“I never done anything like that!” cried Peter wildly. “I didn’t even know for sure.”
“Tell that to the jury!” sneered Guffey. “Why, they’ve even been to that Shoemaker Smithers, and they’ll put his wife on the stand to prove you a sneak thief, and tell how she kicked you out. And all because you couldn’t hold your mouth as I told you to!”
Peter burst into tears. He fell down on his knees, pleading that he hadn’t meant any harm; he hadn’t had any idea that he was not supposed to talk about his past life; he hadn’t realized what a witness was, or what he was supposed to do. All he had been told was to keep quiet about the Goober case, and he had kept quiet. So Peter sobbed and pleaded—but in vain. Guffey ordered him back to the hole, declaring his intention to prove that Peter was the one who had thrown the bomb, and that Peter, instead of Jim Goober, had been the head and front of the conspiracy. Hadn’t Peter signed a confession that he had helped to make the bomb?
Again Peter did not know how long he lay shivering in the black dungeon. He only knew that they brought him bread and water three times, before Guffey came again and summoned him forth. Peter now sat huddled into a chair, twisting his trembling hands together, while the chief detective of the Traction Trust explained to him his new program. Peter was permanently ruined as a witness in the case. The labor conspirators had raised huge sums for their defense; they had all the labor unions of the city, and in fact of the entire country behind them, and they were hiring spies and informers, and trying to find out all they could about the prosecution, the evidence it had collected and the moves it was preparing. Guffey did not say that he had been afraid to kick Peter out because of the possibility that Peter might go over to the Goober side and tell all he knew; but Peter guessed this while he sat listening to Guffey’s explanation, and realized with a thrill of excitement that at last he had really got a hold upon the ladder of prosperity. Not in vain had his finger been almost broken and his wrist almost dislocated!
“Now,” said Guffey, “here’s my idea: As a witness you’re on the bum, but as a spy, you’re it. They know that you blabbed, and that I know it; they know I’ve had you in the hole. So now what I want to do is to make a martyr of you. D’you see?”
Peter nodded; yes, he saw. It was his specialty, seeing things like that.
“You’re an honest witness, you understand? I tried to get you to lie, and you wouldn’t, so now you go over to the other side, and they take you in, and you find out all you can, and from time to time you meet somebody as I’ll arrange it, and send me word what you’ve learned. You get me?”
“I get you,” said Peter, eagerly. No words could portray his relief. He had a real job now! He was going to be a sleuth, like Guffey himself.