No, Peter was no longer afraid of the Reds! He made up his mind that he was not even afraid of Mac, the most dangerous Red of them all. Mac was safely put away in jail for twenty years, and although his case had been appealed, the court had refused to grant a stay of sentence or to let him out on bail. As it happened, Peter got a glimpse into Mac’s soul in jail, and knew that even that proud, grim spirit was breaking. Mac in jail had written a letter to one of his fellow-Reds in American City, and the post-office authorities had intercepted the letter, and Guffey had shown it to Peter. “Write to us!” Mac had pleaded. “For God’s sake, write to us! The worst horror of being in jail is that you are forgotten. Do at least let us know that somebody is thinking about us!”
So Peter knew that he was the victor, he was “top dog.” And when he met these Reds whom he had been so afraid of, he took pleasure in letting them feel the weight of his authority, and sometimes of his fist. It was amusing to see the various ways in which they behaved toward him. Some would try to plead with him, for the sake of old times; some would cringe and whine to him; some would try to reason with him, to touch his conscience. But mostly they would be haughty, they would glare at him with hate, or put a sneer of contempt on their faces. So Peter would set his “bulls” to work to improve their manners, and a little thumb-bending and wrist-twisting would soon do the work.
Among the first load to be brought in was Miriam Yankovich. Miriam had joined the Communist Party, and she had been born in Russia, so that was all there was to her case. Peter, knew, of course that it was Miriam who had set Rosie Stern after him and brought about his downfall. Still, he could not help but be moved by her appearance. She looked haggard and old, and she had a cough, and her eyes were wild and crazy. Peter remembered her as proud and hot-tempered, but now her pride was all gone—she flung herself on her knees before him, and caught hold of his coat, sobbing hysterically. It appeared that she had a mother and five young brothers and sisters who were dependent upon her earnings; all her money had been consumed by hospital expenses, and now she was to be deported to Russia, and what would become of her loved ones?
Peter answered, what could he do? She had violated the law, they had her membership card in the Communist Party, and she had admitted that she was alien born. He tried to draw away, but she clung to him, and went on sobbing and pleading. At least she ought to have a chance to talk with her old mother, to tell her what to do, where to go for help, how to communicate with Miriam in future. They were sending her away without allowing her to have a word with her loved ones, without even a chance to get her clothing!
Peter, as we know, had always been soft-hearted towards women, so now he was embarrassed. In the handling of these cattle he was carrying out the orders of his superiors; he had no power to grant favors to any one, and he told Miriam this again and again. But she would not listen to him. “Please, Peter, please! For God’s sake, Peter! You know you were once a little in love with me, Peter—you told me so—”