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HOME > Biographical > A Book About Myself > CHAPTER XLII
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 To return and take up the ordinary routine of reporting after these crystal days of beauty and romance was anything but satisfactory. Gone was the White City with its towers and and the wide blue wash of lake at its feet. After the Fair and the greater city, St. Louis seemed indeed. Still, I argued, I was getting along here better than I had in Chicago. When I went down to the office I found Wandell poring as usual over current papers. He was always and , like a little old leathery Punch, in his mussy office. The sight of him made me wish that I were through with the newspaper business forever: it brought back all the of the old days. When should I get out of it? I now began to ask myself for the first time. What was my real calling in life? Should I ever again have my evenings to myself? When should I be able to idle and as I had seen other people doing? I did not then realize how few the leisure class really comprises; I was always taking the evidence of one or two passing before my gaze as indicating a vast company. I was one of the unfortunates who were shut out; I was one whose life was to be a wretched tragedy for want of means to enjoy it now when I had youth and health!  
“Well, did you have a good time?” asked Wandell.
“Yes,” I replied dolefully. “That’s a great show up there. It’s beautiful.”
“Any of the girls fall in love with you?” he good-humoredly.
“Oh, it wasn’t as bad as that.”
“Well, I suppose you’re ready to settle down now to hard work. I’ve got a lot of things here for you to do.”
I cannot say that I was cheered by this. It was hard to have to settle down to ordinary reporting after all these recent glories. It seemed to me as though an chapter of my life had been closed forever. Thereafter, I undertook one interesting assignment and another but without further developing my education as to the workings of life. I was beginning to tire of reporting, and one more murder or political or social mystery aided me in no way.
I recall, however, taking on a strange murder mystery over in Illinois which kept me stationed in a small countyseat for days, and all the time there was nothing save a sense of hard work about it all. Again, there was a train robbery that took me into the heart of a rural region where were nothing but farmers and small towns. Again there was a change of train service which permitted the distribution of St. Louis newspapers earlier than the Chicago papers in territory which was somehow disputed between them and because of which I was called upon to make a trip between midnight and dawn, riding for hours in the mailcar, and then describing this supposedly wonderful special newspaper service which was to make all the inhabitants of this region wiser, kinder, richer because they could get the St. Louis papers before they could those of Chicago! I really did not think much of it, although I was congratulated upon having penned a fine picture.
One thing really did interest me: A famous mindreader having come to town and wishing to advertise his skill, he requested the Republic to appoint a man or a committee to ride with him in a carriage through the crowded downtown streets while he, but driving, followed the directing thoughts of the man who should sit on the seat beside him. I was ordered to get up this committee, which I did—Dick, Peter, Rodenberger and myself were my final choice, I sitting on the front seat and doing the thinking while the mindreader raced in and out between cars and , turning sharp corners, escaping huge trucks by a hair only, to wind up finally at Dick’s door, dash up the one flight of stairs and into the room (the door being left open for this), and then climb up on a chair placed next to a wardrobe and, as per my thought, all on beforehand, take down that head of Sloper and hand it to me.
Now this thing, when actually worked out under my very eyes and with myself doing the thinking, me and caused me to ponder the mysteries of life more than ever. How could another man read my mind like that? What was it that perceived and interpreted my thoughts? It gave me an immense kick mentally, one that stays by me to this day, and set me off eventually on the matters of and chemic mysteries generally. When this was written up as true, as it was, it made a splendid story and attracted a great deal of attention. Once and for all, it cleared up my thoughts as to the power of mind over so-called matter and caused this “committee” to enter upon experiments of its own with hypnotists, spiritualists and the like, until we were fairly well satisfied as to the import of these things. I myself stood on the stomach of a thin hypnotized boy of not more than seventeen years of age, while his head was placed on one chair, his feet on another and no of any kind was put under his body. Yet his stomach held me up. But, having established the truth of such things for ourselves, we found no method of doing anything with our knowledge. It was practically useless in this region, and decidedly .
Another individual who interested me quite as might a book or story was a Spiritualist, a fat, sluglike Irish type, who came to town about this time and proved to be immensely successful in getting up large meetings, entrance to which he charged. Soon there were ugly as to the orgiastic character of his séances, especially at his home where he advertised to receive interested spiritualists in private. One day my noble and city editor set me to the task of ferreting out all this, with the intention of sicking the moralists on the gentleman and so driving him out of town. Was it because Mr. Wandell, interested in morals or at least responding to the local sentiment for a moral city, considered this man a real menace to St. Louis and so wished to be rid of him? Not at all. Mr. Wandell cared no more for Mr. Mooney or the public or its subsurface morals than he cared for the politics of Beluchistan. In the heart of St. Louis at this very time, in Street, was a large district to just such orgies as this stranger was supposed to be perpetrating; but this area was never in the public eye, and you could not, for your life, put it there. The public did not want it attacked, or if it did there were forces powerful to keep it from obtaining its wishes. The police were supposed to extract regular payments from one and all in this area, as Rodenberger, in the little paper he ran, frequently charged, but this paper had no weight. The most amazing social complications occasionally led directly to one or another of these houses, as I myself had seen, but no comment was ever made on the of the area as a whole or its in the face of so much moral sentiment. The crusaders never troubled it, neither did the papers or the churches or anybody else. But when it came to Mr. Mooney—well, here was an individual who could be easily and safely attacked, and so—
Mr. Mooney had a large following and many whose animosity or led them to look upon him as a personage of great import. He was unquestionably a shrewd and able manipulator, one of the finest I ever saw. He would race up and down among the members of his large audience in his spiritualistic “church meetings,” his fat closed, his immense white shirt-front shining, his dress coattails flying like those of a butler or head-waiter, the while he exclaimed: “Is there any one here by the name of Peter? Is there any one here by the name of Augusta? There is an old white-bearded man here who says he has something to say to Augusta. And Peter—Peter, your sister says not to marry, that everything now troubling you will soon come out all right.”
He would open these meetings with spiritual invocations of one kind and another and pretend the profoundest religiosity and spirituality when as a matter of fact he was a faker of the most stamp. As Wandell showed me by clippings and police reports from other cities, he had been driven from one city to another, cities usually very far apart so that the news of his troubles might not spread too quickly. His last resting-place had been Norfolk, Virginia, and before that he had been in such widely spots as Liverpool, San Francisco, Sydney, New South Wales. Always he had been immensely successful, drawing large crowds, taking up collections and doing a private séance business which must have netted him a tidy sum. Indeed in private life, as I soon found, he was a , a sybarite and a riant amorist, laughing in his sleeve at all his and .
For some time I was unable to gather any evidence that would convict him of anything in a direct way. Once he found the Republic to be unfavorable, he became and threatened to assault me if I ever came near him or his place or attempted to write up anything............
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