Jimmie Higgins eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 392 pages of information about Jimmie Higgins.

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!

Project Gutenberg
Jimmie Higgins from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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