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Soon after the noon-hour, there pushed his way into the crowd a young man, whom I recognized as one of the secretaries of T-S. He was looking for me, and told me in a whisper that his employer was downstairs in his car, and wanted to see Mr. Carpenter and myself about something important. He did not want to come up, because it was too conspicuous. Would we come down and take a little drive? I answered that I should be willing, but I knew Carpenter would not--he had been in an automobile accident the night before, and had refused to ride again.
Then, said the secretary, was there some room where we could meet? I went to one of the officials, and asked for a vacant room where I could talk about a private matter with a friend. I managed to separate Carpenter from his crowd and took him to the room, and presently Everett, the secretary, came with T-S.
The great man shook hands cordially with both of us; then, looking round to make sure that no one heard us, he began: "Mr. Carpenter, I told you I vould give a tousand dollars to dese strikers."
The other's face, which had looked so grey and haggard, was suddenly illumined as if by his magical halo. "I had forgotten it! There are so many hungry in there; I have been watching them, wondering when they would be fed."
"All right," said T-S. "Here you are." And reaching into his pocket, he produced a wad of new shiny hundred dollar notes, folded together. "Count 'em."
Carpenter took the money in his hand. "So this is it!" he said. He looked at it, as if he were inspecting some strange creature from the wilds of Patagonia.
"It's de real stuff," said T-S, with a grin.
"The stuff for which men sell their souls, and women their virtue! For which you starve and beat and torture one another--"
"Ain't it pretty?" said the magnate, not a bit embarrassed.
The other began reading the writing on the notes--as you may remember having done in some far-off time of childhood. "Whose picture is this?" he asked.
"I dunno," said the magnate. "De Secretary of de Treasury, I reckon."
"But," said the other, "why not your picture, Mr. T-S?"
"My picture on de money?"
"Why not? You are the one who makes it, and enables everyone else to make it."
It was one of those brand new ideas that come only to geniuses and children. I could see that T-S had never thought of it before; also, that he found it interesting to think of. Carpenter went on: "If your picture was on it, then every one would know what it meant. People would say: 'Render unto T-S the things that are T-S's.' When you were paying off your mobs, you would pay them with your own money, and whenever they spent it, the people would bow to Caesar--I mean to T-S."
He said it without the trace of a smile; and T-S had no idea there was a smile anywhere in the neighborhood. In a business-like tone he said: "I'll tink about it." Then he went on: "You give it to de strikers--"
But Carpenter interrupted: "It was you who were going to give it. I cannot give nor take money."
"You mean you von't take it to dem?"
"I couldn't possibly do it, Mr. T-S."
"Your promise was that you would come and give it. Now do so."
"But, Mr. Carpenter, if I vas to do such a ting, it vould cost me a million dollars. I vould git into a row vit de Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association, dey vould boycott my business, dey vould give me a black eye all over de country. You dunno vot you're askin', Mr. Carpenter."
"I understand then--you are in business alliance with men who are starving these people into submission, and you are afraid to help them? Afraid to feed the poor!" The far-off, wondering look came again to his face. "The world is organized!" he said, to himself. "There is a mob of masters! What can I do to save the people?"
T-S was unchanged in his cheerful good-nature. "You give dem a tousand dollars and you help a lot. Nobody can do it all."
But Carpenter was not satisfied; he shook his head, sadly. "Please take this," he said, and pressed the roll of bills back into the hands of the astounded magnate!
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