The women proceeded to Parliament Square in small groups so as to keep within the letter of the law. Some like Vivie carried banners with pitiful devices—"Where there's a Bill there's a Way," "Women's Will Beats Asquith's Skill," and so on.... She wished she had given more direct attention to these mottoes, but much of this procedure had been got up on impulse and little preparation made. It was near to four o'clock on a fine November afternoon when the four hundred and fifty women began their movement towards Parliament Square. A red sun was sinking behind the House of Lords, the blue of the misty buildings and street openings was enhanced by the lemon yellow lights of the newly-lit lamps. The avenues converging on the Houses of Parliament were choked with people, and vehicles had to be diverted from the streets. The men in the watching crowd covered the pavements and island "refuges," leaving the roadways to the little groups of struggling women, and the large force—a thousand or more—of opposing police.
It was said at the time that the Government of the day, realizing by their action or inaction in the House of Commons they had provoked this movement of Mrs. Pankhurst's, had prepared the policy with which to meet it. As on the eve of a General Election it might be awkward if they made many arrests of women—perchance Liberal women—on their way to the House to present a petition or escort a deputation, the police should be instructed instead to repel the Suffragists by force, to give them a taste of that "frightfulness" which became afterwards so familiar a weapon in the Prussian armoury. Some said also that the Government looked to the crowd which was allowed to form unchecked on the pavements, the crowd of rough men and boys—costers from Lambeth, longshore men from the barges on the unembanked Westminster riverside, errand boys, soldiers, sailors, clerks returning home, warehousemen, the tag-rag and bob-tail generally of London when a row is brewing—looked to this crowd to catch fire from the brutality of the police (uniformed and in plain clothes) and really give the women clamouring for the Vote "what for"; teach them a lesson as to what the roused male can do when the female passes the limits of domestic license. A few deaths might result (and did), and many injuries, but the treatment they received would make such an impression on Mrs. Pankhurst's followers that they would at last realize the futility of measuring their puny force against the muscle of man. Force, as the Premier had just said, must be the decisive factor.
But unfortunately for these calculations the large male crowd took quite a different line. The day had gone by when men and boys were wont to cry to some expounding Suffragette: "Go home and mind yer biby." Dimly these toilers and moilers, these loafers and wasters now understood that women of a courage rarely matched in man were fighting for the cause of all ill-governed, mal-administered, swindled, exploited people of either sex. The mass of men, in the mass, is chivalrous. It admires pluck, patience, and persistency. So the crowd instead of aiding the police to knock sense into the women began to take sides with the buffeted, brutalized and bleeding Suffragettes.
Fortunately before the real fighting began, and no doubt as a stroke of policy on the part of some Police Inspector, Mrs. Pankhurst convoying the two frail old ladies—Dr. Garret Anderson and Susan Knipper-Totes—champions of the Vote when Woman Suffrage was outside practical politics—had reached the steps of the Strangers' entrance to the House of Commons. From this point of 'vantage a few of the older leaders of the deputation were able to witness the four or five hours' struggle in and around Parliament Square, the Abbey, Parliament Street, Great George Street which made Black Friday one of the note-worthy days in British history—though, more nostro, it will be long before it is inserted in school books.
Here, while something like panic signalized the Legislative Chamber and Cabinet ministers scurried in and out like flurried rabbits and finally took refuge in their private rooms—here was fought out the decisive battle between physical and moral force over the suffrage question. The women were so exaltees that they were ready to face death for their cause. The police were so exasperated that they saw red and some went mad with sex mania. It was a horrible spectacle in detail. Men with foam on their moustaches were gripping women by the breasts, tearing open their clothing, and proceeding to rabid indecencies. Or, if not sex-mad, they twisted their arms, turned back their thumbs to dislocation, rained blows with fists on pale faces, covering them with blood. They tore out golden hair or thin grey locks with equal disregard. Mounted police were summoned to overawe the crowd, which by this time whether suffragist and female, or neutral, non-committal and male, was giving the police on foot a very nasty time. The four hundred and fifty women of the original impulse had increased to several thousand. Dusk had long since deepened into a night lit up with arc lamps and the golden radiance of great gas-lamp clusters. Flares were lighted to enable the police to see better what they were doing and who were their assailants. But the women showed complete indifference to the horses; and the horses with that exquisite forbearance that the horse can show to the distraught human, did their utmost not to trample on small feet and outspread hands.
Here and there humanity asserted itself. One policeman—helmetless, his fair, blond face scratched and bleeding—had in berserkr rage felled a young woman in the semi-darkness. He bore his senseless victim into the shelter of some nook or cloister and turned on her his bull's eye lantern. She was a beautiful creature, in private life a waitress at a tea shop. Her hat was gone and her hair streamed over her drooping face and slender shoulders. The policeman overcome with remorse exclaimed—mentioning the Home Secretary's name "—— be damned; this ain't the job for a decent man." The Suffragette revived under his care. He escorted her home, resigned from the police force, married her and I believe has lived happily ever afterwards, if he was not killed in the War.
Vivie had struggled for about two hours to reach the precincts of the House, with or without her banner. Probably without, because she had freely used its staff as a weapon of defence, and her former skill in fencing stood her in good stead. But at last she was gripped by two constables, one of them an oldish man and the other a plain-clothes policeman, whom several spectators had singled out for his pleasure in needless brutalities.
These men proceeded to give her "punishment," and involuntarily she shrieked with mingled agony of pain and outraged sex-revolt. A man who had paused irresolutely on the kerb of a street refuge came to her aid. He dealt the grey-haired constable a blow that sent him reeling and then seized the plain-clothes man by his coat collar. A struggle ensued which ended in the intervener being flung with such violence on the kerb stone that he was temporarily stunned. Presently he found himself being dragged along with his heels dangling, while Vivie, described in language which my jury of matrons will not allow me to repeat, was being propelled alongside him, her clothes nearly torn off her, to some police station where they were placed under arrest. As soon as they had recovered breath and complete consciousness, had wiped the blood from cut heads, noses, and lips, they looked hard at each other. "Thank you so much," said Vivie, "it was good of you." "That's enough," said her defender, "it wanted the voice to make me sure; but somehow I thought all along it was Vivie. Don't you know me? Frank Gardner!"
While waiting for the formalities to be concluded and their transference to cells in which they were to pass the night, Frank told Vivie briefly that he had returned from Rhodesia a prosperous man on a brief holiday leaving his wife and children to await his return. Hearing there was likely to be an unusual row that evening over the Suffrage question he had sauntered down from the Strand to see what was going on and had been haunted by the conviction that he would meet Vivie in the middle of the conflict. But when he rushed to her defence his action was instinctive, the impulse of any red-blooded man to defend a woman that was being brutally maltreated.
The next morning they were haled before the magistrate. Michael Rossiter was in court as a spectator, feverishly anxious to pay Vivie's fine or to find bail, or in all and every way to come to her relief. He seemed rather mystified at the sight of Frank Gardner arraigned with her. But presently the prosecuting counsel for the Chief Commissioner of Police arrived and told the astonished magistrate it was the wish of the Home Secretary that the prisoners in the dock should all be discharged, Vivie and Frank Gardner among them. At any rate no evidence would be tendered by the prosecution.
So they were released, as also was each fresh batch of prisoners brought in after them. Vivie went in a cab to her house in the Victoria Road; Frank back to his hotel. Both had promised to foregather at Rossiter's house in Portland Place at lunch.
Hitherto Vivie had refrained from entering No. 1 Park Crescent. She had not seen it or Mrs. Rossiter since David's attack of faintness and hysteria in February, 1909, nearly two years ago. Why she went now she scarcely knew, logically. It was unwise to renew relations too closely with Rossiter, who showed his solicitude for her far too plainly in his face. The introduction to Linda Rossiter in her female form would be embarrassing and would doubtless set that good lady questioning and speculating.
Yet she felt she must see Rossiter—writing was always dangerous and inadequate—and reason with him; beg him not to spoil his own chances in life for her, not lose his head in politics and personal animosities on her behalf, as he seemed likely to do. Already people were speaking of him as a parallel to ——, and ——, and —— (you can fill the blanks for yourself with the names of great men of science who have become ineffective, quarrelsome, isolated members of Parliament); saying it was a great loss to Science and no gain to the legislature.
As to Frank Gardner, she was equally eager for a long explanatory talk with him. Except that her life had inured her to surprises and unexpected meetings, it was sufficiently amazing that Frank and she, who had not seen each other or touched hands for thirteen years, should meet thus in a dangerous scuffle in a dense struggling crowd outside the Houses of Parliament. She must so arrange matters after lunch that Frank should not prevent her hour's talk with Rossiter, yet should have the long explanation he himself deserved. An idea. She would telephone to Praddy and invite herself and Frank to tea at his studio after she had left the Rossiters.
Mrs. Rossiter was used to unexpected guests at lunch. People on terms of familiarity dropped in, or the Professor detained some colleague or pupil and made him sit down to the meal which was always prepared and seated for four. Therefore she was not particularly taken aback when her husband appeared at five minutes to one in the little drawing-room and after requesting that the macaw and the cockatoo might be removed for the nonce to a back room—as they made sustained conversation impossible, announced that he expected momently—ah! there was the bell—two persons whose acquaintance he was sure Linda would like to make. One was Captain Frank Gardner, who owned a big ranch in Rhodesia, and—er—the other—oh no! no relation—was Miss Warren....
"What, one of the Warrens of Huddersfield? Well, I never! And where did you pick her up? Strange she shouldn't have written to me she was coming up to town! I could—"
"No, this is a Miss Vivien Warren—"
"Vivien? How curious, why that is the name of the Adams's little girl—"
"A Miss Vivien Warren," went on Rossiter patiently—"a well-known Suffragist who—"
"Oh Michael! Not a Suffragette!" wailed Mrs. Rossiter, imagining vitriol was about to be thrown over the surviving pug and damage done generally to the furniture—But at this moment the butler announced: "Captain Frank Gardner and Miss Warren."
Gardner was well enough, a lean soldierly-looking man, brown with the African sun, with pleasant twinkling blue eyes, a thick moustache and curly hair, just a little thin on the top. His face was rather scarred with African adventure and did not show much special trace of his last night's tussle with the police. There was a cut at the back of his head where he had fallen on the kerb stone but that was neatly plastered, and you do not turn your back much on a hostess, at any rate on first introduction.
But Vivie had obviously been in the wars. She had—frankly—a black eye, a cut and swollen lip, and her ordinarily well-shaped nose was a trifle swollen and reddened. But her eyes likewise were twinkling, though the bruised one was bloodshot.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Rossiter, to be introduced to you like this. I don't know what you will think of me. It's the first time I've been in a really bad row.... We were trying to get to the House of Commons, but the police interfered and gave us the full privileges of a man as regards their fists. Captain Gardner here—who is an old friend of mine—intervened, or I'm afraid I shouldn't have got off as cheaply as I did. And your husband kindly came to the police court to testify to our good character, and then invited us to lunch."
Mrs. Rossiter: "Why how your voice reminds me of some one who used to come here a good deal at one time—a Mr. David Williams. I suppose he isn't any relation?"
Vivie (while Frank Gardner looks a little astonished): "Oh—my cousin. I knew you knew him. He has often talked to me about you. I'll tell you about David by and bye, Frank."
At this interchange of Christian names Mrs. Rossiter thinks she understands the situation: they are engaged, have been since last night's rescue. But what extraordinary people the dear Professor does pick up! Have they got ductless glands, she wonders?
Rossiter who has been fidgeting through this dialogue considers that lunch is ready, so they proceed to the small dining-room, "the breakfast-room." Mrs. Rossiter was always very proud of having a small drawing-room (otherwise, "me boudwor") and a small dining-room. It prepared the way for greater magnificence at big parties and also enabled one to be cosier with a few friends.
Mrs. Rossiter to Frank Gardner, archly: "I suppose you've come home to be married?"
Frank: "Oh no! I'm not a bigamist, I've got a wife already and four children, and jolly glad I shall be to get back to 'em. I can't stand much of the English climate, after getting so used to South African sunshine. No. I came on a business trip to England, leaving my old dear out at the farm near Salisbury, with the kids—we've got a nice English governess who helps her to look after 'em. A year or two hence I hope to bring 'em over to see the old country and we may have to put the eldest to school: children run wild so in South Africa. As to Miss Warren, she's an old friend of mine and a very dear one. I hadn't seen her for—for—thirteen years, when the sound of her voice—She's got one of those voices you never forget—the sound of her voice came up out of that beastly crowd of gladiators yesterday, and I found her being hammered by two policemen. I pretty well laid one out, though I hadn't used my fists for a matter of ten years. Then I got knocked over myself, I passed a night in a police cell feeling pretty sick and positively maddened at not being able to ask any questions. Then at last morning came, I had a wash and brush up—the police after all aren't bad chaps, and most of 'em seemed jolly well ashamed of last night's doin's—Then I met Vivie in Court and your husband too. He took me on trust and I'm awfully grateful to him. I've got a dear old mater down in Kent—Margate, don't you know—my dad's still alive, Vivie!—and she'd have been awfully cut up at hearing her son had been spending the night in a police cell and was goin' to be fined for rioting, only fortunately the Home Secretary said we weren't to be punished.... But Professor Rossiter's coming on the scene was a grand thing. Besides being an M.P., I needn't tell you, Mrs. Rossiter, he has a world-wide reputation. Oh, we read your books, sir, out in South Africa, I can tell you—Well—er—and here we are—and I'm monopolizing the conversation."
Vivie sat opposite her old lover, and near to the man who loved her now with such ill-concealed passion that his hand trembled for her very proximity. She felt strangely elated, strangely gay, at times inclined to laugh as she caught sight of her bruised and puffy face in an opposite mirror, yet happy in the knowledge that notwithstanding the thirteen years of separation, her repeated rejection of his early love, her battered appearance, Frank still felt tenderly towards her, still remembered the timbre of her voice. Her mouth was too sore and swollen to make eating very pleasant. She trifled with her food but she felt young and full of gay adventure. Mrs. Rossiter a little overwhelmed with all the information Gardner had poured out, a little irritated also at the dancing light in Vivie's eyes, turned her questionings on her.
Mrs. Rossiter: "I suppose you are the Miss Warren who speaks so much. I often see your name in the papers, especially in Votes for Women that the Professor takes in. Isn't it funny that a man should care so much about women getting the vote? I'm sure I don't want it. I'm quite content to exercise my influence through him, especially now he's in Parliament. But then I have my home to look after, and I'm much too busy to go out and about and mix myself up in politics. I'm quite content to leave all that to the menfolk."
Vivie: "Quite so. In your position no doubt I should do the same; but you see I haven't any menfolk. There is my mother, but she prefers to live abroad, and as she is comfortably off she can employ servants to look after her." (This hint of wealth a little reassured Mrs. Rossiter, who believed most Suffragettes to be adventuresses.) "So, as I have no ties I prefer to give myself up to the service of women in general. When they have the vote and other privileges of men, then of course I can attend to my private interests and pursuits—mathematical calculations, insurance risks—"
Mrs. Rossiter: "It is extraordinary how like your voice is to your cousin's. If I shut my eyes I could think he was back again. Not," (she added hastily) "that he has not, no doubt, plenty to do abroad. Do you ever see him now? Why does he not marry and settle down? One never hears of him now as a barrister. But then he used to feel his cases too much. The last time he was here he fainted and had to stay here all night.
"And yet he had won his case and got his—what do you say? client? off—I dare say you remember it? She was my husband's cousin though we hardly liked to say so at the time: it is so unpleasant having a murder in the family. Fortunately she was let off; I mean, the jury said 'not guilty,' though personally I—However that is neither here nor there, and since then she's married Colonel Kesteven—Won't you have some pheasant? No? I remember your cousin used to have a very poor appetite, especially when one of his cases was on. How he used—excuse my saying so—how he used to tire poor Michael—Mr. Rossiter! Talk, talk, talk! in the evenings, and I knew the Professor had his lectures to prepare, but hints were thrown away on Mr. David."
Rossiter broke in:
"Now what would you like to do in the afternoon, Miss Warren? And Gardner? You, by the bye, have the first claim on our hospitality. You have just arrived from Africa and the only thing we have done for you, so far, is to drag you into a disgraceful row."
Frank: "Well, I should like a glimpse of the Zoo. I'm quite willing to pay my shilling and give no more trouble, but if Vivie is going there too we could all walk up together. After that I'm going to revisit an old acquaintance of mine and Vivie's, Praed the architect—lives somewhere in Chelsea if I remember right—"
Vivie: "In Hans Place. I don't particularly want to go to the Zoo. I look so odd I might over-excite the monkeys. I think I should like to try a restful visit to the Royal Botanic. I'm so fond of their collection of weird succulent plants—things that look like stones and suddenly produce superb flowers."
Mrs. Rossiter: "We belong to the Botanic as well as to the Zoo. I could take you there after lunch."
Rossiter: "You forget, dearie, you've got to open that Bazaar in Marylebone Town Hall—"
Linda: "Oh, have I? To be sure. But it's Lady Goring that does the opening, I'm much too nervous. Still I promised to come. Would Miss Warren care to come with me?"
Vivie: "I should have liked to awfully: I love bazaars; but just at this moment I'm thinking more of those succulent plants ... and my battered face."
Rossiter: "I'll make up your minds for you. We'll all drive to the Zoo in Linda's motor. Gardner shall look at the animals and then find his way to Hans Place. I'll escort Miss Warren to the Botanic, and then come on and pick you up, Linda, at the Town Hall."
That statement seemed to satisfy every one, so after coffee and a glance round the laboratory and the last experiments, they proceeded to the Zoo, with at least an hour's daylight at their disposal.
Rossiter and Vivie were at last alone within the charmed circle of the Botanic Gardens. They made their way slowly to the great Palm House and thence up twisty iron steps to a nook like a tree refuge in New Guinea, among palm boles and extravagant aroid growths.
"Now Michael," said Vivie—despite her bruised face she looked very elegant in her grey costume, grey hat, and grey suede gloves, and he had to exercise great self-restraint, remember that he was known by sight to most of the gardeners and to the ubiquitous secretary, in order to refrain from crushing her to his side: "Now Michael: I want a serious talk to you, a talk which will last for another eighteen months—which is about the time that has elapsed since we had our last—You're not keeping the pact we made."
"What was that?"
"Why you promised me that your—your—love—No! I won't misuse that word—Your friendship for me should not spoil your life, your career, or make Linda unhappy. Yet it is doing all three. You've lived in a continual agitation since you got into Parliament, and now you'll be involved in more electioneering in order to be returned once more. Meantime your science has come to a dead stop. And it's so far more important for us than getting the Vote. All this franchise agitation is on a much lower plane. It amuses and interests me. It keeps me from thinking too much about you. Besides, I am naturally rather combative; I secretly enjoy these rough-and-tumbles with constituted authority. I also really do think it is a beastly shame, this preference shown for man, in most of the careers and in the franchise. But don't you worry yourself unduly about it. If I really thought that you cared so much about me that it was turning you away from our religion, scientific research, I'd go over to Brussels to my mother and stay there. I really would; and I really will if you don't stop following me about from meeting to meeting and going mad over the Suffrage question in the House. Is it true that you struck a Cabinet minister the other day? Mr. ——?"
Rossiter: "Yes, it's true, and he asked for it. If I am unreasonable what are they? ——, ——, and ——? Why have they such a bitter feeling against your sex? Have they had no mothers, no sweethearts, no sisters, no wives? If I'd never met you I should still have been a Suffragist. I think I was one, as a boy, watching what my mother suffered from my father, and how he collared all her money—I suppose it was before the Married Woman's Property Act—and grudged her any for her dress, her little comforts, her books, or even for proper medical advice. And to hear these Liberal Cabinet Ministers—Liberal, mind you—talk about women, often with the filthy phrases of the street—Well: he got a smack on the jaw and decided to treat the incident as a trifling one ... his private secretary patched it up somehow, but I expressed no regret....
"Well, darling, I'll try to do as you wish. I'll try to shut you out of my thoughts and return to my experiments, when I'm not on platforms or in the House. I think I shall get in again—it's a mere matter of money, and thanks to Linda that isn't wanting. I'm not going to withdraw from politics, you bet, however disenchanted I may be. It's because the decent, honest, educated men withdraw that legislation and administration are left to the case-hardened rogues ... and the uneducated ... and the cranks. But don't make things too hard for me. Keep out of prison ... keep off hunger strikes—If you're going to be man-handled by the police—Ah! why wasn't I there, instead of in the House? Gardner had all the luck.... I was glad to hear he was married."
Vivie: "Oh you needn't be jealous of poor Frank. And he'll soon be back in South Africa. You needn't be jealous of any one. I'm all yours—in spirit—for all time. Now we must be going: it's getting dusk and we should be irretrievably ruined if we were locked up in this dilapidated old palm house. Besides, I'm to meet Frank at Praddy's studio in order to tell him the history of the last thirteen years."
As they walked away: "You know, Michael, I'm still hoping we may be friends without being lovers. I wonder whether Linda would get to like me?"
At Praed's studio. Lewis Maitland Praed is looking older. He must be now—November, 1910—about fifty-eight or fifty-nine. But he has still a certain elegance, the look of a lesser Leighton about him. Frank has been there already for half an hour, and the tea-table has been, so to speak, deflowered. Vivie accepts a cup, a muffin, and a marron glace. Then says, "Now, dear Praddy, summon your mistress, dons l'honnete sens du mot, and have this tea-table cleared so that we can have a hugely long and uninterrupted talk. I have got to give Frank a summary of all that I've done in the past thirteen years. Meanwhile Frank, as your record, I feel convinced, is so blameless and normal that it could be told before any parlour-maid, you start off whilst she is taking away the tea, fiddling with the stove, and prolonging to the uttermost her services to a master who has become her slave."
The parlour-maid enters, and casts more than one searching glance at Vivie's bruised features, but performs her duties in a workmanlike manner.
Frank: "My story? Oh well, it's a happy one on the whole—very happy. Soon as the war was over, I got busy in Rhodesia and pitched on a perfect site for a stock and fruit farm. The B.S.A. Co. was good to me because I'd known Cecil Rhodes and Dr. Jim; and by nineteen four I was going well, they'd made me a magistrate, and some of my mining shares had turned out trumps. Then Westlock came out as Governor General, and Lady Enid had brought out with her a jolly nice girl as governess to her children. She was the daughter of a parson in Hertfordshire near the Brinsley estates. Well, I won't say—bein' the soul of truth—that I fell in love with her—straight away—because I don't think I ever fell deep in love—straight away—with any girl but you, Vivie. But I did feel, as it was hopeless askin' you to marry me, here was the wife I wanted. She was good enough to accept me and the Westlocks were awfully kind and made everything easy. Lady Enid's a perfect brick—and, by the bye, she's a great Suffragist too. Well: we were married at Pretoria in 1904, and now we've got four children; a sturdy young Frank, a golupshous Vivie—oh, I told Muriel everything, she's the sort of woman you can—And the other two are called Bertha after my mother and Charlotte after Mrs. Bernard Shaw. I sent you, Vivie—a newspaper with the announcement of my marriage—Dj'ever get it?"
Vivie: "Never. But I was undergoing a sea-change of my own, just then, which I will tell you all about presently."
Frank: "Well then. I came back to England on a hurried visit. You remember, Praddy? But you were away in Italy and I couldn't find Vivie anywhere. I called round at where your office was—Fraser and Warren—where we parted in 1897—and there was no more Fraser and Warren. Nobody knew anything about what had become of you. P'raps I might have found out, but I got a bit huffy, thought you might have written me a line about my marriage. I did write to Miss Fraser, but the letter was returned from the Dead Letter office," (Vivie: "She married Colonel Armstrong.") "Well, there it is! By some devilish lucky chance I had no sooner got to London from Southhampton, day before yesterday, than some one told me all about the expected row between the Suffragettes and the police. Thought I'd go and see for myself what this meant. No idea before how far the thing had gone, or what brutes the police could be. Had a sort of notion, don't know why, that dear old Viv would be in it, up to the neck. Got mixed up in the crowd and helped a woman or two out of it. Lady Feenix—they said it was—picked up some and took 'em into her motor. And then I heard a cry which could only be in Vivie's voice—dear old Viv—(leans forward with shining eyes to press her hand) and ... there we are. How're the bruises?"
Vivie: "Oh, they ache rather, but it is such joy to have such friends as you and Praddy and Michael Rossiter, that I don't mind what I go through..."
Frank: "But I say, Viv, about this Rossiter man. He seems awfully gone on you...?"
Vivie (flushing in the firelight): "Does he? It's only friendship. I really don't see them often but he came to my assistance once at a critical time. And now that Praddy's all-powerful parlour-maid's definitely left us, I will tell you my story."
So she does, between five and half-past six, almost without interruption from the spell-bound Frank—who says it licks any novel he ever read, and she ought to turn it into a novel—with a happy ending—or from Praed who is at times a little somnolent. Then at half-past six, the practical Frank says:
"Look here, you chaps, I could go on listening till midnight, but what's the matter with a bit of dinner? I dare say Praddy's parlour-maid might turn sour if we asked her at a moment's notice to find dinner for three. Why not come out and dine with me at the Hans Crescent Hotel? Close by. I'll get a quiet table and we can finish our talk there. To-morrow I must go down to Margate to see the dear old mater, and it may be a week before I'm up again."
They adjourn to the hostelry mentioned.
Over coffee and cigarettes, Vivie makes this appeal to Frank: "Now Frank, you know all my story. Tell me first, what really became of the real David Williams, the young man you met in the hospital and wrote to me about?"
Frank: "'Pon my life I don't know. I never heard one word about him after I got clear of the hospital myself. You know it fell into Boer hands during that rising in Cape Colony. I expect the 'real' David Williams, as you call him, died from neglected wounds or typhoid—or recovered and took to drink, or went up country and got knocked on the head by the natives for interfering with their women—Good riddance of bad rubbish, I expect. What do you want me to do? I'll swear to anything in reason."
Vivie: "I want you to do this. Run down one day before you go back to Africa, to South Wales, to Pontystrad—It's not far from Swansea—And call at the Vicarage on the pretext that you've come to enquire about David Vavasour Williams whom you once knew in South Africa. It'll give verisimilitude to my stories. They'll probably say they haven't seen him for ever so long, but that you can hear of him through Professor Rossiter. I dare say it's a silly idea of mine, but what I fear sometimes—is that if the fact comes out that I was David Williams, some Vaughan or Price or other Williams may call the old man's will in question and get it put into Chancery, get the money taken away from poor old Bridget Evanwy and the village hall which I've endowed. That's all. If it wasn't that I've disposed of my supposed father's money in the way I think he would have liked best, I shouldn't care a hang if they found out the trick I'd played on the Benchers. D'you see?"
Frank: "I see."
The next day Vivie wisely spent in bed, healing her wounds and resting her limbs which after the mental excitement was over ached horribly. Honoria came round and listened, applauded, pitied, laughed and concurred.
But she was well enough on the following Tuesday after Black Friday to attend another meeting of the W.S.P.U. at Caxton Hall, to hear one more ambiguous, tricky, many-ways-to-be-interpreted promise of the then Prime Minister. Mrs. Pankhurst pointing out the vagueness of these assurances announced her intention then and there of going round to Downing Street to ask for a more definite wording. Vivie and many others followed this dauntless lady. Their visit was unexpected, the police force was small and the Suffragettes had two of the Cabinet Ministers at their mercy. They contented themselves by shaking, hustling, frightening but not otherwise injuring their victims before the latter were rescued and put into taxi-cabs.
The Lilacs, Victoria Road, S.W. December 31, 1910.
I'm so glad you got returned all right by your University. I feared very much your championship of the Woman's Cause might have told against you. But these newer Universities are more liberal-minded.
I am keeping my promise to tell you of any important move I am making. So this is to inform you, in very strict confidence, of my latest dodge. For the effective organization of my particular branch of the W.S.P.U. activities, I must have an office. "The Lilacs" is far too small, and besides I shrink from having my little home raided or too much visited even by confederates. I learned the other day that the old Fraser and Warren offices on the top floor of 88-90 Chancery Lane were vacant. The Midland Insurance Co. that occupied nearly all the building has cleared out and the block is to be given over to a multitude of small undertakings. Well: I secured our old rooms! Simply splendid, with the two safes that Honoria, untold ages ago, fitted into the walls, and hid so cleverly that if there is no treachery it would be hard for the police to find them and raid them. The Midland Insurance Co. did not behave well to Fraser and Warren, so Beryl Storrington, when she was clearing out said nothing about the safes, which were not noticed by the Company. Honoria kept the keys and now hands them over to me.
The W.S.P.U. has taken—also under an alias—other offices on the same side of the way, at No. 94, top storey. We find we can, by using the fire escape, pass over the intervening roofs and reach the parapet outside the "partners' room" at the 88-90 building. I shall once again make use of the little room next the partners' office as a bedroom or rather, "tiring" room, where I can if necessary effect changes of costume. I have taken the new offices in the name of Mr. Michaelis for a special reason; and with some modifications of David's costume I have appeared in person to assume possession of them. I generally enter No. 94 dressed as Vivie Warren. All this may sound very silly to you, like playing at conspiracy. But these precautions seem to be necessary. The Government is beginning to take Suffragism seriously, and a whole department at New Scotland Yard has been organized to cope with our activities.
[Footnote 1: Michaelis, I believe, was a Greek merchant dealing with sponges, emery powder, coral, and other products of the Mediterranean shores whose acquaintance Vivie had originally made when interested in the shares of that Levantine house, Charles Davis and Co. Of Ionian birth he had become a naturalized British subject, but having grown wealthy had decided to transfer himself to Athens and enter political life. He had consented amusedly to Vivie's adoption of his name for her new tenancy and had given her an old passport, which you could do in the days that knew not Dora—she resembling him somewhat in appearance. He was aware of her Suffragist activities and guessed she might want it occasionally for eluding the police on trips abroad.—H.H.J.]
One reason I have in writing this letter—a letter I hope you will burn after you have read and noted its contents—is to ask you to lend me for a while the services of Bertie Adams as clerk. Of course I shall insist on paying his salary whilst I employ him, and indemnifying him for anything he may suffer in my service—that of the W.S.P.U. I am fairly well off for money now. Besides the funds the W.S.P.U. places at my disposal, I have the interest on mother's Ten Thousand pounds, and she would give me more if I asked for it. She has quite taken to the idea of spending her ill-gotten gains on the Enfranchisement of Women! (I am going over to see her for a week or so, when it is not quite so cold.)
What business am I going specially to undertake in Mr. Michaelis's office on the top storey of 88-90? I will tell you. Scotland Yard is getting busy about us, the Suffragists, trying to find out all it can that is detrimental to our personal characters, our upbringing, our progeniture, our businesses and our relations; whether we had a forger in the family, whether I am the daughter of the "notorious" Mrs. Warren, whether Mrs. Canon Burstall is really my aunt and whether she couldn't be brought to use her private influence on me to keep me quiet, in case it came out that Kate Warren was her sister, and that she led Kate into that way of life wherein she earned her shameful livelihood. I have had one or two covert hints from Aunt Liz promising to open up relations if only I'll behave myself! Scotland Yard has already had the sorry triumph of causing one or two of our most prominent workers to retire from the ranks because they were not properly married or had been married after the eldest child was born; or had once "been in trouble," over some peccadillo, or had had a son or a sister who though now upright and prosperous had once been in the clutches of the law.
Now my idea is to turn the tables on all this. I myself am impeccable in a real court of equity. My avatar as David Williams was by way of being a superb adventure. I only retired from the harmless imposture lest I might compromise you, and you are so far gone in politics now that the revelation—if it came about—that you were deceived by me and by my "father"—would do you no harm. For a number of reasons I know pretty well that the Benchers would not make themselves ridiculous by having the story of my successful entry into their citadel told in open court. I have in fact, through a devious channel, received the assurance that if I do not resume this character (of D.V.W.) nothing more will be said. What, then, have I to fear? My mother s'est bien rangee. She leads a life of the most respectable. If they challenge her, she can counter with some of the most piquant scandals of the last thirty years.
My own careful study of criminology and the assiduous searchings of Albert Adams in the same direction; my mother's anecdotes of the lives of statesmen, police-magistrates, prosecuting counsel, judges, press-editors—many of whom have enjoyed her hospitality abroad—have given me numerous hints in what direction to pursue my researches. Consequently the office of Mr. Michaelis will be the Criminal Investigation Department of the W.S.P.U. I feel instinctively I am touching pitch and that you will disapprove ... but if we are to fight with clean hands, que Messieurs les Assassins commencent! If Scotland Yards drops slander and infamous suggestions as a weapon we will let our poisoned arrows rust in the armoury.
How beastly all this is! Why do they drive us to these extremes? I know already enough to blast the characters of several among our public men. Yet I know in so doing I should wreck the life-happiness of faithful wives, believing sisters or daughters, or bright-faced children. Perhaps I won't, when it comes to the pinch. But somehow, I think, if they guess I have this knowledge in my possession, they will leave David Williams and Kate Warren alone.
Sometimes, d'you know, I wake up in the middle of the night at the Lilacs or in my reconstituted bedroom at 88-90, and wish I were quit of all this Suffrage business, all this vain struggle against predominant man—and away with you on a Pacific Island. Then I realize that we should have large cockroaches and innumerable sand fleas in our new home, that we should have broken Linda's heart, have set back the Suffrage cause as much as Parnell's adultery postponed Home Rule; and above all that I am already thirty-five and shall soon be thirty-six and that it wouldn't be very long before you in comfort-loving middle age sighed for the well-ordered life of No. 1, Park Crescent, Portland Place!
On the whole, I think the most rational line I can take is to continue resolutely this struggle for the Vote. With the Vote must come the opening of Parliament to women. I'm not too old to aspire to be some day Secretary of State for Home Affairs. Because the General Post Office has already become interested in my correspondence, and because this is really a "pivotal" letter I am not trusting it to the post but am calling with it at No. 1 and handing it personally to your butler. I look to you to destroy it when you have read its contents—if you go to that length.
Rossiter read this letter an hour or so after it had been delivered, frowned a good deal, made notes in one of his memorandum books; then tore the sheets of typewriting into four and placed them on the fire. Having satisfied himself that the flames had caught them, he went up with a sullen face to dress for dinner: Linda was giving a New Year's Eve dinner to friends and relations and he had to play the part of host with assumed heartiness.
In the perversity of fate, one piece of the typewritten letter escaped the burning except along the edge. A puff of air from the chimney or the opened door, as Linda entered the room, lifted it off the cinders and deposited it on the hearth. Linda had dressed early for the party, had felt a little hurt at the locked door of Michael's dressing-room, and had come with some vague intention into his study, to see perhaps if the fire was burning brightly: because to avoid unnecessary journies upstairs they would receive their guests to-night in the study and thence pass to the dining-room. But the fire had gone sulky, as fires do sometimes even with well-behaved chimneys and first-class coal. She noted the charred portion of paper lying untidily on the hearth, with typewriting on its upper surface. Picking it up she read inside the scorched margin:
ria kept the keys and now them over to me. W.S.P.U. has taken—also under an alias—other of same side of the way, at No. 94, top storey. We using the fire-escape, pass over the intervening r reach the parapet outside the "partners' room" at the ding. I shall once again make use of the little room tners' office as a bedroom or rather "tiring" room, w if necessary effect changes of costume. I have tak ces in the name of Mr. Michaelis for a special reas ome modifications of David's costume I have appeared in p ssume possession of them. I generally enter No. 94 dressed a Warren. All this may sound very silly to you, like pla
"Warren!" That name stood out clear. Did it mean the suffragette, Vivien Warren, who had sometimes been here, and in whose adventures her husband seemed so unbecomingly interested? One of the great ladies who were Anti-Suffragists and had already decoyed Mrs. Rossiter within their drawing-rooms had referred with great disapproval to Miss Warren as the daughter of a most notorious woman whom their husbands wouldn't hear mentioned because of her shocking past. And David, David of course must be that tiresome David Williams, supposed to be a cousin of Vivien Warren, but really seeming in these allusions to be a disguise in which this bold female deceived people. And "Mr. Michaelis?" Could that be her own Michael? The shameless baggage! She choked at the thought. Was it a conspiracy into which they were luring her husband, already rather compromised as a man of science by his enthusiasm for the Suffrage cause? People used to speak of Michael almost with awe, he was so clever, he made such wonderful discoveries. Now, since he had become a politician he had many enemies, and several ladies of high title referred to him contemptuously even in her hearing and cut her without compunction, though she had Ten thousand a year. She felt all the same a profound conviction that Michael was the most honourable of men. Yet why all this mystery? The W.S.P.U.? Those letters stood for some more than usually malignant Suffrage Society. She had seen the letters often in "Votes for Women."...
Her musings here were stayed by the sound of her husband's steps in the passage. Hastily she thrust the half sheet of charred paper into her corsage and brushed off the fragments of the burnt edges from her laces; then turned and affected to be tidying the writing table as Michael came in.
Rossiter: "Linda! Surely not putting my papers in order—or rather disorder? I thought you were far too intimate with my likes and dislikes to do that!... Why, what's the matter?"
Linda: "Oh nothing. I was only seeing if they had made up your fire. I—I—haven't touched anything."
(Rossiter looked anxiously at the grate, but was relieved to see nothing but burnt, shrivelled squares of paper. He poked the fire fiercely and at any rate demolished the remains of Vivie's letter.)
Rossiter: "Yes: it isn't very cheerful. They must brighten it while we are at dinner; though as we shall go to the drawing-room afterwards we shan't need a huge fire here. There! It looks better after that poke. I threw some papers on it to start a flame just before I went up to dress.... Why dearie! What cold hands and what flushed cheeks!"...
Linda: "Oh Michael! You'll always love me, won't you? I—I know I'm not clever, not half clever enough for you. But I do try to help you all I can. I—I—" (Sobs.)
Rossiter (really distressed): "Of course I love you! What silly notion have you got into your head?" (He asks himself anxiously "Surely all that letter was burnt before she came in?") "Come! Pull yourself together. Be worthy of that dress. It is such a beauty."
Linda: "I thought you'd like it. I remembered your saying that blue always became me." (Dabs at her eyes with a small lace handkerchief.)
Loud double knocks begin to sound. Dinner guests are soon announced. Linda and Michael receive them heartily. Rossiter—as many a public man does and has to do—shoves his vain regrets, remorse, anxiety, weary longing for the unattainable—somewhere to the back of his brain, where these feelings will not revive till he lies awake at three in the morning; and prepares to entertain half-a-dozen hearty men and buxom women who are easily impressed by a little spoon-fed science. Linda is soon distracted from the scrap of paper in her bosom and gives all her attention to her cousins and grown-up school friends from Bradford and Northallerton who are delighted to see the New Year in amid the gaieties of London.
But before she rings for her maid and undresses that night, she locks the burnt fragment in a secret drawer of her desk.
The Ministry which was returned to power in December, 1910, had to plan during the first half of 1911 to keep the Suffragists becalmed with promises and prevent their making any public protest which might mar the Coronation festivities. So various Conciliation Bills were allowed to be read to the House of Commons and to reach Second readings at which they were passed with huge majorities. Then they came to nothingness by being referred to a Committee of the whole House. Still a hope of some solution was dangled before the oft-deluded women, who could hardly believe that British Ministers of State would be such breakers of promises and tellers of falsehoods. In November, 1911, there being no reason for further dissembling, the Government made the announcement that it was contemplating a Manhood Suffrage Bill, which would override altogether the petty question as to whether a proportion of women should or should not enjoy the franchise. This new electoral measure was to be designed for men only, but—the Government opined—it might be susceptible of amendment so as to admit women likewise.
[Probably the Government had satisfied itself beforehand that, acting on some unwritten code of Parliamentary procedure, the Speaker would rule out such an amendment as unconstitutional. At any rate, this is what he did in 1913.]
The wrath of the oft-deluded women flamed out with immediate resentment when the purport of this trick was discerned. Led by Mrs. Pethick Lawrence a band of more than a thousand women and men (and some of the presumed men were, like Vivie, women in men's clothes, as it enabled them to move about with more agility and also to escape identification) entered Whitehall and Parliament Street armed with hammers and stones. They broke all the windows they could in the fronts of the Government offices and at the residences of Ministers of State. Vivie found herself shadowed everywhere by Bertie Adams though she had given him no orders to join the crowd, indeed had begged him to mind his own business and go home. "This is my business," he had said curtly, and for once masterfully, and she gave way. Though Vivie for her own reasons carried no hammer or stone and as one of the principal organizers of the militant movement had been requested by the inner Council of the W.S.P.U. to keep out of prison as long as possible, she could not help cheering on the boldest and bravest in the mild violence of their protest. To the angry police she seemed merely an impertinent young man, hardly worth arresting when they could barely master the two hundred and twenty-three arch offenders with glass-breaking weapons in their hands. So a constable contented himself with marching on her feet with all his weight and thrusting his elbows violently into her breast.
She well-nigh fainted with the pain; in fact would have fallen in the crowd but for the interposition of Adams who carried her out of it to the corner of Parliament Street, where he pounced on one of the many taxis that crawled about the outskirts of the shouting, swaying crowd, sure of a fare from either police or escaping Suffragists. Feeling certain that some policeman had not left the disguised Vivie entirely unobserved—indeed Bertie had half thought he caught the words above the din: "That's David Williams, that is," he told the taxi man to drive along the Embankment to the Temple. By the time they had reached the nearest access on that side of Fountain Court, Vivie was sufficiently recovered from her semi-swoon to get out, and leaning heavily on Bertie's arm, limp slowly through the intricacies of the Temple and out into Fleet Street by Sergeant's Inn. Then with fresh efforts and further halts they made their way to 94, Chancery Lane.
Some one was sitting up here with one electric light on, ready for any development connected with W.S.P.U. work that night. To her—fortunately it was a woman—Bertie handed over his stricken chief, and then made his way home to his little house in Marylebone and a questioning and not too satisfied wife. The Suffragette in charge of the top storey at 94 knew something, fortunately, of first aid, was deft of hands and full of sympathy. Vivie's—or Mr. Michaelis's—lace-up boots were carefully removed and the poor crushed and bleeding toes washed with warm water. The collar was taken off and the shirt unbuttoned revealing a terrible bruise on the sternum where the policeman's elbow had struck her—better however there, though it had nearly broken the breastbone, than on either side, as such a blow might have given rise to cancer. As it was, Vivie when she coughed spat blood.
A cup of hot bovril and an hour's rest on a long chair and she was ready, supremely anxious indeed, to try the last adventure: an excursion across the roofs and up and down fire-escapes on to the parapet of her own especial dwelling, the old offices of Fraser and Warren at No. 88-90. The great window of the partners' room opened to her manipulations—it had been carefully left unbolted before her departure for Caxton Hall; and aided cautiously and cleverly by her suffragette helper, Vivie at last found herself—or Mr. Michaelis did—in the snug little bedroom that knew her chiefly in her male form.
Here she was destined to lie up for several weeks till the feet and the chest were healed and sound again. Hither by the normal entrance came a woman suffragette surgeon to heal, and Vivie's woman clerk to act as secretary; whilst Adams typed away in the outer office on Mr. Michaelis's business or went on long and mysterious errands. Hither also came the little maid from the Lilacs, bringing needed changes of clothes, letters, and messages from Honoria. A stout young man with a fresh colour went up in the lift at No. 94 to the flat or office of "Algernon Mainwaring," and then skipped along the winding way between the chimney stacks and up and down short iron ladders till he too reached the parapet, entered through the opened casement, and revealed himself as a great W.S.P.U. leader, costumed like Vivie as a male, but in reality a buxom young woman only waiting for the Vote to be won to espouse her young man—shop steward—and begin a large family of children. From this leader, Vivie received humbly the strictest injunctions to engage in no more disabling work for the present, to keep out of police clutches and the risk of going to prison or of attracting too much police attention at 88-90 Chancery Lane. "You are our brain-centre at present. Our offices for show and for raiding by the police have been at Clifford's Inn and are now in Lincoln's Inn. But the really precious information we possess is ... well, you know where it is: walls may have ears ... your time for public testimony hasn't come yet ... we'll let you know fast enough when it has and you won't flinch, I'm quite sure..."
As a matter of fact, though Vivie's intelligence and inventiveness, her knowledge of criminal law, of lawyers and of city business, her wide education, her command of French (improved by the frequent trips to Brussels—where indeed she deposited securely in her mother's keeping some of the funds and the more remarkable documents of the Suffrage cause) and her possession of monetary supplies were not to be despised: as a figure-head, she was of doubtful value. There was always that mother in the background. If Vivie was in court for a suffrage offence of a grave character the prosecuting Counsel would be sure to rake up the "notorious Mrs. Warren" and drag in the White Slave Traffic, to bewilder a jury and throw discredit on the militant side of the Suffrage cause. Of course if the true story of Vivie were fully known, she would rise triumphant from such a recital.... Still ... throw plenty of mud and some of it will stick.... And what was her full, true story? Even in the pure passion of the fight for liberty among these young and middle-aged women, the tongue of scandal occasionally wagged in moments of lassitude, discouragement, undeception. At such times some weaker sister with a vulgar mind, or a mind with vulgar streaks in it, might hint at the great interest taken in Vivie by a distinguished man of science who had become an M.P. and a raging suffragist. Or indecorum would be hinted in the relations between this enigmatic woman, so prone seemingly to don male costume, and the burly clerk who attended her so faithfully and had brought her home on the night of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence's spirited raid.
So much so, that Vivie with a sigh, as soon as she attained convalescence was fain to send for Bertie and tell him with unanswerable decision that he must return to his work with Rossiter and thither she would send from time to time special instructions if he could help her business in any way.
This was done in January, 1912. Vivie's feet were now healed and the woman surgeon was satisfied that she could walk on them without displacing the reset bones. The slight fracture in the breastbone had repaired itself by one of Nature's magic processes. So one day our battered heroine doffed the invalid garments of Michaelis and donned those of any well-dressed woman of 1912, including a thick veil. Thus attired she passed from the parapet to the fire-escape (recalling the agony these gymnastics had caused her the previous November), and from the fire-escape to the roof of No. 92 (continuous with the roof of 94), and past the chimney stacks, into the top storey of 94, and so on down to the street, where a taxi was waiting to convey her to the Lilacs.
(The W.S.P.U., by the bye, to bluff Scotland Yard had added to the name of "Algernon Mainwaring, 5th Floor," the qualification of "Hygienic Corset-maker," as an explanation—possibly—of why so many women found their way to the top storey of No. 94.)
Arrived at the Lilacs, Vivie took up for a brief spell the life of an ordinary young woman of the well-to-do middle class, seriously interested in the suffrage question but non-militant. She attended several of Honoria's or Mrs. Fawcett's suffrage parties or public meetings and occasionally spoke and spoke well. She also went over to Brussels twice in 1912 to keep in touch with her mother. Mrs. Warren had had one or two slight warnings that a life of pleasure saps the strongest constitution. She lived now mainly at her farm, the Villa Beau-sejour, and only occasionally occupied her appartement in the Rue Royale. She must have been about fifty-nine in the spring of 1912, and was beginning to "soigner son salut," that is to say to take stock of her past life, apologize for it to herself and see how she could atone reasonably for what she had done wrong. A decade or two earlier she would have turned to religion, inevitably to that most attractive and logical form, the religion expounded by the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. She would have confessed her past, slightly or very considerably gazee, to some indulgent confessor, have been pardoned, and have presented a handsome sum to an ecclesiastical charity or work of piety. But she had survived into a skeptical age and she had conceived an immense respect for her clever daughter. Vivie should be her spiritual director; and Vivie's idea put before her at their reconciliation three years previously had seemed the most practical way of making amends to Woman for having made money in the past out of the economic and physiological weakness of women. She had fined herself Ten Thousand pounds then; and out of her remaining capital of Fifty or Sixty thousand (all willed with what else she possessed to her daughter) she would pay over more if Vivie demanded it as further reparation. Still, she found the frequentation of churches soothing and gave much and often to the mildly beseeching Little Sisters of the Poor when they made their rounds in town or suburbs.
[Footnote 1: Or so the observers say who haven't had a life of pleasure.]
"What do you think about Religion, Viv old girl?" she said one day in the Eastertide of 1912, when Vivie was spending a delicious fortnight at Villa Beau-sejour.
"Personally," said Vivie, "I hate all religions, so far as I have had time to study them. They bind up with undisputed ethics more or less preposterous theories concerning life and death, the properties of matter, man, God, the universe, the laws of nature, the food we should eat, the relations of the sexes, the quality of the weekly day of rest. Gradually they push indisputable ethics on one side and are ready to apply torture, death, or social ostracism to the support of these preposterous theories and explanations of God and Man. Such theories"—went on Vivie, though her mother's attention had wandered to some escaped poultry that were scratching disastrously in seed beds—"Such theories and explanations, mark you—do listen, mother, since you asked the question..."
"I'm listenin', dearie, but you talk like a book and I don't know what some of your words mean—What's ethics?"
"Well 'ethics' means er—er—'morality'; it comes from a Greek word meaning 'character.'..."
Mrs. Warren: "You talk like a book—"
Vivie: "I do sometimes, when I remember something I've read. But now I've lost my thread.... What I meant to finish up with was something like this 'Such theories and explanations were formulated several hundred, or more than two thousand years ago, in times when Man's knowledge of himself, of his surroundings, of the earth and the universe was almost non-existent, yet they are preserved to our times as sacred revelations, though they are not superior to the fancies and fetish rites of a savage.' There! All that answer is quoted from Professor Rossiter's little book (Home University Library, "The Growth of the Human Mind")."
Mrs. Warren: "Rossiter! Is that the man you're sweet on?"
Vivie: "Don't put it so coarsely. There is a great friendship between us. We belong to a later generation than you. A man and a woman can be friends now without becoming lovers."
Mrs. Warren: "Go on! Don't humbug me. Men and women's the same as when I was young. I'm sorry, all the same, dear girl. There are you, growin' middle-aged and not married to some good-'earted chap as 'd give you three-four children I could pet in me old age. Wodjer want to go fallin' in love with some chap as 'as got a wife already? I know your principles. There's iron in yer blood, same as there is in that proud priest, your father. I know you'd break your 'eart sooner 'n have a good time with the professor. My! It seems to me Love's as bad as Religion for bringin' about sorrer!"
Vivie: "If you mean that it is answerable for the same intense happiness and even more intense unhappiness, I suppose you're right. I'm miserable, mother, and it's some relief to me to say so. If I could become honourably the wife of Michael Rossiter I'm afraid I should let Suffrage have the go-by. But as I can't, why this struggle for the vote is the only thing that keeps me going. I shall fight for it for another ten years, and by that time certain physiological changes may have taken place in me, and my feelings towards Rossiter will have calmed down."
(Here Mrs. Warren proceeded to call out rather disharmoniously in Flemish to the poultry woman, and asked why the something-or-other she let the Houdans spoil the seed beds.)
Mrs. Warren resuming: "Well it's clear you're your father's daughter. 'E'd 'ave gone on—did go on—in just such a way. 'Im and me were jolly well suited to one another. I'd got to reg'lar love 'im. I'd 'a bin a true wife to him, and 'ave worked my fingers to the bone for 'im, and you bet I'd 'ave made a livin' somehow. And he'd have written some jolly good books and 'ave made lots of money. But no! This beastly Religion comes in with its scare of Hell fire and back 'e goes to the priests and 'is prayers and 'is penances. The last ten years or so 'e's bin filled up with pride. 'Is passions 'ave died down and 'e thinks 'imself an awful swell as the head of his Order. And they do say as 'e's got 'is fingers in several pies and is a reg'lar old conspirator, working up the Irish to do something against England. Yer know since I've made my peace with you.... Ain't it a rum go, by the bye? Ten or twenty years ago it'd 'a bin 'my peace with God.' I dunno nothin' about God—can't see 'im at the end of a telescope, anyways. But I can see you, Vivie, and there's no one livin' I respect more" (speaks with real feeling).... "Well, as I was sayin', since I'd set myself right with you and wound up the business of the hotels I ain't so easy cowed by 'is looks as I used to be. So every now and then it amuses me to run over in my auto to Louvain and stroll about there and watch 'im as 'e comes out for 'is promenade, pretendin' to be readin' a breviary or some holy book. I know it riles 'im....
"Well, but for high principles, 'e and I might 'a bin as 'appy as 'appy and 'ad a large family. And there was nothin' to stop 'im a-marryin' me, if that was all he wanted to feel comfortable about it. But jus' see. He's had a life that seems to me downright sterile, and I—well, I ain't been really happy till we made it up three years ago" (leans over, and kisses Vivie a little timorously).
"Now there's you, burning yourself out 'cos your high principles won't let you go for once in a way on the spree with this Rossiter—s'posin' 'e's game, of course.... You've too much pride to throw yourself at his head. But if he loves you as bad as you loves 'im, why don't you ask him" (instinctively the old ministress of love speaks here) "ask 'im to take you over to Paris for a trip? I'll lay 'e 'as to go over now'n again to the Sorbonne or one of them scientific institutes. She'd never come to 'ear of it. An' after one or two such honeymoons you'd soon get tired of 'im, specially now you're gettin' on a bit in years, and may be you'd settle down quietly after that. Or if you ain't reg'lar set on 'im, why not giv' up this suffrage business and live a bit with me here? There's plenty of upstanding, decent, Belgian men in good positions as'd like to have an English wife. They wouldn't look too shy at my money..."
Vivie: "Get thee behind me, Satan! Mother, you oughtn't to make such propositions. Don't you understand, we must all have a religion somewhere. Some principle to which we sacrifice ourselves. Rossiter would be horrified if he could hear you. His mistress is Science, besides which he is really devoted to his wife and would do nothing that could hurt her. You don't know England, it's clear. Supposing for one moment I could consent—and I couldn't—we should be found out to a certainty, and then Michael's career would be ruined.
"My religion, though I sometimes weary of it and sneer at it, is Women's Rights: women must have precisely the same rights as men, no disqualification whatever based merely on their being women. Did you read those disgusting letters in the Times by the surgeon, the midwifery man, Sir Wrigsby Blane? Declaring that the demand for the Vote was based on immorality, and pretending that once a month, till they were fifty, and for several years after they were fifty, women were not responsible for their actions, because of what he vaguely called 'physiological processes.' What poisonous rubbish! You know as well as I do that in most cases it makes little or no difference; and if it does, what about men? Aren't they at certain times not their normal selves? When they're full up with wine or beer or whiskey, when they're courting, when they're pursuing some illicit love, when after fifty they get a little odd in their ways through this, that and the other internal trouble or change of function? What's true of the one sex is equally true of the other. Most men and women between twenty and sixty jolly well know what they want, and generally they want something reasonable. We don't legislate for the freaks, the unbalanced, the abnormal; or if we do restrict the vote in those cases, let's restrict it for males as well as females—But don't you see at the same time what a text I should furnish to this malign creature if I ran away to Paris with Michael, and made the slightest false step ... even though it had no bearing on the main argument?..."
At this juncture Vivie, whose obsession leads her more and more to address every one as a public meeting—is interrupted by the smiling bonne a tout faire who announces that le dejeuner de Madame est servi, and the two women gathering up books and shawls go in to the gay little saile-a-manger of the Villa Beau-sejour.
On Vivie's return to London, after her Easter holiday, she threw herself with added zest into the Suffrage struggle. The fortnight of good feeding, of quiet nights and lazy days under her mother's roof had done her much good. She was not quite so thin, the dark circles under her grey eyes had vanished, and she found not only in herself but even in the most middle-aged of her associates a delightful spirit of tomboyishness in their swelling revolt against the Liberal leaders. It was specially during the remainder of 1912 that Vivie noted the enormous good which the Suffrage movement had done and was doing to British women. It was producing a splendid camaraderie between high and low. Heroines like Lady Constance Lytton mingled as sister with equally heroic charwomen, factory girls, typewriteresses, waitresses and hospital nurses. Women doctors of Science, Music, and Medicine came down into the streets and did the bravest actions to present their rights before a public that now began to take them seriously. Debutantes, no longer quivering with fright at entering the Royal Presence, modestly but audibly called their Sovereign's attention to the injustice of Mr. Asquith's attitude towards women, while princesses of the Blood Royal had difficulty in not applauding. Many a tame cat had left the fire-side and the skirts of an inane old mother (who had plenty of people to look after her selfish wants) and emerged, dazed at first, into a world that was unknown to her. Such had thrown away their crochet hooks, their tatting-shuttles and fashion articles, their Church almanacs, and Girl's Own Library books, and read and talked of social, sexual, and industrial problems that have got to be faced and solved. Colour came into their cheeks, assurance into their faded manners, sense and sensibility into their talk; and whatever happened afterwards they were never crammed back again into the prison of Victorian spinsterhood. They learnt rough cooking, skilled confectionery, typewriting, bicycling, jiu-jitsu perhaps. "The maidens came, they talked, they sang, they read; till she not fair began to gather light, and she that was became her former beauty treble" sang in prophecy, sixty years before, the greatest of poets and the poet-prophet of Woman's Emancipation. Many a woman has directly owed the lengthened, happier, usefuller life that became hers from 1910-1911-1912 onwards to the Suffrage movement for the Liberation of Women.
The crises of 1912 moreover were not so acute as bitterly to envenom the struggle in the way that happened during the two following years. There was always some hope that the Ministry might permit the passing of an amendment to the Franchise Bill which would in some degree affirm the principle of Female Suffrage. It is true that a certain liveliness was maintained by the Suffragettes. The W.S.P.U. dared not relax in its militancy lest Ministers should think the struggle waning and Woman already tiring of her claims. The vaunted Manhood Suffrage Bill had been introduced by an anti-woman-suffrage Quaker Minister and its Second reading been proposed by an equally anti-feminist Secretary of State—this was in June-July, 1912; and no member of the Cabinet had risen to say a word in favour of the Women's claims. Still, something might be done in Committee, in the autumn Session—if there were one—or in the following year. There was a simmering in the Suffragist ranks rather than any alarming explosion. In March, before Vivie went to Brussels, Mrs. Pankhurst had carried out a window-smashing raid on Bond Street and Regent Street and the clubs of Piccadilly, during which among the two hundred and nineteen arrests there were brought to light as "revolutionaries" two elderly women surgeons of great distinction and one female Doctor of Music. In revenge the police had raided the W.S.P.U. offices at Clifford's Inn, an event long foreseen and provided against in the neighbouring Chancery Lane.
The Irish Nationalist Party had shown its marked hostility to the enfranchisement of women in any Irish Parliament and so a few impulsive Irish women had thrown things at Nationalist M.P.'s without hurting them. Mr. Lansbury had spoken the plain truth to the Prime Minister in the House of Commons and had been denied access to that Chamber where Truth is so seldom welcome.
In July the slumbering movement towards resisting the payment of taxes by vote-less women woke up into real activity, and there were many ludicrous and pathetic scenes organized often by Vivie and Bertie Adams at which household effects were sold and bought in by friends to satisfy the claims of a tax-collector. In the autumn Vivie and others of the W.S.P.U. organized great pilgrimages—the marches of the Brown Women—from Scotland, Wales, Devon and Norfolk to London, to some goal in Downing Street or Whitehall, some door-step which already had every inch of its space covered by policemen's boots. These were among the pleasantest of the manifestations and excited great good humour in the populace of town and country. They were extended picnics of ten days or a fortnight. The steady tramp of sixteen to twenty miles a day did the women good; the food en route was abundant and eaten with tremendous appetite. The pilgrims on arrival in London were a justification in physical fitness of Woman's claim to equal privileges with Man.
Vivie after her Easter holiday took an increasingly active part in these manifestations of usually good-humoured insurrection. As Vivien Warren she was not much known to the authorities or to the populace but she soon became so owing to her striking appearance, telling voice and gift of oratory. All the arts she had learnt as David Williams she displayed now in pleading the woman's cause at the Albert Hall, at Manchester, in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Countess Feenix took her up, invited her to dinner parties where she found herself placed next to statesmen in office, who at first morose and nervous—expecting every moment a personal assault—gradually thawed when they found her a good conversationalist, a clever woman of the world, becomingly dressed. After all, she had been a third wrangler at Cambridge, almost a guarantee that her subsequent life could not be irregular, according to a man's standard in England of what an unmarried woman's life should be. She deprecated the violence of the militants in this phase.
But she was Protean. Much of her work, the lawless part of it, was organized in the shape and dress of Mr. Michaelis. Some of her letters to the Press were signed Edgar McKenna, Albert Birrell, Andrew Asquith, Edgmont Harcourt, Felicia Ward, Millicent Curzon, Judith Pease, Edith Spenser-Churchhill, Marianne Chamberlain, or Emily Burns; and affected to be pleas for the granting of the Suffrage emanating from the revolting sons or daughters, aunts, sisters or wives of great statesmen, prominent for their opposition to the Women's Cause. The W.S.P.U. had plenty of funds and it did not cost much getting visiting cards engraved with such names and supplied with the home address of the great personage whom it was intended to annoy. One such card as an evidence of good faith would be attached to the plausibly-worded letter. The Times was seldom taken in, but great success often attended these audacious deceptions, especially in the important organs of the provincial press. Editors and sub-editors seldom took the trouble and the time to hunt through Who's Who, or a Peerage to identify the writer of the letter claiming the Vote for Women. No real combination of names was given, thus forgery was avoided; but the public and the unsuspecting Editor were left with the impression that the Premier's, Colonial Secretary's, Home Secretary's, Board of Trade President's, or prominent anti-suffragist woman's son, daughter, brother, sister, wife or mother-in-law did not at all agree with the anti-feminist opinions of its father, mother, brother or husband. If the politician were foolish enough to answer and protest, he was generally at a disadvantage; the public thought it a good joke and no one (in the provinces) believed his disclaimers.
Vivie generally heckled ministers on the stump and parliamentary candidates dressed as a woman of the lower middle class. It would have been unwise to do so in man's guise, in case there should be a rough-and-tumble afterwards and her sex be discovered. Although in order to avoid premature arrest she did not herself take part in those most ingenious—and from the view of endurance, heroic—stow-aways of women interrupters in the roofs, attics, inaccessible organ lofts or music galleries of public halls, she organized many of these surprises beforehand. It was Vivie to whom the brilliant idea came of once baffling the police in the rearrest of either Mrs. Pankhurst or Annie Kenney. Knowing when the police would come to the building where one or other of these ladies was to make her sensational re-appearance, she had previously secreted there forty other women who were dressed and veiled precisely similarly to the fugitive from justice. Thus, when the force of constables claimed admittance, forty-one women, virtually indistinguishable one from the other, ran out into the street, and the bewildered minions of the law were left lifting their helmets to scratch puzzled heads and admitting "the wimmen were a bit too much for us, this time, they were."
In her bedroom at 88-90 she kept an equipment of theatrical disguises; very natural-looking moustaches which could be easily applied and which remained firmly adhering save under the application of the right solvent; pairs of tinted spectacles; wigs of credible appearance; different styles of suiting, different types of women's dress. She sometimes sat in trains as a handsome, impressive matron of fifty-five, with a Pompadour confection and a tortoiseshell face-a-main, conversing with ministers of state or permanent officials on their way to their country seats, and saying "Horrid creatures!" if any one referred to the activities of the Suffragettes. Thus disguised she elicited considerable information sometimes, though she might really be on her way to organize the break-up of the statesman's public meeting, the enquiry into discreditable circumstances which might compel his withdrawal from public life, or merely the burning down of his shooting box.
This life had its risks and perils, but it agreed with her health. It was exciting and took her mind off Rossiter.
Rossiter for his part experienced a slackening in the tension of his mind during the same year 1912. He was touched by his wife's faint suspicion of his alienated affection and by her dogged determination to be sufficient to him as a companion and a helper; and a little ashamed at his middle-aged—he was forty-seven—infatuation for a woman who was herself well on in the thirties. There were times when a rift came in the cloud of his passion for Vivie, when he looked out dispassionately on the prospect of the rest of his life—he could hope at most for twenty more years of mental and bodily activity and energy. Was this all too brief period to be filled up with a senile renewal of sexual longing! He felt ashamed of the thoughts that had occupied so much of his mind since he had laid David Williams on the couch of his library, to find it was Vivie Warren whose arms were round his neck. He was not sorry this love for a woman he could not possess had sent him into Parliament. He was beginning to enjoy himself there. He had found himself, had lost that craven fear of the Speaker that paralyzes most new members. He knew when to speak and when to be silent; and when he spoke unsuspected gifts of biting sarcasm, clever characterization, convincing scorn of the uneducated minister type came to his aid. His tongue played round his victims, unequipped as they were with his vast experience of reality, vaguely discursive, on the surface as are most lawyers, at a loss for similes and tropes as are most men of business, or dull of wits as are most of the fine flowers of the public schools, stultified with the classics and scripture history. He knew that unless there was some radical change of government he could not be a minister; but he cared little for that. He was rich—thanks to his wife—he was recovering his influence and his European and American reputation as a great discoverer, a deep thinker. He enjoyed pulverizing the Ministry over their suffrage insincerities and displaying his contempt of the politician elected only for his money influence in borough, county, or in the subscription lists of the Chief Whip. Though his pulses still beat a little quicker when he held Vivie's hand in his at some reception of Lady Feenix's or a dinner party at the Gorings—Vivie as the child of a "fallen" woman had a prescriptive right of entrance to Diana's circle—he had not the slightest intention of running away with her, of nipping his career in two, just as he might be scaling the last heights to the citadel of fame: either as a politician of the new type, the type of high education, or as one of the giants of inductive science. Besides in 1912, if I mistake not, Dr. Smith-Woodward and Mr. Charles Dawson made that discovery of the remains of an ape-like man in the gravels of mid-Sussex; and the hounds of Anthropology went off on a new scent at full cry, Rossiter foremost in the pack.
Mrs. Rossiter in the same year allowed herself more and more to be tempted into anti-suffrage discussions at the houses of peers or of strong-minded, influential ladies who were on the easiest terms with peers and potentates. She still resented the line her husband had taken in politics and believed it to be chiefly due to an inexplicable interest in Vivien Warren who she began to feel was the same person as "David Williams."
If she could only master the "Anti" arguments—they sounded so convincing from the lips of Miss Violet Markham or Mrs. Humphry Ward or some suave King's Counsel with the remnants of mutton-chop whiskers—if she could wean Michael away from that disturbing nonsense—he could assign "militancy" as the justification of his change of mind...! All that was asked by Authority, so far as she could interpret hints from great ladies, was neutrality, the return of Professor Rossiter to the paths of pure science in which area no one disputed his eminence. Then he might receive that knighthood that was long overdue; better still his next lot of discoveries in anatomy might bring him the peerage he richly deserved and which her wealth would support. He could then rest on his oars, cease his more or less nasty investigations; they could take a place in the country and move from this much too large house which lay almost outside the limits of Society's London to a really well-appointed flat in Westminster and have a thoroughly enjoyable old age.
Honoria in these times did not see so much of Vivie as before. Her warrior husband spent a good deal of 1912 at home as he had a Hounslow command. He had come to realize—some spiteful person had told him—who Vivie's mother had been, and told Honoria in accents of finality that the "Aunt Vivie" nonsense must be dropped and Vivie must not come to the house. At the most, if she must meet her friend of college days—oh, he was quite willing to believe in her personal propriety, though there were odd stories in circulation about her dressing as a man and doing some very rum things for the W.S.P.U.—still if she must see her, it would have to be in public places or at her friends, at Lady Feenix's, if she liked. No. He wasn't attacking the cause of Suffrage. Women could have the vote and welcome so far as he was concerned: they couldn't be greater fools than the men, and they were probably less corrupt. He himself never remembered voting in his life, so Honoria was no worse off than her husband. But he drew the line in his children's friends at the daughter of a....
Here Honoria to avoid hearing something she could not forgive put her plump hand over his bristly mouth. He kissed it and somehow she couldn't take the high tone she had at first intended. She simply said "she would see about it" and met the difficulty by giving up her suffrage parties for a bit and attending Lady Maud's instead; where you met not only poor Vivie, but—had she been in London and guaranteed reformed and rangee—you might have met Vivie's mother; as well as the Duchess of Dulborough—American, and intensely Suffrage—the charwoman from Little Francis Street, the bookseller's wife, the "mother of the maids" from Derry and Toms; and that very clever chemist who had mended Juliet Duff's nose when she fell on the ice at Princes'—they would both be there. Honoria said nothing to Vivie and Vivie said nothing to Honoria about the inhibition, but together with her irrational jealousy of Eoanthropos dawsoni and irritation at the growing contentedness with things as they were on the part of Rossiter, it made her a trifle more reckless in her militancy.
And Praddy? How did he fare in these times? Praed felt himself increasingly out of the picture. He was not far gone in the sixties, sixty-one, perhaps at most. But out of the movement. In his prime the people of his set—the cultivated upper middle class, with a few recruits from the peerage—cared only about Art in some shape or form—recondite music, the themes of which were never obvious enough to be hummed, the androgyne poetry of the 'nineties, morbidities from the Yellow Book, and Scarlet Sins that you disclaimed for yourself, to avoid unpleasantness with the Criminal Investigation Department, but freely attributed to people who were not in the room; the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley and successors in audacity and ugly indecency who left Beardsley a mere disciple of Raphael Tuck; also architecture which ignored the housemaid's sink, the box-room and the fire-escape.
The people who still came to his studio because he had the reputation of being a wit and the husband of his parlour-maid (whom to her indignation they called Queen Cophetua) cared not a straw about Art in any shape or form. The women wanted the Vote—few of them knew why—the men wanted to be aviators, motorists beating the record in speed on French trial trips, or Apaches in their relations with the female sex or prize-fighters—Jimmy Wilde had displaced Oscar, to the advantage of humanity, even Praddy agreed.
To Praed however Vivie took the bitterness, the disillusions which came over her at intervals:
"I feel, Praddy, I'm getting older and I seem to be at a loose end. D'you know I'm on the verge of thirty-seven—and I have no definite career? I'm rather tired of being a well-meaning adventuress."
"Then why," Praddy would reply, "don't you go and live with your mother?"
"Ugh! I couldn't stand for long that life in Belgium or elsewhere abroad. They seem miles behind us, with all our faults. Mother only seems to think now of good things to eat and a course of the waters at Spa in September to neutralize the over-eating of the other eleven months. There is no political career for women on the Continent."
"Then why not marry and have children? That is a career in itself. Look at Honoria, how happy she is."
"Yes—but there is only one man I could love, and he's married already."
"Pooh! nonsense. There are as many good fish in the sea as ever came out of it. If you won't do as Beryl did—by the bye isn't she a swell in these days! And strict with her daughters! She won't let 'em come here, I'm told, because of some silly story some one set abroad about me! And that humbug, Francis Brimley Storrington—by the bye he's an A.R.A. now and scarcely has enough talent to design a dog kennel, yet they've given him the job of the new stables at Buckingham Palace. Well if you won't share some one else's husband, pick out a good man for yourself. There must be plenty going—some retired prize-fighter. They seem all the rage just now, and are supposed to be awfully gentlemanly out of the ring."
"Don't be perverse. You know exactly how I feel. I'm wasting the prime of my life. I see no clear course marked out before me. Sometimes I think I would like to explore Central Africa or get up a Woman's Expedition to the South Pole. Life has seemed so flat since I gave up being David Williams. Then I lived in a perpetual thrill, always on my guard. I tire every now and then of my monkey tricks, and the praise of all these women leaves me cold. I wish I were as simple minded as most of them are. To them the Vote seems the beginning of the millennium. They seem to forget that after we've got the Vote we shall have another fight to be admitted as members to the House. You may be sure the men will stand out another fifty years over that surrender. I alternate in my moods between the reckless fury of an Anarchist and the lassitude of Lord Rosebery. To think that I was once so elated and conceited about being a Third Wrangler...!"
With the closing months of 1912, however, there was a greater tenseness, a sharpening of the struggle which once more roused Vivie to keen interest. When she returned from an autumn visit to Villa Beau-sejour she found there had been a split between the "Peths" and the "Panks." The Girondist section of the women suffragists had separated from those who could see no practical policy to win the Vote but a regime of Terrorism—mild terrorism, it is true—somewhat that of the Curate in The Private Secretary who at last told his persecutors he should really have to give them a good hard knock. The Peths drew back before the Pankish programme (mild as this would seem, to us of Bolshevik days and of Irish insurrection). Votes for Women returned to the control of the Pethick Lawrences, and the Pankhurst party to which Vivie belonged were to start a new press organ, The Suffragette.
The Panks, it seemed, had a more acute fore-knowledge than the Peths. The latter had felt they were forcing an open door; that the Liberal Ministry would eventually squeeze a measure of Female Suffrage into the long-discussed Franchise Bill; and that too much militancy was disgusting the general public with the Woman's cause. The former declared all along that Women were going to be done in the eye, because all the militancy hitherto had got very little in man's way, had only excited smiles, and shoulder-shrugs. Ministers of the Crown in 1912 had compared the hoydenish booby-traps and bloodless skirmishes of the Suffragettes with the grim fighting, the murders, burnings, mob-rule of the 1830's, when MEN were agitating for Reform; or the mutilation of cattle, the assassinations, dynamite outrages, gun-powder plots, bombs and boycotting of the long drawn-out Irish agitation for Home Rule. An agitation which was now resulting in the placing on the Statute Book of a Home Rule Bill, while another equally deadly agitation—in promise—was being worked up by Sir Edward Carson, the Duke of This and the Marquis of That, and a very rising politician, Mr. F.E. Smith, to defeat the operation of Home Rule for Ireland. In short, if one might believe the second-rate ministers who were not repudiated by their superiors in rank, the Vote for Women could only be wrung from the reluctance of the tyrant man, if the women made life unbearable for the male section of the community.
It was a dangerous suggestion to make, or would have proved so, had these sneering politicians been provoking men to claim their constitutional rights: bloodshed would almost certainly have followed. But the leaders of the militant women ordered (and were obeyed) that no attacks on life should be part of the Woman's militant programme. Property might be destroyed, especially such as did not impoverish the poor; but there were to be no railway accidents, no sinking of ships, no violent deeds dangerous to life. At the height and greatest bitterness of militancy no statesman's life was in danger.
The only recklessness about life was in the militant women. They risked and sometimes lost their lives in carrying out their protests. They invented the Hunger Strike (the prospect of which as an inevitable episode ahead of her, filled Vivie with tremulous dread) to balk the Executive of its idea of turning the prisons of England into Bastilles for locking up these clamant women who had become better lawyers than the men who tried them. But think what the Hunger Strike and its concomitant, Forcible Feeding, meant in the way of pain and danger to the life of the victim. The Government were afraid (unless you were an utterly unknown man or woman of the lower classes) of letting you die in prison; so to force them to release you, you had first to refuse for four days all food—the heroic added all drink. Then to prevent your death—and being human you, the prisoner, must have hoped they were keeping a good look-out on your growing weakness—the prison doctor must intervene with his forcible feeding. This was a form of torture the Inquisition would have been sorry to have overlooked, and one no doubt that the Bolsheviks have practised with great glee. The patient was strapped to a chair or couch or had his—usually her—limbs held down by warders (wardresses) and nurses. A steel or a wooden gag was then inserted, often with such roughness as to chip or break the teeth, and through the forced-open mouth a tube was pushed down the throat, sometimes far enough to hurt the stomach. This produced an apoplectic condition of choking and nausea, and as the stomach filled up with liquid food the retching nearly killed the patient. The windpipe became involved. Food entered the lungs—the tongue was cut and bruised (Think what a mere pimple on the tongue means to some of us: it keeps me awake half the night)—the lips were torn. Worse still—requiring really a pathological essay to which I am not equal—was feeding by slender pipes through the nose. The far simpler and painless process per rectum was debarred because it might have constituted an indecent assault.