A moment later came a diversion that helped to save him. The telephone rang, and the Chief of Police answered and nodded to Guffey, who came and took the receiver. “A book?” he cried, with excitement in his tone. “What sort of a plan? Well, tell one of your men to take the car and bring that book and the plan here to the chief’s office as quick as he can move; don’t lose a moment, everything may depend on it.”
And then Guffey turned to the others. “He says they found a book on sabotage in the book-case, and in it there’s some kind of a drawing of a house. The book has McCormick’s name in it.”
There were many exclamations over this, and Peter had time to think before the company turned upon him again. The Chief of Police now questioned him, and then the deputy of the district attorney questioned him; still he stuck to his story. “My God!” he cried. “Would you think I’d be mad enough to frame up a job like this? Where’d I get all that stuff? Where’d I get that dynamite?”—Peter almost bit off his tongue as he realized the dreadful slip he had made. No one had ever told him that the suit-case actually contained dynamite! How had he known there was dynamite in it? He was desperately trying to think of some way he could have heard; but, as it happened, no one of the five men caught him up. They all knew that there was dynamite in the suit-case; they knew it with overwhelming and tremendous certainty, and they overlooked entirely the fact that Peter wasn’t supposed to know it. So close to the edge of ruin can a man come and yet escape!
Peter made haste to get away from that danger-spot. “Does Joe Angell deny that he was whispering to Jerry Rudd?”
“He doesn’t remember that,” said Guffey. “He may have talked with him apart, but nothing special, there wasn’t any conspiracy.”
“Does he deny that he talked about dynamite?”
“They may have talked about it in the general discussion, but he didn’t whisper anything.”
“But I heard him!” cried Peter, whose quick wits had thought up a way of escape, “I know what I heard! It was just before they were leaving, and somebody had turned out some of the lights. He was standing with his back to me, and I went over to the book-case right behind him.”
Here the deputy district attorney put in. He was a young man, a trifle easier to fool than the others. “Are you sure it was Joe Angell?” he demanded.
“My God! Of course it was!” said Peter. “I couldn’t have been mistaken.” But he let his voice die away, and a note of bewilderment be heard in it.
“You say he was whispering?”
“Yes, he was whispering.”
“But mightn’t it have been somebody else?”
“Why, I don’t know what to say,” said Peter. “I thought for sure it was Joe Angell; but I had my back turned, I’d been talking to Grady, the secretary, and then I turned around and moved over to the book-case.”