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Part 4

Interlude: Mr. Gandhi

A small stone house, such as would pass unremarked in any small town in America. A wicket gate, a sunbaked garden, a bare and clean room flooded with light from a broadside of windows. In the room, sitting on a floor cushion with his back to a blank wall, a man. To his right two younger men, near a slant-topped desk perhaps eighteen inches high. To his left, a backless wooden bench for the use of western visitors. If there are other objects in the room, one does not see them for interest in the man with his back to the wall.

His head is close-shaven, and such hair as he has is turning gray. His eyes, small and dark, have a look of weariness, almost of renunciation, as of one who, having vainly striven, now withdraws from striving, unconvinced. Yet from time to time, as he talks, his eyes flash. His ears are large and conspicuously protruding. His costume, being merely a loin-cloth, exposes his hairy body, his thin, wiry arms, and his bare, thin, interlaced legs, upon which he sits like Buddha with the soles of his feet turned up. His hands are busy with a little wooden spinning-wheel planted on the ground before him. The right hand twirls the wheel while the left evolves a cotton thread.

"'What is my message to America?'" he repeated in his light, dispassionate, even voice. "My message to America is the hum of this spinning-wheel."

Then he speaks at length, slowly, with pauses. And as he speaks the two young men, his secretaries, lying over their slant-topped desk, write down every word he says.

The wheel hums steadily on. And the thread it spins for America appears and reappears in the pages of this book.