"Have you ever seen a woman skinned alive?" he howled wildly, thrusting his face forward at Hugh. "Have you ever seen men killed with the knotted rope; burned almost to death and then set free, charred and mutilated wrecks? But what does it matter provided only freedom comes, as it has in Russia. To-morrow it will be England: in a week the world…Even if we have to wade through rivers of blood up to our throats, nevertheless it will come. And in the end we shall have a new earth."
Hugh lit a cigarette and leaned back in his chair.
"It seems a most alluring programme," he murmured. "And I shall have much pleasure in recommending you as manager of a babies' crèche. I feel certain the little ones would take to you instinctively."
He half closed his eyes, while a general buzz of conversation broke out round the table. Tongues had been loosened, wonderful ideals conjured up by the Russian's inspiring words; and for the moment he was forgotten. Again and again the question hammered at his brain—what in the name of Buddha had Peterson and Lakington to do with this crowd? Two intensely brilliant, practical criminals mixed up with a bunch of ragged-trousered visionaries, who, to all intents and purposes, were insane….
Fragments of conversation struck his ears from time to time. The intimidated rabbit, with the light of battle in his watery eye, was declaiming on the glories of Workmen's Councils; a bullet-headed man who looked like a down-at-heels racing tout was shouting an inspiring battle-cry about no starvation wages and work for all.