But no, she was always in a tension, and the devil of it was, she was trying to get Peter into the same state. She was absolutely determined that Peter must get wrought up over the wrongs of the working classes. She took it for granted that he would, when he was instructed. She would tell him harrowing stories, and it was his duty to be duly harrowed; he must be continually acting an emotional part. She would give him some of her “literature” to read, and then she would pin him down and make sure that he had read it. He knew how to read—Pericles Priam had seen to that, because he wanted him to attend to the printing of his circulars and his advertisements in the country newspapers where he was traveling. So now Peter was penned in a corner and compelled to fix his attention upon “The A. B. C. of Socialism,” or “Capital and Proletariat,” or “The Path to Power.”
Peter told himself that it was part of his job to acquire this information. He was going to be a “Red,” and he must learn their lingo; but he found it awfully tiresome, full of long technical words which he had never heard before. Why couldn’t these fellows at least talk American? He had known that there were Socialists, and also “Arnychists,” as he called them, and he thought they were all alike. But now he learned, not merely about Socialists and “Arnychists,” but about State Socialists and Communist Anarchists, and Communist Syndicalists and Syndicalist Anarchists and Socialist Syndicalists, and Reformist Socialists and Guild Socialists, to say nothing about Single Taxers and Liberals and Progressives and numerous other varieties, whom he had to meet and classify and listen to respectfully and sympathetically. Each particular group insisted upon the distinctions which made it different, and each insisted that it had the really, truly truth; and Peter became desperately bored with their everlasting talk—how much more simple to lump them all together, as did Guffey and McGivney, calling them all “Reds!”
Peter had got it clearly fixed in his mind that what these “Reds” wanted was to divide up the property of the rich. Everyone he had questioned about them had said this. But now he learned that this wasn’t it exactly. What they wanted was to have the State take over the industries, or to have the labor unions do it, or to have the working people in general do it. They pointed to the post office and the army and the navy, as examples of how the State could run things. Wasn’t that all right? demanded Jennie. And Peter said Yes, that was all right; but hidden back in Peter’s soul all the time was a whisper that it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. There was a sucker born every minute, and you might be sure that no matter how they fixed it up, there would always be some that would find it easy to live off the rest. This poor kid, for example, who was ready to throw herself away for any fool notion, or for anybody that came along and told her a hard-luck story—would there ever be a state of society in which she wouldn’t be a juicy morsel to be gobbled up by some fellow with a normal appetite?