At seven o’clock that evening Peter strolled up to the magic bronze doors, and touched them; and sure enough, the blue-uniformed guardians drew them back without a word, and the tiny brass-button imps never even glanced at Peter as he strode up to the desk and asked for Mr. Lackman.
The haughty clerk passed him on to a still more haughty telephone operator, who condescended to speak into her trumpet, and then informed him that Mr. Lackman was out; he had left word that he would return at eight. Peter was about to go out and wander about the streets for an hour, when he suddenly remembered that everybody else was bluffing; so he marched across the lobby and seated himself in one of the huge leather arm-chairs, big enough to hold three of him. There he sat, and continued to sit—and nobody said a word!
Yes, this was Mount Olympus, and here were the gods: the female ones in a state of divine semi-nudity, the male ones mostly clad in black coats with pleated shirt-fronts puffing out. Every time one of them moved up to the desk Peter would watch and wonder, was this Mr. Lackman? He might have been able to pick out a millionaire from an ordinary crowd; but here every male god was got up for the precise purpose of looking like a millionaire, so Peter’s job was an impossible one.
In front of him across the lobby floor there arose a ten-foot pillar to a far-distant roof. This pillar was of pale, green-streaked marble, and Peter’s eyes followed it to the top, where it exploded in a snow-white cloud-burst, full of fascination. There were four cornucopias, one at each corner, and out of each cornucopia came tangled ropes of roses, and out of these roses came other ropes, with what appeared to be apples and leaves, and still more roses, and still more emerging ropes, spreading in a tangle over the ceiling. Here and there, in the midst of all this splendor, was the large, placidly smiling face of a boy angel; four of these placidly smiling boy angels gazed from the four sides of the snow-white cloud-burst, and Peter’s eye roamed from one to another, fascinated by the mathematics of this architectural marvel. There were fourteen columns in a row, and four such rows in the lobby. That made fifty-six columns in all, or two hundred and twenty-four boy angels’ heads. How many cornucopias and how many roses and how many apples it meant, defied all calculation. The boy angels’ heads were exactly alike, every head with the same size and quality of smile; and Peter marvelled—how many days would it take a sculptor to carve the details of two hundred and twenty-four boy angel smiles?