A selection from
Narrated by David Drummond
This file is 2.1 MB;
running time is 9 minutes
alternate download link
This audio program is copyrighted by Redwood Audiobooks.
Permission is granted to download for personal use only;
not for distribution or commercial use.
The Good Citizens' League had spread through the country, but nowhere
was it so effective and well esteemed as in cities of the type of
Zenith, commercial cities of a few hundred thousand inhabitants, most
of which—though not all—lay inland, against a background of
cornfields and mines and of small towns which depended upon them for
mortgage-loans, table-manners, art, social philosophy and millinery.
To the League belonged most of the prosperous citizens of Zenith. They
were not all of the kind who called themselves "Regular Guys." Besides
these hearty fellows, these salesmen of prosperity, there were the
aristocrats, that is, the men who were richer or had been rich for more
generations: the presidents of banks and of factories, the land-owners,
the corporation lawyers, the fashionable doctors, and the few young-old
men who worked not at all but, reluctantly remaining in Zenith,
collected luster-ware and first editions as though they were back in
Paris. All of them agreed that the working-classes must be kept in their
place; and all of them perceived that American Democracy did not imply
any equality of wealth, but did demand a wholesome sameness of thought,
dress, painting, morals, and vocabulary.
In this they were like the ruling-class of any other country,
particularly of Great Britain, but they differed in being more vigorous
and in actually trying to produce the accepted standards which all
classes, everywhere, desire, but usually despair of realizing.
The longest struggle of the Good Citizens' League was against the
Open Shop—which was secretly a struggle against all union labor.
Accompanying it was an Americanization Movement, with evening classes in
English and history and economics, and daily articles in the newspapers,
so that newly arrived foreigners might learn that the true-blue and
one hundred per cent. American way of settling labor-troubles was for
workmen to trust and love their employers.
The League was more than generous in approving other organizations
which agreed with its aims. It helped the Y.M. C.A. to raise a
two-hundred-thousand-dollar fund for a new building. Babbitt, Vergil
Gunch, Sidney Finkelstein, and even Charles McKelvey told the spectators
at movie theaters how great an influence for manly Christianity the
"good old Y." had been in their own lives; and the hoar and mighty
Colonel Rutherford Snow, owner of the Advocate-Times, was photographed
clasping the hand of Sheldon Smeeth of the Y.M.C.A. It is true
that afterward, when Smeeth lisped, "You must come to one of our
prayer-meetings," the ferocious Colonel bellowed, "What the hell would
I do that for? I've got a bar of my own," but this did not appear in the
The League was of value to the American Legion at a time when certain of
the lesser and looser newspapers were criticizing that organization of
veterans of the Great War. One evening a number of young men raided
the Zenith Socialist Headquarters, burned its records, beat the
office staff, and agreeably dumped desks out of the window. All of the
newspapers save the Advocate-Times and the Evening Advocate attributed
this valuable but perhaps hasty direct-action to the American Legion.
Then a flying squadron from the Good Citizens' League called on the
unfair papers and explained that no ex-soldier could possibly do such
a thing, and the editors saw the light, and retained their advertising.
When Zenith's lone Conscientious Objector came home from prison and was
righteously run out of town, the newspapers referred to the perpetrators
as an "unidentified mob."
In all the activities and triumphs of the Good Citizens' League Babbitt
took part, and completely won back to self-respect, placidity, and the
affection of his friends. But he began to protest, "Gosh, I've done my
share in cleaning up the city. I want to tend to business. Think I'll
just kind of slacken up on this G.C.L. stuff now."
He had returned to the church as he had returned to the Boosters' Club.
He had even endured the lavish greeting which Sheldon Smeeth gave him.
He was worried lest during his late discontent he had imperiled his
salvation. He was not quite sure there was a Heaven to be attained, but
Dr. John Jennison Drew said there was, and Babbitt was not going to take
One evening when he was walking past Dr. Drew's parsonage he impulsively
went in and found the pastor in his study.
"Jus' minute—getting 'phone call," said Dr. Drew in businesslike tones,
then, aggressively, to the telephone: "'Lo—'lo! This Berkey and Hannis?
Reverend Drew speaking. Where the dickens is the proof for next Sunday's
calendar? Huh? Y' ought to have it here. Well, I can't help it if
they're ALL sick! I got to have it to-night. Get an A.D.T. boy and shoot
it up here quick."
He turned, without slackening his briskness. "Well, Brother Babbitt,
what c'n I do for you?"
"I just wanted to ask—Tell you how it is, dominie: Here a while ago I
guess I got kind of slack. Took a few drinks and so on. What I wanted
to ask is: How is it if a fellow cuts that all out and comes back to his
senses? Does it sort of, well, you might say, does it score against him
in the long run?"
The Reverend Dr. Drew was suddenly interested. "And, uh, brother—the
other things, too? Women?"
"No, practically, you might say, practically not at all."
"Don't hesitate to tell me, brother! That's what I'm here for. Been
going on joy-rides? Squeezing girls in cars?" The reverend eyes
"Well, I'll tell you. I've got a deputation from the Don't Make
Prohibition a Joke Association coming to see me in a quarter of an
hour, and one from the Anti-Birth-Control Union at a quarter of ten." He
busily glanced at his watch. "But I can take five minutes off and pray
with you. Kneel right down by your chair, brother. Don't be ashamed to
seek the guidance of God."
Babbitt's scalp itched and he longed to flee, but Dr. Drew had already
flopped down beside his desk-chair and his voice had changed from
rasping efficiency to an unctuous familiarity with sin and with the
Almighty. Babbitt also knelt, while Drew gloated:
"O Lord, thou seest our brother here, who has been led astray by
manifold temptations. O Heavenly Father, make his heart to be pure,
as pure as a little child's. Oh, let him know again the joy of a manly
courage to abstain from evil—"
Sheldon Smeeth came frolicking into the study. At the sight of the two
men he smirked, forgivingly patted Babbitt on the shoulder, and
knelt beside him, his arm about him, while he authorized Dr. Drew's
imprecations with moans of "Yes, Lord! Help our brother, Lord!"
Though he was trying to keep his eyes closed, Babbitt squinted between
his fingers and saw the pastor glance at his watch as he concluded with
a triumphant, "And let him never be afraid to come to Us for counsel and
tender care, and let him know that the church can lead him as a little
Dr. Drew sprang up, rolled his eyes in the general direction of Heaven,
chucked his watch into his pocket, and demanded, "Has the deputation
come yet, Sheldy?"
"Yep, right outside," Sheldy answered, with equal liveliness; then,
caressingly, to Babbitt, "Brother, if it would help, I'd love to go into
the next room and pray with you while Dr. Drew is receiving the brothers
from the Don't Make Prohibition a Joke Association."
"No—no thanks—can't take the time!" yelped Babbitt, rushing toward the
Thereafter he was often seen at the Chatham Road Presbyterian Church,
but it is recorded that he avoided shaking hands with the pastor at the
More information about Sinclair Lewis from Wikipedia
More selections (37) in this category: Novels
More selections (163) in the iTunes category: Arts/Literature