The opportunity was at hand: for he had taken McGivney’s advise and got himself another girl. It was a little romance, very worldly and delightful. To understand it, you must know that in the judicial procedure of American City they used both men and women jurors; and because busy men of affairs did not want to waste their time in the jury-box, nor to have the time of their clerks and workingmen wasted, there had gradually grown up a class of men and women who made their living by working as jurors. They hung around the courthouse and were summoned on panel after panel, being paid six dollars a day, with numerous opportunities to make money on the side if they were clever.
Among this group of professional jurors, there was the keenest competition to get into the jury-box of the Goober case. It was to be a long and hard-fought case, there would be a good deal of prestige attached to it, and also there were numerous sums of money floating round. Anybody who got in, and who voted right, might be sure of an income for life, to say nothing of a life-job as a juror if he wanted it.
Peter happened to be in court while the talesmen were being questioned. A very charming and petite brunette—what Peter described as a “swell dresser”—was on the stand, and was cleverly trying to satisfy both sides. She knew nothing about the case, she had never read anything about it, she knew nothing and cared nothing about social problems; so she was accepted by the prosecution. But then the defense took her in hand, and it appeared that once upon a time she had been so indiscreet as to declare to somebody her conviction that all labor leaders ought to be stood up against the wall and filled with lead; so she was challenged by the defense, and very much chagrined she came down from the stand, and took a seat in the courtroom next to Peter. He saw a trace of tears in her eyes, and realizing her disappointment, ventured a word of sympathy. The acquaintance grew, and they went out to lunch together.
Mrs. James was her name, and she was a widow, a grass widow as she archly mentioned. She was quick and lively, with brilliant white teeth, and cheeks with the glow of health in them; this glow came out of a little bottle, but Peter never guessed it. Peter had got himself a good suit of clothes now, and made bold to spend some money on the lunch. As it happened, both he and Mrs. James were thru with the Goober case; both were tired and wanted a change, and Peter, blushing shyly, suggested that a sojourn at the beach might be fun. Mrs. James agreed immediately, and the matter was arranged.
Peter had seen enough of the detective business by this time to know what you can safely do, and what you had better not do. He didn’t travel with his grass widow, he didn’t pay her car-fare, nor do anything else to constitute her a “white slave.” He simply went to the beach and engaged himself a comfortable apartment; and next day, strolling on the board walk, he happened to meet the widow.