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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 67
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 67 Post by :gabby Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :3340

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 67

So there it was. When Peter had heard this letter, he understood that there was no more to be said, and he said it. His own weight had suddenly become more than he could support, and he saw a chair nearby and slipped into it, and sat with eyes of abject misery roaming from Guffey to McGivney, and from McGivney to Hammett, and then back to Guffey again.

The head detective, for all his anger, was a practical man; he could not have managed the very important and confidential work of the Traction Trust if he had not been. So now he proceeded to get down to business. Peter would please tell him everything about that dynamite frame-up; just how they had managed it and just who knew about it. And Peter, being also a practical man, knew that there was no use trying to hide anything. He told the story from beginning to end, taking particular pains to make clear that he and Nell alone were in the secret---except that beyond doubt Nell had told her lover, Ted Crothers. It was probably Crothers that got the dynamite. From the conversation that ensued Peter gathered that this young man with the face of a bull-dog was one of the very fanciest safecrackers in the country, and no doubt he was the real brains of the conspiracy; he had put Nell up to it, and managed every step. Suddenly Peter remembered all the kisses which Nell had given him in the park, and he found a blush of shame stealing over him. Yes, there was no doubt about it, he was a boob where women were concerned!

Peter began to plead for himself, Really it wasn't his fault because Nell had got a hold on him. In the Temple of Jimjambo, when he was only a kid, he had been desperately in love with her. She was not only beautiful, she was so smart; she was the smartest woman he had ever known. McGivney remarked that she had been playing with Peter even then--she had been in Guffey's pay at that time, collecting evidence to put Pashtian el Kalandra in jail and break up the cult of Eleutherinian Exoticism. She had done many such jobs for the secret service of the Traction Trust, while Peter was still traveling around with Pericles Priam selling patent medicine. Nell had been used by Guffey to seduce a prominent labor leader in American City; she had got him caught in a hotel room with her, and thus had broken the back of the biggest labor strike ever known in the city's history.

Peter felt suddenly that he had a good defense. Of course a woman like that had been too much for him! It was Guffey's own fault if he hired people like that and turned them loose! It suddenly dawned on Peter--Nell must have found out that he, Peter, was going to meet young Lackman in the Hotel de Soto, and she must have gone there deliberately to ensnare him. When McGivney admitted that that was possibly true, Peter felt that he had a case, and proceeded to urge it with eloquence. He had been a fool, of course, every kind of fool there was, and he hadn't a word to say for himself; but he had learned his lesson and learned it thoroughly. No more women for him, and no more high life, and if Mr. Guffey would give him another chance--

Guffey, of course, snorted at him. He wouldn't have a pudding-head like Peter Gudge within ten miles of his office! But Peter only pleaded the more abjectly. He really did know the Reds thoroughly, and where could Mr. Guffey find anybody that knew them as well? The Reds all trusted him; he was a real martyr--look at the plasters all over him now! And he had just added another Red laurel to his brow--he had been to see Mrs. Godd, and had had the seat of his trousers kicked by Mr. Godd, and of course he could tell that story, and maybe he could catch some Reds in a conspiracy against Mr. Godd. Anyhow, they had that perfectly good case against McCormick and the rest of the I. W. Ws. And now that things had gone so far, surely they couldn't back down on that case! All that was necessary was to explain matters to Mr. Ackerman--

Peter realized that this was an unfortunate remark. Guffey was on his feet again, pacing up and down the room, calling Peter the names of all the barnyard animals, and incidentally revealing that he had already had an interview with Mr. Ackerman, and that Mr. Ackerman was not disposed to receive amicably the news that the secret service bureau which he had been financing, and which was supposed to be protecting him, had been the means of introducing into his home a couple of high-class criminals who had cracked his safe and made off with jewels that they guessed were worth fifty thousand dollars, but that Mr. Ackerman claimed were worth eighty-five thousand dollars. Peter was informed that he might thank his lucky stars that Guffey didn't shut him in the hole for the balance of his life, or take him into a dungeon and pull him to pieces inch by inch. As it was, all he had to do was to get himself out of Guffey's office, and take himself to hell by the quickest route he could find. "Go on!" said Guffey. "I mean it, get out!"

And so Peter got to his feet and started unsteadily toward the door. He was thinking to himself: "Shall I threaten them? Shall I say I'll go over to the Reds and tell what I know?" No, he had better not do that; the least hint of that might cause Guffey to put him in the hole! But then, how was it possible for Guffey to let him go, to take a chance of his telling? Right now, Guffey must be thinking to himself that Peter might go away, and in a fit of rage or of despair might let out the truth to one of the Reds, and then everything would be ruined forever. No, surely Guffey would not take such a chance! Peter walked very slowly to the door, he opened the door reluctantly, he stood there, holding on as if he were too weak to keep his balance; he waited--waited--

And sure enough, Guffey spoke. "Come back here, you mut!" And Peter turned and started towards the head detective, stretching out his hands in a gesture of submission; if it had been in an Eastern country, he would have fallen on his knees and struck his forehead three times in the dust. "Please, please, Mr. Guffey!" he wailed. "Give me another chance!"

"If I put you to work again," snarled Guffey, "will you do what I tell you, and not what you want to do yourself?"

"Yes, yes, Mr. Guffey."

"You'll do no more frame-ups but my frame-ups?"

"Yes, yes, Mr. Guffey."

"All right, then, I'll give you one more chance. But by God, if I find you so much as winking at another girl, I'll pull your eye teeth out!"

And Peter's heart leaped with relief. "Oh, thank you, thank you, Mr. Guffey!"

"I'll pay you twenty dollars a week, and no more," said Guffey. "You're worth more, but I can't trust you with money, and you can take it or leave it."

"That'll be perfectly satisfactory, Mr. Guffey," said Peter.

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 68 100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 68

100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 68
So there was the end of high life for Peter Gudge. He moved no more in the celestial circles of Mount Olympus. He never again saw the Chinese butler of Mr. Ackerman, nor the French parlor-maid of Mrs. Godd. He would no more be smiled at by the two hundred and twenty-four boy angels of the ceiling of the Hotel de Soto lobby. Peter would eat his meals now seated on a stool in front of a lunch counter, he would really be the humble proletarian, the "Jimmie Higgins" of his role. He put behind him bright dreams of an accumulated
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 66 100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 66

100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 66
They went to the office of the secret service department of the Traction Trust, a place where Peter had never been allowed to come hitherto. It was on the fourteenth floor of the Merchant's Trust Building, and the sign on the door read: "The American City Land & Investment Company. Walk In." When you walked in, you saw a conventional real estate office, and it was only when you had penetrated several doors that you came to the secret rooms where Guffey and his staff conducted the espionage work of the big business interests of the city.Peter was hustled into one
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