“Well, brother, you’re still alive an’ kickin’,” he called to me, as I was totteringly dragged from my cell into the corridor of dungeons.
“Shut up, you, Red,” the sergeant snarled at him.
“Forget it,” was the retort.
“I’ll get you yet, Red,” the sergeant threatened.
“Think so?” Philadelphia Red queried sweetly, ere his tones turned to savageness. “Why, you old stiff, you couldn’t get nothin’. You couldn’t get a free lunch, much less the job you’ve got now, if it wasn’t for your brother’s pull. An’ I guess we all ain’t mistaken on the stink of the place where your brother’s pull comes from.”
It was admirable—the spirit of man rising above its extremity, fearless of the hurt any brute of the system could inflict.
“Well, so long, brother,” Philadelphia Red next called to me. “So long. Be good, an’ love the Warden. An’ if you see ’em, just tell ’em that you saw me but that you didn’t see me saw.”
The sergeant was red with rage, and, by the receipt of various kicks and blows, I paid for Red’s pleasantry.
In solitary, in Cell One, Warden Atherton and Captain Jamie proceeded to put me to the inquisition. As Warden Atherton said to me:
“Standing, you’re going to come across with that dynamite, or I’ll kill you in the jacket. Harder cases than you have come across before I got done with them. You’ve got your choice—dynamite or curtains.”
“Then I guess it is curtains,” I answered, “because I don’t know of any dynamite.”
This irritated the Warden to immediate action. “Lie down,” he commanded.
I obeyed, for I had learned the folly of fighting three or four strong men. They laced me tightly, and gave me a hundred hours. Once each twenty-four hours I was permitted a drink of water. I had no desire for food, nor was food offered me. Toward the end of the hundred hours Jackson, the prison doctor, examined my physical condition several times.
But I had grown too used to the jacket during my incorrigible days to let a single jacketing injure me. Naturally, it weakened me, took the life out of me; but I had learned muscular tricks for stealing a little space while they were lacing me. At the end of the first hundred hours’ bout I was worn and tired, but that was all. Another bout of this duration they gave me, after a day and a night to recuperate. And then they gave one hundred and fifty hours. Much of this time I was physically numb and mentally delirious. Also, by an effort of will, I managed to sleep away long hours.
Next, Warden Atherton tried a variation. I was given irregular intervals of jacket and recuperation. I never knew when I was to go into the jacket. Thus I would have ten hours’ recuperation, and do twenty in the jacket; or I would receive only four hours’ rest. At the most unexpected hours of the night my door would clang open and the changing guards would lace me. Sometimes rhythms were instituted. Thus, for three days and nights I alternated eight hours in the jacket and eight hours out. And then, just as I was growing accustomed to this rhythm, it was suddenly altered and I was given two days and nights straight.