Amiable with Big Teeth by Claude McKay:
“Poor Tekla!” Seraphine drew closer and leaned against him. He was thinking about the party. Would he be invited to any more like it? A crowd of people coming together to drink and amuse themselves as best they could. And a few phrases spoken about Ethiopia, his country—ten million people fighting with medieval weapons against a nation of over sixty million, with colonials, with modern war machines, planes and tanks and gas. How long could they stand it, his people? In Menelik’s days it was different—the rifle and the spear were mighty weapons. But Haile Selassie was Menelik. He had tried to modernize Ethiopia, but the time was too short . . . The Italians were killing off his people, overrunning his country . . . And he was drinking cocktails at a party in New York. But people must amuse themselves to keep from going insane. Even under the terror, the soldiers at the front and the civilians behind the lines, both getting bombed and gassed just the same, they had their relaxation: cards, jokes, laughter, music, wine, women . . .