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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 63
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 63 Post by :gabby Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :2533

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 63

Peter did not want to set traps for this mother of Mount Olympus, he didn't want to worm any secrets from her. And as it happened, he found that he did not have to, because she told him everything right away, and without the slightest hesitation. She talked just as the "wobblies" had talked in their headquarters; and Peter, when he thought it over, realized that there are two kinds of people who can afford to be frank in their utterance--those who have nothing to lose, and those who have so much to lose that they cannot possibly lose it.

Mrs. Godd said that what had been done to those men last night was a crime, and it ought to be punished if ever a crime was punished, and that she would like to engage detectives and get evidence against the guilty ones. She said furthermore that she sympathized with the Reds of the very reddest shade, and if there were any color redder than Red she would be of that color. She said all this in her quiet, soft voice. Tears came into her eyes now and then, but they were well-behaved tears, they disappeared of their own accord, and without any injury to Mrs. Godd's complexion, or any apparent effect upon her self-possession.

Mrs. Godd said that she didn't see how anybody could fail to be a Red who thought about the injustices of present-day society. Only a few days before she had been in to see the district attorney, and had tried to make a Red out of him! Then she told Peter how there had come to see her a man who had pretended to be a radical, but she had realized that he didn't know anything about radicalism, and had told him she was sure he was a government agent. The man had finally admitted it, and showed her his gold star--and then Mrs. Godd had set to work to convert him! She had argued with him for an hour or two, and then had invited him to go to the opera with her. "And do you know," said Mrs. Godd, in an injured tone, "he wouldn't go! They don't want to be converted, those men; they don't want to listen to reason. I believe the man was actually afraid I might influence him."

"I shouldn't wonder," put in Peter, sympathetically; for he was a tiny bit afraid himself.

"I said to him, 'Here I live in this palace, and back in the industrial quarter of the city are several thousand men and women who slave at machines for me all day, and now, since the war, all night too. I get the profits of these peoples' toil--and what have I done to earn it? Absolutely nothing! I never did a stroke of useful work in my life.' And he said to me, 'Suppose the dividends were to stop, what would you do?' 'I don't know what I'd do,' I answered, 'I'd be miserable, of course, because I hate poverty, I couldn't stand it, it's terrible to think of--not to have comfort and cleanliness and security. I don't see how the working-class stand it--that's exactly why I'm a Red, I know it's wrong for anyone to be poor, and there's no excuse for it. So I shall help to overthrow the capitalist system, even if it means I have to take in washing for my living!"

Peter sat watching her in the crisp freshness of her snowy chiffons. The words brought a horrible image to his mind; he suddenly found himself back in the tenement kitchen, where fat and steaming Mrs. Yankovich was laboring elbow deep in soap-suds. It was on the tip of Peter's tongue to say: "If you really had done a day's washing, Mrs. Godd, you wouldn't talk like that!"

But he remembered that he must play the game, so he said, "They're terrible fellows, them Federal agents. It was two of them pounded me over the head last night." And then he looked faint and pitiful, and Mrs. Godd was sympathetic again, and moved to more recklessness of utterance.

"It's because of this hideous war!" she declared. "We've gone to war to make the world safe for democracy, and meantime we have to sacrifice every bit of democracy at home. They tell you that you must hold your peace while they murder one another, but they may try all they please, they'll never be able to silence me! I know that the Allies are just as much to blame as the Germans, I know that this is a war of profiteers and bankers; they may take my sons and force them into the army, but they cannot take my convictions and force them into their army. I am a pacifist, and I am an internationalist; I want to see the workers arise and turn out of office these capitalist governments, and put an end to this hideous slaughter of human beings. I intend to go on saying that so long as I live." There sat Mrs. Godd, with her lovely firm white hands clasped as if in prayer, one large diamond ring on the left fourth finger shining defiance, and a look of calm, child-like conviction upon her face, confronting in her imagination all the federal agents and district attorneys and capitalist judges and statesmen and generals and drill sergeants in the civilized world.

She went on to tell how she had attended the trial of three pacifist clergymen a week or two previously. How atrocious that Christians in a Christian country should be sent to prison for trying to repeat the words of Christ! "I was so indignant," declared Mrs. Godd, "that I wrote a letter to the judge. My husband said I would be committing contempt of court by writing to a judge during the trial, but I answered that my contempt for that court was beyond anything I could put into writing. Wait--"

And Mrs. Godd rose gravely from her chair and went over to a desk by the wall, and got a copy of the letter. "I'll read it to you," she said, and Peter listened to a manifesto of Olympian Bolshevism--

To His Honor:

As I entered the sanctuary, I gazed upward to the stained glass dome, upon which were inscribed four words: Peace. Justice. Truth. Law--and I felt hopeful. Before me were men who had violated no constitutional right, who had not the slightest criminal tendency, who, were opposed to violence of every kind.

The trial proceeded. I looked again at the beautiful stained glass dome, and whispered to myself those majestic-sounding words: "Peace. Justice. Truth. Law." I listened to the prosecutors; the Law in their hands was a hard, sharp, cruel blade, seeking insistently, relentlessly for a weak spot in the armor of its victims. I listened to their Truth, and it was Falsehood. Their Peace was a cruel and bloody War. Their justice was a net to catch the victims at any cost--at the cost of all things but the glory of the Prosecutor's office.

I grew sick at heart. I can only ask myself the old, old question: What can we, the people do? How can we bring Peace, justice, Truth and Law to the world? Must we go on bended knees and ask our public servants to see that justice is done to the defenceless, rather than this eternal prosecuting of the world's noblest souls! You will find these men guilty, and sentence them to be shut behind iron bars--which should never be for human beings, no matter what their crime, unless you want to make beasts of them. Is that your object, sir? It would seem so; and so I say that we must overturn the system that is brutalizing, rather than helping and uplifting mankind.

Yours for Peace..Justice..Truth..Law--

Mary Angelica Godd.

What were you going to do with such a woman? Peter could understand the bewilderment of His Honor, and of the district attorney's office, and of the secret service department of the Traction Trust--as well as of Mrs. Godd's husband! Peter was bewildered himself; what was the use of his coming out here to get more information, when Mrs. Godd had already committed contempt of court in writing, and had given all the information there was to give to a Federal agent? She had told this man that she had contributed several thousand dollars to the Peoples' Council, and that she intended to contribute more. She had put up bail for a whole bunch of Reds and Pacifists, and she intended to put up bail for McCormick and his friends, just as soon as the corrupt capitalist courts had been forced to admit them to bail. "I know McCormick well, and he's a lovely boy," she said. "I don't believe he had anything more to do with dynamite bombs than I have."

Now all this time Peter had sat there, entirely under the spell of Mrs. Godd's opulence. Peter was dwelling among the lotus-eaters, and forgetting the world's strife and care; he was reclining on a silken couch, sipping nectar with the shining ones of Mount Olympus. But now suddenly, Peter was brought back to duty, as one wakes from a dream to the sound of an alarm-clock. Mrs. Godd was a friend of Mac's, Mrs. Godd proposed to get Mac out on bail! Mac, the most dangerous Red of them all! Peter saw that he must get something on this woman at once!

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Peter sat up suddenly among his silken cushions, and began to tell Mrs. Godd about the new plan of the Anti-conscription League, to prepare a set of instructions for young conscientious objectors. Peter represented the purpose of these instructions to be the advising of young men as to their legal and constitutional rights. But it was McGivney's idea that Peter should slip into the instructions some phrase advising the young men to refuse military duty; if this were printed and circulated, it would render every member of the Anti-conscription League liable to a sentence of ten or twenty years in jail.
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Peter hadn't been so excited since the time when he had waited to meet young Lackman. He had never quite forgiven himself for this costly failure, and now he was to have another chance. He took a trolley ride out into the country, and walked a couple of miles to the palace on the hilltop, and mounted thru a grove of trees and magnificent Italian gardens. According to McGivney's injunctions, he summoned his courage, and went to the front door of the stately mansion and rang the bell.Peter was hot and dusty from his long walk, the sweat had made streaks
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