So Jimmie was taken back to prison. Major Gaddis, who was really a just man, and made law and order his religion, gave the strictest orders that the prisoner should not again be hung up by the thumbs. It was, of course, desirable to find out who had printed the Bolshevik leaflets, but in the effort to make the prisoner tell he should receive only the punishments formally approved by the army authorities.
So Jimmie went back to the underground dungeon, and for eight hours every day a chain was fastened about his wrists, and the other end run up into the iron ring, so that his feet barely touched the floor; and there Jimmie hung, and tried out his conscience—this being the test then being undergone by many men at the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Jimmie’s conscience really was nothing like as strong as it ought to have been. Jimmie had moods of shameless self-pity, moods of desperate and agonizing doubt. He did not mean to let his dungeon-keepers know this, but they listened behind the door through a slot which the Tsar had had contrived for this purpose; it could be closed while the prisoner was screaming under torture, and then opened by the jailer without the prisoner’s knowledge.
So Perkins heard Jimmie sobbing and wailing, talking to himself and to other people—to someone called “Strawberry”, and to someone else called “Wild Bill”, asking them if they had ever suffered anything like this, and was it really worth while, would it help the revolution? Perkins thought he had got some important information here, and took it to Lieutenant Gannet, with the result that inquiry was made through all the American Forces for men known as “Strawberry” and “Wild Bill”. But these men could not be found; as it happened, “Wild Bill” had taken refuge in a place to which not even the army intelligence service can penetrate, and “Strawberry” Curran was just then being tried with a bunch of other “wobblies” in California and subjected to much the same kind of treatment as Jimmie was receiving in Archangel.
It was a big advantage that Sergeant Perkins had in his struggle with Jimmie, that the pitiful weakness of Jimmy’s soul was exposed to him, while the soul of Perkins was hidden from Jimmie. For the truth was that Perkins was suffering from rage, mingled with not a little fear. What the hell was this idea that could keep a little runt of a working-man stronger than all in authority? And how was this idea to be kept from spreading and wrecking the comfortable, well-ordered world in which Perkins expected soon to receive an army commission? The very day after the court-martial, which was supposed to be a profound military secret, the army authorities were astounded to discover, posted in several conspicuous places, a placard in English, reading:
“American soldiers, do you know that an army sergeant is being tortured and has been sentenced to twenty years in a dungeon for having tried to tell you how the Bolsheviki are making propaganda against the German Kaiser?