“Vat you tink?” cried Stankewitz. “I veigh tventy pounds more already—tventy pounds! They vork you like hell in that army, but they treat you good. You don’t never have such good grub before, not anyvere you vork.”
“You like it?” demanded Jimmy, in amazement.
“Sure I like it, you bet your money! I learn lots of things vat I didn’t know before. I get myself straight on this var, don’t you ferget it.”
“You believe in the war?”
“Sure I believe in it, you bet your money!” Comrade Stankewitz, as he spoke, pounded with an excited fist on the counter. “Ve got to vin this var, see? Ve got to beat them Yunkers! I vould have made up my mind to that, even if I don’t go in the army—I vould have make it up ven I see vat they do vit Russia.”
“But the revolution—”
“The revolution kin vait—maybe vun year, maybe two years already. It don’t do us no good to have a revolution if the Yunkers walk over it! No, sir—I vant them Germans put out of Roumania und out of Russia und out of Poland—und, I tell you, in this American army you got plenty Roumanian Socialists, plenty Polish Socialists, und the Kaiser vill be sorry ven he meets them in France, you bet your money!”
So Jimmie got another dose of patriotism, a heavy dose this time; for Stankewitz was all on fire with his new conviction, as full of the propaganda impulse as he had been when he called himself an “anti-nationalist”. He could not permit you to differ with him—became irritated at the bare mention of those formula-ridden members of the local who were still against the war. They were fools—or else they were Germans; and Comrade Stankewitz was as ready to right the Germans in Leesville as in France. He got so excited arguing that he almost forgot the cigars and the show-cases which he had to get rid of in two days. To Jimmie it was an amazing thing to see this transformation—not merely the new uniform and the new muscles of his Roumanian Jewish friend, but his sense of certainty about the war, his loyalty to the President for the bold deed he had done in pledging the good faith of America to securing the freedom and the peaceful future of the harrassed and tormented subject-races of Eastern Europe.
Jimmie got a sheet of letter paper, and borrowed a scratchy pen and a little bottle of ink from Mrs. Meissner, and wrote a painfully mis-spelled letter to Comrade Evelyn Gerrity, nee Baskerville, to assure her of his sympathy and undying friendship. He did not tell her that he was beginning to wobble on the war; in fact, when he thought of Jack Gerrity, chained up to the bars of a cell window, he unwobbled—he wanted the social revolution right away. But then as he went to drop the letter into the post office, so that it might go more quickly, he bought a paper and read the story of what was happening in France. And again the war-fervour tempted him.