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!
JIMMIE HIGGINS MEETS THE TEMPTER
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.