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Jimmie Higgins eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 pages of information about Jimmie Higgins.

This old soldier lived about a mile from Jimmie, and asked his new friend to come and see him.  So the next afternoon, which was Sunday, Lizzie put on a newly starched dress, and Jimmie packed the two smallest infants in the double perambulator, and took Jimmie Junior’s chubby hand and they trudged down the road to the farmhouse which the old man’s father had built.  Mrs. Drew was a sweet-faced, rather tired looking old lady, but her pale eyes seemed to smile with hospitality, and she brought out a basket of ripe peaches, and sat and chatted sympathetically with Lizzie about the care of babies, while Jimmie and the old man sat under the shade of an elm tree by the kitchen-door and discussed American history.  Jimmie listened to stories of battle and imprisonment, of monster heroisms and self-immolations.  Up to this time he had been looking at war from the outside, as it were; but now he got a glimpse of the soul of it, he began to understand how a man might be willing to leave his home and his loved ones, and march out to fight and suffer and die to save his country in which he believed.

And here was another new idea:  this old fellow had been a soldier, had fought through four years of incessant battles, and yet he had not lost his goodness.  He was kind, gentle, generous; he gave dignity to the phrases at which Jimmie had been taught to mock.  It was impossible not to respect such a man; and so little by little Jimmie was made to reflect that there might be such a thing as the soul of America, about which Peter Drew was all the time talking.  Perhaps there was really more to the country than Wall Street speculators and grafting politicians, policemen with clubs and militiamen with bayonets to stick into the bodies of working-men who tried to improve their lot in life!

III

In the course of the summer Jimmie had to take several days off and go into Leesville to attend the trial of the German plotters.  He had to take the witness-stand and tell all he knew about Kumme and Heinrich and the other men who had frequented the bicycle-shop.  It was a very serious experience, and before it was over Jimmie was heartily glad that he had rejected the invitation to help blow up the Empire Machine Shops.  The trial ended with a sentence of six months for Jimmie’s old employer, and of two years each for Heinrich and his pals.  The law allowed no more—­to the intense disgust of the Leesville Herald.  The Herald was in favour of a life-sentence for anyone who interfered with the industry upon which the prosperity of the city depended.

Among those who came to the trial was Comrade Smith, editor of the Worker, and Jimmie sat with him in Tom’s “Buffeteria”, and heard an account of the latest developments in the Empire Shops.  The movement of discontent had been entirely crushed; the great establishment was going at full blast, both day and night.  They were taking on hundreds of new hands, mostly women and girls, speeding them faster and faster, turning out tens of thousands of shell-casings every day.  And still they were not satisfied; new buildings were going up, the concern was spreading like a huge blot over the landscape.  There was talk of an explosive factory near-by, so that shells might be filled as fast as they were made.

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