So Nell wrote “Room 17,” and after further discussion she added: “Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock. No names and no talk. Action!” This time was set because Peter recollected that there was to be a gathering of the “wobblies” in their headquarters this very evening. It was to be a business meeting, but of course these fellows never got together very long without starting the subject of “tactics.” There was a considerable element among them who were dissatisfied with what they called the “supine attitude” of the organization, and were always arguing for action. Peter was sure he would be able to get some of them interested in the idea of a dynamite conspiracy.
As it turned out, Peter had no trouble at all; the subject was started without his having to put in a word. Were the workers to be driven like sheep to the slaughter, and the “wobblies” not to make one move? So asked the “Blue-eyed Angell,” vehemently, and added that if they were going to move, American City was as good a place as any. He had talked with enough of the rank and file to realize that they were ready for action; all they needed was a battle-cry and an organization to guide them.
Henderson, the big lumber-jack, spoke up. That was just the trouble; you couldn’t get an organization for such a purpose. The authorities would get spies among you, they would find out what you were doing, and drive you underground.
“Well,” cried Joe, “we’ll go underground!”
“Yes,” agreed the other, “but then your organization goes bust. Nobody knows who to trust, everybody’s accusing the rest of being a spy.”
“Hell!” said Joe Angell. “I’ve been in jail for the movement, I’ll take my chances of anybody’s calling me a spy. What I’m not going to do is to sit down and see the workers driven to hell, because I’m so damn careful about my precious organization.”
When others objected, Angell rushed on still more vehemently. Suppose they did fail in a mass-uprising, suppose they were driven to assassination and terrorism? At least they would teach the exploiters a lesson, and take a little of the joy out of their lives.
Peter thought it would be a good idea for him to pose as a conservative just now. “Do you really think the capitalists would give up from fear?” he asked.
And the other answered: “You bet I do! I tell you if we’d made it understood that every congressman who voted this country into war would be sent to the front trenches, our country would still be at peace.”
“But,” put in Peter, deftly, “it ain’t the congressmen. It’s people higher up than them.”
“You bet,” put in Gus, the Swedish sailor. “You bet you! I name you one dozen big fellows in dis country—you make it clear if we don’t get peace dey all get killed—we get peace all right!”