Carl Claudy

WE OUGHT to revise the ritual. It has so much in it that doesn't apply nowadays . . ."

"I have heard that said about the Bible, too," the Old Tiler interrupted the New Brother. "What particular part of the ritual do you want changed?"

"Well, for instance, 'and pay the Craft their wages, if any be due.' That doesn't mean a thing today. We pay 'wages' or dues to the lodge — the lodge doesn't pay us wages of any kind."

"Haven't you been present at a Craft payday yet? You sure are out of luck," answered the Old Tiler.

"Why, what do you mean? Have I missed something?"

"If you have been a member of the Craft for six months and haven't received any Masonic wages, you must be among those the fathers of Masonry had in mind when they wrote 'pay the Craft their wages if any be due.' Evidently no wages are due you, or you would have received them.

"I have been a Mason so long I forget what it's like not to be one. I receive my Masonic wages regularly, and always have. Most members of the Craft get their wages regularly. It's a shame you don't work so that some are due you.

"Masonic wages are paid in many coins. Last week my son-in-law lost his job through a misunderstanding. He is not a member of the Craft. He asked me what I could do. I told his one-time boss the story as my son-in-law told it to me. The boss asked me, 'Is this on the square?' I told him it was.

"'I know you for a true four-square man,' he answered. 'Tell the boy to come back.'

"Last year Brother Michby, President of the First National, was in the hospital. I went to see him two or three times. Michby never had much of an idea about Masonry before he was so ill; he seldom came to lodge. Now he never misses a meeting. And he never fails to chat with me going and coming, or when I meet him on the street. He is one of my wages; a small act of brotherhood brought Michby to appreciate that the lodge wasn't just words. I don't know how much good he has done since he has been really interested, but I do know that he lays it all to my visiting him.

"Over my bed is an electric light. I can read before I go to sleep and reach up and turn it off when I am tired. Both it and the books I read came from Brother Tome, librarian at the big temple. Tome heard me trying to explain the meaning of a symbol and asked me if I had ever read Mackey. It sounds foolish now, but then I hadn't and I said I had never heard of him. The light and the books were the answer. Now I am never without a book of some kind, and it's astonishing, what even in Old Tiler can read if he reads long enough. Masonic wages, my boy, are worth much fine gold.

"Two years ago my little granddaughter, was all smashed up in a street car accident. After I got over the first shock I began to wonder what could be done. It looked like a long illness and a hospital, and nurses and doctors and expenses beyond her father's and my means.

"But I didn't trust the lodge enough. We have seven doctors on the rolls. One of the seven was at the hospital every day. Jim, the florist, kept her room a bower. Maxie, the preacher, brought a different young girl to see her every other day, until she had a wonderful circle of friends. Boys I only knew by sight stopped me on the street or came to the house or hospital, and when she was strong again she always said it was as much because of the loving care everybody took of her grandfather's girl as because of the surgeons. Masonic wages beyond my deserts, boy, but Masonic wages nevertheless.

"I never learned much in the way of a trade or business. I'll never be much of a financial success. But is there a man in this town who can call more big business men by their front names than I? I once thought it was just because I was Tiler. Now I know it isn't. Michby and Lawyer Repsold and Doctor Cutter, and Harrison of the big department store have asked me to their homes to chat Masonry. I've gone as gladly as to the bricklayer arid the crossing policeman and the elevator man. When men like these tell me I've meant something in their lives that money can't buy, I don't care so much that I never earned much cash.

"Don't revise the ritual. Masonic wages are those which are paid in love and brotherhood and mutual help and information and inspiration and charity and assistance and being pals. They are worth much more than money. Take the Masonic wages out of a lodge and you would need to revise the whole fraternity. The payment Masons make to Masons is the most valuable which a man can receive. And you want to revise it out of existence!"

"No, I don't," answered the New Brother. "Now I'll tell you something. Brother Maxie, the preacher, told me to say that to you. He started by telling me how grateful some brother was because I had helped him out of a hole. Maxie asked me if I'd received any Masonic wages yet. When I said I hadn't, he said you were paying off and that the way to get mine was to talk to you about the ritual and - I've been paid."

"You are a pair of rascals!" growled the Old Tiler, but his eyes looked as if he smiled inside.