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Full Online Book HomeLong Stories100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 79
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100%: The Story Of A Patriot - Section 79 Post by :Truman Category :Long Stories Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :2210

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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 it to describe the sort of people she declined to meet, and she used it in correcting Peter's manners and his taste in hats. To be "common" was to be damned; and when Gladys saw people who were indubitably and inescapably "common," presuming to set themselves up and form standards of their own, she took it as a personal affront, she became vindictive and implacable towards them. Each and every one of them became to her a personal enemy, an enemy to something far more precious than her person, an enemy to the thing she aspired to become, to her ideal.

Peter had once been like that himself, but now he was so comfortable, he had a tendency to become lazy and easy-going. It was well, therefore, that he had Gladys to jack him up, and keep him on his job. Gladys at first did not meet any Reds face to face, she knew them only by the stories that Peter brought home to her when his day's work was done. But each new group that he was hounding became to Gladys an assemblage of incarnate fiends, and while she sat polishing the finger-nails of stout society ladies who were too sleepy to talk, Gladys' busy mind would be working over schemes to foil these fiends.

Sometimes her ideas were quite wonderful. She had a woman's intuition, the knowledge of human foibles, all the intricate subtleties of the emotional life; she would bring to Peter a program for the undoing of some young radical, as complete as if she had known the man or woman all her life. Peter took her ideas to McGivney, and then to Guffey, and the result was that her talents were recognized, and by the lever of a generous salary she was pried loose from the manicure parlor. Guffey sent her to make the acquaintance of the servants in the household of a certain rich man who was continually making contributions to the Direct Primary Association and other semi-Red organizations, and who was believed to have a scandal in his private life. So successful was Gladys at this job that presently Guffey set her at the still more delicate task of visiting rich ladies, and impressing upon them the seriousness of the Red peril, and persuading them to meet the continually increasing expenses of Guffey's office.

Just now was a busy time in the anti-Red campaign. For nearly two years, ever since the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, there had been gradually developing a split in the Socialist movement, and the "under-cover" operatives of the Traction Trust, as well as those of the district attorney's office and of the Federal government, had been working diligently to widen this split and develop dissensions in the organization. There were some Socialists who believed in politics, and were prepared to devote their lives to the slow and tedious job of building up a party. There were others who were impatient, looking for a short cut, a general strike or a mass insurrection of the workers which would put an end to the slavery of capitalism. The whole game of politics was rotten, these would argue; a politician could find more ways to fool the workers in a minute than the workers could thwart in a year. They pointed to the German Socialists, those betrayers of internationalism. There were people who called themselves Socialists right here in American City who wanted to draw the movement into the same kind of trap!

This debate was not conducted in the realm of abstractions; the two wings of the movement would attack one another with bitterness. The "politicians" would denounce the "impossibilists," calling them "anarchists;" and the other side, thus goaded, would accuse their enemies of being in the hire of the government. Peter would supply McGivney with bits of scandal which the "under cover" men would start going among the "left-wingers;" and in the course of the long wrangles in the local these accusations would come out. Herbert Ashton would mention them with his biting sarcasm, or "Shorty" Gunton would shout them in one of his tirades--"hurling them into his opponents teeth," as he phrased it.

"Shorty" Gunton was a tramp printer, a wandering agitator who was all for direct action, and didn't care a hang who knew it. "Violence?" he would say. "How many thousand years shall we submit to the violence of capitalist governments, and never have the right to reply?" And then again he would say, "Violence? Yes, of course we must repudiate violence--until we get enough of it!" Peter had listened to "Shorty's" railings at the "compromisers" and the "political traders," and had thought him one of the most dangerous men in American City. But later on, after the episode of Joe Angell had opened Peter's eyes, he decided that "Shorty" must also be a secret agent like himself.

Peter was never told definitely, but he picked up a fact here and there, and fitted them together, and before long his suspicion had become certainty. The "left wing" Socialists split off from the party, and called a convention of their own, and this convention in turn split up, one part forming the Communist Party, and another part forming the Communist Labor Party. While these two conventions were in session, McGivney came to Peter, and said that the Federal government had a man on the platform committee of the Communist Party, and they wanted to write in some phrases that would make membership in that party in itself a crime, so that everybody who held a membership card could be sent to prison without further evidence. These phrases must be in the orthodox Communist lingo, and this was where Peter's specialized knowledge was needed.

So Peter wrote the phrases, and a couple of days later he read in the newspapers an account of the convention proceedings. The platform committee had reported, and "Shorty" Gunton had submitted a minority report, and had made a fiery speech in the convention, with the result that his minority report was carried by a narrow margin. This minority report contained all the phrases that Peter had written. A couple of months later, when the government had its case ready, and the wholesale raids upon the Communists took place, "Shorty" Gunton was arrested, but a few days later he made a dramatic escape by sawing his way thru the roof of the jail!

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The I. W. W. had bobbed up again in American City, and had ventured to open another headquarters. Peter did not dare go to the place himself, but he coached a couple of young fellows whom McGivney brought to him, teaching them the Red lingo, and how to worm their way into the movement. Before long one of them was secretary of the local; and Peter, directing their activities. received reports twice a week of everything the "wobblies" were planning and doing. Peter and Gladys were figuring out another bomb conspiracy to direct attention to these dangerous men, when one day
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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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