Peter did not do perfectly, of course. He lost himself a few times, and stammered and floundered about; but he remembered Glady’s advice—if he got stuck, to smile and explain that he had never spoken in public before. So everything went along nicely, and everybody in the Men’s Bible Class was aghast at the incredible revelations of this ex-Red and secret agent of law and order. So next week Peter was invited again—this time by the Young Saints’ League; and when he had made good there, he was drafted by the Ad. Men’s Association, and then by the Crackers and Cheese Club. By this time he had acquired what Gladys called “savwaa fair”; his fame spread rapidly, and at last came the supreme hour—he was summoned to Park Avenue to address the members of the Friendly Society, a parish organization of the Church of the Divine Compassion!
This was the goal upon which the eyes of Gladys had been fixed. This was the time that really counted, and Peter was groomed and rehearsed all over again. Their home was only a few blocks from the church, but Gladys insisted that they must positively arrive in a taxi-cab, and when they entered the Parish Hall and the Rev. de Willoughby Stotterbridge, that exquisite almost-English gentleman, came up and shook hands with them, Gladys knew that she had at last arrived. The clergyman himself escorted her to the platform, and after he had introduced Peter, he seated himself beside her, thus definitely putting a seal upon her social position.
Peter, having learned his lecture by heart, having found out just what brought laughter and what brought tears and what brought patriotic applause, was now an assured success. After the lecture he answered questions, and two clerks in the employ of Billy Nash passed around membership cards of the “Improve America League,” membership dues five dollars a year, sustaining membership twenty-five dollars a year, life membership two hundred dollars cash. Peter was shaken hands with by members of the most exclusive social set in American City, and told by them all to keep it up—his country needed him. Next morning there was an account of his lecture in the “Times,” and the morning after there was an editorial about his revelations, with the moral: “Join the Improve America League.”
That second morning, when Peter got to his office, he found a letter waiting for him, a letter written on very conspicuous and expensive stationery, and addressed in a woman’s tall and sharp-pointed handwriting. Peter opened it and got a start, for at the top of the letter was some kind of crest, and a Latin inscription, and the words: “Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.” The letter informed him by the hand of a secretary that Mrs. Warring Sammye requested that Mr. Peter Gudge would be so good as to call upon her that afternoon at three o’clock. Peter studied the letter, and tried to figure out what kind of Red this was. He was impressed by the stationery and the regal tone, but that word “Revolution” was one of the forbidden words. Mrs. Warren Sammye must be one of the “Parlor Reds,” like Mrs. Godd.