It came to be lunch-time, and Mrs. Godd asked if Peter could sit at table—and Peter’s curiosity got the better of all caution. He wanted to see the Godd family sipping their nectar out of golden cups. He wondered, would the disapproving husband and the blood-thirsty sons be present?
There was nobody present but an elderly woman companion, and Peter did not see any golden cups. But he saw some fine china, so fragile that he was afraid to touch it, and he saw a row of silver implements, so heavy that it gave him a surprise each time he picked one up. Also, he saw foods prepared in strange and complicated ways, so chopped up and covered with sauces that it was literally true he couldn’t give the name of a single thing he had eaten, except the buttered toast.
He was inwardly quaking with embarrassment during this meal, but he saved himself by Mrs. James’s formula, to watch and see what the others were doing and then do likewise. Each time a new course was brought, Peter would wait, and when he saw Mrs. Godd pick up a certain fork or a certain spoon, he would pick up the same one, or as near to it as he could guess. He could put his whole mind on this, because he didn’t have to do any talking; Mrs. Godd poured out a steady stream of sedition and high treason, and all Peter had to do was to listen and nod. Mrs. Godd would understand that his mouth was too full for utterance.
After the luncheon they went out on the broad veranda which overlooked a magnificent landscape. The hostess got Peter settled in a soft porch chair with many cushions, and then waved her hand toward the view of the city with its haze of thick black smoke.
“That’s where my wage slaves toil to earn my dividends,” said she. “They’re supposed to stay there—in their `place,’ as it’s called, and I stay here in my place. If they want to change places, it’s called `revolution,’ and that is `violence.’ What I marvel at is that they use so little violence, and feel so little. Look at those men being tortured in jail! Could anyone blame them if they used violence? Or if they made an effort to escape?”
That suggested a swift, stabbing idea to Peter. Suppose Mrs. Godd could be induced to help in a jail delivery!
“It might be possible to help them to escape,” he suggested.
“Do you think so?” asked Mrs. Godd, showing excitement for the first time during that interview.
“It might be,” said Peter. “Those jailors are not above taking bribes, you know. I met nearly all of them while I was in that jail, and I think I might get in touch with one or two that could be paid. Would you like me to try it?”
“Well, I don’t know—” began the lady, hesitatingly. “Do you really think—”
“You know they never ought to have been put in at all!” Peter interjected.
“That’s certainly true!” declared Mrs. Godd.
“And if they could escape without hurting anyone, if they didn’t have to fight the jailors, it wouldn’t do any real harm—”