Peter had been made so bold by Nell’s flattery and what she had said about his importance, that he did not go back to McGivney to take his second scolding about the Lackman case. He was getting tired of McGivney’s scoldings; if McGivney didn’t like his work, let McGivney go and be a Red for a while himself. Peter walked the streets all day and a part of the night, thinking about Nell, and thrilling over the half promises she had made him.
They met next day in the park. No one was following them, and they found a solitary place, and Nell let him kiss her several times, and in between the kisses she unfolded to him a terrifying plan. Peter had thought that he was something of an intriguer, but his self-esteem shriveled to nothingness in the presence of the superb conception which had come to ripeness in the space of twenty-four hours in the brain of Nell Doolin, alias Edythe Eustace.
Peter had been doing the hard work, and these big fellows had been using him, handing him a tip now and then, and making fortunes out of the information he brought them. McGivney had let the cat out of the bag in this case of Lackman; you might be sure they had been making money, big money, out of all the other cases. What Peter must do was to work up something of his own, and get the real money, and make himself one of the big fellows. Peter had the facts, he knew the people; he had watched in the Goober case exactly how a “frame-up” was made, and now he must make one for himself, and one that would pay. It was a matter of duty to rid the country of all these Reds; but why should he not have the money as well?
Nell had spent the night figuring over it, trying to pick out the right person. She had hit on old “Nelse” Ackerman, the banker. Ackerman was enormously and incredibly wealthy; he was called the financial king of American City. Also he was old, and Nell happened to know he was a coward; he was sick in bed just now, and when a man is sick he is still more of a coward. What Peter must do was to discover some kind of a bomb-plot against old “Nelse” Ackerman. Peter might talk up the idea among some of his Reds and get them interested in it, or he might frame up some letters to be found upon them, and hide some dynamite in their rooms. When the plot was discovered, it would make a frightful uproar, needless to say; the king would hear of it, and of Peter’s part as the discoverer of it, and he would unquestionably reward Peter. Perhaps Peter might arrange to be retained as a secret agent to protect the king from the Reds. Thus Peter would be in touch with real money, and might hire Guffey and McGivney, instead of their hiring him.
If Peter had stood alone, would he have dared so perilous a dream as this? Or was he a “piker”; a little fellow, the victim of his own fears and vanities? Anyhow, Peter was not alone; he had Nell, and it was necessary that he should pose before Nell as a bold and desperate blade. Just as in the old days in the Temple, it was necessary that Peter should get plenty of money, in order to take Nell away from another man. So he said all right, he would go in on that plan; and proceeded to discuss with Nell the various personalities he might use.