Peter went to the police-station, but they never found the woman, or if they did, they divided with her and not with Peter. He threw himself on the mercy of the sergeant at the desk, and succeeded in convincing the sergeant that he, Peter, was a part of the machinery of his country’s defense, and the sergeant agreed to stand sponsor for ten words to Guffey. So Peter sat himself down with a pencil and paper, and figured over it, and managed to get it into ten words, as follows: “Woman again broke any old job any pay wire fare.” And it appeared that Guffey must have sat himself down with a pencil and paper and figured over it also, for the answer came back in ten words, as follows: “Idiot have wired secretary chamber commerce will give you ticket.”
So Peter repaired forthwith to the stately offices of the Chamber of Commerce, and the hustling, efficient young business-man secretary sent his clerk to buy Peter a ticket and put him on the train. In a time of need like that Peter realized what it meant to have the backing of a great and powerful organization, with stately offices and money on hand for all emergencies, even when they arose by telegraph. He took a new vow of sobriety and decency, so that he might always have these forces of law and order on his side.
Peter was duly scolded, and put to work as an “office man” at his old salary of twenty dollars a week. It was his duty to consult with Guffey’s many “operatives,” to tell them everything he knew about this individual Red or that organization of Reds. He would use his inside knowledge of personalities and doctrines and movements to help in framing up testimony, and in setting traps for too ardent agitators. He could no longer pose as a Red himself, but sometimes there were cases where he could do detective work without being recognized; when, for example, there was a question of fixing a juror, or of investigating the members of a panel.
The I. W. Ws. had been put out of business in American City, but the Socialists were still active, in spite of prosecutions and convictions. Also there was a new peril looming up; the returned soldiers were coming back, and a lot of them were dissatisfied, presuming to complain of their treatment in the army, and of the lack of good jobs at home, and even of the peace treaty which the President was arranging in Paris. They had fought to make the world safe for democracy, and here, they said, it had been made safe for the profiteers. This was plain Bolshevism, and in its most dangerous form, because these fellows had learned to use guns, and couldn’t very well be expected to become pacifists right off the bat.