To be sure, when he thought it over, he could see that it had some redeeming points; it was decidedly convenient from the point of view of the man; it was so much money in his pocket. If women chose to be that silly—and Peter found himself suddenly thinking about little Jennie Todd. Yes, she would be that silly, it was plain to see. She gave away everything she had; so of course she would be a “free lover!”
Peter went away from his rendezvous with McGivney, thrilling with a new and wonderful idea. You couldn’t have got him to give up his job now. This sleuthing business was the real thing!
It was late when Peter got home, but the two girls were sitting up for him, and their relief at his safe return was evident. He noticed that Jennie’s face expressed deeper concern than her sister’s, and this gave him a sudden new emotion. Jennie’s breath came and went more swiftly because he had entered the room; and this affected his own breath in the same way. He had a swift impulse towards her, an entirely unselfish desire to reassure her and relieve her anxiety; but with an instinctive understanding of the sex game which he had not before known he possessed, he checked this impulse and turned instead to the older sister, assuring her that nobody had followed him. He told an elaborate story, prepared on the way; he had worked for ten days for a fellow at sawing wood—hard work, you bet, and then the fellow had tried to get out of paying him! Peter had caught him at his home that evening, and had succeeded in getting five dollars out of him, and a promise of a few dollars more every week. That was to cover future visits to McGivney.
Peter lay awake a good part of the night, thinking over this new job—that of getting himself a girl. He realized that for some time he had been falling in love with little Jennie; but be wanted to be sane and practical, he wanted to use his mind in choosing a girl. He was after information, first of all. And who had the most to give him? He thought of Miss Nebbins, who was secretary to Andrews, the lawyer; she would surely know more secrets than anyone else; but then, Miss Nebbins was an old maid, who wore spectacles and broad-toed shoes, and was evidently out of the question for love-making. Then he thought of Miss Standish, a tall, blond beauty who worked in an insurance office and belonged to the Socialist Party. She was a “swell dresser,” and Peter would have been glad to have something like that to show off to McGivney and the rest of Guffey’s men; but with the best efforts of his self-esteem, Peter could not imagine himself persuading Miss Standish to look at him. There was a Miss Yankovich, one of the real Reds, who trained with the I. W. W.; but she was a Jewess, with sharp, black eyes that clearly indicated a temper, and frightened Peter. Also, he had a suspicion that she was interested in McCormick—tho of course with these “free lovers” you could never tell.