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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 77
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 77 Post by :ben.g Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :2488

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 77

Peter was duly scolded, and put to work as an "office man" at his old salary of twenty dollars a week. It was his duty to consult with Guffey's many "operatives," to tell them everything he knew about this individual Red or that organization of Reds. He would use his inside knowledge of personalities and doctrines and movements to help in framing up testimony, and in setting traps for too ardent agitators. He could no longer pose as a Red himself, but sometimes there were cases where he could do detective work without being recognized; when, for example, there was a question of fixing a juror, or of investigating the members of a panel.

The I. W. Ws. had been put out of business in American City, but the Socialists were still active, in spite of prosecutions and convictions. Also there was a new peril looming up; the returned soldiers were coming back, and a lot of them were dissatisfied, presuming to complain of their treatment in the army, and of the lack of good jobs at home, and even of the peace treaty which the President was arranging in Paris. They had fought to make the world safe for democracy, and here, they said, it had been made safe for the profiteers. This was plain Bolshevism, and in its most dangerous form, because these fellows had learned to use guns, and couldn't very well be expected to become pacifists right off the bat.

There had been a great labor shortage during the war, and some of the more powerful unions had taken the general rise in prices as an excuse for demanding higher wages. This naturally had made the members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association indignant, and now they saw their chance to use these returned soldiers to smash strikes and to break the organizations of the labor men. They proceeded to organize the soldiers for this purpose; in American City the Chamber of Commerce contributed twenty-five thousand dollars to furnish the club-rooms for them, and when the trolley men went on strike the cars were run by returned soldiers in uniform.

There was one veteran, a fellow by the name of Sydney, who objected to this program. He was publishing a paper, the "Veteran's Friend," and began to use the paper to protest against his comrades acting as what he called "scabs." The secretary of the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association sent for him and gave him a straight talking to, but he went right ahead with his campaign, and so Guffey's office was assigned the task of shutting him up. Peter, while he could not take an active part in the job, was the one who guided it behind the scenes. They proceeded to plant spies in Sydney's office, and they had so many that it was really a joke; they used to laugh and say that they trod on one another's toes. Sydney was poor, and had not enough money to run his paper, so he accepted any volunteer labor that came along. And Guffey sent him plenty of volunteers--no less than seven operatives--one keeping Sydney's books, another helping with his mailing, two more helping to raise funds among the labor unions, others dropping in every day or two to advise him. Nevertheless Sydney went right ahead with his program of denouncing the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association, and denouncing the government for its failure to provide farms and jobs for the veterans.

One of Guffey's "under cover operatives"--that was the technical term for the Peter Gudges and Joe Angells--was a man by the name of Jonas. This Jonas called himself a "philosophic anarchist," and posed as the reddest Red in American City; it was his habit to rise up in radical meetings and question the speaker, and try to tempt him to justify violence and insurrection and "mass-action." If he repudiated these ideas, then Jonas would denounce him as a "mollycoddle," a "pink tea Socialist," a "labor faker." Other people in the audience would applaud, and so Guffey's men would find out who were the real Red sympathizers.

Peter had long suspected Jonas, and now he was sent to meet him in Room 427 of the American House, and together they framed up a job on Sydney. Jonas wrote a letter, supposed to come from a German "comrade," giving the names of some papers in Europe to which the editor should send sample copies of his magazine. This letter was mailed to Sydney, and next morning Jonas wandered into the office, and Sydney showed him the letter, and Jonas told him that these were labor papers, and the editors would no doubt be interested to know of the feelings of American soldiers since the war. Sydney sat down to write a letter, and Jonas stood by his side and told him what to write: "To my erstwhile enemies in arms I send fraternal greetings, and welcome you as brothers in the new co-operative commonwealth which is to be"--and so on, the usual Internationalist patter, which all these agitators were spouting day and night, and which ran off the ends of their pens automatically. Sydney mailed these letters, and the sample copies of the magazine, and Guffey's office tipped off the postoffice authorities, who held up the letters. The book-keeper, one of Guffey's operatives, went to the Federal attorney and made affidavit that Sydney had been carrying on a conspiracy with the enemy in war-time, and a warrant was issued, and the offices of the magazine were raided, the subscription-lists confiscated, and everything in the rooms dumped out into the middle of the floor.

So there was a little job all Peter's own; except that Jonas, the scoundrel, claimed it for his, and tried to deprive Peter of the credit! So Peter was glad when the Federal authorities looked the case over and said it was a bum job, and they wouldn't monkey with it. However, the evidence was turned over to District-attorney Burchard, who wasn't quite so fastidious, and his agents made another raid, and smashed up the office again, and threw the returned soldier into jail. The judge fixed the bail at fifteen thousand dollars, and the American City "Times" published the story with scare-headlines all the way across the front page--how the editor of the "Veteran's Friend" had been caught conspiring with the enemy, and here was a photographic copy of his treasonable letter, and a copy of the letter of the mysterious German conspirator with whom he had been in relations! They spent more than a year trying that editor, and although he was out on bail, Guffey saw to it that he could not get a job anywhere in American City; his paper was smashed and his family near to starvation.

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Peter had now been working faithfully for six or eight months, and all that time he religiously carried out his promise to Guffey and did not wink at a woman. But that is an unnatural life for a man, and Peter was lonely, his dreams were haunted by the faces of Nell Doolin and Rosie Stern, and even of little Jennie Todd. One day another face came back to him, the face of Miss Frisbie, the little manicurist who had spurned him because he was a Red. Now suddenly Peter realized that he was no longer a Red! On the contrary,
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So Peter went to Eldorado, and helped to send eleven men to the penitentiary for periods varying from three to fourteen years. Then he went to Flagland, and testified in three different trials, and added seven more scalps to his belt. By this time he got to realize that the worst the Reds could do was to make faces at him and show the teeth of trapped rats. He learned to take his profession more easily, and would sometimes venture to go out for an evening's pleasure without his guards. When he was hidden in the country he would take long
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