Then Jimmie went on to tell about to-night’s meeting, the preparations they had made, the troubles they had had. The police had suddenly decided to enforce the law against delivering circulars from house to house; though they allowed Isaac’s “Emporium” to use this method of announcement. The Leesville Herald and Evening Courier were enthusiastic for the police action; if you couldn’t give out circulars, obviously you would have to advertise in these papers. The Candidate smiled—he knew about American police officials, and also about American journalism.
Jimmie had been laid off for a couple of days at the shop, and he told how he had put this time to good use, getting announcements of the meeting into the stores. There was an old Scotchman in a real estate office just across the way. “Git oot!” he said. “So I thought I’d better git oot!” said Jimmie. And then, taking his life into his hands, he had gone into the First National Bank. There was a gentleman walking across the floor, and Jimmie went up to him and held out one of the placards with the picture of the Candidate. “Would you be so good as to put this in your window?” he inquired; and the other looked at it coldly. Then he smiled—he was a good sort, apparently. “I don’t think my customers would patronize your business,” he said; but Jimmie went at him to take some tickets and learn about Socialism—and would you believe it, he had actually shelled out a dollar! “I found out afterwards that it was Ashton Charmers, the president of the bank!” said Jimmie. “I’d a’ been scared, if I’d a’ known.”
He had not meant to talk about himself; he was just trying to entertain a tired Candidate, to keep him from brooding over a world going to war. But the Candidate, listening, found tears trying to steal into his eyes. He watched the figure before him—a bowed, undernourished little man, with one shoulder lower than the other, a straggly brown moustache stained with coffee, and stumpy black teeth, and gnarled hands into which the dirt and grease were ground so deeply that washing them would obviously be a waste of time. His clothes were worn and shapeless, his celluloid collar was cracked and his necktie was almost a rag. You would never have looked at such a man twice on the street—and yet the Candidate saw in him one of those obscure heroes who are making a movement which is to transform the world.
“Comrade Higgins,” said the Candidate, after a bit, “let’s you and me run away.”
Jimmie looked startled. “How?”
“I mean from the Committee, and from the meeting, and from everything.” And then, seeing the dismay in the other’s face: “I mean, let’s take a walk in the country.”
“Oh!” said Jimmie.
“I see it through the windows of the railroad-cars, but I don’t set foot on it for months at a time. And I was brought up in the country. Were you?”