“I’m sorry, sir, but I couldn’t.”
“You’ll have to say before you get through,” said the other. “You might as well understand that now. You say you found three?”
“It might have been four,” said Jimmie, playing still safer. “I didn’t pay any particular attention to them.”
“You sympathize with these doctrines,” said the lieutenant. “Do you deny it?”
“Why, no sir—not exactly. I sympathize with part of them.”
“And you found these leaflets in the gutter, and you didn’t take the trouble to count whether there were three or four?”
“There couldn’t have been five?”
“I don’t know, sir—I don’t think so.”
“Certainly not six?”
“No, sir,” said Jimmie, feeling quite safe now. “I’m sure there weren’t six.”
So the lieutenant opened a drawer in the table before him, and took out a bunch of the leaflets, folded, wrinkled and dirt-stained, and spread them before Jimmie’s eyes, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. “You lie!” said the lieutenant.
“I was mistaken, sir,” said Jimmie.
“Have you searched this man?” the officer demanded of the other soldiers.
“Not yet, sir.”
“Do it now.”
They made certain that Jimmie had no weapons, and then they made him strip to the skin. They searched everything, even prying loose the soles of his boots; and, of course, one of the first things they found was the red card in the inside jacket-pocket. “Aha!” cried the lieutenant.
“That’s a card of the Socialist party,” said Jimmie.
“Don’t you know that back home men who carry that card are being sent to jail for twenty years?”
“It ain’t fer carryin’ the card,” said Jimmie, sturdily.
There was a pause, while Jimmie got his clothes on again. “Now, Higgins,” said the lieutenant, “you have been caught red-handed in treason against your country and its flag. The penalty is death. There is just one way you can escape—by making a clean breast of everything. Do you understand?”
“Then tell me who gave you those leaflets?”
“I’m sorry, sir, I found them in the gutter.”
“You intend to stick to that silly tale?”
“It’s the truth, sir.”
“You will protect your fellow-conspirators with your life?”
“I have told you all I know, sir.”
“All right,” said the lieutenant. He took a pair of handcuffs from the drawer and saw them put on Jimmie. He picked up his sword and his automatic—and Jimmie, who did not understand military procedure, stared with fright. But the lieutenant was merely intending to strap the weapons on to his belt; then he got into his overcoat and his big fur gloves and his fur hat that covered everything but his eyes and nose, and ordered Jimmie brought along. Outside an automobile was waiting, and the officer and the prisoner and two guards rode to the military jail.