Hydrogen Jukebox Press
An Online Edition
edited and annotated, with an introduction by Dr. Luke A. Powers
Wednesday, April 15, 1914
"Thank goodness--thank the everlastingly triumphant optimism of Nature--the colors of all dress fabrics are this year brighter than ever before!" cooed the Gray Pigeon, alighting gracefully in the midst of the morning chatter that surrounded the basin. "Not a tint of my own iridescent collar but is matched and outshone by the garments on parade in the street. Under the April sunbeams they radiate the very essence of cheer and good-will."
"Do they!" murmered a voice that was new to the council. "I notice a good proportion of vanity and envy, and some feelings even worse, on parade along with the colors."
The pigeons and sparrows all looked down, and there in the sun, lay a handsome black and white Cat who, disregarding the tiny park's "Keep Out" si[g]ns which apply to all but the birds, had stolen in somehow and was watching the goldfish.
"It depends," answered the White Pigeon afer the first moment of surprise, "on what you are noticing."
"I don't agree with you," purred the Cat, blinking his emerald eyes languidly.
"I was brought up on Scripture readings held by the peaceful fireside of an old-fashioned home, and the sight of a woman clothed in scarlet, or anything approaching so vivid a color, always brings me a sense of shock. Indeed, the way women are headed at present, they will certainly have the moon and everything else under their feet before long."
The Sparrow dived for a bath at exactly the point where he would be able to send a shower of flying drops over the Cat's smooth fur. This had the effect of bringing the stranger quickly, but with unruffled dignity, to his feet.
"They've been underfoot themselves long enough," the Sparrow's mate chirped, peeping over to enjoy his manuever.
"They are not safe anywhere else," declared the Cat suavely, though the tip of his tail quivered with resentment. "It is entirely for their own best interests that their barbaric and puerile instincts be restrained."
"It is entirely for the good of their race," replied the White Pigeon softly, looking down on him, "that their instinct for motherhood and for social service be cultivated."
"Social service??" The Cat's tone was deprecatory. "You mean the club work that is upsetting the order of things everywhere?"
"I suppose it is," admitted the White Pigeon. "Wherever clubs have taught women concerted action, wornout conventions have broken down; class distinctions have fallen; false standards of values have been replaced by true ones; and the value of life born of woman, as contrasted with that of property gathered by man, has gone up.;"[sic]
"This breaking down of the conventions of which you speak," said the Cat, "can be productive of nothing but evil. Think of the danger to the home! Think of the interference of women in politics!"
"We hear that every day," said the White Pigeon, "that one result of the suffrage where it has been tried is that politics has had to learn manners. That should appeal to you! Another, better still and more far-reaching in its effects, is the change it has wrought in the women themselves in giving them a larger way of looking at things, and teaching them to stand shoulder to shoulder when important issues are at stake. When the Chicago women voters registered--it was in all the papers, you know, and we hear these things discussed on every corner--the majority not only admitted their ages aloud in spite of the ruling that they might whisper, but came to the polls in unusual groupings. Society leaders were accompanied by their own laundresses, housemaids and cooks, all bent on accomplishing the same mission. What has become of their barbaric nature?"
"It's there," purred the Cat. "People will find it out too late. These irregular relations are liable to drift imperceptibly into something worse."
"They will be no worse than conventions that tend, directly or indirectly, to promote wrong conditions and customs. They should make way for safer, sounder conventions. I wasn't raised in a house, and I can't see anything particularly sacred in man's established order of things. Nature's order is what women are trying to rise to."
"Nature's order is built upon the home," insisted the Cat, "and if once [sic] women are given this strange new liberty and power they crave there will be no more homes."
"Nonsense," disputed the Sparrow crisply. "If you went about this town as much as I do you'd know that the standard of living is constantly rising; that never before were homes so many and so livable as at the present time."
"Ah! but there is less and less room for the cat in these modern homes," purred the Cat mournfully.
Like most thoroughly sincere utterances, this was found difficult to answer.
Suddenly the Cat's whole tense body gave
an automatic upward spring as a venturesome pair of newcomer sparrows baffed
down close to her claws. It was a narrow escape for the birds. By the time they gained
the safety of the upper basin they were trembling in every feather; but that Cat was
already smooth and relaxed, almost purring, blinking languidly as ever and gazing at the
golden flicker under the sparkling surface of the pool.