Now interesting things were rare here under the Arctic Circle. “What’s that?” asked the plumber.
“I was walkin’ on the street,” said Jimmie, “an’ I seen a printed paper in the gutter. It’s a copy of the proclamation the Bolsheviki have made to the German soldiers, an’ that they’re givin’ out in the German trenches.”
“By heck!” said the plumber. “What’s in it?”
“Why, it calls on them to rise against the Kaiser—to do what the Russians have done.”
“Can you read German?” asked the other.
“Naw,” said Jimmie. “This is in English.”
“But what’s it doin’ in English?”
“I’m sure I dunno.”
“What’s it doin’ in Archangel?”
“Dunno that either.”
“Holy Christ!” cried the plumber. “I bet them fellers are trying their stunts on us!”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” said Jimmie, subtly. “Maybe it’s so.”
“They won’t get very far with the Yanks, I bet,” predicted the other.
“No, I suppose not. But, anyhow, it’s interesting, what they say.”
“Lemme see it,” said the plumber.
“But say,” said Jimmie, “don’t you tell nobody. I don’t want to get into trouble.”
“Mum’s the word, old man.” And the plumber took the dirty scrap of paper and read. “By God!” said he. “That’s kind o’ funny.”
“How do you mean?”
“Why, that don’t sound like them fellers were backing the Kaiser, does it?” And the plumber scratched his head. “Say, that sounds all right to me!”
“Me too!” said Jimmie. “Didn’t know they had that much sense.”
“It’s just what the German people ought to have, by God,” said the plumber. “Seems to me we ought to hire fellows to give out things like that.”
“I think so, too,” said Jimmie, enraptured.
The plumber reflected again. “I suppose,” said he, “the trouble is they wouldn’t give it to the Germans only; they’d want to give it to both sides.”
“Exactly!” said Jimmie, enraptured still more.
“And, of course, that wouldn’t do,” said the plumber; “that would interfere with discipline.” So Jimmie’s hopes were dashed.
But the upshot of the interview was that the plumber said he would like to keep the paper and show it to a couple of other fellows. He promised again that he wouldn’t mention Jimmie, so Jimmie said all right, and went his way, feeling one seed was lodged in good soil.
The “Y” had come to Archangel along with the rest of the expedition, and had set up a hut, in which the men played checkers and read, and bought chocolate and cigarettes at prices which they considered too high. Jimmie strolled in, and there was a doughboy with whom he had had some chat on the transport. This doughboy had been a printer at home, and he had agreed with Jimmie that maybe a whole lot of politicians and newspaper editors didn’t really understand President Wilson’s radical thought, and so far as they did understand it, hated and feared it. This printer was reading one of the popular magazines, full of the intellectual pap which a syndicate of big bankers considered safe for the common people. He looked bored, so Jimmie strolled up and lured him away, and repeated his play-acting as with the plumber—and with the same result.