Jennie promptly had a fit. What was the matter with him? Didn’t he mean to marry her, as he had promised? Surely he must realize now that they could no longer delay! And Peter, who was not familiar with the symptoms of hysterics, lost his head completely and could think of nothing to do but rush out of the house and slam the door.
The more he considered it, the more clearly he realized that he was in the devil of a predicament. As a servant of the Traction Trust, he had taken it for granted that he was immune to all legal penalties and obligations; but here, he had a feeling, was a trouble from which the powerful ones of the city would be unable to shield their agent. Were they able to arrange it so that one could marry a girl, and then get out of it when one’s job was done?
Peter was so uneasy that he had to call up the office of Guffey and get hold of McGivney. This was dangerous, because the prosecution was tapping telephone wires, and they feared the defense might be doing the same. But Peter took a chance; he told McGivney to come and meet him at the usual place; and there they argued the matter out, and Peter’s worst fears were confirmed. When he put the proposition up to McGivney, the rat-faced man guffawed in his face. He found it so funny that he did not stop laughing until he saw that he was putting his spy into a rage.
“What’s the joke?” demanded Peter. “If I’m ruined, where’ll you get any more information?”
“But, my God!” said McGivney. “What did you have to go and get that kind of a girl for?”
“I had to take what I could,” answered Peter. “Besides, they’re all alike—they get into trouble, and you can’t help it.”
“Sure, you can help it!” said McGivney. “Why didn’t you ask long ago? Now if you’ve got yourself tied up with a marrying proposition, it’s your own lookout; you can’t put it off on me.”
They argued back and forth. The rat-faced man was positive that there was no way Peter could pretend to marry Jennie and not have the marriage count. He might get himself into no end of trouble and certainly he would be ruined as a spy. What he must do was to pay the girl some money and send her somewhere to get fixed up. McGivney would find out the name of a doctor to do the job.
“Yes, but what excuse can I give her?” cried Peter. “I mean, why I don’t marry her!”
“Make something up,” said McGivney. “Why not have a wife already?” Then, seeing Peter’s look of dismay: “Sure, you can fix that. I’ll get you one, if you need her. But you won’t have to take that trouble—just tell your girl a hard luck story. You’ve got a wife, you thought you could get free from her, but now you find you can’t; your wife’s got wind of what you’re doing here, and she’s trying to blackmail you. Fix it up so your girl can’t do anything on account of hurting the Goober defense. If she’s really sincere about it, she won’t disgrace you; maybe she won’t even tell her sister.”