Peter spoke as one who had been out on the road, meeting the rank and file; he could speak for the men on the job. What was the use of opposing the draft here in a hall, where nobody but party members were present? What was wanted was for them to lift up their voices on the street, to awaken the people before it was too late! Was there anybody in this gathering bold enough to organize a street meeting?
There were some who could not resist this challenge, and in a few minutes Peter had secured the pledges of half a dozen young hot-heads, Donald Gordon among them. Before the evening was past it had been arranged that these would-be-martyrs should hire a truck, and make their debut on Main Street the very next evening. Old hands in the movement warned them that they would only get their heads cracked by the police. But the answer to that was obvious—they might as well get their heads cracked by the police as get them blown to pieces by German artillery.
Peter reported to McGivney what was planned, and McGivney promised that the police would be on hand. Peter warned him to be careful and have the police be gentle; at which McGivney grinned, and answered that he would see to that.
It was all very simple, and took less than ten minutes of time. The truck drew up on Main Street, and a young orator stepped forward and announced to his fellow citizens that the time had come for the workers to make known their true feelings about the draft. Never would free Americans permit themselves to be herded into armies and shipped over seas and be slaughtered for the benefit of international bankers. Thus far the orator had got, when a policeman stepped forward and ordered him to shut up. When he refused, the policeman tapped on the sidewalk with his stick, and a squad of eight or ten came round the corner, and the orator was informed that he was under arrest. Another orator stepped forward and took up the harangue, and when he also had been put under arrest, another, and another, until the whole six of them, including Peter, were in hand.
The crowd had had no time to work up any interest one way or the other, A patrol-wagon was waiting, and the orators were bundled in and driven to the station-house, and next morning they were haled before a magistrate and sentenced each to fifteen days. As they had been expecting to get six months, they were a happy bunch of “left wingers.”
And they were still happier when they saw how they were to be treated in jail. Ordinarily it was the custom of the police to inflict all possible pain and humiliation upon the Reds. They would put them in the revolving tank, a huge steel structure of many cells which was turned round and round by a crank. In order to get into any cell, the whole tank had to be turned until that particular cell was opposite the entrance, which meant that everybody in