Peter gazed and waited, while his heart went on misbehaving. Peter learned in those few fearful minutes what real love is, a most devastating force. Little Jennie was forgotten, Mrs. James, the grass widow was forgotten, and Peter knew that he had never really admired but one woman in the world, and that was Nell, the Irish chambermaid of the Temple of Jimjambo. The poets have seen fit to represent young love as a mischievous little archer with a sharp and penetrating arrow, and now Peter understood what they had meant; that arrow had pierced him thru, and he had to hold on to the column to keep himself from falling.
Presently the couple rose and strolled away to the elevator, and Peter followed. He did not dare get into the elevator with them, for he had suddenly become accutely aware of the costume he was wearing in his role of proletarian anti-militarist! But Peter was certain that Nell and her escort were not going out of the building, for they had no hats or wraps; so he went downstairs and hunted thru the lobby and the dining-room, and then thru the basement, from which he heard strains of music. Here was another vast room, got up in mystic oriental fashion, with electric lights hidden in bunches of imitation flowers on each table. This room was called the “grill,” and part of it was bare for dancing, and on a little platform sat a band playing music.
The strangest music that ever assailed human ears! If Peter had heard it before seeing Nell, he would not have understood it, but now its weird rhythms fitted exactly to the moods which were tormenting him. This music would groan, it would rattle and squeak; it would make noises like swiftly torn canvas, or like a steam siren in a hurry. It would climb up to the heavens and come banging down to hell. And every thing with queer, tormenting motions, gliding and writhing, wriggling, jerking, jumping. Peter would never have known what to make of such music, if he had not had it here made visible before his eyes, in the behavior of the half-naked goddesses and the black-coated gods on this dancing floor. These celestial ones came sliding across the floor like skaters, they came writhing like serpents, they came strutting like turkeys, jumping like rabbits, stalking solemnly like giraffes. They came clamped in one another’s arms like bears trying to hug each other to death; they came contorting themselves as if they were boa-constrictors trying to swallow each other. And Peter, watching them and listening to their music, made a curious discovery about himself. Deeply buried in Peter’s soul were the ghosts of all sorts of animals; Peter had once been a boa-constrictor, Peter had once been a bear, Peter had once been a rabbit and a giraffe, a turkey and a fox; and now under the spell of this weird music these dead creatures came to life in his soul. So Peter discovered the meaning of “jazz,” in all its weirdly named and incredible varieties.