Here, for instance, was the Forster family; where would you find a kinder lot of people? They were much above Jimmie in social standing—they owned their own house and had whole shelves full of books, and a pile of music as high as yourself; but recently Jimmie had stopped on a Socialist errand, and they had invited him in to supper, and there was a thin, worn, sweet-faced little woman, and four growing daughters—nice, gentle, quiet girls—and two sons younger than Emil; they had a pot-roast of beef, and a big dish of steaming potatoes, and another of sauerkraut, and some queer pudding that Jimmie had never heard of; and then they had music—they were fairly dippy on music, that family, they would play all night if you would listen, old Hermann Forster with his stout, black-bearded face turned up as if he were seeing Heaven. And you wanted Jimmie to believe that a man like that would carry a baby on a bayonet, or rape a girl and then cut off her hands!
Or there was Comrade Meissner, a neighbour of Jimmie’s, a friendly little chatter-box of a man who was foreman-in-charge of a dozen women from as many different races of the earth, packing bottles in the glass-works. The tears would come into Meissner’s pale blue eyes when he told how he was made to drive these women, sick, or in the family way, or whatever it might be. And remember, it was an American superintendent and an American owner who gave Meissner his orders—not a German! The little man could not quit his job, because he had a brood of children and a wife with something the matter with her—nobody could tell what it was, but she took all kinds of patent medicines, which kept the family poor. Sometimes Lizzie Higgins would go over to see her, and the two would sit and exchange ideas about ailments and the prices of food; and meantime Meissner would come over to where Jimmie was minding the Jimmie babies, and the two would puff their cobs and discuss the disputes between the “politicians” and the “direct actionists” in the local. And you wanted Jimmie to believe that men like Meissner were standing old Belgian women against the walls of churches and shooting them full of bullets!
But as the weeks passed, the evidence of atrocities began to pile in, and so Jimmie Higgins was driven to a second line of defence. Well, maybe so, but then all the armies were alike. Somebody told Jimmie the saying of a famous general, that war was hell; and Jimmie took to this—it was exactly what he wanted to believe! War was a return to savagery, and the worse it became, the better Jimmie’s argument went. He was not interested in men’s efforts to improve war, by agreeing that they would kill in this way but not in that way, they would kill this kind of people but not that kind.