Peter, somewhat disappointed, went back and reported to McGivney this rather tame outcome. But McGivney said that was all right, he had something that would fix them; and he revealed to Peter a startling bit of news. Peter had been reading in the papers about German spies, but he had only half taken it seriously; the war was a long way off, and Peter had never seen any of that German gold that they talked so much about—in fact, the Reds were in a state of perpetual poverty, one and all of them stinting himself eternally to put up some portion of his scant earnings to pay for pamphlets and circulars and postage and defence funds, and all the expenses of an active propaganda organization. But now, McGivney declared, there was a real, sure-enough agent of the Kaiser in American City! The government had pretty nearly got him in his nets, and one of the things McGivney wanted to do before the fellow was arrested was to get him to contribute some money to the radical cause.
It wasn’t necessary to point out to Peter the importance of this. If the authorities could show that the agitation on behalf of McCormick and the rest had been financed by German money, the public would justify any measures taken to bring it to an end. Could Peter suggest to McGivney the name of a German Socialist who might be persuaded to approach this agent of the Kaiser, and get him to contribute money for the purpose of having a general strike called in American City? Several of the city’s big manufacturing plants were being made over for war purposes, and obviously the enemy had much to gain by strikes and labor discontent. Guffey’s men had been trying for a long time to get Germans to contribute to the Goober Defense fund, but here was an even better opportunity.
Peter thought of Comrade Apfel, who was one of the extreme Socialists, and a temporary Pacifist like most Germans. Apfel worked in a bakery, and his face was as pasty as the dough he kneaded, but it would show a tinge of color when be rose in the local to denounce the “social patriots,” those party members who were lending their aid to British plans for world domination. McGivney said he would send somebody to Apfel at once, and give him the name of the Kaiser’s agent as one who might be induced to contribute to the radical defense fund. Apfel would, of course, have no idea that the man was a German agent; he would go to see him, and ask him for money, and McGivney and his fellow-sleuths would do the rest. Peter said that was fine, and offered to go to Apfel himself; but the rat-faced man answered no, Peter was too precious, and no chance must be taken of directing Apfel’s suspicions against him.