Less easy to accept placidly, however, was something which came to Peter that same day—a letter from Mrs. Godd! It wasn’t written to him, but he saw Hammett and another of the “bulls” chuckling together, and he asked what was the joke, and they told him that Mrs. Godd had somehow found out about Guffey, and had written him a letter full of insults, and Guffey was furious. Peter asked what was in it, and they told him, and later on when he insisted, they brought it and showed it to him, and Peter was furious too. On very expensive stationery with a stately crest at the top, the mother of Mount Olympus had written in a large, bland, girlish hand her opinion of “under cover” men and those who hired them:
“You sit like a big spider and weave a net to catch men and destroy them. You destroy alike your victims and your tools. The poor boy, Peter Gudge, whom you sent to my home—my heart bleeds when I think of him, and what you have put him up to! A wretched, feeble-minded victim of greed, who ought to be sent to a hospital for deformed souls, you have taken him and taught him a piece of villainy to recite, so that he may send a group of sincere idealists to prison.”
That was enough! Peter put down the letter—he would not dignify such stuff by reading it. He realized that he would have to put his mind on the problem of Mrs. Godd once more. One woman like that, in her position of power, was more dangerous than all the seventeen “wobblies” who had been haled before the court. Peter inquired, and learned that Guffey had already been to see Nelse Ackerman about it, and Mr. Ackerman had been to see Mr. Godd, and Mr. Godd had been to see Mrs. Godd. Also the “Times” had an editorial referring to the “nest of Bolshevism” upon Mount Olympus, and all Mrs. Godd’s friends were staying away from her luncheon-parties—so she was being made to suffer for her insolence to Peter Gudge!
“A hospital for deformed souls,” indeed! Peter was so upset that his joy in life was not restored even by the news that the jury had found the defendants guilty on the first ballot. He told McGivney that the strain of this trial had been too much for his nerves, and they must take care of him; so an automobile was provided, and Peter was taken to a secret hiding place in the country to recuperate.
Hammett went with him, and Hammett was a first-class gunman, and Peter stayed close by him; in the evening he stayed up in the second story of the farm-house, lest perchance one of the “wobblies” should take too literally the testimony Peter had given concerning their habit of shooting at their enemies out of the darkness. Peter knew how they all must hate him; he read in the paper how the judge summoned the guilty men before him and sentenced them, incidentally forcing them to listen to a scathing address, which was published in full in the “Times.” The law provided a penalty of from one to fourteen years, and the judge sentenced sixteen of them to fourteen years, and one to ten years, thus tempering justice with mercy.