“Sure, we know that,” said McGivney. “And the hell of a fine story you gave them; you must have enjoyed hearing yourself talk. But what good does that do us?”
“But what do you want to know?” cried Peter, in dismay.
“We want to know their secret plans,” said the other. “We want to know what they’re doing to get our witnesses; we want to know who it is that is selling us out, who’s the spy in the jail. Didn’t you find that out?”
“N-no,” said Peter. “Nobody said anything about it.”
“Good God!” said the detective. “D’you expect them to bring you things on a silver tray?” He began turning over Peter’s notes again, and finally threw them on the bed in disgust. He began questioning Peter, and Peter’s dismay turned to despair. He had not got a single thing that McGivney wanted. His whole week of “sleuthing” had been wasted!
The detective did not mince words. “It’s plain that you’re a boob,” he said. “But such as you are, we’ve got to do the best we can with you. Now, put your mind on it and get it straight: we know who these Reds are, and we know what they’re teaching; we can’t send ’em to jail for that. What we want you to find out is the name of their spy, and who are their witnesses in the Goober case, and what they’re going to say.”
“But how can I find out things like that?” cried Peter.
“You’ve got to use your wits,” said McGivney. “But I’ll give you one tip; get yourself a girl.”
“A girl?” cried Peter, in wonder.
“Sure thing,” said the other. “That’s the way we always work. Guffey says there’s just three times when people tell their secrets: The first is when they’re drunk, and the second is when they’re in love—”
Then McGivney stopped. Peter, who wanted to complete his education, inquired, “And the third?”
“The third is when they’re both drunk and in love,” was the reply. And Peter was silent, smitten with admiration. This business of sleuthing was revealing itself as more complicated and more fascinating all the time.
“Ain’t you seen any girl you fancy in that crowd?” demanded the other.
“Well—it might be—” said Peter, shyly.
“It ought to be easy,” continued the detective. “Them Reds are all free lovers, you know.”
“Free lovers!” exclaimed Peter. “How do you mean?”
“Didn’t you know about that?” laughed the other.
Peter sat staring at him. All the women that Peter had ever known or heard of took money for their love. They either took it directly, or they took it in the form of automobile rides and flowers and candy and tickets to the whang-doodle things. Could it be that there were women who did not take money in either form, but whose love was entirely free?
The detective assured him that such was the case. “They boast about it,” said he. “They think it’s right.” And to Peter that seemed the most shocking thing he had yet heard about the Reds.