“live and lie reclined
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind,
For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl’d
Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl’d
Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world:
Where they smile in secret, looking
over wasted lands,
Blight of famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery
Clanging fights and flaming towns, and sinking ships and pray-
But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song
Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong.
Like a tale of little meaning tho’ the words are strong;
Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil,
Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil,
Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil.
But now Jimmie had crossed the social chasm, he had seen the other side of the problem of riches and poverty. After that revelation, he would be more merciful in his judgements of his fellow-mortals; he would understand that the system in which we are trapped makes true happiness impossible—for those who have too much as well as for those who have too little.
JIMMIE HIGGINS ENTERS INTO DANGER
While Jimmie wandered through the streets of this French town, letting his broken arm get strong again, the death-grapple of the war continued. In mid-July the Germans made a last desperate lunge at the Marne; they were stopped dead in a couple of days by the French and Americans combined; and then the Allied commander-in-chief struck back, smashing in the side of the German salient, and driving the enemy, still fighting furiously, but moving back from the soil of France. All France caught its breath with excitement, with relief mingled with dread. So many times they had hoped, through these four weary, hideous years, and so many times their hopes had been dashed! But this time there was no mistake—it was really the turning of the tide. The enemy resisted at every step, but he went on moving out of the salient, and the Allies went on lunging—now here, now there, see—sawing back and forth, and keeping their opponents bewildered.
Jimmie read about it in the army paper, the Stars and Stripes; and now, for the first time in four years, Jimmie’s mind was one mind on the war. Jimmie was on the field of every battle, his teeth set, his hands clenched, his whole soul helping at the job. He had got over the disorders of anaesthesia, and was forgetting the shock of his wound; he had realized that wounds, and even death, were something a man could bear—not cheerfully, of course, not lightly, but you could bear them, if only you knew that the Beast was being put out of business.