“You told Reilly you wouldn’t have anything to do with bombs?” asked the young man; and Jimmie answered “Sure, I did!” And his poor head was so addled that he didn’t even realize that in his reply he had told what he had been vowing he would never tell!
The questioner seemed to know all about everything, so it was easy for him to lead Jimmie to tell how he had heard Kumme cursing the Empire Shops, and the country, and the President; how he had seen Kumme whispering to Reilly, and to Germans whose names he had not learned, and how he had seen Heinrich, Kumme’s nephew, cutting up lengths of steel tubing. Then the questioner asked about Jerry Coleman. How much money had Jimmie got, and just what had he done with it? Jimmie refused to name other people; but when the young man made the insinuation that Jimmie might have kept some of the money for himself, the little machinist exclaimed with passionate intensity—not one dollar had he kept, nor his friend Meissner either; they had given statements to Jerry Coleman, and this though many a time they had been hard up for their rent. The police could ask Comrade Gerrity and Comrade Mary Allen, and the other members of the local.
So the questioner led Jimmie on to talk about the Germans in the movement. Schneider, the brewer, for example—he was one of those who cursed the Allies most vehemently, and he had been in this bomb-conspiracy. Jimmie was indignant; Comrade Schneider was as good a Socialist as you could find, and Socialists had nothing to do with bombs! But young Emil Forster—he had been making explosives in his spare hours, had he not? At which Jimmie became still more outraged. He knew young Emil well; the boy was a carpet-designer and musician, and if anybody had told such tales about him, they were lying, that was all. The questioner went on for an hour or so, tormenting poor Jimmie with such doubts and fears; until finally he dropped a little of his sternness of manner, and told Jimmie that he had merely been trying him out, to see what he knew about various men whose pro-German feelings had brought them under suspicion. No, the government had no evidence of crime against Schneider or Forster, or any of the bona-fide Socialists. They were just plain fools, letting themselves be used as tools of German plotters, who were spending money like water to make trouble in munition factories all over the country.
The questioner, who explained himself as a “special agent” of the Department of Justice, went on to read Jimmie a lecture. A sincere man like himself ought to be ashamed to let himself be taken in by German conspirators, who were trying to break up American industry, to lead American labour by the nose.
“But they want to stop the making of munitions!” cried Jimmie.
“But’s that’s only so that Germany can make more munitions!”
“But I’m opposed to their being made in Germany, too!”