“You won’t cut off their heads?” pleaded the nurse. “Surely they ought to have a chance to reform!”
“Oh, sure!” answered Jimmie. “All I mean is, everybody’s got to go to work—the dooks an’ aristercrats like the rest.”
The nurse went off, carrying Jimmie’s chamber to be emptied; and while she was gone, the man in the next bed, a gun-pointer from an American destroyer with his head bandaged up so that he looked like a Hindu swami, turned his tired eyes upon Jimmie and drawled: “Say, you guy, you better can that line o’ talk!”
“Whaddyer mean?” demanded Jimmie, scenting controversy with some militarist.
“I mean that there young lady belongs to the nobility herself.”
“Go on!” said Jimmie.
“Straight!” said the other. “Her father’s the earl of Skye-terrier, or some such damn place.”
“Aw, cut it out!” growled the little machinist—for you never knew in dealing with these soldier-boys whether you were being “kidded” or not.
“Did you ask her name?”
“She told me it was Miss Clendenning.”
“Well, you ask her if she ain’t the Honourable Beatrice Clendenning, and see what she says.”
But Jimmie could not get up the nerve to ask. When the young lady came back, carrying his chamber washed clean, her pet patient was lying still, but so red in the face that she suspected that he had been trying to get out of bed without permission.
Nor was that the end of wonders. Next day there ran a murmur of excitement through the ward, and everything was cleaned up fresh, though there was really nothing that needed cleaning. Flowers were brought in, and each nurse had a flower pinned on her waist. When Jimmie asked what was “up”, the Honourable Beatrice looked at him with a quizzical smile. “We’re going to have some distinguished visitors,” she said. “But you won’t be interested—a class-conscious proletarian like you.”
And she would not tell him; but when she went out, the fellow in the next bed told. “It’s the king and queen that’s comin’,” said the gun-pointer.
“Aw, ferget it!” said Jimmie—quite sure he was being “kidded” this time.
“Comin’ to see the submarine victims,” said the gun-pointer. “You cut out your Socialist rough stuff for to-day.”
Jimmie asked the nurse when she came back; and sure enough it was true—the king and queen were to visit the hospital, and pay their respects to the victims of the U-boat. But that wouldn’t interest Jimmie Higgins. Would he not rather be carried away and put in a private room somewhere, so that his revolutionary eyes would not be offended? Or would he stay, and make a soap-boxer of His Majesty?
“Sure, he won’t have no time to talk to a feller like me!” said Jimmie.
“Don’t you be too sure,” replied the other. “He’s got nothing to do but talk, you know!”