Jimmie had had a good deal of harsh treatment in the course of his outcast life, but never so closely concentrated in point of time. His spirit remained unbroken, but his body gave way, and then his mind began to give also. He fell a victim to delusions; the nightmares which haunted his sleep lay siege to his waking hours also, and he thought he was being tortured at times when he was just hanging by his chains. Until at last Perkins, listening through the door, heard strange cries and grunts, beast-like noises, barkings, and growlings. He called Connor and Grady, and the three of them stood listening.
“By God!” said Grady. “He’s dippy.”
“He’s nutty,” said Connor.
“He’s batty,” said Perkins.
But the idea occurred to all of them—perhaps he was shamming! What was easier than for one of those emissaries of Satan to pretend to have a devil inside him? So they waited a bit longer, until Connor, coming to chain Jimmie up, found him gnawing off the ends of his fingers. That was really serious, so they sent for the prison-surgeon, who had to make but a brief inspection to convince himself that Jimmie Higgins was a raving madman. Jimmie fancied himself some kind of fur-bearing animal, and he was in a trap, and was trying to gnaw off his foot so as to escape. He snapped his teeth at everyone who came near him; he had to be knocked senseless before a straight-jacket could be got on him.
And so it was that Jimmie Higgins at last made his escape from his tormentors. Jimmie doesn’t know anything about the Russian Jew, Kalenkin, any more; he could not tell the secret if he wanted to, so they have given up testing his conscience, and they treat him kindly, and have succeeded in persuading him that he is out of the trap. Therefore he is a good beast—he crawls about on all fours, and eats his food out of a tin platter without using his gnawed-off fingers. He still has torturing pains in the arm-joints, but he does not mind them so much, because, being a beast, he suffers only the pain of the moment; he does not know that he is going to suffer to-morrow, nor worry about it. He is no longer one of those who “look before and after and pine for what is not”. He is a “good doggie”, and when you pat him on the head he rubs against you and whines affectionately.
Poor, mad Jimmie Higgins will never again trouble his country; but Jimmie’s friends and partisans, who know the story of his experiences, cannot be thus lightly dismissed by Society. In the industrial troubles which are threatening the great democracy of the West, there will appear men and women animated by a fierce and blazing bitterness; and the great democracy of the West will marvel at their state of mind, unable to conceive what can have caused it. These rebellious ones will be heard quoting to the great democracy the words of its greatest democrat, spoken in solemn warning during the slaughter and destruction of the Civil War: “If God will that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as it was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ’The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”