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.