First Sunday: The Lovers of My Soul [excerpt]
S D .
Finally, as I stood
on the sidewalk, having nowhere to go, it came to pass that the
craving for something to drink came over me, and the beer signs
that I had scarcely noticed for these many months became visible.
They stood out, vividly gleaming on the street corners, in the middle
of the blocks—everywhere. Entering one of the saloons I ordered
a glass of beer  and sat down
at a table and tried to rouse my sinking spirit with cheerful thoughts:
This will pass over. I shall be glad again some day, the vibrations
of despair will evolve into a higher harmony. I have stood under
the tall pine trees and heard the south wind sighing in the branches.
It was a sigh of infinite longing, but listening more intently I
could hear a triumphant tone.
Once, when I sat in the gallery of
the board of trade, watching the speculators and wondering how they
were able to do business in that way, the discordant screams of
the traders oppressed my heart until I shut my eyes, then, when
the excitement rose to a certain pitch it sounded sonorous, like
peals of trumpets.
Again, on the electric cars, the clanking
and jarring sounds are lost in a singing monotone. That is the poetry
In my infancy I first heard that heavenly
monotone. In my father’s garden I sat in the grass. Sleepy.
Insects were humming around me, among
the flowers below and in the blooming branches above. Then it broke
upon the stillness with startling suddenness:
The bees swarmed.
That moment a hive was born, a world
And the bees sang together of joy
everlasting, the song of eternity.
The bartender brought the beer and
my attention was drawn to the men drinking at the bar. They quarreled.
It was about the murder of the late presi- 
dent. One of the group seemed to side with the assassin. This roused
the others’ ire and they surrounded him threateningly. The defender
of the dastardly deed dwelt only on one point, that Czolgosz, when
he sat in the electric chair about to die, made only one complaint:
“You might have let me speak to my father.”
All further discussion of the subject
by these drinking men was put to an end by the saloonkeeper, who
ordered the anarchist out. He went, apparently being of the philosophical
branch of that faith.
Now, I have no sympathy for criminals,
least of all for assassins, but that the murderer was denied to
speak with his father touched me deeply, for also I should like
to speak to my father, but now he is no more.
But this is getting altogether too
dreary. If affirmation and auto-suggestion are any good, now is
the time to try them. And as I watched the beer foam on my glass
slowly settle, I repeated to myself slowly and still more slowly,
“All is good,” “I and the Father are one.” All of a sudden I seemed
wrapt in fire. It lasted but an instant, and in the stillness that
followed I saw in a new light a young man standing, not very far
away from me, to all appearance not more than twelve years old.
He looked pale, like one who has long been sick. Yet he was beautiful.
His presence startled me at first,
the more so since the others had vanished, but only for a second.
Then I was seized by a desire to get hold of him and 
stretched out my hand carefully, like one that unawares has come
close to a wild bird or a squirrel and wants to catch it alive.
My cautiousness proved unnecessary, for he came close to me, so
close that he rested against my knee and put both his hands in mine.
I pressed them softly to assure him of my good will. He returned
the pressure and his hands were cool with a pleasant coolness, like
the coolness of fresh flowers. With an effort I looked him in the
eye, then I knew who it was—it was Czolgosz, and he spoke to me.
The bartender brought some small change,
the tinkling of the coins woke me and I arose to go.
“You did not drink your beer.”
But I had lost all desire for it.
Stepping out on the
sidewalk, I stood bewildered, as one who has lost his bearing. Night
had fallen over the city, thousands of lights were lit, transforming
the streets into scenes of splendor and gaiety. I started out to
walk with a will and a purpose, and the people who, an hour ago,
wanted to step on me, willingly gave me way.
An aim was given me.
It sounded in my mind like a wild
refrain, like a shout of victory:
“I shall lay the evil ghost of
the crucified and the electrocuted. They shall haunt this earth
A ghastly task perhaps. But what of
that? We  cannot all be employed
in the nurseries. Some must be scavengers in the vineyard of the
Only a laborer, who has gone from
shop to shop applying for a job, and day after day met the same
answer, “No help wanted,” and at last gets work, or perhaps only
the promise of a situation, can fully realize my joy.