“Well, that’s all right,” said Peter; “it won’t hurt for me to see him.”
“He’s going to question you about this case,” said McGivney. “He’s going to try to find out everything he can. So you got to protect us; you got to make him understand that we’ve done everything possible. You got to put us right with him.”
Peter promised solemnly he would do so; but McGivney wasn’t satisfied. He was in a state of trepidation, and proceeded to hammer and hammer at Peter, impressing upon him the importance of solidarity, of keeping faith with his fellows. It sounded exactly like some of the I. W. W.’s talking among themselves!
“You may think, here’s a chance to jump on us and climb out on top, but don’t you forget it, Peter Gudge, we’ve got a machine, and in the long run it’s the machine that wins. We’ve broken many a fellow that’s tried to play tricks on us, and we’ll break you. Old Nelse will get what he wants out of you; he’ll offer you a big price, no doubt—but before long he’ll be thru with you, and then you’ll come back to us, and I give you fair warning, by God, if you play us dirty, Guffey will have you in the hole in a month or two, and you’ll come out on a stretcher.”
So Peter pledged his faith again; but, seeing his chance, he added: “Don’t you think Mr. Guffey ought to do something for me, because of that plot I discovered?”
“Yes, I think that,” said McGivney; “that’s only fair.”
And so they proceeded to bargain. Peter pointed out all the dangers he had run, and all the credit which the others had got. Guffey hadn’t got credit in the papers, but he had got it with his employers, all right, and he would get still more if Peter stood by him with the king of American City. Peter said it ought to be worth a thousand dollars, and he said he ought to have it right away, before he went to see the king. At which Guffey scowled ferociously. “Look here, Gudge! you got the nerve to charge us such a price for standing by your frame-up?”
McGivney generally treated Peter as a coward and a feeble bluffer; but he had learned also that there was one time when the little man completely changed his nature, and that was when it was a question of getting hold of some cash. That was the question now; and Peter met McGivney scowl for scowl. “If you don’t like my frame-up,” he snarled, “you go kick to the newspapers about it!”
Peter was the bulldog again, and had got his teeth in the other bulldog’s nose, and he hung right there. He had seen the rat-faced man pull money out of his clothes before this, and he knew that this time, above all other times, McGivney would come prepared. So he insisted—a thousand or nothing; and as before, his heart went down into his boots when McGivney produced his wad, and revealed that there was more in the wad than Peter had demanded!
However, Peter consoled himself with the reflection that a thousand dollars was a tidy sum of money, and he set out for the home of Nelse Ackerman in a jovial frame of mind. Incidentally he decided that it might be the part of wisdom not to say anything to Nell about this extra thousand. When women found out that you had money, they’d never rest till they had got every cent of it, or at least had made you spend it on them!