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   Chapter 12 No.12

This Freedom By A. S. M. Hutchinson Characters: 32664

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


There was a thing she said about men once (in the boarding house now) and often repeated. "They're very fond of saying women are cats," she once said. "Fools! It's men that are the cat tribe: tame cats, tabby cats, wild cats, Cheshire cats, tomcats and stray cats! Aren't they just? And look at them-tame cats are miserable creatures, tabby cats the sloppy creatures, wild cats ferocious creatures, Cheshire cats fool creatures, tomcats disgusting creatures, stray cats-on the whole the stray cats are the least objectionable, they are bearable: at the right time and for a short time."

This characterisation of men as Rosalie, in sequent development of her attitude towards men, had come to regard them was delivered to the girl with whom (for cheapness) her room in the boarding house was shared. Rosalie went from Aunt Belle's to this boarding house to assert and to achieve her greater independence. A man, Rosalie debated, would have gone into bachelor rooms; but young women did not go into bachelor rooms in those days and the singularity of Rosalie's attitude towards life is rather well presented in the fact that she never set herself against conventions inhibitory of her sex merely because they were inhibitory of her sex. When the years brought those violent scenes and emotions of what has been called the suffragette campaign, Rosalie, who might have been expected to be a militant of the militants, took no part nor even interest in it whatever. She did not desire the privileges of men merely because they were the privileges of men; she desired a status which happened to be in the right of men and she went towards it without seeking to change the established order of things, just as, from one field desiring a flower in another field, she would have gone to fetch it without changing her dress.

A man, anxious for full independence, would have gone into bachelor rooms; but young women did not go into bachelor rooms. They achieved their independence perfectly well, and far more cheaply, by going into a boarding house. She therefore, very excitedly, went into a boarding house.

There was no difficulty about leaving Aunt Belle's. Once Rosalie was established in business with Mr. Simcox, tied to business hours, and earning a weekly salary, she no longer occupied in Aunt Belle's house the position of dependence which was in Aunt Belle's house the first, and indeed the only, qualification for all who occupied her house. Aunt Belle's guests had to be guests: wealthy guests who could be entertained from early morning tea (beautifully served) to bedtime and made graciously to admire; or if poor guests, and particularly poor relations, guests who could be even more impressed and were naturally much more enthusiastically delighted and profoundly admiring. Rosalie, in business, could not be entertained and did not sufficiently admire. She had to have a special early breakfast; she disappeared; she was not in to lunch or tea; she was not sufficiently impressed by what cook had prepared but had rather too much to say about what she had been doing, at dinner; and she excused herself away to early bed on the ground of fatigue or of having certain books to study. Rosalie, in business, was not a guest at all in Aunt Belle's sense of the word: indeed there came an occasion-Rosalie twice in one week late for dinner-when Aunt Belle said awfully, "My house is not a hotel, Rosalie. I cannot have my nice house turned into a hotel."

It was the nearest thing to an unkind word ever spoken by Aunt Belle to Rosalie, and it was so near that it brought Aunt Belle up to Rosalie's bed that night-solicitude in a terrific dressing gown of crimson silk-to express the hope that Rosalie was not crying (she was not; she had been sound asleep) at anything Aunt Belle "might have said." "But you see, dear child, there are the servants to consider, all that delicious soup and all that most tasty turbot au gratin to be kept warm for you, and there is your kind Uncle Pyke to consider; men do not like their meals to be..."

The boarding house, which Rosalie, with qualms as to its reception by Aunt Belle, had for some time been secretly meditating, came easily after that. The boarding house had moreover for Aunt Belle a double attraction. It not only removed Rosalie in her capacity of one threatening to turn Aunt Belle's nice house into a hotel; it also restored Rosalie in her capacity of overwhelmed, grateful and admiring poor relation. Rosalie was now invited from the boarding house just as previously she had been invited from the Sultana's; the table and the appointments of Aunt Belle's house were now lavishly displayed in contrast to the display and the table endured by Rosalie at the boarding house; Aunt Belle was again supremely happy in Rosalie and abundantly kind; dinner each Saturday night was a standing invitation and frequently for these dinners Aunt Belle arranged "a little dinner party for you, dear child, just one or two really nice people that it is nice for you to meet and that you can tell your friends at the boarding house about, dear child."

Aunt Belle helped Rosalie to choose the boarding house and saw that it was "nice." Nice people went there and the proprietress, Miss Kentish, was nice. Miss Kentish had a grey, detachable fringe which became, and re-mained, semi-detached immediately after breakfast, and a mobile front tooth which came out surprisingly far when she talked and went in with a sharp click when she stopped. She had for newcomers a single conversational sentence-"My name is Kentish, though funnily enough we come from Sussex"-and, for all purposes, a single business principle, that of willingness "to come to an arrangement." "I am afraid I cannot remedy your water not being hot at eight o'clock," she would say to a boarder, "but I will gladly come to an arrangement with you. Ten minutes to eight or ten minutes past eight" (click). She would come to an arrangement on anything. She became very fond of Rosalie in course of time and once told her that though her duties never permitted her to attend church she had "come to an arrangement" with the vicar and felt that she had "come to an arrangement with Our Lord" (click). She came to an arrangement with Rosalie in the matter of tariff, receiving her and a Miss Salmon, who also sought arrangement, as "two friends as one." This was two persons sharing a room at the tariff of a person and a half. Living was very cheap in those days. Rosalie, at the beginning, with Miss Salmon, paid 18/6 a week, and out of the twenty-five shillings paid her, at first, every Friday by Mr. Simcox there remained what seemed to Rosalie great wealth.

She set herself to save on it and her first purpose in thus saving was to accumulate money on which she could draw so as to be able to pay for a room private to herself. That would have taken some time. Her successive increases in her earnings, as Mr. Simcox's hobby developed into a business, brought privacy, and in time what amounted to luxury, by much swifter process. Rosalie was a very long time at the boarding house. From being two friends as one she passed to a small remote room of her own, then to a larger and more accessible room, then to a bed-sitting-room, finally to a very delightful arrangement. There was on the second floor a fine roomy apartment having a dressing-room opening out of it. Rosalie, by then in much favour with Miss Kentish, not only secured the suite but "came to an arrangement" with Miss Kentish by which the furniture and fittings were removed from the rooms and Rosalie permitted to fit, decorate and furnish them herself. Rosalie never knew happier hours than in the furnishing of those two rooms into a little kingdom of her own: she never in all her life knew days as happy as the days there spent.

But at the beginning, two friends as one with Miss Salmon and first contact with life from the angle presented by some twenty various individuals met at meals and in the public rooms. Miss Salmon was a pale, fussy creature with pince-nez in some mysterious way set so far from her eyes that she always appeared to be running after them as if to keep them balanced. Whenever anything of which she did not approve was being said to Miss Salmon or was being done before Miss Salmon, she maintained throughout it, moving about in pursuit of her pince-nez, a rather loud, constant, tuneless humming. When her moment came she would always begin "Well, now" and then swallow forcibly as though the swallowing gave her pain. "Well, now" (gulp). This introduction was always precedent to speech by Miss Salmon, whether after humming or not. Rosalie frequently went to Sunday church service with her and there was an occasion in the Litany on which Miss Salmon, who either had been wandering or sleeping, suddenly came to herself at the correct moment and said: "Well, now"-(gulp)-"We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord."

Miss Salmon was employed as a daily nursery governess by a family resident across the park who, not hav-ing room for her, had "come to an arrangement" with Miss Kentish for her accommodation at the boarding house; and with her fussiness, her nose pursuit, her humming and her general ineptitude of habit and of thought, she was as it were a fated companion for Rosalie; and it was the case that all the other inmates of the boarding house were, in regard to Rosalie, equally and in the same sense fated. Miss Salmon and they were fated, or fatal, to Rosalie, in the sense that it would have been well then for Rosalie, as always well for any developing young thing, to have been among companions who drew upon her sympathies and called for her consideration. The contrary was here presented to her. She was ripe to be intolerant for she was very full of purpose and purpose is a motive power of much impatience. Miss Salmon, who would have made a saint impatient, made Rosalie, who was not a saint, very impatient and the virus of this impatience was that very soon Rosalie made no attempt to conceal it. It seemed to Rosalie that whenever she projected any plan to Miss Salmon-as to "do" a pit at a theatre-or any theory-as that men and not women were manifestly the cat tribe-it seemed to her that Miss Salmon always hummed with the maddening humming denotive of disapproval, and always prefaced stupendously stubborn idiocy with the "Well, now" and the gulp that alone were sufficient to drive enthusiasm crazy.

"Mmmmm-mm. Mmm-mmmm-mm-mm," would go Miss Salmon, following her pince-nez up and down the little bedroom. And then, the pince-nez poised, "Well, now" (gulp).

And Rosalie came to cry, "Oh, never mind. Never mind, for goodness' sake. I know exactly what you're going to say so what is the good of saying it?" Miss Salmon nevertheless would say it, in full measure, pressed down at intervals in solid lumps with reiterated "Well, now" (gulp). And then Rosalie would hum to show she was not listening and thus in time to the position that Rosalie, beyond the ordinary changes of everyday conversation, took not the slightest notice of Miss Salmon but busied herself in their room, or came into it or went out of it, precisely as if Miss Salmon, who with her gulps, her fussiness and her balancing was very much there, was in fact not there at all. When Rosalie for the weekly dinner at Aunt Belle's used to dress in the evening frock of Laetitia's given her for the purpose by Aunt Belle, she used, at first, to say to Miss Salmon, "There, how do I look, Gertrude? Can you see that mend in the lace?"

"Well, now-" (gulp).

Very soon she was dressing (at the common dressing table) with no more regard for Miss Salmon or for the continuous humming of Miss Salmon (signification of Miss Salmon's disapproval of the monopolisation of the dressing table) than if Miss Salmon had been an automaton wound up to balance a pince-nez around the room, to hum, and at intervals to gulp.

This was a small thing, but it was an important small thing. Rosalie was entirely insensible to the opinions and the existence of Miss Salmon, and it followed that she became entirely insensible to the feelings of Miss Salmon. To begin by ignoring a person with whom you are in daily contact is certainly to end by not caring at all what happens to that person. It was the misfortune of Miss Salmon to suffer periodically and acutely from biliousness (which she called neuralgia). In an attack, she took instantly to her bed and lay there flat on her back, absurdly and unnecessarily poising her pince-nez, and looking, unquestionably, very unpleasant. Rosalie,-who believed that Miss Salmon on these occasions had overeaten herself, the attacks invariably coinciding with pork in winter and with a fruit trifle known in the boarding house as "Kentish Delight" in the summer, of both of which Miss Salmon was avowedly fond, was at first warmly sympathetic and attentive on their occurrence, anointing the fevered brows with eau-de-Cologne, nipping the unnecessary pince-nez off the pallid nose, darkening the room, and stealing about on tiptoe. In time her attitude came to be expressed by her reception of the sight of Miss Salmon prone, stricken, yellow, pince-nez, poising. "What, again?"

"Well, now--" (Gulp).

But Rosalie would be gone.

And it came to be the same with all the other fellow inmates of the boarding house, alike the men and the women. Rosalie, in a colloquialism of to-day not then coined, "had no use for them." There was in none of them anything that aroused her esteem; there was in each of them, in degree greater or less, much that provoked her scorn. The result was as resulted from Miss Salmon-she did not bother about them; and not bothering about them she suffered an inhibition of her sympathies. To repeat the thing said, her environment here was, as it were, fated or fatal. In her eagerness for her career, her generous emotions were likely to be laid aside and to wither; and the environment of the boarding house in no way drew upon her sympathies.

This was not good for Rosalie.

Moreover, the community of the boarding house served Rosalie ill on another point. She came there with all those grotesque ideas of her childhood on the respective positions of men and women precipitated through her older years to the perception given to Keggo: women were this, women were that; in their commonest characteristics they contrasted very badly with men; men did things better than women; they had by far the better lot in life than women; unquestionably men were the creatures; of course-off-handedly-they were beasts. She came to the boarding house with these ideas and the boarding house presented these ideas to her in living fact and assured her in her ideas. She came there very susceptible to the qualities she believed to be rooted with their sex in men and women and she saw those qualities there at once. The boarding house might have been all her ideas of women and of men taken away by an artist and put into an exact picture. It was her words to Keggo in terms of actual life. Its population, little varying, was always round about twenty; the proportion in sex always in the region of fifteen women to five men. The figures were always constant and the characters, when they changed, seemed always to Rosalie to be constant; the names changed, the personalities did not change. Even the faces did not change: there are certain types of faces that either are produced by permanent residence in boarding houses or that go instinctively to boarding houses for their permanent residence. There is a boarding-house mould. There would always be two husbands with wives and three men without wives. The men were never spoken to by any of the women but with a certain archness which Rosalie detested; and they never spoke to the women but with a certain boisterousness, a kind of rubbing together of the hands and a "Ha! What miserable weather, Mrs. Keeley. How does it suit you? Ha!" which Rosalie equally detested. It was as though the women, leading boarding-house lives, knew that the men (who were never in to lunch and sometimes absent from dinner) did not lead boarding-house lives but secret, dashing and mysterious lives; and as though the men knew that they lived secret, dashing and mysterious lives but condescended to the

women who lived only boarding-house lives; and the archness on the one side and the boisterousness on the other implied tribute and worthiness of tribute. This implication Rosalie also detested.

Men-as she now saw men and women-she dismissed; generally as "of course they're beasts," severally and in the groups to which they belonged, as cats-of the cat tribe-tame cats, wild cats, Cheshire cats, tomcats and stray cats. But she dismissed them. That was her attitude, as it developed, towards men. They had been, in her regard, owners of the earth, possessing and having dominion over the round world and all that therein is, as a stage magician owns and dominates his stage; they had next been wonderful things but apt to be troublesome and braggart things whose braggadocio caused you to blink and have a funny feeling; they had then been sinister and frightening things that caused poor Anna to say it was hard for women; they became, at last, creatures that had the best of life, that is to say the better time in life, not because they merited it, but because it was theirs by tradition and they stepped into it, or were put into it, as naturally as a man child is put into trousers; and they had, when all was reckoned up, the better qualities-largeness, tolerance, directness, explosiveness (as opposed to smouldering-ness)-not, Rosalie thought, because they were males, but because they had the position that males have, just as by the habit of command is given to small boys in the Navy and very young men in the Army the air and the poise of command.

Yes, certainly men were, as they had always been, the creatures; but the eyes that formerly saw them as magicians, as by a savage is seen only the mystery of the moving hands, the tick, and the strike of a clock, now looked inside the case and saw the works. No mystery. No exclusiveness of natural power. Nothing abnormal. Men, on their estimable qualities and position, were what they were merely because, as the works of a watch, thus and thus the wheels were made to go round. Easy. Nothing in it. On the contrary. On the contrary, men were the more despicable in that, dowered as by tradition they were dowered, they yet were-what they were! The eyes that had been caused to blink by Robert blowing smoke through his nose and by Harold pulling up his collar and speaking with a "haw!" sound, blinked from a contempt yet more profound (because now known for contempt) at the exhibition, seen all about her, of men's unlovely side. And she dismissed them. They did not attract her in the smallest degree. All that they had in them to esteem, whether of qualities or of position, they had-here was the parallel-in common with drones in a hive. They had the best of everything; they were blundering, blustering, noisy, careless, buccaneering owners of the world, and to her-as all the roystering swarm to any individual worker bee-to her, negligible. She was a worker bee, busy, purposeful.

There is a special function belonging to drones in a hive. That special function of men in regard to women was repellant to Rosalie. All that pertained to it was repulsive to her. She loathed to think of men in that capacity and she loathed to see women ensnared in that regard by men. Beautiful cousin Laetitia and the "good match" that obviously had been found for her: she detested seeing those two together: it made her feel sick.

Men! By this and by that in passage of time she was in contact with a good number and a good variety of men. There was the frequently changing male contribution to the boarding-house community; there were clients met in the development of her work at Simcox's; there were the men of the circle of Uncle Pyke Pounce; there were the men of the circle of cousin Laetitia, brought to the little Saturday-dinner parties. A very fair average, a rather wider than the normal average of contact with men; and she dismissed them. They had not any attraction for her at all. If, rarely, she met one whose superficial points were superficially attractive, his contribution to her attitude to men was to make her blink (inwardly) the more, albeit on a different note. That one so exceptionally dowered should find pleasure in, for instance, dalliance of sex! Contemptible! Oh, sickening and contemptible! One Harry Occleve, of Laetitia's circle, so obviously "the good match," was outstandingly such a case. It was thought upon him, scornful and disgusted thought, that made her, walking back from one of the Saturday-evening parties-he was always there-arrange her experiences with men in that analogy between men and cats which, as related, had been delivered to Miss Salmon.

Like a tame cat! She never had met a man she despised so much. You'd think a man like that couldn't help but be above such things as Cousin Laetitia and Aunt Belle made of him. "Occleve." The very name that he owned had a nice sound; and he was brilliantly clever and looked brilliantly clever. He was a barrister and Aunt Belle, who was forever talking about him, had said that evening, just before his arrival, that some famous counsel had declared of him that he was unquestionably the most brilliant of the young men of the day at the Bar. So he was talented, had a great future before him, had a strong, most taking presence, a commanding air, a voice of uncommon charm-and was in bonds to Laetitia! Looked sickly at her! Mouthed fatuous nothings with her! Was obviously marked down to be that "good match" that Laetitia was to make, and was content, was eager, to be the tame cat of her languishing glances and of Aunt Belle's excessive gushings! Was to be seen in a future not distant mated with Laetitia and sharing with her an atmosphere of milk and silk and babies and kisses! Tame cat! What an end to which to bring such qualities! What a desecration of such qualities to set them to win such an end! Tame cat!

But they all were cats of one kind or another. Yes, men are of the cat tribe! Tabby cats-the soft, fattish kind, without any manlike qualities, that seemed to be by far the greater proportion of all the men one saw about in buses and in the streets and met in business; tabby cats-sloppy, old-womanish creatures. Cheshire cats-the kind that grinned out of vacuous minds and that never could speak to a woman without grinning; the unattached men at the boarding house invariably were of the Cheshire-cat cats. Tomcats-the beastly ones with lecherous eyes that looked at you. "Of course they're beasts." It had been a large experience of the tomcat cats that had made her add that final summary of men to Keggo. The Bashibazook, once or twice encountered in her last terms at the Sultana's, though never spoken with, had looked at her in a horrible way, not understood, but felt to be frightening and horrible; Mr. Ponders, on a dreadful occasion after handing over the medicine for Miss Keggs, had horribly said, "Well, now, wouldn't a kiss be nice? I think a nice kiss would be very nice." She had managed to get away without being touched; the nausea in her eyes perhaps had frightened him. It was nausea she felt, not fear, a horrible physical sickness; and finally to round off the "of course they're beasts" of men as then experienced and now to fill up the schedule of tomcat cats the friends of Uncle Pyke Pounce's circle and Uncle Pyke Pounce himself and the men like the men of his circle-tomcats something past their prime as lechers (but at a hint only more lecherous for that) but in the full prime of their beastliness as guzzlers, who with guzzle eyes eyed their food. She had come across a word in Carlyle's "French Revolution" that instantly brought Uncle Pyke Pounce and his friends to her mind and that always thereafter she applied to the elderly tomcat encountered or passed in the street-"atrabilious." Atrabilious! The very word! She looked it up in the dictionary, was disappointed to find it did not mean exactly what she thought it meant, but gave it her own meaning, and applied it to them. It sounded like them. They had small beady eyes, set in yellow; no apparent eyelids either above or below, just an unblinking eye set in a puffy face like a currant in a slab of cold pudding that gloated or glared at everything and everybody as if it was a thing to be devoured; guzzlers who gloated upon their food and wallowed in their soup, always with little streaks of red veins and blue veins in their faces. Atrabilious! Tomcats!

Wild cats-the roamers, the untamed ones, the ones with cruel and with wicked faces that made you not sick, but frightened; mostly they were dressed in rough clothes, men hanging about the streets who patently were thieves or worse, who looked at you and at once looked all around as if to see if any were about that might protect you; but often dressed in gentle dress and then with the cruel and wicked look more cruel and more wicked, to make your shudder to think of a woman having to belong to that.

Stray cats-on the whole the only really bearable ones; the lonely ones that seemed to have lost something or to be lost, that seemed to need looking after, that made you have a funny tender feeling towards them, a wanting as it were to pick them up and carry them home and be sharp with them because they couldn't take care of themselves, and to be kind to them also because they couldn't take care of themselves; yes, the only bearable ones: Mr. Simcox was precisely one.

All cats, of the cat tribe. There wasn't one you couldn't place. There wasn't one, save dear little Mr. Simcox and the stray cat ones you sometimes saw, that was not in some trait contemptible. The only thing to be said for them was that it was their nature. They were created like that. You just shrugged your shoulders at them and let them go at that, negligible entities. Active disgust was only felt of them when one of their traits was manifested directly towards you; or, much more, when the sight was given of such a one as this Harry Occleve making such an exhibition of himself and enjoying it, delighting in it, asking nothing better than to be philandering with Laetitia, or escorting Laetitia, or gazing at Laetitia. That did make you angry enough with a man to hate a man. It was like seeing a good book-as it might be "Lombard Street"-used to prop a table leg; or a jolly dog-as the dearest Scotch terrier once brought to the boarding house-led for a walk on a leash by an old maiden mistress and wearing a lapdog's flannel coat with ribbon bows at the corner. Her aversion to Harry Occleve was such that, in their rare passages together, she was almost openly rude to him. It seemed there was even no physical quality he had but he used it to abase himself or to make an exhibition of himself. He had noticeably long, strong-looking arms, but the sickening thing to see him once using those arms to hold silk for Laetitia while she wound it! He had a striking face that she named, from a line in Browning, a "marching" face-"one who never turned his back but marched breast forward"-but to see that face bent fatuously towards Laetitia! There radiated from the corners of his eyes towards his temples those little lines that sailors often have, "horizon tracks," she called them; but to see them deeply marked while he mouthed earnest nothings with Laetitia! There was an odd, nice smell about him, of peat, of tobacco, of soap, of heather with the wind across it, of things like that most agreeably mixed, and actually she had heard Laetitia say to him in the babyish way she spoke to him, "You smoke too much. You do." And he, like a moon calf: "Oh, you're not going to ask me to give up smoking, are you?" And she with a trailing eye and hint of a blush, "Perhaps I shall-some day." And he-a sigh! Positively a love-sick sigh straight out of a novel! Ah, positively she could detest the man! She came to discover it as an odd thing that, while commonly she was entirely indifferent to men, always after a Saturday meeting with Laetitia's Harry she had for quite a day or two an active detestation of them.

But it was the women at the boarding house-to instance the boarding house-the fifteen women, the immense, straggling army of women as they looked to be, when they came trooping in to dinner or went trailing out again, that had Rosalie's sharpest observation and that best pointed her youthful estimates. Unlike men who had fallen woefully from her childhood estimate of them, the women maintained and intensified her early estimate of women. The women in the boarding house showed Rosalie what women come to. A few were emphatically old; the rest, with the single exception of Miss Salmon, were emphatically not old; on the other hand they were emphatically not young. They were at pains to let you see they were not old and the pains they were at rather dreadfully (to Rosalie) emphasised the fact that they were not young. The thing about them, the warning, the proof that they exhibited of all Rosalie's ideas about the inferiority of women, was that they were, in her phrase, derelicts-not wanted; abandoned; homeless; or they would not be here. Yes, derelict; and what was worse, derelict not in the sense of desuetude of powers or of powers outworn, but with the suggestion of never having had any powers, of having been always the mere vessels of another's powers-some man's; and now, with that power withdrawn-the man, whether father, brother, lover or husband, gone-derelict as a ship, abandoned of crew, rudderless and dismasted, is derelict; as an obscure habitation, cold of hearth, crazy of walls, abandoned to decay, is derelict. She summed them all up as having arrived at what they were precisely because in their earlier years they had been what in her childhood she had supposed women to be: inferior creatures at the disposal and for the benefit and service of men. What a warning never to be that! There they were-manless. And therefore derelict. And because derelict for such a reason, therefore testimony to a social condition that was abominable, and because seen to be abominable never, never herself should enfold. Never! Manless. Husbandless. There they were, the straggling mob of them,-deserted by husbands, semi-detached from husbands, relict of husbands fallen out with a stitch in the side in the race for husbands. Urh!

She was very young, Rosalie.

"Despised and rejected of men," she said to Miss Salmon, holding forth in their bedroom on her subject. "That's what I call them. Despised and rejected of men. Oh, don't hum louder than ever. It's not irreverent to say that. It describes a condition, that's all, and I'm using it because it describes this condition, their condition, exactly. It does. You can hum; but it does. They've never done anything, they've never meant to do anything, they've never tried to do anything except hang round after some man. That's all. They've either caught him and now lost him; or they've missed him and now go on missing him. That's their lives. That's nearly any woman's life. It's not going to be mine. If anything were wanted to make the whole idea of marriage and all that repulsive to me-and nothing is wanted-that would. Despised and rejected of men! I used to think and to say I intended to be like a man and to do a man's work and have a man's share. I tell you that even getting so close to a man as that-I mean as close as intentional emulation of him-even getting as close as that makes me feel sick now. It's my own life I'm going to have, my own place, my own share; not modelled on any one else's. If it were conceivable that I ever met a man I cared tuppence about-but it isn't conceivable; that's a quality that's been left clean out of me, thank goodness-but if it were conceivable, what I'd offer would be just to share; to go on living my own way and he his-Oh, your humming! I mean after marriage, of course; I think this free-love business they talk about is even more detestable than the lawful kind-just animalism. That's all I'd do. Me my life; he his life; meeting, as equals, when it was convenient to meet. I'd like to bring all these poets and people who write about love into our dining-room to see those people. That'd teach them!

Man's love is of his life a thing apart;

'Tis woman's whole existence.

What an existence!"

"Well, now-" (gulp).

* * *

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