Peter was now getting fifty dollars a week and expenses, in addition to special tips for valuable bits of news. Hardly a day passed that he didn’t get wind of some important development, and every night he would have to communicate with McGivney. The prosecution had a secret office, where there was a telephone operator on duty, and couriers traveling to the district attorney’s office and to Guffey’s office—all this to forestall telephone tapping. Peter would go from the headquarters of the Goober Defense Committee to a telephone-booth in some hotel, and there he would give the secret number, and then his own number, which was six forty-two. Everybody concerned was known by numbers, the principal people, both of the prosecution and of the defense; the name “Goober” was never spoken over the phone.
After the trial had got started it was hard to get anybody to work in the office of the Defense Committee—everybody wanted to be in court! Someone would come in every few minutes, with the latest reports of sensational developments. The prosecution had succeeded in making away with the police court records, proving the conviction of its star witness of having kept a brothel for negroes. The prosecution had introduced various articles alleged to have been found on the street by the police after the explosion; one was a spring, supposed to have been part of a bomb—but it turned out to be a part of a telephone! Also they had introduced parts of a clock—but it appeared that in their super-zeal they had introduced the parts of two clocks! There was some excitement like this every day.
The time came when the prosecution closed its case, and Peter was summoned to the office of Andrews, to be coached in his part as a witness. He would be wanted in two or three days, the lawyers told him.
Now Peter had never intended to appear as a witness; he had been fooling the defense all this time—“stringing them along,” as he phrased it, so as to keep in favor with them to the end. Meantime he had been figuring out how to justify his final refusal. Peter was eating his lunch when this plan occurred to him, and he was so much excited that he swallowed a piece of pie the wrong way, and had to jump up and run out of the lunch-room. It was his first stroke of genius; hitherto it was McGivney who had thought these things out, but now Peter was on the way to becoming his own boss! Why should he go on taking orders, when he had such brains of his own? He took the plan to McGivney, and McGivney called it a “peach,” and Peter was so proud he asked for a raise, and got it.