Religion: Demosthenes the Fortunate

Bright over the Gulf of Mexico blazed the sun. A small white boat, one-masted, drifted into the tidy harbor of Tarpon Springs, Fla. On a beam reaching from the mast to the flagstaff astern, hung sponges strung on cords six feet in length. It was a Monday. Tuesday was auction day.

Then would the sponges be sold in the one-story brick building called the Sponge Exchange. Yellow, soft, they would be spread on the grey concrete floor like a grotesque splash of sunlight. Purchasers would appraise, make anonymous bids. If the sellers would not sell, a second...

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