Jimmie had been, so far in his married life, as well domesticated as could be expected of a proletarian propagandist. He had yearned to own a home of his own, and meantime had manifested his repressed wish by getting a big packing-box and some broken shingles, and building a model play-house for Jimmie Junior in the back yard. He had even found time on his tired and crowded Sundays to start a garden in midsummer, the season when the local was least active. But now, of course, the war had come to obsess his mind, driving him to terror for the future of humanity, tempting him to martyrdoms and domestic irritations.
It was at this critical period in Jimmie’s life that there appeared in Leesville a vivid young person by the name of Evelyn Baskerville. Evelyn was no tired kitchen slave—with her fluffy brown hair, her pert little dimples, her trim figure, her jaunty hat with a turkey feather stuck on one side of her head. Evelyn was a stenographer and proclaimed herself an advanced feminist; at her first visit she set the local upside down. It happened to be “social evening”, when all the men smoked, and this “free” young thing took a cigarette from her escort and puffed it all over the place. This, of course, would not have made a stir in great centres of culture such as London and Greenwich Village; but in Leesville it was the first time that the equality of women had been interpreted to mean that the women should adopt the vices of the men.
Then Evelyn had produced from her handbag some leaflets on Birth Control, and proposed that the local should undertake their distribution. This was a new subject in Leesville, and while the members supposed it was all right, they found it embarrassing to have the matter explained too fully in open meeting. Evelyn wanted a “birth strike”, as the surest means of ending the war; she wanted the Worker to take up this programme, and did not conceal her contempt for reactionaries in the movement who still wanted to pretend that babies were brought by storks. The delicate subject was finally “tabled”, and when the meeting adjourned and the members walked home, everyone was talking about Miss Baskerville—the men mostly talking with the men, and the women with the women.