“Now,” said Guffey, “the first thing I want to know is, who’s blabbing in this jail; we can’t do anything but they get tipped off. I’ve got witnesses that I want kept hidden, and I don’t dare put them here for fear of the Goober crowd. I want to know who are the traitors. I want to know a lot of things that I’ll tell you from time to time. I want you to get next to these Reds, and learn about their ideas, so you can talk their lingo.
“Sure,” said Peter. He could not help smiling a little. He was supposed to be a “Red” already, to have been one of their leading conspirators. But Guffey had abandoned that pretence—or perhaps had forgotten about it!
It was really an easy job that Peter had set before him. He did not have to pretend to be anything different from what he was. He would call himself a victim of circumstances, and would be honestly indignant against those who had sought to use him in a frame-up against Jim Goober. The rest would follow naturally. He would get the confidence of the labor people, and Guffey would tell him what to do next.
“We’ll put you in one of the cells of this jail,” said the chief detective, “and we’ll pretend to give you a `third degree.’ You’ll holler and make a fuss, and say you won’t tell, and finally we’ll give up and kick you out. And then all you have to do is just hang around. They’ll come after you, or I miss my guess.”
So the little comedy was arranged and played thru. Guffey took Peter by the collar and led him out into the main part of the jail, and locked him in one of a row of open cells. He grabbed Peter by the wrist and pretended to twist it, and Peter pretended to protest. He did not have to draw on his imagination; he knew how it felt, and how he was supposed to act, and he acted. He sobbed and screamed, and again and again he vowed that he had told the truth, that he knew nothing else than what he had told, and that nothing could make him tell any more. Guffey left him there until late the next afternoon, and then came again, and took him by the collar, and led him out to the steps of the jail, and gave him a parting kick.
Peter was free! What a wonderful sensation—freedom! God! Had there ever been anything like it? He wanted to shout and howl with joy. But instead he staggered along the street, and sank down upon a stone coping, sobbing, with his head clasped in his hands, waiting for something to happen. And sure enough, it happened. Perhaps an hour passed, when he was touched lightly on the shoulder. “Comrade,” said a soft voice, and Peter, looking between his fingers, saw the skirts of a girl. A folded slip of paper was pressed into his hand and the soft voice said: “Come to this address.” The girl walked on, and Peter’s heart leaped with excitement. Peter was a sleuth at last!
Peter waited until after dark, in order to indulge his sense of the romantic; also he flattered his self-importance by looking carefully about him as he walked down the street. He did not know just who would be shadowing him, but Peter wanted to be sleuthy.