Puslapio vaizdai

Once he awoke. The moon had risen, and a little breeze waved the hanging moss, and whispered in the glossy foliage of orange and palmetto with a sound like falling rain. Gideon sat up and peered about him, rolling his eyes hither and thither at the menacing leap and dance of the jet shadows. His heart was beating thickly, his muscles twitched, and the awful terrors of night pulsed and shuddered over him. Nameless specters peered at him from every shadow, ingenerate familiars of his wild, forgotten blood. He groaned aloud in a delicious terror; and presently, still twitching and shivering, fell asleep again. It was as if something magical had happened; his fear remembered the fear of centuries, and yet with the warm daylight was absolutely forgot


He got up a little after sunrise, and went down to the river to bathe, diving deep with a joyful sense of freeing himself from the last alien dust of travel. Once ashore again, however, he began to prepare his breakfast with some haste. For the first time in his journey he was feeling a sense of loneliness and a longing for his kind. He was still happy, but his laughter began to seem strange to him in the solitude. He tried the defiant experiment of laughing for the effect of it, an experiment which brought him to his feet in startled terror; for his laughter was echoed. As he stood peering about him, the sound came again, not laughter this time, but a suppressed giggle. It was human beyond a doubt. Gideon's face shone with relief and sympathetic amusement; he listened for a moment, and then strode surely forward toward a clump of low palms. There he paused, every sense alert. His ear caught a soft rustle, a little gasp of fear; the sound of a foot moved cautiously.

"Missy," he said tentatively, "I reckon yo'-all 's come jes 'bout 'n time foh breakfus. Yo' betteh have some. If yo' ain' too white to sit down with a black man." The leaves parted, and a smiling face as black as Gideon's own regarded him in shy amusement.

"Who is yo', man?"

"I mought be king of Kongo," he laughed, "but I ain't. Yo' see befo' yo' jes Gideon-at yo'r 'steemed sehvice." He bowed elaborately in the mock humil

ity of assured importance, watching her face in pleasant anticipation.

But neither awe nor rapture dawned there. She repeated the name, inclining her head coquettishly; but it evidently meant nothing to her. She was merely trying its sound. "Gideon, Gideon. I don' call to min' any sech name ez that. Yo'-all 's f'om up No'th likely." He was beyond the reaches of fame.

"No," said Gideon, hardly knowing whether he was glad or sorry—“no, I live south of heah. What-all 's yo' name?" The girl giggled deliciously.

"Man," she said, "I shu got the mos' reediculoustest name yo' eveh did heah. They call me Vashti-yo' bacon 's bu'nin'." She stepped out, and ran past him to snatch his skillet deftly from the fire.

"Vashti"-a strange and delightful name. Gideon followed her slowly. Her romantic coming and her romantic name pleased him; and, too, he thought her beautiful. She was scarcely more than a girl, slim and strong and almost of his own height. She was barefooted, but her blue-checked gingham was clean and belted smartly about a small waist. He remembered only one woman who ran as lithely as she did, one of the numerous "diving beauties" of the vaudeville stage.

She cooked their breakfast, but he served her with an elaborate gallantry, putting forward all his new and foreign graces, garnishing his speech with imposing polysyllables, casting about their picnic breakfast a radiant aura of grandeur borrowed from the recent days of his fame. And he saw that he pleased her, and with her open admiration essayed still greater flights of polished manner.

He made vague plans for delaying his journey as they sat smoking in pleasant conversational ease; and when an interruption came it vexed him.

"Vashty! Vashty!" a woman's voice sounded thin and far away. "Vashty-y! Yo' heah me, chile?"

Vashti rose to her feet with a sigh. "That 's my ma," she said regretfully. "What do yo' care?" asked Gideon. "Let her yell awhile."

The girl shook her head.

"Ma 's a moughty pow'ful 'oman, and she done got a club 'bout the size o' my wrist." She moved off a step or so, and glanced back at him.

Gideon leaped to his feet.

"When yo' comin' back? Yo'-yo' ain' goin' without-" He held out his arms to her, but she only giggled and began to walk slowly away. With a bound he was after her, one hand catching her lightly by the shoulder. He felt suddenly that he must not lose sight of her.

"Let me go! Tu'n me loose, yo'!" The girl was still laughing, but evidently troubled. She wrenched herself away with an effort, only to be caught again a moment later. She screamed and struck at him as he kissed her; for now she was really in


The blow caught Gideon squarely in the mouth, and with such force that he staggered back, astonished, while the girl took wildly to her heels. He stood for a moment irresolute, for something was happening to him. For months he had evaded love with a gentle embarrassment; now, with the savage crash of that blow, he knew unreasoningly that he had found his


He leaped after her again, running as he had not run in years, in savage, determined pursuit, tearing through brier and scrub, tripping, falling, rising, never losing sight of the blue-clad figure before him until at last she tripped and fell, and he stood panting above her.

He took a great breath or so, and leaned over and picked her up in his arms, where she screamed and struck and scratched at him. He laughed, for he felt no longer sensible to pain, and, still chuckling, picked his way carefully back to the shore, wading deep into the water to unmoor his boat. Then with a swift movement he dropped the girl into the bow, pushed free, and clambered actively aboard.

The light early morning breeze had freshened, and he made out well toward the middle of the river, never even glancing around at the sound of the hallooing he now heard from shore. His exertions had quickened his breathing, but he felt strong and joyful. Vashti lay a huddle of blue in the bow, crouched in fear and desolation, shaken and torn with sobbing; but he made no effort to comfort her. He was untroubled by any sense of wrong; he was simply and unreasoningly satisfied with what he had done. Despite all his gentle, easy-going, laughter-loving existence, he found nothing incongruous or

unnatural in this sudden act of violence. He was aglow with happiness; he was taking home a wife. The blind tumult of capture had passed; a great tenderness possessed him.

The leaky little boat was plunging and dancing in swift ecstasy of movement; all about them the little waves ran glittering in the sunlight, plashing and slapping against the boat's low side, tossing tiny crests to the following wind, showing rifts of white here and there, blowing handfuls of foam and spray. Gideon went softly about the business of shortening his small sail, and came quietly back to his steeringseat again. Soon he would have to be making for what lea the western shore offered; but he was holding to the middle. of the river as long as he could, because with every mile the shores were growing more familiar, calling to him to make what speed he could. Vashti's sobbing had grown small and ceased; he wondered if she had fallen asleep.

Presently, however, he saw her face raised-a face still shining with tears. She saw that he was watching her, and crouched low again. A dash of spray spattered over her, and she looked up frightened, glancing fearfully overside; then once more her eyes came back to him, and this time she got up, still small and crouching, and made her way slowly and painfully down the length of the boat, until at last Gideon moved aside for her, and she sank in the bottom beside him, hiding her eyes in her gingham sleeve.

Gideon stretched out a broad hand and touched her head lightly; and with a tiny gasp her fingers stole up to his.

"Honey," said Gideon-"Honey, yo' ain' mad, is yo'?"

She shook her head, not looking at him. "Yo' ain' grievin' foh yo' ma?" Again she shook her head.

"Because," said Gideon, smiling down at her, "I ain' got no beeg club like she has."

A soft and smothered giggle answered him, and this time Vashti looked up and laid her head against him with a small sigh of contentment.

Gideon felt very tender, very important, at peace with himself and all the world. He rounded a jutting point, and stretched out a black hand, pointing.

"Yondeh it is, Honey," he said. "We's almos' home."

The Spirit of The Century W



HE time has come to define feminism; it is no longer possible to ignore it. The germ is in the blood of our women. The principle is in the heart of our race. The word is daily in the pages of our newspapers. The doctrine and its corollaries are on every tongue. The hope of it, often unrecognized and denied, lies inherent in the soul of every woman. The dread of it rests heavily upon the ignorant, the timid, the unduly conservative, and those who have outlived the capacity for unfamiliar thinking.

But what is feminism? Is it, as the superficial allege, the desire of some women to assume the work and the places and the power and the responsibilities and the rewards of men? Some women desire these things, no doubt. But this is not feminism.

Is it the desire of a few experimental spirits to abolish marriage, and substitute for lifelong monogamy temporary relationships dissoluble at will? This is the dream of a scattered few, especially in Germany, where a small group is experimenting in public. But it is not feminism.

Is it the suggestion of certain reckless ones to abolish the home and have the State bring up our children in order that women may be free to experiment variously with life unhampered by the schemes of mere nature? This has been seriously set forth by several daring writers, and is occasionally advocated by irresponsible orators at gatherings of the ultra-advanced. But it is not feminism.

Nor can feminism be defined by any of the numerous other suggestions of impractical imaginations spurred to abnormal activity by sudden release from the thought conventions of the past.

Granted that most of the so-called feminist writing and speaking so far have dealt with the schemes of visionaries. But

visionaries and fanatics are always the first and the loudest in any public cause. The social reorganization now in slow, orderly progress throughout the civilized world was heralded two decades ago by anarchists and nihilists.

Granted that the opponents of feminism seem to have, in the silence of all others, authority for their assumption that the theories of these hasty irresponsibles are the theories of the movement itself. But the hastily terrified are as fatuous as the hastily enthused. Neither deserves credence of the seer.

Let us, then, ignore these impractical doctrines of the hasty. Let us fish for our definition in the still waters beneath the troubled surface. Let us study the Revolt of the Women not in the souls of the volatile few, but of the earnest millions of wives and mothers and workers who are thinking silently in their homes. Here alone shall we find the attitude upon which to base our substantial definition, for these are the women who eventually will determine the fact.

And here first of all we find that feminism does not mean the usurpation by women of the place and the power of men. Psychological sex differences absolutely must have their way in the end despite prophets and propaganda, and none but dreamers will deny it. When women have all the rights they demand, together with the obligations that go with them, still they will be women. They will no more compete then in departments of life unsuited to their strength and genius than they do to-day. None but a few enthusiastic theorists believe they will.

There is this difference, though, and here somewhere lies our definition, that then women's spirits will be freed. For the first time in history, whether in competition with men or not, they will labor without the bond and the stigma of inferiority.

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AT-TAT-TAT! The sound of silver on glass, and half-acre of shirtfront swings about toward speakers' table. Toast-master on his feet. Toast-master's mighty shock of black hair impressive. Rubicund, leonine, slightly flabby features peer over palisade of starched linen at half-acre of those also present. He is at perfect ease, one would say; but in toastmaster's eyes a cold glint of impatience, and his smile somewhat too wide, much too professionally wide. He broods with mock fear



over half-acre of laundered arctic landscape before him, as if hesitating, one might say, over thought of plunging headlong into White Sea of starch and end it all. Is every one quite ready? No desire on toast-master's part to hurry any one into gulping. But who would be bold enough to lift a demi-tasse? There is silence.



"Gentlemen," he says, "it is a pleasure to have you all here. There was once an Irishman named Pat who was driving a pig to market."

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