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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 71
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 71 Post by :codebluenj Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :2346

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 71

These were days of world-agony, when people bought the newspapers several times every day, and when crowds gathered in front of bulletin boards, looking at the big maps with little flags, and speculating, were the Germans going to get to Paris, were they going to get to the Channel and put France out of the war? And then suddenly the Americans struck their first blow, and hurled the Germans back at Chateau-Thierry, and all America rose up with one shout of triumph!

You would think that was a poor time for pacifist agitation; but the members of the Anti-conscription League had so little discretion that they chose this precise moment to publish a pamphlet, describing the torturing of conscientious objectors in military prisons and training camps! Peter had been active in this organization from the beginning, and he had helped to write into the pamphlet a certain crucial phrase which McGivney had suggested. So now here were the pamphlets seized by the Federal government, and all the members of the Anti-conscription League under arrest, including Sadie Todd and little Ada Ruth and Donald Gordon! Peter was sorry about Sadie Todd, in spite of the fact that she had called him names. He couldn't be very sorry about Ada Ruth, because she was obviously a fanatic, bent on getting herself into trouble. As for Donald Gordon, if he hadn't learned his lesson from that whipping, he surely had nobody to blame but himself.

Peter was a member of this Anti-conscription League, so he pretended to be in hiding, and carried on a little comedy with Ada Ruth's cousin, an Englishwoman, who hid him out in her place in the country. Peter had an uncomfortable quarter of an hour when Donald Gordon was released on bail, because the Quaker boy insisted that the crucial phrase which had got them all into trouble had been stricken out of the manuscript before he handed it to Peter Gudge to take to the printer. But Peter insisted that Donald was mistaken, and apparently he succeeded in satisfying the others, and after they were all out on bail, he made bold to come out of his hiding place and to attend one or two protest meetings in private homes.

Then began a new adventure, in some ways the most startling of all. It had to do with another girl, and the beginning was in the home of Ada Ruth, where a few of the most uncompromising of the pacifists gathered to discuss the question of raising money to pay for their legal defense. To this meeting came Miriam Yankovich, pale from an operation for cancer of the breast, but with a heart and mind as Red as ever. Miriam had brought along a friend to help her, because she wasn't strong enough to walk; and it was this friend who started Peter on his new adventure.

Rosie Stern was her name, and she was a solid little Jewish working girl, with bold black eyes, and a mass of shining black hair, and flaming cheeks and a flashing smile. She was dressed as if she knew about her beauty, and really appreciated it; so Peter wasn't surprised when Miriam, introducing her, remarked that Rosie wasn't a Red and didn't like the Reds, but had just come to help her, and to see what a pacifist meeting was like. Perhaps Peter might help to make a Red out of her! And Peter was very glad indeed, for he was never more bored with the whining of pacifists than now when our boys were hurling the Germans back from the Marne and writing their names upon history's most imperishable pages.

Rosie was something new and unforeseen, and Peter went right after her, and presently he realized with delight that she was interested in him. Peter knew, of course, that he was superior to all this crowd, but he wasn't used to having the fact recognized, and as usual when a woman smiled upon him, the pressure of his self-esteem rose beyond the safety point. Rosie was one of those people who take the world as it is and get some fun out of it, so while the pacifist meeting went on, Peter sat over in the corner and told her in whispers his funny adventures with Pericles Priam and in the Temple of Jimjambo. Rosie could hardly repress her laughter, and her black eyes flashed, and before the evening was over their hands had touched several times. Then Peter offered to escort her and Miriam, and needless to say they took Miriam home first. The tenement streets were deserted at this late hour, so they found a chance for swift embraces, and Peter went home with his feet hardly touching the ground.

Rosie worked in a paper-box factory, and next evening Peter took her out to dinner, and their eager flirtation went on. But Rosie showed a tendency to retreat, and when Peter pressed her, she told him the reason. She had no use for Reds; she was sick of the jargon of the Reds, she would never love a Red. Look at Miriam Yankovich--what a wreck she had made of her life! She had been a handsome girl, she might have got a rich husband, but now she had had to be cut to pieces! And look at Sadie Todd, slaving herself to death, and Ada Ruth with her poems that made you tired. Rosie jeered at them all, and riddled them with the arrows of her wit, and of course Peter in his heart agreed with everything she said; yet Peter had to pretend to disagree, and that made Rosie cross and spoiled their fun, and they almost quarreled.

Under these circumstances, naturally it was hard for Peter not to give some hint of his true feeling. After he had spent all of his money on Rosie and a lot of his time and hadn't got anywhere, he decided to make some concession to her--he told her he would give up trying to make a Red out of her. Whereupon Rosie made a face at him. "Very kind indeed of you, Mr. Gudge! But how about my making a 'White' out of you?" And she went on to inform him that she wanted a fellow that could make money and take care of a girl. Peter answered that he was making money all right. Well, how was he making money, asked Rosie. Peter wouldn't tell, but he was making it, and he would prove it by taking her to the theater every night.

So the little duel went on, evening after evening. Peter got more and more crazy about this black-eyed beauty, and she got more and more coquettish, and more and more impatient with his radical leanings. Rosie's father had brought her as a baby from Kisheneff, but she was 100% American all the same, so she told him; those boys in khaki who were over there walloping the Huns were the boys for her, and she was waiting for one of them to come back. What was the matter with Peter that he wasn't doing his part? Was he a draft-dodger? Rosie had never had anything to do with slackers, and wasn't keen for the company of a man who couldn't give an account of himself. Only that day she had been reading in the paper about the atrocities committed by the Huns. How could any man with red blood in his veins sympathize with these pacifists and traitors? And if Peter didn't sympathize with them, why did he travel round with them and give them his moral support? When Peter made a feeble effort at repeating some of the pacifists' arguments, Rosie just said, "Oh, fudge! You've got too much sense to talk that kind of stuff to me." And Peter knew, of course, that he _had too much sense, and it was hard to keep from letting Rosie see it. He had just lost one girl because of his Red entanglements. Was it up to him to lose another?

For a couple of weeks they sparred and fought. Rosie would let Peter kiss her, and Peter's head would be quite turned with desire. He decided that she was the most wonderful girl he had ever known; even Nell Doolin had nothing on her. But then once more she would pin Peter down on this business of his Redness, and would spurn him, and refuse to see him any more. At last Peter admitted to her that he had lost his sympathy with the Reds, she had converted him, and he despised them. So Rosie replied that she was delighted; they would go at once to see Miriam Yankovich, and Peter would tell her, and try to convert her also. Peter was then in a bad dilemma; he had to insist that Rosie should keep his conversion a secret. But Rosie became indignant, she set her lips and declared that a conversion that had to be kept secret was no conversion at all, it was simply a low sham, and Peter Gudge was a coward, and she was sick of him! So poor Peter went away, heartbroken and bewildered.

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 72 100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 72

100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 72
There was only one way out of this plight for Peter, and that was for him to tell Rosie the truth. And why should he not do it? He was wild about her, and he knew that she was wild about him, and only one thing--his great secret--stood in the way of their perfect bliss. If he told her that great secret, he would be a hero of heroes in her eyes; he would be more wonderful even than the men who were driving back the Germans from the Marne and writing their names upon history's most imperishable pages! So why
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 70 100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 70

100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 70
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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