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Publication information
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Source: Sunday Labor
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “First Sunday: The Lovers of My Soul”
Author(s): Thorleif [pseudonym]
Publisher: Kable Brothers Company
Place of publication: Mount Morris, Illinois
Year of publication: 1906
Pagination: 11-31 (excerpt below includes only pages 26-30)

 
Citation
Thorleif. “First Sunday: The Lovers of My Soul.” Sunday Labor. Mount Morris: Kable Brothers, 1906: pp. 11-31.
 
Transcription
excerpt of chapter
 
Keywords
Thorleif; Leon Czolgosz (execution: personal response).
 
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz.
 
Document

 

First Sunday: The Lovers of My Soul [excerpt]

 

THE SPIRIT OF DESPAIR.

     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 [26][27] 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 of speed.
     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 created.
     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- [27][28] 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 [28][29] 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.

THE TASK.

     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 no more!”
     A ghastly task perhaps. But what of that? We [29][30] cannot all be employed in the nurseries. Some must be scavengers in the vineyard of the Lord.
     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.

 

 


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