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tomed to hear what the loss of their 'leadership' has cost the human race. We have been told by an American suffragist that Miss Susan B. Anthony would have made a better executive than Abraham Lincoln, and that Miss Jane Addams might fill the presidential chair more successfully than any of her male contemporaries. Such flights of fancy are the natural outcome of woman's exclusion from political life. Only grim experience can teach realities to adult or to child. There is nothing like a heavy crop of failures to enrich the soil of human endeavor. The realm of the untried holds no impossibilities. But to be able to believe that politicians are dull without the enlivening coöperation of 'gracious and grayhaired women,' is far more wonderful than to be able to believe that such women would make better presidents than men. In the one case we are dealing with theories, in the other, encountering facts.
'Qui veut faire l'ange fait la bête,' said Pascal; and the Michigan angel is a dangerous social symbol. The chivalric and sentimental attitude of American men reacts alarmingly when they are brought face to face with the actual terms and inevitable consequences of woman's enfranchisement. There exists a world-wide and age-long belief that what women want they get. They must want it well enough and long enough to make their desire operative. It is the listless and preoccupied unconcern of their own sex which bars their progress. But men will fall into a flutter of admiration because a little Florida town has a woman mayor (the town of Aldeburgh in England had a woman mayor ten years ago), and they
will look aghast upon such headlines as these in their morning paper: 'Women Confess Selling Votes.' 'Chicago Women Arrested for Election Frauds,' as if there had not always been, and would not always be, a percentage of unscrupulous voters in every electorate. No sane woman believes that women, as a body, will vote more honestly than men; but no sane man believes that they will vote less honestly. They are neither the 'gateway to Hell,' as Tertullian pointed out, nor the builders of Sir Rabindranath Tagore's 'spiritual civilization.' They are neither the repositories of wisdom, nor the final word of folly.
It was hardly fair to focus X-rays upon the only woman in Congress, and exhibit to a gaping world her native and elemental limitations. Such qualities are common in our legislative bodies, and excite no particular comment. They are as inherent in the 'ordinary man,' for whom Mr. Wilson says America was created, as in the ordinary woman. They in no way affect the question of enfranchisement. Give as much and ask no more. Give no more and ask as much. This is the watch-word of equality.
'God help women when they have only their rights!' exclaimed a brilliant American lawyer; but it is in the 'only' that all savor lies. Rights and privileges are incompatible. Emancipation implies the sacrifice of immunity, the acceptance of obligation. It heralds the reign of sober and disillusioning experience. Women, as M. Faguet reminds us, are only the equals of men; a truth which was more simply phrased in the old Cornish adage, 'Lads are as good as wenches when they are washed.'
ADVENTURES IN INDIGENCE. II
THE ADVENTURE OF MAMIE FAFFELFINGER
BY LAURA SPENCER PORTOR
THE nouveaux pauvres are, I believe, as a rule, fully as awkward with their poverty as the nouveaux riches with their wealth. They have not the true grand manner. They are not a whit more born to the rags than your suddenly prosperous parvenu to the purple. It is difficult to be at ease with them. Their behaviors, their manners, their speech, more often their silences, are forever reminding you of their former mode of living.
For these and other reasons, I willingly pass over those intervening years, when, though distinctly poor, I was unaccustomed, and wore my changed conditions, I do not doubt, awkwardly. I pass on to a later and more fixed season when, thrown wholly now on my own resources, and totally untrained and unfitted for such an emergency, I made shift to support myself, to live meagrely, and to endure what I took to be a well-nigh intolerable poverty.
Poverty is a variable term and much subject to comparison. Some will allow it only to those who have been born to it. To have been always halfstarved, these think, and to carry a basket from door to door that is to be poor. But it is idle to think of cold and hunger to the point of beggary as the only cold and hunger there are. Not alone are there degrees of cold and
hunger of the body, discomfortable and ill-nourished living, but there are, as well, things which seem to me even more difficult to endure satisfied hunger of the mind and heart and a most cruel and persistent chill of the spirit. The literal-minded may need to see the open sore, the sightless eye, or the starved countenance, before their pity is moved; but he who has ever touched the spiritual values, will know with a tenderness that is mercy that in one who never asked for pity, one who perhaps even went outwardly gay, there may be hidden hurts borne unflinchingly; intolerable darknesses not complained of; crippled powers which once went proud and free; and a heart and mind which have endured, it may be, starved hours. These are, I believe, some of the most real poverties that the soul may be called on to endure.
In every circumstance of our lives lies the stirring knowledge that one's own case, however strange, is far from being singular. There are others besides myself with whom Poverty has taken up its abode; there are others from whose cup Despair has daily drunk; who, looking up from their daily bread, have found Sorrow's eyes forever on them. Those who have known these cup-companions need not be told how the House of Life can be darkened, or how these darker presences occupy the chambers of the mind.
Nor need they yet be reminded how all this becomes bearable, even enduringly precious to the heart, if Love but remain and consent still to sit at the board, and, though with brows bent, still break bread with its white hands, and lift in its unshaken fingers the cup of bitter wine.
We went to live in the deep country, on what had once been a beautiful old estate. The house had not been lived in for years. It still preserved an air of beauty and dignity, but its ancient pride and fitness were turned toward decay. But if, like myself, it had fallen on adversity and evil days, that was but the better reason I should understand and love it. Wholly without what the world calls comforts, yet how comforting it was in those chill and cheerless days! Downfallen in the eyes of others, lowered from its proud estate, how I have yet lifted my heart up to it under the stars, and paid it an homage of love and thankfulness not matched, I think, in all its better days.
Our precarious means being entirely dependent on such writing as I could do, it would have been extravagance and bankruptcy for me to assume the domestic duties. There was no one else. I was the only woman of the household. It seemed to me that a working housekeeper might solve the difficulty; one of that variety which lays not so much stress upon wages as upon a home. I found a surprising number with this tendency-women who had seen better days and were by their own affidavit capable of standing anything. But I found them to be without exception, shrinkingly susceptible to physical discomforts, and of these there were in that old house many.
Each of them carried with her a remnant of her 'better days,' as an inveterate shopper carries an out-of-date sample, resolved, yet unable, to find its
match. One of them could not forget, and had no mind to let you forget, that her husband had made four thousand a year; another had been to school in Paris; and one always wore rubber gloves, 'because,' she assured me, 'as long as I can have my hands white, I can stand a great deal.' Another insisted on the most fluffy and unsubstantial desserts, and thought the rest of the meal mattered little, so long as the finale had a grand air. Another could not endure the odor of onions and fainted at the sight of liver. Yet another, from reverses and humiliations unendurable, had turned Christian Scientist. I learned afterward that she came hoping to convert me to the idea that there is no poverty. I wish I could have spared her the futility.
By and by I abandoned all hope of a working housekeeper. I knew that what I needed was a 'general houseworker.'
Those who in extremity have sought servants in city employment bureaus need not be told what is too old a tale. When the array of imposing applicants had all declined the discomforts of my home, and the honor of being employed by me, the manager explained, what I was dull not to have known myself, that it might be wise to try some of the employment bureaus in the poorer quarters. I found one finally at the head of the Bowery and climbed its rickety stairs.
They were a strange and varied lot that I came upon now: weird old flatfooted fairies, given to feathers and elaborate head-dresses, or young heavy Audreys who looked at you out of dull eyes. I explained elaborately the conditions under which they would be called on to live. I omitted nothing, not even the screech-owls, or the night sounds that might or might not be wild cats. They came eagerly or sullenly, according to their dispositions. But apparently
none of them had at all grasped what I said. For when they saw the place and felt the loneliness of which I had so thoroughly warned them, they turned and fled. The house might have been haunted.
Finally I heard that one could engage servants of a certain order from the Charities associations, more particularly from the Society for Improving the Condition of the Poor. Thither I went.
The matron, a full-eyed woman who gave the impression of having to discipline an over-kind heart by an assumption of great severity, questioned me curtly. What surroundings had I to offer? My heart sank, but I went over faithfully the disadvantages treme loneliness of the life, the necessity that those who entered on it should abandon all hope of 'movies.' 'Movies' there were not within twelve miles. There were no conveniences, no department stores, no bargain sales, nothing - only field and forest, stars and dawns and sunsets nothing!
She lifted explanatory eyebrows, a little displeased, I thought.
'I mean the moral surroundings.' Then, at my pause, 'I mean, are you yourself a Christian woman?'
Being perhaps the better satisfied on this point, for a rather faltering answer on my part, she sent a mild-eyed assistant for 'Mamie Faffelfinger.'
She meanwhile explained in a businesslike way that Mamie was a Catholic, brought up in an orphan asylum; her child was not a year old; 'the man' (so the matron designated him curtly) was not her husband.
have n't a crust to live on. If you do not wish to employ that kind, there are the employment bureaus.'
So they dawned on me like a blessing. These were not parvenu poor who had been to school in Paris, who would insist on unsubstantial desserts. Here were no head-dressy old fairies of questionable powers; these were no exotic fruits of the 'gardens of Proserpine'; here was the good salt brine, here the ancient tides of reality-'the surge and thunder of the Odyssey.'
Meanwhile the matron was speaking:
"The man is not her husband. But if you are a Christian, I am sure you have no narrow scruples as to that. He drinks. She is half-starved. I have told her we will get her and the child a place, if she will promise to leave him.' She glanced at the open doorway of her tiny office: 'Yes, Mamie, come in.'
It was then that I first saw Mamie and Anne.
Mamie looked her part. She was pallid, rather pretty; very slight, with a skirt of extreme fineness. She had heavy-lidded eyes, that looked to have seen much weeping, and a smile the more pathetic for its great readiness.
As to Anne, a consistent story would require that she should be as pallid as her mother, that her little hand, intent now on her mother's hat-brim, should be a mere kite's claw; and there should have been delicate dark rings under her eyes. But, far from being a kite's claw, the hand on the hat-brim was as plump as ripe fruit, and her cheeks were like smooth apricots perfect with the sun. But after all there is no describing
'You mean she would wish a home Anne. If you will look at the child held for the child too?'
The full-eyed-woman ceased turning her pencil between her thumb and fingers on the desk and gave me an aggressive look.
'Certainly. Most of these people
in the arms of the Madonna of the Chair and then at the one in the arms of the Sistine Madonna; then, if you will picture a child not quite a year old, who might worthily be the little sister and companion of these, you
will have some idea, even though inadequate still, of what Anne was, as she held tight to Mamie's rakish hat-brim and gave me the solemn attention of her eyes.
I went over the requirements. spoke of the loneliness. Not a town within miles.
'Well, what do you think of that!' Mamie replied. But she was unfeignedly eager to come.
'When could you be ready?'
'Oh, right away,' she said. 'I've got Anne's clothes here.' She glanced at a small paper bundle under one arm.
My good fairy, who pays me occasional visits, prevented my asking her where her own clothes were.
The matron interposed. Mamie could stay right there until I was ready to take her, late that afternoon. Then when Mamie had gone into the outer room, the matron explained.
'She has n't any home to go to. He left her and raised money on her furniture. They came and took it. She has n't even a stick of it.'
Tragic as this was, my mind was for the moment intent on something else. 'But she wears a wedding ring!' I said.
and Anne. Mamie looked delightedly out of the car-window, noting the most trifling points of interest with enthusiasm, and saying every little while, 'Well, what do you think of that!' Or she would excitedly point out some speeding bird, or flitting house, or other flying object, to Anne, and Anne would lurch forward to look, her, little nose sometimes touching the pane, and then would turn good-naturedly and look at me with every air of asking me if that probably so-interesting object had managed to escape me also.
When we arrived at the house Mamie was as cheerful as a sparrow. The room on which flat-footed fairies and dull Audreys had looked with unconcealed contempt or disapproval, she flew to. She settled in it like a bird in her nest, and chirped contentedly to Anne, —
'Oh, Anne, look at the nice bureau! And the washstand! What do you think of that!' Then she turned to me, with that winning comradely smile; ‘I like bureaus and washstands - furniture, I mean, and things. It makes you think of home.' And she drew her hand along the bureau.
I did not know then, but I soon found out, that this was the top and bottom
The matron pulled a heavy ledger of all her longings, and this the real toward her. hunger of her heart, a hunger starved enough, of course, in all her orphanasylum years, a craving for a place of her own.
'Oh, yes; they all do. They'd go starved, but they'd buy a wedding ring.'
She pressed her lips together, shook her head, and began setting down data, - my name, address, occupation, the names of two of my friends, they must be people of some standing, who could vouch for me; then more as to Mamie, I suppose, in the interest of system and statistics.
I can give you no idea of the comradeship of that journey with Mamie
Mamie talked much of 'Bill.' filled her life and days, there could be no doubt. If she swept, it was to his glory. If she scrubbed a floor or kneaded dough, or bent affectionately over the scalloping of a pie-crust, it was certainly for love of him that she lent these her attention. She soon began sending him her weekly earnings. I remonstrated, and suggested that it might be better to save her money against another rainy day. She dusted her hands of flour and began scraping