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 Peter picked up the morning paper and discovered that a kind Providence had delivered the enemy into his hands.
Up in the lumber country of the far Northwest, in a little town called Centralia, the “wobblies” had had their headquarters raided and smashed, just as in American City. They had got themselves another meeting-place, and again the members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association had held a secret meeting and resolved to wipe them out. The “wobblies” had appealed to the authorities for protection, and when protection was refused, they had printed a leaflet appealing to the public. But the business men went ahead with their plans. They arranged for a parade of returned soldiers on the anniversary of Armistice Day, and they diverted this parade out of its path so that it would pass in front of the I. W. W. headquarters. Some of the more ardent members carried ropes, symbolic of what they meant to do; and they brought the parade to a halt in front of the headquarters, and set up a yell and started to rush the hall. They battered in the door, and had pushed their way half thru it when the “wobblies” opened fire from inside, killing several of the paraders.
Then, of course, the mob flew into a frenzy of fury. They beat the men in the hall, some of them into insensibility; they flung them into jail, and battered and tortured them, and took one of them out of jail and carried him away in an automobile, and after they had mutilated him as Shawn Grady had been mutilated, they hanged him from a bridge. Of course they saw to it that the newspaper stories which went out from Centralia that night were the right kind of stories; and next morning all America read how a group of “wobblies” had armed themselves with rifles, and concealed themselves on the roof of the I. W. W. headquarters, and deliberately and in cold blood had opened fire upon a peaceful parade of unarmed war veterans.
Of course the country went wild, and the Guffeys and McGivneys and Gudges all over the United States realized that their chance had come. Peter instructed the secretary of the I. W. W. local of American City to call a meeting for that evening, to adopt a resolution declaring the press stories from Centralia to be lies. At the same time another of Guffey’s men, an ex-army officer still wearing his, uniform, caused a meeting of the American Legion to be summoned; he