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mind resumed at a more tolerable pace. She found herself talking to
Capes in an undertone of rational admission.
"There is something to be said for the lady-like theory after all," she
admitted. "Women ought to be gentle and submissive persons, strong only
in virtue and in resistance to evil compulsion. My dear--I can call you
that here, anyhow--I know that. The Victorians over-did it a little, I
admit. Their idea of maidenly innocence was just a blank white--the sort
of flat white that doesn't shine. But that doesn't alter the fact
that there IS innocence. And I've read, and thought, and guessed, and
looked--until MY innocence--it's smirched.
"You see, dear, one IS passionately anxious for something--what is it?
One wants to be CLEAN. You want me to be clean. You would want me to be
clean, if you gave me a thought, that is....
"I wonder if you give me a thought....
"I'm not a good woman. I don't mean I'm not a good woman--I mean that
I'm not a GOOD woman. My poor brain is so mixed, dear, I hardly know
what I am saying. I mean I'm not a good specimen of a woman. I've got a
streak of male. Things happen to women--proper women--and all they have
to do is to take them well. They've just got to keep white. But I'm
always trying to make things happen. And I get myself dirty...
"It's all dirt that washes off, dear, but it's dirt.
"The white unaggressive woman who corrects and nurses and serves, and is
worshipped and betrayed--the martyr-queen of men, the white mother....
You can't do that sort of thing unless you do it over religion, and
there's no religion in me--of that sort--worth a rap.
"I'm not gentle. Certainly not a gentlewoman.
"I'm not coarse--no! But I've got no purity of mind--no real purity of
mind. A good woman's mind has angels with flaming swords at the portals
to keep out fallen thoughts....
"I wonder if there are any good women really.
"I wish I didn't swear. I do swear. It began as a joke.... It
developed into a sort of secret and private bad manners. It's got to be
at last like tobacco-ash over all my sayings and doings....
"'Go it, missie,' they said; "kick aht!'
"I swore at that policeman--and disgusted him. Disgusted him!
"For men policemen never blush;
A man in all things scores so much...
"Damn! Things are getting plainer. It must be the dawn creeping in.
"Now here hath been dawning another blue day;
I'm just a poor woman, please take it away.
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