“Say, what the hell do you take me for?” demanded the detective. “D’you suppose I’m going to give you two hundred dollars and then have you give me some fake name and skip?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t do that!” cried Peter.
“How do I know you wouldn’t?”
“Well, I want to go on working for you.”
“Sure, and we want you to go on working for us. This ain’t the last secret we’ll get from you, and you’ll find we play straight with our people—how’d we ever get anywheres otherwise? There’s a million dollars been put up to hang that Goober crowd, and if you deliver the goods, you’ll get your share, and get it right on time.”
He spoke with conviction, and Peter was partly persuaded. But most of Peter’s lifetime had been spent in watching people bargaining with one another—watching scoundrels trying to outwit one another—and when it was a question of some money to be got, Peter was like a bulldog that has got his teeth fixed tight in another dog’s nose; he doesn’t consider the other dog’s feelings, nor does he consider whether the other dog admires him or not.
“On time?” said Peter. “What do you mean by `on time’?”
“Oh, my God!” said McGivney, in disgust.
“Well, but I want to know,” said Peter. “D’you mean when I give the name, or d’you mean after you’ve gone and found out whether he really is the spy or not?”
So they worried back and forth, these snarling bulldogs, growing more and more angry. But Peter was the one who had got his teeth in, and Peter hung on. Once McGivney hinted quite plainly that the great Traction Trust had had power enough to shut Peter in the “hole” on two occasions and keep him there, and it might have power enough to do it a third time. Peter’s heart failed with terror, but all the same, he hung on to McGivney’s nose.
“All right,” said the rat-faced man, at last. He said it in a tone of wearied scorn; but that didn’t worry Peter a particle. “All right, I’ll take a chance with you.” And he reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of bills—twenty dollar bills they were, and he counted out ten of them. Peter saw that there was still a lot left to the roll, and knew that he hadn’t asked as much money as McGivney had been prepared to have him ask; so his heart was sick within him. At the same time his heart was leaping with exultation—such a strange thing is the human heart!
McGivney laid the money on the bed. “There it is,” he said, “and if you give me the name of the spy you can take it. But you’d better take my advice and not spend it, because if it turns out that you haven’t got the spy, by God, I believe Ed Guffey’d twist the arms out of you!”
Peter was easy about that. “I know he’s the spy all right.”
“Well, who is he?”
“He’s Jack Ibbetts.”
“The devil you say!” cried McGivney, incredulously.