to the stage-entrance. They have all kinds of shows in the "Hippodrome," and have a driveway by which they bring in automobiles, or war-chariots, or wild animals in cages, or whatever they will. Now the mob stormed the entrance, and brushed the door-keepers to one side, and unbolted and swung back the big gates, and a swarm of yelling maniacs rushed the lumbering prairie-schooner up the slope into the building.

    The unlucky girl rolled off at this point, and somebody caught her, and mercifully carried her to one side. The wagon rolled on; the advance guard swept everything out of the way, scenery as well as stage-hands and actors, and to the vast astonishment of an audience of a couple of thousand people, the long string of rope-pullers marched across the stage, and after them came the canvas-covered vehicle with the red-painted letters, and the red-painted victim clinging to the top. The khaki-clad swarm gathered about him, raising their deafening chant: "Hi! Hi! The Bolsheviki prophet. Hi! Hi! The Bolsheviki prophet!"

    I had got near enough so that I could see what happened. I don't know whether Carpenter fainted; anyhow, he slipped from his perch, and a score of upraised hands caught him. Some one tore down a hanging from the walls of the stage set, and twenty or thirty men formed a cirfcle about it, and put the prophet in the middle of it, and began to toss him ten feet up into the air and catch him and throw him again.

    And that was all I could stand--I turned and went out by the rear entrance of the theatre. The street in back was deserted; I stood there, with my hands clasped to my head, sick with disgust; I found myself repeating out loud, over and over again, those words of Carpenter: "It is Rome! It is Rome! Rome that never dies!"

    A moment later I heard a crash of glass up above me; I ducked, just in time to avoid a shower of it. Then I looked up, and to my consternation saw the red-painted head and the red and white shoulders of Carpenter suddenly emerging. The shoulders were quickly followed by the rest of him; but fortunately there was a narrow shed between him and the ground. He struck the shed, and rolled, and as he fell, I caught him, and let him down without harm.
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