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Title: Jimmie Higgins
Author: Sinclair, Upton
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jimmie Higgins" ***

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By Upton Sinclair


































“Jimmie,” said Lizzie, “couldn’t we go see the pictures?”

And Jimmie set down the saucer of hot coffee which he was in the act
of adjusting to his mouth, and stared at his wife. He did not say
anything; in three years and a half as a married man he had learned
that one does not always say everything that comes into one’s mind.
But he meditated on the abysses that lie between the masculine and
feminine intellects. That it should be possible for anyone to wish
to see a movie idol leaping into second-story windows, or being
pulled from beneath flying express trains, on this day of destiny,
this greatest crisis in history!

“You know, Lizzie,” he said, patiently, “I’ve got to help at the

“But you’ve got all morning!”

“I know; but it’ll take all day.”

And Lizzie fell silent; for she too had learned much in three years
and a half of married life. She had learned that working men’s wives
seldom get all they would like in this world; also that to have a
propagandist for a husband is not the worst fate that may befall.
After all, he might have been giving his time and money to drink, or
to other women; he might have been dying of a cough, like the man
next door. If one could not have a bit of pleasure on a Sunday
afternoon--well, one might sigh, but not too loud.

Jimmie began telling all the things that had to be done that Sunday
morning and afternoon. They seemed to Lizzie exactly like the things
that were done on other occasions before meetings. To be sure, this
was bigger--it was in the Opera-house, and all the stores had cards
in the windows, with a picture of the Candidate who was to be the
orator of the occasion. But it was hard for Lizzie to understand the
difference between this Candidate and other candidates--none of whom
ever got elected! Lizzie would truly rather have stayed at home, for
she did not understand English very well when it was shouted from a
platform, and with a lot of long words; but she knew that Jimmie was
trying to educate her, and being a woman, she was educated to this
extent--she knew the way to hold on to her man.

Jimmie had just discovered a new solution of the problem of getting
the babies to meetings; and Lizzie knew that he was tremendously
proud of this discovery. So long as there had been only one baby,
Jimmie had carried it. When there had come a second, Lizzie had
helped. But now there were three, the total weight of them something
over sixty pounds; and the street-car line was some distance away,
and also it hurt Jimmie in his class-consciousness to pay twenty
cents to a predatory corporation. They had tried the plan of paying
something to a neighbour to stay with the babies; but the first they
tried was a young girl who got tired and went away, leaving the
little ones to howl their heads off; and the second was a Polish
lady whom they found in a drunken stupor on their return.

But Jimmie was determined to go to meetings, and determined that
Lizzie should go along. It was one of the curses of the system, he
said, that it deprived working-class women of all chance for
self-improvement. So he had paid a visit to the “Industrial Store”,
a junk-shop maintained by the Salvation Army, and for fifteen cents
he had obtained a marvellous broad baby-carriage for twins, all
finished in shiny black enamel. One side of it was busted, but
Jimmie had fixed that with some wire, and by careful packing had
shown that it was possible to stow the youngsters in it--Jimmie and
Pete side by side, and the new baby at the foot.

The one trouble was that Jimmie Junior couldn’t keep his feet still.
He could never keep any part of him still, the little
jack-in-the-box. Here he was now, tearing about the kitchen,
pursuing the ever-receding tail of the newest addition to the
family, a half-starved cur who had followed Jimmie in from the
street, and had been fed into a semblance of reality. From this
treasure a bare, round tail hung out behind in tantalizing fashion;
Jimmie Junior, always imagining he could catch it, was toddling
round and round and round the kitchen-table, clutching out in front
of him, laughing so that after a while he sat down from sheer

And Jimmie Senior watched enraptured. Say, but he was a buster! Did
you ever see a twenty-seven months’ old kid that could get over the
ground like that? Or make a louder noise? This last because Jimmie
Junior had tried to take a short cut through the kitchen range and
failed. Lizzie swooped down, clasping him to her broad bosom, and
pouring out words of comfort in Bohemian. As Jimmie Senior did not
understand any of these words, he took advantage of the confusion to
get his coat and cap and hustle off to the Opera-house, full of
fresh determination. For, you see, whenever a Socialist looks at his
son, or even thinks of his son, he is hotter for his job of
propagandist. Let the world be changed soon, so that the little
fellows may be spared those sufferings and humiliations which have
fallen to the lot of their parents!


“Comrade Higgins, have you got a hammer?” It was Comrade Schneider
who spoke, and he did not take the trouble to come down from the
ladder, where he was holding up a streamer of bunting, but waited
comfortably for the hammer to be fetched to him. And scarcely had
the fetcher started to climb before there came the voice of a woman
from across the stage: “Comrade Higgins, has the Ypsel banner come?”
 And from the rear part of the hall came the rotund voice of fat
Comrade Rapinsky: “Comrade Higgins, will you bring up an extra table
for the literature?” And from the second tier box Comrade Mary Allen
spoke: “While you’re downstairs, Comrade Higgins, would you mind
telephoning and making sure the Reception Committee knows about the
change in the train-time?”

So it went; and Jimmie ran about the big hall with his face red and
perspiring; for this was midsummer, and no breeze came through the
windows of the Leesville Opera-house, and when you got high up on
the walls to tie the streamers of red bunting, you felt as if you
were being baked. But the streamers had to be tied, and likewise the
big red flag over the stage, and the banner of the Karl Marx Verein,
and the banner of the Ypsels, or Young People’s Socialist League of
Leesville, and the banner of the Machinists’ Union, Local 4717, and
of the Carpenters’ Union, District 529, and of the Workers’
Co-operative Society. And because Comrade Higgins never questioned
anybody’s right to give him orders, and always did everything with a
cheerful grin, people had got into the habit of regarding him as the
proper person for tedious and disagreeable tasks.

He had all the more on his hands at present, because the members of
this usually efficient local were half-distracted, like a nest of
ants that have been dug out with a shovel. The most faithful ones
showed a tendency to forget what they were doing, and to gather in
knots to talk about the news which had come over the cables and had
been published in that morning’s paper. Jimmie Higgins would have
liked to hear what the rest had to say; but somebody had to keep at
work, for the local was in the hole nearly three hundred dollars for
to-night’s affair, and it must succeed, even though half the
civilized world had gone suddenly insane. So Jimmie continued to
climb step-ladders and tie bunting.

When it came to lunch-time, and the members of the Decorations
Committee were going out, it suddenly occurred to one of them that
the drayman who was to bring the literature might arrive while there
was nobody to receive it. So Comrade Higgins was allowed to wait
during the lunch hour. There was a plausible excuse--he was on the
Literature Committee; indeed, he was on every committee where hard
work was involved--the committee to distribute leaflets announcing
the meeting, the committee to interview the labour unions and urge
them to sell tickets, the committee to take up a collection at the
meeting. He was not on those committees which involved honour and
edification, such as, for example, the committee to meet the
Candidate at the depot and escort him to the Opera-house. But then
it would never have occurred to Jimmie that he had any place on such
a committee; for he was just an ignorant fellow, a machinist,
undersized and undernourished, with bad teeth and roughened hands,
and no gifts or graces of any sort to recommend him; while on the
Reception Committee were a lawyer and a prosperous doctor and the
secretary of the Carpet-weavers’ Union, all people who wore good
clothes and had education, and knew how to talk to a Candidate.

So Jimmie waited; and when the drayman came, he opened up the
packages of books and pamphlets and laid them out in neat piles on
the literature tables, and hung several of the more attractive ones
on the walls behind the tables; so, of course, Comrade Mabel Smith,
who was chairman of the Literature Committee, was greatly pleased
when she came back from lunch. And then came the members of the
German Liederkranz, to rehearse the programme they were to give; and
Comrade Higgins would have liked first rate to sit and listen, but
somebody discovered the need of glue, and he chased out to find a
drug-store that was open on Sunday.

Later on there was a lull, and Jimmie realized that he was hungry.
He examined the contents of his pockets and found that he had
seventeen cents. It was a long way to his home, so he would step
round the corner and have a cup of coffee and a couple of “sinkers”
 at “Tom’s”. He first conscientiously asked if anybody needed
anything, and Comrade Mabel Smith told him to hurry back to help her
put out the leaflets on the seats, and Comrade Meissner would need
help in arranging the chairs on the stage.


When you went from the Leesville Opera-house and turned West in Main
Street, you passed Heinz’s Cafe, which was a “swell” eating-place,
and not for Jimmie; and then the “Bijou Nickelodeon”, with a
mechanical piano in the entrance; and the “Bon Marche Shoe Store”,
which was always having a fire-sale or a removal sale or a
bankruptcy clearing-out; and then Lipsky’s “Picture Palace”, with a
brown and yellow cowboy galloping away with a red and yellow maiden
in his arms; then Harrod’s “Fancy Grocery” on the corner. And in
each of these places there was a show-card in the window, with a
picture of the Candidate, and the announcement that on Sunday
evening, at eight o’clock, he would speak at the Leesville
Opera-house on “War, the Reason and the Remedy”. Jimmie Higgins
looked at the cards, and a dignified yet joyful pride stirred in his
bosom; for all of them were there because he, Jimmie, had
interviewed the proprietors and obtained their more or less
reluctant consent.

Jimmie knew that on this Sunday, in cities all over Germany,
Austria, Belgium, France and England, the workers were gathering by
millions and tens of millions, to protest against the red horror of
war being let loose over their heads. And in America too--a call
would go from the new world to the old, that the workers should rise
and carry out their pledge to prevent this crime against mankind.
He, Jimmie Higgins, had no voice that anybody would heed; but he had
helped to bring the people of his city to hear a man who had a
voice, and who would show the meaning of this world-crisis to the

It was the party’s Candidate for President. At this time only
congressional elections were pending, but this man had been
Candidate for President so often that every one thought of him in
that role. You might say that each of his campaigns lasted four
years; he travelled from one end of the land to the other, and
counted by the millions those who heard his burning, bitter message.
It had chanced that the day which the War-lords and Money-lords of
Europe had chosen to drive their slaves to slaughter was the day on
which the Candidate had been scheduled to speak in the Leesville
Opera-house. No wonder the Socialists of the little inland city were

Jimmie Higgins turned into “Tom’s Buffeteria”, and greeted the
proprietor, and seated himself on a stool in front of the counter,
and called for coffee, and helped himself to “sinkers”--which might
have been called “life-preservers”, they were blown so full of air.
He filled his mouth, at the same time looking up to make sure that
Tom had not removed the card announcing the meeting; for Tom was a
Catholic, and one of the reasons that Jimmie went to his place was
to involve him and his patrons in arguments over exploitation,
unearned increment and surplus value.

But before a discussion could be started, it chanced that Jimmie
glanced about. In the back part of the room were four little tables,
covered with oil-cloth, where “short orders” were served; and at one
of those tables a man was seated. Jimmie took a glance at him, and
started so that he almost spilled his coffee. Impossible; and
yet--surely--who could mistake that face? The face of a medieval
churchman, lean, ascetic, but with a modern touch of kindliness, and
a bald dome on top like a moon rising over the prairie. Jimmie
started, then stared at the picture of the Candidate which crowned
the shelf of pies. He turned to the man again; and the man glanced
up, and his eyes met Jimmie’s, with their expression of amazement
and awe. The whole story was there, not to be misread--especially by
a Candidate who travels about the country making speeches, and being
recognized every hour or so from his pictures which have preceded
him. A smile came to his face, and Jimmie set down the coffee-cup
from one trembling hand and the “sinker” from the other, and rose
from his stool.


Jimmie would not have had the courage to advance, save for the other
man’s smile--a smile that was weary, but candid and welcoming.
“Howdy do, Comrade?” said the man. He held out his hand, and the
moment of this clasp was the nearest to heaven that Jimmie Higgins
had ever known.

When he was able to find his voice, it was only to exclaim, “You
wasn’t due till five-forty-two!”

As if the Candidate had not known that! He explained that he had
missed his sleep the night before, and had come on ahead so as to
snatch a bit during the day. “I see,” said Jimmie; and then, “I
knowed you by your picture.”

“Yes?” said the other, patiently.

And Jimmie groped round in his addled head for something really
worth while. “You’ll want to see the Committee?”

“No,” said the other, “I want to finish this first.” And he took a
sip from a glass of milk, and a bite out of a sandwich, and chewed.

So utterly rattled was Jimmie he sat there like a num-skull, unable
to find a word, while the man finished his repast. When it was over,
Jimmie said again--he could do no better--“You want to see the

“No,” was the reply, “I want to sit here--and perhaps talk to you,

“Higgins,” said Jimmie.

“Comrade Higgins--that is, if you have time.”

“Oh, sure!” exclaimed Jimmie. “I got all the time there is. But the

“Never mind the Committee, Comrade. Do you know how many Committees
I have met on this trip?”

Jimmie did not know; nor did he have the courage to ask.

“Probably you never thought how it is to be a Candidate,” continued
the other. “You go from place to place, and make the same speech
every night, and it seems as if you slept in the same hotel every
night, and almost as if you met the same Committee. But you have to
remember that your speech is new to each audience, and you have to
make it as if you had never made it before; also you have to
remember that the Committee is made up of devoted comrades who are
giving everything for the cause, so you don’t tell them that they
are just like every other committee, or that you are tired to death,
or maybe have a headache--”

Jimmie sat, gazing in awe-stricken silence. Not being a man of
reading, he had never heard of “the head that wears a crown”. This
was his first glimpse into the soul of greatness.

The Candidate went on: “And then, too, Comrade, there’s the news
from Europe. I want a little time. I can’t bring myself to face it!”

His voice had grown sombre, and to Jimmie, gazing at him, it seemed
that all the sorrows of the world were in his tired grey eyes.
“Perhaps I’d better go,” said Jimmie.

“No no,” replied the other, with quick self-recovery. He looked and
saw that Jimmie had forgotten his meal. “Bring your things over
here,” he said; and the other fetched his cup and saucer and plate,
and gulped the rest of his “sinkers” under the Candidate’s eyes.

“I oughtn’t to talk,” said the latter. “You see how hoarse I am. But
you talk. Tell me about the local, and how things are going here.”

So Jimmie summoned his courage. It was the one thing he could really
talk about, the thing of which his mind and soul were full.
Leesville was a typical small manufacturing city, with a glass
bottle works, a brewery, a carpet-factory, and the big Empire
Machine Shops, at which Jimmie himself spent sixty-three hours of
his life each week. The workers were asleep, of course; but still
you couldn’t complain, the movement was growing. The local boasted
of a hundred and twenty members, though of course, only about thirty
of them could be counted on for real work. That was the case
everywhere, the Candidate put in--it was always a few who made the
sacrifice and kept things alive.

Then Jimmie went on to tell about to-night’s meeting, the
preparations they had made, the troubles they had had. The police
had suddenly decided to enforce the law against delivering circulars
from house to house; though they allowed Isaac’s “Emporium” to use
this method of announcement. The Leesville Herald and Evening
Courier were enthusiastic for the police action; if you couldn’t
give out circulars, obviously you would have to advertise in these
papers. The Candidate smiled--he knew about American police
officials, and also about American journalism.

Jimmie had been laid off for a couple of days at the shop, and he
told how he had put this time to good use, getting announcements of
the meeting into the stores. There was an old Scotchman in a real
estate office just across the way. “Git oot!” he said. “So I thought
I’d better git oot!” said Jimmie. And then, taking his life into his
hands, he had gone into the First National Bank. There was a
gentleman walking across the floor, and Jimmie went up to him and
held out one of the placards with the picture of the Candidate.
“Would you be so good as to put this in your window?” he inquired;
and the other looked at it coldly. Then he smiled--he was a good
sort, apparently. “I don’t think my customers would patronize your
business,” he said; but Jimmie went at him to take some tickets and
learn about Socialism--and would you believe it, he had actually
shelled out a dollar! “I found out afterwards that it was Ashton
Charmers, the president of the bank!” said Jimmie. “I’d a’ been
scared, if I’d a’ known.”

He had not meant to talk about himself; he was just trying to
entertain a tired Candidate, to keep him from brooding over a world
going to war. But the Candidate, listening, found tears trying to
steal into his eyes. He watched the figure before him--a bowed,
undernourished little man, with one shoulder lower than the other, a
straggly brown moustache stained with coffee, and stumpy black
teeth, and gnarled hands into which the dirt and grease were ground
so deeply that washing them would obviously be a waste of time. His
clothes were worn and shapeless, his celluloid collar was cracked
and his necktie was almost a rag. You would never have looked at
such a man twice on the street--and yet the Candidate saw in him one
of those obscure heroes who are making a movement which is to
transform the world.


“Comrade Higgins,” said the Candidate, after a bit, “let’s you and
me run away.”

Jimmie looked startled. “How?”

“I mean from the Committee, and from the meeting, and from
everything.” And then, seeing the dismay in the other’s face: “I
mean, let’s take a walk in the country.”

“Oh!” said Jimmie.

“I see it through the windows of the railroad-cars, but I don’t set
foot on it for months at a time. And I was brought up in the
country. Were you?”

“I was brought up everywhere,” said the little machinist.

They got up, and paid each their ten cents to the proprietor of the
“Buffeteria.” Jimmie could not resist the temptation to introduce
his hero, and show a pious Catholic that a Socialist Candidate had
neither hoofs nor horns. The Candidate was used to being introduced
for that purpose and had certain spontaneous and cordial words which
he had said not less than ten thousand times before; with the result
that the pious Catholic gave his promise to come to the meeting that

They went out; and because some member of the Committee might be
passing on Main Street, Jimmie took his hero by an alley into a back
street; and they walked past the glass-factory, which to the
outsider was a long board fence, and across the Atlantic Western
railroad tracks, and past the carpet-factory, a huge four-story box
made of bricks; after which the rows of wooden shacks began to thin
out, and there were vacant lots and ash-heaps, and at last the
beginning of farms.

The Candidate’s legs were long, and Jimmie’s, alas, were short, so
he had almost to run. The sun blazed down on them, and sweat,
starting from the Candidate’s bald head stole under the band of his
straw hat and down to his wilting collar; so he took off his coat
and hung it over his arm, and went on, faster than ever. Jimmie
raced beside him, afraid to speak, for he divined that the Candidate
was brooding over the world-calamity, the millions of young men
marching out to slaughter. On the placards which Jimmie had been
distributing in Leesville, there were two lines about the Candidate,
written by America’s favourite poet:

    As warm heart as ever beat
    Betwixt here and judgement seat.

So they went on for perhaps an hour, by which time they were really
in the country. They came to a bridge which crossed the river Lee,
and there the Candidate suddenly stopped, and stood looking at the
water sliding below him, and at the vista through which it wound, an
avenue of green trees with stretches of pasture and cattle grazing.
“That looks fine,” he said. “Let’s go down.” So they climbed a
fence, and made their way along the river for a distance, until a
turn of the stream took them out of sight of the road.

There they sat on a shelving bank, and mopped the perspiration from
their foreheads and necks, and gazed into the rippling current. You
couldn’t exactly say it was crystal clear, for when there is a town
every ten miles or so along a stream, with factories pouring various
kinds of chemicals into it, the job becomes too much for the
restoring forces of Mother Nature. But it would take a dirty stream
indeed not to look inviting in midsummer after a four-mile walk. So
presently the Candidate turned to Jimmie, with a mischievous look
upon his face. “Comrade Higgins, were you ever in a swimmin’ hole?”

“Sure I was!” said Jimmie.


“Everywhere. I was on the road off an’ on ten years--till I got

“Well,” said the Candidate, still smiling, “what do you say?”

“I say sure!” replied Jimmie.

He was almost beside himself with awe, at this unbelieveable strange
fortune, this real comradeship with the hero of his dreams. To
Jimmie this man had been a disembodied intelligence, a dispenser of
proletarian inspiration, a supernatural being who went about the
country standing upon platforms and swaying the souls of multitudes.
It had never occurred to Jimmie that he might have a bare body, and
might enjoy splashing about in cool water like a boy playing
“hookey” from school. The saying is that familiarity breeds
contempt, but for Jimmie it bred rapture.


They walked home again, more slowly. The Candidate asked Jimmie
about his life, and Jimmie told the story of a Socialist--not one of
the leaders, the “intellectuals”, but of the “rank and file”.
Jimmie’s father was a working man out of a job, who had left his
family before Jimmie had joined it; Jimmie’s mother had died three
years later, so he did not remember her, nor could he recall a word
of the foreign language he had spoken at home, nor did he even know
what the language was. He had been taken in charge by the city, and
farmed out to a negro woman who had eight miserable starvelings
under her care, feeding them on gruel and water, and not even giving
them a blanket in winter. You might not think that possible--

“I know America,” put in the Candidate.

Jimmie went on. At nine he had been boarded with a woodsaw man, who
worked him sixteen hours a day and beat him in addition; so Jimmie
had skipped out, and for ten years had lived the life of a street
waif in the cities and a hobo on the road. He had learned a bit
about machinery, helping in a garage, and then, in a rush-time, he
had got a job in the Empire Machine Shops. He had stayed in
Leesville, because he had got married; he had met his wife in a
brothel, and she had wanted to quit the life, and they had taken a
chance together.

“I don’t tell that to everybody,” said Jimmie. “You know--they
mightn’t understand. But I don’t mind you knowin’.”

“Thank you,” replied the Candidate, and put his hand on Jimmie’s
shoulder. “Tell me how you became a Socialist.”

There was nothing special about that, was the answer. There had been
a fellow in the shop who was always “chewing the rag”; Jimmie had
laughed at him--for his life had made him suspicious of everybody,
and if there was any sort of politician, it was just another scheme
of somebody to wear a white collar and live off the workers. But the
fellow had kept pegging away; and once Jimmie had been laid off for
a couple of months, and the family had near starved, and that had
given him time to think, and also the inclination. The fellow had
come along with some papers, and Jimmie had read them, and it dawned
upon him that here was a movement of his fellow-workers to put an
end to their torments.

“How long ago was that?” asked the Candidate, and Jimmie answered
three years. “And you haven’t lost your enthusiasm?” This with an
intensity that surprised Jimmie. No, he answered, he was not that
kind. Whatever happened, he would keep pegging away at the task of
freeing labour. He would not see the New Day, perhaps, but his
children would see it; and a fellow would work like the devil to
save his children.

So they came to the city; and the Candidate pressed Jimmie’s arm.
“Comrade,” he said, “I want to tell you how much good this little
trip has done me. I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

“Me?” exclaimed Jimmie.

“You have given me fresh hope and courage, and at a time when I felt
beaten. I got into town this morning, and I’d had no sleep, and I
tried to get some in the hotel and couldn’t, because of the horror
that’s happening. I wrote a dozen telegrams and sent them off, and
then I was afraid to go back to the hotel-room, because I knew I’d
only lie awake all afternoon. But now--I remember that our movement
is rooted in the hearts of the people!”

Jimmie was trembling. But all he could say was: “I wish I could do
it every Sunday.”

“So do I,” said the Candidate.


They walked down Main Street, and some way ahead they saw a crowd
gathered, filling the pavement beyond the kerb. “What is that?”
 asked the Candidate, and Jimmie answered that it was the office of
the Herald. There must be some news.

The other hastened his steps; and Jimmie, striding alongside, fell
silent again, knowing that the gigantic burden and woe of the world
was falling upon his hero’s shoulders once more. They came to the
edge of the crowd, and saw a bulletin in front of the newspaper
office. But it was too far away for them to read. “What is it?” they

“It says the Germans are going to march into Belgium. And they’ve
shot a lot of Socialists in Germany.”

“WHAT?” And the Candidate’s hand clutched Jimmie’s arm.

“That’s what it says.”

“My God!” exclaimed the man. And he began pushing his way into the
crowd, with Jimmie in his wake. They got to the bulletin, and stood
reading the typewritten words--a bare announcement that more than a
hundred leading German Socialists had been executed for efforts to
prevent mobilization. They continued staring, until people pushing
behind them caused them to draw back. Outside the throng they stood,
the Candidate gazing into space, and Jimmie gazing at the Candidate,
both of them dumb. It was a fact that they could not have been more
shocked if the news had referred to the members of Local Leesville
of the Socialist Party of America.

The pain in the Candidate’s face was so evident that Jimmie groped
about in his head for something comforting to say. “At least they
done what they could,” he whispered.

The other suddenly burst forth: “They are heroes! They have made the
name Socialist sacred for ever!” He rushed on, as if he were making
a speech-so strong becomes a life-time habit. “They have written
their names at the very top of humanity’s roll of honour! It doesn’t
make any difference what happens after this, Comrade--the movement
had vindicated itself! All the future will be changed because of
this event!”

He began to walk down the street, talking more to himself than to
Jimmie. He was borne away on the wings of his vision; and his
companion was so thrilled that he honestly did not know where he
was. Afterwards, when he looked back upon this scene, it remained
the most wonderful event of his life; he told the story, sooner or
later, to every Socialist he met.

Presently the Candidate stopped. “Comrade,” he said, “I must go to
the hotel. I want to write some telegrams. You explain to the
Committee--I’d rather not see anyone till time for the meeting. I’ll
find the way myself.”




In the Opera-house were gathered Comrade Mabel Smith and Comrade
Meissner and Comrade Goldstein, the secretary of the Ypsels, and the
three members of the Reception Committee--Comrade Norwood, the
rising young lawyer, Comrade Dr. Service, and Comrade Schultze of
the Carpet-weavers’ Union. To them rushed the breathless Jimmie.
“Have you heard the news?”

“What is it?”.

“A hundred Socialist leaders shot in Germany!”

“Herr Gott!” cried Comrade Schultze, in horror; and everyone turned
instinctively, for they knew how this came home to him--he had a
brother who was a Socialist editor in Leipzig, and who was liable
for the mobilization.

“Where did you see it?” cried Schultze; and Jimmie told what he
knew. And then the clamour broke forth! Others were called from the
back part of the hall, and came running, and there were questions
and cries of dismay. Here, too, it was as if the crime had been
committed against Local Leesville--so completely did they feel
themselves one with the victims. In a town where there was a
brewery, needless to say there were German workers a-plenty; but
even had this not been so, the feeling would have been the same, for
the Socialists of the world were one, the soul of the movement was
its internationalism. The Candidate discovering that Jimmie was a
Socialist had asked and received no further introduction, but had
been instantly his friend; and so it would have been with a comrade
from Germany, Japan, or the heart of Africa--he might not have
known another word of English, the word “Socialist” would have

It was a long time before they thought of any other matter; but
finally someone referred to the trouble which had fallen upon the
local--the Candidate had not showed up. And Jimmie exclaimed, “Why,
he’s here!” And instantly all turned upon him. Where? When? How?

“He came this morning.”

“And why didn’t you let us know?” It was Comrade Dr. Service of the
Reception Committee who spoke, and with a decided sharpness in his

“He didn’t want anybody to know,” said Jimmie.

“Did he want us to go to the train and think he had failed us?”

Sure enough, it was after train-time! Jimmie had entirely forgotten
both the train and the committee, and now he had not the grace to
hide his offence. All he could do was to tell his story--how he had
spent the afternoon walking in the country with the Candidate, and
how they had gone swimming, and how they had got the news from the
bulletin board, and how the Candidate had acted and what he had
said. Poor Jimmie never doubted but that his own thrill was shared
by all the others; and at the next regular meeting of the local,
when Comrade Dr. Service sat down on some proposition which Jimmie
had ventured to make, the little machinist had not the faintest idea
what he had done to deserve the snub. He was lacking in worldly
sense, he did not understand that a prosperous physician, who comes
into the movement out of pure humanitarianism, contributing his
prestige and his wealth to the certain detriment of his social and
business interests, is entitled to a certain deference from the
Jimmie Higginses, and even from a Candidate.


You might have thought that Jimmie would be tired; but this was a
day on which the flesh had no claims. First he helped Comrade Mabel
in depositing upon every seat a leaflet containing a letter from the
local candidate for Congress; then he rushed away to catch a
street-car, and spent his last nickel to get to his home and keep
his engagement with Lizzie. He would not make with her the mistake
he had made with the Committee, you bet!

He found that Lizzie had faithfully carried out her part of the
bargain. The three babies were done up in bright-coloured calico
dresses; she had spent the morning in washing and ironing these
garments--also her own dress, which was half-red and half-green, and
of generous, almost crinoline proportions. Lizzie herself was built
on that scale, with broad hips and bosom, big brown eyes and heavy
dark hair. She was a fine strong woman when she had shed her
bedraggled house gown, and Jimmie was proud of his capability as a
chooser of wives. It was no small feat to find a good woman, and to
recognize her, where Jimmie had found Lizzie. She was five years
older than he, a Bohemian, having been brought to America when she
was a baby. Her former name--you could hardly call it her “maiden”
 name, considering the circumstances--was Elizabeth Huszar, which
she pronounced so that for a long time Jimmie had understood it to
be Eleeza Betooser.

Jimmie snatched a bite of bread and drank a cup of metallic tasting
tea, and packed the family into the baby-carriage, and trudged the
mile and half to the centre of the city. When they arrived, Lizzie
took the biggest child, and Jimmie the other two, and so they
trudged into the Opera-house. On this hot night it was like holding
three stoves in your arms, and if the babies woke up and began to
cry, the parents would have the painful choice of missing something,
or else facing the disgusted looks of everyone about them. In
Belgium, at the “People’s House”, the Socialists maintained a
creche, but the American movement had not yet discovered that
useful institution.

Already the hall was half-full, and a stream of people pouring in.
Jimmie got himself and family seated, and then turned his eager eyes
proudly to survey the scene. The would-be-congressman’s circulars
which he had placed in the seats were now being read by the sitters;
the banners he had so laboriously hung were resplendent on the
walls; there was a pitcher of ice water on the speaker’s table, and
a bouquet of flowers and a gavel for the chairman; the seats in the
rear of the platform for the Liederkranz were neatly ranged, most of
them already occupied by solid German figures topped by rosy German
faces: to each detail of which achievements Jimmie had lent a hand.
He had a pride of possession in this great buzzing throng, and in
the debt they owed to him. They had no idea of it, of course; the
fools, they thought that a meeting like this just grew out of
nothing! They paid their ten cents--twenty-five cents for reserved
seats--and imagined that covered everything, with perhaps even a
rake-off for somebody! They would grumble, wondering why the
Socialists persisted in charging admission for their meetings--why
they could not let people in free as the Democrats and Republicans
did. They would go to Democratic and Republican meetings, and enjoy
the brass band and the fireworks, pyrotechnical and
oratorical--never dreaming it was all a snare paid for by their

Well, they would learn about it to-night! Jimmie thought of the
Candidate, and how he would impress this man and that. For Jimmie
knew scores who had got tickets, and he peered about after this one
and that, and gave them a happy nod from behind his barricade of
babies. Then, craning his neck to look behind him, suddenly Jimmie
gave a start. Coming down the aisle was Ashton Chalmers, president
of the First National Bank of Leesville; and with him-could it be
possible?--old man Granitch, owner of the huge Empire Machine Shops
where Jimmie worked! The little machinist found himself shaking with
excitement as these two tall forms strode past him down the aisle.
He gave Lizzie a nudge with his elbow and whispered into her ear;
and all around was a buzz of whispers--for, of course, everybody
knew these two mighty men, the heads of the “invisible government”
 of Leesville. They had come to find out what their subjects were
thinking! Well, they would get it straight!


The big hall was full, and the aisles began to jam, and then the
police closed the doors--something which Jimmie took as part of the
universal capitalist conspiracy. The audience began to chafe; until
at last the chairman walked out upon the stage, followed by several
important persons who took front seats. The singers stood up, and
the leader waved his wand, and forth came the Marseillaise: a French
revolutionary hymn, sung in English by a German organization--there
was Internationalism for you! With full realization of the solemnity
of this world-crisis, they sang as if they hoped to be heard in

And then rose the Chairman--Comrade Dr. Service. He was a fine, big
figure of a man, with grey moustache and beard trimmed to a point;
his swelling chest was covered by clean white linen and
tight-fitting broad-cloth, and he made a most imposing chairman,
reflecting credit on the movement. He cleared his throat, and told
them that they had come that evening to listen to one of America’s
greatest orators, and that therefore he, the Chairman, would not
make a speech; after which he proceeded to make a speech. He told
them what a grave hour this was, and how the orator would tell them
its meaning, after which he proceeded to tell most of the things
which the orator would tell. This was a weakness of Comrade Dr.
Service--but one hesitated to point it out to him, because of his
black broad-cloth suit and his imposing appearance, and the money he
had put up to pay for the hall.

At last, however, he called on the Liederkranz again, and a quartet
sang a German song and then an encore. And then came Comrade
Gerrity, the hustling young insurance-agent who was organizer for
the local, and whose task it was to make a “collection speech.” He
had humorous ways of extracting money--“Here I am again!” he began,
and everybody smiled, knowing his bag of tricks. While he was
telling his newest funny story, Jimmie was unloading the littlest
infant into Lizzie’s spare arm, and laying the other on the seat
with its head against her knee, and getting himself out into the
aisle, hat in hand and ready for business; and as soon as the
organizer ceased and the Liederkranz resumed, Jimmie set to work
gathering the coin. His territory was the reserved-seat section up
in front, where sat the two mighty magnates. Jimmie’s knees went
weak, but he did his duty, and was tickled to see each of the pair
drop a coin into the hat, to be used in overthrowing their power in


The hats were taken to the box-office and emptied, and the
collection-takers and the Liederkranz singers resumed their seats.
An expectant hush fell--and then at last there strode out on the
stage the Candidate. What a storm broke out! Men cheered and clapped
and shouted. He took his seat modestly; but as the noise continued,
he was justified in assuming that it was meant for him, and he rose
and bowed; as it still continued, he bowed again, and then again. It
had been the expectation of Comrade Dr. Service to come forward and
say that, of course, it was not necessary for anyone to introduce
the speaker of the evening; but the audience, as if it had read the
worthy doctor’s intention, kept on applauding, until the Candidate
himself advanced, and raised his hand, and began his speech.

He did not stop for any oratorical preliminaries. This, he said--and
his voice trembled with emotion--was the solemnest hour that men had
ever faced on earth. That day on the bulletin-board of their local
newspaper he had read tidings which had moved him as he had never
been moved in his life, which had almost deprived him of the power
to walk upon a stage and address an audience. Perhaps they had not
heard the news; he told it to them, and there sprang from the
audience a cry of indignation.

Yes, they might well protest, said the speaker; nowhere on all the
bloody pages of history could you find a crime more revolting than
this! The masters of Europe had gone mad in their lust for power;
they had called down the vengeance of mankind upon their crowned and
coronetted heads. Here to-night he would tell them--and the
speaker’s hoarse and raucous voice mounted to a shout of rage--he
would tell them that in signing the death-warrant of those heroic
martyrs, they had sealed the doom of their own order, they had torn
out the foundation-stones from the structure of capitalist society!
The speaker’s voice seemed to lift the audience from its seats, and
the last words of the sentence were drowned in a tumult of applause.

Silence fell again, and the man went on. He had peculiar mannerisms
on the platform. His lanky form was never still for an instant. He
hurried from one end of the stage to the other; he would crouch and
bend as if he were going to spring upon the audience, a long, skinny
finger would be shaken before their faces, or pointed as if to drive
his words into their hearts. His speech was a torrent of epigram,
sarcasm, invective. He was bitter; if you knew nothing about the man
or his cause, you would find this repellent and shocking. You had to
know what his life had been--an unceasing conflict with oppression;
he had got his Socialist education in jail, where he had been sent
for trying to organize the wage-slaves of a gigantic corporation.
His rage was the rage of a tender-hearted poet, a lover of children
and of Nature, driven mad by the sight of torment wantonly
inflicted. And if ever he had seemed to you an extremist, too angry
to be excused, here to-night he had his vindication, here to-night
you saw him as a prophet. For now the master-class had torn the mask
from its face, and revealed to the whole world what were its moral
standards! At last men saw their rulers face to face!

They have plunged mankind into a pit of lunacy. “They call it war,”
 cried the speaker; “but I call it murder.” And he went on to picture
to them what was happening in Europe at that hour--he brought the
awful nightmare before their eyes, he showed them homes blown to
pieces, cities given to the flames, the bodies of men pierced by
bullets or torn to fragments by shells. He pictured a bayonet
plunged into the abdomen of a man; he made you see the ghastly deed,
and feel its shuddering wickedness. Men and women and children sat
spellbound; and for once no man could say aloud or feel in his heart
that the pictures of a Socialist agitator were overdrawn--no, not
even Ashton Chalmers, president of the First National Bank of
Leesville, or old Abel Granitch, proprietor of the Empire Machine


And what was the cause of this blackest of calamities? The speaker
went on to show that the determining motive was not racial jealousy,
but commercial greed. The fountain-head of the war was
world-capitalism, clamouring for markets, seeking to get rid of its
surplus products, to keep busy its hordes of wage-slaves at home. He
analysed the various factors; and now, with the shadow of the
European storm over their heads--now at last men and women would
listen, they would realize that the matter concerned them. He warned
them--let them not think that they were safe from the hoofs of this
war-monster, just because they were three thousand miles away!
Capitalism was a world phenomenon, and all the forces of parasitism
and exploitation which had swept Europe into this tragedy were
active here in America. The money-masters, the profit-seekers, would
leap to take advantage of the collapse over the seas; there would be
jealousies, disputes--let the audience understand, once for all,
that if world-capitalism did not make this a world-war, it would be
only because the workers of America took warning, and made their
preparations to frustrate the conspiracy.

This was what he had come for, this was the heart of his message.
Many of those who listened were refugees from the old world, having
fled its oppressions and enslavements. He pleaded with them now, as
a man whose heart was torn by more suffering than he could bear--let
there be one part of the fair garden of earth into which the demons
of destruction might not break their way! Let them take warning in
time, let them organize and establish their own machinery of
information and propaganda--so that when the crisis came, when the
money-masters of America sounded the war-drums, there might be--not
the destruction and desolation which these masters willed, but the
joy and freedom of the Co-operative Commonwealth!

“How many years we Socialists have warned you!” he cried. “But you
have doubted us, you have believed what your exploiters have told
you! And now, in this hour of crisis, you look at Europe and
discover who are the real friends of humanity, of civilization. What
voice comes over the seas, protesting against war? The Socialist
voice, and the Socialist voice alone! And to-night, once more, you
hear it in this hall! You men and women of America, and you exiles
from all corners of the world, make this pledge with me--make it
now, before it is too late, and stand by it when the hour of crisis
comes! Swear it by the blood of our martyred heroes, those
slaughtered German Socialists--swear that, come what will, and when
and how it will, that no power on earth or in hell beneath the earth
shall draw you into this fratricidal war! Make this resolution, send
this message to all the nations of the earth--that the men of all
nations and all races are your brothers, and that never will you
consent to shed their blood. If the money-masters and the exploiters
want war, let them have it, but let it be among themselves! Let them
take the bombs and shells they have made and go out against one
another! Let them blow their own class to pieces--but let them not
seek to lure the working-people into their quarrels!”

Again and again, in answer to such exhortations, the audience broke
out into shouts of applause. Men raised their hands in solemn
pledge; and the Socialists among them went home from the meeting
with a new gravity in their faces, a new consecration in their
hearts. They had made a vow, and they would keep it--yes, even
though it meant sharing the fate of their heroic German comrades!

--And then in the morning they opened their papers, looking eagerly
for more details about the fate of the heroic German comrades, and
they found none. Day after day, morning and afternoon, they looked
for more details, and found none. On the contrary, to their
unutterable bewilderment, they learned that the leaders of the
German Social-Democracy had voted for the war-budgets, and that the
rank and file of the movement were hammering out the goose-step on
the roads of Belgium and France! They could not bring themselves to
believe it; even yet they have not brought themselves to realize
that the story which thrilled them so on that fatal Sunday afternoon
was only a cunning lie sent out by the German war-lords, in the hope
of causing the Socialists of Belgium and France and England to
revolt, and so give the victory to Germany!




The grey flood of frightfulness rolled over Belgium; and every
morning, and again in the afternoon, the front page of the Leesville
newspaper was like the explosion of a bomb. Twenty-five thousand
Germans killed in one assault on Liege; a quarter of a million
Russians massacred or drowned in the swamps of the Masurian Lakes;
so it went, until the minds of men reeled. They saw empires and
civilizations crumbling before their eyes, all those certainties
upon which their lives had been built vanishing as a mist at

Hitherto, Jimmie Higgins had always refused to take a daily paper.
No capitalist lies for him; he would save his pennies for the
Socialist weeklies! But now he had to have the news, and tired as he
was after the day’s work, he would sit on his front porch with his
ragged feet against a post, spelling out the despatches. Then he
would stroll down to the cigar-stand of Comrade Stankewitz, a
wizened-up little Roumanian Jew who had lived in Europe, and had a
map, and would show Jimmie which was Russia, and why Germany marched
across Belgium, and why England had to interfere. It was good to
have a friend who was a man of travel and a linguist--especially
when the fighting became centred about places such as Przemysl and

Then every Friday night would be the meeting of the local. Jimmie
would be the first to arrive, eager to hear every word the better
informed comrades had to say, and thus to complete the education
which Society had so cruelly neglected.

Before the war was many weeks old, Jimmie’s head was in a state of
utter bewilderment; never would he have thought it possible for men
to hold so many conflicting opinions, and to hold them with such
passionate intensity! It seemed as if the world-conflict were being
fought out in miniature in Leesville.

At the third meeting after the war began, the prosperous Dr. Service
arose, and in his impressive oratorical voice moved that the local
should send a telegram to the National Executive Committee of the
party, requesting it to protest against the invasion of Belgium;
also a telegram to the President of the United States, requesting
him to take the same action. And then what pandemonium broke loose!
Comrade Schneider, the brewery-worker, demanded to know whether
Local Leesville had ever requested the National Executive Committee
to protest against the invasion of Ireland. Had the Socialist party
ever requested the President of the United States to protect Egypt
and India from oppression?

Comrade Dr. Service, who had remained on his feet, began a
passionate denunciation of the outrages perpetrated by the German
army in Belgium; at which Comrade Schneider’s florid face turned
purple. He demanded whether all men did not know that France had
first invaded Belgium, and that the Belgians had welcomed the
French? Weren’t all the Belgian forts turned toward Germany? Of
course! answered the doctor. But what of that? Was it a crime for a
man to know who was going to attack him?

The purple-faced brewer, without heeding this question, demanded:
Did not all the world know that the French had begun the war with an
aeroplane bombardment of the German cities? The Comrade Doctor, his
face also purpling, replied that all the world knew this for a tale
sent out by the German propaganda machine. HOW did all the world
know it? roared Schneider. By a cable-censorship controlled by
British gold?

Jimmie was much exicted by this dispute. The only trouble was that
he found himself in agreement with both sides, and with an impulse
to applaud both sides. And also he applauded the next speaker, young
Emil Forster, a pale, slender, and fair-haired youth, a designer in
the carpet-factory. Emil was one who seldom raised his voice in the
meetings, but when he did, he was heard with attention, for he was a
student and a thinker; he played the flute, and his father, also a
member of the local, played the clarinet, so the pair were
invaluable on “social evenings”. In his gentle, dispassionate voice
he explained how it was not easy for people in America to understand
the dilemma of the German Socialists in the present crisis. We must
remember that the Germans were fighting, not merely England and
France, but Russia; and Russia was a huge, half-civilized land,
under perhaps the most cruel government in the world. How would
Americans feel if up in Canada there were three hundred millions of
people, ignorant, enslaved, and being drilled in huge armies?

All right, retorted Dr. Service. But then why did not the Germans
fight Russia, and let France and Belgium alone?

Because, answered Emil, the French would not permit that. We in
America thought of France as a republic, but we must remember that
it was a capitalist republic, a nation ruled by bankers; and these
bankers had formed an alliance with Russia, the sole possible aim of
which was the destruction of Germany. France had loaned something
like four billions of dollars to Russia.

And then Schneider leaped up. Yes, and it was that money which had
provided the cannon and shells that were now being used in laying
waste East Prussia, the land of Schneider’s birth!


The temper of both sides was rising higher and higher, and the
neutrals made efforts to calm the dispute. Comrade Stankewitz,
Jimmie’s cigar-store friend, cried out in his shrill eager voice: Vy
did we vant to git mixed up vit them European fights? Didn’t we know
vat bankers and capitalists vere? Vat difference did it make to any
vorking man vether he vas robbed from Paris or Berlin? “Sure, I
know,” said Stankewitz, “I vorked in both them cities, and I vas
every bit so hungry under Rothschild as I vas under the Kaiser.”

Then Comrade Gerrity, organizer of the local, took his turn.
Whatever they did, said Gerrity, they must keep their neutrality in
this war; the one hope of the world just now was in the Socialist
movement--that it would preserve the international spirit, and point
a war-torn world back to peace. Especially just now in Local
Leesville they must keep their heads, for they were beginning the
most important move in their history, the establishment of a weekly
paper. Nothing must get in the way of that!

Yes, said Comrade Service, but they would have to determine the
policy of the paper, would they not? Were they going to protest
against injustice at home, and pay no attention to the most flagrant
act of international injustice in the history of the world? Was a
working man’s paper to say nothing against the enslavement of the
working men of Europe by the Kaiser and his militarist crew? He, Dr.
Service, would wash his hands of such a paper.

And then the members of the local gazed at one another in dismay.
Every man and woman of them knew that the prosperous doctor had
headed the list of subscribers for the soon-to-be-born Leesville
Worker with the sum of five hundred dollars. The thought of losing
this munificent contribution brought consternation even to the

But there was one member of the local whom no menace ever daunted.
He rose up now--lean, sallow almost to greenness, with black hair
falling into his eyes, and a cough that racked him at every other
sentence. Bill Murray was his name; “Wild Bill”, the papers called
him. The red card he carried had been initialled by the secretaires
of some thirty locals all over the country. He had lost a couple of
toes under a tractor-plough in Kansas, and half a hand in a
tin-plate mill in Alleghany County; he had been clubbed insensible
in a strike in Chicago, and tarred and feathered in a free speech
fight in San Diego. And now he told the members of Local Leesville
what he thought of those tea-party revolutionists who pandered to
the respectability of a church-ridden community. “Wild Bill” had
watched the discussions over “Section Six”, the provision in the
constitution of the party against sabotage and violence; the very
same persons who had been enthusiastic for that bit of middle-class
fakery were now trying to line up the local for the defence of the
British sea-power! What the hell difference did it make to any
working man whether or not the Kaiser got a railroad to Bagdad? Of
course, if a man had been to school in Britain, and had a British
wife, and felt himself a British gentleman--you could feel the
shudder that went through the gathering, for everyone knew that this
was Dr. Service--all right, let that man take the first ship across
the ocean and enlist; but let him not try to turn an American
Socialist local into a recruiting-agency for British landlords and

This brought to his feet Comrade Norwood, the young lawyer who had
helped to put through “Section Six” in the National Convention of
the party. If there were people so keen against this Section, why
couldn’t they get out of the party and form an organization of their

“Because,” answered Murray, “we prefer sabotage to striking!”

“In other words,” continued Norwood, “you stay in the local, and by
a campaign of sneering and personalities you drive your opponents

“This is the first meeting for some months that we have had the
pleasure of seeing Comrade Norwood,” said “Wild Bill”, with venomous
placidity. “Perhaps he knew that we were to be asked to raise a
regiment for Kitchener!”

And then again Comrade Stankewitz was on his feet, with distress in
his thin, eager face. “Comrades, all this vill not get us anyvere!
There is but vun question ve have to answer, are ve
internationalists, or are ve not?”

“It seems to me,” continued Norwood, “the question is, are we

“All right!” shrilled the little Jew. “I vill leave it so--I am an
anti-nationalist! Such must all Socialists be!”

“But I don’t understand it so,” declared the young lawyer. “It is
easy for some who belong to a race which has not had a country for
two thousand years--”

“And who’s dealing in personalities now?” sneered “Wild Bill”.


So matters went in Local Leesville. The upshot of the debate was
that Comrade Dr. Service declared that he washed his hands of the
Socialist Party from that time on. And the Comrade Doctor buttoned
his handsome black coat over his stately chest and stalked out of
the room. The greater part of the remainder of that meeting was
devoted to a discussion of him and his personality and his influence
in the local. He was no Socialist at all, declared Schneider, he was
an English aristocrat, or the next thing to it--his wife had two
brothers in the British Expeditionary Force, and a nephew already
enlisted in the Territorials, and a visiting cousin on the point of
setting out for Canada, as the quickest way of getting into the
mix-up. But in spite of all these damaging circumstances, the local
was not disposed to give up its most generous supporter, and Comrade
Gerrity, the organizer, and Comrade Goldstein of the Ypsels, were
constituted a committee to go and plead with him and try to bring
him back into the fold.

As for Jimmie Higgins, his problem was not so complicated. He had no
relatives anywhere that he knew of; and if he had any “country”, the
country had failed to make him aware of the fact. The first thing
the “country” had done for him was to put him into the hands of a
negro woman who fed him gruel and water and gave him no blanket in
winter. To Jimmie this country was an aggregation of owners and
bosses, who made you sweat hard for your wages, and sent the police
to club you if you made any kick. A soldier Jimmie thought of as a
fellow who came to help the police when they got hard pushed. This
soldier walked with his chest out and his nose in the air, and
Jimmie referred to him as a “tin willie”, and summed him up as a
traitor to the working-class.

And so it was easy for our little machinist to agree with the
Roumanian Jewish cigar-seller in calling himself an
“anti-nationalist”. It was easy for him to laugh and applaud when “Wild
Bill” demanded what the hell difference it made to any working man
whether or not the Kaiser got a railroad to Bagdad. He did not
thrill in the least over the story of the British Army falling back
step by step across France, and holding ten times their number of
invaders. The papers called this “heroism”; but to Jimmie it was a
lot of poor fools who had had a flag waved in their eyes, and had
sold themselves for a shilling to the landlords of their country. In
one of the Socialist papers that Jimmie read, there appeared every
week a series of comic pictures in which the working man was figured
as a guileless fool by the name of “Henry Dubb”. Poor Henry always
believed what he was told, and at the end of each adventure he got a
thump on the top of his nut which caused stars to sprout over the
page. And of the many adventures of Henry Dubb, the most absurd were
when he got himself into a uniform. Jimmie would cut these pictures
out and pass them round in the shop, and among his neighbours in the
row of tenement-shacks where he lived.

Nor did it make much difference in Jimmie’s feelings when he read of
German atrocities. To begin with, he did not believe in them; they
were just a part of the poison-gas of war. When men were willing to
stab one another with bayonets, and to blow one another to pieces
with bombs, they would be willing to lie about one another, you
might be sure; the governments would lie deliberately, as one of the
ways of making the soldiers fight harder. What? argued Jimmie: tell
him that Germans were a lot of savages? When he lived in a city with
hundreds of them, and met them all the time at the local?

Here, for instance, was the Forster family; where would you find a
kinder lot of people? They were much above Jimmie in social
standing--they owned their own house and had whole shelves full of
books, and a pile of music as high as yourself; but recently Jimmie
had stopped on a Socialist errand, and they had invited him in to
supper, and there was a thin, worn, sweet-faced little woman, and
four growing daughters--nice, gentle, quiet girls--and two sons
younger than Emil; they had a pot-roast of beef, and a big dish of
steaming potatoes, and another of sauerkraut, and some queer pudding
that Jimmie had never heard of; and then they had music--they were
fairly dippy on music, that family, they would play all night if you
would listen, old Hermann Forster with his stout, black-bearded
face turned up as if he were seeing Heaven. And you wanted Jimmie to
believe that a man like that would carry a baby on a bayonet, or
rape a girl and then cut off her hands!

Or there was Comrade Meissner, a neighbour of Jimmie’s, a friendly
little chatter-box of a man who was foreman-in-charge of a dozen
women from as many different races of the earth, packing bottles in
the glass-works. The tears would come into Meissner’s pale blue eyes
when he told how he was made to drive these women, sick, or in the
family way, or whatever it might be. And remember, it was an
American superintendent and an American owner who gave Meissner his
orders--not a German! The little man could not quit his job, because
he had a brood of children and a wife with something the matter with
her--nobody could tell what it was, but she took all kinds of patent
medicines, which kept the family poor. Sometimes Lizzie Higgins
would go over to see her, and the two would sit and exchange ideas
about ailments and the prices of food; and meantime Meissner would
come over to where Jimmie was minding the Jimmie babies, and the two
would puff their cobs and discuss the disputes between the
“politicians” and the “direct actionists” in the local. And you
wanted Jimmie to believe that men like Meissner were standing old
Belgian women against the walls of churches and shooting them full
of bullets!


But as the weeks passed, the evidence of atrocities began to pile
in, and so Jimmie Higgins was driven to a second line of defence.
Well, maybe so, but then all the armies were alike. Somebody told
Jimmie the saying of a famous general, that war was hell; and Jimmie
took to this--it was exactly what he wanted to believe! War was a
return to savagery, and the worse it became, the better Jimmie’s
argument went. He was not interested in men’s efforts to improve
war, by agreeing that they would kill in this way but not in that
way, they would kill this kind of people but not that kind.

These ideas Jimmie got from his fellow members in the local, and
from the Socialist papers which came each week and from the many
speakers he heard. These speakers were men and women of burning
sincerity and with a definite and entirely logical point of view.
Whether they talked about war, crime, prostitution, political
corruption, or any other social evil, what they wanted was to tear
down the old ramshackle structure, and to put in its place something
new and intelligent. You might possibly bring them to admit slight
differences between capitalist governments but when it came to a
practical issue, to an action you found that to these people all
governments were alike--and never so much alike as in war-time!

Nor was there ever such need for Socialist protest! Very quickly it
became apparent that it was not going to be an easy matter for
America to keep out of this world-vortex. Because American working
men did not get a living wage, and could not buy what they produced,
there was a surplus product which had to be sold abroad; so the
business of American manufacturers depended upon foreign
markets--and here suddenly were all the principal trading nations of the
world plunging in to buy all the American products they could, and to
keep their enemies from buying any at all.

A woman speaker came to Leesville a shrewd little body with a sharp
tongue, who had these disputes figured out, and gave them in
dialogue, as in a play. Kaiser Bill says, “I want cotton” John Bull
says, “You shan’t have it.” Uncle Sam says, “But he has a right to
have it. Get out of the way, John Bull.” But John Bull says, “I will
hold up your ships and take them into my ports.” Uncle Sam says,
“No, no! Don’t do that!” But John Bull does it. And then the Kaiser
says, “What sort of a fellow are you to let John Bull steal your
ships? Are you a coward, or are you secretly a friend of this old
villain?” Uncle Sam says, “John Bull, give me my German mail and my
German newspapers, at least. But John Bull answers, “You’ve got a
lot of German spies in your country--that’s why I can’t let you have
your mail. You can’t have German papers because the Kaiser fills
them full of lies about me.” And the Kaiser says, “If John Bull
won’t let me have my cotton and my meat and all the rest of it, why
don’t you stop sending anything to him?” He waits a while, and then
he says, “If you won’t stop sending things to that old villain, I’ll
sink the ships, that’s all.” And Uncle Sam cries, “But that’s
against the law!” “Whose law?” says the Kaiser. “What sort of a law
is it that works only one way?” “But there are Americans on those
ships!” cries Uncle Sam. “Well, keep them off the ships!” answers
the Kaiser. “Keep them off till John Bull obeys the law.”

Put in this way the situation was easy for any Jimmie Higgins to
understand; and month by month, as the debate continued, Jimmie’s
own point of view became clearer. He was not interested in sending
cotton to England, and still less in sending meat. He thought he was
lucky if he had a bit of meat twice a week himself, and it was plain
enough to him that if the fellows who owned the meat were not
allowed to ship it abroad, they might sell it in America at a price
that a working man could pay. Nor was that just greediness on
Jimmie’s part; he was perfectly willing to go without meat where an
ideal was involved--look at the time and money and energy he gave to
Socialism! The point was that by sending goods to Europe, you helped
to keep up the fighting; whereas, if you quit, the fools must come
to their senses. So the Jimmie Higginses worked out their
campaign-slogan: “Starve the War and Feed America!”


In the third month of the war, disturbing rumours began to run about
Leesville. Old Abel Granitch had taken on a contract with the
Belgian government, and the Empire Machine Shops were going to make
shells. Nothing appeared about this in the local papers, but
everybody claimed to have first-hand knowledge, and although no two
people told the same story, there must be some basis of truth in
them all. And then, one day, to Jimmie’s consternation, he heard
from Lizzie that the agent of the landlord had called and served
notice that they had three days to vacate the premises. Old man
Granitch had bought the land, and the Shops were to build out that
way. Jimmie could hardly credit his ears, for he was six city blocks
from the nearest part of the Shops; but it was true, so everyone
declared; all that land had been bought up, and half a thousand
families, children and old people, and sick people, men on their
death-beds and women in child-birth--all had three days in which to
move themselves to new quarters.

Let anyone imagine the confusion, the babel of tongues, the women on
their porches calling to one another, asking and giving advice! The
denunciations and the scoldings and the threats to resort to law!
The raids upon landlords, and how the prices went up! Jimmie hurried
off to Comrade Meissner, who had bought a house and was paying
instalments on it; Meissner, being a Socialist, did not try to
fleece him, but was glad to have help in making his payments. There
were no partitions in the garret which Jimmie rented, but they would
hang curtains and make do somehow, and Lizzie would use Mrs.
Meissner’s stove until they could get something fixed upstairs. And
then to the corner grocery, to borrow a hand-cart and get started at
moving the furniture; for to-morrow everybody would be moving, and
you would not be able to get anything on wheels for love or money.
Until after midnight Jimmie and Meissner worked at transporting
babies and bedding and saucepans and chairs and chicken-coops piled
on the hand-cart.

And next morning at the shop, more excitement! It was four years now
that Jimmie had been in the employ of old man Granitch, and in all
that time he had done but one thing; standing in a vast room amid a
confusion of whirling belts and wheels, a roar and screech and
grumble and whirl that completely annulled one of the five senses.
There came in front of him, mechanically propelled, a tray full of
small oblong blocks of steel, which he fed, one with each hand, into
two places in a machine; the machine took these blocks, and rounded
off one end, and ground the rest a little smaller, and put a thread
on it, and it dropped into a tray on the other side, a bolt. Because
Jimmie had to watch the machine, and keep the oil-cups full, his was
classed as semi-skilled labour, and was paid nineteen and a half
cents an hour. Some time ago an expert had studied the process, and
figured that with labour at that price it was one-eighth of a cent
per hour cheaper to have the work done by hand than to instal a
machine to do it; and so for four years Jimmie had his job, standing
on one spot from seven to twelve, and again from twelve-thirty to
six, and carrying home every Saturday night the sum of twelve
dollars and twenty-nine cents. You might have thought that the huge
machine-works would have made it twelve-thirty for good measure;
but if so, you do not understand large scale production.

And now, all of an instant and without warning, Jimmie’s precisely
ordered and habitual world came to an end. He was at his post when
the whistle blew, but the machinery did not move. And presently came
the Irish foreman with the curt announcement that the machinery
would never move again, at least not on that spot; it was to be
cleared out of the way, and new machinery set up, and they were to
fall to forthwith with wrenches and hammers and crow-bars to make a
new world!

So for a week they did; and meantime, every night as he went home,
Jimmie saw people’s homes being wrecked--roofs falling in clouds of
dust, and gangs of men loading the debris into huge motor-trucks.
Before long they had got acetylene torches, and were working all
night-gangs of labourers who lived in tents on vacant lots outside
the city and kept their canvas cots warm with double shifts of
sleepers. Jimmie Higgins realized the dreadful truth, that in spite
of all the agitation of Socialists, the war had actually come to




It was some time before Jimmie understood the nature of the new
machinery he was helping to set up. It was nobody’s business to
explain, for he was only a pair of hands and a strong back; he was
not supposed to be a brain--while as for a soul or a conscience,
nobody was supposed to be that. Russian agents had come to Leesville
with seventeen millions of the money which the Paris bankers had put
up; and so overnight whole blocks of homes were swept out of
existence, and a huge new steel structure was rising, and on the
spot where for four years Jimmie had made certain motions of the
hands, they were preparing to manufacture new machinery for the
quantity production of shell-casings.

When Jimmie had definitely learned what was in process, he was
brought face to face with a grave moral problem. Could he, as an
international Socialist, spend his time making shells to kill his
German comrades? Could he spend his time making the machinery to
make the shells? Would he take the bribe of old man Granitch, a
working man’s share of the hideous loot--an increase of four cents
an hour, with the prospect of another four when the works got
started? Jimmie had to meet this issue, just when it happened that
one of his babies was sick, and he was cudgelling his head to think
how he could ever squeeze out of his scanty wage the money to pay
the doctor!

The answer was easy to Comrade Schneider, the stout and sturdy
brewer, who stood up in the local and spoke with bitter scorn of
those Socialists who stayed on in the pay of that old hell-devil,
Granitch. Schneider wanted a strike in the Empire Machine Shops, and
he wanted it that very night! But then rose Comrade Mabel Smith,
whose brother was a bookkeeper for the concern. It was all very well
for Schneider to talk, but suppose someone were to demand that the
brewery-workers should strike and refuse to make beer for
munition-workers? That was a mere quibble, argued Schneider; but the
other denied this, declaring that it was an illustration of what the
worker was up against, with no control of his own destiny, no voice
as to what use should be made of his product. A man might say that
he would have nothing to do with munition-work, and go out into the
fields as a farmer--to raise grain, to be shipped to the armies! The
solidarity of capitalist society was such that nowhere could a man
find work that would not in some way be helping to kill his
fellow-workers in other lands.

Jimmie Higgins talked solemnly to Lizzie of moving to
Hubbardtown--tempted thereto by the signs he saw in an agency which
had been set up in a vacant store on Main Street. The Hubbard Engine
Company was trying to steal old man Granitch’s workers, and was
offering thirty-two cents an hour for semi-skilled labour! Jimmie
made inquiry and learned that the company was extending its plant
for gas-engines; for what purpose was not told, but men suspected
that the engines were to go into motor-boats and be used for the
sinking of submarines. So Jimmie decided that Comrade Mabel Smith
was right; he might as well stay where he was. He would take as much
money as he could get and use his new-found prosperity to make
trouble for the war-profiteers. It was the first time in his life
that Jimmie had ever been free from money-fear. He could now get a
job anywhere at good wages, and so he did not care a hang what the
boss might say. He would talk to his fellow-workers, and explain the
war to them; a war of the capitalists at present, but destined
perhaps to turn into another kind of war, which the capitalists
would not find to their taste!


It was wonderful, incredible, the thing which had befallen
Leesville. Full of hatred for the system as Jimmie Higgins was, he
could not but be thrilled by what he saw. Thousands of men pouring
into the once commonplace little city--men of a score of races and
creeds, men old and young, white and black--even a few yellow ones!
It was a boom like San Francisco in ‘49; the money which the Paris
bankers had paid to the Russian government, and which the Russian
government had paid to old man Granitch, spread out in a golden
flood over the city. The speculators raised the price of land, the
house-owners raised rents, the hotels doubled their prices, and even
so, had to put people to bed on pool tables! Even Tom Callahan of
the “Buffeteria”’ had to hire two assistants, and build an
extension, and move his kitchen into the back yard.

At night the hordes of strangers roamed the streets, and Lipsky’s
“Picture Palace” was packed to the doors, and the “Bon Marche Shoe
Stores” had a new bankruptcy sale every week, and the swinging doors
of the saloons were never still for hours on end. Of course, where
so many men were gathered, there came women--swarms of women--of as
many races as the men. Leesville had some two score churches, and
had kept hitherto a careful pretence of decency; but now all
barriers went down, the police-force of the city was overwhelmed by
the new population--or was it by the golden flood from Paris by way
of Russia? Anyway, you saw sights on Main Street which confirmed
your distrust of war.

Never had there been such an opportunity for Socialist propaganda!
All these hordes of men, collected from the ends of the earth, torn
loose from home ties, from religion, from old habits of every sort,
thrown together promiscuously, living in any old way, ready for any
old thing that might come along! In former days these men had taken
what was handed out to them by their newspaper editors and preachers
and politicians; they had engaged in commonplace and respectable
activities, had lived tame and unadventurous lives. But now they
were making munitions; and you might say what you pleased, but there
was a certain psychological condition incidental to the making of
munitions. An employer could look pious and talk about law and
order, so long as he was setting his men to hoeing weeds or
shingling roofs or grading track; but what could he say to his men
when he was making shells to be used in blowing men to pieces?

So came the Socialist and the Anarchist and the Syndicalist and the
Industrial Unionist. Look at these masters, look at this
civilization they have produced! In the world’s oldest centres of
culture ten or twenty millions of wage-slaves have been hurled
together--and then the Socialist or Anarchist or Syndicalist or
Industrial Unionist would describe in detail the bloody and bestial
operations which these ten or twenty millions of men were
performing. And each day’s papers would bring fresh details for them
to cite--famine and pestilence, fire and slaughter, poison gas,
incendiary bombs, torpedoed passenger-ships. Look at these pious
hypocrites, the masters, with their refinement, their culture, their
religion! These are the people you are asked to follow, it is for
such as these that you have been chained to the machines all these
weary, toil-crowded years!


On every street corner, in every meeting-room, in every spot where
the workers gathered at the noon hour, you would hear such
arguments; and you would find men listening to them--men who perhaps
had never listened to such arguments before. They would nod, and
their faces would become grim--yes, the people up on top must be a
rotten lot! Here in America, supposed to be a land of liberty and
all that--here they were just the same, they were crowding to the
trough to drink the blood that was poured out in Europe. Of course,
they covered their greed with a camouflage of sympathy for the
Allies; but did anybody believe that old man Granitch loved the
Russian government? Certainly nobody in Leesville did; they knew
that he was “getting his”, and their hearts hardened with a grim
resolve to “get theirs”.

At first they thought they were succeeding. Wages went up, almost
for the asking; never did the unskilled man have so much money in
his pocket, while the man who could pretend to any skill at all
found himself in the plutocratic class. But quickly men discovered
the worm in this luscious war-fruit; prices were going up almost as
fast as wages--in some places even faster. The sums you had to pay
to the landlord surpassed belief; a single working man would be
asked two or three dollars a week for twelve hours’ use of a
mattress and blanket, which in the old days he might have got for
fifty cents. Food was scarce and of poor quality; before long you
found yourself being asked to pay six cents for a hunk of pie or a
cup of coffee--and then seven cents, and then ten. If you kicked,
the proprietor would tell you a long tale about what he had to pay
for rent and labour and supplies; and you could not deny that he was
probably right. About the only thing that did not go up was a
postage-stamp; and the Socialist would point to this and explain
that the Post Office was run by Uncle Sam, instead of by Abel

Every rise in price was a fresh stick of fuel for the Socialist
machine, and gave new power to their propaganda of “Starve the War
and Feed America!” The Socialist saw millions of tons of goods being
loaded into steamships and sent to Europe to be destroyed in war; he
saw the workers of Europe becoming enslaved by a bonded debt to a
class of parasites in America, he saw America being drawn closer and
closer to the abyss of the strife. The Socialist loved no part of
this process. He clamoured for an embargo--not merely on munitions,
but on food and everything, until the war-lords of Europe came to
their senses. He urged the workers to strike, and thus force the
politicians to declare the embargo.

Especially, of course, he urged this if he were a German or an
Austrian, a Hungarian or a Bohemian. The latter were subject races,
but they could not in these early days see beyond the fact that
their fathers and brothers and cousins were being killed by the
shells that were made in the Empire Machine Shops. With them stood
also the Jews, who hated the Russian government so bitterly that
nothing else mattered; also the Irish, whose first idea in life was
to pay back John Bull for his sins of several centuries, and whose
second idea was to take part in any sort of shivaree that was going.
It was quite bewildering to Jimmie Higgins; he had wrestled with
Catholics of several nations and got nothing but hard words for his
pains, but now all of a sudden Tom Callahan of the “Buffeteria” and
Pat Grogan of the grocery on the corner made the discovery that
maybe he was not such a fool after all!


As a result of this ferment among the workers, the local had doubled
its membership, and was holding soap-box meetings on a corner off
Main Street on two evenings every week. The plans for the weekly
paper, however, still hung fire. Comrade Dr. Service had lost his
two brothers-in-law, one in the battle of Mons, and the other in the
first frightful gas-attack at Ypres, where whole regiments of men
were caught unprepared and died in awful torments. Also two of his
wife’s cousins had paid the price--one was blind, and the other a
prisoner at Ruhleben, the worst fate of all. So Dr. Service made one
last indignant speech in the local, and took his five hundred
dollars to start a chapter of the Red Cross!

But now the Germans and the war-haters in the local were asking
themselves, was Socialism to languish in the city of the Empire
Machine Shops, just because one rich man with an English wife had
proved a renegade? Such a question answered itself! The work of
collecting subscription lists was taken up more vigorously than
ever; and already more than half the lost five hundred had been made
up, when one evening John Meissner came home with a most amazing

It was his custom to stop at Sandkuh’s for one glass of beer on his
way home in the evening; and when anybody in the saloon got to
arguing about the war, he would take his chance to put in a little
propaganda. This time he had made a regular speech, declaring that
the workers would soon put an end to the munition-business; and a
fellow had got to talking with him, asking him all sorts of
questions about himself, and about the local. How many members did
it have? How many of them felt as Meissner did? What were they doing
about it? Pretty soon the man had drawn Meissner to a table in the
back part of the place, asking about the proposed paper, and what
its policy was to be; also about the unions in the city, and their
policy, and the personalities of the leaders.

The man had said he was a Socialist, but Meissner did not believe
him. Meissner thought he must be some kind of union organizer. There
had been talk of various unions making an effort to break into the
domain of old man Granitch; and, of course, there was always the I.
W. W. trying to break in everywhere with its programme of the “one
big union”.

Meissner went on to tell how this mysterious stranger had stated to
him that it would be possible to get plenty of money to back the
proposition of a strike in the Empire Shops. The new plant was just
ready to start up, and fresh swarms of men were coming in; what was
wanted was some live fellows to get in with them and agitate for an
eight hour day and a minimum wage scale of sixty cents an hour. Men
who were willing to do that could get good money, and plenty of it;
if the Leesville Worker would advocate such a policy, there was no
reason why it should not start up the very next week, and publish a
big edition and flood the town. The one essential was that
arrangements should be made secretly. Meissner must trust no one
save dyed-in-the-wool “reds”, who would be willing to hustle, and
not say where the pay came from. As earnest of his intentions, the
stranger pulled out a roll of bills, and casually drew off half a
dozen and slipped them into Meissner’s hands. They were for ten
dollars each--more money than a petty boss at the glass-works had
ever got into his hands at one time in all his life!

Meissner exhibited the roll, and Jimmie stared with wide-open eyes.
Here indeed was a new development of the war--ten dollar bills for
Socialist propaganda to be picked up in the back rooms of saloons!
What was this fellow’s name? And where did he hang out? Meissner
offered to take Jimmie to meet him, and so the two bolted their
suppers and set out at top speed.


Jerry Coleman had mentioned several saloons where he was known, and
in one of these they found him, a smooth-faced, smooth-spoken young
fellow whom Jimmie would have taken for a detective or
“spotter”--having had dealings with such in his days “on the road”.
The man wore good clothes, and his finger-nails were cared for,
something which, as we know, is seldom permitted to working-men. But
he did not put on airs, and he bade them call him by his first name.
He talked to Jimmie a while, enough to make sure of his man, and
then he peeled off some more bills, and told Jimmie to find more
fellows who could be trusted. It wouldn’t do for any one person to
have too much money, for that would excite suspicion; but if they
would go to work and spend that much for dodgers to be distributed
among the munition-workers, and for street-meetings, and for the
proposed radical paper--well, there was plenty more money in the
place where this had come from.

Where was that place? Jimmie asked; and Jerry Coleman looked wise
and winked. Then, after further consideration, he decided it might
be well to tell them, provided they would pledge themselves not to
mention it to others without his permission. This pledge they gave,
and Jerry stated that he was a national organizer for the American
Federation of Labour, which had resolved to unionize these
munition-plants, and to establish the eight hour day. But it was of
the utmost importance that the bosses should not get wind of the
matter; it must not be revealed to anyone save those whom Coleman
saw fit to trust. He was trusting Jimmie and Meissner, and they
might know that the great labour organization was behind them, and
would see them through regardless of expense. Of course, it would be
expected that they would use the money honestly.

“Gee!” exclaimed Jimmie. “What do you take us for? A bunch of

No, said the other, he was not such a poor judge of character. And
Jimmie remarked grimly that anybody who was looking for easy money
did not go into the business of Socialist agitation. If there was
anything a Socialist could boast of, it was that their workers and
elected officials never touched any graft. Mr. Coleman--that is,
Jerry--would be handed a receipt for every dollar they spent.

It chanced that that same night there was a meeting of the
Propaganda Committee of the local, which consisted of half a dozen
of the most active members. Jimmie and Meissner hurried to this
place, with their new-found wealth burning a hole in their pockets.
They informed the committee that they had been collecting money for
the propaganda fund, and produced before the eyes of the astounded
comrades the sum of one hundred dollars.

It happened that the chairman of the committee had just received
from the National Office of the party in Chicago a sample of a new
leaflet entitled “Feed America First”; this leaflet could be had in
quantities for a very low price, a dollar or two per thousand; as a
result of Jimmie’s contribution, a telegram was sent for ten
thousand of the leaflets to be shipped by express. And then there
was a proposition from the state office for Comrade Seaman, author
of a book against war, to speak every night for two weeks in
Leesville. The local had voted to turn down his proposition for lack
of funds; but now, with the new contributions, the propaganda
committee felt equal to the fifty dollars involved. And then there
was the idea of Comrade Gerrity, the organizer, who was conducting
street meetings every Wednesday and Saturday nights; if he could
have an assistant, at fifteen a week, the soap-boxing could go on
every night. John Meissner here put in--he was sure that
contributions could be got for that purpose, provided the decision
was made without delay. So the decision was made.


The meeting was adjourned, and then Meissner and Jimmie went into
conference with Gerrity, the organizer, and Schneider, the brewer,
and Comrade Mary Allen, all three of whom happened to be on the
committee entrusted with the affairs of the Worker. Jimmie explained
that they had met a union organizer--they could not tell about him,
but the committee would have a chance to meet him--who would put up
the balance of the money needed, provided that the paper would be
willing to call at once for a strike of the Empire employees. Could
that promise be made? And Comrade Mary Allen laughed, indicating her
scorn for anybody who could cherish a doubt on that question!
Comrade Mary was a Quaker; she loved all mankind with religious
fervour--and it is astonishing how bitter people can become in the
cause of universal love. Her sharp, pale face flushed, and her thin
lips set, as she answered that the Worker would most surely fight
the war-profiteers, so long as she was on the managing committee!

It was finally decided that Comrade Mary should call on Jerry
Coleman in the morning, and satisfy herself that he really meant
business; if so, she would get the full committee together on the
following evening. The committee had authority to go ahead, as soon
as the necessary fund was made up, so if Coleman was all right,
there was no reason why the first issue of the paper should not
appear next week. Comrade Jack Smith, a reporter on the Herald, the
capitalist paper of Leesville, was to resign and become editor of
the Worker, and he already had his editorials written--had been
showing them about in the local for the past month!

Jimmie and Meissner set out for home, happy in the feeling that they
had accomplished more for Socialism on that one night than in all
the rest of their lives. But then, as they walked, there came
suddenly a clamour of bells on the night air; a fire! They knew the
signals, and counted the strokes, and made the discovery that it was
in the neighbourhood of their own home! An engine went by on the
gallop, with sparks streaming out behind, and they broke into a run.
Before they had gone a couple of blocks, they saw a glare in the
sky, and their hearts were in their throats; poor Meissner panted
that he had neglected to pay his last month’s insurance!

But as they ran, in the ever-growing throng of people, they realized
that the fire was too near for their own home; also, it was a bigger
blaze than could have been made by any number of shacks. And
presently there were shouts in the crowd, “It’s the Empire! The Old
Shops!” There came a hook and ladder truck, rushing by with
shrieking siren, and then the fire-chief in his automobile with a
fiercely clanging bell; they turned the corner, and far down the
street before them was the building in which for four years Jimmie
had tended the bolt-making machine. They saw that one whole end of
it was a towering, leaping, sweeping pillar of flames!




Jimmie Higgins regarded with the utmost resentment the determination
of the war to come to Leesville, in spite of all his labours to keep
it out. Take the most preposterous thing you could imagine--the most
idiotic thing on the face of the earth--take German spies! When
Jimmie heard people talking about German spies, he laughed in their
faces, he told them they were a bunch of fools, they belonged in the
nursery; for Jimmie classed German spies with goblins, witches and
sea-serpents. And here suddenly the bewildered little man found
himself in the midst of a German spy mania, the like of which he
could never have dreamed!

Everybody seemed to take it for granted that the Empire Machine
Shops had been burned by German agents; they just knew it, and by
the time the fire was out they had a hundred various stories to
support their conviction. The fire had leaped from place to place in
a series of explosions; the watchman, who had passed through the
building only two minutes before, had rushed back and seen blazing
gasolene, and had almost lost his life in the sweep of the flames.
And next morning the Leesville Herald was out with letters half a
foot high, telling these tales and insisting that the plant had been
full of German agents, disguised as working men.

Before the day was by the police had arrested a dozen perfectly
harmless German and Austrian labourers; at least that was the way it
seemed to Jimmie, because of the fact that two of the men were
members of the Socialist local. Somebody told Mrs. Meissner that all
the Germans in Leesville were to be arrested, and the poor woman was
trembling with terror. She wanted her husband to run away, but
Jimmie persuaded them that this would be the worst possible course;
so Meissner stayed in the house, and Jimmie kept his mouth shut for
three whole days--an extraordinary feat for him, and a trial more
severe than being in gaol.

He had lost his job--for ever, he thought. But in this again he
misjudged the forces which had taken his life in their grip--the
power of the gold which had come to Leesville by way of Russia. The
day after the fire he received word to report for work again; old
man Granitch was so anxious to keep his workers out of the clutches
of the Hubbard Engine Company that he put them all, skilled and
unskilled, at the job of clearing away the debris of the fire! And
five days later came the first carloads of new material, brought on
motor-trucks, and the rebuilding of the Empire Shops began. Would
you believe it--some of the machinery which had not been damaged too
much in the fire was fixed up, and at the end of a couple of weeks
was starting up again, covered by a temporary canvas shelter, and
with the walls of the new building rising round it!

That was the kind of thing which made America the marvel of the
world. It had made old man Granitch young again, people said; he
worked twenty hours a day in his shirt-sleeves, and the increase in
his profanity was appalling. Even Lacey Granitch, his dashing son,
quitted the bright lights of Broadway and came home to help the old
man keep his contracts. The enthusiasm for these contracts became as
it were the religion of Leesville; it spread even to the ranks of
labour, so that Jimmie found himself like a man in a surf,
struggling to keep his feet against an undertow.


The plans for the Worker were delayed, for the reason that when
Comrade Mary Allen, the Quaker, went to look for Jerry Coleman the
day after the fire, that dispenser of ten dollar bills had
mysteriously disappeared. It was a week before he showed up again;
and meantime fresh events had taken place, both in the local and
outside. To begin with the latter, as presumably the more important,
an English passenger liner, the pride of the Atlantic fleet, loaded
to the last cabin with American millionaires, was torpedoed without
warning by a German submarine. More than a thousand men, women and
children went down, and the deed sent a shudder of horror through
the civilized world. At the meeting of Local Leesville, which
happened to take place the evening afterward, it proved a difficult
matter to get business started.

The members stood about and argued. What could you say about a
government that ordered a crime like that? What could you say about
a naval officer who would carry out such an order? Thus Comrade
Norwood, the young lawyer; and Schneider, the brewer, answered that
the German government had done everything that any reasonable man
could ask. It had published a notice in the New York papers, to the
effect that the vessel was subject to attack, and that anyone who
travelled on her would do so at his peril. If women and children
would ride on munition-ships--

“Munition-ships?” cried Norwood; and then Schneider pointed to a
news-dispatch, to the effect that the Lusitania had had on board a
shipment of cartridge-cases.

“A fine lot of munitions!” jeered the lawyer.

Well, was the reply, what were cartridge-cases for, if not to kill
Germans? The Germans had been attacked by the whole world, and they
had to defend themselves. When you looked at Comrade Schneider, you
saw a man who felt himself attacked by the whole world; his face was
red up to the roots of his hair, and he was ready to defend himself
with any weapon he could get hold of.

Comrade Koeln, a big glass-blower, broke into the discussion. The
German government was authority for the statement that the Lusitania
had been armed with guns. And when Norwood hooted at this, every
German in the room was up in arms. What did he have to disprove it?
The word of the British government! Was not “perfidious Albion” a

“The thing that beats me,” declared the young lawyer, “is the way
you Germans stand up for the Kaiser now, when before the war you
couldn’t find enough bad things to say about him.”

“What beats me,” countered Schneider, “is how you Americans stand up
for King George. Every newspaper in Wall Street howling for America
to go into the war--just because some millionaires got killed!”

“You don’t seem to realize that the greater number of the men who
lost their lives on that ship were working men!”

“Ho! Ho!” hooted Comrade Stankewitz. “Vall Street loves so the
vorking men!”

Comrade Mary Allen, who loved all men, took up the argument. If
those working men had been killed in a mine disaster, caused by
criminal carelessness and greed for profits; if they had died of
some industrial disease which might easily have been prevented; if
they had been burned in a factory without fire-escapes--nobody in
Wall Street would have wanted to go to war. And, of course, every
Socialist considered this was true; every Socialist saw quite
clearly that the enormity of the Lusitania sinking lay in the fact
that it had reached and injured the privileged people, the people
who counted, who got their names in the papers and were not supposed
to be inconvenienced, even by war. So it was possible for Jimmie
Higgins, even though shocked by what the Germans had done, to be
irritated by the fuss which the Wall Street newspapers made.

Young Emil Forster spoke, and they listened to him, as they always
did. It was a quarrel, he said--and as usual in quarrels, both sides
had their rights and wrongs. You had to balance a few English and
American babies against the millions of German babies which the
British government intended to starve. It was British sea-power
maintaining itself--and of course controlling most of the channels
of publicity. It appealed to what it called “law”--that is to say,
the customs it had found convenient in the past. British cruisers
were able to visit and search vessels, and to take off their crews;
but submarines could not do that, so what the British clamour about
“law” amounted to was an attempt to keep Germany from using her only
weapon. After all, ask yourself honestly if it was any worse to
drown people quickly than to starve them slowly.

And then came “Wild Bill”. This wrangling over German and British
gave him a pain in the guts. Couldn’t they see, the big stiffs, that
they were playing the masters’ game? Quarrelling among themselves,
when they ought to be waking up the workers, getting ready for the
real fight. And wizened-up little Stankewitz broke in again--that
vas vy he hated var, it divided the vorkers. There was nothing you
could say for var. But “Wild Bill” smiled his crooked smile. There
were several things you could say. War gave the workers guns, and
taught them to use them; how would it be if some day they turned
these guns about and fought their own battles?


Comrade Gerrity now took the chair and made an effort to get things
started. The minutes of the last meeting were read, new members were
voted on, and then Comrade Mary Allen rose to report for the Worker
committee. The fund had been completed, the first number of the
paper was to appear next week, and it was now up to every member of
the local to get up on his toes and hustle as never in his life
before. Comrade Mary, with her thin, eager face of a religious
zealot, made everyone share her fervour.

All save Lawyer Norwood. Since the retirement of Dr. Service he was
the chief pro-ally trouble-maker, and he now made a little speech.
He had been agreeably surprised to learn that the money had been
raised so quickly; but then certain uncomfortable doubts having
occurred to him, he had made inquiries and found there was some
mystery about the matter. It was stated that the new paper was to
demand a general strike in the Empire; and of course everybody knew
there were powerful and sinister forces now interested in promoting
strikes in munition factories.

“Wild Bill” was on his feet in an instant. Had the comrade any
objection to munition workers demanding the eight hour day?

“No,” said Norwood, “of course not; but if we are going into a fight
with other people, we surely ought to know who they are and what
their purpose is. I have been informed--there seems to be a little
hesitation in talking about it--that a lot of money has been put up
by one man, and nobody knows who that man is.”

“He’s an organizer for the A. F. of L.!” The voice was Jimmie’s. In
his excitement the solemn pledge of secrecy was entirely forgotten!

“Indeed!” said Norwood. “What is his name?”

Nobody answered.

“Has he shown his credentials?” Again silence.

“Of course, I don’t need to tell men as familiar with union affairs
as the comrades here that every bona-fide organizer for a union
carries credentials. If he does not produce them, it is at least
occasion for writing to the organization and finding out about him.
Has anybody done that?”

Again there was silence.

“I don’t want to make charges,” said Norwood--

“Oh, no!” put in “Wild Bill”. “You only want to make insinuations!”

“What I want to do is merely to make sure that the local knows what
it is doing. It is no secret anywhere in Leesville that money is
being spent to cause trouble in the Empire. No doubt this money has
passed through a great many hands since it left the Kaiser’s, but we
may be sure that his hands are guiding it to its final end.”

And then what an uproar! “Shame! Shame!” cried some; and others
cried, “Bring your proofs!” The “wild” members shouted, “Put him
out!” They had long wanted to get rid of Norwood, and this looked to
be their chance.

But the young lawyer stood his ground and gave them shot for shot.
They wanted proofs, did they? Suppose they had learned of a
capitalist conspiracy to wreck the unions in the city; and suppose
that the Leesville Herald had been clamouring for “proofs”--what
would they have thought?

“In other words,” shouted Schneider, “you know it’s true, yust
because it’s Yermany!”

“I know it’s true,” said Norwood, “because it would help Germany to
win the war. One doesn’t have to have any other evidence--if a
certain thing will help Germany to win the war, one knows that thing
is being done. All you Germans know that, and what’s more, you’re
proud of it; it’s your efficiency that you boast.”

Again there was a cry of “Shame! Shame!” But the cry came from
Comrade Mary, the Quaker lady, and it was evident that she had
expected a chorus, and was disconcerted at being alone.

Young Norwood, who knew his Germans, laughed scornfully. “Just now
your government is selling bonds in America, supposed to be for the
benefit of the families of the dead and wounded. Some of those bonds
have been taken in this city, as I happen to know. Does anybody
really believe the money will reach the families of the dead and

This time the Germans answered. “I belief it!” roared Comrade Koeln.
“And I! And I!” shouted others.

“That money is staying right here in Leesville!” proclaimed the
lawyer. “It is preparing a strike in the Empire!”

A dozen men wanted the floor at once. Schneider, the brewer, got it,
for the reason that he could outbellow anyone else. “What does the
comrade want?” he demanded. “Is he not for the eight hour day?”

“Has he got any of the old man Granitch’s money?” shrilled “Wild
Bill”. “Or maybe he doesn’t know that Granitch is spending money to
get smart young lawyers to help keep his munition slaves at work?”


Norwood, having thrown the fat into the fire, sat down for a while
and let it blaze. When the Germans taunted him with being afraid to
say what he really meant--that the local should oppose the demand
for the eight hour day--he merely laughed at them. He had wanted to
make them show themselves up, and he had done it. Not merely were
they willing to do the work of the Kaiser--they were willing to take
the Kaiser’s pay for doing it!

“Take his pay?” cried “Wild Bill”. “I’d take the devil’s pay to
carry on Socialist propaganda!”

Old Hermann Forster rose and spoke, in his gentle sentimental voice.
If it were true that the Kaiser was paying money for such ends, he
would surely find he had bought very little. There were Socialists
in Germany, one must remember--

And then came a shrill laugh. Those tame German Socialists! It was
Comrade Claudel, a Belgian jeweller, who spoke. Would any rabbit be
afraid of such revolutionists as them? Eating out of the Kaiser’s
hand--having their papers distributed in the trenches for government
propaganda! Talk to a Belgian about German Socialists!

So you saw the European national lines splitting Local Leesville in
two: on the one side, the Germans and the Austrians, the Russian
Jews, the Irish and the religious pacifists; on the other side, two
English glass-blowers, a French waiter, and several Americans who,
because of college-education or other snobbish weakness, were
suspected of tenderness for John Bull. Between these extreme
factions stood the bulk of the membership, listening bewildered,
trying to grope their way through the labyrinth.

It was no easy job for these plain fellows, the Jimmie Higginses.
When they tried to think the matter out, they were almost brought to
despair. There were so many sides to the question--the last fellow
you met always had a better argument than anyone you had heard
before! You sympathized with Belgium and France, of course; but
could you help hating the British ruling classes? They were your
hereditary enemies--your school-book enemies, so to speak. And they
were the ones you knew most about; since every American jack-ass
that got rich quick and wanted to set himself up above his fellows
would proceed to get English clothes and English servants and
English bad manners. To the average plain American, the word English
stood for privilege, for ruling class culture, the things
established, the things against which he was in rebellion; Germany
was the I. W. W. among the nations--the fellow who had never got a
chance and was now hitting out for it. Moreover, the Germans were
efficient; they took the trouble to put their case before you, they
cared what you thought about them; whereas the Englishman, damn him,
turned up his snobbish nose, not caring a whoop what you or anybody
might think.

Moreover, in this controversy the force of inertia was on the German
side, and inertia is a powerful force in any organization. What the
Germans wanted of American Socialists was simply that they should go
on doing what they had been doing all their lives. And the Socialist
machine had been set up for the purpose of going on, regardless of
all the powers on earth, in the heavens above the earth, or in hell
beneath. Ask Jimmie Higgins to stop demanding higher wages and the
eight hour day! Wouldn’t anybody in his senses know what Jimmie
would answer to that proposition? Go chase yourself!


But, on the other hand, it must be admitted that Jimmie was
staggered by the idea that he might be getting into the pay of the
Kaiser. It was true that the traditions of the Socialist movement
were German traditions, but they were German anti-Government
traditions: Jimmie regarded the Kaiser as the devil incarnate, and
the bare idea of doing anything the Kaiser wanted done was enough to
make him stop short. He could see also what a bad thing it would be
for the movement to have any person believe that it was taking the
Kaiser’s money. Suppose, for example, that a report of this
evening’s discussion should reach the Herald! And with the public
inflamed to madness over the Lusitania affair!

After the discussion had proceeded for an hour or so, Norwood made a
motion to the effect that the Worker committee should be instructed
to investigate thoroughly the sources of all funds contributed, and
to reject any that did not come from Socialists, or those in
sympathy with Socialism. The common sense of the meeting asserted
itself, and even the Germans voted for this motion. Sure, let them
go ahead and investigate! The Socialist movement was clean, it had
always been clean, it had nothing to conceal from anyone.

But then came another controversy. Claudel moved that Norwood should
be made a member of the committee; and this, of course, was bitterly
opposed by the radicals. It was an insult to the integrity of the
committee. Then, too, suggested Baggs, an Englishman, perhaps
Norwood might really find out something! The Jimmie Higginses voted
down the motion--not because they feared any disclosures, but
because they felt that a quiet, sensible fellow like Gerrity, their
organizer, might be trusted to protect the good faith of the
movement, and without antagonizing anybody or making a fuss.

The investigation took place, and the result of it was that the
money which Jerry Coleman had contributed for the Worker was quietly
returned to him. But the difference was at once made up by the
Germans in the local, who regarded the whole thing as a put-up job,
an effort to block the agitation for a strike. These comrades took
no stock whatever in the talk about “German gold”; but on the other
hand they were keenly on the alert for the influence of Russian
gold, which they knew was being openly distributed by old Abel
Granitch. And so they put their hands down into their pockets and
dug out their scanty wages, so that the demand for social justice
might be kept alive in Leesville.

The upshot of the whole episode was that the local rejected the
Kaiser’s pay, but went on doing what the Kaiser wanted without pay.
This could hardly be considered a satisfactory solution, but it was
the best that Jimmie Higgins was able to work out at this time.


The first issue of the Worker appeared, with Jack Smith’s editorial
spread over the front page, calling upon the workers of the Empire
to take this occasion to organize and demand their rights. “Eight
hours for work, eight hours for sleep, eight hours for play!”
 proclaimed Comrade Jack; and the Herald and the Courier, stung to a
frenzy by the appearance of a poacher on their journalistic
preserves, answered with broadsides about “German propaganda”. The
Herald got the story of what had happened in the local; also it
printed a picture of “Wild Bill”, and an interview with that terror
of the West, who declared that he was for war on the capitalist
class with the aid of any and every ally that came along--even to
the extent of emery powder in ball-bearings and copper nails driven
into fruit trees.

The Herald charged that the attitude of the Socialists toward
“tainted wealth” was all a sham. What had happened was simply that
the German members of the local were getting German money, and
making it “Socialist money” by the simple device of passing it
through their consecrated hands. As this had been hinted by Norwood
in the local, the German comrades now charged that Norwood had
betrayed the movement to the capitalist press. And so came another
bitter controversy in the local. The young lawyer laughed at the
charge. Did they really believe they could take German money in
Leesville, and not have the fact become known?

“Then you think we are taking German money?” roared Schneider; and
he clamoured furiously for an answer. The other would not answer
directly, but he told them a little parable. He saw a tree, sending
down its roots into the ground, spreading everywhere, each tiny
rootlet constructed for the purpose of absorbing water. And on the
top of the ground was a man with a supply of water, which he poured
out; he poured and poured without stint, and the water seeped down
toward the rootlets, and every rootlet was reaching for water,
pushing toward the places where water was likely to be. “And now,”
 said Norwood, “you ask me, do I believe that tree has been getting
any of that water?”

And here, of course, was the basis of a bitter quarrel. The
hot-heads would not listen to subtle distinctions; they declared
that Norwood was accusing the movement of corruption, he was making
out his anti-war opponents to be villains! He was providing the
capitalist press with ammunition. For shame! for shame! “He’s a
stool-pigeon!” shrieked “Wild Bill”. “Put him out, the Judas!”

The average member of the local, the perfectly sincere fellow like
Jimmie Higgins, who was wearing himself out, half-starving himself
in the effort to bring enlightenment to his class, listened to these
controversies with bewildered distress. He saw them as echoes of the
terrible national hatreds which were rending Europe, and he resented
having these old world disputes thrust into American industrial
life. Why could he not go on with his duty of leading the American
workers into the co-operative commonwealth?

Because, answered the Germans, old man Granitch wanted to keep the
American workers as munition-slaves; and to this idea the
overwhelming percentage of the membership agreed. They were not
pacifists, non-resistants; they were perfectly willing to fight the
battles of the working-class; what they objected to was having to
fight the battles of the master-class. They wanted to go on, as they
had always gone, opposing the master-class and paying no heed to
talk about German agents. Jimmie Higgins believed--and in this
belief he was perfectly correct--that even had there been no German
agents, the capitalist papers of Leesville would have invented them,
as a means of discrediting the agitators in this crisis. Jimmie
Higgins had lived all his life in a country in which his masters
starved and oppressed him, and when he tried to help himself, met
him with every weapon of treachery and slander. So Jimmie had made
up his mind that one capitalist country was the same as another
capitalist country, and that he would not be frightened into
submission by tales about goblins and witches and sea-serpents and
German spies.




Every evening now the party held its “soap-box” meetings on a corner
just off Main Street. Jimmie, having volunteered as one of the
assistants, would bolt his supper in the evening and hurry off to
the spot. He was not one of the speakers, of course--he would have
been terrified at the idea of making a speech; but he was one of
those whose labours made the speaking possible, and who reaped the
harvest for the movement.

The apparatus of the meeting was kept in the shop of a friendly
carpenter near-by. The carpenter had made a “soap-box” that was a
wonder--a platform mounted upon four slender legs, detachable, so
that one man could carry the whole business and set it up. Thus the
speaker was lifted a couple of feet above the heads of the crowd,
and provided with a hand-rail upon which he might lean, and even
pound, if he did not pound too hard. A kerosene torch burned some
distance from his head, illuminating his features, and it was
Jimmie’s business to see that this torch was properly cleaned and
filled, and to hold it erect on a pole part of the time. The rest of
the time he peddled literature among the crowd--copies of the
Leesville Worker, and five and ten cent pamphlets supplied by the
National Office.

He would come home at night, worn out from these labours after his
daily toil; he would fall asleep at Lizzie’s side, and have to be
routed out by her when the alarm-clock went off next morning. She
would get him a cup of hot coffee, and after he had drunk this, he
would be himself again, and would chatter about the adventures of
the night before. There was always something happening, a fellow
starting a controversy, a drunken man, or perhaps a couple of thugs
in the pay of old man Granitch, trying to break up the meeting.

Lizzie would do her best to show that sympathy with her husband’s
activities which is expected from a dutiful wife. But all the time
there was a grief in her soul--the eternal grief of the feminine
temperament, which is cautious and conservative, in conflict with
the masculine, which is adventurous and destructive. Here was
Jimmie, earning twice what he had ever earned before, having a
chance to feed his children properly and to put by a little margin
for the first time in his harassed life; but instead of making the
most of the opportunity, he was going out on the streets every
night, doing everything in his power to destroy the golden occasion
which Fate had brought to him! Like the fellow who climbs a tree to
saw off a limb, and sits on the limb and saws between himself and
the tree!

In spite of her best efforts, Lizzie’s broad, kindly face would
sometimes become hard with disappointment, and a big tear would roll
down each of her sturdy cheeks. Jimmie would be sorry for her, and
would patiently try to explain his actions. Should a man think only
of his own wife and children, and forget entirely all the other
wives and children of the working-class? That was why the workers
had been slaves all through the ages, because each thought of
himself, and never of his fellows. No, you must think of your class!
You must act as a class--on the alert to seize every advantage, to
teach solidarity and stimulate class-consciousness! Jimmie would use
these long words, which he had heard at meetings; but then, seeing
that Lizzie did not understand them, he would go back and say it
over again in words of one syllable. They had old man Granitch in a
hole just now, and they must teach him a lesson, and at the same
time teach the workers their power. Lizzie would sigh, and shake her
head; for to her, old man Granitch was not a human being, but a
natural phenomenon, like winter, or hunger. He, or some other like
him, had been the master of her fathers for generations untold, and
to try to break or even to limit his power was like commanding the
tide or the sun.


Events moved quickly to their culmination, justifying the worst of
Lizzie’s fears. The shops were seething with discontent, and
agitators seemed fairly to spring out of the ground; some of them
paid by Jerry Coleman, no doubt, others taking their pay in the form
of gratification of those grudges with which the profit-system had
filled their hearts. Noon-meetings would start up, quite
spontaneously, without any prearrangement; and presently Jimmie
learned that men were going about taking the names of all who would
agree to strike.

The matter was brought to a head by the Empire managers, who, of
course, were kept informed by their spies. They discharged more than
a score of the trouble-makers; and when this news spread at
noon-time, the whole place burst into a flame of wrath. “Strike!
strike!” was the cry. Jimmie was one of many who started a
procession through the yards, shouting, singing, hurling menaces at
the bosses, challenging all who proposed to return to work. Less
than one-tenth of the working force made any attempt to do so, and
for that afternoon the plant of the Empire Machine Shops, which was
supposed to be turning out shell-casings for the Russian government,
was turning out labour-union, Socialist, and I. W. W. oratory.

Jimmie Higgins was beside himself with excitement. He danced about
and waved his cap, he shouted himself hoarse, he almost yielded to
the impulse to jump upon a pile of lumber and make a speech himself.
Presently came Comrades Gerrity and Mary Allen, who had got wind of
the trouble, and had loaded a whole edition of the Worker into a
Ford; so Jimmie turned newsboy, selling these papers, hundreds of
them, until his pockets were bursting with the weight of pennies and
nickels. And then he was pressed into service running errands for
those who were arranging to organize the workers; he carried bundles
of membership-cards and application-blanks, following a man with a
bull voice and a megaphone, who shouted in several languages the
location of union headquarters, and the halls where various foreign
language meetings would be held that evening. Evidently someone had
foreseen the breaking of this trouble, and had been at pains to plan

Late in the afternoon Jimmie was witness of an exciting incident. In
one of the shops a number of the men had persisted in returning to
work, and an immense throng of strikers had gathered to wait for
them. They were afraid to come out, but stayed in the building after
the quitting-whistle, while those outside jeered and hooted and the
bosses telephoned frantically for aid. The greater part of the
Leesville police-force was on hand, and in addition, the company had
its own guards and private detectives. But they were needed all over
the place. You saw them at the various entrances, menacing, but not
quite so sure of themselves as usual; their hands had a tendency to
slip back to the bulge on their right hips.

Jimmie and another fellow had got themselves an empty box and were
standing on it, leaning against the wall of the building and
shouting “Ya! Ya!” at every “scab” head that showed itself. They saw
an automobile come in at the gate, its horn honking savagely,
causing the crowd to leap to one side or the other. The automobile
was packed with men, sitting on one another’s knees, or hanging to
the running-boards outside. There came a second car, loaded in the
same fashion. They were guards, sent all the way from Hubbardtown;
for of course the Hubbard Engine Company would help out its rivals
in an emergency such as this. That was the solidarity of capitalism,
concerning which the Socialists never wearied of preaching.

The men leaped from the cars, and spread themselves fanwise in front
of the door. They had nightsticks in their hands, and grim
resolution in their faces; they cried, “Stand back! Stand back!” The
crowd hooted, but gave slightly, and a few minutes later the doors
of the building opened, and the first of the timid workers emerged.
There was a howl, and then from somewhere in the throng a stone was
thrown. “Arrest that man!” shouted a voice, and Jimmie’s attention
was attracted to the owner of this voice--a young man who had
arrived in the first automobile, and was now standing up in the
seat, from which position he could dominate the throng. “Arrest that
man!” he shouted again, pointing his finger; and three of the guards
leaped into the crowd at the spot indicated. The man who had thrown
the missile started to run, but he could not go fast in the crowd,
and in a moment, as it seemed, the guards had him by the collar. He
tried to jerk away, and they struck him over the head, and laid
about them to keep the rest of the throng at bay. “Take him inside!”
 the young man in the car kept shouting. And one of the guards
twisted his hand in the collar of the wretched stone-thrower, until
he grew purple in the face, and so half-dragged and half-ran him
into the building.


The young man in the car turned toward the crowd which was blocking
the way to the exit. “Get those men out of the way!” he yelled to
the guards. “Drive them along--God damn them, they’ve got no
business in here.” And so on, with a string of dynamic profanity,
which stung both guards and policemen into action, and made them ply
their clubs upon the crowd.

“Do you know who that is?” asked Jimmie’s companion on the box.
“That’s Lacey Granitch.”

Jimmie started, experiencing a thrill to the soles of his ragged
shoes. Lacey Granitch! In the four years that the little machinist
had worked for the Empire, he had never caught a glimpse of the
young lord of Leesville--something which may easily be believed,
for the young lord considered Leesville “a hole of a town”, and
honoured it with his presence only once or twice a year. But his
spirit brooded over it; he was to Leesville a mythological figure,
either of wonder and awe, or of horror, according to the temperament
of the contemplator. One day “Wild Bill” had arisen in the local,
and held aloft a page from the “magazine supplement” of one of the
metropolitan “yellows”. There was an account of how Lacey Granitch
had broken the hearts of seven chorus-girls by running away with an
eighth. He fairly “ate ‘em alive”, according to the account; in
order to give an idea of the atmosphere in which the young hero
abode, the whirl of delight which was his life, the artist of the
Sunday supplement had woven round the border of the page a maze of
feminine ankles and calves in a delirium of lingerie; while at the
top was a supper-table with champagne-corks popping, and a lady clad
in inadequate veils dancing amid the dishes.

This had happened while the local was in the midst of an acrimonious
controversy over “Section Six”. Should the Socialist party bar from
its membership those who advocated sabotage, violence and crime?
Young Norwood was pleading for orderly methods of social
reconstruction; and here stood “Wild Bill”, ripping to shreds the
reputation of the young plutocrat of the Empire Shops. “That’s what
you geezers are sweating for! That’s why you’ve got to be good, and
not throw monkey-wrenches in the machinery--so the seven
broken-hearted chorus-girls can drown their sorrows in champagne!”

And now here was the hero of all these romantic escapades, forsaking
the white lights of Broadway, and coming home to help the old man
keep his contracts. He stood in the seat of the automobile, glancing
this way and that, swiftly, like a hunter on the alert for dangerous
game. His dark eyes roamed here and there, his proud face was pale
with anger, his tall, perfectly groomed figure was eloquent of
mastership, of command. He was imperious as a young Caesar, terrible
in his vengeance; and poor Jimmie, watching him, was torn between
two contradictory emotions. He hated him--hated him with a deadly
and abiding hatred. But also he admired him, marvelled at him,
cringed before him. Lacey was a wanton, a cursing tyrant, a brutal
snob; but also he was the master, the conqueror, the proud, free,
rich young aristocrat, for whom all the rest of humanity existed.
And Jimmie Higgins was a poor little worm of a proletarian, with
nothing but his labour-power to sell, trying by sheer force of his
will to lift himself out of his slave-psychology!

There is an old adage that “a cat may look at a king”. But this can
only have been meant to apply to house-cats, cats of the palace,
accustomed to the etiquette of courts; it cannot have been meant for
proletarian cats of the gutter, the Jimmie Higgins variety of red
revolutionary yowlers. Jimmie and his companion stood on their
perch, shouting “Ya! Ya!” and suddenly the crowd melted away in
front of them, exposing them to the angry finger of the young
master. “Get along now! Beat it! Quick!” And Jimmie, poor little
ragged, stunted Jimmie, with bad teeth and toil-deformed hands,
wilted before this blast of aristocratic wrath, and made haste to
hide himself in the throng. But it was with blazing soul that he
went; every instant he imagined himself turning back, defying the
angry finger, shouting down the imperious voice, even smashing it
back into the throat from which it came!


Jimmie did not even stop for supper. The greater part of the night
he worked at helping to organize the strikers, and all next day he
spent arranging Socialist meetings. He worked like a man possessed,
lifted above the limitations of the flesh. For everywhere that day
he carried with him the image of the proud, free, rich young
aristocrat, with his dark eyes roaming swiftly, his tall, perfectly
groomed figure eloquent of mastership, his voice ringing with
challenge. Jimmie was for the time utterly possessed by hatred; and
he saw about him thousands of others sharing the mood and shouting
it aloud. Every speaker who could be found was turned loose to talk
till he was hoarse, and in the evening there was to be half a dozen
street meetings. That was always the way when there were strikes;
then the working man had time to listen--and also the desire!

So came the final crisis, when the little machinist had to show the
stuff he was made of. He was holding aloft the torch at the regular
meeting-place on the corner of Main and Third Streets, and Comrade
Gerrity was explaining the strike and the ballot as two edges of the
sword of labour, when four policemen came suddenly round the corner
and pushed their way through the crowd. “You’ll have to stop this!”
 declared one.

“Stop?” cried Gerrity. “What do you mean?”

“There’s to be no more street-speaking during the strike.”

“Who says so?”

“Orders from the chief.”

“But we’ve got a permit.”

“All permits revoked. Cut it out.”

“But this is an outrage!”

“We don’t want any argument, young man--”

“But we’re within our rights here.”

“Forget it, young feller!”

Gerrity turned swiftly to the throng.

“Fellow-citizens,” he cried, “we are here in the exercise of our
rights as American citizens! We are conducting a peaceable and
orderly political meeting, and we know our rights and propose to
maintain them. We--”

“Come down off that box, young feller!” commanded the officer; and
the crowd hooted and booed.

“Fellow-citizens!” began Gerrity again; but that was as far as he
got, for the policeman seized him by the arm and pulled; and Gerrity
knew the ways of American policemen too well to resist. He came
down--but still talking. “Fellow-citizens--”

“Are you goin’ to shut up?” demanded the other, and as Gerrity still
went on orating, he announced: “You are under arrest.”

There were half a dozen Socialists with the party, and this was a
challenge to the self-respect of everyone of them. In an instant
Comrade Mabel Smith had leaped on to the stand. “Fellow workers!”
 she cried. “Is this America, or is it Russia?”

“That’ll do, lady,” said the policeman, as considerately as he
dared; for Comrade Mabel wore a big picture-hat and many other signs
of youth and beauty.

“I have a right to speak here, and I mean to speak,” she declared.

“We don’t want to have to arrest you, lady--”

“You either have to arrest me, or else allow me to speak.”

“I’m sorry, lady, but it’s orders. You are arrested.”

Then came the turn of Comrade Stankewitz. “Vorking men, it is for
the rights of the vorkers ve are here.” And so they jerked him off.

And then “Wild Bill”. This hundred per cent, middle-of-the-road
proletarian had been hanging on the outskirts of the meeting, having
been forbidden by the local to take part in the speaking, because of
the intemperate nature of his utterances; but now, of course, all
rules went down, and Bill leaped on to the shaking platform. “Are we
slaves?” he yelled. “Are we dogs?” And it would seem that the police
thought so, for they yanked him off the platform, and one of them
seized him by the wrist and twisted so that his oration ended in a
shriek of pain.

Then came Johnny Edge, a shy youth with an armful of literature,
which he hung on to in spite of police violence; and then--then
there was one more!

Poor Jimmie! He did not in the least want to get arrested, and he
was terrified at the idea of making even so short a speech as was
here the order of the night. But, of course, his honour was at
stake, there was no way out. He handed his torch to a bystander, and
mounted the scaffold. “Is this a free country?” he cried. “Do we
have free speech?” And Jimmie’s first effort at oratory ended in a
jerk at his coat-tail, which all but upset the frail platform upon
which he stood.

There were four policemen, with six prisoners, and a throng about
them howling with indignation, perhaps ready to become violent--who
could say? The guardians of order had been prepared however. One of
them stepped to the corner and blew his whistle, and a minute later
came the shriek of a siren, and round the corner came swinging the
city’s big patrol-wagon, the “Black Maria”. The crowd gave way, and
one by one the prisoners were thrust in. One of them, “Wild Bill”,
feeling himself for a moment released from the grip of his captors,
raised his voice, shouting through the wire grating of the wagon: “I
denounce this outrage! I am a free American--” And suddenly Jimmie,
who was next in the wagon, felt himself flung to one side, and a
policeman leaped by him, and planted his fist with terrific violence
full in the orator’s mouth. “Wild Bill” went down like a bullock
under the slaughter-man’s axe, and the patrol-wagon started up, the
cry of its siren drowning the protests of the crowd.

Poor Bill! He lay across the seat, and Jimmie, who had to sit next
to him, caught him in his arms and held him. He was quivering, with
awful motions like a spasm. He made no sound, and Jimmie was
terrified, thinking that he was dying. Before long Jimmie felt a hot
wetness stealing over his hands, first slimy, then turning sticky.
He had to sit there, almost fainting with horror; he dared not say
anything, for maybe the policeman would strike him also. He sat,
clutching in his arms the shaking body, and whispering under his
breath, “Poor Bill! Poor Bill!”


They came to the station-house, and Bill was carried out and laid on
a bench, and the others were stood up before the desk and had their
pedigrees taken. Gerrity demanded indignantly to be allowed to
telephone, and this demand was granted. He routed Lawyer Norwood
from a party, and set him to finding bail; and meantime the
prisoners were led to cells.

They had been there only a couple of minutes when there came
floating through the row of steel cages the voice of a woman
singing. It was Comrade Mabel Smith in that clear sweet voice they
had so often listened to on “social evenings” in the local. She was
singing the Internationale:

    Arise, ye prisoners of starvation.
    Arise, ye wretched of the earth!

The sound thrilled them to the very bones, and they joined in the
chorus with a shout. Then, of course, came the jailer: “Shut up.”
 And then again: “Shut up!” And then a third time: “Will ye shut up?”
 And then came a bucket of water, hurled through the cell bars. It
hit Jimmie squarely in the mouth, and in the words of the poet, “the
subsequent proceedings interested him no more!”

About midnight came Lawyer Norwood and Dr. Service. Both of these
men had protested against the street-speaking at this time; but of
course, when it came to comrades in trouble, they could not resist
the appeal to their sympathies. Such is the difficulty of entirely
respectable and decorous “parlour” Socialists, in their dealings
with the wayward children of the movement, the “impossibilists” and
“direct actionists” and other sowers of proletarian wild oats. Dr.
Service produced a wad of bills and bailed out all the prisoners,
and delivered himself of impressive indignation to the
police-sergeant, while waiting for an ambulance to carry “Wild Bill”
 to the hospital. Jimmie Higgins, who had always hitherto shouted
with the “wild” ones, realized suddenly how pleasant it is to have a
friend who wears black broadcloth, and carries himself like the
drum-major of a band, and is reputed to be worth a couple of hundred
thousand dollars.

Jimmie went home; and there was Lizzie, pacing the floor and
wringing her hands in anxiety--for there had been no way to get word
to her what had happened. She flung herself into his arms, and then
recoiled in fright when, she discovered that he was wet. He told her
the story; and would you believe it--Lizzie, being a woman, and only
in the A-B-C stage of revolutionary education, actually did not know
that it was a glorious and heroic adventure to be arrested! She
thought it a disgrace, and tried to persuade him to keep the
dreadful secret from the neighbourhood! And when she found that he
was not through yet, but had to go to court in the morning and be
tried, she wept copiously, and woke up Jimmie Junior, and started
him to bawling. She was only to be pacified when Jimmie Senior
agreed to take off his wet clothes at once, and drink a cup or two
of boiling hot tea, and let himself be covered up with blankets, so
that he might not die of pneumonia before he could get to court.

Next morning there was a crowded court-room and a stern and solemn
judge frowning over his spectacles, and Lawyer Norwood making an
impassioned defence of the fundamental American right of free
speech. It was so very thrilling that Jimmie could hardly be kept
from applauding his own lawyer! And then Comrade Dr. Service arose,
and in his most impressive voice gave the professional information
that “Wild Bill’s” nose had been broken, and three of his front
teeth knocked out, and that he was in the hospital and unable to
come to court; and all the other prisoners were called upon to
testify what “Wild Bill” had done to bring this fate upon him. The
policeman who had struck the blow testified that the prisoner had
resisted arrest; a second policeman testified, “I seen the prisoner
hit him first, your Honour,”--which caused Comrade Mabel Smith to
cry out, “Oh, the ungrammatical prevaricator!” The upshot of the
trial was that each of the defendants was fined ten dollars. Comrade
Gerrity led off with an indignant refusal to pay the fine; the rest
of them followed suit--even Comrade Mabel! This caused evident
distress of mind to the judge, for Comrade Mabel with her indignant
pink cheeks and her big picture-hat looked more than ever the lady,
and it is a fact known even to judges that American jails have not
been constructed for ladies. The matter was settled by Lawyer
Norwood paying her fine, in spite of her protests, and her demand to
be sent to jail.


The five men were led away, over the “Bridge of Sighs”, as it was
called, to the city jail, where they had their pedigrees taken
again, and their pictures and their finger-prints--which for the
first time impressed upon their minds the fact that they were
dangerous criminals. Their clothes were taken away, and shirts and
trousers given them, whose faded blue colour seemed to have been
impregnated with the misery of scores of previous wearers. They were
led through steel-barred doors, and along dark, steel-barred
passages to one of the “tanks”. A “tank”, you discovered, was one
floor of this four-storied packing box; on each side of it were a
row of a dozen barred cells, each with four bunks, so that the total
maximum population which might be crowded into the central space of
the “tank” was ninety-six; however, this only happened on Monday
mornings, when the “drunks” had all been brought in, and before the
courts had had time to sort them out.

After you had lain down on your bunk for a few minutes, or had
leaned against the wall of the “tank”, you felt an annoying stinging
sensation somewhere on you. You began to rub and scratch; before
long you would be rubbing and scratching in a dozen different
places, and then you would observe your neighbour watching you with
a grin. “Seam-squirrels?” he would say; and he would bid you take
off your coat, and engage in the popular hunting game of the
institution. Jimmie remembered having heard a speaker refer to the
city jail as the “Leesville Louseranch”; he had thought that a good
joke at the time, but now it seemed otherwise to him.

It was splendid to stand up in court and to take your stand as a
martyr; but now Jimmie discovered, as many an unfortunate has
discovered before him, that being a martyr is not the sport it is
cracked up to be. There were no heroics now, no singing. If you even
so much as hummed, they took you out and shut you up in a dark hole
called the “cooler”! Nor could you read, for there was no light in
your cell, and perpetual twilight in the central gathering place of
the “tank”. Apparently the only things the authorities of Leesville
wished you to do were to hunt “seam-squirrels”, to smoke cigarettes,
to “shoot craps”, and to make the acquaintance of a variety of
interesting young criminals, so that when you were ready to resume
your outside life you might decide whether you wanted to be a
hold-up man, a safe-cracker, a forger, or a second-story operator.

Jimmie Higgins, of course, brought a different psychology from that
of the average jail-inmate. Jimmie could do his kind of work just as
well in jail as anywhere else; and barring the torment of vermin,
the diet of bread and thin coffee and ill-smelling greasy soup, and
the worry about his helpless family outside, he really had a happy
time-making the acquaintance of tramps and pickpockets, and
explaining to them the revolutionary philosophy. A man who went in
to remedy social injustice all by himself could never get very far.
It was only when he realized himself as a member of a class, and
stood as a class and acted as a class, that he could accomplish a
permanent result. Some of the workers had discovered this, and had
set out to educate their fellows. They brought the wondrous message,
even to those in jail; holding out to them the vision of a world
made over in justice and kindness, the co-operative commonwealth of
labour, in which every man should get what he produced, and no man
could exploit his fellows.


Three days passed, and then one afternoon Jimmie was summoned to see
a visitor. He could guess who the visitor was, and he went with his
heart in his throat, and looked through the dark mesh of wire, and
saw Lizzie standing--stout, motherly Lizzie, now very pale, and
breathing hard, and with tears running in little streamlets down her
cheeks. Poor Lizzie, with her three babies at home, and her plain,
ordinary, non-revolutionary psychology, which made going to jail a
humiliation instead of a test of manhood, a badge of distinction!
Jimmie felt a clutch in his own throat, and an impulse to tear down
the beastly wire mesh and clasp the dear motherly soul in his arms.
But all he could do was to screw his face into a dubious smile.
Sure, he was having the time of his life in this jail! He wouldn’t
have missed it for anything! He had made a Socialist out of
“Dead-eye Mike”, and had got Pete Curley, a fancy “con” man, to
promise to read “War, What For?”

There was only one thing which had been troubling him, and that was,
how his family was getting on. They had had practically nothing in
the house, he knew, and poor Meissner could not feed four extra
mouths. But Lizzie, also screwing her face into a smile, assured him
that everything was all right at home, there was no need to worry.
In the first place, Comrade Dr. Service had sent her a piece of
paper with his name written on it; it appeared that this was called
a cheque, and the groceryman had exchanged it for a five dollar
bill. And in the next place there was a domestic secret which Lizzie
had to confide--she had put by some money, without letting Jimmie
know it.

“But how?” cried Jimmie, in wonder--for he had thought he knew all
about his household and its expenses.

So Lizzie explained the trick she had played. Jimmie had committed
an extravagance, treating her to a new dress out of his increased
earnings: a gorgeous contrivance of several colours, looking like
silk, even if it wasn’t. Lizzie had stated that the cost was fifteen
dollars, and he, the dupe, had believed it! The truth was she had
bought the dress in a second-hand shop for three dollars, and had
put twelve dollars away for the time of the strike!

And Jimmie went back to his “tank”, shaking his head and
philosophizing: “Gee! Can you beat these women?”




The strike was over when Jimmie came out of jail; it had been
settled by the double-barrelled device of raising the wages of the
men and putting their leaders behind bars. Jimmie presented himself
at his old place of working, and the boss told him to go to hell; so
Jimmie went to Hubbardtown, and stood in the long line of men
waiting at the gate of the engine company. Jimmie knew about
black-lists, so when his time came to be questioned, he said his
name was Joe Aronsky, and he had last worked in a machine-shop in
Pittsburg; he had come to Hubbardtown because he had heard of high
pay and good treatment. While he was answering these questions, he
noticed a man sitting in the corner of the room studying his face,
and he saw the boss turn and glance in that direction. The man shook
his head, and the boss said: “Nothin’ doin’.” So Jimmie understood
that the Hubbard Engine Company was taking measures to keep its
shops clear of the agitators from Leesville.

He spent a couple of days trying other places in his home town, but
all in vain--they had him spotted. At the brewery they were slower
than elsewhere--they took him on for two hours. Then they found out
his record, and “fired” him; and Jimmie “kidded” the boss, saying
that they were too late--he had already given a Socialist leaflet to
every man in the room!

On Jefferson Street, an out of the way part of the town, was a
bicycle-shop kept by an old German named Kumme. One of the comrades
told Jimmie that he wanted a helper, and Jimmie went there and got a
job at two dollars a day. That was poor pay at present prices, but
Jimmie liked the place, because his boss was a near-Socialist, a
pacifist--for all countries except Germany. He got round it by
saying that every nation had a right to defend itself; and Germany
was the nation which had been attacked in this war. A good part of
the energies of the old man went into proving this to his customers;
if there were any customers who did not like it, they could go

Those who came were largely Germans, and so Jimmie was kept fully
supplied with arguments against the munitions industry, which they
called a trade in murder, and in favour of the programme of “Feed
America First”. Among those who frequented the place was Jerry
Coleman, who was still on the job, and as well supplied with
ten-dollar bills as ever. He had now revealed himself as an
organizer for a new propaganda society, called “Labour’s National
Peace Council”. Inasmuch as Labour and Peace were the phrases upon
which Jimmie lived, he saw no reason why he should not back this
organization. Coleman assured Jimmie he hated the Kaiser, but that
the German “people” must be defended. So Jimmie became, without
having the least idea of it, one of the agencies whereby the Kaiser
was subsidizing social discontent in America.

But Jimmie was more careful now in his agitations. He had brought
such distress into his home by his jail sentence, that he had been
forced to make promises to Lizzie. Her anxiety for her children
could no longer be kept to herself; and this caused a certain amount
of friction between them, and sent Jimmie out grumbling at his lot
in life. What was the use of trying to educate a woman, who could
see no farther than her own kitchen-stove? When you wanted to be a
world-saviour, to walk tip-toe on the misty mountain-tops of
heroism, she dragged you down and chained you to the commonplace,
taking all the zest and fervour out of your soul! The memories of
“seam-squirrels” and of thin coffee and ill-smelling and greasy soup
had slipped somewhat into the background of Jimmie’s mind, and he
lived again the sublime hour when he had confronted the court and
stood for the fundamental rights of an American citizen. He wanted
to have that act of daring appreciated at its true value. Poor,
blind, home-keeping Lizzie, who could not fulfil these deeper needs
of her husband’s soul!

Jimmie had been, so far in his married life, as well domesticated as
could be expected of a proletarian propagandist. He had yearned to
own a home of his own, and meantime had manifested his repressed
wish by getting a big packing-box and some broken shingles, and
building a model play-house for Jimmie Junior in the back yard. He
had even found time on his tired and crowded Sundays to start a
garden in midsummer, the season when the local was least active. But
now, of course, the war had come to obsess his mind, driving him to
terror for the future of humanity, tempting him to martyrdoms and
domestic irritations.


It was at this critical period in Jimmie’s life that there appeared
in Leesville a vivid young person by the name of Evelyn Baskerville.
Evelyn was no tired kitchen slave--with her fluffy brown hair, her
pert little dimples, her trim figure, her jaunty hat with a turkey
feather stuck on one side of her head. Evelyn was a stenographer and
proclaimed herself an advanced feminist; at her first visit she set
the local upside down. It happened to be “social evening”, when all
the men smoked, and this “free” young thing took a cigarette from
her escort and puffed it all over the place. This, of course, would
not have made a stir in great centres of culture such as London and
Greenwich Village; but in Leesville it was the first time that the
equality of women had been interpreted to mean that the women should
adopt the vices of the men.

Then Evelyn had produced from her handbag some leaflets on Birth
Control, and proposed that the local should undertake their
distribution. This was a new subject in Leesville, and while the
members supposed it was all right, they found it embarrassing to
have the matter explained too fully in open meeting. Evelyn wanted a
“birth strike”, as the surest means of ending the war; she wanted
the Worker to take up this programme, and did not conceal her
contempt for reactionaries in the movement who still wanted to
pretend that babies were brought by storks. The delicate subject was
finally “tabled”, and when the meeting adjourned and the members
walked home, everyone was talking about Miss Baskerville--the men
mostly talking with the men, and the women with the women.

Pretty soon it became evident that the vivid and dashing young
person was setting her cap for Comrade Gerrity, the organizer. As
Gerrity was an eligible young bachelor, that was all right. But
then, a little later, it began to be suspected that she had designs
upon Comrade Claudel, the Belgian jeweller. Doubtless she had a
right to make her choice between them; but some of the women were of
the opinion that she took too long to choose; and finally one or two
malicious ones began to say that she had no intention of
choosing--she wanted both.

And then fell a thunderbolt into Jimmie’s life. It was just after
his arrest when fame still clung to him; and after the meeting
Comrade Baskerville came up and engaged him in conversation. How did
it feel to be a jailbird? When he told her that it felt fine, she
bade him not be too proud--she had served thirty days for picketing
in a shirt-waist strike! As she looked at him, her pretty brown eyes
sparkled with mischief, and her wicked little dimples lost no
curtain-calls. Poor, humble Jimmie was stirred to his shoe-tips, for
he had never before received the attentions of such a fascinating
creature--unless perchance it had been to sell her a newspaper, or
to beg the price of a sandwich in his tramp days. Here was one of
the wonderful things about the Socialist movement, that it broke
down the barriers of class, and gave you exciting glimpses of higher
worlds of culture and charm!

Comrade Baskerville continued to flash her dimples and her wit at
Jimmie, despite the fact that Comrade Gerrity and Comrade Claudel
and several other moths were hovering about the candle-flame, and
all the women in the local watching out of the corners of their
eyes. Finally, to Jimmie’s unutterable consternation, the vivid
young goddess of Liberty inquired, “Wouldn’t you like to walk home
with me, Comrade Higgins?” He stammered, “Yes”; and they went out,
the young goddess plying him with questions about conditions in the
jail, and displaying most convincing erudition on the subject of the
economic aspects of criminology--at the same time seeming entirely
oblivious to the hoverings of the other moths, and the disgust of
the unemancipated ladies of Local Leesville.


They walked down the street together, and first Comrade Baskerville
shivered with horror at the “seam-squirrels”, and then exclaimed
with delight over the conversion of “Dead-eye Mike” to Socialism,
and then made merry over the singing of the Internationale in the
police-station. Had she discovered a “character” in this seemingly
insignificant little machinist? At any rate, she plied him with
questions about his past life and his ideas. When he told her of his
starved and neglected childhood, she murmured sympathetically, and
it seemed to the fascinated Jimmie that here was a woman who
understood instinctively all the cravings of his soul. She laid her
hand on his arm, and it was as if an angel were touching
him--strange little thrills ran like currents of electricity all
over him.

Yes, Comrade Baskerville could appreciate his sufferings, because
she had suffered too. She had had a stepmother, and had run away
from home at an early age and fought her own way. That was why she
stood so firmly for woman’s emancipation--she knew the slavery of
her sex through bitter experience. There were many men who believed
in sex-equality as a matter of words, but had no real conception of
it in action; as for the women--well, you might see right here in
the local the most narrow, bourgeois ideas dominating their minds.
Jimmie did not know what ideas Comrade Baskerville meant, but he
knew that her voice was musical and full of quick changes that made
him shiver.

He was supposed to be taking her home; but he had no idea where she
lived, and apparently she had no idea either, for they just wandered
on and on, talking about all the wonderful new ideas that were
stirring the minds of men and women. Did Comrade Higgins believe in
trial marriages? Comrade Higgins had never heard of this wild idea
before, but he listened, and bravely concealed his dismay. What
about the children? The eager feminist answered there need not be
any children. Unwanted children were a crime! She proposed to get
the working-class women together and instruct them in the technique
of these delicate matters; and meantime, lacking the women, she was
willing to explain it to any inwardly embarrassed and quaking man
who would lend his ear.

Suddenly she stopped and cried, “Where are we?” And there came a
peal of merry laughter, as she discovered they had gone far astray.
They turned and set off in the right direction, and meantime the
lecture on advanced feminism continued. Poor Jimmie was in a
panic--tumbled this way and that. He had considered himself a
radical, because he believed in expropriating the expropriators; but
these plans for overthrowing the conventions and disbanding the
home--these left him aghast. And trilled into his ear by a vivid and
amazing young thing with a soft hand upon his arm and a faint
intoxicating perfume all about her! Why was she telling these things
to him? What did she mean? What? WHAT?


They came to the house where she lived. It was late at night, and
the street was deserted. It was up to Jimmie to say good night, but
somehow he did not know how to say it. Comrade Evelyn gave him her
hand, and for some reason did not take it away again. Of course it
would not have been polite for Jimmie to have pushed it away. So he
held it, and looked at the shadowy form before him, and felt his
knees shaking. “Comrade Higgins,” said the brave, girlish voice, “we
shall be friends, shall we not?” And of course, Jimmie answered that
they would--always! And the girlish voice replied, “I am GLAD!” And
then suddenly it whispered, “Good night!” and the shadowy form
turned and flitted into the house.

Jimmie walked away with the strangest tumult in his soul. It was
something which the poets had been occupied for centuries in trying
to portray, but Jimmie Higgins had no acquaintance with the poets,
and so it was a brand new thing to him, he was left to experience
the shock of it and to resolve the problems of it all alone. To be
rolled and tossed about like a man in a blanket at a college
ragging! To be a prey to bewilderment and fear, hope and longing,
despair and rebellion, delicious excitement, angry self-contempt
and tormenting doubt! Truly did that poet divine who first conceived
the symbol of the mischievous little god, who steals upon an
unsuspecting man and shoots him through the heart with a sharp and
tormenting arrow!

The worst of it was, Jimmie couldn’t tell Lizzie about it. The first
time in four years that he had had a trouble he could not tell
Lizzie! He even felt ashamed, as he came home and crawled into
bed--as if he had done some dreadful wrong to Lizzie; and yet, he
would have been puzzled to tell just what the wrong was, or how he
could have avoided it. It was not he who had made the young feminist
so delicious and sweet and frank and amazing. It was not he who had
made the little god, and brewed the poison for the arrow’s tip. No,
it was some power greater than himself that had prepared this
situation, some power cruel and implacable, which plots against
domestic tranquillity; perhaps it was some hireling of capitalism,
which will not permit a propagandist of social justice to do his
work in peace of soul.

Jimmie tried to hide what was going on; and of course--poor, naive
soul--he had never learned to hide anything in his life, and now was
too late to begin. The next time the local met, the women were
saying that they were disappointed in Comrade Higgins; they had
thought he was really devoted to the cause, but they saw now he was
like all the rest of the men--his head had been turned by one smile
on a pretty face. Instead of attending to his work, he was following
that Baskerville creature about, gazing at her yearningly, like a
moon-calf, making a ninny of himself before the whole room. And he
with a wife and three babies at home, waiting for him and thinking
he was hustling for the cause. When the meeting adjourned, and the
Baskerville creature accepted the invitation of Comrade Gerrity to
escort her home, the dismay of Comrade Higgins was so evident as to
be ludicrous to the whole room.


In the interest of common decency it was necessary for the women of
the local to take action on this matter. At least, a couple of them
thought so, and quite independently and without pre-arrangement they
called on Lizzie next day and told her that she should come more
frequently to meetings, and keep herself acquainted with the new
ideas of advanced feminism. And so when Jimmie came home that night,
he found his wife dissolved in tears and there was a most harrowing

For poor Elizabeth Huszar, pronounced Eleeza Betooser, had had no
chance whatever to familiarize herself with the new ideas of
advanced feminism. Her notions of “free unions” had been derived
from a quite different world, whose ideas were not new, but on the
contrary very, very old, and were “advanced” only on the road to
perdition. She judged Jimmie’s behaviour according to thoroughly old
standards, and she was broken-hearted, overwhelmed with grief and
shame. He was like all the rest of men--and when she had fondly
thought he was different! He despised her and spit upon her--a woman
he had picked up in a brothel.

Poor Jimmie was stunned. He was conscious of no disrespect for
Lizzie, it had not occurred to him to think that she might take the
matter that way. But so she had taken it, beyond doubt, and with
intensity that frightened him. He would not have believed that so
many tears could stream from one woman’s eyes--nor that his good,
broad-faced, honest wife could be so abject in her misery. “Oh, I
knowed it, I knowed it all along--it would be that way! I hadn’t
never ought to married you--you know I told you so?”

“But, Lizzie!” pleaded the husband. “You’re mistaken. That hadn’t
nothin’ to do with it.”

She turned upon him wildly, her fingers stuck out as if she would
claw him. “You mean to tell me if you hadn’t ‘a married a woman off
the street, you’d ‘a gone chasin’ a fluffy-haired girl? If you’d ‘a
had a decent wife, that you knowed had some rights--”

“Lizzie!” he protested in consternation. “Listen here--”

But she was not to be stopped. “Everybody said I was a fool; but I
went an’ done it, ‘cause you swore you’d never hold it up to me! An’
I went an’ had them children”--Lizzie swept her arm at the
children, as if to wipe them off the earth, to which they had come
by a cruel mistake.

Jimmie Junior, who was old enough to know that something serious was
happening, and whose instinct was all against being wiped off the
earth, began to howl wildly; and that set off the little ones--soon
they were all three of them going at the top of their lungs.

It was truly a terrible climax to a romance. Jimmie, almost
distracted, seized the hand of his injured spouse. “It’s all
nonsense!” he cried. “What they been tellin’ you! I ain’t done a
thing, Lizzie! I only walked home with her one night.”

But Lizzie answered that one night was plenty enough--she knew that
from intimate and hateful experience. “And I know them fluffy-headed
kind that frizzes their hair. What does she want to walk home at
night with married men fer? And talkin’ about the things she does--”

“She don’t mean no harm, Lizzie--she’s tryin’ to help workin’ women.
It’s what’s called birth control--she wants to teach women--”

“If she wants to TEACH women, why don’t she TALK to the women!
What’s she all the time talkin’ to MEN fer? You think you can tell
me tales like that--me, that’s been what I have?” And Lizzie went
off into another fit, worse than ever.


Jimmie found that it was with romance as with martyrdom--there was
a lot of trouble about it which the romancers did not mention. He
really felt quite dreadful, for he had a deep regard for this mother
of his little ones, and he would not have made her suffer for
anything. And she was right, too, he had to admit--her shots went
deep home. “How’d you feel, if you was to find out I’d been walkin’
home with some man?” When it was put to him that way, he realized
that he would have felt very badly indeed.

A flood of old emotions came back to him. He went in memory with his
group of roystering friends to the house of evil where he had first
met Elizabeth Huszar, pronounced Eleeza Betooser. She had taken him
to her room, and instead of making herself agreeable in the usual
way, had burst into tears. She had been ill-treated, and was
wretchedly lonely and unhappy. Jimmie asked why she did not quit the
life, and she answered that she had tried more than once, but she
could not earn a living wage; and anyhow, because she was big and
handsome, the bosses would never let her alone, and what was the
difference, if you couldn’t keep away from the men?

They sat on the bed and talked, and Jimmie told her a little about
his life, and she told about hers--a pitiful and moving story. She
had been brought to America as an infant; her father had been killed
in an accident, and her mother had supported several children by
scrub-work. Lizzie had grown up in a slum on the far east side of
New York, and she could not remember a time when she had not been
sexually preyed upon; lewd little boys had taught her tricks, and
men would buy her with candy or food. And yet there had been
something in her struggling for decency; of her own volition she had
tried to go to school, in spite of her rags; and then, when she was
thirteen she had answered an advertisement for work as a nursemaid.
That story had made an especial impression upon Jimmie--it was truly
a most pitiful episode.

Her place of employment had been a “swell” apartment, with a
hall-boy and an elevator--the most wonderful place that Lizzie had
ever beheld; it was like living in Heaven, and she had tried so hard
to do what she was told, and be worthy of her beautiful mistress and
the lovely baby. But she had been there only two days when the
mistress had discovered vermin on the baby, and had come to Lizzie
and insisted on examining her head. And of course she had found
something. “Them’s only nits!” Lizzie had said; she had never heard
of anybody who did not have “nits” in their hair. But the beautiful
lady had called her a vile creature, and ordered her to pack up her
things and get out of the house at once. And so Lizzie had had to
wait until she became an inmate of a brothel before anybody took the
trouble to teach her how to get the “nits” out of her hair, and how
to bathe, and to clean her finger-nails and otherwise be physically

Jimmie recalled all that, and he fell on his knees before his wife,
and caught her two hands by main force, and swore to her that he had
not done any wrong; he went on to tell her exactly what wrong he had
done, which was the best way to convince her that he had not done
any worse. He vowed again and again that he would never, never dally
with Cupid again--he would see Comrade Baskerville at once and tell
her it was “all off”.

And so Lizzie looked up through her tears. “No,” she said, “you
don’t need to see her at all!”

“What shall I do, then?’”

“Just let her alone--don’t tell her nothin’. She’ll know it’s off
all right.”


But when you have a dead romance, you cannot leave it to rot on the
highway; you are driven irresistibly to bury it decently. In spite
of his solemn promises, Jimmie found himself thinking all the time
about Comrade Baskerville, and how he would act when he met her next
time--all the noble and dignified speeches he would make to her. He
must manage to be alone with her; for of course he could not say
such things with the jealous old hags of the local staring at him.
The best thing, he decided, would be to tell her the frank and
honest truth; to tell her about Lizzie, and how good and worthy she
had been, and how deeply he realized his duty to her. And then tears
would come into Comrade Baskerville’s lovely eyes, and she would
tell him that she honoured his high sense of marital responsibility.
They must renounce; but of course they would be dear and true
friends--always, always. Jimmie was holding her hands, in his fancy,
as he said these affecting words: Always! Always! He knew that he
would have to let go of the hands, but he was reluctant to do so,
and he had not quite got to the point of doing it when, walking down
Jefferson Street on his way home from work--behold, in front of him
a trim, eager little figure, tripping gaily, with a jaunty hat with
a turkey-feather stuck on one side! Jimmie knew the figure a block
away, and as he saw it coming nearer, his heart leaped up and hit
him in the bottom part of his neck, and all his beautiful speeches
flew helter-skelter out of his head.

She saw him, and the vivid, welcoming smile came upon her face. She
came up to him, and their hands clasped. “Why!” she cried. “What a
pleasant meeting!”

Jimmie gulped twice, and then began, “Comrade Baskerville--” And
then he gulped again, and began, “Comrade Baskerville--”

She stopped him. “I’m not Comrade Baskerville,” she declared.

He could not get the meaning of these unexpected words.

“What?” he said.

“Haven’t you heard the news?” she said, and beamed on him. “I’m
Comrade Mrs. Gerrity.”

He stared at her, utterly bewildered. “I’ve been that for
twenty-four whole hours! Congratulate me!”

Little by little the meaning of the words began to dawn in Jimmie’s
stupid head. “Comrade Mrs. Gerrity!” he echoed. “But--but--I thought
you didn’t believe in marriage.”

There came the most bewitching smile, a smile decorated with two
rows of pearly white teeth. “Don’t you understand, Comrade Higgins?
No woman believes in marriage--until she meets the right man.”

This was much too subtle. Jimmie was still gaping open-mouthed.
“But then, I thought--I thought--” he stopped again; for in truth,
he had not known quite what he thought, and anyway, it seemed futile
to try to formulate it now.

But, of course, she knew, without his telling her; she knew the
meaning of his look of dismay, and of his stammering words. Being a
kind little creature, she laid her hand on his arm. “Comrade
Higgins,” she said, “don’t think I’m too mean!”

“Mean?” he cried. “Why, no! What? How--”

“Try to imagine you were a girl, Comrade Higgins. You can’t propose
to a man, can you?”

“Why, no--that is--”

“That is, not if you want him to accept! You have to make him do it.
And maybe he’s shy, and don’t do it, and you have to put the idea in
his head for him. Or maybe he’s not sure he wants you, and you have
to make him realize how very desirable you are! Maybe you have to
scare him, making him think you’re going to run off with somebody
else! Don’t you see how it is with a girl?”

Jimmie was still bady dazed, but he saw enough to enable him to
stammer, “Yes.” And Comrade Baskerville--that is, Comrade Mrs.
Gerrity--gave him her hand again.

“Comrade Higgins,” she said, “you’re a dear, sweet fellow, and you
won’t be too angry with me, will you? We’ll be friends, won’t we,
Comrade Higgins?”

And Jimmie clasped the soft, warm hand, and gazed into the shining
brown eyes, and he made a part of the wonderful speech which he had
been planning as he walked. He said: “Always! Always!”




The world struggle continued with constantly increasing ferocity.
All summer long the Germans hammered at the French and British
lines; while the British hammered at the gates of Constantinople,
and the Italians at the gates of Trieste. The Germans sent their
giant airships to drop loads of bombs on London and their submarines
to sink passenger-steamers and hospital-ships. Each fresh outrage
against international law became the occasion of more letters of
protest from the United States, and of more controversies in the
newspapers, and in Congress, and in Kumme’s bicycle-shop on
Jefferson Street, Leesville.

In this last place, to be sure, the discussions were rather
one-sided. Practically all who came there regarded the munitions
industry as an accursed thing, and made no secret of their glee at
the misfortunes which befell it; at shipyards which caught fire and
burned up, at railroad bridges and ships at sea destroyed by
mysterious explosions. Kumme, a wizened-up, grizzle-haired old
fellow with a stubby nose and a bullet-head, would fall to cursing
in a mingling of English and German when anyone so much as mentioned
the fleets of ships that went across the water, loaded with shells
to kill German soldiers; he would point a skinny finger at whoever
would listen to him, declaring that the Germans in this country were
not slaves, and would protect their Fatherland from the perfidious
British and their Wall Street hirelings. Kumme took a newspaper
printed in German, and a couple of weeklies published in English for
the promotion of the German cause; he would mark passages in these
papers and read them aloud--everything that the mind of man could
recall or invent that was discreditable to Britain, to France and
Italy, to Wall Street, and to the nation which allowed Wall Street
to bamboozle and exploit it. There were many Americans who had
“muck-raked” their own country in the interests of social reform,
and had praised the social system of Germany. These arguments the
German propagandists now found useful, and Jimmie would take them to
the Socialist local and pass them about. From the meeting of the
local he and Meissner would go to the saloon where they had
rendezvous with Jerry Coleman, who would distribute more ten-dollar
bills to be used in the printing of anti-war literature.

Old Kumme had a nephew by the name of Heinrich, who paid him a visit
now and then. He was a tall, fine-looking fellow, who spoke much
better English than his uncle, and wore better clothes. Finally he
came to stay, and Kumme announced that he was to help in the shop.
They didn’t need any help that Jimmie could see, and certainly not
from a fellow like Heinrich, who couldn’t tell a spoke from a
handle-bar; but it was none of Jimmie’s business, so Heinrich put on
working clothes, and spent a couple of weeks sitting behind the
counter conversing in low tones with men who came to see him. After
a while he took to going out again, and finally announced that he
had secured a job in the Empire.


And then to the hangers-on in the shop there was another
addition--an Irish working man named Reilly. The Irishman was a
peculiar problem in the war--the thorn of the Allied conscience, the
weak spot in their armour, the broken link in their chain of
arguments; and so every German was happy when an Irishman entered
the room. This fellow Reilly came to have a punctured tyre mended,
and stopped to tell what he thought about the world-situation. Old
man Kumme slapped him over the back, and shook him by the hand, and
told him he was the right sort, and to come again. So Reilly took to
hanging about; he would pull from his pocket a paper called
Hibernia, and Kummc would produce from under the counter a paper
called Germania, and the two would denounce “perfidious Albion” by
the hour. Jimmie, bending over the straightening of a sprocket,
would look up and grin, and exclaim, “You bet!”

It was winter-time, and darkness came early, and Jimmie was doing
his work by electric light in the back of the shop, when Reilly came
and mysteriously drew him into a corner. Did he really mean what he
said about hatred of war, and willingness to fight against it? The
Empire Shops were now turning out thousands of shell-casings every
day, to be used in the murder of men. It was useless to try to start
a strike, there were so many spies at work, and they fired every man
who opened his mouth; if an outsider tried it they would send him to
jail--for, of course, old Granitch had the city government in his

All this was an old story to Jimmie; but now the Irishman went on to
a new proposition. There was a way to stop the work of the Empire, a
way that had been tried in other places, and had worked. Reilly knew
where to get some T.N.T.--an explosive many times more powerful than
dynamite. They could make bombs out of the steel tubing of bicycles,
and Jimmie, knowing the Empire Shops as he did, could find a way to
get in and arrange matters. There was big money in it--the fellows
who did that job might live on Easy Street the rest of their lives.

Jimmie was stunned. He had been perfectly sincere in classifying
German spies with sea-serpents; and here was a sea-serpent right
before his eyes, raising his head through the floor of Kumme’s

Jimmie answered that he had never had anything to do with that sort
of thing. That wasn’t the way to stop war; that was only making more
war. The other began to argue with him, showing that it wouldn’t
hurt anybody; the explosion would take place at night, and all that
would be damaged would be Abel Granitch’s purse. But Jimmie was
obdurate; fortunately one thing that had been incessantly pounded
into his head at the local was that the movement could not use
conspiracy, it must work by open propaganda, winning the minds and
consciences of men.

First the Irishman became angry, and called him a coward and a
molly-coddle. Then he became suspicious, and wanted to know if
Jimmie would sell him out to the Empire. Jimmie laughed at this; he
had no love for Abel Granitch--the damned old skunk might do his own
spying. Jimmie would simply have nothing to do with the matter, one
way or the other. And so the project was dropped; but the little
machinist was moved to keep his eyes open after that, and he made
note of how many Germans, all strangers, were making the shop a
meeting-place; also the quick intimacy which had developed between
the Irishman and Heinrich, Kumme’s nephew, who held himself so
straight and had no back to his head.

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?”

“Y--yes, sir.”


“A man--” Jimmie got that far, and then he recollected the promise
he had given. “I--I can’t tell!” he said.

“Why not?”

“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.

“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


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!”

“What can you do to stop it in Germany?”

“I’m an international Socialist. When I oppose war in my own
country, I help the Socialists to oppose it in other countries. I
ain’t a-going to stop--not so long as I’ve got any breath left in
me!” And here was Comrade Jimmie, delivering a sermon on pacifism to
the “special agent” of the government, who held his fate in his
hands! But no one was going to defend war to Jimmie Higgins and not
be answered--even though Jimmie might go to jail for the rest of his

The young man laughed--more genially than Jimmie would have thought
possible at the start of this grilling. “Higgins,” he said, “you’re
a good-natured idiot. You can thank your lucky stars that one of the
men you trusted happened to be a government detective. If we didn’t
know the truth about you, you might have had a hard time clearing

Jimmie’s jaw had fallen. “A government detective! Who is the
government detective?”

“Reilly,” said the young man.

“Reilly? But it was him that tempted me!”

“Well, congratulate yourself that you resisted temptation!”

“But maybe he tempted Heinrich, too!”

“No, Heinrich didn’t have to be tempted. It was on account of
Heinrich that we began the investigation. He has been making
explosives and planting them all over the country. His name isn’t
Heinrich, and he isn’t a nephew of Kumme; his name is von Holtz, and
he’s a Prussian officer, a personal friend of the Kaiser.”

Jimmie was speechless. For the love of Mike! He had been sitting in
the back part of old Kumme’s bicycle-shop, filling his pipe from
the tobacco-pouch of a personal friend of the Kaiser. He had called
this personal friend of the Kaiser a fool and a jackass, informing
him that a real mechanic could put a ball-bearing together while he,
the personal friend of the Kaiser, was spitting on his hands. Could
you beat it?

Mr. Harrod, the “special agent”, informed Jimmie that he would have
to testify as to what he knew; and Jimmie was so indignant at the
way he had been taken in that he was willing to do so. He would have
to give bond to appear, added the other; did he know anyone who
would vouch for him? Jimmie racked his harassed brain. Comrade Dr.
Service might consent, if he were quite sure that Jimmie had not
really meant to help the Germans. Mr. Harrod kindly consented to
give this assurance, and called up Dr. Service, whom he seemed to
know, and told him the circumstances. Dr. Service finally said that
he would put up a couple of thousand dollars to guarantee Jimmie’s
appearance before the grand jury and at the trial. Mr. Harrod added
that if Dr. Service would promise to come in the morning and attend
to the matter, the government would take his word and let the
witness go for the night. The doctor promised, and Jimmie was told
that he was free till ten o’clock next morning. He went out like a
skylark escaping from a cage!


He had been warned not to talk to anyone, so he told Lizzie that he
had been kept late to make repairs on a motor-cycle. And next
morning he got up at the usual hour, to avoid exciting suspicion,
and went and stared at the shop, which was locked up, with a
policeman on guard. He bought a copy of the Leesville Herald, and
read the thrilling story of the German plot which had been unearthed
in Leesville. There were half a dozen conspirators under arrest, and
more than a dozen bombs had been found, all destined to be set off
in the Empire Shops. Franz Heinrich von Holtz, who had blown up a
bridge in Canada and put an infernal machine on board a big Atlantic
liner, had been nailed at last!

Half an hour before time, Jimmie was waiting at the Post Office
building, and when Comrade Dr. Service arrived, they went in and
signed the bond. Coming out again, the grim and forbidding doctor
ordered Jimmie into his car, and oh, what a dressing-down he did
give him! He had Jimmie where he wanted him--right over his
knees--and before he let him up he surely did make him burn! The
little machinist had been so cock-sure of himself; going ahead to
end the war, by stopping the shipping of munitions, and paying no
heed to warnings from men older and wiser than himself! And now see
what he had got himself in for--arrested with a gang of fire-bugs
and desperadoes, under the control and in the pay of a personal
friend of the Kaiser!

Poor Jimmie couldn’t put up much of a defence: he was cowed, for
once. He could only say that he had had no evil intention--he had
merely been agitating against the trade in munitions--a wicked

“Wicked?” broke in the Comrade Doctor. “The thing upon which the
freedom of mankind depends!”

“W--what?” exclaimed Jimmie; for these words sounded to him like
sheer lunacy.

The other explained. “A nation that means to destroy its neighbours
sets to work and puts all its energies into making guns and shells.
The free peoples of the world won’t follow suit--you can’t persuade
them to do it, because they don’t believe in war, they can’t realize
that their neighbours intend to make war. So, when they are attacked
their only chance for life is to go out into the open market and buy
the means of defence. And you propose to deprive them of that
right--to betray them, to throw them under the hoofs of the
war-monster! You, who call yourself a believer in justice, make
yourself a tool of such a conspiracy! You take German money--”

“I never took no German money!” cried Jimmie, wildly.

“Didn’t Kumme pay you money?”

“But I worked in his shop--I done my ten hours a day right

“And this fellow Jerry Coleman? Hasn’t he given you money?”

“But that was for propaganda--he was agent for Labour’s National
Peace Council--”

And the Comrade Doctor fairly snorted. “How could you be such an
ass? Don’t you read the news? But no--of course, you don’t--you
only read German dope!” And the Comrade Doctor drew out his
pocket-book, which was bursting with clippings, and selected one
from a New York paper, telling how the government was proceeding
against the officials of an organization called “Labour’s National
Peace Council” for conspiring to cause strikes and violence. The
founder of the organization was a person known as “the Wolf of Wall
Street”; the funds had been furnished by a Prussian army officer, an
attache of the German legation, who had used his official immunity
to incite conspiracy and wholesale destruction of property in a
friendly country. What had Jimmie to say to that?

And poor Jimmie for once had nothing to say. He sat, completely
crushed. Not merely the money which he had got from Kumme on
Saturday night, but also the ten-dollar bills which Jerry Coleman
had been slipping into his hand--they, too, had come from the
Kaiser! Was the whole radical movement to be taken over by the
Kaiser, and Jimmie Higgins put out of his job?




Kumme’s bicycle-shop went out of business, and its contents were
sold at auction. Jimmie Higgins watched the process wistfully,
reflecting how, if he had not wasted his substance on Socialist
tracts, if he had saved a bit of his wages like any normal human
being, he might have bought this little business and got a start in
life. But alas, such hopes were not for Jimmie! He must remain in
the condition which the President of his country described as
“industrial serfdom”; he must continue to work for some other man’s
profit, to be at the mercy of some other man’s whim.

He found himself a job in the railroad shops; but in a couple of
weeks came an organizer, trying to start a union in the place.
Jimmie, of course, joined; how could he refuse? And so the next time
he went to get his pay he found a green slip in his envelope
informing him that the Atlantic Western Railroad Company would no
longer require his services. No explanation was given, and none
sought--for Jimmie was old in the ways of American wage-slavery,
euphemistically referred to as “industrial serfdom”.

He got another start as helper to a truckman. It was the hardest
work he had yet done--all the harder because the boss was a dull
fellow who would not talk about politics or the war. So Jimmie was
discontented; perhaps the spring-time was getting into his blood; at
any rate, he hunted through his Sunday paper, and came on an
advertisement of a farmer who wanted a “hand”. It was six miles out
in the country, and Jimmie, remembering his walk with the Candidate,
treated himself to a Sunday afternoon excursion. He knew nothing
about farm-work, and said so; but the munition-factories had drained
so much labour from the land that the farmer was glad to get
anybody. He had a “tenant-house” on his place, and on Monday morning
Jimmie hired his former boss--and truckman--to move his few sticks
of furniture; he bade farewell to his little friend Meissner, and
next day was learning to milk cows and steer a plough.

So Jimmie came back to the bosom of his ancient Mother. But alas, he
came, not to find joy and health, not as a free man, to win his own
way and make a new life for himself; he came as a soil-slave, to
drudge from dawn to dark for a hire that barely kept him going. The
farmer was the owner of Jimmie’s time, and Jimmie disliked him
heartily, because he was surly-tempered and stingy, abusing his
horses and nagging at his hired man. Jimmie’s education in
farm-economics was not thorough enough to enable him to realize that
John Cutter was as much of a slave as himself--bound by a mortgage
to Ashton Chalmers, President of the First National Bank of
Leesville. John drudged from dawn to dark, just as Jimmie did, and
in addition had all the worry and fear; his wife was a sallow and
hollow-chested drudge, who took as many bottles of patent-medicine
as poor Mrs. Meissner.

But Jimmie kept fairly cheerful because he was learning new things,
and because he saw how good it was for the babies, who were getting
fresh air and better food than they had ever had in their little
lives before. All summer long he ploughed and harrowed and hoed, he
tended horses and cows and pigs and chickens, and drove to town with
farm produce to be sold. He would be too tired at night even to read
his Socialist papers; for six months he let the world go its way
unhindered--its way of desperate strife and colossal anguish. It was
the time when the German hordes hurled themselves against the
fortifications of Verdun. For five horrible months they came on,
wave upon endless wave; the people of France set their teeth and
swore, “They shall not pass!” and the rest of civilization waited,
holding its breath.


The only chance Jimmie had to talk about these matters was of a
Saturday night when he strolled up to the store at a near-by
cross-roads. The men he met here were of a new type to him--as
different from factory people as if they came from another planet.
Jimmie had been taught to laugh at them as “hayseeds”;
intellectually he regarded them as relics of a vanished age so, of
course, he could not listen to their talk very long without “butting
in”. He began with the declaration that the Allies were as bad as
the Germans. He got away with that, because they had all been taught
to hate the “Britishers” in their school-books, and they didn’t know
very much about Frenchmen and “Eye-talians”. But when Jimmie went on
to say that the American government was as bad as the German
government--that all governments were run by capitalists, and all
went to war for foreign markets and such plunder--then what a
hornet’s nest he brought about his ears! “You mean to say American
armies would do what them Proosians done in Belgium?” And when
Jimmie answered “Yes,” an indignant citizen rose from his seat on a
cracker-box, and tapped him on the shoulder and said: “Look here,
young feller, you better run along home. You’ll git yerself a coat
of tar and feathers if you talk too much round these parts.”

So Jimmie shut up for a while; and when he went out with his armful
of purchases, an aged, white-whiskered patriarch who had been
listening got up and followed him out. “I’m going your way,” he
said. “Git in with me.” Jimmie climbed into the buggy; and while the
bony old mare ambled along through the summer night the driver asked
questions about Jimmie’s life. Where had he been brought up? How had
it been possible for a man to live all his life in America, and know
so little about his native land?

Peter Drew was this old farmer’s name, and he had been in the first
battle of Bull Run, and had fought with the Army of Northern
Virginia all the way to Richmond. So he knew how American armies
behave; he could tell Jimmie about a million free men who had rushed
to arms to save their nation’s integrity, and had made a clean job
of it, and then gone quietly back to their work at farm and forge.
Jimmie had heard Comrade Mary Allen, the Quaker, make the statement
that “Force never settled anything”. He repeated this now, and the
other replied that an American ought to be the last person in the
world to make such a statement, for his country had provided the
best illustration in history of the importance of a good job of
spanking. It was force that had settled the slavery question--and
settled it so that now you might travel in the South and have a hard
time to find a man that would want to unsettle it.

But Jimmie knew nothing about all that; he knew nothing about
anything in America. The old man said it frightened him to realize
that the country had let a man grow up in it with so little
understanding of its soul. All that precious tradition, utterly dead
so far as Jimmie was concerned! All those heroes who had died to
make free the land in which he lived, and to keep it free--and he
did not know their names, he did not even know the names of the
great battles they had fought! The old man’s voice trembled and he
laid his hand on Jimmie’s knee.

The little Socialist tried to explain that he had dreams of his own.
He was fighting for international freedom--his patriotism was
higher and wider than any one country. And that was all right, said
the other, but why kick down the ladder by which you had
climbed--and especially when you had perhaps not entirely finished
climbing? Why not know the better side of your own country, and
appeal to it? Peter Drew went on to tell of a speech he had heard
Abraham Lincoln make, and to quote things Lincoln had said; could
Jimmie doubt that Lincoln would have opposed the rule of the country
by Wall Street? And when a country had been shaped and guided by
such men as Lincoln, why trample its face and besmirch its good
name--just because there were in it some evil men contending against
its ideals of freedom and democracy?

This old soldier lived about a mile from Jimmie, and asked his new
friend to come and see him. So the next afternoon, which was Sunday,
Lizzie put on a newly starched dress, and Jimmie packed the two
smallest infants in the double perambulator, and took Jimmie
Junior’s chubby hand and they trudged down the road to the farmhouse
which the old man’s father had built. Mrs. Drew was a sweet-faced,
rather tired looking old lady, but her pale eyes seemed to smile
with hospitality, and she brought out a basket of ripe peaches, and
sat and chatted sympathetically with Lizzie about the care of
babies, while Jimmie and the old man sat under the shade of an elm
tree by the kitchen-door and discussed American history. Jimmie
listened to stories of battle and imprisonment, of monster heroisms
and self-immolations. Up to this time he had been looking at war
from the outside, as it were; but now he got a glimpse of the soul
of it, he began to understand how a man might be willing to leave
his home and his loved ones, and march out to fight and suffer and
die to save his country in which he believed.

And here was another new idea: this old fellow had been a soldier,
had fought through four years of incessant battles, and yet he had
not lost his goodness. He was kind, gentle, generous; he gave
dignity to the phrases at which Jimmie had been taught to mock. It
was impossible not to respect such a man; and so little by little
Jimmie was made to reflect that there might be such a thing as the
soul of America, about which Peter Drew was all the time talking.
Perhaps there was really more to the country than Wall Street
speculators and grafting politicians, policemen with clubs and
militiamen with bayonets to stick into the bodies of working-men who
tried to improve their lot in life!


In the course of the summer Jimmie had to take several days off and
go into Leesville to attend the trial of the German plotters. He had
to take the witness-stand and tell all he knew about Kumme and
Heinrich and the other men who had frequented the bicycle-shop. It
was a very serious experience, and before it was over Jimmie was
heartily glad that he had rejected the invitation to help blow up
the Empire Machine Shops. The trial ended with a sentence of six
months for Jimmie’s old employer, and of two years each for Heinrich
and his pals. The law allowed no more--to the intense disgust of the
Leesville Herald. The Herald was in favour of a life-sentence for
anyone who interfered with the industry upon which the prosperity of
the city depended.

Among those who came to the trial was Comrade Smith, editor of the
Worker, and Jimmie sat with him in Tom’s “Buffeteria”, and heard an
account of the latest developments in the Empire Shops. The movement
of discontent had been entirely crushed; the great establishment was
going at full blast, both day and night. They were taking on
hundreds of new hands, mostly women and girls, speeding them faster
and faster, turning out tens of thousands of shell-casings every
day. And still they were not satisfied; new buildings were going up,
the concern was spreading like a huge blot over the landscape. There
was talk of an explosive factory near-by, so that shells might be
filled as fast as they were made.

The “boom” conditions continued in Leesville; speculators were
reaping harvests, it seemed as if the masters of the city were all
on a spree. Comrade Smith advised Jimmie to stay where he was, for
it was getting to be harder and harder for the workers in Leesville
to get anything to eat. But out on the heights along the river
front, the part of the city called “Nob Hill”, new palaces were
rising. And it was that way all over the Eastern part of the
country, said the young editor; the rich no longer knew what to do
with their millions.

On the day the trial ended, Jimmie stayed in town to attend a
meeting of the local and pay his back dues. So he met all his old
friends, and heard “Wild Bill” get up and deliver one of his
tirades. Bill had in his hand a newspaper clipping telling of the
amazing madness that had struck Wall Street. Munition stocks were
soaring to prices beyond belief; “war-babies”, men called them, with
unthinkably cynical wit. On the “Great White Way”, to which they
rushed to celebrate these new Arabian Nights, there was such an orgy
of dissipation as the world had never seen. “And is this what we
have to slave for!” yelled “Wild Bill”--looking wilder than ever
since the police had broken his nose and knocked out his three front
teeth. “This is why we are chained to our jobs--shut up in jail if
we so much as open our mouths! Piling up millions for old man
Granitch, so that young Lacey can marry chorus-girls and divorce
them--or steal away another man’s wife, as they say he’s doing just

Then young Emil Forster spoke, explaining to Jimmie the inner
significance of terrific world-events. Russia was in the midst of a
gigantic offensive, which was meant to overwhelm Austria; England at
the same time was hurling in her new armies on the Somme; for these
two giant movements they wanted shells--millions and millions of
shells from America, which alone could make enough of them. The
railroads were clogged with them, they were piled mountain-high at
the terminals and ports; whole fleets of steamers were loading up
with them, and proceeding to England and France, and to Russia by
way of Archangel. And, of course, the German submarines were out to
stop them; the whole world was like a powder-magazine over the
issue. The President, by his series of notes, had forced Germany to
agree not to sink passenger-vessels; but this promise was not easy
to keep--accidents kept happening, and the temper of the peoples was
rising, America was being drawn nearer every hour to the vortex of
this dreadful strife. Such was the picture which Jimmie carried back
to the farm; you could hardly wonder if he missed that peace and joy
which men are supposed to imbibe at the bosom of their Mother




It was late at night when Jimmie left the Socialist local, and took
the trolley out into the country. He had to walk nearly two miles
from where he got off, and a thunder-storm had come up; he got out
and started to trudge through the darkness and the floods of rain.
Several times he slipped off the road into the ditch, and once he
fell prone, and got up and washed the mud from his eyes and nose
with the stream of fresh water pouring about his head. While he was
thus occupied he heard the sound of a horn, and saw a glare of light
rushing up. He jumped into the ditch again, and a big automobile
went by at a fast pace, spattering showers of mud all over him. He
plodded on, swearing to himself. Some of them munition-millionaires,
no doubt--tearing over the country at night honking their
horns like they owned the roads, and covering poor walking
people with their splashings!

And so on, until Jimmie came round a turn of the road and saw the
white glare of light again, this time standing still. It seemed to
be pointing up into the trees; and when he got nearer he made out
the reason--it had run off the road into the ditch, and then up the
other slope, and there rolled over on to its side.

“Hello!” said a voice, as Jimmie came slopping up.

“Hello!” he answered.

“How far is it to the nearest house?”

“Maybe half a mile.”

“Who lives there?”

“I do.”

“Have you got a horse and buggy?”

“There’s one at the big house, just a piece beyond.”

“Do you suppose we could get enough men to turn this car over?”

“I dunno; there ain’t many about here.”

“Damn!” muttered the man to himself. Then, after a moment, “Well,
there’s no use staying here.” This to his companion, whom Jimmie
made out to be a woman. She was standing still, with the cold rain
pouring over her. The man put his arm about her, and said to Jimmie,
“Lead the way, please.” So Jimmie set out, slopping through the mud
as before.

Nothing more was said until they reached the “tenant-house” where
the Jimmies lived. But meantime the little Socialist’s mind was
busy; it seemed to him that the man’s voice was familiar, and he was
trying to recall where and how he had heard it before. They came to
the house, which was dark, and the couple stood on the porch while
Jimmie went in and groped for a match and lighted the single smoky
oil-lamp on which the household depended. Carrying it in his hand,
he went to the door and invited the couple in. They came; and so
Jimmie got a glimpse of the face of the man, and almost dropped the
lamp right there where he stood. It was Lacey Granitch!


The young lord of Leesville was too much occupied with his own
affairs to notice the look on the face of the yokel before him; or
perhaps he was so used to being recognized, and to being stared at
by yokels. He looked about the room and saw a stove. “Can you get us
a fire, so this lady can get dry?”

“Y--yes,” said Jimmie. “I--I suppose so.” But he made no move; he
stood rooted to the spot.

“Lacey,” put in the woman, “don’t stop for that. Get the car
started, or get another.” And Jimmie looked at her; she was rather
small, and very beautiful--quite the most beautiful human creature
that Jimmie had ever looked at. One could see that she was
expensively dressed, even though everything she had on was soaked
with rain.

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Lacey. “You can’t travel till you get
dry--you’d be ill.” And he turned upon Jimmie. “Get a fire, won’t
you?” he exclaimed. “A big fire. I’ll make it worth while to you for
whatever you do. Only don’t stand there gaping all night,” he added

Jimmie leaped to obey; partly because he had been in the habit of
leaping to obey all his life--but also partly because he was sorry
for the beautiful wet lady, and because, if he stood and stared any
longer, Lacey Granitch might recognize him. The moment when Jimmie
had been singled out in the herd of strikers and cursed by the young
master of the Empire Machine Shops was one of the most vivid
memories of Jimmie’s rebellious life, and it did not occur to him
that the incident might not have equally impressed the other

In a few minutes the stove was hot; and urged by her escort, the
lady took off her driving-coat and hat, and hung them over a chair.
Everything underneath was wet, and the man urged her to take off her
skirt and blouse. “What does he matter?” he argued, referring to
Jimmie; but the lady would not do it. She stood by the stove,
shivering slightly, and pleading with her escort to make haste, to
find some way to get the car running again. They might be followed--

“Oh, nonsense, Helen!” cried Lacey. “You are tormenting yourself
with nightmares. Be sensible and get dry.” He piled the wood into
the stove, and ordered Jimmie to get another armful; and Jimmie
obeyed with his hands and feet--but meantime his rebellious little
brain was taking in every detail of the situation, putting this and
that together.

The talking had waked up Lizzie, so Jimmie rushed into the next room
and whispered, “Lacey Granitch is here!” If he had told her that the
Angel Gabriel was there, or Jehovah with all his thunders and his
retinue of seraphim, poor Lizzie could not have been more stunned.
Jimmie ordered her to get up, and get on her dress and shoes, and
get a cup of coffee for the lady; the dazed woman obeyed--though
she would rather have crawled under the bed than face the celestial
personages who had taken possession of her home.


Lacey ordered Jimmie to accompany him, to find some help to get the
car into travelling condition. They went out together, and on the
porch, before they braved the rain again, young Granitch stopped and
spoke: “See here, my man; I want you to help me get a gang together,
and I want you to keep quiet, please--say nothing about who was in
the car. If any other people come along and ask questions, keep your
mouth shut, and I’ll make it worth while to you--well worth while.
Do you understand?”

Every instinct in Jimmie Higgins was ready to answer, “Yes, sir.”
 That was what he had always answered to such commands--he, and his
father, and his father’s fathers before him. But something else
within him resisted this instinct--the new revolutionary psychology
which he had so painfully acquired, and which made continual war
upon his old-time docilities. It seemed that this was the moment, if
ever in his life, to show the stuff he was made of. He clenched his
hands, and everything in him turned to iron. “WHO IS THAT LADY?” he

Lacey Granitch was so taken aback that he started visibly. “What do
you mean?”

“I mean--is she your wife? Or is she some other man’s wife?”

“Why you damned--” And the young lord of Leesville stopped,
speechless. Jimmie fell back a couple of steps, as a matter of
precaution, but he did not weaken in his rigid resolve.

“I know you, Mr. Granitch,” he said; “and I know what you’re doing.
You might as well know you ain’t foolin’ nobody.”

“What the hell is it to you?” cried the other; but then he stopped
again, and Jimmie heard him breathing hard. Evidently he made an
effort to keep his self-control; when he spoke again, his voice was
quieter. “Listen, my good fellow,” he said. “You have a chance to
make a good deal of money to-night--”

“I don’t want your money!” broke in Jimmie. “I wouldn’t touch your
filthy money, that you get by murdering men!”

“My God!” said Lacey Granitch; and then, weakly: “What have you got
against me?”

“What have I got? I was workin’ in the Empire, an’ I went on strike
for my rights, an’ you cursed me like I was a dog, an’ you sent the
police an’ had me arrested, an’ they smashed Wild Bill’s nose, an’
sent me up for ten days when I hadn’t done nothin’--”

“Oh! So that’s it, is it?”

“Yes, that’s it; but I wouldn’t mind that so much--if it wasn’t for
them shells you’re makin’ to kill men over in Europe. And you
spendin’ the money drinkin’ champagne with chorus-girls, an’ runnin’
off with other men’s wives!”

“You--” and Lacey uttered a foul oath, and leaped at Jimmie; but
Jimmie had expected that, he was looking out for himself. There was
no railing to the little porch on which he stood, and he leaped off
to the ground and away. Because he knew the lay of the land, he
could run faster in the darkness than his pursuer.

He sped down the path and out into the road--and there was the
headlight of an automobile, almost upon him. The vehicle came to an
instant stop, and a startled voice cried, “Hey, there!”

“Hey, there!” answered Jimmie, and stopped in the light; for he did
not believe that his enemy would dare pursue him there.

The voice from the car spoke again. “There’s an automobile off the
road a ways back here. Do you know anything about who the people are
that were driving it?”

“Sure I do!” answered Jimmie promptly.

“Where are they?”

“They’re up in that house--Lacey Granitch an’ a lady named Helen--”

And instantly the door of the car was flung open. A man leaped out,
and another man, and another; they kept coming--Jimmie would not
have believed that an automobile could have held so many people. Not
one of them said a word, but all started on the run for Jimmie’s
house as if they were charging in a battle.


Jimmie followed behind. He heard sounds of a scuffle on the lawn,
and screams from inside. At first the little farm-hand could not
make up his mind what to do, but finally he ran to the house; and
there in the front room he saw the beautiful lady, with her wet hair
streaming down her back, and the tears streaming down her face, sunk
on her knees, before the man who had hailed Jimmie from the
automobile. She had caught his coat with her two hands, and clung to
it with such desperation that when he tried to draw away he dragged
her along the floor. “Paul!” she was screaming. “What are you going
to do?”

“Be quiet! Be quiet!” commanded the man. He was young, tall and
superhumanly handsome; his face had the white light of a passionate
resolve, his lips were set like those of a man who is marching to
his death in battle. “Answer me!” cried the woman again and again;
until finally he said: “I shan’t kill him; but I mean to teach him
his lesson.”

“Paul, Paul, have mercy!” sobbed the woman; she went on pleading
hysterically, in the most dreadful distress that Jimmie had ever
seen or heard. “It wasn’t his fault, Paul, it was mine! I did it
all! Oh, for Christ’s sake! You are driving me mad!” She moaned, she
implored, she sobbed till she choked herself; and when the man tried
to tear her hands loose she fought with him, he could not get free
of her.

“You’re not going to move me, Helen,” he declared. “You might as
well get that clear.”

“But I tell you it was my fault, Paul! I ran away with him!”

“All right,” answered the man, grimly. “I’ll fix him so no other
man’s wife will ever run away with him.”

Her clamour continued more wildly than ever, until two other men
came into the room. “Joe,” said Paul, to one of them, “take her down
to the car and keep her there. Don’t let her call for help--if
anybody comes along, keep her quiet, keep your hand tight over her

“Paul, you’re a fiend!” shrieked the woman. “I’ll kill you for

“You’re welcome to,” answered the man. “I shouldn’t care--but I’m
going to do this job before I die.” And he tore the woman’s hands
away from him, and by his stern anger he gave the other two men the
necessary resolution. They carried her, half-fainting, out of the

All this time Jimmie Higgins had been standing like one turned to
stone; and Lizzie had shrunk into a far corner of the room, all but
paralysed with terror. Now the man turned to them. “My good people,”
 he said, “we want to borrow your room for a half-hour or so. We’ll
pay you well for it--enough to buy the whole house if you want to.”

“W--w--what are you goin’ to do?” stammered Jimmie.

“We’re going to teach a little fundamental morality to a young man
whose education has been neglected,” replied the other. That somehow
did not tell Jimmie very much, but he forebore to speak again, for
never in all his life had he seen a man who conveyed to him the
impression of such resistless force as this man. He was truly a
superhuman creature, terrifying, panoplied in lightnings of wrath.

The door of the house opened again, and Lacey Granitch came in, with
a man on each side holding him by the arms and a pair of handcuffs
on his wrists. Of all the dreadful spectacles that Jimmie had seen
that dreadful night, the worst was the face of the young master of
the Empire Machine Shops. It was green--absolutely and literally
green. His knees trembled so that he seemed about to sink to the
floor, and his dark eyes were those of an animal in a trap.

There came another man behind him carrying two black cases in his
hands. He opened one, and took out some instrument with wires
attached, and hung part of it to a hook on the wall; he pressed a
switch, and a soft white radiance flooded the room. The man who was
in command, the one whom the lady had called “Paul”, now turned to
Jimmie and his wife. “You may take your lamp,” he said. “Go into the
other room and stay there till we call you, please.”

“W--w--what are you goin’ to do?” Jimmie found courage to stammer
again. But the other merely bade him to go into the other room and
stay, and it would be all right, and he would be well paid for his
time and trouble. There was no use trying to interfere; no use
trying to get away, for the house would be watched.


Jimmie Junior had been wakened by the uproar, and was whimpering; so
Lizzie hurried to quiet him, and Jimmie set the little smoky lamp on
the dresser, and went and sat on the bed beside her, holding her
hand in his. Both their hands were shaking in a way that was

Every sound from the other room was plainly audible. Lacey was
pleading, and “Paul” commanded him to hold his tongue. There was a
scuffle, and then terrified moans, which died away. There began to
steal into the Higgins’s bedroom a most ghastly odour; they could
not imagine what it was. And then they began to hear wild clamour
from Lacey Granitch, as if he were suffering in hell. It was awful
beyond words; the perspiration came out in beads on the faces of the
listeners, and Jimmie was just about making up his mind that it was
his duty to rush in and protest, or perhaps to climb out of the
window and make an effort to steal away and summon help, when the
door opened and the man called “Paul” came in, closing the door
behind him.

“It’s all right,” said he. “People always make a fuss when they’re
given an anaesthetic, so don’t let it frighten you.” And he stood
there waiting, rigid, grim, while the sounds went on. Finally they
died away and silence fell--a long, long silence. He opened the
door and went back into the other room, and the two Jimmies were
left holding each other’s shaking hands.

Now and then they heard a man speak in a low voice, or someone move
across the room; and always that ghastly, overpowering odour kept
creeping in, making them think they would die of suffocation, and
their three babies also. The suspense and horror had become almost
unbearable--when finally they began to hear Lacey Granitch again,
moaning, sobbing--most harrowing sounds. “My God! My God!” whispered
Lizzie, “What are they doing?” And when Jimmie did not answer, she
whispered again. “We ought to stop them! We ought to get help!”

But then once more the door opened, and “Paul” came in. “It’s all
right now,” he said. “He’s coming out.” Neither of the Jimmies had
the least idea what “coming out” meant, but they were reassured to
know that the masterful person at least was satisfied. They waited;
they heard Lacey vomiting, as it seemed--and then they heard him
cursing, in between his feeble gasps. He called the men the same
foul name that he had called Jimmie; and that somehow made the whole
affair seem better--it brought one down to earth again!

“Paul” went out and stayed for a while, and when he came back, he
said, “We’re going now; and understand, there’s nothing for you to
worry about. We shall leave the patient here, and as soon as we get
to a telephone, we’ll notify the hospital to send an ambulance. So
all you have to do is to wait, and keep quiet and don’t worry. And
here’s something for the use of your house--” The man put out his
hand with a roll of bills, which Jimmie mechanically took--“and if
anybody asks you about what happened to-night, just say you didn’t
see anything and don’t know anything whatever about it. I’m sorry to
have troubled you, but it couldn’t be helped. And now, good night.”

And so the masterful young man went out, and they heard him and his
companions tramping down the porch-steps. They listened, until they
heard the automobile start up and disappear in the darkness. Then
from the next room they heard a moan.

Trembling with terror, Jimmie got up and stole to the door, and
opened it a tiny crack. The room was in utter darkness. “Get me some
water!” the voice of Lacey groaned; and Jimmie tiptoed back and got
the little smoky lamp, and came to the door again. He peered in, and
saw that Lacey was lying on the floor with a sheet over
him--everything but his head, which was resting on a pillow. His
face was yellow and twisted with pain. “Water! Water!” he sobbed;
and Jimmie rushed to get a glass and fill it from the pail. When he
brought it, Lacey first tried to drink, and then began to vomit;
then he lay, sobbing softly to himself. He saw Jimmie staring at
him, and his eyes filled with sudden hate and he whispered, “This is
what you got me in for, you damned little skunk!”




The ambulance arrived, and the two attendants who came with it
brought in a stretcher and carried young Granitch away. Jimmie
opened the windows to get rid of the odour of ether, and meantime he
and Lizzie sat for hours discussing every aspect of the dreadful
scene they had witnessed, and speculating as to its meaning. When
Jimmie investigated the roll of bills which had been slipped into
his hand, he found that there were ten of them, new, crisp, and
bright yellow, each having the figure twenty printed upon it. It was
more money than these two humble little people had ever had or
expected to have in all their lives. It was literally blood-money
they felt, but it would be hard to see who would be benefited if
they rejected it. Certainly the deed which had been done that night
could not be undone--not for all the money that old Granitch had
heaped up in his vaults.

Jimmie kept quiet, as he had been bidden, and apparently no one told
about his part in the affair--no reporters came out to his country
home to ask for interviews. But when he went to the cross-roads
store a couple of nights later he found that the storm was all
over--nobody was talking or thinking about anything else. The news,
in fact, had gone by telegraph all over the world, and wherever
people read it they shuddered with horror, and the Socialists had a
choice illustration of the effect of excessive wealth upon morals.

There were half a dozen versions of the story, Jimmie found; some
declared that the outraged husband had caught young Granitch in his
home and had fetched a surgeon there; others that he had taken him
to a hospital; others that the operation had been performed in a
road-house near by. But none mentioned the tenant-house on the farm
of John Cutter, and Jimmie wrapped himself in his pride of superior
knowledge, and let the loungers in the country store chatter on. He
would go back each night for new gossip; and first he heard that old
man Granitch was meaning to have all the conspirators arrested and
sent to jail; but then it was said that young Lacey had left the
hospital and vanished, no one knew where. And they never knew; never
again did he appear to curse the strikers at the Empire, nor to
break the hearts of chorus-girls on the Great White Way! His grim
old father’s hair turned grey in a few weeks; and while he went on
to fill his contracts with the Russian government, all men knew that
his heart was eaten out with grief and rage and shame.

Jimmie and his wife held numerous confabulations over those
twenty-dollar bills. What should they do with their fortune? The
Worker, always in need of funds, was just now issuing bonds in small
denominations, and Jimmie could not imagine any better financial
investment than a working-class paper; but Lizzie, alas, could not
be made to see it. And then his eye was caught by an advertisement
of an oil-company, published in a Socialist paper, which lifted it
above suspicion. But again Lizzie blocked the way. She begged her
visionary husband to turn the money over to her; she argued that
half of it belonged to her anyhow--had she not done her part to earn
it? “What part?” Jimmie asked; and she answered that she had kept
quiet--and what more had he done?

Eleeza Betooser wanted that treasure to insure safety for the
children through whatever troubles might come to their propagandist
father. And finally the propagandist father gave way, and the woman
proceeded to secure the money in the ancient way of her sex. She
took the ten crisp bills and sewed them in a layer of cloth, and
wound the cloth about the ankle of her right leg, and sewed it
there, and put a stocking over it to hide it. And that apparatus
would stay there--day or night, winter or summer, it would never
part from its owner. She would be a walking bank, a bank that she
knew was safe from panic or crisis; the feeling of the two hundred
dollars about her ankle would be communicated to every part of
Lizzie--warming her heart, delighting her brain, and stimulating her
liver and digestion.


And soon the chances of life caused Jimmie to be glad of the innate
conservatism of the feminine nature. The giant British offensive was
drowned in mud and blood on the Somme, and the Russian offensive
went to pieces before Lemberg; and meantime John Cutter stowed his
barrels of apples in the cellar, and got the last of his corn-crop
husked, and drove his load of pumpkins to market; and then one
Saturday night, after the cows had come in, wet and steaming with
November rain, he informed his hired man that he would not need his
services after that month, he would no longer be able to afford

Jimmie stared at him in consternation--for he had thought that he
had a permanent job, having learned the work and having heard no
serious complaints.

“But,” explained Cutter, “the work’s all done. Do you expect me to
pay you to sit round? I’ll be glad to take you on next spring, of

“And what’ll I do in the meantime?” Jimmie glared, and all his
hatred of the villainous profit-system welled up in his heart. So
much food he had helped to raise and store away--and not a pound of
it his! “Say,” he remarked, “I know what you want! Some kind of a
trained bear, that’ll work all summer, and go to sleep in winter an’
not eat nothin’!”

The little Socialist was all the crosser, because he knew that his
boss had just made a lucky stroke--they were running a spur on the
railroad out to the vast explosives plant they were constructing in
the country, and Cutter had got the price of his mortgage for a
narrow strip of land that was nothing but wood-lot. Jimmie had seen
the deal made, and had put in a useful word as to the value of that
“timber”, but now he had no share in the deal. He must be content
with an offer of the tenant-house for five dollars a month through
the winter, and a job with the rail-road company, grading track.

There came rain and snow and blizzards, but the rail-road
construction stopped for nothing. It went on in three shifts, day
and night; for half the world was clamouring for the means to blow
itself up, and the other half must work like the devil to furnish
the means. At least that was the way the matter presented itself to
Jimmie Higgins, who took it as a personal affront the way this
diabolical war kept pursuing him. He had fled into the country from
it, bringing his little family to a tenant-house on an obscure,
worn-out farm, several miles from the nearest town; but here all of
a sudden came a gang of Dagoes with picks and shovels. They lifted
up and set to one side the chicken-house where Lizzie kept her
eleven hens and one rooster, and the pig-sty where one little hog
gobbled up their table-scraps; and two days later came a huge
machine, driven by steam, creeping on a track, picking up rails and
ties from a car behind it, swinging them round and laying them in
front of it, and then rolling ahead over the bed it had made. So the
railroad just literally walked out into the country, and before long
whole train-loads of cement and sand and corrugated iron walls and
roofing came rattling and banging past the Higgins’s back-door. Day
and night this continued; and a little way beyond they knew that a
two-mile square of scrubby waste was being laid out with roads and
tracks and little squat buildings, set far apart from each other. In
a few months the frightened family would lie awake at night and
listen to trains rattling past, coming out from the explosives
plant, piled to the tops with loads of trinitrotoluol, and such
unpronounceable instruments of murder and destruction. And this was
the fate which capitalism had handed out to an ardent
anti-militarist, a propagandist of international fraternity!


Jimmie Higgins went into the Socialist local now and then, to pay
his dues and to refresh his soul on pacifist speeches. Just before
Christmas the President of the United States wrote a letter to all
the warring nations pleading with them to end the strife; intimating
that all the belligerents were on a par as to badness, and stating
explicitly that America had nothing to do with their struggle. This,
of course, brought intense satisfaction to the members of Local
Leesville of the Socialist party; it was what they had been
proclaiming for two years and four months! They had never expected
to have a capitalist President in agreement with them, but when the
opportunity came, they made the most of it; clamouring that the
capitalist President should go farther--should back up his words by
actions. If the warring nations would not make peace, let America at
least clear her skirts by declaring an embargo, refusing to furnish
them with the means of self-destruction!

But for some reason incomprehensible to Jimmie Higgins, the
capitalist President would not take this further step; and time
moved on, and at the end of January fell a thunder-bolt, in the
shape of a declaration from the German government that beginning
next day it rescinded its agreement to visit and search steamers,
and declared war to the death against all vessels sailing in barred
zones. Jimmie went to a meeting of the local a few days after that,
and found the gathering seething with excitement. The President had
appeared before Congress that day and made a speech calling for war;
and the Germans and Austrians in the local were wild with
indignation, shaking their fists and clamouring against the
unthinkable outrage of an attack upon the Fatherland. There was a
new edition of the Worker just out, filled with bitter protests, and
the Germans and the pacifists wanted to pledge the local to a
movement for a general strike of labour throughout the country.
Street-meetings had been resumed--for, of course, since the strike
in the Empire had been settled, the police had had no pretext to
prevent them. The extremists now wanted anti-war speakers on every
corner, and anti-war leaflets shoved under every doorstep; they were
willing to put up the money and to pledge their time for these

Lawyer Norwood rose and revealed the split that was now full-grown
in the party. For the United States to lie down before that insolent
declaration of the German government would be to imperil everything
which a lover of liberty held dear. It would mean that Britain would
be starved out of the war, and British sea-power shattered--that
British sea-power upon which free government had based itself
throughout the world. Norwood was unable to get any further for the
tempest of jeering and ridicule that overwhelmed him. “Freedom in
Ireland!” shrieked Comrade Mary Allen. “And in India! And in Egypt!”
 bellowed Comrade Koeln, the glass-blower, whose mighty lungs had
been twenty years preparing for this emergency.

It was hard to stop the laughter--it seemed so funny that a man who
called himself a Socialist should be defending British battleships!
But Comrade Gerrity, the chairman, pounded with his gavel, and
insisted that the meeting should give fair play, that every speaker
should be heard in his turn. So Norwood went on. He understood that
no government in this world was perfect, but some were better than
others, and it was a fact of history, whether or not they chose to
admit it, that such freedom as had already been secured in the
world--in Britain and Canada and Australia and New Zealand and the
United States--had rested under the protection of British
battleships. If those battleships went down, it would mean that
every one of those free communities would begin building up a
military force many times as strong as they had now. If the United
States did not maintain the established customs of sea-commerce in
the present crisis, it would mean one thing and one only--that
America would spend the next thirty years devoting her energies to
preparing for a life-and-death struggle with German Imperialism. If
we were not to fight later, we must fight now--

“All right, you fight!” shouted Comrade Schneider, the brewer, his
purple face more purple than ever before in the history of Local

“I’m going to fight all right,” answered the young lawyer. “This is
my last speech here or anywhere else--I’m leaving for an officers’
training-camp to-morrow. I have come here to do my duty, to warn you
comrades--even though I know it will be in vain. The time for debate
has passed--the country is going into war--”

“I’m not going into war!” roared Schneider.

“Be careful,” answered the other. “You may find yourself in before
you know it.”

And the big brewer laughed to shake the plaster off the walls. “I’d
like to see them send me! To fight for the British sea-power! Ho!
Ho! Ho!”


It was a stormy speech young Norwood made, but he persisted to the
end, so that, as he said, his conscience might be clear, he might
know that he had done what he could to protect the movement from its
greatest blunder. He warned them that the temper of the country was
rising; you could see it rising hour by hour, and things which had
been tolerated in the past would be tolerated no longer. Democracy
would protect its life--it would show that in a crisis it was as
strong as militarism--

“Yes, and turn itself into militarism to do it!” cried Comrade Mary
Allen. The Quaker lady was almost beside herself; she, more even
than the Germans, saw in what was transpiring the violation of her
most sacred convictions.

America, her own country, was giving itself to war, making ready to
turn its resources to the wholesale mutilation of men! Comrade
Mary’s thin face was white; her lips were tight with resolve, but
her feelings betrayed themselves by the quivering of her nostrils.
And oh, what a speech she made! Such torrents of furious hatred in
the cause of universal love! Comrade Mary quoted a Socialist writer
who had said that just as gladiatorial combats had continued until
Christian monks were willing to throw themselves into the arena, so
war would continue until Socialists were willing to throw themselves
beneath the hoofs of the cavalry. And in this Quaker spinster you
saw one Socialist who was ready to go out that very night and throw
herself beneath the hoofs of cavalry, infantry, or artillery, or
even of a police automobile.

And that was the sentiment of the meeting as a whole. If America
entered the European strife, it would be because the Socialist
organization had exhausted its means of protest in vain. They would
call meetings, they would distribute literature, they would voice
their convictions on the streets and in the shops and wherever the
people might be reached. They would have no part in this wicked
strife, either now or later; they would continue in the future, as
in the past, to denounce and to expose the capitalist politicians
and the capitalist newspapers who caused war and thrived upon war.
And in proportion to the intensity of their feelings would be their
bitterness and contempt for the few renegades who in this hour of
crisis, this test of manhood and integrity, were deserting the
movement and going to enrol themselves in officers’ training-camps!

And so when Jimmie went home that night he carried with him an
armful of revolutionary literature, which during the noon-hour he
proceeded to distribute among the workers on the construction-job,
which was now inside the preserves of the explosives company. So
naturally in the course of the afternoon he was summoned before the
boss and discharged; they escorted him to the limits of the
property, and told him that if he ever returned he would be shot on
sight. And then at night he went up to the cross-roads store and
tried to give out his literature there, and got into a controversy
with some of the cracker-box loungers, one of whom jumped up and
shook his fist in Jimmie’s face, shouting, “Get out of here, you
dirty little louse! If you don’t stop talking your treason round
here, we’ll come down some night and ride you out of the country on
a rail!”




The country, it seemed, was hell-bent for war; and Jimmie Higgins
was hell-bent for martyrdom. If the great madness were to take
possession of America, it would not be without his having done what
he could to prevent it. He would stand in the path of the war
chariot, he would throw himself beneath the hoofs of the cavalry;
and block the road with his dead body. To which vivid programme
there was only one obstacle--or, to be precise, four obstacles, one
large and three small, the large one being Eleeza Betooser.

Poor Lizzie of course had no real comprehension of the world-forces
against which her husband was contending; to Lizzie, life consisted
of three babies, whom it was her duty to feed and protect, and a
husband, who was her instrument for carrying out this duty. The
world outside of these was to her a vague and shadowy place, full of
vague and shadowy terrors. Somewhere up in the sky was a Holy Virgin
who would help when properly appealed to, but Lizzie was handicapped
in appealing to this Virgin by the fact that her husband despised
the Holy One, and would cast insulting doubts upon her virtue.

Now the shadowy terrors of this vast outside world were moving to
ends of their own, and her poor, puny husband persisted in putting
himself in their way. He had got turned out of his job, for the
fourth or fifth time since Lizzie had known him, and he was in
imminent danger of getting into jail, or into a coat of tar and
feathers. As the controversy grew hotter and the peril greater,
Lizzie came to a condition which might have been diagnosed as
chronic impending hysteria. Her eyes were red from secret weeping,
and at the slightest provocation she would burst into floods of
tears and throw herself into her husband’s arms. This would start
off Jimmie Junior and the little ones, who always took their cue
from him. And Jimmie Senior would stand perplexed and helpless. Here
was a new aspect of the heroic life, not dealt with in the books. He
wondered--had there ever in history been such a thing as a married
martyr? If so, what had this martyr done with his family?

Jimmie would try to explain this to his distressed spouse. It was a
question of saving a hundred million people from the horrors of war;
what did one man matter, in comparison with that? But alas, the
argument did not carry at all, the simple truth being that the one
man mattered more to Lizzie than all the other ninety-nine million,
nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine.
And besides, what could the one man do? One poor, obscure, helpless
working-man out of a job--

“But it’s the organization!” he cried. “It’s all of us
together--it’s the party! We promised to stand together, so we got
to do it! If I drop out, I’m a coward, a traitor! We must make the
workers understand--”

“But you can’t!” cried Lizzie.

“But we’re doin’ it! Come see!”

“And what can they do?”

Which of course started Jimmy off on a propaganda speech. What could
the workers do? Say rather, what could they not do! How could any
war be fought without the workers? If only they would stand
together, if they would rise against their capitalist oppressors--

“But they won’t!” sobbed the woman. “They got no use for you at all!
You go an’ get fired--or you get your face beat in, like poor Bill

“But is that any worse than goin’ to war?”

“You ain’t got to go to war!”

“Who says I ain’t? I got to go, if the country goes. They’ll drag me
off and make me! If I refuse they’ll shoot me! Ain’t they doin’ that
in England and France an’ Roosia an’ all them countries?”

“But will they do it here?” cried Lizzie, aghast.

“Sure they will! That’s exactly what they’re gettin’ ready for--what
we’re fightin’ to stop them from! You don’t know what’s goin’ on in
this country--listen here!”

And Jimmie hauled out the last issue of the Worker, which quoted
speeches made in Congress, calling for conscription, declaring that
such a measure was an essential war-step. “Don’t you see what
they’re up to? An’ if we’re goin’ to stop them, we gotta act now,
before it’s too late. Hadn’t I just as good go to jail here in
Leesville as be shipped over to Europe to be shot--or maybe drowned
by a submarine on the way?”

And thus a new terror was introduced into Lizzie’s life--robbing
her of sleep for many a night thereafter, planting in her
mother-heart for the first time the idea that she might be concerned
in the world-war. “What’d become of the babies?” she wailed; and
Jimmie answered: Whose business was it to bother about working-class
babies, under the hellish capitalist system?


So Jimmie had his way for a bit--he went into Leesville and helped
distribute literature, and held the torch at street-meetings, where
some people hooted at them and others defended them, and the police
had to interfere to prevent a riot. It was at this time that a
militant majority was trying to drive through the Senate a
declaration of war against Germany, and a handful of pacifists
blocked the way in the closing hours of the session, thus causing a
delay of several weeks. How you regarded this action depended upon
your point of view. The President denounced them as “wilful men”,
and the Wall Street newspapers apparently wanted them lynched;
whereas Jimmie and his fellows in the local hailed them as heroes
and friends of mankind. The Socialists argued that the President had
been re-elected, only four months before, by pacifist votes, and
upon a pacifist platform; and now he was sweeping the country into
war, and denouncing those who stood upon his former convictions!

On top of this came another event which set Jimmie almost beside
himself with excitement. For three days all news from Petrograd was
cut off; and then came a report, electrifying the world--the Tsar
had been overthrown, the Russian people were free! Jimmie could
hardly believe his eyes; he went in to the meeting of the local
three nights later, to find his comrades celebrating as if the world
was theirs. Here was the thing they had been preaching, day in and
day out, all these weary years, amid ridicule, hatred and
persecution; here was the Social Revolution, knocking at the gates
of the world! It would spread to Austria and Germany, to Italy,
France, England--and so to Leesville! Everywhere the people would
come into their own, and war and tyranny would vanish like a hateful

Speaker after speaker got up to proclaim this glorious future; they
sang the Marseillaise and the Internationale, and the Russians who
were present clasped one another in their arms, with tears running
down their cheeks. It was voted that they must hold a mass-meeting
immediately, to explain this epoch-making event to the people of the
city; also they must stand more firmly than ever by their programme
of opposition to war. Now, with Social Revolution knocking at the
gates of the world, what was the use of America’s going in for

So Jimmie set to work with redoubled fervour, giving all his time to
agitation. He had apparently no chance of getting a job, and for the
moment he gave up trying. The keeper of the cross-roads store, being
down on him because of his ideas, refused him any more credit; and
so poor Lizzie was driven to do what she had vowed never to do--take
off the stocking from her right leg, and unsew the bandage from her
ankle, and extract one of the ten precious twenty-dollar bills.
Their bright yellow was considerably faded now, their beautiful
crispness gone entirely; but the store-keeper made no kick on that
account--he returned the change, and incidentally took occasion to
give her a friendly warning concerning her husband’s reckless talk.
There was trouble coming to him, and his wife had better shut him up
before it was too late. So poor Lizzie ceased being a pacifist, and
went home to have more hysterics on her husband’s bosom.


Being unable to hold him back, she sent word by the mail-carrier to
old Peter Drew to come up and help; the old farmer hitched up his
bony mare and drove to see them, and for a couple of hours talked
America while Jimmie talked Russia. Was America to lie down before
the Kaiser? Jimmie would answer that they were going to bring down
the Kaiser in the same way they had brought down the Tsar. The
workers of Russia having shown the way, never more would the workers
of any nation bow to the yoke of slavery. Yes, even in the so-called
republics, such as France, which was ruled by bankers, and America,
which was ruled by Wall Street--even here, the workers would read
the lesson of revolt!

“But in America the people can get anything they want!” cried the
bewildered old man. “They only have to vote--”

“VOTE?” snarled Jimmie. “An’ have their votes thrown out by some
rotten political gang, like they got here in Leesville? Don’t talk
to me about votin’--they told me I’d moved into a new district an’
lost my vote--lost it because I lost my job! So it’s old man
Granitch has the say whether I can vote or not! You’ll find the same
thing true of two-thirds of the men in the Empire Shops--half the
unskilled men in the country got no votes, because they got no home,
no nothin’.”

“But,” argued the old soldier, “how will you run your new
working-class government, if not by votes?”

“Sure, we’ll run it by votes,” Jimmie answered--“but first we’ll
turn out the capitalists; they won’t have the money to buy political
machines; they won’t own the newspapers an’ print lies about us.
Look at this Leesville Herald right now--just plain downright lies
they print--we can’t get any truth at all to the people.”

And so it went. It was of no use for the old man to plead for the
“country”; to Jimmie the “country” had let itself be lost,
suppressed, taken over by the capitalists, the “plutes”. Jimmie’s
sense of loyalty was not to his country, but to his class, which had
been exploited, hounded, driven from pillar to post. In past times
the government had allowed itself to be used by corporations; so now
it was in vain that the President made appeals for justice and
democracy, using the beautiful language of idealism. Jimmie did not
believe that he meant it; or anyhow, Wall Street would see that
nothing came of his promises. The “plutes” would take his words and
twist them into whatever sense they wished; and meantime they went
on pouring abuse on Jimmie Higgins--throwing the same old mud into
his eyes, blinding him with the same old hatred. So there was no way
for an old soldier and patriot to break through the armour of
Jimmie’s prejudice.


Next day was to be the great mass-meeting in celebration of the
Russian revolution; and would you believe it, Lizzie was hoping to
persuade Jimmie to stay away; she had brought Mr. Drew to help
persuade him! Poor Lizzie had visions of everybody in the hall being
carted off to jail, of Jimmie getting up and shouting something,
causing the police to fall on him and beat in his skull with their
clubs. It was in vain he declared that he was going to do nothing
more romantic than sell literature and act as usher. She clasped him
in her arms, weeping copiously, and when he was still obdurate, she
declared that she would go with him. She would try to persuade Mrs.
Drew to take care of the babies for one night.

Old Peter Drew answered that he would be interested to attend the
meeting himself. How would it do for him to come for Lizzie and the
little ones, and leave the latter at his home, and then drive with
Lizzie to the meeting? They could meet Jimmie at the Opera-house,
where he would be spending the day decorating. Then after the
meeting they could all drive back together. “Fine!” said Jimmie, who
had visions of the old soldier becoming infected with revolutionary

But alas, it did not work out that way. To Jimmie’s consternation
the old man turned up at the Opera-house in a faded blue uniform
with brass buttons all over it! Everybody stared, of course; and
they stared all the harder because they saw this military personage
in company with Comrade Higgins. The old boy gazed about at the
swarms of people, many of them with red buttons, the women with red
ribbons or sashes; he gazed at the decorations--the huge flag and
the long red streamers, the banner of the Karl Marx Verein, and the
banner of the Ypsels, or Young Peoples’ Socialist League of
Leesville, and the banner of the Machinists’ Union, Local 4717, and
of the Carpenters’ Union, District 529, and of the Workers’
Co-operative Society. He turned to Jimmie and said, “Where’s the
American flag?”

The Liederkranz sang the Marseillaise, and after the audience had
cheered and waved red handkerchiefs and shouted itself hoarse,
Comrade Gerrity, the chairman, made a little speech. For many years
all Socialists had been accustomed to employ a metaphor by which to
describe conditions in their country, and now they would no longer
be able to use it, for Russia was free, and America would follow her
example when she had the sense. He introduced Comrade Pavel
Michaelovitch, who had come all the way from New York to tell them
the meaning of the greatest event of history. Comrade Pavel, a
slender, frail, scholarly-looking man with a black beard and
black-rimmed spectacles, said a few words in Russian, and then he
talked for an hour in broken English, explaining how the Russians
had won their way to freedom, and now would use it to set free the
rest of the proletariat. And then came Comrade Schultze, of the
Carpet Weavers’ Union, assuring them that there was no need to go to
war with Germany, because the German workers had been shown the way
to freedom, and would follow very soon; Schultze knew, because his
brother was editor of a Socialist paper in Leipzig, and he had
inside information as to what was going on in the Fatherland.

Then Comrade Smith, the editor of the Worker, was introduced, and
the trouble began. The young editor wasted no time in preliminaries;
he was an international revolutionist, and no capitalist government
was going to draft him for its bloody knaveries. Never would he be
led out to murder his fellow-workers, whether in Germany, Austria,
Bulgaria or Turkey; the masters of Wall Street would find that when
they set out to drive American free men to the slaughter-pen, they
had made the mistake of their greedy lives. “Understand me,”
 declared Comrade Smith--though there seemed so far to have been
nothing in which anyone could possibly have misunderstood
him--“understand me, I am no pacifist, I am not opposed to war--it
is merely that I purpose to choose the war in which I fight. If they
try to put a gun into my hands, I shall not refuse to take it--not
much, for I and my fellow wage-slaves have long wished for guns! But
I shall use my own judgement as to where I aim that gun--whether at
enemies in front of me, or at enemies behind me--whether at my
brothers, the working-men of Germany, or at my oppressors, the
exploiters of Wall Street, their newspaper lackeys and military

The sentences of this speech came like the blows of a hammer, and
they struck forth a clamour of applause from the audience. But
suddenly the cheering crowd became aware that something out of the
ordinary was happening. An aged, white-whiskered man clad in a faded
blue uniform had risen from his seat in the middle of the hall and
was shouting and waving his arms. People near him were trying to
pull him down into his seat, but he would not be squelched, he went
on shouting; and the audience in part fell silent out of curiosity.
“Shame! Shame!” they heard him cry. “Shame upon you!” And he pointed
a trembling finger at the orator, declaring, “You are talking
treason, young man!”

“Sit down!” shrieked the crowd. “Shut up!”

But the old man turned upon them. “Are there no Americans at all in
this audience? Will you listen to this shameless traitor without one

People caught him by the coat-tails, men shook their fists at him;
at the other side of the hall “Wild Bill” leaped upon a chair,
shrieking: “Cut his throat, the old geezer!”

Two policemen came running down the aisle, and the “old geezer”
 appealed to them: “What are you here for, if not to protect the flag
and the honour of America?” But the policemen insisted that he stop
interrupting the meeting, and so the old man turned and stalked out
from the hall. But he did not go until he had turned once more and
shaken his fist at the crowd, yelling in his cracked voice,
“Traitors! Traitors!”


Poor Jimmie remained in his seat, overwhelmed. That he, the most
devoted of workers for Socialism, should have been the cause of such
a disgraceful scene--bringing to this revolutionary meeting a man in
the uniform of a killer of the working-class! He could not stay and
face the comrades; before the speaking had finished, he gave Lizzie
a nudge, and the two got up and stole out, dodging everyone they

Outside they stood in perplexity. They thought, of course, that the
old man would have driven away without them; they pictured the long
walk from the trolley-line in the darkness and mud--and with Lizzie
dressed in her only Sunday-go-to-meeting! But when they went to the
place where Mr. Drew had left his buggy, to their surprise they
found him patiently waiting for them. Seeing them hesitate, he said,
“Come! Get in!” They were much embarrassed, but obeyed, and the old
mare started her amble towards home.

They rode for a long time in silence. Finally Jimmie could not stand
it, and began, “I’m so sorry, Mr. Drew. You don’t understand--” But
the old man cut him off. “There’s no use you and me tryin’ to talk,
young man.” So they rode the rest of the way without a sound--except
that once Jimmie imagined he heard Lizzie sobbing to herself.

Jimmie really felt terribly about it, for he had for this old
soldier a deep respect, even an affection. Mr. Drew had made his
impression not so much by his arguments, which Jimmie considered
sixty years out of date, as by his personality. Here was one patriot
who was straight! What a pity that he could not understand the
revolutionary point of view! What a pity that he had to be made
angry! It was one more of the horrors of war, which tore friends
apart, and set them to disputing and hating one another.

At least, that was the way it seemed to Jimmie that night, while he
was still full of the speeches he had heard. But at other times
doubts assailed him--for, of course, a man cannot defy and combat a
whole community without sometimes being led to wonder whether the
community may not have some right on its side. Jimmie would hear of
things the Germans had done in the war; they were such dirty
fighters, they went out of their way to do such utterly revolting
and useless, almost insane things! They made it so needlessly hard
for anyone who tried to defend them to think of them even as human
beings. Jimmie would argue that he did not mean to help the Germans;
he would resent bitterly the charges of the Leesville newspapers
that he was a German agent and a traitor; but he could not get away
from the uncomfortable fact that the things he was doing DID have a
tendency to further German interests, at least for a time.

When that was pointed out to him by some patriot in a controversy,
his answer would be that he was appealing to the German Socialists
to revolt against their military leaders; but then the patriot would
begin to find fault with the German Socialists, declaring that they
were much better Germans than Socialists, and citing utterances and
actions to prove it. One German Socialist had stood up in the
Reichstag and declared that the Germans had two ways of
fighting--their armies overcame their enemies in the field, while
their Socialists undermined the morale of the workers in enemy
countries. When that passage was read to Jimmie, he answered that it
was a lie; no such speech had ever been made by a Socialist. He had
no way of proving it was a lie, of course; he just knew it! But
then, when he went away and thought it over, he began to wonder;
suppose it were true! Suppose the German workers had been so drilled
and schooled in childhood that even those who called themselves
revolutionists were patriots at heart! Jimmie would begin to piece
this and that together--things he had heard or read. Certainly these
German Socialists were not displaying any great boldness in fighting
their government!

The answer was that they could not oppose their government, because
they would be put in jail. But that was a pretty poor answer; it was
their business to go to jail--if not, what right had they to expect
Jimmie Higgins to go here in America? Jimmie presented this problem
to Comrade Meissner, who answered that if Jimmie would go first,
then doubtless the German comrades would follow. But Jimmie could
not see why he should be first; and when they tried to clear up the
reason, it developed that down in his heart Jimmie had begun to
believe that Germany was more to blame for the war than America. And
not merely would Comrade Meissner not admit that, but he became
excited and vehement, trying to convince Jimmie that the other
capitalist governments of the world were the cause of the
war--Germany was only defending herself against them! So there they
were, involved in a controversy, just like any two non-revolutionary
people! Repeating over the same arguments which had gone on in the
local between Norwood, the lawyer, and Schneider, the brewer; only
this time Jimmie was taking the side of Norwood! Jimmie found
himself face to face with the disconcerting fact that his devoted
friend Meissner was a German--and therefore in some subtle way
different from him, unable to see things as he did!




War or no war, the soil had to be ploughed and seed sown; so John
Cutter came to his tenant and proposed that he should resume his job
as farm-hand. Only he must agree to shut up about the war, for while
Cutter himself was not a rabid patriot, he would take no chances of
having his tenant-house burned down some night. So there was another
discussion in the Higgins family. Lizzie remembered how, during the
previous summer, Jimmie had worked from dawn till dark, and been too
tired even to read Socialist papers, to say nothing of carrying on
propaganda; which seemed to the distracted wife of a propagandist
the most desirable condition possible! Poor Eleeza Betooser--twice
again she had been compelled to take down the stocking from her
right leg, and unsew the bandage round her ankle, and extract
another of those precious yellow twenty-dollar bills; there were
only seven of them left now, and each of them was more valuable to
Lizzie than her eye-teeth.

Jimmie finally agreed that he would gag himself, so far as concerned
this country-side. What was the use of trying to teach anything to
these barnyard fools? They wanted war, let them go to war, and be
blown to bits, or poisoned in the trenches! If Jimmie had
propaganding to do, he would do it in the city, where the
working-men had brains, and knew who their enemies were. So once
more Jimmie harnessed up John Cutter’s horses to the plough, and
went out into John Cutter’s field to raise another crop of corn for
a man whom he hated. All day he guided the plough or the harrow, and
at night he fed and cared for the horses and the cows, and then he
came home and ate his supper, listening to the rattling of the long
freight-train that went through his backyard, carrying materials for
the making of TNT.

For the great explosives plant was now working day and night,
keeping the war in Jimmie’s thoughts all the time, whether he would
or not. In the midnight hours the trains of finished materials went
out, making Jimmie’s windows rattle with their rumble and clatter,
and bearing his fancies away to the battle-line across the seas,
where men were soon to be blown to pieces with the contents of these
cars. One night something went wrong on the track, and the train
stopped in his backyard, and in the morning he saw the cars, painted
black, with the word “danger” in flaming red letters. On top of the
cars walked a man with a club in his hand and a bulge on his hip,
keeping guard.

It appeared that someone had torn up a rail in the night, evidently
for the purpose of wrecking the train; so there came a detective to
Jimmie, while he was working in the field, to cross-question him.
They had Jimmie’s record, and suspected him of knowing more than he
would tell. “Aw, go to hell!” exclaimed the irate Socialist. “D’you
suppose, if I’d wanted to smash anything, I’d done it on the place
where I work?” And then, when he went home to dinner, he found that
they had been after Lizzie, and had frightened her out of her wits.
They had threatened to turn them out of their home; Jimmie saw
himself hounded here and there by this accursed war--until it
finished by seizing him and dragging him to the trenches!


The new Congress had met, and declared a state of war with Germany,
and the whole country was rushing into arms. Men were enlisting by
hundreds of thousands; but that was not enough for the
militarists--they wanted a conscription-law, so that every man might
be compelled to go. If they were so sure of themselves and their
wonderful war, why weren’t they satisfied to let those fight it who
wanted to? So argued the rebellious Jimmie and his anti-militarist
associates. But no! the militarists knew perfectly well that the
bulk of the people did not want to fight, so they proposed to make
them fight. Every energy of the Socialist movement was now
concentrated on the blocking of this conscription scheme.

Local Leesville hired the Opera-house again, organizing a
mass-meeting of protest, and the capitalist papers of the city began
clamouring against this meeting. Was the patriotism and loyalty of
Leesville to be affronted by another gathering of sedition and
treason? The Herald told all over again the story of the gallant old
Civil War veteran who had risen in his seat and shouted his protest
against the incitements of “Jack” Smith, the notorious “red” editor.
The Herald printed a second time the picture of the gallant old
veteran in his faded blue uniform, and the list of battles in which
he had fought, from the first Bull Run to the last siege of
Richmond. Some farmer passing by handed a copy of this paper to
Lizzie, adding that if there was any more treason-talk in this
locality there was going to be a lynching bee. So Jimmie found his
wife in tears again. She was absolutely determined that he should
not go to that meeting. For three days she wept and argued with him,
and for a part of three nights.

It would have been comical if it had not been so tragic. Jimmie
would use the old argument, that if he did not succeed in stopping
the war, he would be dragged into the trenches and killed. So, of
course, Lizzie would become a pacifist at once. What right had the
war to take Jimmie from her? The little Jimmies had a right to their
father! All children had a right to their fathers! But then, after
Lizzie had expressed these tearful convictions, Jimmie would say,
“All right, then, he must go to that meeting, he must do what he
could to prevent the war.” And poor Lizzie would find herself
suddenly confronting the terrors of the police with their clubs and
the patriots with their buckets of tar and bags of feathers! No,
Jimmie must not carry on any propaganda, Jimmie must not go to the
meeting! Poor Jimmie would try to pin her down; which way did she
want him killed, by the Germans, or by the police and the mobs? But
Lizzie did not want him killed either way! She wanted him to go on

Jimmie would try to arrange a compromise for the present. He would
go to the meeting, but he would promise not to say a word. But that
did not console Lizzie--she knew that if anything happened, her man
would get into it. No, if he were determined to go, she would go,
too,--even if they had to load the three babies into the
perambulator, and push them two or three miles to the trolley! If
Jimmie tried to make a speech, she would hang on to his coat-tails,
she would clasp her hands over his mouth, she would throw herself
between him and the clubs of the policemen!

So matters stood, when on the afternoon before the meeting there
came a heavy rain, and the road to the trolley was rendered
impossible for a triple-loaded baby-carriage. So there were more
hysterics in the family; Jimmie took his wife’s hand in his and
solemnly swore to her that she might trust him to go to this
meeting, he would not do anything that could by any possibility get
him into trouble. He would not try to make a speech, he would not
get up and shout--no matter what happened, he would not say a word!
He would merely sell pamphlets, and show people to their seats, as
he had done at a hundred meetings before. To make sure of his
immunity, he would even leave off the red badge which he was
accustomed to display on Socialist occasions! By these pledges
repeated over and over, he finally succeeded in pacifying his
weeping spouse, and gently removed her clutch on his coat-tails, and
departed, waving his hand to her and the kids.

The last thing he saw through the rain was Jimmie Junior,
flourishing a red handkerchief which Lizzie at the last moment had
extracted from her husband’s pocket. The last sound he heard was
Jimmie Junior’s voice, shouting:

“You be good now! You shut up!” Jimmie went off, thinking about this
little tike; he was five years old, and growing so that you could
notice the difference overnight. He had big black eyes like his
mother, and a grin full of all the mischief in the world. The things
he knew and the questions he asked! Jimmie and Lizzie never got
tired of talking about them; Jimmie recalled them one by one, as he
trudged through the mud--and, as always, he set his lips and
clenched his hands, and took up anew the task of making the world a
fit place for a working-man’s child to grow up in!


The principal orator of the evening was a young college professor
who had been turned out of his job for taking the side of the
working-class in his public utterances, and who was therefore a hero
to Jimmie Higgins. This young man had the facts of the war at his
finger-tips; he made you see it as a gigantic conspiracy of
capitalists the world over to complete their grip on the raw
materials of wealth, and on the bodies and souls of the workers. He
bitterly denounced those who had forced the country into the war; he
denounced the Wall Street speculators and financiers who had made
their billions already, and would be making their tens of billions.
He denounced the plan to force men to fight who did not wish to
fight, and his every sentence was followed by a burst of applause
from the throng which packed the Opera-house. If you judged by this
meeting, you would conclude that America was on the verge of a
revolution against the war.

The young professor sat down, wiping the perspiration from his pale
forehead; and then the Liederkranz sang again--only it was not
called the Liederkranz now, it had become known as the “Workers’
Singing Society”, out of deference to local prejudice. Then arose
Comrade Smith, editor of the Worker, and announced that after the
collection the orator would answer questions; then Comrade Smith
launched into a speech of his own, to the effect that something
definite ought to be done by the workers of Leesville to make clear
their opposition to being dragged into war. For his part he wished
to say that he would not yield one inch to the war-clamour--he was
on record as refusing to be drafted in any capitalist war, and he
was ready to join with others to agree that they would not be
drafted. The time was short--if anything were to be done, they must
act at once--

And then suddenly came an interruption--this time not from an old
soldier, but from a sergeant of police, who had been standing at one
side of the stage, and who now stepped forward, announcing, “This
meeting is closed.”

“What?” shouted the orator.

“This meeting is closed,” repeated the other. “And you, young man,
are under arrest.”

There was a howl from the audience, and suddenly from the pit in
front of the stage, whence ordinarily the orchestra dispensed sweet
music, there leaped a line of blue-uniformed men, distributing
themselves between the public and the speaker. At the same time down
the centre aisle came a dozen soldiers marching, with guns in their
hands and bayonets fixed.

“This is an outrage!” shouted Comrade Smith.

“Not another word!” commanded the police official; and two policemen
who had followed him grabbed the orator by each arm and started to
lead him off the stage.

Comrade Gerrity leaped to the front of the platform. “I denounce
this proceeding!” he shouted. “We are holding an orderly meeting

A policeman laid hold of him. “You are under arrest.”

Then came Comrade Mabel Smith, sister of the editor of the Worker.
“For shame! For shame!” she cried. And then, to a policeman, “No, I
will not be silent! I protest in the name of free speech! I
declare--” And when the policeman seized her by the arm, she
continued to shout at the top of her lungs, driving the crowd to

There were disturbances all over the audience. Mrs. Gerrity, wife of
the organizer, sprang up in her seat and began to protest. It
happened that Jimmie Higgins was in the aisle not far from her, and
his heart leaped with strange, half-forgotten emotions as he saw
this trim little figure, with the jaunty hat and the turkey feather
stuck on one side. Comrade Evelyn Baskerville, of Greenwich Village,
she of the fluffy brown hair and the pert little dimples and the
bold terrifying ideas, she who had so ploughed up the soul of Jimmie
Higgins and almost broken up the Higgins’ home--here she was,
employing a new variety of coquetry, by which she compelled three
soldiers with rifles and bayonets to devote their exclusive
attention to her!

And then Comrade Mary Allen, the Quaker lady, who believed in moral
force applied through the ear-drums. She stood in the aisle with her
armful of pamphlets and her red sash over her shoulder, proclaiming,
“In the name of liberty and fair play I protest against this
outrage! I will not see my country dragged into war without
asserting my right of protest! I stand here, in what is supposed to
be a Christian city; I speak in the name of the Prince of Peace--”
 and so on, quite a little speech, while several embarrassed young
men in khaki were trying to find out how to hold their rifles and a
shouting Quakeress at the same time.

And then Comrade Schneider, the brewer. He had been up on the stage
with the singers, and now got somehow to the front. “Haf we got no
rights in America left?” he shouted. “Do we in this audience--”

“Shut up, you Hun!” roared someone on the front of the crowd, and
three policemen at once leaped for Comrade Schneider, and grabbed
him by the collar, twisting so hard that the German’s face, always
purple when he was excited, took on a dark and deadly hue.

Poor Jimmie Higgins! He stood there with his armful of “War, What
For?”--trembling with excitement, itching in every nerve and sinew
to leap into this conflict, to make his voice heard above the
uproar, to play his part as a man--or even as a Comrade Mabel Smith,
or a Comrade Mary Alien, or a Comrade Mrs. Gerrity, nee Baskerville.
But he was helpless, speechless--bound hand and foot by those solemn
pledges he had given to Eleeza Betooser, the mother of babies.

He looked about, and near him in the aisle he saw another man, also
bound hand and foot--bound by the memory of the smash in the face
which had broken his nose and knocked out three of his front teeth!
“Wild Bill” saw a policeman watching him now, eager for another
pretext to leap on him and pound him; so he was silent, like Jimmie.
The two of them had to stand there and see the fundamental
constitutional rights of American citizens set at naught, to see
liberty trampled in the dust beneath the boots of a brutal soldiery,
to see justice strangled and raped in the innermost shrine of her
temple. At least, that was what you had seen if you read the
Leesville Worker; if on the other hand you read the Herald--which
nine out of ten people did--then you learned that the forces of
decency and order had at last prevailed in Leesville, the propaganda
of the Hun was stifled for ever, the mouthers of sedition had felt
the heavy hand of public indignation.


Outside, a crowd gathered to jeer while the prisoners were loaded
into the patrol-wagon; but the police drove them away, keeping
everybody moving, and breaking up several attempts at
street-oratory. Jimmie found himself with half a dozen other
comrades, wandering aimlessly down Main Street, talking over and
over what had happened, each explaining why and how he had not
shared the crown of martyrdom. Some had shouted as loud as the rest,
but had been missed by the police; some had thought it wiser to run
away and live to shout another day; some wanted to start that very
night to print a leaflet and call another mass-meeting. They
adjourned to Tom’s “Buffeteria” to talk things over; they took
possession of a couple of tables, and got their due quotas of coffee
and sandwiches, or pie and milk, and had just got fairly started on
the question of raising bail without the help of Comrade Dr.
Service--when suddenly something happened which drove all thoughts
of the meeting out of their minds.

It was like a gigantic blow, striking the whole world at once; a
cosmic convulsion, quite indescribable. The air became suddenly a
living thing, which leaped against your face; the windows of the
little eating-place flew inward in a shower of glass, and the walls
and tables shook as if with palsy. The sound of it all was a vast,
all-pervasive sound, at once far off and near, tailing away in the
clatter and crash of innumerable panes of glass falling from
innumerable windows. Then came silence, a sinister, frightful
silence, it seemed; men stared at one another, crying, “My God!
What’s that?” The answer seemed to dawn upon everyone at once: “The

Yes, that must be it, beyond doubt. For months they had been talking
about it and thinking about it, speculating as to the probabilities
and the consequences. And now it had happened. Suddenly one of the
company gave a cry, and they turned and stared at his white face,
and realized the terror that clutched his heart. Comrade Higgins,
whose home was so near the place of peril!

“Gee, fellers, I gotta go!” he gasped; and several of the comrades
jumped up and ran with him into the street. If there was a single
pane of glass left intact in Leesville, you would not have thought
it as you trod those pavements.

If Jimmie had been trained in efficiency, and accustomed to spending
money more freely, he might perhaps have found out something by the
telephone or by inquiry at the newspaper offices; but the one thing
he thought of was to take the trolley and get to his home. The
comrades ran with him, speculating with eager excitement, trying to
reassure him--it could be nothing worse than some glass and some
dishes smashed. Some had thought of going all the way with him, but
they remembered they would be too late for the last trolley back,
and they had their jobs in the morning. So they put him on the car
and bade him good-bye.


The trolley was packed with people going out to see what had
happened, so Jimmie had plenty of company and conversation on the
way. But when he came to his stop, he got off and walked alone, for
the others were going to the explosives plant, and they rode a mile
or so farther on the car.

Never would Jimmie forget that journey--that walk of nightmares. The
road was pitch-dark, and before he had gone more than half the
distance, he stumbled over something, and fell head-foremost. He got
up, and groped, and discovered that it was a tree, lying prone
across the road. He searched his mind, and remembered a great dead
tree that stood at that spot. Could the explosion have knocked it

He went on, feeling his way more cautiously, yet goaded to greater
speed by his fears. A little way further was a farm-house, and he
went into the yard and shouted, but got no reply. The yard was
covered with shingles, apparently blown from the roof. He went on,
more frightened than ever.

He came to a turn in the road which he knew was less than half a
mile from his home; and here there were several horses and wagons
tied, but no one to answer his calls. The road passed through a
wood; but apparently there was no road any more--the trees had been
picked up bodily and thrown across it. Jimmie had to grope this way
and that, and he ran a piece of broken branch into his cheek, and by
that time was almost ready to cry with fright. He knew that his home
was two miles from the explosives plant, and he could not conceive
how an explosion could have done such damage at such a distance.

He saw a lantern ahead, bobbing this way and that, and he shouted
louder than ever, and finally succeeded in persuading the bearer of
the lantern to wait for him. It proved to be a farmer who lived some
way back; he knew no more than Jimmie did, and they made their way
together. Beyond the woods, the road was littered with loose dirt,
bushes, bits of fence and rubbish, burned black. “It must have been
near here,” declared the man, and added words which caused Jimmie’s
heart almost to stand still. “It must have been on the railroad

They came to a little rise, from which in day-time the line of the
railroad was visible. They saw lanterns, many of them, moving here
and there like a swarm of fire-flies. “Come this way,” Jimmie begged
of the farmer, and ran towards his home. The road was buried under
masses of earth, as if thousands of steam-shovels had emptied their
contents on it. When they came to where the fence of Jimmie’s house
ought to have been, they found no fence, but a slide of loose earth
that had never been there before. Where the apple-tree had been
there was nothing; where the lawn had been there was a pitch down a
hill, and where the house had been was a huge valley, seeming in the
darkness a bottomless abyss!


Jimmie was distracted. He grabbed the lantern from the other man,
and ran this way and that, looking for some of the familiar
landmarks of his home--the chicken-house, the pig-sty, the back
fence with the broken elm tree in the corner, the railroad beyond.
He could not believe that he had come to the place at all--he could
not credit the reality of such nightmare sights as his eyes reported
to him. He rushed about, stumbling over mountains of upheaved brown
dirt, sliding down into craters that were filled with a strange,
penetrating odour which caused his eyes to smart; and then
clambering out again and running after men with lanterns, shouting
questions at them and not waiting for an answer. It seemed to him
that if he ran just a little farther he must surely find the house
and the other things he was looking for; but he found nothing but
more craters and more mountains of dirt; and little by little the
horrible truth became clear to him, that all the way down the
railroad track, as far as he could see or run, this gigantic trough
extended, a valley of raw dirt with mountains on each side, crowned
here and there with wheels and axles and iron trucks of blown-up
freight-cars, and filled in the bottom with the deadly fumes of

Jimmie cried out to the men and women with lanterns, asking had they
seen his wife and babies. But no one had seen them--no one had
notified them of the impending explosion! Jimmie was sobbing,
calling out distractedly; he ran out to the road, and after much
searching found a charred tree-stump which gave him his precise
bearings, so that he knew where the house should have been, and
could assure himself that it was precisely where that frightful
slope started down into the abyss. He slid around on this slope,
calling aloud, as if he expected the spirits of his loved ones might
have remained there, defying all the power of suddenly expanding
gases. He ran back across the road and called, as if they might have
fled that way.

At last he ran into Mr. Drew; old Mr. Drew, who a couple of weeks
before had taken Eleeza Betooser and her three little ones driving
in his buggy! That memory was the nearest Jimmie could get to them,
and so he clutched the old soldier’s arm, and held on to it, weeping
like a little child.

The old man tried to draw him away, to get him to his home. But
Jimmie must stay on the spot, he was held by a spell of horror. He
wandered about, dragging Mr. Drew with him, pleading with people to
no purpose; now and then he would break out with curses against
war-makers, and especially those who made explosives and transported
them in freight-trains through other men’s back-yards. For once
people heard him without threats of lynching.

So on through this night of anguish. Jimmie lost old man Drew in the
darkness, and was all alone when the dawn came, and he could see the
sweep of desolation about him, and the awe-stricken faces of the
spectators. Soon afterwards came the climax. He saw a crowd
gathered, and as he came up, this crowd parted for him. Nobody
seemed to want to speak, but they all watched, as if curious to see
what he would do. One of the men bore a burden, wrapped in a
horse-blanket; Jimmie gazed, and after a moment’s hesitation the man
threw back part of the blanket and there before Jimmie’s eyes was a
most horrible sight--a human leg, a large white leg, the lower half
covered with a black stocking tied at the top with a bit of tape. It
was such a leg as you see in the windows of stores where they sell
pretty things for ladies; only this leg was soft, mangled at the
top, smeared with blood, and partly charred black. One glance was
enough for Jimmie, and he put his hands over his eyes and turned and
ran--out to the road and away, away--anywhere from this place of


Jimmie’s whole world was wiped out, ended. He had no place to go, no
care what became of him. He stumbled on till he came to the
trolley-track, and got on the first car which came along. It was
pure chance that it happened to be going back to Leesville, for
Jimmie had no longer any interest in that city. When the car came to
the barn, he got out and wandered aimlessly, until he happened to
pass a saloon where he had been accustomed to meet Jerry Coleman,
distributor of ten-dollar bills. Jimmie went in and ordered a drink
of whisky; he did not tell the saloon-keeper what had happened, but
took the drink to a table and sat down by himself. When he had
finished, he ordered another, because it helped him not to think; he
sat there at the table, drinking steadily for an hour or more. And
so upon his confused mind there dawned a strange, a ghastly idea,
climax of all that night of horror. Which leg of Lizzie was it the
man had been carrying wrapped in a horse-blanket? The right leg or
the left? If it was the left leg, why, nothing; but if it was the
right, why then, under the stocking was sewed a bandage, and in that
bandage was wrapped a package containing seven faded yellow
twenty-dollar bills!

And what would they do about it? Would they bury the leg without
investigation? Or would the man who had found it happen to undress
it? And what was Jimmie to do? A hundred and forty dollars was not
to be sneezed at by a working-man--it was more money than he had
ever had in his life before, or might ever have again. But could he
go to the man and say, “Did you find any money on my wife’s leg?”
 Could he say, “Please give me my wife’s leg, so that I can undress
it and unsew the bandage and get the money that I was paid for
keeping quiet about the surgical operation on Lacey Granitch, that
was done in my house before it was blown to pieces by the

Jimmie thought it all over while he took a couple more drinks, and
finally settled it to himself: “Aw, hell! What do I want with money?
I ain’t a-goin’ to live no more!”




Jimmie Higgins was wandering down the street, when he ran into “Wild
Bill”, who was, of course, greatly surprised to see his friend in a
drunken condition. When he heard the reason, he revealed an
unexpected side of his nature. If you judged “Wild Bill” by his
oratory, you thought him a creature poisoned through and through, a
soul turned rancid with envy, hatred and malice and all
uncharitableness. But now the tears came into his eyes, and he put
his arm over Jimmie’s shoulder. “Say, old pal, that’s bum luck! By
God, I’m sorry!” And Jimmie, who wanted nothing so much as somebody
to be sorry with, clasped Bill in his arms, and burst into tears,
and told over and over again how he had gone to what had been his
home, and found only a huge crater blown out by the explosion, and
how he had gone about calling his wife and babies, until at last
they had brought him one leg of his wife.

“Wild Bill” listened, until he knew the story through and then he
said, “See here, old pal, let’s you and me quit this town.”

“Quit?” said Jimmie, stupidly.

“Every time I open the front of my face now, the police jump in it.
Leesville’s a hell of a town, I say. Let’s get out.”

“Where’ll we go?”

“Anywhere--what’s the diff? It’s coming summer. Let’s slam the

Jimmie was willing--why not? They went back to the lodging-house
where Bill lived, and he tied up his worldly goods in a
gunny-sack--the greater part of the load consisting of a diary in
which he had recorded his adventures as leader of an unemployed army
which had started to march from California to Washington, D.C., some
four years previously. They took the trolley, and getting off in the
country, walked along the banks of the river, Jimmie still sobbing,
and Bill in the grip of one of his fearful coughing spells. They sat
down beside the stream not so far from where Jimmie had gone in
swimming with the Candidate; he gave a touching account of this
adventure, but fell asleep in the middle of it, and Bill wandered
off and begged some food at a farm-house, using his cough as a
convenient lever for moving the heart of the housewife. When night
came, they sought the railroad and got on board a southward-moving
freight; so Jimmie Higgins went back to the tramps life, at which he
had spent a considerable part of his youth.

But there was a difference now; he was no longer a blind and
helpless victim of a false economic system, but a revolutionist,
fully class-conscious, trained in a grim school. The country was
going to war, and Jimmie was going to war on the country. The two
agitators got off the train at a mining-village, and got a job as
“surface men”, and proceeded to preach their gospel of revolt to the
workers in a lousy company boarding-house. When they were found out,
they “jumped” another freight, and repeated the performance in
another part of the district.

The companies were too vigilant for there to be any chance of a
strike; but “Wild Bill” whispered to the young workers that he knew
a trick worth two of that--he would teach them the art of “striking
on the job”! This idea, of course, had great charm for embittered
men; enabling them to pay back the boss, while at the same time
continuing on his pay-roll. Bill had read whole books in which the
theory and practice of “sabotage” were worked out, and he could tell
any sort of workman tricks to make his employer sweat under the
collar. If you worked in a machine-shop, you dropped emery-powder
into the bearings; if you worked on a farm, you drove copper nails
into the fruit-trees, which caused them to die; if you packed
apples, you stuck your thumb-nail into one, which made sure that the
whole box would be rotten when it arrived; if you worked in a
saw-mill, you drove a spike into a log; if you worked in a
restaurant, you served double portions to ruin the boss, and spit in
each portion to make sure the customer did not derive any benefit.
All these things you did in a fervour of exaltation, a mood of
frenzied martyrdom, because of the blaze of hate which had been
fanned in your soul by a social system based upon oppression and


To Jimmie, living the obscure and comparatively peaceful life of a
Socialist propagandist, the question of “sabotage, violence and
crime” had been a more or less academic one, about which the
comrades debated acrimoniously, and against which they voted by a
large majority. But now Jimmie was out among the “wobblies”, the
“blanket-stiffs”--the unskilled workers who had literally nothing
but their muscle-power to sell; here he was in the front-line
trenches of the class war. These men wandered about from one job to
another, at the mercy of the seasons and the fluctuations of
industry. They were deprived of votes, and therefore of their status
as citizens; they were deprived of a chance to organize, and
therefore of their status as human beings. They were lodged in
filthy bunk-houses, fed upon rotten food, and beaten or jailed at
the least word of revolt. So they fought their oppressors with any
and every weapon they could lay hands on.

In the turpentine-country, in a forest, Jimmie and his pal came to a
“jungle”, a place where the “wobblies” congregated, living off the
country. Here around the camp-fires Jimmie met the guerillas of the
class-struggle, and learned the songs of revolt which they
sang--some of them parodies on Christian hymns which would have
caused the orthodox and respectable to faint with horror. Here they
rested up, and exchanged data on the progress of their fight, and
argued over tactics, and cussed the Socialists and the other
“politicians” and “labour-fakirs”, and sang the praises of the “one
big union”, and the “mass strike”, and “direct action” against the
masters of industry. They told stories of their sufferings and their
exploits, and Jimmie sat and listened. Sometimes his eyes were wide
with consternation, for he had never met men so desperate as these.

For example, “Strawberry” Curran--named for his red hair and
innumerable freckles--an Irish boy with the face of a choir-singer,
and eyes that must have been taken straight out of the blue vault of
Heaven. This lad told about a “free speech fight” in a far Western
city, and how the chief of police had led the clubbing, and how they
had got back at him. “We bumped him off all right,” said
“Strawberry”; it was a favourite phrase of his--whenever anybody
got in his way, he “bumped him off”. And then “Flathead Joe”, who
came from the Indian country, was moved to emulation, and told how
he had put dynamite under the supports of a mine-breaker, and the
whole works had slid down a slope into a canyon a mile below. And
then a lame fellow, “Chuck” Peterson, told about the imprisonment of
two strike-leaders in the hop-country of California, and of the
epidemic of fires and destruction that had plagued that region for
several years since.

All such things these men talked about quite casually, as soldiers
would talk about the events of the last campaign. This class-war had
been going on for ages, and had its own ethics and its own
traditions; those who took part in it had their heroisms and
sublimities, precisely like any other soldiers. They would have been
glad to come into the open and fight, but the other side had all the
guns. Every time the “wobblies” succeeded in organizing the workers
and calling a big strike, all the agencies of capitalist repression
were called in--they were beaten by capitalist policemen, shot by
capitalist sheriffs, starved and frozen in capitalist jails, and so
their strike was crushed and their forces scattered. After many such
experiences, it was inevitable that the hot-headed ones should take
to secret vengeance, should become conspirators against capitalist
society. And society, forgetting all the provocations it had given,
called the “wobblies” criminals, and let it go at that. But they
were a strange kind of criminal, serving a far-off dream. They had
their humours and their humanities, their literature and music and
art. Among them were men of education, graduates of universities
both in America and abroad; you might hear one of the group about
these camp-fires telling about slave-revolts in ancient Egypt and
Greece; or quoting Strindberg and Stirner, or reciting a scene from
Synge, or narrating how he had astounded the family of some lonely
farm-house by playing Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude” on a badly
out-of-tune piano.

Also you met among them men who had kept their gentleness, their
sweetness of soul, men of marvellous patience, whose dream of human
brotherhood no persecution, no outrage had been able to turn sour.
They clung to their vision of a world redeemed, made over by the
outcast and lowly; a vision that was brought to the world by a
certain Jewish Carpenter, and has haunted mankind for nineteen
hundred years. The difference was that these men knew precisely how
they meant to do it; they had a definite philosophy, a definite
programme, which they carried as a gospel to the wage-slaves of the
world. And they knew that this glad message would never die--not all
the jails and clubs and machine-guns in the country could kill it,
not obloquy and ridicule, not hunger and cold and disease. No! for
the workers were hearing and understanding, they were learning the
all-precious lesson of Solidarity. They were forming the “one big
union”, preparing the time when they would take over industry and
administer it through their own workers’ councils, instead of
through the medium of parliaments and legislatures. That was the
great idea upon which the Industrial Workers of the World was based;
it was this they meant by “direct action”, not the sinister thing
which the capitalist newspapers made out of the phrase.


The country was going into its own war, which it considered of
importance, and it called upon Jimmie Higgins and the rest of his
associates to register for military service. In the month of June
ten million men came forward in obedience to this call--but Jimmie,
needless to say, was not among them. Jimmie and his crowd thought it
was the greatest joke of the age. If the country wanted them, let it
come and get them. And sure enough, the country came--a sheriff, and
some thirty farmers and turpentine-workers sworn in as deputies and
armed with shot-guns and rifles. Should their sons go overseas to be
killed in battle, while these desperadoes continued to camp out on
the country, living on hogs and chickens which honest men had worked
to raise? They had wanted to break up this “jungle” for some time;
now they could do it in the name of patriotism. They surrounded the
camp, and shot one man who tried to slip out in the darkness, and
searched the rest for weapons, and then loaded them into half a
dozen automobiles and took them to the nearest lock-up.

So here was Jimmie, confronting a village draft-board. How old was
he? The truth was that Jimmie did not know definitely, but his guess
was about twenty-six. The draft-limit being thirty, he swore that
he was thirty-two. And what were they going to do about it? They
didn’t know where he had been born, and they couldn’t make him
tell--because he didn’t know it himself! His face was lined with
many cares, and he had a few grey hairs from that night of horror
when his loved ones had been wiped out of existence.

These farmers knew how to tell the age of a horse, but not how to
tell the age of a man!

“We’ll draft ye anyhow!” vowed the chairman of the board, who was
the local justice of the peace, an old fellow with a beard like a

“All right,” said Jimmie, “but you’ll get nothin’ out o’ me.”

“What d’ye mean?”

“I mean I wouldn’t fight; I’m a conscientious objector to war.”

“They’ll shoot ye!”

“Shoot away!”

“They’ll send you to jail for life.”

“What the hell do I care?”

It was difficult to know what to do with a person like that. If they
did put him in jail, they would only be feeding him at the expense
of the community, and that would not help to beat the Germans. They
could see from the flash in his eyes that he would not be an easy
man to break. Local interest asserted itself, and the old fellow
with the wagging beard demanded: “If we let ye go, will ye get out
o’ this county?”

“What the hell do I care about your old county?” replied Jimmie.

So they turned him loose, and “Wild Bill” also, because it was
evident at a glance that he was not long for this world and its
wars. The two of them broke into an empty freight-car, and went
thundering over the rails all night; and lying in the darkness,
Jimmie was awakened by a terrified cry from his companion, and put
out his hand and laid it in a mess that was hot and wet.

“Oh, my God!” gasped Bill. “I’m done for!”

“What is it?”


The terrified Jimmie did not even know what that was. There was
nothing he could do but sit there, holding his friend’s trembling
hand and listening to his moans. When the train stopped, Jimmie
sprang out and rushed to one of the brakemen, who came with his
lantern, and saw “Wild Bill” lying in a pool of blood, already so
far gone that he could not lift his head. “Jesus!” exclaimed the
brakeman. “He’s a goner, all right.”

The “goner” was trying to say something, and Jimmie leaned his ear
down to him. “Good-bye, old pal,” whispered Bill. That was all, but
it caused Jimmie to burst out sobbing.

The engine whistled. “What the hell you stiffs doin’ on this train?”
 demanded the brakeman--but not so harshly as the words would
indicate. He lifted the dying man--no very serious burden--and laid
him on the platform of the station. “Sorry,” he said, “but we’re
behind schedule.” He waved his lantern, and the creaking cars began
to move, and the train drew away, leaving Jimmie sitting by the
corpse of his pal. The world seemed a lonely place that long night.

In the morning the station-agent came, and notified the nearest
authorities, and in the course of the day came a wagon to fetch the
body. What was the use of Jimmie’s waiting? One “Potter’s field” was
the same as another, and there would be nothing inspiring about the
funeral. The man who drove the wagon looked at Jimmie suspiciously
and asked his age; they were scarce of labour in that country, he
said-the rule was “Work or fight”. Jimmie foresaw another session
with a draft-board, so he leaped on to another freight train, taking
with him as a legacy “Wild Bill’s” diary of the unemployed army.


It was harvest-time, and Jimmie went West to the wheat country. It
was hard work, but the pay made your eyes bulge. Jimmie realized
that war was not such a bad thing--for the ones that stayed at
home! If you didn’t like one farmer’s way of speaking to you, or the
kind of biscuits his wife offered you, you could move on to the
next, and he would take you in at four bits more per day. It was the
nearest approach to a working-man’s paradise that Jimmie had ever
encountered. There was really only one drawback--the pestiferous
draft-boards that never stopped snooping round. They were for ever
hauling you up and threatening and questioning you--putting you
through the same scene over and over. Why couldn’t the fools give
you a card, showing that you had been through the mill, and let that
settle it? But no, they wouldn’t give you a card--they preferred to
go on jacking you up because you had no card. It was all a trick,
thought Jimmie, to wear him out and force him into their army by
hook or by crook. But here was one time when they would not get away
with it!

However, Jimmie Higgins was not nearly so dangerous a character, now
that “Wild Bill” was gone out of his life. It was really not his
nature to cherish hate, or to set out deliberately to revenge
himself. Jimmie was a Socialist in the true sense of the word--he
felt himself a part of society, and that peace and plenty and
kindness which he desired for himself he desired for all mankind. He
was not dreaming of a time when he could turn the capitalists out of
power and treat them as they were now treating him; he meant the
world to be just as good a place for the capitalists as for the
workers--all would share alike, and Jimmie was ready to wipe out the
old scores and start fair any day. His propaganda regained its
former idealistic hue, and it was only when somebody tried to drag
him into the slaughter-pen that he developed teeth and claws.

So he became fairly happy again--happier than he had thought he
could ever be. It was in vain he told himself that he had nothing to
live for; he had the greatest thing in the world to live for, the
vision of a just and sane and happy world. So long as anybody could
be found to listen while he talked about it and explained how it
might be achieved, life was worth while, life was real. It was only
now and then that his bitter heartache returned to plague him--when
he awakened in the night with his arms clasped about the memory of
the soft, warm, kindly body of Eleesa Betooser; or when he came to a
farmhouse where there were children, whose prattle reminded him of
the little fellow who had been his prime reason for wanting a just
and sane and happy world. Jimmie found that he could not bear to
work in one farmhouse where there were children; and when he told
the farmer’s wife the reason, he and the woman declared a temporary
truce to the class-war, and celebrated it with half a large apple-pie.


The Socialists held a National Convention at St. Louis, and drew up
their declaration concerning the war. They called it the most
unjustifiable war in history, “a crime against the people of the
United States”; they called on the workers of the country to oppose
it, and pledged themselves “to the support of all mass movements in
opposition to conscription”. This was, of course, a serious step to
take at such a time; the comrades realized it, and there were solemn
gatherings to discuss the referendum, and not a little disagreement
as to the wisdom of the declaration. In the town of Hopeland, near
which Jimmie was working, there was a local, and he had got himself
transferred from Leesville, and paid up his back dues, and had his
precious red card stamped up-to-date. And now he would go in and
listen to debates, just as exciting and just as bewildering as those
he had heard at the outbreak of the war.

There were some who pointed out the precise meaning of those words,
“all mass-movements in opposition to conscription.” The leading
dry-goods merchant of the town, he was a Socialist, declared that
the words meant insurrection and mob violence, and the resolution
would be adjudged a call to treason. At which there leaped to his
feet a Russian Jewish tailor, Rabin by name; his first name was
Scholem, which means Peace, and he cried in great excitement: “Vot
business have ve Socialists vit such vords? Ve might leaf dem to de
enemy, vot?”

You might have thought you were in Leesville, listening to Comrade
Stankewitz. The only difference was that there were not many Germans
in this town, and those few confined their discussions to Ireland
and India.

Jimmie would hear the arguments, back and forth and back again, and
his mind would be in greater confusion than ever. He hated war as
much as ever; but, on the other hand, he was learning to hate the
Germans, too. The American government, going to war, had been forced
to assert itself, and the stores and billboards were covered with
proclamations and picture-posters, and the newspapers were full of
recitals of the crimes which Germany had committed against humanity.
Jimmie might refuse to read this “Wall Street dope”, as he called
it, but the working-men with whom he was associating read it, and
would fire it at him whenever they got into a controversy. Also the
daily events in the news dispatches--the sinking of hospital-ships
filled with wounded, the shelling of life-boats, the dragging away
into slavery in coal-mines of Belgian children thirteen and fourteen
years old! How could any man fail to hate and to fear a government
which committed such atrocities? How could he remain untroubled at
the thought that he might be assisting such a government to victory?

Jimmie was honest, he was trying to face the facts as he saw them;
and when he stopped to think, when he remembered the things he had
done in company with “Wild Bill” and “Strawberry” Curran and
“Flathead Joe” and “Chuck” Peterson, he could not deny that he had
been, however unintentionally, helping the Kaiser to win the war. In
his arguments with others, Jimmie dared not tell all he knew about
such matters; so, when he argued with himself, his conscience was
troubled, and doubt gnawed at his soul. Suppose it were true, as
Comrade Dr. Service had tried to prove to him, that a victory for
the Kaiser would mean that America would have to spend the next
twenty or thirty years getting ready for the next war? Might it not
then be better to forego revolutionary agitation for a while, until
the Kaiser had been put out of business?

There were not a few Socialists who argued this way--men who had
been active in the movement and had possessed Jimmie’s regard before
the war. Now they denounced the St. Louis resolution--the “majority
report” as it was called. When this report was carried in referendum
by a vote of something like eight to one, these comrades withdrew
from the party, and some of them bitterly attacked their former
friends. Such utterances were taken up by the capitalist press; and
this made Jimmie Higgins indignant. A fine lot of Socialists, to
quit the ship in the hour of peril! Renegades, Jimmie called them,
and compared them with Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold and
such-like celebrities of past ages. They, being exactly the same
sort of folk as Jimmie, answered by calling Jimmie a pro-German and
a traitor; which did not make it easier to persuade Jimmie to listen
to their arguments. So both sides became blinded with anger,
forgetting about the facts in the case, and thinking only of
punishing a hated antagonist.


All over the country now men were sending their sons to the
training-camps, and putting their money into “liberty-bonds”. So
they were in no mood to listen to argument--they would fly into a
rage at the least hint that the cause in which they were making
sacrifices was not a perfectly just and righteous cause. There was
an organization called the “People’s Council for Peace and
Democracy”, which attempted to hold a national convention; the
gathering was broken up by mobs, and the delegates went wandering
over the country, trying in vain to get together. The mayor of
Chicago gave them permission to meet in that city, but the governor
of the state sent troops to prevent it! You see, the people of the
country had learned all about the organization for which Jerry
Coleman had been working--“Labour’s National Peace Council”; and
here was another organization, bearing practically the same name,
and carrying on an agitation which seemed the same to the average
man. The distinction between hired treason and super-idealism was
far too subtle for the people to draw in a time of such peril.

It was becoming more and more the fashion to arrest Socialists and
to suppress their papers; the government authorities in many places
declared the “majority report” unmailable, and indicted state and
national secretaries for having sent it out in the ordinary routine
of their business. Jimmie received a letter from Comrade Meissner in
Leesville, telling him that Comrade “Jack” Smith had been given two
years in the penitentiary for his speech in the Opera-house, and the
other would-be speakers had been fined five hundred dollars each.
Several issues of the Worker had been barred from the mails, and now
the police had raided the offices and forced the suspension of the
publication. All over the country that sort of thing was happening,
so now if you argued with Jimmie in favour of the war, his answer
was that America was more Prussian than Prussia, and what was the
use of fighting for Democracy abroad, if you had to sacrifice every
particle of Democracy at home in order to win the fight?

Jimmie really believed this--he believed it with most desperate and
passionate intensity. He looked forward to a war won for the benefit
of oppression at home; he foresaw the system of militarism and
suppession riveted for ever on the people of America. Jimmie would
admit that the President himself might be sincere in the fine words
he used about democracy; but the great Wall Street interests which
had run the country for so many decades--they had their secret
purposes, for which the war-frenzy served as a convenient cloak.
They were going to make universal military service the rule in
America; they were going to see to it that every school-child
learned the military lessons of obedience and subordination. Also
they were going to put the radical papers out of business and put a
stop to all radical propaganda. Those Socialists who had been
trapped into supporting the President’s war-programme would wake up
some morning with a fearful dark-brown taste in their mouths!

No, said Jimmie Higgins, the way to fight war was to resist the
subterfuges, however cunning and plausible, by which men sought to
persuade you to support war. The way to fight war was the way of the
Russians. The propaganda of proletarian revolt, the glorious example
which the Russian workers had set, would do more to break down the
power of the Kaiser than all the guns and shells in the world. But
the militarists did not want it broken that way--Jimmie suspected
that many of them would rather have the war won by the Kaiser than
have it won by the Socialists. The governments refused to give
passports to Socialists who wanted to meet in some neutral country
and work out the basis of a settlement upon which all the peoples of
the world might get together; and Jimmie took the banning of this
Socialist conference as the supreme crime of the world-capitalism,
it was evidence that world-capitalism knew its true enemy, and meant
to use the war as an excuse to hold that enemy down.


Day by day Jimmie was coming to place more of his hopes in Russia.
His little friend Rabin, the tailor, took a Russian paper published
in New York, the Novy Mir, and would translate its news and
editorials. Local Hopeland, thus inspired, voted a message of
fraternal sympathy to the Russian workers. In Petrograd and Moscow
there was going on, it appeared, a struggle between the pro-ally
Socialists and the Internationalists, the true, out-and-out,
middle-of-the-road, thick-and-thin proletarians. The former were
called Mensheviki, the latter were called Bolsheviki, and, of
course, Jimmie was all for the latter. Did he not know the
“stool-pigeon Socialists” at home, who were letting themselves be
used by capitalism?

The big issues were two--first, the land, which the peasants wanted
to take from the landlords; and second, the foreign debt. The
Russian Tsar had borrowed four billion dollars from France and a
billion or two from England, to be used in enslaving the Russian
workers and driving several millions of them to death on the
battlefield. Now should the Russian workers consider themselves
bound by this debt? When anybody asked Jimmie Higgins that question,
he responded with a thunderous “No”, and he regarded as hirelings or
dupes of Wall Street all those Socialists who supported Kerensky in

When the American government, wishing to appeal to the Russian
people for loyalty in the war, sent over a commission to them, and
placed at its head one of the most notorious corporation lawyers in
America, a man whose life, the Jimmies said, had been sold to
service in the anti-liberal cause, Jimmie Higgins’s shrill voice
became a yell of ridicule and rage. Of course, Jimmie’s organization
saw to it that the Bolsheviki were informed in advance as to the
character of this commission--something which was unnecessary, as it
happened, because immediately after the overthrow of the Tsar there
had begun a pilgrimage of Russian Socialists from New York and San
Francisco, men who had seen the seamy side of American capitalism in
the slums of the great cities, and who lost no time in providing the
Russian radicals with full information concerning Wall Street!

It chanced that in San Francisco a well-known labour leader had been
charged with planting a bomb to break up a “preparedness” parade. He
had been convicted upon that which was proven to be perjured
testimony, and the labour unions of the country had been conducting
a campaign to save his life--which campaign the capitalist
newspapers had been carefully overlooking, according to their
invariable custom. But now the returned exiles in Petrograd took up
the matter, and organized a parade to the American embassy, with a
demand for the freeing of this “Muni”. The report, of course, came
back to America--to the immense bewilderment of the American people,
who had never heard of this “Muni” before. To Jimmie Higgins it
seemed just the funniest joke on earth that a big labour-struggle
should be on in San Francisco, and Americans should get their first
news about it from Petrograd! Look! he would cry--how much real
democracy there is in America, how much care for the working

So all that summer and autumn, while Jimmie Higgins slaved in the
fields, getting in his country’s wheat-crop, and then his country’s
corn crop, there was a song of joy and awakening excitement in his
soul. Far over the seas men of his own kind were getting the reins
of power into their hands, for the first time in the history of the
world. It could not be long before here in America the workers would
learn this wonderful lesson, would thrill to the idea that freedom
and plenty might really be their portion.




Winter was coming, and the farm-workers moved to the cities; but
this year they did not go as down-and-out-o’-works--they went, each
man a little kink. Jimmie wandered into the city of Ironton, and got
himself a job in a big automobile shop at eight dollars a day, and
set to work agitating for ten dollars. It was not that he had any
need of the extra two dollars, of course, but merely because his
first principle in life was to make trouble for the profit-system.
The capitalist papers of this middle-Western metropolis were
furiously denouncing working-men who struck “against their country”
 in war-time; Jimmie, on the other hand, denounced those who used
“country” as camouflage for “boss” and made the war a pretext to
deprive labour of its most precious right.

There was a Socialist local in Ironton, still active and determined
in spite of the fact that its office had been raided by the police,
and most of the party’s papers and magazines barred from the mails.
You could always get leaflets printed, however; and if you could no
longer denounce the war directly, you could jeer at England’s
exhibition of “democracy” in Ireland, you could point to the profits
of the profiteers, and demand conscription of wealth along with
conscription of manhood. Some American Socialists became almost as
subtle as that German rebel of pre-war days, who, desiring to
lampoon the Kaiser, wrote an account of the life of the Roman
Emperor Agricola, reciting his vanities and insane extravagances.

Late in the autumn came an event which should have troubed Jimmie
Higgins more deeply than it did. Along the Izonzo river the Italian
armies were facing the Austrians, their hereditary enemies; they
were at the end of a long, exhaustive, and for the most part
unsuccessful campaign, and the Italian Socialists at home were
carrying on precisely such a warfare against their own government as
Jimmie Higgins was carrying on in America. They were helped by the
Catholic intriguers, who hated the Italian government because it had
destroyed the temporal power of the Pope; they were helped by the
subtle and persistent efforts of Austrian agents in their country,
who spread rumours among Italian troops of the friendly intentions
of the Austrians, and of the imminence of a truce. These agents went
so far as to fake copies of the leading Italian newspapers, with
accounts of starvation and riots in the home cities, and the
shooting down of women and children. These papers were given out in
the Italian trenches, before a certain mountain-sector where the
Austrian troops had been fraternizing with the Italians; and then,
during the night, the Austrian troops were withdrawn, and picked
German “shock-troops” substituted, which attacked at dawn and drove
through the Italian lines, sweeping back the army along a
hundred-mile front, capturing some quarter of a million prisoners
and a couple of thousand cannon--practically all the Italians had.

That Jimmie Higgins did not pay more attention to this terrifying
incident was in part because he read it in the capitalist papers and
did not believe it; but mainly because his whole attention just now
was centred on Russia, where the proletariat was about to make its
bid for power. Now you would see how wars were to be ended and peace
restored to a distracted world!

The moderate Socialist government of Kerensky was pleading with the
capitalist masters of the Allied nations for a statement of their
peace terms, so that the workers of Russia might know what they were
fighting for. The Russian workers wanted a declaration in favour of
no annexations, no indemnities, and disarmament; on such terms they
would help fight the war, in spite of all the starvation and
suffering in distracted Russia. But the Allied statesmen would not
make any such declaration, and the Russian workers, backed by all
the Socialists of the world, declared that the reason was that these
Allied statesmen were waging an imperialist war--they did not intend
to stop fighting until they had taken vast territories from the
German powers, and exacted a ransom that would cripple Germany for a
generation. The Russian workers refused point-blank to fight for
such aims, and so in November came the second revolution, the
uprising of the Bolsheviki.

Almost their first action when they took possession of the palaces
and government archives was to publish to the world the secret
treaties which the rulers of England, France and Italy had made with
Russia. These treaties formed a complete justification for the
attitude of the Russian revolutionists--they showed that the Allied
imperialists had planned most shameless plundering; England was to
have the German colonies and Mesopotamia, France was to have German
territory to the Rhine, and Italy was to have the Adriatic coast,
and to divide Palestine and Syria with England and France.

And here was the most significant fact to Jimmie Higgins--these
enormously important revelations, the most important since the
beginning of the war, were practically suppressed by the capitalist
newspapers of America! First these papers printed a brief item--the
Bolsheviki had given out what they claimed were secret treaties, but
the genuineness of these documents was gravely doubted. Then they
published evasive and lying denials from the British, French and
Italian diplomats; and then they shut up! Not another word did you
read about those secret treaties; except for one or two American
newspapers with traditions of honour, the full text of those
treaties was given in the Socialist press alone! “And now,” cried
Jimmie Higgins to the working men in his shop, “what do you think of
those wonderful allies of ours? What do you think of those Wall
Street newspapers of ours?” Could any working-man who had such facts
put before him fail to realize that Jimmie Higgins had a case, and a
most important work in the world to do, in spite of all his unreason
and his narrowness?


Jimmie was now in the seventh heaven, walking as if on air. A
proletarian government at last, the first in history! A government
of working-men like himself, running their own affairs, without the
help of politicians or bankers! Coming out before the world and
telling the truth about matters of state, in language that common
men could understand! Disbanding the armies, and sending the workers
home! Turning the masters out of the factories, and putting
shop-committees in control! Taking away the advertising from the
crooked capitalist papers, and so putting them out of business! Our
little friend would rush to the corner every morning to get the
paper and see what had happened next; he would go down the street so
excited that he forgot his breakfast.

Jimmie had made a new acquaintance in Ironton; the little tailor,
Rabin, whose name was Scholem, which means Peace, had given him a
letter to his brother, whose name was Deror, which means Freedom.
Each afternoon when the automobile factory let out, Jimmie would get
an evening paper and take it to Deror’s tailor-shop and the two
would spell out the news. By God, look at this! Did you ever hear
the like? The man in charge of the Bolshevik foreign office was a
Marxian Jew who had helped edit the Novy Mir, the revolutionary
paper which Scholem had read to Jimmie! He had been a waiter in the
Waldorf-Astoria hotel, and now he was giving out the secret
treaties, and issuing propaganda manifestoes to the international

The American capitalist press was full of lies about the new
revolution, of course; but Jimmie could read pretty well between the
lines of the capitalist press, and the few Socialist papers that
were still in business, and which he read at the headquarters of the
local, gave him the rest of what he wanted. To Jimmie, of course,
everything the Bolsheviki did was right; if it wasn’t right it was a
lie. The little machinist knew that the Bolsheviki had repudiated
the four-billion-dollar debt which the government of the Tsar had
contracted with the bankers of France, and Jimmie knew perfectly
well what was the lying power of four billion dollars.

The American papers were shocked because the Russian Socialists were
deserting the cause of democracy, and giving Germany a chance to win
the war. The American papers called them German agents, but Jimmie
did not take any stock in such talk as this. Jimmie was familiar
with the “frame-up” as it is operated against the workers in
America. He saw that the first thing the Bolshevik leaders did was
to make an appeal to the revolutionary workers of Germany. The
Russian proletariat had shown the way--now let the German
proletariat follow! Literature was printed and shipped wholesale
into Germany, leaflets were dropped by aviators among the German
troops; and when Jimmie and Deror read that the German generals had
protested to the Russians against such practices, they laughed aloud
with delight. Well might the war-lords squeal; they knew what was
coming to them! And when in January Jimmie and Deror read of the
revolting of a brigade of German troops, and a strike of several
hundred thousand working men throughout Germany, they thought the
end was at hand. The little tailor got up in local Ironton and made
a motion that it take to itself the name “Bolshevik”--which motion
was carried with a whoop. And these American Bolsheviki went on to
consult with the labour-unions, suggesting that they should form
“shop-committees”, and prepare for the taking over of industry
a la Russe!


But something went suddenly wrong with the newly built revolutionary
steam-roller. The German military chiefs seized their strike-leaders
at home and threw them into jail, or shipped them off to the front
trenches to be slaughtered. By terrorism, shrewdly mixed with
cajolery, they broke the strike, and sent the grumbling slaves back
to their treadmill. And then the German armies began to march into

It was the crisis to which Jimmie Higgins had been looking forward
ever since the war began. Tolstoi had taught that if one nation
refused to fight, it would be impossible for another nation to
invade it; and while Jimmie Higgins was no mystic or religious
non-resistant, he agreed in this with the great Russian. No workers
in an enemy army could possibly be brought to fire upon their
peace-proclaiming brothers!

And here at last was the test of the theory; here were German
Socialists ordered to march against Russian Socialists--ordered to
fire upon the red flag! Would they do what their masters, the
war-lords, commanded? Or would they listen to the clamorous appeals
of the international proletariat, and turn their guns against their
own officers?

All the world saw what happened; it saw the glorious revolutionary
machine, in which Jimmie Higgins had put all his trust, run into a
ditch and land its passengers in the mud. The German armies marched,
and the Socialists in the German armies did exactly what the
non-Socialists did--they fired upon the red flag, as they would have
fired upon the flag of the Tsar. They obeyed the orders of their
officers, like true and loyal Germans; they drove back the
Bolsheviki in confusion, taking their guns and supplies, and
destroying their cities; they led off the Russian women and children
into slavery, precisely as if they were Belgian or French women and
children, destined by the German Gott as the legitimate prey of
Kultur. They sacked Riga and Reval, they overran all the Eastern
portions of Russia--Courland, Livonia, Esthonia; they moved into the
rich grain country of Southern Russia, the Ukraine; they landed from
their ships and took Finland, wiping out the liberties of that
splendid people. They were at the gates of Petrograd, and the
Bolshevik government was forced to flee to Moscow. Of all which
military feats the German Socialist papers spoke with stern pride!


Poor Jimmie Higgins! It was like the blow of a mighty fist in the
face; he was literally stunned--it was weeks before he could grasp
the full meaning of what was happening, the debacle of all his
hopes. And it was the same with Ironton’s Bolshevik local; all the
“pep” was gone out of its proceedings. To be sure, some noisy ones
went on shouting for revolution the very next day--men, who had been
talking formulas for twenty or thirty years, and had no more notion
of a fact than they had of a pseudopodium. But the sensible men of
the group knew that their “St. Louis resolution” was being shot to
death over there in the trenches before Petrograd.

It was interesting especially to see Rabin. The common belief of
Americans was that a Jew could not be induced to fight; they told a
story about one who cried out to his son, asking why he was letting
another boy pummel him, and the son whispered in reply, “Keep still,
I got a nickel under my foot!” All through the war the Jewish
Socialists in America had been, next to the Germans, the most ardent
pacifists; but now here was a social revolution managed by Jews,
here was a Russian government which gave the Jews their rights for
the first time in history! So the little Jewish tailor stood up
before these American Bolsheviki, and with tears running down his
cheeks declared: “Comrades, I am already tru vit speeches; I am
going into dis var! I vill put myself vit de Polish Socialists, vit
de Bohemian Socialists--I fight de Kaiser to de death! So vill fight
every Jewish Socialist in de vorld!” And this was no mere
braggadocio--Comrade Rabin actually proceeded to shut up his
tailor-shop, and went away to join the “red brigade”, which was
being organized by the Jewish revolutionists of New York!

If the German war-lords had set out deliberately to ham-string the
American Socialists, to make it impossible for them to go on
demanding peace, they could not have acted differently. They dragged
the helpless Bolsheviki into a peace-conference at Brest-Litovsk,
and forced them to cede away all the territories that Germany had
taken, and on top of that to pay an enormous indemnity. They planned
to compel the new Russian government to become a vassal to the
Central Powers, working to help them enslave the rest of the world.
The German armies went through the conquered territories, stripping
them bare, robbing the peasants of every particle of food, beating
them, shooting them, burning their homes if they resisted. They gave
to the world such a demonstration of what a German peace would mean,
that everywhere free men set their teeth and gripped their hands,
and swore to root this infamous thing from out civilization. Even
Jimmie Higgins!


Yes, even Jimmie! He made up his mind that he would work as hard as
ever he could, and produce as many automobile-trucks as he could.
But alas, a man cannot be hounded and oppressed all his life, cannot
have hatred and rebellion ground into the deeps of his soul, and
then forget it over-night because of certain intellectual ideas,
certain new items that he reads in his paper. What happened to
Jimmie was that his mind was literally torn in half; he found
himself, every twenty-four hours of his life, of two absolutely
contradictory and diametrically opposite points of view. He would
vow destruction to the hated German armies; and then he would turn
about and vow destruction to the men at home who were managing the
job of destroying the German armies!

For these men were Jimmie’s life-long enemies, and were no more able
to forget their prejudices over-night than was Jimmie. For example,
the lying capitalist paper which Jimmie had to read every morning!
When Jimmie had read a patriotic editorial in the Ironton Daily Sun,
it had become utterly impossible for him to help win the war that
day! Or the politicians, seeking to use the war-cry of democracy
abroad to crush all traces of democracy at home; to “get” the
radicals whom they hated and feared, and by means of taxes on
necessities and a bonded debt to put the costs of the war on to the
poor! Or the capitalists, making fervid speeches about patriotism,
but refusing to give up the whip-hand over their wage-slaves!

Jimmie Higgins was working in a factory, making automobile-trucks
for the armies in France; and the owners of the factory would not
let the men have a union, and so there was a strike. The bosses made
an agreement to take everybody back and permit a union, and then
proceeded treacherously to violate the agreement, getting rid of the
most active organizers on this or that transparent pretext. Jimmie
Higgins, trying to help with the skill of his hands to make the
world safe for democracy, was turned out of his job and left to
wander in the streets, because a big profit-seeking corporation did
not believe in democracy, and refused to permit its workers any
voice in determining the conditions of their labour! The Government
was trying to deal with emergencies such as this, to put an end to
the epidemic of strikes which was hindering the war-work everywhere;
but the government had not yet got its machinery going, and meantime
Jimmie’s little feeble sprout of patriotism got a severe chill.

Jimmie got drunk and wasted a part of his money on a woman of the
street. Then, being ashamed of himself, and still plagued by the
memory of his dead wife and babies, he straightened up and resolved
to start life anew. He found himself thinking about Leesville; it
was the only place in the world where he had ever been really happy,
and now since Deror Rabin had gone East, it was the only place where
he had friends. How were the Meissners getting on? How was Comrade
Mrs. Gerrity, nee Baskerville? What was Local Leesville thinking
about Russia and about the war? Jimmie took a sudden resolve to go
and find out. He priced a ticket, and found that he had enough money
and to spare. He would take the journey--and take it in state, as a
citizen and a war-worker, not as a tramp in a box-car!




When Jimmie Higgins stepped off the train at Leesville, it was a
blustery morning in early March, with snow still on the ground and
flurries of it in the air. In front of the station was a public
square, with a number of people gathered, and Jimmie strolled over
to see what was going on. What he saw was a score of young men, some
in khaki uniforms, some in ordinary trousers and sweaters, being
drilled. Jimmie, being in the mood of a gentleman of leisure,
stopped to watch the show.

It was the thing he had been talking and thinking about for nearly
three years: this monstrous perversion of the human soul called
Militarism, this force which seized hold of men and made them into
automatons, moving machines which obeyed orders in a mass, and went
out and did deeds of which none of them taken separately would have
been capable, even in their dreams. Here was a bunch of average nice
Leesville boys, employees of the shops near-by, “soda-jerkers” and
“counter-jumpers”, clerks who had deftly fitted shoes on to the feet
of pretty ladies. Now they were submitting themselves to this
deforming discipline, undergoing this devilish transmogrification.

Jimmie’s eye ran down the line: there was a street-car conductor he
knew, there was a machinist from the Empire, also there was a son of
Ashton Chalmers, president of the First National Bank of Leesville.
And suddenly Jimmie gave a start. Impossible! It could not be!
But--it was! Young Emil Forster! Emil a Socialist, Emil a German,
Emil a student and thinker, who had penetrated the hypocritical
disguises of this capitalist war, and had fearlessly proclaimed the
truth every Friday night at the local--here he was with a suit of
khaki on his rather frail figure, a rifle in his hand and a look of
grim resolve on his face, going through the evolutions of
squad-drill: left, right, left, right, left, right--column left,
march--one, two, three, four--left, right, left, right--squad right
about, march--left, right, left, right--squad left oblique
march--and so on. If you are to form any picture of the scene you
must imagine the swift tramp of many feet in unison--thump, thump,
thump, thump, thump, thump; you must imagine the marchers, with
their solemnly set faces, and the orders thundered out by a
red-faced young man of desperate aspect, the word MARCH coming each
time with a punch that hit you over the heart. This red-faced young
man was the very incarnation of the military despot as Jimmie had
pictured him; watching with hawk-like eye, scolding, pounding,
driving, with no slightest regard for the feelings of the slaves he
commanded, or for any of the decencies of civilized intercourse.

“Hold those half-steps, Casey! Keep your eye on the end man--you’ll
have him splitting his legs if you don’t wait for him. Column left,
march--one, two, three, four--now you’re all right--off with
you--that’s better! Put a little pep into your feet, Chalmers, for
God’s sake--if you go marching into Berlin like that they’ll think
it’s the hospital squad! By the right flank, column fours,
march--watch your distance there, end man! How many times do you want
me to tell you that?”--and so on and on--tramp, tramp, tramp,
tramp--while a small boy standing beside Jimmie, evidently a truant
from school, chanted over and over: “Left--left--the soldier got
drunk and he packed up his trunk and he left--left! And do you not
think he was right--right?”


Now if you have ever stood about and watched outdoor exercise or
games, on a day in March with snow on the ground and a keen wind
blowing, you know how it is--you have to stamp your feet to keep
warm; and if in your neighbourhood there are twenty left feet
smiting the ground in unison, and then twenty right feet smiting the
ground in unison, it is absolutely inevitable that your stamping
should keep time to the smiting; also the rhythm of your stamping
will be communicated upwards into your body--your thoughts will
keep time with the marching squad--tramp, tramp, tramp,
tramp--left, right, left, right! The psychologists tell us that one
who goes through the actions appropriate to an emotion will begin to
feel that emotion; and so it was with Jimmie Higgins. By a process
so subtle that he never suspected it Jimmie was being made into a
militarist! Jimmie’s hands were clenched, Jimmie’s jaw was set,
Jimmie’s feet were tramping, tramping on the road to Berlin, to
teach the Prussian war-lords what it meant to defy the free men of a
great republic!

But then something would happen to blast these budding excitements
in Jimmie’s soul. The red-faced fellow would break into the rhythm
of the march. “For the love of Mike, Pete Casey, can’t you remember
those half-steps? Squad, halt! Now look here, what’s the matter with
you? Step out and let me show you once more.” And poor Casey, a
meek-faced little man with sloping shoulders, who had been running
the elevator in the Chalmers Building up to a week ago, would
patiently practise marching without moving, so that the rest of the
line could wheel round him as a pivot. The petty tyrant who scolded
at him was determined to have his own way; and Jimmie, who had had
to do with many such tyrants in his long years of industrial
servitude, was glad when this particular one got mixed up in his
orders, and ran his squad into the fountain in the middle of the
drill-ground, and some of them marched over the parapet, sliding
down into the ice-covered basin below. The spectators roared, and so
did the marchers, and the red-faced man young had to join in, and to
come down off his high horse.

The conflict of impulses went on in Jimmie’s soul. These marching
men were the “fools” at whom he had been mocking for something over
two years. They did not look like “fools” he had to admit; on the
contrary, they looked, quite capable of deciding what they wanted to
do. And they had decided; they had quit their jobs several weeks in
advance of the time when they would be called for the draft, and had
set to work to learn the rudiments of the military art, in the hope
of thus getting more quickly to France. Among them were bankers and
merchants and real estate dealers, side by side with soda-jerkers
and counter-jumpers and elevator-men--and all taking their orders
from an ex-blacksmith’s helper, who had run away to fight in the

Jimmie got this last bit of information from a fellow who stood
watching; so he realized that here was the thing he had been reading
about in the papers--the new army of the people, that was going
forth to make the world safe for democracy! Jimmy had read such
words, and thought them just camouflage, a trap for the “fools”. But
here, a sight of wonder before his eyes, a son of Ashton Chalmers,
president of the First National Bank of Leesville, being ordered
about and hauled over the coals by an ex-blacksmith’s helper, who
happened to know how to shout with the accents of a pile-driver:
“Shoulder HUMPS! Order HUMPS! Present HUMPS!”

The squad spread itself out for exercise--grasping their heavy
rifles and swinging them this way and that with desperate violence.
“Swing over head and return, ready, exercise--one, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight--eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two,
one.” It was no joke making those swings in such quick time; the
poor little elevator-man Casey was left hopelessly behind, he could
only make half the swing, and then couldn’t get back to place on the
count; he would look about, grinning sheepishly, and then fall into
time and try again. Everybody’s face was set, everybody’s breath was
coming harder and harder, everybody’s complexion was becoming

“Swing to the right!” shouted the blacksmith-tyrant. “Ready,
exercise--one, two”--and so on. And then he would yell: “No,
Chalmers, don’t punch out with your arms--swing up your gun! Swing
it up from the bottom! That’s the way! Poke ‘em! Poke ‘em! Put the
punch into ‘em!” And over Jimmie stole a cold horror. There was
nothing on the end of those guns but a little black hole, but Jimmie
knew what was supposed to be there--what would some day be there;
the exercise meant that these affable young Leesville store-clerks
were getting ready to drive a sharp, gleaming blade into the bowels
of human beings! “Poke ‘em! Poke ‘em!” shouted the ex-blacksmith,
and with desperate force they swung the heavy rifles, throwing their
bodies to one side and leaping out with one foot. Horrible!


Man is a gregarious animal, and it is a fundamental law of his being
that when a group of his fellows are doing a certain thing, and
doing it with energy and fervour, anyone who does not do it, who
does not share the mood of energy and fervour shall be the object of
ridicule and anger, shall feel within his own heart confusion and
distress. This is true, even if the group is doing nothing more
worthwhile than making itself drunk. How much more shall it be when
it is engaged in making the world safe for democracy!

The only way the man can save himself is by holding before his mind
the belief that he is right, and that some day this will be
recognized; in other words, by appealing to some other group of men,
who in some future time will applaud him. If he is sure of this
future applause, he can manage to stand the jeers for the moment.
But how when he begins to doubt--when his mind is haunted by the
possibility that the men of the future may agree with those of the
present, who are learning to march in unison, and to poke bayonets
into the bodies of Huns!

One of the things which brought this destructive doubt to Jimmie’s
soul was the sight of Emil Forster, learning to march and to poke.
Emil had been one of his heroes, Emil knew a hundred times as much
as he--and Emil was going to the war! The squad marched away to the
City hall across the square, and deposited its rifles in a room in
the basement, and then Emil came out, and Jimmie went up to him. The
young carpet-designer of course was delighted to meet his old
friend, and asked him to go to lunch. As they walked along the
street together Jimmie asked what it meant, and Emil answered: “It
means that I have made up my mind.”

“You’re going to fight the German people?”

“Strange as you’ll think it, I’m going to fight them for their own
good. Bebel wrote in his memoirs that the way to get democratic
progress in autocratic countries is through military defeat; and it
seems up to America to provide this defeat for Germany.”

“But--you were preaching just the opposite!”

“I know; it makes me feel foolish sometimes. But things have
changed, and there’s no sense in shutting your eyes to facts.”

Jimmie waited.

“Russia, more especially,” continued Emil, answering the unspoken
question. “What’s the use of getting Socialism, if you’re just
throwing yourself down for a military machine to run over you?
You’re playing the fool, that’s all--and you have to see it. What
hope is there for Russia now?”

“There’s the German Socialists.”

“Well, they just didn’t have the power, that’s all. What’s more, we
have to face the fact that a lot of them aren’t really
revolutionists--they’re politicians, and haven’t dared to stand out
against the crowd. Anyhow, whatever the reason is, they didn’t save
their own country, and they didn’t save Russia. They certainly can’t
expect us to give them a third chance--it costs too much.”

“But then,” argued Jimmie, “ain’t we doin’ just what we blame them
for doin’--turnin’ patriots, supportin’ a capitalist government?”

“When you’re supporting a government,” replied Emil, “it make’s a
lot of difference what use its making of your support. We all know
the faults of our government, but we know too that the people can
change it when enough of them get ready, and that makes a real
difference. I’ve come to realize that if we give the Kaiser a
beating, the German people will kick him out, and then we can talk
sense to them.”


They walked along for a bit in silence, Jimmie trying to assimilate
these ideas. They were new--not in the sense that he had not heard
them before, but in the sense that he had not heard them from a
German. “How does your father feel?” he asked at last.

“He hasn’t changed,” replied the other. “And that makes it pretty
hard--it’s all we can do to keep from quarrelling. He’s old, and new
ideas don’t come to him easily. Yet you’d think he’d be the first to
see it--his father was one of the old revolutionists, he was put in
jail in Dresden. I don’t suppose you know much about the history of

“No,” said Jimmie.

“Well, in those days the German people tried to get free, and they
were put down by the troops, and the real revolutionists were driven
into exile. Some of them came over here--like my grandfather. But,
you see, their children have forgotten about their wrongs--they look
back on Germany now, and think of it sentimentally, as it’s pictured
in the stories and songs--a sort of Christmas-tree Germany. They
don’t know about the Germany that’s grown up--the Germany of iron
and coal kings, that combines all the cruelty of feudalism with
modern efficiency and science--the Beast with the Brains of an

They walked on, Emil lost in thought. “You know,” he broke out,
suddenly, “this war has been a revelation to me--the most horrible
you could imagine. It’s as if you loved a woman, and saw her go
insane before your eyes, or turn into some sort of degenerate. For I
believed in the Christmas-tree Germany; I loved it, and I argued for
it, I just couldn’t bring myself to believe what I read in the
papers. Now I look back, and it seems like a trap that the German
war-lords had set for my mind--reaching way over here into America,
and making me think what they wanted me to! Perhaps I’ve gone to the
other extreme--I find I distrust everything that’s German. Father
accused me of it last night; he was singing an old German song that
says that when you hear men singing you may lie down in peace, for
bad men have no songs. And I reminded him that the nation which
taught that idea had marched into Belgium singing!”

“Gee!” exclaimed Jimmie. He could imagine how old Hermann Forster
had taken that remark!

The young carpet-designer smiled, rather sadly. “He says it’s
because I’ve put on khaki. But the truth is, I’d been full of these
thoughts, and all at once they came to a head. I was drafted, and I
had to make up my mind one way or the other. I decided I’d
fight--and then, when I’d decided, I wanted to get into it right
away.” Emil paused, and looked at his friend and asked, “What about

Jimmie, of course, was a draft-evader, one of the hated “slackers”.
Ordinarily, he would have told Emil, and the two of them would have
grinned. But now Emil was in khaki, Emil was a patriot; perhaps it
would not be wise to trust him entirely! “They haven’t got me yet,”
 said Jimmie; and then, “I ain’t so sure as I used to be, but I ain’t
ready to be a soldier--I dunno’s I could stand bein’ bossed like
that fellow does it.”

Emil laughed. “Don’t you suppose I want to learn?”

“But does he need to call you names?”

“That’s part of the game--nobody minds that. He’s putting the pep
into us--and we want it in.”

Jimmie found that such a new point of view that he didn’t know what
to reply.

“You see,” the other went on, “if you really want to fight, you go
in for it; it’s quite remarkable how your feelings change. You
imagine yourself in the presence of the enemy, and you know your
success depends on discipline; if there’s a leader, and especially
if you feel that he knows his business, you’re glad to have him to
teach you, to make the whole machine do what you want it to. I know
it sounds funny from me, but I’ve learnt to love discipline.” And
Emil laughed, a nervous laugh. “This army means business, let me
tell you; and it’s got right down to it. They’ve been fighting three
and a half years over in Europe, and they send their best men over
to show us, and we dig in and learn--I tell you, we work as if the
devil was after us!”


It sounded so strange to hear things like this from the lips of Emil
Forster! Jimmie could hardly make them real to himself--the world
was slipping from under his feet. The Socialist movement was being
seduced--won over by the militarists! He didn’t quite dare to say
this; but he hinted, cautiously, “Ain’t you afraid maybe we’ll get
used to fightin’--to discipline and all that? Maybe they’ll trick
us--the plutes.”

“I know,” said the other. “I’ve thought of that, and I’ve no doubt
they’ll try it--they want universal training for that very purpose.
We have to fight them, that’s all; we have to fight right now--to
make clear why we’re going into this war. We have to hold it before
the people--that this is a war to bring democracy to the whole
world. If we can fix that in people’s minds, the imperialists won’t
have a look in.”

“If you could do it, of course--” began Jimmie, hesitatingly.

“But we ARE doing it!” cried Emil. “We’re doing it day by day. Look
at this strike here in Leesville.”

“What strike?”

“Didn’t you know there’d been another walk-out in the Empire Shops?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“The men went out, and the government sent an arbitration
commission, and forced both sides to accept an award. They broke old
Granitch down--made him recognize the union and grant the basic
eight-hour day.”

“My God!” exclaimed Jimmie. It was the thing for which he had stood
up in the Empire yards and been cursed by young Lacey Granitch; it
was the thing for which he had been sent to jail and devoured by
lice! And now the government had helped the men to win their demand!
It was the first time--literally the first in Jimmie’s whole
life--that he had been led to think of the government as something
else than an enemy and a slave-driver.

“How did Granitch take it?” he asked.

“Oh, awful! He threatened to quit, and let the government run his
plant; but when he found the government was perfectly willing, he
dropped his bluff. And look here--here’s something else.” Emil
reached into an inside pocket of his overcoat and pulled out a
newspaper clipping. “Ashton Chalmers went to a banquet at some
bankers’ convention the other day and made a speech to them. Read

Jimmie, walking along, read some words that Emil had underlined in
pencil: “Whether we will or no, we have to recognize that the old
order is dead. We face a new era, when labour is coming into its
own. If we do not want to be left behind as derelicts, we shall have
to get busy and do our part to bring in this new era, which
otherwise will come with bloodshed and destruction.”

“For the love of Mike!” said Jimmie.

“It’s just about knocked Leesville out,” said Emil. “You ought to
have seen the papers that reported the speech! It was as if God in
his Heaven had gone crazy, and the clergymen in the churches had to
tell the news!”

To the little machinist there flashed a sudden idea. He caught his
friend by the arm. “Emil!” he exclaimed. “Do you remember that time
when Ashton Chalmers and old Granitch came to our meeting at the

“Sure thing!” said Emil.

“Maybe that done it!”

“Nothing more likely.”

“And it was me that sold him the tickets!”

Jimmie was thrilled to the bottom of his shoes. Such is the reward
that comes now and then to the soul of a propagandist; he struggles
on amid ridicule and despair--and then suddenly, like a gleam of
light, comes evidence that somewhere, somehow, he has reached
another mind, he has made a real impression. Ashton Chalmers had
listened to the Socialist orator, and he had gone away and read and
investigated; he had realized the force of this great world movement
for economic justice, he had broken the bonds and barriers of his
class, and told the truth about what he saw coming. When Jimmie read
the wonderful words which the bank president had spoken, he was
nearer to an impulse to fight Germany than at any previous moment of
his life!




Of course, not all the Socialists of Leesville had got the “military
bug” like Emil Forster. Late in the afternoon, Jimmie ran into
Comrade Schneider, on his way home from work at the brewery, and he
was the same old Schneider--the same florid Teuton countenance, the
same solid Teuton voice, the same indignant Teuton point of view.
All Jimmie had to do was to mention the name of Emil, and Schneider
was off. A hell of a Socialist he was! Couldn’t even wait for the
drill-sergeant to come after him, but had to run and hunt for him,
had to go and put himself out in the public square, where the
town-loafers could watch him playing the monkey!

No, said Schneider, with abundant profanity, he had not moved one
inch from his position; they could send him to jail any time they
got ready, they could stand him up before a firing-squad, but they’d
never get any militarism into him. Pressed for an answer, the big
brewer admitted that he had registered; but he wasn’t going to be
drafted, not on his life! Jimmie suggested that this might be
because he had a wife and six children; but the other was too much
absorbed in his tirade to notice Jimmie’s grin. He blustered on, in
a tone so loud that several times people on the street overheard,
and gave him a black look. Jimmie, being less in the mood of
martyrdom, parted from him and went to see the Meissners.

The little bottle-packer was living in the same place, having rented
the upper part of his house to a Polish family to help meet his
constantly-rising expenses. He welcomed Jimmie with open
arms--patted him on the back with delight, and opened a bottle of
beer to treat him. He asked a hundred questions about Jimmie’s
adventures, and told in turn about events in Leesville. The local as
a whole had stood firm against the war, and was still carrying on
propaganda, in the face of ferocious opposition. The working-classes
were pumped so full of “patriotic dope”, you could hardly get them
to listen; as for the radicals, they were marked men--their mail was
intercepted, their meetings were attended by almost as many
detectives as spectators. A number had been drafted--which Meissner
considered deliberate conspiracy on the part of the draft-boards.

Who had been taken? Jimmie asked. The other answered: Comrade
Claudel, the jeweller--he wanted to go, of course; and Comrade
Koeln, the glass-blower--he was a German, but had been naturalized,
so they had taken him, in spite of his protests; and Comrade

“Stankewitz!” cried Jimmie, in dismay.

“Sure, he’s gone.”

“Was he willing?”

“They didn’t ask if he was willing. They just told him to report.”

Somehow that seemed to bring the war nearer to Jimmie’s
consciousness than anything that had happened so far. The little
Roumanian Jew had given him the greater part of his education on
this world-conflict; it was over the counter of the cigar-store that
Jimmie had got the first geography lessons of his life. He had
learned that Russia was the yellow country, and Germany the green,
and Belgium the pale blue, and France the light pink; he had seen
how the railroads from the green to the pink ran through the pale
blue, and how the big fortresses in the pale blue all faced towards
the green--something which Meissner and Schneider and the rest of
the green people considered a mortal affront, a confession of guilt
on the part of the pale blue people. Comrade Stankewitz’s
wizened-up, eager little face rose before Jimmie; he heard the
shrill voice, trying to compose the disputes in the local.
“Comrades, all this vill not get us anyvere! There is but vun
question we have to answer, are we internationalists, or are we

“My God!” cried Jimmie. “Ain’t that awful?”

He had got to the point where he was willing to admit that perhaps
the Kaiser had got to be licked, and maybe it was all right for a
fellow that felt like Emil Forster to go and lick him. But to lay
hold of a man who hated war with all his heart and soul, to drag him
away from the little business he had painfully built up, and compel
him to put on a uniform and obey other men’s orders--well, when you
saw a thing like that, you knew about the atrocities of war!


Comrade Meissner went on. Worse than that---they had taken Comrade
Gerrity. And Jimmie stared. “But he’s married!”

“I know,” explained Meissner, “but that ain’t what counts. What you
got to have is a dependent wife. An’ the Gerritys didn’t know
that--Comrade Evelyn held on to her job as stenographer, and
somebody must have told on them, for the board jacked him up and
cancelled his exemption. Of course, it was only because he was
organizer of the local; they want to put us out of business any way
they can.”

“What did Gerrity do?”

“He refused to serve, and they sent a squad of men after him and
dragged him away. They took him to Camp Sheridan, and tried to put
him in uniform, and he refused--he wouldn’t work, he wouldn’t have
anything to do with war. So they tried him and sentenced him to
twenty-five years in jail; they put him in solitary confinement, and
he gets nothin’ but bread and water--they keep him chained up by his
wrists a part of the time--”

“Oh! OH!” cried Jimmie.

“Comrade Evelyn’s most crazy about it. She broke down and cried in
the local, and she went around to the churches--they have women’s
sewing-circles, you know, and things for the Red Cross, and her and
Comrade Mary Allen gets up and makes speeches an’ drives the women
crazy. They arrested ‘em once, but they turned ‘em loose--they
didn’t want it to get in the papers.”

Comrade Meissner could not have foreseen how this particular news
would affect Jimmie; Meissner knew nothing about the strange
adventure which had befallen his friend, the amatory convulsion
which had shaken his soul. Before Jimmie’s mind now rose the lovely
face with the pert little dimples and the halo of fluffy brown hair;
the thought of Comrade Evelyn Baskerville in distress was simply not
to be endured. “Where is she?” he cried. He had a vision of himself
rushing forthwith to take up the agitation; to raid the church
sewing-circles and brave the wrath of the she-patriots; to go to
jail with Comrade Evelyn; or perhaps--who could say?--to put about
her, gently and reverently, a pair of fraternal and comforting arms.

Jimmie had the temperament of the dreamer, the idealist, to whom it
is enough to want a thing to see that thing forthwith come into
being. His imagination, stimulated by the image of the charming
stenographer, rushed forth on the wildest of flights. He realized
for the first time that he was a free man; while, as for Comrade
Evelyn, suppose the worst were to happen, suppose Comrade Gerrity
were to perish of the diet of bread and water, or to be dragged into
the trenches and killed--then the sorrowing widow would be in need
of someone to uphold her, to put fraternal and comforting arms about

“Where is she?” Jimmie asked again; and Comrade Meissner dissipated
his dream by replying that she had gone off to work for an
organization in New York which was agitating for humane treatment
for “conscientious objectors”. Meissner hunted up the pamphlet
published by this organization, telling most hideous stories of the
abusing of such victims of the military frenzy; they had been
beaten, tortured and starved, subjected to ridicule and humiliation,
in many cases dragged before courts-martial and sentenced to
imprisonment for twenty or thirty years. Jimmie sat up a part of the
night reading these stories--with the result that once more the
feeble sprout of patriotism was squashed flat in his soul!


Jimmie went to the next meeting of the local. It was a slender
affair now, for some of the members were in jail, and some in the
training camps, and some afraid to come for fear of their jobs, and
some discouraged by incessant persecution. But the old war-horses
were there--Comrade Schneider, and gentle old Hermann Forster, and
Comrade Mabel Smith, with an account of her brother’s mistreatment
in the county jail, and Comrade Mary Allen, the Quaker lady. This
last was still taking it as a personal affront that America should
be going into the bloody mess, in spite of all her denunciations and
protests; she was even paler and thinner than when Jimmie had seen
her last--her hands trembled and her thin lips quivered as she
spoke, you could see that she was burning up with excitement over
the monstrous wickedness of the world’s events. She read to the
local a harrowing story of a boy who had registered as a
conscientious objector in New York, and had been taken out to a
training-camp and subjected to such indignities that he had shot
himself. Comrade Mary had no children of her own, so she had adopted
these conscientious objectors, and as she read of their experiences,
her soul was convulsed with a mingling of grief and rage.

Jimmie went back to the Empire Shops and applied for a job. They
needed thousands of men, so the Herald declared--but they did not
need a single one like Jimmie! The man to whom he applied recognized
him at once, and said, “Nothin’ doin’.” For the sake of being nasty,
Jimmie went to the headquarters of the newly-formed union, and asked
them to force old Abel Granitch to give him work, according to the
terms of the agreement with the government. But the union secretary,
after thinking the matter over, decided that the provision against
black-listing applied only to men who had been out on the last
strike, not to the strikers of a couple of years before. “There was
no use going out of one’s way to look for trouble,” said this
secretary. Jimmie went away jeering at the union, and damning the
war as heartily as ever.

He was in no hurry to get work, having still some money in his
pocket, and being able to live cheaply with the Meissners. He went
again to watch young Forster drilling, and went home with him and
heard an argument with old Hermann. You could see how this family
had been split wide open; the old man ordered his traitorous son out
several times, but the mother had flung herself into the breach,
pleading that the boy was going away in a few days, and perhaps
would never return. The evening that Jimmie was there, the paper
printed a speech of the President, outlining his purposes in the
war, the terms of justice for all peoples, a league of nations and
universal disarmament. Emil read this triumphantly, finding in it a
justification of his support of the war. Wasn’t it a great part of
what the Socialists wanted?

Hermann answered grudgingly that the words were all right, but how
about the deeds? Also, how about the other Allies--did the President
imagime he could boss them? No--to the imperialists of England and
France and Italy those fine words were just bait for gudgeons; they
would serve to keep the workers quiet till the war was won, and then
the militarists would kick out the American President and pick the
bones of the carcass of Germany. If they really meant to abide by
the President’s terms, why didn’t they come out squarely and say so?
Why didn’t they repudiate the secret treaties? Why didn’t England
begin her career in democracy by setting free Ireland and India?

So it went; and Jimmie listened to both speakers, and agreed with
both alternately, experiencing more and more that distressing
condition of mental chaos, in which he found himself of two
absolutely contradictory and diametrically opposite points of view.


All winter long the papers had been full of talk about a mighty
German offensive that was coming in the spring. The German people
were being told all about it, and how it was to end the war with a
glorious triumph. In America nobody was sure about the matter; the
fact that the attack was boldly announced seemed good reason for
looking elsewhere. Perhaps the enemy was preparing to overwhelm
Italy, and wished to keep France and England from sending troops to
the weakened Italian line!

But now suddenly, in the third week of March, the Germans made a
mighty rush at the British line in front of Cambrai; army upon army
they came, and overwhelmed the defenders, and poured through the
breach. The British forces fell back--every hour it seemed that
their retreat must be turned into a rout. Day by day, as the
dispatches came in, Jimmie watched the map in front of the Herald
office, and saw a huge gap opening in the British line, a spear-head
pointing straight into the heart of France. Three days, four days,
five days, this ghastly splitting apart went on, and the whole world
held its breath. Even Jimmie Higgins was shaken by the news--he had
got enough into the war by this time to realize what a German
triumph would mean. It took a strong pacifist stomach indeed to
contemplate such an issue of events without flinching.

Comrade Mary Allen had such a stomach; to her religious fervour it
made no difference whatever which set of robbers ruled the world.
Comrade Schneider had it also; he knew that Germany was the
birth-place and cradle of Socialism, and believed that the best fate
that could befall the world was for the Germans to conquer it, and
let the German Socialists make it into a co-operative commonwealth
by and by. Comrade Schneider was now openly gloating over this new
proof of German supermanity, the invincibility of German discipline.
But most of the other members of the local were awed--realizing in
spite of themselves the seriousness of the plight which confronted

Jimmie would inspect the bulletin board, and go over to watch the
drilling, and then to Tom’s “Buffeteria” with Emil Forster. He had
always had an intense admiration for Emil, and now the young
designer, distressed by the strife at home, was glad of someone to
pour out his soul to. He would help Jimmie to realize the meaning of
the British defeat, the enormous losses of guns and supplies, the
burden it would put upon America. For America would have to make up
these losses, America would have to drive the Germans out of every
foot of this newly-conquered territory.

Jimmie would listen and study the matter out on the map; and so
gradually he learned to be interested in a new science, that of
military strategy. When once you have fallen under the spell of that
game, your soul is lost. You think of men, no longer as human
creatures, suffering, starving, bleeding, dying in agony; you think
of them as chess-pawns; you dispose of them as a gambler of his
chips, a merchant of his wares; you classify them into brigades and
divisions and corps, moving them here and there, counting off your
losses against the losses of the enemy, putting in your reserves at
critical moments, paying this price for that objective, wiping out
thousands and tens of thousands of men with a sweep of your hand, a
mark of your pencil, a pressure on an electric button! Once you have
learnt to take that view of life, you are no longer a human heart,
to be appealed to by pacifists and humanitarians; you are a machine,
grinding out destruction, you are a ripe apple, ready to fall into
the lap of the god of war, you are an autumn leaf, ready to be
seized by the gales of patriotism and blown to destruction and




Jimmie went home one evening to the Meissners, and there got a piece
of news that delighted him. Comrade Stankewitz had come back from
Camp Sheridan! The man to whom he had sold his tobacco-store having
failed to pay up, Stankewitz had got a three days’ furlough to
settle his business affairs. “Say, he looks fine!” exclaimed
Meissner; and so after supper Jimmie hurried off to the little store
on the corner.

Never had Jimmie been so startled by the change in a man; he would
literally not have known his Roumanian Jewish friend. The wrinkles
which had made him look old had filled out; his shoulders were
straight--he seemed to have been lifted a couple of inches; he was
brown, his cheeks full of colour--he was just a new man! Jimmie and
he had been wont to skylark a bit in the old days, as young male
creatures do, putting up their fists, giving one another a punch or
two, making as if they were going to batter in one another’s noses.
They would grip hands and squeeze, to see which could hold out
longest. But now, when they tried it, there was “nothing to
it”--Jimmie got one squeeze and hollered quits.

“Vat you tink?” cried Stankewitz. “I veigh tventy pounds more
already--tventy pounds! They vork you like hell in that army, but
they treat you good. You don’t never have such good grub before, not
anyvere you vork.”

“You like it?” demanded Jimmy, in amazement.

“Sure I like it, you bet your money! I learn lots of things vat I
didn’t know before. I get myself straight on this var, don’t you
ferget it.”

“You believe in the war?”

“Sure I believe in it, you bet your money!” Comrade Stankewitz, as
he spoke, pounded with an excited fist on the counter. “Ve got to
vin this var, see? Ve got to beat them Yunkers! I vould have made up
my mind to that, even if I don’t go in the army--I vould have make
it up ven I see vat they do vit Russia.”

“But the revolution--”

“The revolution kin vait--maybe vun year, maybe two years already.
It don’t do us no good to have a revolution if the Yunkers walk over
it! No, sir--I vant them Germans put out of Roumania und out of
Russia und out of Poland--und, I tell you, in this American army you
got plenty Roumanian Socialists, plenty Polish Socialists, und the
Kaiser vill be sorry ven he meets them in France, you bet your

So Jimmie got another dose of patriotism, a heavy dose this time;
for Stankewitz was all on fire with his new conviction, as full of
the propaganda impulse as he had been when he called himself an
“anti-nationalist”. He could not permit you to differ with
him--became irritated at the bare mention of those formula-ridden
members of the local who were still against the war. They were
fools--or else they were Germans; and Comrade Stankewitz was as
ready to right the Germans in Leesville as in France. He got so
excited arguing that he almost forgot the cigars and the show-cases
which he had to get rid of in two days. To Jimmie it was an amazing
thing to see this transformation--not merely the new uniform and the
new muscles of his Roumanian Jewish friend, but his sense of
certainty about the war, his loyalty to the President for the bold
deed he had done in pledging the good faith of America to securing
the freedom and the peaceful future of the harrassed and tormented
subject-races of Eastern Europe.


Jimmie got a sheet of letter paper, and borrowed a scratchy pen and
a little bottle of ink from Mrs. Meissner, and wrote a painfully
mis-spelled letter to Comrade Evelyn Gerrity, nee Baskerville, to
assure her of his sympathy and undying friendship. He did not tell
her that he was beginning to wobble on the war; in fact, when he
thought of Jack Gerrity, chained up to the bars of a cell window, he
unwobbled--he wanted the social revolution right away. But then as
he went to drop the letter into the post office, so that it might go
more quickly, he bought a paper and read the story of what was
happening in France. And again the war-fervour tempted him.

By desperate, frenzied fighting the British had succeeded in holding
up for a few days the colossal German drive. But help was
needed--instant help, if civilization was to be saved. The cry came
across the seas--America must send assistance--guns, shells, food,
and above all else men. Jimmie’s blood was stirred; he had an
impulse to answer the call, to rush to the rescue of those desperate
men, crouching in shell-holes and fighting day and night for a week
without rest. If only Jimmie could have gone right to them! If only
it had not been necessary for him to go to a training-camp and
submit himself to a military martinet! If only it had not been for
war-profiteers, and crooked politicians, and lying, predatory
newspapers, and all the other enemies of democracy at home!

Jimmie dropped his letter in the slot, and turned to leave the post
office, when his eye was caught by a sign on the wall-a large sign,
in bold, black letters: “YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!” Jimmie thought it
was more “Liberty Bond” business; they had been after him several
times, trying to separate him from his earnings, but needless to say
they hadn’t succeeded. However, he stopped out of curiosity, and
read that men were needed to go to France--skilled men of all sorts.
There was a long list of the trades, everything you could think
of--carpenters, plumbers, electricians, lumbermen, stevedores,
railwaymen, laundrymen, cooks, warehousemen--so on for several
columns. Jimmie came to “machinists”, and gave a guilty start; then
he came to “motor-cycle drivers” and “motor-cycle repairers”--and
suddenly he clenched his hands. A wild idea flashed over him,
causing such excitement that he could hardly read on. Why should he
not go to France--he, Jimmy Higgins! He was a man without a tie in
the world--as free as the winds that blow across the ocean! And he
was looking for a job--why not take one of these?

It was a way he might share all the adventures, see the marvellous
sights of which he had been reading and hearing and without the long
delay in a training-camp, without waiting to be bossed about by a
military martinet! Jimmie looked to see what pay was offered;
fifty-one dollars a month and an “allowance” for board and expenses.
At the bottom of the sign he read the words: “Why not work for your
Uncle Sam?” Jimmie as it happened was in a fairly friendly mood
towards his Uncle Sam at that moment; so he thought, why not give
him a chance as a boss? After all, wasn’t that what every Socialist
was aiming at--to be an employe of the community, a servant of the
public, rather than of some private profiteer?


Jimmie went to the window to inquire, and the clerk told him that
the “war-labour recruiting office” was at the corner of Main and
Jefferson. He came to the corner designated, and there in a vacant
store was a big recruiting sign, “War Labour Wanted”, and a soldier
in khaki walking up and down. A week ago Jimmie could not have been
bribed to enter a place presided over by a soldier; but he had
learned from Emil and Stankewitz that a soldier might be a human
being, so he went up and said, “Hello.”

“Hello, yourself,” said the soldier, looking him over with an
appraising eye.

“If I was to hire here, when would I start for France?”

“To-night,” said the soldier.

“You kiddin’ me?”

“They ain’t payin’ me to kid people,” said the other; and then,
“What’s your hurry?”

“Well, I don’t want to be stalled in a trainin’-camp.”

“You won’t be stalled if you know your business. What are you?”

“I’m a machinist; I’ve repaired bicycles, an’ I know a bit about

“Walk in,” said the soldier, and led the way, and presented Jimmie
to a sergeant at the desk. “Here’s a machinist,” he said, “and he’s
in a hurry to get to work. Runnin’ away from his wife, maybe.”

“There’s a bunch of men starting for the training-camp to-night,”
 said the sergeant.

“Trainin’-camp?” echoed Jimmie. “I want to go to France.”

The other smiled. “You wouldn’t expect us to send you till we’d
tried you out, would you?”

“No, I suppose not,” replied Jimmie, dubiously. He was on his guard
against tricks. Suppose they were to enlist him as a worker, and
then make him fight!

The other went on. “If you’re competent, you’ll get to France all
right. We need men over there in a hurry, and we won’t waste your

“Well, now,” said Jimmie, “I dunno’s you’ll want me at all when you
hear about me. I’m a Socialist.”

“Thought you were a machinist,” countered the sergeant.

“I’m a Socialist, too. I was in the strike at the Empire a couple of
years ago, and they blacklisted me. I can’t get no work in the big
places here.”

“Well,” said the sergeant, “it’s a good town for you to quit, I
should say.”

“You want a man like that?” persisted Jimmie.

“What we want is men that know machinery, and’ll dig in and work
like hell to beat the Kaiser. If you’re that sort we don’t ask your
religion. We’ve got a bunch that start to-night.”

“Holy smoke!” said Jimmie. He had thought he would have time to ask
questions and to think matters over, time to see his friends and say
good-bye. But the sergeant was so efficient and business-like; he
took it so completely for granted that any man who was worth his
salt must be anxious to help wallop the Hun! Jimmie, who had come in
full of hurry, was now ashamed to back water, to hem and haw, to
say, “I dunno; I ain’t so sure.” And so the trap snapped on him--the
monster of Militarism grabbed him!


“Sit down,” said the sergeant, and the anxious little Socialist took
the chair beside the desk,

“What’s your name?”

“James Higgins.”

“Your address?”

“I’m just stayin’ with a friend.”

“The friend’s address?” and so on: where had Jimmie worked last,
what work had he done, what references had he to offer. Jimmie could
not help grinning as he realized how his record must sound to a
military martinet. He had been discharged and blacklisted at the
motor-truck factory in Ironton, his last job; he had been discharged
and black-listed at the Empire Shops; he had been arrested and sent
to jail for “soap-boxing” on the streets of Leesville; he had been
arrested in the bomb-conspiracy of Kumme and Heinrich von Holst. The
sergeant entered each of these items without comment, but when he
come to the last, he stared up at the applicant.

“I didn’t have nothin’ to do with it,” declared Jimmie.

“You got to prove that to me,” said the sergeant.

“I proved it once,” replied Jimmie.

“Who to?”

“Mr. Harrod, the agent of the Department of Justice here.”

The other took up the telephone and called the post office building.
Jimmie listened to one-half of the conversation--would Mr. Harrod
look up the record of James Higgins, who was applying for enlistment
in the Mechanical Department of the Motor Corps? There was some
delay--Mr. Harrod was talking--while Jimmie sat, decidedly nervous;
but it was all right apparently--the sergeant hung up the receiver,
and remarked reassuringly, “He says you’re just a dub. He told me to
congratulate you on having got some sense.”

Jimmie made the most of this more than dubious statement, and
proceeded to answer questions as to his competence. Was there
anybody at the Empire who could certify as to this? The sergeant was
about to call up the Empire Shops, but reconsidered; if Jimmie had
actually worked in a machine-shop and in a bicycle-shop, they would
surely be able to find something for him in the army. In an hour of
such desperate need they took most everyone. “How tall are you?”
 demanded the sergeant, and added, “Weight don’t matter so much,
because we’ll feed you.”

The office of the medical examiner was upstairs in the same
building, and Jimmie was escorted upstairs, and invited to remove
his coat and shirt, and have his chest measured, and his heart and
lungs listened to, and his teeth counted, and his nose peered into,
and a score of such-like stunts. He had things wrong with him, of
course, but not too many for army purposes, it appeared. The doctor
jotted down the figures on a sheet and signed it, after which Jimmie
and the soldier went back to the recruiting-office.

And now suddenly the little Socialist found himself with an
enlistment paper before him, and a wet pen in his hand. He had never
once been asked: “Is your mind made up? Do you really mean to take
this irrevocable step?” No, the sergeant had taken it for granted
that Jimmie meant business. He had done all this inquiring and
writing down of information, this weighing and measuring and what
not, and now he sat with a stern, compelling eye fixed on his
victim, as much as to say: “Do you mean to tell me that I’ve done
all that for nothing?” If Jimmie had actually refused to sign his
name, what a blast of scorn would have withered him!

So Jimmie did not even stop to read all the paper; he signed. “And
now,” said the sergeant, “the train leaves at nine-seventeen this
evening. I’ll be there to give you your ticket. Don’t fail to be on
hand. You understand, you’re under military discipline now.” There
was a new tone in these last words, and Jimmie quaked inwardly, and
went out with a sort of hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach.


He rushed away to tell Comrade Stankewitz, who hugged him with
delight and shouted that they would meet in France! Then he went to
tell Emil Forster, who was equally glad. He found himself with an
impulse to hunt up Comrade Schneider and tell him. Jimmie discovered
in himself a sudden and curious antagonism to Schneider; he wanted
to have matters out with him, to say to him: “Wake up, you
mutt--forget that fool dream of yours that the Kaiser’s goin’ to win
the war!”

There were others Jimmie thought of, upon whom he would not call.
Comrade Mary Allen, for example--he would let her get the news after
he was out of the reach of her sharp tongue! Also he thought of
Comrade Evelyn; he might never see her again; if he did see her, she
might refuse to speak to him! But Jimmie repressed the pang of
dismay which this realization brought him. He was going to war, and
the longings and delights of love must be put to one side!

He went to the Meissners for supper, and broke the news to them. He
had expected protests and arguments, and was surprised by the lack
of them. Had the little bottle-packer been impressed by the
experiences of Comrade Stankewitz? Or could it be that he was afraid
to voice his full mind to Jimmie--just as Jimmie had been afraid in
the case of Emil Forster?

Jimmie had some commissions to entrust to the Meissners; he would
leave with them the diary of “Wild Bill”, which he had hung on to,
but which seemed hardly the sort of literature to take on a

“Sure,” assented Meissner. “Besides, the subs might get it.”

And Jimmie gave a sudden start. By heck! It was the first time the
idea had occurred to him. He would have to pass through the barred
zone! He might be in some fighting after all! He might never get to
France! “Say!” he exclaimed. “That ocean must be cold this time of

For a moment he wavered. Surely it would have been more sensible to
wait till later in the season, when the consequences of a plunge
overboard would be less distressing! But Jimmie remembered the
armies, locked in their grip of death; never would despatch-riders
need their motor-cycles more urgently than now! Also Jimmie
remembered the sergeant at the recruiting-office. “You understand,
you’re under military discipline now!” He set his jaw in a grim
resolve. The “subs” be damned, he would go and do his part! Already
he felt the thrill of his responsibility in this mighty hour of
history; he was a military man, with a stern duty to do, with the
destinies of nations depending upon his behaviour!




There were seven fellows who boarded the train that evening, under
the temporary charge of a blacksmith from the near by country. At
seven o’clock next morning they presented their papers at the
entrance-gate of the training-camp, and under the escort of a
soldier were marched down the main street, hanging on to their
bundles and suit-cases, and staring about them at the sights.

It was a city inhabited by some forty thousand men, on a site which
a year ago had been waste scrub-land. Long rows of wooden buildings
stretched in every direction--barracks, dining-rooms, study-rooms,
offices, store-houses--with great stretches of exercise and
training-grounds between. Just to see this city, with its swarming
population of young men, all in uniform, erect, eager, well-set-up
and vivid with health, every man of them busy, and every man
seemingly absorbed in his job--that alone was a worth-while
experience. It was a new kind of city--a city without a loafer,
without a drunkard, without a parasite. The seven working-men from
Leesville felt suddenly slouchy and disgraced, with their
ill-fitting civilian clothes and their miscellaneous bundles and

The first thing they did with the new arrivals was to make them
clean, to fumigate and vaccinate them. In a Socialist local one
meets all sorts of eccentrics, the lunatic-fringe of the movement,
and so it happened that Jimmie had listened to a tirade against the
diabolical practice of inoculation, which caused more deadly
diseases than it was supposed to prevent. But the medical officers
of this camp did not stop to ask Jimmie’s conclusions on that vital
subject; they just told him to roll up the sleeve of his left arm,
and proceeded to wipe his skin clean and scratch it with a needle.

And then came the tailor, to do him up in khaki. This also was
something the little machinist had not bargained for; he had taken
it as a matter of course that he would be allowed to work for Uncle
Sam in any old clothes, just as he had done for Abel Granitch. But
no--he must have an outfit, complete even to a tooth-brush, which
they would show him how to use. Having been done up neat and tight
in khaki, with a motor-wheel on his sleeve to show his branch of the
service, he stood and looked at himself in the glass, experiencing a
demoralizing and unworthy excitement. He was every bit as handsome
as Comrade Stankewitz! When he walked down the street would the
girls giggle, and turn to look at him, as they did at the sedate and
proper Comrade Emil? So the meshes of Militarism were being woven
about the soul of Jimmie Higgins.


Jimmie was in quarantine, not allowed to go out of camp on account
of his typhoid and other vaccinations, There was enough about the
place to have interested him; but, alas, he became suddenly very
sick, and was terrified to realize that the opponent of inoculation
must have been right. His health had been undermined for ever, he
would suffer from a dozen obscure diseases! He went to the hospital,
miserable in body and still more miserable in mind; but in a couple
of days he began to feel better, and listened to the nurses, who
told him cheerfully that everybody felt that way for a bit. Then he
got up, and had several free days in which to complete his
recovery--days which he spent in wandering about the camp, watching
the fascinating sights.

It was like a circus with hundreds of rings. The drilling and
marching he had seen in the Leesville square were here going on
wholesale. Hundreds of groups were being put through squad-drill and
the manual, while other groups were having special kinds of
exercises--climbing up walls, digging trenches, making roads,
shooting at targets. It rained every other day, and the ground was a
morass, but no one paid the least attention to that; the men came in
plastered with mud, and steaming like lard-vats. They seemed to
enjoy it; nothing ever interfered with their bantering and jokes.

Jimmie watched them with alternating moods of curiosity and horror;
for the things that were done here brought the war, with its
infinite and multiform wickedness, before his very eyes. Here was a
group of men being taught to advance under fire; crawling on their
bellies on the ground, jumping from one hummock to another, flinging
themselves down and pretending to fire. A man in front, supposed to
have a machine-gun, was shouting when he had “got” them. Now they
unslung their little trenching-tools, and began to burrow themselves
like wood-chucks into the ground. “Dig, you sons o’ guns, dig!” the
officer would shout. “Keep your head down, Smith! Make the dirt fly!
Put the jazz into it! That’s the stuff!”

Jimmie had never watched football practice, so he had no conception
of the efforts to which men could be goaded by “coaching”. It was
abhorrent--yet also it was fascinating, the spell of it got hold of
him. He saw what these men were doing; they were learning to act in
masses, to act with paralyzing and terrific force. Whatever it was
they did, they did with the smash of a battering-ram. You saw the
fire in their eyes, the grim, set look on their faces; you knew that
they were not going to war with any hesitations or divided minds.

You would move over a rise in the ground, and come upon a bunch of
them at bayonet-practice. You didn’t require imagination to get the
hang of this; they had dummies made of leather, and they rushed at
these figures, hacking, stabbing--and here was the most amazing part
of it, shouting with rage. Actually the officers taught them to
yell, to snarl, to work up their feelings to a fury! It was
blood-curdling--Jimmie turned away from it sick. It was just what he
had been arguing for three years and a half--you had to make
yourself into a wild beast in order to go to war!

Also Jimmie watched the target-ranges, from which came all day a
rattle of shots, like the whirr of many typewriters. Companies of
men came marching, and spread themselves out along the firing-steps,
and under the direction of instructors proceeded to contribute their
quota to the noise. Over by the targets were others who kept score
and telephoned the results; so all day long, winter or summer, rain
or shine, men were learning to kill their fellows, mechanically, as
if it were a matter of factory routine. At other ranges were moving
targets, where sharp-shooters were acquiring skill; you noticed that
their targets were never birds and deer, as at the
shooting-galleries which Jimmie had seen at the beaches and at Socialist
picnics. No, they were the heads or bodies of men, and each body
painted a greenish grey, matching the uniforms of the enemy.


So day by day Jimmie lived with the idea of killing, confronting the
grim and ferocious face of war. He had thought that repairing
motor-cycles would be pretty much the same anywhere you did it; but
he found that it was one thing to repair motor-cycles to be ridden
by errand-boys and working-men out for a holiday with their
sweethearts, and another and entirely different thing to repair them
for fighting-men and dispatch-couriers. Jimmie was driven more
insistently than ever to make up his mind about this war. It was
every day less easy for him to hold two contradictory sets of

All the men he now met were of one opinion, and by no possibility to
be persuaded to consider any other. Jimmie found that he could get
them to agree that after this war for democracy there would be vast
changes in this world, the people would never more let themselves be
hoodwinked and exploited as they had; he found that he could
interest them in the idea of having the government run the great
industries, producing food and clothing for the people as it was now
producing them for the troops. But when he tried to give this
programme the name of Socialism, then the trouble began. Weren’t
Socialists the lunatics who wanted to have America “lay down” like
Russia? The premise from which all discussion started with these men
was that America was going to win the war; if you tried to hint that
this matter could so much as be hesitated over, you met, first sharp
mockery, and then angry looks, and advice to go and take a pill and
get the Hun poison out of your system.

Nor was there any use trying to talk about the dangers of
militarism. These men knew all about the dangers of militarism--for
the Kaiser. The man who is at the buttend of a gun, and knows how to
aim it so as to pick off a cat at six hundred yards--that man will
let the cat do the worrying. So, at any rate, the matter seemed to
these husky young recruits, who were learning to march in the mud
and sleep in the rain and chew up carpet-tacks and grind Huns into
leber-wurst. They were putting through the job--with a fierce and
terrifying gaiety; they exulted in their toughness, they called
themselves “grizzlies” and “mountain cats” and what not; they sang
wild songs about their irritability, their motto was “Treat ‘em
rough!” It was a scary atmosphere for a dreamer and utopian; Jimmie
Higgins shrank into himself, afraid even to reach about for some
fellow-Socialist with whom he might exchange opinions about the
events of the outside world.


In the evening there were picture-shows, concerts, lectures-nearly
all dealing with the war, of course. They were held in big halls
built by the Y.M.C.A., an organization for which Jimmie had a hearty
contempt. He regarded it as a device of the exploiting classes to
teach submission to their white-collar slaves. But nobody could live
in a training-camp without being aware of the “Y”. Jimmie was
invited to a lecture, and out of boredom he went.

It was Sergeant Ebenezer Collins, imported from Flanders to tell the
“doughboys” about the wiles of the Hun. Sergeant Collins spoke a
weird language which Jimmie had never heard before, and not all of
which he could understand; it served, however, to convince him that
the sergeant was genuine--for nobody could possibly have faked such
a form of utterance! “When yer gow inter Wipers naow,” said the
orator, “yer see owld, grye-headed lydies an’ bybies like little
wite gowsts, an’ yer sye ter them, ‘Gow-a-wye, the ‘Un may be ‘ere
ter-dye,’ but they wown’t gow, they got now ‘omes ter gow ter!”

But in spite of the difficulties of a foreign language, you realized
that this Cockney sergeant was a man. For one thing he had a sense
of humour; he had kept it in the midst of terror and death--kept it
standing all night in trenches full of icy-cold water, with icy-cold
water pouring down his collar. Also the sergeant had a sense of
honour--there were things he could not do to a ‘Un, even though the
‘Un might do them to him. Jimmie had listened to excited debates in
Local Leesville, as to whether the Allies were really any better
than the Germans; whether, for example, the Allies would have sunk
passenger-liners with women and babies on board, if it had been
necessary in order to win the war. Sergeant Collins did not debate
this question, he just revealed himself as a fighting man. “It’s
because we plye gymes, an’ they down’t,” he remarked. “If yer plye
gymes, yer now ‘ow to plye fair.”

For three years and eight months Jimmie had been hearing stories
about atrocities, and for three years and eight months he had been
refusing to believe them. But now the Cockney sergeant told about a
pal who had been wounded in a night attack by the ‘Uns, and the
sergeant had tried to carry him back and had had to leave him;
towards dawn they made a counter-attack, and retook the village, and
there they found the sergeant’s pal, still alive, in spite of the
fact that he was spiked to a barn-door with bayonets through his
hands and feet. When that story was told, you heard a low murmur run
through the room and saw a couple of thousand young men clenching
their hands and setting their jaws, getting ready for their big job
in France.

“Just now,” said the sergeant, “the Germans were making the most
desperate attack of the war. The British were at bay, with their
backs against the wall. It was upon the men in the training-camps of
America that the decision rested; there was no one but them to save
the day, to save the rest of the world from falling under the hoofs
of the Hun monster. Would they do their part?” Jimmie Higgins heard
the answer from those two thousand young throats, and the pacifist
in him shrunk deeper out of sight.

But the pacifist was never entirely silent. War was wrong! War was
wrong! It was a wicked and brutal way for human beings to settle
their disagreements. If human beings were not yet intelligent enough
to listen to reason--well, even so, that didn’t make war right! A
man had to have principles, and to stand by them--how else could he
make the world come his way? Yes, war was wrong! But, meantime, war
was here; and calling it wrong did not put a stop to it! What the
devil was a fellow to do?


As soon as Jimmie was able to work, they took him to the part of the
camp where a motor-cycle division was training. Here was a big
repair-shop, with plenty of damaged machines upon which he might
display his skill. He did not know the particular engine they used
here, but he soon learned the secrets of it, and satisfied the
officers in charge that he knew how to take one apart and put it
together again, to replace and mend tyres, to clean ball-bearings
and true crooked rims. “You’re all right,” they said. “And you’re
needed like the devil over there. You won’t have to wait long.”

There was a platform where the trains came into the camp, and every
few hours now there came a long train to be loaded with men. Jimmie
got his notice, and packed his kit and answered roll call and took
his place; at sundown of the next day he was detrained at a
“mobilization-camp”--another huge city, described in the cautious
military fashion as “Somewhere in New Jersey”, though everybody
within a hundred miles knew its exact location. Here was a port,
created for the purposes of war, with docks and wharves where the
fleets of transports were loaded with supplies and troops. The
vessels sailed in fleets, carrying thirty or forty thousand men at
once. From the port of New York alone there was going out a fleet
like this every week--the answer of America to the new drive of the

One met here, not merely the fighting-men, but the forces of all the
complicated service behind the lines: gangs of lumbermen from the
far North-west, who were to fell the forests of France and make them
into railroad-ties and timber for trenches; railway-men, miners, and
construction-gangs, engineers and signalmen, bridge-builders and
road-makers, telephone-linemen and operators, the drivers of forty
thousand motor-cars and of five thousand locomotives; bakers and
cooks, menders of shoes and of clothing, farmers to till the soil of
France, and doctors and nurses to tend its sick and wounded. There
was nothing which the skill and knowledge of a nation of a hundred
million people had to offer that was not gathered into this vast
encampment. All the youngest and keenest were here, eager to do
their part, laughing at danger, tingling with excitement, on tip-toe
with curiosity and delight. Jimmie Higgins, watching them, found his
doubts melting like an April snow-storm. How could any man see this
activity and not be caught up in it? How could he be with these
laughing boys and not share their mood?

Jimmie himself had not had a merry childhood, he did not know the
youth of his own country--the breezy, slangy, rather shocking,
utterly irrepressible youth of this democratic world. If there was
anything they did not know--well, they did not know it; if there was
anything they could not do--their motto was: “Show me!” Jimmie, not
having been to school, found himself having a hard time with their
weird slang. When one of these fellows hailed you, “Hey, pimp!” it
did not necessarily mean that he did not like you: when he greeted
you, “Hey, sweetness!” it did not mean that he felt for you any
over-powering affection. If he referred to his officer as
“hard-boiled”, he did not have in mind that this officer had been
exposed to the action of water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit; he merely
meant that the officer was a snob. When he remarked, “Good night!”
 in broad daylight, he meant you to understand that he disagreed with

He disagreed frequently and explosively with Jimmie Higgins, trying
to point out a difference between the German rulers and the German
people! Such subtleties had no interest for these all-knowing boys.
When Jimmie persisted, they called him a “nut”, a “poor cheese”;
they told him that he was “cuckoo”, that his “trolley was twisted”;
they made whirling motions with their hands to indicate that he had
“wheels in his head”, they made flapping motions over him to signify
that there were “bats in his belfry”. So Jimmie subsided, and let
them talk their own talk--imploring one another to “have a heart”,
or to “get wise”, or to “make it snappy”, or to “cut out the rough
stuff”. And he would sit and listen while they sang with zest a song
telling about what they were going to do when they got to France:

    Bring the good old bugle, boys, we’ll sing another song,
    Sing it with a spirit that will move the world along,
    Sing it as we love to sing it, just two million strong--
           While we are canning the Kaiser.


    Oh, Bill! Oh, Bill! We’re on the job to-day!
    Oh, Bill! Oh, Bill! We’ll seal you so you’ll stay!
    We’ll put you up in ginger in the good old Yankee way--
           While we are canning the Kaiser.

    Hear the song we’re singing on the shining roads of France;
    Hear the Tommies cheering, and see the Poilus prance;
    Africanders and Kanucks and Scots without their pants--
           While we are canning the Kaiser. (Chorus)

    Bring the guns from Bethlehem, by way of old New York;
    Bring the beans from Boston, and don’t leave out the pork;
    Bring a load of soda-pop and pull the grape-juice cork--
           While we are canning the Kaiser. (Chorus)

    Come you men from Dixieland, you lumberjacks of Maine;
    Come you Texas cowboys, and you farmers of the plain;
    Florida to Oregon, we boast the Yankee strain--
           While we are canning the Kaiser. (Chorus)

    Now we’ve started on the job we mean to put it through;
    Ship the kings and kaisers all, and make the world anew;
    Clear the way for common folk, for men like me and you--
           While we are canning the Kaiser.


    Oh, Bill! Oh, Bill! We’re on the job to-day!
    Oh, Bill! Oh, Bill! We’ll seal you so you’ll stay!
    We’ll put you up in ginger in the good old Yankee way--
    While we are canning the Kaiser.




You did not stop very long in the mobilization-camp, for the arrival
of your train was timed with the arrival of the ship on which you
were to sail. You had a meal, sometimes you slept a night, then you
marched to the docks. Nor was there much of the traditional “sweet
sorrow” about the departure of these great fleets; the weeping
mothers and sisters had not been notified to be present, and the
ladies of the canteen-service had given coffee and sandwiches,
cigarettes and chocolate, to so many tens of thousands that they had
forgotten about tears. It was like the emigration of a nation; the
part of America that was now on the other side was so large that
nobody would need to feel homesick.

Jimmie’s embarking was done at night; on the long, covered piers,
lighted by arc-lights, the soldiers set down their kits and stood
about, munching food, singing songs, and keeping one another’s wits
sharpened for battle. They filtered on board, and then without a
light or a sound the vessel stole down the long stretches of the
harbour, and out to sea. One never knew at what hour the enemy
submarines might attempt a raid on the American side, so the
entrance to the harbour was mined and blockaded, a narrow passage
being opened when the ships passed through.

When morning came the convoy was out at sea, amid glorious green
rollers, and Jimmie Higgins was lying in his narrow berth, cursing
the fates that had lured him, the monster of Militarism into whose
clutches he had been snared. The army medical service had a serum to
prevent small-pox and another to prevent typhoid, but they had
nothing for sea-sickness as yet; so for the first four days of the
trip Jimmie wished that a submarine would come and end his misery
once for all.

At last, however, he came on deck, an utterly humbled Socialist
agitator, asking only a corner to lie in the sunshine--preferably
where he could not see the Atlantic surges, the very thought of
which turned him inside out. But gradually he found his feet again,
and ate with permanence, and looked out over the water and saw the
other vessels of the convoy, weirdly painted with many-coloured
splotches, steaming in the shape of a gigantic V, with two cruisers
in front, and another on each side, and another bringing up the
rear. Day and night the look-outs kept watch, and the wigwag men and
the heliograph men were busy, and the wireless buzzed its warnings
of the movements of the underwater foe. The U-boats had not yet got
a transport, but they had made several tries, and everyone knew that
they would continue trying. Twice a day the clanging of bells
sounded from one end of the vessel to the other, and the crews
rushed to the boat-drill; each passenger had his number, and unless
he was ill in his berth he had to take his specified place, with his
life-preserver strapped about his waist.

The passengers played cards, and read and sang and skylarked about
the decks. Up on the top deck, to which Jimmie was not invited, were
officers, also a number of women and girls belonging to the hospital
and ambulance units. “Janes” was the term by which the soldier-boys
described these latter; you could see they were a good sort of
“Janes”, serious and keen for their job, looking business-like and
impressive in their uniforms with many pockets. Among them were
suffragists, answering the taunt of the other sex, showing that in
war as well as in peace the world needed them; it had to find a
place for them on board the most badly crowded transport.

Never having been on an ocean-liner before, Jimmie did not know that
it was crowded; it did not trouble him that there was hardly room
for a walk on the decks. He watched the sea and the great white
gulls and the piebald ships; he watched the crew at work, and got
acquainted with his fellow-passengers. Before long he found a driver
of an ambulance who was a Socialist; also an I.W.W. from the Oregon
lumber-camps. Even the “wobblies”, it appeared, had come to hate the
Kaiser; a bunch of them were in France, and more would have come, if
the government had not kept them cross by putting their leaders into
jail. An army officer with some sense had gone into the
spruce-country of the far North-west, and had appealed to the
patriotism of the men, giving them decent hours and wages, and
recognizing their unions; as a result, even the dreaded I.W.W.
organization had turned tame, and all the lumberjacks had pitched in
to help in “canning the Kaiser!”


The fleet was nearing the submarine-zone and it was time for the
convoying destroyers to arrive. Everybody was peering out ahead, and
at last a cry ran along the decks: “There they are!” Jimmie made out
a speck of smoke upon the horizon, and saw it turn into a group of
swiftly-flying vessels. He marvelled at the skill whereby they had
been able to find the transports on this vast and trackless sea; he
marvelled at the slender vessels with their four low, rakish stacks.
These sea-terriers were thin skins of steel, covering engines of
enormous power; they tore through the water, literally with the
speed of an express train, leaving a boiling white wake behind.
Seeing them rock and swing from side to side in the waves, hurled
this way and that, you marvelled that human beings could live in
them and not be jerked to pieces. Jimmie never tired of observing
them, nor did they tire of racing in and out between the vessels of
the convoy, weaving patterns of foam, the men on their decks
watching, watching for the secret foe.

Everyone on board the transports, of course, was on the alert.
Jimmie in his secret heart was scared stiff, but he did not reveal
it to these mocking soldier-boys, who made merry over German U-boats
as they did over sauerkraut and pretzels and Limburger and
“wienies”, otherwise known as “hot dogs”. Actually, Jimmie found,
they were hoping to encounter a submarine; not to be hit, of course,
but to have the torpedo pass within a foot or two, so that they
might have something thrilling to write to the folks at home.

There came storms, and blinding sheets of rain across the water, and
mists that hid everything from view; but still the little
sea-terriers dashed here and there, winding their foam wakes about
the fleet, by night as well as by day. How they managed to avoid
collisions in the dark was a mystery beyond imagining; Jimmie lay
awake, picturing one of them plunging like a sharp spear into the
rows of bunks in the steerage where he had been stowed. But when
morning dawned, his berth was unspeared, and the watch-dogs of the
sea were still weaving their patterns.

It was a day of high wind, with clouds and fitful bursts of sunshine
in which the waves shone white and sparkling. Jimmie was standing by
the fail with his “wobbly” friend, watching the white-caps, when his
companion called his attention to a sparkle that seemed to persist,
hitting one in the eye. They pointed it out to others, and as the
orders were strict to report anything out of the way, someone
shouted to the nearest look-out. A cry went over the ship, and there
was hasty wigwagging of the signalman, and three of the destroyers
leaped away like hounds on the chase.

There were some on board who had glasses, and they cried out that it
was a black object, and finally reported it a raft with people on
it. Later, when Jimmie reached port, he heard an explanation of the
sparkle which had caught his eye--a woman on the raft had a little
pocket-mirror, and had used this to flash the sun’s rays upon the
vessel, until at last she had attracted attention.

Those who had glasses were mostly on the upper deck, so Jimmie did
not see anything of the rescue; the transports, of course, did not
swerve or delay, for their orders forbade all altruisms. Even the
little destroyers would not approach the raft until they had scoured
the sea for miles about, and then they did not stop entirely, but
slid by and tossed ropes to the people on the raft, dragging them
aboard one by one. A seaman standing near Jimmie explained this
procedure; it appeared that the submarines were accustomed to lurk
near rafts and life-boats, preying upon those vessels which came to
their rescue. Distressed castaways were bait--“live bait”, explained
the seaman; the U-boats would lurk about for days, sometimes for a
week, watching the people in the life-boats struggle against the
waves, watching them die of exposure, and starvation and thirst,
watching them signal frantically, waving rags tied on to oars,
shouting and praying for help. One by one the castaways would
perish, and when the last of them was gone, the U-boat would steal
away. “Dead bait’s no good,” explained the seaman.


This mariner, Toms by name, came from Cornwall; for the transport
was British, and so also the convoying warships--Jimmie’s fate had
been entrusted to “perfidious Albion”! Seven times this Toms had
been torpedoed and seven times rescued, and he had most amazing
tales to tell to landlubbers, and a new light to throw on a subject
which our Socialist landlubber had been debating for several
years--the torpedoing of passenger-vessels with women and children
on board. Somehow Jimmie found it a different proposition when he
heard of particular women and children, how they looked and what
they said, and what happened when they took to open boats in
midwinter, and the boats filled up with water, and the children
turned blue and then white, and were rescued with noses and ears and
hands and feet frozen off.

Jimmie was a working-man, and understood the language of
working-men, their standards and ways of looking at life. And here
was a working-man; not a conscious Socialist, to be sure, but a
union man, sharing the Socialist distrust of capitalists and rulers.
What this weather-bitten toiler of the sea told to Jimmie, Jimmie
was prepared to understand and believe; so he learned, what he had
refused to learn from prostitute newspapers, that there was a code
of sea-manners and sea-morals, a law of marine decency, which for
centuries had been unbroken save by pirates and savages. The men who
went down to the sea in ships were a class of their own, with
instincts born of the peculiar cruelties of the element they
defied--instincts which broke across all barriers of nations and
races, and even across the hatreds of war.

But now these sea-laws had been defied, and the Hun who had defied
them had placed himself outside the pale of the human race. In the
souls of seamen there had been generated against him a hatred of
peculiar and unique ferocity; they hunted him as men hunt vipers and
rattlesnakes. The union to which this Toms belonged had pledged
itself, not merely for the war, but for years afterwards, that its
members would not sail in German ships, nor in any ship in which a
German sailed, nor in any ship which sailed to a German port, nor
which carried German goods. It had refused to carry Socialist
delegates desiring to attend international conferences with German
Socialists; it had refused to carry for any purpose labour leaders
whom it considered too mercifully disposed towards Germany.

When Jimmie learned this, you can imagine the arguments, continuing
far into the night! Quite a crowd gathered about, and they gave it
to the little Socialist hot and heavy. The upshot of it was that
somebody reported him, and the officer in command of his
“motor-unit” read him a stern lecture. He was not here to settle
peace-terms, but to do his work and hold his tongue. Jimmie, awed by
the fangs and claws of the monster of Militarism, answered, “Yes,
sir,” and went away and sulked by himself the whole day, wishing
that the submarines might get this transport, with everybody on
board except two Socialists and one “wobbly”.


It was the morning of the day they were due in port. Everybody wore
life-preservers, and stood at his station; when suddenly came a
yell, and a chorus of shouts from the side of the ship, and Jimmie
rushed to the rail, and saw a white wake coming like a swift fish
directly at the vessel. “Torpedo!” was the cry, and men stood rooted
to the spot. Far back, where the white streak started, you could see
a periscope, moving slowly; there was a volley of cracking sounds,
and the water all about it leaped high, and the little sea-terriers
rushed towards it, firing, and getting ready their deadly
depth-bombs. But of all that Jimmie got only a glimpse; there came a
roar like the opening of hell in front of him; he was thrown to the
deck, half-stunned, and a huge fragment of the rail of the vessel
whirled past his head, smashing into a stateroom behind him.

The ship was in an uproar; people rushing here and there, the
members of the crew leaping to get away the boats. Jimmie sat up and
stared about him, and the first thing he saw was his friend the
“wobbly”, lying in a pool of blood, with a great gash in his head.

Suddenly somebody began to sing: “Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s
early light--” Jimmie had always hated that song, because jingoes
and patrioteers used it as an excuse to bully and humiliate radicals
who did not jump to their feet with sufficient alacrity. But now it
was wonderful to see the effect of the song; everybody joined and
the soldier-boys and working-men and nurses and lady
ambulance-drivers, no matter how badly scared, recalled that they
were part of an army on the way to war. Some helped the crews to get
the boats into the water; others bound up the wounds of the injured,
and carried them across the rapidly-slanting decks.

The great ship was going down. It was horrible to realize--this
mighty structure, this home for two weeks of several thousand
people, this moving hotel with its sleeping-berths, its
dining-saloons, its kitchens with lunch ready to be eaten, its
mighty engines and its cargo of every kind of necessity and comfort
for an army--all was about to plunge to the bottom of the sea!
Jimmie Higgins had read about the torpedoing of scores of
ocean-liners, but in all that reading he had learned less about the
matter than he learned in a few minutes while he clung half-dazed to
a stay rope, and watched the life-boats swing out over the sides and


“Women first!” was the cry; but the women would not go until the
wounded had been taken, and this occasioned delay. Jimmie helped to
get his friend the “wobbly”, and passed him on to be lowered with a
rope. By that time the deck had got such a slant that it was hard to
walk on it; the bow was settling, and the stern rearing up in the
air. Never could you have realized the size of an ocean-liner, until
you saw it rear itself up like a monstrous mountain, preparatory to
plunging beneath the waves! “Jump for it!” shouted voices. “They’ll
pick you up from the other vessels. Jump and swim.”

So Jimmie rushed to the rail. He saw a life-boat below, trying to
push away, and being beaten against the vessel by the heavy waves.
He heard a horrible scream, and saw a man slip between the boat and
the side of the liner. People on every side of him were jumping--so
many that he could not find a clear spot in the water. But at last
he saw one, and climbed upon the rail and took the plunge.

He struck the icy water and sank, and a wave rolled over him. He
came up quickly, owing to his life-preserver, and gasped for breath,
and was choked by another rushing wave and then pounded on the head
by an oar in the hands of a struggling sailor. He managed to get out
of the way, and struck out to get clear of the vessel. He knew how
to do this, thanks to many “swimmin’-holes”--including the one he
had visited with the Candidate. But he had never before swam in such
deadly cold as this; it was colder than he had dreamed when he had
talked about it with Comrade Meissner! Its icy hand seemed to smite
him, to smite the life out of him; he struggled desperately, as one
struggles against suffocation.

The waves beat him here and there; and then suddenly he was seized
as if by the falls of Niagara, drawn along and drawn under--down,
down. He thought it was the end, and when again he bobbed up to the
surface, his breath was all but gone. The great bulk of the vessel
was no longer in sight, and Jimmie was struggling in a whirlpool,
along with upset boats and oars and deck-chairs and miscellaneous
wreckage, and scores of people clinging to such objects, or swimming
frantically to reach them.

Jimmie was just about ready to roll over and let his face go under,
when suddenly there loomed above him on the top of a wave a boat
rowed swiftly by sailors. One in the boat flung a rope to him, and
he tried to catch it, but missed; the boat plunged towards him, and
an arm reached out, and caught him by the collar. It was a strong
and comforting arm, and Jimmie abandoned himself to it, and
remembered nothing more for a long time.


When Jimmie opened his eyes again he was in a most extraordinary
position. At first he could not make it out, he was only aware of
endless bruises and blows, as if someone were shaking him about in a
gigantic pepper-cruet. As Nature protested desperately against such
treatment, Jimmie fought his way back to consciousness, and caught
hold of something, in his neighbourhood, which presently turned out
to be a brass railing; he struggled to ward off the blows of his
tormentors, which turned out to be the aforesaid railing, plus a
wall, plus two other men, one on each side of him, the three of them
being lashed to the brass railing with ropes. The wall and railing
and Jimmie and the other men were behaving in an incredible
fashion--swinging down, as if they were plunging into a bottomless
abyss, then swinging up, as if they were going to part altogether
from this mundane sphere; the total enormous swing, from bottom to
top, being mathematically calculated to occupy a period of five and
one-half seconds of time.

Jimmie discovered before long that there were a whole row of men,
lashed fast and subjected to this perplexing form of torture. They
made you think of a row of carcasses in a butcher-shop--only, who
could picture a butcher-shop whose floor careened to an angle of
forty-five degrees in one direction, and then, in a space of
precisely five and a half seconds, careened to an angle of
forty-five degrees in the opposite direction?

And they kept bringing more carcasses and hanging them in this
insane butcher-shop! Two sailors in uniforms would come staggering,
carrying a man between them, clinging to the railing, to Jimmie, to
the other men, to anything else they could grab. They would make a
desperate rush while the swing was right, and get to a new place on
the railing, where they would tie the new man with a bit of rope
about his waist, and leave him there to be mauled and pounded. One
side of the room was lined solid with carcasses, and then the other
side, and still they came. This was apparently a dining-saloon,
there being a table down the middle, and two rows of chairs; they
lashed people into these chairs, they brought others and lashed them
to the bottom of the chairs--any old place at all! There were some
who thought they could hold on for themselves; but after the sailors
were gone they discovered that it took more skill to hold on than
they realized, and they would come hurtling across the floor,
winding up with a crash on top of someone else.

It was not the first time in Jimmie’s life that he had had to
scramble for himself in some uncomfortable situation; he got his
wits together quickly. He was shivering as if with ague, and he
managed to get out of his wet coat. There being a couple of ladies
strapped into chairs in front of him, he did not like to go further;
but presently came sailors with armfuls of blankets, and made him
perform the complicated feat of getting out of his dripping icy
uniform and getting the blanket wrapped around his middle, so that
the rope would not saw him into halves. Then came a steward with a
pot of hot coffee; being marvellously expert at holding this at all
angles of the ship, he poured it into cups with little funnels for
drinking, and thus got some down Jimmie’s throat.

The little machinist felt better after that, and was able to devote
attention to the man on his right, who had hit his nose so many
times that it was bleeding in a stream, and had been tilted at so
many angles that the blood had run into his eyes and made him blind.
The man on the other side of him apparently could make no effort at
all to keep his face from being pounded, or his feet from being
thrown into the pit of Jimmie’s stomach; after Jimmie made a number
of protests, an officer came along, and put his ear to the man’s
chest and pronounced him dead. They brought another rope, and lashed
him tighter, so that he would behave himself.

For several hours Jimmie clung to that railing. The destroyer would
soon be in port, they kept telling him; meantime they brought him
hot soup to keep up his strength. Some people fainted, but there was
nothing that could be done for them. The first boat-loads of the
rescued had filled up the berths of both officers and crew; the rest
must hang on to the railings as best they could. They should be
thankful it was decent weather, said one of the sailors; the vessel
didn’t roll any faster in bad weather, but it rolled much farther in
the same time--a distinction which struck Jimmie as over-subtle.

The poor fellow’s arms were numb with exhaustion, he had lost hope
that anything in the world ever could be still, when the
announcement was made that the harbour was in sight, and everybody’s
troubles would soon be over. And sure enough, the rolling gradually
became less. The little vessel still quivered from stem to stern
with the movement of her enormous engines, but Jimmie didn’t mind
that--he was used to machinery; he got himself untied from the
railing, and lay down on the floor, right there where he was, and
fell asleep. Nor did he open his eyes when they came with a
stretcher, and carried him on to a pier and slid him into a
motor-truck and whisked him off to a hospital.




When Jimmie took an interest in life again he was lying in a bed: a
bed that actually was still, that did not rise with a leaping motion
to the ceiling, and then sink like a swift elevator into the
basement. Better yet was the fact that this bed had clean sheets,
and a lovely angel in spotless white hovering about it. You who read
of Jimmie Higgins’s adventures have perhaps been blessed with some
of the good things of life, and may need to have it explained to you
that never before had Jimmie known what it was to sleep between
sheets--to say nothing of clean sheets; never had he known what it
was to sleep in a night-gown; never had he had hot broth fetched to
him by a snow-white angel with a bright smile and an aureole of
golden-brown hair. This marvellous creature waited on his slightest
nod, and when she was not busy running errands for him, she sat by
his bedside and chatted, asking him all sorts of questions about
himself and his life. She thought he was a soldier, and he,
shameless wretch, discovered what she thought, and delayed to tell
her that he was a common repairer of motor-cycles!

This was a war-hospital, and there were terrible sights to be seen
here, terrible sounds to be heard; but Jimmie for a long time missed
them almost entirely--he was so comfortable! He lay like a nice dozy
cat; he ate good things and drank good things, and then he fell
asleep, and then he opened his eyes in the sunshine of a golden
brown aureole. It was only gradually that he realized that somewhere
in the ward a man was choking and gasping all night, because the
inside of his lungs had been partly eaten out with poisonous acids.

Jimmie inquired and was told that more than a hundred people on the
transport had lost their lives, including several women; the nurse
brought a paper with a list of the casualties, among which he read
the name of Mike Angoni--his friend the “wobbly” from the far West!
Also the name of Peter Toms--the seaman from Cornwall, caught at the
eighth attempt! Jimmie read that the submarine which had sunk the
transport had been shattered by a depth-charge, and the sea all
strewn with the wreckage of it; and strange and terrible as it might
seem, Jimmie, the pacifist, the Socialist, experienced a thrill of
satisfaction! Not once did he stop to reflect that on board this
under-water craft might have been some German comrade, some poor,
enslaved, unhappy internationalist like himself! Jimmie wanted the
sneaking, treacherous terrors of the sea exterminated, regardless of

The nurse with the halo of golden-brown hair got interested in her
American patient, and would sit and talk with him every chance she
got. She learned about Eleeza Betooser and the babies who had been
blown to pieces in the explosion. Also she learned about Jimmie’s
being a Socialist, and asked him questions about it. Wasn’t he just
a little hard on the leisure classes? Might it not be that some of
the capitalists would be as glad as he to know about a better social
system? The young lady pronounced the word “capitalists” with the
accent on the “it”, which puzzled Jimmie for a time; also she
assured him that “wage schedules” would never go back to what they
were before the war, and Jimmie had to ask what a “schedule” might
be. He did not have to ask what she meant by a “tart”, because there
it was on his tray--a delicious little strawberry pie.


This meant that the destroyer had come to an English port; the nurse
was a Britisher. If Jimmie had had tact, he would have remembered
that Britishers have an outfit of earls and dukes and lords and
things, to which they are sentimentally attached. But tact is not
the leading virtue of Socialists; in fact, Jimmie made a boast of
scorning it--if people asked his opinion, he “gave it to ‘em
straight”. So now he caused this white angel to understand that he
regarded the effete aristocracies of the old world with abysmal
contempt; he meant to put them out of business right off the bat. In
vain the white angel pleaded that some of them might be useful
people, or at any rate well-meaning: Jimmie pronounced them a bunch
of parasites and grafters; the thing to do was to make a clean sweep
of them.

“You won’t cut off their heads?” pleaded the nurse. “Surely they
ought to have a chance to reform!”

“Oh, sure!” answered Jimmie. “All I mean is, everybody’s got to go
to work--the dooks an’ aristercrats like the rest.”

The nurse went off, carrying Jimmie’s chamber to be emptied; and
while she was gone, the man in the next bed, a gun-pointer from an
American destroyer with his head bandaged up so that he looked like
a Hindu swami, turned his tired eyes upon Jimmie and drawled: “Say,
you guy, you better can that line o’ talk!”

“Whaddyer mean?” demanded Jimmie, scenting controversy with some

“I mean that there young lady belongs to the nobility herself.”

“Go on!” said Jimmie.

“Straight!” said the other. “Her father’s the earl of Skye-terrier,
or some such damn place.”

“Aw, cut it out!” growled the little machinist--for you never knew
in dealing with these soldier-boys whether you were being “kidded”
 or not.

“Did you ask her name?”

“She told me it was Miss Clendenning.”

“Well, you ask her if she ain’t the Honourable Beatrice Clendenning,
and see what she says.”

But Jimmie could not get up the nerve to ask. When the young lady
came back, carrying his chamber washed clean, her pet patient was
lying still, but so red in the face that she suspected that he had
been trying to get out of bed without permission.


Nor was that the end of wonders. Next day there ran a murmur of
excitement through the ward, and everything was cleaned up fresh,
though there was really nothing that needed cleaning. Flowers were
brought in, and each nurse had a flower pinned on her waist. When
Jimmie asked what was “up”, the Honourable Beatrice looked at him
with a quizzical smile. “We’re going to have some distinguished
visitors,” she said. “But you won’t be interested--a class-conscious
proletarian like you.”

And she would not tell him; but when she went out, the fellow in the
next bed told. “It’s the king and queen that’s comin’,” said the

“Aw, ferget it!” said Jimmie--quite sure he was being “kidded” this

“Comin’ to see the submarine victims,” said the gun-pointer. “You
cut out your Socialist rough stuff for to-day.”

Jimmie asked the nurse when she came back; and sure enough it was
true--the king and queen were to visit the hospital, and pay their
respects to the victims of the U-boat. But that wouldn’t interest
Jimmie Higgins. Would he not rather be carried away and put in a
private room somewhere, so that his revolutionary eyes would not be
offended? Or would he stay, and make a soap-boxer of His Majesty?

“Sure, he won’t have no time to talk to a feller like me!” said

“Don’t you be too sure,” replied the other. “He’s got nothing to do
but talk, you know!”

Jimmie didn’t venture any farther, because he knew that the
Honourable Beatrice was laughing at him, and he had never been
laughed at by a woman before, and didn’t know quite how to take it.
He could not have been expected to understand that the Honourable
Beatrice was a suffragette, and laughed at all men on general
principles. Jimmie lay quietly in his bed and concealed the unworthy
excitement in his soul. Wasn’t that the devil now? Him, a little
runt of a working man from nowhere in particular, that had been
brought up on a charity-farm, and spent a good part of his life as a
tramp--him to be meeting the king of England! Jimmie had a way of
disposing of kings that was complete and final; he called them
“kinks” and when he had called them that he had settled them, wiped
them clean out. “None o’ them kinks for me!” he had said to the
Honourable Beatrice.

But now a “kink” was coming to the hospital! And what was Jimmie
going to do? How the devil did you talk to ‘em? Did you have to say,
“Your Majesty”? Jimmie gripped his hands under the bed-covers. “I’ll
be damned if I do!” He summoned his revolutionary fervour, he called
up the spirits of his “wobbly” friends, “Wild Bill” and “Strawberry”
 Curran and “Flathead Joe” and “Chuck” Peterson. What would they do
under these circumstances? What would the Candidate do? Somehow,
Jimmie’s revolutionary education had been neglected--nothing had
ever been said in any Socialist local as to how a comrade should
behave when a “kink” came to visit him!

Jimmy was naturally a kindly human being; he was ready to respond to
the kindness of other human beings. But was it in accord with
revolutionary ethics to be polite to a “kink”? Was it not his duty
to do something to show his contempt for “kinks”? Maybe his Royal
Nibs never had anybody to “stand up to him” in all his life before.
Well, let him have it to-day!


A nurse rushed into the ward in great excitement, and whispered,
“They’re coming!” And after that the nurses all stood round,
twisting their hands together nervously, and the patients lay with
their eyes glued on the door where the apparition was to appear.

At last there came in sight a man dressed in uniform, who Jimmie
would never have dreamed could be a king--except that he had seen
his picture in the illustrated papers. He was a medium-sized, rather
stoop-shouldered little gentleman, decidedly commonplace-looking,
with a closely-trimmed brown beard turning grey, and rosy cheeks
such as all Englishmen have. He was escorted by the head of the
hospital staff; and behind him came a lady, a severe-looking lady
dressed in black, with a couple more doctors escorting her, and
behind them several officers in uniform.

The king and queen stopped at the head of the room, and looked down
the rows of beds. Each of them wore a friendly smile, and nodded,
and said: “How do you do?” And, of course, everybody smiled back,
and the nurses curtsied and said, “How do you do, Your Majesties?”

And then His Majesty said: “I hope everybody is doing well?” And the
doctor called the head nurse in charge of the ward, who came up
smiling and bowing and answered that everybody was doing
beautifully, thank you; at which both His Majesty and Her Majesty
declared that they were so pleased. The queen looked about, and
seeing a man with many bandages, went to him and sat by his bedside
and began to ask him questions; the king moved down the centre of
the room, until suddenly his eye happened on the Honourable

She had not moved; she stood at her place like the other nurses. But
Jimmie, watching, saw a smile come upon the king’s face, and he
moved towards her saying: “Oh! how do you do?” The young lady went
to meet him, quite as if she were used to meeting kings every day.

“How are your patients doing?” inquired His Majesty.

“Beautifully,” said she; and His Majesty said that he was
pleased--just as if he had not said the same words only a minute
before. He looked at the patients with benevolent but tired-looking
eyes; and the Honourable Beatrice, by those subtle methods known to
women, brought it about that he looked especially at her favourite.
She knew that he would wish to talk to some of the patients, and by
ever so slight a movement she brought it about that it was towards
Jimmie Higgins he advanced.

“What is your name?” he asked, and then, “Well, Higgins, how are you

“Sure, I’m all right,” said Jimmie sturdily; “I wanner get up, only
she won’t let me.”

“Well,” said His Majesty, “the time was when the king was the
tyrant, but now it’s the nurse.” He smiled at the Honourable lady.
“Are you an American soldier?”

“Naw,” replied Jimmie, “I’m only a machinist.”

“This is a war of machines,” replied His Majesty, graciously.

“I’m a Socialist!” exclaimed Jimmie, right off the bat.

“Indeed!” said His Majesty.

“You bet!” was the reply.

“But you’re not one of those Socialists who oppose their country, I

“I done it for a long time,” said Jimmie. “I didn’t see we had no
business in this here war. But I been changin’--a bit.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” remarked His Majesty. “Doubtless your
recent experience has helped you to change.”

“Sure,” replied Jimmie. “But I’m still a Socialist, don’t you make
no mistake about that, Mr. King.”

“I won’t,” said His Majesty; and he looked at the Honourable
Beatrice, and between them there flashed one of those subtle
messages which highly sophisticated people know how to give and to
catch--entirely over the heads of Socialist machinists from
Leesville, U.S.A. To the Honourable Beatrice the message conveyed.
“How perfectly delicious!” To His Majesty it conveyed, “I knew you’d
enjoy it!”

Jimmie’s mind was, of course, occupied entirely with the idea of
propaganda. He must make the most of this strange opportunity!
“Things is goin’ to be changed after this here war!” said he. “Fer
the workin’ people, I mean.”

“They’ll be changed for all of us,” said His Majesty. “The dullest
of us know that.”

“The workin’ people got to get what they earn!” persisted Jimmie.
“Why, Mr. King--back home where I come from a feller could work
twelve hours a day all his life, an’ not have enough saved up to
bury himself with. An’ they say it was worse here in England.”

“We have had terrible poverty,” admitted His Majesty. “We shall have
to find some way of getting rid of it.”

“There ain’t no way but Socialism,” cried Jimmie. “Look into it, an’
you’ll see! We gotter get rid o’ the profit-system. The feller that
does the work has gotter get what he produces.”

“Well,” said His Majesty, “you’ll agree with me this far at
least--we must beat the Germans first.” And then he turned to the
Honourable Beatrice. “We shall learn much from our American
visitors,” he said, and flashed her another of those subtle
messages, which indicated that perhaps it was not a good thing for
patients in hospitals to become excited over Socialist propaganda!
So the Honourable Beatrice turned to the man in the other bed, and
His Majesty turned also; he ascertained that the man’s name was
Deakin, and that he came from Cape Cod. His Majesty remarked how
badly England needed good Yankee gun-pointers, and how grateful he
was to those who came to help the British Navy. Jimmie listened,
just a tiny bit jealous--not for himself, of course, but because he
knew that Socialism was so much more important than gun-pointing!


At the foot of the bed there stood a military officer. He had been
there for some time, but Jimmie did not notice him till the king
rose and moved away. The officer was just the sort of hand-made
aristocrat that Jimmie imagined all officers to be; smooth-shaven,
except for a little toy moustache, with serene, impassive features,
a dapper and immaculate uniform, and a queer little fancy stick in
his hand, to show that he never did anything resembling work. He was
eyeing the machinist with what the machinist suspected to be a
superior air. “Well, my good man,” said he, “you had a talk with the

That seemed obvious enough. “Sure!” said Jimmie.

“Generally,” continued the officer, “when one talks with the king,
one addresses him as ‘Your Majesty’--not as ‘Mr. King’.”

Jimmie was tired now, and not looking for controversy; so he did not
bridle as he might otherwise have done. “Nobody told me,” said he.

“Also,” continued the other, “one is not supposed to volunteer
opinions. One waits for the king to ask a question, and then one

Jimmie’s eyes were closed, and he only half-opened them as he
answered. “They been tellin’ me this here is a war for Democracy!”
 said he.




They gave Jimmie Higgins a couple of days to lie about in the
grounds of the hospital, and make the acquaintance and hear the
experiences of men who had lost arms and legs in battle, or had been
burned by flame-throwers, or ruined for life by poison-gases.
Strange as it might seem, Jimmie found among these men not a few
with whom he could talk, whose point of view was close to his own.
These Britishers had been through the mill; they knew. None of the
glory stuff for them! Leave that for the newspaper scribblers, the
bloody rascals who stayed at home and beat on tomtoms, driving other
men to march in and die. You went and got yourself battered up,
ruined for life--and then what would they do for you? It was a hard
world to a man who was crippled and helpless. Yes, said Jimmie; the
same hard world that it was to a Socialist, a dreamer of justice.

But there was the old dilemma, from which he had never been able to
find escape, whether in Leesville, U.S.A., or on the high seas, or
here in old England. What were you going to do about the Huns? To
hold out your hand to them was like putting it into a tiger’s cage.
No, by God, you had to fight them, you had to lick them, cost what
it might! And the speaker would go on and tell of things he had
seen: a Prussian officer who had shot a British surgeon in the back,
after this surgeon had bound up his wounds; a commandant of a
prison-camp who had withdrawn all medical aid in a typhus epidemic,
and allowed his charges to perish like rats.

So, hell though it was, you had to go through with it; if you were a
man, you had to set your teeth and grip your hands and take your
share of the horror, whatever it might be. And Jimmie, being
something of a little man in his way, would set his teeth and grip
his hands and take in imagination, the share of the particular human
wreck who happened to be talking to him. So Jimmie Higgins was
battered back and forth, like a tennis-ball, between the two forces
of Militarism and Revolution.

Just now was another crisis--the Huns had begun a furious drive in
Flanders, the third battle of Ypres, and the British were falling
back, not in rout, but in retreat which might become rout at any
hour. The bulletins came in several times a day, and people in the
streets would stop and read them, their faces full of fear. When the
wind was right you could hear the guns across the Channel; Jimmie
would lie at night and listen to the dull, incessant thunder--a
terrific, man-made storm, in which showers of steel were raining
down upon the heads of soldiers hiding in shell-holes and
hastily-dug trenches. The war seemed very near indeed when the wind
was right!


Still, a fellow has to live. Jimmie was in a foreign land for the
first time in his life, and when they turned him loose, he and a
couple of other American chaps went wandering about the streets,
staring at the sights of this town, which had been a small harbour
before the war, but now was a vast centre of the world’s commerce,
one of the routes by which large sections of Britain were moved
across the Channel every day.

You saw in the streets no men out of uniform, except a few old ones;
you saw nobody at all idle, except the young children. The women
were driving the trucks, and operating the street-cars, which were
called “trams”, and the elevators, which were called “lifts”.
Everybody’s face was sober and drawn, but they lightened up when
they saw the Americans, who had come so far to help them in their
trouble. In the cake-shops, and the queer little “pubs” where
rosy-cheeked girls sold very thin beer, they could not be polite
enough to the visitors from overseas; even the haughtiest-looking
“bobby” would stop to tell you the way about the streets. “First to
the roight, third to the left,” he would say, very fast; and when
you looked bewildered, he would say it again, as fast as ever.

But they needed motor-cycles so badly in the new American armies
that they didn’t give Jimmie much time to be a hero; he got his
orders and a new outfit, and bade farewell to the Honourable
Beatrice, promising to write to her now and then, and not to be too
hard on the aristocracy. He crossed the Channel, alive with boats
like the Hudson River with its ferries, and came to another and
still bigger port, which the Americans had taken and made over new
for the war. Long vistas of docks had been built since the fighting
began; Jimmie saw huge cranes that dipped down into the hold of a
ship, and pulled out whole locomotives, or maybe half a dozen
automobile trucks in one swoop.

Behind these docks was a tangle of railroad yards and tracks, and
miles upon miles of sheds, piled to the top with stores of every
sort you could imagine. A whole encampment-city covered the
surrounding hills, crowned by an old, creaking, moss-grown
windmill--the Middle Ages looking in dismay upon these modern times.

Nobody took the trouble to invite Jimmie to inspect these marvels,
but he got glimpses here and there, and men with whom he chatted
told him more. One man had been directing the unloading of canned
tomatoes; for six months he had seen nothing but crates upon crates
and car-loads upon car-loads of canned tomatoes, coming into one end
of a shed and going out at the other. Somewhere in the higher
regions dwelt a marvellous tomato-brain, which knew exactly how many
cans a division of dough-boys in a training-camp would consume each
day, how many would be needed by patients in hospitals, by lumbermen
in French forests, by revellers in Y.M.C.A. huts. Every now and then
a ship brought another supply, and the man who told Jimmie about it
bossed a gang of negroes who piled the crates on trucks.

And then Jimmie met a Frenchman, who had been a waiter in a Chicago
hotel, and now was bossing a gang of wire-haired Korean labourers.
Jimmie had thought he knew all the races of the earth in the shops
and mills and mines of America; but here he heard of new kinds of
men--Annamese and Siamese, Pathans and Sikhs, Madagascans and
Abyssinians and Algerians. All the British empire was here, and all
the French colonies. There were Portuguese and Brazilians and West
Indians, bushmen from Australia and Zulus from South Africa; and
these not having proven enough, America was now pouring out the
partly melted contents of her pot--Hawaiians and Porto Ricans,
Filipinos and “spiggoties”, Eskimos from Alaska, Chinamen from San
Francisco, Sioux from Dakota, and plain black plantation niggers
from Louisiana and Alabama! Jimmie saw a gang of these latter
mending a track which had been blown out of place by a bomb from an
aeroplane; their black skins shining with sweat, their white teeth
shining with good-nature as they swung their heavy crow-bars, a long
row of them moving like a machine chanting to keep in unison,
“Altogether--heave!” the officer would call, and the line would
swing into motion--

    “Get a MULE!
     An’ a JACK!
     No SLOW!
     No SLACK!
     Put the HUMP!
     In yo’ BACK--”


For nearly four years Jimmie had been reading about France, and now
he was here, and could see the sights with his own eyes. People with
wooden shoes, for example! It was worth coming across the seas to
see women and kids going clatter, clatter along the cobbled streets.
And the funny little railroad-coaches, with rows of doors like
rabbit-pens. It was a satisfaction to notice that the train had a
real man-sized engine, with U.S.A. painted thereon. Jimmie owned a
share in that engine, and experienced Socialistic thrills as he rode
behind it.

He had got separated from his “unit”, thanks to the submarine and
the sojourn in the hospital. They had given him a pass, with orders
to proceed to a certain town, travelling on a certain train. Now
Jimmie sat looking out of the window, as happy as a boy out of
school. A beautiful country, the fresh green glory of spring
everywhereupon it; broad, straight military highways lined with
poplars, and stone houses with queer steep roofs, and old men and
women and children toiling in the fields.

Jimmie chattered with the men in the compartment, soldiers and
workers, each a cog in the big machine, each bound upon some
important errand. Each had news to tell--tales of the fighting, or
of the progress of preparation. For more than a year now America had
been getting ready, and here, in the most desperate crisis of the
war, what was she going to do? Everybody was on tip-toe with
excitement, with impatience to get into the scrap, to make good in
the work upon which his soul was set. Every man knew that the
“dough-boys” would show themselves the masters of “Fritz”; they knew
it as religious people know there is a God in Heaven--only, unlike
most religious people, they were anxious to get to this heaven and
meet this God at the earliest possible moment. Next to Jimmie sat a
Wisconsin farmer-boy, German in features, in name, even in accent;
yet he was ready to fight the soldiers of the Kaiser--and quite sure
he could lick them! Had he not lived since childhood in a free
country, and been to an American public-school?

Everybody had funny stories to tell about the adventures of soldiers
in a foreign land. The French were all right, of course, especially
the girls; but the shop-keepers were frugal, and you had better
count your change, and bite the coins they offered you. As for the
language--holy smoke! Why did civilized people want to talk a lingo
that made you grunt like a pig--or like a penful of pigs of all
sizes? Across the way sat a Chicago street-car conductor with a
little lesson book, and now and then he would read something out
loud. AN, IN, ON, UN, and many different sizes of pigs! When you
wanted bread, you asked for a pain, and when you wanted a dish of
eggs, you asked for a cat-roof omelette. How was this for a
tongue-twister--say five hundred and fifty-five francs in French!

Fortunately you didn’t have to say that many--not on the pay of a
dough-boy, put in a plumber from up-state in New York. For his part,
he did not bother to grunt--he would make drinking motions or
eating motions, and they would bring him things till they found what
he wanted. One time he had met a girl that he thought was all right,
and he wanted to treat her to a feed, so he drew a picture of a
chicken, thinking he would get it roasted. She had chattered away to
the waiter, and he had come back with two soft-boiled eggs. That was
the French notion of taking a girl out to dinner!


They loaded Jimmie into a motor-lorry and whirled him away. You knew
you were going to the war then, by heck; there were two almost solid
processions of wagons and trucks, loaded with French soldiers and
materials going, and damaged French soldiers returning. It was like
Broadway at the most crowded hour; only here everything went by in a
whirl of dust--you got quick glimpses of drivers with tense faces
and blood-shot eyes. Now and then there would be a blockade, and men
would swear and fume in mixed languages; staff-cars in an extra
hurry would go off the road and bump along across country, while
gangs of negro labourers, French colonials, seized the opportunity
to fill up the ruts worn in the highway.

They put Jimmie off at a village where his motor-unit was located,
in a long shed made of corrugated iron, the sort of shed which the
army threw up overnight. Here were a score of men working at
repairs, and Jimmie stopped for no formalities, but took off his
coat and pitched in. There was plenty of work he could see; the
machines came, sometimes whole truck-loads of them, damaged in every
way he had ever seen before, and in new ways not dreamed of in
Kumme’s bicycle-shop--tyres torn to shreds by fragments of shrapnel,
frames twisted out of shape by explosions, and nasty splotches of
blood completing the story.

It was one of the many places where American units had been taken to
plug the damaged French lines. There was a reserve battalion near
by, and outside this village a group of men were at work, putting up
tents for a hospital. Some thirty miles ahead was the front, and you
heard the guns off and on, a low sullen roar, punctuated with
hammer-strokes f big fellows. Millions of dollars every hour were
being blown to nothingness in that fearful inferno; a gigantic
meat-mill that was grinding up the bodies of men and had never
ceased day or night for nearly four years. You could be a violent
pacifist in sound of those guns, or you could be a violent
militarist, but you could not be indifferent to the war, you could
not be of two minds about it.

And yet--Jimmie Higgins was of two minds! He wanted to beat back the
Huns, who had made all this fearful mess; but also he wanted to beat
the profiteers who were making messes at home. It happened that
Jimmie had reached the army at a trying moment, when there were no
American big guns, and when promises of machine-guns and aeroplanes
had failed. There was wild excitement in the home papers, and not a
little grumbling in the army. It was graft and politics, men said;
and Jimmie caught eagerly at this idea. He pointed out how the
profiteers at home were entrenching themselves, making ready to
exploit the soldiers returning without jobs. That was a line of talk
the men were ready for, and the little machinist rejoiced to see the
grim look that came upon their faces. They would attend to it, never
fear; and Jimmie would go on to tell them exactly how to attend to


But that was only now and then, when the wind was the other way, and
you did not hear the guns. For the most part Jimmie’s thoughts were
drawn irresistibly to the front; about him were thousands of other
men, all their thoughts at the front, their hands clenched, their
teeth set, their beings centred upon the job of holding the Beast at
bay. Jimmie saw the grey ambulances come in, and the wounded lifted
out on stretchers, their heads bandaged, their bodies covered with
sheets, their faces a ghastly waxen colour. He saw the poilus, fresh
from the trenches, after God alone knew what siege of terror. They
came staggering, bent double under a burden of equipment. The first
time Jimmie saw them was a day of ceaseless rain, when the dust
ground up by the big lorries was turned into ankle-deep mud; the
Frenchmen were plastered with it from head to foot; you saw under
their steel helmets only a mud-spattered beard, and the end of a
nose, and a pair of deep-sunken eyes. They stopped to rest not far
from the place where Jimmie worked; they sank down in the wet, they
fell asleep in pools of water, where not even beasts could have
slept. You did not have to know any French to understand what these
men had been through. Good God! Was that what was going on up there?

Jimmie thanked his stars he was no nearer. But that coward’s comfort
did not last him long, for Jimmie was not a coward, he was not used
to letting other men struggle and suffer for him. His conscience
began to gnaw at him. If that was what it cost to beat down the
Beast, to make the world safe for democracy, why should he be
escaping? Why should he be warm and dry and well-fed, while
working-men of France lay out in the trenches in the rain?

Jimmie went back and worked overtime without extra pay--something
that old man Granitch had never got out of him, you bet, nor old man
Kumme either. For three whole days he stayed a militarist,
forgetting his life-long training in rebellion. But then he got into
an argument with a red-headed Orangeman in his unit, who expressed
the opinion that every Socialist was a traitor at heart, and that
after the war the army should be used to make an end of them all.
Jimmie in his rage went farther than he really meant, and again got
a “calling down” from his superior officer; so for several days his
proletarian feelings blazed, he wanted the revolution right away,
Huns or no Huns.


But most of the time now the spirit of the herd mastered Jimmie; he
wanted what all the men about him wanted--to hold back the Beast
from these fair French fields and quaint old villages, and these
American hospitals and rest-camps and Y.M.C.A. huts--to say nothing
of motor-cycle repair-sheds with Jimmie Higgins in them! And the
trouble was that the Beast was not being held back; he was coming
nearer and nearer--one bull rush after another! Jimmie’s village was
near the valley of the Marne, and that was the road to Paris; the
Beast wanted to get to Paris, he really expected to get to Paris!

The sound of guns grew louder and louder, and rumour flew wild-eyed
and wild-tongued about the country. The traffic in the roads grew
denser, but moving more slowly now, for the Germans were shelling
the road ahead, and blockades were frequent; one huge missile had
fallen into a French artillery-train only a couple of miles away.
“They’ll be moving us back, if this keeps up,” said Jimmie’s
sergeant; and Jimmie wondered: suppose they didn’t move them!
Suppose they forgot all about it? Was there any person whose
particular duty it was to remember to see that motor-cycle units got
moved in the precise nick of time? And what if the Germans were to
break through and sweep over all calculations? This was a little
more than Jimmie Higgins had bargained for when he entered the
recruiting-office in Leesville, U.S.A.!

They gave out gas-masks to everyone in Jimmie’s unit, and put an
alarm bell in the shed, and made everybody practise putting on the
masks in a hurry. Jimmie was so scared that he thought seriously of
running away; but--such is the perversity of human nature--what he
did was to run in the opposite direction! His officer in command
came into the shed and demanded, “Can any of you men ride?” And
imagine any fellow who worked at repairing motor-cycles admitting
that he couldn’t ride! “I can!” said Jimmie. “I can!” said every
other workman in the place.

“What is it!” asked Jimmie--always of the forward and pushing sort.

“The French ask for half a dozen men in a rush. They’ve had several
motor-cycle units wiped out or captured.”

“Gee!” said Jimmie. “I’ll go!”

“And me!” said another. “And me!” “And me!”

“All right,” said the officer, and told them off: “You and you and
you. And you, Cullen, take command. Report to French headquarters at
Chatty Terry. You know where it is!”

“Sure, Mike!” said Cullen. “I been there.” Jimmie hadn’t been to
“Chatty Terry”, but he knew it was somewhere across the Marne. The
officer gave him a map, showing the villages through which he would
go. Jimmie and his companions named these villages, using sensible
language, without concession to the fool notions of the natives.
Wipers, Reems, Verdoon, Devil Wood, Arm-in-tears, Saint Meal--all
these Jimmie had heard about; also a place where the Americans had
won their first glorious victory a week ago, and which they called,
sometimes Cantinny, sometimes Tincanny. And now Jimmie was going to
“Chatty Terry”, in charge of a red-headed Orangeman who a few days
ago had expressed the opinion that all Socialists were traitors and
should be shot!

The officer gave them passes, one for each man, in case they got
separated, and they started towards the place where the new machines
were lined up. On the way Jimmie had a moment of utter panic. What
was this he was getting himself in for, idiot that he was? Going up
there where the shells were falling, wiping out motor-cycle units!
And shells that were full of poison gases, most of them! Of all the
fool things he had done in his life this was the crown and climax!
His knees began to shake, he turned sick inside. But then he glanced
about, and caught Pat Cullen’s menacing blue eye; Jimmie returned
the glare, and the spirit of battle flamed up in him, he laid hold
of the handles of a motor-cycle and strode towards the door. Was any
Irish mick going to catch him in a funk, and “bawl him out” before
this crowd, and put the Socialist movement to shame? Not much!




The six motor-cyclists leaped on to their machines and went chugging
down the road. Of course they raced one another; all motor-cyclists
always race--and here was the best of all possible excuses, the
French army in dire need of them, several of its precious
cycle-units wiped out or captured! They tore along, dodging in and
out between trucks and automobiles, ambulances and artillery
caissons, horse-wagons and mule-wagons, achieving again and again
those hair’s-breadth escapes which are the joy in life of every
normal motor-cyclist. Now and then, when things were too slow, they
would try a crawl in the ditches, or push their machines over the
ploughed fields. So it happened that Jimmie found himself competing
with his red-headed Irish enemy; there was a narrow opening between
two stalled vehicles, and Jimmie made it by the width of his hand,
and vaulted on to his machine and darted away, free and
exulting--his own boss! He shoved in the juice and made time, you
bet; no “mick” was going to catch up and shout orders at him!

There were long trains of refugees streaming back from the
battle-fields; pitiful peasant-people with horse-carts and dog-carts
and even wheelbarrows, toothless old men and women trudging
alongside, children and babies stuck in amidst bedding and furniture
and saucepans and bird-cages. This was war, as the common people saw
it; but Jimmie could not stop now to think about it--Jimmie was on
his way to the front! There were big observation balloons up over
his head, looking like huge grey elephants with broad ears; there
were aeroplanes whirring about, performing incredible acrobatic
feats, and spraying each other with showers of steel; but Jimmie had
no time for a single glance at these marvels--Jimmie was on his way
to the front!

He swept around a curve, and there directly in front of him was a
hole in the middle of the road, as big as if a steam-shovel had been
working for a week. Jimmie clapped on the brakes, and swerved
sideways, missing a tree and plunging into a cabbage patch. He got
off and said, “Gee!” once or twice; and suddenly it was as if he
were whacked on the side of the ear with a twelve-inch board--the
whole world about him turned into a vast roar of sound, and a
mountain of grey smoke leaped into being in front of him. Jimmie
stared, and saw out of a little clump of bushes a long black object
thrust itself out, like the snout of a gigantic tapir from some
prehistoric age. It was a ten-inch gun, coming back from its recoil;
and Jimmie, smelling its fumes, struggled back to the road with his
machine, before the monster should speak again and stifle him

There was a frame-house in the distance, and in front of it a
barnyard, and sheds with thatched roofs. There came a scream,
exactly like the siren of Hook and Ladder Company Number One that
used to go tearing about the streets in Leesville, U.S.A; a light
flashed in one of the sheds, and everything disappeared in a burst
of smoke, which spread itself in the air like a huge duster made
from turkey feathers. There came another shriek, a little nearer,
and the ground rose in a huge black mushroom, which boiled and
writhed like the clouds of an advancing thunderstorm. Boom! Boom!
Two vast, all-pervading roars came to Jimmie’s ears; and his knees
began to quake. By heck! He was under fire! He looked ahead; there
must be Germans just up there! Was a fellow supposed to ride on
without knowing?

There was a big battle on, that much was certain; but the uproar was
so distributed that one could hardly tell whether it was in front or
behind. However, the transport was steadily advancing--horse-wagons,
mule-wagons, motor-wagons, all plodding patiently, paying no heed to
the shell-bursts. And then Jimmie took a look behind, and saw that
infernal red-headed Orangeman! He imagined a raucous voice,
shouting: “C’mon here! Whatcher waitin’ fer?” Jimmie bounced on to
his machine and turned her loose!

He came to a place where something had hit a load of ammunition, and
there were pieces of a wagon and a driver scattered about; it was a
horrible mess, but Jimmie passed it without much emotion--his whole
soul was centred on beating Pat Cullen into “Chatty Terry”! He came
to the outskirts of a village, and there was a peasant’s cottage
with the roof blown off, and a smell fresh out of the infernal
regions, and a terrified old woman standing by the road side with
two terrified children clinging to her skirts. Jimmy stopped his
machine and shouted: “Chatty Terry?” When the old woman did not
answer quickly, he shouted again: “Chatty Terry? Chatty Terry? Don’t
you understand French? Chatty Terry?” The old woman apparently did
not understand French.

He rode up the street of the village, and came to a military
policeman directing traffic at a crossing. This fellow understood
English, and said: “Chatty Terry? Eet ees taken!” And when Jimmie
stood dismayed, wondering what he was to do now, the policeman told
him that headquarters had been shifted to this village--it was in
the chateau; he did not say “chatty”, so Jimmie did not understand
his kind of English. But Jimmie rode as directed, and came to a
place with iron gates in front, and a big garden, and a sentry in
front, and a bustle of coming and going, so he knew that he had
reached his destination, and had beaten his Irish enemy!


Jimmie’s pass was in duplicate French and English, so the sentry
could read it, and signed him to pass in. At the door of the chateau
he showed the paper again, and a French officer in the hall-way
espied him, and exclaimed, “A cyclist? Mon Dieu!” He half-ran Jimmie
into another room, where another officer sat at a big table with a
chart spread out on it, and innumerable filing cabinets on the
walls. “Un courier Americain!” he exclaimed.

“Only one?” asked the officer, in English.

“Five more’s comin’,” said Jimmie quickly. He hated Pat Cullen like
the devil, but he wouldn’t have any French officer think that Pat
would lie down on his job. “The road’s cut up, an’ there’s lots o’
traffic. I come as fast--”

“See!” interrupted the officer--not quite as polite as Frenchmen are
supposed to be. “This packet contains maps, which we make from
aeroplane-photographs--you comprehend? It is for the artillerist--”

The officer paused for a moment; there came a deafening crash
outside, and the window of the room collapsed and something grazed
Jimmie’s face.

“Voila!” remarked the officer. “The enemy draws nearer. Our wires
are cut; we send couriers, but they perhaps do not arrive; it needs
that we send many--what you say?--duplicates. You comprehend?”

“Sure!” said Jimmie.

“It is most urgent; the battle depends upon it--the war, it may be.
You comprehend?”

“Sure!” said Jimmie again.

“You are brave, mon garcon?”

Jimmie did not reply so promptly to that; but the officer was too
tactful to wait. Instead, he asked, “You know French?” And when
Jimmie shook his head: “It needs that you learn. Say this: Botteree
Normb Cott. Try it, if it pleases you: Botteree Normb Cott.”

Jimmie, stammering like a schoolboy, tried; the officer made him
repeat the sounds, assuring him gravely that he need have no doubts
whatever; if he would make those precise sounds, any Frenchman would
know what he was looking for. He was to take the main road east from
the village and ride till he came to a fork; then he was to bear to
the right, and when he came to the edge of a dense wood, he was to
take the path to the left, and then say to everybody he met:
“Botteree Normb Cott!”

“Is it that you have a weapon?” inquired the officer; and when
Jimmie answered no, he pressed a button, and spoke quick words to an
orderly, who came running with an automatic revolver and a belt,
which Jimmie proceeded to strap upon him with thrills, half of
delighted pride and half of anguished terror. “You will say to the
men of the botteree that the Americans come soon to the rescue. You
will find them, my brave American?” The officer spoke as if to a son
whom he dearly loved; and Jimmie, who had never received an order in
that tone of voice, reciprocated the affection, and clenched his
hands suddenly and answered, “I’ll do my best, sir.” He turned to
leave the room, when whom should he see coming in--Mike Cullen!
Jimmie gave him a wink and a grin, and hustled outside and leaped
upon his machine.


And now here was the little machinist from Leesville, U.S.A., flying
down the battered street of this French village with something like
a mid-western cyclone going on in his head. They say that a drowning
man remembers everything that ever happened in his life; perhaps
that was not true of Jimmie, but certainly he remembered every
pacifist argument he had ever heard in his life. For the love of
Mike, what was this he had let himself in for? Bound for the spot
where the whole German army was trying to break through--upon an
errand the most dangerous of any in the war! How in the name of Karl
Marx and the whole revolutionary hierarchy had he managed to get
himself into such a pickle? He, Jimmie Higgins, Bolshevik and

And he was going through with it! He was going to throw his life
away--just because he had started--because he had pledged
himself--because he was carrying maps which might enable a
“botteree” to win the war! Did he really care that much about this
infernal capitalist war? So cried out the proletarian demons in the
soul of Jimmie Higgins; and meantime the engine hammered and
chugged, and a miraculous power in the depths of his
subconsciousness moved the handle-bars so that he dodged shell-holes
and grazed automobiles.

The air was full of the scream of shells and the clatter of their
bursting, an infernal din out of which he could hardly pick
individual sounds. The road ahead was less crowded; the vehicles had
left it, spreading out to one side or the other. How much farther
ahead was that fork? And suppose the Germans had got there, and had
captured “Botteree Normb Cott”--was he going to present them with a
brand new motor-cycle in addition? There were other “botterees”
 which he passed; why couldn’t he give them the maps? Jimmie rode on,
raging inwardly. If he had been a dispatch rider he would have known
all about this, but he was only a repair man, and they had had no
business to put such a job off on him!

There were woods about him now, the trees smashed up by shells, and
Jimmie considered it the part of prudence to get off his machine and
steal forward and peer out to see if there were Germans in the
opening beyond. And suddenly his knees gave way, because of the
fright he was in, with all this deadly racket. He became violently
sick at his stomach, and began to act as he had acted on the first
three days of his ocean passage from New York. At the same time all
the other functions of his body began to operate. A group of
Frenchmen passing by burst into hilarious laughter; it was
ridiculous and humiliating, but Jimmie was powerless to help it--he
wasn’t cut out for a soldier, he hadn’t agreed to be a soldier, they
had had no business sending him up here where vast craters of
shell-holes were opening in the ground, and whole trees were being
lifted out of the earth, and the air was full of a stink which might
require a gas-mask or might not--how was poor Jimmie to tell?


He mastered the awful trembling of his knees and the grotesque
efforts of his body to get rid of everything inside him, and got on
his machine again and stole ahead. He could only go a few rods at a
time, because the road was so cut up. Should he leave the machine
and run for it? Or should he go back and tell them their infernal
maps were all wrong, there was no fork in the road? No--for there at
last was the fork, and after Jimmie had ridden and run a hundred
yards farther, there was a wheat-field, and a line of woods, and at
the edge of it four guns belching flame and smoke and racket. Jimmie
stood his machine in a ditch and went tearing across the fields,
wild with relief, because he had found his “Botteree Normb Cott”,
and could hand over his precious packet and get out of this mess as
fast as two wheels would take him.

But to his dismay he found that it wasn’t the French battery, it was
an American battery; the French battery was farther ahead, and a
little to the right; the officer gave directions, taking it entirely
for granted that Jimmie would go on to his goal.

But then came another officer. “What have you got there?” And when
Jimmie answered maps, he demanded them; he seemed as greedy for maps
as a child for his gifts on Christmas morning. He ripped open the
packet--what is called “cutting red tape” in the army--and spread
out the papers and began to call out figures to another officer who
sat on a camp stool at a little folding table, with many sheets of
figures in front of him. This officer went on noting down the
information--and the men at the guns went on shoving in shells and
stepping back while the screaming messengers were hurled upon their
way. In the rear were other men, wheeling up ammunition, unloading
one of the big camions which Jimmie had been dodging on the roads.
It was a regular factory, set up there in the middle of the fields,
dispatching destruction to the unseen foe.

“We’re having the hell of a time,” remarked the officer, as he
folded up the maps again and handed them to Jimmie. “Our wires have
been cut three times in the last half-hour, and we have to shoot

“Where are the Germans?” asked Jimmie.

“Somewhere up ahead there.”

“Have you seen them?”

“Good Lord, no! We hope to move before they’re that near!”

Jimmie felt a bit reassured by the quiet, business-like demeanour of
all the men in this death-factory. If they could stand the racket,
no doubt he could; only, they were all together, while he had to go
off by himself. Jimmie wished he had enlisted in the artillery!

He shoved the maps into the inside pocket of his jacket, and chased
back to his machine and set out. He took a side-path as directed,
and then a wood-road--and then he got lost. That was all there was
to it--he was hopelessly lost! The path didn’t behave at all as the
one he was looking for. It went through a long stretch of woods with
shattered trees lying this way and that; then it crossed a field of
grain, and then it plunged down into a ravine, and climbed to the
other side, and up a ridge and down again. “Hell!” said Jimmie to
himself. And if you could imagine all the noises in all the
boiler-factories in America, you would have something less than the
racket in that wood through which Jimmie was wandering, saying
“Hell!” to himself.


He got to the top of the ridge, puffing and panting and dripping
perspiration; and there suddenly he jumped from his machine and ran
with it behind a tree-trunk and stood anxiously peering out. There
were men ahead; and what sort of men? Jimmie tried to remember the
pictures of Germans he had seen, and did they look like this? The
air was full of smoke, which made it hard to decide; but gradually
Jimmie made out one group, dragging a machine-gun on wheels; they
placed it behind a ridge of ground, and began to shoot in the
direction of Germany. So Jimmie advanced, but with hesitation, not
wanting to interfere with the aiming of the gun, which was making a
noise like a riveting machine, only faster and louder. It had a big
round cylinder for a barrel, and the men were feeding it with long
strips of cartridges out of a box, and were so intent on the process
that they paid no attention whatever to Jimmie. He stood and stared,
spellbound. For these creatures seemed not men, but hairy monsters
out of caves-ragged, plastered with mud, grimed and smoke-blackened,
with their faces drawn, their teeth shining like the teeth of angry
dogs. Jimmie forgot all about the enemy, he saw only this roaring,
flame-vomiting machine and the men who were a part of it.

Suddenly one of the men leaped up, a little hairier and a little
blacker than the rest, and shouted, “Ah derry-air! Ah derry-air!”
 And the gun stopped roaring and vomiting flame, and the men laid
hold and began to tug and strain to draw it back. The leader
continued exhorting them; until suddenly an amazing thing
happened--right in the midst of his shouting, the whole of his mouth
and lower jaw disappeared. You did not see what became of it--it
just vanished into nothingness, and there in the place of it was a
red cavern, running blood. The man stood with his startled eyes
shining white in his black and hairy face, and gurgling noises
coming out--as if he thought he was still shouting, or could if he
tried harder.

The others paid not the least attention to this episode; they
continued tugging at the gun. And would you believe it, the man with
no mouth and jaw fell to helping again! The wheels struck a rise in
the ground, and he waved his hands in impotent excitement, and then
rushed at Jimmie, exposing to the horrified little machinist the
full ghastliness of that red cavern running blood.

Jimmie tried his magic formula: “Botteree Normb Cott.” But the man
waved his hands frantically and grabbed Jimmie by the arm--the very
incarnation of that Monster of Militarism which the little machinist
had been dodging for four years! He pushed Jimmie towards the gun,
and the other men shouted: “Asseestay!” So of course there was
nothing for Jimmie to do but lay hold and tug with the rest.

Presently they got the wheels to moving, and rolled the thing up the
ridge. A wagon came bumping through the woods, and the men at the
gun gave a gasp which was meant to be a cheer, and one of them laid
hold of Jimmie again, crying: “Portay! Portay!” He dragged out a
heavy box and loaded it into Jimmie’s arms and carried another
himself, and so in a few moments the machine-gun was drumming, and
Jimmie went on carrying boxes. The men who were driving the wagon
leaped upon the horses and drove away; and still Jimmie carried
boxes, blindly, desperately. Was it because he was afraid of the
little French demon who was shouting at him? No, not exactly,
because when he went back with a box he saw the little demon
suddenly double up like a jack-knife and fall forward. He did not
make a sound, he did not even kick; he lay with his face in the dirt
and leaves--and Jimmie ran back for another box.


He did it because he understood that the Germans were coming. He had
not seen them; but when the gun fell silent he heard whining sounds
in the air, as if from a litter of elephantine puppies. Sometimes
the twigs of trees fell on him, the dirt in front of him flew up
into his face; and always, of course, everywhere about him was that
roar of bursting shells which he had come to accept as a natural
part of life. And suddenly another man went down, and another--there
were only two left, and one of them signalled to Jimmie what to do,
and Jimmie did not say a word, he just went to work and learned to
run a machine-gun by the method favoured by modern educators--by

Presently the man who was aiming the gun clapped his hand to his
forehead and fell backwards. Jimmie was at his side, and the gun was
shooting--so what more natural than for Jimmie to move into position
and look along the sights? It was a fact that he had never aimed any
sort of gun in his life before; but he was apt with machinery--and
disposed to meddle into things, as we know.

Jimmie looked along the sights; and suddenly it seemed as if the
line of distant woods leaped into life, the bushes vomiting grey
figures which ran forward, and fell down, and then leaped up and ran
and fell down again. “Eel vienn!” hissed the man at Jimmie’s side.
So Jimmie moved the gun here and there, pointing it wherever he saw
the grey figures.

Did he kill any Germans? He was never entirely sure in his own mind;
always the idea pursued him that may be he had been making a fool of
himself, shooting bullets into the ground or up into the air--and
the poilus at his side thinking he must know all about it, because
he was one of those wonderful Americans who had come across the seas
to save la belle France! The Germans kept falling, but that proved
nothing, for that was the method of their advance, anyway, and
Jimmie had no time to count and see how many fell and how many got
up again. All he knew was that they kept coming--more and more of
them, and nearer and nearer, and the Frenchmen muttered curses, and
the gun hammered and roared, until the barrel grew so hot that it
burned. And then suddenly it stopped dead!

“Sockray!” cried the two Frenchmen, and began frantically working to
take the gun to pieces; but before they had worked a minute one of
them clapped his hand to his side and fell back with a cry, and a
second later Jimmie felt a frightful blow on his left arm, and when
he tried to lift it and see what was wrong, half of it hung loose,
and blood ran out of his sleeve!


That was too much for the remaining Frenchman. He caught Jimmie by
the other arm, exclaiming “Vennay! Vennay!” Apparently that meant to
run away; Jimmie didn’t want to run away, but the Frenchman
chattered so fast, and tugged so hard, and Jimmie was half-dazed
anyhow with pain, so he let himself be dragged back. And presently
they came to a dead soldier lying with a gun by his side, and the
Frenchman grabbed the gun and unstrapped the cartridge belt, and
then threw himself down behind a big rock. Jimmie remembered the
automatic which he had strapped at his waist; he held it out to the
Frenchman, shaking his head and saying, “No savvy! No work!”--as if
he thought the Frenchman would understand bad English better than
good English! But the Frenchman understood the head-shaking, and
showed Jimmie how to move the little catch which released the
trigger for firing. With hasty fingers he tore off the sleeve of
Jimmie’s shirt, and bound up his arm tightly with a bandage from his
kit; then he raised up over the rock and cursed the sockray Bosh and
began to fire. Jimmie got up the nerve to peer out, and there were
the grey figures, much nearer now, and he knew they were Germans
because they were like the pictures he had seen. They were running
at him, firing as they came, and Jimmie fired his revolver, shutting
his eyes because he was scared of it. But then, finding that it
behaved all right, he fired again, and this time he did not close
his eyes, because he saw a big German running straight towards him,
the fury of battle in his face. It was plain what this German meant
to do--to leap on Jimmie with his sharp bayonet; and somehow Jimmie
never once thought of his pacifist arguments--he fired, and saw the
German fall, and was murderously glad at the sight.

There were shots from behind him; apparently there had been a lot of
Frenchmen hidden in these woods, and the enemy was not finding it
easy to advance. Jimmie’s companion jumped up and ran again, and
Jimmie followed, and a hundred yards or so back they came to a
shell-hole with half a dozen poilus in it. Jimmy tumbled in, and the
men chattered at him, and gave him more cartridges, so that when the
Germans appeared again he did his part. A bullet took a lump of hair
off his temple, and shrapnel exploding near by almost split his
ear-drums; but still he went on shooting. His heart was really in
the job now, he was going to stop these Bosh or bust. With five
Frenchmen, two of them wounded, he held the shell-hole for an hour;
one of them ran back and staggered up with a supply of ammunition,
and loaded up a rifle for Jimmie, and laid it so that he could
manage it with one hand. So Jimmie went on shooting, half-dead,
half-blind, half-choked with powder smoke.

The sockray Bosh made another charge, and this was the end, every
man in the shell-hole knew. There were literally swarms of the grey
figures, their bullets came like a shower of hail. Jimmie decided to
wait till the enemy was near enough for him to aim the revolver with
effect. He crouched, watching a Frenchman with the life-blood oozing
out of a hole in his chest; then he raised up and emptied his
automatic, and still there were Germans rushing on.

Jimmie was so very tired now, he really did not care very much what
happened; he knelt in the hole, looking up, and suddenly he saw the
huge figure of a German looming above him, his rifle poised. Jimmie
closed his eyes and waited for the blow, and suddenly the German
came down with a crash on top of him.

Jimmie thought for sure he must be dead; he lay wondering, was this
immortality? But it did not seem like either heaven or hell as he
had imagined them, and gradually he realized that the German was
writhing and moaning. Jimmie wriggled from under, and looked up,
just in time to see another German loom over the shell-hole and
pitch forward and hit on his face.

It was evident that somebody farther back was attending to these
Germans; so Jimmie lay still, with a feeble flicker of hope in his
heart. The rattle of shots went on, a battle that lasted ten or
fifteen minutes, but Jimmie was too tired to peer out and see how
matters were going. Presently he heard someone running up behind
him, and he looked around and up, and saw two men jump into the
shell-hole. He took one glance, and his heart leaped. The doughboys!


Yes, sir, there were two doughboys in the shell-hole! Jimmie had
seen so many tens of thousands of them that he had no doubt.
Compared with the war-battered poilus, they were like soldiers out
of a fashion-plate: smooth-shaven, with long chins and thin lips,
and a thousand other details which made you realize that home was
home, and better than any other place in the world. And oh, the
beautiful business-like precision of these fashion-plate soldiers!
They never said a word, they never even glanced about; they just
threw themselves down at the edge of the shell-hole, and leaned
their rifles over and set to work. You didn’t need to see--you could
tell from the look on these men’s faces that they were hitting

Presently came two more, leaping in. Without so much as as a nod of
greeting, they settled down and went to shooting; and when they had
used up most of their cartridges, one of them got up and shouted to
the rear, and there came a man running with a fresh supply in a big

Later on came three more with rifles. Apparently there were not so
many Germans now, for these new-comers found time for words. “They
told us to hold a line back there,” said one. “But hell!”

“There’s more Huns up ahead,” said another. “Let’s get ‘em.”

“Just as well now as later,” said a third.

“You stay behind and get that finger tied up,” said the first
speaker; but the other told him to go and get his own fingers tied

Then one of them looked about and spied Jimmie. “Why, here’s a
Yank!” he cried. “What you doin’ here?”

Jimmie answered: “I’m a motor-cycle man, and they sent me with maps
for a battery, but I think it’s been captured long ago.”

“You’re wounded,” said the other.

“It ain’t much,” said Jimmie, apologetically. “It was a long time
ago, anyhow.”

“Well, you go back,” said the doughboy. “We’re here now--it’ll be
all right.” He said it, not boastingly, but as a simple matter of
fact. He was a mere boy, a rosy-cheeked kid with a little ugly
pug-nose covered with freckles, and a wide, grinning mouth. But to
Jimmie he seemed just the loveliest boy that had ever come out of
the U.S.A. “Can you walk?” he asked.

“Sure!” said Jimmie.

“And these Frenchies?” The doughboy looked at the others. “You savvy
their lingo?” When Jimmie shook his head, he turned to the
battle-worn hairy ones. “You fellows go back,” he said. “We don’t
need you now.” When they stared uncomprehending, he asked: “Polly
voo Francy?”

“We, we!” cried they in one voice.

“Well, then,” said the doughboy, “go back! Go home! Toot sweet! Have
sleep! Rest! We lick ‘em Heinies!” As the poilus did not show much
grasp of this kind of “Francy”, the doughboy boosted them to their
feet, pointed to the rear, patted them on the back, and grinned with
his wide mouth. “Good boy! Go home! American! American!”--as if that
was enough to make clear that the work of France in this war was
done! The poilus looked over the top of the shell-hole, and saw a
swarm of those new fashion-plate soldiers, darting forward through
the woods, throwing themselves down and shooting at the sockray
Bosh. They looked at the rosy-cheeked boy with the grateful faces of
dogs, and shouldered their packs and rifles and set out for the
rear, helping Jimmie, who suddenly found himself very weak, and with
a splitting headache.


These doughboys had a song that Jimmie had heard all the time: “The
Yanks are coming!” And now the song needed to be rewritten: “The
Yanks are here!” All these woods through which Jimmie had blundered
with his motor-cycle were now swarming with nice, new, clean-shaven,
freshly-tailored soldier-boys, turned loose to get their first
chance at the Hun. Four years they had been reading about him and
hating him, a year and a half they had been getting ready to hit
him--and now at last they were turned loose and told to go to it!
Back on the roads was an endless procession of motor-trucks, with
doughboys, and also marines, or “leather-necks”, as they were
called. They had started at four o’clock that morning, and ridden
all day packed in like sardines; and here, a mile or two back in the
woods, the trucks had come to a halt, and the sardines had jumped
out and gone into this war!

Jimmie did not realize till long afterwards what a world-drama he
had been witnessing. For four months the Beast had been driving at
Paris; irresistibly, incessantly, eating his way like a forest fire,
spreading ever wider and more fearful desolation--this Beast with
the Brains of an Engineer! The world had shuddered and held its
breath, knowing that if he got to Paris it would mean the end of the
war, and of all things that free men value. And now here he made his
last supreme rush, and the French lines wavered and cracked and gave
way; and so in this desperate crisis they had brought up the
truck-loads of doughboys for their first real test against the

The orders had been to hold at all hazards; but that had not been
enough for the doughboys, they and the leather-necks had seized the
offensive and sent the Germans reeling back. The very pride of the
Prussian army had been worsted by these new troops from overseas, at
whom they had mocked, whose very existence they had scouted.

It was a blow from which “Fritz” never recovered; he never gained
another foot, and it was the beginning of a retreat that did not
stop until it reached the Rhine. And the Yanks had done it--the
Yanks, with the help of Jimmie Higgins! For Jimmie had got there
first; Jimmie had held the fort while the Yanks were coming! Yes,
truly; if he hadn’t stuck by that machine-gun and helped to work it,
if he hadn’t hid in that shell-hole, emptying the contents of a
rifle and an automatic pistol into the charging Huns, if he hadn’t
held them up that precious hour--why, they might have swept over
this position, and the Yanks might not have had a chance to deploy,
and the victory of “Chatty Terry” might not have gone resounding
down the ages! The whole course of the world’s history might have
been different, if one little Socialist machinist from Leesville,
U.S.A., had not chanced to be wandering through “Bellow Wood” in
search of a fabulous and never-discovered “Botteree Normb Cott!”




But these exultations and glory-thoughts were reserved for a later
stage of Jimmie Higgins’s life. At present he was weak, and his head
was splitting, and his left arm burning like fire. And on top of
this came a happening so strange that it drove the whole battle from
his thoughts. He was walking on a path with his French companions,
when one of them noticed a man in a French uniform lying on the
ground a little way to one side. He was not a soldier, but a
hospital-orderly or stretcher-bearer, as you could tell by the white
bandage with a red cross on his arm. He had been shot through the
shoulder, and someone had plugged up the wound and left him; so now
the French soldiers helped him to his feet and started to lead him
back. Jimmie watched them, and when he saw the man’s face, the
conviction stole over him that he had seen that face before. He had
seen it, or one incredibly like it--and under circumstances of
intense emotion. The old emotion stirred in the depths of his
subconsciousness, and suddenly it burst to the surface, an explosion
of excitement. It could not be! The idea was absurd! But--it must
be! It was! The wounded French stretcher-bearer was Lacey Granitch!

The young heir of the Empire Machine Shops might never have known
the little Socialist machinist; but recognition was so evident on
Jimmie’s face, that Lacey was set groping in his own mind. Now and
then as the party walked along he stole an uneasy glance at his
fellow-countryman; and presently when they struck a road, and sat
down to rest and wait for a vehicle of some sort, Lacey put himself
beside Jimmie and began: “You’re the fellow that was in the house
that night, aren’t you?”

Jimmie nodded; and the young lord of Leesville looked at him
uneasily, looked away, and then looked back. “I’ve got something I
want to ask you,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“Don’t give me away.”

“How do you mean?”

“Don’t tell who I am: There’s no reason why anybody should know. I’m
trying to get away from it.”

“I see,” said Jimmie. “I won’t tell.”

“You promise?”


Then was a silence. Then suddenly, with no reason that Jimmie could
see, the other exclaimed: “You’ll tell!”

“But I won’t!” protested Jimmie. “What makes you say so?”

“You hate me!”

Jimmie hesitated, as if investigating his own mind. “No,” he said,
“I don’t hate you--not any more.”

“God!” exclaimed the other. “You don’t need to--I’ve paid all I

Jimmie studied his face. Yes, you could see that was true. Not
merely was Lacey haggard, his features drawn with the pain he was
enduring; there were lines in his face that had not been put there
by a few days of battle, nor even by a couple of years of war. He
looked twenty years older than the insolent young aristocrat whom
Jimmie had seen hurling defiance at the Empire strikers.

His eyes were searching Jimmie’s anxiously, pleadingly. “I had to
get away,” he said. “I couldn’t face it--everybody staring at me,
grinning at me behind my back! I tried to enlist in the American
army, but they wouldn’t have me--not to do any sort of work. So I
came to France, where they need men badly--they let me carry a
stretcher. I’ve been through it all now--more than a year. I’ve been
wounded twice before, but I can’t seem to get killed, no matter
where I go. It’s the fellows that want to live that get killed--damn

The speaker paused, as if seeing visions of the men whom he had seen
die when they wanted to live. When he went on, it was in a voice of
humble entreaty. “I’ve tried to pay for my blunders. All I ask now
is to be let alone, and not have everybody gossiping about me.
That’s fair, isn’t it!”

Jimmie answered: “I give you my word--I won’t tell a soul about it.”

“Thank you,” said Lacey; and then, after a moment’s pause, “My name
is Peterson. Herbert Peterson.”


A truck came along and gave them a lift to the nearest
dressing-station: a couple of tents with big red crosses on them,
and a couple more being put up, and motor-cars bringing nurses and
supplies, and others with loads of wounded, French and American.
Jimmie was so weak now that he hardly cared about anything; he took
his place in a row of wounded men, waiting patiently, trying not to
make a fuss, because this was war, and the Hun had to be licked, and
everybody was doing his best. He lay down on the ground, and shut
his eyes; and gradually there came to him a familiar odour. At first
he thought it was the product of his imagination--because he had
just met Lacey Granitch, and had been reminded of the night when he
and Lizzie had crouched in the room of the lonely farm-house and
listened to the sounds and smelled the odour through the door. And
presently Jimmie heard the very same sounds from the tent--moans and
shrieks, babbling as of insane men. How strange that both times when
he smelt this odour and heard these cries he should be with the
young master of the Empire Shops!

Jimmie’s turn came, and they led him into the tent, making short
work of him--merely ascertaining that no artery was cut and that he
would not bleed to death, and then tagging him for the brigade
hospital. They loaded him into a truck with a score of other
“sitting cases”, including Lacey Granitch, and treated him to a long
ride which he did not at all enjoy. At the hospital, which was a big
group of tents, now swarming with activity, Jimmie waited his turn
again--so many wounds all at once, and so few to tend them!

At last he was led into the operating-place; the first sight that
greeted his eyes being a couple of orderlies carrying out a tub
filled with sawed-off arms and legs and miscellaneous fragments of
men. There was a surgeon with a white costume smeared with blood,
and a white mask over his face, and several nurses with white masks
also. Nobody greeted him, or stopped for preliminaries--they laid
him on the operating-table, and covered all but his shattered arm
with a rubber sheet, and slit off his bandages, and then a nurse put
someting over his face and said, “Breathe deeply, please.”

It was that ghastly odour again, but overpowering now. Jimmie
breathed, and everything began to rock and swim, his head began to
roar, worse than when he had fought the machine-gun. He could not
stand any more of it; he cried and struggled to get loose, but they
had strapped his feet, and someone held his other arm, so his
frantic efforts were of no avail.

He began to fall; head over heels he went tumbling, into vast
bottomless abysses-down, down, down. He heard a strange voice
saying: “Their collars are too tight.” The words rang in his ears,
they assumed monstrous and overwhelming significance, they became a
whole universe by themselves--“Their collars are too tight!” All the
rest of creation ceased, the lamp of being went out; there remained
only a voice, pronouncing amid whirling infinities: “Their collars
are too tight!”


Somewhere in the vast spaces of chaos was a snore. Then ages
afterwards, out of the void there arose a mysterious forgotten
effort to get something out of a choking throat. After several such
unaccountable manifestations, the feeble flame of consciousness that
called itself Jimmie Higgins flickered up, and he realized that it
was he who was trying desperately not to be choked. Also he realized
that he was become one horrible pain; somebody had driven a nail
through his arm, and fastened him tight to the ground by it; also
they had blown up his stomach, so that it was threatening to burst,
and when he choked, it was an agony. He gasped for help, but no one
paid any attention to him; he was all alone in the dungeon-house of
pain, buried and forgotten for ever.

Gradually he emerged from the misty regions of anaesthesia, and
realized that he was on a stretcher, and being carried. He moaned
for water, but no one would give it to him. He pleaded that there
was something dreadful wrong with him, he was going to burst inside;
but they told him that was only ether gas, and not to worry, he
would soon be all right. They laid him on a cot in a room, one of a
long row, and left him to wrestle with demons all alone. This was
war, and a man who had only a shattered arm might count himself
among the lucky.

So through a night and a day Jimmie lay and made the best of a bad
situation. There were two nurses in this tent, and Jimmie, having
nothing to do but watch them, conceived a bitter rage at them both.
One was lean and angular and sallow; she went about her duties
grimly, with no nonsense, and Jimmie did not realize that she was
ready to drop with exhaustion. The other was pretty, with fluffy
yellow hair, and was flirting shamelessly with a young doctor.
Perhaps Jimmy should have reflected that men were being killed
rapidly these days, and it was necessary that some should concern
themselves with supplying the future generations; but Jimmie was in
no mood to probe the philosophy of flirtation--he remembered the
Honourable Beatrice Clendenning, and wished he was back in Merrie
England. Also he remembered his pacifist principles, and wished he
had kept out of this hellish war!

But his pain became somewhat less, and they loaded him into an
ambulance and took him farther back, to a big base hospital. Here,
before long, he was able to sit up, and to be wheeled out into the
sunshine, and to discover the unguessed raptures of
convalescence--the amazing continuous appetite, the amazing
continuous supply of good things to eat and drink; the bliss of
looking at trees and flowers, and listening to the singing of birds,
and telling other people how you rode out on a motor-cycle to look
for “Botteree Normb Cott”--what the hell was that, anyhow?--and ran
into the whole Hun army, and held it up for a couple of hours, and
won the battle of Chatty Terry all alone!


One of the first persons Jimmie saw was Lacey Granitch, and Lacey
took him off to a corner of the park and said, “You haven’t told

“No, Mr. Granitch,” said Jimmie.

“My name is Peterson,” said Lacey.

“Yes, Mr. Peterson,” said Jimmie.

It was a strange acquaintance between these two, chosen from the
opposite poles of social life, and brought together in the democracy
of pain. Jimmie had the young lord of Leesville down, and might have
walked on his face; but strange as it might seem, Jimmie took
towards him an attitude of timid humility. Jimmie felt that he had
betrayed him to a cruel and hideous vengeance; moreover, in spite of
all his revolutionary fervours, Jimmie could not forget that he was
talking to one of the masters of the world. You might hate with all
your soul the prestige and power that went with the Granitch
millions, but you couldn’t be indifferent to it, you could never
feel natural in the presence of it.

As for Lacey, he was no longer the proud, free, rich young
aristocrat; he had suffered, and learned respect for his fellowmen,
regardless of money. He heard how this little Socialist machinist,
whom once he had cursed in a herd of strikers, had ridden into the
jaws of death and helped to nail the Beast through the snout. So he
wanted to know about him, and these two sat conversing for hours,
each of them discovering a new world.

Just now all Europe and America were engaged in furious argument on
the subject of the Bolsheviki. Had they betrayed democracy to the
Hun, or were they, as they claimed, leading the way for mankind to a
newer and broader kind of democracy? Lacey, of course, believed the
former--everyone in the American army believed it, and in fact
everybody in France, except a few dyed-in-the-wool reds. When Lacey
found that Jimmie was one of these reds, he questioned him, and they
had it hot and heavy for days. How could men have done what Lenin
and Trotzky had done, unless they were paid German agents? So Jimmie
had to set forth the theory of internationalism; the Bolsheviki were
making propaganda in Germany, they were doing more to break the
power of the Kaiser than even the Allied armies. How did Jimmie know
that? He didn’t know the details, of course, but he knew the soul of
internationalism; he could tell what Lenin and Trotzky were doing,
because he knew what he would be doing, were he in their place!

They talked on and on, and the young lord of Leesville, who would
some day fall heir to an enormous fortune, and had been trained to
think of it as his by every right, human and divine, heard a little
runt of a machinist from the shops explain how he was going to seize
that mass of property--he and the rest of his fellows combined into
one big union--and how they were going to run it, not for Lacey’s
benefit, but for the benefit of all society. Jimmie forgot all
respect for persons when he got on this theme; this was his dream,
this was the proletariat expropriating the expropriators, and he
told about it with shining eyes. In time past the young lord of
Leesville would have answered him with insolent serenity, perhaps
with a threat of machine-guns; but now he said hesitatingly that it
was a large programme, and he feared it couldn’t be made to work.


He was moved to question Jimmie about his past life, so as to
understand how such fanaticism had come to be. So Jimmie told about
starvation and neglect, about overwork and unemployment, about
strikes and jails and manifold oppressions. The other listened,
nodding his head. “Yes, of course, that was enough to drive any man
to extremes.” And then, thinking further, “I wonder”, said he,
“which of us two got the worse deal from life.”

Jimmie was without means of understanding that remark, Lacey had had
everything, hadn’t he? To which Lacey answered, “I had too much, and
you had too little; and which is worse for a man?”

By way of making clear what was in his mind, he told Jimmie a little
about his own life. He pictured a big household, with a father beset
by business cares, and turning over the managing of his home to
employees. “My mother was a fool,” said Lacey. “I suppose it sounds
bad for a man to say that, but I’ve known it all my life. Maybe the
old man was too busy to look up a woman with sense--or maybe he
didn’t believe there were any. Anyhow, my mother’s idea was to be
seen spending more money than any other woman in town; that was her
‘position’, and her children were part of the show--we must wear
more clothes and bully more servants than anybody else’s children.
I’ve thought it all out--I’ve had lots of opportunity for thinking
of late. I can’t remember when I didn’t hit my nurse in the face if
she tried to take away a toy from me. I never had to ask for
anything twice--if I did, I went into a tantrum and got it. I
learned to smoke and to drink wine, and then came the women--the
women finished me, as you know.”

He paused; and Jimmie nodded sympathetically, remembering the story
of the eight chorus-girls about whom “Wild Bill” had read out in the

“It’s hell for a boy to have a lot of money,” said Lacey, “and to be
preyed on by women. You have your human emotions, of course--you’re
absolutely compelled to believe in some women; and they’re all
perfectly cold-blooded--at least the kinds that a rich boy meets. I
don’t mean only adventuresses--I mean the society-girls, the ones
you’re supposed to marry. Their damned old harpies of mothers are
pushing behind them, of course--laying out everything they own for
clothes, and not knowing how they can pay the bills for last season.
They set out to catch you, they’re mad with the determination, they
don’t care about reputation, they’ll do any damned thing. You take
them out in your car, and then they want to get out and pick
flowers, and they draw you into the woods, and presently you’ve got
hold of their hands, and then you’re hugging and kissing them, and
then you go the limit. But then you’ve got to marry them; and when
they find you won’t, they have hysterics, and say they’re going to
shoot their heads off; only they don’t shoot their heads off, they
kiss you some more, and borrow your diamond scarf-pin and forget to
return it.”

The young lord of Leesville fell silent. Sombre memories possessed
him, and Jimmie, darting a swift glance at him, saw the look of
weary age on his face. “I’ve never talked with anybody about what
happened at the end,” said he, “and I never mean to; but I’ll say
this much--the time I loved a married woman was the only honest love
I ever had, because she was the only woman who wasn’t looking to
marry me!”

That was, of course, too subtle for a man like Jimmie Higgins. But
this much the little Socialist got--that the heir of the Granitch
fortune had been in truth a miserably unhappy mortal. And this was
an extraordinary revelation to Jimmie, who had taken it for granted
that the rich were the lucky ones of earth. He had hated them on the
supposition that they were without care; they were the Lotus-eaters,
of whom the poet wrote that they

                                              “live and lie reclined
    On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind,
    For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl’d
    Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl’d
    Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world:

    Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands,
    Blight of famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery
    Clanging fights and flaming towns, and sinking ships and pray-
           ing hands.
    But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song
    Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong.
    Like a tale of little meaning tho’ the words are strong;
    Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil,
    Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil,
    Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil.

But now Jimmie had crossed the social chasm, he had seen the other
side of the problem of riches and poverty. After that revelation, he
would be more merciful in his judgements of his fellow-mortals; he
would understand that the system in which we are trapped makes true
happiness impossible--for those who have too much as well as for
those who have too little.




While Jimmie wandered through the streets of this French town,
letting his broken arm get strong again, the death-grapple of the
war continued. In mid-July the Germans made a last desperate lunge
at the Marne; they were stopped dead in a couple of days by the
French and Americans combined; and then the Allied
commander-in-chief struck back, smashing in the side of the German
salient, and driving the enemy, still fighting furiously, but moving
back from the soil of France. All France caught its breath with
excitement, with relief mingled with dread. So many times they had
hoped, through these four weary, hideous years, and so many times
their hopes had been dashed! But this time there was no mistake--it
was really the turning of the tide. The enemy resisted at every
step, but he went on moving out of the salient, and the Allies went
on lunging--now here, now there, see--sawing back and forth, and
keeping their opponents bewildered.

Jimmie read about it in the army paper, the Stars and Stripes; and
now, for the first time in four years, Jimmie’s mind was one mind on
the war. Jimmie was on the field of every battle, his teeth set, his
hands clenched, his whole soul helping at the job. He had got over
the disorders of anaesthesia, and was forgetting the shock of his
wound; he had realized that wounds, and even death, were something a
man could bear--not cheerfully, of course, not lightly, but you
could bear them, if only you knew that the Beast was being put out
of business.

In the old days the word German had meant to Jimmie fellows like
Meissner and Forster and Schneider; but now it meant a huge grey
form looming over the edge of a shell-hole, its face distorted with
hate, its bayonet poised to plunge. Perhaps the most vivid
impression of Jimmie’s whole life was the relief he had felt when he
realized that some doughboy had shot a bullet into that looming
figure. Let there be more doughboys, more and more, until the last
figure had been shot! Jimmie knew, of course, that the policy he had
been advocating in America had not tended to that end; if Jimmie in
Leesville had had his way, there would have been no doughboys to
rescue Jimmy at Chatty Terry! Jimmie was quite clear on that point
now, and for the time being the pacifist was dead in him.

He listened to the talk of the men in this hospital. They had all
been through the mill, they had got their wounds, light or severe,
but it had not broken their spirit--not a bit of it; there was
hardly one among them who was not hoping to get cured and to get
back into the game before it was over. That was how they took it--a
game, the most sensational, the most thrilling that a man would ever
play. These boys had been brought up on football, the principal
training and only real interest in life of some hundreds of
thousands of young Americans every year. They had brought the spirit
and the method of football with them into the army, and communicated
it to those less fortunate millions who had been neither to college
nor to high school: the team-work, the speed, the incessant,
gruelling drill, the utter, unquestioning loyalty, the persistent
searching of eager young minds for new combinations, new tricks; and
above all the complete indifference to the possibility of a broken
collar-bone or a damaged heart-valve, provided only that the game
should be won!

This army was attacking a foe who relied on machine-guns to break
formations and give time to withdraw stores and big guns to safety;
so the life of young America for the moment had become a study of
the arts of rushing machine-guns. Jimmie listened to the
conversation of the new men, and saw the technique being worked out
before his eyes. Tanks were all right, aeroplanes were all right,
when you had them; but mostly you did not have them, in time, so the
doughboy was learning to take machine-guns with the bayonet. You had
a little squad, trained like a football team, with its own system of
signals, its formations worked out by young heads put together at
night. It was a costly game--you would be lucky if a third of the
players came out alive; but if you could get one man to the
machine-gun with a bayonet, you had won the game--because he would
take the gun and turn it about on the retreating Germans, and could
kill enough of them in a minute to make up for the losses of his


Lacey Granitch’s shoulder healed, and he went back to his job. He
told Jimmie what it had meant to him to meet a Socialist; if he
could believe what Jimmie believed, he wouldn’t mind living, even
with his shame. Jimmie gave him the names of books to read, and
Lacey promised to read them; of course, Jimmie was proud and
happy--seeing a vision of the Empire Machine Shops turned over to the
control of the workers, the capitalist system committing hari-kari
in one American industry.

Jimmie got a letter from one of the working-men in the repair
station where he had last worked, telling him that the Americans had
taken over this sector, and now there was a big shop established,
and when was he coming back? But Jimmie was not so eager to come
back; working on motor-cycles did not seem a thrilling prospect to
one who had held up the whole Hun army and won the battle of Chatty
Terry. Having proven his mettle as a fighting man, Jimmie wondered
if there mightn’t be some way for him to get into the real army, and
do a real man’s work.

He wrote a letter to the officer in command of his motor-unit,
telling what had happened to him, and couldn’t it be arranged? In
reply the officer said that he would have an investigation made, and
if Jimmie’s story could be verified, he would have honourable
mention, and promotion of some sort. And sure enough, a month later,
when Jimmie was ready to leave the hospital, came official notice
that he was promoted to be a sergeant of motor-transport, and
ordered to report to headquarters in a certain harbour on the
English Channel for assignment. Sergeant Jimmie Higgins!

Jimmie reported, of course, and was put in charge of a dozen
cyclists and repair men, newly arrived on a transport. These men
looked up to Jimmie as a veteran and hero, and Jimmie, who had never
enjoyed authority in his life before--except you count Jimmie Junior
and the two kids--may have had his head turned just a little bit.
But there was real work to be done, and no time for strutting. There
was excitement in the air, wild rumour and speculation; this little
unit of Jimmie’s, composed of specially fit men, was going somewhere
on a special errand--an expedition, evidently by sea. Nobody was
told where--that wasn’t the way in the army; but presently there
were issued sheepskin-lined coats and heavy wool-lined boots--in the
middle of August! So they knew that they were bound for the Far
North, and for some time. Could it be a surprise attack in the
Baltic? Either that, said the wiseheads, or else Archangel. Jimmie
had never heard of this latter place, and had to ask about it. It
appeared that the Allies had landed enormous masses of stores at
this port in far Northern Russia; and now that the Russians had
dropped out of the war, the Germans were threatening to take

Jimmie was thrilled to the soles of his new wool-lined boots. He was
going to Russia, going to see the revolution! Jimmie had but a vague
idea of world-conditions now, for during the past three or four
months he had been reading only official papers, which confined
their attention to the job, and carefully omitted mention of
difficulties and complications. The people with whom he talked
insisted that it was necessary for the Allies to do something to
counter the Brest-Litovsk treaty; if the Germans were allowed to
take possession of helpless Russia and use it for their purposes,
they might hold out for another hundred years. The Russian people
themselves must realize this, and welcome Allied help! Jimmie wasn’t
sure on this latter point, but he remembered the Rabin brothers and
their enthusiasm for the Allied cause, so he put his doubts to
sleep, and helped get his motor-unit stowed on board a transport.


There came a passage across the North Sea and up the coast of
Norway; a region of fogs and restless winds, and incessant deadly
peril of submarine and mine. There were three transports in the
expedition, and a couple of warships convoying them, and half a
dozen destroyers weaving their foam patterns in and out. Every day
the air grew colder, and the period of daylight shorter; they were
entering the Land of the Midnight Sun, but at the time of year when
midnight noons were approaching. The men had plenty of time for
reading and talk; so Jimmie discussed the war from the Socialist
point of view, defending the Russian revolutionists; and so, as
usual, he made somebody angry, and got himself and his seditious
opinions reported.

Lieutenant Gannet was the name of Jimmie’s superior officer. He had
been a clerk in a cotton-mill before the war, and had never had the
exercise of authority. Now he had to learn suddenly to give orders,
and his idea of doing it was to be extremely sharp and imperative.
He was a deeply conscientious young man, keen on the war, and
willing to face any hardship or peril in fulfilment of his duty; but
Jimmie could not have been expected to appreciate that--all Jimmie
knew was that his superior had a way of glaring from behind his
spectacles as if he was sure that someone was lying to him.

Lieutenant Gannet didn’t ask what Jimmie had said; he told Jimmie
what he had said, and informed him that that kind of talk wasn’t
going on in the army while he was in hearing. Jimmie’s business was
to keep some motor-cycles in repair, and some cyclists on their job;
about other matters let him hold his tongue, and not try to run the
affairs of the nation. Jimmie ventured the remark that he had said
nothing but what President Wilson was saying all along. To which the
lieutenant replied that he was not interested in Sergeant Higgins’s
opinions of President Wilson’s opinions--Sergeant Higgins was to
keep his opinions to himself, or he would get into serious trouble,
So Jimmie went away, seething with indignation, as much of a rebel
as he had ever been in Local Leesville.

What were the rights of a soldier, anyway? Was he privileged to
discuss political issues, and to agree with the utterances of the
President of his country? Might he believe, as the President
believed, in a just peace and the right of all peoples to freedom
and self-determination, even though many of the officers of the army
hated and despised such ideas? Jimmie didn’t know, and there was
nobody to tell him; but Jimmie knew that he hadn’t meant to give up
his rights as a citizen when he enlisted to fight for democracy, and
if these rights were taken away from him, it would not be without a


The transports came into the region of icebergs, and low-hanging
mists, and rocky cliffs covered with snow, and flocks of seagulls
flying over them. For days and nights on end they steamed in those
Arctic waters, and came at last into the White Sea, and the harbour
of Archangel.

The Allies had been here since the beginning of the war, building
docks and sheds and railway yards; but they had never been able to
build enough, and the transport department of the corrupt Russian
government having gone to pieces, here were mountains of supplies of
every sort you could think of for an army, piled high on the shores.
At least, that was what Jimmie had been told; he had read in the
newspapers that the statement was made officially in answer to
questions in the British Parliament. Jimmie had understood that he
was here to save those mountains of supplies from the Germans, and
he was surprised when he looked about the harbour and saw no
mountains of any sort.

Back in the interior were vast trackless forests of fir-trees, and
moss-covered swamps in which in summertime a man would sink up to
his neck. Now, in September, they were already frozen solid, and you
travelled over them with a sledge and a team of reindeer, bundled up
in furs and looking, except for the whiskers, like the pictures of
Santa Claus you had seen when you were a kid. But most of the
traffic of the army was upon the rivers which cut the forests and
swamps, and the single railroad, which was being put back into

This country had, of course, no roads on which motor-cycles could be
used, even in summer. Jimmie found that his job would be confined to
the city and the encampments near about. A few streets would be kept
clear of snow, and the little band of messengers would scoot about
them, now and then taking a slide into a snow-bank and smashing
things up. That would have been all right, and Jimmie would have
bossed the job and been happy as he knew how to be--had only his
mind been at peace.

For the first few days, of course, he had no time to think, he was
as busy as an ant, getting himself and his men ashore, and setting
up their benches and tools in an iron shed, with a roaring stove at
each end, and heaps of firewood which the peasants brought on
heavy flat sledges dragged by reindeer. Jimmie and his unit worked,
not merely during the hours of daylight, but most of the hours of
darkness, not stopping for Sundays. There were five thousand men to
be got ashore with their supplies--and in a desperate rush, as if
the Germans were expected at any hour. It was some while before
Jimmie found time to go about the city, to meet the “Tommies”, who
had been here a month before him, and to hear what they had done,
and what they were expecting to do.

Jimmie had understood that this expedition was to fight the Germans;
but now he became suspicious; apparently it was to fight the
Bolsheviki! The social revolution had accomplished itself in
Archangel, and a council of working-men and peasants had been in
full control, when the British troops and sailors had made a
surprise attack and seized the port, driving the revolutionists in
confusion before them. Now they were sending an expedition up the
railroad, and another on steamers up the North Dwina river, pursuing
Russian Socialists and driving them back into frozen swamps! And
here were American troops, being hurried ashore, and outfitted and
made ready to join in what seemed to Jimmie to be warfare upon
organized working-men!

Jimmie was almost beside himself with bewilderment. It was all so
new and strange to him--and he had nobody to advise him. At home, if
there were a Socialist problem to settle, he would take it to
Meissner or Stankewitz, or Comrade Gerrity the organizer, or Comrade
Mabel Smith, the chairman of the Literature Committee. But now, in
all this expedition Jimmie did not know a single man who had any
idea of radicalism; they looked upon the Bolsheviki as mad dogs, as
traitors, criminals, lunatics, any word that seemed worst to you.
The Bolsheviki had deserted the cause of the Allies, they had gone
into league with Germany to betray Democracy; so now the Americans
had come to teach them the lesson of law and order. The Americans
looked upon themselves as an advance guard of a vast expedition
which was to march to Petrograd and Moscow, and wipe the idea of
Bolshevism off the map. And Jimmie Higgins was to help! Jimmie
Higgins, bound and gagged, lashed to the chariot of Militarism, was
to take part in destroying the first proletarian government in

The more Jimmie thought of it, the more indignant he became; he took
it as a personal outrage--a scurvy trick that had been played upon
him. He had swallowed their propaganda, he had filled himself up
with their patriotism, he had dropped everything to come and fight
for Democracy. He had gone into battle, had risked his life, had
suffered wounds and agony for them. And now they had broken their
bargain with him, they had brought him here and ordered him to fight
working-men--just as if he had been a militiaman at home! Democracy
indeed! Here they were marching in, glorying in their purpose to
conquer the Russian Revolutionists!

And Jimmie Higgins, under martial law, must obey and hold his
tongue! Jimmie thought of all his friends at home who had denounced
the military machine; he thought of Comrade Mary Allen, of Comrade
Mabel Smith, and Comrade Evelyn Baskerville and Comrade Gerrity; he
had rejected their advice, and now, if they could see what he was
doing, how they would spurn him! Jimmie writhed at the very thought;
nor was he consoled when one of the men in his company gave him an
“inside” story of what was happening here--that in order to persuade
the British to submit their armies to the control of a French
general, and thus to save the situation in France, the Americans had
been forced to submit their own armies also; and now they found
themselves ordered to march in and fight a revolutionary government
which had repudiated its debt to France, and so had given offence to
a naturally frugal people.


Jimmie met a man whom he might almost have taken for Deror Rabin, so
much did he resemble the little Jewish tailor. A big,
black-whiskered peasant brought a load of wood for the fires; and
there was a Jew helping him--a chap with a sharp face and keen
black eyes, his cheeks sunken as if he had not had enough to eat for
years, and his chest racked by a cough. He had wrapped his feet and
his hands in rags, because he had neither boots nor gloves; but he
seemed cheerful, and presently, as he dumped down a load, he nodded
and said, “Hello!”

“Hello yourself!” replied Jimmie.

“I speak English,” said the fellow.

It didn’t surprise Jimmie that anybody should speak English; he was
only surprised when they didn’t. So he smiled and said, “Sure!”

“I been in America,” went on the other. “I vork by sveat-shop in
Grand Street.”

You could see that he preferred gossiping to carrying wood; he stood
about and questioned, “Vere you vork in America?” When the peasant
grumbled at him in Russian, he went back at his job; but as he went
away, he said, “I talk vit you some time about America.” To which,
of course, Jimmie answered with a friendly assent.

A couple of hours later, when he went out from his work, he found
the little Jew waiting for him in the darkness. “I git lonesome some
time for America,” he said; and walked down the street with Jimmie,
beating his thin arms to keep warm.

“Why did you come back?” Jimmie inquired.

“I read about revolution. I tink maybe I git rich.”

“Huh!” said Jimmie, and grinned. “What did you get?”

“You belong to union in America?” countered the other.

“You bet I do!” said Jimmie.

“Vat sort of union?”


“You been on strike, maybe?”

“You bet I have!”

“You got licked, maybe?”

“You bet!”

“You don’t never scab, hey?”

“Not much!”

“You vat you call class-conscious?”

“You bet! I’m a Socialist!”

The other turned upon him, his voice trembling with sudden
excitement. “You got a red card?”

“You bet!” said Jimmie. “Right inside my coat.”

“My God!” cried the other. “A comrade!” He stretched out his hands,
which were bundled up with old gunny-sacking, to Jimmie. “Tovarish!”
 cried he. And standing there in the freezing darkness, these two
felt their hearts leap into a hot glow. Here, under the Arctic
Circle, in this wilderness of ice and desolation, even here the
spirit of international fraternity was working its miracles!

But then, shaking with excitement, the little Jew pawed at Jimmie
with his bundled hands. “If you are Socialist, vy you fight de
Russian vorkers?”

“I’m not fighting them!”

“You vear de uniform.”

“I’m only a motor-cycle man.”

“But you help! You kill de Russian people! You destroy de Soviets!

“I didn’t know about it,” pleaded Jimmie. “I wanted to fight the
Kaiser, and they brought me here without telling me.”

“Ah! So it iss vit militarism, vit capitalism! Ve are slaves! But we
vill be free! And you vill help, you vill not kill de Russian

“I will not!” cried Jimmie, quickly.

And the little stranger put his arm through Jimmie’s “You come vit
me, quick! I show you someting, tovarish!”


They threaded the dark streets till they came to a row of
working-men’s hovels, made of logs, the cracks stuffed with mud and
straw--places in which an American farmer would not have thought it
proper to keep his cattle. “So live de vorkers,” said the stranger,
and he knocked on the door of one of the hovels. It was unbarred by
a woman with several children about her skirts, and the men entered
a cabin lighted by a feeble, smoky lamp. There was a huge oven at
one side, with a kettle in which cabbage was cooking. The man said
nothing to the woman, but signed Jimmie to a seat before the oven,
and fixed his sharp black eyes on his face.

“You show me de red card?” he said, suddenly.

Jimmie took off his sheepskin-lined overcoat, and unbuttoned his
sweater underneath, and from an inside pocket of his jacket took out
the precious card with the due-stamps initialled by the secretaries
of Local Leesville and Local Hopeland and Local Ironton. The
stranger studied it, then nodded. “Good! I trust you.” As he handed
back the card he remarked, “My name is Kalenkin. I am Bolshevik.”

Jimmie’s heart bounded--though he had guessed as much, of course.
“We called our local in Ironton Bolshevik,” said he.

“Dey drive us out from here,” continued the Jew, “but I stay behind
for propaganda. I look for comrades among de Americans, de British.
I say, ‘Do not fight de vorkers, fight de masters, de capitalists.’
You understand?”

“Sure!” said Jimmie.

“If de masters find me, dey kill me. But I trust you.”

“I’ll not tell!” said Jimmie quickly.

“You help me,” went on the other. “You go to de American soldiers,
you say, ‘De Russian people have been slaves so many years; now dey
get free, and you come to kill dem and made dem slaves again!’ Vy
iss it? Vat vill dey say, tovarish?”

Jimmie answered: “They say they want to lick the Kaiser.”

“But we help to lick de Kaiser! Ve fight him!”

“They say you’ve made peace with him!”

“Ve fight vit propaganda--de vay de Kaiser fear most of all. Ve
spend millions of roubles, we print papers, leaflets--you know,
comrade, vat Socialists do. Ve send dem into Germany, we drop dem by
aeroplanes, we have printing-presses in--vat you call it, de Suisse,
de Nederland--everyvere. De Germans read, dey tink, dey say. Vy do
we fight for de Kaiser, vy do we not be free like de Russians? I
know it, tovarish, I have talked vit many German soldiers. It goes
like a fire in Germany. Maybe it take time--a year--two years--but
some day people see de Bolsheviki vere right, dey know de vorkers,
de heart of de vorkers--dey have de life, de fire dat cannot be put
out in de heart!”

“Sure,” said Jimmie. “But you can’t tell things like that to the

“My God!” said Kalenkin. “Don’t I know! I vas in America! Dey tink
dey are de people vat de good God made! Dey know everyting--you
cannot teach dem. Dey are democracy; dey have no classes;
vage-slaves--dat iss just foreign--vat you call it--scum, hey? Dey
vill shoot us--I have seen how dey beat de vorkers ven dey strike on
Grand Street.”

“I’ve been through it all,” said Jimmie. “What can we do?”

“Propaganda!” cried Kalenkin. “For de first time we have plenty
money for propaganda--all de money in Russia for propaganda!
Ever’vere in de vorld we reach de vorkers--everyvere we cry to dem:
Rise! Rise and break your chains! You tink dey vill not hear us,
tovarish! De capitalists know dey vill hear us, dey tremble, so dey
send armies to beat us. Dey tink de armies vill obey--always--is it
not so?”

“They think the Russian people will rise against you.”

At which the little man laughed, a wild hilarious laugh. “Ve have
got our own government! For de first time in Russia, de first time
in de vorld, de vorkers rule; and dey tink we rise against
ourselves! Dey put up--vat you call it--puppets, vat dey call
Socialists, dey make a government here in Archangel, vat dey call
Russian! Dey fool demselves, but dey don’t fool de Russians!”

“They think this government will spread,” said Jimmie.

“It vill spread just so far as de armies go--just so far. But in
Russia, all de people come together--all are Bolsheviki, ven dey see
de foreign armies coming. And vy, tovarish? Because dey know vat it
means ven capitalists come to make new governments for Russia. It
means bonds--de French, de British debt! You know?”

“Sure, I know,” said Jimmie.

“It is billions, fifteen billions of roubles to France alone. De
Bolsheviki have said, ‘Ve do not pay dem so quick.’ And for vy? Vat
did dey do vit dat money! Dey loaned it to de Tsar, and for vat? To
make slaves out of de Russian people, to put dem in armies and make
dem fight de Japanese, to make police-force and send hundert
thousand Russian Socialists to Siberia! Is it not so? And Russian
Socialists pay such debts? Not so quick! Ve say, ‘Ve had nothing to
do vit such money! You loaned it to de Tsar, now you collect it from
de Tsar! But dey say, ‘You must pay!’ And dey send armies, to take
de land of Russia, to take de oil and de coal and de gold. So,
tovarish! Dey vill put down de Soviets! But if so, dey must take
ever’ town, ever’ village in Russia--and all de time we make
propaganda vit de soldiers, we make it vit Frenchmen and Englishmen
and Americans, just like we make it vit Germans!”


The little man had made a long speech, and was exhausted; the
coughing seized him, and he pressed his hands to his chest, and his
white face flushed red in the firelight. The woman brought him water
to drink, and stood by him with a hand on his shoulder; her broad
peasant’s face, deeply lined with care, quivered at every spasm of
the man’s. Jimmie quivered, too, sitting there watching, and facing
in his own soul a mighty destiny. He knew the situation now, he knew
his own duty. It was perfectly plain, perfectly simple--his whole
life had been one long training for it. Something cried out in him,
in the words of another proletarian martyr, “Let this cup pass from
Me!” But he stilled the voice of his weakness, and after a while he
said: “Tell me what to do, comrade.”

Kalenkin asked, “You have made propaganda in America?”

“Sure,” said Jimmie. “I went to jail once for makin’ a speech on the

And the other went to a corner of the cabin, and dug under half a
dozen cabbages, and brought out a packet. It contained leaflets, a
couple of hundred perhaps, and the Jew handed one to Jimmie,
explaining, “Dey ask me, ‘How shall we make de Americans
understand?’ I say, ‘Dey must know how ve make propaganda vit de
Germans.’ I say, ‘Print de proclamations vat we give to de German
troops, and make English translation, so de Americans and de
Englishmen can read.’ You tink dat help?”

Jimmie took the leaflet and moved the lamp a bit nearer and read:

“Proclamation of the Army Committee of the Russian Twelfth Army
(Bolshevik), posted throughout the city of Riga during its
evacuation by the Russians:

“German Soldiers!

“The Russian soldiers of the Twelfth Army draw your attention to the
fact that you are carrying on a war for autocracy against
Revolution, freedom and justice. The victory of Wilhelm will be
death to democracy and freedom. We withdraw from Riga, but we know
that the forces of the Revolution will ultimately prove themselves
more powerful than the force of cannons. We know that in the long
run your conscience will overcome everything, and that the German
soldiers, with the Russian Revolutionary Army, will march to the
victory of freedom. You are at present stronger than we are, but
yours is only the victory of brute force. The moral force is on our
side. History will tell that the German proletarians went against
their revolutionary brothers, and that they forgot international
working-class solidarity. This crime you can expiate only by one
means. You must understand your own and at the same time the
universal interests, and strain all your immense power against
imperialism, and go hand-in-hand with us--toward life and liberty!”

Jimmie looked up.

“Vat you tink of it?” cried Kalenkin, eagerly.

“Fine!” cried Jimmie. “The very thing they need! Nobody can object
to that. It’s a fact, it’s what the Bolsheviki are doing.”

The other smiled grimly. “Tovarish, if dey find you vit dat paper,
dey shoot you like a dog! Dey shoot us all!”

“But why?”

“Because it is Bolshevik.”

Jimmie wanted to say. “But it’s true!” However, he realized how
naive that would sound. So he waited, while Kalenkin went on:

“You show it only to men you can trust. You hide de copies, you take
vun and make it dirty, so you say, ‘I find it in de street.’ See,
iss it so de Bolsheviki fight de Kaiser? If it iss so, vy do we need
to fight dem? So you give dese; and some day I come vit someting

Jimmie agreed that that was the way to set about it. He folded up a
score of the leaflets and stowed them in an inside pocket of his
jacket, and put on his heavy overcoat and gloves, which he wished he
could give to the sick, half-starved and half-frozen Bolshevik. He
patted him reassuringly on the back, and said: “You trust me,
comrade; I’ll hand them out, and they’ll bring results, too, I’ll

“You don’t tell about me!” exclaimed Kalenkin with fierce intensity.

To which Jimmie answered. “Not if they boil me alive.”




Jimmie went to supper in the mess-hall; but the piles of steaming
hot food choked him--he was thinking of the half-starved little Jew.
The thirty pieces of silver in the pocket of his army jacket burned
each a separate hole. Like the Judas of old, he wanted to hang
himself, and he took a quick method of doing it.

Next to him at the table sat a motor-cyclist who had been a union
plumber before the war, and had agreed with Jimmie that working-men
were going to get their jobs back or would make the politicians
sweat for it. On the way out from the meal, Jimmie edged this fellow
off and remarked, “Say, I’ve got somethin’ interestin’.”

Now interesting things were rare here under the Arctic Circle.
“What’s that?” asked the plumber.

“I was walkin’ on the street,” said Jimmie, “an’ I seen a printed
paper in the gutter. It’s a copy of the proclamation the Bolsheviki
have made to the German soldiers, an’ that they’re givin’ out in the
German trenches.”

“By heck!” said the plumber. “What’s in it?”

“Why, it calls on them to rise against the Kaiser--to do what the
Russians have done.”

“Can you read German?” asked the other.

“Naw,” said Jimmie. “This is in English.”

“But what’s it doin’ in English?”

“I’m sure I dunno.”

“What’s it doin’ in Archangel?”

“Dunno that either.”

“Holy Christ!” cried the plumber. “I bet them fellers are trying
their stunts on us!”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” said Jimmie, subtly. “Maybe it’s so.”

“They won’t get very far with the Yanks, I bet,” predicted the

“No, I suppose not. But, anyhow, it’s interesting, what they say.”

“Lemme see it,” said the plumber.

“But say,” said Jimmie, “don’t you tell nobody. I don’t want to get
into trouble.”

“Mum’s the word, old man.” And the plumber took the dirty scrap of
paper and read. “By God!” said he. “That’s kind o’ funny.”

“How do you mean?”

“Why, that don’t sound like them fellers were backing the Kaiser,
does it?” And the plumber scratched his head. “Say, that sounds all
right to me!”

“Me too!” said Jimmie. “Didn’t know they had that much sense.”

“It’s just what the German people ought to have, by God,” said the
plumber. “Seems to me we ought to hire fellows to give out things
like that.”

“I think so, too,” said Jimmie, enraptured.

The plumber reflected again. “I suppose,” said he, “the trouble is
they wouldn’t give it to the Germans only; they’d want to give it to
both sides.”

“Exactly!” said Jimmie, enraptured still more.

“And, of course, that wouldn’t do,” said the plumber; “that would
interfere with discipline.” So Jimmie’s hopes were dashed.

But the upshot of the interview was that the plumber said he would
like to keep the paper and show it to a couple of other fellows. He
promised again that he wouldn’t mention Jimmie, so Jimmie said all
right, and went his way, feeling one seed was lodged in good soil.


The “Y” had come to Archangel along with the rest of the expedition,
and had set up a hut, in which the men played checkers and read, and
bought chocolate and cigarettes at prices which they considered too
high. Jimmie strolled in, and there was a doughboy with whom he had
had some chat on the transport. This doughboy had been a printer at
home, and he had agreed with Jimmie that maybe a whole lot of
politicians and newspaper editors didn’t really understand President
Wilson’s radical thought, and so far as they did understand it,
hated and feared it. This printer was reading one of the popular
magazines, full of the intellectual pap which a syndicate of big
bankers considered safe for the common people. He looked bored, so
Jimmie strolled up and lured him away, and repeated his play-acting
as with the plumber--and with the same result.

Then he strolled in to see one of the picture-shows which had been
brought along to beguile the long Arctic nights for the expedition.
The picture showed a million-dollar-a-year girl doll-baby in her
habitual role, a poor little child-waif dressed in the newest
fashion and with a row of ringlets just out of a band-box, sharing
those terrible fates which the poor take as an everyday affair, and
being rewarded at the end by the love of a rich and noble and
devoted youth who solves the social problem by setting her up in a
palace. This also had met with the approval of a syndicate of
bankers before it reached the common people; and in the very midst
of it, while the child-waif with the ringlets was being shown in a
“close-up” with large drops of water running down her cheeks, the
doughboy in the seat next to Jimmie remarked, “Aw, hell! Why do they
keep on giving us this bunk?”

So Jimmie suggested that they “cut it”, and they went out, and
Jimmie played his little game a third time, and again was asked to
leave the leaflet he had picked out of the gutter.

So on for two days until Jimmie had got rid of the last of the
manifestoes which Kalenkin had entrusted to him. And on the evening
of the last day, as the subtle propagandist was about to turn into
his bunk for the night, there suddenly appeared a sergeant with a
file of half a dozen men and announced, “Higgins, you are under

Jimmie stared at him. “What for?”

“Orders--that’s all I know.”

“Well, wait--” began Jimmie; but the other said there was no wait
about it, and he took Jimmie by the arm, and one of the other men
took him by the other arm, and marched him away. A third man slung
Jimmie’s kit-bag on to his shoulder, while the rest began to search
the place, ripping open the mattress and looking for loose boards in
the floor.


It didn’t take Jimmie very long to figure out the situation. By that
time he had come into the presence of Lieutenant Gannet, he had made
up his mind what had happened, and what he would do about it.

The lieutenant sat at a table, erect and stiff, with a terrible
frown behind his glasses. He had his sword on the table and also his
automatic--as if he intended to execute Jimmie, and had only to
decide which method to use.

“Higgins,” he thundered, “where did you get that leaflet?”

“I found it in the gutter.”

“You lie!” said the lieutenant.

“No, sir,” said Jimmie.

“How many did you find.”

Jimmie had imagined this emergency, and decided to play safe.
“Three, sir,” said he; and added, “I think.”

“You lie!” thundered the lieutenant again.

“No, sir,” said Jimmie, meekly.

“Whom did you give them to?”

Jimmie hadn’t thought of that question. It stumped him. “I--I’d
rather not say,” said he.

“I command you to say,” said the lieutenant.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I couldn’t.”

“You’ll have to say before you get through,” said the other. “You
might as well understand that now. You say you found three?”

“It might have been four,” said Jimmie, playing still safer. “I
didn’t pay any particular attention to them.”

“You sympathize with these doctrines,” said the lieutenant. “Do you
deny it?”

“Why, no sir--not exactly. I sympathize with part of them.”

“And you found these leaflets in the gutter, and you didn’t take the
trouble to count whether there were three or four?”

“No, sir.”

“There couldn’t have been five?”

“I don’t know, sir--I don’t think so.”

“Certainly not six?”

“No, sir,” said Jimmie, feeling quite safe now. “I’m sure there
weren’t six.”

So the lieutenant opened a drawer in the table before him, and took
out a bunch of the leaflets, folded, wrinkled and dirt-stained, and
spread them before Jimmie’s eyes, one, two, three, four, five, six,
seven. “You lie!” said the lieutenant.

“I was mistaken, sir,” said Jimmie.

“Have you searched this man?” the officer demanded of the other

“Not yet, sir.”

“Do it now.”

They made certain that Jimmie had no weapons, and then they made him
strip to the skin. They searched everything, even prying loose the
soles of his boots; and, of course, one of the first things they
found was the red card in the inside jacket-pocket. “Aha!” cried the

“That’s a card of the Socialist party,” said Jimmie.

“Don’t you know that back home men who carry that card are being
sent to jail for twenty years?”

“It ain’t fer carryin’ the card,” said Jimmie, sturdily.

There was a pause, while Jimmie got his clothes on again. “Now,
Higgins,” said the lieutenant, “you have been caught red-handed in
treason against your country and its flag. The penalty is death.
There is just one way you can escape--by making a clean breast of
everything. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then tell me who gave you those leaflets?”

“I’m sorry, sir, I found them in the gutter.”

“You intend to stick to that silly tale?”

“It’s the truth, sir.”

“You will protect your fellow-conspirators with your life?”

“I have told you all I know, sir.”

“All right,” said the lieutenant. He took a pair of handcuffs from
the drawer and saw them put on Jimmie. He picked up his sword and
his automatic--and Jimmie, who did not understand military
procedure, stared with fright. But the lieutenant was merely
intending to strap the weapons on to his belt; then he got into his
overcoat and his big fur gloves and his fur hat that covered
everything but his eyes and nose, and ordered Jimmie brought along.
Outside an automobile was waiting, and the officer and the prisoner
and two guards rode to the military jail.


There was terror in the soul of the prisoner, but he did not let
anyone see it. And in the same way Lieutenant Gannet did not let
anyone see the perplexity that was in his soul. He was a military
officer, he had his stern military duty to do, and he was doing it;
but he had never put anybody in handcuffs before, and had never
taken anybody to jail before, and he was almost as much upset about
it as the prisoner.

The lieutenant had seen the terrible spectacle of Russia collapsing,
falling into ruin and humiliation, because of what seemed to him a
propaganda of treason which had been carried on in her armies; he
realized that these “mad dogs” of Bolsheviki were deliberately
conspiring to poison the other armies, to bring the rest of the
world into their condition. It seemed to him monstrous that such
efforts should be under way in the American army. How far had the
thing gone? The lieutenant did not know, and he was terrified, as
men always are in the presence of the unknown. It was his plain
duty, to which he had sworn himself, to stamp his heel upon the head
of this snake; but still he was deeply troubled. This Sergeant
Higgins had been promoted for valour in France, and had been, in
spite of his reckless tongue, a pretty decent subordinate. And
behold, here he was, an active conspirator, a propagandist of
sedition, a defiant and insolent traitor!

They came to the jail, which had been constructed by the Tsar for
the purpose of holding down the people of the region. It loomed, a
gigantic stone bulk in the darkness; and Jimmie, who had preached in
Local Leesville that America was worse than Russia, now learned that
he had been mistaken--Russia was exactly the same.

They entered through a stone gateway, and a steel door opened before
them and clanged behind them. At a desk sat a sergeant, and except
that he was British, and that his uniform was brown instead of blue,
it might have been Leesville, U.S.A. They took down Jimmie’s name
and address, and then Lieutenant Gannet asked: “Has Perkins come

“Not yet, sir,” was the reply; but at that moment the front door was
opened, and there entered a big man, bundled in an overcoat which
made him even bigger. From the first moment, Jimmie watched this man
as a fascinated rabbit watches a snake. The little Socialist had had
so much to do with policemen and detectives in his hunted life that
he knew in a flash what he was “up against”.

This Perkins before the war had been an “operative” for a private
detective agency--what the workers contemptuously referred to as a
“sleuth”. The government, having found itself in sudden need of much
“sleuthing”, had been forced to take what help it could get, without
too close scrutiny. So now Perkins was a sergeant in the secret
service; and just as the carpenters were hammering nails as at home,
and the surgeons were cutting flesh as at home, so Perkins was
“sleuthing” as at home.

“Well, sergeant?” said the lieutenant. “What have you got?”

“I think I’ve got the story, sir.”

You could see the relief in Gannet’s face; and Jimmie’s heart went
down into his boots.

“There’s just one or two details I want to make sure about,”
 continued Perkins. “I suppose you won’t mind if I question this

“Oh, not at all,” said the other. He was relieved to be able to turn
this difficult matter over to a man of decision, a professional man,
who was used to such cases and knew how to handle them.

“I’ll report to you at once,” said Perkins.

“I’ll wait,” said the lieutenant.

And Perkins took Jimmie’s trembling arm in a grip like a vice, and
marched him down a long stone corridor and down a flight of steps.
On the way he picked up two other men, also in khaki, who followed
him; the four passed through a series of underground passages, and
entered a stone cell with a solid steel door, which they clanged
behind them--a sound that was like the knell of doom to poor
Jimmie’s terrified soul. And instantly Sergeant Perkins seized him
by the shoulder and whirled him about, and glared into his eyes.
“Now, you little son-of-a-bitch!” said he.

Having been a detective in an American city, this man was familiar
with the “third degree”, whereby prisoners are led to tell what they
know, and many things which they don’t know, but which they know the
police want them to tell. Of the other two men, one Private Connor,
had had this inquisition applied to him on more than one occasion.
He was a burglar with a prison-record; but his last arrest had been
in a middle Western town for taking part in a bar-room fight, and
the judge didn’t happen to know his record, and accepted his tearful
plea, agreeing to suspend sentence provided the prisoner would
enlist to fight for his country.

The other man was named Grady, and had left a wife and three
children in a tenement in “Hell’s Kitchen”, New York, to come to
fight the Kaiser. He was a kind-hearted and decent Irishman, who had
earned a hard living carrying bricks and mortar up a ladder ten
hours a day; but he was absolutely convinced that there existed,
somewhere under his feet, a hell of brimstone and sulphur in which
he would roast for ever if he disobeyed the orders of those who were
set in authority over him. Grady knew that there were certain wicked
men, hating and slandering religion, and luring millions of souls
into hell; they were called Socialists, or Anarchists, and must
obviously be emissaries of Satan, so it was God’s work to root them
out and destroy them. Thus the Gradys have reasoned for a thousand
years; and thus in black dungeons underground they have turned the
thumb-screws and pulled the levers of the rack. They do it still in
many of the large cities of America, where superstition runs the
police-force, in combination with liquor interests and public
service corporations.


“Now, you little son-of-a-bitch,” said Perkins, “listen to me. I
been lookin’ into this business of yours, and I got the names of
most of them Bolsheviks you been dealing with. But I want to know
them all, and I’m going to know--see?”

In spite of all his terror, Jimmie’s heart leaped with exultation.
Perkins was lying! He hadn’t found out a thing! He was just trying
to bluff his prisoner, and to make his superior officer think he was
a real “sleuth”. He was doing what the police everywhere do--trying
to obtain by brutality what they cannot obtain by skill and

“Now, you’re goin’ to tell,” continued the man. “You may think you
can hold out, but you’ll find it’s no go. I’ll tear you limb from
limb if you make me--I’ll do just whatever I have to do to make you
come through. You get me?”

Jimmie nodded his head in a sort of spasm, but his effort to make a
sound resulted only in a gulp in his throat.

“You’ll only make yourself a lot of pain if you delay, so you’d
better be sensible. Now--who are they?”

“They ain’t anybody. They--”

“So that’s it? Well, we’ll see.” And the sergeant swung Jimmie
about, so as to be at his back. “Hold him,” he said to the two men,
and they grasped the prisoner’s shoulders; the sergeant grasped his
two wrists, which were handcuffed together, and began to force them
up Jimmie’s back.

“Ow!” cried Jimmie. “Stop! Stop!”

“Will you tell?” said the sergeant.

“Stop!” cried Jimmie, wildly; and as the other pushed harder, he
began to scream. “You’ll break my arm! The one that was wounded.”

“Wounded?” said the sergeant.

“It was broken by a bullet!”

“The hell you say!” said the sergeant.

“It’s true--ask anybody! The battle of Chatty Terry in France!”

For just a moment the pressure on Jimmie’s arms weakened; but then
the sergeant remembered that military men who have a career to make
do not go to their superior officers with sentimentalities. “If you
were wounded in battle,” said the sergeant, “what you turnin’
traitor for? Give me the names I want!” And he began to push again.

It was the most horrible agony that Jimmie had ever dreamed of. His
voice rose to a shriek: “Wait! Wait! Listen!” The torturer would
relax the pressure and say: “The names?” And when Jimmie did not
give the names, he would press harder yet. Jimmie writhed
convulsively, but the other two men held him as in a vice. He
pleaded, he sobbed and moaned; but the walls of this dungeon had
been made so that the owners of property outside would not be
troubled by knowing what was being done in their interest.

We go into museums and look at devilish instruments which men once
employed for the torment of their fellows, and we shudder and
congratulate ourselves that we live in more humane days; quite
overlooking the fact that it does not need elaborate instruments to
inflict pain on the human body. Any man can do it to another, if he
has him helpless. The thing that is needed is the motive--that is
to say, some form of privilege established by law, and protecting
itself against rebellion.

“Tell me the names!” said the sergeant. He had Jimmie’s two hands
forced up the back of his neck, and was lying over on Jimmie,
pushing, pushing. Jimmie was blinded with the pain, his whole being
convulsed. It was too horrible, it could not be! Anything, anything
to stop it! A voice shrieked in his soul: “Tell! Tell!” But then he
thought of the little Jew, pitiful, trusting--no, no, he would not
tell! He would never tell! But then what was he to do’? Endure this
horror? He could not endure it--it was monstrous!

He would writhe and scream, babble and plead and sob. Perhaps there
have been men who have endured torture with dignity, but Jimmie was
not one of these. Jimmie was abject, Jimmie was frantic; he did
anything, everything he could think of--save one thing, the thing
that Perkins kept telling him to do.

This went on until the sergeant was out of breath; that being one
disadvantage of the primitive hand-processes of torture to which
American police-officials have been reduced by political
sentimentalism. The torturer lost his temper, and began to shake and
twist at Jimmie’s arms, so that Connor had to warn him--he didn’t
want to break anything, of course.

So Perkins said, “Put his head down.” They bent Jimmie over till his
head was on the ground, and Grady tied Jimmie’s legs to keep them
quiet, and Connor held his neck fast, and Perkins put his foot on
the handcuffs and pressed down. By this means he could continue the
torture while standing erect and breathing freely, a great relief to
him. “Now, damn you!” said he. “I can stay here all night. Come


Jimmie thought that each moment of pain was the worst. He had never
had any idea that pain could endure so long, could burn with such a
white and searing flame. He ground his teeth together, he chewed his
tongue through, he gound his face upon the stones. Anything for a
respite--even a new kind of pain, that he might forget the screaming
ache in his shoulders and elbows and wrists. But there was no
respite; his spirit was whirled and beaten about in bottomless
abysses, and from their depths he heard the voice of Perkins, as
from a far-off mountain-top: “Come through! Come through--or you’ll
stay like this all night!”

But Jimmie did not stay like that; for Perkins got tired of standing
on one foot, and he knew that the Lieutenant was pacing about
upstairs, wondering why it took so long to ask a few questions.
Jimmie heard the voice from the far-off mountain-top: “This won’t
do; we’ll have to string him up for a bit.” And he took from his
pocket a strong cord, and tied one end about Jimmie’s two thumbs,
and ran the other end over an iron ring in the wall of the
dungeon--put there by some agent of the Tsar for use in the cause of
democracy. The other two men lifted Jimmie till his feet were off
the ground, and then made fast the cord, and Jimmie hung with his
full weight from his thumbs, still handcuffed behind his back.

So now he was no trouble to the three jailers--except that he was an
ugly-looking object, with his face purple and convulsed, and his
bloody tongue being chewed up. They turned him about, with his face
against the stones, and then they had nothing but the sounds of him,
which had become feebler, but were none the less disagreeable, a
babbling and gabbling, continuous and yet unrhythmic, as if made by
a whole menagerie of tormented animals.

Still the minutes passed, and Perkins’s irritation grew. He wouldn’t
have minded for himself, for his nerves were strong, he had handled
a good many of the I.W.W. in the old days back home; but he had
promised to get the information, and so his reputation was at stake.
He would prod Jimmie and say: “Will you tell?” And when Jimmie still
refused, finally he said: “We’ll have to try the water-cure. Connor,
get me a couple of pitchers of water and a good-sized funnel.”

“Yes, sir,” said the ex-burglar, and went out; and meantime Perkins
addressed his victim again. “Listen, you little hell-pup,” said he.
“I’m going to do something new, something that’ll break you sure. I
been with the army in the Philippines, and seen it worked there
many’s the time, and I never yet seen anybody that could stand it.
We’re going to fill you up with water; and we’ll leave you to soak
for a couple of hours, and then we’ll put in some more, and we’ll
keep that up day and night till you come through. Now, you better
think it over and speak quick, before we get the water in, because
it ain’t so easy to get out.”

Jimmie lay with his face against the wall, and the agony of his
tortured thumbs was like knives twisted into him; he listened to
these threats and heard again the cry in his soul for respite at any

Jimmie was fighting a battle, the sternest ever fought by man--the
battle of conscience against the weakness of the flesh. To tell or
not to tell? The poor tormented body shrieked, Tell! But conscience,
in a feeble voice, gasped over and over and over, No! No! No! It had
to keep on insisting, because the battle was never over, never won.
Each moment was a new agony, and therefore a fresh temptation; each
argument had to be repeated without end. Why should he not tell?
Because Kalenkin had trusted him, and Kalenkin was a comrade. But
maybe Kalenkin was gone now, maybe he had died of one of his
coughing spells, maybe he had heard of Jimmie’s arrest and made his
escape. Maybe they would not torture Kalenkin as they had Jimmie,
because he was not a soldier; they might just put him in jail and
keep him there, and others would do the work. Maybe--

And so on. But the feeble voice whispered in the soul of Jimmie
Higgins: You are the revolution. You are social justice, struggling
for life in this world. You are humanity, setting its face to the
light, striving to reach a new goal, to put behind it an old horror.
You are Jesus on the Cross; and if you fail, the world goes back,
perhaps for ever. You must hold out! You must bear this! And this!
And this! You must bear everything--for ever--as long as needs be!
You must not “come through!”


Connor came back with his pitchers of water and his funnel! They
took Jimmie down--oh, the blessed relief to his thumbs!--and laid
him on the ground, with his racked and swollen hands still
handcuffed under him; and Grady sat on his feet, and Connor sat on
his chest, and Perkins forced the funnel down his throat and poured
in the water.

Jimmie had to swallow, of course; he had to gulp desperately, to
keep from being choked; and pretty soon the water filled him up, and
then began the most fearful agony he had yet endured. It was like
the pain of the ether-gas, only infinitely worse. He was blown out
like a balloon; his insides were about to burst; his whole body was
one sore boil--and Connor, sitting on his stomach, sat a little
harder now and then, to make sure the water got jostled into place.
Jimmie could not scream, but his face turned purple and the cords
stood out on his forehead and neck; he began to strangle, and this
was worst of all; every convulsion of his body stabbed him with ten
thousand knives.

Jimmie had talked with a number of the “wobblies” who had had this
“water-cure”, a regular device of police-authorities in small towns
and villages. It is simple and cheap and cleanly; it leaves no blood
and no bruises to be exhibited in court; it muzzles the victim, so
that his screams cannot be heard through jail-windows--therefore a
simple denial covers it completely. “Wild Bill” had had this
treatment, “Strawberry” Curran had had it several times. But oh,
thought Jimmie, it could not be like this--no human being had ever
endured anything like this! Poor Jimmie was not learned in history,
and did not realize that men have endured everything that other men
can inflict. They will continue to endure it, so long as privilege
is written in the law, and allowed to use the law in its unholy

So the battle of the ages went on in the soul of Jimmie Higgins. He
was a little runt of a Socialist machinist, with bad teeth and
gnarled hands, and he could do nothing sublime or inspiring, nothing
even dignified; in fact, it would be hard for anyone to do anything
dignified, when he lies on the floor with a gallon or two of water
in him, and one man sitting on his legs and another on his stomach,
and another jamming a funnel into his mouth. All Jimmie could do was
to fight the fearful fight in the deeps of him, and not lose it.
“Lift your knee if you are ready to tell,” Perkins would say; and
Grady would rise up, so that Jimmie could lift his knee if he wanted
to; but Jimmie’s knee did not lift.

Far down in the deeps of Jimmie Higgins’ tormented soul, something
strange was happening. Lying there bound and helpless, despairing,
writhing with agony, half-insane with the terror of it, Jimmie
called for help--and help came to him; the help which penetrates
all dungeon walls, and cheats all jailors and torturers; that power
which breaks all bars of steel and bars of fear--

“Thou has great allies; Thy friends are exultations, agonies, And
love, and man’s unconquerable mind!”

In the soul of Jimmie Higgins was heard that voice which speaks
above the menaces and commands of tyranny: which says: I am Man, and
I prevail. I conquer the flesh, I trample upon the body and rise
above it. I defy its imprisonments, its prudences and fears. I am
Truth, and will be heard in the world. I am Justice, and will be
done in the world. I am Freedom, and I break all laws, I defy all
repressions, I exult, I proclaim deliverance!--and because, in
every age and in every clime, this holy Power has dwelt in the soul
of man, because this mystic Voice has spoken there, humanity has
moved out of darkness and savagery into at least the dream of a
decent and happy world.

So Jimmie lay, converting his pain into ecstasy, a dizzy and
perilous rapture, close to the border-line of madness; and Sergeant
Perkins arose and looked down on him and shook his head. “By God!”
 said he. “What’s in that little hell-pup?” He gave Jimmie a kick in
the ribs; and Jimmie’s soul took a leap, and went whirling through
eternities of anguish.

“By Jesus, I’ll make you talk!” cried Perkins, and he began to kick
with his heavy boots--until Connor stopped him, knowing that this
was not ethical--it would leave marks.

So finally the sergeant said abruptly, “Wait here.” And he went
upstairs to where Gannet was pacing about.

“Lieutenant,” he said, “that fellow’s a stubborn case.”

“What does he say?”

“I can’t get a word out of him. He’s a Socialist and a crank, you
know, and you’d be surprised how ugly some of them fellows can be.
As soon as I get the story complete I’ll report to you, but meantime
there’s no use your waiting here.”

So the officer went away, and Perkins went back to the dungeon and
gave orders that every two hours someone should come and fill Jimmie
up with water, and give him another chance to say “Yes”. And Jimmie
lay and moaned and wept, all by himself, quivering now and then with
the perilous ecstasy, which does not last, but has to be renewed by
continuous efforts of the will, as a tired horse has to be driven
with spur and whip. Never, never could this battle be truly won!
Never could the body be wholly forgotten, its clamorous demands
wholly stilled! God comes, but doubt follows closely. What is the
use of this fearful sacrifice? What good will it accomplish, who
will know about it, who will care? Thus Satan in the soul, and thus
the eternal duel between the new thing that man dreams, and the old
thing that he has made into law.




Another day had come--though Jimmie did not know it in his dungeon.
All he knew was that Sergeant Perkins returned, and stood looking at
him, picking his teeth with a quill. This little Bolshevik had stood
the water-cure longer than any man whom Perkins had ever known, and
he wondered vaguely what sort of damned fool he was, what he thought
he was accomplishing, anyhow.

But it was necessary to keep after him, for Perkins knew that his
career was at stake. He was supposed to have found out something,
and he hadn’t! So he ordered Jimmie tied up by the thumbs, the poor
thumbs that were swollen to three times their normal size, and
nearly black in colour. But now Jimmie’s good Mother Nature
interfered to stop the proceedings; the pain was so exquisite that
Jimmie fainted, and when the sergeant saw that he was being cheated,
he cut his victim down and left him lying on the damp stones.

So for three days Jimmie’s life consisted of alternating swoons and
agony--the regular routine of the “third degree” in more obstinate
cases; and always, in his conscious moments, Jimmie called upon the
God in himself, and the God responded with his hosts, and trumpets
of triumph echoed in Jimmie’s soul and he did not “come through”.

So on the fourth day the three torturers entered the cell, and
lifted him to his feet, and carried him up the stone stairs, and
wrapped him in a blanket and put him in an automobile.

“Listen now,” said Perkins, who sat by his side, “they’re going to
try you by court-martial. Hear me?”

Jimmie made no response.

“And I’ll explain this for your health--if you tell any lies about
what we done to you, I’ll take you back to that dungeon and tear you
limb from limb. You get me?” Still Jimmie did not answer--the sullen
little devil, thought Perkins. But in Jimmie’s soul there was a
faint flicker of hope. Might he not make appeal to the higher
authorities, and be saved from further torture? Jimmie had believed
in his country, and in his country’s purpose to defend democracy; he
had read the wonderful speeches of President Wilson, and could not
bring himself to think that the President would permit any man to be
tortured in prison. But alas, it was a long way from the White House
to Archangel--and still longer if you measured it through the
ramifications of the army machine, a route more thoroughly
criss-crossed with red tape than any sector of the Hindenburg line
with barbed wire.

Jimmie was taken into a room where seven officers sat at a big
table, looking very stern and solemn. Perkins supported him under
the arm-pits, thus making it look as if he were walking. He was
placed in a chair, and took a glance about him--but without seeing
much hope in the faces which confronted him.

The president of the court-martial was Major Gaddis, who had been a
professor of economics in a great university before the war: that is
to say, he had been selected by a syndicate of bankers as a man who
believed in a ruling class, and could never by any possibility be
brought to believe in anything else. He was a man of strict honour,
a very gracious and cultivated gentleman if you happened to belong
in his social circle; but he was convinced that the duty of the
lower classes was to obey, and that the existence of civilized
society depended upon their being made to obey.

Next to him sat Colonel Nye, as different a type as could be
imagined. Nye had been a soldier of fortune in Mexico and Central
America, and had found prosperity as a captain of one of those
condottieri bands which were organized by the big corporations of
America before the war, for the purpose of crushing strikes. He had
commanded a private army of five thousand men, horse, foot and
artillery, known to the public as the Smithers Detective Agency.
During a great coal-strike he had been placed by a state government
in virtual charge of the militia, and had occupied himself in
turning loose machine-guns on tent-colonies filled with women and
children. He had been tried by a militia court-martial for murder
and acquitted--thus making it impossible for any civilian grand-jury
ever to indict him and have him hanged. And now he had been
automatically taken from the state militia into the national army,
where he made a most efficient officer, with a reputation as a
strict disciplinarian.

First-Lieutenant Olsen had been a dry goods clerk, who had gone into
an officers’ training-camp. As he hoped to rise in the world, he
looked to his superiors always before he expressed an opinion. The
same was true of Captain Gushing, who was a good-natured young
bank-cashier with a pretty wife who spent his salary a couple of
months before he got it. The fifth officer, Lieutenant Gannet, did
most of the talking, because he was Jimmie’s immediate superior, and
had conducted the investigations into the case. He had discussed the
matter with Major Prentice, the Judge-Advocate of the court, also
with Captain Ardner, the young military lawyer who went through the
form of defending Jimmie; the three had agreed that the case was a
most serious one. The propaganda of Bolshevism in this Archangel
expedition must certainly be nipped in the bud. The charge against
Jimmie was insubordination and incitement to mutiny, and the penalty
was death.


Jimmie sat in his chair, only partly aware of what was going on,
because of the agony in his swollen thumbs and his twisted arms. His
flicker of hope had died, and he had lost interest in the
proceedings--all his energy was needed to endure his pain. He would
not tell them where he had got the leaflets, and when they badgered
him, he just grunted with pain. He would not talk with Captain
Ardner, who tried in vain to persuade him that he was acting in
his--the prisoner’s--interest. Only twice did Jimmie flare up; the
first time when Major Gaddis voiced his indignation that any citizen
of the great American democracy should ally himself with these
Bolshevik vermin, who were carrying on a reign of terror throughout
Russia, burning, slaying, torturing--

“Who talks about torturing?” shrieked Jimmie, half-starting from
his chair. “Ain’t you been torturing me--regular tearin’ me to

The court was shocked. “Torturing?” said Captain Gushing.

“Torturin’ me for days--a week, maybe, I dunno, in that there

Major Gaddis turned to Sergeant Perkins, who stood behind Jimmie’s
chair, barely able to withhold his hands from the prisoner. “How
about that, Sergeant?”

“It is utterly false, sir.”

“Look at these thumbs!” cried Jimmie. “They strung me up by them!”

“The prisoner was violent,” said Perkins. “He nearly killed Private
Connor, one of the guards, so we had to use severe measures.”

“It’s a lie!” shrieked Jimmie. But they shut him up, and the
dignified military machine ground on. Anybody could see that
discipline would go to pieces if the word of a jailer did not
prevail over that of a prisoner, the word of a loyal and tried
subordinate over that of a traitor and conspirator, an avowed
sympathizer with the enemy.

Presently the presiding officer inquired if the prisoner was aware
that he had incurred the death-penalty. Getting no reply, he went on
to inform the prisoner that the court would be apt to inflict this
extreme penalty, unless he would reconsider and name his accomplices
among the Bolsheviki, so that the army could protect itself against
the propaganda of these murderers. So Jimmie flared up again--but
not so violently, rather with a touch of fierce irony. “Murderers,
you say? Ain’t you gettin’ ready to murder me?”

“We are enforcing the law,” said the court.

“You make what you call law, an’ they make what they call law. You
kill people that disobey, an’ so do they. What’s the difference?”

“They are killing all the educated and law-abiding people in
Russia,” declared Major Gaddis, severely.

“All the rich people, you mean,” said Jimmie. “They make the rich
obey their laws; they give them a chance, the same as everybody
else, then if they don’t obey they kill them--just as many as they
have to kill to make them obey. An’ don’t you do the same with the
poor people? Ain’t I seen you do it, every time there was a strike?
Ask Colonel Nye there! Didn’t he say: ‘To hell with habeas
corpus--we’ll give them post-mortems?’”

Colonel Nye flushed; he did not know that his fame had followed him
all the way from Colorado to the Arctic Circle. The court made haste
to protect him: “We are not conducting a Socialist debate here. It
is evident that the prisoner is impenitent and defiant, and that
there is no reason for leniency.” So the court proceeded to find
Jimmie Higgins guilty as charged, and to sentence him to twenty
years’ military confinement--really quite a mild sentence,
considering the circumstances. In New York City at this very time
they were trying five Russian Jews, all of them mere children, one a
girl, for exactly the same offence as Jimmie had
committed--distributing a plea that American troops should cease to
kill Russian Socialists; these children received twenty years, and
one of them died soon after his arrest--his fellows swore as a
result of torture inflicted by Federal secret service agents.


So Jimmie was taken back to prison. Major Gaddis, who was really a
just man, and made law and order his religion, gave the strictest
orders that the prisoner should not again be hung up by the thumbs.
It was, of course, desirable to find out who had printed the
Bolshevik leaflets, but in the effort to make the prisoner tell he
should receive only the punishments formally approved by the army

So Jimmie went back to the underground dungeon, and for eight hours
every day a chain was fastened about his wrists, and the other end
run up into the iron ring, so that his feet barely touched the
floor; and there Jimmie hung, and tried out his conscience--this
being the test then being undergone by many men at the disciplinary
barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Jimmie’s conscience really was nothing
like as strong as it ought to have been. Jimmie had moods of
shameless self-pity, moods of desperate and agonizing doubt. He did
not mean to let his dungeon-keepers know this, but they listened
behind the door through a slot which the Tsar had had contrived for
this purpose; it could be closed while the prisoner was screaming
under torture, and then opened by the jailer without the prisoner’s

So Perkins heard Jimmie sobbing and wailing, talking to himself and
to other people--to someone called “Strawberry”, and to someone else
called “Wild Bill”, asking them if they had ever suffered anything
like this, and was it really worth while, would it help the
revolution? Perkins thought he had got some important information
here, and took it to Lieutenant Gannet, with the result that inquiry
was made through all the American Forces for men known as
“Strawberry” and “Wild Bill”. But these men could not be found; as
it happened, “Wild Bill” had taken refuge in a place to which not
even the army intelligence service can penetrate, and “Strawberry”
 Curran was just then being tried with a bunch of other “wobblies” in
California and subjected to much the same kind of treatment as
Jimmie was receiving in Archangel.

It was a big advantage that Sergeant Perkins had in his struggle
with Jimmie, that the pitiful weakness of Jimmy’s soul was exposed
to him, while the soul of Perkins was hidden from Jimmie. For the
truth was that Perkins was suffering from rage, mingled with not a
little fear. What the hell was this idea that could keep a little
runt of a working-man stronger than all in authority? And how was
this idea to be kept from spreading and wrecking the comfortable,
well-ordered world in which Perkins expected soon to receive an army
commission? The very day after the court-martial, which was supposed
to be a profound military secret, the army authorities were
astounded to discover, posted in several conspicuous places, a
placard in English, reading:

“American soldiers, do you know that an army sergeant is being
tortured and has been sentenced to twenty years in a dungeon for
having tried to tell you how the Bolsheviki are making propaganda
against the German Kaiser?

“Do you know the true reason your armies are here? Are you willing
to die to compel the Russian people to accept your ideas of
government? Are you willing to have your comrades tortured to keep
the facts from you?”

And of course the doughboys who read this placard wanted to know if
it told the truth. And quickly word spread that it did. Men who
still had copies of the leaflet which Jimmie had distributed now
found eager readers for it, and soon all the men knew its contents,
and were debating the question of the use of American armies to put
down social revolution in a foreign country. These same questions
were being asked in the halls of Congress back home. Senators were
questioning the right of sending troops into a country against which
war had never been declared, and other Senators were demanding that
they be immediately withdrawn. And this news also reached the men,
and increased the danger. Archangel was not a pleasant place to
stay, especially with winter coming on fast; men were disposed to
grumble--and now they had a pretext!


The authorities who were handling this army laboured under one
grievous handicap, probably never before faced by any army in
history. The Commander-in-Chief of the army, who determined its
policies and tried to set its moral tone, kept coming now and then
before Congress and making speeches full of incendiary and reckless
utterances, calculated to set dangerous thoughts to buzzing in the
heads of soldiers, to break down discipline and undermine morale.
The President wrote a letter to a political convention in which he
declared that the workers of America were living in “economic
serfdom”; he declared again and again that every people had a right
to determine their own destinies and form of government without
outside interference. This while the army was trying to put down
those Russians who were in revolt against “economic serfdom” in
their own country!

An army, you see, is a machine built to fight; a man who goes into
it and takes part in its work, very quickly acquires its tone, which
is one of abysmal contempt for all politicians, particularly of the
talking and letter-writing variety, the “idealists” and “dreamers”
 and “theorists”, who do not understand that the business of men is
to fight battles and win them. All the officers of the old army, the
West-Pointers, had been bred in the tradition of class-rule, they
had in their very bones the idea that they were a special breed,
that obedience to them was a law of God; while of the new officers,
the overwhelming majority came from the well-to-do, and were not
favourable to speech-making and letter-writing about the rights of
man. They were without enthusiasm for the idea of having a pacifist
secretary of war set over them by the “idealist” commander-in-chief.
They did not hesitate to vent their indignation; and when this
pacifist secretary gave orders about conscientious objectors which
were based upon sentimentalism and theory, the army machine took the
liberty of interpreting these orders and trimming the nonsense out
of them. And the farther away you got from the office of the
pacifist secretary, the more thorough the trimming inevitably
became; thus producing the phenomenon which poor Jimmie Higgins
found so bewildering--that policies laid down by sincere
humanitarians and liberals in Washington were carried out in
Archangel by an ex-detective trained in a school of corruption and

Jimmie Higgins couldn’t understand that here in Archangel were
Americans taking their orders from British and French officers, who
wasted no breath on pacifism and sentiment, who had no fool ideas
about wars for democracy. Was one obscure little runt of a Socialist
machinist to be allowed to block their world-plans? Setting himself
up as an authority, presuming to accept literally the passages of
his President, in defiance of their authority in Archangel! Allying
himself with traitorous and criminal scoundrels, trying to poison
the minds of American soldiers and light the flame of mutiny among
them! Just as once Jimmie Higgins had found himself in a strategic
position where he had held up the whole Hun army and won the battle
of Chateau-Thierry, so now he found himself in a position of equal
strategic importance--on the line of communication of the Allied
armies attacking Russia, and threatening to cut the line and force
the armies into retreat!


It became more essential than ever to discover these Bolshevik
sympathizers and stamp out their propaganda. As hanging Jimmie up by
the wrists had not brought forth the desired information, Jimmie was
put in solitary confinement on a diet of bread and water, this being
another test of sincerity of conscience. For the conscience a diet
of white flour and water may be all right, but Jimmie soon found
that it is very bad indeed for the intestinal tract and the
blood-stream--being, in truth, far worse than a diet of water alone.
The man who lives on white flour and water for a few days suffers
either from complete stopping of the bowels, or else from dysentery;
his blood becomes clogged with starch poisons, his nerves
degenerate, he falls a quick victim to tuberculosis, or pernicious
anasmia, or some other disease which will prevent his ever being a
sound man again.

Also, Jimmie received the water-treatment, as included in the Fort
Leavenworth regiment. It was necessary that all prisoners should be
bathed; which was interpreted by some guards to mean that they
should have a stream of icy water turned on them, and be forced to
stand under it. Because Jimmie’s arms were too badly injured for him
to scrub himself, Connor seized a rough brush and salt, and rubbed
off strips of his skin. When Jimmy wriggled away, they followed him
with the hose; when he screamed, they turned it into his mouth and
nose; when he fell down, they let the cold water run over him for
ten or fifteen minutes.

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


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