“They’ll be changed for all of us,” said His Majesty. “The dullest of us know that.”
“The workin’ people got to get what they earn!” persisted Jimmie. “Why, Mr. King—back home where I come from a feller could work twelve hours a day all his life, an’ not have enough saved up to bury himself with. An’ they say it was worse here in England.”
“We have had terrible poverty,” admitted His Majesty. “We shall have to find some way of getting rid of it.”
“There ain’t no way but Socialism,” cried Jimmie. “Look into it, an’ you’ll see! We gotter get rid o’ the profit-system. The feller that does the work has gotter get what he produces.”
“Well,” said His Majesty, “you’ll agree with me this far at least—we must beat the Germans first.” And then he turned to the Honourable Beatrice. “We shall learn much from our American visitors,” he said, and flashed her another of those subtle messages, which indicated that perhaps it was not a good thing for patients in hospitals to become excited over Socialist propaganda! So the Honourable Beatrice turned to the man in the other bed, and His Majesty turned also; he ascertained that the man’s name was Deakin, and that he came from Cape Cod. His Majesty remarked how badly England needed good Yankee gun-pointers, and how grateful he was to those who came to help the British Navy. Jimmie listened, just a tiny bit jealous—not for himself, of course, but because he knew that Socialism was so much more important than gun-pointing!
At the foot of the bed there stood a military officer. He had been there for some time, but Jimmie did not notice him till the king rose and moved away. The officer was just the sort of hand-made aristocrat that Jimmie imagined all officers to be; smooth-shaven, except for a little toy moustache, with serene, impassive features, a dapper and immaculate uniform, and a queer little fancy stick in his hand, to show that he never did anything resembling work. He was eyeing the machinist with what the machinist suspected to be a superior air. “Well, my good man,” said he, “you had a talk with the king!”
That seemed obvious enough. “Sure!” said Jimmie.
“Generally,” continued the officer, “when one talks with the king, one addresses him as ’Your Majesty’—not as ’Mr. King’.”
Jimmie was tired now, and not looking for controversy; so he did not bridle as he might otherwise have done. “Nobody told me,” said he.
“Also,” continued the other, “one is not supposed to volunteer opinions. One waits for the king to ask a question, and then one answers.”
Jimmie’s eyes were closed, and he only half-opened them as he answered. “They been tellin’ me this here is a war for Democracy!” said he.
JIMMIE HIGGINS WORKS FOR HIS UNCLE