“You bet! I’m a Socialist!”
The other turned upon him, his voice trembling with sudden excitement. “You got a red card?”
“You bet!” said Jimmie. “Right inside my coat.”
“My God!” cried the other. “A comrade!” He stretched out his hands, which were bundled up with old gunny-sacking, to Jimmie. “Tovarish!” cried he. And standing there in the freezing darkness, these two felt their hearts leap into a hot glow. Here, under the Arctic Circle, in this wilderness of ice and desolation, even here the spirit of international fraternity was working its miracles!
But then, shaking with excitement, the little Jew pawed at Jimmie with his bundled hands. “If you are Socialist, vy you fight de Russian vorkers?”
“I’m not fighting them!”
“You vear de uniform.”
“I’m only a motor-cycle man.”
“But you help! You kill de Russian people! You destroy de Soviets! Vy?”
“I didn’t know about it,” pleaded Jimmie. “I wanted to fight the Kaiser, and they brought me here without telling me.”
“Ah! So it iss vit militarism, vit capitalism! Ve are slaves! But we vill be free! And you vill help, you vill not kill de Russian vorkers!”
“I will not!” cried Jimmie, quickly.
And the little stranger put his arm through Jimmie’s “You come vit me, quick! I show you someting, tovarish!”
They threaded the dark streets till they came to a row of working-men’s hovels, made of logs, the cracks stuffed with mud and straw—places in which an American farmer would not have thought it proper to keep his cattle. “So live de vorkers,” said the stranger, and he knocked on the door of one of the hovels. It was unbarred by a woman with several children about her skirts, and the men entered a cabin lighted by a feeble, smoky lamp. There was a huge oven at one side, with a kettle in which cabbage was cooking. The man said nothing to the woman, but signed Jimmie to a seat before the oven, and fixed his sharp black eyes on his face.
“You show me de red card?” he said, suddenly.
Jimmie took off his sheepskin-lined overcoat, and unbuttoned his sweater underneath, and from an inside pocket of his jacket took out the precious card with the due-stamps initialled by the secretaries of Local Leesville and Local Hopeland and Local Ironton. The stranger studied it, then nodded. “Good! I trust you.” As he handed back the card he remarked, “My name is Kalenkin. I am Bolshevik.”
Jimmie’s heart bounded—though he had guessed as much, of course. “We called our local in Ironton Bolshevik,” said he.
“Dey drive us out from here,” continued the Jew, “but I stay behind for propaganda. I look for comrades among de Americans, de British. I say, ‘Do not fight de vorkers, fight de masters, de capitalists.’ You understand?”
“Sure!” said Jimmie.