"Jimmie," said Lizzie, "couldn't we go see the pictures?"
And Jimmie set down the saucer of hot coffee which he was in the act
of adjusting to his mouth, and stared at his wife. He did not say
anything; in three years and a half as a married man he had learned
that one does not always say everything that comes into one's mind.
But he meditated on the abysses that lie between the masculine and
feminine intellects. That it should be possible for anyone to wish
to see a movie idol leaping into second-story windows, or being
pulled from beneath flying express trains, on this day of destiny,
this greatest crisis in history!
"You know, Lizzie," he said, patiently, "I've got to help at the
"But you've got all morning!"
"I know; but it'll take all day."
And Lizzie fell silent; for she too had learned much in three years
and a half of married life. She had learned that working men's wives
seldom get all they would like in this world; also that to have a
propagandist for a husband is not the worst fate that may befall.
After all, he might have been giving his time and money to drink, or
to other women; he might have been dying of a cough, like the man
next door. If one could not have a bit of pleasure on a Sunday
afternoon--well, one might sigh, but not too loud.
Jimmie began telling all the things that had to be done that Sunday
morning and afternoon. They seemed to Lizzie exactly like the things
that were done on other occasions before meetings. To be sure, this
was bigger--it was in the Opera-house, and all the stores had cards
in the windows, with a picture of the Candidate who was to be the
orator of the occasion. But it was hard for Lizzie to understand the
difference between this Candidate and other candidates--none of whom
ever got elected! Lizzie would truly rather have stayed at home, for
she did not understand English very well when it was shouted from a
platform, and with a lot of long words; but she knew that Jimmie was
trying to educate her, and being a woman, she was educated to this
extent--she knew the way to hold on to her man.
Jimmie had just discovered a new solution of the problem of getting
the babies to meetings; and Lizzie knew that he was tremendously
proud of this discovery. So long as there had been only one baby,
Jimmie had carried it. When there had come a second, Lizzie had
helped. But now there were three, the total weight of them something
over sixty pounds; and the street-car line was some distance away,
and also it hurt Jimmie in his class-consciousness to pay twenty
cents to a predatory corporation. They had tried the plan of paying
something to a neighbour to stay with the babies; but the first they
tried was a young girl who got tired and went away, leaving the
little ones to howl their heads off; and the second was a Polish
lady whom they found in a drunken stupor on their return.
But Jimmie was determined to go to meetings, and determined that
Lizzie should go along. It was one of the curses of the system, he
said, that it deprived working-class women of all chance for
self-improvement. So he had paid a visit to the "Industrial Store",
a junk-shop maintained by the Salvation Army, and for fifteen cents
he had obtained a marvellous broad baby-carriage for twins, all
finished in shiny black enamel. One side of it was busted, but
Jimmie had fixed that with some wire, and by careful packing had
shown that it was possible to stow the youngsters in it--Jimmie and
Pete side by side, and the new baby at the foot.
The one trouble was that Jimmie Junior couldn't keep his feet still.
He could never keep any part of him still, the little
jack-in-the-box. Here he was now, tearing about the kitchen,
pursuing the ever-receding tail of the newest addition to the
family, a half-starved cur who had followed Jimmie in from the
street, and had been fed into a semblance of reality. From this
treasure a bare, round tail hung out behind in tantalizing fashion;
Jimmie Junior, always imagining he could catch it, was toddling
round and round and round the kitchen-table, clutching out in front
of him, laughing so that after a while he sat down from sheer
And Jimmie Senior watched enraptured. Say, but he was a buster! Did
you ever see a twenty-seven months' old kid that could get over the
ground like that? Or make a louder noise? This last because Jimmie
Junior had tried to take a short cut through the kitchen range and
failed. Lizzie swooped down, clasping him to her broad bosom, and
pouring out words of comfort in Bohemian. As Jimmie Senior did not
understand any of these words, he took advantage of the confusion to
get his coat and cap and hustle off to the Opera-house, full of
fresh determination. For, you see, whenever a Socialist looks at his
son, or even thinks of his son, he is hotter for his job of
propagandist. Let the world be changed soon, so that the little
fellows may be spared those sufferings and humiliations which have
fallen to the lot of their parents!
"Comrade Higgins, have you got a hammer?" It was Comrade Schneider
who spoke, and he did not take the trouble to come down from the
ladder, where he was holding up a streamer of bunting, but waited
comfortably for the hammer to be fetched to him. And scarcely had
the fetcher started to climb before there came the voice of a woman
from across the stage: "Comrade Higgins, has the Ypsel banner come?"