Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Eric Eldred, David Widger
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[Illustration] THE STURDY OAK
A composite Novel of American Politics by fourteen American authors:
HARRY LEON WILSON
HENRY KITCHELL WEBSTER
MARY HEATON VORSE
ALICE DUER MILLER
ETHEL WATTS MUMFORD
MARJORIE BENTON COOKE
WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE
THEME BY MARY AUSTIN
The chapters collected and (very cautiously) edited by ELIZABETH JORDAN
Illustrations by HENRY RALEIGH
NEW YORK HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 1917 [Blank-copyright info] PREFACE
At a certain committee meeting held in the spring of 1916, it was agreed
that fourteen leading American authors, known to be extremely generous as
well as gifted, should be asked to write a composite novel.
As I was not present at this particular meeting, it was unanimously and
joyously decided by those who were present that I should attend to the
trivial details of getting this novel together.
It appeared that all I had to do was:
First, to persuade each of the busy authors on the list to write a chapter
of the novel.
Second, to keep steadily on their trails from the moment they promised
their chapters until they turned them in.
Third, to have the novel finished and published serially during the autumn
Campaign of 1917.
The carrying out of these requirements has not been the childish diversion
it may have seemed. Splendid team work, however, has made success possible.
Every author represented, every worker on the team, has gratuitously
contributed his or her services; and every dollar realized by the serial
and book publication of "The Sturdy Oak" will be devoted to the Suffrage
Cause. But the novel itself is first of all a very human story of American
life today. It neither unduly nor unfairly emphasizes the question of equal
suffrage, and it should appeal to all lovers of good fiction.
Therefore, pausing only to wipe the beads of perspiration from our brows,
we urge every one to buy this book!
_November_, 1917. CONTENTS
I. BY SAMUEL MERWIN
II. BY HARRY LEON WILSON
III. BY FANNIE HURST
IV. BY DOROTHY CANFIELD
V. BY KATHLEEN NORRIS
VI. BY HENRY KITCHELL WEBSTER
VII. BY ANNE O'HAGAN
VIII. BY MARY HEATON VORSE
IX. BY ALICE DUER MILLER
X. BY ETHEL WATTS MUMFORD
XI. BY MARJORIE BENTON COOK
XII. BY WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE
XIII. BY MARY AUSTIN
XIV. BY LEROY SCOTT ILLUSTRATIONS
"Nobody ever means that a woman really can't get along without a man's
protection, because look at the women who do"
It was hard on the darling old boy to come home to Miss Emelene and the cat
and Eleanor and Alys every night!
"You mean because she's a suffragist? You sent her away for _that!_ Why,
really, that's _tyranny!_"
Across the way, Mrs. Herrington, the fighting blood of five generations
of patriots roused in her, had reinstated the Voiceless Speech. PRINCIPAL
_George Remington_... Aged twenty-six; newly married. Recently returned to
his home town, New York State, to take up the practice of law. Politically
ambitious, a candidate for District Attorney. Opposed to woman suffrage.
_Genevieve_... His wife, aged twenty-three, graduate of Smith. Devoted to
George; her ideal being to share his every thought.
_Betty Sheridan_... A friend of Genevieve. Very pretty; one of the first
families, well-to-do but in search of economic independence. Working as
stenographer in George's office; an ardent Suffragist.
_Penfield Evans_... Otherwise "Penny," George's partner, in love with
Betty. Neutral on the subject of Suffrage.
_Alys Brewster-Smith_... Cousin of George, once removed; thirty-three, a
married woman by profession, but temporarily widowed. Anti-suffragist. One
Angel Child aged five.
_Martin Jaffry_... Uncle to George, bachelor of uncertain age and certain
income. The widow's destined prey.
_Cousin Emelene_.... On Genevieve's side. Between thirty-five and forty, a
born spinster but clinging to the hope of marriage as the only career for
women. Has a small and decreasing income. Affectedly feminine and genuinely
_Mrs. Harvey Herrington_.... President of the Woman's Club, the Municipal
League, Suffrage Society leader, wealthy, cultured and possessing a sense
_Percival Pauncefoot Sheridan_.... Betty's brother, fifteen, commonly
called Pudge. Pink, pudgy, sensitive; always imposed upon, always grouchy
and too good-natured to assert himself.
_E. Eliot_.... Real estate agent (added in Chapter VI by Henry Kitchell
_Benjamin Doolittle_.... A leader of his party, and somewhat careless where
he leads it. (Added in Anne O'Hagan's Chapter).
_Patrick Noonan_.... A follower of Doolittle.
Time.... The Present.
Place.... Whitewater, N. Y. A manufacturing town of from ten to fifteen
THE STURDY OAK
BY SAMUEL MERWIN
Genevieve Remington had been called beautiful. She was tall, with brown
eyes and a fine spun mass of golden-brown hair. She had a gentle smile,
that disclosed white, even teeth. Her voice was not unmusical. She was
twenty-three years old and possessed a husband who, though only twenty-six,
had already shown such strength of character and such aptitude at the
criminal branch of the law that he was now a candidate for the post of
district attorney on the regular Republican ticket.
The popular impression was that he would be elected hands down. His address
on Alexander Hamilton at the Union League Club banquet at Hamilton City,
twenty-five miles from Whitewater (with which smaller city we are concerned
in this narrative), had been reprinted in full in the Hamilton City
_Tribune_; and Mrs. Brewster-Smith reported that former Congressman Hancock
had compared it, not unfavorably, with certain public utterances of the
Honorable Elihu Root.
George Remington was an inch more than six feet tall, with sturdy
shoulders, a chin that gave every indication of stubborn strength, a frank
smile, and a warm, strong handclasp. He was connected by blood (as well as
by marriage) with five of the eight best families in Whitewater. Mr. Martin
Jaffry, George's uncle and sole inheritor of the great Jaffry estate (and a
bachelor), was known to favor his candidacy; was supposed, indeed, to be a
large contributor to the Remington campaign fund. In fact, George Remington
was a lucky young man, a coming young man.
George and Genevieve had been married five weeks; this was their first day
as master and mistress of the old Remington place on Sheridan Road.
Genevieve, that afternoon, was in the long living-room, trying out various
arrangements of the flowers that had been sent in. There were a great
many flowers. Most of them came from admirers of George. The Young Men's
Republican Club, for one item, had sent eight dozen roses. But Genevieve,
still a-thrill with the magic of her five-weeks-long honeymoon, tremulously
happy in the cumulative proof that her husband was the noblest, strongest,
bravest man alive, felt only joy in his popularity.
As his wife she shared his triumphs. "For better or worse, for richer or
poorer, in sickness and health ..." the ancient phrases repeated themselves
so many times in her softly confused thought, as she moved about among the
flowers, that they finally took on a rhythm---
_"For better or worse,
For richer or poorer,
For richer or poorer,
For better or worse--"_
* * * * *
On this day her life was beginning. She had given herself irrevocably into
the hands of this man. She would live only in him. Her life would find
expression only through his. His strong, trained mind would be her guide,
his sturdy courage her strength. He would build for them both, for the
twain that were one.
She caught up one red rose, winked the moisture from her eyes, and
gazed--rapt, lips parted, color high--out at the close-clipped lawn behind
the privet hedge. The afternoon would soon be waning--in another hour or
so. She must not disturb him now.
In an hour, say, she would run up the stairs and tap at his door. And he
would come out, clasp her in his big arms, and she would stand on the tips
of her toes and kiss away the wrinkles between his brows, and they would
walk on the lawn and talk about themselves and the miracle of their love.
The clock on the mantel struck three. She pouted; turned and stared at it.
"Well," she told herself, "I'll wait until half-past four."
The doorbell rang.
Genevieve's color faded. The slim hand that held the rose trembled a very
little. Her first caller! She decided that it would be best not to talk
about George. Not one word about George! Her feelings were her secret--and
Marie ushered in two ladies. One, who rushed forward with outstretched
hand, was a curiously vital-appearing creature in black--plainly a
widow--hardly more than thirty-two or thirty-three, fresh of skin, rather
prominent as to eyeballs, yet, everything considered, a handsome woman.
This was Alys Brewster-Smith. The other, shorter, slighter, several years
older, a faded, smiling, tremulously hopeful spinster, was Genevieve's own
cousin, Emelene Brand.
"It's so nice of you to come--" Genevieve began timidly, only to be swept
aside by the superior aggressiveness and the stronger voice of Mrs.
"My _dear_! Isn't it perfectly delightful to see you actually mistress of
this wonderful old home. And"--her slightly prominent eyes swiftly took in
furniture, pictures, rugs, flowers,--"how wonderfully you have managed to
give the old place your own tone!" "Nothing has been changed," murmured
Genevieve, a thought bewildered.
"Nothing, my dear, but yourself! I am _so_ looking forward to a good talk
with you. Emelene and I were speaking of that only this noon. And I can't
tell you how sorry I am that our first call has to be on a miserable
political matter. Tell me, dear, is that wonderful husband of yours at
"Why--yes. But I am not to disturb him."
"Ah, shut away in his den?"
"It's a very important paper he has to write. It has to be done now, before
he is drawn into the whirl of campaign work."
"Of course! Of course! But I'm afraid the campaign is whirling already. I
will tell you what brought us, my dear. You know of course that Mrs. Harvey
Herrington has come out for suffrage--thrown in her whole personal weight
and, no doubt, her money. I can't understand it--with her home, and her
husband--going into the mire of politics. But that is what she has done.
And Grace Hatfield called up not ten minutes ago to say that she has just
led a delegation of ladies up to your husband's office. Think of it--to his
office! The first day!... Well, Emelene, it is some consolation that they
won't find him there."
"He isn't going to the office today," said Genevieve. "But what can they
want of him?"
"To get him to declare for suffrage, my dear."
"Oh--I'm sure he wouldn't do that!"
"Are you, my dear? Are you _sure_?"
"He has told you his views, of course?"
Genevieve knit her brows. "Why, yes--of course, we've talked about
"My dear, of course he is _against suffrage_."
"Oh yes, of course. I'm sure he is. Though, you see, I would no more think
of intruding in George's business affairs than he would think of intruding
in my household duties."
"Naturally, Genevieve. And very sweet and dear of you! But I'm sure you
will see how very important this is. Here we are, right at the beginning
of his campaign. Those vulgar women are going to hound him. They've begun
already. As our committee wrote him last week, it is vitally important that
he should declare himself unequivocally at once."
"Oh, yes," murmured Genevieve, "of course. I can see that."
The doors swung open. A thin little man of forty to fifty stood there, a
dry but good-humored man, with many wrinkles about his quizzical blue eyes,
and sandy hair at the sides and back of an otherwise bald head. He was
smartly dressed in a homespun Norfolk suit. He waved a cap of homespun in
"Afternoon, ladies! Genevieve, a bachelor's admiration and respect! I hope
that boy George has got sense enough to be proud of you. But they haven't
at that age. They're all for themselves."
"Oh no, Uncle Martin," cried Genevieve, "George is the most generous----"
Mr. Martin Jaffry flicked his cap. "All right. All right! He is." And
Mrs. Brewster-Smith, an eager light in her eyes, moved part way across the
room. "But we can't let you run away like this, Mr. Jaffry. Do sit down
and tell us about the work you are doing at the Country Club. Is it to be
bowling alley _and_ swimming pool----"
"Bowling alley _and_ swimming pool, yes. Tell me, chick, might a humble
constituent speak to the great man?"
Genevieve hesitated. "I'm sure he'd love to see you, Uncle Martin. But he
"Not to be disturbed by _any_body, eh?"
"Yes, Uncle Martin. It's a very important statement he has to prepare
"Good day, then. You look fine in the old house, chick!"
Mr. Jaffry donned his cap of homespun, ran down the steps and out the front
walk, hopped into his eight-cylinder roadster, and was off down the street
in a second. There was a sharp decisiveness about his exit, and about the
sudden speed of his machine; all duly noted by Mrs. Brewster-Smith, who
had gone so far as to move down the room to the front window and watch the
performance with narrowed eyes. The Jaffry Building stands at the southwest
corner of Fountain Square. It boasts six stories, mosaic flooring in the
halls, and the only passenger elevator in Whitewater. The ground floor was
given over to Humphrey's drug store; and most of Humphrey's drug store
was given over to the immense marble soda fountain and the dozen or more
wire-legged tables and the two or three dozen wire chairs that served to
accommodate the late afternoon and evening crowd.
At the moment the fountain had but one patron--a remarkably fat boy of,
perhaps, fifteen, with plump cheeks and drooping mouth.... The row of
windows across the second floor front of the building, above Humphrey's,
bore, each, the legend--_Remington and Evans, Attorneys at Law_.
The fat boy was Percival Sheridan, otherwise Pudge. His sister, Betty
Sheridan, worked in the law offices directly overhead and possessed a heart
Betty was rich, at least in the eyes of Pudge. For more than a year (Betty
was twenty-two) she had enjoyed a private income. Pudge definitely knew
this. She had money to buy out the soda fountain. But her character,
thought Pudge, might be summed up in the statement that she worked when she
didn't have to (people talked about this; even to him!) and flatly refused
to give her brother money for soda.
As if a little soda ever hurt anybody. She took it herself, often enough.
Within five minutes he had laid the matter before her--up in that solemn
office, where they made you feel so uncomfortable. She had said: "Pudge
Sheridan, you're killing yourself! Not one cent more for wrecking your
She had called him "Pudge." For months he had been reminding her that his
name was Percival. And he wasn't wrecking his stomach. That was silly talk.
He had eaten but two nut sundaes and a chocolate frappe since luncheon. It
wasn't soda and candy that made him so fat. Some folks just were fat, and
some folks were thin. That was all there was _to_ it!
Pudge himself would have a private income when he was twenty-one. Six years
off ... and Billy Simmons in his white apron, was waiting now, on the other
side of the marble counter, for his order--and grinning as he waited.
Six years! Why, Pudge would be a man then--too old for nut sundaes and
chocolate frappes, too far gone down the sober slope of life to enjoy
Pudge wriggled nervously, locked his feet around behind the legs of the
high stool, rubbed a fat forefinger on the edge of the counter, and watched
the finger intently with gloomy eyes.
"Well, what'll it be, Pudge?" This from Billy Simmons.
"My name ain't Pudge."
"Very good, Mister Sheridan. What'll it be?"
"One of those chocolate marshmallow nut sundaes, I guess, if--if----"
"If what, Mister Sheridan?"
"--if, oh well, just charge it."
Billy Simmons paused in the act of reaching for a sundae glass. The smile
left his face.
Pudge, though he did not once look up from that absorbing little operation
with the fat forefinger, felt this pause and knew that Billy's grin had
gone; and his own mouth drooped and drooped. It was a tense moment.
"You see, Pudge," Billy began in some embarrassment, only to conclude
rather sharply, "I'll have to ask Mr. Humphrey. Your sister said we
"Oh, well!" sighed Pudge. Getting down from the stool he waddled slowly out
of the store.
It was no use going up against old Humphrey. He had tried that. He went as
far as the fire-plug, close to the corner, and sank down upon it. Everybody
was against him. He would sit here awhile and think it over. Perhaps he
could figure out some way of breaking through the conspiracy. Then Mr.
Martin Jaffry drove up to the curb and he had to move his legs. Mr. Jaffry
said, "Hello, Pudge," too. It was all deeply annoying.
Meantime, during the past half-hour, the law offices of Remington and Evans
were not lacking in the sense of life and activity. Things began moving
when Penny Evans (christened Penfield) came back from lunch. He wore an
air--Betty Sheridan noted, from her typewriter desk within the rail--of
determination. His nod toward herself was distinctly brusque; a new quality
which gave her a moment's thought. And then when he had hung up his hat and
was walking past her to his own private office, he indulged in a faint,
Betty considered him. She had known Penny Evans as long as she could
remember knowing anybody; and she had never seen him look quite as he
looked this afternoon.
The buzzer sounded. It was absurd, of course; nobody else in the office. He
could have spoken--you could hear almost every sound over the seven-foot
She rose, waited an instant to insure perfect composure, smoothed down her
trim shirtwaist, pushed back a straying wisp of her naturally wavy hair,
picked up her notebook and three sharp pencils, and went quietly into his
He sat there at his flat desk--his blond brows knit, his mouth firm, a
light of eager good humor in his blue eyes.
"Take this," he said ... Betty seated herself opposite him, and was
instantly ready for work.
"... Memorandum. From rentals--the old Evans property on Ash Street, the
two houses on Wilson Avenue South, and the factory lease in the South
Extension, a total of slightly over $3600.
"New paragraph. From investments in bonds, railway and municipal, an
average the last four years of $2800.
"New paragraph. From law practice, last year, over $4500. Will be
considerably more this year. Total----"
"No. Continue. Total, $10,900. This year will be close to $12,000. Don't
you think that's a reasonably good showing for an unencumbered man of
"No, personal query, Penny to Betty."
"Yes, then, it is very good. You want this in memorandum form. Any
"One carbon--in the form of a diamond--gift from Penny to Betty." Miss
Sheridan settled back in her chair, tapped her pretty mouth with her
pencil, and surveyed the blond young man. Her eyes were blue--frank,
"Penny, I like my work here----"
"I should hope so----"
"And I don't want to give it up."
"I shall have to, Penny, if you don't stop breaking your word. It was a
definite agreement, you know. You were not to propose to me, on any working
day, before seven P.M. This is a proposal of course----"
"Yes, of course, but I've just----"
"That makes twice this month, then, that you've broken the agreement. Now I
can go on and put my mind on my work, if you'll let me. Otherwise, I shall
have to get a job where they _will_ let me."
"But, Betty, I've just this noon sat down and figured up where I stand. It
has frightened me a little. I didn't realize I was taking in more than
ten thousand a year. And all of a sudden it struck me that I've been an
imbecile to wait, or make any agreement----"
"Then you broke it deliberately?"
"Absolutely. Betty--no fooling now; I'm in earnest----"
Studying him, she saw that he was intensely in earnest.
"You see, child, I've tried to be patient because I know how you were
brought up, what you're used to. Why, I wouldn't dream of asking you to
be my wife unless I could feel pretty sure of being able to give you the
comforts you've always had and ought to have. But hang it, Betty, I _can_
do it right! I can give you a home that's worthy of you. Any time! This
"Penny, do you think I care what your income is--for one minute?"
"When I'm earning twenty dollars a week myself and prouder of it than--"
"But that's absurd, Betty--for you to be working--as a stenographer, of all
things! A girl with your looks and your gifts and all that's back of you."
"You mean that I should make marriage my profession?"
"Probably that's why we keep missing each other, Penny. I've pinned my flag
to the principle of economic independence. You're looking for a girl who
will marry for a living. There are lots of them. Pretty, attractive girls,
too. Your difficulty is, you want that sort. You really believe all girls
are that sort at heart, and you think my independence a fad--something I
shall get over. Don't you, now?"
"Well, I'll confess I can't see it as the normal thing. Yes, I believe--I
hope--you will get over it."
"Well--" Miss Sheridan slammed her book shut and stood up--"I won't."
She stepped to the door.
"And the agreement stands. I want to keep on working. And I want to keep on
being fond of you. That agreement is necessary to both desires." She opened
the door, hesitated and a hint of mischief flashed across her face.
"I'll tell you just the person for you, Penny. Really. Marriage is her
profession. She's very experienced. Temporarily out of a job--Alys
He snatched a carnation from the glass on his desk and threw it at her. It
struck a closed door.
* * * * *
The outer door opened just then, and Mr. Martin Jaffry stepped in. He
nodded, with his little quizzical smile, to the composed young woman who
stood within the railing.
"Anybody here, Betty?"
A slight movement of her prettily poised head indicated the door marked
"Mr. Evans." And she said, "Penny's there."
"Is he shut up, too? His partner is too important to be seen today."
"Oh no," Betty replied, inscrutably sober, "he's not important."
Mr. Jaffry wrinkled up his eyes, chuckled softly, then stepped to the
door of the unimportant one. Before opening it, he turned. "Mrs. Harvey
Herrington been in?"
"Twice with a committee."
"Any idea what she wanted?"
Betty was aware that the whimsical and roundabout Mr. Jaffry knew
everything about everybody in Whitewater. She was further aware that he
had, undoubtedly, reasons of his own for questioning her. He was
always asking questions, anyway. Worse than a Chinaman. And for some
reason--perhaps because he was Martin Jaffry--you always answered his
"Yes," said Betty. "She wants to pledge him to suffrage."
"Umm! Yes, I see! You wouldn't be against that yourself, would you?"
"Naturally not. I'm secretary of the Second Ward Suffrage Club."
"Umm! Yes, yes!" With which illuminating comment, Mr. Jaffry tapped on
Penny Evans' door, opened it and entered.
"Spare a minute?" he inquired.
"Sure," said Penny; "two, ten! Take a chair."
"No," replied Mr. Jaffry, "I won't take a chair. Think better on my feet.
I'm in a bit of a quandary. Suppose you tell me what this important paper
is that George is drawing up. Do you know?"
"Is he coming out against suffrage?"
"Umm!" Mr. Jaffry flicked his cap about. "I want to see George. He mustn't
"Say, Mr. Jaffry, you haven't swung over----"
"Not at all. It's tactics. I ought to see him."
"Why not run out to his house----"
"Just been there. Ran away. Some one there I'm afraid of."
Mr. Jaffry shook his head and lowered his voice.
"With Betty hearing it at this end, and the committee from the Antis
sitting it out down there--the telephone's on the stair landing----"
He pursed his lips, waved his cap slowly to and fro and observed it with a
whimsical expression on his sandy face, then glanced out of the window. He
stepped closer, looking sharply down. A very fat boy with pink cheeks and a
downcast expression was sitting on a fire-plug. Mr. Jaffry leaned out.
"Pudge," he called, "come up here a minute."
On the Remington and Evans stationery he penciled a note, which he sealed.
Then he scribbled another--to Mrs. George Remington, asking her to hand
George the inclosure the moment he appeared from his work. The two he
slipped into a large envelope. The very fat boy stood before him.
"Want to make a quarter, Pudge? Take this letter, right now, to Mrs. George
Remington. Give it to her personally. It's the old Remington place, you
He felt in his change pocket. It was empty. He hesitated, turned to Evans,
then, reconsidering, produced a dollar bill from another pocket and gave it
to the boy.
"Now run," he said.
The boy, speechless, turned and moved out of the office. His sister spoke
to him, but he did not turn his head. He rolled down the stairs to the
street, stood a moment in front of Humphrey's, drew a sudden breath that
was almost a gasp, waddled into the store, advanced directly on the
soda fountain, and with a blazing red face and angrily triumphant eyes
confronted Billy Simmons.
"I'll take a chocolate marshmallow nut sundae," he said. "And you needn't
be stingy with the marshmallow, either!"
* * * * *
At ten minutes past four, the anxious Antis in the Remington living-room
heard the candidate for district attorney running down the stairs, and even
Mrs. Brewster-Smith was hushed. The candidate stopped, however, on the
landing. They heard him lift the telephone receiver. He called a number.
"_Sentinel_ office?... Mr. Ledbetter, please.... Hello, Ledbetter!
Remington speaking. I have that statement ready. Will you send a man
around?... Yes, right away. And I wish you'd put it on the wires. Display
it just as prominently as you can, won't you?... Thanks. That's fine!
He ran back upstairs.
But shortly he appeared, wearing the distrait, exalted expression of the
genius who has just passed through the creative act. He looked very tall
and strong as he stood before the mantel, receiving the congratulations of
Mrs. Brewster-Smith and the timid admiration of Cousin Emelene. His few
words were well chosen and were uttered with dignity.
"And now, dear Mr. Remington, I'm sure I don't need to ask you if you are
taking the right stand on suffrage." This from Mrs. Brewster-Smith.
The candidate smiled tolerantly.
"If unequivocal opposition is 'right'----"
"Oh, you dear man! I was sure we could count on you. Isn't it splendid,
The reporters came.
* * * * *
It was a busy evening for the young couple. There were relatives for
dinner. Other relatives and an old friend or two came later. Throughout,
George wore that quietly exalted expression, and carried himself with the
To the adoring Genevieve his chin had never appeared so long and strong,
his thought had never seemed so elevated, his quiet self-respect had never
been so commanding. He was no longer merely her George, he was now a public
figure. Soon he would be district attorney; then, very likely, Governor;
then--well, Senator; and finally--it was possible--some one had to
be--President of the United States. He had begun, this day, by making a
great decision, by stepping boldly out on principle, on moral principle,
and announcing himself a defender of the home, of the right.
At midnight, the last guest departed. George and Genevieve stepped out into
the summer moonlight and strolled arm in arm down the walk.
Waddling up the street appeared a very fat boy.
"Why, Pudge," cried Genevieve, "what on earth are you doing out at this
time of night!"
"I'm going home, I tell you!" muttered the boy, on the defensive. He
carried a large bag of what seemed to be chocolate creams, from which he
As he passed, a twinge of memory disturbed him. He fumbled in his pockets.
"I was to give you this," he said then; and leaving a crumpled envelope
in Genevieve's hand, he walked on as rapidly as he could.
A few minutes later, standing under the light in the front hall, George
Remington read this penciled note:
"I stood ready to contribute more than I promised--any amount to put you
over. But if you give out a statement against suffrage you're a damn fool
and I withdraw every cent. A man with no more political sense and skill
than that isn't worth helping. You should have advised me.
BY HARRY LEON WILSON
It may have been surmised that our sterling young candidate for district
attorney had not yet become skilled in dalliance with the equivocal; that
he was no adept in ambiguity; that he would confront all issues with a
rugged valiance susceptible of no misconstruction; that, in short, George
Remington was no trimmer.
If he opposed an issue, one knew that he opposed it from the heart out. He
said so and he meant it. And, being opposed to the dreadful heresy of equal
suffrage, no reader of the Whitewater _Sentinel_ that morning could say,
as the shrewd so often say of our older statesmen, that George was
Not George's the mellow gift to say, in effect, that of course woman should
vote the instant she wishes to, though perhaps that day has not yet come.
Meantime the speaker boldly defies the world to show a man holding woman in
loftier regard than he does, or ready to accord her a higher value in
all true functions of the body politic. Equal suffrage, thank God, is
inevitable at some future time, but until that glorious day when we can be
assured that the sex has united in a demand for it, it were perhaps as
well not to cloud the issues of the campaign now opening; though let it be
understood, and he cannot put this too plainly, that he reveres the memory
of his gray-haired mother without whose tender ministrations and wise
guidance he could never have reached the height from which he now speaks.
And so let us pass on to the voting on these canal bonds, the true
inwardness of which, thanks to the venal activities of a corrupt
opposition, even an exclusively male constituency has thus far failed to
comprehend. And so forth.
Our hero, then, had yet to acquire this finesse. As we are now privileged
to observe him, he is as easy to understand as the multiplication table,
as little devious and, alas! as lacking in suavity. Yet, let us be fair to
George. Mere innocence of guile, of verbal trickery, had not alone sufficed
for his passionate bluntness in the present crisis. At a later stage in
his career as a husband he might have been equally blunt; yet never again,
perhaps, would he have been so emotional in his opposition to woman
polluting herself with the mire of politics.
Be it recalled that but five weeks had elapsed since George had solemnly
promised to cherish and protect the fairest of the non-voting sex--at least
in his State--and he was still taking his mission seriously. As he wrote
the words that were now electrifying, in a manner of speaking, the readers
of the _Sentinel_, and of neighboring journals with enough enterprise to
secure them, he had beheld his own Genevieve, fine, flawless, tenderly
nourished flower that she was, being dragged from her high place with the
most distressing results.
He saw her rushed from the sacred shelter of her home and made to attend
primaries; he saw her compelled to strive tearfully with problems that
revolted all her finer instincts; he saw her insulted at polling booths;
saw her voting in company with persons of both sexes whom one could never
He saw her tainted, bruised, beaten down in the struggle, losing little by
little all sense of the holy values of Wife, Mother, Home. As he wrote he
heard her weakening cries for help as she perished, and more than once his
left arm instinctively curved to shield her.
Was it not for his wife, then; nay, for wifehood itself, that he wrote?
And so, was it quite fair for unmarried Penfield Evans, burning at his
breakfast table a cynical cigarette over the printed philippic, to murmur,
"Gee! old George _has_ spilled the beans!"
Simple words enough and not devoid of friendly concern. But should he not
have divined that George had been appalled to his extremities of speech
by the horrendous vision of his fair young bride being hurled into depths
where she would be obliged, if not to have opinions of her own, at least to
vote with the rabble as he might decide they ought to vote?
And should not other critics known to us have divined the racking anguish
under which George had labored? For one, should not Elizabeth Sheridan,
amateur spinster, have been all sympathy for one who was palpably more an
alarmed bridegroom than a mere candidate?
Should not her maiden heart have been touched by this plausible aspect of
George's dilemma, rather than her mere brain to have been steeled to a
humorous disparagement tinged with bitterness?
And yet, "What rot!" muttered Miss Sheridan,--"silly rot, bally rot, tommy
rot, and all the other kinds!"
Hereupon she creased a brow not meant for creases and defaced an admirable
nose with grievous wrinkles of disdain. "Sacred names of wife and mother!"
This seemed regrettably like swearing as she delivered it, though she
quoted verbatim. "Sacred names of petted imbeciles!" she amended.
Then, with berserker fury, crumpling her _Sentinel_ into a ball, she
venomously hurled it to the depths of a waste basket and religiously rubbed
the feel of it from her fingers. As she had not even glanced at the column
headed "Births, Deaths, Marriages," it will be seen that her agitation was
real. And surely a more discerning sympathy might have been looked for from
the seasoned Martin Jaffry. A bachelor full of years and therefore with
illusions not only unimpaired but ripened, who more quickly than he should
have divined that his nephew for the moment viewed all womankind as but one
multiplied Genevieve, upon whom it would be heinous to place the shackles
Perhaps Uncle Martin did divine this. Perhaps he was a mere trimmer, a rank
side-stepper, steeped in deceit and ever ready to mouth the abominable
phrase "political expediency." It were rash to affirm this, for no analyst
has ever fathomed the heart of a man who has come to his late forties a
bachelor by choice. One may but guess from the ensuing meager data.
Uncle Martin at a certain corner of Maple Avenue that morning, fell in
with Penfield Evans, who, clad as the lilies of a florist's window, strode
buoyantly toward his office, the vision of his day's toil pinkly suffused
by an overlaying vision of a Betty or Sheridan character. Mr. Evans bubbled
his greeting. "Morning! Have you seen it? Oh, _say_, have you seen it?"
The immediate manner of Uncle Martin not less than his subdued garb of
gray, his dark gloves and his somber stick, intimated that he saw nothing
to bubble about.
"He has burned his bridges behind him." The speaker looked as grim as any
bachelor-by-choice ever may.
"Regular little fire-bug," blithely responded Mr. Evans, moderating his
stride to that of the other.
"Can't understand it," resumed the gloomy uncle. "I sent him word in time;
sent it from your office by messenger. It was plain enough. I told him no
money of mine would go into his campaign if he made a fool of himself--or
words to that effect."
"Phew! Cast you off, did he? Just like that?"
"Just like that! Went out of his way to overdo it, too. Needn't have come
out half so strong. No chance now to backwater--not a chance on earth
to explain what he really did mean--and make it something different."
"Quixotic! That's how it reads to me."
Uncle Martin here became oracular, his somber stick gesturing to point his
"Trouble with poor George, he's been silly enough to blurt out the truth,
what every man of us thinks in his heart--"
"Eh?" said Mr. Evans quickly, as one who has been jolted.
"No more sense than to come right out and say what every one of us thinks
in his secret heart about women. I think it and you think it--"
"Oh, well, if you put it _that_ way," admitted young Mr. Evans gracefully.
"But of course--"
"Certainly, of _course!_ We all think it--sacred names of home and mother
and all the rest of it; but a man running for office these days is a chump
to say so, isn't he? Of course he is! What chance does it leave him? Answer
"Darned little, if you ask me," said Mr. Evans judicially. "Poor old
"Talks as if he were going to be married tomorrow instead of its having
come off five weeks ago," pursued Uncle Martin bitterly. Plainly there were
depths of understanding in the man, trimmer though he might be.
Mr. Evans made no reply. Irrationally he was considering the terms "five
weeks" and "married" in relation to a spinster who would have professed to
be indignant had she known it.
"Got to pull the poor devil out," said Uncle Martin, when in silence they
had traversed fifty feet more of the shaded side of Maple Avenue.
"How?" demanded the again practical Mr. Evans.
"Make him take it back; make him recant; swing him over the last week
before election. Make him eat his words with every sign of exquisite
relish. Simple enough!"
"How?" persisted Mr. Evans.
"Wiles, tricks, subterfuges, chicanery--understand what I mean?"
"Sure! I understand what you mean as well as you do, but--come down to
"That's an entirely different matter," conceded Uncle Martin gruffly. "It
may take thought."
"Oh, is that all? Very well then; we'll think. I, myself, will think.
First, I'll have a talk with the sodden amorist. I'll grill him. I'll find
the weak spot in his armor. There must be something we can put over on
"By fair means or foul," insisted Uncle Martin as they paused at the
parting of their ways. "Low-down, underhanded work--do you get what I
"I do, I do!" declared young Mr. Evans and broke once more into the buoyant
stride of an earlier moment. This buoyance was interrupted but once, and
briefly, ere he gained the haven of his office.
As he stepped quite too buoyantly into Fountain Square, he was all but run
down by the new six-cylinder roadster of Mrs. Harvey Herrington, driven
by the enthusiastic owner. He regained the curb in time, with a ready and
heartfelt utterance nicely befitting the emergency.
The president of the Whitewater Women's Club, the Municipal League and the
Suffrage Society, brought her toy to a stop fifteen feet beyond her too
agile quarry, with a fine disregard for brakes and tire surfaces. She
beckoned eagerly to him she might have slain. She was a large woman with an
air of graceful but resolute authority; a woman good to look upon, attired
with all deference to the modes of the moment, and exhaling an agreeable
sense of good-will to all.
"Be careful always to look before you start across and you'll never have to
say such things," was her greeting to Mr. Evans, as he halted beside this
"Sorry you heard it," lied the young man readily.
"Such a flexible little car--picks up before one realizes," conceded
Whitewater's acknowledged social dictator. "But what I wanted to say is
this: that poor daft partner of yours has mortally offended every woman in
town except three, with that silly screed of his. I've seen nearly all of
them that count this morning, or they've called me by telephone. Now,
why couldn't he have had the advice of some good, capable woman before
committing himself so rabidly?"
"Who were the three?" queried Mr. Evans.
"Oh, poor Genevieve, of course; she goes without saying. And
you'd guess the other two if you knew them better--his cousin, Alys
Brewster-Smith, and poor Genevieve's Cousin Emelene. They both have his
horrible school-boy composition committed to memory, I do believe.
"Cousin Emelene recited most of it to me with tears in her weak eyes, and
Alys tells me his noble words have made the world seem like a different
place to her. She said she had been coming to believe that chivalry of the
old true brand was dying out, but that dear Cousin George has renewed her
faith in it.
"Think of poor Genevieve when they both fall on his neck. They're going up
for that particular purpose this afternoon. The only two in town, mind you,
except poor Genevieve. Oh, it's too awfully bad, because aside from this
medieval view of his, George was probably as acceptable for this office as
any man could be."
The lady burdened the word "man" with a tiny but distinguishable emphasis.
Mr. Evans chose to ignore this.
"George's friends are going to take him in hand," said he. "Of course he
was foolish to come out the way he has, even if he did say only what every
man believes in his secret heart."
The president of the Whitewater Woman's Club fixed him with a glittering
and suddenly hostile eye.
"What! you too?" she flung at him. He caught himself. He essayed
explanations, modifications, a better lighting of the thing. But at the
expiration of his first blundering sentence Mrs. Herrington, with her
flexible little car, was narrowly missing an aged and careless pedestrian
fifty yards down the street.
* * * * *
"George come in yet?"
For the second time Mr. Evans was demanding this of Miss Elizabeth Sheridan
who had also ignored his preliminary "Good morning!"
Now for a moment more she typed viciously. One would have said that the
thriving legal business of Remington and Evans required the very swift
completion of the document upon which she wrought. And one would have been
grossly deceived. The sheet had been drawn into the machine at the
moment Mr. Evans' buoyant step had been heard in the outer hall, and upon
it was merely written a dozen times the bald assertion, "Now is the time
for all good men to come to the aid of the party."
Actually it was but the mechanical explosion of the performer's mood,
rather than the wording of a sentiment now or at any happier time
entertained by her.
At last she paused; she sullenly permitted herself to be interrupted. Her
hands still hovered above the already well-punished keys of the typewriter.
She glanced over a shoulder at Mr. Evans and allowed him to observe her
annoyance at the interruption.
"George has not come in yet," she said coldly. "I don't think he will ever
come in again. I don't see how he can have the face to. I shouldn't think
he could ever show himself on the street again after that--that--"
The young woman's emotion overcame her at this point. Again her relentless
fingers stung the blameless mechanism--"to come to the aid of the party.
Now is the time for all good--" She here controlled herself to further
speech. "And _you!_ Of course you applaud him for it. Oh, I knew you were
"Now look here, Betty, this thing has gone far enough----"
"Far enough, indeed!"
"But you won't give me a chance!"
Mr. Evans here bent above his employee in a threatening manner.
"You don't even ask what I think about it. You say I'm guilty and ought
to be shot without a trial--not even waiting till sunrise. If you had the
least bit of fairness in your heart you'd have asked me what I really
thought about this outbreak of George's, and I'd have told you in so many
words that I think he's made all kinds of a fool of himself."
"No! Do you really, Pen?"
Miss Sheridan had swiftly become human. She allowed her eyes to meet those
of Mr. Evans' with an easy gladness but little known to him of late. "Of
course I do, Betty. The idea of a candidate for office in this enlightened
age breaking loose in that manner! It's suicide. He could be arrested for
the attempt in this State. Is that strong enough for you? You surely know
how I feel now, don't you? Come on, Betty dear! Let's not spar in that
foolish way any longer. Remember all I said yesterday. It goes double
today--really, I see things more clearly."
Plainly Miss Sheridan was disarmed.
"And I thought you'd approve every word of his silly tirade," she murmured.
Mr. Evans, still above her, was perilously shaken by the softer note in
her voice, but he controlled himself in time and sat in one of the chairs
reserved for waiting clients. It was near Miss Sheridan, yet beyond
reaching distance. He felt that he must be cool in this moment of impending
"Wasn't it the awfullest rot?" demanded the spinster, pounding out a row of
periods for emphasis.
"And he's got to be made to eat his words," said Mr. Evans, wisely taking
the same by-path away from the one subject in all the world that really
"Who could make him?"
"I could, if I tried." It came in quiet, masterful tones that almost
convinced the speaker himself.
"Oh, Pen, if you could! Wouldn't that be a victory, though? If you only
"Well, if I only could--and if I do?" His intention was too pointed to be
"Oh, _that_!" He winced at the belittling "that." "Of course I couldn't
promise--anyway I don't believe you could ever do it, so what's the use of
"But you will--will you promise, if I _do_ convert George? Answer the
question, please!" Mr. Evans glared as only actual district attorneys have
the right to.
"Oh, what nonsense--but, well, I'll promise--I'll promise to promise to
think very seriously about it indeed, if you bring George around."
"Betty!" It was the voice of an able pleader and he half arose from his
chair, his arms eloquent of purpose. "'Now is the time for all good men to
come to the aid of the party. Now is the time for'--" wrote Miss Sheridan
with dazzling fingers, and the pleader resumed his seat.
"How will you bring him 'round," she then demanded.
"Wiles, tricks, stratagems," replied the rising young diplomat moodily,
smarting under the moment's defeat.
"Serve him right for pulling all that old-fashioned nonsense," said Miss
Sheridan, and accorded her employer a glance in which admiration for his
prowess was not half concealed.
"The words of a fool wise in his own folly," went on the encouraged Mr.
Evans, and then, alas! a victim to the slight oratorical thrill these words
brought him,--"honestly uttering what every last man believes and feels
about woman in his heart and yet what no sane man running for office can
say in public--here, what's the matter?"
The latter clause had been evoked by the sight of a blazing Miss Sheridan,
who now stood over him with fists tightly clenched. "Oh, oh, oh!" This
was low, tense, thrilling. It expressed horror. "So that's what your
convictions amount to! Then you do applaud him, every word of him, and you
were deceiving me. Every man in his own heart, indeed. Thank heaven I found
you out in time!"
It may be said that Mr. Evans now cowered in his chair. The term is not too
violent. He ventured to lift a hand in weak protest.
"No, no, Betty, you are being unjust to me again. I meant that that was
what Martin Jaffry told me this morning. It isn't what I believe at all. I
tell you my own deepest sentiments are exactly what yours are in this great
Painfully he became aware of his own futility. Miss Sheridan had ceased to
blaze. Seated again before the typewriter she grinned at him with amused
"You nearly had me going, Pen."
Mr. Evans summoned the deeper resources of his manhood and achieved an
easier manner. He brazenly returned her grin. "I'll have you going again
before I'm through--remember that."
"By wiles, tricks and stratagems, I suppose."
"The same. By those I shall make poor George recant, and by those, assuming
you to be a woman with a fine sense of honor who will hold a promise
sacred, I shall have you going. And, mark my words, you'll be going good,
She drew from the waste basket the maltreated _Sentinel_, unfurled it to
expose the offending matter, and smote the column with the backs of four
"There, my dear, is your answer. Now run along like a good boy."
"Silly!" said Mr. Evans, striving for a masterly finish to the unequal
combat. He arose, dissembling cheerful confidence, straightened the frame
of a steel-engraved Daniel Webster on the wall, and thrice paced the length
of the room, falsely appearing to be engaged in deep thought.
Miss Sheridan, apparently for mere exclamatory purposes, now reread the
fulmination of the absent partner. She scoffed, she sneered, flouted,
derided, and one understood that she was including both members of the
firm. Then her listener became aware that she had achieved coherence.
"Indeed, yes! Do you know what ought to happen to him? Every unprotected
female in this county ought to pack her trunk and trudge right up to the
Remington place and say, 'Here we are, noble man! We have read your burning
words in which you offer to protect us. Save us from the vote! Let your
home be our sanctuary. That's what you mean if you meant anything but
tommy-rot. Here and now we throw ourselves upon your boasted chivalry.
Where are our rooms, and what time is luncheon served.'"
"Here! Just say that again," called Mr. Evans from across the room. Miss
Sheridan obliged. She elaborated her theme. George should be taken at
his word by every weak flower of womanhood. If women were nothing but
ministering angels, it was "up to" George to give 'em a chance to minister.
So went Miss Sheridan's improvisation and Mr. Evans, suffering the throes
of a mighty inspiration, suddenly found it sweetest music.
When Miss Sheridan subsided, Mr. Evans appeared to have forgotten the cause
of their late encounter. Whistling cheerily he bustled into his own office,
mumbling of matters that had to be "gotten off." For some moments he busied
himself at his desk, then emerged to dictate three business letters to his
He dictated in a formal and distant manner, pausing in the midst of the
last letter to spell out the word "analysis," which he must have known
would enrage her further. Then, quite casually, he wished to be told if
she might know the local habitat of Mrs. Alys Brewster-Smith and a certain
Cousin Emelene. His manner was arid.
Miss Sheridan chanced to know that the ladies were sheltered in the
exclusive boarding-house of one Mrs. Gallup, out on Erie Street, and
informed him to this effect in the fewest possible words. Mr. Evans
whistled absently a moment, then formally announced that he should be
absent from the office for perhaps an hour. Hat, gloves and stick in hand,
he was about to nod punctiliously to the back of Miss Sheridan's head when
the door opened to admit none other than our hero, George Remington. George
wore the look of one who is uplifted and who yet has found occasion to be
thoughtful about it. Penfield Evans grasped his hand and shook it warmly.
"Fine, George, old boy--simply corking! Honestly, I didn't believe you had
it in you. You covered the ground and you did it in a big way. It took
nerve, all right! Of course you probably know that every woman in town is
speaking of your young wife as 'poor Genevieve,' but you've had the courage
of your convictions. It's great!"
"Thanks, old man! I've spoken for the right as I saw it, let come what may.
By the way, has Uncle Martin been in this morning, or telephoned, or sent
Miss Sheridan coldly signified that none of these things had occurred,
whereupon George sighed in an interesting manner and entered his own room.
Mr. Evans had uttered his congratulations in clear, ringing tones and
Miss Sheridan, even as she wrote, contrived with her trained shoulders to
exhibit to his lingering eye an overwhelming contempt for his opinions and
In spite of which he went out whistling, and dosed the door in a defiant
BY FANNIE HURST
Destiny, busybody that she is, has her thousand irons in her perpetual
fires, turning, testing and wielding them.
While Miss Betty Sheridan, for another scornful time, was rereading the
well-thumbed copy of the _Sentinel_, her fine back arched like a prize
cat's, George Remington in his small mahogany office adjoining, neck low
and heels high, was codifying, over and over again, the small planks of his
platform, stuffing the knot holes which afforded peeps to the opposite side
of the issue with anti-putty, and planning a bombardment of his pattest
phrases for the complete capitulation of his Uncle Jaffry.
While Genevieve Remington in her snug library, so eager in her wifeliness
to clamber up to her husband's small planks, and if need be, spread her
prettily flounced skirts over the rotting places, was memorizing, with
more pride than understanding, extracts from the controversial article
for quotation at the Woman's Club meeting, Mr. Penfield Evans, with
a determination which considerably expanded his considerable chest
measurement, ran two at a bound up the white stone steps of Mrs. Gallup's
private boarding-house and pulled out the white china knob of a bell that
gave no evidence of having sounded within, and left him uncertain to ring
A cast-iron deer, with lichen growing along its antlers, stood poised for
instant flight in Mrs. Gallup's front yard.
While Mr. Evans waited he regarded its cast-iron flanks, but not seeingly.
His rather the expression of one who stares into the future and smiles at
what he sees.
Erie Street, shaded by a double row of showy chestnuts, lay in summer calm.
A garden hose with a patent attachment spun spray over an adjoining
lawn and sent up a greeny smell. Out from under the striped awning of
Hassebrock's Ice Cream Parlor, cat-a-corner, Percival Pauncefort Sheridan,
in rubber-heeled canvas shoes and white trousers, cuffed high, emerged
and turned down Huron Street, making frequent forays into a bulging rear
Miss Lydia Chipley, vice-president of the Busy Bee Sewing and Civic Club,
cool, starchy and unhatted, clicked past on slim, trim heels, all radiated
by the reflection from a pink parasol, gay embroidery bag dangling.
"What's your hurry?"
"It's my middle name."
"Why hurry, when the future is always waiting?"
"Why aren't you holding your partner's head since he committed political
suicide in the _Sentinel_?"
"I'd rather hold your head, Lyd, any day in the week."
"Gaul," said Miss Chipley, passing on, her sharply etched little face
glowing in the pink reflection of the parasol, "is bounded on the north by
Mrs. Gallup's boarding-house, and on the south by----"
"By the Frigid Zone!"
Then the door from behind swung open. Mr. Penfield Evans stepped into Mrs.
Gallup's cool, exclusive parlor of better days, and delivering his card to
a moist-fingered maid, sat himself among the shrouded furniture to await
Mrs. Alys Brewster-Smith and Miss Emelene Brand.
Mrs. Gallup's boarding-house was finishing its noonday meal. Boiled odors
lay upon a parlor that was otherwise redolent of the more opulent days of
the Gallups. A not too ostentatious clatter of dishes came through the
Almost immediately Mrs. Alys Brewster-Smith, her favorite Concentrated
Breath of the Lily always in advance, rustled into the darkened parlor, her
stride hitting vigorously into her black taffeta skirts. Even as she shook
hands with Mr. Evans, she jerked the window shade to its height, so that
her smoothness and coloring shone out above her weeds.
In the shadow of her and at her life job of bringing up the rear, with a
large Maltese cat padding beside her, entered Miss Brand on rubber heels.
She was the color of long twilight.
Mr. Evans rose to his six-feet-in-his-stockings and extended them each a
hand, Miss Emelene drawing the left.
Mrs. Smith threw up a dainty gesture, black lace ruffles falling back from
arms all the whiter because of them.
"Well, Penny Evans!"
"None other, Mrs. Smith, than the villain himself."
"Be seated, Penfield."
"Thanks, Miss Emelene."
They drew up in a triangle beside the window overlooking the cast-iron
deer. The cat sprang up, curling in the crotch of Miss Emelene's arm.
"Nice ittie kittie, say how-do to big Penny-field-Evans. Say how-do to big
man. Say how-do, muvver's ittie kittie." Miss Emelene extended the somewhat
reluctant Maltese paw, five hook-shaped claws slightly in evidence.
"Say how-do to Hanna, Penfield. Hanna, say how-do to big man." "How-do,
Hanna," said Mr. Evans, reddening slightly beneath his tan. Then hitched
his chair closer.
"To what," he began, flashing his white smile from one to the other of
them, and with a strong veer to the facetious, "are we indebted for the
honor of this visit? Are those the unspoken words, ladies?"
"Nothing wrong at home, Penfield? Nobody ailing or--"
"No, no, Miss Emelene, never better. As a matter of fact, it's a piece of
political business that has prompted me to--"
At that Mrs. Smith jangled her bracelets, leaning forward on her knees.
"If it's got anything to do with your partner and my cousin George
Remington having the courage to go in for the district attorneyship without
the support of the vote-hunting, vote-eating women of this town, I'm here
to tell you that I'm with him heart and soul. He can have my support and--"
"Mine too. And if I've got anything to say my two nephews will vote for
him; and I think I have, with my two heirs."
"Ladies, it fills my heart with joy to--"
"Votes! Why what would the powder-puffing, short-skirted, bridge-playing
women of this town do with the vote if they had it? Wear it around their
necks on a gold chain?"
"Well spoken, Mrs. Smith, if--"
"I know the direction you lean, Penfield Evans, letting--"
"But, Miss Emelene, I--"
"Letting that shameless Betty Sheridan, a girl that had as sweet and
womanly a mother as Whitewater ever boasted, lead you around by the nose on
her suffrage string. A girl with her raising and both of her grandmothers
women that lived and died genteel, to go traipsing around in her low heels
in men's offices and addressing hoi polloi from soap boxes! Why, between
her and that female chauffeur, Mrs. Herrington, another woman whose mother
was of too fine feelings even to join the Delsarte class, the women of this
town are being influenced to making disgraceful--dis--oh, what shall I say,
Here Mrs. Smith broke in, thumping a soft fist into a soft palm.
"It's the most pernicious movement, Mr. Evans, that has ever got hold of
this community and we need a man like my cousin George Remington to--"
"But, Mrs. Smith, that's just what I--"
"To stamp it out! Stamp it out! It's eating into the homes of Whitewater,
trying to make breadwinners out of the creatures God intended for the
bread-eaters--I mean bread-bakers."
"But, Mrs. Smith, I--"
"Woman's place has been the home since home was a cave, and it will be the
home so long as women will remember that womanliness is their greatest
asset. As poor dear Mr. Smith was so fond of saying, he--I can't bring
myself to talk of him, Mr. Evans, but--but as he used to say, I--I--"
"Yes, yes, Mrs. Smith, I understa--"
"But as my cousin says in his article, which in my mind should be spread
broadcast, what higher mission for woman than--than--just what are his
Miss Brand leaned forward, her gaze boring into space.
"What higher mission," she quoted, as if talking in a chapel, "for woman
than that she sit enthroned in the home, wielding her invisible but mighty
scepter from that throne, while man, kissing the hand that so lovingly
commands him, shall bear her gifts and do her bidding. That is the
strongest vote in the world. That is the universal suffrage which chivalry
grants to woman. The unpolled vote! Long may it reign!"
Round spots of color had come out on Miss Emelene's long cheeks.
"A man who can think like that has the true--the true--what shall I say,
"But, ladies, I protest that I'm not--"
"Has the true chivalry of spirit, Emelene, that the women are too stark
raving mad to appreciate. You can't come here, Mr. Evans, to two women to
whom womanliness and love of home, thank God, are still uppermost and try
to convert us to--"
Here Mr. Evans executed a triple gyration, to the annoyance of Hanna, who
withdrew from the gesture, and raised his voice to a shout that was not
without a note of command.
"Convert you! Why women alive, what I've been bursting a blood vessel
trying to say during the length of this interview is that I'd as soon dip
my soul in boiling oil as try to convert you away from the cause. _My_
cause! _Our_ cause!"
"I'm here to tell you that I'm with my partner head-over-heels on the plank
he has taken."
"But we thought--"
"We thought you and Betty Sheridan--why, my cousin Genevieve Remington told
"Yes, yes, Miss Emelene. But not even the wiles of a pretty woman can hold
out indefinitely against Truth! A broad-minded man has got to keep the door
of his mind open to conviction, or it decays of mildew. I confess that
finally I am convinced that if there is one platform more than another
upon which George Remington deserves his election it is on the brave and
chivalrous principles he has so courageously come out with in the current
_Sentinel_. Whatever may have been between Betty Sheridan and--"
"Mr. Evans, you don't mean to tell me that you and Betty Sheridan have
quarreled! Such a desirable match from every point of view, family and all!
It goes to show what a rattle-pated bunch of women they are! Any really
clever girl with an eye to her future, anti or pro, could shift her
politics when it came to a question of matri--"
"Mrs. Smith, there comes a time in every modern man's life when he's got to
keep his politics and his pretty girls separate, or suffrage will get him
if he don't watch out!"
"Yes, and Mr. Evans, if what I hear is true, a good-looking woman can talk
you out of your safety deposit key!"
"That's where you're wrong, Mrs. Smith, and I'll prove it to you. Despite
any wavering I may have exhibited, I now stand, as George puts it in his
article, 'ready to conserve the threatened flower of womanhood by also
endeavoring to conserve her unpolled vote!' If you women want prohibition,
it is in your power to sway man's vote to prohibition. If you women want
the moon, let man cast your proxy vote for it! In my mind, that is the true
chivalry. To quote again, 'Woman is man's rarest heritage, his beautiful
responsibility, and at all times his co-operation, support and protection
are due her. His support and protection.'"
Miss Emelene closed her eyes. The red had spread in her cheeks and she
laid her head back against the chair, rocking softly and stroking the
"The flower of womanhood," she repeated. "'His support and his protection.'
If ever a man deserved high office because of high principles, it's my
cousin George Remington! My cousin Genevieve Livingston Remington is the
luckiest girl in the world, and not one of us Brands but what is willing to
admit it. My two nephews, too, if their Aunt Emelene has anything to say,
and I think she has--"
"Why, there isn't a stone in the world I wouldn't turn to see that boy in
office," Mrs. Smith interrupted.
At that Mr. Evans rose.
"You mean that, Mrs. Smith?"
Miss Emelene rose with him, the cat pouring from her lap.
"Of course she means it, Penfield. What self-respecting woman wouldn't!"
Mr. Evans sat down again suddenly, Miss Emelene with him, and leaning
violently forward, thrust his eager, sun-tanned face between the two women.
"Well, then, ladies, here's your chance to prove it! That's what brings me
today. As two of the self-respecting, idealistic and womanly women of this
community, I have come to urge you both to--"
"Oh, Mr. Evans!"
"Penfield, you are the flatterer!"
"To induce two such representative women as yourselves to help my partner
to the election he so well deserves."
"Us?" "It is in your power, ladies, to demonstrate to Whitewater that
George Remington's chivalry is not only on paper, but in his soul."
"By throwing yourselves upon his generosity and hospitality, at least
during the campaign. You have it in your power, ladies, to strengthen the
only uncertain plank upon which George Remington stands today."
A clock ticked roundly into a silence tinged with eloquence. The Maltese
leaped back into Miss Emelene's lap, purring there.
"You mean, Penfield, for us to go visit George--er--er--"
"Just that! Bag and baggage. As two relatives and two unattached women, it
is your privilege, nay, your right."
"He hasn't come out in words with it, but he has intimated that such an
act from the representative antis of this town would more than anything
strengthen his theories into facts. As unattached women, particularly as
women of his own family, his support and protection, as he puts it, are due
you, _due_ you!"
Mrs. Smith clasped her plentifully ringed fingers, and regarded him with
her prominent eyes widening.
"Why, I--unprotected widow that I am, Mr. Evans, am not the one to force
myself even upon my cousin if--"
"Nor I, Penfield. It would be a pleasant enough change, heaven knows, from
the boarding-house. But you can ask your mother, Penfield, if there ever
was a prouder girl in all Whitewater than Emmy Brand. I--"
"But I tell you, ladies, the obligation is all on George's part. It's just
as if you were polling votes for him. What is probably the oldest adage in
the language, states that actions speak louder than words. Give him his
chance to spread broadcast to your sex his protection, his support. That,
ladies, is all I--we--ask."
"But I--Genevieve--the housekeeping, Penfield. Genevieve isn't much on
management when it comes to--" "Housekeeping! Why, I have it from your fair
cousin herself, Miss Emelene, that her idea of their new little home is the
"Yes, but--as Emelene says, Mr. Evans, it's an imposition to--"
"Why do you think, Mrs. Smith, Martin Jaffry spends all his evenings up at
Remingtons' since they're back from their honeymoon? Why, he was telling
me only last night it's for the joy of seeing that new little niece of his
lording it over her well-oiled little household, where a few extra dropping
in makes not one whit of difference."
At this remark, embedded like a diamond in a rock, a shade of faintest
color swam across Mrs. Smith's face and she swung him her profile and
twirled at her rings.
"And where Genevieve Remington's husband's interests are involved, ladies,
need I go further in emphasizing your welcome into that little home?"
"Heaven knows it would be a change from the boarding-house, Alys. The
lunches here are beginning to go right against me! That sago pudding
today--and Gallup knowing how I hate starchy desserts!"
"For the sake of the cause, Miss Emelene, too!"
"Gallup would have to hold our rooms at half rate."
"Of course, Mrs. Smith. I'll arrange all that."
"I--I can't go over until evening, with three trunks to pack."
"Just fine, Mrs. Smith. You'll be there just in time to greet George at
Miss Emelene fell to stroking the cat, again curled like a sardelle in her
"Kitti-kitti-kitti--, does muvver's ittsie Hanna want to go on visit to
Tousin George in fine new ittie house? To fine Tousin Georgie what give
ittsie Hanna big saucer milk evvy day? Big fine George what like ladies and
"Emelene, it's out of the question to take Hanna. You know how George
Remington hates cats! You remember at the Sunday School Bazaar when--"
A grimness descended like a mask over Miss Brand's features. Her mouth
"Very well, then. Without Hanna you can count me out, Penfield. If--"
"No, no! Why nonsense, Miss Emelene! George doesn't--"
"This cat has the feelings and sensibilities of a human being."
"Why of course," cried Penfield Evans, reaching for his hat. "Just you
bring Hanna right along, Miss Emelene. That's only a pet pose of George's
when he wants to tease his relatives, Mrs. Smith. I remember from
college--why I've seen George _kiss_ a cat!"
Miss Emelene huddled the object of controversy up in her chin, talking down
into the warm gray fur.
"Was 'em tryin' to 'buse muvver's ittsie bittsie kittsie? Muvver's ittsie
They were in the front hall now, Mr. Evans tugging at the door.
"I'll run around now and arrange to have your trunks called for at five. My
congratulations and thanks, ladies, for helping the right man toward the
"You're _sure_, Penfield, we'll be welcome?"
"Welcome as the sun that shines!"
"If I thought, Penfield, that Hanna wouldn't be welcome I wouldn't budge a
"Of course she's welcome, Miss Emelene. Isn't she of the gentler sex?
There'll be a cab around for you and Mrs. Smith and Hanna about five. So
long, Mrs. Smith, and many thanks. Miss Emelene, Hanna."
On the outer steps they stood for a moment in a dapple of sunshine and
shadow from chestnut trees.
"Good-by, Mr. Evans, until evening."
"Good-by, Mrs. Smith." He paused on the walk, lifting his hat and flashing
his smile a third time.
"Good-by, Miss Emelene."
From the steps Miss Brand executed a rotary motion with the left paw of the
"Tell nice gentleman by-by. Tum now, Hanna, get washed and new ribbon to
go by-by. Her go to big Cousin George and piddy Cousin Genevieve. By-by!
The door swung shut, enclosing them. Down the quiet, tree-shaped sidewalk,
Mr. Penfield Evans strode into the somnolent afternoon, turning down Huron
Street. At the remote end of the block and before her large frame mansion
of a thousand angles and wooden lace work, Mrs. Harvey Herrington's low car
sidled to her curb-stone, racy-looking as a hound. That lady herself, large
and modish, was in the act of stepping up and in.
"Well, Pen Evans! 'Tis writ in the book our paths should cross."
"Who more pleased than I?"
"Which way are you bound?"
"Jenkins' Transfer and Cab Service."
"No sooner said than done."
Mrs. Herrington threw her clutch and let out a cough of steam. They
jerked and leaped forward. From the rear of the car an orange and black
pennant--_Votes for Women_--stiffened out like a semaphore against the
BY DOROTHY CANFIELD
Genevieve Remington sat in her pretty drawing-room and watched the hour
hand of the clock slowly approach five. Five was a sacred hour in her day.
At five George left his office, turned off the business-current with a
click and turned on, full-voltage, the domestic-affectionate.
Genevieve often told her girl friends that she only began really to live
after five, when George was restored to her. She assured them the psychical
connection between George and herself was so close that, sitting alone in
her drawing-room, she could feel a tingling thrill all over when the clock
struck five and George emerged from his office downtown.
On the afternoon in question she received her five o'clock electric thrill
promptly on time, although history does not record whether or not George
walked out from his office at that moment. With all due respect for the
world-shaking importance of Mr. Remington's movements, it must be stated
that history had, on that afternoon, other more important events to
As the clock struck five, the front doorbell rang. Marie, the maid, went
to open the door. Genevieve adjusted the down-sweeping, golden-brown tress
over her right eye, brushed an invisible speck from the piano, straightened
a rose in a vase, and after these traditionally bridal preparations, waited
with a bride's optimistic smile the advent of a caller. But it was Marie
who appeared at the door, with a stricken face of horror.
"Mrs. Remington! Mrs. Remington!" she whispered loudly. "They've come to
stay. The men are getting their trunks down from the wagon."
"_Who_ has come to stay? _Where?_" queried the startled bride.
"The two ladies who came to call yesterday!"
"_Oh!_" said the relieved Genevieve. "There's some mistake, of course. If
it's Cousin Emelene and Mrs.----"
She advanced into the hall and was confronted by two burly men with a very
large trunk between them.
"Which room?" said one of them in a bored and insolent voice.
"Oh, you must have come to the wrong house," Genevieve assured them with
her pretty, friendly smile.
She was so happy and so convinced of the essential rightness of a world
which had produced George Remington that she had a friendly smile for every
one, even for unshaven men who kept their battered derby hats on their
heads, had viciously smelling cigars in their mouths, and penetrated to her
sacred front hall with trunks which belonged somewhere else.
"Isn't this G. L. Remington's house?" inquired one of the men, dropping his
end of the trunk and consulting a dirty slip of paper.
"Yes, it is," admitted Genevieve, thrilling at the thought that it was also
hers. "This is the place all right, then," said the man. He heaved up his
end of the trunk again, and said once more, "Which room?"
The repetition fell a little ominously on Genevieve's ear. What on earth
could be the matter?
She heard voices outside and craning her soft white neck, she saw Cousin
Emelene, with her gray kitten under one arm and a large suitcase in her
other hand, coming up the steps. There was a beatific expression in her
gentle, faded eyes, and her lips were quivering uncertainly. When she
caught sight of Genevieve's sweet face back of the bored expressmen, she
gave a little cry, ran forward, set down her suitcase and clasped her young
cousin in her arms.
"Oh Genevieve dear, that noble wonderful husband of yours! What have you
done to deserve such a man... out of this Age of Gold!"
This was a sentiment after Genevieve's own heart, but she found it rather
too vague to meet the present somewhat tense situation.
Cousin Emelene went on, clasping her at intervals, and talking very fast.
"I can hardly believe it! Now that my time of trial is all over I don't
mind telling you that I was growing embittered and cynical. All those
phrases my dear mother had brought me to believe, the sanctity of the home,
the chivalrous protection of men, the wicked folly of women who leave the
home to engage in fierce industrial struggle." ... At about this point the
expressmen set the trunk down, put their hands on their hips, cocked their
hats at a new angle and waited in gloomy ennui for the conversation to
stop. Cousin Emelene flowed on, her voice unsteady with a very real
"See, dear, you must not blame me for my lack of faith ... but see how it
looked to me. There I was, as womanly a woman as ever breathed, and yet
_I_ had no home to be sanctified, _I_ had never had a bit of chivalrous
protection from any man. And with the New Haven stocks shrinking from one
day to the next, the way they do, it looked as though I would either have
to starve or engage in the wicked, unwomanly folly of earning my own
living. Do you know, dear Genevieve, I had almost come to the point--you
know how the suffragists do keep banging away at their points--I almost
wondered if perhaps they were right and if men really mean those things
about protection and support in place of the vote.... And then George's
splendid, noble-spirited article appeared, and a kind friend interpreted
it for me and told what it really meant, for _me_! Oh, Genevieve." ... The
tears rose to her mild eyes, her gentle, flat voice faltered, she took out
a handkerchief hastily. "It seemed too good to be true," she said brokenly
into its folds. "I've longed all my life to be protected, and now I'm going
"Which room, please?" said the expressman. "We gotta be goin' on."
Genevieve pinched herself hard, jumped and said "_ouch_." Yes, she was
awake, all right!
"Oh, Marie, will you please get Hanna a saucer of milk?" said Cousin
Emelene now, seeing the maid's round eyes glaring startled from the
dining-room door. "And just warm it a little bit, don't scald it. She won't
touch it if there's the least bit of a scum on it. Just take that ice-box
chill off. Here, I'll go with you this time. Since we're going to live here
now, you'll have to do it a good many times, and I'd better show you just
how to do it right."
She disappeared, leaving a trail of caressing baby-talk to the effect that
she would take good care of muvver's ittie bittie kittie.
She left Genevieve for all practical purposes turned to stone. She felt as
though she were stone, from head to foot, and she could open her mouth
no more than any statue when, in answer to the next repetition, very
peremptory now, of "Which room?" a voice as peremptory called from the
open front door, "Straight upstairs; turn to your right, first door on the
As the men started forward, banging the mahogany banisters with the corners
of the trunk at every step, Mrs. Brewster-Smith stepped in, immaculate as
to sheer collar and cuffs, crisp and tailored as to suit, waved and netted
as to hair, and chilled steel and diamond point as to will-power.
"Oh, Genevieve, I didn't see _you_ there! I didn't know why they stood
there waiting so long. I know the house so well I knew of course which room
you'll have for guests. _Dear_ old house! It will be like returning to my
childhood to live here again!" She cocked an ear toward the upper regions
and frowned, but went on smoothly.
"Such happy girlhood hours as I have passed here! After all there is
nothing like the home feeling, is there, for us women at any rate!
We're the natural conservatives, who cling to the simple, elemental
satisfactions, and there's a heart-hunger that can only be satisfied by a
home and a man's protection! I thought George's description too beautiful
... in his article you know ... of the ideal home with the women of the
family safe within its walls, protected from the savagery of the economic
struggle which only men in their strength can bear without being crushed."
She turned quickly and terribly to the expressmen coming down the stairs
and said in so fierce a voice that they shrank back visibly, "There's
another trunk to take up to the room next to that. And if you let it down
with the bang you did this one, you'll get something that will surprise
you! Do you hear me!"
They shrank out, cowed and tiptoeing. Mrs. Brewster-Smith turned back to
her young cousin-by-marriage and murmured, "That was such a true and deep
saying of George's... wherever does such a young man get his wisdom!...
that women are not fitted by nature to cope with hostile forces!"
Cousin Emelene approached from behind the statue of Genevieve, still frozen
in place with an expression of stupefaction on her white face. The older
woman put her arms around the bride's neck and gave her an affectionate
"Oh, dearest Jinny, doesn't it seem like a dream that we're all going to be
together, all we women, in a real home, with a real man at the head of
it to direct us and give us of his strength! It does seem just like that
beautiful old-fashioned home that George drew such an exquisite picture of,
in his article, where the home was the center of the world to the women in
it. It will be to me, I assure you, dear. I feel as though I had come to a
haven, and as though I _never_ would want to leave it!"
The expressmen were carrying up another trunk now, and so conscious of the
glittering eyes of mastery upon them that they carried it as though it were
the Ark of the Covenant and they its chosen priests. Mrs. Brewster-Smith
followed them with a firm tread, throwing over her shoulder to the stone
Genevieve below, "Oh, my dear, little Eleanor and her nurse will be in
soon. Frieda was taking Eleanor for her usual afternoon walk. Will you just
send them upstairs when they come! I suppose Frieda will have the room in
the third story, that extra room that was finished off when Uncle Henry
lived here. Emelene, you'd better come right up, too, if you expect to get
unpacked before dinner."
She disappeared, and Emelene fluttered up after her, drawn along by
suction, apparently, like a sheet of paper in the wake of a train. The
expressmen came downstairs, still treading softly, and went out. Genevieve
was alone again in her front hall. To her came tiptoeing Marie, with wide
eyes of query and alarm. And from Marie's questioning face, Genevieve fled
away like one fleeing from the plague.
"Don't ask me, Marie! Don't _speak_ to me. Don't you dare ask me what ...
or I'll ..." She was at the front door as she spoke, poised for flight like
a terrified doe. "I must see Mr. Remington! I don't know _what_ to tell
you, Marie, till I have seen Mr. Remington! I must see my husband! I don't
know what to say, I don't know what to _think_, until I have seen my
Calling this eminently wifely sentiment over her shoulder she ran down the
front walk, hatless, wrapless, just as she was in her pretty flowered and
looped-up bride's house dress. She couldn't have run faster if the house
had been on fire.
The clicking of her high heels on the concrete sidewalk was a rattling
tattoo so eloquent of disorganized panic that more than one head was thrust
from a neighboring window to investigate, and more than one head was pulled
back, nodding to the well-worn and charitable hypothesis, "Their first
quarrel." The hypothesis would instantly have been withdrawn if any one
had continued looking after the fleeing bride long enough to see her,
regardless of passers-by, fling herself wildly into her husband's arms as
he descended from the trolley-car at the corner.
Betty Sheridan was sitting in the drawing-room of her parents' house,
rather moodily reading a book on the _Balance of Trade_.
She had an unconfessed weakness of mind on the subject of tariffs and
international trade. Although when in college she had written a paper on it
which had been read aloud in the Economics Seminar and favorably commented
upon, she knew, in her heart of hearts, that she understood less than
nothing about the underlying principles of the subject. This nettled her
and gave her occasional nightmare moments of doubt as to the real fitness
of women for public affairs. She read feverishly all she could find on the
subject, ending by addling her brains to the point of frenzy.
She was almost in that condition now although she did not look it in the
least as, dressed for dinner in the evening gown which replaced the stark
linens and tailored seams of her office-costume, she bent her shining head
and earnest face over the pages of the book.
Penfield Evans took a long look at her, as one looks at a rose-bush in
bloom, before he spoke through the open door and broke the spell.
"Oh, Betty," he called in a low tone, beckoning her with a gesture redolent
Betty laid down her book and stared. "What you want?" she challenged him,
reverting to the phrase she had used when they were children together.
"Come on out here a minute!" he said, jerking his head over his shoulder.
"I want to show you something."
"Oh, I can't fuss around with you," said Betty, turning to her book again.
"I've got Roberts' _Balance of Trade_ out of the library and I must finish
it by tomorrow." She began to read again.
The young man stood silent for a moment. "Great Scott!" he was saying to
himself with a sinking heart. "So _that's_ what they pick up for light
reading, when they're waiting for dinner!"
He had a particularly gone feeling because, although he had made several
successful political speeches on international trade and foreign tariffs,
he was intelligent enough to know in his heart of hearts that he had no
real understanding of the principles involved. He had come, indeed, to
doubt if any one had!
Now, as he watched the pretty sleek head bent over the book he had supposed
of course was a novel, he felt a qualm of real apprehension. Maybe there
was something in what that guy said, the one who wrote a book to prove
(bringing Queen Elizabeth and Catherine the Great as examples) that the
real genius of women is for political life. Maybe they _have_ a special
gift for it! Maybe, a generation or so from now, it'll be the _men_ who are
disfranchised for incompetence.... He put away as fantastic such horrifying
ideas, and with a quick action of his resolute will applied himself to the
present situation. "Oh Betty, you don't know what you're missing! It's a
sight you'll never forget as long as you live ... oh, come on! Be a sport.
Take a chance!"
Betty was still suspicious of frivolity, but she rose, looked at her
wrist-watch and guessed she'd have a few minutes before dinner, to fool
away in light-minded society.
"There's nothing light-minded about this!" Penny assured her gravely,
leading her swiftly down the street, around the corner, up another street
and finally, motioning her to silence, up on the well-clipped lawn of a
handsome, dignified residence, set around with old trees.
"Look!" he whispered in her ear, dramatically pointing in through the
lighted window. "Look! What do you see?"
Betty looked, and looked again and turned on him petulantly:
"What foolishness are you up to now, Penfield Evans!" she whispered
energetically. "Why under the sun did you drag me out to see Emelene
and Alys Brewster-Smith dining with the Remingtons? Isn't it just the
combination of reactionary old fogies you might expect to get together ...
though I didn't know Alys ever took her little girl out to dinner-parties,
and Emelene must be perfectly crazy over that cat to take her here. Cats
make George's flesh creep. Don't you remember, at the Sunday School
He cut her short with a gesture of command, and applying his lips to her
ear so that he would not be heard inside the house, he said, "You think all
you see is Emelene and Alys taking dinner _en famille_ with the Remingtons.
Eyes that see not! What you are gazing upon is a reconstruction of
the blessed family life that existed in the good old days, before the
industrial period and the abominable practice of economic independence for
women began! You are seeing Woman in her proper place, the Home, ... if
not her own Home, somebody's Home, anybody's Home ... the Home of the man
nearest to her, who owes her protection because she can't vote. You are
gazing upon ..."