Put in this way the situation was easy for any Jimmie Higgins to understand; and month by month, as the debate continued, Jimmie’s own point of view became clearer. He was not interested in sending cotton to England, and still less in sending meat. He thought he was lucky if he had a bit of meat twice a week himself, and it was plain enough to him that if the fellows who owned the meat were not allowed to ship it abroad, they might sell it in America at a price that a working man could pay. Nor was that just greediness on Jimmie’s part; he was perfectly willing to go without meat where an ideal was involved—look at the time and money and energy he gave to Socialism! The point was that by sending goods to Europe, you helped to keep up the fighting; whereas, if you quit, the fools must come to their senses. So the Jimmie Higginses worked out their campaign-slogan: “Starve the War and Feed America!”
In the third month of the war, disturbing rumours began to run about Leesville. Old Abel Granitch had taken on a contract with the Belgian government, and the Empire Machine Shops were going to make shells. Nothing appeared about this in the local papers, but everybody claimed to have first-hand knowledge, and although no two people told the same story, there must be some basis of truth in them all. And then, one day, to Jimmie’s consternation, he heard from Lizzie that the agent of the landlord had called and served notice that they had three days to vacate the premises. Old man Granitch had bought the land, and the Shops were to build out that way. Jimmie could hardly credit his ears, for he was six city blocks from the nearest part of the Shops; but it was true, so everyone declared; all that land had been bought up, and half a thousand families, children and old people, and sick people, men on their death-beds and women in child-birth—all had three days in which to move themselves to new quarters.
Let anyone imagine the confusion, the babel of tongues, the women on their porches calling to one another, asking and giving advice! The denunciations and the scoldings and the threats to resort to law! The raids upon landlords, and how the prices went up! Jimmie hurried off to Comrade Meissner, who had bought a house and was paying instalments on it; Meissner, being a Socialist, did not try to fleece him, but was glad to have help in making his payments. There were no partitions in the garret which Jimmie rented, but they would hang curtains and make do somehow, and Lizzie would use Mrs. Meissner’s stove until they could get something fixed upstairs. And then to the corner grocery, to borrow a hand-cart and get started at moving the furniture; for to-morrow everybody would be moving, and you would not be able to get anything on wheels for love or money. Until after midnight Jimmie and Meissner worked at transporting babies and bedding and saucepans and chairs and chicken-coops piled on the hand-cart.