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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamuel The Seeker - Chapter 22
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Samuel The Seeker - Chapter 22 Post by :Ndoki Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :1534

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Samuel The Seeker - Chapter 22

CHAPTER XXII

Samuel now had his evidence; and he went straight back to Dr. Vince. "Doctor," he said, "I am able to tell you that I know. I have heard it from one of the men who got the money."

"Who is he?" asked the doctor.

"I could not tell you that," said the boy--"it would not be fair. But you know that I am telling the truth. And this man told me with his own lips that Mr. Hickman paid twenty thousand dollars to Slattery, the Democratic boss, to be paid to ten of the supervisors to vote against the other company's water bill."

There was a long pause; the doctor sat staring in front of him. "What do you want me to do?" he asked faintly.

"I don't know," said Samuel. "Is it for me to tell you what is right?"

And again there was a pause.

"My boy," said the doctor, "this is a terrible thing for me. Mr. Hickman is my wife's brother, and she loves him very dearly. And he is a very good friend of mine--I depend on him in all the business matters of the church.

"Yes," said Samuel. "But he bribed the city council."

"This thing would make a frightful scandal if it were known," the other went on. "Think what a terrible thing it would be for St. Matthew's!"

"It is much worse as it is," said the boy. "For people hear the story, and they say that the church is sheltering evil doers."

"Think what a burden you place upon me!" cried the clergyman in distress. "A member of my own family!"

"It is just as hard for me," said Samuel quickly.

"In what way?"

"On account of Mr. Wygant, sir."

"What of that?"

Samuel had meant to say--"He is to be my father-in-law." But at the last moment some instinct told him that it might be best to let Miss Gladys make that announcement at her own time. So instead he said, "I am thinking of Sophie."

"It is not quite the same," said the doctor; and then he repeated his question, "What do you want me to do?"

"Truly, I don't know!" protested the boy. "I am groping about to find what is right."

"But you must have some idea in coming to me!" exclaimed the other anxiously. "Do you want me to expose my brother-in-law and drive him from the church?"

"I suppose," said Samuel gravely, "that he would be sent to prison. But I certainly don't think that he should be driven from the church at least not unless he is unrepentant. First of all we should labor with him, I think."

"And threaten him with exposure?"

"I'll tell you, doctor," said the boy quickly. "I've been thinking about this very hard; and I don't think it would do much good to expose and punish any one. That only leads to bitterness and hatred-- and we oughtn't to hate any person, you know."

"Ah!" said the doctor with relief.

"The point is, the wicked thing that's been done. It's this robbing of the people that must be stopped! And it's the things that have been stolen!--Let me give you an example. To-day I met the man who came here with me to rob your house; and I learned for the first time that he had carried off some of your silver."

"Yes," said the other.

"And the man asked me to say nothing about what he had done, and I promised. I felt about him just as you do about your brother-in-law--I wouldn't denounce him and put him in jail. But I saw right away that I must do one thing--I must make him return the things he had stolen! That was right, was it not, doctor?"

"Yes," said Dr. Vince promptly, "that was right."

"Very well," said the boy; "and the same thing is true about Mr. Hickman. He has robbed the people. He has got a franchise that enables him and the Lockman estate to make about ten thousand dollars a month out of the public. And they must give up that franchise! They must give up every dollar that they have made out of it! That is the whole story as I see it--nothing else counts but that. You can make all the fuss you want about bribery and graft, but you haven't accomplished anything unless you get back the stolen money."

There was a pause. "Don't you see what I mean, doctor?" asked Samuel.

"Yes," was the reply, "I see."

"Well?" said Samuel.

"It would be no use to try it," said the doctor. "They would never do it."

"They wouldn't?"

"No. Nothing in the world could make them do it."

"Not even if we threatened to denounce them?"

"No; not even then."

"Not even if we put them in jail?"

Dr. Vince made no reply. The other sat waiting. And then suddenly he said in a low voice, "Doctor, I mean to MAKE them give it up. I see it quite clearly now--that is my duty. They must give it up!"

Again there was silence.

"Dr. Vince," cried the boy in a voice of pain, "you surely mean to help me!"

And suddenly the doctor shut his lips together tightly. "No, Samuel," he said. "I do not!"

The boy sat dumb. He felt a kind of faintness come over him. "You will leave me all alone?" he said in a weak voice.

The other made no reply.

"Am I not right?" cried the boy wildly. "Have I not spoken the truth?"

"I don't know," the doctor answered. "It is too hard a question for me to answer. I only know that I do not feel such things to be in my province; and I will not have anything to do with them."

"But, doctor, you are the representative of the church!"

"Yes. And I must attend to the affairs of the church."

"But is it no affair of the church that the people are being robbed?"

There was no reply.

"You give out charity!" protested Samuel.

"You pretend to try to help the poor! And I bring you cases, and you confess that you can't help them--because there are too many. And you couldn't tell how it came to be. But here I show you--I prove to you what makes the people poor! They are being robbed--they are being trampled upon! Their own government has been stolen from them, and is being used to cheat them! And you won't lift your voice to help!"

"There is nothing that I can do, Samuel!" cried the clergyman wildly.

"But there is! There is! You won't try! You might at least withdraw your help from these criminals!"

"My HELP!"

"Yes, sir! You help them! You permit them to stay in the church, and that gives them your sanction! You shelter them, and save them from attack! If I were to go out to-morrow and try to open the eyes of the people, no one would listen to me, because these men are so respectable--because they are members of the church, and friends and relatives of yours!"

"Samuel!" exclaimed the clergyman.

"And worse than that, sir! You take their money--you let the church become dependent upon them! You told me that yourself, sir! And you give their money to the poor people--the very people they have robbed! And that blinds the people--they are grateful, and they don't understand! And so you help to keep them in their chains! Don't you see that, Dr. Vince?--why, it's just the same as if you were hired for that purpose!"

Dr. Vince had risen in agitation. "Really, Samuel!" he cried. "You have exceeded the limit of endurance. This cannot go on! I will not hear another word of it!"

Samuel sat, heart broken. "Then you are going to desert me!" he exclaimed. "You are going to make me do it alone."

The other stared. "What are you going to do?" he demanded.

"First," said Samuel, "I am going to see these men. I am going to give them a chance to see the error of their ways."

"Boy!" cried the doctor. "You are mad!"

"Perhaps I am," was the reply. "But how can I help that?"

"At least," exclaimed the other, "if you take any such step, you will make it clear to them that _I have not sent you, and that you have no sanction from me."

For a long time Samuel made no reply to this. Somehow it seemed the most unworthy thing that his friend had said yet. It meant that Dr. Vince was a coward!

"No, sir," he said at last, "you may rest easy about that. I will take the whole burden on my own shoulders. There's no reason why I should trouble you any more, I think."

And with that he rose, and went out from the house.

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CHAPTER XXI"Dr. Vince is at lunch," said the maid who answered the bell."Please tell him I must see him at once," said Samuel. "It's something very important."He went in and sat down in the library, and the doctor came, looking anxious. "What is it now?" he asked.And Samuel turned to him a face of anguish. "Doctor," he said, "I've just had a terrible experience.""What is it, Samuel?""I hardly know how to tell you," said the boy. "I know a man--a very wicked man; and I went to him to try to convert him, and to bring him into the church. And
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