The time came when Peter wasn’t able to stand it any longer. Shut up in the house all day, he was becoming as irritable as a chained dog. Unless he could get out in the world again, he would surely give himself away. He pleaded that the doctors had warned him that his health would not stand indoor life; he must get some fresh air. So he got away by himself, and after that he found things much easier. He could spend a little of his money; he could find a quiet corner in a restaurant and get himself a beefsteak, and eat all he wanted of it, without feeling the eyes of any “comrades” resting upon him reprovingly. Peter had lived in a jail, and in an orphan asylum, and in the home of Shoemaker Smithers, but nowhere had he fared so meagerly as in the home of the Todd sisters, who were contributing nearly everything they owned to the Goober defense, and to the “Clarion,” the Socialist paper of American City.
Peter went to see Andrews, the lawyer, and asked for a job; he wanted to be active in the case, he said, so he was set to work in the offices of the Defense Committee, where he heard people talking about the case all day, and he could pick up no end of valuable tips. He made himself agreeable and gained friends; before long he was intimate with one of the best witnesses of the defense, and discovered that this man had once been named as co-respondent in a divorce case. Peter found out the name of the woman, and Guffey set to work to bring her to American City. The job was to be done cleverly, without the woman’s even knowing that she was being used. She would have a little holiday, and the spell of old love would reassert itself, and Guffey would have a half dozen men to spring the trap—and there would be a star witness of the Goober defense clean down and out! “There’s always something you can get them on!” said McGivney, and cheerfully paid Peter Gudge five hundred dollars for the information he had brought.
Peter would have been wildly happy, but just at this moment a dreadful calamity befell him. Jennie had been talking about marriage more and more, and now she revealed to him a reason which made marriage imperative. She revealed it with downcast eyes, with blushes and trembling; and Peter was so overcome with consternation that he could not play the part that was expected of him. Hitherto in these love crises he had caught Jennie in his arms and comforted her; but now for a moment he let her see his real emotions.