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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 78
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 78 Post by :add2it Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :3487

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 78

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, he was a hero, his picture had been published in the American City "Times," and no doubt Miss Frisbie had seen it. Miss Frisbie was a good girl, a straight girl, and surely all right for him to know!

So Peter went to the manicure parlor, and sure enough, there was the little golden-haired lady; and sure enough, she had read all about him, she had been dreaming that some day she might meet him again--and so Peter invited her to go to a picture show. On the way home they became very chummy, and before a week went by it was as if they had been friends for life. When Peter asked Miss Frisbie if he might kiss her, she answered coyly that he might, but after he had kissed her a few times she explained to him that she was a self-supporting woman, alone and defenseless in the world, and she had nobody to speak for her but herself; she must tell him that she had always been a respectable woman, and that she wanted him to know that before he kissed her any more. And Peter thought it over and decided that he had sowed his full share of wild oats in this life; he was ready to settle down, and the next time he saw Miss Frisbie he told her so, and before the evening was by they were engaged.

Then Peter went to see Guffey, and seated himself on the edge of the chair alongside Guffey's desk, and twisted his hat in his hands, and flushed very red, and began to stammer out his confession. He expected to be received with a gale of ridicule; he was immensely relieved when Guffey said that if Peter had really found a good girl and wanted to marry her, he, Guffey, was for it. There was nothing like the influence of a good woman, and Guffey much preferred his operatives should be married men, living a settled and respectable life. They could be trusted then, and sometimes when a woman operative was needed, they had a partner ready to hand. If Peter had got married long ago, he might have had a good sum of money in the bank by now.

Peter ventured to point out that twenty dollars a week was not exactly a marrying salary, in the face of the present high cost of living. Guffey answered that that was true, and he would raise Peter to thirty dollars right away--only first he demanded the right to talk to Peter's fiancee, and judge for himself whether she was worthy. Peter was delighted, and Miss Frisbie had a private and confidential interview with Peter's boss. But afterwards Peter wasn't quite so delighted, for he realized what Guffey had done. Peter's future wife had been told all about Peter's weakness, and how Peter's boss looked to her to take care of her husband and make him walk the chalkline. So a week after Peter had entered the holy bonds of matrimony, when he and Mrs. Gudge had their first little family tiff, Peter suddenly discovered who was going to be top dog in that family. He was shown his place once for all, and he took it,--alongside that husband who described his domestic arrangements by saying that he and his wife got along beautifully together, they had come to an arrangement by which he was to have his way on all major issues, and she was to have her way on all minor issues, and so far no major issues had arisen.

But really it was a very good thing; for Gladys Frisbie Gudge was an excellent manager, and set to work making herself a nest as busily as any female beaver. She still hung on to her manicurist job, for she had figured it out that the Red movement must be just about destroyed by now, and pretty soon Peter might find himself without work. In the evenings she took to house-hunting, and during her noon hour, without consulting Peter she selected the furniture and the wall-paper, and pretty nearly bought out the stock of a five-and-ten-cent store to equip the beaver's nest.

Gladys Frisbie Gudge was a diligent reader of the fashion magazines, and kept herself right up to the minute with the styles; also she had got herself a book on etiquette, and learned it by heart from cover to cover, and now she took Peter in hand and taught it to him. Why must he always be a "Jimmie Higgins" of the "Whites?" Why should he not acquire the vocabulary of an educated man, the arts and graces of the well-to-do? Gladys knew that it is these subtleties which determine your salary in the long run; so every Sunday morning she would dress him up with a new brown derby and a new pair of brown kid gloves, and take him to the Church of the Divine Compassion, and they would listen to the patriotic sermon of the Rev. de Willoughby Stotterbridge, and Gladys would bow her head in prayer, and out of the corner of her eye would get points on costumes from the lady in the next pew. And afterwards they would join the Sunday parade, and Gladys would point out to Peter the marks of what she called "gentility." In the evenings they would go walking, and she would stop in front of the big shop-windows, or take him into the hotel lobbies where the rich could be seen free of charge. Peter would be hungry, and would want to go to a cheap restaurant and fill himself up with honest grub; but Gladys, who had the appetite of a bird, would insist on marching him into the dining-room of the Hotel de Soto and making a meal upon a cup of broth and some bread and butter--just in order that they might gaze upon a scene of elegance and see bow "genteel" people ate their food.

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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 79 100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 79

100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 79
And just as ardently as Gladys Frisbie Gudge adored the rich, so ardently did she object to the poor. If you pinned her down to it, she would admit that there had to be poor; there could not be gentility, except on the basis of a large class of ungentility. The poor were all right in their place; what Gladys objected to was their presuming to try to get out of their place, or to criticise their betters. She had a word by which she summed up everything that she despised in the world, and that word was "common;" she used

100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 77 100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 77

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