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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 69
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 69 Post by :Joe_Coon Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :1129

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 69

Peter was really happy now, because the authorities were thoroughly roused, and when he brought them new facts, he had the satisfaction of seeing something done about it. Ostensibly the action was taken by the Federal agents, or by the District Attorney's office, or by the city police and detectives; but Peter knew that it was always himself and the rest of Guffey's agents, pulling the wires behind the scenes. Guffey had the money, he was working for the men who really counted in American City; Guffey was the real boss. And all over the country it was the same; the Reds were being put out of business by the secret agents of the Chambers of Commerce and the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Associations, and the "Improve America League," and such like camouflaged organizations.

They had everything their own way, because the country was at war, the war excitement was blazing like a prairie fire all over the land, and all you had to do was to call a man a pro-German or a Bolshevik, and to be sufficiently excited about it, and you could get a mob together and go to his home and horsewhip him or tar and feather him or lynch him. For years the big business men had been hating the agitators, and now at last they had their chance, and in every town, in every shop and mill and mine they had some Peter Gudge at work, a "Jimmie Higgins" of the "Whites," engaged in spying and "snooping" upon the "Jimmie Higgins" of the "Reds." Everywhere they had Guffeys and McGivneys to direct these activities, and they had "strong arm men," with guns on their hips and deputy sheriffs' and other badges inside their coats, giving them unlimited right to protect the country from traitors.

There were three or four million men in the training camps, and every week great convoys were sent out from the Eastern ports, loaded with troops for "over there." Billions of dollars worth of munitions and supplies were going, and all the yearnings and patriotic fervors of the country were likewise going "over there." Peter read more speeches and sermons and editorials, and was proud and glad, knowing that he was taking his humble part in the great adventure. When he read that the biggest captains of industry and finance were selling their services to the government for the sum of one dollar a year, how could he complain, who was getting twenty dollars every week? When some of the Reds in their meetings or in their "literature" declared that these captains of industry and finance were the heads of companies which were charging the government enormous prices and making anywhere from three to ten times the profits they had made before the war--then Peter would know that he was listening to an extremely dangerous Bolshevik; he would take the name of the man to McGivney, and McGivney would pull his secret wires, and the man would suddenly find himself out of a job--or maybe being prosecuted by the health department of the city for having set out a garbage can without a cover.

After persistent agitation, the radicals had succeeded in persuading a judge to let out McCormick and the rest of the conspirators on fifty thousand dollars bail apiece. That was most exasperating to Peter, because it was obvious that when you put a Red into jail, you made him a martyr to the rest of the Reds you made him conspicuous to the whole community, and then if you let him out again, his speaking and agitating were ten times as effective as before. Either you ought to keep an agitator in jail for good, or else you ought not put him in at all. But the judges didn't see that--their heads were full of a lot of legal bunk, and they let David Andrews and the other Red lawyers hood-wink them. Herbert Ashton and his Socialist crowd also got out on bail, and the "Clarion" was still published and openly sold on the news-stands. While it didn't dare oppose the war any more, it printed every impolite thing it could possibly collect about the "gigantic trading corporation" known as the British Government, and also about the "French bankers" and the "Italian imperialists." It clamored for democracy for Ireland and Egypt and India, and shamelessly defended the Bolsheviki, those pro-German conspirators and nationalizers of women.

So Peter proceeded to collect more evidence against the "Clarion" staff, and against the I. W. Ws. Presently he read the good news that the government had arrested a couple of hundred of the I. W. W. leaders all over the country, and also the national leaders of the Socialists, and was going to try them all for conspiracy. Then came the trial of McCormick and Henderson and Gus and the rest; and Peter picked up his "Times" one morning, and read on the front page some news that caused him to gasp. Joe Angell, one of the leaders in the dynamite conspiracy, had turned state's evidence! He had revealed to the District Attorney, not only the part which he himself had played in the plan to dynamite Nelse Ackerman's home, but he had told everything that the others had done--just how the dynamite had been got and prepared, and the names of all the leading citizens of the community who were to share Nelse Ackerman's fate! Peter read, on and on, breathless with wonder, and when he got thru with the story he rolled back on his bed and laughed out loud. By heck, that was the limit! Peter had framed a frame-up on Guffey's man, and of course Guffey couldn't send this man to prison; so he had had him turn state's evidence, and was letting him go free, as his reward for telling on the others!

The court calendars were now crowded with "espionage" cases; pacifist clergymen who had tried to preach sermons, and labor leaders who bad tried to call strikes; members of the Anti-conscription League and their pupils, the draft-dodgers and slackers; Anarchists and Communists and Quakers, I. W. Ws., and Socialists and "Russellites." There were several trials going on all the time, and in almost every case Peter had a finger, Peter was called on to get this bit of evidence, or to investigate that juror, or to prepare some little job against a witness for the defense. Peter was wrapped up in the fate of each case, and each conviction was a personal triumph. As there was always a conviction, Peter began to swell up again with patriotic fervor, and the memory of Nell Doolin and Ted Crothers slipped far into the background. When "Mac" and his fellow dynamiters were sentenced to twenty years apiece, Peter felt that he had atoned for all his sins, and he ventured timidly to point out to McGivney that the cost of living was going up all the time, and that he had kept his promise not to wink at a woman for six months. McGivney said all right, they would raise him to thirty dollars a week.

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Of course Peter's statement to McGivney had not been literally true. He had winked at a number of women, but the trouble was none had returned his wink. First he had made friendly advances toward Miriam Yankovich, who was buxom and not bad looking; but Miriam's thoughts were evidently all with McCormick in jail; and then, after her experience with Bob Ogden, Miriam had to go to a hospital, and of course Peter didn't want to fool with an invalid. He made himself agreeable to others of the Red girls, and they seemed to like him; they treated him as a
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 68 100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 68

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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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