Peter went out from this conference a sober man, realizing for the first time his responsibilities as a voter, and a shepherd to other voters. Peter agreed with Gladys that his views had been too narrow; his conception of the duties of a secret agent had been of the pre-war order. Now he must realize that the world was changed; now, in this new world made safe for democracy, the secret agent was the real ruler of society, the real master of affairs, the trustee, as it were, for civilization. Peter and his wife must take up this new role and make themselves fit for it. They ought of course not be moved by personal considerations, but at the same time they must recognize the fact that this higher role would be of great advantage to them; it would enable them to move up in the world, to meet the best people. Thru five or six years of her young life Gladys had sat polishing the fingernails and fondling the soft white hands of the genteel; and always a fire of determination had burnt in her breast, that some day she would belong to this world of gentility, she would meet these people, not as an employee, but as an equal, she would not merely hold their hands, but would have them hold hers.
Now the chance had come. She had a little talk with Guffey, and Guffey said it would be a good idea, and he would speak to Billy Nash, the secretary of the “Improve America League”; and he did so, and next week the American City “Times” announced that on the following Sunday evening the Men’s Bible Class of the Bethlehem Church would have an interesting meeting. It would be addressed by an “under cover” operative of the government, a former Red who had been for many years a most dangerous agitator, but had seen the error of his ways, and had made amends by giving his services to the government in the recent I. W. W. trials.
The Bethlehem Church didn’t amount to very much, it was an obscure sect like the Holy Rollers; but Gladys had been shrewd, and had insisted that you mustn’t try to climb to the top of the mountain in one step. Peter must first “try it on the dog,” and if he failed, there would be no great harm done.
But Gladys worked just as hard to make a success of this lecture as if they had been going into real society. She spent several days getting up her costume and Peter’s, and she spent a whole day getting her toilet ready, and before they set out she spent at least an hour putting the finishing touches upon herself in front of a mirror, and seeing that Peter was proper in every detail. When Mr. Nash introduced her personally to the Rev. Zebediah Muggins, and when this apostle of the second advent came out upon the platform and introduced her husband to the crowded working-class audience, Gladys was so a-quiver with delight that it was more a pain than a pleasure.