Peter had once been like that himself, but now he was so comfortable, he had a tendency to become lazy and easy-going. It was well, therefore, that he had Gladys to jack him up, and keep him on his job. Gladys at first did not meet any Reds face to face, she knew them only by the stories that Peter brought home to her when his day’s work was done. But each new group that he was hounding became to Gladys an assemblage of incarnate fiends, and while she sat polishing the finger-nails of stout society ladies who were too sleepy to talk, Gladys’ busy mind would be working over schemes to foil these fiends.
Sometimes her ideas were quite wonderful. She had a woman’s intuition, the knowledge of human foibles, all the intricate subtleties of the emotional life; she would bring to Peter a program for the undoing of some young radical, as complete as if she had known the man or woman all her life. Peter took her ideas to McGivney, and then to Guffey, and the result was that her talents were recognized, and by the lever of a generous salary she was pried loose from the manicure parlor. Guffey sent her to make the acquaintance of the servants in the household of a certain rich man who was continually making contributions to the Direct Primary Association and other semi-Red organizations, and who was believed to have a scandal in his private life. So successful was Gladys at this job that presently Guffey set her at the still more delicate task of visiting rich ladies, and impressing upon them the seriousness of the Red peril, and persuading them to meet the continually increasing expenses of Guffey’s office.
Just now was a busy time in the anti-Red campaign. For nearly two years, ever since the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, there had been gradually developing a split in the Socialist movement, and the “under-cover” operatives of the Traction Trust, as well as those of the district attorney’s office and of the Federal government, had been working diligently to widen this split and develop dissensions in the organization. There were some Socialists who believed in politics, and were prepared to devote their lives to the slow and tedious job of building up a party. There were others who were impatient, looking for a short cut, a general strike or a mass insurrection of the workers which would put an end to the slavery of capitalism. The whole game of politics was rotten, these would argue; a politician could find more ways to fool the workers in a minute than the workers could thwart in a year. They pointed to the German Socialists, those betrayers of internationalism. There were people who called themselves Socialists right here in American City who wanted to draw the movement into the same kind of trap!