Page images

nearly, in far-off Palestine, our religion had fallen into decay and materialism. Money-changers were in possession of the temple. Degenerate, selfish priests mulcted our people and grew fat. Then a young patriot-idealist arose and went about the land calling for a revival of faith. He had no thought of setting up a new church. Like all the prophets before him, his only aim was to purify and revitalize the old creed. He attacked the priests and drove the money-changers from the temple. This brought him into conflict with the established order and its supporting pillars. The Roman authorities, who were in occupation of the country, fearing his revolutionary agitation as a political effort to oust them, arrested him, tried him and condemned him to death by crucifixion, a common form of execution at that time.


The followers of Jesus of Nazareth, mainly slaves and poor workmen, in their bereavement and disappointment, turned away from the world and formed themselves into brotherhood of pacifist non-resisters, sharing the memory of their crucified leader and living together communistically. They were merely a new sect in Judea, without power or consequence, neither the first nor the last.

Only after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans did the new creed come into prominence. Then a patriotic Jew named Paul or Saul conceived the idea of humbling the Roman power by destroying the morale of its soldiery with the doctrines of love and non-resistance preached by the little sect of Jewish Christians. He became the Apostle

to the Gentiles, he who hitherto had been one of the most active persecutors of the band. And so well did Paul do his work that within four centuries the great empire which had subjugated Palestine along with half of the world, was a heap of ruins. And the law which went forth from Zion became the official religion of Rome.

This was the beginning of our dominance in your world. But it was only a beginning. From this time forth your history is little more than a struggle for mastery between your own old pagan spirit and our Jewish spirit. Half your wars, great and little, are religious wars, fought over the interpretation of one thing or another in our teachings. You no sooner broke free from your primitive religious simplicity and attempted the practice of the pagan Roman learning than Luther armed with our gospels arose to down you and reenthrone our heritage. Take the three principal revolutions in modern times-the French, the American and the Russian. What are they but the triumph of the Jewish idea of social, political and economic justice?


And the end is still a long way off. We still dominate you. At this very moment your churches are torn asunder by a civil war between Fundamentalists and Modernists, that is to say between those who cling to our teachings and traditions literally and those who are striving by slow steps to dispossess us. In Dayton, Tennessee, a Bible-bred community forbids the teaching of your science because it conflicts with our ancient Jewish account of the origin of life; and Mr. Bryan, the

leader of the anti-Jewish Ku Klux Klan in the Democratic National Convention, makes the supreme fight of his life in our behalf, without noticing the contradiction. Again and again the Puritan heritage of Judea breaks out in waves of stage censorship, Sunday blue laws and national prohibition acts. And while these things are happening you twaddle about Jewish influence in the movies!

Is it any wonder you resent us? We have put a clog upon your progress. We have imposed upon you an alien book and an alien faith which you cannot swallow or digest, which is at cross-purposes with your native spirit, which keeps you everlastingly ill-at-ease, and which you lack the spirit either to reject or to accept in full.

In full, of course, you never have accepted our Christian teachings. In your hearts you still are pagans. You still love war and graven images and strife. You still take pride in the glory of the nude human figure. Your social conscience, in spite of all democracy and all your social revolutions, is still a pitifully imperfect thing. We have merely divided your soul, confused your impulses, paralyzed your desires. In the midst of battle you are obliged to kneel down to him who commanded you to turn the other cheek, who said "Resist not evil" and "Blessed are the peacemakers." In your lust for gain you are suddenly disturbed by a memory from your Sunday-school days about

taking no thought for the morrow. In your industrial struggles, when you would smash a strike without compunction, you are suddenly reminded that the poor are blessed and that men are brothers in the Fatherhood of the Lord. And as you are about to yield to temptation, your Jewish training puts a deterrent hand on your shoulder and dashes the brimming cup from your lips. You Christians have never become Christianized. To that extent we have failed with you. But we have forever spoiled the fun of paganism for you.

So why should you not resent us? If we were in your place we should probably dislike you more cordially than you do us. But we should make no bones about telling you why. We should not resort to subterfuges and transparent pretexts. With millions of painfully respectable Jewish shopkeepers all about us we should not insult your intelligence and our own honesty by talking about communism as a Jewish philosophy. And with millions of hard-working impecunious Jewish peddlers and laborers we should not make ourselves ridiculous by talking about international capitalism as a Jewish monopoly. No, we should go straight to the point. We should contemplate this confused, ineffectual muddle which we call civilization, this halfChristian half-pagan medley, and— were our places reversed-we should say to you point-blank: "For this mess thanks to you, to your prophets and to your Bible."

[ocr errors]


The Autobiography of a Hobo GEORGE WITTEN

HEN a fellow is just a kid and is hundreds of miles from his friends and has only thirty cents in his pocket, he is pretty apt to develop keenly the primal instincts of self-preservation. That was the position I was in. I had wanted to see the world-and I was seeing it. That morning I crawled out from between the lumber stacks where I had slept the night before. I had spent twenty cents for my breakfast and was trying to make that meal last through the day, which for a healthy boy, who had been working in the corn-fields, was no easy thing to do.

The corn had been laid-by in Indiana, and there would be little work there until harvest time. Late in the afternoon I stood looking down the sleepy, sweltering street of the town I had walked into the night before hoping that I might find work there. I had an empty, gnawing feeling in my stomach. From across the dusty street a tall, loose set young man with flaming red hair approached.

"Say, Kid," he planted himself in front of me, "could you stake a fellow to a feed? I ain't eaten in two days." He rolled his blue eyes, twisted his thin lips, and clutched at his sides, as if in pain.

Gosh! I was hungry, but here was

a really desperate case! "I ain't eaten since morning, but I've got thirty cents here. We can each get a cup of coffee and a sandwich, if it's any help."

"Say, Kid, are you on the bum?" The blue eyes ceased to roll and the thin lips broke into a half smile.

"I don't get you," I said.
"This your home town?"

"No, I been working around here. Do you want that sandwich and coffee?"

[ocr errors]

"Sure thing. Where'll we go! "There's a place down by the station."

"You're all to the good, boy, an' I'm glad to know you. My name's John Hannibal Wilkins, my friends call me 'Red."" He shoved his hand through my arm, and leaned against my shoulder in a chummy manner. "They call me 'Buddy,"" I said, not caring to tell my name.

"Buddy! That just fits you!" laughed Red.

Arm in arm we pushed through the swinging doors of the hash house, climbed up on a couple of stools, and rested our elbows on the smeary marble top of the


"This ain't a bad joint," said Red. "I had lunch here to-day."

"What'er you guys goin' ter

have?" asked the waiter before I taught me many things that have could express my surprise. been useful through life. Best of all "Roastbeef sandwich and coffee he taught me to smile in the face of for two," I said. adversity.

"Naw, let's make it sausage an' mash, with coffee an' apple pie to follow," said Red, flipping two half dollars on the counter. "You're my guest, Buddy, an' you gotta eat something good."

"I don't understand," I said, staring at the money.

"Well, as you're my pal, I'll explain. I've gotta graft, but this town's too dead to work it in, an' I don't believe in spending money where you can't make it. If you ain't gotta graft you gotta panhandle. I decorate mirrors in restaurants, I'm an artist. What's your line?"

"I've been working on farms mostly, but there ain't any work 'round here. I wish I was out in Kansas."

"If you wish you was out in Kansas, then why in hell don't you up and go out in Kansas?"

"I ain't got any money, an' it's a long way to walk."

"Don't talk about walking, it blisters your feet. If you're so keen to be out in Kansas, we'll head for there to-night. If we don't have no bad luck we'll be in Kansas in three or four days. But we gotta get a graft for you."


When we had finished our feed Red handed me a cigarette, and we smoked contentedly. Life had taken on a different aspect, I began to feel some of Red's reckless optimism, the world had become a good place to live in. Red was the most cheerful liar I have ever met, yet he was one of the truest pals I ever had. He

The proprietor of the restaurant was busy behind the cigar counter. Red went to him and asked: "Are you the Boss?"

"I am," snapped the little man.

"My name's Theodore Prescott Sutherland," said Red. "I'm an artist. I can doll your mirrors up. Here, let me show you!" He took a piece of soap from his pocket and deftly drew an eagle, clasping a scroll and bundle of arrows, on the nearest mirror.

"How's that? Peachy! ain't she?" he stood back admiringly.

"How much to do all three mirrors?" asked the boss.

"A dollar apiece, an' I'll do you something nifty!"

"Too much, I'll give you two dollars for the job."

"All right, two dollars, an' a feed for me an' my pal."

"Well, only a fifty cent feed, I don't care who eats it."

Then I watched my soap artist pal draw a mass of flowers, birds and girl's heads on the mirrors, all the while humming. When the drawing with the soap was finished, he took out a small water-color box and touched up spots here and there in bright blues, reds and yellows. As he worked a crowd of loafers gathered.

"Say, where'd you learn to do that?" asked a town sport.

"Oh, I studied for years in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna. I got pictures in all the best galleries. This is just a little holiday, me an' my pal's out seeing the country." Then he stuffed them with stories of travel in Europe.

"That's the place to be in, a fellow can always get a drink there."

"Like a little drink?" whispered the town sport.

"Sure thing," said Red.

"We might take the passenger, and hold down the 'blind,"" he explained, "but that would mean staying awake all night."

I didn't know what he was talking "Bring your friend and come with about, so said nothing and waited to me, we'll shake this crowd." see what was to follow. I wanted to get to Kansas and I believed that Red could get me there.

We followed the sport out. He led us to a speak-easy, where a bunch of Main Street sports had gathered. Red was soon the central figure of the crowd. He had little difficulty in persuading the owner to let him decorate his mirrors in return for a round of drinks. Then having "paid our footing," we spent the evening there. Red was drinking whisky, but insisted that I drink ginger-ale. "I promised his folks I wouldn't let him drink anything stronger," he explained to the crowd.

"Hey, bo, what town's this?" asked a tousled head sticking out of the side door of a box-car. "Wayford," said Red, "a rotten dump!"

"What's the matter, she hostile?" "Naw, too dead to be hostile. What kinda doss you got?" "Good one, come on in, we got a pile of straw.'

"Many in there?"

"Naw, only me an' a Greaser."

"All right, give the Kid a hand up," said Red. "Come on, Buddy, slip in! Make it snappy before the Shack sees us!"

During the next couple of hours I learned that Red and I had traveled over half the world. That we had mixed with princes and nobles, and were now getting a rest from high society. "Where are you stopping in into the box-car. Then I helped the town?" asked a sport. hobo pull Red up.

"We're not stopping," said Red. "We're going to Evansville, and I guess we'd better be moving. We've got one or two things to attend to before train time."

Leaving the speak-easy we made our way back to the restaurant to collect the feed that was due us.

"Eat whenever you get a chance," said Red, "because sometimes it's a long while between meals."

On a siding at the station lay a freight train under steam, waiting for the Evansville accommodation to pass. Circling clear of the station I followed Red to the far side of the freight.

I took the hand of the hobo, and with a boost from Red was hauled

"Here comes the Shack, we'd better keep quiet," said the hobo, and pushed the door shut.

Then I had my first thrilling sensation of being an outlaw. When I was pulled through the door of the box-car I was pulled into another world, a world of adventure and hardship. When the hobo closed the door I felt that my past life had been shut out. I was no longer a plodding farm hand, I had stepped outside the law, into the realm where men lived by their wits. If we were caught it meant prison, but the idea filled me with an elation hard to describe. I heard the brakeman, or Shack,

« PreviousContinue »