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A Special Occasion
by [?]

“Cremated? Not tonight!” I said to myself, as I placed the broom under the sash. “If a panic occurs, the people will go out of the doors and I will stick to the stage until my coat-tails singe. I’ll say that the fire is in an adjoining building; then I’ll smilingly bow myself off the stage and gently drop out of that window.”

“All ready when you are,” said Mr. Fass.

I passed out on the stage before that vast sea of faces.

It was a glorious sight. There was a row of military men from the French warship in the harbor, down in front; priests, and ladies with sparkling diamonds; a bishop wearing a purple vestment under his black gown sat to one side; a stout lady in decollete waved a feather fan in rhythmic, mystic motion, far back to the left.

The audience applauded encouragingly, I wished I was back in that dear East Aurora. But I began.

In a few minutes my heart ceased to thump and I knew we were off.

I spoke for two hours, and I spoke well.

I did not push the lecture in front of me, nor did I drag it behind. I got the chancery twist on it and carried it off big, as I do about one time in ten. I finished in a whirlwind of applause, with the bishop crying “Bravo!” and the fat lady with the fifty-dollar feather fan beaming approbation.

Fass stood in the wings to congratulate me.


I shook hands with a hundred. The house slowly emptied. I bade the genial Fass good-by. He took my hand in both of his. “You will come back! You must come back!” he said.

He walked with me, bareheaded, to my carriage.

He again pressed my hand.

I rode to my hotel and went to bed, and to sleep.

I was awakened by a bright glare of light that filled my room.

I got up and looked at my watch. It was just midnight.

Off to the East I saw red tongues of angry flame streaking the sky from horizon to zenith.

“It is the Jewish Club, all right,” I said.

I pulled down the blind and went back to bed.

When I went down to breakfast at seven o’clock in the morning, I heard the newsboys in the streets crying, “All about the fire!” I bought a paper and read the headline, “Hubbard’s Lecture Hot Stuff!”

I walked out Saint Charles Avenue and viewed the smoldering ruins where only a few hours before I had spoken to more than two thousand people–where the bishop in purple vestment had cried “Bravo!” and the stout lady with feathered fan had beamed approval.

“Was anybody hurt?” I asked one of the policemen on guard.

“Only one man killed–Fass, the Secretary; I believe he lies somewhere over there to the left, beneath that toppled wall.”