She was alone in the house all day with Peter, and she got to seem more and more pretty as he got to know her better. Also it was evident that she liked Peter more and more as Peter played his game. Peter revealed himself as deeply sympathetic, and a quick convert to the cause; he saw everything that Jennie explained to him, he was horrified at the horrible stories, he was ready to help her end the European war by starting a revolution among the working people of American City. Also, he told her about himself, and awakened her sympathy for his harsh life, his twenty years of privation and servitude; and when she wept over this, Peter liked it. It was fine, somehow, to have her so sorry for him; it helped to compensate him for the boredom of hearing her be sorry for the whole working class.
Peter didn’t know whether Jennie had learned about his bad record, but he took no chances—he told her everything, and thus took the sting out of it. Yes, he had been trapped into evil ways, but it wasn’t his fault, he hadn’t known any better, he had been a pitiful victim of circumstances. He told how he had been starved and driven about and beaten by “Old Man” Drubb, and the tears glistened in Jennie’s grey eyes and stole down her cheeks. He told about loneliness and heartsickness and misery in the orphan asylum. And how could he, poor lad, realize that it was wrong to help Pericles Priam sell his Peerless Pain Paralyzer? How could he know whether the medicine was any good or not—he didn’t even know now, as a matter of fact. As for the Temple of Jimjambo, all that Peter had done was to wash dishes and work as a kitchen slave, as in any hotel or restaurant.
It was a story easy to fix up, and especially easy because the first article in the creed of Socialist Jennie was that economic circumstances were to blame for human frailties. That opened the door for all varieties of grafters, and made the child such an easy mark that Peter would have been ashamed to make a victim of her, had it not been that she happened to stand in the path of his higher purposes—and also that she happened to be young, only seventeen, with tender grey eyes, and tempting, sweet lips, alone there in the house all day.
Peter’s adventures in love had so far been pretty much of a piece with the rest of his life experiences; there had been hopes, and wonderful dreams, but very few realizations. Peter knew a lot about such matters; in the orphan asylum there were few vicious practices which he did not witness, few obscene imaginings with which he was not made familiar. Also, Pericles Priam had been a man like the traditional sailor, with a girl in every port; and generally in these towns and villages there had been no place for Peter to go save where Pericles went, so Peter had been the witness of many of his master’s amours and the recipient of his confidences. But none of