100%: The Story of a Patriot

Upton Sinclair
100%: The Story of a Patriot

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Title: 100%: The Story of a Patriot
Author: Upton Sinclair

Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5776] [Yes, we are more than one
year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on September 1,
Edition: 10
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100%: The Story of a Patriot


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." And so Peter, just to get rid of her, took the leaflet and thrust it
into his pocket, and went on, and in a minute or two had forgotten all

about it.
Peter was thinking--or rather Peter's stomach was thinking for him; for
when you have had nothing to eat all day, and nothing on the day
before but a cup of coffee and one sandwich, your thought-centers are
transferred from the top to the middle of you. Peter was thinking that
this was a hell of a life. Who could have foreseen that just because he
had stolen one miserable fried doughnut, he would lose his easy job
and his chance of rising in the world? Peter's whole being was
concentrated on the effort to rise in the world; to get success, which
means money, which means ease and pleasure--the magic names which
lure all human creatures.
But who could have foreseen that Mrs. Smithers would have kept count
of those fried doughnuts every time anybody passed thru
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