Peter didn’t like to get up from his comfortable Morris chair, but he did what his wife asked him. She inspected him on all sides and exclaimed, “Peter, you must go on a diet; you’re getting ombongpoing!” She said this in horrified tones, and Peter was frightened, because it sounded like a disease. But Gladys added: “You can not be a romantic figure on a lecture platform if you’ve got a bay-window!”
Peter found it interesting to be talked about, so he asked again why Gladys thought he was romantic. There were several reasons, she said, but the main one was that he had been a dangerous criminal, and had reformed, which pleased the church people; he had made a happy ending by marriage, which pleased those who read novels.
“Is that so?” said Peter, guilelessly, and she assured him that it was. “And what else?” he asked, and she explained that he had known intimately and at first hand those dreadful and dangerous people, those ogres of the modern world, the Bolsheviks, about whom the average man and woman learned only thru the newspapers. And not merely did be tell a sensational story, but he ended it with a money-making lesson. The lesson was “Contribute to the Improve America League. Make out your checks to the Home and Fireside Association. The existence of your country depends upon your sustaining the Patriot’s Defense Legion.” So the fame of Peter’s lecture would spread, and the Guffeys and Billy Nashes of every city and town in America would clamor for him to come, and when he came, the newspapers would publish his picture, and he and his wife would be welcomed by leaders of the best society. They would become social lions, and would see the homes of the rich, and gradually become one of the rich.
Gladys looked her spouse over again, as they started to their sleeping apartment. Yes, he was undoubtedly putting on “ombongpoing”; he would have to take up golf. He was wearing a little American flag dangling from his watch chain, and she wondered if that wasn’t a trifle crude. Gladys herself now wore a real diamond ring, and had learned to say “vahse” and “baahth.” She yawned prettily as she took off her lovely brown “tailor-made,” and reflected that such things come with ease and security.
Both she and Peter now had these in full measure. They had lost all fear of ever finding themselves out of a job. They had come to understand that the Red menace is not to be so easily exterminated; it is a distemper that lurks in the blood of society, and breaks out every now and then in a new rash. Gladys had come to agree with the Reds to this extent, that so long as there is a class of the rich and prosperous, so long will there be social discontent, so long will there be some that make their living by agitating, denouncing and crying out for change. Society is like a garden; each year when you plant your vegetables there springs up also a crop of weeds, and you have to go down the rows and chop off the heads of these weeds. Gladys’ husband is an expert gardener, he knows how to chop weeds, and be knows that society will never be able to dispense with his services. So long as gardening continues, Peter will be a head weedchopper, and a teacher of classes of young weedchoppers.