Again there was a cry of “Shame! Shame!” But the cry came from Comrade Mary, the Quaker lady, and it was evident that she had expected a chorus, and was disconcerted at being alone.
Young Norwood, who knew his Germans, laughed scornfully. “Just now your government is selling bonds in America, supposed to be for the benefit of the families of the dead and wounded. Some of those bonds have been taken in this city, as I happen to know. Does anybody really believe the money will reach the families of the dead and wounded?”
This time the Germans answered. “I belief it!” roared Comrade Koeln. “And I! And I!” shouted others.
“That money is staying right here in Leesville!” proclaimed the lawyer. “It is preparing a strike in the Empire!”
A dozen men wanted the floor at once. Schneider, the brewer, got it, for the reason that he could outbellow anyone else. “What does the comrade want?” he demanded. “Is he not for the eight hour day?”
“Has he got any of the old man Granitch’s money?” shrilled “Wild Bill”. “Or maybe he doesn’t know that Granitch is spending money to get smart young lawyers to help keep his munition slaves at work?”
Norwood, having thrown the fat into the fire, sat down for a while and let it blaze. When the Germans taunted him with being afraid to say what he really meant—that the local should oppose the demand for the eight hour day—he merely laughed at them. He had wanted to make them show themselves up, and he had done it. Not merely were they willing to do the work of the Kaiser—they were willing to take the Kaiser’s pay for doing it!
“Take his pay?” cried “Wild Bill”. “I’d take the devil’s pay to carry on Socialist propaganda!”
Old Hermann Forster rose and spoke, in his gentle sentimental voice. If it were true that the Kaiser was paying money for such ends, he would surely find he had bought very little. There were Socialists in Germany, one must remember—
And then came a shrill laugh. Those tame German Socialists! It was Comrade Claudel, a Belgian jeweller, who spoke. Would any rabbit be afraid of such revolutionists as them? Eating out of the Kaiser’s hand—having their papers distributed in the trenches for government propaganda! Talk to a Belgian about German Socialists!
So you saw the European national lines splitting Local Leesville in two: on the one side, the Germans and the Austrians, the Russian Jews, the Irish and the religious pacifists; on the other side, two English glass-blowers, a French waiter, and several Americans who, because of college-education or other snobbish weakness, were suspected of tenderness for John Bull. Between these extreme factions stood the bulk of the membership, listening bewildered, trying to grope their way through the labyrinth.