“Oh please, Mr. Gudge, don’t take such a chance!” cried Sadie, her thin, anxious face suddenly growing more anxious and thin. “Don’t you know this house is being watched? They are just hoping to catch you out alone. It would be the last of you.”
“I’m not so important as that,” said Peter; but she insisted that he was, and Peter was pleased, in spite of his boredom, he liked to hear her insist upon his importance.
“Oh!” she cried. “Don’t you know yet how much depends on you as a witness for the Goober defense? This case is of concern to millions of people all over the world! It is a test case, Mr. Gudge—are they to be allowed to murder the leaders of the working class without a struggle? No, we must show them that there is a great movement, a world-wide awakening of the workers, a struggle for freedom for the wage slaves—”
But Peter could stand no more of this. “All right,” he said, suddenly interrupting Sadie’s eloquence. “I suppose it’s my duty to stay, even if I die of consumption, being shut up without any fresh air.” He would play the martyr; which was not so hard, for he was one, and looked like one, with his thin, one-sided little figure, and his shabby clothes. Both Sadie and Jennie gazed at him with admiration, and sighed with relief.
But later on, Peter thought of an idea. He could go out at night, he told Sadie, and slip out the back way, so that no one would see him; he would not go into crowds or brightly lighted streets, so there would be no chance of his being recognized. There was a fellow he absolutely had to see, who owed him some money; it was way over on the other side of the city—that was why he rejected Jennie’s offer to accompany him.
So that evening Peter climbed a back fence and stole thru a neighbor’s chicken-yard and got away. He had a fine time ducking and dodging in the crowds, making sure that no one was trailing him to his secret rendezvous—no “Red” who might chance to be suspicious of his “comradeship.” It was in the “American House,” an obscure hotel, and Peter was to take the elevator to the fourth floor, without speaking to any one, and to tap three times on the door of Room 427. Peter did so, and the door opened, and he slipped in, and there he met Jerry McGivney, with the face of a rat.
“Well, what have you got?” demanded McGivney; and Peter sat down and started to tell. With eager fingers he undid the amateur sewing in the lining of his coat, and pulled out his notes with the names and descriptions of people who had come to see him.
McGivney glanced over them quickly. “Jesus!” he said, “What’s the good of all this?”
“Well, but they’re Reds!” exclaimed Peter.
“I know,” said the other, “but what of that? We can go hear them spout at meetings any night. We got membership lists of these different organizations. But what about the Goober case?”
“Well,” said Peter, “they’re agitating about it all the time; they’ve been printing stuff about me.”