But one girl Peter was quite sure about, and that was little Jennie; he didn’t know if Jennie knew many secrets, but surely she could find some out for him. Once he got her for his own, he could use her to question others. And so Peter began to picture what love with Jennie would be like. She wasn’t exactly what you would call “swell,” but there was something about her that made him sure he needn’t be ashamed of her. With some new clothes she would be pretty, and she had grand manners—she had not shown the least fear of the rich ladies who came to the house in their automobiles; also she knew an awful lot for a girl—even if most of what she knew wasn’t so!
Peter lost no time in setting to work at his new job. In the papers next morning appeared the usual details from Flanders; thousands of men being shot to pieces almost every hour of the day and night, a million men on each side locked in a ferocious combat that had lasted for weeks, that might last for months. And sentimental little Jennie sat there with brimming eyes, talking about it while Peter ate his oatmeal and thin milk. And Peter talked about it too; how wicked it was, and how they must stop it, he and Jennie together. He agreed with her now; he was a Socialist, he called her “Comrade,” and told her she had converted him. Her eyes lighted up with joy, as if she had really done something to end the war.
They were sitting on the sofa, looking at the paper, and they were alone in the house. Peter suddenly looked up from the reading and said, very much embarrassed, “But Comrade Jennie—”
“Yes,” she said, and looked at him with her frank grey eyes. Peter was shy, truly a little frightened, this kind of detective business being new to him.
“Comrade Jennie,” he said, “I—I—don’t know just how to say it, but I’m afraid I’m falling a little in love.”
Jennie drew back her hands, and Peter heard her breath come quickly. “Oh, Mr. Gudge!” she exclaimed.
“I—I don’t know—” stammered Peter. “I hope you won’t mind.”
“Oh, don’t let’s do that!” she cried.
“Why not, Comrade Jennie?” And he added, “I don’t know as I can help it.”
“Oh, we were having such a happy time, Mr. Gudge! I thought we were going to work for the cause!”
“Well, but it won’t interfere—”
“Oh, but it does, it does; it makes people unhappy!”
“Then—” and Peter’s voice trembled—“then you don’t care the least bit for me, Comrade Jennie?”
She hesitated a moment. “I don’t know,” she said. “I hadn’t thought—”
And Peter’s heart gave a leap inside him. It was the first time that any girl had ever had to hesitate in answering that question for Peter. Something prompted him—just as if he had been doing this kind of “sleuthing” all his life. He reached over, and very gently took her hand. “You do care just a little for me?” he whispered.
“Oh, Comrade Gudge,” she answered, and Peter said, “Call me `Peter.’ Please, please do.”