100% The Story of the Patriot by Upton Sinclair Page 1 of 280

TO MY WIFE

Who is the creator of the most charming character in this story, "Mrs. Godd," and who positively refuses to permit the book to go to press until it has been explained that the character is a Grecian Godd and not a Hebrew Godd, so that no one may accuse the creator of sacrilege.

Section 1

Now and then it occurs to one to reflect upon what slender threads of accident depend the most important circumstances of his life; to look back and shudder, realizing how close to the edge of nothingness his being has come.

A young man is walking down the street, quite casually, with an empty mind and no set purpose; he comes to a crossing, and for no reason that he could tell he takes the right hand turn instead of the left; and so it happens that he encounters a blue-eyed girl, who sets his heart to beating. He meets the girl, marries her-and she became your mother.

But now, suppose the young man had taken the left hand turn instead of the right, and had never met the blue-eyed girl; where would you be now, and what would have become of those qualities of mind which you consider of importance to the world, and those grave affairs of business to which your time is devoted?

Something like that it was which befell Peter Gudge; just such an accident, changing the whole current of his life, and making the series of events with which this story deals. Peter was walking down the street one afternoon, when a woman approached and held out to him a printed leaflet. "Read this, please," she said.

And Peter, who was hungry, and at odds with the world, answered gruffly: "I got no money." He thought it was an advertising dodger, and he said: "I can't buy nothin'."

"It isn't anything for sale," answered the woman. "It's a message."

"Religion?" said Peter. "I just got kicked out of a church."

"No, not a church," said the woman. "It's something different; put it in your pocket." She was an elderly woman with gray hair, and she followed along, smiling pleasantly at this frail, poor-looking stranger, but nagging at him. "Read it some time when you've nothing else to do."



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