“Why, yes,” said the trembling Peter, and he came forward again, and got his hat from under the chair, and bowed himself backward again.
“And remember, Gudge,” said the old man, “I don’t want to be killed! I don’t want them to get me!”
Peter’s first care when he got back into the city was to go to Mr. Ackerman’s bank and change that five hundred dollar bill. The cashier gazed at him sternly, and scrutinized the bill carefully, but he gave Peter five one hundred dollar bills without comment. Peter tucked three of them away in a safe hiding-place, and put the other two in his pocketbook, and went to keep his appointment with Nell.
He told her all that had happened, and where she was to meet Mr. Ackerman’s niece. “What did he give you?” Nell demanded, at once, and when Peter produced the two bills, she exclaimed, “My God! the old skint-flint!” “He said there’d be more,” remarked Peter.
“It didn’t cost him anything to say that,” was Nell’s answer. “We’ll have to put the screws on him.” Then she added, “You’d better let me take care of this money for you, Peter.”
“Well,” said Peter, “I have to have some for my own expenses, you know.”
“You’ve got your salary, haven’t you?”
“Yes, that’s true, but—”
“I can keep it safe for you,” said Nell, “and some day when you need it you’ll be glad to have it. You’ve never saved anything yourself; that’s a woman’s job.”
Peter tried to haggle with her, but it wasn’t the same as haggling with McGivney; she looked at him with her melting glances, and it made Peter’s head swim, and automatically he put out his hand and let her take the two bills. Then she smiled, so tenderly that he made bold to remind her, “You know, Nell, you’re my wife now!”
“Yes, yes,” she answered, “of course. But we’ve got to get rid of Ted Crothers somehow. He watches me all the time, and I have no end of trouble making excuses and getting away.”
“How’re you’re going to get rid of him?” asked Peter, hungrily.
“We’ll have to skip,” she answered; “just as soon as we have pulled off our new frame-up—”
“Another one?” gasped Peter, in dismay.
And the girl laughed. “You wait!” she said. “I’m going to pull some real money out of Nelse Ackerman this time! Then when we’ve made our killing, we’ll skip, and be fixed for life. You wait—and don’t talk love to me now, because my mind is all taken up with my plans, and I can’t think about anything else.”
So they parted, and Peter went to see McGivney in the American House. “Stand up to him!” Nell had said. But it was not easy to do, for McGivney pulled and hauled him and turned him about, upside down and inside outwards, to know every single thing that had happened between him and Nelse Ackerman. Lord, how these fellows did hang on to their sources of graft! Peter repeated and insisted that he really had played entirely fair—he hadn’t told Nelse Ackerman a thing except just the truth as he had told it to Guffey and McGivney. He had said that the police were all right, and that Guffey’s bureau was stepping right on the tail of the Reds all the time.