“P. S. It really ain’t Peter’s fault that he’s silly about women, and he would have worked for you all right if it hadn’t been for my good looks!”
So there it was. When Peter had heard this letter, he understood that there was no more to be said, and he said it. His own weight had suddenly become more than he could support, and he saw a chair nearby and slipped into it, and sat with eyes of abject misery roaming from Guffey to McGivney, and from McGivney to Hammett, and then back to Guffey again.
The head detective, for all his anger, was a practical man; he could not have managed the very important and confidential work of the Traction Trust if he had not been. So now he proceeded to get down to business. Peter would please tell him everything about that dynamite frame-up; just how they had managed it and just who knew about it. And Peter, being also a practical man, knew that there was no use trying to hide anything. He told the story from beginning to end, taking particular pains to make clear that he and Nell alone were in the secret—–except that beyond doubt Nell had told her lover, Ted Crothers. It was probably Crothers that got the dynamite. From the conversation that ensued Peter gathered that this young man with the face of a bull-dog was one of the very fanciest safecrackers in the country, and no doubt he was the real brains of the conspiracy; he had put Nell up to it, and managed every step. Suddenly Peter remembered all the kisses which Nell had given him in the park, and he found a blush of shame stealing over him. Yes, there was no doubt about it, he was a boob where women were concerned!
Peter began to plead for himself, Really it wasn’t his fault because Nell had got a hold on him. In the Temple of Jimjambo, when he was only a kid, he had been desperately in love with her. She was not only beautiful, she was so smart; she was the smartest woman he had ever known. McGivney remarked that she had been playing with Peter even then—she had been in Guffey’s pay at that time, collecting evidence to put Pashtian el Kalandra in jail and break up the cult of Eleutherinian Exoticism. She had done many such jobs for the secret service of the Traction Trust, while Peter was still traveling around with Pericles Priam selling patent medicine. Nell had been used by Guffey to seduce a prominent labor leader in American City; she had got him caught in a hotel room with her, and thus had broken the back of the biggest labor strike ever known in the city’s history.