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are free in the world, to think we are queens.... Then we find out.
We find out no man will treat a woman fairly as man to man--no man. He
wants you--or he doesn't; and then he helps some other woman against
you.... What you say is probably all true and necessary.... But
think of the disillusionment! Except for our sex we have minds like men,
desires like men. We come out into the world, some of us--"
She paused. Her words, as she said them, seemed to her to mean nothing,
and there was so much that struggled for expression. "Women are mocked,"
she said. "Whenever they try to take hold of life a man intervenes."
She felt, with a sudden horror, that she might weep. She wished she had
not stood up. She wondered wildly why she had stood up. No one spoke,
and she was impelled to flounder on. "Think of the mockery!" she said.
"Think how dumb we find ourselves and stifled! I know we seem to have
a sort of freedom.... Have you ever tried to run and jump in
petticoats, Mr. Capes? Well, think what it must be to live in them--soul
and mind and body! It's fun for a man to jest at our position."
"I wasn't jesting," said Capes, abruptly.
She stood face to face with him, and his voice cut across her speech
and made her stop abruptly. She was sore and overstrung, and it was
intolerable to her that he should stand within three yards of her
unsuspectingly, with an incalculably vast power over her happiness. She
was sore with the perplexities of her preposterous position. She was
sick of herself, of her life, of everything but him; and for him all her
masked and hidden being was crying out.
She stopped abruptly at the sound of his voice, and lost the thread
of what she was saying. In the pause she realized the attention of the
others converged upon her, and that the tears were brimming over her
eyes. She felt a storm of emotion surging up within her. She became
aware of the Scotch student regarding her with stupendous amazement,
a tea-cup poised in one hairy hand and his faceted glasses showing a
various enlargement of segments of his eye.
The door into the passage offered itself with an irresistible
invitation--the one alternative to a public, inexplicable passion of
Capes flashed to an understanding of her intention, sprang to his feet,
and opened the door for her retreat.
"Why should I ever come back?" she said to herself, as she went down the
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