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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 64
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 64 Post by :simkl Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :2013

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 64

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. McGivney had warned Peter to be very cautious about this, but again Peter found that there was no need of caution. Mrs. Godd was perfectly willing to advise young men to refuse military service. She had advised many such, she said, including her own sons, who unfortunately agreed with their father in being blood-thirsty.

It came to be lunch-time, and Mrs. Godd asked if Peter could sit at table--and Peter's curiosity got the better of all caution. He wanted to see the Godd family sipping their nectar out of golden cups. He wondered, would the disapproving husband and the blood-thirsty sons be present?

There was nobody present but an elderly woman companion, and Peter did not see any golden cups. But he saw some fine china, so fragile that he was afraid to touch it, and he saw a row of silver implements, so heavy that it gave him a surprise each time he picked one up. Also, he saw foods prepared in strange and complicated ways, so chopped up and covered with sauces that it was literally true he couldn't give the name of a single thing he had eaten, except the buttered toast.

He was inwardly quaking with embarrassment during this meal, but he saved himself by Mrs. James's formula, to watch and see what the others were doing and then do likewise. Each time a new course was brought, Peter would wait, and when he saw Mrs. Godd pick up a certain fork or a certain spoon, he would pick up the same one, or as near to it as he could guess. He could put his whole mind on this, because he didn't have to do any talking; Mrs. Godd poured out a steady stream of sedition and high treason, and all Peter had to do was to listen and nod. Mrs. Godd would understand that his mouth was too full for utterance.

After the luncheon they went out on the broad veranda which overlooked a magnificent landscape. The hostess got Peter settled in a soft porch chair with many cushions, and then waved her hand toward the view of the city with its haze of thick black smoke.

"That's where my wage slaves toil to earn my dividends," said she. "They're supposed to stay there--in their 'place,' as it's called, and I stay here in my place. If they want to change places, it's called 'revolution,' and that is 'violence.' What I marvel at is that they use so little violence, and feel so little. Look at those men being tortured in jail! Could anyone blame them if they used violence? Or if they made an effort to escape?"

That suggested a swift, stabbing idea to Peter. Suppose Mrs. Godd could be induced to help in a jail delivery!

"It might be possible to help them to escape," he suggested.

"Do you think so?" asked Mrs. Godd, showing excitement for the first time during that interview.

"It might be," said Peter. "Those jailors are not above taking bribes, you know. I met nearly all of them while I was in that jail, and I think I might get in touch with one or two that could be paid. Would you like me to try it?"

"Well, I don't know--" began the lady, hesitatingly. "Do you really think--"

"You know they never ought to have been put in at all!" Peter interjected.

"That's certainly true!" declared Mrs. Godd.

"And if they could escape without hurting anyone, if they didn't have to fight the jailors, it wouldn't do any real harm--"

That was as far as Peter got with his impromptu conspiracy. Suddenly he heard a voice behind him: "What does this mean?" It was a male voice, fierce and trembling with anger; and Peter started from his silken cushions, and glanced around, thrusting up one arm with the defensive gesture of a person who has been beaten since earliest childhood.

Bearing down on him was a man; possibly he was not an abnormally big man, but certainly he looked so to Peter. His smooth-shaven face was pink with anger, his brows gathered in a terrible frown, and his hands clenched with deadly significance. "You dirty little skunk!" he hissed. "You infernal young sneak!"

"John!" cried Mrs. Godd, imperiously; but she might as well have cried to an advancing thunder-storm. The man made a leap upon Peter, and Peter, who had dodged many hundreds of blows in his lifetime, rolled off the lounging chair, and leaped to his feet, and started for the stairs of the veranda. The man was right behind him, and as Peter reached the first stair the man's foot shot out, and caught Peter fairly in the seat of his trousers, and the first stair was the only one of the ten or twelve stairs of the veranda that Peter touched in his descent.

Landing at the bottom, he did not stop even for a glance; he could hear the snorting of Mr. Godd, it seemed right behind his ear, and Peter ran down the driveway as he had seldom run in his life before. Every now and then Mr. Godd would shoot out another kick, but he had to stop slightly to do this, and Peter gained just enough to keep the kicks from reaching him. So at last the pursuer gave up, and Peter dashed thru the gates of the Godd estate and onto the main highway.

Then he looked over his shoulder, and seeing that Mr. Godd was a safe distance away, he stopped and turned and shook his clenched fist with the menace of a street-rat, shrieking, "Damn you! Damn you!" A whirlwind of impotent rage laid hold upon him. He shouted more curses and menaces, and among them some strange, some almost incredible words. "Yes, I'm a Red, damn your soul, and I'll stay a Red!"

Yes, Peter Gudge, the friend of law and order, Peter Gudge, the little brother to the rich, shouted, "I'm a Red, and what's more, we'll blow you up some day for this--Mac and me'll put a bomb under you!" Mr. Godd turned and stalked with contemptuous dignity back to his own private domestic controversy.

Peter walked off down the road, rubbing his sore trousers and sobbing to himself. Yes, Peter understood now exactly how the Reds felt. Here were these rich parasites, exploiting the labor of working men and living off in palaces by themselves--and what had they done to earn it? What would they ever do for the poor man, except to despise him, and to kick him in the seat of his trousers? They were a set of wilful brutes! Peter suddenly saw the happenings of last night from a new angle, and wished he had all the younger members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association right there along with Mr. Godd, so that he could bundle them all off to the devil at once.

And that was no passing mood either. The seat of Peter's trousers hurt so that he could hardly endure the trolley ride home, and all the way Peter was plotting how he could punish Mr. Godd. He remembered suddenly that Mr. Godd was an associate of Nelse Ackerman; and Peter now had a spy in Nelse Ackerman's home, and was preparing some kind of a "frame-up!" Peter would see if he couldn't find some way to start a dynamite conspiracy against Mr. Godd! He would start a campaign against Mr. Godd in the radical movement, and maybe he could find some way to get a bunch of the "wobblies" to carry him off and tie him up and beat him with a black-snake whip!

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 65
With these reflections Peter went back to the American House McGivney had promised to meet him that evening. Peter went to Room 427, and being tired after the previous night's excitement, he lay down and fell fast asleep. And when again he opened his eyes, he wasn't sure whether it was a nightmare, or whether he had died in his sleep and gone to hell with Mr. Godd. Somebody was shaking him, and bidding him in a gruff voice, "Wake up!" Peter opened his eyes, and saw that it was McGivney; and that was all right, it was natural that
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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
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