Jimmie went to the next meeting of the local. It was a slender affair now, for some of the members were in jail, and some in the training camps, and some afraid to come for fear of their jobs, and some discouraged by incessant persecution. But the old war-horses were there—Comrade Schneider, and gentle old Hermann Forster, and Comrade Mabel Smith, with an account of her brother’s mistreatment in the county jail, and Comrade Mary Allen, the Quaker lady. This last was still taking it as a personal affront that America should be going into the bloody mess, in spite of all her denunciations and protests; she was even paler and thinner than when Jimmie had seen her last—her hands trembled and her thin lips quivered as she spoke, you could see that she was burning up with excitement over the monstrous wickedness of the world’s events. She read to the local a harrowing story of a boy who had registered as a conscientious objector in New York, and had been taken out to a training-camp and subjected to such indignities that he had shot himself. Comrade Mary had no children of her own, so she had adopted these conscientious objectors, and as she read of their experiences, her soul was convulsed with a mingling of grief and rage.
Jimmie went back to the Empire Shops and applied for a job. They needed thousands of men, so the Herald declared—but they did not need a single one like Jimmie! The man to whom he applied recognized him at once, and said, “Nothin’ doin’.” For the sake of being nasty, Jimmie went to the headquarters of the newly-formed union, and asked them to force old Abel Granitch to give him work, according to the terms of the agreement with the government. But the union secretary, after thinking the matter over, decided that the provision against black-listing applied only to men who had been out on the last strike, not to the strikers of a couple of years before. “There was no use going out of one’s way to look for trouble,” said this secretary. Jimmie went away jeering at the union, and damning the war as heartily as ever.
He was in no hurry to get work, having still some money in his pocket, and being able to live cheaply with the Meissners. He went again to watch young Forster drilling, and went home with him and heard an argument with old Hermann. You could see how this family had been split wide open; the old man ordered his traitorous son out several times, but the mother had flung herself into the breach, pleading that the boy was going away in a few days, and perhaps would never return. The evening that Jimmie was there, the paper printed a speech of the President, outlining his purposes in the war, the terms of justice for all peoples, a league of nations and universal disarmament. Emil read this triumphantly, finding in it a justification of his support of the war. Wasn’t it a great part of what the Socialists wanted?