Then he strolled in to see one of the picture-shows which had been brought along to beguile the long Arctic nights for the expedition. The picture showed a million-dollar-a-year girl doll-baby in her habitual role, a poor little child-waif dressed in the newest fashion and with a row of ringlets just out of a band-box, sharing those terrible fates which the poor take as an everyday affair, and being rewarded at the end by the love of a rich and noble and devoted youth who solves the social problem by setting her up in a palace. This also had met with the approval of a syndicate of bankers before it reached the common people; and in the very midst of it, while the child-waif with the ringlets was being shown in a “close-up” with large drops of water running down her cheeks, the doughboy in the seat next to Jimmie remarked, “Aw, hell! Why do they keep on giving us this bunk?”
So Jimmie suggested that they “cut it”, and they went out, and Jimmie played his little game a third time, and again was asked to leave the leaflet he had picked out of the gutter.
So on for two days until Jimmie had got rid of the last of the manifestoes which Kalenkin had entrusted to him. And on the evening of the last day, as the subtle propagandist was about to turn into his bunk for the night, there suddenly appeared a sergeant with a file of half a dozen men and announced, “Higgins, you are under arrest.”
Jimmie stared at him. “What for?”
“Orders—that’s all I know.”
“Well, wait—” began Jimmie; but the other said there was no wait about it, and he took Jimmie by the arm, and one of the other men took him by the other arm, and marched him away. A third man slung Jimmie’s kit-bag on to his shoulder, while the rest began to search the place, ripping open the mattress and looking for loose boards in the floor.
It didn’t take Jimmie very long to figure out the situation. By that time he had come into the presence of Lieutenant Gannet, he had made up his mind what had happened, and what he would do about it.
The lieutenant sat at a table, erect and stiff, with a terrible frown behind his glasses. He had his sword on the table and also his automatic—as if he intended to execute Jimmie, and had only to decide which method to use.
“Higgins,” he thundered, “where did you get that leaflet?”
“I found it in the gutter.”
“You lie!” said the lieutenant.
“No, sir,” said Jimmie.
“How many did you find.”
Jimmie had imagined this emergency, and decided to play safe. “Three, sir,” said he; and added, “I think.”
“You lie!” thundered the lieutenant again.
“No, sir,” said Jimmie, meekly.
“Whom did you give them to?”
Jimmie hadn’t thought of that question. It stumped him. “I—I’d rather not say,” said he.
“I command you to say,” said the lieutenant.