“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 asked.
“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!”