But now these sea-laws had been defied, and the Hun who had defied them had placed himself outside the pale of the human race. In the souls of seamen there had been generated against him a hatred of peculiar and unique ferocity; they hunted him as men hunt vipers and rattlesnakes. The union to which this Toms belonged had pledged itself, not merely for the war, but for years afterwards, that its members would not sail in German ships, nor in any ship in which a German sailed, nor in any ship which sailed to a German port, nor which carried German goods. It had refused to carry Socialist delegates desiring to attend international conferences with German Socialists; it had refused to carry for any purpose labour leaders whom it considered too mercifully disposed towards Germany.
When Jimmie learned this, you can imagine the arguments, continuing far into the night! Quite a crowd gathered about, and they gave it to the little Socialist hot and heavy. The upshot of it was that somebody reported him, and the officer in command of his “motor-unit” read him a stern lecture. He was not here to settle peace-terms, but to do his work and hold his tongue. Jimmie, awed by the fangs and claws of the monster of Militarism, answered, “Yes, sir,” and went away and sulked by himself the whole day, wishing that the submarines might get this transport, with everybody on board except two Socialists and one “wobbly”.
It was the morning of the day they were due in port. Everybody wore life-preservers, and stood at his station; when suddenly came a yell, and a chorus of shouts from the side of the ship, and Jimmie rushed to the rail, and saw a white wake coming like a swift fish directly at the vessel. “Torpedo!” was the cry, and men stood rooted to the spot. Far back, where the white streak started, you could see a periscope, moving slowly; there was a volley of cracking sounds, and the water all about it leaped high, and the little sea-terriers rushed towards it, firing, and getting ready their deadly depth-bombs. But of all that Jimmie got only a glimpse; there came a roar like the opening of hell in front of him; he was thrown to the deck, half-stunned, and a huge fragment of the rail of the vessel whirled past his head, smashing into a stateroom behind him.
The ship was in an uproar; people rushing here and there, the members of the crew leaping to get away the boats. Jimmie sat up and stared about him, and the first thing he saw was his friend the “wobbly”, lying in a pool of blood, with a great gash in his head.
Suddenly somebody began to sing: “Oh, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light—” Jimmie had always hated that song, because jingoes and patrioteers used it as an excuse to bully and humiliate radicals who did not jump to their feet with sufficient alacrity. But now it was wonderful to see the effect of the song; everybody joined and the soldier-boys and working-men and nurses and lady ambulance-drivers, no matter how badly scared, recalled that they were part of an army on the way to war. Some helped the crews to get the boats into the water; others bound up the wounds of the injured, and carried them across the rapidly-slanting decks.