That was as far as Peter got with his impromptu conspiracy. Suddenly he heard a voice behind him: “What does this mean?” It was a male voice, fierce and trembling with anger; and Peter started from his silken cushions, and glanced around, thrusting up one arm with the defensive gesture of a person who has been beaten since earliest childhood.
Bearing down on him was a man; possibly he was not an abnormally big man, but certainly he looked so to Peter. His smooth-shaven face was pink with anger, his brows gathered in a terrible frown, and his hands clenched with deadly significance. “You dirty little skunk!” he hissed. “You infernal young sneak!”
“John!” cried Mrs. Godd, imperiously; but she might as well have cried to an advancing thunder-storm. The man made a leap upon Peter, and Peter, who had dodged many hundreds of blows in his lifetime, rolled off the lounging chair, and leaped to his feet, and started for the stairs of the veranda. The man was right behind him, and as Peter reached the first stair the man’s foot shot out, and caught Peter fairly in the seat of his trousers, and the first stair was the only one of the ten or twelve stairs of the veranda that Peter touched in his descent.
Landing at the bottom, he did not stop even for a glance; he could hear the snorting of Mr. Godd, it seemed right behind his ear, and Peter ran down the driveway as he had seldom run in his life before. Every now and then Mr. Godd would shoot out another kick, but he had to stop slightly to do this, and Peter gained just enough to keep the kicks from reaching him. So at last the pursuer gave up, and Peter dashed thru the gates of the Godd estate and onto the main highway.
Then he looked over his shoulder, and seeing that Mr. Godd was a safe distance away, he stopped and turned and shook his clenched fist with the menace of a street-rat, shrieking, “Damn you! Damn you!” A whirlwind of impotent rage laid hold upon him. He shouted more curses and menaces, and among them some strange, some almost incredible words. “Yes, I’m a Red, damn your soul, and I’ll stay a Red!”
Yes, Peter Gudge, the friend of law and order, Peter Gudge, the little brother to the rich, shouted, “I’m a Red, and what’s more, we’ll blow you up some day for this—Mac and me’ll put a bomb under you!” Mr. Godd turned and stalked with contemptuous dignity back to his own private domestic controversy.
Peter walked off down the road, rubbing his sore trousers and sobbing to himself. Yes, Peter understood now exactly how the Reds felt. Here were these rich parasites, exploiting the labor of working men and living off in palaces by themselves—and what had they done to earn it? What would they ever do for the poor man, except to despise him, and to kick him in the seat of his trousers? They were a set of wilful brutes! Peter suddenly saw the happenings of last night from a new angle, and wished he had all the younger members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association right there along with Mr. Godd, so that he could bundle them all off to the devil at once.