Did he think this was a little white ball he was swinging down upon? He kept on and on, until you could no longer count the welts, until the whole back of Michael Dubin was a mass of raw and bleeding flesh. The screams of Michael Dubin died away, and his convulsive struggling ceased, and his head hung limp, and he sunk lower and lower upon the tree.
At last the master of ceremonies stepped forward and ordered a halt, and the man with the whip wiped the sweat from his forehead with his shirt-sleeve, and the other men unchained the body of Michael Dubin, and dragged it a few feet to one side and dumped it face downward in the pine-leaves.
“Number two!” called the master of ceremonies, in a clear, compelling voice, as if he were calling the figures of a quadrille; and from another car another set of men emerged, dragging another prisoner. It was Bert Glikas, a “blanket-stiff” who was a member of the I. W. W.’s executive committee, and had had two teeth knocked out in a harvest-strike only a couple of weeks previously. While they were getting off his coat, he managed to get one hand free, and he shook it at the spectators behind the white lights of the automobiles. “God damn you!” he yelled; and so they tied him up, and a fresh man stepped forward and picked up the whip, and spit on his hands for good luck, and laid on with a double will; and at every stroke Glikas yelled a fresh curse; first in English, and then, as if he were delirious, in some foreign language. But at last his curses died away, and he too sank insensible, and was unhitched and dragged away and dumped down beside the first man. “Number three!” called the master of ceremonies.
Now Peter was sitting in the back seat of his car, wearing the mask which McGivney had given him, a piece of cloth with two holes for his eyes and another hole for him to breathe thru. Peter hated these Reds, and wanted them punished, but he was not used to bloody sights, and was finding this endless thud, thud of the whip on human flesh rather more than he could stand. Why had he come? This wasn’t his part of the job of saving his country from the Red menace. He had done his share in pointing out the dangerous ones; he was a man of brains, not a man of violence. Peter saw that the next victim was Tom Duggan with his broken and bloody nose, and in spite of himself, Peter started with dismay. He realized that without intending it he had become a little fond of Tom Duggan. For all his queerness, Duggan was loyal, he was a good fellow when you had got underneath his surly manners. He had never done anything except just to grumble, and to put his grumbles into verses; they were making a mistake in whipping him, and for a moment Peter had a crazy impulse to interfere and tell them so.