There was only one person whom Peter could take into his confidence, and that was McGivney. Peter could not conceal from McGivney the fact that he was troubled over his bereavement; and so McGivney took him in hand and gave him a “jacking up.” It was dangerous work, this of holding down the Reds; dangerous, because their doctrines were so insidious, they were so devilishly cunning in their working upon people’s minds. McGivney had seen more than one fellow start fooling with their ideas and turn into one himself. Peter must guard against that danger.
“It ain’t that,” Peter explained. “It ain’t their ideas. It’s just that I was soft on that kid.”
“Well, it comes to the same thing,” said McGivney. “You get sorry for them, and the first thing you know, you’re listening to their arguments. Now, Peter, you’re one of the best men I’ve got on this case—and that’s saying a good deal, because I’ve got charge of seventeen.” The rat-faced man was watching Peter, and saw Peter flush with pleasure. Yes, he continued, Peter had a future before him, he would make all kinds of money, he would be given responsibility, a permanent position. But he might throw it all away if he got to fooling with these Red doctrines. And also, he ought to understand, he could never fool McGivney; because McGivney had spies on him!
So Peter clenched his hands and braced himself up. Peter was a real “he-man,” and wasn’t going to waste himself. “It’s just that I can’t help missing the girl!” he explained; to which the other answered: “Well, that’s only natural. What you want to do is to get yourself another one.”
Peter went on with his work in the office of the Goober Defense Committee. The time for the trial had come, and the struggle between the two giants had reached its climax. The district attorney, who was prosecuting the case, and who was expecting to become governor of the state on the strength of it, had the backing of half a dozen of the shrewdest lawyers in the city, their expenses being paid by the big business men. A small army of detectives were at work, and the court where the trial took place was swarming with spies and agents. Every one of the hundreds of prospective jurors had been investigated and card-cataloged, his every weakness and every prejudice recorded; not merely had his psychology been studied, but his financial status, and that of his relatives and friends. Peter had met half a dozen other agents beside McGivney, men who had come to question him about this or that detail; and from the conversation of these men he got glimpses of the endless ramifications of the case. It seemed to him that the whole of American City had been hired to help send Jim Goober to the gallows.