Little Ada Ruth had called Mrs. Godd “the mother of all the world;” and now suddenly she became the mother of Peter Gudge. She had read the papers that morning, she had received a half dozen telephone calls from horrified and indignant Reds, and so a few words sufficed to explain to her the meaning of Peter’s bandages and plasters. She held out to him a beautiful cool hand, and quite without warning, tears sprang into the great blue eyes.
“Oh, you are one of those poor boys! Thank God they did not kill you!” And she led him to a soft couch and made him lie down amid silken pillows. Peter’s dream of Mount Olympus had come literally true! It occurred to him that if Mrs. Godd were willing to play permanently the role of mother to Peter Gudge, he would be willing to give up his role of anti-Red agent with its perils and its nervous strains; he would forget duty, forget the world’s strife and care; he would join the lotus-eaters, the sippers of nectar on Mount Olympus!
She sat and talked to him in the soft, gentle voice, and the kind blue eyes watched him, and Peter thought that never in all his life had he encountered such heavenly emotions. To be sure, when he had gone to see Miriam Yankovich, old Mrs. Yankovich had been just as kind, and tears of sympathy had come into her eyes just the same. But then, Mrs. Yankovich was nothing but a fat old Jewess, who lived in a tenement and smelt of laundry soap and partly completed washing; her hands had been hot and slimy, and so Peter had not been in the least grateful for her kindness. But to encounter tender emotions in these celestial regions, to be talked to maternally and confidentially by this wonderful Mrs. Godd in soft white chiffons just out of a band-box this was quite another matter!
Peter did not want to set traps for this mother of Mount Olympus, he didn’t want to worm any secrets from her. And as it happened, he found that he did not have to, because she told him everything right away, and without the slightest hesitation. She talked just as the “wobblies” had talked in their headquarters; and Peter, when he thought it over, realized that there are two kinds of people who can afford to be frank in their utterance—those who have nothing to lose, and those who have so much to lose that they cannot possibly lose it.