Meissner went on to tell how this mysterious stranger had stated to him that it would be possible to get plenty of money to back the proposition of a strike in the Empire Shops. The new plant was just ready to start up, and fresh swarms of men were coming in; what was wanted was some live fellows to get in with them and agitate for an eight hour day and a minimum wage scale of sixty cents an hour. Men who were willing to do that could get good money, and plenty of it; if the Leesville Worker would advocate such a policy, there was no reason why it should not start up the very next week, and publish a big edition and flood the town. The one essential was that arrangements should be made secretly. Meissner must trust no one save dyed-in-the-wool “reds”, who would be willing to hustle, and not say where the pay came from. As earnest of his intentions, the stranger pulled out a roll of bills, and casually drew off half a dozen and slipped them into Meissner’s hands. They were for ten dollars each—more money than a petty boss at the glass-works had ever got into his hands at one time in all his life!
Meissner exhibited the roll, and Jimmie stared with wide-open eyes. Here indeed was a new development of the war—ten dollar bills for Socialist propaganda to be picked up in the back rooms of saloons! What was this fellow’s name? And where did he hang out? Meissner offered to take Jimmie to meet him, and so the two bolted their suppers and set out at top speed.
Jerry Coleman had mentioned several saloons where he was known, and in one of these they found him, a smooth-faced, smooth-spoken young fellow whom Jimmie would have taken for a detective or “spotter”—having had dealings with such in his days “on the road”. The man wore good clothes, and his finger-nails were cared for, something which, as we know, is seldom permitted to working-men. But he did not put on airs, and he bade them call him by his first name. He talked to Jimmie a while, enough to make sure of his man, and then he peeled off some more bills, and told Jimmie to find more fellows who could be trusted. It wouldn’t do for any one person to have too much money, for that would excite suspicion; but if they would go to work and spend that much for dodgers to be distributed among the munition-workers, and for street-meetings, and for the proposed radical paper—well, there was plenty more money in the place where this had come from.
Where was that place? Jimmie asked; and Jerry Coleman looked wise and winked. Then, after further consideration, he decided it might be well to tell them, provided they would pledge themselves not to mention it to others without his permission. This pledge they gave, and Jerry stated that he was a national organizer for the American Federation of Labour, which had resolved to unionize these munition-plants, and to establish the eight hour day. But it was of the utmost importance that the bosses should not get wind of the matter; it must not be revealed to anyone save those whom Coleman saw fit to trust. He was trusting Jimmie and Meissner, and they might know that the great labour organization was behind them, and would see them through regardless of expense. Of course, it would be expected that they would use the money honestly.