Now since Peter had come to know the Reds, who wanted to blow up the palaces of the millionaires, he was more than ever on the side of his gods and goddesses. His fervors for them increased every time he heard them assailed; he wanted to meet some of them, and passionately, yet respectfully, pour out to them his allegiance. A glow of satisfaction came over him as he pictured himself in some palace, lounging upon a silken conch and explaining to a millionaire his understanding of the value of beauty and splendor in the world.
And now he was to meet one; it was to be a part of his job to cultivate one! True, there was something wrong with this particular millionaire—he was one of those freaks who for some reason beyond imagining gave their sympathy to the dynamiters and assassins. Peter had met “Parlor Reds” at the home of the Todd sisters; the large shining ladies who came in large shining cars to hear him tell of his jail experiences. But he hadn’t been sure as to whether they were really millionaires or not, and Sadie, when he had inquired particularly, had answered vaguely that every one in the radical movement who could afford an automobile or a dress-suit was called a millionaire by the newspapers.
But young Lackman was a real millionaire, McGivney positively assured him; and so Peter was free to admire him in spite of all his freak ideas, which the rat-faced man explained with intense amusement. Young Lackman conducted a school for boys, and when one of the boys did wrong, the teacher would punish himself instead of the boy! Peter must pretend to be interested in this kind of “education,” said McGivney, and he must learn at least the names of Lackman’s books.
“But will he pay any attention to me?” demanded Peter.
“Sure, he will,” said McGivney. “That’s the point—you’ve been in jail, you’ve really done something as a pacifist. What you want to do is to try to interest him in your Anti-conscription League. Tell him you want to make it into a national organization, you want to get something done besides talking.”
The address of young Lackman was the Hotel de Soto; and as he heard this, Peter’s heart gave a leap. The Hotel de Soto was the Mount Olympus of American City! Peter had walked by the vast white structure, and seen the bronze doors swing outward, and the favored ones of the earth emerging to their magic chariots; but never had it occurred to him that he might pass thru those bronze doors, and gaze upon those hidden mysteries!
“Will they let me in?” he asked McGivney, and the other laughed. “Just walk in as if you owned the place,” he said. “Hold up your head, and pretend you’ve lived there all your life.”
That was easy for McGivney to say, but not so easy for Peter to imagine. However, he would try it; McGivney must be right, for it was the same thing Mrs. James had impressed upon him many times. You must watch what other people did, and practice by yourself, and then go in and do it as if you had never done anything else. All life was a gigantic bluff, and you encouraged yourself in your bluffing by the certainty that everybody else was bluffing just as hard.