Now, as a matter of fact, we had at that time several millions of people out of work in America, and many of them starving. There must be some intellectuals among them, I suggested; and the critic replied: "They must have starved for so long that they have got used to it, and can enjoy it -- or at any rate can enjoy turning it into art. Is not that the final test of great art, that it has been smelted in the fires of suffering? All the great spiritual movements of humanity began in that way; take primitive Christianity, for example. But you Americans have taken Christ, the carpenter --" "No," said the other, returning my laugh, "but I think it was you who finished him up as a symbol of elegance, a divinity of the respectable inane."
Thus chatting, we turned the corner, and came in sight of our goal, the Excelsior Theater. And there was the mob!
At first, when I saw the mass of people, I thought it was the usual picture crowd. I said, with a smile, "Can it be that the American people are not so dead to art after all?" But then I observed that the crowd seemed to be swaying this way and that; also there seemed to be a great many men in army uniforms. "Hello!" I exclaimed. "A row?"
There was a clamor of shouting; the army men seemed to be pulling andpushing the civilians. When we got nearer, I asked of a bystander, "What's up?" The answer was: "They don't want 'em to go in to see the picture."