In the confusion of cushions and quilts and curtains, at first few of the attendants’ blows found me. But soon the horsemen were in, and their heavy whip-butts began to fall on my head, while a multitude of hands clawed and tore at me. I was dizzy, but not unconscious, and very blissful with my old fingers buried in that lean and scraggly old neck I had sought for so long. The blows continued to rain on my head, and I had whirling thoughts in which I likened myself to a bulldog with jaws fast-locked. Chong Mong-ju could not escape me, and I know he was well dead ere darkness, like that of an anaesthetic, descended upon me there on the cliffs of Fusan by the Yellow Sea.
Warden Atherton, when he thinks of me, must feel anything but pride. I have taught him what spirit is, humbled him with my own spirit that rose invulnerable, triumphant, above all his tortures. I sit here in Folsom, in Murderers’ Row, awaiting my execution; Warden Atherton still holds his political job and is king over San Quentin and all the damned within its walls; and yet, in his heart of hearts, he knows that I am greater than he.
In vain Warden Atherton tried to break my spirit. And there were times, beyond any shadow of doubt, when he would have been glad had I died in the jacket. So the long inquisition went on. As he had told me, and as he told me repeatedly, it was dynamite or curtains.
Captain Jamie was a veteran in dungeon horrors, yet the time came when he broke down under the strain I put on him and on the rest of my torturers. So desperate did he become that he dared words with the Warden and washed his hands of the affair. From that day until the end of my torturing he never set foot in solitary.
Yes, and the time came when Warden Atherton grew afraid, although he still persisted in trying to wring from me the hiding-place of the non-existent dynamite. Toward the last he was badly shaken by Jake Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was fearless and outspoken. He had passed unbroken through all their prison hells, and out of superior will could beard them to their teeth. Morrell rapped me a full account of the incident. I was unconscious in the jacket at the time.
“Warden,” Oppenheimer had said, “you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. It ain’t a case of killing Standing. It’s a case of killing three men, for as sure as you kill him, sooner or later Morrell and I will get the word out and what you have done will be known from one end of California to the other. You’ve got your choice. You’ve either got to let up on Standing or kill all three of us. Standing’s got your goat. So have I. So has Morrell. You are a stinking coward, and you haven’t got the backbone and guts to carry out the dirty butcher’s work you’d like to do.”
Oppenheimer got a hundred hours in the jacket for it, and, when he was unlaced, spat in the Warden’s face and received a second hundred hours on end. When he was unlaced this time, the Warden was careful not to be in solitary. That he was shaken by Oppenheimer’s words there is no doubt.