There was terror in the soul of the prisoner, but he did not let anyone see it. And in the same way Lieutenant Gannet did not let anyone see the perplexity that was in his soul. He was a military officer, he had his stern military duty to do, and he was doing it; but he had never put anybody in handcuffs before, and had never taken anybody to jail before, and he was almost as much upset about it as the prisoner.
The lieutenant had seen the terrible spectacle of Russia collapsing, falling into ruin and humiliation, because of what seemed to him a propaganda of treason which had been carried on in her armies; he realized that these “mad dogs” of Bolsheviki were deliberately conspiring to poison the other armies, to bring the rest of the world into their condition. It seemed to him monstrous that such efforts should be under way in the American army. How far had the thing gone? The lieutenant did not know, and he was terrified, as men always are in the presence of the unknown. It was his plain duty, to which he had sworn himself, to stamp his heel upon the head of this snake; but still he was deeply troubled. This Sergeant Higgins had been promoted for valour in France, and had been, in spite of his reckless tongue, a pretty decent subordinate. And behold, here he was, an active conspirator, a propagandist of sedition, a defiant and insolent traitor!
They came to the jail, which had been constructed by the Tsar for the purpose of holding down the people of the region. It loomed, a gigantic stone bulk in the darkness; and Jimmie, who had preached in Local Leesville that America was worse than Russia, now learned that he had been mistaken—Russia was exactly the same.
They entered through a stone gateway, and a steel door opened before them and clanged behind them. At a desk sat a sergeant, and except that he was British, and that his uniform was brown instead of blue, it might have been Leesville, U.S.A. They took down Jimmie’s name and address, and then Lieutenant Gannet asked: “Has Perkins come yet?”
“Not yet, sir,” was the reply; but at that moment the front door was opened, and there entered a big man, bundled in an overcoat which made him even bigger. From the first moment, Jimmie watched this man as a fascinated rabbit watches a snake. The little Socialist had had so much to do with policemen and detectives in his hunted life that he knew in a flash what he was “up against”.
This Perkins before the war had been an “operative” for a private detective agency—what the workers contemptuously referred to as a “sleuth”. The government, having found itself in sudden need of much “sleuthing”, had been forced to take what help it could get, without too close scrutiny. So now Perkins was a sergeant in the secret service; and just as the carpenters were hammering nails as at home, and the surgeons were cutting flesh as at home, so Perkins was “sleuthing” as at home.