Haunted by such terrors, Peter had to listen to the tirades of Donald Gordon, of John Durand, and of Sorensen, the longshoremen’s leader. He had to listen to exposure after exposure of the tricks which Guffey had played; he had to hear the district attorney of the county denounced as a suborner of perjury, and his agents as blackmailers and forgers. Peter couldn’t understand why such things should be permitted—why these speakers were not all clapped into jail. But instead, he had to sit there and listen; he even had to applaud and pretend to approve! All the other secret operatives of the Traction Trust and of the district attorney’s office had to listen and pretend to approve! In the hall Peter had met Miriam Yankovich, and was sitting next to her. “Look,” she said, “there’s a couple of dicks over there. Look at the mugs on them!”
“Which?” said Peter.
And she answered: “That fellow that looks like a bruiser, and that one next to him, with the face of a rat.” Peter looked, and saw that it was McGivney; and McGivney looked at Peter, but gave no sign.
The meeting lasted until nearly midnight. It subscribed several thousand dollars to the Goober defense fund, and adopted ferocious resolutions which it ordered printed and sent to every local of every labor union in the country. Peter got out before it was over, because he could no longer stand the strain of his own fears and anxieties. He pushed his way thru the crowd, and in the lobby he ran into Pat McCormick, the I. W. W. leader.
There was more excitement in this boy’s grim face than Peter had ever seen there before. Peter thought it was the meeting, but the other rushed up to him, exclaiming: “Have you heard the news?”
“Little Jennie Todd has killed herself!”
“My God!” gasped Peter, starting back.
“Ada Ruth just told me. Sadie found a note when she got home. Jennie had left—she was going to drown herself.”
“But what—why?” cried Peter, in horror.
“She was suffering so, her health was so wretched, she begs Sadie not to look for her body, not to make a fuss—they’ll never find her.”
And horrified and stunned as Peter was, there was something inside him that drew a deep breath of relief. Little Jennie had kept her promise! Peter was, safe!
Yes, Peter was safe, but it bad been a close call, and he still had painful scenes to play his part in. He had to go back to the Todd home and meet the frantic Sadie, and weep and be horrified with the rest of them. It would have been suspicious if he had not done this; the “comrades” would never have forgiven him. Then to his dismay, he found that Sadie had somehow come to a positive conviction as to Jennie’s trouble. She penned Peter up in a corner and accused him of being responsible; and there was poor Peter, protesting vehemently that he was innocent, and wishing that the floor would open up and swallow him.