Talk to these girls and women. This woman has lost her son—that one her husband. This one has a brother home on leave, and is rejoicing in the return of her husband from the trenches, as a skilled man, indispensable in the shop; another has friends in the places and among the people which suffered in the last Zeppelin raid. She speaks of it with tight lips. Was it she who chalked the inscription found by the Lady Superintendent on a lathe some nights ago—“Done fourteen to-day. Beat that if you can, you devils!”
No!—under this fast-spreading industry, with its suggestion of good management and high wages, there is the beat of no ordinary impulse. Some feel it much more than others; but, says the clever and kindly Superintendent I have already quoted: “The majority are very decidedly working from the point of view of doing something for their country.... A great many of the fuse women are earning for the first time.... The more I see of them all, the better I like them.” And then follow some interesting comments on the relation of the more educated and refined women among them to the skilled mechanics—two national types that have perhaps never met in such close working contact before. One’s thoughts begin to follow out some of the possible social results of this national movement.
[Illustration: A Forest of Shells in a Corner of One of England’s Great Shell Filling Factories.]
[Illustration: A Light Railway Bringing Up Ammunition.]
But now the Midlands and the Yorkshire towns are behind me. The train hurries on through a sunny afternoon, and I look through some notes sent me by an expert in the great campaign. Some of them represent its humours. Here is a perfectly true story, which shows an Englishman with “a move on,” not unworthy of your side of the water.
A father and son, both men of tremendous energy, were the chiefs of a very large factory, which had been already extensively added to. The father lived in a house alongside the works. One day business took him into the neighbouring county, whilst the son came up to London on munition work. On the father’s return he was astonished to see a furniture van removing the contents of his house. The son emerged. He had already signed a contract for a new factory on the site of his father’s house; the materials of the house were sold and the furniture half gone. After a first start, the father took it in true Yorkshire fashion—wasting no words, and apparently proud of his son!
Here we are at last, in the true north—crossing a river, with a climbing town beyond, its tiled roofs wreathed in smoke, through which the afternoon lights are playing. I am carried off to a friend’s house. Some directors of the great works I am come to see look in to make a kindly plan for the morrow, and in the evening, I find myself sitting next one of the most illustrious of modern inventors, with