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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThey Call Me Carpenter: A Tale Of The Second Coming - Chapter 49
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They Call Me Carpenter: A Tale Of The Second Coming - Chapter 49 Post by :ow24160 Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :2102

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They Call Me Carpenter: A Tale Of The Second Coming - Chapter 49

CHAPTER XLIX

When I got to the meeting-place I found that a feast had been spread. I don't know where the money came from; maybe it was Bolshevik gold, as the enemy charged, or maybe it was the ill-gotten gains of a "million dollar movie vamp." Anyhow, there was a table spread with a couple of cloths that were clean, if ragged, and on them flowers and fruit. Carpenter was seated at the head of the table, and I noted to my surprise that he had on a beautiful robe of snow-white linen, instead of the one he had formerly worn, which was not only stained with kerosene but filthy with the dust of the streets. I learned that Mrs. T-S had brought this festal garment--a simple matter for her, because in movie studios they have wardrobe rooms where they turn out any sort of costume imaginable.

This robe was so striking that it created a little controversy. James, the carpenter, who had an ascetic spirit, considered it necessary to speak plainly, and point out that Mrs. T-S would have done better to take the money and give it to the poor. But the prophet answered: "Let this woman alone. She has done a good thing. The poor you have always with you, but me you have only for a short time. This woman has helped to make our feast happy, and men will tell about it in future years."

But that did not satisfy the ascetic James, who retired to his corner grumbling. "I know, we're going to start a new church--the same old graft all over again! A man has no business to say a thing like that. The first thing you know, they'll be taking the widow's mite to buy silk and velvet dresses for him and golden goblets for him to drink from! And then, before you know it they'll be setting him up in stained glass windows, and priests'll be wearing jewelled robes, and saying it's all right, and quoting his words!" I perceived that it wasn't so easy for a prophet to manage a bunch of disciples in these modern days!

The controversy did not seem to trouble Mrs. T-S, who was waddling about, perfectly happy in the kitchen--doing the things she would have done all the time, if her husband's social position had not required her to keep a dozen servants. Also, I noted to my great astonishment that Mary Magna, instead of taking a place at the prophet's right hand, according to the prerogative of queens, had put on a plain apron and was helping "Maw" and Mrs. Abell. More surprising yet, T-S had seated himself inconspicuously at the foot of the table, while at the prophet's right hand there sat a convict with a twenty year jail sentence hanging over him--John Colver, the "wobbly" poet! Again an ancient phrase learned in childhood came floating through my mind: "He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree!"

Somehow word had been got to all the little group of agitators of various shades. There was Korwsky, the secretary of the tailors' union--whose first name I learned was Luka; also his fellow Russian, the express-driver,--Simon Karlin, and Tom Moneta, the young Mexican cigar-maker. There was Matthew Everett, free to be a guest on this occasion, because T-S had brought along another stenographer. There was Mark Abell, and another Socialist, a young Irishman named Andy Lynch, a veteran of the late war who had come home completely cured of militarism, and was now spending his time distributing Socialist leaflets, and preaching to the workers wherever he could get two or three to listen. Also there was Hamby, the pacifist whom I did not like, and a second I. W. W., brought by Colver--a lad named Philip, who had recently been indicted by the grand jury, and was at this moment a fugitive from justice with a price upon his head.

The door of the room was opened, and another man came in; a striking figure, tall and gaunt, with old and pitifully untidy clothing, and a half month's growth of beard upon his chin. He wore an old black hat, frayed at the edges; but under this hat was a face of such gentleness and sadness that it made you think of Carpenter's own. Withal, it was a Yankee face--of that lean, stringy kind that we know so well. The newcomer's eyes fell upon Carpenter, and his face lighted; he set down an old carpet-bag that he was carrying, and stretched out his two hands, and went to him. "Carpenter! I've been looking for you!"

And Carpenter answered, "My brother!" And the two clasped hands, and I thought to myself with astonishment, "How does Carpenter know this man?"

Presently I whispered to Abell, "Who is he?" I learned that he was one I had heard of in the papers--Bartholomew Howard, the "millionaire hobo;" he was grandson and heir of one of our great captains of industry, and had taken literally the advice of the prophet, to sell all that he had and give it to the unemployed. He traveled over the country, living among the hobos and organizing them into his Brotherhood. Now you would have thought that he and Carpenter had known each other all their lives; as I watched them, I found myself thinking: "Where are the clergy and the pillars of St. Bartholomew's Church?" There were none of them at this supper-party!

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CHAPTER LT-S had stopped at a caterer's on his way to the gathering, and had done his humble best in the form of a strawberry short-cake almost half as large around as himself; also several bottles of purple color, with the label of grape juice. When the company gathered at the table and these bottles were opened, they made a suspicious noise, and so we all made jokes, as people have the habit of doing in these days of getting used to prohibition. I noticed that Carpenter laughed at the jokes, and seemed to enjoy the whole festivity.It happened that fate
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CHAPTER XLVIIIComrade Abell told us where the police-court was located, and we agreed to be there at nine o'clock next morning. Then I parted from the rest, and walked until I met a taxi and drove to my rooms.I felt desolate and forlorn. Nothing in my old life had any interest for me. This was the afternoon when I usually went to the Athletic Club to box; but now I found myself wondering, what would Carpenter say to such imitation fighting? I decided I would stay by myself for a while, and take a walk and think things over. I had
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