But Peter was frightened, too; he couldn’t altogether enjoy being a hero, in this vivid and startling fashion; having his name and fame spread from one end of the country to the other, so that organized labor might know the methods which the great traction interests of American City were employing to send a well-known labor leader to the gallows! The thing seemed to grow and grow before Peter’s frightened eyes. Peter, the ant, felt the earth shaking, and got a sudden sense of the mountain size of the mighty giants who were stamping in combat over his head. Peter wondered, had Guffey realized what a stir his story would make, what a powerful weapon he was giving to his enemies? What could Guffey expect to get from Peter, to compensate for this damage to his own case? Peter, as he listened to the stormy oratory in the crowded little room, found himself thinking again and again of running away. He had never seen anything like the rage into which these people worked themselves, the terrible things they said, the denunciations, not merely of the police of American City, but of the courts and the newspapers, the churches and the colleges, everything that seemed respectable and sacred to law-abiding citizens like Peter Gudge.
Peter’s fright became apparent. But why shouldn’t he be frightened? Andrews, the lawyer, offered to take him away and hide him, lest the opposition should try to make way with him. Peter would be a most important witness for the Goober defense, and they must take good care of him. But Peter recovered his self-possession, and took up his noble role. No, he would take his chances with the rest of them, he was not too much afraid.
Sadie Todd, the stenographer, rewarded him for his heroism. They had a spare bedroom in their little home, and if Peter cared to stay with them for a while, they would try to make him comfortable. Peter accepted this invitation, and at a late hour in the evening the gathering broke up. The various groups of “Reds” went their way, their hands clenched and their faces portraying a grim resolve to make out of Peter’s story a means of lashing discontented labor to new frenzies of excitement. The men clasped Peter’s hand cordially; the ladies gazed at him with soulful eyes, and whispered their admiration for his brave course, their hope, indeed their conviction, that he would stand by the truth to the end, and would study their ideas and join their “movement.” All the while Peter watched them, and continued saying to himself: “The poor nuts!”