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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThey Call Me Carpenter: A Tale Of The Second Coming - Chapter 10
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They Call Me Carpenter: A Tale Of The Second Coming - Chapter 10 Post by :codebluenj Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :1114

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They Call Me Carpenter: A Tale Of The Second Coming - Chapter 10

CHAPTER X

"My God, will you look who's here! Billy, wretched creature, I haven't laid eyes on you for two months! Do you have to desert me entirely, just because you've fallen in love with a society girl with the face of a Japanese doll-baby? What's the matter with me, that I lose my lovers faster than I get them? Edgerton Rosythe, come in here--you've got a good excuse, I admit--I'm almost as much scared of your wife as you are yourself. But still, I'd like a chance to get tired of some man first. Hello, Planchet, how's my old grannie making out in your scalping-shop? Say, would you think it would take three days labor for half a dozen Sioux squaws to pull the skin off one old lady's back? And a week to tie up the corners of her mouth and give her a permanent smile! 'Why, grannie,' I said, 'good God, it would be cheaper to hire Charlie Chaplin to walk round in front of you all the rest of your life!' And--why, what's this? For the love of Peter, somebody introduce me to this gentleman. Is he a friend of yours, Billy? Carpenter? Excuse me, Mr. Carpenter, but we picture people learn to talk about our faces and our styles, and it isn't every day I come on a million dollars walking round on two legs. Who does the gentleman work for?"

The storm of Mary Magna stopped long enough for her to stare from one to another of us. "What? You mean nobody's got him? And you all standing round here, not signing any contracts? You, Edgerton--you haven't run to the telephone to call up Eternal City? Well, as it happens, T-S is going to be here in five minutes--his wife is being made beautiful once again somewhere in this scalping-shop. Take my advice, Mr. Carpenter, and don't sign today--the price will go up several hundred per week as long as you hold off."

Mary stopped again; and this was most unusual, for as a general rule she never stopped until somebody or something stopped her. But she was fascinated by the spectacle of Carpenter. "My good God! Where did he come from? Why, it seems like--I'm trying to think--yes, it's the very man! Listen, Billy; you may not believe it, but I was in a church a couple of weeks ago. I went to see Roxanna Riddle marry that grand duke fellow. It was in a big church over by the park--St. Bartholomew's, they call it. I sat looking at a stained glass window over the altar, and Billy, I swear I believe this Mr. Carpenter came down from that window!"

"Maybe he did, Mary," I put in.

"But I'm not joking! I tell you he's the living, speaking image of that figure. Come to think of it, he isn't speaking, he hasn't said a word! Tell me, Mr. Carpenter, have you got a voice, or are you only a close up from 'The Servant in the House' or 'Ben Hur'? Say something, so I can get a line on you!"

Again I stood wondering; how would Carpenter take this? Would he bow his head and run before a hail-storm of feminine impertinence? Would she "vamp" him, as she did every man who came near her? Or would this man do what no man alive had yet been able to do--reduce her to silence?

He smiled gently; and I saw that she had vamped him this much, at least--he was going to be polite! "Mary," he said, "I think you are carrying everything but the nose jewels."

"Nose jewels? What a horrid idea! Where did you get that?"

"When you came in, I was quoting the prophet Isaiah. Some eighty generations of ladies have lived on earth since his day, Mary; they have won the ballot, but apparently they haven't discovered anything new in the way of ornaments. Some of the prophet's words may be strange to you, but if you study them you will see that you've got everything he lists: 'their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.'"

As Carpenter recited this list, his eyes roamed from one part to another of the wondrous "get up" of Mary Magna. You can imagine her facing him--that bold and vivid figure which you have seen as "Cleopatra" and "Salome," as "Dubarry" and "Anne Boleyn," and I know not how many other of the famous courtesans and queens of history. In daily life her style and manner is every bit as staggering; she is a gorgeous brunette, and wears all the colors there are--when she goes down the street it is like a whole procession with flags. I'll wager that, apart from her jewels, which may or may not have been real, she was carrying not less than five thousand dollars worth of stuff that fall afternoon. A big black picture hat, with a flower garden and parts of an aviary on top--but what's the use of going over Isaiah's list?

"Everything but the nose jewels," said Carpenter, "and they may be in fashion next week."

"How about the glasses?" put in Rosythe, entering into the fun.

"Oh, shucks!" said I, protecting my friend. "Turn out the contents of your vanity-bag, Mary."

"And the crisping-pins?" laughed the critic.

"Hasn't Madame Planchet just shown us those?"

All this while Mary had not taken her eyes off Carpenter. "So you are really one of those religious fellows!" she exclaimed. "You'll know exactly what to do without any directing! How perfectly incredible!" And at that appropriate moment T-S pushed open the door and waddled in!

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