Jimmie was thrilled to the soles of his new wool-lined boots. He was going to Russia, going to see the revolution! Jimmie had but a vague idea of world-conditions now, for during the past three or four months he had been reading only official papers, which confined their attention to the job, and carefully omitted mention of difficulties and complications. The people with whom he talked insisted that it was necessary for the Allies to do something to counter the Brest-Litovsk treaty; if the Germans were allowed to take possession of helpless Russia and use it for their purposes, they might hold out for another hundred years. The Russian people themselves must realize this, and welcome Allied help! Jimmie wasn’t sure on this latter point, but he remembered the Rabin brothers and their enthusiasm for the Allied cause, so he put his doubts to sleep, and helped get his motor-unit stowed on board a transport.
There came a passage across the North Sea and up the coast of Norway; a region of fogs and restless winds, and incessant deadly peril of submarine and mine. There were three transports in the expedition, and a couple of warships convoying them, and half a dozen destroyers weaving their foam patterns in and out. Every day the air grew colder, and the period of daylight shorter; they were entering the Land of the Midnight Sun, but at the time of year when midnight noons were approaching. The men had plenty of time for reading and talk; so Jimmie discussed the war from the Socialist point of view, defending the Russian revolutionists; and so, as usual, he made somebody angry, and got himself and his seditious opinions reported.
Lieutenant Gannet was the name of Jimmie’s superior officer. He had been a clerk in a cotton-mill before the war, and had never had the exercise of authority. Now he had to learn suddenly to give orders, and his idea of doing it was to be extremely sharp and imperative. He was a deeply conscientious young man, keen on the war, and willing to face any hardship or peril in fulfilment of his duty; but Jimmie could not have been expected to appreciate that—all Jimmie knew was that his superior had a way of glaring from behind his spectacles as if he was sure that someone was lying to him.
Lieutenant Gannet didn’t ask what Jimmie had said; he told Jimmie what he had said, and informed him that that kind of talk wasn’t going on in the army while he was in hearing. Jimmie’s business was to keep some motor-cycles in repair, and some cyclists on their job; about other matters let him hold his tongue, and not try to run the affairs of the nation. Jimmie ventured the remark that he had said nothing but what President Wilson was saying all along. To which the lieutenant replied that he was not interested in Sergeant Higgins’s opinions of President Wilson’s opinions—Sergeant Higgins was to keep his opinions to himself, or he would get into serious trouble, So Jimmie went away, seething with indignation, as much of a rebel as he had ever been in Local Leesville.