I sat back in my chair, full of love of humanity.
By and by the boss appeared at my desk. One look at his face convinced me of the truth of Tagore’s saying that great activity is poison to the soul. Certainly his face was poisonous.
“Say,” he shouted, “what the devil’s the matter with you to-day? Dennis just called me up about that herring order–”
“Master,” I said mildly, “be not overwrought. Great activity is a strychnine to the soul. I am a mystic….”
A little later I found myself on the street with two weeks’ pay in my pocket. It is true that my departure had been hasty and unpleasant, for the stairway from the office to the street is long and dusty; but I recalled what Professor Tagore had said about vicissitudes being the true revealers of the spirit. My hat was not with me, but I remembered the creed pasted in it. After pacing a block or so, my soul was once more tranquil.
I entered a restaurant. It was the noon hour, and the room was crowded with hurrying waiters and impatient people. I found a vacant seat in a corner and sat down. I concentrated my mind upon the majestic vision of the brotherhood of man.
Gradually I began to feel hungry, but no waiter came near me. Never mind, I thought: to shout and hammer the table as the others do is beneath the dignity of a philosopher. I began to dream of endless vistas of mystical ham and eggs. I brooded upon these for some time, but still no corporeal and physical units of food reached me.
The man next me gradually materialized into my consciousness. Full of love for humanity I spoke to him.
“Brother,” I said, “until one of these priestly waiters draws nigh, will you not permit me to sustain myself with one of your rolls and one of your butter-balls? In the great brotherhood of humanity, all that is mine is yours; and per contra, all that is yours is mine.” Beaming luminously upon him, I laid a friendly hand on his arm.
He leaped up and called the head waiter. “Here’s an attic for rent!” he cried coarsely. “He wants to pick my pocket.”
By the time I got away from the police station it was dusk, and I felt ready for home. I must say my broodings upon eternal beauty were beginning to be a little forced. As I passed along the crowded street, walking slowly and withdrawn into the quiet of my soul, three people trod upon my heels and a taxi nearly gave me a passport to eternity. I reflected that men were perhaps not yet ready for these doctrines of infinite peace. How much more wise were the animals–and I raised my hand to stroke a huge dray-horse by the pavement. He seized my fingers in his teeth and nipped them vigorously.
I gave a yell and ran full tilt to the nearest subway entrance. I burst into the mass of struggling, unphilosophic humanity and fought, shoved, cursed, and buffeted with them. I pushed three old ladies to one side to snatch my ticket before they could get theirs. I leaped into the car at the head of a flying wedge of sinful, unmystical men, who knew nothing of infinite beauty and peace. As the door closed I pushed a decrepit clergyman outside, and I hope he fell on the third rail. As I felt the lurching, trampling, throttling jam of humanity sway to and fro with the motion of the car, I drew a long breath. Dare I confess it?–I was perfectly happy!