Guffey saw these thoughts plainly written in Peter’s face, and his sneer turned into a snarl. “So you think you’ll tell me the truth now, do you? Well, it happens there’s nothing left to tell!”
Again he turned and began pacing up and down the room. The pressure of rage inside him was so great that it took still more time to work it off. But finally the head detective sat down at his desk, and opened the drawer and took out a paper. “I see you’re sitting there, trying to think up some new lie to tell me,” said he. And Peter did not try to deny it, because any kind of denial only caused a fresh access of rage. “All right,” Guffey said, “I’ll read you this, and you can see just where you stand, and just how many kinds of a boob you are.”
So he started to read the letter; and before Peter had heard one sentence, he knew this was a letter from Nell, and he knew that the castle of his dreams was flat in the dust forever. The ruins of Sargon and Nineveh were not more hopelessly flat!
“Dear Mr. Guffey,” read the letter, “I am sorry to throw you down, but fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money, and we all get tired of work and need a rest. This is to tell you that Ted Crothers has just broke into Nelse Ackerman’s safe in his home, and we have got some liberty bonds and some jewels which we guess to be worth fifty thousand dollars, and you know Ted is a good judge of jewels.
“Now of course you will find out that I was working in Mr. Ackerman’s home and you will be after me hot-foot, so I might as well tell you about it, and tell you it won’t do you any good to catch us, because we have got all the inside dope on the Goober frame-up, and everything else your bureau has been pulling off in American City for the last year. You can ask Peter Gudge and he’ll tell you. It was Peter and me that fixed up that dynamite conspiracy, but you mustn’t blame Peter, because he only did what I told him to do. He hasn’t got sense enough to be really dangerous, and he will make you a perfectly good agent if you treat him kind and keep him away from the women. You can do that easy enough if you don’t let him get any money, because of course he’s nothing much on looks, and the women would never bother with him if you didn’t pay him too much.
“Now Peter will tell you how we framed up that dynamite job, and of course you wouldn’t want that to get known to the Reds, and you may be sure that if Ted and me get pinched, we’ll find some way to let the Reds know all about it. If you keep quiet we’ll never say a word, and you’ve got a perfectly good dynamite conspiracy, with all the evidence you need to put the Reds out of business, and you can just figure it cost you fifty thousand dollars, and it was cheap at the price, because Nelse Ackerman has paid a whole lot more for your work, and you never got anything half as big as this. I know you’ll be mad when you read this, but think it over and keep your shirt on. I send