Already the hall was half-full, and a stream of people pouring in. Jimmie got himself and family seated, and then turned his eager eyes proudly to survey the scene. The would-be-congressman’s circulars which he had placed in the seats were now being read by the sitters; the banners he had so laboriously hung were resplendent on the walls; there was a pitcher of ice water on the speaker’s table, and a bouquet of flowers and a gavel for the chairman; the seats in the rear of the platform for the Liederkranz were neatly ranged, most of them already occupied by solid German figures topped by rosy German faces: to each detail of which achievements Jimmie had lent a hand. He had a pride of possession in this great buzzing throng, and in the debt they owed to him. They had no idea of it, of course; the fools, they thought that a meeting like this just grew out of nothing! They paid their ten cents—twenty-five cents for reserved seats—and imagined that covered everything, with perhaps even a rake-off for somebody! They would grumble, wondering why the Socialists persisted in charging admission for their meetings—why they could not let people in free as the Democrats and Republicans did. They would go to Democratic and Republican meetings, and enjoy the brass band and the fireworks, pyrotechnical and oratorical—never dreaming it was all a snare paid for by their exploiters!
Well, they would learn about it to-night! Jimmie thought of the Candidate, and how he would impress this man and that. For Jimmie knew scores who had got tickets, and he peered about after this one and that, and gave them a happy nod from behind his barricade of babies. Then, craning his neck to look behind him, suddenly Jimmie gave a start. Coming down the aisle was Ashton Chalmers, president of the First National Bank of Leesville; and with him-could it be possible?—old man Granitch, owner of the huge Empire Machine Shops where Jimmie worked! The little machinist found himself shaking with excitement as these two tall forms strode past him down the aisle. He gave Lizzie a nudge with his elbow and whispered into her ear; and all around was a buzz of whispers—for, of course, everybody knew these two mighty men, the heads of the “invisible government” of Leesville. They had come to find out what their subjects were thinking! Well, they would get it straight!
The big hall was full, and the aisles began to jam, and then the police closed the doors—something which Jimmie took as part of the universal capitalist conspiracy. The audience began to chafe; until at last the chairman walked out upon the stage, followed by several important persons who took front seats. The singers stood up, and the leader waved his wand, and forth came the Marseillaise: a French revolutionary hymn, sung in English by a German organization—there was Internationalism for you! With full realization of the solemnity of this world-crisis, they sang as if they hoped to be heard in Europe.