Matters came to a climax with startling suddenness—the explosion of a bomb, though not the kind which Jimmie was expecting. It was an evening in February, just as he was about to close up, when he saw the door of the shop open, and four men walk in. They came with a peculiar, business-like air, two of them to the puzzled Jimmie, and the other two to Kumme. One turned back the lapel of his coat, showing a large gold star, and announcing, “I am an agent of the government, and you are under arrest.” And at the same time the other seized Jimmie’s arms and slipped a pair of handcuffs over his wrists. He passed his hands over his prisoner, a ceremony known as “frisking”; and at the same time the other men had seized Kumme. Jimmie saw two more men enter at the rear door of the shop, but they had nothing to do, for both Jimmie and Kumme had been too much startled to make any move to escape.
They were led out to an automobile, shoved in and whirled away. No questions were answered, so after a bit they stopped asking questions and sat still, reflecting upon all the sins they had ever committed in their lives, and upon the chances of these sins being known to the police.
Jimmie thought he was going to jail, of course; but instead they took him to the Post Office building, to an upstairs room. Kumme was taken to another room, and Jimmie did not see him again; all that Jimmie had time to know or to think about was a stern-faced young man who sat at a desk and put him on a griddle. “It is my duty to inform you that everything you state may be used against you,” said this young man; and then, without giving Jimmie a chance to grasp the meaning of these words he began firing questions at him. All through the ordeal the two detectives stood by his side, and in a corner of the room, at another desk, a stenographer was busily recording what he said. Jimmie knew there were such things as stenographers—for had he not come near falling in love with one only a short time before?
“Your name?” said the stern-faced young man; and then, “Where do you live?” And then, “Tell me all you know about this bomb-conspiracy.”
“But I don’t know nothin’!” cried Jimmie.
“You are in the hands of the Federal government,” replied the young man, “and your only chance will be to make a clean breast. If you will help us, you may get off.”
“But I don’t know nothin’!” cried Jimmie, again.
“You have heard talk about dynamiting the Empire Shops?”
“A man—” Jimmie got that far, and then he recollected the promise he had given. “I—I can’t tell!” he said.
“It wouldn’t be right.”
“Do you believe in dynamiting buildings?”
“No, sir!” Jimmie put into this reply a note of tense sincerity, and so the other began to argue with him. Atrocious crimes had been committed all over the country, and the government wished to put a stop to them; surely it was the duty of a decent citizen to give what help he could. Jimmie listened until a sweat of anxiety stood out on his forehead; but he could not bring himself to “peach” on fellow working men. No, not if he were sent to jail for ten or twenty years, as the stern-faced young man told him might happen.