Peter hadn’t been so excited since the time when he had waited to meet young Lackman. He had never quite forgiven himself for this costly failure, and now he was to have another chance. He took a trolley ride out into the country, and walked a couple of miles to the palace on the hilltop, and mounted thru a grove of trees and magnificent Italian gardens. According to McGivney’s injunctions, he summoned his courage, and went to the front door of the stately mansion and rang the bell.
Peter was hot and dusty from his long walk, the sweat had made streaks down his face and marred the pristine whiteness of his plasters. He was never a distinguished-looking person at best, and now, holding his damaged straw hat in his hands, he looked not so far from a hobo. However, the French maid who came to the door was evidently accustomed to strange-looking visitors. She didn’t order Peter to the servant’s entrance, nor threaten him with the dogs; she merely said, “Be seated, please. I will tell madame”—putting the accent on the second syllable, where Peter had never heard it before.
And presently here came Mrs. Godd in tier cloud of Olympian beneficence; a large and ample lady, especially built for the role of divinity. Peter felt suddenly awe-stricken. How had he dared come here? Neither in the Hotel de Soto, with its many divinities, nor in the palace of Nelse Ackerman, the king, had he felt such a sense of his own lowliness as the sight of this calm, slow-moving great lady inspired. She was the embodiment of opulence, she was “the real thing.” Despite the look of kindliness in her wide-open blue eyes, she impressed him with a feeling of her overwhelming superiority. He did not know it was his duty as a gentleman to rise from his chair when a lady entered, but some instinct brought him to his feet and caused him to stand blinking as she crossed to him from the opposite end of the big room.
“How do you do?” she said in a low, full voice, gazing at him steadily out of the kind, wide-open blue eyes. Peter stammered, “How d-dy do, M—Mrs. Godd.”
In truth, Peter was almost dumb with bewilderment. Could it really, possibly be that this grand personage was a Red? One of the things that had most offended him about all radicals was their noisiness, their aggressiveness; but here was a grand serenity of looks and manner, a soft, slow voice—here was beauty, too, a skin unlined, despite middle years, and glowing with health and a fine cleanness. Nell Doolin had had a glowing complexion, but there was always a lot of powder stuck on, and when you investigated closely, as Peter had done, you discovered muddy spots in the edges of her hair and on her throat. But Mrs. Godd’s skin shone just as the skin of a goddess would be expected to shine, and everything about her was of a divine and compelling opulence. Peter could not have explained just what it was that