He found the Reverend Dr. Christian Stern of New York amiable but jumpy.
“Too bad the power that that vile man Frisby has in the Heskett Foundation. I wish you’d been a little more cautious in jumping the gun on him, but still, I know how he is. Now about another organizational connection. Of course with the Depression on, things couldn’t possibly be worse. I know what sterling ideals and executive competence you have, Dr. Planish. And oratory. But our best benefactors have been hit. All jumping out of windows. Really touching. But I’ll see what I can do.”
Captain Heth Gishorn, the distinguished young explorer, was by birth an Englishman but, like most of the English, he did not look very English. He was smooth and solid and square, with a thick white skin which never looked tanned, and he carried a monocle but used his spectacles.
His voice was caressing and unpleasant. He was given to double-breasted blue jackets, which looked pressed even when they were wrinkled. And for a man of action, who was presumably always leading caravans somewhere with camels, he was surprisingly business-like, being the president, executive secretary, and sole beneficiary of the Association to Promote Eskimo Culture, Inc., New York City.
“Dr. Stern tells me that you are experienced in organizational activities,” Captain Gishorn said civilly, in his office.
“Oh, yes — yes.” Dr. Planish put his finger tips together and tried to look even more efficient than he was hungry. “Getting out circular letters, both appeals for funds and morale-boosting; teaching the staff to be cagy on the phone about whether the director is in or not, and to distinguish, among callers, between mere cranks who just want to ask questions, and real sympathizers that might come across with some money; scholarly research on all subjects — there’s always college instructors with big families that are willing to work cheap and grub out the facts at the library, and write acceptable articles for the director to sign, or executive secretary, as the case may be; addressing assemblies, especially of women, both in the drawing-room and in hotel ballroom meetings; getting actors and pianists to make free appearances at large rallies, and coaching the ushers to pass the pledge blanks at the right signal; making the speakers, if politicians, pipe down at the proper time; getting concessions and a fair price from hotel banquet managers — I needn’t tell you that if you charge the guests five dollars for a philanthropic dinner, you don’t know your business if you actually pay the hotel one cent more than a dollar sixty-five, including dinner, tips, hall and light, and that a really skilled man ought to get it for one thirty-five, including after-dinner peppermints; going to lunch with bankers and listening to whatever they have to say about a new bull market; attending committee meetings and moving a vote of thanks and keeping all speeches about the call to immediate action down to three minutes; keeping lists of prospects right up to date as regards both changed addresses, present financial standing, and susceptibility to emotional appeal; how to address important people on the telephone; wangling publicity in the newspapers and on the radio; making all organization literature and interviews a nice mixture of optimism and warnings about the menace to the American Way of Life —
“Yes, I think I may honestly say I know the whole routine of scientific philanthropy, educational propaganda, the skilled encouragement of the virtue of generosity, and the publicizing of all noble causes — such as your promotion of culture and, I have no doubt, music among the Eskimos. Yes.”
Captain Gishorn shook his head. “Then, my dear fellow, I’m afraid you’re not the man I’m looking for.”
“Oh?” said Dr. Planish, and thought about fried chicken, golden dripping fried chicken, with giblets and candied sweet potatoes and corn fritters.
“You’re evidently a real leader in intellectual advancement, but in this Eskimo racket, I do most of the oratory and committees myself. All I need is a good man to answer important telephone calls and lunch with the lesser donors and keep the circularization going. And I can pay only thirty-five dollars a week.”
“Make it forty. I’m broke.”
“Sold!” said Captain Gishorn, who was very clever about languages, and could speak American just as well as he could Persian or Swahili.
Dr. Planish went out to telegraph Peony that he had a job, that he loved her and Carrie, and that he hoped to send for them before Christmas.
He did not tell her about his present salary, and he tried not to remember that he was now getting only forty a week, as against seventy-five at the Heskett Foundation plus tokens of gratitude from school-supply firms. (He doubted if he could count on Eskimos to do much with tokens of gratitude, no matter how he cultured them.)
He found, before October, that Captain Gishorn had not done by him as one likes to be done in philanthropic circles. Actually, Dr. Planish had to use all of the professional accomplishments that he had outlined, for the Captain went off to explore Hollywood and Santa Barbara, and for months he showed no interest in Eskimo Promotion except to receive the weekly financial report and to draw out all moneys above office expenses and salaries.
Oh, he was thoroughly gentlemanly about it; in his letters he never complained of anything — just encouraged the Doctor to send out more letters of solicitation and hold more small meetings of evangelization and get more money out of all persons who could be encouraged to “recognize, with head and heart, the plight of our Brothers to the North in being as yet entirely divorced from the stream of international comity.”
Dr. Planish sometimes thought this was rather hard on the Scandinavian missionaries in Greenland; he sometimes felt that he himself could do with less comity and more cash.
He was not very comfortable, that autumn and winter of 1930 — his triumphal invasion of New York. He lived in a dollar-a-day hotel room in the theatrical district, a room with an iron bed, two straight chairs, a Gideon Bible, a cockroach splash on the wall, and the bathroom seven doors down the hall.
His Eskimo Promotion office was not much more entertaining. It consisted of an inner room with one shredded oak desk for himself and one handsome green steel one for Captain Gishorn, letter files, prospect files, abandoned overshoes and, on a shelf, a specially bound and extra-illustrated seven-volume set of The Mistresses of French Monarchs and English Dukes. There was also a windowless outer room, with the desk of the half-pretty, half-young lady stenographer, Miss Cantlebury — who was also the switchboard operator and reception clerk — with four chairs for improbable visitors, Miss Cantlebury’s umbrella, and an extra-illustrated and specially bound nine-volume set of The Chronicles of the Arctic and Sub–Arctic Expeditions of Explorers, Fur Dealers, and Missionaries of All Creeds, from the Earliest Times to A.D. 1799.
Dr. Planish always felt that to read this tract would be of the greatest help in understanding Eskimos and teaching them to build Diesel engines, but he never seemed to have time to look into it.
The office was in a forgotten building down on Fourth Avenue, red brick and six stories, with an elevator that shook and protested as it swayed upward. It was handy to a saloon that through Prohibition kept on serving the best free lunch in Manhattan. On the same floor with the Eskimo office were the establishments of a chiropractor, an agent for rubber accessories, a publisher of New Testaments so efficient that he put up a good show even against the Bible Trust, an all-night stenographer who knew things about people, and the head offices, which were also the only offices, of the Swastika–Rhodesian Gold and Sapphire Mines, whose floor space and general moral purposes strikingly resembled those of the Association to Promote Eskimo Culture, Inc.
When he first took the job, Dr. Planish was fretted by his lack of knowledge about the Eskimos. All he had ever been told was that they lived in the North, in snow houses, and ate blubber. He planned to spend all his evenings in the public library, reading about snow houses and blubber.
At the end of the Doctor’s second day in the office, which he had devoted to reading the letter files and making notes about prospects, especially rich widowers, Captain Gishorn rose from dictating letters to Miss Cantlebury, and piped, “Carry on, old chap. I’m off to cocktails at old Mrs. Piggott’s.”
He went off, very decorative with walking stick, white carnation, spats and black Homburg hat.
Dr. Planish looked at Miss Cantlebury and sighed. She seemed faded but companionable.
“Doctor, do you mind if I sit down and smoke a cigarette, now the Big Noise has gone?” she said.
“Why, no. I’ll share one with you.”
She sat at the Captain’s desk, read one or two of his love letters, and murmured, “Look, Doctor. Let me know what I can do to get you started in this racket. From long experience, I’d say you were probably a good guy. Anything I can tip you off on?”
(He wondered whether once, as a young Rhetoric coach in a good line of business, he would have ruled out sentences ending in or on an “off on.”)
“Yes, there is, Miss Cantlebury. Of course I know organizational work in general, but I don’t happen to have worked much with Eskimos. What are the best books on the subject?”
“What would you want to read books for, in this joint?”
“Naturally, Captain Gishorn doesn’t need to, but then he’s studied the Northern peoples first hand —”
“Listen, Doctor, there isn’t any Santa Claus, and you’re getting a big boy now. Excuse me for getting tough, but I hate to see anybody taken for a ride unless he’s one of the contributors. Fact is, ever since his boyhood in England, the only time Cap Gishorn ever spent in any country north of Bangor, Maine, was one day in Nova Scotia and one in Iceland and two days in Norway, on a Midnight Sun cruise in 1926. I guess he has done some real exploring in Persia and Africa — I dunno. But all he’s got to tell the world about Eskimos is a great advertising slogan, ‘If all the Americas are to stand together — that means All!’ Get it? The Eskimos are our little cousins to the North, so we got to win ’em over to supporting all our own moral principles and civilized customs — which means Amos ‘n’ Andy and Tom Thumb golf courses and Sweetheart Soap and flying two hundred miles an hour to places that the Eskimos got too much native sense to want to see.”
“What do we actually do to help the Eskimos?”
“Do? Honest, Doc, the Seven Dwarfs are dead. Well, we send six hundred bucks a year to the First Day Antinomian Church Mission in Greenland, and they furnish all the photos and reading matter that we send out. They even sent us a full display kit — a kayak and a native harpoon and a whale vertebra and the cutest little stuffed baby seal you ever saw. It looks just like my nephew Irving. You’d be surprised the way the cynics and tightwads loosen up for enlightening the Eskies when they notice the pleading glass eyes in that baby seal. I damn near gave a quarter to it myself once!
“So we hand the Antinomians the six hundred — what they do with it I dunno — play rummy in the long Arctic nights, I guess. And that’s all we do do — except, of course, the real purpose of any organization: pay your salary and mine and pay the rent, so you and I won’t have to spend the snowy days in the Grand Central waiting-room. What’s left over, say sixty-two per cent, goes to Captain Heth Gishorn for his carnation and his girls and his Napoleon brandy.
“You got to hand it to the Captain. He’s the only organization owner that doesn’t even pretend to do any good, except with the suckers. Most gangs do at least give the poor children one turkey a year, or show up one labor spy that the newspapers have already shown up, or give a hundred-dollar scholarship to one poor college student, or send out one house-broken lecturer. Not Cap Gishorn!
“There’s just one other angle you got to know, so you’ll quit worrying about doing any reading, Doc. That’s John Littlefish. He’s our prize exhibit. He’s the native Eskimo that we civilized. I don’t know what John Littlefish’s name is — I don’t think John does either. And I don’t know whether he’s a real Eskimo or maybe a Cree Indian. Some missionaries brought him down here from the North twenty years ago, when he was about five, and then they went broke and scrammed. Anyway, he looks like an Eskimo — I guess — and these grunts that he makes when you tickle him, I guess they sound like Eskimo, and so you have him sit on the platform when you’re making a big drive, and the Captain has taught him an eighty-five-word speech about how he loves malted milk. The rest of the time, he plays professional billiards in a joint on Avenue A.”
Thus guided, the Doctor found compensations which made him rather fond of the Eskimo Culture office. As Miss Cantlebury kept the books, he was able to have his salary adjusted to sixty dollars a week without bothering Captain Gishorn about it. He took a small new flat, far up in the Bronx, and sent for Peony and Carrie before Christmas. But they still left their furniture in Chicago.
One blessing of his Eskimo experiences was that among the contributors he met William T. Knife, one of the most strident laymen in that somewhat eccentric and quivering and fundamentalist sect, the Antinomian Church. Mr. Knife was referred to in the denominational press as “the humble millionaire who has applied the principles of St. Paul to his private life and to the soft-drink business.” He was also advertised as “a self-educated man who speaks with the eloquence of Cicero or Dwight Moody, and who writes with the power and beauty of Mary Baker Eddy or Mark Twain.”
This was probably true, for Mr. Knife always had the Christian humility and business sense to hire the best press agents available as his ghost writers. He gave to oratory and to prose poetry the same zeal that he gave to the spread of temperance and of Okey–Dokey, which was next to the largest-selling soft drink in the country in 1930, according to statistics compiled, by the Enterprise Bureau of Industrial Comparisons, from 11,749 drug stores, 780 pool parlors, 61 church suppers, and 1,126 speakeasies.
Under the personal direction of the Lord God Almighty, Mr. Knife had, as a youth, weathered a cyclone of doubting. As he often told the Y.M.C.A., he had sometimes been tempted then to think that if you were traveling and missed church for just one Sunday, God would not necessarily condemn you to eternal roasting. But God pulled him up sharp, with a bad fit of rheumatics, and he got down on his knees — to extreme discomfort — in the waiting-room of the Highhack depot of the D.&R.G., and confessed what an atheist he had been. He had never missed a Sunday since.
By the same divine personal chaperonage, he had come through the 1929–1930 panic a richer man than ever, for millions found it cheaper to buy Okey–Dokey than soul-deadening whisky. And Okey–Dokey had just enough caffein in it to be profitably habit-forming without doing any provable harm.
Mr. Knife was, in 1930, one of the brightest contemporaries of the Spanish Inquisition.
The liberal churches were turning into lecture halls, but in 1930 — as would later be true in 1940, and probably in 1960 — the solid Fundamentalists, who knew that God created the world in six days and has spent His time since then in intensely disliking it, still held the true faith unshaken. No matter how red the Neon lights glow on Main Street, they cannot rival the horrid hellfire in the chapel of the Antinomians, or the True New Reformed Tabernacle of the Penitent Saints of the Assembly of God, or in most of the brick and gray stone Baptist and Methodist churches that resemble railroad depots of 1890, and he that knows not that encouraging fact has never been west or south of Blawenburg. Halfway on in the twentieth century, one-quarter of America knows all about splitting the atom, but the other three-quarters have not yet heard the news about Darwin.
For several years now, Mr. William T. Knife had left his six powerful sons to conduct his business while he skipped about the country, telling giant meetings that (1) he was self-educated, but a lot smarter than most Harvard graduates, (2) the superintendents always opened the workday at his several factories with prayer, (3) union labor was no good, simply no good at all, and (4) there wouldn’t be all this bellyaching about shorter hours and longer wages if the workers could be coaxed to read the Bible — the one book that was inerrantly true from kiver to kiver — instead of selfishly thinking about temporal things like rent and the groceries.
The time had come, felt Mr. Knife, when the surprising miracle of his own life should be graven in permanent form. When he met Dr. Gideon Planish at an Eskimo Culture rally held by the Antinomians, he inquired whether the good Doctor was a believing Fundamentalist who had family prayers night and morning. When he discovered that that was just the sort of pious fellow the Doctor was, he offered five thousand dollars to have his first-person autobiography reverently ghosted.
Dr. Planish accepted, and moved his family to a boarding-house in Mt. Vernon, New York, to be near Mr. Knife and his sacred labors. He kissed Miss Cantlebury — for the first time — and resigned in a letter to Captain Gishorn, who was then gallantly exploring the tennis courts at the Arizona–Biltmore Hotel.
Mr. Knife was against all the vain luxuries of wine-bibbers and cocktail-bibbers. He said, “Why, I could buy and sell most of these unchristian cusses that show off their yacht boats and polo hosses, but Mrs. Knife and I believe in the Scriptural injunction to cleave to plain living and high-class thinking, so we are content with this hermit’s hut. Oh, there’s room here to exercise the sacred writ of hospitality, but for ourselves, we ask only a corner and a crumb. Yes, we ask but little. However! It’s only sensible to have that little of the best.”
The hermit’s hut was a twenty-room Colonial manor house originally built as the rural residence of a motion-picture producer. It had a two-acre rose garden, and an eight-car garage — filled. Dr. Planish and Mr. Knife worked in the putative hermit’s library, a forty-foot room adorned with sixteen feet from the library of the late Duke of Deephaven.
Before they started, Mr. Knife always said — always —“Doc, will you have a cigar? In principle, I’m entirely against smoking — it is unchristian and unnecessary — it makes me sick to see a gang of little punks puffing at coffin nails — I know for a fact that all labor agitators smoke cigarettes. But my doctor, a Christian man, advises me to take an occasional cigar for the sake of my throat, and I thought it would be healthiest to smoke Porcos y Toledos. I don’t know anything about such things, but I understand they are a good brand — By God, they ought to be! I pay six bits apiece for ’em, and show me one of these snobbish high-society heels over in Bronxville that pays half that much!”
Mr. Knife walked up and down, scratching his lumpy nose and spitting in any of the series of six cuspidors, each with a sparkling quotation from Dr. Frank Buchman painted on it, as he outlined the personal anecdotes and the theories of theology, metaphysics and soft-drink promotion on which Dr. Planish took notes for the book. His proud humility enabled him to be surprisingly frank.
“I’m like Oliver Cromwell. I want the portrait-painter, as I often tell the boys at evangelical tent rallies and the girls at Ladies Only meetings, to put in the warts as well as the unusual jaw and eyes.
“Yes, sir, this autobiography that I am writing is to be an humble offering to God, who will not be deceived, so put down all the errors and lusts I have committed — and have I committed some lusts in my time, oh boy, I’ll say I have! — put ’em in along with the souls I’ve saved and the pile of dough I’ve made and the Antinomian chapels I’ve built — glory be to God, who has been my faithful partner in business, through the interposition of the Holy Ghost, and His be the praise and the profits!”
He shook out of the bag quite a few exemplary facts and tales. . . . His nine servants all had to take a Bible test and a Wassermann test before he hired them, and they had to attend family prayers. . . . He had once converted a labor-union organizer who up to that date had gone about like a raging left-wing lion seeing what innocent open-shop employers he could devour, and the fellow was now in the evangelical business in Oregon, with a nice little Christian wife and his home almost paid for. . . . Mr. Knife would furnish Okey–Dokey absolutely free, to be drunk at communion services, provided the church gave him a receipt, to be reproduced for his advertising in the religious press. . . . As a boy, he had first seen the value of religion in business when he had tattled on a friend who had stolen some candy, and the shopkeeper had rewarded him. . . . When he had been persecuted by an alleged health official on the silly grounds that Okey–Dokey was a drug, the Lord Himself had stepped in, and enabled Mr. Knife to put the official away by means of that most righteous statute, the Mann Act.
Dr. Planish didn’t really care for Mr. Knife, but he was valuable in enabling the Doctor to Make Contacts (as it is called in the uplift business). At the hermit’s hut, the Doctor met one of the most earnest forces for co-operative good-doing that he was ever to know, in the person of the Honorable Ernest Wheyfish, an ex-congressman known in the trade as “The Deacon.”
Honorable Wheyfish had realized, too late in life, that he should have been a clergyman instead of a politician, though indeed he had once been an undertaker, which had a nice ecclesiastical flavor. Moved by this pious perception, Mr. Wheyfish had renounced the glories of Congress — just as soon as he was defeated for re-election — and gone into the organizational world on the religious side. He was now president and working secretary of the National Christian Excelsior Crusade, whose purpose was to get the worker, the backbone of American industry, back into the church, instead of wasting his time and money on unions and Communist meetings.
Mr. Knife was a conspicuous giver to Honorable Wheyfish’s crusade. They agreed ardently about the needs of labor, and said frequently that they were the best friends that the workers had, if they only knew it.
Dr. Planish noted that both of them, like Christian Stern, were undersized, meager, sandy men, but with energy like hurdle-racers, and preposterous bass voices, like thunder out of a graham cracker. He was wondering whether he himself was of the right type to save Humanity when he was comforted by a pilgrimage to the hermit’s hut of two quite different sorts of organizators: Constantine Kelly and H. Sanderson Sanderson–Smith, whom he had seen in Chicago.
Mr. Kelly looked like a bartender, perhaps because for several years he had been a bartender. He was now assistant and press agent to Mr. Wheyfish in the National Christian Excelsior Crusade.
Mr. Sanderson–Smith was a different kettle of goldfish altogether. He was a fine silky Bostonian — though some said Ontario, and others, South Frampus Center. When Dr. Planish had met him in Chicago, he had had a thin red beard, but he now showed up with his intellectual chin bare and with handsome red Spanish sideburns beside his ears. He was forming a less churchly and more political league than the National Excelsior Crusade, namely, the Citizens’ Conference on Constitutional Crises in the Commonwealth, which was to have headquarters in Washington, D. C., and of which none other than United States Senator Felix Bultitude was to be chairman.
But its purpose was the same as that of the Crusade: to coax the workers out of this nonsense of thinking about more wages all the time. Mr. Knife and numerous other Christian industrialists contributed to both societies, as a form of spiritual and financial fire insurance.
There was really only one intolerable evil about working for Mr. William T. Knife: he talked so much about the evils of alcohol that Dr. Planish always got thirsty, and when he reached his boarding-house at night, he demanded so many highballs that it looked as if this life of diligent piety might land him in the sanitarium. And Peony, herself no especial enemy of wetness and cheering, always joined him.
They were at Pete’s Cafe in Manhattan, on a Saturday evening, drinking away the week’s cosmic dust, when they saw Hatch Hewitt, that lean tall devil who had stirred young Gid Planish’s fancy and depressed his ambition all through Adelbert College.
He wasn’t quite so lean now; he was, at forty, a little bald, and his face was worn. He looked at Dr. Planish in passing their table, did not recognize him and stalked on to the bar. He was expertly disposing of a straight rye when the Doctor poked his shoulder and murmured, “Hatch! Gid Planish!”
Hatch sat with them, and stared at Peony. “Can you stand for the ole friend’s wife?” she giggled. Hatch solemnly nodded, turned to Dr. Planish, and solemnly said, “Nice woman.”
Dr. Planish inquired, “I suppose you’re a magazine editor by now, or a Washington correspondent, or a Sunday editor. You always had the most talent in our class.”
“I always agreed with you about the talent, but New York doesn’t. No, I’m just a plain reporter on the Herald–Times. Mostly do labor and politics. And how about you? I haven’t heard a word since we graduated.”
“You haven’t?” Peony was indignant. “The Doctor has merely revolutionized rural education in the Middlewest and inaugurated education in Greenland and been dean of a college and refused the presidency of several other colleges, that’s all!”
Hatch marveled, “My God, she believes in you, Gid! I didn’t know there were any women left like that. Where did you find her? Have they got any left?”
“God broke the mold after he turned her out!” Dr. Planish looked at Peony as though, to his own surprise, he really believed it. Hatch sighed, and suddenly the Doctor knew that Hatch was possessed by a wife who was strident and opinionated.
The Doctor furnished a somewhat less laudatory sketch of his own triumphs, though he did not feel it necessary to inform Hatch that he had been discharged from the Heskett Foundation and that his associations with Captain Gishorn and Mr. William T. Knife differed from hijacking liquor trucks chiefly in being less useful. He sounded so doubtful of himself that Hatch cried to Peony, unsneeringly, “Seems as if your husband has learned not to take careering and butting into other people’s affairs too seriously.”
“But I want him to take them seriously!” flared Peony. “If you only knew what Colonel Charles B. Marduc said to him!”
As Colonel Marduc had never said anything to him beyond, “Ah, you come from Chicago — great city,” she could not do much with it, and she had to sit back glorying in a wife’s ancient privilege of disapproving of her husband’s pre-conversion friends.
“Well, it’s been swell running into you,” said Hatch. “We must see each other again soon.”
As this was New York, they did not see each other again for four years.
Speaking of crusades, Hatch had reported that the newest educational racket in town was a company called “The Modernistic Educational Bureau,” which sold a new encyclopedia that — No, the Bureau didn’t SELL anything. It just promoted culture.
It had set up the customary organization, with a publicity-loving board of directors, including the trusty Dr. Christian Stern, Professor George Riot and the learned Dr. Elmer Gantry. These directors were, it is pleasant to announce, laden with no duties aside from letting their names shine forth as guarantors, for which they each received fifty dollars.
George Riot nominated as suitable members of the Bureau all persons whose names were on Charity–Education Sucker List XM27E. The Bureau wrote to each of these prospects that he had been named by the distinguished professor and, as an almost inevitable consequence, elected as a “senior Governing Member of the M.E.B., annual dues $15.00, 5% discount for cash within one month, for which you will receive a handsome membership diploma suitable for framing, our own educational magazine, frequent and illuminating letters on official stationery and, as fast as each volume is issued, receive, Absolutely Free, the titanic new-from-cover-to-cover MODERNISTIC ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD KNOWLEDGE, the FIRST cyclopedia to be prepared, by a staff of World Experts, on the NEW SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES OF PHILOLOGY, BIOLOGY, PEDAGOGY, AGRONOMICS AND MONEY-MAKING, and the most magnificently illustrated Book of Reference in the entire history of publishing.”
The preparation of this encyclopedia was not really so difficult as the customer might have supposed. A small company of intellectual commandos, in a shaky old building on 23rd Street, in a loft once candidly devoted to the manufacture of gents’ pants, went through the several older cyclopedias, lifted and combined and abbreviated the contents, and extensively illustrated this stew with photographs bought in job-lots of one hundred.
The staff also farmed out many of the articles, which involved Dr. Gideon Planish, and a number of college instructors of small prosperity. (After all, new college buildings are expensive, and you can’t lavish EVERYTHING on the faculty.)
When he had heard from Hatch of this cultural adventure, Dr. Planish sent for the Bureau’s “literature,” happily noted George Riot’s prominence, had George recommend him to the “financial secretary” of the Bureau, who was also the sole owner of it and a fine fellow who had been graduated from one of the best grade schools in Jersey City, and obtained from him a little piecework. It was not well paid, but it padded out the Planish income without interfering with the Knife memoirs — and besides, Peony actually wrote all the articles that the Doctor signed.
So they were prosperous again. They brought on their furniture from Chicago, the Chippendale cabinet and the rug and the shiny bar, and in Mt. Vernon they rented a “Cape Cod bungalow” not quite so comfortable as the house they had had in Kinnikinick at the beginning of their expedition to conquer power.
Carrie liked it and went wild in gardens, but Peony complained that out here in the suburbs, they were meeting as few notorious people (“interesting people” she called them) as back in Kinnikinick, and she fervently influenced the Doctor when Mr. H. Sanderson Sanderson–Smith invited him to join the CCCCC in Washington, D. C.
Peony yelled, “Oh, do it! Washington! We’ll meet senators and generals and the President, and maybe it’ll lead to your finally going into politics — Saaaay! When did our plan to make you a senator get lost in the shuffle?”
Dr. Planish fretted that he didn’t really like the purposes of Sanderson–Smith’s gang, the “Citizens’ Conference.” Though it had on its board members of Congress and newspaper-owners and eloquent corporation lawyers and a lady author and an officer of the D.A.R., it was, almost frankly, an anti-labor-union lobby. He worried, “I know there are crooked labor leaders, but on the whole, I’ve always upheld the Rights of the Common Man, of the farmer and factory-worker —”
“Now don’t give me that Number 28 Lecture!” said his wife, with tartness unusual to her. “Who knows but what you can do more good by getting this Citizens’ Conference outfit to be kinder to the lil brothers than you can by staying out? Besides! I don’t see any union organizer sweating over where WE get a new radio and shoes for Carrie!”
“Well —” said Dr. Planish.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52