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The Ragged Stranger

(c. 1928)

by Charles MacArthur

Chapter VII.

R.J.E. had contracted to broadcast the funeral services. Bunge was showing the workmen where to install the microphone when Benson happily popped through a Gates Ajar.

“Take a slant at this,” he shouted, and submitted the program for the morrow.

The Rev. Hugh F. Heminway, D.D., a somewhat sensational evangelist with a rare appetite for first page mention, was to commence the ceremony with a word of prayer.

“He wanted to make the eulogy, but Reverend Schlemmer has been rapping you so hard lately, I thought we could take the curse off by letting him make the main ballyhoo.”

Bunge nodded approval of this sage choice. It was worth a great many votes to bring the Rev. A. Ballard Schlemmer into line.

“I put the Acme Weatherstrip and Molding Male Quartette on third,” continued Benson. “They’re singing ‘Beautiful Isle of Somewhere’ and ‘Tell Mother I’ll Be There.’ we ought to hammer on the religious note as much as we can.”

Following the music, Benson suggested that Mr. Bunge answer his detractors and outline his ideals in fifteen or twenty minutes informal talk.

“I’m having Doc Bowen introduce you,” he added. The Rev. Golightly Bowen was religious editor of the Record. “He’ll say you’re John the Baptist if we want. Only don’t go too strong on politics. We don’t want it to look raw.”

Benson inquired whether Mrs. Bunge would be able to appear on the platform, and Bunge replied that, by the continuous application of raw beef-steak, her face was now almost normal. There was still a streak of purple under her right eye, but he was not worried about it as he knew a barber whose skill at painting out such blemishes was nothing less than Black Art.

Reassured, Benson proceeded. The principal speech of the afternoon was to be made by the Mayor. It consisted of a tribute to Bunge, as revealed by his treatment of the Ragged Stranger. On the program it was entitled: “The Man Bunge” and dwelt on the singular parallel between the popular politician and the Good Samaritan. Benson wrote it.

Next (through the courtesy of the Standard Beef and Packing Co.) Miss Jessie Moncure, a near-diva, was to sing: “Somewhere a Voice Is Calling” and Bartlett’s “A Dream.”

A series of five minute speeches by the leading business men of the community, varied by piano and vocal selections of a semi-classical nature by the Dixie Duo, concluded the program, except for benediction and prayer offered up by the Rev. Dwight Franklin Morrow.

“Major Brown is going to broadcast,” Benson added, exultantly. “He’s the most popular announcer in town -- and a tear jerker from away back.”

© 2003-04 The Estate of Charles G. MacArthur. All Rights Reserved.

Continue to Chapter Eight or Return to Charles Gordon MacArthur Page

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