And the Comrade Doctor fairly snorted. “How could you be such an ass? Don’t you read the news? But no—of course, you don’t—you only read German dope!” And the Comrade Doctor drew out his pocket-book, which was bursting with clippings, and selected one from a New York paper, telling how the government was proceeding against the officials of an organization called “Labour’s National Peace Council” for conspiring to cause strikes and violence. The founder of the organization was a person known as “the Wolf of Wall Street”; the funds had been furnished by a Prussian army officer, an attache of the German legation, who had used his official immunity to incite conspiracy and wholesale destruction of property in a friendly country. What had Jimmie to say to that?
And poor Jimmie for once had nothing to say. He sat, completely crushed. Not merely the money which he had got from Kumme on Saturday night, but also the ten-dollar bills which Jerry Coleman had been slipping into his hand—they, too, had come from the Kaiser! Was the whole radical movement to be taken over by the Kaiser, and Jimmie Higgins put out of his job?
JIMMIE HIGGINS RETURNS TO NATURE
Kumme’s bicycle-shop went out of business, and its contents were sold at auction. Jimmie Higgins watched the process wistfully, reflecting how, if he had not wasted his substance on Socialist tracts, if he had saved a bit of his wages like any normal human being, he might have bought this little business and got a start in life. But alas, such hopes were not for Jimmie! He must remain in the condition which the President of his country described as “industrial serfdom”; he must continue to work for some other man’s profit, to be at the mercy of some other man’s whim.
He found himself a job in the railroad shops; but in a couple of weeks came an organizer, trying to start a union in the place. Jimmie, of course, joined; how could he refuse? And so the next time he went to get his pay he found a green slip in his envelope informing him that the Atlantic Western Railroad Company would no longer require his services. No explanation was given, and none sought—for Jimmie was old in the ways of American wage-slavery, euphemistically referred to as “industrial serfdom”.
He got another start as helper to a truckman. It was the hardest work he had yet done—all the harder because the boss was a dull fellow who would not talk about politics or the war. So Jimmie was discontented; perhaps the spring-time was getting into his blood; at any rate, he hunted through his Sunday paper, and came on an advertisement of a farmer who wanted a “hand”. It was six miles out in the country, and Jimmie, remembering his walk with the Candidate, treated himself to a Sunday afternoon excursion. He knew nothing about farm-work, and said so; but the munition-factories had drained so much labour from the land that the farmer was glad to get anybody. He had a “tenant-house” on his place, and on Monday morning Jimmie hired his former boss—and truckman—to move his few sticks of furniture; he bade farewell to his little friend Meissner, and next day was learning to milk cows and steer a plough.