Pretty soon it became evident that the vivid and dashing young person was setting her cap for Comrade Gerrity, the organizer. As Gerrity was an eligible young bachelor, that was all right. But then, a little later, it began to be suspected that she had designs upon Comrade Claudel, the Belgian jeweller. Doubtless she had a right to make her choice between them; but some of the women were of the opinion that she took too long to choose; and finally one or two malicious ones began to say that she had no intention of choosing—she wanted both.
And then fell a thunderbolt into Jimmie’s life. It was just after his arrest when fame still clung to him; and after the meeting Comrade Baskerville came up and engaged him in conversation. How did it feel to be a jailbird? When he told her that it felt fine, she bade him not be too proud—she had served thirty days for picketing in a shirt-waist strike! As she looked at him, her pretty brown eyes sparkled with mischief, and her wicked little dimples lost no curtain-calls. Poor, humble Jimmie was stirred to his shoe-tips, for he had never before received the attentions of such a fascinating creature—unless perchance it had been to sell her a newspaper, or to beg the price of a sandwich in his tramp days. Here was one of the wonderful things about the Socialist movement, that it broke down the barriers of class, and gave you exciting glimpses of higher worlds of culture and charm!
Comrade Baskerville continued to flash her dimples and her wit at Jimmie, despite the fact that Comrade Gerrity and Comrade Claudel and several other moths were hovering about the candle-flame, and all the women in the local watching out of the corners of their eyes. Finally, to Jimmie’s unutterable consternation, the vivid young goddess of Liberty inquired, “Wouldn’t you like to walk home with me, Comrade Higgins?” He stammered, “Yes”; and they went out, the young goddess plying him with questions about conditions in the jail, and displaying most convincing erudition on the subject of the economic aspects of criminology—at the same time seeming entirely oblivious to the hoverings of the other moths, and the disgust of the unemancipated ladies of Local Leesville.
They walked down the street together, and first Comrade Baskerville shivered with horror at the “seam-squirrels”, and then exclaimed with delight over the conversion of “Dead-eye Mike” to Socialism, and then made merry over the singing of the Internationale in the police-station. Had she discovered a “character” in this seemingly insignificant little machinist? At any rate, she plied him with questions about his past life and his ideas. When he told her of his starved and neglected childhood, she murmured sympathetically, and it seemed to the fascinated Jimmie that here was a woman who understood instinctively all the cravings of his soul. She laid her hand on his arm, and it was as if an angel were touching him—strange little thrills ran like currents of electricity all over him.