H. G. Wells
Part 5 out of 7
reforming people believed. Across that world was written in
letters of light, "Endowment of Motherhood." Suppose in some
complex yet conceivable way women were endowed, were no longer
economically and socially dependent on men. "If one was free,"
she said, "one could go to him. . . . This vile hovering to
catch a man's eye! . . . One could go to him and tell him one
loved him. I want to love him. A little love from him would be
enough. It would hurt no one. It would not burden him with any
She groaned aloud and bowed her forehead to her knees. She
floundered deep. She wanted to kiss his feet. His feet would
have the firm texture of his hands.
Then suddenly her spirit rose in revolt. "I will not have this
slavery," she said. "I will not have this slavery."
She shook her fist ceilingward. "Do you hear!" she said
"whatever you are, wherever you are! I will not be slave to the
thought of any man, slave to the customs of any time. Confound
this slavery of sex! I am a man! I will get this under if I am
killed in doing it!"
She scowled into the cold blacknesses about her.
"Manning," she said, and contemplated a figure of inaggressive
persistence. "No!" Her thoughts had turned in a new direction.
"It doesn't matter," she said, after a long interval, "if they
are absurd. They mean something. They mean everything that
women can mean--except submission. The vote is only the
beginning, the necessary beginning. If we do not begin--"
She had come to a resolution. Abruptly she got out of bed,
smoothed her sheet and straightened her pillow and lay down, and
fell almost instantly asleep.
The next morning was as dark and foggy as if it was mid-November
instead of early March. Ann Veronica woke rather later than
usual, and lay awake for some minutes before she remembered a
certain resolution she had taken in the small hours. Then
instantly she got out of bed and proceeded to dress.
She did not start for the Imperial College. She spent the
morning up to ten in writing a series of unsuccessful letters to
Ramage, which she tore up unfinished; and finally she desisted
and put on her jacket and went out into the lamp-lit obscurity
and slimy streets. She turned a resolute face southward.
She followed Oxford Street into Holborn, and then she inquired
for Chancery Lane. There she sought and at last found 107A, one
of those heterogeneous piles of offices which occupy the eastern
side of the lane. She studied the painted names of firms and
persons and enterprises on the wall, and discovered that the
Women's Bond of Freedom occupied several contiguous suites on the
first floor. She went up-stairs and hesitated between four doors
with ground-glass panes, each of which professed "The Women's
Bond of Freedom" in neat black letters. She opened one and found
herself in a large untidy room set with chairs that were a little
disarranged as if by an overnight meeting. On the walls were
notice-boards bearing clusters of newspaper slips, three or four
big posters of monster meetings, one of which Ann Veronica had
attended with Miss Miniver, and a series of announcements in
purple copying-ink, and in one corner was a pile of banners.
There was no one at all in this room, but through the half-open
door of one of the small apartments that gave upon it she had a
glimpse of two very young girls sitting at a littered table and
She walked across to this apartment and, opening the door a
little wider, discovered a press section of the movement at work.
"I want to inquire," said Ann Veronica.
"Next door," said a spectacled young person of seventeen or
eighteen, with an impatient indication of the direction.
In the adjacent apartment Ann Veronica found a middle-aged woman
with a tired face under the tired hat she wore, sitting at a desk
opening letters while a dusky, untidy girl of eight-or
nine-and-twenty hammered industriously at a typewriter. The
tired woman looked up in inquiring silence at Ann Veronica's
"I want to know more about this movement," said Ann Veronica.
"Are you with us?" said the tired woman.
"I don't know," said Ann Veronica; "I think I am. I want very
much to do something for women. But I want to know what you are
The tired woman sat still for a moment. "You haven't come here
to make a lot of difficulties?" she asked.
"No," said Ann Veronica, "but I want to know."
The tired woman shut her eyes tightly for a moment, and then
looked with them at Ann Veronica. "What can you do?" she asked.
"Are you prepared to do things for us? Distribute bills? Write
letters? Interrupt meetings? Canvass at elections? Face
"If I am satisfied--"
"If we satisfy you?"
"Then, if possible, I would like to go to prison."
"It isn't nice going to prison."
"It would suit me."
"It isn't nice getting there."
"That's a question of detail," said Ann Veronica.
The tired woman looked quietly at her. "What are your
objections?" she said.
"It isn't objections exactly. I want to know what you are doing;
how you think this work of yours really does serve women."
"We are working for the equal citizenship of men and women," said
the tired woman. "Women have been and are treated as the
inferiors of men, we want to make them their equals."
"Yes," said Ann Veronica, "I agree to that. But--"
The tired woman raised her eyebrows in mild protest.
"Isn't the question more complicated than that?" said Ann
"You could have a talk to Miss Kitty Brett this afternoon, if you
liked. Shall I make an appointment for you?"
Miss Kitty Brett was one of the most conspicuous leaders of the
movement. Ann Veronica snatched at the opportunity, and spent
most of the intervening time in the Assyrian Court of the British
Museum, reading and thinking over a little book upon the feminist
movement the tired woman had made her buy. She got a bun and
some cocoa in the little refreshment-room, and then wandered
through the galleries up-stairs, crowded with Polynesian idols
and Polynesian dancing-garments, and all the simple immodest
accessories to life in Polynesia, to a seat among the mummies.
She was trying to bring her problems to a head, and her mind
insisted upon being even more discursive and atmospheric than
usual. It generalized everything she put to it.
"Why should women be dependent on men?" she asked; and the
question was at once converted into a system of variations upon
the theme of "Why are things as they are?"--"Why are human beings
viviparous?"--"Why are people hungry thrice a day?"--"Why does
one faint at danger?"
She stood for a time looking at the dry limbs and still human
face of that desiccated unwrapped mummy from the very beginnings
of social life. It looked very patient, she thought, and a
little self-satisfied. It looked as if it had taken its world
for granted and prospered on that assumption--a world in which
children were trained to obey their elders and the wills of women
over-ruled as a matter of course. It was wonderful to think this
thing had lived, had felt and suffered. Perhaps once it had
desired some other human being intolerably. Perhaps some one had
kissed the brow that was now so cadaverous, rubbed that sunken
cheek with loving fingers, held that stringy neck with
passionately living hands. But all of that was forgotten. "In
the end," it seemed to be thinking, "they embalmed me with the
utmost respect--sound spices chosen to endure--the best! I took
my world as I found it. THINGS ARE SO!"
Ann Veronica's first impression of Kitty Brett was that she was
aggressive and disagreeable; her next that she was a person of
amazing persuasive power. She was perhaps three-and-twenty, and
very pink and healthy-looking, showing a great deal of white and
rounded neck above her business-like but altogether feminine
blouse, and a good deal of plump, gesticulating forearm out of
her short sleeve. She had animated dark blue-gray eyes under her
fine eyebrows, and dark brown hair that rolled back simply and
effectively from her broad low forehead. And she was about as
capable of intelligent argument as a runaway steam-roller. She
was a trained being--trained by an implacable mother to one end.
She spoke with fluent enthusiasm. She did not so much deal with
Ann Veronica's interpolations as dispose of them with quick and
use-hardened repartee, and then she went on with a fine
directness to sketch the case for her agitation, for that
remarkable rebellion of the women that was then agitating the
whole world of politics and discussion. She assumed with a kind
of mesmeric force all the propositions that Ann Veronica wanted
her to define.
"What do we want? What is the goal?" asked Ann Veronica.
"Freedom! Citizenship! And the way to that--the way to
everything--is the Vote."
Ann Veronica said something about a general change of ideas.
"How can you change people's ideas if you have no power?" said
Ann Veronica was not ready enough to deal with that
"One doesn't want to turn the whole thing into a mere sex
"When women get justice," said Kitty Brett, "there will be no sex
antagonism. None at all. Until then we mean to keep on
"It seems to me that much of a woman's difficulties are
"That will follow," said Kitty Brett--"that will follow."
She interrupted as Ann Veronica was about to speak again, with a
bright contagious hopefulness. "Everything will follow," she
"Yes," said Ann Veronica, trying to think where they were, trying
to get things plain again that had seemed plain enough in the
quiet of the night.
"Nothing was ever done," Miss Brett asserted, "without a certain
element of Faith. After we have got the Vote and are recognized
as citizens, then we can come to all these other things."
Even in the glamour of Miss Brett's assurance it seemed to Ann
Veronica that this was, after all, no more than the gospel of
Miss Miniver with a new set of resonances. And like that gospel
it meant something, something different from its phrases,
something elusive, and yet something that in spite of the
superficial incoherence of its phrasing, was largely essentially
true. There was something holding women down, holding women back,
and if it wasn't exactly man-made law, man-made law was an aspect
of it. There was something indeed holding the whole species back
from the imaginable largeness of life. . . .
"The Vote is the symbol of everything," said Miss Brett.
She made an abrupt personal appeal.
"Oh! please don't lose yourself in a wilderness of secondary
considerations," she said. "Don't ask me to tell you all that
women can do, all that women can be. There is a new life,
different from the old life of dependence, possible. If only we
are not divided. If only we work together. This is the one
movement that brings women of different classes together for a
common purpose. If you could see how it gives them souls, women
who have taken things for granted, who have given themselves up
altogether to pettiness and vanity. . . ."
"Give me something to do," said Ann Veronica, interrupting her
persuasions at last. "It has been very kind of you to see me,
but I don't want to sit and talk and use your time any longer. I
want to do something. I want to hammer myself against all this
that pens women in. I feel that I shall stifle unless I can do
something--and do something soon."
It was not Ann Veronica's fault that the night's work should have
taken upon itself the forms of wild burlesque. She was in deadly
earnest in everything she did. It seemed to her the last
desperate attack upon the universe that would not let her live as
she desired to live, that penned her in and controlled her and
directed her and disapproved of her, the same invincible
wrappering, the same leaden tyranny of a universe that she had
vowed to overcome after that memorable conflict with her father
at Morningside Park.
She was listed for the raid--she was informed it was to be a raid
upon the House of Commons, though no particulars were given
her--and told to go alone to 14, Dexter Street, Westminster, and
not to ask any policeman to direct her. 14, Dexter Street,
Westminster, she found was not a house but a yard in an obscure
street, with big gates and the name of Podgers & Carlo, Carriers
and Furniture Removers, thereon. She was perplexed by this, and
stood for some seconds in the empty street hesitating, until the
appearance of another circumspect woman under the street lamp at
the corner reassured her. In one of the big gates was a little
door, and she rapped at this. It was immediately opened by a man
with light eyelashes and a manner suggestive of restrained
passion. "Come right in," he hissed under his breath, with the
true conspirator's note, closed the door very softly and pointed,
By the meagre light of a gas lamp she perceived a cobbled yard
with four large furniture vans standing with horses and lamps
alight. A slender young man, wearing glasses, appeared from the
shadow of the nearest van. "Are you A, B, C, or D?" he asked.
"They told me D," said Ann Veronica.
"Through there," he said, and pointed with the pamphlet he was
Ann Veronica found herself in a little stirring crowd of excited
women, whispering and tittering and speaking in undertones.
The light was poor, so that she saw their gleaming faces dimly
and indistinctly. No one spoke to her. She stood among them,
watching them and feeling curiously alien to them. The oblique
ruddy lighting distorted them oddly, made queer bars and patches
of shadow upon their clothes. "It's Kitty's idea," said one, "we
are to go in the vans."
"Kitty is wonderful," said another.
"I have always longed for prison service," said a voice, "always.
From the beginning. But it's only now I'm able to do it."
A little blond creature close at hand suddenly gave way to a fit
of hysterical laughter, and caught up the end of it with a sob.
"Before I took up the Suffrage," a firm, flat voice remarked, "I
could scarcely walk up-stairs without palpitations."
Some one hidden from Ann Veronica appeared to be marshalling the
assembly. "We have to get in, I think," said a nice little old
lady in a bonnet to Ann Veronica, speaking with a voice that
quavered a little. "My dear, can you see in this light? I think
I would like to get in. Which is C?"
Ann Veronica, with a curious sinking of the heart, regarded the
black cavities of the vans. Their doors stood open, and placards
with big letters indicated the section assigned to each. She
directed the little old woman and then made her way to van D. A
young woman with a white badge on her arm stood and counted the
sections as they entered their vans.
"When they tap the roof," she said, in a voice of authority, "you
are to come out. You will be opposite the big entrance in Old
Palace Yard. It's the public entrance. You are to make for that
and get into the lobby if you can, and so try and reach the floor
of the House, crying 'Votes for Women!' as you go."
She spoke like a mistress addressing school-children.
"Don't bunch too much as you come out," she added.
"All right?" asked the man with the light eyelashes, suddenly
appearing in the doorway. He waited for an instant, wasting an
encouraging smile in the imperfect light, and then shut the doors
of the van, leaving the women in darkness. . . .
The van started with a jerk and rumbled on its way.
"It's like Troy!" said a voice of rapture. "It's exactly like Troy!"
So Ann Veronica, enterprising and a little dubious as ever,
mingled with the stream of history and wrote her Christian name
upon the police-court records of the land.
But out of a belated regard for her father she wrote the surname
of some one else.
Some day, when the rewards of literature permit the arduous
research required, the Campaign of the Women will find its
Carlyle, and the particulars of that marvellous series of
exploits by which Miss Brett and her colleagues nagged the whole
Western world into the discussion of women's position become the
material for the most delightful and amazing descriptions. At
present the world waits for that writer, and the confused record
of the newspapers remains the only resource of the curious. When
he comes he will do that raid of the pantechnicons the justice it
deserves; he will picture the orderly evening scene about the
Imperial Legislature in convincing detail, the coming and going
of cabs and motor-cabs and broughams through the chill, damp
evening into New Palace Yard, the reinforced but untroubled and
unsuspecting police about the entries of those great buildings
whose square and panelled Victorian Gothic streams up from the
glare of the lamps into the murkiness of the night; Big Ben
shining overhead, an unassailable beacon, and the incidental
traffic of Westminster, cabs, carts, and glowing omnibuses going
to and from the bridge. About the Abbey and Abingdon Street
stood the outer pickets and detachments of the police, their
attention all directed westward to where the women in Caxton
Hall, Westminster, hummed like an angry hive. Squads reached to
the very portal of that centre of disturbance. And through all
these defences and into Old Palace Yard, into the very vitals of
the defenders' position, lumbered the unsuspected vans.
They travelled past the few idle sightseers who had braved the
uninviting evening to see what the Suffragettes might be doing;
they pulled up unchallenged within thirty yards of those coveted
And then they disgorged.
Were I a painter of subject pictures, I would exhaust all my
skill in proportion and perspective and atmosphere upon the
august seat of empire, I would present it gray and dignified and
immense and respectable beyond any mere verbal description, and
then, in vivid black and very small, I would put in those
valiantly impertinent vans, squatting at the base of its
altitudes and pouring out a swift, straggling rush of ominous
little black objects, minute figures of determined women at war
with the universe.
Ann Veronica was in their very forefront.
In an instant the expectant calm of Westminster was ended, and
the very Speaker in the chair blenched at the sound of the
policemen's whistles. The bolder members in the House left their
places to go lobbyward, grinning. Others pulled hats over their
noses, cowered in their seats, and feigned that all was right
with the world. In Old Palace Yard everybody ran. They either
ran to see or ran for shelter. Even two Cabinet Ministers took
to their heels, grinning insincerely. At the opening of the van
doors and the emergence into the fresh air Ann Veronica's doubt
and depression gave place to the wildest exhilaration. That same
adventurousness that had already buoyed her through crises that
would have overwhelmed any normally feminine girl with shame and
horror now became uppermost again. Before her was a great Gothic
portal. Through that she had to go.
Past her shot the little old lady in the bonnet, running
incredibly fast, but otherwise still alertly respectable, and she
was making a strange threatening sound as she ran, such as one
would use in driving ducks out of a garden--"B-r-r-r-r-r--!" and
pawing with black-gloved hands. The policemen were closing in
from the sides to intervene. The little old lady struck like a
projectile upon the resounding chest of the foremost of these,
and then Ann Veronica had got past and was ascending the steps.
Then most horribly she was clasped about the waist from behind
and lifted from the ground.
At that a new element poured into her excitement, an element of
wild disgust and terror. She had never experienced anything so
disagreeable in her life as the sense of being held helplessly
off her feet. She screamed involuntarily--she had never in her
life screamed before --and then she began to wriggle and fight
like a frightened animal against the men who were holding her.
The affair passed at one leap from a spree to a nightmare of
violence and disgust. Her hair got loose, her hat came over one
eye, and she had no arm free to replace it. She felt she must
suffocate if these men did not put her down, and for a time they
would not put her down. Then with an indescribable relief her
feet were on the pavement, and she was being urged along by two
policemen, who were gripping her wrists in an irresistible expert
manner. She was writhing to get her hands loose and found
herself gasping with passionate violence, "It's
damnable!--damnable!" to the manifest disgust of the fatherly
policeman on her right.
Then they had released her arms and were trying to push her away.
"You be off, missie," said the fatherly policeman. "This ain't
no place for you."
He pushed her a dozen yards along the greasy pavement with flat,
well-trained hands that there seemed to be no opposing. Before
her stretched blank spaces, dotted with running people coming
toward her, and below them railings and a statue. She almost
submitted to this ending of her adventure. But at the word
"home" she turned again.
"I won't go home," she said; "I won't!" and she evaded the clutch
of the fatherly policeman and tried to thrust herself past him in
the direction of that big portal. "Steady on!" he cried.
A diversion was created by the violent struggles of the little
old lady. She seemed to be endowed with superhuman strength. A
knot of three policemen in conflict with her staggered toward Ann
Veronica's attendants and distracted their attention. "I WILL be
arrested! I WON'T go home!" the little old lady was screaming
over and over again. They put her down, and she leaped at them;
she smote a helmet to the ground.
"You'll have to take her!" shouted an inspector on horseback, and
she echoed his cry: "You'll have to take me!" They seized upon
her and lifted her, and she screamed. Ann Veronica became
violently excited at the sight. "You cowards!" said Ann
Veronica, "put her down!" and tore herself from a detaining hand
and battered with her fists upon the big red ear and blue
shoulder of the policeman who held the little old lady.
So Ann Veronica also was arrested.
And then came the vile experience of being forced and borne along
the street to the police-station. Whatever anticipation Ann
Veronica had formed of this vanished in the reality. Presently
she was going through a swaying, noisy crowd, whose faces grinned
and stared pitilessly in the light of the electric standards.
"Go it, miss!" cried one. "Kick aht at 'em!" though, indeed, she
went now with Christian meekness, resenting only the thrusting
policemen's hands. Several people in the crowd seemed to be
fighting. Insulting cries became frequent and various, but for
the most part she could not understand what was said. "Who'll
mind the baby nar?" was one of the night's inspirations, and very
frequent. A lean young man in spectacles pursued her for some
time, crying "Courage! Courage!" Somebody threw a dab of mud at
her, and some of it got down her neck. Immeasurable disgust
possessed her. She felt draggled and insulted beyond redemption.
She could not hide her face. She attempted by a sheer act of
will to end the scene, to will herself out of it anywhere. She
had a horrible glimpse of the once nice little old lady being
also borne stationward, still faintly battling and very
muddy--one lock of grayish hair straggling over her neck, her
face scared, white, but triumphant. Her bonnet dropped off and
was trampled into the gutter. A little Cockney recovered it, and
made ridiculous attempts to get to her and replace it.
"You must arrest me!" she gasped, breathlessly, insisting
insanely on a point already carried; "you shall!"
The police-station at the end seemed to Ann Veronica like a
refuge from unnamable disgraces. She hesitated about her name,
and, being prompted, gave it at last as Ann Veronica Smith, 107A,
Chancery Lane. . . .
Indignation carried her through that night, that men and the
world could so entreat her. The arrested women were herded in a
passage of the Panton Street Police-station that opened upon a
cell too unclean for occupation, and most of them spent the night
standing. Hot coffee and cakes were sent in to them in the
morning by some intelligent sympathizer, or she would have
starved all day. Submission to the inevitable carried her
through the circumstances of her appearance before the
He was no doubt doing his best to express the attitude of society
toward these wearily heroic defendants, but he seemed to be
merely rude and unfair to Ann Veronica. He was not, it seemed,
the proper stipendiary at all, and there had been some demur to
his jurisdiction that had ruffled him. He resented being
regarded as irregular. He felt he was human wisdom prudentially
interpolated. . . . "You silly wimmin," he said over and over
again throughout the hearing, plucking at his blotting-pad with
busy hands. "You silly creatures! Ugh! Fie upon you!" The
court was crowded with people, for the most part supporters and
admirers of the defendants, and the man with the light eyelashes
was conspicuously active and omnipresent.
Ann Veronica's appearance was brief and undistinguished. She had
nothing to say for herself. She was guided into the dock and
prompted by a helpful police inspector. She was aware of the
body of the court, of clerks seated at a black table littered
with papers, of policemen standing about stiffly with expressions
of conscious integrity, and a murmuring background of the heads
and shoulders of spectators close behind her. On a high chair
behind a raised counter the stipendiary's substitute regarded her
malevolently over his glasses. A disagreeable young man, with red
hair and a loose mouth, seated at the reporter's table, was only
too manifestly sketching her.
She was interested by the swearing of the witnesses. The kissing
of the book struck her as particularly odd, and then the
policemen gave their evidence in staccato jerks and stereotyped
"Have you anything to ask the witness?" asked the helpful
The ribald demons that infested the back of Ann Veronica's mind
urged various facetious interrogations upon her, as, for example,
where the witness had acquired his prose style. She controlled
herself, and answered meekly, "No."
"Well, Ann Veronica Smith," the magistrate remarked when the case
was all before him, "you're a good-looking, strong, respectable
gell, and it's a pity you silly young wimmin can't find something
better to do with your exuberance. Two-and-twenty! I can't
imagine what your parents can be thinking about to let you get
into these scrapes."
Ann Veronica's mind was filled with confused unutterable replies.
"You are persuaded to come and take part in these outrageous
proceedings--many of you, I am convinced, have no idea whatever
of their nature. I don't suppose you could tell me even the
derivation of suffrage if I asked you. No! not even the
derivation! But the fashion's been set and in it you must be."
The men at the reporter's table lifted their eyebrows, smiled
faintly, and leaned back to watch how she took her scolding. One
with the appearance of a bald little gnome yawned agonizingly.
They had got all this down already--they heard the substance of
it now for the fourteenth time. The stipendiary would have done
it all very differently.
She found presently she was out of the dock and confronted with
the alternative of being bound over in one surety for the sum of
forty pounds--whatever that might mean or a month's imprisonment.
"Second class," said some one, but first and second were all
alike to her. She elected to go to prison.
At last, after a long rumbling journey in a stuffy windowless
van, she reached Canongate Prison--for Holloway had its quota
already. It was bad luck to go to Canongate.
Prison was beastly. Prison was bleak without spaciousness, and
pervaded by a faint, oppressive smell; and she had to wait two
hours in the sullenly defiant company of two unclean women
thieves before a cell could be assigned to her. Its dreariness,
like the filthiness of the police cell, was a discovery for her.
She had imagined that prisons were white-tiled places, reeking of
lime-wash and immaculately sanitary. Instead, they appeared to be
at the hygienic level of tramps' lodging-houses. She was bathed
in turbid water that had already been used. She was not allowed
to bathe herself: another prisoner, with a privileged manner,
washed her. Conscientious objectors to that process are not
permitted, she found, in Canongate. Her hair was washed for her
also. Then they dressed her in a dirty dress of coarse serge and
a cap, and took away her own clothes. The dress came to her only
too manifestly unwashed from its former wearer; even the
under-linen they gave her seemed unclean. Horrible memories of
things seen beneath the microscope of the baser forms of life
crawled across her mind and set her shuddering with imagined
irritations. She sat on the edge of the bed--the wardress was
too busy with the flood of arrivals that day to discover that she
had it down--and her skin was shivering from the contact of these
garments. She surveyed accommodation that seemed at first merely
austere, and became more and more manifestly inadequate as the
moments fled by. She meditated profoundly through several
enormous cold hours on all that had happened and all that she had
done since the swirl of the suffrage movement had submerged her
personal affairs. . . .
Very slowly emerging out of a phase of stupefaction, these
personal affairs and her personal problem resumed possession of
her mind. She had imagined she had drowned them altogether.
CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH
THOUGHTS IN PRISON
The first night in prison she found it impossible to sleep. The
bed was hard beyond any experience of hers, the bed-clothes
coarse and insufficient, the cell at once cold and stuffy. The
little grating in the door, the sense of constant inspection,
worried her. She kept opening her eyes and looking at it. She
was fatigued physically and mentally, and neither mind nor body
could rest. She became aware that at regular intervals a light
flashed upon her face and a bodiless eye regarded her, and this,
as the night wore on, became a torment. . . .
Capes came back into her mind. He haunted a state between hectic
dreaming and mild delirium, and she found herself talking aloud
to him. All through the night an entirely impossible and
monumental Capes confronted her, and she argued with him about
men and women. She visualized him as in a policeman's uniform
and quite impassive. On some insane score she fancied she had to
state her case in verse. "We are the music and you are the
instrument," she said; "we are verse and you are prose.
"For men have reason, women rhyme
A man scores always, all the time."
This couplet sprang into her mind from nowhere, and immediately
begot an endless series of similar couplets that she began to
compose and address to Capes. They came teeming distressfully
through her aching brain:
"A man can kick, his skirts don't tear;
A man scores always, everywhere.
"His dress for no man lays a snare;
A man scores always, everywhere.
For hats that fail and hats that flare;
Toppers their universal wear;
A man scores always, everywhere.
"Men's waists are neither here nor there;
A man scores always, everywhere.
"A man can manage without hair;
A man scores always, everywhere.
"There are no males at men to stare;
A man scores always, everywhere.
"And children must we women bear--
"Oh, damn!" she cried, as the hundred-and-first couplet or so
presented itself in her unwilling brain.
For a time she worried about that compulsory bath and cutaneous
Then she fell into a fever of remorse for the habit of bad
language she had acquired.
"A man can smoke, a man can swear;
A man scores always, everywhere."
She rolled over on her face, and stuffed her fingers in her ears
to shut out the rhythm from her mind. She lay still for a long
time, and her mind resumed at a more tolerable pace. She found
herself talking to Capes in an undertone of rational admission.
"There is something to be said for the lady-like theory after
all," she admitted. "Women ought to be gentle and submissive
persons, strong only in virtue and in resistance to evil
compulsion. My dear--I can call you that here, anyhow--I know
that. The Victorians over-did it a little, I admit. Their idea
of maidenly innocence was just a blank white--the sort of flat
white that doesn't shine. But that doesn't alter the fact that
there IS innocence. And I've read, and thought, and guessed, and
looked--until MY innocence--it's smirched.
"Smirched! . . .
"You see, dear, one IS passionately anxious for something--what
is it? One wants to be CLEAN. You want me to be clean. You
would want me to be clean, if you gave me a thought, that is. . .
"I wonder if you give me a thought. . . .
"I'm not a good woman. I don't mean I'm not a good woman--I mean
that I'm not a GOOD woman. My poor brain is so mixed, dear, I
hardly know what I am saying. I mean I'm not a good specimen of
a woman. I've got a streak of male. Things happen to women--
proper women--and all they have to do is to take them well.
They've just got to keep white. But I'm always trying to make
things happen. And I get myself dirty . . .
"It's all dirt that washes off, dear, but it's dirt.
"The white unaggressive woman who corrects and nurses and serves,
and is worshipped and betrayed--the martyr-queen of men, the
white mother. . . . You can't do that sort of thing unless you
do it over religion, and there's no religion in me--of that
sort--worth a rap.
"I'm not gentle. Certainly not a gentlewoman.
"I'm not coarse--no! But I've got no purity of mind--no real
purity of mind. A good woman's mind has angels with flaming
swords at the portals to keep out fallen thoughts. . . .
"I wonder if there are any good women really.
"I wish I didn't swear. I do swear. It began as a joke. . . .
It developed into a sort of secret and private bad manners. It's
got to be at last like tobacco-ash over all my sayings and
doings. . . .
" 'Go it, missie,' they said; "kick aht!'
"I swore at that policeman--and disgusted him. Disgusted him!
"For men policemen never blush;
A man in all things scores so much . . .
"Damn! Things are getting plainer. It must be the dawn creeping
"Now here hath been dawning another blue day;
I'm just a poor woman, please take it away.
"Oh, sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!"
"Now," said Ann Veronica, after the half-hour of exercise, and
sitting on the uncomfortable wooden seat without a back that was
her perch by day, "it's no good staying here in a sort of maze.
I've got nothing to do for a month but think. I may as well
think. I ought to be able to think things out.
"How shall I put the question? What am I? What have I got to do
with myself? . . .
"I wonder if many people HAVE thought things out?
"Are we all just seizing hold of phrases and obeying moods?
"It wasn't so with old-fashioned people, they knew right from
wrong; they had a clear-cut, religious faith that seemed to
explain everything and give a rule for everything. We haven't.
I haven't, anyhow. And it's no good pretending there is one when
there isn't. . . . I suppose I believe in God. . . . Never
really thought about Him--people don't. . . . I suppose my creed
is, 'I believe rather indistinctly in God the Father Almighty,
substratum of the evolutionary process, and, in a vein of vague
sentimentality that doesn't give a datum for anything at all, in
Jesus Christ, His Son.' . . .
"It's no sort of good, Ann Veronica, pretending one does believe
when one doesn't. . . .
"And as for praying for faith--this sort of monologue is about as
near as any one of my sort ever gets to prayer. Aren't I
asking--asking plainly now? . . .
"We've all been mixing our ideas, and we've got intellectual hot
coppers--every blessed one of us. . . .
"A confusion of motives--that's what I am! . . .
"There is this absurd craving for Mr. Capes--the 'Capes crave,'
they would call it in America. Why do I want him so badly? Why
do I want him, and think about him, and fail to get away from
"It isn't all of me.
"The first person you love, Ann Veronica, is yourself--get hold
of that! The soul you have to save is Ann Veronica's soul. . .
She knelt upon the floor of her cell and clasped her hands, and
remained for a long time in silence.
"Oh, God!" she said at last, "how I wish I had been taught to
She had some idea of putting these subtle and difficult issues to
the chaplain when she was warned of his advent. But she had not
reckoned with the etiquette of Canongate. She got up, as she had
been told to do, at his appearance, and he amazed her by sitting
down, according to custom, on her stool. He still wore his hat,
to show that the days of miracles and Christ being civil to
sinners are over forever. She perceived that his countenance was
only composed by a great effort, his features severely
compressed. He was ruffled, and his ears were red, no doubt from
some adjacent controversy. He classified her as he seated
"Another young woman, I suppose," he said, "who knows better than
her Maker about her place in the world. Have you anything to ask
Ann Veronica readjusted her mind hastily. Her back stiffened.
She produced from the depths of her pride the ugly investigatory
note of the modern district visitor. "Are you a special sort of
clergyman," she said, after a pause, and looking down her nose at
him, "or do you go to the Universities?"
"Oh!" he said, profoundly.
He panted for a moment with unuttered replies, and then, with a
scornful gesture, got up and left the cell.
So that Ann Veronica was not able to get the expert advice she
certainly needed upon her spiritual state.
After a day or so she thought more steadily. She found herself
in a phase of violent reaction against the suffrage movement, a
phase greatly promoted by one of those unreasonable objections
people of Ann Veronica's temperament take at times--to the girl
in the next cell to her own. She was a large, resilient girl,
with a foolish smile, a still more foolish expression of
earnestness, and a throaty contralto voice. She was noisy and
hilarious and enthusiastic, and her hair was always abominably
done. In the chapel she sang with an open-lunged gusto that
silenced Ann Veronica altogether, and in the exercising-yard
slouched round with carelessly dispersed feet. Ann Veronica
decided that "hoydenish ragger" was the only phrase to express
her. She was always breaking rules, whispering asides,
intimating signals. She became at times an embodiment for Ann
Veronica of all that made the suffrage movement defective and
She was always initiating petty breaches of discipline. Her
greatest exploit was the howling before the mid-day meal. This
was an imitation of the noises made by the carnivora at the
Zoological Gardens at feeding-time; the idea was taken up by
prisoner after prisoner until the whole place was alive with
barkings, yappings, roarings, pelican chatterings, and feline
yowlings, interspersed with shrieks of hysterical laughter. To
many in that crowded solitude it came as an extraordinary relief.
It was better even than the hymn-singing. But it annoyed Ann
"Idiots!" she said, when she heard this pandemonium, and with
particular reference to this young lady with the throaty
contralto next door. "Intolerable idiots! . . ."
It took some days for this phase to pass, and it left some scars
and something like a decision. "Violence won't do it," said Ann
Veronica. "Begin violence, and the woman goes under. . . .
"But all the rest of our case is right. . . . Yes."
As the long, solitary days wore on, Ann Veronica found a number
of definite attitudes and conclusions in her mind.
One of these was a classification of women into women who are and
women who are not hostile to men. "The real reason why I am out
of place here," she said, "is because I like men. I can talk
with them. I've never found them hostile. I've got no feminine
class feeling. I don't want any laws or freedoms to protect me
from a man like Mr. Capes. I know that in my heart I would take
whatever he gave. . . .
"A woman wants a proper alliance with a man, a man who is better
stuff than herself. She wants that and needs it more than
anything else in the world. It may not be just, it may not be
fair, but things are so. It isn't law, nor custom, nor masculine
violence settled that. It is just how things happen to be. She
wants to be free--she wants to be legally and economically free,
so as not to be subject to the wrong man; but only God, who made
the world, can alter things to prevent her being slave to the
"And if she can't have the right one?
"We've developed such a quality of preference!"
She rubbed her knuckles into her forehead. "Oh, but life is
difficult!" she groaned. "When you loosen the tangle in one
place you tie a knot in another. . . . Before there is any
change, any real change, I shall be dead--dead--dead and
finished--two hundred years! . . ."
One afternoon, while everything was still, the wardress heard her
cry out suddenly and alarmingly, and with great and unmistakable passion,
"Why in the name of goodness did I burn that twenty pounds?"
She sat regarding her dinner. The meat was coarse and
"I suppose some one makes a bit on the food," she said. . . .
"One has such ridiculous ideas of the wicked common people and
the beautiful machinery of order that ropes them in. And here
are these places, full of contagion!
"Of course, this is the real texture of life, this is what we
refined secure people forget. We think the whole thing is
straight and noble at bottom, and it isn't. We think if we just
defy the friends we have and go out into the world everything
will become easy and splendid. One doesn't realize that even the
sort of civilization one has at Morningside Park is held together
with difficulty. By policemen one mustn't shock.
"This isn't a world for an innocent girl to walk about in. It's
a world of dirt and skin diseases and parasites. It's a world in
which the law can be a stupid pig and the police-stations dirty
dens. One wants helpers and protectors--and clean water.
"Am I becoming reasonable or am I being tamed?
"I'm simply discovering that life is many-sided and complex and
puzzling. I thought one had only to take it by the throat.
"It hasn't GOT a throat!"
One day the idea of self-sacrifice came into her head, and she
made, she thought, some important moral discoveries.
It came with an extreme effect of re-discovery, a remarkable
novelty. "What have I been all this time?" she asked herself,
and answered, "Just stark egotism, crude assertion of Ann
Veronica, without a modest rag of religion or discipline or
respect for authority to cover me!"
It seemed to her as though she had at last found the touchstone
of conduct. She perceived she had never really thought of any
one but herself in all her acts and plans. Even Capes had been
for her merely an excitant to passionate love--a mere idol at
whose feet one could enjoy imaginative wallowings. She had set
out to get a beautiful life, a free, untrammelled life,
self-development, without counting the cost either for herself or
"I have hurt my father," she said; "I have hurt my aunt. I have
hurt and snubbed poor Teddy. I've made no one happy. I deserve
pretty much what I've got. . . .
"If only because of the way one hurts others if one kicks loose
and free, one has to submit. . . .
"Broken-in people! I suppose the world is just all egotistical
children and broken-in people.
"Your little flag of pride must flutter down with the rest of
them, Ann Veronica. . . .
"Compromise and kindness.
"Who are YOU that the world should lie down at your feet?
"You've got to be a decent citizen, Ann Veronica. Take your half
loaf with the others. You mustn't go clawing after a man that
doesn't belong to you--that isn't even interested in you. That's
one thing clear.
"You've got to take the decent reasonable way. You've got to
adjust yourself to the people God has set about you. Every one
She thought more and more along that line. There was no reason
why she shouldn't be Capes' friend. He did like her, anyhow; he
was always pleased to be with her. There was no reason why she
shouldn't be his restrained and dignified friend. After all,
that was life. Nothing was given away, and no one came so rich
to the stall as to command all that it had to offer. Every one
has to make a deal with the world.
It would be very good to be Capes' friend.
She might be able to go on with biology, possibly even work upon
the same questions that he dealt with. . . .
Perhaps her granddaughter might marry his grandson. . . .
It grew clear to her that throughout all her wild raid for
independence she had done nothing for anybody, and many people
had done things for her. She thought of her aunt and that purse
that was dropped on the table, and of many troublesome and
ill-requited kindnesses; she thought of the help of the Widgetts,
of Teddy's admiration; she thought, with a new-born charity, of
her father, of Manning's conscientious unselfishness, of Miss
"And for me it has been Pride and Pride and Pride!
"I am the prodigal daughter. I will arise and go to my father,
and will say unto him--
"I suppose pride and self-assertion are sin? Sinned against
heaven-- Yes, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. . . .
"Poor old daddy! I wonder if he'll spend much on the fatted
calf? . . .
"The wrappered life-discipline! One comes to that at last. I
begin to understand Jane Austen and chintz covers and decency and
refinement and all the rest of it. One puts gloves on one's
greedy fingers. One learns to sit up . . .
"And somehow or other," she added, after a long interval, "I must
pay Mr. Ramage back his forty pounds."
CHAPTER THE TWELFTH
ANN VERONICA PUTS THINGS IN ORDER
Ann Veronica made a strenuous attempt to carry out her good
resolutions. She meditated long and carefully upon her letter to
her father before she wrote it, and gravely and deliberately
again before she despatched it.
"MY DEAR FATHER," she wrote,--"I have been thinking hard about
everything since I was sent to this prison. All these experiences
have taught me a great deal about life and realities. I see that
compromise is more necessary to life than I ignorantly supposed
it to be, and I have been trying to get Lord Morley's book on
that subject, but it does not appear to be available in the
prison library, and the chaplain seems to regard him as an
At this point she had perceived that she was drifting from her
"I must read him when I come out. But I see very clearly that as
things are a daughter is necessarily dependent on her father and
bound while she is in that position to live harmoniously with his
"Bit starchy," said Ann Veronica, and altered the key abruptly.
Her concluding paragraph was, on the whole, perhaps, hardly
"Really, daddy, I am sorry for all I have done to put you out.
May I come home and try to be a better daughter to you?
Her aunt came to meet her outside Canongate, and, being a little
confused between what was official and what was merely a
rebellious slight upon our national justice, found herself
involved in a triumphal procession to the Vindicator Vegetarian
Restaurant, and was specifically and personally cheered by a
small, shabby crowd outside that rendezvous. They decided quite
audibly, "She's an Old Dear, anyhow. Voting wouldn't do no 'arm
to 'er." She was on the very verge of a vegetarian meal before
she recovered her head again. Obeying some fine instinct, she
had come to the prison in a dark veil, but she had pushed this up
to kiss Ann Veronica and never drawn it down again. Eggs were
procured for her, and she sat out the subsequent emotions and
eloquence with the dignity becoming an injured lady of good
family. The quiet encounter and home-coming Ann Veronica and she
had contemplated was entirely disorganized by this misadventure;
there were no adequate explanations, and after they had settled
things at Ann Veronica's lodgings, they reached home in the early
afternoon estranged and depressed, with headaches and the trumpet
voice of the indomitable Kitty Brett still ringing in their ears.
"Dreadful women, my dear!" said Miss Stanley. "And some of them
quite pretty and well dressed. No need to do such things. We
must never let your father know we went. Why ever did you let me
get into that wagonette?"
"I thought we had to," said Ann Veronica, who had also been a
little under the compulsion of the marshals of the occasion. "It
was very tiring."
"We will have some tea in the drawing-room as soon as ever we
can--and I will take my things off. I don't think I shall ever
care for this bonnet again. We'll have some buttered toast.
Your poor cheeks are quite sunken and hollow. . . ."
When Ann Veronica found herself in her father's study that
evening it seemed to her for a moment as though all the events of
the past six months had been a dream. The big gray spaces of
London, the shop-lit, greasy, shining streets, had become very
remote; the biological laboratory with its work and emotions, the
meetings and discussions, the rides in hansoms with Ramage, were
like things in a book read and closed. The study seemed
absolutely unaltered, there was still the same lamp with a little
chip out of the shade, still the same gas fire, still the same
bundle of blue and white papers, it seemed, with the same pink
tape about them, at the elbow of the arm-chair, still the same
father. He sat in much the same attitude, and she stood just as
she had stood when he told her she could not go to the Fadden
Dance. Both had dropped the rather elaborate politeness of the
dining-room, and in their faces an impartial observer would have
discovered little lines of obstinate wilfulness in common; a
certain hardness--sharp, indeed, in the father and softly rounded
in the daughter --but hardness nevertheless, that made every
compromise a bargain and every charity a discount.
"And so you have been thinking?" her father began, quoting her
letter and looking over his slanting glasses at her. "Well, my
girl, I wish you had thought about all these things before these
Ann Veronica perceived that she must not forget to remain
"One has to live and learn," she remarked, with a passable
imitation of her father's manner.
"So long as you learn," said Mr. Stanley.
Their conversation hung.
"I suppose, daddy, you've no objection to my going on with my
work at the Imperial College?" she asked.
"If it will keep you busy," he said, with a faintly ironical
"The fees are paid to the end of the session."
He nodded twice, with his eyes on the fire, as though that was a
"You may go on with that work," he said, "so long as you keep in
harmony with things at home. I'm convinced that much of
Russell's investigations are on wrong lines, unsound lines.
Still--you must learn for yourself. You're of age--you're of
"The work's almost essential for the B.Sc. exam."
"It's scandalous, but I suppose it is."
Their agreement so far seemed remarkable, and yet as a
home-coming the thing was a little lacking in warmth. But Ann
Veronica had still to get to her chief topic. They were silent
for a time. "It's a period of crude views and crude work," said
Mr. Stanley. "Still, these Mendelian fellows seem likely to give
Mr. Russell trouble, a good lot of trouble. Some of their
specimens--wonderfully selected, wonderfully got up."
"Daddy," said Ann Veronica, "these affairs--being away from home
"I thought you would find that out."
"As a matter of fact, I happen to have got a little into debt."
Her heart sank at the change in his expression.
"Well, lodgings and things! And I paid my fees at the College."
"Yes. But how could you get--Who gave you credit?
"You see," said Ann Veronica, "my landlady kept on my room while
I was in Holloway, and the fees for the College mounted up pretty
considerably." She spoke rather quickly, because she found her
father's question the most awkward she had ever had to answer in
"Molly and you settled about the rooms. She said you HAD some
"I borrowed it," said Ann Veronica in a casual tone, with white
despair in her heart.
"But who could have lent you money?"
"I pawned my pearl necklace. I got three pounds, and there's
three on my watch."
"Six pounds. H'm. Got the tickets? Yes, but then--you said you
"I did, too," said Ann Veronica.
She met his eye for a second and her heart failed her. The truth
was impossible, indecent. If she mentioned Ramage he might have
a fit--anything might happen. She lied. "The Widgetts," she
"Tut, tut!" he said. "Really, Vee, you seem to have advertised
our relations pretty generally!"
"They--they knew, of course. Because of the Dance."
"How much do you owe them?"
She knew forty pounds was a quite impossible sum for their
neighbors. She knew, too, she must not hesitate. "Eight
pounds," she plunged, and added foolishly, "fifteen pounds will
see me clear of everything." She muttered some unlady-like
comment upon herself under her breath and engaged in secret
Mr. Stanley determined to improve the occasion. He seemed to
deliberate. "Well," he said at last slowly, "I'll pay it. I'll
pay it. But I do hope, Vee, I do hope --this is the end of these
adventures. I hope you have learned your lesson now and come to
see--come to realize --how things are. People, nobody, can do as
they like in this world. Everywhere there are limitations."
"I know," said Ann Veronica (fifteen pounds!). "I have learned
that. I mean--I mean to do what I can." (Fifteen pounds.
Fifteen from forty is twenty-five.)
He hesitated. She could think of nothing more to say.
"Well," she achieved at last. "Here goes for the new life!"
"Here goes for the new life," he echoed and stood up. Father and
daughter regarded each other warily, each more than a little
insecure with the other. He made a movement toward her, and then
recalled the circumstances of their last conversation in that
study. She saw his purpose and his doubt hesitated also, and
then went to him, took his coat lapels, and kissed him on the
"Ah, Vee," he said, "that's better! and kissed her back rather
clumsily. "We're going to be sensible."
She disengaged herself from him and went out of the room with a
grave, preoccupied expression. (Fifteen pounds! And she wanted
It was, perhaps, the natural consequence of a long and tiring and
exciting day that Ann Veronica should pass a broken and
distressful night, a night in which the noble and self-subduing
resolutions of Canongate displayed themselves for the first time
in an atmosphere of almost lurid dismay. Her father's peculiar
stiffness of soul presented itself now as something altogether
left out of the calculations upon which her plans were based,
and, in particular, she had not anticipated the difficulty she
would find in borrowing the forty pounds she needed for Ramage.
That had taken her by surprise, and her tired wits had failed
her. She was to have fifteen pounds, and no more. She knew that
to expect more now was like anticipating a gold-mine in the
garden. The chance had gone. It became suddenly glaringly
apparent to her that it was impossible to return fifteen pounds
or any sum less than twenty pounds to Ramage --absolutely
impossible. She realized that with a pang of disgust and horror.
Already she had sent him twenty pounds, and never written to
explain to him why it was she had not sent it back sharply
directly he returned it. She ought to have written at once and
told him exactly what had happened. Now if she sent fifteen
pounds the suggestion that she had spent a five-pound note in the
meanwhile would be irresistible. No! That was impossible. She
would have just to keep the fifteen pounds until she could make
it twenty. That might happen on her birthday--in August.
She turned about, and was persecuted by visions, half memories,
half dreams, of Ramage. He became ugly and monstrous, dunning
her, threatening her, assailing her.
"Confound sex from first to last!" said Ann Veronica. "Why can't
we propagate by sexless spores, as the ferns do? We restrict
each other, we badger each other, friendship is poisoned and
buried under it! . . . I MUST pay off that forty pounds. I
For a time there seemed no comfort for her even in Capes. She
was to see Capes to-morrow, but now, in this state of misery she
had achieved, she felt assured he would turn his back upon her,
take no notice of her at all. And if he didn't, what was the
good of seeing him?
"I wish he was a woman," she said, "then I could make him my
friend. I want him as my friend. I want to talk to him and go
about with him. Just go about with him."
She was silent for a time, with her nose on the pillow, and that
brought her to: "What's the good of pretending?
"I love him," she said aloud to the dim forms of her room, and
repeated it, and went on to imagine herself doing acts of
tragically dog-like devotion to the biologist, who, for the
purposes of the drama, remained entirely unconscious of and
indifferent to her proceedings.
At last some anodyne formed itself from these exercises, and,
with eyelashes wet with such feeble tears as only
three-o'clock-in-the-morning pathos can distil, she fell asleep.
Pursuant to some altogether private calculations she did not go
up to the Imperial College until after mid-day, and she found the
laboratory deserted, even as she desired. She went to the table
under the end window at which she had been accustomed to work,
and found it swept and garnished with full bottles of re-agents.
Everything was very neat; it had evidently been straightened up
and kept for her. She put down the sketch-books and apparatus
she had brought with her, pulled out her stool, and sat down. As
she did so the preparation-room door opened behind her. She
heard it open, but as she felt unable to look round in a careless
manner she pretended not to hear it. Then Capes' footsteps
approached. She turned with an effort.
"I expected you this morning," he said. "I saw--they knocked off
your fetters yesterday."
"I think it is very good of me to come this afternoon."
"I began to be afraid you might not come at all."
"Yes. I'm glad you're back for all sorts of reasons." He spoke a
little nervously. "Among other things, you know, I didn't
understand quite--I didn't understand that you were so keenly
interested in this suffrage question. I have it on my conscience
that I offended you--"
"Offended me when?"
"I've been haunted by the memory of you. I was rude and stupid.
We were talking about the suffrage--and I rather scoffed."
"You weren't rude," she said.
"I didn't know you were so keen on this suffrage business."
"Nor I. You haven't had it on your mind all this time?"
"I have rather. I felt somehow I'd hurt you."
"You didn't. I--I hurt myself."
"I behaved like an idiot, that's all. My nerves were in rags. I
was worried. We're the hysterical animal, Mr. Capes. I got
myself locked up to cool off. By a sort of instinct. As a dog
eats grass. I'm right again now."
"Because your nerves were exposed, that was no excuse for my
touching them. I ought to have seen--"
"It doesn't matter a rap--if you're not disposed to resent
the--the way I behaved."
"I was only sorry I'd been so stupid."
"Well, I take it we're straight again," said Capes with a note of
relief, and assumed an easier position on the edge of her table.
"But if you weren't keen on the suffrage business, why on earth
did you go to prison?"
Ann Veronica reflected. "It was a phase," she said.
He smiled. "It's a new phase in the life history," he remarked.
"Everybody seems to have it now. Everybody who's going to develop
into a woman."
"There's Miss Garvice."
"She's coming on," said Capes. "And, you know, you're altering
us all. I'M shaken. The campaign's a success." He met her
questioning eye, and repeated, "Oh! it IS a success. A man is so
apt to--to take women a little too lightly. Unless they remind
him now and then not to. . . . YOU did."
"Then I didn't waste my time in prison altogether?"
"It wasn't the prison impressed me. But I liked the things you
said here. I felt suddenly I understood you--as an intelligent
person. If you'll forgive my saying that, and implying what goes
with it. There's something--puppyish in a man's usual attitude
to women. That is what I've had on my conscience. . . . I don't
think we're altogether to blame if we don't take some of your lot
seriously. Some of your sex, I mean. But we smirk a little, I'm
afraid, habitually when we talk to you. We smirk, and we're a
He paused, with his eyes studying her gravely. "You, anyhow,
don't deserve it," he said.
Their colloquy was ended abruptly by the apparition of Miss Klegg
at the further door. When she saw Ann Veronica she stood for a
moment as if entranced, and then advanced with outstretched
hands. "Veronique!" she cried with a rising intonation, though
never before had she called Ann Veronica anything but Miss
Stanley, and seized her and squeezed her and kissed her with
profound emotion. "To think that you were going to do it--and
never said a word! You are a little thin, but except for that
you look--you look better than ever. Was it VERY horrible? I
tried to get into the police-court, but the crowd was ever so
much too big, push as I would. . . .
"I mean to go to prison directly the session is over," said Miss
Klegg. "Wild horses--not if they have all the mounted police in
London--shan't keep me out."
Capes lit things wonderfully for Ann Veronica all that afternoon,
he was so friendly, so palpably interested in her, and glad to
have her back with him. Tea in the laboratory was a sort of
suffragette reception. Miss Garvice assumed a quality of
neutrality, professed herself almost won over by Ann Veronica's
example, and the Scotchman decided that if women had a
distinctive sphere it was, at any rate, an enlarging sphere, and
no one who believed in the doctrine of evolution could logically
deny the vote to women "ultimately," however much they might be
disposed to doubt the advisability of its immediate concession.
It was a refusal of expediency, he said, and not an absolute
refusal. The youth with his hair like Russell cleared his throat
and said rather irrelevantly that he knew a man who knew Thomas
Bayard Simmons, who had rioted in the Strangers' Gallery, and
then Capes, finding them all distinctly pro-Ann Veronica, if not
pro-feminist, ventured to be perverse, and started a vein of
speculation upon the Scotchman's idea--that there were still
hopes of women evolving into something higher.
He was unusually absurd and ready, and all the time it seemed to
Ann Veronica as a delightful possibility, as a thing not indeed
to be entertained seriously, but to be half furtively felt, that
he was being so agreeable because she had come back again. She
returned home through a world that was as roseate as it had been
But as she got out of the train at Morningside Park Station she
had a shock. She saw, twenty yards down the platform, the shiny
hat and broad back and inimitable swagger of Ramage. She dived
at once behind the cover of the lamp-room and affected serious
trouble with her shoe-lace until he was out of the station, and
then she followed slowly and with extreme discretion until the
bifurcation of the Avenue from the field way insured her escape.
Ramage went up the Avenue, and she hurried along the path with a
beating heart and a disagreeable sense of unsolved problems in
"That thing's going on," she told herself. "Everything goes on,
confound it! One doesn't change anything one has set going by
making good resolutions."
And then ahead of her she saw the radiant and welcoming figure of
Manning. He came as an agreeable diversion from an insoluble
perplexity. She smiled at the sight of him, and thereat his
"I missed the hour of your release," he said, "but I was at the
Vindicator Restaurant. You did not see me, I know. I was among
the common herd in the place below, but I took good care to see
"Of course you're converted?" she said.
"To the view that all those Splendid Women in the movement ought
to have votes. Rather! Who could help it?"
He towered up over her and smiled down at her in his fatherly
"To the view that all women ought to have votes whether they like
it or not."
He shook his head, and his eyes and the mouth under the black
mustache wrinkled with his smile. And as he walked by her side
they began a wrangle that was none the less pleasant to Ann
Veronica because it served to banish a disagreeable
preoccupation. It seemed to her in her restored geniality that
she liked Manning extremely. The brightness Capes had diffused
over the world glorified even his rival.
The steps by which Ann Veronica determined to engage herself to
marry Manning were never very clear to her. A medley of motives
warred in her, and it was certainly not one of the least of these
that she knew herself to be passionately in love with Capes; at
moments she had a giddy intimation that he was beginning to feel
keenly interested in her. She realized more and more the quality
of the brink upon which she stood--the dreadful readiness with
which in certain moods she might plunge, the unmitigated
wrongness and recklessness of such a self-abandonment. "He must
never know," she would whisper to herself, "he must never know.
Or else--Else it will be impossible that I can be his friend."
That simple statement of the case was by no means all that went
on in Ann Veronica's mind. But it was the form of her ruling
determination; it was the only form that she ever allowed to see
daylight. What else was there lurked in shadows and deep places;
if in some mood of reverie it came out into the light, it was
presently overwhelmed and hustled back again into hiding. She
would never look squarely at these dream forms that mocked the
social order in which she lived, never admit she listened to the
soft whisperings in her ear. But Manning seemed more and more
clearly indicated as a refuge, as security. Certain simple
purposes emerged from the disingenuous muddle of her feelings and
desires. Seeing Capes from day to day made a bright eventfulness
that hampered her in the course she had resolved to follow. She
vanished from the laboratory for a week, a week of oddly
interesting days. . . .
When she renewed her attendance at the Imperial College the third
finger of her left hand was adorned with a very fine old ring
with dark blue sapphires that had once belonged to a great-aunt
That ring manifestly occupied her thoughts a great deal. She
kept pausing in her work and regarding it, and when Capes came
round to her, she first put her hand in her lap and then rather
awkwardly in front of him. But men are often blind to rings. He
seemed to be.
In the afternoon she had considered certain doubts very
carefully, and decided on a more emphatic course of action. "Are
these ordinary sapphires?" she said. He bent to her hand, and she
slipped off the ring and gave it to him to examine.
"Very good," he said. "Rather darker than most of them. But I'm
generously ignorant of gems. Is it an old ring?" he asked,
"I believe it is. It's an engagement ring. . . ." She slipped
it on her finger, and added, in a voice she tried to make
matter-of-fact: "It was given to me last week."
"Oh!" he said, in a colorless tone, and with his eyes on her
"Yes. Last week."
She glanced at him, and it was suddenly apparent for one instant
of illumination that this ring upon her finger was the crowning
blunder of her life. It was apparent, and then it faded into the
quality of an inevitable necessity.
"Odd!" he remarked, rather surprisingly, after a little interval.
There was a brief pause, a crowded pause, between them.
She sat very still, and his eyes rested on that ornament for a
moment, and then travelled slowly to her wrist and the soft lines
of her forearm.
"I suppose I ought to congratulate you," he said. Their eyes met,
and his expressed perplexity and curiosity. "The fact is--I
don't know why--this takes me by surprise. Somehow I haven't
connected the idea with you. You seemed complete--without that."
"Did I?" she said.
"I don't know why. But this is like--like walking round a house
that looks square and complete and finding an unexpected long
wing running out behind."
She looked up at him, and found he was watching her closely. For
some seconds of voluminous thinking they looked at the ring
between them, and neither spoke. Then Capes shifted his eyes to
her microscope and the little trays of unmounted sections beside
it. "How is that carmine working?" he asked, with a forced
"Better," said Ann Veronica, with an unreal alacrity. "But it
still misses the nucleolus."
CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH
THE SAPPHIRE RING
For a time that ring set with sapphires seemed to be, after all,
the satisfactory solution of Ann Veronica's difficulties. It was
like pouring a strong acid over dulled metal. A tarnish of
constraint that had recently spread over her intercourse with
Capes vanished again. They embarked upon an open and declared
friendship. They even talked about friendship. They went to the
Zoological Gardens together one Saturday to see for themselves a
point of morphological interest about the toucan's bill--that
friendly and entertaining bird--and they spent the rest of the
afternoon walking about and elaborating in general terms this
theme and the superiority of intellectual fellowship to all
merely passionate relationships. Upon this topic Capes was heavy
and conscientious, but that seemed to her to be just exactly what
he ought to be. He was also, had she known it, more than a
little insincere. "We are only in the dawn of the Age of
Friendship," he said, "when interest, I suppose, will take the
place of passions. Either you have had to love people or hate
them--which is a sort of love, too, in its way--to get anything
out of them. Now, more and more, we're going to be interested in
them, to be curious about them and--quite mildly-experimental
with them." He seemed to be elaborating ideas as he talked.
They watched the chimpanzees in the new apes' house, and admired
the gentle humanity of their eyes--"so much more human than human
beings" --and they watched the Agile Gibbon in the next apartment
doing wonderful leaps and aerial somersaults.
"I wonder which of us enjoys that most," said Capes--"does he, or
"He seems to get a zest--"
"He does it and forgets it. We remember it. These joyful bounds
just lace into the stuff of my memories and stay there forever.
Living's just material."
"It's very good to be alive."
"It's better to know life than be life."
"One may do both," said Ann Veronica.
She was in a very uncritical state that afternoon. When he said,
"Let's go and see the wart-hog," she thought no one ever had had
so quick a flow of good ideas as he; and when he explained that
sugar and not buns was the talisman of popularity among the
animals, she marvelled at his practical omniscience.
Finally, at the exit into Regent's Park, they ran against Miss
Klegg. It was the expression of Miss Klegg's face that put the
idea into Ann Veronica's head of showing Manning at the College
one day, an idea which she didn't for some reason or other carry
out for a fortnight.
When at last she did so, the sapphire ring took on a new quality
in the imagination of Capes. It ceased to be the symbol of
liberty and a remote and quite abstracted person, and became
suddenly and very disagreeably the token of a large and
portentous body visible and tangible.
Manning appeared just at the end of the afternoon's work, and the
biologist was going through some perplexities the Scotchman had
created by a metaphysical treatment of the skulls of Hyrax and a
young African elephant. He was clearing up these difficulties by
tracing a partially obliterated suture the Scotchman had
overlooked when the door from the passage opened, and Manning
came into his universe.
Seen down the length of the laboratory, Manning looked a very
handsome and shapely gentleman indeed, and, at the sight of his
eager advance to his fiancee, Miss Klegg replaced one
long-cherished romance about Ann Veronica by one more normal and
simple. He carried a cane and a silk hat with a mourning-band in
one gray-gloved hand; his frock-coat and trousers were admirable;
his handsome face, his black mustache, his prominent brow
conveyed an eager solicitude.
"I want," he said, with a white hand outstretched, "to take you
out to tea."
"I've been clearing up," said Ann Veronica, brightly.
"All your dreadful scientific things?" he said, with a smile that
Miss Klegg thought extraordinarily kindly.
"All my dreadful scientific things," said Ann Veronica.
He stood back, smiling with an air of proprietorship, and looking
about him at the business-like equipment of the room. The low
ceiling made him seem abnormally tall. Ann Veronica wiped a
scalpel, put a card over a watch-glass containing thin shreds of
embryonic guinea-pig swimming in mauve stain, and dismantled her
"I wish I understood more of biology," said Manning.
"I'm ready," said Ann Veronica, closing her microscope-box with a
click, and looking for one brief instant up the laboratory. "We
have no airs and graces here, and my hat hangs from a peg in the
She led the way to the door, and Manning passed behind her and
round her and opened the door for her. When Capes glanced up at
them for a moment, Manning seemed to be holding his arms all
about her, and there was nothing but quiet acquiescence in her
After Capes had finished the Scotchman's troubles he went back
into the preparation-room. He sat down on the sill of the open
window, folded his arms, and stared straight before him for a
long time over the wilderness of tiles and chimney-pots into a
sky that was blue and empty. He was not addicted to monologue,
and the only audible comment he permitted himself at first upon a
universe that was evidently anything but satisfactory to him that
afternoon, was one compact and entirely unassigned "Damn!"
The word must have had some gratifying quality, because he
repeated it. Then he stood up and repeated it again. "The fool
I have been!" he cried; and now speech was coming to him. He
tried this sentence with expletives. "Ass!" he went on, still
warming. "Muck-headed moral ass! I ought to have done anything.
I ought to have done anything!
"What's a man for?
He doubled up his fist, and seemed to contemplate thrusting it
through the window. He turned his back on that temptation. Then
suddenly he seized a new preparation bottle that stood upon his
table and contained the better part of a week's work--a displayed
dissection of a snail, beautifully done--and hurled it across the
room, to smash resoundingly upon the cemented floor under the
bookcase; then, without either haste or pause, he swept his arm
along a shelf of re-agents and sent them to mingle with the
debris on the floor. They fell in a diapason of smashes. "H'm!"
he said, regarding the wreckage with a calmer visage. "Silly!" he
remarked after a pause. "One hardly knows--all the time."
He put his hands in his pockets, his mouth puckered to a whistle,
and he went to the door of the outer preparation-room and stood
there, looking, save for the faintest intensification of his
natural ruddiness, the embodiment of blond serenity.
"Gellett," he called, "just come and clear up a mess, will you?
I've smashed some things."
There was one serious flaw in Ann Veronica's arrangements for
self-rehabilitation, and that was Ramage. He hung over her--he
and his loan to her and his connection with her and that terrible
evening--a vague, disconcerting possibility of annoyance and
exposure. She could not see any relief from this anxiety except
repayment, and repayment seemed impossible. The raising of
twenty-five pounds was a task altogether beyond her powers. Her
birthday was four months away, and that, at its extremist point,
might give her another five pounds.
The thing rankled in her mind night and day. She would wake in
the night to repeat her bitter cry: "Oh, why did I burn those
It added greatly to the annoyance of the situation that she had
twice seen Ramage in the Avenue since her return to the shelter
of her father's roof. He had saluted her with elaborate
civility, his eyes distended with indecipherable meanings.
She felt she was bound in honor to tell the whole affair to
Manning sooner or later. Indeed, it seemed inevitable that she
must clear it up with his assistance, or not at all. And when
Manning was not about the thing seemed simple enough. She would
compose extremely lucid and honorable explanations. But when it
came to broaching them, it proved to be much more difficult than
she had supposed.
They went down the great staircase of the building, and, while
she sought in her mind for a beginning, he broke into
appreciation of her simple dress and self-congratulations upon
"It makes me feel," he said, "that nothing is impossible--to have
you here beside me. I said, that day at Surbiton, 'There's many
good things in life, but there's only one best, and that's the
wild-haired girl who's pulling away at that oar. I will make her
my Grail, and some day, perhaps, if God wills, she shall become
my wife!' "
He looked very hard before him as he said this, and his voice was
full of deep feeling.
"Grail!" said Ann Veronica, and then: "Oh, yes--of course!
Anything but a holy one, I'm afraid."
"Altogether holy, Ann Veronica. Ah! but you can't imagine what
you are to me and what you mean to me! I suppose there is
something mystical and wonderful about all women."
"There is something mystical and wonderful about all human
beings. I don't see that men need bank it with the women."
"A man does," said Manning--"a true man, anyhow. And for me there
is only one treasure-house. By Jove! When I think of it I want
to leap and shout!"
"It would astonish that man with the barrow."
"It astonishes me that I don't," said Manning, in a tone of
"I think," began Ann Veronica, "that you don't realize--"
He disregarded her entirely. He waved an arm and spoke with a
peculiar resonance. "I feel like a giant! I believe now I shall
do great things. Gods! what it must be to pour out strong,
splendid verse--mighty lines! mighty lines! If I do, Ann
Veronica, it will be you. It will be altogether you. I will
dedicate my books to you. I will lay them all at your feet."
He beamed upon her.
"I don't think you realize," Ann Veronica began again, "that I am
rather a defective human being."
"I don't want to," said Manning. "They say there are spots on
the sun. Not for me. It warms me, and lights me, and fills my
world with flowers. Why should I peep at it through smoked glass
to see things that don't affect me?" He smiled his delight at
"I've got bad faults."
He shook his head slowly, smiling mysteriously.
"But perhaps I want to confess them."
"I grant you absolution."
"I don't want absolution. I want to make myself visible to you."
"I wish I could make you visible to yourself. I don't believe in
the faults. They're just a joyous softening of the outline--more
beautiful than perfection. Like the flaws of an old marble. If
you talk of your faults, I shall talk of your splendors."
"I do want to tell you things, nevertheless."
"We'll have, thank God! ten myriad days to tell each other
things. When I think of it--"
"But these are things I want to tell you now!"
"I made a little song of it. Let me say it to you. I've no name
for it yet. Epithalamy might do.
"Like him who stood on Darien
I view uncharted sea
Ten thousand days, ten thousand nights
Before my Queen and me.
"And that only brings me up to about sixty-five!
"A glittering wilderness of time
That to the sunset reaches
No keel as yet its waves has ploughed
Or gritted on its beaches.
"And we will sail that splendor wide,
From day to day together,
From isle to isle of happiness
Through year's of God's own weather."
"Yes," said his prospective fellow-sailor, "that's very pretty."
She stopped short, full of things un-said. Pretty! Ten
thousand days, ten thousand nights!
"You shall tell me your faults," said Manning. "If they matter
to you, they matter."
"It isn't precisely faults," said Ann Veronica. "It's something
that bothers me." Ten thousand! Put that way it seemed so
"Then assuredly!" said Manning.
She found a little difficulty in beginning. She was glad when he
went on: "I want to be your city of refuge from every sort of
bother. I want to stand between you and all the force and
vileness of the world. I want to make you feel that here is a
place where the crowd does not clamor nor ill-winds blow."
"That is all very well," said Ann Veronica, unheeded.
"That is my dream of you," said Manning, warming. "I want my life
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