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Goddesses, but in practice--well, look, for example, at the stream of
girls one meets going to work of a morning, round-shouldered, cheap, and
underfed! They aren't queens, and no one is treating them as queens.
And look, again, at the women one finds letting lodgings.... I was
looking for rooms last week. It got on my nerves--the women I saw. Worse
than any man. Everywhere I went and rapped at a door I found behind it
another dreadful dingy woman--another fallen queen, I suppose--dingier
than the last, dirty, you know, in grain. Their poor hands!"
"I know," said Mr. Manning, with entirely suitable emotion.
"And think of the ordinary wives and mothers, with their anxiety, their
limitations, their swarms of children!"
Mr. Manning displayed distress. He fended these things off from him with
the rump of his fourth piece of cake. "I know that our social order is
dreadful enough," he said, "and sacrifices all that is best and most
beautiful in life. I don't defend it."
"And besides, when it comes to the idea of queens," Ann Veronica went
on, "there's twenty-one and a half million women to twenty million men.
Suppose our proper place is a shrine. Still, that leaves over a million
shrines short, not reckoning widows who re-marry. And more boys die than
girls, so that the real disproportion among adults is even greater."
"I know," said Mr Manning, "I know these Dreadful Statistics. I know
there's a sort of right in your impatience at the slowness of Progress.
But tell me one thing I don't understand--tell me one thing: How can you
help it by coming down into the battle and the mire? That's the thing
that concerns me."
"Oh, I'm not trying to help it," said Ann Veronica. "I'm only arguing
against your position of what a woman should be, and trying to get
it clear in my own mind. I'm in this apartment and looking for work
because--Well, what else can I do, when my father practically locks me
"I know," said Mr. Manning, "I know. Don't think I can't sympathize and
understand. Still, here we are in this dingy, foggy city. Ye gods! what
a wilderness it is! Every one trying to get the better of every one,
every one regardless of every one--it's one of those days when every one
bumps against you--every one pouring coal smoke into the air and making
confusion worse confounded, motor omnibuses clattering and smelling,
a horse down in the Tottenham Court Road, an old woman at the corner
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