Then, paying no attention to Peter’s wailings, he took him by the back of the collar and marched him down the hall again, and turned him over to one of the policemen. “Take this man to the city jail,” he said, “and put him in the hole, and keep him there until I come, and don’t let him speak a word to anybody. If he tries it, mash his mouth for him.” So the policeman took poor sobbing Peter by the arm and marched him out of the building.
The police had got the crowds driven back by now, and had ropes across the street to hold them, and inside the roped space were several ambulances and a couple of patrol-wagons. Peter was shoved into one of these latter, and a policeman sat by his side, and the bell clanged, and the patrol-wagon forced its way slowly thru the struggling crowd. Half an hour later they arrived at the huge stone jail, and Peter was marched inside. There were no formalities, they did not enter Peter on the books, or take his name or his finger prints; some higher power had spoken, and Peter’s fate was already determined. He was taken into an elevator, and down into a basement, and then down a flight of stone steps into a deeper basement, and there was an iron door with a tiny slit an inch wide and six inches long near the top. This was the “hole,” and the door was opened and Peter shoved inside into utter darkness. The door banged, and the bolts rattled; and then silence. Peter sank upon a cold stone floor, a bundle of abject and hideous misery.
These events had happened with such terrifying rapidity that Peter Gudge had hardly time to keep track of them. But now he had plenty of time, he had nothing but time. He could think the whole thing out, and realize the ghastly trick which fate had played upon him. He lay there, and time passed; he had no way of measuring it, no idea whether it was hours or days. It was cold and clammy in the stone cell; they called it the “cooler,” and used it to reduce the temperature of the violent and intractable. It was a trouble-saving device; they just left the man there and forgot him, and his own tormented mind did the rest.
And surely no more tormented mind than the mind of Peter Gudge had ever been put in that black hole. It was the more terrible, because so utterly undeserved, so preposterous. For such a thing to happen to him, Peter Gudge, of all people—who took such pains to avoid discomfort in life, who was always ready to oblige anybody, to do anything he was told to do, so as to have’an easy time, a sufficiency of food, and a warm corner to crawl into! What could have persuaded fate to pick him for the victim of this cruel prank; to put him into this position, where he could not avoid suffering, no matter what he did? They wanted him to tell something, and Peter would have been perfectly willing to tell anything—but how could he tell it when he did not know it?