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ing each other about, we weaklings one sixth of the population of certain will come and remedy your might.' A districts had been wiped out by tyman doctor is as forbidden in this hos- phus in three months, and the rest pital as a tabby-cat on Mount Athos: were the prey of wounds, famine, enit is conducted with a brave punctilio teric and relapsing fever, and was able
a by women surgeons, women nurses, to scrub it clean of disease. Because women orderlies, all trained above the these women were brave and advenaverage and not to be driven from their turous and trained and disciplined and posts by the forgings of any arsenal. everything that it is quite unnecessary They acquired their war-nerve in the for a woman to be, they acquired a protracted filth and famine of the Bal- mastery over pain and stopped one of kan Wars, and it has not failed them the leaks through which there gushed throughout this worse campaign, where out the life of Europe. horrors are not the writhings of misery hungry in the mud, but have been cold
II ly and efficiently planned in cleanness and plenty. Every woman stayed at Feminism has not invented this courher post in Antwerp, though the shat- age, for there have always been brave tered glass of the windows fell about women; but it has let it strike its roots them as they worked and one of their into the earth. For this work is prenurses was killed by a shell before their a
cious above most of the good deeds eyes. And when all kindness was driv- done by their sex in the past because en out of Belgium, they turned to Ser- it was performed by women who were bia and joined with the British Red not set apart from life by any peculCross Society and that other exclusive- iar passion of service or renunciation. ly feminine hospital organized by the Madge Neill Fraser spent a great part Scottish woman suffrage societies in of her life in the unspiritual and useless the victory that is the most resplendent pastime of playing golf with distincof the war because it meant the saving tion. Mrs. Percy Dearmer was a large, and not the losing of life.
kind, dancing sort of woman, flushed The work of these English women in with a naive passion for getting up Serbia makes the blood leap like the things, for getting up anything from
‘' death of Byron at Missolonghi or the a mothers' meeting to a theatrical sealegion of Englishmen who fought for son. And both of them went out to Garibaldi. At the beginning of the Serbia, and caught fever, and are now war, Serbia was a place of vermin members of the communion of heroes. where wounded men lay on the straw It is ordinary people too who conand thirsted and hungered until their duct the privateering expeditions that wounds festered into fever and they are made upon Belgium - which, being died. To those horrors Englishwomen most in need, is most inclined to accept went out just as fast as they could find untrained and isolated helpers - by organizations to take them. They women working in twos or threes or dwelt in the filth and breathed in the alone. pestilence and did not care how close There is one woman who visits all they came to Death, so long as they those battered Belgian villages where could strike at him. It was because of peasants still huddle in their bulletthis reserve of intelligent and fearless riddled homes, and takes with her labor that the Sanitary Commission truckloads of a patent infants' food. was able to go to a country where Wherever there is a Belgian baby she
goes, even if it means pushing a barrow the sword, and there enters into their full of tins to some stranded hamlet a blood the tradition that it is good to quarter of a mile along a road raked by face violence and be capable of glory German fire. It is a work that is beau- and hate the sword. Instead of lingertiful in courage and charity, and it sup- ing ghostly in a convent legend, these plies the overwhelming pacifist argu- dead women become a strain in the ment. Those gray babies whining in breed that will live as long as life. their cradles prove that the common- But even though this work and its place remark that the world is too far significance may have been facilitated advanced for war is wrong. On the con- by feminism, no woman would present trary we have not yet arrived at the the bill to men and say that we have stage of civilization where war becomes thereby earned our liberty and citizena possibility. For it is a cad's trick to
ship. The professional politicians, who declare war until one is absolutely cer- feel that everything is the same as it tain that one is not cheating one single always was because they are still in helpless baby out of its feeding-bottle. power, bargain even now for rights and If there were to be on some high place advantages, and intrigue that if this a record of this bravery, one can imag- one is silent about the crimes of the ine how the picture would show a fig- coal-owners, that one shall support conure of the smooth surface and stillness scription. But we common people, who which is found only in saints and the are struggling in a changed and undead, moving to some benevolence with kindly universe like rabbits in a blownthe deliberation of one who has fortified out burrow, no longer try to score off and specialized her will to this by pray- one another. And we admit that our er. And yet she is a brown and lively assumption of such risks and responsithing: a Jewess, one of a race that has bilities of the war as we can bear is no forbidden its women to withdraw from self-sacrifice, but a snatch at happiness. the world to sanctify themselves; an For danger is the salt of life. It preactress, pledged to the service of pleas- serves it from rankness when there is ure, and vivid with that intensification thunder in the skies. of the flesh that comes to wives and You who think that women ought to mothers.
be sealed into safety cannot think of a Now when ordinary people, involved happy ending to the tale of a widow in the ordinary relationships of life, who lost her only son in the wars. You
, are made mobilizable by the general see how she would sit alone in a house acceptance of the doctrine that a wo- that has grown horrible because the man may come out of her home and pictures on the walls are not of a live
a take upon herself risk and responsibil- boy but of a dead man: how, every day, ity, they become much more significant the little morning breeze of housewifworkers than could dedicated women ery would spring up and die down into who have renounced the things of the eventless afternoons and long evenings world. For when they die, it does not when the lamplit air would stagnate for mean that the red-eyed sisters gather lack of the movement of youth; how in the chantry to sing the mass for the her life would turn rancid for want of dead. It means that people who have hope to keep it fresh. Yet we know been bound to them by the ties of the now that such a tale can end in brightflesh and common laughter and excite- ness. A widow who was nursing in Serment, feel as though a part of them had bia heard that her son had died at died violently and gloriously and by Ypres; a week later the languor of en
teric fell upon her and she died. In- some reason incomprehensible to any stead of slowly wizening in stale air she one who has traveled through the counran swiftly at the elbow of her son to try and seen how agricultural laborers the gate of their purpose. She would and engineers are prized as princes, have no pain for him or for herself, hold recruiting meetings at every corfor, having taken part in the ritual of ner. Yet the whole illusion falls away honorable death, she would compre- like a veil when the band strikes up and hend its meaning. We rejoice that in marches away with a following of vala time like this we are allowed such iant old men who have clipped their mitigations.
moustaches to hide their whiteness,
weedy town-bred lads rejected half a III
dozen times already, and little boys But here again we have let the ex- with tin trumpets. And if, with this ceptional woman crowd out mankind: enlightening vision before one's eyes, for most of these are the deeds of wo- one walks into any of the residential men who, either by spinsterhood, wid- districts, significant things suddenly inowhood, extreme youth, or middle age, form one that this life is all gnawed have been released from the normal lot with the war. of childbearing and rearing. The mass In these rows of households there is of Englishwomen are still bond to that rarely a householder. Either he is in duty, and are busy with men and ba- khaki, or he is working from nine in bies in homes beneath a sky unshaken the morning till midnight in a governby gunfire. Yet they too receive from ment office, or burning out his vitality the war their special revelation. All of in the factory or office in the attempt them are learning now what only the to create material and skilled labor out intellectually curious or the distressful- of nothing to fulfill an army contract. ly circumstanced knew before: that the It is the householder's wife who is dealwife and mother is not the lady jan- ing with a world utterly and fantastigling her keys about a castle keep, built cally changed by the fact that, when to contain the future of the race, but she orders goods, the answer is, either, the most helpless straw whirled along 'I cannot get these goods, or, ‘I will on the tide of men's activities. Human- not be able to send you these goods for ity has lost its instinct for self-preserva- some days, as nearly all my packers tion in the desire of the intelligence for have gone to the front, and the railadventure, and makes no effort to pro- ways are so disorganized that, when I tect its future. War hits at children as do, I cannot say
you at anybody else, and the mothers are them in a week or a month'; and that busy beating back the assault.
when she requires the services of an These are things not to be seen by electrician, a carpenter, a plumber, or a the casual observer of social conditions; jobbing gardener, she has to wait her for England, like a hurt and defiant turn for the old and incompetent workanimal, is pretending that nothing has men who have crawled from the firebefallen it. London and the great pro- side or the casual ward to fill the gaps vincial cities create an illusion that left by the fitter men who have gone everything is the same as it always has into the army or into government been, by open shops and the familiar work. peacocking of shopping women. This There is humor in these disorders. It lie of an inert social organism is assist is irritating and yet disarming to wait ed by the Powers that Be, who, for while an aged plumber, noisily sucking
his last tooth, fumbles with a tap; and at the clinics and schools for mothers when the gardener with his scythe began to lose weight. But now that looks like old Father Time, one hovers labor has proved its importance to a about him with an uneasy feeling that staggered public, we are paying out he ought to be drawn from flower-bed everything we can to keep the country to flower-bed in a bath-chair. But their going, and the working classes are en
cumulation is a tragedy. A year ago joying a period of prosperity. It is the
a the wife led the easiest existence on middle-class home-so largely depenearth, and here and there she was a lit- dent on the distributive system which tle wicked with luxury, and greedy to has so entirely broken down for lack of spend the world's wealth on the deco- men that has tumbled down like a ration of the private life. To-day she house of cards. works hard. Although this business of Middle-class housewives are not likehousewifery is the one occupation the ly to write their own history; and so world permitted her to follow without for the past few months I have been question, here are navies and armies collecting the experiences of women shamelessly ranged to kill the men she who lived in quiet England and yet has borne and cherished, and conspir- found existence defaced by the war. ing to prevent her from nourishing their There is one which I think is of special nerves with comfort, and she has to interest because the teller of it had no stand up to them and keep the war out direct connection with the war. So far of her home. She has to organize her as they knew, neither she nor her husresources so that order and cleanliness band had a single kinsman at the front. and all the sweet cultivations of peace Yet the war changed and hurt them. can make a last stand in her four walls. While her men are fighting for her life,
IV she has to fight to make that life worth living and insure that children shall The woman, who shall be called the grow up to live it.
Lady to mark a certain remoteness It is a war of infinite majesty, and from exterior circumstance which had yet it is difficult to record because of hitherto been hers, lived in a rawboned the triviality of its battles and the in- house which stood on a cliff facing the coherence of its soldiers. Instead of a Wash and casting a sidewise glance general issuing dispatches concerning to the North Sea across bents misted a reverse, two ladies in jet bonnets and with sea-lavender. A lighthouse stood charwomen's capes raise their voices as sentinel beside it, and there were litthey discuss the rise in the price of su- tle white coastguard cottages with cobgar under the gas flares. And those few blestones and a bleaching-green, and economic students who can decipher near at hand a wireless station lifted this homely text are for the most part its gaunt arms. It was one of those followers of the Fabian sect of Social- wholly tedious East Coast districts ism, and insist on peering down on the which hold one simply by a wine-like poor dead poor. Now the state of the strength in the air. poor happens to be a patch of dead But in any case they were not people water in the midst of the whirlpool. At who made extravagant demands of this first it seemed as though they were go- visible world. The Lady was a little ing to bear the full force of the econom- under thirty, and liked tennis tournaic blow, and one of the first results of ments and golf, and had a considerable the war was that the babies examined amount of intelligence which was quite
unlit by any intellectual passion. Her Almost immediately there were signs, husband was a man of forty-two who not only that war had begun, but that dabbled in scientific journalism with peace had ended. These things do not results that brought up his private in- always happen together: the comfort come to £800. They lived a wholesome of the world went on just the same all life in which the events came up so reg- the years that English boys were dying ularly and so completely without the uselessly in South Africa. But the very scent of romance that one might liken day after the Lady's child was born, the it to one of those large, white, neatly social organization showed what it was and firmly convoluted cauliflowers. up to by omitting to send the milk. They thought stability much the best The Lady's husband was sent off withthing in the world, and looked forward out his breakfast to fetch it, and found to the birth of their child because it the little tiled dairy full of landladies would make them more settled than indignant because the most superior ever.
family from Nottingham which had Yet on the day their child was born, taken the drawing-room floor was waitall this was altered. Even the ordinary ing for its breakfast. Nobody had got circumstances of childbirth were dif- any milk, it seemed, because all the ferent. For the Lady sat and read the milkmen were Army Reservists and papers. To you who have not been had been called up the night before. through this war, it may seem incred- So the Lady's husband took a can in ible that reading a newspaper could his hand and went in next door to the blot out the consciousness of personal grocery store, to inquire for some cerepain in a much larger and intenser im- als that inexplicably had not been depersonal pain. But we did not know livered. The shop looked different that then what had happened to the world; day. There were three big automobiles all that we knew was that only a few drawn up in front and the chauffeurs score miles away a people had been were packing them with sacks of flour torn to pieces, and that demoniac wick- and eatables. Inside, agitated women edness was walking the earth and re- with the uppish airs of those who feel joicing in its might. Everything we did themselves rising to an emergency, in those days was done abstractedly. were buying rice that was doomed to So you might imagine men buying and bore their families for a twelvemonth, selling on the Last Day, casting back- bacon whose destiny it was to mould in ward glances at the slip of sky at the the cellar, and, on the impulse of the door, to see if the great hand be not yet moment, even stranger things than that. thrust through the clouds. It was thus One woman grasped a bar of yellow that the Lady lost, not only the fore- soap and a tin of curry powder, and boding of extreme peril, but also the thrust them into her string bag. The delicious sense of importance which is Lady's husband perceived that this the consolation of her sex on these occa- was a food-panic, and he sat down on a sions. This was motherhood with a sugar-box and explained to the women difference. When the mists of chloro- that there must be enough food in Engform cleared away and they held out land to last for at least six months. her squealing son, she looked at him, They appeared uninterested, and the not with the passive contentment of grocer, who had raised his prices two the mother in peace-time, but with the pence in the shilling since he opened his active and passionate intention: I shop that morning, irritated. He then
' must keep this thing safe.'
ordered the rice and tapioca and sago